2018 New Jersey State Triathlon – race recap

At the end of July I made my triathlon comeback. If you recall from last year, I had a ‘slight’ accident during my Half Iron distance triathlon in Williamsburg, VA and as a result I had to pull out of this event last year. As soon as the registration opened up for 2018 I signed up. I wouldn’t say my wife was happy about it but I needed to get back in the saddle…so to speak.

The hardest thing for me going in to this event was my lack of training. Since my accident I had not either gone on a bike or trained in a pool since last July. My main concern was not the bike, I’d just go slower if needed, but training in the pool. My shoulder has not been the same since the incident and still has both an audible and physical pop when I rotate it, so when the first swim training session appeared on my TrainingPeaks app I was a little apprehensive. Fortunately, I survived that and my actual fitness in the pool wasn’t as bad as I thought it may have been. With that said, I stuck very closely to the training plan and was able to maintain and build upon my swimming strength over the next 12 weeks.

That gap certainly did a number on my fitness…well, that and the extra 10 pounds that I put on since last tri season. Oh well. I was committed now and was willing to squeeze everything into the spandex when the time called for it. What was cool about this year though was that my whole family are now riding bikes so I got to do more recreational riding with my wife and my boys.

Race week was rapidly approaching and I was getting excited and eagerly awaiting receiving my race number and final instructions. When I received my confirmation I noticed that it said ‘Aquabike’. Wait a minute? Aquabike? That’s the swim and the bike…but not the run? I quickly went back through my race registration emails and it also said aquabike. Oh no! This was a disaster. After all the build up (in my own mind) for this come back race I seemed to have registered for the wrong event. This is also a race that constantly posts updates about selling out. (Insert audible head slap here!). I emailed the race director only to get their ‘Out of Office’ response. 😦 Ultimately I did get a response which told me to look to speak with them at packet pick up on the weekend to see what could be done.

I was a little concerned when I arrived at the race site on Saturday afternoon. They were just clearing up from the Saturday morning Sprint race. Fortunately the first person I spoke to happened to be the race director. Things were looking up. I explained my predicament, that this was my comeback race, that I had to pull out of last years event from injury and that I messed up (honesty is the best policy, right?) and it didn’t hurt that I was wearing a prior year event shirt and I mentioned the year when they cancelled the event mid race which was supposed to be my first triathlon. Okay, I poured it on a bit. No worries though. She walked me over to the timing table and let me adjust (and pay the extra fee) to upgrade to the Olympic triathlon. Yeah. They moved my number into the right category although I would still be racked and staged with the aquabike athletes. After that, race packet pickup was fine. I just had to swap out my swim cap color now that I was in the corrected event. Once All was taken care of I took a lap around the staging area and merchandise tent to see if there was any fun (or something unique) to buy. Seeing as I had just paid to upgrade my race the wallet stayed in my pocket this time.

The finish line for tomorrow’s event

The transition area was spacious for the event

The merchandise tent

So with everything now settled with the race all I had to do was go home, get my gear together and hope that my training had been enough (and that my confidence was there for the swim and the bike). It was a little surprising then (and not very settling for my nerves) when I got my race packet out to put with my race gear and noticed the name on the bib was not mine!!! Who the heck is ‘Gary’?

What the… #identitycrisis

I immediately jumped on to the Facebook page for the event (who doesn’t turn to Facebook for answers?) and before I sent a message to the race team I noticed that many people had experienced the bib name mess up. Phew.  I was not alone. I hadn’t picked up the wrong bib. Okay, if that is the worst that happens I’d be fine the next day.

Usually, this race is extremely hot. The water is usually so warm that wet suits are not allowed. The day is hot and sunny. This year however I woke up to find out that it had rained overnight and it was misty and cool. I arrived at the race site and racked my bike and got my equipment all set up. It had been raining and the ground was soft and damp. I laid my gear out on plastic bags to keep everything dry and packed my socks and shoes inside plastic bags as it was still misty. This was the year that people had wetsuits. I was ill prepared. It was misty and raining. I had sunscreen but no wetsuit. Oops. Anyway, I headed down to the race start by the side of the lake and waited for my wave to get into the water.

