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TribyFire's Blog

2013 EPIC Journey

It has been 3 days since the race and this is my second attempt at writing this race report and blog.  I felt as though I was drawing it out too much and going into way too much detail and, at a point, making up excuses.  So let’s just be quick and to the point. It was a good race – not great, but good.  I wasn’t able to get in the training that I wanted to in the weeks leading up to it.  As they say, “I GOT LIFED,” but I am ok with that.  The last few weeks before the race became extremely hectic – working 90+ hour weeks, renovating my condo and moving out, and finding time to spend with my daughter and girlfriend.  Something had to give. And that something ended up being training. I have no regrets. 

 

When I toed the line Sunday morning, I was looking at the swim thinking “I have only swam twice in the last few weeks and this was my first open water swim of the year.” But that was immediately followed by “Who cares… go and do it! This race is a “B” race, so go out make mistakes and learn lessons.  That is why we are here today.”  I was the 13th wave to go off, so that meant navigating through a lot of people. The 83 degree water meant no wetsuits – and that was a challenge in and of itself.  But no complaining… everyone was in the same lake, literally and figuratively.  This was my first time swimming the Ironman “M” shaped swim – interesting. Lots of turns meant congestion at every buoy, and at turns 3 and 4, they crammed everyone into a 5-10 yard wide goal post type of shape. Crowded would be an understatement.  I let the frustration go and moved on. I wasn’t setting a blazing pace, but one where I could just survive and come out of the water to a good bike.  I finished the swim about 5 minutes over my projected time, and at 37 minutes in, I was on my way to the first transition.

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The bike.  My goal here was to keep in my zone and focus on my nutrition.  If you know me at all, I am horrible at this game, especially in the heat.  But thanks to PowerBar, their support and products, I was able to nail my nutrition which was a critical piece to keeping it together that day.  I took in more than enough fluids, calories and electrolytes.  My power meter kept me true the whole time and the only adjustment that I made prior to the race was dropping my WATTS by 5% due to the heat. I had no desire to blow up and was focused on having a good run.  The course was very fair – constant rollers with a head wind 75% of the time.  I knew the race would be packed, making getting what I needed at the aid stations hard, so I decided to carry a ridiculous amount of fluid (4 28oz bottles) and avoid all the aid stations.  Smart decision as it turns out – the heat made the crowds even worse than I expected – bringing my own saved me from a potential crash and definitely the added frustration. Bike time: 2:43. 20.5MPH average.

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Last, but certainly not least… the run.  My one goal coming into this race was to have a good run.  I was dealing with injuries in the couple weeks before the race, but thanks to Dr. Cassie Maximenko, I was on the mend and feeling good. No aches or pains at all the day of the race.  Also, two years ago at this same race, I fell apart during the run.  (Flat , fast and hot courses do not suit New Englanders well at all.)  In the first mile, I felt damn good, way too good.  And then mile 3 came.  I hit a wall – hard.   The heat just sucked the energy out of me.  I was not in pain, my legs felt ok, my lungs felt good, heart was not racing at all. I was just simply out of energy – depleted from the conditions of the day that were foreign to me these past few months of training. Trying not to hit panic mode and to figure out a solution to pull out of my slump, I tried a few tricks but with no success.  I had taken in enough fluids, I was still sweating, at every aid station I was drinking cups of water, drinking PowerBar Perform, dumping ice in my shirt and shorts. And even at mile six, I switched it up and took in some Coke.  But nothing was helping. It was clear that I was just going to have to suffer though the heat, which had now reached 91 degrees.  So I was playing the suffer game.  This was more of a mental game than it was physical.  I wanted to go. I felt as though I could go, but my legs and body were just not having it.  I was down to a shuffle and had to walk each aid station and a little more.

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Overall, I had a successful day.  No PR would be set; no great stories to talk about from the swim or the bike. No epic story of how I held it together for the run.  But there is a lot of success in learning lessons. But there’s more success in being able to actually apply those lessons.  We’ll see at Eagleman in only three short weeks.

