Saturday, August 31, 2013

You Never Know: Rev3 Maine Race Report

Quick Hits Edition: Broke my fifth metatarsal at the end of July. Didn't get to do the workouts I wanted to. Worked my tail off. Foot healed. Ran OK. Had one massive ride out at Skyline Drive. Swims sucked. All results in a brand new halfRev PR and my first race under 5 hours, all in honor of the man we lost and put me into the sport in the first place.

Long Form Version:

The Preparation: Moving, Oops I Broke My Foot, and Recovery
Let's get a few things out of the way: it is not an ideal way to be training for long-course triathlon by changing jobs, moving halfway down the Eastern Seaboard, and having no bike.

Fast-forward to the end of July. I was aboard my new-old bike.

 (It's the same frame I was on last year, but one size smaller as it turns out it would be better for me. More on that in a minute.) I'd been running a bunch with Tim, who now also works for Rev3. And as it turns out, I have a 25-meter outdoor pool at my apartment complex! Not bad!

So, Tim and I were out for a run at lunch. The Rev3 HQ and future home of Shop Rev3Tri (my tentative name for the place) is located across the interstate from the Manassas National Battlefield Park. We have a trail system that cuts from the shop, under the interstate at Bull Run, and right onto the battlefield. Awesome running!

We went out for another one of our staple lunch runs: out to the field, around the visitor's center, and back. We'd been hitting some solid 7:10-7:20 pace for the entire 10K loop in the middle of the heat. Figured it'd be good heat acclimation.

We start out cruising for the first little bit: well under 7:00 pace. Great. Tim's back in shape. I'm screwed.

We make it under the under pass, and it's a bit damp from the previous night's rain. So we went higher than we normally did. Stepped down and



I had hit a rock, and it rolled my foot onto the lateral side that wound up taking the brunt of the my landing force.

I staggered a few steps. Well, it doesn't hurt much... I kept on trucking. I told Tim at the turn-around that I thought my foot was pretty well hosed. "Suck it up, princess. If it were that bad, you wouldn't be running." True. Right?

Wrong. There was a PT in for a Retul fit later that day who noticed me limping. So I was told to get it X-rayed, which revealed the partial fracture of the fifth metatarsal. Into a boot. No running for two weeks, no kicking while swimming (leave the jokes about triathletes and their lack of kicking while swimming at home), and cycling if I could cram my foot into the shoe and it not hurt.

Awesome. Project All-In has been a bust.

Things healed relatively decently (I still have some flexibility issues on that toe). I rode Skyline Drive for the hilliest ride of my life. Lost out on a ride at Rev3 Wisconsin Dells to build aid stations. Because hey...stress is stress. Or something.

I kept telling myself to remember how fit I was in July, all of the work that I had done. It hadn't gone anywhere, and the stress that I was introducing to my body was still fatiguing me, and I needed to recover from it. Although I wasn't receiving the same kind of cardiovascular load from the activity, I needed to still not try to overdo things and make up for sessions I'd missed.

Also, I had in the back of my mind that I was trying to race Rev3 Maine for Ulman Cancer Fund's Team Fight, in honor of my late father-in-law, as I mentioned in the previous post.

With all that, it was time to load up and head to Maine.

Pre-Race: Expo Building, Working, and Enjoying Maine

We travelled on up to Maine on Wednesday evening, and promptly crashed.

Woke up Thursday and got in a quick ride on the new bike, just trying to dial everything on in. Then headed off to work. Thursday is a hectic day in the life of a Rev3er. To give you a sense of what happens on Thursday:

  • Snow fencing goes up
  • Finish line arch is built
  • All the electrical gets run
  • Information, VIP, Registration, Medical, and Retail tents built
  • All vendor tents built
  • Retail fixtures are stacked, created, and merchandise received/put away
  • Transition racks mounted into place
  • Anything else we can cram in during the course of the day.
So, uh, that all happened. Thursday was also Sean's birthday. Sean is best-known as the voice of Rev3, and he wound up riding up the coast to celebrate. After Thursday wrapped, we all headed on up to Flatbread and had some phenomenal pizza, beer, and dessert.

