Urban Epic Race Report

On July 26, 2008 I raced the Urban Epic in Portland Maine. This is the second year of the race which is put on by Tri-Maine. Also as a bonus Becky Lavelle is racing. They also offered $100 primes for the swim, bike, and run. I was initially hoping to get all 3 but when I saw that Derek Treadwell was racing I knew that I was not getting the run.

The race starts on Mackworth Island and we swim an S-shaped course to East End beach. We are supposed to go through 4 sets of buoys. Easy enough right? Not exactly! The elite wave was going first so, about a dozen of us started the swim. I knew that we would not have the current with us to the first buoy then we would have the current of the water flowing out of the Bay to take us to the beach. I got a great start and was on the feet of Becky and another fast pro woman from Canada. Things were going great. The first buoy was maybe 600-800 yards away. After we were about 200 yards away I started to loss there feet slowly. No big deal, I just told myself keep swimming hard to the buoy. I kept looking up and I was not getting any closer to the buoy and the two leaders were slowly pulling away. Keep swimming harder! After what seemed like an eternity, which it was I got close to the buoy. The problem was that I was a bit below the the buoy. I had to make a hard push to curve my body around the buoy. The problem is when I did my body got caught half way on either side of the rope holding the buoy. The current was so strong that I could get my legs around the buoy. After a bit of a struggle I get my legs around. I look up and the two leaders who were 25 yds up were 100+ yds up. I had lost major ground on them. I let the current pull me to the next buoy. As I was approaching the next set of buoys I had to make sharp right to try and make it through the buoys because the current was taking me way left of the buoys. As I was approaching the beach a group of swimmers appeared around me. By this time I was exhausted and just wanted to get out of the water. I came out of the water just behind 3 good swimmers from Maine, my swim coach Larissa Boddie, Catherine Sterling and Angela Bancroft. In the mini T1 and T1 I moved into 3rd place. A ways down from Becky and the Tenille(the fast Canadian).

The bike was a real struggle. I had no power at all in my legs. I averaged 278 watts on the bike with a NP of 285. I also had many close calls with cars. After going through the first couple intersections with minimal traffic control I decided to slow down going through every intersection just so I was safe. I ended up catching Tenille at the half way point. With about 2 miles to go I was about 20 seconds behind Becky. Then I see she hoped off her bike. I wasn’t sure what happened but later found out she got a flat. My coach Kurt Perham gave her his rear wheel so that she could continue.

Leaving for the run

The run started and I knew that I had about a 6 minute lead on Derek Treadwell. I really wasn’t sure if it would be enough. This was by far the worst I felt in any tri. I managed to get across the line first and even carried Jack across the line. Here is the picture that was on the front page of the Portland Press Sunday Paper.

Jack breaking the tape!

I ended up having the fastest bike, but only by the skin of my teeth. Below are the results. There are two divisions because after the race director saw that only 3 people in the elite wave(Becky, Tenille and myself) were going to make the 1st buoy he sent all the other waves straight to the beach.


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Scarborough Sprint Triathlon

I raced a local sprint the past weekend, the Scarborough Sprint triathlon. This was the first year of the race and the race takes place near where I lived last year. The course went over the same roads I used to ride and run everyday so I was excited to race on familiar roads. The day before I was able to get out for my longest ride of the year, 4 hours. It was great ride from our house in Westbrook up to Sebasco Harbor. It was probably the best I had felt on the bike in a long time.

Start of Scarbough Triathlon

Race morning. The race has two transition areas which makes it a bit more stressful in the morning making sure that you put everything where it needs to be. I went for a brief run with my coach, Kurt, before the race and felt terrible! My legs were really heavy and I felt like I was working really hard just to jog. I try and not let that bother me too much and just hope that by the time I have to really run, my legs feel better. After the warm-up we went to the beach. The waves were huge! There were 5 foot waves pounding the beach. After getting in the water for a brief swim I was a bit nervous about the swim. Luckily it was only 1/3 mile. I was in the first wave, with a bunch of fast guys in the wave behind me. I knew that I would have to push to make sure I stayed ahead of them. They lined our group up and we were off. Luckily when we started there seemed to be a break in the waves. I was at the first bouy before I knew it. I was about 10th or so at the 1st bouy. Swimming to the 2nd bouy(and last bouy), I moved into 3rd. On the way back to the shore I moved into 1st. I ran across the beach and was the leader heading into T1. After a slow transition, I headed out on the bike in 2nd place. I had about a dozen rocks in my shoes from T1. I thought about stopping and taking it out but figured it was only 15m. The rocks shifted and didn’t really bother me after a few minutes. About 1-2 miles into the bike I pulled into first. My goal was to really push the swim and bike. I had pushed the swim and was really pushing the bike. I felt really good on the bike and averaged 26.8 mph, and 320 watts on the bike. I came into T2 not know exactly how far up I was on the people in my wave or the other waves. Just to make sure I kept the run pace fairly quick. I came into the finish with a time of 59:48. The next finisher came in at 1:05:55. Overall I was very happy the way I raced. I had the 2nd fastest swim, fastest bike and fastest run. I also felt really strong in all 3 sports. Now it is off to Racine to race the Spirit of Racine!

