Monday, December 31, 2007

What a year, what a year!

Way back in 1994 right about this time of December, I was reflecting back on the year. The year was decent, yet seemed status quo with the previous 4 years. I made a decision then that I was going to make each new year stand apart. That at this time every December, I’d be able to look back and feel solid about the uniqueness of my experiences from that year. I’ve lived up to this thus far. This past year was certainly one that I won’t forget, and not just because I keep a journal of special events and also this blog.

2007 began as my last in my 30’s. I made a quick trip out to Cleveland for a few days in January to spend some time with Scott and Ange – this was Ange’s Christmas gift to Scott. Yes, I also can’t figure out why someone would actually want to spend time with me as a gift?!

Lisa and I took the kids to Disney in February where we had a blast, and I certainly am not a big fan of crowded amusement parks, especially when you can find more exhilarating adventures in nature. My kids were at the perfect age though and my daughter was in her prime princess stage, so it was priceless. I highly recommend the ride “Soarin’” in Epcot.

I held my first Tucson training camp in March and as I stated in my blog reports, I had found my winter training place. The riding there was incredible, and the Mexican food was better than actually being in Mexico. I’m stoked thinking that in two and a half months, I’ll be climbing Mt. Lemmon once again.

In April, Baker and I headed up to Northwest CT for a bit of reconnaissance training and course scouting. This is always a good time, even if Baker tells you different.

May hosted my seventh CT camp which is always just an incredible experience. The camps are a lot of work, yet I probably enjoy them as much as the campers. There is always something memorable from each one of the CT camps. One thing I certainly remember was the view from the Appalachian Trail on that soggy Friday morning, 45 minutes up and into a great run. Another is the dejected group early on during the Saturday long ride, and me lecturing them to shut off their emotions and just ride, and all of them following suit to not only ride well, but laugh about it at dinner.

June was my daughters 4th birthday and later in the month my first Lake Placid Camp. Some specific memories were taking everyone attending off the LP course for some great trail runs, the climb up Whiteface on a cold and rainy day, the crazy amount of athletes riding the course on that Saturday, and a couple of the campers riding 30 miles further in one session then they both ever had before. I also remember a solo Sean heading out in the afternoon to ride Whiteface because he missed it that morning due to technical issues with his bike, and returning back into LP at sundown with a huge grin on his face. I remember thinking “that is what these camps are all about!”

July – wow! It started with the eve of my birthday actually, June 30th, where Lisa through me a great surprise party up at The Bar in New Haven. The next morning, I awoke early and ran 40 miles commemorating my 40th birthday, having my family, my father, Baker, Gus and Brennan all join me for portions of it, followed by leftover pizza and beer at my house. It was an amazing day – sunny and in the 70’s. Later that month, Lisa took me to France for the Tour finale and to ride the most incredible rides I have ever experienced. I can still picture clear as day the climbs up the Port D’Bales, the Col De Peyressourde, the Col D’Aspin and the Tourmalet. I remember vividly leaving the town of Luchon by myself after almost oversleeping one morning to tackle three of the mentioned climbs. I remember sipping champagne on the final day from the balcony overlooking the Champs. I can still see Lisa’s hair whipping around atop the Eiffel Tower, or cool little lunch place where the two of us ate in St. Emillion, or the way my shoes squeaked loudly while walking through the Louvre.

August was a couple of fun trips with the kids – up to RI to play in the surf, then later to an indoor water park for a few days where no matter which way I got in the family raft ride, I always ended up going down backwards and getting the most wet. Then we went to New York City where they screwed up our room at our hotel and to make up for it gave us the nicest suite I’ll ever stay in. My kids had a blast and will hopefully forget soon how nice that suite was. I managed to sneak in a solid performance at the Timberman ½ IM and qualify for the 70.3 worlds in November.

September was my sons 7th birthday which again was a cool bike ride where he attacked my tired legs and sprinted for the park benches and signs on the trail to the park. The previous weekend, Baker, Kenny and I did a great Vermont ride, tagged with prototype My Athlete units. I remember the woman in Northampton talking to herself and Kenny thinking that she was on a Bluetooth headset. I also remember doing shots of patron later that night and laughing a lot.

October saw another opportunity for me to get to Kona, only this time not as a participant. I represented My Athlete and helped John out at the expo, rode the course tagged with a unit, swam again at Hapuna beach, ran down the mountain from the condo daily to swim at the pier and then back up it, and ate some great food.

November, Big Rock’s and I traveled down to Florida for the disappointing 70.3 World Championship race. Enough has been said about this race in my recent blogging.

Here we are in December! I'm really fortunate to have the opportunities to train in some amazing places. Reflecting back now, I did a massive amount of climbing on my road bike this year, starting with Kitts Peak and Mt lemon, then up and down the best climbs in the Berkshires including a few 18 to 20% grades, then to Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain, before heading on to The Pyrenees!

But the things I remember best from this past year are the cool experiences I got to share with others. Here are some of the more vivid memories: Seeing my daughters face light up when we first entered the Magic Kingdom and she saw the princesses performing. My son and I spewing with laughter after getting drenched on the river ride at the Animal Kingdom. Running with Scooter in the Cleveland winter and resolving all of life’s problems in that one hour. Driving around Tucson in Brian’s truck with Molson, Gus, and Bruce in the back seat, the five of us laughing non-stop. The exhilarating descent from Mt. Lemmon with Jim Spinner. When Gus, at the top of Kitts peak where it was about 40 degrees and I’m wearing shorts and short sleeves, removes two winter skull caps in a dumb and dumber moment. Baker and I, frozen to the bone on a cold and wet 5 hour ride, shivering in some small shack/convenient store in upstate NY, joking how we were stuck in some scene from Hostel, or sitting at dinner that night sucking down a few Guinness and retelling the days stories. Brennan, Molson, Kenny, Baker and I heading out to the Irish pub after all the tired campers headed in for the evening. Hanging out on top of Whiteface Mountain on that foggy, cold Friday morning, thinking that everyone else turned early and left me for dead up there. Running with Steve out to Alpine Lake on the last day of LP camp even though I told everyone to turn at the 1 hr mark so that we’d all be back in 2 hrs (it took us 1 hr 15 minutes to reach the lake and was so worth it!). Being surprised by Lisa and a bunch of great friends at the birthday party she threw for me. Running the 40 miler the next day and having a bunch of friends show up for the hell of it and sharing in my experience. Eating cheese, a baguette, and wine for dinner one evening in Mercues with Lisa, or seeing her face when we walked up the subway steps after taking the bullet train to Paris and seeing right in front of us The Arch D’Triumph, or later that evening, walking through the Paris streets with her at midnight to the Eiffel Tower because we could see it lit up from our restaurant we were at so it had to be close, right? Playing “what would you rather do?” with Lisa on the drive with the family from Lake George to NYC (the kids had their headphones on in the car). Spending the day in NYC and then getting back to our lucky upgraded suite to have Kate announce “Ahh, back home at the Tipton!” (parents that have kids in the Disney channel years will understand this). Crashing hard in Westfield, MA on the ride to Vermont and Baker getting me ice packs while Kenny fixed my bike. Having one to many beers and then some chilled Patron that night in VT with Baker and Kenny, laughing at some really funny stuff and thinking that we had to get up the next day early and ride back to CT. Eating at Huggo’s in Kailua with Brennan. Riding with Brennan up to Hapuna and then floating in the waves there. Hanging out with Big Rocks for the weekend in Florida and watching a lot of Seinfeld and drinking a lot of Jamba Juice (any adult that's given the opportunity to spend time with their father should jump at it.) … Lot’s of fun here. I can only hope that 2008 is near as fun. I’ll certainly be trying to one up this year!

Thanks a bunch everyone for participating in an amazing year. Baker, you poor bastard, we aren't done yet! Prepare for some more torturous adventures this year. I know you wouldn't have it any other way.



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Off-season Blues

It seems that many people out there are stuck in a funk right now. I’ve witnessed this occurrence annually during December. Giving some thought to it, I’ve concluded that it’s about being stuck in limbo. There is a real end of the year/season depression that affects most of us – for sure it affects the driven, type A triathletes.

Think about it; you finished your last big race or goal of the year maybe a month or two ago. You rode the adrenalin from that experience for a week before entering the down phase – the post big goal mood where you miss the process and the fact of a major event looming in the near distant future. You are supposed to be in your off-season and enjoying the downtime, yet you feel lousy. Lousy about your lack of motivation, about your lack of focus and direction, about the extra empty calories you have been consuming which now have you wearing your belt one notch bigger. Welcome to the end of the season depression!

Most will counter this by singing up for a big race in the coming year. Chances are though that this big race is either in the summer or fall. Some set them for spring, but that even seems very far off. If you start focusing on a big summer or fall goal now, chances are that you will be burnt by late spring.

It’s ok to feel a little lost at this point. The key thing though is to not let too many bad habits creep into your daily routine. Gaining an extra 5 or even 10 lbs in the off-season is not that bad. Gaining more than 10 is. Taking some down time and resting up is a very good thing. Taking too much down time and doing no exercise for an extended period is not a good thing. Training now like you did six weeks out from your “A” race last year is a very bad thing. This is a time of year when most people fall mentally and physically out of balance.

