Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Report

The Countdown!
This past Sunday, I raced in the UPMC Pittsburgh Half Marathon. This was something of a last minute decision to race, but when the opportunity presented itself and a bib became available late the Wednesday night before the race, I jumped at it. I had been thinking all spring about how I would like to run an open half marathon, and that I wished I was signed up for Pittsburgh but it had closed out. I also felt like I should get one more race under my belt between New Orleans and Eagleman, and was hungry to race some more after NOLA. When my friend Mark sent out a message on a mailing list that he wasn't going to race, the stars aligned. I got all of the necessary information, and then got down to the convention center and Expo on Friday afternoon to get the entry transferred over. I now was ready to go, and scaled back the originally planned training for the day before the race.

Sunday morning started pretty early and Jocelyn and I drove down and parked at the Northshore Heritage trailhead in Millvale, and I jogged down to the start for warmup as Jocelyn, who would be a spectathlete for the day, biked along side of me on the beautiful spring morning. I got in about 3 miles warmup, some striders, dumped my extra clothing and headed down to the start. Fortunately with my bib came entry into Corral A, and I lined up in front with some Pharaoh Hound friends, Oscar, and Lucas. Shortly after 7am, we were off.
Flying in the opening mile, I am just barely hanging on in the back!
My Garmin had been giving me some squirrely pace readings in warmup that I had attributed to being downtown and between skyscrapers, so when I saw some 4:40-4:50-type numbers in the opening half mile, I thought that couldn't be right, I wasn't running that fast, and so I just continued on running by feel. I passed the first mile marker at about 5:10, and sure enough, those "squirrely" readings were correct. :-) I had planned to go out no faster than 5:30 pace, so this was a surprise, but I felt good so I kind of went with it and kept the pressure on. Next came a 5:30, a 5:29, and a 5:32, and I felt good about banking some time ahead of my goal ~5:43 pace for a chance to break 1:15. By this point I had been dropped by the leading pack of half marathoners and elite marathon entrants, and I suppose was between groups. Just like at New Orleans, this would be a solo effort and day alone out on the roads, just me, my head, my effort. I kept the effort up, and drove the cadence very high, punching it over some of the early "hills" of the Rachel Carson and Andy Warhol Bridges, and onto the North Side.
Courtesy of Sportphoto! Coming off the Andy Warhol Bridge @ mile 4.5
I was still feeling very strong, and excited about how I was running. I had come through the 5K, 8K, and 10K marks all at PR times for the individual distances, and this helped me keep my foot on the gas and driving forward. I crossed over the West End Bridge and then looped into the West End itself, before turning back towards the rivers and started running up towards West Carson St. On this slight incline on Main Street back up to Carson at about mile 7.5, I started feeling it a little. Maybe it was the effect of the too-fast opening mile, or perhaps just not being used to running at these paces for extended periods of time. Heading into the Station Square/Southside section of the course, there was an uphill trend for about 2.5 miles, and here I started to give some time back, going 5:50, 5:50, and 5:55. I was really starting to struggle a little bit through the South Side business district and was having difficulty keeping my cadence up, when the three leading women for the half marathon caught up to me at about the 10.5 mile mark. They immediately went by me, but then I thought, "Hey, I was ahead of these girls for more than 10 miles! I'm faster than them, maybe just not as smart or as fit!" Ha! So that gave me some motivation, and I picked up the pace a little bit to try to stay with them. The top two women made a move going over the Birmingham Bridge and then onto the first incline into the Hill District, dropping the eventual third place female and myself. From here on out, I would have someone to run with, and I feel like we pushed each other the rest of the way.
Caught by the leading three women, right before turning onto the Birmingham Bridge.
Elevation profile
I started getting a little irritated by my newfound competitor's tactics and the lines she was running, so I busted a move up the final hill (mile+) at 6:07 pace up the Boulevard of the Allies and past Mercy and Duquesne. Finally topping out, I had a gap and opened it up on the downhill back dahntahn. I was cruising along, happy with my race and taking in the sights and the cheers on this beautiful morning, when from about ~100yds out or so I caught sight of the finishing clock and saw 1:13:3X on it. "Holy crap, I might be able to crack 1:14!" I thought. So I really let it rip and started flying down the homestretch. Per my Garmin, I finished the roughly final quarter mile at about 4:50 pace, with a peak speed at about 4:20 pace, squeaking in under the wire with a gun time of 1:13:55, official chip time 1:13:51! After throwing up a little bit in my mouth, I limped my way over to get some gatorade, bananas, pineapple, and Eat n Park Smiley Cookies!
mile splits
This was a very satisfying result for me and a new PR by about 4 minutes. I imagine I was due for one, as this was probably only my 4th open half marathon ever, and first one since October of 2007, when I set my previous best. I have run a lot since then and my fitness has increased dramatically, so I knew I had a new PR in me, but I even surprised myself a little by going under 1:14. Talking to my coach, he seems to think that I could have gone even faster if I had paced a little bit more reasonably in the opening miles, so who knows what I would have done and what is in store for me later this year. One thing I do know, is that it is just a matter of time before cracking 1:20 or better in a half marathon run, and the idea of running 6:50 miles in an IM marathon doesn't seem so daunting. We will see though, and there is a lot more work to be done. Thanks for reading - keep working hard everyone, and big steps and PRs can and will be yours as well!

