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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Clearwater 70.3 World Championships

World Championship 70.3

So this was another attempt of mine in back to back weekend racing big races. Having the fatigue of IMFL in my legs, I knew that the Clearwater 70.3 was going to be a challenge. But the first challenge was the 7 hour drive from Panama City beach to Dunedin the home of my most gracious homestay Marita and Brian Mowry. I took this drive on Tuesday and it was tough! I took about 4 stops along the way, and made it through listening to pandora though my iphone. Now I have a whole new respect for truck drivers!

In between races the key was recovery so sunday, and monday I was able to get in some easy rides tuesday was completely off. Wednesday I was able to swim and pick up my race packet as well as get a deep tissue massage and some kinesio taping for my left foot which I re-injured during the ironman marathon. Basically it is a neuritis - the precursor to a neuroma that I first injured last season during the marathon of the ChesepeakeMan iron distance tri. Thursday am I did my first run post IMFL and it felt fine - not great but it was good to run again!

But the highlight of thursday was being a guest Speaker at the school of Jakob and Annabella the twins of my homestay. I had an audience of 66 Fourth Graders and spoke about triathlon. I think most of them enjoyed it and hopefully I was able to inspire a few of them to get into the sport!

generating some interest...hopefully!

Future Time Trial Champion?

surrounded by 66 smiles!

some video from the talk

Friday was the normal pre race bike and run and ending with a swim. The tough part about these big races is that you have to leave all your stuff in transition the day before. my latest thing this year has been using the camelback on the bike as I found that I tend to drink more and that camelback keeps the fluid cooler and I can drink exactly what I want so I can control the calories and electrolyte concentration. For both IMFL and Clearwater I used an EFS grape and Carbo Pro concoction. EFS has the highest electrolyte concentration of any sports drink out there. I actually didn't have to stop at any aid stations and I just took in one gel packet during the ride. Anyway I point to all this was that I didn't want to leave my camel back in my transition 1 bag overnight so i just left it on my bike race morning. The other thing I have been doing is using red bull on the run. For IMFL I carried it using a 2 bottle fuel belt - but I am thinking I may just run with one small bottle in my pocket since i have been chafing with the fuel belt.

Ok so race day all systems are go I am feeling pretty good. The water was back in the ocean this year after being switched to the bay in 2009. But as expected I was dropped by the lead pack of swimmers much like I was in 2009. Last year one of the male pros James Vavra was the last male who exited behind me and we were able to ride together but this year. This year was different in that the males started ahead of the females. I was passed easily by the lead group of women but then found myself working with one of the italian female pros who I was able to swim with til the exit. I got out onto the bike and then was caught by 2 canadian female pros. But then something weird happened where one of the motorcycles led the girls off course but at the very last second a volunteer directed me to go straight. So I rode the middle segment of the bike solo. Then on the way back I was caught back by Angela Nyaeth one of the females who took the wrong turn. We switched leads back and forth for a while but I could not get around her - this girl was strong! Something like how Desiree Ficker was back in the day when we were racing pro duathlon and I she was out riding my in the early season races. Anyway I later found out Angela was the top ranked 70.3 female and that her strength is the bike. no wonder! I also saw her ride out of saddle while still in the aerobars! Though probably not safe, it was cool to see. So while trading leads with her, I was passed and proceeded to drop back as the rules say, but a motorcycle came up behind me and gave me a drafting penalty! Meanwhile packs of 100's of age groupers were coming down in the opposite direction. But since I was isolated I was arrested while the hundreds found safety in numbers. Makes no sense. We need to bring back Charlie Crawford! So by the time I got back to t2 the fastest age group cyclist had caught me. I went to the sin bin and paid my 4 min penalty while having a friendly chat with head referee Jimmy Riccitello. In an ironman 4 min penalty isn't much but in a half IM it seems like an eternity! I was arguing that the penalty should have been 2 minutes in a half IM. Anyway I served my sentence and was on my way!
the sin bin

A few years ago there was an argument that the 4 min penalty actually helped people run faster in Ironman racing. Both Natasha Badman and Tim Deboom won Hawaii after standing though the 4 min penalty. But in a half, it's pretty much game over. So I started my run, already feeling somewhat dejected about the random penalty, I still figured I should get a workout out of it. I was still under 7 min pace until I hit the bridge and just tried to hold the pace and stay focused. The only problem now was that my neuritis was acting up again and every step felt like I was stepping on broken glass. I tried zoning out the pain and changing my foot strike but that only made things feel worse. What was cool was that when Michael Raelert was coming in to the finish I was able to run behind him for a couple of hundred meters. No one was behind him! and it was funny cause some of the spectators thought I was in 2nd place overall! Anyway I made my turn around and joined the 100s of age groupers who were on their first lap of the 2 lap course. I was really hurting at this point and took some time right before the bridge to take down an gel packet and walked for maybe 20 seconds to alleviate the pain in my foot - this resulted I think an almost 8 min mile! But the one saving grace to all of this was that an Age grouper, Chris Rostelli from Pittsbugh PA caught up to me and started running with me. This guy was like the energizer bunny! talking non stop telling me about how he had just raced the NYC marathon the week before - I told him about IMFL - it was fun! but after a while I was out of breath so I let him do all the talking esp since he was on his first lap. So basically from mile 7.5 to 12 we ran together and I was able to get back on pace. I had my own personal run domestique! I finally made it to the finish and did my signature handstand. Final race time was 4:27 with the penalty so it would have basically been similar to my 4:22 last year without the penalty but I did feel much better on this year's run and considering the ironman in my legs from last week, it wasn't too bad. But I definitely have some hard work in front of me if i want to keep up with the big boys.