Let’s take two scenarios: We’ll call example one Dick. Dick is the guy who is all or nothing – no grey. He trained like a nut for a Fall IM last year, got himself in fantastic shape and had a great race. Then, after the race, he took his recovery week off, and then took another week off, and then another. He still is justifying in his head that he just did an IM. In fact, that IM was some six weeks ago now. Dick feels lousy about the fact that he can’t get going right now. It’s cold out, and there isn’t much day light savings which adds to his arsenal of excuses on why he skipped his training day. Dick signed up for IM Galapagos, but that’s not until August, so he knows he shouldn’t panic about missing a day or ten of exercise right now. Problem is, he can’t stop thinking about the fact that he’s doing nothing every minute of the day. That plus he’s shopping for a new wardrobe to fit his new off-season shape.

Then there is Jane. Jane is the one who also did a late year big race and did ok. She wanted to do better but felt a little tired and drained going in and was dealing with some nagging little injuries. She vowed to do better at next year’s big race and jumped right back in. She took one day off to recover and then began doing daily double sessions, justifying that because they were at a low heart rate, they were fine and active recovery. Then, two weeks post her big race, she’s hammering away again. She’s not really terribly motivated, but the race 10 months away plus the fact that she’s paranoid about gaining 4 ounces which will surely happen in her mind if she misses even 10 minutes of a planned session are what drive her. The problem here is that her training sessions feel dull and off and she feels mentally at a low.

If any of you are reading this and thinking “the bastard is talking directly about me!” know that I’m not. These two scenarios are extremely common, and ones that I have witnessed in many, so don’t feel isolated.

So what do we do to get out of this funk? Here’s my solution;
First, be honest with yourself. Quit justifying things. We live in a justifiable society. It’s much easier to justify why we do something than admit that it may be wrong and that there is a better way.
Next, find your balance. If you normally train for 14 hours per week during the prime season, then cut this in half during this time of year. BUT, aim for 50% of what you normally do, not 20%. Effort wise, don’t go balls to the wall, but don’t just crawl along either. Balance.
Next, try something different. Run with some friends if you run all alone. Hit the trails. Try cross country skiing or snow shoeing. Play a weekly pick-up basketball game or indoor soccer game and count this as training. Take some classes at your gym. Get off the beaten path. Soon enough, you’ll only be swimming, biking and running, so switch it up right now.
Very important, set some short term goals. Select a few 5ks in January or February that you want to race and set a reach time for these. Set a goal of knocking 15 seconds off your best 500 pool time by mid winter. Plan a goal of doing 10 chin-ups, 50 push-ups and running a fast mile by March 1st.
Sign up for a winter training camp or warm weather excursion. Where you know you’ll need to be in somewhat decent condition to avoid feeling like crap there. That plus the motivation of getting a break from the winter cold if you happen to live in cold weather areas.

The way one thinks is a very original and strange thing. When negative thoughts are overpowering the positive, it’s up to us individually to do what we need to in order to flip this mindset. Stay positive this winter and you’ll enter the spring in better condition and in a better frame of mind.



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter Riding

Yesterday was a great December day. It was overcast here in CT and in the 30's. I had a small window in the afternoon to sneak in a ride so I met Greg Pelican and a few others at his shop in Bethel. This was my first ride since the 1/2 IM worlds last month, besides a couple of 30 min easy sessions with my son Ryan on the trainer. I rode my systemsix (pictured) which is probably my most favorite bike that I've ever owned, and I have certainly owned plenty. I even like it better than the Supersix.
We rolled along easily, heading from Bethel into Ridgefield. Greg and I wanted to check out the area where they hold the Ridgefield Triathlon since we are planning on developing a racing/training series here in CT and want to tie it in with this race. The roads around this area are very scenic, rolling through countryside and past many small lakes and ponds. The pace was conversational - It's December and now is the time to just log some base miles. I left my power meter and heart rate monitor at home and just enjoyed being back on a bike. The air was chilly, yet felt good on my face. I left my booties at home, so I took two plastic bags and put them over my socks. Then I took some of those disposable hand warmers that you can pick up almost anywhere and lied them inside the plastic bags over my toes against my socks, and shoved my feet into my cycling shoes. This worked great and I had no issues with cold toes.
When November comes around, most give up on outdoor riding. As a coach, I often hear from people that they hate the cold and would rather ride indoors on the trainer. I feel that as long as there is no snow on the ground, you should get outside. Besides riding indoors being boring, you are missing out on the opportunity to experience roads in a totally different manner than you typically do while riding them in your more intense and focused spring/summer training. As long as you dress correctly, you can ride outdoors down to 20 degrees.
Soon enough, March will be here and I'll be riding in Tucson on some long, warm roads. Man, that is a great feeling coming from our winters here in the Northeast. I want to have some base going into this so that the riding is more enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, the air, the company yesterday and I'll be making an effort to get outside and ride this winter whenever possible, even if it does take me 30 minutes to get dressed for it!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Last week, I met with a new coaching client who is training for an Ironman. He mentioned that he was excited to work with me, yet truthfully, a bit scared. The reason for the timidness was that he had heard that I put my athletes on a pretty aggressive schedule.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Ironman distance and the Ironman experience. I want all of my athletes to show up on race day knowing they are ready to tackle the distance. I want them confident that they are there to "race" and I'm also very proud of the ease in which my athletes recover from an Ironman. Of course, this is a relative thing, but most of my athletes feel pretty good in post race week.

This isn't about defending my coaching style but more so defending the respect of endurance events. Let's take marathons for example. Doesn't it seem that there are a lot of people showing up at marathons not really prepared to run a marathon? Look at the debacle at Chicago. Yes, most will say that was a result of the freakish hot weather on that day, but it was in the high 70's to low 80's! That's hot for a stand alone marathon, but for most IM competitors, that's the average IM marathon temperatures. Running out of water on race day in Chicago was a huge faux pas by the race director, but I think the bigger issue was that most weren't prepared properly. Look at the staggering amount of people participating in marathons each year. I think that most people would love to have "finished a marathon" on their life resumes and don't take into account the training and preparation involved to do one well. Well meaning "run" the marathon. Time is mostly irrelevant because there are all different abilities, but I think a marathon should be run. The news and tabloids were filled with pictures of Katie Holmes the day after she "fast walked" the NYC marathon! Tom was so proud. Give me a break! There are a lot of coaching programs now stating that "you to can complete a marathon in just 10 weeks of training". Not if you don't have a solid running base built before beginning those ten weeks. I don't feel there is a respect for the distance and if I get flamed for stating this, so be it.

Now, you are beginning to see this filter into Ironman races. I have been asked frequently if I'll be racing an IM again next season, to which I respond "I'm not sure yet". I have to much respect for the event to not show up at the starting line in my best condition ready to race. I no desire to do an IM just to do one. I could set a date to cover the distances from my house if I felt I needed to prove to myself that I could still cover the distances.

Endurance races are just that - "races". Anyone who has prepared well for one and raced one knows that the event deserves the respect of showing up at the starting line fully prepared. If you want the label but aren't really interested in doing the work, you need to question what your principals are to begin with.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A few weeks ago, I was heading down to Greenwich around 5:15 in the morning to see my first pt client like I do five days a week. I was cruising down rt. 59 in Easton, thinking about the day ahead, when in the pitch black across the street, headlights quickly went on. The car swung out and made a u-turn and the flashing lights atop the car suddenly appeared. The cop approached my window and asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. My response of "speeding" in an irritated tone probably wasn't the best approach. Then, to further seal the deal, I said "come on, it's 5:15am, I drive this daily, and besides deer and you, there's no one out here!" He took my licence, registration and insurance card back to his cruiser and returned after what seemed to be a long time - I know he was just sitting in his car probably listening to the radio, just to piss me off further by making me wait there. Anyway, he returned with a $185.00 speeding ticket.

This morning, my wife left the house at 5:15am, heading out on a quick business trip. While heading up Cutlers Farm Rd at a quick pace, she was pulled over by a police officer. The officer asked her if she knew why he pulled her over to which Lisa responded "I've never been pulled over before, I don't know what to do." He asked her for her licence, registration and insurance card, and she fumbled nervously through her wallet and handed him a credit card instead of a licence by accident. He joked with her saying "are you trying to bribe me?" Then told her to relax and to drive slower and that he was just going to give her a warning, although had he given her a ticket, it would have been $200.

A warning! You can bet that if that was me or any other guy in the car instead of an attractive woman, he would have written out that $200 ticket! Dangle, can you back me up here?

My gym that I belong to has been jam-packed this week thus far. People must have over-indulged over Thanksgiving. I prefer to exercise at home, but with my kids there, I'm not nearly as productive, so I joined this place and do my strength training there. There's this one annoying guy that follows me around the place. He talks to me constantly - whether I'm in the middle of a set, or even when I'm wearing headphones. Whatever exercise I was just doing, he does next. The other annoying thing there are the old guys who shave and comb their hair, butt naked in the locker rooms. Do woman do this? Lisa insists they don't.

