Saturday, August 30, 2008

Plymouth Eve

Feeling good and excited to go. My training has been great this week, foot's feeling okay, and I can't wait to race. There will be an iron-distance race going on at the same time as mine. It starts 3 hours earlier and we have the same bike loop - the ironmen just do it 4 times. This is a good thing. I'll always have people to follow, and as long as I don't accidentally do an extra loop I don't think there's any way that I can get lost. Since the bike is 30 miles, longer than I am used to, I am planning on hitting up the aid station at mile 17. It's going to be sweet. The finish line at this race will be at historic Plymouth Rock. That will also be sweet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Next Up: Plymouth Rock

This weekend I'm heading to historical Plymouth, MA to race the Mayflower International Triathlon. Distances are a 1 mile swim, 30 mile bike, and 6.5 mile run, so this will actually be the longest triathlon I've ever done (Could I slowly be creeping up to 70.3?). There will also be an iron-distance race going on at the same time as mine, it is the only ironman race in MA - goodluck to my friend Abby who will be racing that. Anyway, I have already started studying the course...

And Training

Because of my fiasco at Cranberry I didn't really need any recovery on Monday, so I am in the midst of a hard 5-day block. It basically kicked off with a short brick workout Sunday afternoon. Monday I had a 2-hour ride on my TT bike with power intervals and a 20 min TT, and then a solid 4500 meters at Minuteman. Yesterday I had a tough track workout (800s), easy ride, and then a tough weight room session with TC. Today I just completed a 9 mile run with a few miles "steady", and I'll shortly head out for a 90 minute ride followed by swim practice. Tomorrow holds another hard TT bike workout with a brick run and most likely a weight room session. While it sucked to DNF on Sunday, it has turned out to be a positive in the sense that it set me up for some good training these past few days. Friday and Saturday I'll begin to rest up for my Plymouth debut!

Monday, August 25, 2008

"You're Going the Wrong Way Bro!": My Cranberry Tri Race Report

Yesterday I arose at 4:15 AM so that my mom could drive me down to Lakeville, MA for the Cranberry Triathlon - it's about an 80 minute drive. After a light breakfast and a giant mug of coffee we took off.

It was extremely foggy that morning, but luckily it began to lift as the start time neared, and the temperature warmed up as well. The distances were a .9 mile swim in Long Pond, 24.8 mile bike, and 6.2 run, however, I didn't quite make it that far...

So the horn blasts and I'm off to a fast start. I am clearly in the lead by the first buoy and continue to pull away. At some points the pond got so shallow that I actually stood up and ran a few steps. Overall, I felt very strong. I exited that water with over an 80 second lead, and extended that to well over 90 seconds after a quick t1.

Next, I got out on my BMC TT bike and continued to hammer. I start to find my rhythm. There is a lead motorcycle that I am following. A little over 2 miles into the bike course we approach a set of lights and the motorcycle turns right. I follow. This road is flat and I'm flying down it. I continue for another couple of miles. All of a sudden the lead motorcycle guy in front of me starts making these hand signals. He pulls over to the side and lets me go by. Some cars pass me, and I assume that he was just motioning for the cars to go by. But then he speeds back up next to me and yells "You're going in the wrong direction!" "Are you serious?" I shout back. But he was. This dude had led me like 2.5-3 miles down the wrong road.

Complete demoralization set in. I was so pissed. After I turned around and slowly started going back he pulled up next to me again. "You just lost me 250 bucks!" I shouted at him. And then he sped off and I never saw him again. Given my plantar fasciitis it wasn't worth getting back on course and running a hard 6 miles in racing flats to come in the top-5. So I just called it a day. I went back to transition and spoke to the race organizers and went for a training run. [Then later that day I went for another 60 minute bike with a 4 mile brick run.]