So in closing once again I have to say it is all the friendships I have made along the way with so many cool people from all over the world that really makes this sport so special. That afternoon speaking to the kids was so rewarding for me as I know my life was heavily influenced my many teachers, mentors and coaches. And I must again thank all my friends and sponsors: the Mowry's for hosting me all week, Ramon and Sol Serrano for making mojotos and for all the great race photographs, Twinkle my one woman support group, Avalon Chemists and Calvin my title sponsor, Tri Bike Transport for taking care of the biggest headache in racing out of state - transporting the bike! Also to Elite Bicycles for pimping my ride for all of 2010, thanks also First Endurance, Newton Running, Rotor bicycle components, and Computrainer. Finally since it is the last race of the season I must thank my other support group: all the members of the Fil Am Tri club both the old crew and all the the members who I am continuing to meet through FB and eventually in person. It is up to us to bring represent Pinoys through endurance sport just like Manny thru boxing. Mabuhay Ang Fil Am Tri!!!

Fil Am Tri Club

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ironman Florida Race Report

Panama City Beach Florida November 6th 2010. I never went away on spring break when I was in college and for some reason I think that has scarred my for life as I feel I never went through that right of passage that most collegians do to sow their wild oats. So perhaps that is why I feel I have to "negative split" life these days. PCB is arguably the spring break capitol of the world and every march thousands of college kids descend onto these beaches for endless parties, drinking and debauchery. However, in November, the beach shores are mostly barren the air cool save for the 3000 triathletes who come to prove themselves on this flat and fast course.

The venue in PCB reminds of my first triathlon in seaside heights, and ocean swim with waves, a flat ride along the seaside and a run on the boardwalk. Although the run in PCB is more of a windy loop through the local residential neighborhood and wildlife preserve, the first 2 parts are reminiscent of a typical jersey shore race.

The Swim
The swim was the warmest part of the whole day I think in the deep water the temps were well into the 70s F. I had an ok start but lots the main group after about 400m - I got into a small group with fellow NJ pro Jacqui Gordon (by way of south africa) and my old training partner Erika Csosmor from Hungary. The three of us pretty much hung together the entire swim trading leads every once in while. The pace was perhaps a bit too pedestrian as we exited a little over an hour.

The Bike
3 weeks ago I did the Hunterdon Half which was a race that had similar condition 37 degrees at the start of the race. It eventually heated up on the bike and I had to peel layers off. For this race I was UNDER dressed having only a thin vest and nylon (non thermal) arm warmers. As soon as I exited transition my feet were frozen trying to run on the cold ground. I got on my bike and started to pedal but my body was so cold it was hard to get any power to the pedals. I remember doing this experiment in the Exercise Science Lab at Rutgers where we had to submerge our arms in ice cold water then squeeze a hand grip dynamometer. Always the grip strength would go down after being cold. The same was for me on race day and I was struggling just to keep my watts over 200.

mounting the bike under-dressed in T1 brrr it's cold out there!!

Finally I was joined by some company as these Florida races are notorious for pack riding. I saw an old friend former pro Cameron Loos in the group. I hung on with that fast pack for about 10 miles but then lost them in a turn. I think that group contained the athlete with the fastest age group bike split of 4:24 - faster than the fastest pro at 4:31. So I rode another 15 or so miles on my own until we got to the bumpy section of the bike course where there were cracks on the road every 5 meters - it was horrible! like biking on a sidewalk. I dropped my water bottle and decided to go back for it and stopped to take a pee break. It was at that time a group of riders passed my containing my fellow NJ elite triathlete Scott Duprex. Scott was sitting comfortably and eventually I think ran an Ironman PR marathon of 3:26.

I eventually got caught by a slower group of age group riders at the special needs station. I switched camel backs containing my EFS/Carbo pro concoction and rode on. The pace was much slower than that first group I was with but I was content as I was already having some spasms in my quads. I was turning my salt stick dispenser to get some pills but I think it must have broken somewhere along the way to I just had to rely on the fluid in my camel back and some bananas at the aid stations to relieve the cramping.

When the weather was so cold my pedal stroke that is usually smooth and circular went to straight up and down mashing - so my quads were already fatigued. Finally we reached the end of the bike and I was happy to get off and attempt to run.

the run
So as many of the other guys my first 10K felt great! I passed the house where we were staying. My next door neighbors was a group of girls that live in memphis tenn. They were all dressed up in Sexy costumes and were cheering everyone that went by. This was probably the highlight of most of the guys racing. It has become tradition almost like the topless aid station at mile 8 of the wildflower triathlon.