I posted a holiday wish list on my home page - it's products I had the opportunity to test this past year and ones that I like. I've been trying to simplify lately since there is too much technology and things out there to get that can just lead to being less productive in other areas. However, gadgets can also be fun.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Following Clearwater, I took a week off. That's right, I did absolutely no training. I think it's important at the end of the season to take some downtime. I know many that are so paranoid of missing a day of training, let alone a week. These athletes usually plug away year round. They also usually race ok, but not quite to what they are capable of. They also typically battle some small injuries constantly. This is very common - as I mentioned, I know quite a few who refuse to take downtime. Some view this as a strength. I view it as the opposite. The body needs periods of time to rest and rejuvenate.

I started back up again with some training on Monday. My training for the next month or so will be very unorthodox. I feel it's important to continue to work on your aerobic base, yet to do some different things. Soon enough, we'll be back in the thick of swimming, cycling, and running. Now is a great time to do some different activities that elevate the heart rate, work some muscles and connective tissue through different ranges than you normally do, and have fun! One of my favorite off season sessions looks like the following:

30 min run in B zone (Z2)
Then, 5 rounds of:
  1. 20 push-ups w/ feet elevated on swiss ball
  2. 20 double crunches
  3. 20 deep squats on bosu ball flipped upside down
  4. 20 supermans
  5. 2 min of hitting the heavy bag
  6. 2 min of jumping rope

I go from 1 exercise to the next with no rest and repeat the circuit 5 X's. It's a killer! Try this out sometime, and listen to some pumping, loud music while doing it. I guarantee that by the fourth circuit, your legs will be shaking big time during the bosu ball deep squats. You will also feel a soreness you haven't felt in awhile the next day.

I do plan on getting out tomorrow am for a long run. I need to create some caloric deficit before I overindulge later in the day!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Take The Good With The Bad

OK, I'm done whining about the cheaters in Florida. I'm still a bit bitter about the race - I actually don't even consider it a race. That was in no way, shape, or form an accurate depiction of who was fastest. Some have said to me "you still had a solid time." I don't even consider it valid. My time on that course had I raced from point A (swim start) to point B (run end) would have more than likely been different. Doing the math in my head beforehand, I felt ready to do a 28 swim, 2:08-2:10 bike, and 1:19-1:21 run.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I still had a positive experience believe it or not. My focus this year was more on my trip to France. Then, I decided to try Timberman and felt really good about that experience. After qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships there, I gave some thought to racing in Florida. I decided to for the following main reasons:

  1. I wanted another late season goal to train towards. Something that would provide motivation to stay fit and in race shape, and so that I would train hard and consistent until November. For me, without that goal, I tend to feel lost in no mans land. I always keep myself in somewhat decent shape, but there is a difference when I'm training towards a key goal. In 2000, my key goal was IMLP and I didn't plan much else for the rest of that year since Lisa was pregnant and due in October. I felt lost and lazy not having a late season big race.
  2. Since 1998, I try to drag my father with me to one destination race each year. It's been a great opportunity for me to reconnect with my father as an adult. We always have a fun time and learn a bit more about each other.
  3. I wanted to test myself against the best in my age group.

All these things were accomplished, plus the weather was beautiful in Florida, I ate at some really good restaurants, I got to hang out with some good guys like Ed and Mark, I turned Big Rocks onto Jamba Juice, I was able to test out the My Athlete units further. It's all good! Well, almost all good.

For the rest of 2007, I plan on staying somewhat active at a much lower key level, with mostly running and strength training and maybe even jumping in a few 5K's.

On another note, I don't know if anyone reads my dribble here. Seems to be a few. I never get any responses and Scooter informed me that it was a pain in the ass to register to leave comments, so I looked into my settings and what do you know, I was able to switch it so that it's quite easy to leave comments and you can even remain anonymous! Maybe I'll get a few.



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Very, very frustrating!

I really tried to set myself up mentally for this race, and the frustration I may encounter on the bike with packs building up. I guess I didn't do well with the mental preparation on this part. It was unbelievably awful!

Let's start with the beginning: Boring stuff - I awoke at 5am which was nice since our hotel was right next to the transition area. I woofed down 3 chocolate frosted organic toaster pastries, which are my new race day breakfast. They are somewhat healthy pop tarts. The benefits for race day is that they pack a lot of calories (200 each) and lots of carbohydrates. So it's easy to get in the caloric requirements necessary for longer races. I then walked down and got body marked, put some air in my tires and bottles on my bike and then headed back up to the room. I had a frappacino and a coffee and stretched for 15 to 20 minutes and relaxed. Then, I put my wet suit on in my room and walked down to the beach. It was great staying this close. I usually hate being in the hub but this hotel was so big that you didn't notice the things that usually annoy me like nervous athletes everywhere, lousy race morning music, and the announcers voice blaring through the audio system.

My wave was second to last!!! The pros went off at 7am, my wave went off at 7:55. I talked for a bit with my friend Bruce Gennari before the gun sounded and we ran down to the beach and dove in. There were 400 40-44 year olds in my wave which is a lot for a shoreline start, but I had a good starting position and was one of the first ones to hit the water. Bruce was right to my left and I thought for a brief second that maybe I'd see if I can sit on his feet for a few hundred meters. That lasted for maybe 2 meters and that's being generous. Bruce was first out of the water in my age group in 23 minutes (he was third out overall I think, even amongst pros, but that's not surprising, he's been first out of the water overall in Hawaii a few times). I came out in 28 min and change. My shoulders felt tight in the swim and I didn't feel fast, but that was expected.

Onto the bike, I thought that this is where I'd make my move. For the first 15 miles, I was motoring by athletes quickly, and felt strong. Then a British athlete rode up next to me and said that each time I passed someone, they were jumping on board. I turned around to see that I was pulling a train. The rest of the ride was a nightmare. Right away, I put in a huge effort, going into the red for a few minutes. I turned to see I had a gap and settled back into my pace, only to get swallowed up shortly by the peloton. I made about nine or ten more huge efforts, way into the hurt zone, trying to lose the group but I knew it was useless. I just couldn't sit there and not try. The long roads had a coned off section for the cyclists to ride in and I rode quite a bit outside the cones, in no mans land by myself. I actually, in disgust, thought about quitting! But I'm not a quitter and I can't preach to my kids that you finish what you start and not follow suit. I had a bunch of the drafters coming up to me and telling me that my efforts to get away were inspiring! Can you freaken believe that!!! These are guys cheating, and complimenting me on riding fair! I know that many will say that there was nothing they could do but that is bullshit. When someone passed me, I'd drop back and allow the rider space, only to have three or four others come around and fill that space. I was averaging 26 mph and there were woman age groupers hanging in the peloton! I don't want to sound as though I'm putting myself on a pedestal and claiming that I was the only one not cheating in this group. Mark Foster was also in the group and was also making efforts to get away. He rode as clean as possible and should be proud of the way he raced. I really don't thing there was anyone else in the group that made an effort. As I rode up over the cause way at the 56 mile mark, I saw my dad and yelled to him "never again!" as I shook my head. I was letting my temper get the best of me and I wasted a huge amount of energy during the ride. At one point Mark said to me "you'll get em all back on the run." The problem was that my legs were toast from trying to break away.

I started the run feeling really shot, like my legs were just dead weight. I stopped at the one mile mark and took a nice long pee and contemplated the day thus far and decided that I was going to run. Not jog or run/walk, but run. The first four miles were very slow, but then I started coming around. I started banging out a few low 6's, pace wise. I ran pretty steady for the rest of the race. My legs were shot, but I managed a 1:26 1/2 marathon. My goal for the run was a 1:20 to 1:21 and I know I had those 5 or 6 minutes in me if the race was a steady, consistent, fair effort. The most frustrating thing was that I finished 7th in 4:10, in back of some competitors that I usually beat.

What did I learn? For one that I'll never race in Florida again. This is not the location for a world championship race. I'll bet there were a lot of p.r.'s today! I also learned that there are a ton of athletes out there with no integrity. A lot of these packs could have been avoided.

Oh well, enough bitching. I'm usually quite optimistic and I know that I complained an awful lot in this report. Sorry about that - I guess I needed to vent. I just really wonder what most of these athletes do after the race, when they look back on their day - do they convince themselves that they raced well and had a fair race? I just don't get it.

It is now the off season and I'm looking forward to some sushi and some beer tonight and to going home tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who may read this.



Friday, November 09, 2007

Go time!

Tommorrow afternoon starts the beginning of my offseason!

I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow morning and hitting it hard. I plan on entering the offseason spent, drained, and yet at the same time, on a high.

Today was a typical day-before day. Breakfast, easy bike ride with a few pick-ups, lunch, check bike in, get other athletes My Athlete devices, stretch out for a bit, dinner. Nothing too special.

