Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Bear Triathlon - Race Report

It seems like I am writing one of these things every week lately. Maybe it's because I have been racing almost every week lately. Whoops. Is that a good thing? Probably not. But neither is sitting on the sidelines wishing I had entered the race. Not much of a spectator, there'll be time for that later in life when I finally wear myself out - unless of course they have some sort of event for old worn out people that I could get into. Hhehehehe.
So today I raced the Black Bear Triathlon in Orono. Yes, Orono, Maine. I have a camp in Island Falls so the plan was to go "uptacamp" Friday afternoon with Dave and Jared and hang out, then pull the dock on Saturday. Then on Sunday (today) we stopped in Orono on the way home to race. It was my version of The Perfect Storm. Two of my favorite things in the same weekend, camp and triathlon. We took care of the dock Saturday and then chilled out for the rest of the day and talked trash about today's race. I had beaten Jared and Dave last weekend and they were both looking to make it tough on me today. I knew I'd have to earn it. I won this race last year and took some friendly ribbing over the winter for racing such a small race. I had won by 2 1/2 minutes but I worked my tail off to do it. Still I got some flak but that was OK. A win is a win right? We showed up on time but with not so much extra time that we could preview the bike course (remember that - you'll need it later) and we got registered and set up. This is such a great little race to do beacause they limit the field to like 75 people and there are very few volunteers and hardly any spectators. The bike racks are made of 2x4's and you have to count your own laps in the pool or bring your own counter. At the pre-race meeting a guy asked if it was alright if he rode without a helmet! That was a no-go, but good for a chuckle.
Jared, Dave and I were in the 3rd wave. I had a great swim, getting out 4th and about 30 seconds ahead of Dave and Jared. As I was headed out on the bike I saw them come bolting out the door. This was going to hurt, I could just tell. I figured I would let it all hang out on the bike ride and see if I could hold Jared off again. Didn't we just do this? I caught the few guys that were ahead of me and figured I was out front. I peeked bck a few times and didn't see anybody but kept hammering away. I came back into UMO after 12 miles or so and had a great transition out onto the run course. Jared later told me that me rear wheel was still spinning when he saw my bike on the rack. He was close! When headed out on the run I spied a big guy in front of me by about 50 yards. It was a guy named Dave that I had met through another friend before the race. At first I thought he must be in another age group but I quickly realized by the way he was running that this guy was in my AG and had no intention of letting me go by. I held the 50 yard gap for the first mile. I couldn't get any closer though. I was srarting to think he might out run me when I realized I was running bolt upright and not focussing on my stride. I got squared away and started to reel him in. At the 1.5 mile mark of our 3 mile run I fell in right behind him and stayed there for a minute or so just to try to get a feel for whether or not I could pass him or not. I pulled out and ran beside him for a bit. We stayed together for about a half mile. I tried to crack him a few times but every time I surged he would come with me. Then I saw a little incline coming and I waited until we got to it before pushing again. This time it worked and he started to fade. Phew....good thing too because I was pushing pretty hard and I did not want this guy around when we got back on campus. I made the final turn into UMO and took a quick peek back to see how close he was and to check for Jared. I had it - but I didn't know what others may have done so I kept pushing all the way through the finish on the track. Just before the finish I saw Dave standing there clapping for me and I was confused. Apparently he had gotten off course on the bike and got pretty frustrated with the level of direction from the volunteers. He stopped after the bike deciding his head was just not in it after getting screwed up on the ride. It IS tough to navigate this course if you're from away and are not familiar with it. I had a tough time last year as well. I wish we'd ridden the course first but we didn't think we had time. We should have made time. Dave was pretty disappointed but he'll be back, he was having a great ride too and I'm certain he would have been in the top five. So I was able to hold off Jared one more time. Something tells me my days are numbered with this act but I'll keep going at him as long as I can. We have a great time with it and keep it in perspective. I won the race for the second year in a row. This year I got tested too. This may be a small race but the people that show up mean business. It was really great to be able to win the race on the run, I had to really go and get it. Good times.
I have decided that today was my last triathlon for 2010. I will pass on the trip to Clearwater. I simply have too much going on with work and life to be able to take the time (again) to travel to Florida in November. I also have a little thing called Ironman Lake Placid on the horizon and I'll be getting geared up for that soon. Clearwater just doesn't fit in the plans this year. Maybe next year if some friends qualify and want to go....
I'm excited about having some time off to refect on the season, one that had it's ups and downs but certainly finished on a high note. I need some time to focus on business and family. I look forward to getting the group together for spin at my house real soon. BUt first, some much needed rest!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lobsterman Race Report

I always like to have a little storyline to a race. The Lobsterman story started a few weeks out when my friend Jared told me to make sure I signed up so we could square off at least once more before the end of the season. We exchanged a little trash talk and I figured it would be a pretty close contest so I threw my hat in the ring. I was pretty sure he'd get me but I also thought that if I raced a smart race I would be able to make it tough on him. You might say I was the underdog in this one. Jared essentially beat me at the Mooseman earlier this season but the results show differently. He had passed me on the bike and was putting time on me when he flatted. Tough break, and in my book not a legitimate "win" for me so I was kind of excited to lock horns with him again, particularly on a shorter course. He and Dave B had done Ironman Lake Placid this past July so my opponent here today was no slouch. In fact, when we train (bike) together he pounds me on the bike and I hang on for dear life hoping he'll tire out at some point. He never does.
I typically swim a little faster than Jared does and I might have a slight edge on the run so my race plan was to hit the swim hard, create a gap, give most of it back on the bike and then win a dog fight on the run. Good plan? Certainly a recipe for pain but I wasn't sure the math was going to work in my favor. My concern was that he was going to put too much time on me on the bike and I'd run out of real estate trying to reel him in on the run. All these things considered, I liked my chances. :).
I got to the race venue early and had Josh Freeman change my rear cassette to something better suited for this course. Then I grabbed my trainer, set it up and spun for about 30 minutes while chatting with Southern Maine's Self Proclaimed Fastest Non-Triathlete - Roger. I noticed people staring at me and wondering who the TOOL was that brought his trainer but I didn't care. I did this last year and ended up on the podium and that's where I decided I wanted to be today. Then Roger told me that Andy, the announcer, had just called my number and that my bike was racked in the wrong spot. I ran over to transition and sure enough I had put my stuff in the wrong spot. I wish I knew the guy's name that I cursed for being in my spot (whoops) so I could apologize. Must be the year of the rookie mistake or something. I got squared away and went back to wrap up my warm-up that so many were intrigued by.
It was time to get in the water. I met Dave at the start and we decided to try to work together and get to the front early. For the second week in a row I got a GREAT start and was out ahead of most of the pack. Jared started in the wave (3 minutes) ahead of us and I was hoping to come out of the water with him. I'm not sure how long Dave stayed on my feet but I had a great swim (for me) and was out of the water in just over 26 minutes. When I hit the beach to stand up my legs cramped and I had to gimp it up the hill to T1 hoping it would work itself out. I had a fairly quick transition and tore out of the transition area down the dirt drive. I heard Roger yell that I had a two minute lead, SWEET! That meant Jared was only a minute in front of me on the course. In my haste to get up to speed I neglected to get my left foot clicked in properly. When I drove my foot down on the pedal it slipped out and the rear wheel slid out from under me. I was going down in a hurry. I'm not sure what happened to change that but as I was planning my recovery from my first fall off the bike I miraculously straightened out and found myself still upright. Phew, close one. Settle down Francis. I gave my legs a few minutes to try to get stretched out and hoped the cramps would go away. They did, and by the time I climbed out of Winslow Park I had determined that I was going to be able to hit the course pretty hard. I wanted to make Jared work to beat me today and if he faltered I was going to catch him. I didn't really need to catch him, just close the gap to less than 3 minutes and I had him beat. And right now I had him beat. Still wanted to catch him though. The bike went well and I ended up going tit for tat with a 52 year old guy from Mass that started 3 minutes behind me and was smashing the bike course. We went back and forth a few times and I realized he was no joke. It helped me though, to have somebody to chase. I got off the bike in 1:05 or so, good for the 11th fastest bike split on the day at 22.9 mph average. I had another solid transition and tore out of there at about a 5:30 clip that I knew I would pay for just after the gatehouse. I did too. I had to slow up and settle down. I looked ahead as I left the park and saw three Midcoast shirts. One HAD to be him. Turns out one was Chris Callan, then Mike Kramer, and the one way up ahead was Jared. Good, I had him in sight. It also meant I had held the gap on the bike. All I had to do was keep him there and I'd win. Easier said than done. I was starting to cramp pretty bad in the quads and hamstrings. Not enough salt. I didn't have any more either. I was in trouble. I made it out of the park and to the first aid station. I guzzled two cups of Gatorade or Cytomax or whatever it was and kept trucking. At one point I was whipping my left leg out in front of me with my hip because when I pulled it through it would seize up. The drink helped and I ran the next mile pretty well, closing the gap a bit. I fell off Callan and Kramer's pace. They caught Jared and told him I was back there. I noticed the pace quickening and did my best to hold on. I was a couple of hundred yards back - maybe a minute or so. Just needed to hang on. I tried to conserve a bit for the return trip and then the last mile in the event he tried to drop me, but at this point I was just hoping not to seize up. I hit every aid station and guzzled two drinks and it was staving off the cramps somewhat. We turned into Winslow Park and I caught Kramer and tried to get him going again to catch Callan - no dice. He was hurting too. I hung on all the way to the dirt driveway where there was about 1/3 mile to go. Legs weren't feeling too bad so I stepped it up a bit and started to sense we might have an epic finish line sprint if I could just close the gap. As we made the final turn I heard the announcer Andy say "Now entering the finish area Jared Buzzell, Scarborough Maine, followed by Robert Turner, Windham Maine. Crap. Now he knew I was close! I was trying to sneak up there. I put everything I had into the last couple hundred yards but it wasn't enough to catch him at the line. He wasn't having any of it anyway. He's familiar with my work and was NOT going to let me get him at the line. I came across a few seconds after he did and that was just fine. I had won, and it felt great. I was 26th overall and had taken 3rd in my age group. We high fived and recovered and talked non-stop about the race and it occurred to me that I had beaten not only a tough competitor on this day but also classy individual. We both went hard at each other and laid it out there and I think he was as happy for me that I beat him as I was to have been able to do it. I try to be the same way. It is a treat to be able to compete with a friend and still be friends afterward. I think too many people get caught up in it and lose sight of what is really going on here. To me it's always been more about all the other stuff around the race than the race itself. Sure, I go right at it. Heck, it has even been said that I race "angry". But after the race what do you have? You have your friends, and the memories created by your efforts that day. That's the stuff I remember, those are the things I'll take away from the sport when somebody tells me I'm at the end of the line. And when they are dragging me away, kicking and screaming, you can bet I'll be trying to figure out a way to race somebody somewhere again next weekend!
Speaking of next weekend, I'm headed to Orono to defend my title from last year at the Black Bear Trithlon. It's a small race. Bringing a couple of friend's. One of 'em is Jared. So in the words of my favorite entertainer Waylon Jennings....Don't nobody go nowhere!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pumpkinman Sprint - Race Report