Friday rolled around and we started expo. Good times! Was a bunch of fun seeing everyone again, including nemesis Bob Turner.

Saturday. Pre-race day. The nerves really started to hit home today. I woke up and helped out with the Team TriSlide pit at the swim start. We got into the water and OH GOD THIS IS STUPID MIND-NUMBING COLD WHY DO I DO THIS OH GOD! This doesn't begin to accurately describe the alarm bells in my head.

Swam for a bit, and after about 20 minutes I finally got adjusted a little bit. Just in time to start heading back to work!

Got back, worked for a fair bit, and then headed out for a ride with teammate Michael Hutto. He's one strong dude. There were a couple of times he put on surges that I had to respond to...and I had a whole bucket full of nothing. Quassy 2.0 flashed through the brain.

Racked my bike and headed on back to work. Snagged some dinner and went to bed.

Sunday: It's Go Time.
Woke up bright and early and downed breakfast: bacon, egg, and cheese wrap with a boatload of coffee. Good to go. Put on the Team FIGHT colors and was ready to roll.

Got myself into transition early. Saw friends and fellow M25-29 Dr. Zev and Adam. Finished setting things up for the day and then took the 15 minute long walk down the beach to the swim start.

I managed to get into the water for a bit to warm-up, and headed out after 5 mind-numbing minutes. Found Michael again, and we stood together for a few minutes, including during the National Anthem.

Soon, it was go time. Down into the chute. Joked with Eric (race director) about not working too hard. He said the work was over. I told him that seeing as he was done with work, he could take down the retail tent later. That didn't go over well.

Countdown time. Nerves high. About time.

10 to go. Luckily, I knew who would be blowing the air horn, so I could just watch for him to trigger it.


Swim: 37:29
I was the first one into the water out of the group. Whoa. Me, in the lead. The hell? I lead out for the first 200 meters or so, when the group caught me.

I knew I wasn't in strong swimming shape, but I figured I still had about a 34-35 minute swim in me. I tried to stay with the chase pack and find a set of feet to stay on, but people were just ALL over the place. Seems like the cold turned everybody's compass off, and we were adrift.

Made it to the first turn buoy in 10 minutes. According to the swim diagram, that means I covered .35 miles, so I had averaged .15 miles per 5 minutes, or right on 35 minute swim pace. Not great, but not terrible.

The problem: the long side of the course was against the current this year, unlike last year where it was with the current. I couldn't find anything to sight off of, but I wasn't being it can't be THAT bad, can it?

Made the turn for home, put in what felt like a good solid push, put my feet down, looked at my watch...

...and saw 37:XX.

Oh my God.

I immediately threw out all expectations for the day. Forget going under 5 hours. Forget chasing Adam. Bob will be right up your tail soon.

T1: 5:03.
Took a nice run up from the swim start, all the way back to transition (it's over a third of a mile). I got some words of encouragement from Adam's girlfriend, Sam. I asked how far ahead he was, and was stoked to see him just leaving transition as I was leaving. This meant I knew that something had to be up with the swim, as he is 6-7 minutes faster than me normally and on this day he was barely 3 minutes up.

Ran down to the bike, and got myself ready to rock.

Bike: 2:28:40
I got over the mount line, and told myself repeatedly: ride smart.

You see, last year I went out with the goal to crush the bike and then run decently. This instead resulted in the survival shuffle.

I decided that if anything, I would wait until the last hour of the bike to push. But I had already stopped checking the Garmin. I just didn't want to know. Figured I'd go off of feel. I was going to not push the hills; I was going to just enjoy everything.

The first 15 miles clipped off uneventfully. I had a small draft-pack of aquabikers and M40-44 move past, followed by a tractor-trailer that was none too happy about this here triathlon taking place. Once he was past, all things carried on.

We rolled into the hills, and this is the spot last year I blew my race apart. So this year I just kept a steady, even effort. Don't redline to climb. Just because you can climb like a madman does not mean you should do it during the course of the race. After all, you do still have to run...