So I started to unravel in the middle 20K of my marathon. Perhaps it was not eating my gel at every 30 min interval, perhaps it was the fatigue from the bike, or blowing my taper by not having adequate sleep on race week - whatever it was I was not having a good day. so I got thru the end of the first loop and the first half of the second loop with a mixture of walking and jogging. Finally I made the decision to stop feeling sorry for myself, I finished what was left of my redbull in my fuel belt, and started running. I made a pact with myself that I would only stop at aid stations the drink and I did. It was good to use my running muscles again! my slow jog muscles were already tired. I passed fellow pro Marek Nemcik from the Slovokia on the way in - I gave him a friendly tap on the butt and ran my final 2 miles to home. One last high five to my sexy dancing girl neighbors and then my last mile to the finish line. I finished in a time of 9:48. I might have been 9:47:58 had it not been for my handstand finish. I was a new ironman PR for me just 3 minutes faster than last years Chesepeakeman where I was 9:51. It wasn't the time I wanted but as long as I keep going in the right direction I am satisfied.

this pic wasn't taken in FL but since the official race photos weren't ready at the time of this posting this will have to do :)


Ironman Florida 2010 will not be a memorable one for me as it was just a mediocre performance for me but I will remember this race as it was the first race where an athlete of mine qualified for Kona. Catherine LaCrosse in the women's 40-44 age group. After having such an up and down year filled with injuries and set backs she was able to pull it all together for this race and finish strong with a 3:42 marathon just a few minutes slower than me!!

Congratulations Catherine!

Also this race was the first time my friend and fellow NJ pro Scott DeFilippis broke the elusive 9 hour barrier and finished 11th overall! I can take some credit for his performance since it was I who introduced him to the superstar coach Brett Sutton who transformed Scott into the uber triathlete he is today. So congratulations to Scott you are now on the triathlon map!!!

South African Tri stars Jacqui Gordon and IMFL race winner James Cunnama, with the Jersey boys: Scott DeFilippis and me

Lastly I must say it was hanging out with my old friend and my homestay for the weekend Jarred Thweatt and Cheryl Senter-Thweatt and my new friend Tom O'Kelly that really made this race special. It was Jarred and Tom's first ironman!! It is these friendships that I have made through sport that I will continue to cherish through the years. These are the real treasures of the sport, not the medals, trophies and plaques. Thanks guys for a great weekend!

Finally I must thank my sponsors who helped me get through this weekend: My new title sponsor Avalon Chemists of NYC owned and operated by Calvin Moy. Tri Bike Transport which saved me a ton of time and money taking my bike to and from FL. Also Elite Bicycles of Philadelphia PA, First Endurance Nutrition, Personal Best Nutrition, Shady Day Sunscreen, Rotor bike components, and Newton Running and last but not least my small personal support group- Twinkle and Lilly who have sacrificed many early morning hours of sleep to get me to the swim starts on time.

Clearwater here we go!!!

myself, Tom, Jarred, and Keith Celebrating after the race

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baltimore Marathon Race Report

I always tell my athletes do as I say not as I do. To race a full Marathon less than a week after a half ironman is not usually advisable. Then again there are Ironman Athletes who have raced Ironman Races in back to back weeks. So Kit Verzosa and I both took on this challenge. After Hunterdon, I pretty much took a very easy week having both Monday and Thursday off. Ideally I would have liked to have been down in B'more Thursday but because of logistics we took the drive down Friday. I made sure I did my normal pre-race workout friday am. A short run on the treadmill with some pick ups and an easy swim. I was feeling good! But the 4 hour drive down wasn't exactly good preparation - also the 1 hour+ it took to get the race number, and T-shirt strategically placed at opposite ends of the expo was probably not a good idea either - alot of time on the feet the night before a big event. But we had a nice last supper in little italy to top off the glycogen stores and a single glass of red wine to help get sleep and I was passed out - so tired I didn't even remove my jeans and jacket when I laid down in bed!

I first woke up at 4:30 to put on my compression tights and went back to sleep again! The alarm went off at 6 but I didn't wake up again til 6:30 - time was officially of the essence as there was an 8am start and we still had a decent walk to the start line so I was figuring about an hour to get ready. I went downstairs to get my bike to set up on the trainer to do a short 10 min warm up spin in our hotel room. Then I drank some red bull since there was no coffee - ate a little bit of pancake which we ordered from room service which arrived too late - I got dressed and we headed to the start!

Finding the start was a bit nerve racking as no one seemed to know where exactly it was. Finally we saw the crowd - I stripped out of my sweats and made my way to start. Around this time was when the parachute guy was gliding down over us:

A hang glider glides downward toward the starting line before the marathon starts.

Anyway I still had 5 min to spare after they fired the gun for the wheelchair start. I was standing ahead of the 3:10 pace banner which was for the 7 min/mile pace guys. The kenyan runners were standing ahead of me so I figured that was a good place to start.

making sure all systems are go before the start

So the gun goes off! I'm feeling pretty good - I still feel a few twinges on my left leg which always seems to cramp up when I run under 6min pace but after about the 2nd mile it seemed to subside. The beginning of the race is always crazy as people are jockeying for position. I was trying to find a good group to run with but I saw a lot of people running fast - I took a look down at my GPS and saw 5:55/mile so I told my self SLOW DOWN take it easy you got a long way to go - so I let those runners get ahead.
The 2010 Baltimore Marathon begins.
and off we go!!