The bike feels good although it was skipping around in my easier gears - 18 through 21. I couldn't dial it in, so I waited in line at the race expo mechanics station where, when I finally got there, he turned the barrel adjuster maybe a quarter turn and told me to go try it out. I figure it doesn't matter. If it skips, it will only be in the first 2 miles when going over the cause way and on the return trip in the last 2 miles.

I have some allergies or something stirring about - very similiar to what I felt like last time I was down here in Florida which is strange. I'm relaxed though and ready to roll.

My plan is to get through the swim and then take the first ten miles fairly hard on the bike. I want to reel in the fast swimmers. This course is flat and there will be packs and if I settle into a steady effort too early, the fast swimmers could stay away.

Hung out with Big Mark Foster at dinner which was fun. He's a great guy and always fun to catch up with.

OK, that's it for now. As the backyardiggans say (those who have small kids will get this): It's racing day, it's racing day, today's the day we race. Actually it's tomorrow, but I'm ready!



Thursday, November 08, 2007


I fell asleep last night a bit after 9pm, with a bit of help from some Tylenol pm, and besides awakening a few times briefly, I didn't get up until 7am. I can't remember the last time I lied down for this long!

My father and headed down to the beach to get a swim in. the wind was blowing again and the ocean was very choppy, rolling in diagonally northwest. The swim is a clockwise rectangle and the current was pushing us far out to the left. I'll swim again tomorrow to see if this stays consistent, and if so, plan accordingly for race day. It was cold out this morning here - probably in the low 50's. My back was sore/tender while swimming which was odd. It may be rebelling from lying down for so long.

I'm anxious to see how things go on Saturday. I'm not nervous and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Usually, I have some butterflies going into a race. My training for this 1/2 was very unorthodox - mostly out of experimentation. I have been in this sport for a long time and have studied training and exercise physiology and one thing I have learned is that you need to switch things up occasionally, not only for physical benefits but also mentally. To be more specific about what I did different, since Timberman in August, I have only ridden over 2 hrs on four occasions - the Vermont ride and while in Hawaii. Most of my rides have been in the 90 minute range. They have all been intense though, and instead of riding junk mileage for the sake of logging in more weekly mileage, I didn't ride on those days. On average, I rarely rode over 100 miles per week. However, once again, I payed close attention to my wattage, HR and rpm's on all rides and rode with some decent intensity. I did quite a few rides on my computrainer as well. Same with running - I reduced the volume and ran closer to goal race pace more often. We'll see if this works for the 1/2 IM. For an IM, you need the volume. If you have been in this sport for awhile, most likely you have built some accumulative base. At the beginning of the season, it's important to re-establish your aerobic base, but the longer you have been in this sport, the shorter the amount of time you'll need to re-establish this at the beginning of the season. Then, you can focus more on quality.

The day seemed busy but has been mostly lazy. We swam, had some breakfast, relaxed a bit. I received through FedEx the My Athlete devices from John and his tech guy Eric, and I charged them for a bit and then tested them out to see if John could get a lock on each device (which he did). there will be five of us racing with them on Saturday. Then Jimmy and I headed out to Jamba Juice, Borders for a bit, then Starbuck's, then I received a call from Chris Swift and Ian Ray that they had arrived - they were driving Chris's RV down from CT with a bunch of our bikes on board. So I got my bike now. One bummer is that I forgot my cable on my bike that connects my power meter to the sensors, so I'm racing without my powermeter on Saturday. Oh well. I then stopped at a tri shop and tried out the new Zoot running shoes which are really, really nice although not available until 2008, and now I'm relaxing and catching up on some work before heading out for an easy 30 minute run. Then we are meeting Ed Sparkowski out for dinner.

There are triathletes everywhere down here today, and a ton of foreigners.

We need a Jamba Juice in CT!



Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm in Clearwater!

Arrived here this morning on an easy, uneventful flight from Laguardia to Tampa. Big Rocks joined me on this little adventure.

I haven't written in a bit, but I'm back. I'll be posting each day from here.

We are staying at the Hilton and from our balcony, we can see the swim course. I usually like staying away from the hub of the race but here in Clearwater, this is going to be a real plus. Hell, I can wake up 10 minutes before my wave goes off and still make the race! Speaking of waves, I don't know which one I'm in yet, but it's one of ten. Looks like the only hill on the course is the causeway that connects Clearwater Beach to Clearwater.

It was cool here today! Probably in the 60's and the wind was really blowing. I hope the wind blows on race day like it did today.

After checking into the hotel, I went over and did race registration and picked up the things I always forget like a race belt and water bottles. It feels great to already get this stuff done and out of the way. We then went out for an easy run to clear the junk out of the head and legs that accumulates during flying. It was perfect running weather.

A quick shower and then we went to a great dinner that BR found online. It was about a 15 minute drive from here. I like to have a steak 3 nights out from a big race. The protein, iron, and b-complex vitamins are well needed. I had some tuna sashimi as an appetizer and a nice filet for dinner. We washed this down with some frozen yogurt for dessert and now I'm going to just relax and try to get some uninterrupted sleep since my 4 year old daughter has made that impossible lately. I'm looking forward to getting in an ocean swim tomorrow morning.

I'll be a bit more interesting tomorrow, hopefully, but for now, it is what it is.



Friday, October 19, 2007

An Ironman really is an amazing event. Once you have done a few, you take for granted what a hell of an accomplishment it is, and how it can affect everything you do. Witnessing the last two hours at this years Hawaii was a treat. In the past, I was always too tired or rattled and brain dead from racing that day. First, they do an amazing job of getting all the spectators amped up. They have a DJ blasting upbeat music and the event sponsors run around tossing out free swag. Mike Reilly and his partner (who sounds just like Mike but Mike on 20 shots of espresso) are corny but it works, especially when there live. Then you see these amazing people come down the finish chute, everyone with a story. There was one guy there, young, like 23, who was an all-American swimmer in school. He was in such a bad accident that he was pronounced dead like 8 times. They said he’d never walk again, and his chest cavity was crushed to the point where they had to move his heart laterally in his body to allow it to function. And this guy runs across the finish line of Hawaii! There were plenty of 70+ year olds that came across the line, some looking really fresh, and some looking like they were going to fall over any minute. These people had been out there since 7am, racing for 16+ hrs now! Then there was the guy who was a double amputee and raced with two prosthetic legs. He ran, not wheeled, the marathon! I mean, if you aren’t affected by these stories somehow, then you need to check for a pulse.

As a coach, I’m always learning. Spectating at this year’s event, I learned more about how to train for and race an IM. Those that were successful seemed to stay steady the entire day. That is, there pace was very consistent and makes me think that they raced at an aerobic effort that was very similar to their long training paces. Out at Kawaihai, it was amazing to see a lot of cyclists with grimaces on their faces like they were in pain. And they were only midway through the bike. I’ve said it many times – most overextend their effort on the bike and it was very interesting to witness this first hand, just by observing their faces. Many were moving around on the bike like they were uncomfortable – this is a big sign that you are more than likely overextended, energy wise. Torborn Sindballe was just the opposite – the guy looked steady and solid, with not much lateral movement. His cadence was consistent and he stayed aero and looked almost relaxed. In fact, he didn’t even look as though he was going to fast. Same with McCormick and Alexander on the run. They had a nice turnover going and looked like they were out for a Sunday long run. The face is a dead giveaway and their faces were relaxed.

I have been studying the form of great athletes lately and the main thing I see with many is that they fall into their natural gait or cadence and look almost relaxed. Also, watch a great athletes hips next time you have a chance – this is where they turn everything over from. It’s basically the core of their effort.

Another very interesting observation was the bikes of the pros vs. the age groupers. Age groupers are very obsessed with the weight of their bikes, yet the pros don’t seem to have this same obsession. Yes, they all want a light bike, but they know that the weight of your bike on almost all tri courses is quite insignificant once you get the bike moving. As I mentioned in previous posts, their were quite a few pros with 3 to 4 bottles of fluid on their bikes, yet many age groupers with only one or two.
This sport continues to grow quickly. The Hawaii IM has changed quite a bit since my initial race there in 96’. Yes, the course layout has changed three times, but the business of the sport has changed. I guess it’s good for the sport, although there were many times during the week where it felt overly bureaucratic. Nonetheless, it still is a great event.

The next morning after 3 hours of sleep, I ran one last time before flying home. I ran downhill from the house and then followed Alii drive north into a part of the original course that was referred to as the pit. This was when the course had two transitions, which usually I’m not a fan of, but oddly enough, I like the old course the best at this event. It made for a more point to point marathon instead of having out and back sections. Climbing my way out of the pit, I ran into Chris Legh who was out for a training run. He’s a great Australian triathlete who’s won quite a bit of races but is probably most well known for his 97’ IM in which he staggered back and forth before collapsing 100 meters from the finish line and which Gatorade replays in many of its commercials. He’s a really nice guy, and is prepping for Clearwater. The last 20 minutes of my run were all uphill in the sun and heat, which was a very fitting way to end my trip to the Big Island.