Yesterday I found my legs again. After a couple weeks of sensible training I tackled the Pumpkinman Sprint in South Berwick. What a great race venue and such a well run event. I went into this race a little more prepared than I did the Kennebunk race and was able to get down to the water early and get a good warm-up in. The transition area was stressfull as there was literally no room to stage your gear. Bikes were stacked pedal to pedal and I wasn't even sure I'd be able to get mine out when I was ready to ride. I watched the Elite wave go and then a minute later the M30-39 group. I set a goal to try to catch a few of the Elites but I knew I'd have to have a better swim than I've had lately to do it. Our wave (M40-49) was three minutes later. I positioned myself at the front and left of the group and told Dave Brackett to get on my feet so we could try to get out ahead of the group. I also took a slight left heading from the beach and planned to swim back into the crowd as it thinned out rather than fight it from the start. It worked perfectly and I found myself swimming comfortably at the front of the pack (couldn't believe it!). I also decided to really focus on not getting too excited and tried to keep my heart rate down for the first bit of the race. I did this by sighting and breathing more frequently and thinking about all the things I work on at the pool. I was pretty pumped to be swimming well and just tried to settle into a good pace. I made it out of the water in 8:54, a little ahead of Dave. I had a pretty good transition after the run up the big hill and was able to dig my bike out of the rack without wrecking everybody's set-up. I knew that the first mile of the bike was going to tell me a lot - whether my legs were there or not. I noticed a Midcoast shirt up ahead and recognized my friend Bob Kutzer. He'd had a great swim and super T1 and was looking like he meant business on the bike. I got my shoes strapped on while I judged his speed. After I got my heart rate down a bit and was ready to go I started to gain on him and was able to pass. I was happy to see him out there ripping it up. Bob has worked very hard over the course of the last year, losing a lot of weight and transforming himself into a pretty decent triathlete. He's a competitor and hates to lose. It's been fun to watch him improve.
I was feeling really good on the bike so I decided to hit it pretty hard given I only had a three mile run afterward. I passed a few people and then I came up on a guy from a popular Tri club in a neighboring state. He looked pretty fast (super fit and chiseled in stone like the Russian on the Rocky movie)so I took an extra second to size him up before I went by. He was in my age group and I wanted to make sure I could stay in front after the pass. I went by him on a slight uphill and as I always do I offered a quick "good work" as I went by. I do the same thing when somebody passes me. He said nothing, but I'm used to that, a lot of people don't say anything but some really appreciate the encouragement. I guess I should reserve it for people that look like they need it because after I went by him he immediately passed me back. I knew he didn't like me going by him. He couldn't stay ahead though and I realized I was going to pass him again but I slowed and got my heart rate down a bit and got ready to rock. I wanted to end this little game before it started. As we crested a hill I pulled out and rolled by him without offering up any unecessary encouragement this time around. I put a few minutes of hard effort into him and he faded. I glanced back once or twice but couldn't see him. Game over - I thought. The rest of the bike went well and I came into T2 having averaged 22.3 mph for the ride.
Most of the bikes were out so I was able to sling my bike on the rack pretty easily and head out for the run without incident. I wondered if I had put enough time on my new friend. I got rolling pretty well and was feeling great. I did not wear a GPS but the race results show me averaging 6:33's for the run. I'm not sure that was accurate but I was running as hard as I could. I was in between two of the Elite female racers rolling along when I heard footsteps. Different footsteps. Uh Oh... I didn't look back but I suspected it was HIM. I confirmed that as he went by because he got real close to me and growled in my ear...GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! I was like..."huh?" You GOT to be kidding me! I said to him "Hey - how about nice job, or good effort or something like that?" He grunted..."same thing Dude!"...I started to tell him what a TOOL I thought he was when I decided I should just shut my mouth and run. The Elite female was just ahead of me and what I had to say wasn't really appropriate so I ate it. He was running a 5:50 pace and I knew it would likely kill me to try to run him down so I just stayed with my pace and watched what I figured was first place in the age group run away from me. I finished up a strong run (19:40)and finished 17th overall. I saw "Biff" in the finisher's area and decided I would not have anything to say to him. I wanted desperatley to slide over and just let him know what a tool he was but I knew it would escalate into an ugly scene with testosterone flying all over the place. I decide not to share it with Brackett either. We've got that brother thing going and anybody that messes with me has to deal with him. Bit of a short fuse there. :) SO, other than that I had a tremendous day. Preliminary results had me 4th in the age group. I was headed out and checked the results again and saw I was FIRST. Huh? Get this, the top three M40-44 guys also went 1,2,3 in the Age Group Overall category. SO, that meant I won the AG! Funny. I'll call it a fourth though because that is what it was. A great day, great weather and lots of great friends. The Speed Lab guys did well - Pat Kelley, Dino Desanctis, Dave Brackett, Kutzer and others from the Heartwood clan. Rick Kelley threw down a monster effort too. My newest athlete "Lisa" smashed her time from last year. Thanks to Mike MacDonald for the salt - again, AND for grabbing the gear I left behind in transition.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hero to a Zero in Seven Days or Less...

Did anyone race the Kennebunk Fire Tri this Sunday? If so, you may have seen someone there that looked like me, sounded like me but did not race like me. Yes, we're going to file this one under "what the hell was I thinking?"! I raced Timberman last weekend and threw down all I had on that course and came up big - for me anyway. A mere seven days later I watched a triathlon from a different point of view - the back! The swim wasn't too bad after I did my textbook "blow up in the first 200 yards, let everyone go, then spend the rest of the swim catching up" routine. Getting good at that.....imagine if I ever figure out the swim? I'll be something! Not sure what, but something....pretty sure the term "swimmer" won't be used in the same sentence as my name. Let me back up a second. For the first time ever I overslept on race day. Can you imagine? That's like sleeping right through Christmas for me. I got a new phone last week and used it for an alarm and well, I guess I need to have my daughter show me how to use it again. I woke up at like 5:35am or so to Jodi saying "hey - aren't you supposed to be gone by now? NINE minutes later I was ripping toward Kennebunk with a coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other catching a great draft off Chris and Tracy on the highway. Thanks guys! Made it to the venue by the skin of my teeth, checked in, hit the bathroom line, both 20 minute ordeals, racked the "alleged" Rocket and headed for the swim start. I have never been a bigger cluster before a race. This thing was doomed from the start, I just didn't know it yet.
I had registered for the "open" division this year thinking that it would get me out into the race field with less traffic in both the swim and the bike. This plan turned out to be a waste as they had us do a "mass start". So now I'm just the slowest guy in a yellow cap instead of an age grouper with a shot at some hardware. Anyway, I got through the swim and out onto the bike after what must've looked like my first time coming out of T1. I got going and the heart rate wouldn't even come down into the 160's. Hmmmmm. That was the first indication that something might be a bit "off". Imagine that. I have always been able to solve most issues on the race course by just going harder - pushing through it, so that's what I did. And it didn't do squat. I was working hard and going nowhere. Now, the bike is probably my strongest of the three disciplines and I pride myself on not getting passed in races. So you can imagine how I was feeling when people started whizzing by me like I was tied to a stump. I actually looked down to see what was wrong with my bike! I had given it to Josh Freeman when I got there to have him tweak it a bit and I was sure he must've done something wrong! Maybe let all the air out of the tires? It couldn't possibly be ME, I'm an All-Star! Hahahahah Well, Josh, thanks for the awesome tune - the bike was running great, it was the motor I was having a problem with. It got worse from there. My friend Stacy caught me and blew by me. As she passed she told me to get my act together and get moving. I tried. My legs just wouldn't go. Then I looked at my Garmin and it said 175bpm. Not so good. I caught her and went by then I coasted down an incline to recover and she caught me again. This time she really layed into me with a tirade I can't print here but I can tell you that she was not impressed with me catching a breather on the downhill. I passed her back and managed to stay ahead but not by much. Our friend Erin blew by me too - oh yeah, and Catherine...and the rest of the PBMC team. I think word was spreading fast and everybody was coming to get me!
I wanted to stop so badly but I couldn't quit - I never quit. Not an option. I tried to survive the bike and hope that I might feel a little differently on the run. I got into T2 and out on the run and was pleasantly surprised with my 7:20 pace for the first couple of miles. The wheels came flying off the buggy around mile three and the last few were ugly but I got in without hurting myself or someone else. I finished 52nd overall (3rd in the open division). Lots of people would be thrilled with that but I was thinking I should be in the top ten. Guess I was wrong.
I learned a lot (again) that day. I learned that you'd better be in some really crazy race shape to pull off a 70.3/Olympic back to back and do both well. I learned that no matter how crappy you race your friends are still at the finish ready to congratulate you. I signed up for this race because it was the "Club Championship". Hope I helped but not sure I really did. It was still fun to be out there though and I had to just laugh at myself....I was so trashed the few days before this race that I couldn't even get out the door to do a simple workout. You might say the writing was on the wall. I know better but I guess sometimes you just can't see the forest through the trees!
So back to the drawing board I go. I'll rest, recover and refocus. And I'll be back out there tearing it up!
-Signed, "Rookie for a Day"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Timberman 70.3 Race Report