At about mile 40 is where the Durgin-Turner freight train trucked on past. I figured the way they were biking that they'd be dead meat come the run.

I knew I'd been putting in some good pace as I had climbed past some fellow wave starters, and I wasn't moving backwards in the age-group. I kept wondering where Adam was, as I had caught him at Quassy relatively easily. But he was nowhere to be found.

I took a glance at the Garmin at the mile 50 mark to realize that I'd be riding under 2:30. Awesome. But immediately, doubts crept back in: did I overdo it? Am I going to blow up? I told those voices to shut up, you can run, and that this is why I don't look at the Garmin.

Came hauling back into town, flew off the bike, and away we went running into transition.

T2: 2:01
I scrambled into T2, and for the first time, actually ran past my rack. Whoops!

Hannah yelled down to me, and I asked how Adam was doing, when she informed me that he was 6:30 ahead. Holy crap. He was having a hell of a day!

I slipped on the shoes and socks, and away we went.

Run: 1:45:14
This is really the tale of two runs: the first 10 miles, and the last 5K.

I took on off out of transition and felt really, really good. Saw fellow Rev3 mate Jordan (who I promptly called a sandbagger) and Michael, who were racing the Olympic. Again, I wanted to be sure I wasn't pushing or forcing the issue. The first few miles just clipped off.

We turned onto the Eastern Trail and came upon the run turnaround for the Olympic. I was moving well, but determined to not look at the watch. I simply didn't want to know! I got passed by a guy in M30-34 who was amazed I'd be running that fast in the shoes I was wearing. Alright, so I have to be moving well, and I don't even feel like I'm breathing hard! Awesome!

Out onto the exposed part of the course, and man it felt warm. I was determined, though, to just keep trucking. A little past the mile 6 marker, I saw Rick, Adam, and Bob in short order. Looks like I'd taken some time back! Sweet.

Run turnaround time. I glanced at the watch and did some quick math: I have 57 minutes and change to make it home. If I can't do that, I need to be taken out back and shot.

We started on the way back, and through the warm part of the course. I walked this aid station to be sure to get water, salt, and cola into the system. Picked the pace back right on up, and that's where the first rumblings started.

You see, Jordan has come up with the cleverly named pOOPS, referring to athletic induced stomach issues. And things were getting desperate at about mile 10. I glanced at the watch and realized that I had just under 30 minutes to get back to transition. So...if I had to walk a minute in order to prevent a full-scale crapstorm of the most literal be it.

I ran hard, until the stomach would seize up again, and then let it settle. Made the final turn and could see Lisa's Pizza in the distance, and knew that I'd had a hell of a day, and couldn't wait to pick up my plaque.

See, ever since I'd decided to race for Team FIGHT at Maine, I knew I'd cross the finish line with the "In Honor Of" plaque I'd dedicated to Peter. The original plan was to have Hannah on the corner with it to be able to hand it off. As it turns out, Doug was there for me. He yelled out, and immediately I saw what he had. Snagged it, and made my way around transition.

Final corner...and the tears flow.

Finish. 4:58:25. 8th in the AG. 63rd Overall. BOOM STICK.

The realization and emotional let-go after racing for 70.3 miles.

Finally. Finally breaking through. Finally feeling like I executed everything. Finally feeling like I'd properly given everything I could to everybody. I finally nailed it. And to get to do it in front of so many family and I don't get here without all of you.

Now, onward and upward. Recover. And do it all again for double the distance next weekend. Here we go! To use a saying from Peter to wrap this one up:

live every moment.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To All My Friends and to All My Acquaintances...

Editor's Note: This was written last week prior to Rev3 Maine. I will post my race report and feelings on the day later this week.

Growing up, summers were always my favorite time of the year. After all, when your birthday is in August, you always look forward to that time of year.

We also were lucky enough to have a pool in our yard, a quiet neighborhood that let us ride our bikes everywhere, and an empty lot next door that was perfect for running around, building bike courses, or doing whatever we really wanted to do.