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Brought my trusty race "slippers" out of retirement for this one!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 New Orleans 70.3 Race Report

This race marked the third time that Jocelyn and I would be heading down to the Big Easy for New Orleans 70.3, and for me, it would once again serve as my season opener. The early stages of my training this year had been really solid and I laid down a nice base, and despite my schedule getting a little bit more hectic as of late, I was eager to have a nice hit out and see where I stood before transitioning into my specific prep for bigger races to come. Jocelyn and I kind of pieced this trip together in a strange fashion (I wasn't sure if I would even get to do it), flying down and back separately (and very late Friday night), and not certain on where we would stay, but ended up with what would amount to an amazing homestay and great time hanging with one of my athletes.
our accommodations for the weekend!
New Orleans has traditionally had trouble with swim conditions, having cancelled the swim leg in 2011 and 2012 due to what were deemed unsafe conditions on Lake Pontchartrain. So of our two previous years racing in NOLA, we got to swim in one (2010, and I must say the water was really rough that year as well), and the race organization had the same 50% success rate over it's four year existence prior to this edition. So that history, coupled with canceled swims in the New Orleans Tri/5i50 event, necessitated a move to a new lakefront venue and the swim course pictured below.
new swim course and site for 2013
When I first saw this picture last spring, I thought that there definitely could be logistical problems with such a course, and perhaps race management thought the same thing and instituted a time trial (TT) start for this race. The various race divisions were still grouped together and were corralled accordingly, but within the "waves" people would be going off every couple seconds. I was fortunate that my AG would be going off relatively near the front, so I would have some people to chase, but not too many people to pick my way through on the swim and bike. I lined up with good friend Bruce and we were diving off the dock and underway at about 7:40am. My swim was relatively calm and without incident, although I did accidentally swim over a few people from previous waves (sorry, the water is murky!), and I also stopped twice to do a quick tread and de-fog my goggles. I know, this is crazy. More often than not, I feel lost out in the open water and cannot see a damn thing, and therefore have real trouble sighting, let alone trying to find some feet to latch onto and stay with. This doesn't help my swim splits at all, and I am getting pretty tired of under-performing in the swim. I picked one of the newest pair of goggles that I own, but apparently they weren't fresh enough, and also swimming eastbound into the rising morning sun didn't help either. So now I am on the hunt for a good pair of anti-fog, open water specific goggles. Other than that, I felt ok and kept my turnover up, and swam pretty much the entire swim leg by myself. This, as it turns out, would be the theme for the day.
out of the swim, into T1
swim results - 3rd AG, 18th amateur, 40th overall**  
**relay teams not included in relative placements
transition times