This past weekend I competed in the Timberman 70.3 (Half-Ironman). It was held at Ellacoya State Park in Gilford, NH. As I stated in my previous blog, I did not feel as though I was in top form going into this race so I had no idea what to expect. I was in the 7:40am wave and I waited around for a bit to get rolling. I saw Angela take off and absolutely blow up her wave right from the start. It was really cool. I was like "Yeah, I know her" hehehehe. Anyway, we got into the water and I decided I would move up to the front and try to get a jump at the start. The gun went off and I got into a good hard rhythm but couldn't hold it and began to feel like I might need to stop and breathe. Too hard too soon - again. My break cost me a minute or so and my goggles were leaking too so I had to figure that out. I kept my cool and was able to pull it back together for a half way decent (35:56) swim split but I know I was a lot slower than I should have been. No worries - get it back on the bike. I had a good wet suit peel and got out of T1 in short order. I was greeted by friends and family and was able to forget about the swim pretty easily as I settled into a good bike cadence. I had decided I would try to back off my '09 bike split of 2:28 in an attempt to set myself up for a sub 1:40 run. I did pretty well and was on track for about 2:34 or so but I felt so darn good out by the speedway I decided to just go with it and see what happened. I was rolling through the field at a heart rate of about 142 and felt like I was keeping it under control. I was trying to run down Angela before she got back to T2 so we could run together but she pounded me so badly on the swim I couldn't totally close the gap. I ended up with a 2:29 bike split which totally shocked me given I dragged ten more pounds around that course than I had last year. Of the bike and into T2, good transition and out on the run. 13.1 to go. I wanted to start with a couple of 8's but I looked at my Garmin and saw that 7:20 - 7:30 was feeling surprisingly managable so I went with it. I saw all my friends on the run and was able to cheer the boys from the Speed Lab on. It was great to see the first timers out there tearing it up and particularly good to see my old chum Mike Matheson out there having a great day. (My friend Pat Kelley was injured on Monday and raced with a bum leg, gutting out his first "half" in impressive fashion.) The first loop went very well and I was back to the venue in about 50 minutes or a little less. I took a little inventory and decided I was still feeling really good so I decided to try to push it hard for the second loop and make a run at getting in close to 1:40. With three to go I still had a shot but my pace was slipping to the 7:50 range and I just couldn't squeeze any more out of myself. As I made the final turn into the park to run the last couple hundred yards to the finish I had a guy slip by me and ask if this was the lane for the finish. I said yes, and he took off. Now, I had no idea whether or not he was in my age group but I wasn't going to wait until after the race to find out that I let somebody trim me up at the line. I turned it up a notch and drew even with the 49 year old Frenchman from Quebec City. I was hoping he would be gassed from the short burst he had already used to get ahead of me. I was wrong. Once he saw me to his left he took off on a full-on sprint and I was matching him stride for stride. The finish chute was lined with spectators and they started going nuts seeing what was going on. This was going to be a brawl to the line and they knew it. With about 50 yards to go I snuck a look to my right to see if he was cracking but he was locked in on the finish. I put my head down and gave it whatever I had left. I knew my friends and family would be at the finish and I wasn't going to let them see me get beat to the line. As we approached the line I thought I might just do a "Pete Rose" to make sure I got in before him but I decided against it. We broke through the line at the same time and I am pretty sure I got him by less than a foot. Then I just let everyting go and I fell forward into a full bodyslide in the wet grass ending up face down at Chrissie Wellington's feet - she was there putting medals on all the finishers. I staggered to my feet and looked to shake hands with the guy but he just walked off and I didn't really have the energy to chase him again. I'm not sure whether he was mad at me or came away with a healthy respect for somebody that refused to let him have it. As it turns out, he was in the next age group up and I had beaten him overall by about twenty minutes. I ended up running 1:42 or so and finished with a 4:51 time almost identical to last year. I can't explain it other than to say that I had a great day, the weather cooperated and I was very pleased with the outcome.
As for my finish line drama....I can only say that that's how I race. Plain and simple. If you pull up next to me near the finish I'm going to lay it all out there. I think people that know me understand that. Someone asked after the race why I bothered sprinting given I had no idea whether the guy was even in my age group. I didn't quite understand that - it's a race amd I'm racing. THAT guy was racing so why wouldn't I? PLUS, there were hundreds of people standing there along the chute (in the rain) that all were there to support a loved one or a friend. I figured if I have enough left in the tank to lay it out there and give them something to cheer for I'm going to do it. My friends drove two plus hours to watch me race, my family has endured many hours of training and travelling to support me. I'll be damned if I'm going to jog across a finish line. And that's all there is to say on that!
I went to the awards presentation and watched my friends Mary and Ange get their awards for being in the op of their age group. VERY cool - this is a HUGE race with lots of talent and they both got on the podium. Impressive.
I stuck around for the Clearwater rolldown and was rewarded with a slot to the 70.3 World Championships in Florida on November 13th. This was not even on my radar screen this year but now it is and I am excited about the race.

My friend Doug is racing Ironman Canada this weekend and I'd like to wish him the best! Leave it all out there Doug!
I am racing The Kennebunk Fire Tri this weekend....stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching up...

