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