The race directors were extremely apologetic, everybody was. But it didn't make me feel much better. I mean this was a club championship race, it was competitive - you can't have people that don't know what they're doing out on the course directing the racers, especially elites. I do this for a living, I'm losing out on a whole bunch of bonus money for DNF'ing! It's inexcusable. I made all these points to the RD, and he completely understood. He even gave me some prize money anyway as a gesture of goodwill. I really appreciate this, but I just hope he takes all the necessary steps to make sure something like this never happens again.

As long as it fits into my racing schedule, I will be back next year to finally get across that finish line, except this time I'll have a course map inked onto my hand...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ITU Kelowna Continental Cup/Canadian Nationals

I had a hectic weekend that included 7 flights, an unexpected overnight in Montreal, and my best ever finish in a pro race! I headed to Kelowna, BC to race the ITU points race/Canadian Nationals. With the top Canadians at the Olympics, I knew it would be a good chance for guys like me to do well. Matt Seymour and I got the same homestay, which was another adventure in itself...

Now onto the race...
A not so great swim still enabled me to exit the water in the main pack. Several guys had broken away on the swim, but luckily I exited the water around plenty of people to work with on the bike. The bike course was 6 laps with one steep, long hill per lap. It was a leg-burner. Anyway, I got out onto the bike with 2 breakaway groups up the road. We quickly caught the first one at the start of the 2nd lap - this group included Matt Seymour, John Dahlz, and another Canadian. Our group worked together alright, not great, but finally on the 5th of 6 laps we were able to catch the lead breakaway group, which included the heavy race favorite Brent McMahon. There were several attacks during the last lap, but nothing came to fruition. I tried to attack once to bridge up to Dave Messenheimer, who had attacked a few seconds earlier, but as soon as I did McMahon was on my wheel, and I knew he wasn't going to give me an inch, so I sat up. Nearing t2 I unfortunately got caught in the back of our group. I hate it when that happens.

I had a decent t2 and headed out on the run in about 11th place. I quickly moved up into 3rd place within the first few hundred meters. It took me until about the end of the 1st (of 4) laps to catch 2nd-place AP B-Smith. McMahon was already 30 seconds up the road at the end of the 1st lap, and I knew he was not only going to win, but he was going to make a statement (perhaps about not being in Beijing...). Nevertheless, I pushed on and began to pull away from AP. On the 3rd lap I began to relax a little, and I did the same on the 4th knowing that I was comfortably in 2nd place. I picked it up some in the last K for good measure. My 32:40 run split was a solid one for me, especially given how comfortable I felt on the run. So 2nd place! My best pro finish to date! I'm pumped, and I won $1,060.90 Canadian dollars (Is that less or more in USD???).

For now it's kind of a lazy week before I race the Cranberry Olympic distance triathlon this Sunday. I can't wait for Jarrod and Alicia to get back from Beijing so I can hear all about it.

Look at those high knees. Now that's an exit!
Out of t2
Brent dominating
Me in 2nd

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Racing News, Olympic News, Bad News, Good News

Hello all! Forgive me for not updating lately - it has been a very hectic past week. I should be in bed right now - I have to get up at 7 AM in order to catch 3 flights to Kelowna, Canada for the ITU Continental Cup this Sunday. But instead I've decided to blog to my loyal fans :) Training has been okay lately. I've encountered a bit of a roadblock but more on that soon. The bottom line is I'm feeling good and excited to race this weekend. Although I'm not looking forward to racing in the 96 degree heat which is in the forecast for Sunday.

Jarrod's Olympic prep in South Korea has been going great from what I hear. He's ready to have a big race! I'm so excited to watch the Olympic triathlon. The swimming has certainly been exciting lately, too. But anyway, here's photo of Jarrod in between two basketball players you may know ;)