So I try to only "blog" when I have something to say that I think people will want to hear. I have not posted anything in two months. This has not been for lack of something to say but more for lack of time to say it. I have finally gotten to the point where I feel I can take a breath and actually put the last couple of months on paper so to speak. I like to write about my races and several of you have been asking for the updates. I've missed a few and will list them below but I don't think they'll have quite the same sizzle as they do when I do them right after the race. We'll see.
Those that know me well know that I was working full time for Bancroft Contracting in South Paris. I left in mid July. I spent 4 1/2 months driving almost two hours per day and I just hated the drive. I felt so unproductive and detached from my family. I was torn because I liked the job and the company but struggled with the commute and the time away from home. It was a tough choice but I decided to go back to my contracting business and make it work. I don't look at my time there as wasted. It showed me a lot of things that I think I was taking for granted - my time with my family, my ability to train and race in a sport that I have come to love and has become a big part of who I am, and my desire to be my own boss and run my own business. I came away with some close friends in the entire Bancroft and Small families and I am a better person for knowing all of them. I'm proud to call them my friends.
I have never been more excited and energized about having my own business. Since I started back up I have been busy, busy, busy looking at new work, writing proposals and contracts and getting jobs started. I couldn't have asked for a better start given that the day I drove home from South Paris I had no work lined up at all. I have given my wife a few reasons to be nervous over the years but this move was tough on her and I am thankful she had the faith in me to do what I said I could do. I've never worked harder in my life, and I've never been happier. So that's the scoop on "work". I should take a minute here to sincerely thank all of my Facebook friends and the entire "Triathlon" community for helping me get started again. I posted a short note on FB when I was getting started and the result has been tremendous. So THANK YOU everyone, it has been great!
As a result of the above you can imagine how far down the list "triathlon" has slid in the past two months. I have managed to cling to some early season fitness and throw up (no pun intended)some decent efforts on race day despite what I'd call intermitent(sp?) training. It's funny, when you reduce your priorities down to "OK, what do I need to do to make sure my family survives", things get pretty streamlined in a hurry. Triathlon and training goes out the window and you find yourself wondering whose stupid idea it was to only put 24 hours in a day. Anyway, I think the next race I did was the Black Fly Tri in Waterville Valley (7/9-7/11). This a three day event that did last year. Last year I lost overall on the weekend to Rick Durgin by something like 28 seconds. This year I did much better. I lost to Mike MacDonald by a mere ten seconds - ON THE WEEKEND! I can't remember too many of the details but I can tell you that I put it all out there on all three days and I got beat. Mike has really turned it up this year and it was nice to see him have a great weekend. Oh yeah, Durgin beat me again too. Seeing a pattern yet? No? Well stay tuned. I did do very well overall. I came home with some hardware but my friends kicked my ass. This was a tough pill to swallow as I knew I should be stronger but the fact is that I wasn't strong enough. I decided to bear down on the training and focus on the diet. This turned out to be pretty tough given I had just quit my job and needed to get some work going!
In July I was able to take a trip to Lake Placid to watch my friends compete in Ironman USA. We had a ball and did some great training while we were there. Rick and I rode up Whiteface Mountain on Friday and he beat me handily and I never felt good the entire way. It's an 8 mile climb that just never backs off and gets steeper as you go. It's like 4800' or something. Anyway, we rode the 56 mile Lake Placid loop after climbing that and I still didn't feel great. When we got back to the camping area and had a beer I got thinking about Lance Armstrong and his book that I had read. Lance was training in the mountains and did this four hour climb and was not happy with the results. He got to the top and told his coach "I'm going back down, and I'm doing it again". So while I was sitting at the picnic table, legs trashed, I looked at Rick and said "I'm doing it again tomorrow". He just looked at me and said "OK". And that's just what we did, and he kicked my butt again. But I felt better, much better and it showed me that I am stronger than I think. I'd be fine. Mike MacDonald and Mark Bancroft joined us for the second day up the mountain. Mike beat me by a couple of minutes but Mark struggled. We found out a couple of weeks later that he had done the climb with an 11/23 cassette on his tri bike. Whoops. That means he is one tough dude and a pretty darn good athlete. Most people would have thrown in the towel ut Mark didn't give up, he climbed that sucker and met us at the top. He did mention that he needed to find some new friends though!
Forgot to mention I jumped into the Pirate Tri at Point Sebago in June. I did well finishing 10th I believe. Tough little course. Angela beat me. She is having a tremendous year.
Before I knew it the Beach to Beacon was in my face and I was going "holy crap, I'm not ready for this...!" So I decided to make a training day out of it and bike to the race, run the race, run the race backward, and bike home. I saw Mark and Ange at the start as well as Josh "Off the Couch" Freeman and his wife Annie (she smoked me). I saw a bunch of other friends too. It was great. I thought I might be able to run 6:50's but I knew I'd have to dig deep to do it. I dug a bit deeper and ran 6:49's, I think it was a PR. Josh Freeman and several others were breathing right down my neck at the finish. (I give Josh a hard time because he literally got up off the couch last year and ran B2B with little or no training posting a 7:20 pace I think!) Most of my friends kicked my butt but I managed to beat 5200 or so of the 5700finishers. Not bad for a guy that has been having a hard time getting his training in. Rob Martin beat me by a few seconds too. He was pretty pleased and it occurred to me that I now have people that chase me and measure their effort and results against mine. That's a pretty cool thing and in a way it motivates me even more. So, Rob, welcome to the list of people I plan to beat - yes I am keeping track :). I ran the race course backward then bagged the ride home opting for a day at Pine Point with Jodi and Bailey, the (Pat) Kelley Family and the Bracketts.
Last Friday I jumped into the St Peter's Four Miler in Portland. This is a great little race with awesome door prizes. Brackett showed up thinking he was going to beat me. We ran the first mile in 6:15 - whoops. Mile two was slower but Dave slipped off the pace and I lost him. I finished in 27:01 (6:46 pace)- good for 3rd in my age group. Dave came in about 40 seconds later. He plans to beat me in the Pumpkinman Sprint next fall but he knows I'll be ready. We both had a great run and I think 27:01 was a PR for me. Strange, I'm ten pounds heavier than last year and running well with screwed up training. Not going to hang my hat on it, just an observation.
So now I have The Timberman 70.3 (Half-Ironman)staring me in the face for this weekend. Am I ready? Who knows? Last year I did 4:51 and luckily had a Clearwater slot roll down to me. My goal this year is 4:45 broken out like this: 31:00 swim, 2:29 bike, 1:38 run. With transitions that should get me where I'd like to be. I am going to have to lay down a well executed race in order to do this AND the heat needs to NOT become a major factor. Why do I think I can go faster than last year given the training issues I've had and the additional weight? Because it's all about the run and I plan to gear my race to the second half of the run, AND I plan to turn myself inside out in the process. I have a bunch of friends coming to watch and cheer me on and I plan to leave it all out there. The winter is long in the Speed Lab and I am the leader (well, only because it's my house) and Leaders lead by example. I plan to give a good example for everyone to think about while we all train for Ironman Lake Placid 2011 - oh yeah, did I mention I signed up for that? More on that later.
So I think that catches me up a bit - sorry for the delay in getting something out...I'll try to be more active now that I have secured some work!. I'll close with some things I have observed and done this summer...

I watched my best friend lay down a 11:10 Ironman split. Pretty damn impressive.
I have watched a new friend kick the crap out of a bad (multiple) Pulmonary Embolism(s) and live to tell about it.
I helped Tommy Bancroft get up on water skis for the first time.
My parents have retired and are enjoying themselves after a lifetime of hard work.
I went to the Tri For Cure and realized that there are a lot more important things in life than who wins the race.
I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to.
I joined a Business networking group that meets every week.
My wife is a Zumba fanatic - she's into it. Good for her. She also gets mad when I mow the lawn. Imagine that.
I am now 41 years old - still don't have all the answers but I'm working on it!
My daughter is becoming a young lady and a pretty darned good dancer.

There are still only 24 hours in a day....


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pirate Tri - Point Sebago

I jumped into today's Sprint Distance race at the last minute and didn't really tell anybody. Not sure why, just felt like flyng under the radar. I knew there would be a solid group at the top and was looking to go "top 5". My flying under the radar routine ended before I shut my car off in the parking lot when Mike MacDonald spotted me. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I got geared up and went over the transition area, saw lots of friends and got ready to go at it. I had decided I was going to go really hard today (something new).
Swim was slower than I wanted but I was able to bike well, posting the fourth fastest time on the day. I never really felt super on the bike but I guess you never do in a sprint! My run was fueled by the presence on Steve Tenney nipping at my heels the whole way. I was able to hold him off but it wasn't easy - I had to run 6:53's to do it. I finished 10th overall (ninth male), and am pretty pleased with the effort. I won my age group!
It was interesting to see how I'd feel a week after a half-ironman race. Overall, I can't complain. Now it's time to crank it up for the Black Fly weekend in mid July.
Highlights for today:
My friends had a great day
My friend Pat Kelley came in second in his age group
My friend and athlete Meg realized she can compete with the best of 'em.
My friend Angela Bancroft won the women's race.
My friends Tim, Mike and Matt went 1,2 and 3 in their age group.
My friend Rob Smith won his age group
My original training partner and friend Mike M raced well - great to see him out there.
The Bancroft kids cleaned house at the kids races.
Great race venue, well run. Good time had by all.
See you at the races!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mooseman 70.3 Race Report

