Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Honestly I didn't pay Perdue to write this blog up and say such nice things. Lake Placid NY Camp! Being new to triathlons and having a couple sprints and one Olympic under my belt, I thought I would join the LP (Lake Placid) triathlon camp with Eric Hodska to take me to the next level! I have been doing the “Run Clinic” with Eric for several months and seen my run times improve 25%. With this kind of improvements, I was excited to give camp a try! I was extremely nervous and felt like it was my first triathlon, had no idea what to expect! I drove up on Wednesday the day before the camp was to officially start. I emailed Eric to see what time we were going to meet in the morning of the very first day. Eric returned my email and said he and couple others are going for an easy run at 4:00p and then going to dinner at Nicola’s if I would like to join them. It was 95 degrees and extremely humid day, so I decided to join them trail running in the shade. Eric’s definition of an “easy run” is a whole lot different than mine! After running a short distance with his group I realized my heart was going to explode so I backed off and slowed down, after regaining my breath I realized how beautiful the trails were and how hot the day felt. All the guys that were running with me were friendly, supportive and talkative and made me not feel like an outsider! Had dinner with my new group of friends and was amazed of ease of talking to this group and knew I was with a group of people who were going to make this camp fun. Day 1: We meet at Mirror Lake at 7:00am sharp, we all went around in a circle, said our names and what we hope to get out of Eric’s camp. After that Eric gave us 3 drills to focus on when were swimming to improve our efficiency and speed. Then Eric told us to swim to the other side of the lake and back. I couldn’t see the other side and I never swam that long before in my life. Like little ducks the group followed his wishes and jumped in and swam as well as I, I focused on the 3 drills and kept my head in the water and arms moving. The lake was clean and beautiful and after a couple minutes of panic, settled in and started enjoying the situation. I felt part of the group and had Eric’s casual but supportive voice in my mind saying “count, focus on your stroke, feel like your fast and smooth”. It was the best mile and half swim I have ever done! We all meet for breakfast to hear about our next activity, at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about not knowing what was coming next, but found I liked not knowing, Eric always had something fun and interesting with a twist! Next was the bike, we stopped several times on the course and pointed out common mistakes triathletes make in the course, as well showing us all sorts tips and tricks that Eric has learned through his career. It was a hot day and was getting hotter by the minute. Being new to this sport I was struggling to keep up and the humid heat was taking its toll. I tried my best not to show too much pain considering the crowd I was with, however I got to the point where I stopped sweating and got the chills. I knew I was in trouble, after a couple more miles caught up with the Sag Vehicle and Eric’s Father (aka Big Rocks) who quickly saw my situations and helped me with water and got me to shade. Eric walked over and asked if all was ok and recommended that we had 12 miles back why don’t I ride in the Sag vehicle for five miles and try to get back on the bike for the rest. I agreed and then realized that is crazy! I was suffering on the verge of heat stroke and I was going to ride again! Eric has this uncanny ability to see someone’s abilities, before we even know ourselves! So I hopped in the sag vehicle and got dropped off to ride the rest of the way in. At first it was hard to get legs spinning again, but I soon started feeling better. We all met at Mirror Lake again to soak our hot legs in the cold refreshing lake. I felt so good that I completed this ride even though my body didn’t. I would have lost this great feeling of accomplishment if Eric didn’t know me and my abilities. We finished the day with a several mile trail run and then dinner and laughs about the day. At breakfast a conversation started up about eggs, I had mentioned that I raise chickens because of great taste of “Free Range” eggs and how chickens are easy to raise! At this point I realized the whole table was looking and listening to what I had to say about my eggs and how my family and friends love them and will never buy eggs from the store again. I mentioned I even started raising my own meat chickens and turkeys due to the quality of the meat! The questions started to come from all directions “do you slaughter your own birds”, “how many birds do you have”, “is there a big difference in taste” and then Eric says in a fun confident voice “Perdue; that is your new tri-camp nickname!” The tabled laughed hard and the nickname was locked in! It still puts a smile on my face every time I think about that breakfast! What this camp did for me cannot be described completely; it must be lived and experienced for you! I went to camp feeling like I need a lot more work to get ready to do a half triathlon and left camp knowing I can do one tomorrow! The group of new friends I made, remind me of friends I had in the military, they have my back”! The Coaches: Ken Osborn was always good for a laugh and sound advice, Jim Hodska (aka Big Rocks) conversations of lentil loaf dinners, composting and sag support, Greg Pelican who is very knowledgeable about racing and riding, and finally Eric Hodska The best coach I have ever met! His uncanny ability to know each and every person individually and know just what to say to keep me wanting to do better! This is what separates him from all the other coaches I have ever worked with in my life. I feel he knows me better then I know myself. Thanks everybody for making it such a great experience!
