May 2017 – Month in review

The theme for this month is ‘I’m tired!’. I started the triathlon training for my upcoming half ironman event on May 1st. It is a 10 week training plan to get me ready for the Rev3 Williamsburg race in July. I’m actually doing both the Sprint triathlon on the Saturday and the Half Iron distance on the Sunday. Sleep is something I’ll catch up on after the New Jersey State Triathlon at the end of July. ‘Tri Season’!!!

My total mileage for the month was 438 miles which was comprised of 16 miles swimming (all in the pool), 337 miles on the bike (unfortunately 293 were indoors on the bike trainer) and 85 miles running (51 on the treadmill). I have no idea how people train for a Full Ironman. They must never sleep. Or perhaps they drink a lot of energy drinks?

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Garmin Connect – May 2017

So most of the month was taken up with training. Up early to get a workout in before work and then up late to get a workout in when the boys were in bed. Towards the end of the month I just got up extra early to get both workouts in before work. It gets harder as the week goes on for sure. You cannot fake training for this distance. You cannot wing a 1.2 mile swim. I’m pleased that I’m sticking with the plan and I’m sure that finishing the race will feel like an amazing reward after all of this.

I took part in a new race for me this month. The Bucks County 10 Miler. This was my first 10 mile race for a long time. I’ve not been able to run the Broad Street Run for a few years as I’ve either run the New Jersey Marathon or the Pittsburgh Marathon on that date or the week prior. This year my wife ran Broad Street so I got my turn a couple of weeks later in New Hope, PA.

This race was so up my alley

The race was started and finished in New Hope, PA so a Star Wars theme was part of the event. Great. I’m a big fan. It was run mostly along the Delaware Canal and the conditions on the day were perfect. Not too hot and sunny. I myself wore a Star Wars themed shirt but I saw commitment from people running in full costume. Kudos to those runners. As much fun as the them was, I was still there to race. My official time was 1:22:25, which is a full 3 minutes faster than my last 10 mile race a few years ago. It’s not a distance I regularly race.

Finisher certificate

Don’t run Solo…Take a Wookie

The race left me confident that I’m able to push when I need to, which is great. The rest of the month was then back and focused on my triathlon training as the countdown to race weekend begins. Next month I will be ramping up the time/distances on the plan before tapering during the last week of the month. I’ve got to get there first…

Thank you for reading. See you next month.

July 2016 – Month in review

July was a great month. I achieved things that a few years ago I never would have thought possible. Time for a quick recap.

July 2016 - Nike+ Summary

July 2016 – Nike+ Summary

My running mileage looks low this month compared to my usual months of training. Indeed it was probably my lowest training month of running in a long time. I did however more than make up for that in total distance with swimming and running. My Garmin data below shows total monthly mileage of just under 308 miles made up of 9.8 miles of swimming, 190.6 miles of biking and 106.8 miles of running.

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July 2016 – Garmin Connect Summary

The first couple of weeks of the month were tapering into the event, focusing mainly on swim and bike (I think I’ve got the running thing down). I had such an amazing experience competing in and completing my first half iron distance (70.3 miles) triathlon at the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon. You can read the race recap here. I followed this up just two weeks later with the New Jersey State Triathlon to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon which you can read about here.

With all this talk about triathlons I was invited to be a guest to talk about my transition into the sport for an episode of the Team Shenanigans Podcast. A great bunch of folks who I got to know through the Mickey Milers running team. You can hear the episode here.

On 4th July my family all participated in the Washington Crossing Revolutionary Run in Washington Crossing Park, PA. My Wife and Father in law ran the 10K and my boys and I ran the 1 mile fun run. It was a hot morning but we had fun and after some refreshments (donuts) we had a nice fun family afternoon at the pool in our development following by a nice BBQ at home with the extended family. A good holiday weekend.

 

Happy 4th of July from The Running Crew

Happy 4th of July from The Running Crew

Mission Accomplished.

Mission Accomplished.

Later in the month I got to enjoy my Fathers Day present, Paul McCartney in concert at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Awesome!

Thank you Sir Paul

Thank you Sir Paul

So yes, July was a good month. I also have some new hardware on my office desk. Well earned. Makes me smile every time I look at it.