I eventually found a group of local runners who seemed to know what they were doing and tucked in behind them - we were still going about 6:30/mile uphill! so I was still worried it was a bit too fast - but I looked behind and there was already a gap to the next group so I figured I should stay where I was. I pretty much run like I ride my bike. So we finally crested the first climb and started the long descent back into town. So I started opening up my stride - and what I noticed was Most runners don't know how to run downhill!!! I started gapping the group I was with! There was one black runner ahead of me that was opening his stride up even more than me - he even made a comment that I was taking 2 strides for every 1 of his - anyway I let him go ahead also. I caught another runner wearing a Tylenol shirt and we ran together til about the the 11 mile mark when the group who I dropped on the down hill finally caught me. It was here also where I took my first gel.

I realized that runners run a constant pace. As a triathlete/cyclist, I run with constant power - so I don't run uphills as fast - because running constant pace requires accelerating up hills and using more energy - conversely I use the downhills to run faster as I use gravity to help propel myself forward by opening up my stride. But I really have to thank Bob Narcescian who taught me this new style of running. If anyone ever wants a clinic or demonstration of this please send me an email.

So I tried hanging with that group - but they just seemed too fast - I think most of them finished in the mid to high 2:40s - I went thru the halfway point at 1:24 - I was thinking this might have been quick also but I was feeling good. 1 of the local runners also fell of pace - a tall guy named Jason - he was receiving a lot of local cheers so I tucked in behind him for the next few miles. It was then that we passed Aliceanna st where my niece Mary was staying - I gave her a high 5 and posed for a couple of shots - then I settled back in.
5K runners make their way north on Greene St.
over 20,000 runners!

Then at mile 16 the climbs started again. It was a little confusing since there were relay runners also in the mix - so 2 guys who were relay runner caught and passed Jason and myself - like a bike racer, I jumped on the back of these 2 guys and we dropped Jason. But these guys were too fast and I had to slow my pace down for fear of blowing up. The entire day I was trying to keep my HR at or below 160bpm. that's why on the downhills I run faster because I can run that faster speed at the same HR - also the reason why I don't attack the hills. So now I was pretty much running alone - and I was taking the wind staight in the face at certain times and sometimes it was a wicked cross wind a la queen K where my feet would almost cross each other.

A short mexican runner passed me also at this point and I just kept him in sight as my dangling carrot. The 20 mile mark happens when you loop around Lake Montebello this was probably my favourite part of the course. It was also here that I took a port-o-john break to do a #1 and also popped a motivator tab (I really have to thank Brian Shea of PBN for introducing me to those lovely green pills!) So now I was back - that short break helped me to lighten up and re-focus - I think I quickened the pace slightly. I then caught the 2 relay guys who had finished their legs and were resting at an aid station - I then caught and passed the short mexican guy so now I had no one in front of me that I could see. I had to keep asking for directions at every turn as it was confusing since there were 3 races going on - a full, half and 5K. Finally I reached the last downhill section back to harbor and started opening up my stride again. Only now it was just a bit more painful at 23 miles then at 4miles. I caught the black guy who had dropped me in the first down hill section then another runner who went with the fast 2:40 group and I started kicking towards the finish line. My niece Mary found me again before I entered the section between the stadiums and I gave her a 2nd high 5! I was now almost in full sprint - but I still couldn't see the finish line. My GPS beeped already for mile 26 but I was still going - finally I saw the black arch, pulled up my sunglasses and saw the clock 2:52!!!! I was really surprised as I didn't have time displayed on my GPS just distance, pace, HR and Cadence. I was stoked! I slowed down slightly and did my signature handstand finish with half pirouette, walked a couple of steps then went down on my hands and knees with exhaustion - much like at the end of some of my track sessions. But there was a med crew there who whisked me away with a wheelchair - I guess it was just standard procedure - so I took it! I was really tired anyway - so I chilled out on in the med tent took some soup and let my HR get back down - It was here where I was interviewed by the baltimore sun about my handstand finish - too bad they didn't have a picture of it but here is the article

And if you want to see my GPS data complete with elevation HR Cadence:

I'll try to upload more Photos to this blog entry as soon as I find some

thanks for reading! til the next race.....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hunterdon Half Race Report

So to preface - going into last Sunday's race I was viewing it totally as a training day. The week before I had put in 74+ miles running approximately 10 miles/day for 5 days with a 20 miler to begin the week. This past week I started with 100 miles on sunday - the pumkin patch pedal - then tried to ride 50miles/day for 4 days - I missed out on Saturday's ride as I was glued to the TV watching the Ironman Hawaii Live Coverage. Anyway I knew I wasn't going to be fresh for this race as I still had 316 cycling cycling miles in my legs for the week. All this is in the hopes to get my base endurance up for IMFL on Nov 6.

Ok so race morning I have a super late start as I tried to pack as much stuff the night before. Ironman coverage was exhausting as much adrenaline was pumping watching Macca and Raelert duel it out on the Queen K. So we arrived at the race site in round valley 7:20am - not too much time for an 8am start! We even had to stop for gas on the way up as my trusty CR-V was running on vapour.