Long before I changed jobs this year I had signed up for the Mooseman 70.3,a "Half-Ironman" race on June 6th in Bristol, NH. At the time an early season half seemed like a good idea and I liked the idea of increasing training volume earlier in the season to prepare for this race. I raced MM in '06 during my lead-up to my first Ironman in Lake Placid. I did quite well, finishing 90th or so (if I remember right)and posting a 4:56 finish time. My friend and training partner Mike Matheson had beaten me by like :19 or so that day. We had a blast. Looking back now four years later, I realize we really had done really well. This past year the World Triathlon Corp took over the Mooseman and made it an official Ironman event complete with 50 qualifying slots for the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FLA. This change brought about a change in the bike course that impacted the race tremendously. It also attracted a lot of Europeans to the starting line. The bike course change reslted in the addition of a solid three mile climb that racers would need to complete twice.
So, now I'm looking back to my decision to race an early season half. I now work full-time 37 miles from home. This has had a major impact on my training. I simply have not had the time and sometimes when I do have the time I don't have the desire. I had some thoughts in May about steppng back to the Olympic distance race but then thought better of it. I never want to be one of those guys that doesn't toe the line just because they don't feel like they're in top form. So, to NH I went, to RACE the half.
After securing lodging with the best Aunt and Uncle a guy could ask for Jared and I headed over to NH ahead of Dave. Dave met us later that night and we had a great dinner, wrenched on the bikes and got to bed around 10pm. Race morning brought a red sky,(hmmmmm...) and the appearance that it would be a beautiful day. Then I remembered that old saying that goes something like "red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky at morning, Sailor's take warning"......hmmmmmm.... As we approached the race venue the sky began to darken and I began to realize that we were going to be racing in the rain today. It didn't really bother me though. I like it when things get tough, I guess it makes me feel like I have to step my game up just a bit. I also feel like it thins out the crowd a bit. Takes care of the riff raff. hehehe. I got my transition area set up and headed to the water. The water this year was 69 degrees. That's a good 10 degrees warmer than it was last year so I was relieved that I would not have to swim with an ice cream headache. Jared, Dave and I warmed up, got loose and chatted with other Mainers as we waited to start. That was about the time the heavy rain began. Oh well, bring it on, we're wet anyway! I took a minute to revisit my race plan mentally before I headed over to the start. There were several goals today. First, I wanted to race smart. Given my intermitent training I was unsure what I was going to be able to do today so I wanted to play it smart. Another goal was to make that smart race transfer to a "win" over Dave and Jared. I was confident I could give dave a run and maybe hold him off but I was pretty sure Jared was and should be able to beat me. He's 32 and training hard for IMLP. Dave is training for IMLP too but he's my age, and hasn't beaten me yet so I figured today would be a good challenges with these boys. Jared was starting 4 minutes behind me so I wanted to try to hold him off until at least the run. I also wanted to beat Al Bugbee. He's a tough cat and also training for IMLP. He and I swim about the same, he's a phenomenal runner though so I knew I would have to try to put some time on him on the bike. And lastly, if things went right, I wanted to earn a slot to Clearwater. If I could do that it would mean I had done very well within my age group. So, a bunch of goals. Let's see how it played out.
I saw Bugbee at the swim start and lined right up with him in the front. It was beach start with a run into the water. I decided that even though I'm not the fastest swimmer I'd start in the front and try to push out ahead to avoid the boxing match. It worked perfectly. The gun went off and I sprinted into the water, dove in and got right into a groove. No traffic for about 200 yards, then just the best swimmers went by and I was able to settle in. Good execution. I had hoped to be down around 30 or 31 minutes for the swim but I popped out in 34 minutes. Pretty slow but I had a great swim and was set up well for the bike. I was certain I had beaten Brackett out of the water and heard them announce Bugbee's name when I ran into T1 so I knew he was around and that I'd be seeing him on the bike. I headed out onto the bike with one thing in mind, DON"T BLOW UP! This was not a time trial and I knew there were a ton of hills so I had to keep it under control early. I weaved my way through a bunch of riders and settled in feeling pretty good that I wasn't going to have to try to run Brackett down on the bike. As I came up on about mile five I spotted a Midcoast shirt in front of me and almost died. It was Dave! Holy crap! I really felt like I had a great swim and now I know he swam better. I didn't get too excited, I just fell in and rode the next two miles or so behind him without him knowing I was there. He was riding strong but I figured once we got to the hills I could get him. That's what happened. I went by him during the first major climb. He stayed for a bit and then backed off. I got through the first set of nasty hills and then had to worry about the downhills. They are NASTY fast and are very dangerous, especially when the pavement is soaked. I braked hard the whole way and made it safely. After the hills I was able to get aero and feel like I was making some time. I wondered where Bugbee was and how long it would be before Jared caught me. I got to scratch one thing off that list when Jared caught me in the middle of the hills on my second time around. He looked strong. I muttered to myself that the day wasn't over yet and I still needed to put some time on Dave because I know he's running strong right now. About twenty minutes later I came upon Jared on the side of rt 25. He had flatted and was trying to change his tire. I offered help, he declined, and I went back to work. Bummer. Dave would get by him before he got it fixed. I spent the remainder of the ride trying to be efficient and reminding myself that I wanted to run strong off the bike and not have to suffer for 13.1 miles. It occurred to me that I had disposed of just about everybody I had been jockeying with for the past 50 miles. "Aquaphor" guy was gone, "Army" dude was gone, 26 year old "Specialized" guy was no longer re-passing me, and it had been awhile since I'd seen any of the all-stars that passed me in the first loop only to be doing switchbacks in the hills of the second loop. So I felt pretty good. I felt like I had ridden it strong but hadn't overdone it. The run would show whether I was right or wrong. I wrapped up the bike in 2:43 or so. I was happy with that. I had driven the bike course with Jared on Saturday and came away feeling like I'd be lucky to get in under three hours. I just hoped I had put enough time on Dave in the process. I knew Jared would ride out of his mind after repairing the flat so I hoped I could hold him off on the run. Truthfully though, I no longer consider things fair once a guy has a mechanical issue. It's not like he fueled wrong, or paced poorly. He got a flat. Same could've happened to me. So he and I will square off again and I'll see how long I can hang with him.
I transition rather slowly due to the mud and general conditions of the race. I wanted to be sure I was all set to run before I took off. Thirteen miles is a long way if you don't have your act together. As I headed out I reminded myself that I wanted to limit my pace to 8:00/mile for the first three before I tried to push any harder. This proved to be a very hard thing to do but I was able to hold it to around 7:50's or so. I have started runs before - particularly in Half Ironmans WAY too fast and I wanted to be sure to run strong throughout the race, not just the first few miles. It seemed to work very well. I felt strong and I wasn't suffering at all. I knew when I got to the first turn around (3.2 miles) that I would be able to see where everyone was. As I approached I saw Jeff Small running toward me coming back. I guessed he had a couple of minutes on me. I think he started in an earlier wave. At the time, I didn't think I'd be catching him but I kept it in the back of my mind that he was out there. At the turn-around I checked my watch and made a note of the time so that when I saw dave I could do the math and get a good grasp on what I was dealing with. It was only about 45 seconds before I saw him so I figured I had a minute and a half on him. Not a lot in a half Iron run. And considering I had to go to the bathroom it might prove to be inadequate. Back at the race vanue turnaround I hit the outhouse and was out in about 15 seconds. Cool. I saw Dave and judged I had held my gap. Now for another 10k. I saw Jared closing on Dave and he was not happy. I looked up early in the second lap and saw Jeff Small ahead. I put a target on his back and switched my focus from holding off Dave and Jared to now running down Jeff. I saw Owen Lisa and Brett Hellstedt. Both of them were absolutely crushing the course. They are going to hammer Ironman in a couple of weeks. I kept looking at my watch and seemed to be holding 7:20-7:30 pretty well. This was excellent, I was having a tremendous day. I caught Jeff about halfway out to the turn-around. I thought we might run together for a bit but it was obvious as I went by that Jeff was going his pace. I was pretty pleased to be able to still be running strong this late in the race. I started having some gassy issues and jumped into the outhouse again and took care of that. Without sharing too many details I can tell you that if that stop was part of the race or an event of some sort, I'd have won my age group!. No time to waste so I hit it fairly hard the last three miles to make sure the boys didn't reel me in. I came across the line in 5:01 running 1:40:45. Slower than my '06 time but a better finish overall. I was extremely happy with that! Excellent race, good execution of realistic expectations. I am getting better at this stuff! I finished 13th of 66 in my age group and 72nd overall. I waited for Dave Jared and Jeff to come across the line and didn't waste much time getting into some dry clothes. We all got a bite to eat and then went to the roll down meeting and awards presentation. I never did see Bugbee on the run and found out later that he had some issues and decided to stop after the bike. He's OK I guess and I'm sure he'll be ready to go when Lake Placid rolls around next month.
I had told Dave that if I got a slot to Clearwater I was going to pass on it so he'd have a shot at it. He was 23rd in our age group so it was going to be a long shot. The fifth and final slot in our AG did in fact roll down to me. I passed on it (that was tough!) and it kept rolling down. They got to about 20th and a guy grabbed it. Damn! Dave just missed. I would have loved to have seen him go enjoy that race like I did last year. Well, it wasn't meant to be so we'll try again another time. All things considered I came home from NH feeling more confident that even though I am not quite where I want to be this year regarding my race weight and overall fitness, I can still compete at a high level. And I am going to continue to do just that!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Polar Bear

I raced today. When I arrived at the race venue I heard some words I hadn't really expected. "Kurt is doing the Du". G-r-e-a-t...... I won this race last year and was looking forward to defending the title so now I was going to be chasing a rabbitt. Super...... It didn't take me long to decide I would try to keep Kurt in my sights for as long as possible. This would accomplish two things. 1). It would be fun to see how much pain it caused me to try to stay with him while he tried to crack me. 2) I would use the process to in turn "crack" the guys I knew were chasing ME.
It all went down about how I expected. Kurt hadn't been feeling well (hence the DU) so I was hopeful he might have a little mercy on us on the first run loop. He decided instead to take it out fast and "see who wanted to play". When we hit the woods about 1/4 mile into it I glanced at my Garmin and saw a number I haven't seen before. We were running a 5:00 pace and I knew my time at this pace was very limited. I said screw it and kept on trucking. As Kurt started to pull away I looked at my pace again and saw I was running 5:49 pace. Now what am I supposed to do with that? Hahahah!!!! He was flying! So I backed it off to a 6:00 pace hoping I could hold it for the rest of the two miles and I really had a hard time dong that. I had effectively "Blown-Up" and was now scraping myself together for a tough rest of the race. My focus turned from keeping Kurt in view to keeping the chase pack at bay. I knew Tim Keene and Jared Buzzell were coming fast so I needed to get my act together in a hurry or I was gong to get shot out the back. I heard some footsteps and was quickly caught by two guys I didn't know. OK Boys, now we're gonna find out whatcha got! I decided to let these guys have it because I knew I could get them on the bike. I came into T1 in 4th place. Fast transition got me riding my bike before the two guys so now I was in second - again. I had an OK bike - faster than Kurt but slower than last year. I never felt great on the bike due in part to my effort on the first run. No problem, I wanted to push really hard today and see how I responded to a near blow-up. I got off the bike and tore out onto the second run. I wasn't wearing socks today - bad choice and I immediately knew that I would be shredding my feet. Nothing felt right but I still busted out of there. The run was slower than last year with some of the chase pack out splitting me. I got to the finish 22 seconds ahead of Jered Buzzell. He simply ran out of real estate as he was closing fast. So I was second, behind Kurt and ahead of Jared. I was pretty pleased overall even though I was slower than last year. It was nice to get out and tear it up. I learned a few things and will become better because I raced today. There were a ton of us there from the Midcoast Triathlon Club and it felt great to have had a part in growing such a great club. It's a great group of people just interested in having a good time and supporting each other at the races.
Mike Caiazzo won the tri. My friends Owen Lisa and Brett Helstedt were 2nd and 3rd respectively. These two guys go at each other every single time they race. I respect that, but what I really like is that they are the best of friends and no matter which one of them comes out on top you can still find them hanging out together after the race. They are doing Ironman CDA next month and you can bet I'll be watching online an rooting for both of them.
Doug Welling was 4th and it sounds like he was right on Brett's heels. Good stuff all the way around. A big shout out to my athlete "Meg". I have been coaching her and she kicked butt today. She trains hard and races hard - I like it!
Thank you to my wife for taking so many pictures today. I know people really like being able to snag a few shots without having to pay for them. She got some great shots today!

That's about it....not usually the way I race but you gotta shake things up now and then and she whatcha' get. Today I got my butt kicked but I kicked a lot of butt too. Comes around, goes around ya' know?

Giddy Up!

Monday, May 3, 2010

DNF Revisited....

True to form, I have been battling a chest cold for the past week while my first race of the season inches closer. I have rationalized that it isn't a big race, it's the first one of the year, it's only a "DU", bla, bla, bla. But the fact is I won this race a year ago and I consider it my duty to show up and put myself out there. So, as I've begun to "come around" in the last day or so I am now rationalizing again, but this time it's more like, "well, maybe the break was a good thing", "well, I needed to taper (for a sprint DU?)", and my favorite, "I'll just train really hard for the next few days and make up for last week". And so it goes. Bottom line? There's a race Saturday, I'll be there and I'll give it everything I've got and not make any excuses. I can't stand it when people race and then stand around and talk about how they should've done this or that....SO DO IT! Don't tell me about it...DO IT! Give me your best and that's it. End of story. Anyway, I'm starting to rant so I'll switch gears to the real reason I am blogging tonight, my 2008 experience in Lake Placid.