Summers have been a bit harder for the past three years. Three years ago last month, we lost Peter to cancer. And it’s his loss that has put me on the path that I’m on: to recognize that you must enjoy and embrace every moment. To work hard but love what you do for work. To honor and cherish your family and friends. And to live your dreams.

As I’ve said before, one of my dreams has always been the sport of triathlon, ever since the old Kona broadcasts. One month after Peter’s death, I made the purchase of my first bike and entered my first race.

It was his death, too, that made me recognize that I was not enjoying the path that I was in through law school. And although incredibly difficult to come to the conclusion that working in the running and multisport business was what I enjoyed and what I needed to embrace, it was also incredibly liberating. I never get there without Maggie and John at Maine Running Company. They gave me the freedom to realize who I am, what I could do, and let me run with it.

That spring was my first triathlon: Revolution3 Quassy’s HalfRev distance race. It put me into a world of hurt and a trip to the medical tent, but I was hooked regardless. Without my experience at that race, there’s no way I wind up applying for Team Rev3. And without my experience at Maine Running Company and being a part of Team Rev3, I don’t wind up working for Rev3, either.

This summer has been particularly trying: trying to train for Rev3 Maine and Cedar Point; changing jobs; moving to Virginia and leaving our friends and family in New England. In actuality, it is the culmination of my journey over the past few years. This is everything that I’ve been working for since that moment I decided to pursue triathlon in 2010.

In some ways, it’s bittersweet to be getting ready to race Cedar Point. I’ve been looking forward to that moment of that first fullRev distance event for a while; what happens if I don’t succeed the way that I think I should? But that’s where enjoying the process is important: I love the workouts, the processes of building fitness. I love my job. I love interacting with people and helping them achieve their dreams. In a way, that’s what I had gone to law school for; to help people. But I’ve found, at least through my interactions, that I have a better chance at helping people through athletics than I do trying to navigate our admittedly adversarial legal system.

I’ve come to recognize that I’m really lucky to have had the experiences that I’ve had. I have some of the best sponsors in the world. Blueseventy is phenomenal with wetsuits. I love my Helix, but having suits that also do so well for the novices and intermediates in the sport is fantastic. PowerBar is making fantastic nutritional products these days, including my personal favorite nutrition product on the market: their Energy Blends Blueberry-Banana fruit puree. Reynolds wheels have been fantastic. I’m absolutely in love with the 72 Aero wheel matched up with the Continental GP4000s. Pearl Izumi’s apparel is the best I’ve found, and the EM running line has really made a competitive shoe line. Biotta beet juice is delicious and can be performance-boosting. NormaTec and Compex have helped keep me injury-free through all of this moving with their compression and muscle stimulation products. Quintana Roo is making some innovative bikes that offer a great fit and value to athletes. SBR Sports has saved my rear-end, literally, with their TriSlide, and does an awesome job killing chlorine-scent with their TriSwim line-up.

And also, a huge shout-out to the folks with Revolution3 that got me to where I am today: Carole Sharpless and Charlie Patten. Carole is who heads up Team Rev3. I was lucky enough to have somehow stuck out of the pile in one way or another to her when I applied a few years ago. You can’t ask for much better for a team leader than her, and we on Team Rev3 are lucky to have her. Charlie is the guy who makes Rev3 happen. He, too, is here based on experience: through his racing, he saw a need for something better. Spectating events is harder than it is racing them. Giving something for the family to do, hosting races in places that aren’t just race towns but great vacation areas, is incredibly difficult but somehow he makes it all work. I can’t ever thank them enough.

Finally, my family and friends. I don’t get here without you. Your support has meant the world. Letting me squeeze workouts in, coming to spectate events, watching me push myself to my limits (and then beyond), or helping me push there. It means the world, and I can only hope that I give you thanks enough.

And Hannah, well, there’s never enough words. So, let’s go with I love you and thanks for being along for the ride…and go from there.

So here we go. Two and a half weeks of insanity. Time to enjoy the journey.