I was in and out of transition in a reasonable length of time (the climb out of the harbor was a little sketchy and I still need to practice getting out of my wetsuit!), and I was out and onto the bike. I started pushing right away, right into the wind, and to settle into my effort. The plan was to average about 2-3 beats above the top of my Z2 (Friel-style Z3) and I thought this would yield wattages anywhere from 260-280 (I weigh about 150#) depending on the day and how my legs felt. I split the bike up into four, 14 mile segments, and had the auto-lap going on my Garmin to break it up and to help aid in keeping myself as motivated as possible, watching out for a drop in effort/watts. The headwind was cranking for the first half of the bike, then we had a wicked tailwind for the ride home. My watts and HR were pretty steady the whole time, but the difference in wind direction was the difference between roughly a 22 mph avg to the midway point, and a 26 on the way home. Although at times it seemed more like 20/28! This was a strange bike for me, due to the early TT start, in that there was hardly anyone out on the road around me, and I only had a couple handfuls of competitors to key off of and try to catch from the only preceding non-pro "wave" (M35-39). I had rode up through that field mostly by the halfway point of the bike, and it seemed as there were only a couple guys left out there. Basically I rode the whole 56 mi bike by myself, and really had no one around to push me. This was maybe the most "pure" TT/race-against-the-clock bike or run I had done up until that point. This of course made it much easier to stick to my race plan, as I had no one else around me to battle with. This is both good and bad, but fine for the first race of the year.

bike metrics

great pic, courtesy of and thanks to Scott
bike results - 3rd AG, 12th amateur, 33rd overall**
I caught up to my good friend and teammate, Matt, right at the end of the bike, and went through transition with him. I guess I was starting to get a little too comfortable in there, even with my decision to go without socks on the run, when Matt yelled over to me to pick it up as he was heading out! Thanks for keeping me moving, Matty Mo!

Matt and I just out of T2
I had the plan once again to keep my HR about 2-3 beats above the top of my Z2 (Z3) run zone, but also taking the first two miles out in 5:50-5:55 pace. First mile, mission accomplished, second mile I was a little bit off as it started immediately with one of the few hills (bridges) on either course. After coming down off of that, I started clicking off the miles, again in isolation. There were some relay competitors ahead of me that I would mark up the road and then run down, however it seemed as though there were no amateur guys me left for me to hunt. (*In reality, there were two M35-39 guys still up the road). I was feeling really good and cruising at about a 6:05 avg pace through 7-7.5 miles, when my left hamstring locked up on me. I immediately slowed down and shortened my stride, and shuffled along for 100m or so until I felt things loosen up, and then I ramped it back up again. For the rest of the way I did feel some twinges in my left hammy, and my right quad started threatening as well (probably compensation), so now I became hyper-aware and started walking (running!) that fine line between pushing too hard and cramping terribly, and playing it too conservatively with my pacing. This post-cramp segment was notably slower than my first (6:21 vs 6:05), but I felt like I kept the pressure on pretty well and was pleased that I was able to do so, running by myself. At this point in the race, this is where you usually have some struggling competitors to key off of, or the really fast/solid guys that help you reach down to new depths of motivation and toughness, and get the absolute best out of yourself.

run metrics
early on in the run

run metrics - 1st AG, 6th amateur, 22nd overall**
I came through the finish in a total time of 4:13:47, a course PR for me at the NOLA 70.3, although the course has been different every time I have done this race (and in 2012, was a duathlon!)! I enjoyed the 2010 finish line the most, when we ran down Decatur St in the French Quarter and finished in front of Jackson Square, but this was a close second finishing in Louis Armstrong Park. I was reasonably happy with how the day turned out. I came out of the water in 3rd place AG, rode my way into 1st on the bike and held it through to the finish. I finished 27th overall, and 6th amateur. I didn't feel 100%, and my fitness and form still have a ways to go, but I was very happy with how I paced and executed on the day. Training has not been ideal, but I was hungry to race, and I feel like my execution was spot on and mental fitness is right where it needs to be. Bring on some more racing!
Done! 4:13:47
1st place, M30-34 age group
Thanks to all of my sponsors, the Ballou Skies cause and our vital mission against DMD, QT2 Systems for coaching methodology and services, Quintana Roo for my amazing Illicito bike, Power Bar for the best quality nutritional products, Top Gear Bike Shop for amazing service and the best triathlon shop in Western PA, Blue Seventy for my Helix wetsuit and swimwear needs, Rudy Project for the best lids and shades, NormaTec for essential recovery with their MVP system, and Fuel Belt for their excellent hydration system and running accessories. Your products help me train, race, and recover at my best, and also that inspire and motivate me to be my best in life and triathlon. Thank you for your support on our journey to excellence.

