Transactions of the Heart

My random meandering - stream of consciousness thoughts, ideas, and feelings

Thursday, July 14, 2016

High Point to Cape May - 212 Mile Solo Double Century

Tip to Tip 

For a TBT, I figured why not write about last week's epic ride across my home state of New Jersey.  This ride actually started 2 years ago when I first attempted to ride with a group from Marty's reliable Cycle and the Central Jersey Bicycle Club - the same groups that organize the NJ Gran Fondo and Hillier Than Thou - the hardest and hilliest 100 miles in the state.  In 2008, I was the champion of Hillier than Thou.   2014 however was not to be my year.  I had built up my Custom Elite Carbon Razor funny bike the night before the race, and the Longest Day was to be the maiden voyage.  The bike felt pretty good and I was riding well but after several flat tyres I had to abandon the journey about halfway down and only had 126 miles.  

In training the longest I have ever ridden were 150 miles with the only other NJ base pro triathlete James Chesson.   This season, the only Century I had ridden was the Father's Day Century last month.  I was also able to get some good mileage (160 over 2 days) when I did the 2 day Fast Freddie Fondo with former us pro champ Freddie Rodriguez and Legendary Cycling Commentator and former team 7-11 Bob Roll

This year I was also coming off a mini training camp in Colorado where I was able to climb most of the major Hills in CO including Mount Evans the highest peak in the USA.  

So having a slightly improved cardio respiratory system was going to help.  However, I did not make it easy for myself.  The night before my ride, I had some out of town friends from Chicago come over for bike fits so between getting the bike ready, packing and driving to Port Jervis, I did not get any sleep.  

The plan was to start riding before sunrise, but again with a delayed start I started climbing high point after 6am.   

Just climbing steady, I was surprised that my effort still had a top 10 on strava

Now, it was all downhill to cape may....well not really.  The first miles of the ride were fun.  Of course a super fast decent down high point, followed by rolling hills through the north jersey countryside passing mostly farmland.  But as the sun was rising so was the temperature and I started to feel it taking my first break around the 40 mile mark.  I ate a bagel with cream cheese as my breakfast and was sipping my bottle of UCAN with Hydrate and drinking Gatorade and Powerade at from the convenience stores.

As I passed through Bedminster and Chester towards Bridgewater, I passed the site of my first flat tire from the 2014 ride.  I breathed a slight sigh of relief that there were no incidences so far.  I was also riding my trusty Shimano ultegra road tubeless tire on the rear.  In 2014 I rode a clincher.  As we made it down rt 206 down towards canal road the temps were getting close to 90s and took another break to lower my saddle and adjust my rear derailleur which is a slightly longer process with di2.  I also forgot to charge my battery but it was fully charged before ironman Arizona last year, so I was hoping it would last the day.   

On Canal Road I was lucky to cross Paths with Tom Dunn, one of the co-Owners of Hilltop Bikes, Tom is a strong rider who did a lot of the pulling during the Father's Day Century last month.  I was also nice to have company even if it was just for a few miles 

At the halfway point around mile 100 it was time to eat lunch.  I took a fairly long break.  I ate a Philly cheesesteak had some more Gatorade and took a liquid magnesium supplement - BIG MISTAKE.  After taking a hose shower and changing my kit, I started riding again, but something wasn't right.  I started to get really bad stomach cramps and then had to take another bathroom break.  I think I needed to get the liquid magnesium out of my system.  So after about 30 minutes in the John, I felt much better!  But now it was starting to rain.  The next 50 or so miles were a bit of a blur, but eventually I made it into the pine barrens the site the of the NJ state time trial.  A few years ago I averaged over 27mph for 25 miles on this strip but on this ride I wasn't even able to hold above 20mph as the headwinds picked up and the rainstorms started coming down with thunder and lighting.  

If you want resurrection, you MUST have crucifixion 

 There were points where I was getting cold because of the rain, but fortunately it would stop and then you could warm up again.  The tough part was the when it first started raining you could feel and see the steam coming up off the ground and slowly cook you.  

This stretch was definitely the hardest mentally.  You are riding more miles on the flat road which seemed like a false flat uphill because of the headwind.  There were times when I actually thought I would fall asleep on the bike!  I realized the reason why CJBC scheduled their ride on June 4th (even though the summer solstice happened later in the month) was because the wind changes direction also the weather is cooler in early June.  So I really didn't help myself by choosing this date.

After riding through almost 1 foot deep puddles, almost wiping out on grated bridges and a few close calls with cars, I finally saw the Golden Arches - McDonalds!  I had some French fries and pizza next door and guzzled down half of a monster energy drink.  So now I was back and the rain had stopped (more or less) and I hit the 200 mile mark! This is also the point where my feet started to hurt.  But remembering the pedal the PowerCranks way helped a lot to take the pressure off my forefoot.