I knew it was going to be cold - so the original plan was to ride the bike trainer to get my core temp up before the swim - but since we got there so late - I just rode the half mile to transition which wasn't enough. Thank god Mike Nusbaum the RD postponed the start 15 minutes as I had a bit more time to get settled in. I found my racebelt in my tri bag - I hadn't taken it off since the Randolph tri in July and I still had bib #1 so I just re-used it!


Most of us got in the water about 10 minutes before the start. The water was great! much warmer than the air - about 74 degrees was what the race people said the temp was - it still felt chilly though so I did some short sprints to try to warm up and wore my neoprane hood which was probably overkill. I peed in my wetsuit right before the start for some additional warmth. The swim finally started - and got in the lead group - drafting the girl who was part of the relay - swimming without a wetsuit! - but after the first bouy we made a left turn to the second bouy - the water was crystal clear btw - very nice! but in the line of the bouy were some big rock formations - so we had to swim left of them then go around the bouy. This is where Kit cut open his knee! Normally I think if the water levels were higher it would be less of an issue. So after the second bouy, we headed directly into the rising sun making visibility very difficult esp since I was wearing clear goggles - this is a similar situation in the Tupper Lake tin man and wyckoff tri - where you have to swim into the sun to the finish. Anyway I lost the group for a couple of hundred meters but then the group got off track where I somehow managed to swim a bit straighter - so when the group got back on track I was able to hitch back on the girl without the wetsuit. So I pretty much rode her bubbles all the way back to the swim finish but then sprinted out of the water so I would be first to the mat to have the fastest recorded swim split of the day ;)

getting fastest swim split - but only by having a faster run out of water ;)

Transition 1:

This race was logistically tough because of the cold weather -So I opted to do a complete wardrobe change in T1. Normally I pride myself on my fast transitions - but since I do not do especially well in cold conditions, I toweled off, put on leg warmers, put on dry shorts over my speedo (in retrospect was a mistake as I had too much padding on the bike) put on arm warmers, heart rate monitor, fil-am tri top, vest, helmet, glasses and then camelback - so that's 9 items not including my calf guards which I kept on for the swim! out of t1 I went, but then had to turn around again - I forgot my gloves! Item #10! - finally I was out! total transition time before coming back for gloves: 6:38 which ironically was not the slowest t1 of the day!

struggling in T1 watching the other athletes pass me


As expected the legs did not feel great early on in the bike. I was glad I was warm though especially through that long descent early on in the shade. After the first few climbs I started warming up and passing people. Funny though I passed a heavier athlete and he kept trying to pass me back. It's funny how competitive some people are - but eventually I dropped him. I came up on another athlete riding an Elite bike - a nice white one! His name was Ross Reynolds from down the shore - we exchanged a few pleasantries about our bike and I moved on. I was finally starting to get my biking legs back - this shows you the importance of warm up! So I started catching all the guys who passed me in t1. Then we got to the Rt29 section which is the flattest part of the race. Rt 29 is also where they hold a time trial series in the summer - a couple of years back I did a few of those races using my fixed gear. It's also right along the Delaware river where many people go tubing including Eat Pray Love best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert who's store is in Frenchtown.

Ok so I started getting warm and my legs started over heating with the leg warmers and compression sleeves - so I took of the leg warms while riding and stuffed them into my vest jersey pockets - I lost a bit of time coasting but at least I was still moving forward. All this time I kept hydrating despite the cold weather since I knew we still had a half marathon - In my camelback I had 2.5 water bottles of a concoction of EFS grape and carbo pro I didn't supplement sodium because of the cooler weather. Wearing the camelback I was also able to ride right thru the aid stations as I also had a flask of EFS liquid shot on my top tube.

Right before the big climb on the bike from Rt 29 (as we knew about because we pre-rode the course 3 weeks before) I took another nature break to lighten myself up before the climb. The 3 guys I passed, passed me back up - in that group was my friend Dave Fabian. I started the climb and managed to pass them all back up again giving some words of encouragement to Dave who was way past the talk test going up probably the hardest climb of the day.

At the top of the hill there was one more rider up ahead who I was able to pass also which left only 2 guys and one of them being a relay who I did not have to worry about. The last part of the bike was probably the nicest easiest section as it is a net down hill passing through horse farms and corn fields a really beautiful ride! here is the bike data for my ride

on the final climb I finally say Ryan McGrath who was the last rider ahead of me. I started making some ground up on him. But I really give this guy credit - he did the race without aero bars or aero wheels and he is just coming back off an injury - a bike accident where his tri bike was totalled! So I almost completely closed the gap but then backed off so I could get my arm warmers and gloves off before I got into T2. T2 went relatively smooth as I just had to take off my helmet and vest and put on my race belt.


