Archive for September, 2012

Wow, hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the inaugural running of this race. This is a very significant stake in the ground regarding history and my sense of  space, time, and other aspects of aging. Back in my early hay days I worked on a number of races with race director Dave Oja. I volunteered as a technical coordinator for the very first festival of races, and a few more after that. Dave had big ideas on putting on a fast 5K that attracted national and world class level talent. That he did. It was a lot of fun putting on very successful races, and very rewarding to be a part of all that. It was every bit awe inspiring to watch runners at that level go to work on the course that was laid out. Eventually my professional life and eventual move to Cortland took me away from the Syracuse area, at least on a daily/weekly basis. It would also lead me away from the sport of running & triathlons for an all too long of a time.  Coming back home to run the twentieth year of the race is very fitting as 2012 has been my renaissance if you will. The race also fits for a few other reasons which I’ll get to.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have been fortunate to have participated in one well ran race after another the entire 2012 season.  Aside from my emotional attachment to the event,  it is my humble opinion, that the Festival of Races is a well-planned, and well-executed event. Lots of great volunteers, great support from sponsors, great SWAG, and the Syracuse Police Department was above and beyond.  I heard some complaints about weather. Personally I loved it. Cool, a little misty for the 5k’s, and it did drizzle some during the 3K fun run. My attitude is that we always get “weather,” It is not to going to deter me in the slightest.  I drove up on Saturday to grab my packet, and that was super easy at Destiny Mall. A quick stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I was all set. Love the nice long sleeve tech shirt.

Even though I am in training mode for the NYC marathon, today’s 5k was useful for testing to see what leg speed I have post Ironman Syracuse, and the fact I have not done all that much speed work since. My bad………

I would run this full throttle, and re-establish a baseline Vdot for training pre and post marathon.  I use races sometimes to do the testing, as I like the energy from the event, and I find it easier mentally to do it this way rather than tough it out solo. I would run a zone five (heart rate) effort, and whatever I could withstand the last 2K  of the course.  I arrived early to get parked before traffic control was set up. Again, super easy, directions were spot on. Nice to see friends and familiar faces. For a warm up, I headed out for a half mile easy jog with a few pickups to loosen up and then stretched a bit before lining up. Start was smooth, and I seeded myself behind a few rows further back from the fast runners. No problems, got running room quickly, and went to work. I goofed up double starting my GPS watch, no problem. All the kilometer and mile splits were called out on the course (kudos to the volunteers). I had pace and heart rate, and that would do just fine. 7:48-7:56 pace first two miles. Heart rate pegged at my estimated max of 179 bpm. I was working it, and I was going the leave it all on the course. Even though I was working hard, I kept my breathing smooth and kept thinking to myself “smooth is fast” Going to 4k, my heart rate was 182-183, and I got it back down to 181 bpm with about a third of a mile to go. I clocked in a 25:10 (8:06/mile pace) Second best time this year at an 5K event. Not fast by most standards, but a good performance for yours truly. Happy that I did not lose to much speed since my “A” race at Ironman Syracuse. I’ll be able to start my out season base training  later this fall with a much higher Vdot than I had last fall. Very helpful for Ironman Lake Placid next July.

For reference, winner of my age group (50-54) turned in a 15:24. Another observation, It took until the turn around, and working it hard to just pass a bunch of the 70-74 age groupers in the USAT Masters division. God bless them, but I can’t see how I can live long enough to beat these national class guys. Only way it will happen is attrition, simply outlive them. Me verses the zombies. Seriously, they were most impressive. Another observation: going out to the turn around, I got to see the front runners coming back. They make running sub 5 minute miles look so effortless and fluid. My DNA envies them. Takes me back to the days of driving the lead vehicle, and watching the front runners churn out the course. I always enjoyed that.

Post race refreshments were great, Gatorade, turkey sub, and I was good to go. 20th Anniversary finishers medal was very nice! While I was relaxing post 5K, another runner came up and asked if he could have his picture taken with me. I was taken back at first, as this is not something I normally get asked. After a little conversation I learned that he had focused on trying to catch me during the race, but just not able to catch me. Given my pace, again, not something I am use to hearing. Maybe he focused on my bright neon yellow Nike tank top, or the tattoos, not sure. I must be easy to spot- just saying. I believe he had a good race, and sought me out for the picture (posted at the bottom). As it also turns out, my new friend, Xinyu Wang is a student at Syracuse University working on his masters degree in engineering. Being an engineer myself, I do like the commonalities. It is a small world. Great to make a new friend, and it was a little twist on a great day of racing. It made my day.

Once I got myself settled down, I relaxed until the 3K fun run. I jumped in on that to run a couple of miles easy and enjoy the crowd. The kids were fun to watch, and I enjoyed my warm down.

Lots of great thoughts on today’s event.  It brought back many memories from those early years. Congrats to Dave, and the entire crew that puts it on every year, and I extend my best wishes for the years to come.

Most appropriate topic after a wonderful weekend celebrating our twelve year wedding anniversary. To illustrate just how great it has been for us, I have a short side bar I’ll divulge at the end of this blog post.

As an Endurance Nation team member I have an exhaustive list of terms, acronyms, and super secret decoder ring passwords at my disposal 🙂 One of these special abbreviations: SAU’s otherwise known as Spousal Approval Units. Team EN is really big on this, and is an often discussed topic.

SAU’s is just our techie-type ‘A’ -tri jocks way of saying “brownie points for putting up with all this triathlon stuff.” Let’s face it, all of the training and racing places demands on time and resources. Just like utilizing rest and recovery to up your game and race performances, taking care of and spending time with your loved ones are just as important. Arguably more so. OK, way more important. Even if your soul mate is also an athlete, sooner or later, non-tri related diversity will be an important concept.

