Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lyndonville 4th of July 5K Race Report

For the past several years we have done an unofficial 5K back home in Lyndonville the morning of the 4th of July to raise a bit of money for the fireworks that night. The firework show is one of the most incredible shows you will ever see. My father heads up the fundraising for it and, for a town as small as Lyndonville, he really gets the community to support the show. A town of less than 1,000 people puts out a 4th of July firework show of over $20,000. I recommend you get out there and see it some year if you haven't. You'll be impressed.

Anyway, the run is headed up by Penny Plummer Barry, and she put the word out that we would be doing it again this year. To try to accommodate people who were marching in the parade at noon, this year we moved the run up to 8:30am from 10am. That way people could run and then be on their way in plenty of time to march. I actually liked having the run earlier, but it made for an early morning as I had a 2.5 hour ride I needed to get in first. For the past couple of years I rode my bike to Lyndonville from Rochester that morning and timed it just right to hop off the bike and do the run. This year, since I'm doing my riding primarily on the trainer, I drove out Friday night and set my stuff up in my parents' garage. I got on the bike at 5:15am and got a solid ride in with some hard intervals in the last 40 minutes - 4 x 6 minutes at 364, 364, 365, and 368 watts. I finished up just in time to head over to run. 

We met in one of the church parking lots in the town and it was the usual faces that come every year. I enjoy the tradition and that everyone comes back each year for this. It really is a lot of fun. Becky and Jen also were running, and it's always great to see and talk with the Hughes family. We took the traditional group photograph, lined up on the road at the chalk line, and got the "ready, set, go" send off.

The route is a out and back to the White Birch Golf Course. The actual turn around spot is a little unofficial, so I just went to 1.55 on my Garmin before turning to head back. I wasn't sure how great I'd feel considering the hard bike ride I had done that morning, but I didn't feel terribly as we took off, so I just figured I'd roll with whatever came from my legs. I went through mile one in 5:51. I definitely didn't expect to feel that well, especially since I didn't feel like I was laboring. I figured I would just try to maintain that pace. I hit the 1.55 mile mark and turned to head back. Mile two split - 5:48, which kept me right on pace. This is the point where we were getting back into the village. People were setting up their chairs for the parade and putting finishing touches on getting their parties ready. There were American flags lining the light poles all down Main Street. It's an awesome little town on the 4th. Seeing all of this made mile three pass quickly. Split - 5:47. I made the left hand turn back down Lake Ave. toward the parking lot and hit 3.1 miles at 17:57 and was pleased with the sub 18 minute effort.

Everyone started rolling in and the group came back together. We all chatted for a bit, had some water, and of course some delicious cookies provided by Penny. They were as amazing as always. I even got my own plate for winning. Thank you, Penny!

After that we went on our way to celebrate the 4th with friends, family, a parade, too much food, and an amazing fireworks display. I already can't wait for next year!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

2015 Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant

I love this venue. After racing in Mont Tremblant last year in September I immediately knew I wanted to return for this race this year. The area is beautiful and the course is fantastic. It's a good mix of being challenging (i.e. not pancake flat) but also quite fast. The water is clear and refreshing. The roads are smooth and fast. The run is a good mix of spectators through the village and peacefulness on the trail. If you haven't been up to race in Mont Tremblant, I can't recommend strongly enough that you get up there and check it out.

I drove up to Mont Tremblant Friday after work. Becky and I left right from work, which saved us quite a bit of time as going home first would have caused us to do some backtracking. It ended up saving us about an hour total, which was really nice. The drive up was uneventful (unlike last time we went up there). My parents, sister, and Kathie and driven up earlier in the day, so they were already there. We arrived just before 10pm, so I was able to get a good night of sleep and not have to deal with all of the craziness that occurred before Raleigh. Being able to drive to a race really does take a lot of potential stress out of the equation. After flying to my first three races this year, the drive up was a welcome change.

Saturday was a bit unique because there were sprint and Olympic distances races held at the venue that morning, causing the normal pre-race stuff to be pushed back a bit in the day. Being a morning person who likes to get all that stuff done early in the day this was a bit of an adjustment for me, but it was alright. I went and registered right at 11am when they opened up and then went over to the lake for a practice swim. The lake was chilly (about 62F), but it was tolerable. I have to send a huge thank you to Debbie from for sending me a full sleeve Roka Maverick Pro wetsuit the week of the race. I had ordered a Huub suit in April and it still hadn't arrived. They kept telling me it was back ordered and should be in the following week. I guess it's shame on me for not drawing the line sooner, but they really jammed me up. I was disappointed with the service and them promising me the suit the week before only to be told the day it was guaranteed to ship that they "ran short." So thanks again to TriSports for bailing me out. Anyway... I felt great in the practice swim and was hoping that that would lend itself to a solid swim on race day.

After swimming I had to head to the athlete briefing. Being in a room with Jesse Thomas, Lionel Sanders, Richie Cunningham, Cody Beals, Paul Ambrose and a bunch of other top level triathletes is still pretty intimidating. The meeting was the usual stuff - here is the course... these are the rules... It was over quickly and we were on our way. I wanted to get a quick spin on my bike to make sure everything was running smoothly, so I grabbed it and headed out for short ride. After riding there was time to get a little rest before heading to dinner. We ate at the same little Italian place in downtown Tremblant where we ate last year. The food was delicious. After dinner we headed back to the condo so I could get my race gear together and get to bed early.

The race at Mont Tremblant is an 8am start, which meant we gott to sleep in. I set my alarm for 5am and woke up on my own before it went off. I'm used to a 4:15 start so this was like a lazy morning for me. I got ready, ate breakfast, and walked down to transition to rack my bike. Then we walked over to the swim start, which is about a 10 minute walk from transition. We were plenty early, so we found a spot to sit and relax for a bit before putting the wetsuit on. At 7:30am I got into my wetsuit and headed into the water to get warmed up. For some reason, though they told us it had warmed up a degree or two overnight, it felt colder to me, but after a few minutes of getting used to it I felt alright. It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't so terrible that I thought my feet would freeze.