So Ryan and I started together stride for stride - but by this point I had to take nature break number 3 as I was able to finish most of the contents of my 70 oz. camel back. So I stopped to pee once we entered of the off road section and relaxed and let it flow....for almost a minute it seemed and maybe it was cause Ryan was completely out of site! I started chasing him negotiating through roots, branches and rocks - I didn't expect this trail section - we previewed the bike course but not the run - bike mistake! We finally got out of the woods and into a clearing I thought I saw Ryan briefly but then he was gone. We passed a point where the sprint had a different turn so I thought the race marshals might have sent him the wrong way. So I kept running and no one was in front of me, except the relay guy who I saw after receiving some cheers from my Fil Am Tri friends who were doing a long training run.

Finally after reaching the 1st turn around Ryan was back on my heels and caught me at the top of the climb. We ran stride of stride for maybe the next 5K having a chat running under 7min pace. This was like Macca vs. Raelert the night before! only we didn't know who was who! Ryan mentioned about his injury and about how the downhills hurt him. I also knew Macca made his move on the downhill on Palani Drive - so subconsciously or really it was consciously I opened it up on the same downhill section where Ryan caught me going up. I created a gap but I knew I had to guard it and I put in more effort on the uphill going to the 2nd turnaround. I solidified the break as I was able to get myself out of site. But I didn't want to take any chances - I grabbed a 2nd Hammer gel at the turnaround and sucked it down at the water station. Here is where I saw Kit and he told me to smile - but after seeing ryan heading to the turnaround I was still focused on holding my pace - I was looking down at my GPS making sure I was holding 90spm - I was able to do this for most of the race except for the steep uphill sections. Here is the run data:

So I finally finished the lollipop section and headed to the finish where I was greeted by cheers from the Fil Am Tri crew who were now having a BBQ picnic after their long run.

Finally one last climb and then the race director himself Mike Nusbaum ran the final 100 meters with me

and then my patented handstand finish

Overall results are here

All in all a great day. And being able to celebrate with friends afterward made it even more special and memorable. As always I'd like to thank all my sponsors and friends: Elite Bicycles, Newton Running, Rotor Bike Components, Computrainer, Quarq Powermeters, PBN nutrition, First Endurance, The Fil Am Tri Club and last but not least Mike Nusbaum and Paramount Adventure for putting on this great event. Thank you all for reading! Until the next race.....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tagaman 2010 Race Report

Saipan is a small island in the Pacific. So small there isn't even a Starbucks on the island! There is a McDonalds but no BK. It's a place where you can still give your phone number in 7 digits instead of 10, and basically a place like Cheers "where everybody knows your name." This year was my 2nd year racing in Saipan. Last year I did the double racing both the Xterra and Tagaman. This year I opted to just do a relay for the Xterra Race. I arrived late thursday night into saipan after commuting from Manila with a brief day in Guam. Friday was the Sunset 10K trail run - which I ran for fun and was able to win since none of the other pros participated since they were saving their legs for Saturday's race.

For the Xterra I was able to form a team last minute. I did the swim, Mario Galeng did the most arduous task of the mountain bike and Ronald Villafria was the run leg. We won the relay division!

For the Tagaman, there were many last minute entries from Japan and Korea. Takumi Obara an Olympian from Sydney was racing for the first time in 5 years and members from the Korean National Team showed up sporting their ITU outfits. I knew it was going to be hard to replicate my top 5 finish from the 2009 Tagaman. I was going to have to use Long Distance Strength against the ITU speed.
The Race:

After a fairly stressful setting up transition - we were ready to go at the first break of daylight at 6:15 in the am


at exactly 6:15 in the horn sounded. We dove into the water and spinted all out to the first bouy. I was in good position and found some good feet drafting behind Sam Gardner the XTerra Champion and Mike Vine - we barely got to the first bouy and then our pack of about 10 athletes were called back!! It was a False Start!!!! Since some of the guys were a bit too far to the left of the start buoy, they sounded to the horn to call us back instead of using the megaphone. I was very disappointed. Putting in such a huge effort for nothing! So after about a minute of relaxing the counted was repeated and we went off in typical ITU style. The Koreans pulled out all the dirty tricks- I got my leg pulled back, There was alot of banging around as we were swimming on top of eachother for the first 200m. Finally I got some clean water and found some feet to draft off of - unfortunately my tugboat steered me off course and over some shallow coral reef where I had to skull carefully over to not get cut. By the time I got swimming again we were off the back of the pack!

I decided to choose my own line and swam the second loop of the 2K swim alone. Fortunately I was able to avoid the reefs on the 2nd loop. My finish time I believe was just over 30 minutes


As I only packed one pair of bike shoes this trip in my vain attempt to travel lighter, I had only my 3 strap shoes that I used for the Ironman in Malaysia. 3 straps offer great support, but they are not easy to transition with when they are clipped into the pedals. I wasted about 2 minutes or so trying to get them on. In retrospect I should have just put them on and ran on the cleats.

As it was now an ITU type style race, there was a lot of drafting going on in the Lead group. In a race that is supposed to be draft illegal, this was also disappointing. The Korean team was working well with the lead group that included Vine, Gardner who caught them, and the other British triathlete Mike Hiscott. The bike course starts with a small loop by the airport with some rolling hills and then it's about 20 miles straight into the headwind all the way to the bird island turnaround

Bird Island Saipan

During the bike was to try to hold a steady 250 Watts against the headwind, but for some reason, perhaps because I've become too much of a techy, my powertap conked out and I had no power reading! So I had to do old school and go on feel. It was tough since I was pretty much by myself and saw the group up the road riding away from me. To add injury onto insult the winds were even stronger Saturday am and climbing a steady incline into headwind was very hard.

