Saturday, December 17, 2011

Farewell 2011!

It's December and 2011 is in the books. Last summer I raced one tri and two TT. I am hooked on the TT and will do a lot more in 2012. It was a good year due to a great bike team and a very supportive sponsor, Bicycle Outfitters.
Here are my race plans for 2012:

1. New Orleans 70.3 IM in April
2. Eagleman 70.3 in June
3. TT MABRA series - at least as many as I can.
4. I want to do at least one road race
5. Haymarket Winter Series
6. Tour de Skyline

There is lots of hard work to come this winter. I have a feeling that I will be doing the new and improved infinite sorrow loop a few times in February! Wanna come?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Boston Marathon Race Report: The Worst of the Best

Race Report: 115th Boston Marathon 2011
Where: Boston
Distance: 26.2
Results: 3:20:30, 5119 out of 23879 and 914 out of 2343 in AG. 7:39 min/mile pace.

Pre-Race: I actually like riding on the NJ turnpike. Lots of rest stops, decent gas prices (compared to VA), the sweet aroma of Newark and of course, the Harsell family. By a totally random coincidence we caught up with the Harsell family on the pike while they were traveling to a race at Rutgers. We all got a kick out of waving to each other on the road. Little did we know that they would save us later in the day.
It was raining hard and the traffic was crappy, lots of stop and go. Then came the crunch, smash, and the jolt of being rear ended by another car. We pulled off to the left breakdown lane and all heck broke lose. No one was hurt but there was lots of crying and confusion. I got out and there was steam coming out my ears. The 21 year old girl who hit us was in a BMW 5 series and took one look at my death glare and got back in her car. Her front hood/bumper was totaled and our rear end was just mangled, definitely not drivable. The Harsells stopped to check on us, but there was really nothing anyone could do at this point. After a couple of hours sitting in the pouring rain we got towed to a garage and were faced with a hairy dilemma. All the local rental places were closed and we were stuck. Fortunately, the Harsells were close by (kinda) and they came to our rescue. Richard came down, picked up the family and all our stuff, and drove us to Newark airport where the only car I could find was a 4 door sedan. We wouldn't have made it to Boston without their help and I am very thankful for their rescue. The remainder of the trip was driven in the dark during hurricane like conditions.....wonderful. We finally arrived at the hotel at 1 am and completely beat up from the 15 hour trip.

The next day was pretty uneventful except for the craziness at the expo. For some reason Molly and I thought it would be OK to go to the expo/bib pick up with kids. The kids were great and my brother David came with us, but the expo was an absolute madhouse. Way too many people, jammed into a very small room, was a recipe for some claustrophobic attacks. We were out of there fast.
Dave and I headed over to the Newton firehouse to test run the hill starting at mile 17. There are a series of 4 hills start at mile 16 and goes up until mile 21. The best word to describe this section of the course: intimidating. I was in a funk of a mood at this point and needed an attitude adjustment. We chilled at the pool with the kids and had a relaxed dinner at the hotel. Molly, Dave, and the kids kept me happy and I relaxed a little bit which helped out a bunch. I was nervous was going to be tough day on Monday.

Race-Day: Dave drove me to the bus pick-up. A friend suggested that I sign up for a chartered bus that has heat, a bathroom, comfy seats and would be a home-base parked at the starting line. It was awesome!
I was nervous and wanted to get to my corral. I was slotted in the first wave and in the 9th corral......9th? There were about 1,000 people per corral which was determined by time. I was psyched to be in the first wave but I was last in line......worst of the best. Right before the starting gun I had to pee.....bad. I witnessed others that had the same problem and they proceeded to pee while standing shoulder to shoulder with their fellow had to look down because there were several yellow streams flowing downhill. There was also quite a bit of disgruntled runners that were heckling the culprits. All you had to do was follow the pee and you found your man.....or woman. I opted to not to join the 'urinators in the corral' club.

The start gun blasted and as I approached the starting line I finally started to feel the excitement of the event. I tried to soak in the sights and the energy around the wall of people cheering us as we started our trek to Boston. After the first hill I had to go pee and decided to stop and get it over with. Right then and there I knew I was not going get the time I wanted, rookie mistake, and I started to panic as to what to do I hammer it to make up the time or do I keep to the plan and keep to my pace? Then I saw the pink tutu. That's right folks, there was a bald guy wearing a pink leotard with a pink tutu. The crowd on the side of the road would go bananas when they saw this guy. The irony here is that he was a very good runner and started to dust other runners, including me. I have to admit he made me laugh which helped change my dark mood.

