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

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.....