A wet start to the day and glad I brought the plastic bags

Ready for the off

As I was now in the 46-50 age group my wave was much later than it had been in previous years. We were almost one of the last waves out. It was such a big wave that it was broken into 2 groups so I was in the second half as my last name starts with ‘S’. Although apparently my first name is Gary!!! Finally the time to go arrived and I got into the water with everyone else ready for the off. The water was still warm so I was going to be okay without the wet suit.

My goal for this event was to finish (without any embarrassing incidents). My swim was okay. I managed to keep a good line but I was actually faster than my last race in 2016 when I had just finished my first 70.3 race (43 minutes in 2016 vs 40 minutes in 2018). Quite a surprise.

The swim leg

My transition was pretty much a lonely event. As I was racked with the aquabike racers, they had all set off earlier than I had. There was practically no-one around when I was in the transition area where I was set up. That’s at least good as the struggle I endure to put on Injinji socks on damp feet during a triathlon is something no-one needs to see (LOL).

With the swim portion complete it was time for the bike. Did I mention that rain and the mist? Wet roads and slick tires for someone who’s last race ended with a bike fall. Yeah, that was going to to boost my confidence at riding at speed! The transition area was wet and muddy and my cleats were caked in mud by the time I got to the bike mount area. I subsequently slipped while trying to clip in and whacked my ankle bone. Ouch!!! Eventually I was able to clip in and was off. The ride was incident free but I was over cautious especially in the corners. It didn’t help that I saw someone go down and saw an ambulance at the side of the road 😦  This is where I lost a lot of time in the race. In sunny 2016 I did this course in 1:07, this year 1:34. That’s a significant decline in performance. Yes, some could be explained by road surface conditions, but how much was due to nerves. I don’t know but we will see in 2019 (I’ve registered for the correct race this time!!!)

The bike leg

The weather had begun to improve by the end of the bike leg. While the sun wasn’t out as it had been in 2016 (that day was in the 80s) but it was dry and warm. The run was uneventful for me but I saw a couple of people stagger and go down due to the heat. I was tired by the end of the run and my splits definitely declined in the second half of the 10K. I ran this slower than in 2016. I think this was more due to the extra pounds than any else. I ran this in 1:06 vs 59 minutes in 2016.

The run leg

At least I finished this event without needing a trip to the medical tent. That’s a win. I really like this event. It is well run by CGI racing. They do a great job with all their races that I have participated in (Love Run, Rutgers Unite Half). Slower this time than last time I ran the event, but I will be back in 2019 and will now have something to beat.

The spandex may be tighter than previous years but I finished without a trip to the med tent

Well done ‘Gary’!!!

November 2017 – Month in review

November 2017 – Garmin Connect

This month the focus for me was preparing for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 19. I had just come off one of my biggest months of training in October. With the way the calendar fell I had three 50 mile weeks. The taper was most welcome. Together with the post marathon recovery which took longer than usual this was one of the smaller mileage months for me.

I still managed to churn out 127 miles (26.2 of which was the Philadelphia Marathon).

The weekend after the Philadelphia Marathon was Thanksgiving so I had a little extra time in the mornings to work out. It’s nice to be running in daylight at this time of year. It doesn’t happen much.

My wife and I had a good showing at the annual Bucks County Road Runners Thanksgiving 5 miler. This was our second fastest time for this event which we have run dating back to 2010. It was a cold morning but the sun was out and we made the most of the fine conditions to put the pedal down. I was more than pleased that I was feeling normal the morning of the race as I was feeling sore longer than normal after the marathon. Also…this race had pie!!!

Nice sunny day for our run around the park

Some solid splits for this run

They had pie

With that being done it was back to training for the upcoming Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge. This would be my first ‘Philly to Goofy’ (*) training cycle since 2014. I started doing the weekend back to back runs with doubling the distance of the Saturday runs on the Sunday. Only 7 weeks between Philly and Disney this time around.