EH Lake Placid Camp 2012 I’ve had the fortune of participating in this camp 3 times previously, so I had an idea what to expect, but I also knew Hods would throw in a few things to keep it fresh. I wasn’t disappointed, and for those who’ve attended an EH camp you know what I’m talking about. First thing of note that was different this year is that we did a lot more swimming than years past. Every day but Saturday started with a 1 hr swim in mirror lake. The great part about the swim is that you’re on your own. Personally I rarely do any drill practice in open water, I just swim. So since this was camp I felt obligated to practice some of those drills that we all forget about especially once race season starts! So everyday I did a lot of drill, swim, drilling, and really tried to focus on form. I’ve been lucky enough to get into the Xterra Championship in Maui so EH had me bring my mountain bike this year. And am I glad I did! I had no idea how much time could be spent there exploring all the different trails. Having ridden the ironman course many times, EH had me go out mountain biking with Kenny. If you know Kenny, you know there’s not much he takes seriously, but a big exception is his mountain biking!! Holy shit did I learn a lot. I took my skill level from what I would say was a 1 all the way to probably a 3 or 4. Not to say that I didn’t leave a lot of sweat and quite a bit of blood on the trails, but man was it fun. In the 3.5 hrs we rode the first day I totally lost count of how many times I fell, and every time I did I looked to see if Kenny was laughing, but he never was. Now I’m pretty sure he and Hods had a big laugh telling my stories afterward! Probably the most memorable part was this one section that was a little above my skill level. Ken and I stopped before it and talked thru how to attack it, then he rode it and showed me. I tried it unsuccessfully, then walked bike up to Kenny where he promptly said “go do it again”... and a second time, and a third time..... He says it ONLY took me 7 tries, but I’m pretty sure it was more like 33! I really wasn’t laughing, but I sure was having a good time! We had a blast and came home with great big smiles, while the rest of the group had a grueling lap of the bike course in 88 degree heat. There is a pretty cool loop with some little hills on a trail called Henry’s Woods which is close to the hotel and I think we ran it pretty much everyday at some point. Even running it 3 or 4 times it never got boring. The coolest run was the day we climbed, crawled and jumped our way to the lookout. Its amazing how difficult it can be just to basically being walking up a mountain. I think I sucked about half the O2 from the atmosphere. On the day I was given MVP(although there really were much more impressive performances that were much more deserving than mine. Although my award was more out of pity I think!) was the day we were to ride the full course and then run an hour. The first loop is typically the easier of the two, and as Mike and I came over the top of Papa Bear and headed into town my rear shifter stripped. All I had was big and small ring. That second loop was gonna be a bitch! I stopped at the hotel for advice from Hods to see if he thought I should try the course with only 2 gears. He said my day was done. I didn’t want to except that so I told him I’d be right back. I showed up with my mountain bike. He said “ don’t tell me you’re gonna try and ride the course on that”! And in my thick head I really was gonna try it. Hods instead had me ride to whiteface and climb it on the mountain bike, then work my way home on the course. I lost count of how many people shook their heads and gave me big smiles as I rode past them. I’m sure they were thinking “what an idiot”, maybe they were right.... But I was having fun and that’s what its really about, right? The coolest part was when I was actually in a pace line coming home on my mountain bike and a girl rode up next to me and said “NICE”. As she rode away Kerri asked me “do you know who that was?” That was Kaitlin Snow the pro. So I got recognized by a pro!! Wooo Hoooo! although probably not for a good reason ;) So we all got home and went for our brick run. Day is supposed to be complete, right?? I can’t remember who said it first, me or Kenny, but we said lets go mountain bike! And out we went for another 1.5 hrs of playtime. Practicing skills and climbing, and more laughing and falling for me..... but no blood! So I don’t think I worked nearly as hard as the rest of the group, but I know I had more fun. Kenny and I got home 10 min before dinner, scrubbed off the mud and went for Ubu’s. Although I didn’t achieve what I had initially set out to do, I did have a great day and enjoyed every minute. The last dinner of camp is always the funniest. Everyone has laid it out there and achieved what they came to do, so the stories and jokes really start to roll. And just in case we may have been short on entertainment, Baker showed up. So between Molson, Kenny, EH, and Baker it was difficult to eat! I am oh so sad that another camp is in the books, but even more happy to have been a part of EH Lake Placid 2012. Thank you to Kenny, Big Rocks and especially Hods! Another lifetime memory.