Just before 8am we lined up on the beach, which makes for a bit of a different start from many of the races I have done in the past few years where we have mainly been waist or chest deep in the water to start. When the gun went we charged in to the water, running and dolphin diving to get through the shallow water. For not having much experience with it, I was pleased with my entry into the lake with a few dolphin dives and then getting into a relaxed form. My goal was to break 30 minutes. I still had yet to do that in any 70.3 I had raced, and I needed to have that happen if for nothing else but the mental aspect of it. I focused on reaching and extending my arms to get good hip rotation and keeping my shoulders and arms relaxed in the water. I didn't try to make a group to swim with and find feet because I have been stressing myself out with that the past couple of races and I think it tenses me up. The course is a rectangle with two right hand turns, so it's very simple to navigate. I did actually manage to stay on the back of a group for the first 400 meters or so, but then I slowly fell off the back. I decided rather than try to push to stay with them I would just take whatever the swim gave me and keep relaxed, saving my energy for later. As I approached the end of the swim I did a couple more dolphin dives to get to water shallow enough to run in. I looked up at the clock and saw 29:xx. I will admit that when I saw that, I made a dash for the arch. I sprinted to make sure I got over the timing mat before 30 minutes hit. My official swim time was 29:45. It's still not great, but I finally cracked 30. Baby steps. I was pleased with that.

On the long run to transition I started peeling my off wetsuit. When I got to my bike, though, it got stuck on my ankle. I ended up really struggling and fighting to get it off. The one guy I beat out of the water exited T1 before me. Ugh...that was frustrating. He didn't stay in front long though, as I passed him back in the first half mile of the bike.

Once I got on my bike and into my shoes I pushed the pace. My coach had given me a target of 295 watts, but I was feeling good so I pushed a bit harder. For the first hour I averaged 317 watts. I had pulled a few guys back and was moving myself slowly back through the field. It started to rain lightly about 30K into the ride. It wasn't pouring, but it was enough to make the roads damp and slippery. With three u-turns on the course, I made sure to take them carefully. With about 20K left on the bike I had moved into 13th place. With the out and backs and u-turns it was easy to count people and gauge where I was in the race. I could see 12th place up the road, but wasn't able to pull him back. The stretch from 72-82K on this course is really though. There are a lot of steep climbs up to the final turn around. They aren't terribly long, but they are quite challenging. The nice part is once you get to the final turn around you get to come back down those same hills. After the final turn around I headed back toward transition. While I normally keep my intensity and power up on descents, I decided to take the opportunity on this stretch to rest my legs a big and let them recover on the fast downhills. With the wet roads I figured it wasn't worth the risk to hammer this section out to save maybe 30 seconds to a minute.

I came into transition still in 13th spot. I had ridden well, but this was by far the biggest effort I had put out on the bike to date. My normalized power for the ride was 307 watts. Transition was pretty clean and quick, and I headed out onto the run course.

My goal was to replicate my run from Raleigh. I started a little bit slowly there and built into a comfortable pace. I decided to take the same tactics here, and with a tough hill coming almost straight out of transition, keeping my heart rate under control was important. After that hill we ran past the lake, through the village and then out to a bike/run trail. The first part of the course was the same as the 70.3 Worlds course from last September, but once we hit the trail it was new to me. The trail was great pavement and shaded by trees, so it made for a cool run, which I enjoyed. The rain had stopped and the temperature was comfortable. On my way out I got to see the battle for the podium taking place between Lionel Sanders, Taylor Reid, and Jesse Thomas. The three of them were running together when I saw them and they were flying. I knew the overall time was going to be fast because those guys were racing hard. When someone is alone at the front sometimes they can just cruise in because they aren't being pushed. That certainly wasn't the case here.

Just before moving into
11th place.
I had been running steadily behind 12th spot on the way out. By the turn around I don't think the gap had really changed much. I continued to focus on him and tried to pick up the pace just slightly as we headed back toward town. It took me until 17K, but I was finally able to reel him in and make the pass. As we ran back along the water toward the resort part of town I could see 11th a bit up the road. I wasn't sure if I could make the catch or not, but I kept pushing. At the 20K mark of the run we went back past the exit from transition before running the final kilometer up the hill to the top of the resort and then back down to the finish line at the bottom. At that point I had pretty well resolved myself to 12th, but as I ran by the run exit my dad and Becky were standing there and I heard Becky yelling for me to go catch him. How could I give up now? I dug a little bit deeper and as we made our way up the climb I moved into 11th. I was nervous for another sprint finish because the course is quite narrow through the village on the way back down, so I kept pushing to the top of the resort and opened a big enough gap that I knew I was safe heading back down.

I crossed the line very proud of my effort and the 11th place result. In a three week time period I was able to throw down back to back 4:09 races and walk away with 10th and 11th place finishes. I was consistent and felt I biked and ran very well at both races. My confidence on the run has grown quite a bit as a result of these two races, but I will continue to work at it. The new goal is to crack the 1:20 mark, which I know will take some serious work, but I'm ready for the challenge.

As always, thanks to my family and Becky for all their support. It was great having them all at the race. Kathie Same joined us for this trip as well, so it was great to have her there. Again, a huge thank you to Debbie at TriSports for the help with the wetsuit and getting that to me so quickly. Next up is the NYC Triathlon on July 19 and then Ironman 70.3 Calgary the following week. July should be an exciting month!

Swim - 29:45
Bike - 2:12:25
Run - 1:22:39
Overall - 4:09:50