I sat in an aisle seat on the 10 hr flight from Honolulu to Newark, next to some young couple that must have been coming off their honeymoon because they hung on each other like newlyweds. Brennan was seated in the row in front of me and was asleep before we left the ground, and stayed asleep until we landed! I was tempted to kick his chair a few times out of jealousy. In fact, the whole plane seemed to be asleep with the exception of me. The woman seated next to me even lied down with her head on her husband and her legs on me! I didn’t move them – she looked comfortable and I thought “good for her.” I was cramped up though and got off the plane with some seriously swollen cankles. I should have worn the compression socks.

So all in all, it was a great trip; working on an exciting new project, training in a great place, eating some great food, and witnessing first hand an unbelievable event. Not bad!



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hawaii 07' run and finish line

We made it back to Kailua and stationed ourselves at the 10/25 mile mark on the hill on Palini. A perfect place to catch the athletes heading up and out onto the Queen K and down and back to the finish.
The leaders came through and Chris McCormack looked great as did Alexander and Deboom. It's quite amazing how fast these guys are running here. I mean, when the sun is out in Kona, which it was in full blast, it is scorching hot and humid. These guys are knocking off six minute miles at the end of an IM. That's impressive. The pros all came through in a mix - some running very strong, and some really suffering and trying to survive. The amount of athletes that walked up Palani was staggering. Maybe 2/3rds of the field. Many could have walked as fast as they were running.
We held our positions here for the next three or four hours. I sucked down another Peanutbutter Moo'd Jamba Juice and an Iced Latte while spectating. I met the main man from Fuel belt, Vinu, who was a nice, laid back guy. He told me he knew my name and was suprised at how big I was considering the times I put out at the races. I get that a lot. I also met the editor for Xtri who was also very cool. She was attending her first Hawaii. She said she'd be excited to do a feature on MyAthlete on Xtri and I'm holding her to it.
I was very aware of my own emotions during the run and it keeps making me think. I have to admit that I was kind of glad to be a spectator that day. Usually I watch always wishing I had been competing but not on Saturday. Reflecting back now, I'm almost certain this is due to the fact that it was so hot and that I don't do well in the extreme heat (go figure why I'm so drawn to Hawaii?!) and that this heat and conditions brought back some painful memories of blood, sweat and tears lost on Palani and the Queen K at this painfully mean race. I also think that I mentally had not committed to racing an IM this year and therefore was mentally not into racing it. But on race day, I was wondering if this lack of motivation to race there that day meant that I was losing my drive to race IM's. I now know that it was more of what I stated previously, because I can't stop thinking about getting back there soon to race since being home.
When McCormick returned from the Queen K at the 25 mile mark, he knew he had it locked up and started to celebrate. I snapped the above shot of him with still a mile left to go. I thought his raw emotion and energy was fantastic.
It was very interesting to see a great number of athletes racing in compression socks - which work well, but in my opinion, not in Hawaii, and also many wearing long sleeves and even gloves that were supposed to cool. All that I know is that I always want to wear next to nothing here and it looked more hot than cool to see these knew trends. (not hot in a good way.)
We took a spectating break to grab some dinner at Lulu's on Alii and while eating we tracked Mike Kane. We knew the moment he'd be coming by and had the whole second tier of the restaurant cheering for him. I yelled "Run you bastard, run!" at him as he ran by. He smiled and chugged along in the dark.
After dinner, we made our way to the finish. There were three hours left in the race and I weaseled my way up against the barrier about 20 meters from the tape on the finishing carpet. Mike Reilly and his partner, who was very funny, entertained us as many continued to come across the line. In between the finishers, many of the event sponsors would come out and toss out swag. The crowd went nuts for these small, trivial pieces. We saw some amazing people finish in the late hours - many amazing stories, and I had the chicken skin on many occasions. The double amputee guy, who I snapped a blurry picture of above, was my hero.
It was really very cool being at the finish line right up until midnight, but man, if you don't make it in by then, the race is done. There were three athletes still out on the course and close by but at the stroke of 12, the race was done and they began clearing out the spectators and breaking it down.
I spectated this day with some non-triathletes and realized that this sport while spectating causes two emotions in people; either they are truly inspired, or they are truly insecure. Interesting to witness both cases and hear how those inspired were going to use their motivation to do something good or cool, and meanwhile, the insecure one's would either put down the race or boast about whatever they have going on in their life.
It was a long and busy day and I hit the hey at approximately 1pm only to get up at 4:30am unable to sleep. I went out for one last run in Kona, before packing up to head home. The sun and heat actually felt good and I did a ton of uphill running.
I'll post some afterthoughts tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hawaii IM 07' swim bike

I'm back in CT now and the weather here is beautiful. My mind is still whirling from the trip so I will fill in the space over the next few days as I sort things out.

Spectating at the race was very educational. I learned a bit more about how to race an Ironman - mainly, once again, pace right on the bike. I witnessed quite a few impressive bike rides followed by long, walk/jog marathons. But let's not beat a dead horse here.

Race day started early as our crew headed over to see the swim start at 5:45 am. We wouldn't return back to the house til' close to 1am on Sunday. The morning was really nice with not a cloud in the sky (which meant that it was going to be a scorcher that day), and we found a spot on a sea wall that offered a great view of the swim. Right before the swim start, a bunch of navy seals parachuted into the water which was cool to see, then Laird Hamilton, the big wave married to gabby reese surf stud, surf paddled the lead swimmers through the whole swim. The pro's went off at 6:45am and their wave, which consisted of maybe 200, seemed minuscule compared with the pirahna-like frenzy of the amateur wave. As the cannon fired announcing the start, I got the first of many chicken-skin goose bumps. There were many times throughout the day where I wished I was racing, and actually many times were I was glad I wasn't.

After breakfast, we headed out to the Kuakini highway where there is an out and back section of the bike early on before heading out onto the Queen K. The first pro through was Tom Evans from Canada, but he was followed closely by a large group including all the big guns. I never saw Faris and I soon learned that he didn't even start due to illness. Stadler was close by and I thought he set himself up perfectly for a solid repeat, but he soon would drop out from being ill, as well as Michellie Jones, Cameron Brown, and a few more top names. This was interesting to me since I have been there before. Most people assume that IM triathletes are extremely healthy people, yet we are constantly on the fine line of illness due to training so hard and compromising our immune systems. Usually, if you place close attention to recovery including adequate sleep, you can stay on the positive side. The talk was that there must have been something going around, but I think it was more due to stress from repeating, or from wishing for a great day, or from squeezing in one last hard session.

After watching the front 1/3rd hit this out and back section, we jumped in the car and took the mountain road out to Kawaihai to catch the riders at corner before they climbed up to Hawi and back. I drove as john and Eric, the MyAthlete technician, tracked the four athletes racing that were prototyping the devices. Man, this is such a cool way to watch the race. We knew exactly when they'd be coming through Kawaihai. Many of the spectators there were coming over asking for info on the race and were curious to learn about what was going on. I suggested to John that he put a tent at this corner next year. There was nothing out there. It would be great to have a tent there playing music and with three or four screens and technicians there checking up on any athletes racing with the g-units. Spectators could come up to the booth and ask to track their athlete who was racing out on the course.

The sun was out with no cloud coverage, which meant it was very hot, although the wind was light once again, the third time in three years. I heard some after the race mentioning the wind was strong, but that was a fast Hawaii bike day, trust me. It was blowing a bit up near Hawi, but it always does up there. The Queen K was very calm, and even provided a tail wind back into town. Chris Lieto was the first to come through Kawaihai on the return trip from Hawai and he looked strong. I really respect the way he raced. He went for it on the bike, knowing that for him to win, he would need a lead off the bike. He took a gamble, where he probably could have sat in the pack and ran 10 minutes faster. Same for Torborn Sindballe who came through next chasing Chris. Tim Deboom led the pack of ten through next and to say they were riding 10 meters apart was bullshit. Spectating gives you an even better view of what goes on. Out at Kawaihai, things begin to spread out, yet there was still quite a bit of drafting so those that say they couldn't avoid it are full of shit. I saw this first hand and it could have easily been avoided.

We waited for the Myathlete racers to come through and then headed back to Kailua to catch the run. I'll post more about the run and afterthoughts tomorrow, but some observations:

The top ten pro's were riding steep (78 degrees or more with maybe the exception of Luc VanLierde and Luke Bell). They were all riding in road cycling shoes, not tri cycling shoes - something I've advocated in IM tri racing for a long time. And many of them were using Jet Streams or Profile handlebar mount bottles - something I'm not a huge fan of but makes sense in Hawaii. Lieto had a Jet stream, two bottles on his frame and one behind the saddle which told me that he didn't want to have to slow and speed up at all the aid stations grabbing fuel. Most of the top guys and girls were wearing white or lighter colors which again to me, makes total sense considering that darker colors, and black in particular, attract heat. All the top contenders were wearing aero helmets.

More to follow...



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Interesting Race

Short update - I'm stil at the race! It was good conditions here today. Light winds on the bike. The sun was out all day though. It was really interesting being a spectator here today. There were times when I wished I was racing, and to be honest, there were times when I was glad I wasn't. I thnk it has to do with the fact that I never mentally committed to an IM this year. I hope that's the case anyway.