There are a couple of reasons I have decided to reduce this episode to writing, the biggest one being I have a poor memory and it's getting out there aways. Another reason is that I have several friends Racing the Lake Placid Ironman this year and several other friends racing other Ironman races and I want to give them a little motivation for their training ahead and their big day coming up this summer.

We headed to Lake Placid on Thursday before the (Sunday) race. This was to be my second Ironman and I was planning on RACING this time. The first time my goal was to FINISH and I did so in 2006 in fine fashion for a first timer clocking 11:39:39. SO, in '08 I was coming to race, to tear it up, to leave it all out on the course as they say. I had an excellent winter of training and everything was on track until May 16th. We were stripping shingles off a house in Portland that day and I stepped on a nail. I drove a rusty old roofing nail dead center into the ball of my left foot. This injury lasted ten months. I had x-rays, bone scans, you name it. There was nothing wrong structurally with my foot BUT it continued to hurt and hamper my running right up to race day. In the last few weeks leading up to "Placid" I revised my race plan to "swim hard, hammer the bike, try to hang on on the run depending on the foot". Not the best way to go into an Ironman but hey, it was what I had to work with, had to go with it. When we arrived in Lake Placid and checked in to "The Pines" we discovered we were on the fourth floor. No biggie in most places but this is an OLD hotel/inn and there was no elevator. We hit the stairs and (at the time) I didn't really suspect anything was wrong. But looking back I remember how tired I felt climbing those stairs. I should have known something was up. I did all my race prep in the next two days and hit the sack early after a chicken dinner at the hotel. I awoke on race morning a little before the alarm, not because I was ready to go but because I was SICK. I staggered to the bathroom in the dark and then layed down on the nice cool floor. I knew I was in trouble and felt like I was going to pass out so I crawled to the foot of the bed and tugged on my wife's foot to wake her. I then crawled back into the bathroom in time to empty the contents of my body several times (both ends, eeewwwww). This went on for about twenty minutes before I could get back to bed and lay down and assess the situation. Jodi was smart enough to just let me figure out on my own that I would not be racing today. This was not an easy pill to swallow given I had just put my family through eight months of committed training and was watching it go up in smoke at 4am in a hotel room. I sat up on the bed after a few minutes and tried to eat a bagel. It seemed to hold so I layed back down and eyed my wetsuit and special needs bags hanging on the door while I sipped some water. It was about that time that I decided the game wasn't over just yet. I sat up, slid my crocs on, grabbed my wetsuit and kissed my wife goodbye. I told her I was going down to the race in the event I felt better. Sounded like a good idea at the time. I hopped the shuttle and headed for the "Peak" tent when I got intown. The first person I saw was my coach Rob Smith and he took one look at me and said "Dude, you do NOT look good at all". I told him what was up and took a seat to try to figure through things. I was glad to be there even if I WAS sick because I was around people who understood how badly I wanted to race that day. Tim Keene was there and offered his support, that was great.

I'm not sure when I decided that "I'd just do the swim" but by the time my family got to the Peak tent I was in the water at the starting line refusing to take part in my own little nightmare. I figured I would do one loop and see how I felt. Couldn't hurt right? Looking back I'm pretty sure I was running a solid fever at the starting line. The gun went off and I was swimming up front getting pounded into submission when it occurred to me I may have made a mistake. "So what, keep it goin' , see what happens, keep your options open", and so on. I was just taking it easy and was able to swim the first loop without too much trouble but I knew when I got out of the water to start the second loop that it was over. I was feeling worse and there was only one thing left to I SLAMMED MY GOGGLES ON AND DOVE BACK IN THE WATER!!!! THAT'S WHAT I DID!! BECAUSE I WAS PISSED AND I WASN'T GOING TO LET ANYBODY TELL ME I WAS DONE - NOT EVEN ME!!!!! (I would have loaded that up with the f-bomb for you but my mother reads this and I try to keep it clean)

So, it was only about 100 yards before I REALLY knew I was DONE so I decided I would just swim easy, staying to the outside. About half-way down I couldn't see because my goggles were leaking (I thought), nope, the water was coming from the inside. I hit the beach and stayed to the right. A volunteer immediately identified that something wasn't right with me and asked if I was OK. I told her no, well yes, but NO..."I'm sick , I need to drop out or I'm going to hurt myself".....she told me to step over to the side and asked for my timing chip. It was tough to do I but reached down and tore the velcro strip off, hesitated a minute and then handed it over. DONE, day over, Ironman hopes dashed. I stepped around the competitors and had to work my way through the wetsuit stripping area. As I walked, wondering how things could be worse, I was whacked in the head by a stripped wetsuit. The thing wrapped right around my head and slapped me like a wet towel. When they unwound it I just broke out laughing and kept walking. As I walked trought the chute I could see the Peak tent up on the hill and my wife and daughter scanning the crowd for me. They spotted me and I continued to make my way out of the chute. Not fun.

As I walked up the road toward the tent, wetsuit peeled halfway, I spotted Bailey running toward me. She gave me a big hug and I said "ya' know how I always tell you "don't expect life to be fair?"....."this is what I mean". I carried her up to the tent and I sat down to begin accepting what had just happened. I saw Tim Keene again and I remember him being close enough to let me know he was there but far enough away to respect the fact that I was in the middle of swallowing a big pill and needed a little space. Everyone at the tent was great and I am fortunate to have them as friends. I'm glad I started this race. It wasn't the smartest thing to do but I learned a lot during those two swim loops. I learned that in the end, it's just a race. I learned that I never give up. I learned that it's possible to do the dumbest thing ever and the smartest thing ever in the same day. I learned that I care less about a DNF than I care about a "did not start". I learned that life isn't always about who gets there first (or even at all), it has a lot more to do with how you conduct yourself along the way.

So I settled into my big fat "Did Not Finish" and I accepted it with pride. Proud that I tried, proud that I trained hard and proud I that toed the line with some world class athletes. I headed back to the room for most of the day (101 temp) and followed the race online checking in on my friends every 5 minutes. Around 4:30 my fever broke and I was able to go back down to the tent and cheer on my friends and was fortunate enough to see Dave Brackett complete his first IM. I was thrilled for him. He is one of the people that will be doing Placid this year and I wish him the best. I hope all my friends have a great day, and if for some reason, things don't go as planned, or you hit a bump in the road, give this story a thought or two. Pull it from the back of your mind and ask yourself if YOU are ready to give up yet. I know your answer will be NO and that you will press on. I'll be pulling for you. As I always say - Lace 'em up tight, take no prisoners.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

USAT Level One Coaching Clinic

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend the USA Triathlon Level One Coaching Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. After I got signed up I realized that my friend Doug Welling had signed up as well. I was pretty pumped because we were able to split the cost of the room and I had somebody to travel with. We arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon, dropped our stuff in the room and went for a run. We got to check out the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore and enjoyed a "brisk" run along the shorefront. We had travelled down early to take advantage of the continuing education credits that were being offered. We also stayed an additional three hours on Sunday to do the same. SO, we were in for a long weekend but I couldn't have been more stoked to be in that element. I have been looking forward to this clinic for a long time. The best part was that I was hanging out with Doug. He's been coaching for the better part of ten years and I was pretty excited to pick his brain on all things triathlon. I was fortunate to even be able to go to this considering that when I signed up I was not working full time and driving fifty minutes to work each way. Things changed quickly for me in the last couple of months but I'm glad I stuck with this USAT thing and got it done.
The presentations were everything I had hoped they would be. We had some great speakers - experts in the field and I was a sponge. There were 80 people there, two rooms of 40 and Doug and I ended up in separate rooms. It worked out well as we were able to compare notes at the end of the day. Friday morning we went for another run but Saturday we decided to run the stairs at the hotel. It was 37 floors and we did it three times, each time faster. Doug smoked me on the last two. That was good for me. Needed that. Some guy from the class jumped in with us for the second trip and he didn't want any more after that....said we were nuts.
I did a pretty good job keeping my composure during the class even though we had a couple of people that thought it was their own private seminar. One lady asked 35 questions on Friday. I was seething mad, but what can you do? Nothing. I mean, really, I paid a ton of money to be there to hear experts speak, not to listen to people relay their own personal God! Other than that it was a tremendous weekend. Now I have to complete the test (I'm almost done with it) and submit it so that I can be and "official" USAT Level One Coach. In earning this certification I am trying to get off on the right foot so that I am giving good information to people that I will be coaching. So far so good. I LOVE this stuff and I wish I had figured that out sooner in my life!
Training is going well, peeling off the winter chub and getting fired up to race. I have begun to settle in to my new job (which I also love) and get back to a routine - one that hope includes more time to keep my blog updated :).
I want to send a big sigh of relief to my good friend Josh Freeman and his family. Josh's Dad, Rocky, went into Cardiac Arrest during a bike race over the weekend. It looks like he's going to be fine. He is recovering. I realized something though when I heard the news. I have become pretty close to all my "tri" friends. I had seen Rocky down at OA a couple of weeks back and I took the time to say hello and ask him about his upcoming race season. I liked this guy from the moment I met him at the Time Trials last year. He is a fierce competitor, something I am sure he leaned on over the past couple of days. I have only been around him a few times but there is just something about him that I liked when I met him. Maybe it's because most guys his age are sitting around talking about when they "used to" do this and "used to" do that. Rocky isn't doing that, he's out kicking ass and taking names and I'm some thankful he'll be able to continue. I can only hope I'm half as tough as he is when I'm that age.
My next blog will likely be about the Midcoast Tri Club group ride we have planned for Sunday at 8am on the Raymond Hill Loop. All levels of riders welcome. Should make for a few interesting stories!
Boston Marathon is Monday. I need to put that thing on my "bucket list". ouch


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Change is good...