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Spirit of Morgantown

If someone had told me the night before the race that I would come in 2nd I would have considered that a great result. The way the race played out I felt this was the most disappointing races in my tri career. Because of top guys getting lost and falling I found myself in 3rd place with over 20 miles left on the bike. I was just 3-4 minutes down on the leader. I rode the two loop course very even. Even though there was a lot of climbing my VI was just 1.02. I averaged 277 and 279 watts for each of the two loops. I started the run 2:30 behind Daniel Bretscher and right with Chris Bagg. I never really felt that good on the run from the beginning but I was closing slowly. It was down to 2:00 after 2.5 miles and was down to 45 sec with 5 miles to go but I was unable to close anymore. I really had nothing in my legs. I guess that is what happens when you only run a handful of times in 10 weeks. I do take my hat of for Daniel he is strong runner and kept pushing not to let me close the gap. My achilles was very swollen and sore after the race so it looks like it is time to go to the Doc.

Overall the Spirit of Morgantown is a great race and I would highly recommend this to anyone. It is well run and is a great course. It is challenging yet not too hard. The only negative about the race is the swim is not in a very clean body of water. Other than that I can not say enough good things about this race. It is really ashame that everyone flocks to 70.3 races but independent races seem to have a tough time attracting racers. I have done a bunch of 70.3 races and this is just as good as the best 70.3 races! It is also much cheaper!

I was scheduled to be home at midnight on Sunday, but after many delays and circling around the Portland airport for 45 minutes we were diverted to Albany New York where we were put up in hotels for the night. After waiting in the airport all morning I did not make it home until Monday afternoon. It made for a very long weekend.

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Training vs Racing with Power

I am a huge believer in training and racing with power. I started training with power 3-4 years ago and started racing with it last year. Every year I seem to learn more about power and using it to its fullest. The other day I was doing a 1 hour 1/2 Ironman race pace workout. The goal was to maintain the watts that I wanted to hold for 56 miles or about 2:00-2:15. I finished the workout and avg 290 watts. I did a similar workout last year before Eagleman and avg 275 watts. The thing that concerned me was that I only avg about 24 mph. Last year at Eagleman I avg 277 watts and avg 25.6 mph. Could my bike and position be that much slower than last year? I then realized that when training maintaining a high power # is the goal regardless of speed. Although when racing the goal is to maximize speed while producing the least amount of power. When training vs racing with a PT is very different.

A few days after I came to this realization I was looking around the web and came across Joel Friel’s blog where he was talking about this very subject. I thought he summed it up perfectly, here is a portion of what he said,

“In key workouts one of our purposes is to stress the body with high power loads and high heart rates. Speed is not critical. Stress is. A race is just the opposite. The whole purpose here is speed. And if he can produce high speed with low power and low heart rate all the better. The idea is to keep stress as low as possible while riding as fast as possible. Doing so means he will have more in the tank for the run.”

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Trying to get some fitness back

I am still trying to recover from my last race.  I ran Monday night for the first time since the race and didn’t know if I would be able to run 5 miles at 7:30 pace.  I was dying, both Achilles were sore, my calf was cramping, my quads felt bruised and my hamstrings were tight.  I finished the run and had to sit down in my driveway and wait for the pain to subside before I went inside.   I ran today and felt a bit better so that is a plus.  I am really not in good running shape!