My big ‘Black Friday’ purchase this year was to register both my wife and myself for the 2018 Philadelphia Marathon. That sets up quite a busy year for me in 2018 if you add to that the Delaware Marathon that I signed up for at the expo a week earlier.

2018 is looking like this for me now:

January – Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge

April – Delaware Marathon

July – New Jersey State Triathlon – Olympic Distance

November – New York City Marathon

November – Philadelphia Marathon

Thank you for reading.

(*) This is where the blog’s name comes from. Running the Philadelphia Marathon and then running the Goofy Challenge a few weeks later – Philly to Goofy – Philly2Goofy 🙂

December 2016 – Month and Year in review

December is over and another year has been completed. 2016 was a year of accomplishments that I never thought possible and was very rewarding.

Looking briefly at my December stats I completed 143 miles. I also managed to finally get back on the bike (albeit indoors on the trainer) and managed to make it into the pool a couple of times. It’s back to work over the winter. Hopefully this will pay off in the summer, however there is still the March marathon that my wife and I are training for. It’s going to be a long winter of training but all for a good reason.

Nike+ Summary - December

Nike+ Summary – December

You will notice from the Garmin data below that I have the ‘scale’ symbol from December 1st. I bought the Garmin Index Smart Scale on Black Friday…I’m already regretting that one!!! I’m hoping that this winter training pays off before I have to squeeze into that triathlon spandex in the springtime.

Garmin Connect - December 2016

Garmin Connect – December 2016

So, my total mileage for the year ended up as 2,388 miles made up of:

1,597 miles – Running

753 miles – Cycling

38 miles – Swimming

Overall it was a lot of fun. Lots of good work with some good results, so lets recap 2016.

January – March

With no runDisney races for the first time in recent years the winter months were spent training for the spring marathon and avoiding the cold and the snow. With the treadmill we bought at the end of 2015 I was lucky not to miss too many days of training. I even became a regular at the pool towards the end of February. My wife and I did run the Eanie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half Marathon with our local running club (Bucks County Road Runners) as part of their Winter Series. Lots of fun…lots of hills…but on the plus side, lots of food at the finish.

Running the 'Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe' Half Marathon

Running the ‘Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe’ Half Marathon

My wife and I also took part in the Philadelphia Phillies Charities 5K. This was my first time running this event although my wife has run it every year. It was a lot of fun. I don’t run too many 5Ks and this was over too quick. Still we had a fun time down at the stadium.

And finished with a fun photo opp.

And finished with a fun photo opp.

At the end of March I was invited onto the Let’s Run Disney podcast to talk about my ‘Goofy In A Day‘ experience back in 2015 where I ran 39.3 miles in one day to raise money for ‘Give Kids The World Village’.

April

At the last-minute I decided to register for and run in the Rutgers Half Marathon in New Brunswick, NJ. I had run this race in 2015 and enjoyed it. It was a good warm up to race season. I wasn’t expecting too much and managed to end up running a new half marathon PR. A good days work and definitely a confidence builder going into the season. I was invited after this race to join my friend John on his  ‘Runner of a Certain Age’ podcast for a race recap.

On my way to a new Half Marathon PR at the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

On my way to a new Half Marathon PR at the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon.

May

At the beginning of May was the New Jersey Marathon. I had run this back in 2013 and 2014 and this is still my current marathon PR. This time I was running with my wife and we met up with my friend Elvin who ran with us for the first 19 miles. It rained from the minute we started the race until the end. It was a truly soaking run but we had fun and we made the best of it.

Outside the 'Stone Pony' in Asbury Park, NJ (Springsteen Country)

Outside the ‘Stone Pony’ in Asbury Park, NJ (Springsteen Country)

A few days after the marathon, I got up early one morning and while getting my biking cleats on I managed to strain my sacroiliac joint. Ouch. Big ouch. I was laid out flat for two days unable to sit up. After three trips to the chiropractor in two days and lots of time laying on a heat pad I was finally up and moving again. After 9 days off (yeah…I know not a lot) I was running again. My wife was the race director for her company’s 5K (which was more like a 5.5K) and we all (me, both boys and my father in law) were taking part. I didn’t want to show myself up so I put the hammer down and ended up 3rd in my age group and 10th overall.