So I think I have finally figured through all the "work" stuff I was struggling with. It is with mixed emotions but I am no longer taking on any new work as a self employed remodeling contractor. I was recently presented with an excellent opportunity to work for a large, well respected Maine contracting company and I am now (once again) "workin' for the man". It has been a couple of weeks and I think I'm really going to like it. I have never felt more welcome anywhere in my life. My commute is a long one (37 miles) so I just bought a little Honda Accord to run back and forth with. This change, like any other, has had a trickle down effect to all the other constants in my life. I can no longer drop my daughter off at school in the morning, or pick her up in the afternoon. I'll miss that the most. We had a good run, I was able to do these things for the last five years or so and I loved every minute. Now she's getting to the age where I embarrass her by being me so maybe this is a good thing! This change has also caused me to revaluate my commitment to my training. I can no longer swim in the morning and by the time I get home at night I want to see my family. It will shake out and I have decided I'm not going to try to push it. This is a transition and transition takes patience, something I don't have. But I must be patient. I also want to make sure I am 100% focussed on my new job. I have a steep learning curve, this will require tons of effort and attention. Bring it on.

Yesterday I got on the bike and trainer to punch out a couple of hours with the boys of the Speed Lab and I quickly realized something was wrong. I couldn't bring myself to push past 140 watts. My throat was a little sore but I blew it off and kept riding. Mistake. One hour and forty minutes later I got off the bike and wondered why I'd even rode. I was getting sick, I knew it. I must be run down from all the recent change, etc. This can be stressful on you I guess. So I did not run afterward. I really wanted to run with Dave after as he is training for Lake Placid and I've been trying to do some of his longer stuff with him to help get him through it - AND because I like long workouts. Today I woke up planning to race the Irish Rover 5k. I was looking forward to giving Steve Tenney and Jeff Small a face full. Not today. Full blown sore throat and getting worse. Neat. These guys are going to think I'm ducking them. Nah, they know me better than that. This whole "race day sickness" thing is getting tiresome though, what a beautiful day out there and I can't race. Bummer. I suppose I could race, but that would be irresponsible. I will root for my friends instead and appreciate the times I CAN race all the more!
So, my words of wisdom for this post? Nothing is forever, enjoy what you are doing while you are doing it because it can be gone in an instant. Embrace change, put yourself out there, you cannot possibly predict the good things that can happen by having the courage to step out on the ledge and see what lies beyond. Put in 100% (or more) everyday, you never know who might be watching you.

Grip it n' Rip It.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

PolarBear 5k

I heard the term "Sandbagger" used in the same sentence as my name just before the race on Saturday. A bunch of us were standing around talking about what we thought we could run and I said that I'd like to go "sub 20". Somebody (can't remember who) said something like "you should, after you sandbagged us last weekend, hahaha" I remarked that I truly had no idea what I could run last weekend but that I had a pretty good idea what I could do THIS weekend. SO, I threw down the gauntlet and said "I am going to run precisely 6:26.4242! That's 20 minutes for a 5k. Actually I'm going to run 6:25's so I can be under 20" Eyebrows raised and eyes rolled and I waited to hear some of the same people who were jabbing me tell me EXACTLY what they would run. Could've heard a pin drop. See, I'm not one of those guys that gets weird about telling people where I'm at or how my training's going, some people get a little cagey on that stuff. Why? I just say, this is what I think I can do and I go out and try to do it. If I succeed, great, if I fail I'm not ashamed to have given it my best and come up short. If you want to come after me you'll know what you're going to need to do to get there and if you're running from me you'll know how hard I'm trying to catch you. So we hit the starting line and I lined up right behind Owen Lisa, Brett Helstedt and Al Bugbee. I didn't have thoughts of beating these guys but I wanted to see how long I could keep them in my sights (not long! hahaha). Sheri Piers was there too and I turned and congratulated Angela Bancroft on second place. Not sure that was very nice but it took a little pressure off her - she won the race for the women last year. I knew she'd have to run 6's or better to win today and this was her first race back after a foot injury. I didn't see another woman capable of beating Angela. The gun went off and we headed down over the hill toward Marginal Way. I was running right beside Owen and Co. but I knew they'd be taking off soon. Angela wanted to try to run sub-20 too so we stayed together through the first mile. We hit the mile 1 marker in 5:56 - whoops. Actually that was a pretty good pace given it was mostly downhill. We hit the East End Trail and I started to move ahead of Ange but she was still running great. Mike MacDonald wasn't far back either. I spotted Rob Martin up ahead and started chipping into his lead. I passed him in about the middle of mile 2. I think he was a little surprised too. Rob's an excellent runner and was laying down 6:30's. I was able to still hold a pretty good pace through mile 2 but it slipped a little due to the rollers by the treatment plant (maybe the smell too!) Mile 3 starts with a huge hill coming up form the East End Trail - boat launch area. That's a nasty hill. My heart rate hit 183 at the top and I turned onto the Eastern Prom and took a peek back to see where people were at. I sam Ange and the Mike, yelled at them and put my head down for the finish. I looked at my watch and did the math. I had a sub 20 race going but only had two minutes to get in and I felt like I was quite a ways out still. I turned up the volume one more time and hoped I could hang onto my breakfast. I hit the line in 19:45. 11th place. Good run, well executed. Funny though, not even good enough to place in my age group! Guys like Al Bugbee, Kyle Rhoades and Jeff Fisher took care of that! The big boys beat me, Sheri won the thing outright and Angela took second for the women in 20:15. She was pleased with her race. All the boys from the Speed Lab did a great job too. Kutzer ran 7:44's and Greg ran under 9's so they are improving immensely.
I met Angela's parents after the race. Great people. It made me think of my folks who NEVER missed any of my games or events. Here she is 40 years old running a 5k and Mom and Dad are out there cheering for her. That's the way I hope to be when Bailey is competing. I'll never forget what it felt like to look up in the stands and see my parents - and I don't care WHERE the game was - they were there. Good stuff. So that's the PolarBear 5k. Oh, and just to wrap things up for you.....19:45 computes to a 6:21 pace. So I guess the boys were right after all, I AM a sandbagger! hahahahahahah

Lace 'em up tight, take no prisoners.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10-Miler, Race Report

What a day! Can't even believe it. So I showed up about 50 minutes before the race start and got signed up. Interestingly, they handed me #869, the very same number I wore when I DNF'd Lake Placid in '08. Was this an omen? Bah, forget about it. Saw some friends and started getting changed. Contemplated bagging the warm-up but went out about 15 minutes before race start with Mark Bancroft, Steve Tenney and Dave Brackett. We jogged around for a bit but more or less were just waiting to run. Headed to the start line and saw Jeanne, Rob Smith and Tim Keene as well as Stacy, Mary, Mike MacDonald and Rick Ackermann (with two "N's"). Found myself standing next to Tenney but lost track of him when the race started. I assumed he'd jumped out ahead and put him out of my mind. Before the race I told Mark I was going to start easy and see how it goes, try not to rip of a 6:30 in the first mile and then pay for it for nine more. He told me to just run the first one whatever I felt like and not worry about it as it is mostly downhill anyway. Good point. I'm a listener so I decided to give that a try. He was right. As I clipped through mile one at a 6:20 pace I noticed I was pretty close to Rob and Tim. I knew this wouldn't last long as they are both in great shape and training hard right now. After about a 1/2 mile Mark Bancroft pulled alongside me and asked me how to work his Garmin GPS. After a few moments I told him to give it me and I got it going for him so he could see his pace. In the meantime, we had settled into a pretty comfortable 6:40 pace and agreed we'd run together as long as it worked for both of us. We hit the 2 mile mark in about 13:45 and we both were feeling great wondering how long it would last. We both were very aware that the wheels could come flying off this buggy at any time. We said "screw it" and just kept running what felt good. I told Mark that I wasn't worried about miles nine and ten because I could run those "sub seven" on heart alone - cocky little bugger huh?. hehheeh......I almost lost Mark after about four miles when we hit a little roller. He runs hills from his house and it was obvious every time we hit an incline. He's pull slightly ahead and then I'd recover and catch up and fall back in. This was the way it went for the next several miles as we managed to stay right around the seven minute mark or a little below. We passed our wives at different spots, Mine was taking pictures and surprised to see us at sub 35:00 at the 5 mile mark. His wife, Angela was surprised to see us running together and running so well. We were having a freaking BLAST and were starting to get geared up for the last two miles. we kept looking for Steve Tenney but figured he was way out ahead of us and we weren't going to catch him. We saw Doug Welling out there on the course on his bike, he yelled at us and gave us a boost. As we strode through mile nine I said to Mark that we were going to get a little recovery and then rip it up for mile ten. It was about that time I felt something on my right shoulder. I took a quick peek and caught a glimpse of the only thing I did not want to see in my rear view mirror at that point in the race - STEVE TENNEY! WTF? Where'd he come from? Oh, SHIT! I said to Mark, "we got company". He looked back and realized Steve was there. Mark said something to Steve and got no response.....OK...I can tell he's serious. This was shaping up to be a classic finish. WHY does this always happen to me?!?!?! I knew that Mark and I would probably be finishing near each other and would likely be sprinting the finish but now Steve was in the mix, pushing the pace and I started to wonder if I could hold on. I decided to pull hard going up the hill toward the school entrance as we worked our way through mile ten thinking maybe I could crack one of them - no dice. Heart rate 180, pace 6:20. We crested the hill and leveled off on our approach to the school entrance. They were both running strong and I slid in behind them to get out of the wind hoping I could just hold on a little longer. I started to feel a little something strange "inside" and realized I was probably getting close to my max effort, in fact I was sure of it. As we turned into the school Mark and Steve surged, I pressed a little harder to close the gap back up. They were now going to crack me and I wasn't going away easily. I started to lose the stride again just as I started to feel that strange feeling again. It was just about then that had a violent uncontrollable urge to puke and that's exactly what I did. HARD. Nothing came out but it was a message from my body saying "knock it off, or I'll shut you down for good next time". I looked at my GPS and the pace said 5:20! So here I am running 5:20 pace, hurling, and these guys are pulling away. I dug in a little deeper and surged again. Owen Lisa spotted me closing on Mark and Steve and hollered at me to catch them. Had he only seen me five seconds earlier! We hit the finish, Mark, Steve, then five seconds later ME. Unreal race. I had set a PR by almost a minute! Couldn't believe it! I had no idea I could do this today. I was impressed with Mark's ability to run like that and Steve's competitiveness in running us down late in the race. And I am pretty proud of myself for hanging tough with them. We headed inside, changed up, hung out for a bit and then went to lunch. Jodi and I enjoyed a nice lunch with the Bancrofts and the Wilsons at Flatbread - awesome place. Everybody had a great day today. All my friends did well and many posted PR's. SOOOooo glad I decided to race (see pre-race post). I got to know Mark a little better and also see where I stacked up with Steve. I was impressed with Mary, Stacy and Erin. Dave Brackett had a PR and Jared Buzzell ran strong too. Mike MacDonald had a solid run. Owen Lisa, Brett Helstedt and Al Bugbee toasted me and they should. They are very talented and tenacious runners - all doing Ironman this season. Tim Keene and Rob Smith both beat me and did so in fine fashion. No problem there, I know I can mix it up with them in the spring and look forward to the challenge. So it was good to get the juices flowing in the middle of the winter and get recommitted to my training. So glad I raced today, I'll remember this one for a long time. Hadn't really planned on turning myself inside out but hey, what the heck - it's a RACE BABY!