I wanted to be sub 7:30 pace by the time I hit the half way mark and achieved this with a 1:37:56 which is around a 7:28/mile pace. I was feeling pretty good. When we came up to the screaming girls of Wellsley I was blown away by the energy, free kisses (no Molly, no kisses for me), and the screaming! It was deafening. I really noticed it when my ears were still ringing after we exited their section.

Dave, Molly and the kids caught me right before the turn into the hills. I dropped off my empty fuel belt and started the hard work on the hills of Newton. It was tough. The pace definately started to drop. At mile 21 I sucked it up and did the best I could to get my pace back and most of the race at this point was a blur except for that Citgo sign. Coming across the finish line was incredible. I was beat up but extremely happy. Great day, great weather, and great support from all.

Here is the link to my Garmin results:

So to answer the questions from Pre-Boston Doug from Post-Boston Doug:

1. Did you run like it was your last race? No. That would be too serious and frankly it's not the end of the world.
2. Can you walk away knowing you went deep? Yep. I went deep and I worked hard. Need more hill training next time.
3. Did you honor your dreams? It was better that you thought. The crowd cheering you on for every mile was incredible. Nothing goes perfectly, but the whole experience was incredible. And yes, the jacket is cool.
4. Did you thank your family? I sure did. Dave was a huge help and I was very thankful he was there. Molly, as always, was a trooper and kept me afloat during the trying times. Dad, wish you were there but I know you were watching online and cheering me on every mile. Although not family, I am thankful for the Harsells on that rainy day in NJ.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dreaming of Unicorns

Sometimes it's a goal of lofty proportions...a half marathon, a half Ironman, a Marathon, an Ironman. It challenges you, and if achieved, you feel.....good. Most of the time I enjoy the journey more than the event itself. But to me there is only one event that holds a close, frozen bond to my soul...Boston. As a kid looking up to my Dad I remember him telling me that Boston was holy ground, only the blessed go there. In his world Boston was untouchable and he admired it from afar. When your Dad looks at such a thing with such admiration you take note, it's etched into you deep.
When Molly and I moved to Natick, in our first apartment, little did we know that the course went by our driveway at mile 8. I remember the runners as they went by and I was mystified by their skill, their determination, and I knew that running in this race was far out of my reach.
As I learned how to run and increased my interest in triathlon racing I struggled with the difficulty and pain of running. It took me many years to enjoy running and today it's an essential part of my life.
I have met a few runners who have gone to Boston and in my mind they are different from the rest, they are one of the blessed. I have been lucky to train with some of the fast ones.....some that have actually conquered this course. I am and will always be humbled by the dedication to truly excel in this sport. I just hope that some of that magic has rubbed onto me....I am going to Boston this weekend. On Monday I am going to live a dream.

I have a couple of questions from the Pre-Boston Doug, for the Post-Boston Doug:

1. Did you run like it was your last race?
2. Can you walk away knowing you went deep?
3. Did you honor your dreams?
4. Did you thank your family?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rivets and Asphalt: RIR Race Report

Race Report: RIR crit 3/20/11
Racers: 50 CAT 5
Where: Richmond, VA
Distance: 30 mins of .75 mile loop on the bike......and about 6ft off the bike
Results: 4th place

Prerace: I am very lucky. I have the help of a good team and a great shop. Above is a pic of the race rig designed by Bicycle Outfitters, the Ritchey wheels made this killer bike a sub 15 lbs machine. All Shamano Ultegra with Speedplay pedals. Justin and Rick tuned her and got her race ready. The day before I made sure she was spotless and coated her with a lite layer of Bike Lust.