The Pittsburgh Crew, post-race

After the race, we had to hustle up and get back to Paul's place and get the bikes and Jocelyn packed up to fly home that night, but afterwards I was able to relax a little bit, eat some Po Boy, beignet, and start the evening with some NOLA Brewing's Hopitoulas IPA! Later that night we went to an authentic Crawfish Boil, and then out on the town for some wild times! Bruce was planning on completing the "Triple Crown" (drinking a Hurricane, Hand Grenade, and Monsoon), and of course he talked Matt, Chad, and I into it as well. Or maybe we talked ourselves into it, I can't quite remember! A great race and weekend ended with some wild fun and a not-so-fun flight home the next morning. Work hard, play hard I suppose! Thanks for reading!
Starting the night out with Hurricanes
Finishing the night off with Monsoons!

2013 Race Schedule

Better late than never, my (proposed) 2013 race schedule.

April 21st - New Orleans 70.3
May 5th    - Pittsburgh Half Marathon
May 25th  - New Brighton Sprint
June 9th    - Eagleman 70.3
July 28th   - Ironman Lake Placid 

The rest of the season TBD, and as my first half results, and then, more importantly, my nursing school schedule will allow. Will I race again in KY, or at World's, perhaps get Savage, in my backyard, maybe in Buckeye City, Magic City, Brotherly Love, or North or South of the Border? And who knows, maybe I will work some magic or say the hell with it and head back to the Big Island! Time will tell, and I'll keep you updated! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bike Frame For Sale

Howdy fellow bloggers, Googlers, and interweb aficionados! I'm selling my trusty old steed, my 2009 Felt B2 Pro Frameset that has seen me through 5 Ironmans total and a couple great days in Kona! Please see the text below for more details and please let me know if you or anyone you know might be interested! Thanks- JC

For Sale:
USED 2009 Felt B2 Pro 54 cm carbon fiber frameset. Only frame, integrated fork, seat post, and three stems (lengths) included. This bike has never been crashed, but has seen some high mileage and racing. I started riding this bike NEW (original and only owner) in December 2009 and stopped riding in September of 2012 when I got a new frameset. I’d estimate that about 25% of total time in use was on an indoor bike trainer. There are no cracks or dents in this frame, but there are some scuffs and blemishes resulting from normal wear and tear, transport in bike cases and on bike racks, leaning up against walls, etc. Of note, some scuffs/blemishes/clear coat delamination are: leading edge of right fork leg, trailing edge of down tube, trailing edge of right seat stay, chain-knicks on right chainstay, and knicks in paint around rear dropouts. This bike is still in good shape and the frame is strong and extremely aero. I am 5’10” and this bike has fit me comfortably in a number of fit variations. Again, this is for a used 54 cm carbon fiber frame with integrated fork, seat post, and three stems (lengths) ONLY. Brakes not included in asking price, but if interested let me know and we can negotiate. Thanks for looking and please contact me if you are interested!

Link to Pittsburgh Craigslist posting.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Offseason

Ah, the offseason. Time to take a load off, both literally and in a figurative/periodizational way, and to relax, recharge, and rebuild after a long season of training and racing. This year, I took a whole extra week off of any and all physical activity (for a whopping 2 whole weeks), considering the physical and pulmonary "insult" I sustained racing Kona. 
eat, drink, and be merry! homemade pumpkin soup and some festive IPAs
During the time off, I really tried to RELAX as much as possible and to let my body heal - both from the long season of training and racing and the mental fatigue from the energy and focus that go into maintaining these levels. This is the goal every offseason, but I felt like I needed a little bit more than ever this year due to the acute stress and damage done this past fall. This worked out well, as this was my first full "offseason" as a QT2 athlete and one of QT2's most important areas of focus and one of their 5 cornerstones is Restoration. I ate, drank, slept well, and was, generally, merry.