Good enough for 3rd place in my age group.

Good enough for 3rd place in my age group.

The boys had a great time running the 1 mile fun run. My wife (and her company) did an awesome job.

Proud parent moment. The Heir and the Spare running the 1 Mile Fun Run

Proud parent moment. The Heir and the Spare running the 1 Mile Fun Run

Priceless. Crossing the finish line

Priceless. Crossing the finish line

Following the New Jersey Marathon I was in full triathlon training mode. I was training for my first Half Iron distance in July. My training went from a max of 7 hours a week (when training for a marathon) to between 12-16 hours a week at the peak of triathlon training.

June

During the peak of my triathlon training I had to take a business trip to London. I was unable to bike and swim during the 10 days overseas but I did get the opportunity to enjoy the great English summer and I got a lot of running time (and sightseeing through London) in the early hours of each day. My hotel was in Central London and I was able to cover lots of ground on foot. It was great. I was also fortunate to spend time with my Sister and her family and with my Parents. It was a great trip and a productive work trip.

Finishing my time in London with a final run over Tower Bridge. Maybe one day I will be able to get back for the London Marathon.

Finishing my time in London with a final run over Tower Bridge. Maybe one day I will be able to get back for the London Marathon.

July

This was the big month. This was what I had been training for all winter long. My first Half Iron distance triathlon. I participated in the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon up in Kingston, NY. It was my first attempt at a 70.3 mile swim, bike, run event. I had a great experience made all the better with meeting up with my friend Bob (also doing the Half Iron distance) and having my wife’s Aunt and her family meet me at the finish line. I was on a high for days after the event despite my exhaustion. It was great.

I did it!!!

I did it!!! My first 70.3 (Half Iron Distance) traithlon

With my friend Bob at the finish line

With my friend Bob at the finish line

Later in the month and with temperatures in the 90’s I took part in the New Jersey State Traithlon at the Olympic distance. This was the site of my first triathlon attempt which was washed out by a lightning storm in 2015 with only the swim and bike legs completed. This year I was able to complete the race despite the intense heat and had a lot of fun. I’m already signed up for this event again in 2017.

2016 New Jersey State Triathlon

2016 New Jersey State Triathlon

At the end of July I was invited onto the Team Shenanigans podcast to talk about transitioning from marathon running to triathlon training and racing. That was a lot of fun (and thankfully heavily edited).

August

With my focus back on marathon training I set about the summer months getting my long runs in for my October marathon. While I may have sounded like winter training is hard (it is) the summer training for a marathon really beats you up. It is the heat and the humidity that really stresses the body. It is easier to run in the cold with layers to keep you warm but its hard to run in the heat as you are already minimally dressed and it is hard to cool down. We took our vacation with the boys this year in Myrtle Beach, SC and the heat and humidity were intense. I stopped on my long runs to refill my water pack which is something I never need to do at home.

Family vacation time

Family vacation time

While on vacation both boys ran a 5K with us to earn their own virtual runDisney medals. We were very proud of them and they want to do this again in 2017.

With their Mickey Shorts medals

With their Mickey Shorts medals

September

At the start of the month I was invited back (as a last minute stand in) to my friend John’s ‘Runner of a Certain Age’ podcast to talk about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series.

This was the peak of marathon training for me with the upcoming marathon at the beginning of October. Thankfully the weather was still great for most of the month. Cooler but not too cool. I had two races this month, the Hightstown Triathlon (my last triathlon of the season) and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (my 6th consecutive time running this race).

The triathlon was lots of fun. I was confident going into this as this was the shortest of my races this year and it was great to be joined by a couple of my work colleagues. I ran the Half Marathon with my wife. It was a tough race as it was only 48 hours after my last 20 mile training run but we powered through and made a respectable time.