Race Day: I started getting those familiar race day butterflys when I saw the grandstand from the highway. I rolled into the gate, and yes, my redneck NASCAR friends, they let us park in the center of the RIR track. It was breath taking. The Masters open race was already underway and it was pretty cool to watch the peloton whistle by. I also noticed that all the breakaways were getting caught and it was looking like a group sprint finish.
I found Pat and Brian warming up on their trainers......huh....not a bad idea....I should of thought of that one. I definitely felt like a newbie when I was asked if I brought mine. You see, this was my first road race and it started to feel like it. Brian and Pat unhitched and started towards the CAT 3/4 start line when...."hey, did the race already start? no way Brian and Pat are in that group" and I was right. The officials decided to start the race 5 minutes early....that is a first. I saw one of the guys hammering to catch up to the peloton that had left without them. Brain was able to catch the peloton but Pat was further behind and was unable to reconnect. He held up until the Peloton lapped him and he kept on for the ride. This race was not an A race for either of the guys, but I felt bad. Very bizarre.
Wade and I warmed up around the pit lane and conspired on our certain victory. The plan was to connect about 12 minutes into the race and wait for an opportunity to breakaway. Wade would get us to the front and Andy would keep going until I could launch off of Andy's wheel. Keep in mind these guys were there to race too, but they agreed to help me out and see if I could get a gap on the group and get a podium finish. After the launch they would try to spike any effort to catch me.
My nerves were on fire as we lined up on the start line. The director was going through roll call when he looked up from his sheet, called out a name, and then asked what the heck "that" rider was doing in this race.....I gave the rider a good look over and I decided he was going to be my marker, I wanted to keep an eye on this one. The whistle blew and we were off.

The pace was pretty easy, but it was very tight and the track had a grade that made everyone drift towards the inside. Everytime we went around the tight bends the group got close and personal. About 10 mins in I was about 10th from the front and there was a nice dual paceline going at a decent pace. Two lines kept it tight and close, suddenly a rider darted up the middle of the two lines apparently trying to advance up through the group.....this was not good idea. He clipped the back of a wheel and all hell broke lose. It was so quick, I remember the guy going past me and then there was a body sprawled out in front of me and there was nothing I could do. I hit him and went over the bars, I think my bike followed me and landed on top of me. I immediately wrapped my arms around my head and brought my knees to my chest expecting to get hit too. I got clipped but I was very lucky. I don't know how many went down but it was carnage on the track. I was completely stunned. My only thought was to get back on the bike. So that's what I did. Fortunately, the race director neutralized the race and everyone gathered back at the start line. Both Wade and Andy went down too. There were broken frames and lots of red blotched legs and arms.

The director told everyone that the race was now only going to be 5 laps with a neutral lap. Wade, Andy and I decided to try out our breakaway after the first lap. We went around and got lined up on the outside of the group. Once we got onto the straight away Wade took off and we launched past a very surprised Peloton. Once Wade broke off Andy pulled for a while when I noticed the first element of the Peloton started getting close to my wheel. I had a choice....let Andy pull me and the rest of the Peloton or take off early while they were still trying to get onto my wheel. I instantly made a decision and took off. I went on the inside of Andy and gunned it. I was living a dream BTW. Not everyone gets a chance to have a two man lead out in a real life race. I was smiling from ear to ear for about 25 seconds....then it started to hurt. I made the mistake of looking down at my garmin and I read 34 mph and I thought to myself...too fast too early....I came around the corner and Brian was jumping out of his shoes on the sidelines....."You got two chasers, gooooooooo!" So I kept it up but I was slowing down. The first chaser got to me...."Lets keep this up, follow me!" And he proceeded to launch off my wheel and left me behind. Now I was in dead-man's land since I didn't have the guys wheel and had the Peloton bearing down on me. I let up and got swallowed up to about the 8th place. Got a wheel and started to recover. When I looked up the wheel belonged to my old buddy Wade. I yelled up to him that I was on wheel and he nodded. We went around another loop and I had my legs back. On the bell lap we got about half way through and Wade moved up and I followed him. He knew what to do, and I knew what I had to do. We were at a big disadvantage since the front leaders of the Peloton had a tight grip on the inside track. Wade tore out of the Peloton...again.....and I was riding on his draft real tight. He passed everyone but the leaders kept up with me and I couldn't get far enough ahead to take their line. They kept me on the outside which was not good. Wade broke off and I throttled it the best I could. I held the lead for a while but the inside guys starting turning on the horsepower and the first two past me. Then within meters of the line a guy jumped off my wheel and took third.....I can't sprint for crap. The whole finish was very blurry but this is the way I perceived it.