Friday, June 15, 2012
I want to go back to race the Hawaii Ironman this year for the sheer purpose of taking my kids to Hawaii and showing them what’s been such a big part of my adult life. As I raced in St. Croix in early May with a bronchial infection, attempting to qualify, and suffering very early on during the bike then really suffering during the hot and humid run, I thought to myself “do I really want to put myself through this again for twice as long in an even hotter place?”. Not even two days had passed before I found myself looking for ways to get into the already sold out Eagleman 70.3 race which also had Kona qualifying spots. Turns out they had a couple of community fund slots left with the contributions going to the Blazeman Foundation which is a great cause, so I jumped on the opportunity. I received an email from Vigo, the race director, welcoming me back to the race. This guy is a class act which, even though I’m not a fan of the flat “draft enabling” course, explains why this race is so popular and so well run. The last time I raced at Eagleman was in 98’ or 99’ - He remembered that I was the top amateur that year! My training had been going well with two exceptions; this allergy season had been brutal! As a kid, I never had allergies. In fact, I developed allergies as an adult, from, what I believe to be heavy training in this outdoor environment. The other exception was that I simply don’t have the time to train now like I used to. And I see the evidence in my racing. In 98’ or 99’, I did a 4:08 on the eagleman course in a year where the swim was particularly long (I swam 36 minutes that year compared with 27 min this year). This year I did a 4:22. The main difference has been my run. I used to run 6 to 7 days a week in training, and now I run 3 to 4. The result is that I run 10 minutes slower now for the ½ marathon portion than I used to. This is something I will be working on this summer. I know that many may think it’s aging that is the real culprit, but I don’t buy into this. But the main thing about my training and racing is that my motivation and desire has changed. I have been doing this for a long time, and I’ll always be competitive, yet I’m not as time driven as I once was, I’m more driven by experiences now. I left early Saturday morning to make the long, monotonous drive to Cambridge with my dad/manager. The sun was out and they were predicting heat for the weekend, with temps in the 90’s. What the hell is it with me and hot races? I’m a bigger guy who’s not great in the heat, yet I continue to race in notoriously hot races. Maybe it’s the stubbornness, or more simply, the stupidness in me that makes me want to take on the things I’m not so good at? We drove straight to the race venue where I registered and then went out for an hour spin on the bike while Big Rocks gathered all the race details that I tend to blow off. We stayed 30 minutes away which I actually prefer. We met Mike Biehl out for dinner at a cool micro brew pub. I had a great IPA, some pasta and chicken, and a glass of red wine before heading back to the room to watch the Celtics unfortunately loose game 7 to the Heat. I drifted off around 9pm and slept well, awakening at 4am. I had a bagel w/ peanut butter, a frappacino, and a handful of peanut butter pretzels, but wasn’t really hungry for anything else. I took in 4 saltstick capsules between 4 and 8am. Now here’s the thing that sucked the most about the day; my wave was the eleventh wave, leaving at 8:10am. The pro’s left around 6:40am. Many of the amateurs were well off before 7am. I hate waiting around for the race to start – I’ve mentioned before how this is the worst time for me on race day. The waves were so spread out to break up potential drafting - I understood this. I also understood that the later waves like mine would be dealing with more mid-day heat and increased winds that start to come in around 10am down there. I know that I’m racing against my wave, but I also like to see where I stand against all the amateurs and the wave starts made for much different races. I blocked this out and began to focus on the task at hand; get my Kona spot. They finally called my wave up to the swim start. I jumped in to do a brief warm-up, and then lined up in the front row, slightly to the outside for the in-water start. We were off, and I got a good jump out and targeted the feet of a guy who was swimming well. The swim felt…good?! I’m known for neglecting my swim training so I never expect to feel smooth during the swim, yet I did which is the result of me swimming more consistently since St. Croix. We soon