Something you don't see every day

Now the finally homestretch to the lighthouse!   It was now getting dark and the bugs were coming out.  I never put on my clear glasses and these little critters were getting stuck in my eyes and my helmet vents.  There was a bike path for most of the trip to lighthouse and then finally a few more roads and turns and then finally the sight for sore eyes and body:

 Alas the Cape May Lighthouse!  

So at the end of the day ironically it was not my legs or my butt (I also forgot the pack chamois cream!) that hurt but it was more my upper back.  I think using the TT bike was good choice but I should have probably lifted myself another 2cm.    I should have packed and vest for the rain.  I should have gotten some sleep.  I should not have taken that liquid magnesium.  But all in all I was satisfied with my effort and glad I was finally able to check this off my bucket list after 2 years.  For a brief moment I did contemplate riding back since I would have tailwind most of the way but figured driving back would be the most prudent decision.  

It was pretty cool to be a the southernmost tip of NJ and last April at the southernmost top of the continental US in Key West, FL

Thanks for reading.  Until the next adventure.....



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Challenge Philippines Race Report

Last Saturday 2/22 was probably one of the hardest half ironman courses in the world.  With over 5,000 feet of vertical climbing on the bike alone, Challenge Philippines will soon become one of the epic races to mentioned with the likes of the legendary Wildflower Triathlon, St. Croix 70.3, the Savageman triathlon, and St. George 70.3

I came into the race, very undertrained coming back from a knee injury so I had no expectations except to finish in one piece.  Last week I was contemplating dropping out on the run segment as I wasn't able to run pain free for the past 3 weeks.  

With some help from Dr. Golberger, and Janice Morra back in NJ, Noriel Simsuangco in CA, and Nia from Peak Form here in the Philippines I was able to get my knee in working order and did a short test run on thursday.  I felt some twinges but I was able to run relatively pain free so I knew I would be able to finish the race.  

The Swim

The swim at Camayan Beach next to Ocean Adventure was a very nice beach and venue for a swim start and transition/finish line.  For those of you have never been to Subic, ocean adventure is our version of Sea World and a dolphin show was acually part of the pre-race activities.  It was a point to point swim a la St Anthony's so you just have to prepare extra time to walk from transition to the swim start.  The water quality was pretty clear with a slight current.   It was my first swim since swimming with the FAT boys at BayShore so I was happy with my result.  My new xterra velocity speedsuit also helped keep me hydrodynamic despite me losing my swim cap yet again.  I think I am 0/10 in terms of keeping my swim cap on.  I was also focusing on exhaling underwater and that seemed to keep my breathing in check but of course I still managed to have a couple gulps of saltwater.

The Bike

So much has been said and will be said about this bike course.  Basically it was up and down the entire time save for 1 section of about 5K of flat.   I opted to go with a road bike having test ridden this course last december.  BMC Philippines and the Brick Multisport store were kind enough to lend me a 14lb, 7kg climbing machine equipped with super light easton wheels and 11 speed Dura Ace Di2.  I just put on my Rotor 160mm cranks with 53x39 Q rings.  I believe I had an 11-25 in the back.  Aside from my 1 week in St Croix, about 90% of of my riding has been on the computrainer so I knew I couldn't expect too much.  The bike was great for the climbing as it was lighter than anything I've ridden in the past.  On the descents I realized that counter-steering was the best way to negotiate all the switchbacks especially with such a stiff and responsive frame.  

I have been experimenting with a new fueling strategy using Vitargo S2 as my primary fuel source supplemented with some gels.  I think my plan basically worked except for the fact that I could have used more electrolytes.  I normally race with a camel back but opted to just go with relying on the aid stations to keep my set up light.  I think salt pills probably would have been the best solution.  Having not ridden a bike in over a week probably didn't help me either, but I actually felt better as the ride went on, except for the very last climb back to subic where I ran out of gears and was passed by my friend Jong Salhuga who started behind me!  I also got to have a short chat with Olympian Laura Bennett from the USA and talked about the diffculty of the bike course and she event admitted it was the toughest one she had ever raced.  

The Run

Since I only had done recon on the bike course, I was completely surprised by the run course.  The run was very hilly also and hard to get a steady rhythm.  For the first time I used Cramp 911 roll on and it actually worked!  My quads and calves started feeling the fatigue of not having been used for 3 weeks.  But I basically was able to jog the entire run until 3K to go where the legs really started seizing up.  Again salt pill here might have helped.  Finally I got to the finish line and of course had to do my signature finish.


All in all it was great event and very well organized for a first year event.  I think there were a few incidences of road rash out there, but nothing major.   It was great to rub elbows with some of the best athletes in the world coming out for this event: my idol Chris Macca McCormack, World Time Trial Champion and Olympic Medalist Emma Pooley who stands perhaps just about 5 ft tall.  I also finally got to meet the top Fil Am Female Triathlete Christina Jackson easily chicked me on the run.  I was also "princed" by the prince of Behrain who caught me with about 6K to go on the run.  It was also inspiring to see my old training partner August Benedicto take the Elite South East Asian Male title and top 10 overall.  He is really setting the back for Philippine racing.  Also special thanks to Monching Romano and Jonah Rivera from team Santa Barley for setting me up with a car, Raymund Magdaluyo, David Voth and the ChallengePh Team for giving me the honour to be a Challenge ambassador.  