Next, I received some bad news last week. I have a pretty bad case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I've been suffering with foot pain ever since my race in Turkey on June 29th, when I rode the whole bike leg with only one shoe strap tightened down. This caused an incredible strain on my arch. Racing on it the next 2 weekends in a row did not allow it anytime to heal, so it became increasingly unhappy. Even taking a week off after those races did not help it get better. I thought it was just chronic soreness in my arch, but I saw the podiatrist last week and he was positive I had aggravated my plantar fasca, a ligament that runs across the bottom of my foot. So that sucks. The thing about plantar fasciitis is that unless you spend a ton of time actively rehabbing it, it will not get better. Rest alone is not enough. Luckily I've been working with a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, and podiatrist to come up with a multi-factorial plan to get this to heal fast.
The Cure

Soooooo here's what I'm doing. I frequently get ultrasound, massage, and my arch taped in a favorable position at PT. I was also forced to purchase a pair of crocs that I am supposed to walk around in instead of going barefoot, so I wear them around the house all the time. I use a few implements to roll out the bottom of my foot hence loosening up my plantar fasca. And finally, I have a boot (look familiar Mikey O?) that I wear at night. Out of everything, the boot is working the best. I wore it all night for the first time last night and when I woke up my foot felt very happy. So I'm taking the boot with me to Canada. I hope boots are allowed there.

Here are some nice views I found while riding out in Harvard, MA. The weather has been so crazy here that it seems I'm racing to get back home due to unexpected thunderstorms everyday.

Can you see the rainbow?

I was riding 65 mph on my bike!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Athlete & Coach go 1-2 at Lowell Tri

This past Sunday I raced the Lowell YMCA Triathlon. The distances were a 1 mile swim, 22 mile bike, and 6 mile run. I finished first in 1:45, "only" 10 minutes in front of my coach, Tim Crowley. All in all it was a fun day and a good workout. I felt very strong on the swim, rode hard on the bike, and eased up a bit on the run but still maintained a tempo pace. It was a fun event to cap off two weeks of solid training.

Next to me in transition was Jarrod's little brother (and upcoming triathlete) Jake Shoemaker. He had kind of a bad day in Lowell - he cut his foot on a piece of glass after the swim and had to go to the hospital. Luckily he is okay and it wasn't as bad as originally thought, but nevertheless it was a scary experience.

Well Jarrod and Alicia are off to the Olympics leaving me all alone at the house. It feels a bit weird not being able to go over to Beijing. I've trained alongside Jarrod since this past winter and watched him deal with everything that goes into preparing for the Olympics (interviews, hectic schedules, etc.). And now I only get to watch the race on TV! I wanna be there! No matter what happens it's going to be epic. I wish him all the best luck and I'm confident that he is well prepared.

Lowell Tri - 1st Place

Saturday, August 2, 2008

TC on! More training & prep for the Lowell Tri.

TC got some love from a few days ago. You can check out the article here. It's really well written and I think it accurately shows Tim's passion for the sport and his genuine desire to help athletes of all ability levels reach their full potential. Heath Gollnick's Ironman success really shows his versatility as his coach. He has certainly helped Jarrod and me perform at a top level in ITU racing, and Alicia is completely cleaning up on the non-drafting circuit this year. Tim is constantly self-experimenting with new ways to get faster by training smarter, not necessarily harder, and I think I'm a testament to this. So check out the article!

Today was my first truly easy day since Monday of last week. My base phase is going well and I can feel myself adjusting to the longer, more strength oriented training. I put in a 22 hour week last week and am on the same pace this week. I've been eating a ton and find myself hungry practically all the time - I'm sure I'm burning some mega calories. I've oddly had a lot of trouble sleeping this week. It's been tough for me to fall asleep, and I'm barely averaging 7.5 hours per night. Hopfeully that will pass. I need recovery!

Tomorrow is the Lowell YMCA triathlon. I know the course like the back of my hand and I can't wait to race. The gun will go off at 8 AM and the distances are 1500m/22 miles/6 miles. It should be fun. My dad is racing the sprint which starts an hour later at 9 AM. We're going to have a race to see who crosses the line first :) Also racing the sprint will be Brian Hughes from Fastsplits and Pat Wheeler, who is fresh off a 10:02 Ironman debut in Placid a couple weeks ago. Who knew the Lowell triathlon would get so popular!