2016 Hightstown Triathlon

2016 Hightstown Triathlon

2016 Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

October

The first week of October was the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. This was to be my goal PR race that I had trained for. Despite the scenery (the Adirondacks in the fall is breathtakingly beautiful) my time goal was not meant to be. I faded during the last 7 miles of the race and ended up running just over 4 hours. Not what I had planned but still respectable. I wasn’t disappointed. I did the best I could on the day but it just wasn’t my day. Still, we had a great weekend meeting up with family in Albany and my wife ran a great half marathon.

Although I missed my goal time I always celebrate a marathon finish

Although I missed my goal time I always celebrate a marathon finish

November

This was a busy but fun month. It started out with me ‘race chasing’ my wife as she ran (and earned a new PR) in the TCS New York City Marathon. She had won her place in the lottery and I did all I could to support her over the weekend. It was a great time and I was so proud of her. I had a lot of fun running and taking the subway all across the city. I managed to see my wife four times during the race and the weather was perfect.

The Great Race Chase

The Great Race Chase

My wife and her NYC Marathon finisher medal

My wife and her NYC Marathon finisher medal

The week before Thanksgiving is the time for the Philadelphia Marathon. This year I was running in the inaugural ‘Rocky Challenge’ which involved me running the Philadelphia Half Marathon on the Saturday and the Philadelphia Marathon on the Sunday for a total of 39.3 miles. It was lots of fun. I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself other than to just finish each race. I was totally thrilled to run each race under my target times and for the weekend I ran a sub 2 hour half marathon and a sub 4 hour full marathon. This was despite a significant change in the weather between the two days. I was really pleased with my performance and this capped off my racing year on a high.

A good weekends work. A sub 2 hour Half Marathon and a sub 4 hour Full Marathon

A good weekends work. A sub 2 hour Half Marathon and a sub 4 hour Full Marathon

We finished the year with our usual Thanksgiving Day 5 mile Turkey Trot which our local running club puts on. My wife and I ran together with a fairly decent time (I think near one of our fastest times).

Always great to cross a finish line together

Always great to cross a finish line together

In Summary

2016 was a fun and rewarding year. I completed 3 marathons and 4 half marathons. I completed 3 triathlons, a Half Iron distance, Olympic distance and Sprint distance. I earned a new half marathon PR. I ran in London (and Atlanta and Arizona) and also participated in 4 podcasts. What fun!!!

I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.

On my calendar (so far):

March – Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon (with my wife)

July – Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3 Triathlons (another two-day challenge)

July – New Jersey State Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

September – Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (with my wife)

I’m hoping to get through the New York City Marathon lottery this year (my 3rd attempt) and I’ll probably run the Philadelphia Full Marathon again in November.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

july

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

11072002_10154141593233306_143604753178052969_n

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.

IMG_6627

Feeling strong

IMG_6625

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’!

 

2016 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon – Race recap

newunitetm

On Sunday April 17th I ran my 20th half marathon, the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon. It was a race I ran in 2015 and really enjoyed (I had a good race after a long winter) and it fit nicely into my training plan for the upcoming New Jersey Marathon. This was another race put on by CGI Racing who also host the Love Run Philly and the New Jersey State Triathlon, both of which I have participated in over the last couple of years. They do put on a good event.

I was looking forward to this race as I remember it being a fast and fairly flat course and was looking forward to seeing how my pace was during race conditions. I’ve been taking it a little easy this winter as my goal is to stay fit and healthy for the upcoming HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July. My goal race is the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October. I was close to my PR last year and I felt that it was achievable the way I was training.

This year I opted to pay an extra $15 for race day packet pickup so I didn’t get to attend the expo. From what I recall from 2015 it was a small expo so I didn’t miss out on too much. The extra $15 was probably the gas and tolls I would have spent driving up and back prior to the race.

The forecast was looking good and so I was able to put away the winter gear and planned on wearing a short sleeve shirt. I decided that this was a good enough excuse to debut my new INKnBURN Magnum PI tech shirt. Actually, I didn’t really need an excuse.