World Time Trial Champ Emma Pooley with super negative stem on 650c wheels

But easily the highlight of the weekend was seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers play the 7107 Music Festival here in Clark.  It's just so Ironic how they just played in the Super Bowl in Rutherford NJ just 5 miles away from my house but I have to fly halfway around the world to see them live!   So now just time for more therapy for my knee and a short prep for Ironman Melbourne.

7107 Music Festival

Arland vs Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Philippine Hour Record

It's been a long time since I've blogged so now I think would be a good time to re-start this after setting the Philippine Hour Record at the Velo Sports Center here in Carson last Sunday.

The Hour Record has been a long time goal for me.   4 years ago I first came to track here in LA, I had already been corresponding with my now good friend and proprietor of the Pinoy Fixie website Arden Arindaeng.  I first met Arden online before I came out to CA and told him of goal to set the Philippine hour record.  When I first came here in 2009 I was able to see this awesome facility and also a 100 mile world record attempt.  Unfortunately the athlete stopped after about 75 miles around the velodrome and I realized that riding circles can be much harder than riding outdoors.

Contemplating the Hour 2009

Brief History of the Hour

The History of riding a bicycle around a track/veldrome for 1 hour started way back in 1876 where Frank Dodds Cycled 26.5km on a penny farthing.  The complete history can be seen in wiki

  Then it was Ole Ritter and Eddy Merckx who brought it to the forefront in the modern cycling era cycling over 48 and 49km .  There was a great documentary made about them called the Impossible Hour.  You can actually watch the entire Documentary here! -

When I first heard of the hour, it was back in 1993/94 when I bought my first racing bike.   It was Graeme Obree who's "Obree Tuck" position really captured the imagination of the public because his innovative outside the box thinking about aerodynamics and biomechanics.   

Obree and Chris Boardman would then go back and forth re-setting the world record.  The UCI, the governing body of Cycling, also banned Obree's innovative position forcing him to invent the "superman" position which many cyclists copied in the 1996 Olympics. 


  Obree's now has an autobiography on Paperback and a movie made about him called The Flying Scotsman.  He also recently set the Human Powered Vehicle Land speed record and wrote a training manual called the Obree Way.   
My Previous Attempt
About 4 years ago, I researched if there was an existing hour record for the Philippines.  No one knew of one, so I decided I wanted to be the first person to set one.  The hardest and most technical aspect of the hour, other than the aero position, is the choice of gears.  Since the bike doesn't have brake or gear shifters, an athlete must choose 1 single gear for the entire duration of the ride.  I was training for long distance triathlon, and I had become accustomed to pushing heavy gears in outdoor time trials.  I even got the nickname 54x11.   I assumed those gears would be the same on the track.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I did a test run and barely cycled 22 miles, as I was way over geared trying to spin a 54x12 gear.  In a previous out door road Time Trial I was able to average 25 mph on a 53x12 fixed gear so I assumed I would be faster on the track.  This attempt was done alone on the outdoor Kissena Velodrome with no spectators except for Twinkle and a USAC referee on a very windy day.  After that day I knew I wanted to do it again, indoors with a lighter gear and hopefully with spectators. 
This Attempt
So instead of focusing on the hour attempt this year, I just kept training for Ironman Long Distance Triathlon and hoped that fitness would cross over into the track.  In this past month leading up to last Sunday's event.  For intensity I came to Kissena velodrome only 1 time for some pack races, did a couple of practice crits at Rahway River Park and for endurance I did one 150 mile ride and one 107 mile - the NJ Gran Fondo last sunday where I was able to ride with George Hincapie. 

I arrived into LA on Tuesday, my first ride at the track was Wednesday night with Arden and boy it was a tough night!  I was completely intimidated by the banking of the track.  I was barely able to ride 5 minutes straight without going above lactate threshold.  I was really worried about sunday.  Kevin Philips my mentor for this event and National Record Holder for 35-39 told me to try to just average 23+ second laps.  Thursday, I rode again with Louie who was one of paceline group, and I started getting the hang of the track.  We stayed mostly above the blue line which made the banking feel less drastic.  On Friday, we did a few standing starts and I put in a few efforts on the black line.  I was starting to feel ready. 

9/15/13 The Philippine Hour
Saturday turned out to be a complete rest day.  Sunday am I tried to get in a short swim before heading to the track but the pool was closed due to a power outage.  We arrived to track pretty early to set up, and I had my final meal at Shakey's pizza.  When I got back to the track, Tony Zaldua had already started working on my bike transforming my standard track bike to Greased Lighting!  by lubricating all my bearings and my chain.  When I hopped on the track with an all Fil Am Paceline it really felt so easy as if there was no chain on my bike!