Good to see Tim Deboom and Luc Vanlierde in the top ten again. Rutgere Beke showed a lot of heart. Look out for Craig Alexander - that guy is the real deal! So is Sam Macglone. The womans winner was the race of the day - she must be the real deal.

It's an incredible, incredible event!

I'll give a full report on my thoughts of the day tomorrow, if anyone's interested.



Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday at the Ironman is when the athletes take that reality check that they will be racing in two days and begin to lay low. A lot less athletes training on the course today. I think it's Thursday. You seem to lose track of the days when here and not racing.

Today started again as another very tough day in Hawaii. Bright sun, the ocean sitting there calling out. It's quite tough! John and I ran from the house down to the pier at 6:30am. The annual underpants run was taking place at 8:00am and there was a huge crowd getting ready for it. I still can't figure out how I feel about this event. Usually I'm very decisive on my feelings. Yeah, it was kind of funny 10 yrs ago when it began. Maybe I'm a dud here but it seems like a joke thats been played 8 times too many. People seem to love it though, so what do I know.
I went for a swim following my run - man, I love swimming here. It's just buoyant and salty and clean and with incredible visiblity - it's therapeutic. I do love that swim up espresso bar at the 1/2 mile buoy also. After the swim, we grabbed a quick bite then opened up the booth. Shortly after that, Peter (the great chef), Eric (the MyAthlete tech guy), and myself drove up the Queen K to Kawaihai. I got on the bike here and took a g-unit and headed up to Hawi. I felt strong on the climb to hawi, and pushed hard into the serious headwind the last 5 miles before turning around and heading back. I got in a solid 2 hr 30 min ride and the device worked great. John was able to show the live data from my ride at the expo. Peter and Eric picked me up at Waikoloa and we grabbed a smoothie for the drive back to Kailua. The traffic here gets worse every year and from the airport back it was congested, so I hopped out impatiently and rode my bike back.
The expo was winding down around 3:30pm and I went over to the Cannondale booth. Faris Alsultan was signing autographs and one of his sponsors, Edinger (?) beer, was there with a keg. So I brought the MyAthlete boys over and the German guys kept feeding us beer.
So let's see - I ran, than swam in the pacific, than rode on the course for awhile, then drank beer at the expo - that's what I call a great day.

This trip is different though. I'm used to having Lisa out here with me. Her and I have had such a great time here and when I ride by some of the places where we have stayed, it reminds of these times.
It's time to get some sleep. Tomorrow is another busy day and first priority is finding a souvenir, preferably some kind of dress, for my daughter Kate. Now that's pressure! These pro athletes think they are dealing with pressure but they have know idea.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today, the expo was open from 9am until 4pm and John was presenting MyAthlete on center stage at 10:30am. The idea was for me to head out and ride the Hawaii bike course, tagged with one of the g-units (that's the name I gave to the MyAthlete device). Then, those coming through the expo could see on the big screens set up at the MyAthlete tent exactly how the devices work in real time. The unit worked great and recorded my ride in 1 minute intervals.

I headed out into a mild wind and for the first hour I was flying. In fact, I went 25 miles in the first hour. Kona is very interesting though and things can change on a dime. Up near the big resorts on the queen K, the wind picked up. There also wasn't a clooud in the sky. I stopped in Kawahai to refuel and Laurent Jalabert, the famous french cyclist, was hanging out, just having finished up a ride of his own. After a quick can of coke and a refill of gatorade in my bottles, I soldiered on. The 20 mile climb up to Hawi was brutal. the wind was gusting to the point were I was almost knocked off my bike a few times. That combined with the intense heat of the day made things more than challenging. The conditions closely resembled 97', which I feel was the toughest year I raced in Hawaii. The locals in Kawahai even were discussing how hot it was. On the climb to Hawi, there was some fresh road kill - a wild boar, with it's intestines strung out across the road. the smell combined with the heat almost made me vomit. As I descended from Hawi, I flatted on some glass on my front tire. I changed it quickly, then stopped at the convienient store there for some more fluids and a chipwhich. I called up John and said "where am I?" the devices were working great since he knew exactly where I was. My ride ended a bit early due to another flat on the queen K on the return trip. I brought out a brand new tire that I should have put on! It was a good solid ride though, and John said that those coming through the expo loved seeing the live info.

There were a lot of athletes training out on the course. A lot that were racing! They should be resting. It's funny how you never see the pros out there. It was also funny how some people yelled at me to save it for race day.

As we were cleaning up the expo site at 4pm, John mentioned that Sister Madonna Buder was close by and I told him I was going to approach her about wearing a device on race day. She was very interested although she is feeling quite a bit of pressure from HBO, who are doing a special on her, and because of the fact that last year she just barely made the finish cut-off and the conditions were very favorable. She was really sweet though and mentioned she would stop back tomorrow because she wanted to find out more information on MyAthlete.

Tonight we had a dinner at the house for the athletes who will be wearing the devices on race day and John's friend Peter, who came out to cook, made an unbelievable dinner. He bought fresh Tuna right off the dock here in kona from a fisherman and served it with a spicy mango salsa and sticky coconut rice. For desert, he made a chocolate mousse infused with fresh Kona coffee. It was better than most restaurants by far. The athletes seemed excited to be a part of this initial soft launch. The more I see the excitement from everyone about this business, the more excited I get about being part of this initial launch.

Tomorrow, I am going to run early down to the pier and then do a swim. After some breakfast, I plan on riding back up near Hawi with one of the units again. There was a small section where the unit lost contact for a bit and we want to see if it will happen again. Once it kicked back on, all the info was there. So it should be another busy, fun day! If that boar is still there, I'm bringing it back to see what Peter the chef can do with it.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Man, it's been busy here, especially considering I'm not racing. I mean, when I'm racing, I'm usually very busy race week, registering, picking up last minute bike things, getting in some light training, and just keeping busy so I'm not overly focused on the race itself.

Yesterday started with a trip to Lava Java which has amazing coffee and great breakfast food. It's become the place to hang out in the past few years which usually sends me elsewhere, but the coffee and food are so good, as well as the food. John and I both forgot our goggles so we waited until 9am when the tri shop here opened and picked some up and then headed to the pier to swim. Last year, the earthquake really stirred the pacific up and visibility was very limited (fo Hawaii - if it were LI sound, it'd be incredible). But this year, the ocean is back and the water was amazing. Most here swim between 7 and 8:30 am so it was a bit empty at 9:30. Desiree Ficker was getting in at the same time as me though and we swam out to the 1/2 mile buoy together. She turned back and I went just a bit farther before turning. The first swim here always seems to relax me a bit and put me in a good mood. After this we ran a bunch of errands to get ready for the expo - one of the errands was hitting Jamba Juice, which will be a daily fixture while here. Before dinner, John and I headed out for a run. I ran from the house down to Alii Drive and I mean down. The first 15 minutes of the run were all down hill, which meant the last 15 minutes were all up hill.

Today, we awoke and ran from the house to the pier which was about a 50 minute run for me. Then we swam for 40 minutes. Albert Boyce has a coffee business and he set up a catamaran at the 1/2 mile buoy with a swim up ice espresso bar. How cool is that! I took some pictures of John with my waterproof camera that are pasted above.
We set up for the expo which began this evening at 5pm. I headed out for a 2 hr bike ride on the queen K. The wind was very low. I did a few tempo efforts and felt really good.
The expo went really well. It was quite exciting being involved in the start up of this amazing business. The people coming through the expo were really fascinated by the concept - most wanted to rent or buy it for this Saturday! This is a soft launch though and units will officially be available in 2008. There is no heavy sale needed for this project though. The enthusiasm of those that came through the booth showed how much potential this business has. I told John that I don't think even he realizes how big this business he started is going to be.
We finished the day with a late meal at Huggo's, one of my favorite restaurants and I'm pretty whooped right now and I'll be riding the bike course tomorrow - the 112 miles, with a MyAthlete tracking device on me so that those coming through the expo can see how the unit works. My ride will be uploaded onto a big plasma TV set up in the MyAthlete expo booth. So my apologies if this post was a bit boring or mundane - I'll make up for it tomorrow.
Until then, later.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Going back to Kona

I’m on a flight at the moment to Hawaii. I’m heading back to the Big Island for the Ironman, although I won’t be racing this year. I’m going over to assist John Brennan in the launch of his MyAthlete business. Yes, this will be a tough business trip, but hey, I’m willing to make the sacrifice – I’m that kind of guy.

It will be strange though, being over there during race week and not being a participant in the race. This is my eighth trip to Kona, and my first as a spectator. I was much more relaxed packing for this trip than in the past when racing. I won’t feel any of that usual pre-race pressure over the next 5 days either. I won’t overanalyze every little cough, twitch, ache, or sniffle, like I usually do in the week leading up to Ironman. I won’t think about every nutrient I place in my mouth this week. I know Brennan likes to down a few beers so I’m looking forward to that! I won’t awake each morning thinking about how well I did or didn’t sleep. I won’t second guess my training and my taper and wonder if my dead legs will come around for race day. I won’t worry about being in the sun too much, or about staying off my feet, or expending too much energy body-surfing in the pacific.