20160417_091230000_iOS

Hard to tell the difference I know!!

I grabbed a cup of coffee and one of my new Honey Stinger waffles (mmm….tasty) for my pre-race breakfast and set out while it was still dark for the 40 mile or so drive to the start line. I got there early on and was parked fairly close to the start line and was able to walk to packet pickup and back to my warm car (it was still a little chilly in the early hours). Packet pickup was quick and seamless, although I was told I had to pick up my shirt and mug at the finish line. Not a big deal. In fact, I probably could have arrived a little later as it was a quicker process than I thought. My tip, register for morning of race packet pickup.

20160417_101835659_iOS

You know when you have arrived on campus

20160417_102030100_iOS

Packet pickup was quick and easy. Just had to show ID.

rutgers

Packet pickup was quick and easy. Just had to show ID.

It had not warmed up by the time I left my car so I was wearing a warm up jacket which I planned to check so I would have it at the finish line. I had packed a large trash bag to wear in the start chute so headed out to bag check. While I was there I met up with fellow Mickey Miler and host of the Runner Of A Certain Age podcast, John. It was thanks to John that I signed up for this race last year. I hadn’t seen him for a while but I had been a guest on his podcast a couple of times before and we keep in touch on social media.

20160417_114113693_iOS

Meeting up with John pre-race.

In writing this recap I took a look at my last year recap. As you can see below, this picture made me chuckle when I re-read last year as we took the same photo in the same spot.

IMG_1226

Meeting up with John (host of ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age’ podcast)

It was almost time to start so we made our way over to the start line. I made the same mistake as I had the previous year and entered the chute at the back and had to make my way forward between the 8 and 9 minute pace groups. There were no corral placements, you would just line up at the approximate pace you planned to run. It was only when I reached that point that I realized I could have entered the chute from the side. Oh well. Not a big deal and I was very polite as I made my way forward. I was wearing my trash bag to keep warm but realized I didn’t need it as it was warming up nicely so I took it off to the side and waited for the gun.

20160417_115107856_iOS

I made my way from the back to my pace time area.

 

20160417_115220686_iOS

Always a stylish choice. Black goes with everything.

 

20160417_120340576_iOS

I made it a little closer to the front.

20160417_115255980_iOS

Get the chopper TC. I’ll meet you at Rick’s for a cold one after the race.

As this was a goal race, I didn’t stop to take pictures of the course. The course itself was a little changed up from last year. There was more time on the newer side of the campus and it seemed to take us around more of the back of house areas than through the campus itself. There isn’t much course support from spectators as such on the back side of the campus (glad I wore my headphones) and there is only so much maintenance equipment and housing blocks you can see before you get bored. The second half of the race (once crossing over the highway) is more picturesque as you run through a park but you really don’t hit the campus area until after the finish.

2016.1

2016 Course – more time at the back of the campus

2015.1

2015 Course – more time in the park

About 15 minutes after the half marathon started the organizers sent off the 8K runners. They started on the same place as we did but on the opposite side of the start line. Essentially they run the last 8K of the half marathon distance and would explain why we ran back through the start line around mile 8. It was noticeable that there were more water stations on the second half of the course as a result.

Personally I was having a fairly decent race. I was feeling good and the course wasn’t too congested. There were some nice open stretches and for the short inclines, there were plenty of declines. It was a fairly limited elevation through the first 8 miles. Here are my splits for the first 8 miles.

First half

My first half splits.

I was feeling good going into the second half the race. My 10K split was within a couple of minutes of my 10K PR so all I had to do was keep it going.

As I was going well I started to do running math in my head. Big mistake. It was a distraction and my numbers and timing didn’t seem to make sense. I abandoned that as it is a bad habit. I didn’t think I could make my goal time (sub 1:50) but I still knew I could make a good go of the race. There are no pictures that I took on the course but I did get this professional shot from the second half of the race.

pi

Doing my best Flyin’ Hawaiian pose.