Then It was Showtime.  I was able to convince my good friend and former Child Star JR Calanoc to MC the event.  I also made a playlist for the event with mostly modern pop songs for the crowd and some OPM Filipino music also ;)  I also made sure to put in Empire State of Mind and California Girls to cover both Coasts.  We had the great privilege of having fellow Pinay Track racer Christina Ricofort sing the Philippine National Anthem (the first time ever sang at the Velo Sports Center) and American Idol Finalist Clint Gamboa sing the American National Anthem.  I must admit I did get a little teary eyed listening to both of them. 

The "Artistas": Christina, JR, and Clint

The Arden Show

The opening act to my 1 hour attempt was Arden's attempt at a flying 250 - 1 lap around the track from a flying start as fast as possible.  Arden needed a 14.6 for the record, he was about a second off.  but a real big hats off to him.  It is so hard to be the host of the party and also put on a best effort also.  And I've never seen anyone have as much joy in helping someone else out as this guy - the best domestique anyone could ask for and true friend.

Bike Issues
So even before I flew out here to CA, I knew there were a bunch of UCI regulations about my bike.  from triathlon I had been accustomed to riding with more forward seat angles so I put on a straight seat post for this event but when UCI examined my bike they told me my seat angle had to be more level.  The ISM seat I use is meant to be ridden slightly angled down.  So in a quick minute tony lowered and leveled my seat. 

Tony working his magic on my bike

I was then in the starting block and ready to go!

The Ride
The first few minutes were pretty good, the adrenaline and cheers from the crowd got me off the great start.  The goal of the ride was to average 40kph 24.8 mph or 22.5 second laps.  I was occasionally hearding the splits from Kevin and Arden I was holding 22 low and sometime 21 high so I knew it was a good pace so I tried to keep calm and settle down. 
The hardest thing about the hour ride is staying as close to black line as possible with out going over into the blue.  They set up very light blocks to prevent this and it is a good thing I was a able to do a practice run with them in place.  I was still perhaps a bit conservative with my lines.  I would try to hit the banked turns a bit high and then "fall" back down to the black line

 The Philippine Flag Flying High
About halfway, I saw I was at 81 laps so I knew I was ahead of schedule.  By this time the legs started to feel the burn.  My training leading up to this had just been mostly long rides where I push I bigger gear and pedal about 70rpm going 20mph.  Now I was trying to hold 90+rpm and go 25mph - a completely different animal.  Because of training with powercranks, I was on 154mm cranks and using as much upforce I could and my 49t Rotor q ring allowed me to also get the most out of the downstroke push also.  I would try to "mash" a little more on the straights when I could.  by 45 minutes, holding focus was starting to get very difficult.  There were also periods where the music would stop and I would let my thoughts get the best of me.  But having my friends at every corner of the track really helped.  Even simple thoughts like "remember to breathe" helped. 

Arden giving me lap times

162 Laps

The last half of the ride, seemed twice as hard as the first.  the fatigue finally was starting to set in and the initial adrenaline rush started to wear off.  Coach Kevin Philips, Arden, Mo Banats, Greg Uy and the rest of the Fil Am Triathletes and Adobo Velos in the crowd got me through those final difficult laps as well as thinking about my friend Joash who I had dedicated this ride to.  Finally the bell rang to signify the last lap and and history was made: 162 laps, 40.5km, 25+miles in one hour - a new Philippine Record


Once again I cannot stress enough about how this event was such a collaborative effort and would have never taken place had it not been for Arden Arindaeng who coordinated the entire event from start to finish, Noriel Simsuangco and Brian Masayon who also coordinated the velodrome and program of events.  John Landino from DRV who donated my skinsuit.  Coach Kevin Philips who donated his coaching services, Daniel Achondo from Claremont Designs who helped sponsor the event, as well as Joe Matias from a Runner's Circle.  And Most of all to all my friends from filamtri and adobo velo.  You guys have become my west coast family.  This was definitely the best birthday party anyone could have asked for an for sure the highlight of 2013.  

I stole a lot of the photos from Arden's blog about the event which you can read here -

And so, I shall end with a quote from the Great Vince Lombardi

"“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

Thanks for reading everyone! Go fast and turn left!

