Monday, July 3, 2017

January to June 2017

Once again I find myself playing catch up from races. The pace of life is much faster now and I can't seem to find the time or motivation to write up my experiences, though I do enjoy reflecting and sharing what I've been up to for anyone interested.

March - 70.3 Puerto Rico

In March I headed back to San Juan for my fourth edition of 70.3 Puerto Rico. I am fairly sure that I have raced this course more than any other triathlon I've done. I love the island, the venue, and specifically visiting Old San Juan before the race. This year was nothing short of a disaster. My flight Friday out of Rochester was cancelled. We were eventually rebooked on a much later flight, but it meant that I didn't arrive in San Juan until about 5am Saturday morning, which isn't exactly great for the body before racing. The stress of thinking I might not get there was overwhelming. Fortunately we did make it, even with the less than ideal circumstances.

As for the race itself, I had a typical, frustratingly slow swim. Then, for the first time ever in a race, I punctured on the bike at mile 7. When putting in the new tube, my CO2 adapter wouldn't fit my disc valve hole, so the CO2 blew out. I was stranded on the side of the road. By a stroke of extreme good fortune, a local was riding down the road and stopped to check on me. He had an adapter that fit my disc and a CO2 that he gave me. Without this friendly guy my day was over. I ended up losing about ten minutes to the ordeal, but eventually got back on my bike and finished the race in 4:19:19. I had the best run I've ever had there, so that was the best take away from the day.

April - Boston Marathon

On Patriot's Day I ran my second stand alone marathon and my first Boston Marathon in its 121st edition. What an unbelievable experience this turned out to be. With my eyes ultimately set on Ironman Lake Placid in July, I didn't want to take the time to taper into this race and then spend more time recovering. I remember how much my legs hurt after I ran Philadelphia, so my plan was to train through the race and then run conservatively to try to avoid doing too much damage so I can resume normal training fairly quickly.

On the way to Boston we stopped at my cousin, Kristen's, house about an hour outside of Boston. It was the day before Easter, so it was nice to spend some time with her family and my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Gordie, who was also there visiting.

Logistically, the Boston Marathon is incredibly impressive. The organization was unreal and everything went so smoothly. I caught an early bus from downtown out to Hopkinton, where athletes are staged at the high school. I met up with Mike and Steve there. The race starts at 10am, so we had a couple of hours to hang out and wait before running. Fortunately we had a nice day, so it wasn't that bad.

When the race started, I kept to my strategy and tried to maintain a consistent, comfortable pace. The first 5K is a little fast because it is downhill and there are so many people that you basically have to run the same pace as everyone else until things start to spread out. Running through the towns there were so many people cheering that it was tempting to push the pace early when you are still feeling good. Instead I chose to high five every little kid that hand their hand out and soak up the experience. I am glad I did. I had the time of my life. Sharing the course with so many people and seeing the crowds was inspiring. I'm extremely proud of how consistently I ran. I was a metronome with my splits...

5K - 19:58
10K - 39:59
15K - 1:00:09
20K - 1:20:25
Half - 1:24:48
25K - 1:40:31
30K - 2:00:52
35K - 2:21:01
40K - 2:40:29
Finish - 2:48:47

Running the first half comfortably allowed me to push it a little bit harder toward the end. I felt like I was flying up Heartbreak Hill and then was cruising past so many people in the last 4-5 miles. That gave me a lot of motivation and kept me feeling strong. Then when you get close to the city and can see and hear all the people... Words can't describe the feeling. As I turned onto Boylston Street I saw Becky and my dad and was able to give them a big wave and smile as I finished the last quarter of a mile. I will definitely be back for another Boston experience.

June - 70.3 Raleigh

Raleigh was sort of a last minute decision. I spent much of March, April and May working with a swim coach on the weekends. I hadn't planned to race much in the early part of the year so that I could focus on getting solid, consistent training in for Lake Placid in July. With my fitness feeling pretty good I decided that if I could get two races out of one recovery period I would give it a shot. I did the Raleigh/Eagleman double last year and it went pretty well, so I decided to give it a shot again.

With a new puppy in the house and Becky already planning to go to Maryland for Eagleman, I told her not to worry about coming to this one. It was going to be a lot of time in the car (I decided to drive rather than fly after the Puerto Rico fiasco) and it would make for a crazy week and a lot of time away from the puppy. The drive turned out not to be too bad. My dad and I drove about seven hours Friday night and then went the rest of the way Saturday morning. It was nice not having to pack the bike and worry about the airline damaging it or our flight not making it.

That did not mean everything was stress free though. I put new tires and tubes on after Puerto Rico and I think I got a bad tire. On Saturday during a 15 mile ride to spin my legs out I got two flats. Then Sunday morning when I pumped up my tires before the race I had a tube blow out (that one looked like a faulty tube from how it blew at the valve). Needless to race I spent the entire race until T2 nervous that I was going to get a flat. Fortunately the heavy duty (albeit slow) tube survived the race.

As for the race itself, things didn't go as well as I had hoped. I felt flat all day. For the swim, none of my swim work paid off and I actually swam slower than the previous year despite having calmer water. The water was in the mid 80s, which felt like a bath. When I got on the bike my hips and glutes felt tight and they never loosened up. The run was probably slightly below average, I think due to the heat. I had absolutely zero warm weather at home to acclimate to conditions, and with temperatures in the upper 80s and no shade on the run I think I paid the price a little bit. I didn't race poorly, but I just didn't have any pop in my legs to have the race I felt like I should have for my training.

Time: 4:14:25

June - 70.3 Eagleman

Eagleman was a relatively smooth race. We had an uneventful drive down, finding ourselves on mainly the same roads as the weekend before. There were no major pre-race issues to contend with. Saturday evening we got to enjoy dinner with my college soccer coach and his family and Derek and Alicia. Both Coach and Derek were racing as well. It is always great to share the course with friends!

The race was a solid, consistent effort for me. Overall I was pleased with how the day went. Again, a frustrating swim that did not see any improvement despite my the changes I have been trying to make set me up to be chasing all day. Similar to last year, I had a very strong ride and moved myself up to 9th spot going into T2. The course is flat and fast with a bit of wind this year. It is the heat that always destroys people at Eagleman, which I knew first hand from last year when I fell apart on the run. Fortunately, I paced myself better this year and managed the heat very well, moving myself up to 7th place on the run with only two miles to go. Unfortunately, two guys running behind me were flying, and caught me within those last two miles, moving me back into 9th spot at the finish.

Time: 4:08:30

Up next is Ironman Lake Placid, which I have been looking forward to since last fall. Joel, Mike and I will all be racing, so it is bound to be a fun weekend!