Some new desk hardware

Some new desk hardware

I know this recap is a little late (hey, it’s still not September) so thanks for hanging in there with me and thanks for reading.

 

2016 New Jersey State Triathlon – Race recap

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On July 24th I competed in the New Jersey State Triathlon at the Olympic distance. This was the scene of my first triathlon last year which was unfortunately cancelled mid-race.

Having completed my first half iron distance triathlon a couple of weeks earlier I was excited and determined to get back out there and do another triathlon (it’s an addictive sport). I also wanted to complete the course this year!!! My confidence was high having just gone almost twice the distance. I just wanted to put in a good time for myself and finish strong.

This was a hot weekend. Very hot. The temperatures were in the 90s which would be a challenge though. To make matters a little more complicated we had a family reunion down in Margate, NJ the day before the race which meant I had to drive home about 90 minutes after a day at the beach. Yeah, well planned…not to mention that I had to drive back after the race to pick up the family who were staying overnight.

I went to the race expo on the way home from work on Friday evening. It was held at the same location as last year, Mercer County Park in West Windsor, NJ. There was a full expo this year which was different from last year. It was a warm sunny evening and it was actually quite busy when I arrived. The Sprint race was on the Saturday while my event, the Olympic, was on Sunday morning.

Arriving at packet pickup

Arriving at packet pickup

I hoped to be able to get to the finishers chute this year

I hoped to be able to get to the finishers chute this year

The big difference from this year vs last year would be the distance. Last year the swim was 500m vs 1500m this year, three times as far. I had just completed a half iron distance of 1.2 miles (1900m) but that was wearing a wetsuit. This would be the longest swim without that aid of a wetsuit. Temperatures would be too high to wear them legally. Besides, I’d already returned my rented wetsuit so I had no choice. Also the bike and run courses were double the distance, although I wasn’t too worried about that as I’d completed that distance many times in training.

Packet pickup was fairly straightforward. We had to park in a field opposite the staging area and walk over. It was a very hot day and there was a lot of dust being kicked up in the parking lot but it was easy to access. I noticed from the pre-race details and confirmed at pickup that I would be in one of the last waves to start. That would mean 55 minutes from the start of the first wave (7:30am) until mine (8:25am). Coupled with the fact that transition closed at 7:15am meant that it would be a lot of waiting around on the day.

Well organized packet pickup

Well organized packet pickup

Volunteers were very helpful at pickup

Volunteers were very helpful at pickup

The swim wave schedule. I was due out at 8:25 in Wave 12.

The swim wave schedule. I was due out at 8:25 in Wave 12.

The expo was pretty small but more than they had in place last year. There was a merchandise section for the race which was new this year. The merchandise seemed good quality branded gear. I bought a visor (my usual race purchase) to add to my collection and I planned to wear it on the day.

Expo - vendor and merchandise area

Expo – vendor and merchandise area

Expo - vendor and merchandise area

Expo – vendor and merchandise area

They had race specific gear this year

They had race specific gear this year

They had race specific gear this year

They had race specific gear this year

I took the chance to walk around the staging areas. The set up was similar to last year with the only difference being instead of bike racks where the bike would rest and hand from the seat post, this year everyone was assigned a race box which held the bike from the rear wheel. Each box was equidistant so everyone would be evenly spaced.

Transition area looking empty

Transition area looking empty

This is the biggest triathlon held in New Jersey so there were lots of spaces to fill

This is the biggest triathlon held in New Jersey so there were lots of spaces to fill

Bikes were held in these racks rather than on a rail

Bikes were held in these racks rather than on a rail

The lake where we would be swimming on Sunday

The lake where we would be swimming on Sunday

I got back home from the day at the shore around 9:30pm the night before the race. I had packed up all my gear on the Friday night and pretty much had it ready by the door so I was able to grab a quick shower and get a few hours sleep before getting up at 4:15am the next day, packing my car and heading back to the race site.

On race day after packing the car, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a light breakfast (a Powerbar for breakfast with a Honey Stinger waffle to eat around 7am), and headed out to the race site. After unpacking my car I walked to transition and had my body marked with my race number and age and headed into transition to set up my gear. It was already quite warm.