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Ironman Philippines 70.3 Race Report

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.."  Kipling

One of my favourite quotes from the great Rudyard Kipling.  I was ready to put out a good performance for this year's event last Sunday here in Cebu.  I was having such a great lead up to the event.  Aside from getting food poisoning and a flat tire a week beforehand , everything seemed to be going my way.   The Saturday before the race, Junki Flores and Joseph Miller and I rode the 40Km that is the legendary Transcentral Highway the hilliest section of climbs arguably in all of the Philippines.   On the way to the ride I noticed my front wheel got flat.  Joseph, being the expert mechanic he is was able to fix the flat with a patch and it seemed my tire was like new!  Junki suggested that I change it before the race, but it held pressure the entire week and I assumed it would be good for race day.  

hangin out with Papa Pi (Piolo Pascual) before the race

On race morning as I was getting the tires up to pressure.  August Benedicto, who went on the win the Philippine elite category helped my fill my tires, but he bent the valve of my rear wheel!  I was angry at him but ironically it was my front wheel that punctured again 5km into the bike ride.

The Swim went well other than having a somewhat disorganized start as we didn't have an EXACT starting line.  I had a good start but missed the pack I wanted to swim with after having a bit of a crazy start swimming with a big wave off almost 400 people+ rather than the elite wave we've had the previous years.  I would up swimming most of the race with Michelle Wu a female pro from Australia and my longtime rival here and friend George Vilog.   Other than cutting my hip and putting a hole in my BRAND NEW Tyr Torque Pro Speedsuit, it was an ok swim.

brand new TYR Torque Speedsuit and Orion Goggles

Then onto the bike I was having my usual struggles settling into my rhythm after a long run out to the bikes from the beach.   And then just as I started finding my legs I head a loud pop and felt my front tire go soft.   I tried to remain calm, but I knew I didn't pack a spare so I just tried to yell at my fellow racers to see if anyone could help out with a tube and CO2.  Several racers passed by but most were either too into their own races or had tubulars and couldn't help.  Finally Javy Olives stopped and gave me a can of Pit Stop sealant - that seemed to work and then Alvin Abarquez gave me a cartridge of co2 to get the pressure up.  I was finally back up and running but I had lost 10 minutes already by this point.  The tire seemed to be holding up ok and then when I caught up to Alvin again on the bridge he gave my a spare tube so for now I was ok.

Then after riding through some rough sections and then through the tunnel on the SRP I felt the tire go soft again.   And then I had to repeat the process again of asking riders for help.  Anton Tangan stopped to give me some CO2 but I couldn't figure out how to use it, then Arnold Ansaldo stopped to give me his co2 and cut his hand in the process.  I had a spare tube but i realized it was not a long stem valve so I was still screwed!  Finally fellow FilAmTri team mate Noah Nodalo stopped and gave me a long stem tube that worked with my 85mm IRT wheels also the neutral support mechanic arrived with a floor pump and got me up and running.   But at this point it was a bit too late as I had lost another 10 minutes+ (total time lost was 24 minutes!)

I was able to get back to riding but the race course was set up as multiple loops going back and forth on the same road so it made passing very difficult as several riders were riding in packs stretched across the road, 2-3 riders abreast at some points and with traffic coming head on on the opposite side.  The good thing was that our bibs had our names on them so I was able to yell the riders by their girst names at least ;)   The out and back section was pretty much headwind going down where I was only able to maintain about 20mph or less.  My quarq power meter was working possibly from all the rides in the rain in manila so it was hard to gauge my efforts.  But on the way back we had tailwind and that was really fun to hold close to a 50kph average, aside from trying to pass the packs, it was fun.   

Then onto the run it was the same thing.  I had already resolved that I was just going to become a long training session so I tried to be as positive as I could be.  I was nice to run behind the Champ Pete Jacobs for a bit as he was 1 lap ahead of me.  I was running and slapping hands with my fellow competitors and seeing so many Fil Am Tri uniforms out there I realized that this was victory in itself.  I'm so proud of our group that started 6 years ago and it's great to see how big we have grown today.  

FAT crew at swim start

I think we had about 15 racers on the weekend from all different parts of the world and in the end it was my teammates who helped my get back up and running much like the domestiques would in a cycling race.

it was HOT on that run!

August  Benedicto my former training partner who finished 2nd to me in both Camsur and the Timex 226 iron distance event in Bohol last year won the Philippine Elite Category just 3 days after his birthday.   A great bday gift indeed!  If I had not punctured, it would have been a close race for sure but August truly deserved this victory having improved his swim and having a solid bike and a very good run in the hot conditions.

My consolation prize was getting 2nd place in the Century Tuna Superbods competition (only second place right?? haha ;)  but the prize $ for that was actually equivalent to if I had placed 3rd in the Philippine Elite category.

So many lessons learned.  Always replace a patched tire.  Always carry a spare.   I am disappointed as I really wanted to defend my title this year, but I have keep things in perspective.  It is just a race, and having learned that a fellow athlete died on the race course 
things could been a lot worse.  So now time for a bit of mental break and then build up for some full Iron Distance racing in the not too distant future.