As I was taking this time off, I couldn't help but notice what some of my triathlon peers were up to, reading about crazy workouts on Facebook, Twitter, and various forums and FB groups. It is beyond me to understand why some athletes, and even worse coaches, think that it is a good idea to do VO2 max efforts on the track in October/November, especially after a long triathlon season. Unless you are training specifically for a fall or winter marathon and are in your specific prep for such an event, give it a rest! I know reverse periodization is in vogue right now and maybe that is what this is all about, but in my opinion it is better to rest, recharge, and restore at this time of year!
As part of the offseason, or even the transition period if that is what you have moved onto, it is all about getting moving again and preparing your body to be able to absorb the work that is to come when you start the formal training plan again. This could take many forms, and for me this entailed doing some fun and "different" workouts. Mountain biking, trail running, PowerCranking (see below), and getting back in the gym to start laying some foundational strength and to start building the soft tissue durability. This is important because as you get going again, your body can be a little bit more "soft", weak, and susceptible to injury than normal, and the first couple months of base work are critical to get right. I know this all too well, having tweaked my IT band coming back with too much run volume in the fall of 2011, and more recently straining my SI joint with the leg press, trying to be a hero this past fall! Do yourself a favor and ease back into it all - I don't know where you live, but those frozen, Pittsburgh-area streets are awfully firm and try to trash your legs when you start laying down the run volume again in January!


My fitness took a nosedive through October & November, but despite the time off, I feel really good now and ready to rock! Sure, a 100 mile ride or a 20 mile run might be a little harder than usual right about now, but my pace and power profiles are not bad at all for the mid-distance efforts right now. Fitness is lower, but freshness is high! Time to start heading the other way and build that fitness once again.

offseason PMC
2013 is going to be a big year! Make sure that you give both your body and your mind the chance that they deserve to take you to new heights in the New Year!

here we go, 2013!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kona 2012 Race Report

Kona 2012. Where do I begin? This is going to be tough for me to write and get through, but I want to do it while the memories are still fresh, skin is still tan, sensory experiences from the island still prominent, and then so I can put this race behind me and stop beating myself up.

Race week was going well, landed in Kona a week prior as we have done the last 3 years, was getting used to the heat/humidity, getting some short but solid sessions in, and was generally resting, hydrating, sleeping well, and feeling like a million bucks. Even got an incredible massage on the island the Tuesday prior, brought the NormaTec MVP's- basically the legs and energy levels were topped off and I was ready to rip it. Race morning started as most do, nutrition was going down well, got an earlier start from the condo than usual, was very relaxed and had plenty of time to spare before the start.

Got down on Dig Me Beach fairly early, just waded about in ankle deep water until about 6:50, and then swam out to the start line to pick my spot. I grabbed a spot in my usual area, about 20-30 yards left of the pier and 2-3 rows back. I was ready to have a great swim, having hit a couple incredibly strong (for me) swim weeks in my final Kona overload. Things seemed calm and there was less jockeying for position here than in years past (enter: irony &' foreshadowing). The drums were beating, helicopter swirling overhead, countdown on, and then we were off.
Things were getting real
Disaster! The first 2-3 minutes, I made next to ZERO forward progress, I was being walloped and brutalized like never before. Somewhere towards the end of this time period, I was buoyed up on all sides and from underneath, completely out of the water like a breached whale, and all I remember is a spray of whitewater around my face. Moments later I was back down underwater, submerged back in the chaos, and I actually thought "This is the sensation that one might have before drowning". Thank the stars I have a long swimming background, have been in my share of hairy swim environments before, and I am a stubborn, proud racer. Things finally calmed down, I eventually got some clear water, and I soldiered on. The swim was going ok in the final 3/4, I felt alright, and was sighting and navigating reasonably well with the sizable swell and chop that we had on the day. Out of the water to see a low 1:01 coming up the steps. I was prepared for this, having had distance and time notification beeps on my 910XT, and said "whatever, on to the next one." Not bad, considering my worthless and hair-raising first couple of minutes of the race. Transition 2:46. **Present day analysis, 44th position AG out of the water, compared to 35th last year - ok, not so good.