My latest way to get some training in is biking to work.  It saves gas $ and I get a workout, win/win.   The only problem is my commute is only 8 miles one way and it is on a very busy road with lots of lights.  I rode the other day an my AP was 210 and my NP was 270.  Hammer, stop, Hammer stop.   I am going to try and bike 3+ days a week.  This is probably going to be the only biking I do during the week.  I will do one “long” ride on the weekend for 2 hours or so.   On a positive biking note I did my 1st bike interval workout in nearly 3 months.  It actually wasn’t too bad 5x7min at 320-330 watts with 3minutes rest.   I avg 267 NP.

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Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

This was the 3rd year that I have raced Eagleman 70.3.  It is a great race and I would highly recommend it to anyone.    It is flat and fast.  This was my first race of the year so I was a bit unsure of how I would do  especially since I have not trained much since my 2nd son was born in the beginning of April.  I had also had a problem with my calf cramping so I have only run a few times during this time.   The plan was to fly down on Sat morning and fly back Sunday afternoon.  I would need to race fast just to make my flight.  My flight was leaving from BWI at 2:45 on Sunday and the race was 80 miles away.

My father and I arrived on Sat to blistering hot weather.  We saw a temperature sign that read 98 at 4:30pm.  It was hot!  The pre-race stuff was pretty uneventful.  The pro meeting was at 4:00pm so we hung around till then and headed to our hotel to check in.  We grabbed a quick bit to eat at Olive Garden and I was in bed by 8:45.  Which is really early for me.

Race day morning:  The alarm went off at 4:15am and I was ready to go.  Normally the night before a race I don’t sleep that well.  This night was one of the best nights sleep ever.  We packed up my stuff and headed to the race.  When we arrived we were told that pro’s would not be allowed to wear wetsuits.  It actually didn’t surprise me at all.  I don’t know why but I thought that would happen.  During my warm-up jog I felt my calf starting to cramp up again.  I tried not to worry about it and hoped that 56m of racing would “loosen” it up.

The race started at 6:45am and immediately I lost the group.  That was my main goal of the day.  To stay with the lead group.  I spent the whole swim swimming alone.  I could see a group of women swimming a bit behind me and to the side.    I got out of the water a saw 30:47.  Out of the 3 disciplines swimming is the only thing I have been really doing the past 8 weeks.  So I was very disappointed.  Nothing I could do about it now, just get my bike and try to catch some people.

I race with a PT and was hoping to race around 290 watts.  With the heat I decided to back that down a few watts.  After about 15 minutes on the bike I realized that 280 was probably more realistic because of my lack of training.  I had adjusted my aerobars a bit the day before, this made my hands to far forward so I kept sliding down the seat.  So every 30 sec or so I had to slide back up to the top of the seat.  Which was super annoying.  The bike rolled on and I felt good easily pedaling along.  I picked it up a bit near the end to finish in 2:11:21 about 30 seconds slower than last year.  Not bad although not at all where I wanted to be.   I averaged 277 watts and 279 NP.  And my VI was 1.00, very impressive huh?  I had moved into 11 starting the run and new that there would be a few drop outs so if I had a good run I could  move into the money (7th).

The first step of the run my calf started to cramp up.  I thought about just dropping out since I wasn’t sure I would be able to run 13 miles.  The only way I could get it not to cramp was to land on my heal and push off with my heal with my heal.  So there was no calf contraction of my left calf.  I knew this wouldn’t be fast but hopefully it would get me to the finish.  My 1st mile was 5:33 which was very surprising.  My next 5 miles were all between 5:40-45.  I had pasted a few people and had moved up into 8th.  I felt good, except for my calf.  Things started to get a bit tougher between 7 and 8.  This is where I passed 3 more people who were really struggling in the heat.  And by the time I got to 9 I was really struggling.  The last 4 miles I was running 6:15-30.  I knew at mile 9 that I was not going to catch anyone in front of me and most likely nobody was going to catch me.  I finished in 04:04:49 good enough for 5th.  Not bad all things considered.

I hung around for a few minutes then jumped in the river to try and get my body temp below 100.  Within 30min of finishing I was disassembling my bike and heading to the airport.  Luckily there was no traffic and we made it to the airport with plenty of time.  We were dropping off the rental car at 1:00pm after finishing at 11:00am.  The flight was on time and I was at home in Maine at 4:15pm with my wife and two sons, Jack and Hunter.  It was great that I was able to race and still spend an afternoon with my kids.

Overall not a bad day.  I raced last year and thought I raced the perfect race.  This year I had a similiar result but felt I could improve in all three disciplines. Hopefully I will be able to find some more time to train so that I can start racing with the top guys.

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