Thanks for reading - more pictures to follow :)



Friday, December 9, 2011

TIMEX 226 Iron Distance Race Report

Last Saturday’s event (December 3rd) at Anda Beach Bohol was the first time in my career to attempt to race 2 iron distance races in 2 weeks.  Having raced Ironman Arizona on Nov 20 less than 2 weeks before, I did not know what the condition of body would be esp having to travel thru several time zones and with the weather of Bohol being much warmer than NJ and Arizona.  Nevertheless I toed the starting sands with 63 other brave souls (most of them 1st time iron virgins) of Anda Beach Saturday am.

Beautiful Anda Beach

The Starting gun was fired by Raul Cuevas, the race director and my very first friend in the Philippines from 1999.  He was assisted in knee deep water by Avi from Timex and Congressman Art Yap the 2 principle sponsors of the race. 

  I had a pretty good swim start as I was the first to reach the first turn bouy but was quickly caught and passed by Guy Conception the head swim coach of LaSalle and I believe a former Olympic swimmer/SEA games medalist and a nice guy!  No pun intended.   So after Guy left me in his wake I swam with Neil Catiil the 2010 Cobra Ironman Philippines champ.  I would take the lead, and then let Neil go ahead.  Just as in cycling, I didn’t want to be the only one pulling for 2.4miles (3.8km) – so after stopping several times to adjust my cap which kept sliding off Neil and I finished the swim in about 1:04 – 4 min behind Guy.   Neil beat me to the transition as he had been in Anda since Monday before the event and knew the beach like the back of his hand.  For me there were a lot of coral and a few sea urchins I wanted to avoid stepping on as I had cut my foot pretty bad on a few other occasions exiting a swim.

I think this is me underwater (photo credit Jijo DeGuzman)

            I did a full costume change in t1 as I was treating the event as a long training day so I got out of my wet speedo and got into my dry trisuit – this proved to be harder than I thought and I had to exit the changing tent and request the assistance of one of the volunteers to help me get my top on.  Then I took a shot of Athlete Octane, got on my helmet and brand new Nathan Proton Hydration pack and I was off in pursuit of Neil.  This was also my 2nd race with 145mm Cranks the first time at IMAZ.  

 By the first turn around, I had already overtaken Guy and Neil’s Gap was about 4-5 min and growing.  The Bike course was 3 loops connected to the beach by an out and back.  The course had a lot of really rough sections where it was basically the equivalent of riding on a sidewalk in the US.  The majority of the course went along the Bohol 3rd district coastline and there were a few really scenic places where you riding right next to the water but it was also really hot!!  In fact my skin just started peeling today from the sunburn I got last Saturday.   Then biking back after the 2nd turnaround something totally unexpected happened – I hit a bump fairly hard and the clamp of my aerobar cracked!  So basically my left aerobar was dangling and I only had my right to hold on to.  This was about 30 miles less than 1/3rd into the bike course.  For a split second I thought about dropping out.  But then I thought about the injured Marines I coach back in the US in the Wounded Warrior Program.   Especially one of my athletes Manny who had his left arm amputated but still races triathlon – I knew now I had to finish this race no matter what!  But how was I supposed to ride another 80mi + on broken equipment?  I tried to ride with just the right aerobar putting my left arm behind my back a la speedskating – but that only lasted for about 20 sec.  Then I tried holding myself up with the left as I would ride aero on the right – also not a good way to go. 

 The only thing that felt ok was holding the hoods and climbing, so I started attacking the hills and then just tucking on the downhills.  So coming back to the first turnaround I had actually made up time on Neil! With only 1 aerobar!  I had yelled to the spectators at the T junction that I needed mechanical assistance but still did not get any help until right before the turn 2 at the end of the 2nd lap where we electric taped the left bar so it was a little more stable.  But still, as a precaution I would hold the sides and get out of aero at the sign of any rough road.  By the first turn around the start of the 3rd lap I had really closed the gap to Neil and after the turn, I saw Neil on the side of the road perhaps relieving himself – I had relieved myself on the bike the lap before.  I was now in the lead of the race.  I am pretty sure I was keeping my effort fairly constant, as I had my HR between 145-155bpm for most the race except for the hills, so I think Neil was fading, at the same time Augusto Benedicto – my old training partner was gaining time on me also with all my stops and mechanical issues he had ridden 8min min into what was close to a 23 min lead out of the water and my gift of a 4:37 T1 compared to his 0:59.    So my lead to him was essentially halved!

