Monday, November 15, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
One of the first pieces that we were featured in was an article written by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Karen Price. This writeup was in October 1st's newspaper and featured myself, Jocelyn, Beth Shutt, Chad Holderbaum, and Matt Mauclair. This was a cool experience for the five of us to get together with Karen and a photographer maybe a week prior at Schenley Park and to do an interview with her about our collective training experiences, road to Kona, and what we expected for our upcoming trip as five friends traveling to and racing together in Kona. This article can be found here.
The next "stop" on the world tour was an early morning call-in by Jocelyn and myself from Kona on 10/3 to KDKA radio's Black and Gold Sunday show, hosted by Rob Pratte. The podcast from the segment of that show can be found below, by clicking the play button on the embedded audio player.
Our next appearance came on a wonderfully produced video by our friend (and great friend of the charity) Ward Hobbs, that was a work in progress for many weeks as we tried to coordinate our schedules, plus with the interviewer and narrator, WPXI's Gordon Loesch. The video aired as part of WPXI's news broadcast I believe both on the night of 10/8 and then again the morning of the race, 10/9. This one probably generated the most excitement amongst our extended family and friends, whom weren't necessarily aware that this was going to be airing, but in some cases were surprised as they were going about their lives and just watching the news as always, and there it was! A link to the video can be found here.
The next bit of coverage was not really about Jocelyn and I, but we were mentioned, along with the rest of the "Pittsburgh Five", on the sidebar that ran adjacent to this article about another Pittsburgh area athlete and recounted our finishing statistics from the Big Dance in Kona. This article was published in October 29th's Pittsburgh Tribune Review and was written again by Karen Price.
The most recent bit of media attention came in a very nice article written by Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in the November 1st edition. This piece very nicely illustrated Jocelyn's efforts in Kona and the incredible adversity she overcame, all while finding perspective about why we both do this sport and how fortunate we are, and also to be able to support BallouSkies. This article can be found here.
The last (or at least for now!) stop on the media tour will be tonight, when Jocelyn and I will again be guests on PCNC's NightTalk at around 8:30. If you live in the Pittsburgh television market area, tune in to hear about our race in Hawaii, BallouSkies, and what is new with us! Thanks for reading and for tolerating my condensed version of the last couple months of excitement!
Friday, October 22, 2010
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Friday, October 15, 2010
Saturday morning started out early as detailed in my update post, getting down onto the beach by 6:35 or so due to the earlier pro start (6:30) than last year's cattle call at 6:55. I got into the water much earlier this year as a result, so had some time to swim back and forth to warmup, and also to visualize the day and soak up the atmosphere that was crescendoing with the drumbeat. I found myself a little closer to the front this year, and more to the right than last year. The cannon went off @7am and we were off! The first 500-600 meters I estimate were pretty hectic as usual, but only had one or two really close encounters with others. I went out pretty hard and was swimming a straight line for once(!), so I didn't seem to be playing bumper cars as much as I usually do. The swim is always tough to analyze and be objective about because you have no visual cues, reference points, or any type of feedback or metrics at all, so ultimately the objectivity is limited to swim time and the rest is all feeling and whether you found the rhythm or not. I didn't feel as though I had while I was swimming, and felt like I was very average in the middle third, but when I excited the water I was pleasantly surprised to see a sub hour in 59:57 as I raced up the astro-turfed steps to beat that landmark. The new BlueSeventy PZ3TX must be as fast as everyone says it is!
After navigating the zoo of transition, I was out and on the road after a reasonable 3:16.