Writing this, it’s almost easy to question why I race in the first place. And then I think about the last ½ mile. The few minutes where I want time to stand still. Where my emotions are so raw and uncontrolled, and all the training and effort put towards this Ironman goal become minute. I can picture it clear as day now – the right hand turn to the slight downhill where at the base is the hot corner onto Alii Drive. Running down that hill, all the pain from the day goes away. All the questions of doubt are erased. Spectators are cheering you on and at the hot corner; you can hear Mike Reilly calling your name. Then you turn right onto Alii and you see the green carpet soon enough. Spectators hold their hands out wishing you congratulations and grabbing a small piece of your overwhelming energy. You become hyper with the fact that you are about to complete the Ironman. All the hard work has paid off and it’s more than worth it.

Damn. I wish I were racing!

I will be blogging each day from Kona so please stay tuned in!



Friday, September 28, 2007

Ride For Rick

Tomorrow is the fourth annual Ride For Rick. I can't believe it's been four years already.

This event has grown into a really cool Saturday morning, including a 5, 10, 25 and 50 mile ride and a 5K run race. There is a huge raffle with some amazing prizes, massages, food, and even a jumping house for the kids. We have raised quite a bit of cash for Cancer research, scholarship and hospice. It's become a really fun family event, and I'll, in between making sure that everything goes smoothly, ride the 5 mile route with my family.

I sent out a mass email trying to recruit athlete volunteers to ride the route and assist the less experienced or just to be present along the way. I was very disheartened by the lack of response this year. I guess everyone must be very busy. Some people stepped up along with some of the Shoreline Sharks group, people I don't even really know, so thank you to those who are coming to help out at this charitable event and even to those who replied back saying that they couldn't make it. It's a nice thing you are doing and it means a lot to me considering my heart is tied in very closely with this event.

I hope to see a lot of you out there riding or running tomorrow, it's suppopsed to be a beautiful day!



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bike Technology?!

Man I love this weather! This is the best time of the year here in New England.

I started a contest on my message board about picking the Hawaii IM 07' winners and their times. Whoever is closest wins some great Hammer product including a huge jug of Recoverite, Perpeteum, and endurolytes. Hopefully we'll get some players!

In the general discussion section of my message board, Frank Salvo was asking for some advice. He's purchasing a new bike and wanted to know if he should get 650c wheels or 700c wheels. I mentioned that if I were fitting Frank, I wouldn't even think about putting him on 650 wheels. But then I thought about my own experience. My fastest Hawaii IM bike split was on 650 wheels. It was also on a full aluminum bike - yes, even the fork was aluminum. I had standard zipp 404 wheels. No dimples or zedtech. No ceramic bearings. I used a jetstream up front! And, sit down for this one, there wasn't one piece of carbon on the whole bike! I'm as big a bike tech geek as there is. Well, I don't come close to Scott Forster - he's got his finger on the pulse! But I love the tech side of the sport. However IM bike times aren't really getting that much faster with all this bike technology. Sure, Norman set a new bike record last year in Kona, but I think that has more to do with the conditions and the newer bike course rather than his bike itself. I still feel that 700c wheels are the way to go for Frank, and I'm not switching back to 650's anytime soon. The point is that it's all about the legs. It all comes down to how well you trained and that's the bottom line. Put Norman back on my 96' cannondale 650'c aluminum rig at last years race and he still would have set the bike record. So get out the door and ride, damn it!

Some great new music I've been listening to during training:
Bleed it out by Linkin Park - man this one just get's me goin! If it doesn't for you, then check and make sure you have a pulse.
The Pretender by The Foo Fighters - anotther great song from a great band.
Timebomb by Beck - I always liked Beck. This one reminds of some of his earlier stuff that got me interested in his music in the first place.



Monday, September 10, 2007

Vermont Ride

Princess Di died in 1997. Lisa was a huge fan of Di and planned on staying in with her friend Amy to view the televised funeral services during a late August weekend. I called up Farber (The Mexican) and told him to pack a small backpack - we were heading on a destination ride. Right away, he suggested McNiells Pub in Brattleboro, VT. So I left from my house, which at the time was in Shelton, and he left from his house in Northford and we met up on rt. 10 in Hamden by Sleeping Giant State Park. We then rode north on 10, which turns into 5, through CT, MA, and into VT. From my garage door, it was a 140 mile trip. I remember that somwhere between Greenfield, MA and the Vermont line, we were chased by a big pig, just as a dog would give chase. Tired and hungry, we found a hotel, showered up and headed over to McNiells. We ordered a pizza to be delivered there and man the beer tasted good that night! The next morning, we put on the same ripe bike clothes from the previous day and rode home. Thus was born the Vermont Ride.

Baker joined Farber and I the next year, and he hasn't missed the ride since. He used to do it from his house in Torrington, but I put the kebosh on that soon enough, telling him that it wasn't official since he lived in northern CT. So he drives down to my house each year only to pass by where we used to meet up with him 60 miles into the ride. He never complains though - he wants to get the most from the ride even though on Sunday, when you are beat and want off the bike, it'd be nice to finish in Torrington. Plus he knows that I'd rag him to much.

We have done it every year, and even twice in 98' and 00'. We have had every type of weather. I remember one early year, it was raining, cold and into a headwind the whole ride up. I came up on Farber and Baker somewhere near the CT/MA line and we said maybe two words to each other and just forged ahead. Word about the VT ride got out and in 99' I began getting calls and emails about it. Some asked how to get on the invite list! I started inviting a group of people to tag along for the pain each year - my criteria for the invite was based on attituide. Ability didn't matter. Those that were fun, positive, and independant, fun, and fun were invited. I remember one particuliar year where the return trip was around 100 degrees out. Jeff Molson lied comotose on my front lawn for awhile when he finished the ride. I think there is still a chalk outline of him there. We began an innitiation for the rookies. One year it was custom liscence plates made for each rookies bike. Then there was the orange flags, and the wool knee high socks. I still can't believe that rookies would subject themselves to this ride AND go along with the initiation!

Each year something memorable would occur that we would laugh about or take away from the ride. We eventually wisened up and began shipping our clothes up to the hotel. Riding back the next day in clean clothes was a luxury! Recieving the box from ups later that week with the clothes you rode up in was not.

The ride usually would take place in August since I would selfishly use it for Hawaii training and this worked great timing wise. However, this August was filled up. It looked as though it wasn't going to happen this year until Baker and I decided that it had to - we couldn't break the annual. So we cleared the calendar for this past weekend. We kept the group very small this year since it was very last minute and in fact, only Kenny O., Baker, and myself went.

We started at 6:45am from my house on Saturday morning and it was steamy already. Baker and I were tagged with prototype MyAthlete GPS units and we handed out the web site to a few friends and family to track us if the were bored this weekend. Soon into the ride, I was by myself. Ken and Baker are great to ride with because they are fine doing there own thing. My legs felt great Saturday and I was clipping along at a good rate. Baker found a new route that twisted and turned through Thomaston, Bristol, Burlington, Farmington and Avon and I didn't know it well so we regrouped before beginning this section. In Simsbury, we pick up rt. 10 and then it's just head north. We hit our first Starbucks in Granby. It was hot and humid and a frappacino works really well in these conditions. Then, after a brief stop in Southwick, MA at a bike shop to get a part for Bakers bike to stop the noise coming from his rear wheel, we aimed for our next Starbucks in Northhampton, MA.

I was by myself again and carrying pretty good speed into a right turn in Westfield, MA at a busy intersection. Through the corner was fairly new tar patching the road and the heat and humidity melted it down to an oily, slick patch. My wheels, in an instant, went out from under me and I came down quite hard on my right hip and elbow. After thumpping the pavement hard, I then skidded out into the intersection a bit. This happened so unbelievably quick. It was as though something grabbed my wheels and yanked them out from right under me. This was a busy intersection and all the cars stopped - yet not one stopped to help or even ask if I was ok! I grabbed my bike and hobbled over to the curb to assess the damage. My left elbow had a nice open wound and some road rash and my right hip already had a golf ball size hematoma bulging out. My rear dereilleur on my bike took a beating and the cable was out, but soon Ken came rolling up and helped me in getting it functional. While Ken helped me with my bike, Baker went and got me some ice packs. I took one and put it on the hematoma between my bike shorts and the skin and headed onward. Abouot 10 miles in I started to stiffen up a bit but soon found myself back in a groove.

95 miles into the ride I rolled into Northhampton and ordered three more Venti Coffee Frappaccinos and sat outside and people-watched. Northhampton is one of the best people- watching places. One woman was having a nice conversation with herself. Ken at first thought she was using a bluetooth headset!

The rest of the ride up was uneventful. It was very, very hot and humid, but my legs still felt good. I rolled into the hotel around 3:15pm. John Brennan, amongst a few others, were tracking us throughout the day on the MyAthlete website and it was extremely cool! He called me at one point when we were stopped at the bike shop tending to Bakers bike and said "why are you stopping in Southwick? Get moving!" Very big brotherish! On the ride back home Sunday, we roll through the center of Woodbury where my sister lives. At the exact time I was riding by, she came walking down to the street with a big jug of ice water. She told me that dad just called her and told her I was about to ride by. I would call up Lisa to get an idea of where Baker and Ken were on the route. How cool is that! Then, upon return, I could review the history of my ride and even print out a topical route map. It was unbelievably cool!