Up early on race day

Up early on race day

I don't seem to travel light

I don’t seem to travel light

Setting up my gear

Setting up my gear. I use the painters bucket as a stool to sit on during transition

I think that's everything (and perhaps a little more)

I think that’s everything (and perhaps a little more)

Actually very excited at this point

Actually very excited at this point

I was earlier than I expected to be there so I set up my gear and made sure I went over my transition plan. As it was early and I knew I had time to wait I headed over to have a practice swim at the side of the lake where it was sectioned off. I didn’t go out too far, just a quick out and back. I noticed that the timing chip was chafing my ankle a little so it was a good opportunity to get all my gear right before I actually started the event. The water was warm (like bath water) and unlike my swim up in Kingston at the half iron, the water wasn’t clear so I could barely see my hand in front of my face. Based upon my exceptional ability to not swim in a straight line this would make the swim a lot of fun!!!

As the weather was warmer than expected, the race organizers announced that they would be reducing the time between each swim wave to 4 minutes from 5. This doesn’t sound like a lot but it would mean my time would start around 10 minutes ahead of planned and would allow for people to finish a little earlier in the morning as it was getting hotter.

I watched the first few waves go off and stayed under a shaded area out the sun. I wish I had thought ahead to bring a bottle of water to sip as it was a warm day and I had plenty of time to be waiting around. Eventually my wave was called into the waiting area (they would call up a wave and have the next wave waiting directly behind them to keep things moving). It was time to pop in the ear plugs, put on the swim cap and fix the goggles in place. Go time.

As per my usual start, I went off to one side and stayed back. I waited for the announcement to go and then waited as I counted to 10 before setting off. No point in getting caught in the tangle of thrashing swimmers at the front of the pack. I’m not the ‘podium type’.

Although it wasn’t planned, I tucked in along the left hand side of the course which pretty much had me tight along the course markers. At least I wasn’t off swimming in a different direction. This actually helped as all the buoys were on my left side (I don’t see out of my right eye) and this helped keep me straight. I maintained a pretty even and comfortable pace and was pleased with how the swim went. It felt a lot longer than it probably was and I didn’t have the extra buoyancy that a wetsuit would have provided so it was a little harder to maintain swim form, but this is what I had trained for so I kept it together and kept swimming.

The only time I veered off course was the final turn. The first three turns were all left turns and I was tucked in along that side. The final turn for home was on the right. As I said earlier I don’t see out of that side and we were swimming straight into the sun. I didn’t turn early enough when I should and so went a bit further in one direction and had to make up some ground just to get into the finisher chute. Still, I felt like I held it together well and wasn’t too tired or out of breath getting out of the water and heading into transition. I was out of the water an into transition in a time of 43:20.

Made it, although my swim cap looks like I resemble Dr Evil or Kojak

Made it, although my swim cap looks like I resemble Dr Evil

A pretty clean line around the course

A pretty clean line around the course

I'm not going to podium but I think I swam a respectable time

I’m not going to podium but I think I swam a respectable time

As I didn’t have to change out of a wetsuit this race my transition time was much quicker although it still takes time to get into the Injinji socks. The transition area was large due to the number of entrants in the race (about 1,500 I think) and I was well at the back of the transition so there was a long walk/jog out of transition to the point where I was able to mount the bike.

Where I had struggled in the last triathlon with the bike, this was a lot easier. Well for a start it was pretty much flat. It was the hills that did me in last time. I managed to get up a good speed on the bike and maintain it. I was passing quite a number of people considering I was in one of the last few waves of swimmers. I was feeling pretty good on the bike. There were quite a number of turns on this course but everything was pretty clearly labelled or they had a volunteer showing the direction.

Bike course

Bike course

On the way back towards the transition area we had to take a detour into and around a school campus. You can see from the map above where the course turns right and has a small out and back. As I said the course was pretty flat and at this point as it was a parking lot I put the hammer down as we were not on the road and was able to pass quite a number of riders. I’m not a fast cyclist by any means but I was able to average 17.4mph over the 20 mile course to finish the ride in 1:07:55.

Powering through

Powering through

Finishing the bike and dismounting meant the long run back into and to the back of the transition area. I had neglected to put on sunscreen for the bike portion even though I had left a note in my bike shoes. I had been in the blazing sun for over an hour. I had a pretty interesting tan line later. I had left a second reminder to put on sunscreen in my running shoes and this time I didn’t forget. It was around 11am by this stage and it was hot.