swim and bike splits
Off and onto the bike, and things were going smoothly. T1 was quick with the new Rudy Project helmet that went on easy over my ears, shoes in cleats, Profile Design bento box/e-pack thing holding all of my nutrition on-bike, and then I even managed to keep all of my bottles in their cages over the rough part of Kuakini Hwy! On to my top two early bike priorities, pounding the fluids, and settling into my goal race wattage and then to see how my HR/RPE was measuring up to that in the first 20 miles. Things were looking pretty good, avg watts were about 6 below what my plan called for, but it felt right so I rolled with it. I caught up to Chad somewhere around the 25 mile mark which was a good sign, and that I was riding well. While continuing to keep an eye on CH, I kept rolling along, keeping my watts up, and pushing the nutrition. Approaching the Waikoloa area and a little bit beyond, we got our first taste of the wind. This was much earlier than I have ever experienced in my four years racing Kona, about 20 miles earlier than usual to be honest, and they were ripping. The one new bike question mark for me going in, was how it would handle in the wind. I got in a solid number of miles before the race to know that the fit was dialed and that would not be an issue, but what remained was how would the bike handle, the geometry, the SHIFT technology, etc. Question answered, it was amazing, NO problems whatsoever. The Illicito swallowed up the wind and spit it out. Thank you QR. Made the turn to head down to Kawaihae, then turned right to head up to Hawi. The wind was rough heading up, but then again it always is, and the bike form on the day seemed solid. 
turnaround in Hawi
I made the turn in Hawi about 5 minutes quicker than last year, on arguably a much tougher day, and started hammering down the hill. Chad and I were keeping an eye on one another, and I don't know about him, but I enjoyed this as it was like we were back in Western PA on a training ride and helped make the pacing and keeping the effort up that much more natural. Got back down to Kawaihae and made the turn onto the Queen K for the final ~30 mile push back to town, and sure enough, the wind had shifted (or the trades were more dominant now) and the wind was now in our face.
fighting the wind on the Queen K, en route to T2
The final 30-ish miles were slower than the preceding 80 as per usual, but I managed to keep the avg speed for this segment above 20 mph, cadence up, and was keeping my effort steady and controlled with my lowest VI of the day as I kept my head down and fought the wind. The watts came down a little in this section, Chad went about a minute up the road, but I was on track for a Kona bike PR. I finished the bike leg with a 5:02:18, good for a 22.23 mph avg. I was hoping to crack 5 hours today, but the conditions were pretty brutal, and compared to last year (5:04:25), this was a much stronger ride. Last year, I slipped from 35th out of the water, to 55th at the end of the bike. Today I jumped from 44th out of the water to 26th at the end of the bike. Last year, my run was my ace in the sleeve, and if I could run like that again, I would reach my goals and improve dramatically from last year in my AG. T2 went ok at 2:39, and I was off and onto the run. Total combined transition time 30 seconds faster than last year, so marginally better here.