After showering and scrubbing, I made my way over to the supermarket and purchased some peroxide and bandages to clean up my wounds. We headed out for a lousy dinner (restaurants in Brattleboro are very undesirable) but some fun conversation and some great beer. In fact, the three of us were a bit looped when we left the pub. The numbing helped a bit though since I was quite sore and my right hip was getting very stiff. It was a fun night though.

We awoke at 5:30am, wolfed down some breakfast, and by 6:20am we were on the road. The return trip from VT is way different than the previous day. It's certainly not as fun, or even fun at all, but it's a solid day of training. The focus is usually on just getting home. There is usually no conversation on the climb out of brattleboro, and I knew that the three of us needed to do our own thing this day. At the top of the climb, I was alone and solo for the rest of the day. It was still very humid, and drizzling slightly which was a nice relief. Very strange in Deerfield, MA was the amount of dead frogs on the road. I was keeping a steady effort although my right side felt as though I had no power and my back was hurting from the fall. I find on these days that you can't overthink it, you just have to put on some good tunes and pedal. About 50 miles into the return trip, the sun came out which wasn't that welcomed. It made the return climbs through Burlington, Bristol, Thomaston and Watertown a bitch.

I rolled back into my driveway around 1:30pm, glad to be getting off the bike. Kenny came rolling in later and said that we all split up on that first climb right out of Brattleboro and he and Baker rode solo all day as well. Kenny headed home to see his wife and daughter, and then Baker came in. A nice custom of this trip is that we go get some big greasy cheese burgers and fries upon the completion and that's just what we did. We have a Five Guys burger place close by in Newtown and these burgers are amazing - especially after a nice 280 mile weekend ride.

2007 VT ride in the books!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I love racing 1/2 Ironmans. The distance is very challenging yet you can still have a busy life outside of the training for it. I have raced most of the big 1/2 IM races in the nation throughout the past 10 years, and one that still was on my to do list was Timberman in New Hampshire. I had heard nothing but great things about this race and mid July I was fortunate enough to weasel my way in (race registration had filled in February due to the popularity of this race). I left Monroe at 3:30pm on Friday evening so that I could volunteer at the sprint race on Saturday morning. Leaving at this time was a big mistake! I first hit traffic in Waterbury, then in Hartford, then on the Mass Pike, then the worst of it was from Mass up into NH on rt. 93. It took me over 6 hours to get there. Lisa and the kids stayed home and Mars (or Baker) couldn't make the trip, so I was riding solo.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, my father took a position with a company that relocated us up in Amherst, NH. We were there for less than a year, and I had been back to NH once since, at a race on Lake Sunapee in the mid 90's. Timberman takes place on the huge Lake Winnapasakee, which is beautiful and surrounded by hills. It's a shame that they had to taint this beauty with every fast food joint you could think of along with Walmart, Home Depot, and little strip malls. I, at the last minute, was able to get vacancy at the Landmark Inn in Laconia and upon arrival, I was glad that Lisa, although she's no prima-donna, opted to stay home.

My preparation for this race was less than adequate. I like to keep myself fit enough to jump into races when possible, but this isn't always a good thing. I had swam once since Lake Placid camp in June and my running was not up to par. I had not run while in France and then I didn't do enough specific bricks before or after France and it showed on race day. On top of that, I was feeling run down during the week leading into this race and didn't do any training on Wed, Thu, or Fri. Saturday, I awoke early and did body marking and then worked the bike mount and dismount line at the sprint race. It was cold Saturday! The wind was blowing and there were white caps on the lake. After the sprint race, I did all the day before stuff like cleaning and setting up my bike, picking up registration packet, going for an easy 30 minute ride and an easy 20 minute run... Dinner that night was my traditional pizza and a pint of Guinness and I was in bed early.

Despite being nervous (this was my first race since Hawaii last year and I felt less than prepared), I slept well. The drive up to the race site was long with a traffic jam from all the other racers, and this just sucked. I have mentioned before about how the worst part of race day for me is the 90 minutes before the race begins. I just want to get started and get moving and the anticipation and nerves can hang on you. Sitting in traffic during this just makes it that much worse. It was cold out, in the low 50's, but the sun was up.

The Swim: bottom line - I sucked. I had no feel for the water and just envisioned a rope running parallel to my torso that I'd grab and pull myself forward on with each stroke. I counted 100 strokes with my left arm, then 100 strokes with my right. I estimated that this was equal to 500 meters (the 200 strokes), and repeated this counting drill for four cycles and I was close to the swim finish. I swore during this swim that I'd quite the bullshit and making up excuses and get myself to the pool at least once or twice a week, every week throughout the year. I was depressed as I exited the water and saw that the swim took me 30 minutes and 30 seconds. Typically, I swim 1.2 miles in a race in 27 minutes so I was angry with myself and my laziness in swim training. The positives from this swim were that I found open water immediately. I was in the second wave, behind the pro men and women wave. I was in a new "Elite Amateurs" division and there were maybe only 30 of us in this wave, so it meant very little contact during the swim and the bike would be very clean. Also, I loved my new Nineteen wetsuit. I know - they sponsor me so I'm supposed to say that but here's the deal: Anyone that knows me knows that I don't plug things shamelessly. The neck line is wiiiiiiide and I had no chafing issues whatsoever. I usually hate full sleeve wetsuits and this one did bother me a bit but the least of any I have worn. I still don't know if I'm a huge fan of sleeves on wetsuits (or sleeves in general), but these were the least restricting. Finally, Nineteen and QR are the only two companies that use 5mm thick neoprene in there legs and it shows - the lower body buoyancy is amazing!

The Bike: I exited the transition area to see Chris Thomas right in front of me. I yelled some words of encouragement or profanity or something at him and forged ahead. The first 12 miles of this out and back course roll up hill. I had a wattage game plan to ride the hills at 350 and the flats at 300 and at any speed above 30 mph, I'd coast or soft pedal and save my legs. I felt pretty good and stayed controlled. There were a couple of young guys who I went by early on and they didn't like that so they would blast by me soon afterwards. I kept to my game plan and would recatch them and we played this cat and mouse game for 10 miles. Usually I'd get them at the top of a hill since they'd blast the lower part of the hill and then run out of gas, only to repeat this at the next hill. At the 20 mile mark, they fell off pace. I saw Bjorn Anderson coming back on his return trip with a huge lead over Simon Lessing who was in second. There was a strong head wind on the return trip and I still felt strong although I felt as though I was lacking that extra punch that you get after racing a few times in the season. That oomph that you only get from racing. The nice thing about this smaller wave that I was in was that it made for a very clean race. I carried two bottles with me on the bike - one with calories and one with electrolyte drink. This carried me to the two hour mark and I grabbed a gatorade at the last aid station, but that was the only aid station I grabbed something at on the bike. I rolled into T2 feeling pretty good about the time I had made up on the bike from my poor swim.

The Run: What was interesting was that I didn't feel that cold on the bike except for my feet. In hindsight, I should have put socks on for the ride. As I left T2, my toes were numb and especially on my left foot. My low back was tight as well and I was running, yet felt sluggish. I tried to keep my stride shorter and quicker and not force things, hoping that I'd loosen up by mile three or four. Well, mile six came and went and I was getting ready to begin my second run loop and I still had numb left toes and felt stiff. Right at this time, another elite male, Desiree Ficker, and Kate Major came up on me. Desiree and Kate were having quite the battle for first place on this day. The elite male and Desiree moved by quickly and I locked onto Kate. I stayed focused on her back through mile 7 and started to loosen up. By 7.5 miles, I was finally running and feeling good. I moved by Kate and told her to stay on me and that we were going to reel in Desiree. At mile 8, I could hear Kate breathing hard and told her to hang in there, we were making up time. I was running strong now and was excited yet questioning why it took 6.5 miles to loosen up. Kate fell off pace and i soldiered onwards. I caught the elite male who had passed me earlier at the 11 mile mark and ran right off his shoulder until the last 1/4 mile, where I made my move and surged to the finish line. I had negative split the run by almost 5 minutes.

At the finish line, I felt good. I used primarily coke, gatorade and water on the run and one gel packet and this worked well. Kate Major finished up and we ended up talking for 30 minutes or so. She is a really interesting and genuinely nice person. I'll have to root for her now at Hawaii this year.

It was great seeing a lot of familiar faces out on the course, including some of the athletes I coach. This was definitely one of the best triathlons I have ever raced. The organization was second to none. Keith Jordan and his crew do an amazing job, and all the positives that I have heard about this race were dead on. The course is terrific. It's an honest course with a diversity of good hills, scenery, shade and sun. I will come back to this race again, even if it is a big pain in the ass to get to. I'm encouraged now to get my swimming and running up to where they should be and even further by November.