The first 8 miles of the bike course loops you through town a couple times, going up and down both Kuakini Hwy and Palani Rd before you are deposited out on the Queen K where things really get underway. The first 25 miles of the bike course felt super fast and easy, and I didn't feel any of the elements of Kona...yet. At around the 25 mile mark, I remember first noticing the wind and the heat, although relative to what was to come, this was pretty insignificant. I kept cruising along, trying to keep the avg speed above 23 mph if possible, but most importantly keeping the HR steady and around 150 or above while taking in as much nutrition as I could stomach. I had had some questionably fueled rides in the last couple of months where I kinda fell asleep with my nutrition, so I wanted to avoid that today for sure. At around mile 40 I made the turn at Kawaihae and started to get a little bit more variety in the terrain and scenery. I started the long gradual climb up to Hawi and just tried to keep the pressure on, and the cadence high. The crosswinds really started in earnest maybe somewhere between miles 45 and 50, and the cycling at an angle (leaning into the wind!) began. It was up and over the top of the hill in Hawi and then grabbed the special needs bag for the extra Infinit bottles. They actually had my bag ready for me so I grabbed it on the fly and emptied the contents with it hanging from my teeth for the first time, so I was proud that I still had the coordination to pull this off! Then it was time to bomb back down the hill to Kawaihae and accept some of that free speed, while always keeping alert because now the crosswinds had a little but more speed to play with and your surprise gusts would take you just that much further across the road. I was continuing to take in the nutrition, but around this time my stomach started to get a little gassy and upset and I think this was the beginning of some trouble. As the Infinit and GUs were not sitting that well, I instinctively backed off a little bit on frequency of ingestion, but of course this would bring other problems. Somewhere around mile 90-95 (Waikoloa to Puako) I started noticing declining power and focus, and watching my HR and speed start to drop off. I started drinking Coke at all of the aid stations and trying to take in more salt in an attempt to settle my stomach and simultaneously get in the necessary calories. Once I got up over the hill by the airport and began seeing signs of civilization again, my mood rebounded and I started mentally preparing for the run. I came into town, got out of my shoes and sat up about a mile out in one final attempt to let the stomach settle and to prepare for the marathon. I came in for the bike leg at 5:13:01 for a 21.47 mph average, with a 147 average HR that had declined steadily throughout the bike. Would I have anything for the run I wondered?
I was in and out of transition pretty quick, although my time of 3:55 was inflated by a stop in the porta potty before heading out to Ali'i Dr.
I started out the run thankfully feeling pretty great and fresh, despite a still partially upset stomach and presumed calorie deficit. Aside from a good deal of burping and farting in the first three miles, I felt amazingly comfortable and energized, but I wasn't going to make the mistake that I did last year by running opening 6:30 miles. I was going to ease into this a little, and hold back until I knew my systems had stabilized a little bit. I was running along at about 7 minute pace or a touch under, and my HR was only about 150, so I was confident that I could keep this up for the length of the marathon, anf hopefully build on it as well. Seeing my parents out on Ali'i, as well as Jen, Kristen, Carrie, Chad, Matt, and Beth gave me a nice boost and a welcome distraction from the enormity of the task at hand. The out and back on Ali'i came and went, and I was feeling great and starting to pick it up starting to run 6:45s to 6:50s pretty consistently.
Looping back through town and up Palani Dr, I was reminded of how my family surprised me with a quick spectating shift last year and busted me walking up Palani hill, and also how my friend Joe told me that I better HTFU and not walk it this year, so I laughed and just shuffled up, keeping my HR under 160 bpm. Then it was up onto the Queen K again, but it was much more mentally challenging this time around, with an additional 114 miles in the legs. Now this stretch of the Queen K just DRAGS on. When Jocelyn was asking me for pointers on how to break down the course, I told her this segment was only about 4 miles, but it turns out that its nearly 6, and so isolated. The throngs of cheering fans and supporters from Ali'i, Kuakini, and Palani are gone, and its just you, your competitors, your thoughts, and the HEAT. I was still running strong along this stretch and doing pretty well, but suddenly after an unexpected burp and subsequent acid reflux taste around mile 16, my stomach turned and I had to stop, double over, and projectile vomit 5 consecutive times. I felt like such a chump, doing this right after I passed Ironman legend Ken Glah. Who knows though, maybe he was impressed to see me Puke n Rally, standing back up and resuming running right away. But probably not! So I quickly resumed my pace and got down to business doing the out and back in the Energy Lab section of the course, easily the hottest place I have ever been on Earth. I took three aid stations off from any drinking or eating, and once back up on the Queen K, took two full cups of Coke and even some pretzels washed down with more Coke. This seemed to do the trick, and not a minute too soon as I was starting to get a little dizzy. The rest of the way down the Queen K the mental strategy was to remind myself that every step brought me closer to the finish, and that the quicker I could go would give me an even greater PR once I did the math. Turning right onto Palani I felt an instant surge of power, and remembered the ecstatic final mile from last year and my energy was easily doubled. Three turns later, I was coming onto Ali'i Dr for the finishing stretch of another dream come true on this storied road. I kicked it up a notch in the finishing stretch, but not quite as fast as last year as I wanted to take in the moment and drink it in a bit more, as last year I remember being a little too cooked and not as present in the moment. Coming across the line, I put my hands up in the Helping Hearts sign, showing my love for Ballou Skies and the team, and then pumped my arms and fists for the gift of such a wonderful day. I ran the marathon in 3:13:05 to finish the race in a PR of 9:33:14.
