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

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.....