The second half of the course in the park features a long out and back. It is about a mile and a half or so. As I had run this last year I had a sense of where I was. I remember it feeling a lot longer last year as it always does when you don’t know where the turn around is. I found this section a lot more comfortable to do this year.

Once out of the park you run through the back of a nearby neighborhood and into another park. The last couple of miles have the two biggest inclines (not hills as such). There is a final turnaround in the park as we run around a gazebo. It was at this point when I hit a mile to go that I realized I wasn’t going to hit my sub 1:50 goal, I was getting a little tired. I still thought I could be close to a PR but either way I knew it would be a good run for me.

second half

My second half splits. It shows that I slowed around mile 10.

After the final crest of course it is all downhill to the finish line. I just picked up my pace and ran it in. I was feeling strong and pushed through to the end.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:51:55. Really happy with my time but sad because I hadn’t PR’d. Still, I felt good.

20160417_140255194_iOS

I grabbed a bottle of water and excited the finish chute making sure to take a couple of photos to document the experience.

20160417_140044773_iOS

It was a great run in to the finish line.

20160417_140149625_iOS

Happy to be done. I worked hard.

20160417_140224683_iOS

The medal was so much nicer this year.

Before I left the finish line I took a quick look at my running data to see how close I had been to a PR when I realized that I actually had PR’d the race. No wonder my math hadn’t worked out on the course. I had my old PR of 1:52.43 (2013 Atlantic City April Fool’s Half Marathon recap) wrong in my head and I actually PR’d the race by almost a minute.

UNITE

My official finish time.

Needless to say I was very happy once I realized. It had been over 3 years since I PR’d so you can excuse me for forgetting!

Once past the finish chute we were shepherded out to the food and back check areas. The food was well organized. Everyone was given a plastic bag containing post race refreshments as well as more water and they had Coke/Diet Coke available (although I haven’t touched soda since last August).

20160417_141340521_iOS

Post race refreshments were restricted to runners only.

20160417_141347633_iOS

Food bags were well organized and runners were moved very quickly through the tent.

We then were able to sit and stretch out on the lawn area just outside of the race set up. This is really a wonderful area to sit and cool down after the race. It really was the most picturesque part of the day. Shame it was after the race and not during.

 

 

20160417_141644573_iOS

Post race food done right. There was also a bag of potato chips included.

20160417_141754291_iOS

Definitely earned this today.

20160417_141505634_iOS

Some nice views of the post race area.

20160417_141449679_iOS

A great place to rest up and relax post race.

After sitting for a while I went to bag check to receive my bag. I didn’t need my jacket after all as the weather was glorious. The bag did come in useful though as I had to pick up my race shirt and mug and it was nice to have something to pack it all up as I then had to line up for the shuttle to return to the starting line to get my car.

20160417_163902587_iOS

In additional to my medal and race shirt (not shown) I got my race mug which CGI gives out for each race.

Really pleased with my day and again this would be a race I would recommend and return to. I think I would like my wife run it next year so she gets a chance and I will do something else, probably the Love Run Philly as they are back to back weeks and both run by the same company.

I guess it was all down to the shirt for me. I was thinking of heading the blog ‘Magnum PR’ but that would have been a little too cheesy.

20160417_144451000_iOS

I outran ‘Apollo’ and ‘Zeus’ to earn my PR.

Thanks for reading. Sorry about all the Magnum references 🙂

December 2015 – Month and Year in review

December is over and a new year has begun. Time to take a look back at the month, the year and look forward to what 2016 has in store.

Dcember 2015 – Nike+ Summary

December 2015 – Nike+ Summary

For the month of December I ran 128 miles, swam 1.3 miles and cycled 39 miles. This is nothing compared to the 1,150 each way journey I embarked on from my home to visit my parents in Florida. Interesting journey…just pleased (and relieved) that my 9 and 5 year old passengers were awesome the whole way down.

2015 – Nike+ Summary

2015 – Nike+ Summary

All in all for the year I ran less but still racked up mileage by introducing swimming and biking as I started my triathlon career. A total of 1,964 miles for the year. 1,576 running, 366 cycling and 22 swimming. No wonder I am so tired.

