Friday, September 9, 2011

Breaking the Tape

Over the past 2+ years, I've gone from a fat, lazy, piece of $#!+ to a somewhat fit, borderline competitive runner/duathlete. At first, I was satisfied with consistant weight loss and the excitement of feeling alive and healthy. Slowly, I've begun to transform my desire to become fitter to almost an obsession to "break the tape" or to put it simpler WIN. However, I've yet to break through, coming close on numerous occasions.

I've had another life change recently. My wife and I have left WNY for (hopefully) greener pastures in the Philadelphia area. I've decided that this is a perfect opportunity to refocus my efforts, not only with renewed training, but also with a new blog.

I am no longer just a "fat guy" running for fitness. My new focus is to break the tape, to win a race, followed by several more!

I know this goal is lofty, but I'm just not satisfied completing an event anymore. Please join me in my new adventure at

See you there...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Sizzler Duathlon

In what is probably my last race this summer, I entered today's competition with some serious doubts. My training has taken a backseat over the past month, due to our plans for moving to Philadelphia, roofing, work, etc. I typically would have gotten all of my training in anyway, but not this time.

To compound matters, I let my nutrition go to shit. I've been taking the lazy route of eating crap instead of quality meals that had helped me get into great shape. As a result, I gained about 7 lbs. in the past 3 weeks or so.

Needless to say I was a bit skeptical of how well I'd perform today. Add that to some strong competition in the form of Jim R. and Ryan J. Still, I toed the line and was ready to go bright and early at 7:30am, supported by my wife and father.
My plan was similar to the last race. Run 1: stick with the leaders the best I could, Bike: get after it hard, Run 2: hold on for dear life. Ryan is a strong runner and had been logging crazy bike miles, so I figured him to be the one the rest of us would be chasing. Jim and I have been neck and neck for the past few races, but he is definitely stronger on the runs. The bike leg was much shorter (11.5miles) minimizing my strength, so I'd have to make the most of it.

Run 1 (1.88miles/11:31/6:08): As I expected, Ryan got away from us about halfway through the run. I tried surging a couple of times to put some pressure on Jim, but he hung with me. The out and back course was mostly flat, with just a bit of incline before turning back into transition. I entered transition in 2nd place with Jim right on my heels.

T1 (:46): 6th fastest. Jim and I headed to the mount line stride for stride.
Bike (11.44 miles/29:13/23.5 mph): I had a few issues getting my shoes fastened coming out of transition and Jim got away from me for a bit. I caught him at about the 3 mile mark and set my sights for Ryan. I really didn't think I had a chance to catch Ryan, as I figured him to be slightly better on the bike. Much to my surprise, I caught and passed him around mile 5. I had a slight scare at the turnaround. It was a sharp 180 degree turn and my back wheel skidded a quite a bit. We had a pretty nice tailwind going out (averaged 26-27mph), but into the wind on the way back in only allowed for 22-23mph. Every once and awhile, I'd take a peek back and see Ryan, a few bike lengths back, expertly marking me. He passed me about 1/2 mile before transition and it was on!

T2 (:35): 2nd overall. Ryan and I headed out of transition in step with one another.
Run 2 (1.92/12:43/6:36): Heading out of transition in step with Ryan, I knew I was in trouble. I hung with him for about 1/4 mile, before he pulled away. My mind went back to my original plan of hanging on for 2nd. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Jim only about :3o behind me. Double trouble! For the next 1.5 miles, I surged forward whenever I could convince myself to move faster and otherwise tried to maintain pace. The second half of this run actually wound up being faster than the first half. I was able to hold off Jim for second place, by :12 (:24 out of 1st.) Heck of a race!

All things considered, I must say I'm pleased. Of course, only out of 1st by :24 and right there at the final transition got me thinking over the next few hours, "what if?" Days like this do wonders on getting me refocused on training. I'm looking forward to getting settled in our new city and seeing what new racing awaits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life vs. Training

As most of us are working stiffs, I'm sure we've all struggled from time to time to balance our desires to train with the reality that other things in our lives sometimes are more important.

Take this weekend for instance. My house is in desperate need of a new roof. Rather than shelling out $10K+, I figured there was enough knowledge and experience between my friends and I to get the job done. However, I forgot how scary it is to be on a roof and mine has more pitch than others I've been on. What was originally supposed to be one weekend, will most likely take up the bulk of the coming weekend too. This means no Wilson Duathlon.