check out broken aerobar

            As I arrived 1st into T2 – I knew I had some GI issues and rushed to the bathroom right after racking my bike and putting on my run gear although I did use the changing tent again and for the 2nd ironman I just tied laces instead of using speed laces – I was going for comfort in this race, not speed.  The only problem was that the bartender was in the john at the exact moment I needed it!  So I had to wait a few minutes for him to finish!!!  This was really frustrating!  So after a bit of time I was finally off and running; but in that time, Neil had already come in from the bike and was leading the run.   I caught Neil before the run turn around – we were doing 4 x a circuit of 10.5km.  He was definitely hurting but so was I!  The Sun was still in full force and I was getting dizzy, definitely not the feeling of my first run lap in Arizona when I was running most of it under 7min/mi.   I knew It could have been bonking also as I did not take in as many calories the last lap of the bike as I was getting GI distress.  Nevertheless, I took an energy and I instantly felt better.  I got into my stride although not the 90spm rate I had wanted but it was better than walking and I took breaks only at the aid stations where I kept dousing myself with water and taking in sports drink.  I tried to keep on the schedule of having 1 gel every 30 min but by the last lap I was getting sick of gel and was just going for the coke a la Chris McCormack in his autobiography.   I had already received news that Neil had dropped out but I saw august at every turn around and he was not fading!  I kept telling myself that just wait, it’s his first ironman his first marathon he’ll blow – we all blow our first time!  August never did!! He actually put an additional 3 min into me, but it was still my lead from the swim that kept me in front.  Many of the spectators and fellow racers tried to high five me along the way and I also heard “smile” several times – but I was pretty focused the entire day and really only started smiling on the last lap where I was able to sparingly give out high 5s.  Finally I let myself enjoy the last 1.5Km and was giving high 5s generously especially at the finish line where I did my patented handstand finish the clock read 10:18 to the elation of one of the participants wives who had guessed my time and received a free timex watch.  It was a tough good steady effort and I was very pleased to get my first ever ironman win (my closest prior was coming in 3rd place in the Chesepeakeman in 2009) and to do it on Philippine soil made it even more special! 

celebration at the finish line

Swim 3.8km-   1:06:19
Transition 1- 4:37
Bike 180km- 5:20:05
Transition 2- :38
Run 42km- 3:47:17 (including toilet break)
Total Finish Time: 10:18:57

9 minutes later I greeted an emotional August who crossed in second in his ironman debut but who later like Neil had passed out and had to be taken to medical!   But later on both were released and in stable condition and were good enough to party with us the next day.  All in all it was a great event and great because it was a small intimate affair such a big juxtaposition to ironman AZ where there were 2500 finishers!  I reminded the 63 racers that this is how the first ironman races were – very few participants – like the Marines – the few, the proud luckily I was able to be the first of them across the line and cap off one of my best long distance racing seasons ever especially on Philippine soil I had been able to replicate what my idol and fellow Newton Running Endorser Craig Alexander had done this year win both the 70.3 and Ironman.   I realized just a few weeks ago that 2011 is the year of the rabbit my birth year in the Chinese Zodiac no wonder it has been such a great year!  Thanks to all my sponsors who helped make this year happen:  Toby and Tin from RUNNR, Newton Running esp Danny Abshire who changed my stride just last month,  Dave and Max from Elite Bicycles, Miguel Garcia from 1st Endurance, Kervin from Rotor, Computrainer and Erg Video for all my indoor bike sessions, Bill Andy and Rob and Heidi from Athlete Octane and of course my Fil Am Tri Family.   And alas I can finally start the off season!  Happy Holidays everyone thanks for reading!  

Monday, March 28, 2011

25th Anniversary March Madness Biathlon Centrak Park NYC

March Madness Biathlon 2011

Since I ended my Blog last year with a race report, I should start this season with a race report. Yesterday was the Multi-Sport Season Opener for us on the the East Coast. Although I raced the Desert Triathlon out in Palm Springs earlier this month, it still felt like the first race of the year. This was also my first time acting as the Director Sportif my newly formed multisport team: TEAM Tao Tri - Avalon Chemists. Tao Tri is the name of my coaching business and Avalon Chemists is our title sponsor this year - a Pharmacy on the LES (lower east side) of Manhattan owned and operated my friend and tao triathlete Calvin Moy.

One of the duties of being a team manager esp in the early stages is getting uniforms and distributing them. I have been inundated with several uniform requests for my other club team - Fil Am Tri over the past month and now had to deal with similar issues with TaoTri/Avalon Rx - in a last minute effort to get uniforms for this race we used a combination of our trisuits from Epic Sports based in Manila Philippines, Verge Sport based in Poland via New York and Under Armour based our of Baltimore Maryland where my marathon PR was set last October. UA makes pretty nice form fitting shirts which are nice for multisport because you can swim, bike and run in them. It's pretty much like a rash guard for surfing, a skinsuit without the shorts for cycling and form fitting for running with sleeves so you don't chafe when you swing your arms - I think myself and other triathletes have this problem form the bigger lats we develop from swimming.