As the night wore on, I regrouped with Jocelyn, Chad, Matt, and family, and recounted the great days everyone had and the powerful experiences that were now etched into our legs, arms, hearts, memories and consciousness. Jocelyn overcame a terrible set of circumstances after being hit by a truck on the preceding Wednesday that ruined her bike and ballooned her knee and elbow. Chad realized his dream to return to the Big Island after tireless work and commitment to his goal and passion for the sport. Matt raced here in Kona for the first time as bad luck had conspired against him on too many occasions, finally fulfilling his dream. Beth did her first Ironman after not quite being sure that she wanted to, but ended up loving it, I think it is safe to say, as we all do. Ironman starts out as this external accomplishment, but becomes a part of who you are, I think in large part due to the goals you set, dreams you pursue, and the people you meet along the way. It is not the destination, it is the journey. Although Kona is certainly a worthy destination! Many thanks go out to Jocelyn, my family, friends, Ryan and Ty, our great team, great charity, coworkers, and to all who cheered, supported, tracked, or showed interest or gave energy in any way - you are the best, and I am incredibly grateful.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Jocey's Kona Recap, as posted on Facebook. I am reposting here, for all to see, as I imagine FB's security settings would not allow me to link to it, and I am so PROUD of her I just have to let the world know. Maybe, I can convince her to start her own blog. ;-)
I am going to start the recap of my Kona adventure on Wednesday before the race. I was about 7 minutes into an easy ride when a red pick-up truck made a right hand turn into me. Without going into every detail of the accident – the result is that I ended up with bruises on my knee/elbow/hip and a broken bike. Needless to say, I was so shaken and upset that I could not stop crying. I just kept thinking that I am so sore, I don’t have a bike, and I have to do an Ironman in THREE days. Jeremy came up with the idea of taking my bike to the Quintana Roo tent at the expo to see if they had any idea on what we could do. We carried my bike to the tent, and with tears running down my face – told them what had happened. Immediately Brad, Mac, and Chris from Quintana Roo said not to worry – they were going to set me up on a CD0.1. Now my only worry is my physical and mental state.
Thursday morning I woke up feeling like a truck had hit me. My right ribs/abs/hips/knees and shoulder were all very sore and swollen. I dressed up in my banana underwear that Nate provided me, and went down to the underwear run. Only instead of participating, I became a spectator because there was no way I was able to run a mile. This is when I felt the lowest. I was thinking that all of these people are in tip top shape and so healthy that a mile is NOTHING to them, and I couldn’t even walk a 100 yards. How in the world am I going to run a marathon in TWO days? Depressed and feeling so negative – I went to pick up my new bike. When I walked into the Quintana Roo tent, Brad had done some research and found out that I was a part of the Ballou Skies Charity Team. He asked me about Ryan Ballou. I sat down and told him all about Ryan and the charity that I race for. Somewhere in that conversation, I gained perspective. I am racing for a young man who has to fight muscular dystrophy every day of his life, and who never gives up. Ryan overcomes challenges that I cannot even begin to imagine. Thinking about Ryan inspired me to take this little itty bitty challenge and overcome it, without giving up, without taking one step for granted. So that was my new plan!