I started the run off and my pace/HR was reasonable at less than 7:00/mile pace and HR below 155 bpm, but I knew straightaway that something was off and I did not feel quite right. One thing I was conscious of from the very start of the run though was that I had a strange sensation of chest tightness. My nutrition was spot-on from the bike, I knew I had hydrated and fueled well so I wasn't sure what could be causing this blah-feeling, but my energy levels were VERY low. I tried to focus on cranking up my turnover and staying smooth, of not fighting my stride in anyway, to try to ease into the run. Often the first few miles of the IM marathon feel terrible, but eventually you come around. There were bad signs though, as my HR was holding steady, pace slowly slipping, but RPE starting to climb dramatically. Within the first 3-4 miles of the run, the chest tightness progressed into a small cough almost as if I had a chest cold and I continued to feel less and less like myself. Between miles 6-8 there was a shift and things started to get much tougher. I had started power walking the aid stations, and did so as I came off of Kuakini and worked my way up Palani Road between miles 10 & 11. As I started the long slog out the Queen K to the Natural Energy Lab turnaround, I really started to suffer. The feeling in my chest was growing more and more "congested", and I started to really work the cough and try to clear shit out. Around mile 14 for the first time, I stopped midway between aid stations and, hands on knees, violently coughed up some of the "congestion" and spit it out on the pavement. Uh-oh. Orange-ish-red, frothy nastiness, and quite a bit of it. With that bit of nastiness out however, I felt a little better and my breathing more natural, so off I started running again (though pretty slow at this point) for another couple of miles. Repeat this process all over again at about miles 17, 20, and 23. Cough up some blood, clear out some space, continue running.
One foot in front of the other
As I was making my way through the back half of the marathon and this horror show was unfolding, my mind was racing and questioning me and the effort more than ever before. I had a pretty good idea what was going on with my growing knowledge of physiology, but the athlete in me plead to remain somewhat ignorant. I thought quite a bit about whether I should continue on or drop out, about what sort of physical damage I may have been doing and risk I was taking, but I rationalized staying in and finishing the race. In the end, the reasons to finish far outweighed the reason to quit.
  • the opportunity cost of training for the last 10 months, 
  • the distance traveled and time taken to race, 
  • the financial investment, 
  • my competitive spirit, 
  • my pride, 
  • respect for the history of this race, those that have raced here and aspire to race here, and the power and spirit of the Big Island,
  • the belief in my abilities of my sponsors/coach/teammates/friends/family, 
  • and the ability to still run, despite this temporary ailment when Ryan and others cannot and will not walk   
  • being a quitter. Feeling sorry for myself. Taking the easy way out and using this as an excuse. And then perhaps always wondering if I could have finished, and perhaps a lifetime of regret.
Needless to say, I kept going, and honestly the symptoms didn't get much worse from the first hacking of a lung at mile 14, and then during the interminable amount of time before I finished. During this rough stretch however, the motivation to finish grew, with the welcome sight of another downhill run on Palani, a couple more turns, and then another beautiful, grateful, and cherished run down Ali'i Drive to the best finish line on Earth.
hurdling a Blais-man roller at the finish. No disrespect, but I needed some medical attention!
I ended the day with a 3:36:34 marathon at an 8:15 avg pace, dropping from my promising 26th place off the bike to 50th place in my AG at the finish line. Had I run the same marathon time as last year, I would have run my way up to 6th or 7th place in my AG. Based on how I had been running prior to the race, equaling my 2011 run time was a real, and even conservative possibility.  But that's all just a distant, blood-stained dream at this point! Total time 9:45:45. This was my 2nd slowest finish in Kona of my four, wonderful years racing here, but surprisingly, I ran faster this year than I did in 2009. This was one pleasant surprise taken from the day when doing analysis for the writing of this race report. While I was upset and disappointed to see my finish time coming across the line, I would be lying if I said I wasn't aware of the overall time as I was walking/coughing my way through the Energy lab, and I thought that while this wasn't going to be the outcome that I wanted for the day, I could still go sub-10 if I sucked it up and ran some more!
HR trailing off dramatically throughout the run. lung capacity matters - who knew?!
heading to the med-tent. no need to grovel for an IV this year!
So I got to the medical tent and coughed up some more "rusty colored sputum" for the med tent staff. Commence with much running around of the docs and nurses, their gathering of medical apparatus, and whispering amongst themselves about "pulmonary edema" and "wet, very wet" lung sounds. Next came an ambulance ride to Kona Community Hospital, and then a couple hours starving post-race as I was poked, prodded, measured, tested, x-rayed, etc. This was to be the beginning of a two day stay in Kona Hospital where I could stew and think about my race and what went wrong. That, perhaps, is the worst part about all of this. I was at my lifetime best fitness, was psyched to race and the day started off very well, only to crash and burn. I did nothing wrong, with the exception of perhaps choosing (once again) an overly aggressive and risky swim-start position. After speaking with numerous doctors while confined to the hospital, the number one theory of how I contracted pulmonary edema during the race was:
I probably aspirated sea water during that particularly rough part of the swim, and then this created a hypertonic environment in my lungs that started an osmotic chain reaction that would run out of control during the day and fill up and damage my lungs as I raced. There are some other factors that may have contributed, no one knows for sure, least of all me, but the scientist in me is curious and I continue to research the condition and try to apply it to my symptoms on the day.
"My-after" - KCH cafeteria food!
So that's the story. My tale of woe, and I think probably the strangest race report I have ever written. Maybe it will hold that title for sometime into the future, maybe not. I cannot begin to express how disappointed I am that this happened, and that my day ended in this way and with this less than desirable result, but I am also gaining a growing appreciation that I stuck it out and finished. I am not particularly proud of my finish time, but I am extremely proud of the effort and my toughness/perseverance. I am still coming to terms with everything, but writing about it was a good, cathartic start, and in time I am sure that I will gain additional perspective and peace with the race. Most of all, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to race in and finish Kona once again, and to have my health and to be on the road to recovery. Many, many thanks especially to my wife Jocelyn, my family (Mom, Dad, and sister) who were all there in Kona and terribly worried and supportive of me, and friends, family, teammates, and online well-wishers who contacted me during my convalescence. Thanks as well to my sponsors, fans, and supporters - I promise, I'll be back and better than ever!