 

Just also wanted to take a quick moment to congratulate my fellow Wattie Ink teammates Steven Houston, Joel Rutledge and Evan Hill on their great races and their support when they passed me on the run.  You guys rocked the W AND the heat!

It has been a while since I have posted.  Remember this season is all about balance and sometimes something has to give.  So I have not been able to dedicate the time to my blog like I wish i could, but I have been able to concentrate on family, relationships, work and training.  This weekend was the first race of the season. Nothing big, just a local sprint. But with it being the first sprint of the season, pulling up to the race venue (2 hours early) it seemed as though every one was excited to race.  You could just look at the athletes and tell who the competition was. Everyone was looking fit — wearing their new team kits and already out doing their warmups and scouting the course.  Damn, I though I was good for getting there so early… guess not.  Everyone seems to be chomping at the bit to race and wants this New England winter behind us.

But let’s back up just a bit.  Coming into this race has not been ideal.  Family life has been crazy, but I can’t complain as I have been spending more and more time with friends and loved ones.  Work is out of control and I have been logging many hours in the form of 36 and 48 hours shifts — I’m never sure what day of the week it is, and oh, add in a cold and allergies to the mix.   With all of that going on something had to give, and it was training.  I have not swam a pool workout in 2 weeks and with the constant battle with injuries this year, I decided to take the week off from running and let the legs heal up.

Back to race day.  After checking in it was time to hit the bike for a warm up.  Even after 20 min the legs were still feeling heavy. After getting back to transition, I grabbed my shoes and went out for a run. The pace was okay, but my legs were still feeling heavy and I was not sure if i was going to get them to fire.  Back in transition with some time to kill, I double checked my transition area. Today’s goal was keep it simple.  Shoes on the bike, helmet and sunglasses on the aero bars and just a pair of sneakers.  If my legs were not going to fire today, I was going to have to save every second I could in transition.

Once in the pool area, I swam a quick 300 yard warm up and felt as though my body was finally warming up and getting ready to race.  The whistle was blown… warm ups were over and it was time to top off my body’s fuel with some PowerBar Perform and their new Energy Blend Gel.  I have to say… I am a big fan of these gels — they’re all natural and taste great.   Now it was time to wait.  The swim was a snake swim throughout the pool totaling 300 yards and a time trial start. Being #29, I had ten minuets to chat with the athletes starting around me.  Everyone seemed to have the same idea — win this race if not at least place in their respective AG.  I jumped in the pool and put on my blueseventy Hydra vision goggles and was off.  The pool was warm and I felt smooth as I was going through the swim. I was amazed at how good I felt and could not believe that I was catching the guy in front of me. But what a pain in the ass it was because of swimming under the lane markers! ( I think I would have rather sighted buoys with the sun directly in front of me.) With 50 yards to go, there were four of us bunched up and things slowed down a bit — luckily not too much and we were all in the same age group, so no harm no foul.  Off to T1, which could not have gone any better.   SImple is going to be the key for the year. While there was no timing of the transitions, I am sure I was under a min.

The bike was cold, but luckily my kit dried out very quickly and I was warming up.  The bike was uneventful and smooth.   This was my first time racing my Reynolds 90 AERO’s and I could not be happier. They offered such a smooth fast and stable ride I never once had to think about or be concerned with how my wheels would perform during the race.  Another piece of new equipment on the bike today was my ISM Podium.  While not being a stranger to ISM, this was a new saddle for me and I have to give a shout out to David Bunce and thank him for his suggestion on switching to this saddle.  Comfort and performance were definitely part of my vocabulary today. Like I said, the bike was fast — 22:39 — including T1 time, which gives me an average of 24MPH the 9 miles.  (Guess my legs woke up…)