UA Women's short sleeve T

Ok so enough about uniforms and back to race. So prior to the race I did my normal pre race routine of taking friday off/easy and then some light activity saturday. I also started my regimen of supplementing Optygen HP back into my diet as well as ground Chia Seeds A La Born to Run. I had my normal pre race breaky of 1 slice of toast with butter and I munched on an energy bar en-route to NYC about a 30 minute drive. I put fruit punch EFS in bottle and for the 2nd time I'm experimenting with keep the bottle between my aero bars. I've been told it actually makes me more aero since it seals the gap between my forearms and it removes the drag on the frame and it's an easier reach. The only issue now is where to put the bike computer!!

into t2 - notice bottle placement between bars

Ok so now back to the race. After getting into NY, I met my team in transition. This was the difficult part as everyone arrived at different times and I needed to hand out uniforms to everyone. So note to self is to get this all out of the way before race day! So my initial plan was to ride 1 lap of the 10K bike course. Normally, I ride my bike trainer beside the car, then jog, then swim(if triathlon) but because of logistics of central park, it makes bringing the trainer into transition difficult. I also forgot to mention that it was a balmy 27 degrees Fahrenheit (for friends who are use to centigrade negative 2.7 - that's cold!!) So warming up was very hard!! I had maybe 5 minutes to do anything after all was set with my athletes. So I new the race start would be tough.

Run 1
When the gun went off it was a mad rush to the turn around. I tried to keep up with the lead group and the pace felt fine - but what held me back was this phenomenon that has been bothering ever since 2005 where my left leg completely locks up when running hard and fast without adequate warm up. So I actually had to stop, squat and stretch it out about 3x before being able to run again. There were periods where I had to walk also since the leg could not relax. If anyone knows what this could be PLEASE contact me or if someone out there has any solution for it!! So finally I was able to jog again back to T1. I lost over a minute to the lead group by this point.

welcome to the jungle... of bikes known as transition

The central park boathouse is fairly small. I think we had over 500 bikes in the small lot beside it. So we were pretty much jammed packed. What's nice about these small races is that you will see a $10,000 specialized shiv with Di2 right next to a $100 toys R us mountain bike. I actually think there was one guy who raced on a fixie!! Dan Honig the race director of NYTC actually has a seperate Fat-tire division for those who race on mountain bikes. Lamar Brown, a blind athlete from the Achilles track club actually placed 3rd overall in that division being guided by my friend Dave Sempier. I first met Lamar when I guided him 2 years ago in a duathlon in the pouring rain where he placed in his age group! - I'm glad my shoes have been filled with an even better pilot.

Lamar and Dave into T2

ok ad rem in Latin that means back to the point. So in that super crowed transition area you lose some valuable seconds getting your bike in and out and then add cold numb feet and navigating through rocks, you have a very interesting transition.

The Bike

During the week I have been riding the central park course several times on the Computrainer. The only problem on race day is that now add in the obstacles of slower bikes, joggers, roller bladers, baby strollers, and dogs into the equation while you are pedalling over 25 mph and it makes for a pretty dangerous slalom. Thankfully I exited T2 with one of my training partners Christoffel Prinsloo who is a good runner but an excellent cyclist. He was choosing pretty good lines around the traffic so I was able to follow his lead for about a lap. 12 miles isn't a whole lot of time to get a rhythm going but at least my legs were warmed up now for the 2nd run.

Run 2

The 2nd run of a duathlon is the hardest, in triathlon it's an arms, legs, legs event. But duathlon is legs, legs, legs so by the time you start that last run the legs feel quite heavy even if the distances are short. Thankfully, now I was warm, I was able to run the entire leg and not surprisingly I was able to outsplit my first run. The runner was over a minute ahead but I had 2nd and 3rd in sight. I tried closing the gap but just didn't have enough turnover to get them so I settled for 4th overall which is the worst spot - just ask Steve Prefontaine. Also in the last race - the Desert Tri, I missed getting hardware by 2 seconds so I didn't do my patented handstand finish.

run to finish - no time for handstand today

Team Tao Tri - Avalon Chemists

The newly formed team Tao Tri - Avalon Chemists - came about when one of my former athletes athletes Calvin Moy approached me about team sponsorship near the end of last season. With the sponsorship we have been able to make uniforms, and recruit more athletes, and hopefully develop a sports system in which we can grow the sport and athletes can flourish.

Calvin Moy of Avalon Chemists

Now I must say I am really proud of how the team performed. We haven't really had all that much time to train together as a team but Lynn Frampton won the womens division with Dana Miscia taking 3rd. Lamar too 3rd overall in the Fat Tire Division with the help of Dave. Will Reagan was 2nd in the 25-29 division and Marco Cammayo like me was 4th in the 30-34 division missing out by just 15 seconds!

Lynn takes the win!

Congrats from the coach

Even though the rest of the team didn't get on the podium, there were still a lot of strong performances and I do like how we established a presence in the park. I'm trying to grow the squad concept here in the US. It is a system that has flourished in Australia and the commonwealth countries for decades that has produces hundreds of world championship and olympic caliber athletes. But for some reason it hasn't taken off in the US - perhaps cause the US is a country where the importance of the individual is so often praised. But that being said I shall end this entry with a quote from Kipling:

"NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."

Team Tao Tri - Avalon Rx 2011

for more race pictures please visit Mike Alavarez's website:

thanks for reading everyone - til next time.....