SWIM: Wading out into the crystal blue ocean waters with 1800 athletes, spectators as far as the eye can see, hearing the drums beating in the background is a very cool experience! When the canon went off, the craziness began and lasted until the turn around buoy. I was a little bit surprised at how sandwiched I was getting, but I guess that is what happens when everyone in this race is a somewhat decent swimmer. I must say that it was a little bit difficult to not look at the amazing fish right beneath me!
BIKE: I felt stomach cramping immediately when I got on the bike, but I was hoping that it was going to settle in a few minutes. I was wrong! The first time I took a drink, I threw up in my mouth and felt stomach pains. 45 minutes into my ride, I tried to take a gel, which I threw up right away. This has never happened to me before, so I just tried to continue with my nutrition plan hoping that it would go away. It never did and I ended up throwing up every single gel/block I tried to take on the bike. At 4 hours I stopped taking in any type of calorie, and I watched as my heart rate continuously went down. My average heart rate was about 15-20 beats lower than it normally is, which I attribute to a lack of calories. In the midst of this, the thought of Ryan constantly crossed my mind, and I continued to fight through the bad and enjoy the day. I was, after all, experiencing the famous Queen K, the Hawi crosswinds, the sun beating on my back, and I couldn’t help but smile through it all, thinking how lucky I am to be out there!
RUN: With pretty much zero calories in my body, and my stomach cramping like crazy, I had no clue what to expect on this run. I planned on just running as long as I could possibly run. My run turned into a port-o-potty to port-o-potty run. At this point, I don’t even know what was coming out of me, because I still was only taking in sips of cola and water. At 10 miles into the run, my knee pain caught up to me pretty bad. I know that I changed my stride, but I kept to my run as long as I possibly could run plan which took me to the next potty (I stopped in at least 5). I hung in there for the rest of the run. At the top of Palani Rd. at mile 25 I could hear the cheering and music. I was overcome with so much emotion that I almost couldn’t breathe. Running down Ali’i drive I know that I left every last piece of me (and my stomach) out on the course.
In the medical tent, I was given an IV and told that the copious amounts of Ibuprofen that I had been taking for my swollen knee/body is definitely what was causing my stomach pains. Luckily I don’t think I did lasting damage to my knee despite it being swollen to almost twice its size. Needless to say, it wasn’t the race that I had planned, but I learned that things don’t always work out as planned. But if you take these challenges as they come, the results can be just as sweet!
Thanks to all of the wishes, thoughts, and prayers that I received through text/email/calls/conversation. Every single word gave me strength. Thank you to Jeremy and my ever supportive family! Thank you to Quintana Roo’s Brad, Mac & Chris who made this race possible! I wholeheartedly know that they did not have to help me, yet they went out of their way to get me up on a bike. They kept saying “it is all about the athlete” and I cannot even express how grateful I am! Finally, thanks to Ryan Ballou for being my inspiration to do everything in my power to overcome adversity and be the absolute best that I can be!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday morning started early as usual and we were down at the Kailua Pier by about 5am to setup in transition and meet up with the rest of our Pittsburgh crew out for the race, Chad, Matt, and Beth. My parents were there to cheer us on, in addition to husbands, wives, and parents of some of the others. The race was underway at 7am and then it was on for the next 9+ hours. At times the conditions were the challenge, and others my body, but sometimes you just have to bear down, knuckle up, and as Jens Voigt has said, "Shut up legs!" Or perhaps, "Puke and Rally!" It was very tough at times to keep the pressure on and to continue pushing so hard when quite often my body was in revolt, but that's when you learn the most about yourself, when the chips are down and as I constantly reminded myself, that this was the world championship, you are here to do your absolute best and to suffer mightily in the process. As hard as I thought I had it, my tough as nails wife was pushing through the 140.6 mile race with a bum knee, which was probably swollen to almost twice its normal size. Seeing her out on the course in addition to my close friends and also the sport's top talents gave me so much inspiration to draw upon, to allow me to reach deep within myself for every ounce of effort I could. Hearing people shout, "Go Jeremy" and "Go Ballou Skies" at every turn was so powerful and I couldn't help but smile and do as they asked. I came across the line at about 4:30 HST for an Ironman PR with the following splits on this most competitive, fulfilling, and magical of days.