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

Our ride to Florida. The kids were in the back, not on top (as tempting as it may seem).

See...they're in the back. This is outside a Dunkin' Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

See…they’re in the back. This is outside a Dunkin’ Donuts at 5am. #roadtrip

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

After two days of travel we were glad to reach our destination

Before I revisit the year I’ll take a quick look back for the month of December.

With such a mild December I was able to still run outside for the most part, even when I visited Atlanta, GA for business (although it was cooler there than I had expected). It was just a matter of avoiding the rain. More often than not I was outside. When I got to Florida, the weather was glorious. Very hot and humid so that slowed my pace a little but I was fortunate to have my parents look after our boys so that my wife and I could get out almost everyday for mid to long runs. It worked out great.

Nice to have a chance to run together

Nice to have a chance to run together

While we were down in Florida we signed up for a the local Bradenton Running Club’s Annual Manatee River 5 Mile Run. We even signed the boys up for the kids races. It was a hot day and not much shade but it was a good day to be out there. I also met up with my fellow Mickey Miler team-mate Robert.

Ready to run

Ready to run

Running family

Running family

Discussing race strategy

Discussing race strategy

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

With a fellow Mickey Miler and a junior one

Reward for his 200 meter run

Reward for his 200 meter run

Making it look easy

Making it look easy in the 400 meters

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Reserve in Palmetto, Florida

Beautiful location at the Emerson Point Nature Preserve in Palmetto, Florida

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Being out-sprinted by my wife

Determination

Determination

A great end to a fun year. Lots of family time and a great chance to get out and run a lot. We did eat a lot of ice cream on vacation so the running was badly needed!!

2015 – Looking Back

It was a very busy year. My wife and I ran 3 marathons together and I ran 4 in total. This included us running for Autism Speaks while we ran the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World back in January. We ran the Pittsburgh Marathon together in May and the Marine Corps Marathon together in October. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November as well as a few half marathons during the year. Happy to be able to compete and even better for being able to run with my wife for most of these events.

In May I ran my first unofficial ‘ultra-marathon‘ (any run longer than 26.2 miles is considered an ‘ultra’) for the charity ‘Give Kids The World‘. I ran 39.3 miles in one day (the equivalent of the Goofy Challenge – a half marathon followed by a full marathon but all in one day). This charity is supported my my running team, the Mickey Milers and through this event I was able to raise $1,250 for this cause.

This was also the year I ventured into triathlons. I attempted (weather shortened) my first triathlon back at the New Jersey State Triathlon back in July. I was able to finally complete my goal of a sprint triathlon at Medford Lakes, NJ and then added a final sprint event before the end of my triathlon season in Hightstown, NJ so I could concentrate on my Fall marathon schedule.

It was a year of accomplishments for me and I’m grateful I was able to complete these events and remain relatively injury free.

2016 – Looking Forward

While my running schedule isn’t set for the full year, I am signed up for a couple of big events. First, my wife and I are signed up to run the New Jersey Marathon on May 1st. I’ve run this event twice before and this is still my marathon PR race. We also entered ourselves for the New York City Marathon in November. We will not find out about whether we get in until March so I’m looking at other races in the Fall just in case although I haven’t committed to any yet. Of course, I will be signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon as long as I am around that time of year.

The big event for me this year is that I will be participating in my very first Half Iron distance triathlon (70.3 miles) in Kingston NY in July. This is quite a step up from the sprint triathlons I did in 2015. I hope to be in good shape and ready when the time comes. Looking forward to it very much.

My other goal this year is to work on speed (and stay injury free). I’m looking for a fairly local goal race in the Fall (maybe before New York if we get in) to see if I can get to that 3:45 marathon time goal I seek. We shall see.

Thank you for sticking with me for the last few years as I have been writing this blog. I hope that I have lots of good stories to share in 2016 (and beyond).

Wishing you all success in all your endeavors this year. Happy New Year.