By Bird Island I had caught all the women and was working my way to catch the remainder of the men's field that had fallen of of the lead group. By the Grotto Turnaround, Sam Gardner had already broken away from the pack.

The Other Equipment error I made was to borrow my kuya (older brother) Jazy's front Hed3c wheel. Although a faster wheel than my Stingers, in the crosswinds, it was much more difficult to handle. Had I had the tri spoke in the rear, and stinger in the front, that would have been a better combination.

The Tagaman course is really one of the prettiest courses I've ever raced on as you have these dramatic views of the cliffs and ocean. The Grotto is also another pretty site and famous dive spot:

There is one more out back on Banzai Cliff before we headed to T2 in American Memorial Park
It was a here where the wind was the strongest. I think all in all the bike was windier than Queen K in Hawaii!!

Now Finally heading back downhill with wind on our backs, I was spinning out my 54x11!! going well over 35mph (50kph) ! This was fun - at times I did have to change my grip to hold the bars as the tri-spoke would catch the cross winds. I caught one of the Korean men on the downhill section.


In transition I opted to put on socks. Generally my rule is no socks for olympic distance and down and socks for half IM and up. For a 15K run, it was a judgement call. Last year I opted for no socks and developed bad blisters so I choose with the safer but slower transition with the socks. As a price the Korean I passed on the bike, passed me back in transition.

I used foot pod function on my GPS to monitor my stride rate. Thank God that function worked! I pretty much tried to stay as much over 90spm as I could for the entire run. I eventually reeled in the Korean who had passed my in transition and caught another Korean athlete who was battling with cramps I was now in 8th position overall and the leaders were too far ahead. So I just kept the effort steady - I took a gel at the first turn around point and just tried to hold on the the stride rate. There were a few sections where I started to bonk, but I just tried to shorten the stride length and get the rate back up.

I think all the talks I have been giving on run technique have been helping. I just focused on keeping my feet underneath me, picking up my heels and turning my shoulders. I kept telling myself "stike lightly, quick, balance" I and repeated the manta counting my steps with each inhale and exhale "1,2,3,4-2,2,3,4..." over and over again. There were plenty aid stations on the run and it was nice to hear to cheers of all the Filipino Volunteers and Spectators. The majority of the run is along beach road where you can see the ocean - definitely on of the more scenic run courses

So I just tried to maintain my gap on the runners I had caught, taking gatorade and water as needed and finally got to the finish line. I held under 7min/mile (4min/km) pace which was fine for this time of year and for the 4th fastest run split of the day, my average stride rate was 89spm - but that included some walking and hand standing at the finish line:

The only thing I forgot to do at this point was take a picture with the podium girls:

My Total spilts for the day:

Swim Plc Tran #1 Bike Plc Tran2 Run Plc Total Div Plc
30:55 21 :01:24 1:41:33 12 :00:58 1:00:43 4 03:15:33 8

Full race results here:

So after a quick Massage and breakfast with Helen Olbes (my homestay from last year) I did a short cool down ride back to the PIC (Pacific Islands Club) where the swim start was. And guess what? My powermeter was working again!!

So now I'm back in Guam and gettting set to race the Xterra here this weekend. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post. Thanks also to everyone who helped me in Saipan: Wolf and Bill from Taga Inc. for putting on this great event, Jeff and Lisa Taylor for hosting me in their lovely mountaintop home, all my fellow saipan based Pinoy athletes esp. Manny, Ron, Butch, Mario, Alex. Thanks to John for his aero helmet and Jazy for the front wheel, EFS, and Optygen, to Twinkle for sending me a new foot pod, Newton running, Rotor Components and of course Elite Bicycles.

Till the next race!


Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Ironman Malaysia Race Report

The Preparation:

I hate to preface race reports with excuses but I knew coming into this race that the heat was going to play a big factor in the race. Last year when I first decided to race here in Langkawi I was expecting to spend the majority of my winter in the Philippines. However "wintering" in NJ did have some good points.

First of all I was able to Train with the Montclair State University Swim Team which has always helped my swimming with the heavy yardage and the January camp in Puerto Rico. Supplementing this training with the Master's swim Program at Drew University always worked out well. Unfortunately no open water swimming in the north east USA during the winter months - in Fact, you can actually go ice skating on Mirror Lake where the IM USA swim is!

For the Bike, this was the first winter where I did about 95% of my training indoors on the Computrainer. After 10 years of riding the old Nintendo version, I finally decided to upgrade to the PC version - and what a great help that was! On New Years Day I rode the entire Ironman Canada real course DVD (112miles/180Km). During the week - we would mix in regular 3D PC rides along with the Wed night indoor trainer session at Mountainside Hospital. In my last training week in NJ - Derick my "assistant coach" taught me how to make our own intervals using the ERG function but unfortunately we only got in one of those before I left.