My official race report is soon to follow, but I just wanted to put something out there before I undergo radio silence during the long journey back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Thanks everyone for reading and for all of your support leading up to and during the race! Mahalo.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jocelyn wasn't going to be making the trip with me for the race, but Ty and Kevin from the BallouSkies Team were both going to be doing the race so there would be some teammate company and friends to support. I drove up late Saturday afternoon and met up with Ty and Kevin at the Olde Harbor Inn for a drink, some stories, and some pre-race grub. After that it was off to the hotel to settle in for the night and to get some rest before the event. After some laughs, it was time for bed.
The next morning started with a modified race morning breakfast, maybe only taking in about half of the total calories I have become accustomed to eating before half and full ironmans. It was a short 15 minute drive to the race site where we picked up our packets, chips, and racked our bikes, all the morning of the race! It had been a while since I had done such a low key race, and it felt good to just go through the motions roaming freely in and out of transition with bags and gear strewn everywhere, mountain bikes, hybrids and road bike almost numbering triathlon bikes equally. I got out for a 15 minute or so warmup ride with some spin ups and tempo efforts, and then I was back to transition to grab the wetsuit and head down to the lake.
I signed up for the elite open category and started the race at the luxuriously late hour of 8:25am, after all of the sprint tri waves went off. I got in about a five minute warmup swim, some arm circles and pushups and then it was to the line. When the horn went off I ran through the shallows, dolphined out and was near the front and jockeyed a little for position. As usual the first 500 or so really hurt and I was sucking wind, but I made the first buoy in about 4th and that's where I stayed the rest of the swim. I found a decent rhythm and swam a pretty good course, only going a little offline once as I didn't spot one buoy early enough and zig-zagged a little. I came out of the water in 22:20 and was off to transition.
I was out of transition fast and did my 2nd ever flying mount with the shoes clipped in, and executed this flawlessly save for the slightly bunched up insole in my right shoe. I just pushed on, knowing that the ride should take less than an hour and I didn't have time to waste on comfort. Within the first two or three miles I caught and passed who I thought might be my main competition, while trying to strike that perfect balance between a high cadence, powerful pedal stroke, and a sustainable yet uncomfortable intensity. As the bike continued on I passed the remaining two athletes I figured were ahead of me from my wave and tried my best to keep the effort up. I found as the bike went on I really struggled to keep my HR at or above 170 as I was aiming, and saw it steadily dropping down toward my more well known HIM intensity. The bike still went well though on a fair and rolling, though short course where I biked a 55:30 for the fastest bike split.
T2 went fast and I was out onto the two lap run, just as both the swim and bike before were two laps as well. Each lap consisted of two out and back sections, giving you a great opportunity to get splits on your competitors. I started out with about a 30 second lead on the guy chasing me and went about trying to build on that throughout the run. My main goal for the race was to build throughout to a hard, nearly sprint tri, lactate type effort by the end. My HR was the highest it had been the whole race by the end and I had steadily built my lead over the 10k, keeping good form and quick feet throughout to run to a 35:46 and a 1:55:44 overall.
Coming across the line for the suspected, but uncertain win (no results whatsoever were available until two days later!)
Kevin finishing up strong.
Our fearless leader Ty coming in, proudly wearing the colors of BallouSkies.
In the end, it was a fun small town race, and a great tuneup for the big dance that gets underway now in 8 days time. It was fast and furious and I surely won't be reaching the same run speeds out in HI, but I know I will be racing with the same level of confidence and emotional intensity. Olympics hurt, but in a good way! Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone else is ready to rock their own end of season races as I am!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tomorrow morning we are going to get up and do a fairly long swim (1.5hrs) in the mighty Ohio River and the will be followed up by a long ride of th IM bike course and a short transition run.