Post Race: The first thing I did after the warm down lap was to check the bike. The right pedal got skinned and the back right of my saddle got chewed up but other than that it came through without a scratch...which tells me it landed on something or someone.
I thanked Wade and Andy over and over again for their effort. They both worked their tails off and I know I wouldn't of had the chance without their help.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Infinite Sorrow is fun

I love new roads. Going on a trek in unexplored terrain excites me and reminds me why I love bike riding so much.

Last Sunday I had a tough choice to make. I was either going to race the last series in the Haymarket Winter League or go on a training ride with my new bike team, Bicycle Outfitters Racing. I have really enjoyed the HWL rides and I knew it would help my training, but I also knew that I would be alone in the peloton......misery loves know the story. A few guys on BOR were looking for any takers on a Sunday morning ride and suggested they hit the "infinite sorrow loop". Well I am a sucker for marketing and was instantly intrigued. Once I saw the route with 6,000 feet of climbing in 70 miles I was game.

After some discussion it worked out that only Pat Green and myself were going to take on this beast of a route. Pat is a very strong rider and has a bad habit of showing up for road rides with his trusty cross bike. Well, he didn't disappoint and he hammered out some some tough terrain on that tank. He wrote up a real nice description of the day here:

This is my Garmin info:

When Pat decides to switch over to his roadie he will be a monster.

I broke out the new Chronus for this ride and was very impressed. More on that later.

I want to do this ride again, great scenery, variety of terrain including some gravel. I want to add Mt. Weather to this route. That will give us even more climbing with about the same mileage. 7-8000 feet of climbing in one loop is tough to beat and would be an epic training effort.

Good ride, good solid work, good company, and good day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Race Report: Haymarket Winter Bike Series Race #3

Sunday, January 23rd was the coldest day in the history of mankind and I was going for a bike ride. The starting line temperature was 15 degrees and I was surrounded by some hardcore cyclists that were ready to crush each other on a long ride to Mt. Weather. It was going to be a tough day.

I know a few things about racing in the bitter cold. I learned that Heatmax hand and feet warmers can be differentiators when running or riding in the extreme cold. Keep the hands and feet warm and the rest will take care of itself. At least I would be comfortable......temperature wise.

This is the second ride I had done in this series. I missed the 2nd race. This time around the group was much smaller. Instead of 80 riders, like the first race, we were a mere 25. Jared announced that the first part of the ride was to warm up, Snickersville would be at a brisk pace, meet in Blumont and regroup, then head to Mt Weather where it would be game-on to the DHS overpass. Then it would be game-on again to the shop. Piece of cake!

Snickersville was fun. I felt much more aggressive and even though a small group got away, I felt good taking pulls on the main peloton. Arriving into Blumont was a welcome site. I stopped and broke out my fig newtons when Jared announced that the group was leaving.....I just stopped and was still breathing hard. I decided to go with the led group and see how I faired. There were about 12 of us. We coasted up the Blumont hill to 7 and then all heck broke loose on the Mt was truly a blur and I don't remember much of it. I know I got dropped like a rock but I wasn't the last one in the group. By the time I made it to the DHS overpass the leaders were done resting and rest for the wicked....or the slow pokes. I caught up to them and was completely out of gas. Once we hit 50 the group got splintered up and I found myself riding with two other guys that got split up from the main group. We worked together taking pulls and cranked back to the shop.

Frankly, I am out of my league riding with these guys. but as a friend once told me, 'You gotta run/ride with the monsters to get better'.

There were quite a few lessons that I learned from these two races. The first is that if you are not in the front you don't have any control of your own pace. For a triathlete that is a rude awakening. I have always been use to dictating when I go hard and when I back off. Group riding can get into your head....if you are not ready to go then you are going to get dropped and you are done. Lesson two: when it's really cold you got to keep your bottles ice free. This was a problem later in the ride. I had two blocks of ice on my rig while only consuming one water bottle over 3:30 hours. Dehydration sucks eggs. Lesson three: I am not as fast as I thought I was. There is always someone faster but boy, why did they all show up on this race!

I had a total blast and the exposure to some riders that I have never met before was enlightening.