If any area I was under-trained in coming into this race - it was the run. Running in the cold is tough. Since I don't own a treadmill, it's always a struggle to get to the gym and an even bigger struggle to do brick workouts as running off into the cold after sweating on the bike trainer is not such a good option sometime especially when you're trying not to get sick. My longest run was only 15 miles and only a handful of interval workouts. But like I said I really have no excuses.

The Race:

The Swim:

Ironman Malaysia is the first IM I've done with a 1 loop out and back swim. The Swim actually had markers for every 200M of the swim! So at least the whole time you know how far you've gone and how much is left. So as my swimming has never been my strongest event, I was even more under-trained in it coming into this race so I knew a sub 1 hour swim was going to be tough. I went off in the pro wave which started 15 minutes before the age group wave. Right away the pace is fast! I was able to find some feet for the 1st 400 meters or so - and then then after some banging around and jockeying for position I lost the pack and found myself swimming alone. But by about the 1.5k mark, I managed to catch up one the female pros - looking at the splits now it must have been
Ladislava Cisarovska. So I had at least 1 person to keep me company for the 1.2 miles back to transition. The swim split was 1:07

The Bike:

Because of the Heat, I opted to ride with a regular vented helmet (a la Chrissie Wellington) and with white arm sleeves (not to be called arm warmers when it's close to 100 degrees F!) I rode with my powermeter and HR monitor to keep myself under control. I'll actually post the GPS info when I download later. This was also my first race on my new Karma Chameleon Elite Razor - which fit like a glove! I was a little apprehensive about riding an aluminum bike again after being used to Carbon - but the fit and the geometry were so dialed in I felt as comfortable and powerful as ever. Especially considering I probably had less than 10 outdoor rides this whole year!

The bike was a 4 loop course. 1 big loop and 3 small loops. I was working with one the Brazilian female pros
Ariane Monticeli. She was really strong! But I did notice that I was going a bit higher than I wanted to during certain points and as we started the 2nd small loop I lost her as I slowed during an aid station to get a water.

The other rookie mistake I made was that I forgot one of my high calorie nutrition bottles in my refrigerator back at our hotel. As I wanted to wait until the last minute to keep it cold for the race. So I just relied on gels, energy bar, and clif shot bloks for the bike. Also by the last loop on the bike they started to run out of gatorade and water. Also because of the rough roads my aerobars came loose again!! just like they did at the ChesepeakeMan!! At this point I was losing it mentally also so I decide to make a pee break out of it also. But by the time I go back up and running - there were some Australian tourists who had come out on the course and started handing out water to us - I guess other riders must have told them that we had run out of fluid. I graciously thanked them and got back up to speed. I started to get my 2nd wind and actually got Ariane back into sight. So finally I rode to transition trying to get more calories and electrolytes in - but I knew it still wasn't enough. Total elapsed time was 5:20 but I think my ride time was something like 5:15

The Run

I took my time in T2 and let 2 other athletes come in and out before starting my "death march" there was only vaseline in the tent and no sunblock - i peeled of my arm arm warmers and put on my compression sleeves on my calves and my Newtons and started out on the run.

It was HOT!!! there is some shade early on in the run running from T2 to the out and back loop. Having skipped the pre- race meeting, I was imagining the course to be 4 loops of 10K so mentally I was ready for that. I was runnning ok the first out and back - but on the 2nd lap I started hurting a bit more, plus weather went from overcast to the the sun shining full strength. I started to melt down - it was literally like running through an oven - with heat index I think it was over 100 (36c) I had a visor and put on the sponges on my shoulders and tried to exchange them ever water stop.

My run quickly became a jog and then the jog to itermittent jog/walking. I stopped a few times in the shade to try to re-group - but I pretty much knew that it was just going to be survival. Then thinking it was going be my last loop #4 - I realized looking at my GPS that the laps were only 8Km each and that I had another 5th loop to go!!! My spirits sunk even lower and I sat again to try to re-group. Then one of my roomates Ramon "Meo" caught me toward the end of my 4th loop. He was going a steady 10min/mile pace - as opposed to my up and down 8min pace run/walk - so I decided to stay with him the entire loop. We made it a point not to walk in between aid stations and that seemed to work. By this point in time almost all of the age groupers were on the run course and the aid stations were a mess of sponges, cola, water and gatorade and gels.

Nutrion-wise I couldn't hold anything down anymore at this point - even the sight of gatorade and cola made me sick. Plus I was hoping to be only out for only 10 hours not 11. But anyway I finally made it to the finish line, did my patented hand stand finish - and went to the recovery tent. Total elapsed time was 4:24 but I think my actually "running time" was 4:12 Finish time was 11:02

All in all it was not so bad considering all the mistakes I made even before the gun went off. But at least now I know better and hope to not go into an Ironman event under prepared again.

So in closing I just want to thank everyone who helped me get here: my new sponsor Elite Bicycles, PBN Nutrition, Newton Running, MSU swimming and Diving, Tim Johnson the head mechanic from the Montclair Bikery, Twinkle, Lilly, and all my friends from the Fil Am Tri Club, team Fitness First and to everyone on facebook, twitter etc who sent me positive their positive energy.

So 1 race down - 1 to go! Saipan here I come!