Sunday morning will start quite early, almost as if we were racing ourselves, cheering on friends Steve, Matt, and Jason, as well as so me other Pittsburgh area triathlete we have gotten to know and become friendly with. The TT style swim starts at 7am and then everyone will start their individual 140.6 mile battles with the currents, heat, and humidity. After the guys head out on the bike we will do a long-run on the run course and then settle in for some serious spectating and support. Let's go Steve, MattyMo, and Jason!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Gretchen, Jocelyn, and myself cooked up some Summer Salmon Pasta and some Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs, while Gretchen's associate Steve Mellon filmed it all and provided some creative direction.
This is the beginning of something of a media blitz that Ty setup in advance of Kona, whereby Jocelyn and I will be out promoting Ballouskies and our efforts at the Ironman World Championships! Next stop, NightTalk!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sunday I got in my long ride for last week, doing a Kona-esque 114 mile ride in the heat and the wind. Starting out at 7am the air temps were already at about 78' (the typical low down here!) with the winds out of the ENE. While the terrain is quite flat, if the winds are kicking up, it can make for some difficult riding, and even to the point of hoping for some hills to break things up! With the lack of the hills as well there is no hiding from the wind and not much variation in gearing or body position. This necessitates getting out of the saddle more often than usual and doing some variable gear sets to mix things up and use the muscles to create force in different ways. I had hoped to ride out to and through Camp Lejeune, to continue on towards Cape Lookout and the southern point of the Outer Banks, but I was shot down by the young Marine sentry at the south gate to the base. I was hopeful that I would be granted entry as I was permitted to ride all through Camp Pendleton out in California two years ago, but it wasn't meant to be I guess. Starting out on the ride, I was dealing with a cross shifting over to a tailwind out to my revised turnaround point at the Duplin County line, but then of course on the return I was now dealing with about 23 miles back into the wind and it was certainly heating up now as I was approaching 10am. Hello Queen K flashbacks.
The highlight of the return trip was stopping at a very rurally located gas station, and trying to convince the incredulous clerk that I was actually in the middle of a ~110 mile bike ride. A close second was on my third water stop (I was drinking about 30% more on this ride than a typical training ride), where I filled up two of my empty water bottles with ice water, making the last 20 miles home the most comfortable of all, despite the now 87' heat.
Monday I attempted an eight mile run with my brother Chris, but made the mistake of waiting to start the run at 10am, and then the secondary mistake of getting caught up in a fraternally charged, running ego dynamic, starting at sub seven minute mile pace right out of the gate. Towards the end of the run, at 5 miles, when we were about to pull the plug, the paces were slipping drastically and the heartrates were completely out of control. Not good things at all. So the rest of the day I hydrated as much as possible and then had a surprisingly solid swim with Jocey that evening at a local gym that provided a bizarrely distanced pool of 24.5 meters.
Tuesday morning I did my long run for last weekend, or to start this week I suppose (Sunday is the long run day), and I started at 7am to avoid making the same mistake as the day prior. I also made it a point to start slow for the first couple miles, observing a HR cap of 145-150 bpm to let my body settle into the rhythm and adapt to the heat. This appeared to work and allowed me to accelerate through about 14 miles to average close to my goal IMHI marathon pace, however in my last two miles again the heat played the spoiler and the cadiac drift set in again. In the end though, I finished with 16 miles and the overall experience was much more satisfying and promising than Monday's run.