The run course was a two out and backs. 3 miles out and back towards transition followed by another 3 miles out and back on the other side of transition. Because of the heat the organizers had set up sprinklers at a couple of locations on the course. The run was mainly on black top which made the heat a little more intense but there were some shaded areas. At two points on the course there were ice-cold towels available which were definitely appreciated.

On the first half of the course it was a little tight as we passed through a narrow pathway among the trees but at least it was shaded. At this point I was planning to stop at every water station and drink water, pour a cup over my head and have some Gatorade at every other station. The volunteers were great. It cannot have been easy for them to spend all this time standing around in the heat either.

The water was cold, ice-cold on occasions. I loved that. I’ve not been to many races where they have made sure that the water temperature was well-managed. It was so hot and running a 10K around the middle of the day after a 21 mile swim/bike warm up meant that most people were in danger of overheating. The volunteers made sure that we were taking on water. At some stations they had people offering to splash you with cold water in addition to giving you something to drink. Nice.

The second out and back started beyond the transition area and passed briefly by the finisher chute. Only a few miles to go. Again, a narrow pathway with two directions of runners but this time there was less shade. I saw many people at this point just walking because of the heat. I slowed down to keep my heart rate from being too elevated but was able to maintain a steady pace. The second sprinkler on the course was truly appreciated. Just around mile 4.5 and was perfect. Once I reached the final turnaround I had a huge smile on my face. Just 1.5 miles to go until the end. I was ready to head in.

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Feeling strong

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Given the heat conditions I was beginning to wonder why it seemed all triathlon clothing was black…

The photographers managed to capture a few action shots.

The photographers managed to capture a few action shots.

And then I heard it, the finish line was ahead. Music and cheering. I turned towards the finish chute and ran towards the finish with a huge smile. I had been pulled off the course less than half a mile from the bike transition due to weather last year and never had the chance to finish the race. There was no one or no conditions stopping me this time.

Heading for the finish line

Heading for the finish line

Made it!

Made it! You can see how happy I was.

Completed my first Olympic distance triathlon

Completed my first Olympic distance triathlon

I crossed the finish line with a 10K time of 59.20, well short of my sub 50 minute PR but less than an hour in these conditions, for an official total time (including transitions) of 3:02:02.  Now I have a baseline time to work with for my next Olympic distance.

At the finish line they had cooling tents where you could walk through cold showers. I was already wet enough so I grabbed my medal and water and headed to the food tent to grab the post race goodies. We were given water, fruit, a soft pretzel, chocolate milk. There was some type of sandwich which I couldn’t eat (as a vegetarian) but the food was plentiful. I briefly stopped by the Bucks County Tri Club tent to say congratulations to everyone before heading back to transition to pack up. I had to drive down to Ocean City, NJ to pick up the family. No rest…

Olympic Distance Finisher

Olympic Distance Finisher

Looking back to the finish

Looking back to the finish

Some well earned bling

Some well earned bling

The potential 'Pinterest' image

The potential ‘Pinterest’ image

I have to say that this was a fun distance. It wasn’t as exhausting as the half iron distance (which makes sense) but it was still a challenge and just long enough to make me feel like I really had to push. The heat was a big factor in my slow run pace but overall I am very proud of being able to finish this one. This was definitely a place I had to return to complete my race from last year and I think I did a pretty good job. It was fun. This triathlon sport is getting very addictive. It is so rewarding. If you have thought about doing this but never pulled the trigger, I say give it a go. You never know if you don’t ‘Tri’!

 

Team Shenanigans Podcast Episode 46 – Transitioning to Triathlons (air date July 29, 2016)

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I was recently invited to be a guest on the Team Shenanigans Podcast to discuss transitioning from pure running to stepping into the world of triathlons. While I might not be the most accomplished triathlete (I’m still a newbie) this was recorded just a week after completing my most recent half iron distance triathlon. It was a fun conversation (with some very good editing before publication).

Take a listen and enjoy.

Team Shenanigans Podcast – 

http://teamshenanigans.org/46-transitioning-to-triathlons/

iTunes –

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/team-shenanigans-podcast-running/id1045316184?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4