Looking forward to spring!


I Race Because I Can...

So today is the "Ten Miler", the Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter Classic. I plan to run. I am up early this morning and I got thinking about WHY I am running. I'm not in what I would call "race shape", I have done NO speed work (it's February), it's going to be COLD, I'm 175 - not 168, I tweaked my knee a few weeks back and I can still feel a little something going on with it. So what time does the race start? Who else is running?
My wife asked me last night if I planned to run and I said yes. Then I started thinking that at times, it is more about the event than the actual miles you run in the race. Today I will get to see a bunch of friends, people I have come to know through my participation in triathlon and running. Some of them I haven't seen in months. I have heard people say that they won't race because they don't want to put up a "slow" time and see it in print. I think that's a shame. That's reality, that's WHERE YOU ARE AT right now - simple as that. If you want it to be different than do something about it. So I will race. I will race because I want to see WHERE I'M AT. I will race to support my friend Dave Brackett in his Ironman training. I'll race to see just how much faster Steve Tenney is right now, and where Jeff Small is at. I want to beat Brackett, and Mike MacDonald, see how fast Angela's husband Mark is and watch Tim Keene and Rob Smith destroy the course. I want to see if Stacy beat Erin or if Erin beats Stacy. I'm looking forward to seeing all my new friends from the Midcoast Triathlon Club. So I will race, and I'll have fun. I'll be glad I can because there will be a day I can't. So lace 'em tight boys and girls and take no prisoners!!! Here we go!!!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

CPT Clinic - Day Two

So, Day TWO was long but I came away with a lot of good information. I had a little fun too. It's been interesting listening to the instructor talk for the past two days about how to deal with the "general population" and just touch on things that would only apply to "elite" athletes. Every time something would come up like "periodization", I would start salivating thinking that I was going to really hear some good stuff and she would just brush by it. I understand though and am glad I am going to Maryland for the USAT Clinic as I am sure things will get a lot more specific. This is, after all a CPT clinic, not a class on how to write a training plan for a triathlete. So today I listened intently until it was time for the group participation part. This is where I had a little fun. I am the only GUY in the class so when it came time for the body fat testing instruction the girls all had a ball testing ME. I was a good sport and came away with a number of 11.6% which I highly doubt given I am heavier than I was before Clearwater and I tested at just under 12%. Then came the old "3 - minute step test". We had to take our resting heart rate before stepping up and down on at 12" step for 3 minutes to the beat of a metronome at 96bpm. My HR was 55 before I started. When I finished, I sat down and my partner took my pulse again for a full minute. I took a couple of deep breaths to see how low I could get it. She looked a little bewildered when the instructor said "OK stop". I said, "what was it?" She shook her head and said "Sixty". I just smiled, looked at the teach' and shrugged. heheheheheh
The afternoon was a lot of info on flexibility and exercises. We did some flexibility testing too. Neat stuff, I think I'm really going to like it. It's beginner level but it's nice to start putting together a lot of the stuff I've been reading about over the past few years. One more day and then I will jamb my face in the text for a month or so before taking the test.

CPT Clinic - Day One

So I decided to stop thinking about signing up for a Certified Personal Trainer course and "Just Do It". Yesterday was my first day of a three day workshop / clinic. Very cool. There are only six of us in the class and I am the only male. It made me wonder if I am getting into a field that is predominantly women. Not sure it matters but it made me question what I was doing for a moment. Then the class started and I knew I had made the right decision. I got eight hours of "crash learning" in the structure of the heart, lungs, and the rest of the human body. My head was spinning. I can now see why it is better to come into this field having had some educational background or professional experience in a related field. I have neither so (as usual) I will work harder than everyone else to learn the subject matter and be able to apply it as a Personal Trainer. Today we get into moving around a little. We are doing the body fat testing stuff, learning the different methods etc. The instructor (female) looked at me as she wrapped up the session last night at 9:30 and said "you're the only guy here so you'll be getting poked and prodded A LOT tomorrow". Oh....NEAT! hahhaha. This ought to be good! I just laughed and said bring it on - I'm a good sport. We are also learning the very basics about doing initial assessments and starting relationships with new clients. I think I'm really going to love this stuff. This is the first time I have ever been excited to be sitting in a class - for anything. I'll have a lot of studying to do in addition to this clinic and then I can take the test when I feel I'm ready to go. In addition to this course I am enrolled in the USAT Level One Coaching Clinic scheduled for April 9th-11th in Baltimore, Maryland. This will be another three days of clinics and a test after more studying. I am hoping the taking some time to get some credentials on the front end will help me get off on the right foot as I move toward training and coaching in a field I have enjoyed competing in over the past seven years. When I'm done I will be a Certified Personal Trainer (certified by the ACSM) and a Certified USAT Level One Triathlon Coach. You have to start somewhere, and I will feel a lot better working with people knowing that I took the time and made the effort to be able to know what I'm talking about. So here I go for day two...
Lovin' it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking Inward...

I awoke this morning without a hangover.  This was not a surprise as I planned to do this.  I decided to ring in the new year while sleeping and going into 2010 as rested as possible.  In the past I have gone out and celebrated the passing of one year and the arrival of another.  It just seems that the last few times I have "celebrated" anything I end up paying dearly for it the next day and wishing I had just stayed home and gone to bed.  So that's what I did this year and I feel a lot better as a result!  
I did spend some time thinking about '09 and what I'd like to accomplish in "oh-ten".  I had planned to do this at the gym on the treadmill until I arrived to find the gym closed.  I came home and quickly changed into my running gear.  After a few frustrating minutes fighting with my Garmin 305 (it wouldn't power up) I headed out into a light falling snow - perfect.  I have been reading a book called "Chi Running" by Danny Dreyer and I was excited to try to apply some of what I have gleaned from the first few chapters.  It got me thinking about my running "gait" and trying to become more economical as I run.  My wife and daughter have had a good time poking fun at me while I try new exercises and explore new forms of moving forward.  Anyway, that brings me to my point.  CHANGE.  It occurred to me while running that I run the way I run because I have always run that way.  When I started triathlon I sought advice on swimming.  I biked with people who knew what they were doing.  But I went out and ran by myself.  No one ever teaches you how to run, you just do it, and develop whatever gait you settle into for whatever physiological reason.  So on my run today I decided that that is not acceptable. When someone asks you why you do something a certain way, (be it running or something work related) if you can't come up with a better reason than "well, because we've always done it that way", then you need to ask yourself if there is a better way.  I have decided that 2010 will be a year of revisiting "how and why I do what I do", exploring all aspects of my life with an eye toward improving as a father, husband, son, friend, business owner and triathlete.  I am not much for New Year's resolutions as I am very goal oriented throughout the year, but I do think that we can all take few minutes before the start of the new year and try to establish what it is we're trying to accomplish.  So I will try to change my gait in hopes that it takes me to the next level and allows me compete with the best.  I will look at how I parent, and function as a spouse and try to give more than I get.  I'll examine my friendships and work to be someone that people enjoy being around.  And I'll keep pushing hard with my business in hopes that the economy will soon improve.  In 2010 I will not be doing anything "just because I've always done it that way", there will have to be a reason that carries more weight than that.  And if I can't come up with a better reason I will find a way to improve whatever it is that I'm doing and how I'm doing it.

Happy New Year to all of you.  Here's to a safe, HEALTHY and happy 2010!