I'm not completely broken up about this, though I am itching for a race. It's been since July 2, since my last duathlon and I was looking forward to getting after it. However, it seems more important to have a completely shingled roof.

The rest of the summer should be interesting too. My wife took a new job in Philadelphia, and we are moving in the beginning of September. This will undoubtedly play with my training plans even more and is putting the Dunkirk Duathlon in jeopardy. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Clipper Classic 5K (Bellport, NY)

One of the fun things to do while traveling is to check out the local racing scene. This summer has taken my wife and I back to her hometown of Bellport, NY to do the 27th running of the Clipper Classic 5K. This course was flat and fast, though the heat made it feel like quite a chore.

I started off strong, 1st mile in 6:08. I felt like I was gliding and it didn't feel as though I was struggling at all. That feeling didn't last. By the middle of the 2nd mile, I went through a complete transformation (not for the better.) I began cramping and the heat caught up to me. Mile 2: 6:28. I tried, in vain, to hold this pace, but alas, could not; mile 3 6:48. A nice little downhill finish and was in at a very unimpressive 20:12.

Certainly not my best time, but acceptable considering the heat. Still good enough for 3rd in my age group and a shiny new medal to add to my collection.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tri in the Buff Duathlon

In the past two duathlons I've raced in, I've finished 2nd. Last week, I was beaten by a far superior competitor, Cameron; in June, at the Keuka Lake Duathlon, by Jim. For this weekend's Tri in the Buff, both were to be present. I had no inclination that I'd get close to Cameron, but felt I had a fair chance to beat Jim, so once again, the race would be for second place.

My race strategy was simple. Keep up with Jim during the first run, gain as much time as I could during the bike, and hopefully, having banked a bunch of time in the bike, have enough of a gap to hold on for 2nd.

My tactics worked perfectly. I finished the first run about 4 secs behind Jim an caught him immediately at the mount line. I buried myself deep in the bike and entered transition with a 2+minute gap. I was able to hang on in the final run (only lost about 30 seconds) and finished in 2nd place about 1:40 ahead of Jim. Success right?!? Well the saga continues.....

Satisfied with my performance, I headed away from the finish towards transition to pack up my things. On the way I passed by the results and wanted to just take a glance at some of the splits. To my horror, I noticed that I wasn't in 2nd, but 3rd! Upon closer inspection, it appeared that I was assessed a penalty. What?!?

Well, immediately I was on the war path. I headed over to the announcers table and the race official was called over. She explained to me that she had penalized me for rule 5.10f.

5.10f " Position. Except for reasons of safety and when no advantage is gained, all cyclists shall keep to the right of the prescribed course unless passing."

I asked when and how this penalty was determined as she explained to me that she had clocked me for 20 seconds in the passing area. She said that anything over 15 seconds was a violation of this rule. I asked the official where this time was stated and she said that a specific time wasn't stated in the rule book, it was just "something they were told during official training". I asked her that if I was in that position for less than 15 seconds if I would have gotten a penalty and she said no.

My second issue was the road conditions. The bike course was two loops, with a large section on route 5. Route 5 is two lanes and the shoulder was very pothole-ridden. In fact, several areas were marked with orange spray paint as a warning. In the first loop, I spent a good deal of time hitting and swerving around these potholes, so on the second loop, I decided to stay further left, to avoid throwing myself over the handlebars. It was on this second loop that I was assessed the penalty. I explained this to the official and she stated that she didn't think the area that I got the penalty in was unsafe. Also, on the second loop, I was passing riders a very frequent intervals as I was lapping slower riders.

The official called a couple of regional officials for a backup to her ruling and after arguing with her for awhile, I was told that I'd have to file a petition with the USTA, if I wanted the infraction changed.

I guess I have a few big issues with this penalty. First of all, I was not riding unsafe, but rather I made a decision to ride out a bit further during this stretch to protect myself from the rough road. I was not impeding any car traffic or putting myself or other riders in danger. Secondly, I gained no advantage by riding like this. Additionally, the official was basing her assessment of the penalty on a time lapse of 20 seconds. However, nothing in the rulebook for this section states a specific time that is acceptable/unacceptable. This makes the rule very subjective and open to interpretation.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of this is the fact that this race is part of a three race series. I would have been tied for the overall duathlon lead going into the final race (Summer Sizzler) with Jim, but now I am 2 points behind. It is too bad that a race and a series will probably be determined, not by racing skills but by a questionable (in my opinion) ruling. I do plan on filing that petition and lobbying my case with the race director as well.