Wednesday evening the storms rolled in and ruined an attempted swim, but I got in an upper body strength session and worked some wall pushups and pullups so it wasn't a total loss. Today the storms again foiled mine and Jocey's long ride (for this coming weekend?) plans, but we snuck in a quick swim on tired arms for the first session of the day. Hopefully I can get in a run tonight if the storm stops and before dinner, but so far it has showed no signs of abating. At least this gives me an opportunity to do some blogging though! We will try again for the long ride tomorrow before leaving Saturday morning to start the long drive back to da Burgh. Next weekend is Ironman Louisville spectathloning and training camp, and the countdown to Kona continues! Cheers from Topsail (Top-suhl)!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
So last Wednesday evening Jocelyn and I were off to start the long drive up with my parents, who were coming to watch us (or now just her!) race. We drove part way, stayed over in Batavia NY, and then finished the long drive Thursday, getting in late that afternoon. Immediately we started unpacking the car and trying to get in some vital pre-race workouts. I did about a 30 mile ride with my teammate Steve, who was up to volunteer and train for his upcoming Ironman Louisville, riding the long descent into Keene and then returning up the hill. When I got back I had some excellent food that my housemates (Jocelyn, Chad, Jen, Matt, Kristen, Nate, Bill, Steve, and Mark) had prepared and this was just to be the beginning of many wonderful meals and laughs we would all share from Thursday through the following Tuesday morning on this Lake Placid getaway.Thursday was also Jocelyn's birthday, and the housemates got her a cute and modified IM-themed card:
Friday morning, Matt Mo and I went out for another typical smashfest bike ride. He too was training for IM Louisville, and I was trying to trash my legs as one should in any good training camp, and also to try to ensure that I would not be tempted to do anything stupid like changing my mind to finish the race on no taper. Matt and I (we started with a few others who we would ride with for varying lengths before they were dropped) rode one lap of the bike course in normal, counter-clockwise direction, and then the 2nd lap in reverse direction. We got in about 114 miles, and split the 112 in 5:19. Would I have any legs left for Sunday?
Later that night we had a pasta dinner, and had all of the Pittsburgh area triathletes and families in town over for dinner, along with some additional friends and contacts.
Here is a pic of pretty much the whole group after a great meal-
And the Sunday race crew-
Saturday morning we were up and at-'em early to start all of the final, pre-race workouts, bike preps, and gear drop-offs at transition. Most of us went out for a swim in Mirror Lake first thing, swimming anywhere from 15-45 minutes (depending on how seriously you were or were not going to be taking the next day's race!), with yours truly doing one, 1.2 mile lap in about 30:30.
Jocey and I pre-swim.
Later that afternoon, degreasing my chain for the first time in a long while.... :-/
Chad and I, with Bill and Jocey in the background, after dropping our bikes and gear bags off at transition-
The staging area....
Jocey and I back at the house, working on our Infinit and salt concoctions-
Later that night we all relaxed around the house and had a nice, simple and safe pasta/chicken/salad meal and got ready for the next day. Kristen was working on this awesome sign, to wave with pride on race day and support all the housemates doing the event. Thanks Kristen!
Sunday morning started at 4am and we all did our own breakfast routine, whether fruit, cereal, oatmeal, bars, Ensure, coffee, etc., as I opted for the now standard Ensure/banana/bar combo with a little java thrown in for the hell of it. At 4:50 we were off, packing into Matty Mo's Element, clown-car style-
Sharing some laughs pre-race-
Rocking out to Thunderstruck, getting pumped for the swim-
Almost go time-
At 7am me and 2,639 of my closest friends were underway. I went out hard for this swim, harder than usual and in keeping with my "experimental" themed training day, swimming maybe the first 400 meters or so at a pretty strong pace. I found myself in a decent position a little right of the line after about 5 minutes, however there was some stiff competition to get right on the close side, so I angled over between two guys to the near left side of the line to some open water. I would occasionally draft a faster passerby, and one guy and I took turns swimming on each other's hip for nearly 1000 meters. The turns were hectic as usual, but generally the first lap felt very strong and the arms productive. I came out of the water after the first 1.2 mile lap in about 27:30, and then made the run up and over the beach, and then dolphined back into the lake for lap 2. The 2nd lap didn't feel as strong and my approx split reflected this, swimming about a 29:47 for a total swim of 57:17. I bypassed the wetsuit strippers and ran hard up the beach, across Parkside and Mirror Lake Drives, and into transition. As I was running out of transition with my bike, I saw Chad as usual, on almost the exact same pacing schedule. Including the run, I was out and onto the bike in 4:24.