Off to the run.  This was going to be the interesting part of the day.  Would my legs continue to fire?  Would the achilles injury that I have been fighting allow me to run?  Oh, did I mention that I was racing in the K-Swiss K-Ruuz that I have yet to run in yet?  T2 was just as uneventful as T1 and again — under a minute I was out of there. (While on my way out I took a look for my girlfriend’s bike and it was still there. There seemed to be a line of people who did not start their swim yet.  I started to wonder if i could make it to the finish line before she started her bike. Hmmmm.)  The first half mile, my legs were feeling good, the shoes were feeling good and in the back of my mind I was wondering when the pain would set in and when would I start to suffer.   By mile one, I had passed two people, but that meant nothing to me because of the time trial start. I had no clue where I was in the field.  I could be ahead of my competition, but according to the clock I was behind them.  So it was put my head down… go. The course was flat and everyone seemed to disappear from my vision. Then before I knew it, there was the mile 2 marker and I was back to passing people.  But again, it had no relevance to me not knowing where I was in the field.  Head down and go.  As I rounded back heading back to the race finish I saw people heading out on their bike leg and noticed the numbers have not yet reached my girlfriends so I could give her a good cheer during her first TRI.  Once I made the final turn, I recognized Erica and gave her a big cheer sucked up the pain and trudged in for the last half mile and never really let up my pace for the whole race.  Again, it was not a blistering pace — right around 6:55 according to my GPS watch.

Now for the best part of my day.  The race was over and I got to wait for Erica to come in from the bike.  During that time, I had a chance to speak with the race director and official and asked him of it would be okay if i can go run with her and make sure that he would not consider it outside assistance or pacing and that would earn me or her a disqualification.  He was good with it, but gave me a crazy ass look that implied “why the hell would you want to go run again?!”  Erica came in from the bike all smiles and did not want to punch me or have any choice words for me and was more than happy that I joined her on the run.  I could not have been more proud of her as she kept a great pace during the whole 5K and never once stopped to walk. In my eyes that was huge for someone’s first Tri. Near the finish, I still had enough energy to sprint ahead grab my camera and snap a shot or two of her crossing the finish line.

Time to check the results board. I could not have been happier.  10th overall and 3rd in the age group.  This day could not have gone any better and I don’t think I ever would have predicted that I would have gone this well.  While no one event was spectacular, I feel this proves my point that three average events equals a great triathlon.

While I have given many shout outs to my sponsors, I also have to thank Sean Watkins and the whole crew at Wattie Ink.  Everyone — from Wattie himself to his support staff and the entire team — has made this season so different than any other. Rocking the W has meant more than just training hard and racing harder — the W truly represents a team vibe and mentality. Okay, the fact that everyone is posting race results where they are absolutely crushing courses had me running scared today, but… it also motivated me to push, to embrace the pain of the short course, to race for something more… and to get my ass on the podium.

 

A blog? How am I going to write a blog? I can barely compose a Facebook status or a Tweet without spelling or grammar errors. I am a father, friend, firefighter and triathlete all of which don’t require me to sit still and put any thoughts on “paper.” How will I be able to sit down, get creative and write a blog for Christ sakes? Well, the answer is simple: it’s about going after new challenges and goals in 2013.

While 2012 was a great year I quickly realized what it was going to be. A year of restructuring and taking time to prepare for an EPIC 2013.

So you are asking WTF am I talking about talking about? But after a DNF (did not finish) at Ironman Lake Placid, I realized that I was missing a lot in my life. I missed spending time family and friends because I was dedicating so much to training and following such a strict training plan. I missed going fast at the 70.3 and shorter race distances. Basically I was missing out in the enjoyment of the sport and life because I was I focused so much on one goal that I forgot about everything else. Well, after the best DNF of my life, I woke up and vowed not to let those things happen and got started focusing on setting goals for 2013.

Goal number one for 2013 is to spend more time with family and friends. How? By choosing not to race further than 70.3 and keeping training at a minimum, but intense, level. By keeping training raw and getting out there and joining in group rides with friends. By having time to enjoy the epic swims at Lake T, and West Hill, rides to Granville MA, or just kicking back and enjoying the challenges and benefits of a boot camp or yoga class.

That goal in and of itself can keep me focused and motivated for 2013, but I also take time to thank Sean Watkins and the whole Wattie Ink EliteTeamfor helping me redefine what’s truly important in life. When I submitted my application, I spoke of all my goals for 2013 and they took a chance on me and accepted me to their team. With the support of the W, I’m looking forward to an exciting list of achievements that, while may be shorter in distance, will far surpass anything I’ve done before…

 

wattie