Overall, the ScoreThis group that runs this series does a great job. Their events are always well organized and I'd highly encourage all to participate in the future.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quakerman Duathlon

This is where it all began for me last year. With a fresh new bike I set out, having no idea what to expect. This race hooked me to strive to become something that resembles a multi-sport athlete. So, needless to say, I needed to come back this year for a visit.

I had kept my eye on the registration list over the past couple of weeks, gauging the competition, trying to predict how I might finish. I didn't recognize too strong a field and felt as though I had a decent chance to win. Then on the way to the race this morning, my wife checked the list again, and notified me that Cameron Townsend was racing as well. Cameron is head and shoulders above the rest of the competitors that typically enter duathlons, myself included. With sub-6 minute/mile running paces and 25mph+ bike speeds, he is a formidable opponent. Last year, at this event, he soundly beat me by over 15 minutes. This had become a race for 2nd place.

The first leg, a two mile run (sprint), quickly got underway and sure enough Cameron and a few other got away. I kept my cadence high and worked it as much as I dared, trying to not blow it all right away. I entered transition in 6th place, 12:07/6:04 pace.

Yesterday, I worked on improving my transition time, by leaving my bike shoes on the pedals the whole time. Feeling comfortable enough, I decided to try it in this race. I typically have a transition time around :45, so I was pleased with :37. This helped me exit transition in 3rd place, only about :10 behind second place. 1st place (Cameron) was out of transition just as I entered.

The bike...I love it!! I can go fast, usually faster than most of the competition. I credit this to good gear, a better set up and my weekly time trial racing. I caught the 2nd place racer within the 1st mile and now I was just racing to put as much of a gap between myself and the racers behind me to help for the final run. 22 miles later, I had the 2nd fastest bike time, 53:56/24.5 mph. I also established a 3 minute lead on the 3rd place rider.

Another good transition, :37, that new strategy took about :20 of my total transition time from my last race.

2nd run...always my nemesis. My times typically fall off here and today wasn't any different. Most races that I do, only have a 3 mile run at the end, this one was 4. I pushed as hard as I could and finished the 4 miles in 27:39/6:55 pace. I only gave back about :19 to the 3rd place runner. Overall I had the 7th best final run.

Overall, I finished 2nd out of 43, 1 out of 5 in my age group. 5:30 behind the leader. I'll take these results, as I have made a big stride closer to what I consider the best in the area and I am demonstrating some strong bike work. I'm still lacking in the run, especially the 2nd, though in this race, even the best 2nd run time would't have snagged the victory for me.

Next week, Tri in the Buff Duathlon. 5K run, 40K bike, 5K run. Both Cameron and the athlete that I came 2nd to in Keuka will be there, along with all of the other usual suspects. Should be a tough one!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week of 6/6-6/11

4th week of Training Peaks. Totally different workouts than the past few weeks. Nice!

Mon (6/6): AM: Recovery Run @ HRZ1-my watch HR alert was set incorrectly, so I went slower than I should have. PM: Hilly Bike Ride, rode the ESG course in Binghamton, big hills!

Tues (6/7): Had to miss my TT race because of work. AM: Run, Hill strides

Wed (6/8): Bike intervals 5x6min up to 5aHRZ.

Thu (6/9): Run Intervals 4x6min up to 3HRZ.

Fri (6/10): Brick, 90 min Bike, 60 min Run. HRZ 1-4.

Sat (6/11): Komen 5K, 19:14, 11th overall, 2nd in AG. PR!

Sun (6/12): Negative Split Run, HRZ 1-2 1st half, HRZ 3-4 2nd Half

Totals: 111.19 miles
Run: 41.93
Bike: 69.26

Susan Komen 5K

It's my 3rd year in a row doing this race. I really enjoy the course and they always have a nice turn out. I've been feeling really good about training lately, so I was hoping for a new PR. I set out with the goal of trying to hold a 6:15 pace for the first two miles and then push as hard as I could for the last mile.
Mile 1 went off without too much of a hitch. The little incline at Gates Circle on Delaware always catches me even though I know it's coming. Finished mile 1 in 6:11.
Mile 2 continued to go well, but towards the end I could feel my energy going away from me fast. Fortunately, we turned on to Elmwood and a slight downhill. Mile 2 @ 6:13.
Mile 3, I pushed as hard as I could and finished it in 6:14. Not exactly negative splits, but hit my PR goal anyway. 5K @ 19:14/6:11 pace. 11th overall (out of 900+), 2nd in my age group out of 50+.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Keuka Lake Duathlon