Mahalo -

Friday, September 28, 2012

New Sponsor - Quintana Roo bikes


Today I had a much anticipated package waiting on my doorstep, a brand new 2013 Quintana Roo Illicito frameset!  

A few weeks back, an old friend and contact from QR got in touch with me and we started discussing my coming on board, and QR as my potential bike sponsor. This was very exciting for many reasons, but the two most prominent in my mind was that 1:
Quintana Roo is a creative, forward thinking bike manufacturer that is dedicated to triathlon as is evidenced that they do not build bikes for ProTour time-trialing, with triathlon getting the leftovers. The Illicito is not UCI-compliant (inspiration for the frame's name), and that is perfectly fine with me. They were the original tri-bike company and they are still pushing the envelope on design and functionality.
Not my frame, but highlighting the "missing" seatstay
And 2:
Quintana Roo is a real "racer's" or "people's" company, not defined by multi-million dollar marketing campaigns or making a litany of models and lines. As stated above, they make only tri-bikes, and they make them for true triathletes. In addition to this company ethos, it is widely known and it is also my personal experience, that if you have a problem with your bike, they leap to solve it, and with a personal touch that is uncommon in the bike industry.

To my first point, the Illicito has a revolutionary design that is founded on two key points, QR's SHIFT technology and the complete removal of the left seatstay. As a result of this advanced engineering and design, the Illicito has the lowest drag coefficient at high yaw angles of any current tri-bike out there. This should be a great advantage on a course like Kona, or even on my local Brush Creek training loop! Much more has been said about the Illicito, and by much more informed personnel than I, and some of the reviews and explanations of features can be found here, here, and here.

My personal experience with QR stems from an issue my wife had at Kona in 2010. Long story short (and a lot of you already know it), she was hit by a car the Wednesday before the race and her first tri-bike, a QR Lucero, was completely destroyed. Not knowing what to do, and also with a touch of hysteria and panic, we stopped by the QR booth at the expo to see what could be done about her destroyed frame/derailleur hanger. Try getting personal attention from the directors of European & North American Sales, and the chief design engineer of one of the "industry giants". Not a chance, but that's exactly what we got from QR who saved the day, and did it with a smile on their face. Disaster averted, friends made, and fans we had become.

Jocelyn's trusty first steed until she caught the dreaded "right hook" on Ali'i Dr

So that's the scoop! I'm really excited to be working with Quintana Roo because their bikes are fast and as a company, they are incredibly supportive of their athletes because they "get it." And as an added bonus, they seem to think I'm fast and get it too! Now I just need to get this beast built up and ready to roll in Kona!
That's the one. There's my baby!
Quintana Roo can be found here online, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger. Check them out, they make the most cutting edge stuff and they really are "True to the Tri!" Thanks for reading, and thanks to QR for making me part of your team!

P.S. And finally, I am told (and I also read) that bikes are supposed to bear a name, similar to a sea-going vessel. I have heard all types of names for bikes, both male and female, creative or banal, suggestive or simple, and even inspirational or in memoriam. I have yet to name my ride, but I'll keep you posted if I do!