were catching swimmers from the wave in front of us which, although it’s fun on the bike, is a pain during the swim. One guy jumped on my feet early on and he continued to slap my feet throughout the whole swim. Not enough to where he was pushing down on them, but just a slight graze of my toes. I’m a good one to draft off because I have wider shoulders and no kick at all, especially with a wetsuit. Two guys in my age group came out of the water with me; a guy who beat me in St. Croix and who I know is a solid swimmer and very good runner, and the foot slapper, my buddy Scott Jones who I didn’t even know was racing here! It’s always great to see Scott, but we could catch up later - we were racing and there were only two Kona slots. I had a slower transition than the other two, not by much, and exited T1 in 6th place. I felt decent right away on the bike, and by mile five, I had taken the lead in my age group. I stayed aero and kept a high, efficient cadence. The bike felt almost easy, meaning I had a lot more in the tank to give, yet it was hot already without a cloud in the sky. I was leading and knew the run was going to be tough, so I may as well conserve as much as possible without giving up my lead. For the first 75 minutes of the bike, there was little wind and I was moving along at around 26 mph. Then, as I expected, the winds started to pick up and slowed things a bit. I rode all alone the entire ride, passing many packs of age groups that started in earlier waves. I knew the drafting would be blatant out there and I mentally blocked out these packs so that I didn’t waste energy worrying about something I couldn’t control. I sipped from a bottle of EFS liquid shot mixed with water, while drinking gatorade throughout the bike and pouring water inside my helmet and down my back to stay cool. I love entering T2 and racking my bike first in my division! I opted to put on socks since I was wearing a newer Nike racing flat, and headed out on the hot, flat, boring run course. This run is an out and back and the miles feel as though they are marked two miles apart. The turnaround just never seems to come. I knew I wasn’t moving too quickly, but I was running. I took in coke, water, and gatorade at the aid stations and never missed an opportunity to dump ice in my tri suit. As I hit the turn around and began making my way back to the finish line, I had my first opportunity to see where my competition was. The guy from St Croix and Scott were maybe five minutes behind. I thought that as long as I kept running, they wouldn’t make up 45 seconds per mile. Yet, I was still running scared and I was lacking confidence. This was because it was extremely hot now, and I could feel myself withering. I started counting, but still couldn’t help but to focus on the pain of each stride in the 95+ degree sun. I took it one mile at a time. “Get to mile nine Eric” I talked to myself. “Then, you only have four miles left to run”. “Get to mile 10 then it’s just a 5K left – you can do that in your sleep!” I was fading though. The thought of missing my daughters’ recital and both of my kids games this weekend while I was down in MD racing for myself was all that I needed to keep me pushing. At the 12 mile mark, a guy came up on my shoulder and said “great race man”. I glanced over and asked “are you in my age group?”. He was, and he was moving well in the heat. I know I have a strong kick in the last 200 meters so I thought, if I could just stay with him… He ended that thought quickly and surged hard right away. I could not respond. I knew there were two spots and my goal of qualifying was attained, yet I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed about coming in second. Mission accomplished though, and I quickly called home to let the family know. Lisa answered and I told her to pack her grass skirt. I could hear the kids screaming with excitement in the background. Big Rocks and I looked for any shade we could find to hang out in and wait for the awards ceremony. I sat on the grass under a tree, uncomfortably trying to just let my body recover from the effort in the heat, and asking myself “do you really want to put yourself through this again on the lava fields?” Earlier this spring, when Lisa and I were discussing me racing in Hawaii again and taking the kids, Lisa lectured me; “listen, the kids don’t need to see you suffering out there and in a med tent at the end with iv’s stuck in you. Go there and enjoy the day. Keep the effort easier. You have raced there eight times - You have nothing to prove.” It was an interesting plea since she knows I can’t do that.