After a decent week of taper, I was ready for my first attempt at the Keuka Lake Duathlon. Nice weather today, about 65 at the start overcast, but the sun came out mid-race. Not too much wind, overall mostly ideal.
5K run, 22K bike, 5K run.
My plan today was to stay in the 6:45/mile pace for the first 5K, hammer the bike hard and empty the tank in the 2nd run, hoping for the best.
The run course was a mostly flat out and back. I was able to hang in there with a 20:35/6:37 and entered transition in 4th place. The leader was about 2 minutes ahead of me at this point. T1 time: 55sec. Not that great.
Once, I got on the bike it was on! I felt like I was flying and I passed the 3rd place and 2nd place runners shortly into the bike leg. The course had a couple of decent climbs and nice, fast descents. I averaged 22.5mph and entered T2 in 2nd place. After a 44 second transition, I set out on the final run, with the leader in sight. I was about :50 behind and gaining! We hit the final turn and I was about 30 seconds or so behind. Then he turned on the afterburners and left me in the dust. Ugh! That combined with my rapidly slowing pace, ended up finishing with a 2 minute deficit. Still good enough to hold on solidly for 2nd place.
Overall, I was satisfied with my efforts. My bike was strong and my second run is getting better. I still need to get my run down in both the 1st and 2nd legs, but I guess this will come with training. I can also use some improvement in my transitions, maybe leave my shoes attached to the bike? Seeing the victory in front of my eyes, only to let it run away, is only going to serve to motivate me train harder and dig deeper.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week of 5/23-5/29

Week two of Training Peaks. Still going well.

5/23(Mon): Long Run 2hrs, HR in zone 3.

5/24(Tues): TT Race (20K), perfect race night, averaged 24.0mph for the first time this year. Ran hilly course for 1 hr about an hour after the race. Legs felt rubbery at first, but recovered in the first 20 minutes.

5/25(Wed):Weight work and Bike Trainer Hills.

5/26(Thurs): Brick Workout, 1:15 on the bike and :15 run. Roads a bit wet, got the bike quite dirty.

5/27(Fri): Tempo intervals on bike trainer (rain). 4x6min in HR zone 3. Skipped weights.

5/28(Sat): Nice, easy :45 run HR Zone 2.

5/29(Sun): Buffalo Half Marathon, hot day, PR 1:32:31/7:04 pace.

Taper week coming up for Keuka Lake Duathlon on Sunday.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Buffalo Half Marathon

For months we all have been complaining about the crappy WNY weather. Snow, cold, rain, clouds, etc, etc, etc. Well, today we finally got exactly what we asked for, 70's and sun. Unfortunately, this is not the best marathon weather. Regardless, I'll take it!

I must say, after reading about some other people's experience at the marathon last year, I was a bit skeptical as to what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised how well things went off. Nice job Buffalo!

On to the race...

This race wasn't one of my target races this year, but as with any races, I wanted to go as hard as I could. In my mind, I set a rough goal of 1:30:00. The first five miles of the race meandered through the lakefront area of the city. I felt strong and was able to push pretty hard: 7:09, 7:03, 6:49, 6:53, 6:44, 6:52.

Once we headed out of the lakefront area we got into south Buffalo, full of abandoned factories and not many spectators. I've run a few races in this part of the city and I always feel the same. It is kind of sad how this city has died over the years. Once a booming industrial city, it is now a skeleton of what it once was. As the sun rose in the sky, I felt the energy slowly being drained by my body. Miles 6-8: 6:52, 6:57, 6:58.

I hadn't really thought too much about what the 1:30 goal meant for my mile split pace (6:51). I begun to calculate in my mind what I'd need to get to this goal, realizing that 1:30 would be tough. I pushed on.

From mile 9 on, my pace suffered due to a combination of fatigue, heat and a couple of little overpass climbs. 7:07, 7:10, 7:06. Mile 12 (7:30) was the weakest for me, the more I pushed the slower I moved. I was able to pull it together for the last mile (7:02) and kept strong through the finish. There was a guy wearing a Frosted Flakes bike jersey I passed around mile 4 in the race. He passed me in the 12th mile, but I was able to chase him down and keep him behind me. Chasing "Tony" helped me keep my pace up at the end, but it wasn't enough to hit my goal. I was close and all things considered satisfied with my finish time and my fresh, new half marathon PR: 1:32:21.

Rest day tomorrow, light work this week and all out next Sunday at Keuka Lake!