I started the bike and tried to settle into a steady but aggressive rhythm. The legs felt average, like they do on most standard long bike rides, but certainly not as good as I would have liked. The plan was to keep the HR aerobic on the rolling climbs out of town, and then hammer the long downhill into Keene and then to Jay and Ausable Forks along the river. The first lap felt very good and I was even catching and passing a few pro men and most women, and after a decent climb up through Wilmington Notch alongside Whiteface mountain, I came back into town in 2:35:40, averaging a HR of 149.
I started back out on the 2nd lap and continued to feel pretty good for the next 15 miles or so, but I also managed to have nearly my entire flat changing system (x-nut, inflater head, and two CO2 catridges) loosen and fall out the back of my x-wing on the big descent into Keene. That's another story though, and I decided to push on and not worry about this considering my non-race strategy. Once heading out of Keene, I noticed the first traces of the fatigue in my legs. It was beginning to get hard to keep my heart rate up when pushing, but luckily a couple fast guys caught up with me and that provided some motivation and opportunity for pacing. I was feeling ok but things were starting to go downhill. The last 20 miles of rolling and the climbing trend back to Placid really took it out of me, and I just struggled to try to keep the pace up high the rest of the way. I was really starting to feel it now, and did the 2nd lap in 2:44:06, about 8.5 minutes slower than the first lap with an average HR of 143. The entire bike split was 5:19:46, good for an avg speed of 21.02 mph at an avg HR of 146. The legs were pretty much trashed at this point, but I was pleased that I rode two separate 112 mile rides untapered in 5:19, spread over three days, and both of which were about 5 minutes faster than my tapered race split from last year!
I headed back into transition and as I was putting my running shoes on, I saw the familiar face of Chad run into the changing tent behind me to get ready to go on the run. I set out on the run after a 2:00 transition, unsure as to how long I would be out there. Spotting Matt, Kristen, and Jen, and making a cheeseball face for the camera-
Starting the short-lived run in 5th place in my AG-
I ran out of transition and starting running down the hill, getting about a mile before Chad came up behind me. I ran a little bit with him, told him that we were currently running about 6:50 to 7 minute pace, and then wished him well as he continued on ahead. I ran about another half mile to the two mile point and the top of the hill just past the airport and before the descent down towards the turn onto River Rd, and decided that this was the stopping point. I had thought about running a total of 4 miles and originally envisioned this as a two mile out, two mile back format, but I thought this could look weird as a random age-grouper was suddenly running ahead of the professional race leader, so I stopped running altogether and walked back into town. I took off my timing chip and held this in my hand, as I pulled down the top of my kit and turned my race number around. This was a very strange moment, and I felt a little ashamed for doing this, but I reminded myself why and thought about the big picture and the Big Dance in October and knew I was making the right call. I walked the two miles back into town and met up with my parents and the rest of the non-racing housemates to join in on the wonderful support and cheering on of our friends and family. I got some food to hold me over and then screamed my lungs out for Chad, Jocelyn, Bill, and Nate as they all raced to very strong finishes. Chad and Jocelyn raced their way to Kona slots, Bill to his first IM finish, and Nate to his second IM finish in about 10 weeks time!
Jocey racing towards the end of her first run lap, with a malfunctioning race belt number, and also looking tough, mean, and determined...
Jocey finishing strong for third place in the women's 30-34 age group, and a whopping 45 minutes faster that she did last year!!!
The women's 30-34AG results, with Jocey making the cut!!! (don't care much for the registered last name though!)
The next day, signing up for KONA!!!
Chad, Jocey, and I celebrating all of our upcoming races in Hawaii-
Jocey at the awards ceremony on Monday, representing BallouSkies on the podium with her incredible 3rd place finish!
The rest of the trip was spent relaxing and celebrating, closing out another successful race weekend and year in Lake Placid. I really love this town and the Adirondack region, and am really stoked to be racing there again next year! Next year I plan to be stronger and HTFU and do this race regardless of my race scheduling position. In the meantime, there is going to be plenty of additional hardcore training, a couple training camps, maybe an olympic thrown in, and then the IM World Champs on October 9th! Thanks for reading!