Like many things in life, balance and moderation can be beneficial. Moderation is not typically a common word in a triathlete’s vocabulary. Just the same- zen, harmony, karma all apply here. A happy home means a happy athlete. Over time this can really add up. Staying in the sport depends on keeping balance. Unless you make a living at it, even if you do, it’s suppose to be fun, rewarding and enjoyable. It’s all a game, and something fun we love to do. We all know the mantra of more, faster, harder, repeat.

Back to my SAU’s.

To start, I married up. My wife Lee is beyond supportive in all things I do. Very smart move on my part 🙂 As loving and supportive as she is, time spent together and doing things as a couple is not to be neglected. Too much time training, and not enough cuddle time, romantic dinners, or just spending time doing things on our land, would make her a little “restless.” In my/our case, we both have demanding professional jobs. Lee does not participate in the tri sports, but loves hiking, kayaking, and we hunt together a great deal during spring and fall seasons. Even without my tri passion, there are many demands on our quality time together.

Lee gave me some leeway on my return to the sport during my fitness base build pre-Syracuse, and especially during the weeks of training preparing for Ironman Syracuse 70.3. The benefits of course are better health, big weight loss, the evidence of fatty liver disease gone, and my cholesterol levels dropping to near acceptable levels (still have more to go.) Even though she supported me making good decisions for my health and quality of our future, it did place encroaching demands on our time as a couple.

Having a few smarts to my credit, I moved training when I could to times of the day when she went to work (she leaves an hour before I do), or during my lunch time. I raced some, but not every weekend or back to back Saturday/Sundays. We did get into the habit of having dinner out once a week or every two weeks, usually at Hairy Tony’s (our fav.) There were plenty of days where Lee would pick me up at an end point of a long run, or I would run with our weimeraners to give here some quiet time after a long day at work. Jake and Abby do love to run. Sometimes Lee would come to the races with me, the ultimate support crew, and then we would go do couple stuff afterwards. We enjoy travel, and the wineries here in NY especially. Those are big SAU days. My big day finishing Ironaman Syracuse, Lee volunteered as a wetsuit stripper, and then spent the rest of the day supporting my race. I kept my promise to back down the racing post Syracuse. A few road races, and one triathlon for the reminder of the summer.

This past weekend we vacationed in Lake Placid for our twelfth anniversary. No racing, in fact no training, unless you count the walk around Mirror lake to walk off a wonderful dinner. We did drive the Ironman course, which just happens to be a beautiful drive. Yep, it is that awesome of a drive, breathtaking, especially as you come into Wilmington from the east. I ran my long run last night after we got home. no training during our honeymoon/anniversary trip.

As to future SAU’s- This fall I will run the NYC marathon. I planned it as a long weekend, taking the train down and back, spending a few extra days in the big city. It will be a nice mini vacation for us. Lots of side benefits for us as a couple, and even more for myself as an athlete. Mini race vacations take away the pressure of getting so much done in one or two days. A extra day to be a tourist, an extra day after to relax recover, travel home are all good reasons to add a few days. Even so, in keeping with a constant flow of SAU’s, non race vacations must be planned with the same regularity and enthusiasm as big race weekends. Next season there will be the ramp to finish my first ironman in Lake Placid. I will make the same efforts to balance out the time spent doing this. Since this is such a huge focus, there will be less racing, more training. In deciding on which ironman event, I had been considering Wisconsin , and Cedar Point which are both late summer races, and easier to train for given our weather here. However, Lee loves going to Lake Placid, and is familiar with the area. It would be every bit a long day for her as well as myself. Supporting me for such a long day in a new or unfamiliar town made my choice much easier. Lake Placid won out.

To complete my promised sidebar: ( please note: this is not tri related)

As I had mentioned it has been a great 12 years of marriage (the three years, three months , and 9 day courtship wasn’t too bad either.) One evening we were watching TV, and the fall movie ads were coming out with all the horror and action flicks that I like. Lee is real big on the girly love stories. An ensuing discussion came about that we had been seeing my preferred genre of films, and we were due for a love story. You could say my next response could be SAU related, you decide…………………. In quick fashion I remarked: “Why would you need to see a love story when you are already living one”

Great way to muster support for seeing the next “Blade” or “Resident Evil” movie. That aside, yeah, it’s really is/been that good. I couldn’t ask for a better 12 years. umm……..15 years 3 months and 9 days not that anyone is counting.

Any of you have great SAU stories, things you did to show your appreciation! Do post!

First things first- I love this race! If you have done more than a few events, you quickly learn to appreciate one that is well organized and well ran. Huge kudos to Jarrod Kolodziejczyk (race director), Cortland  Tri Club, Cortland YMCA, Cortland United Way, and especially the over the top volunteers. To pull off the event the way they did for an inaugural race is impressive.  Any race for that matter. As I think back, all the events I signed up for this year were well ran, and easy for the athlete to enjoy. You could say it’s just my perspective, and that I am just enjoying being back in the sport. Some truth to that. However, aside from being a participant,  I also volunteer at races and you learn first hand what it takes to put on an event. With all that said, the Cortland Tri was a big success!

The race this past Saturday was the last triathlon of my 2012 season. My last hurrah if you will. With the New York City Marathon just six weeks out, the race coincided with an off week long run of 10 miles (next week is an 18 miler) which I’ll run today or tomorrow. This also fits my idea of cross discipline training to gain fitness instead of logging more and more run miles which my body doesn’t tolerate all that well. Other pluses include: a local race, modest race fee, and the course is on the same training grounds I use  from work at lunch time. I can execute it as a training day or go all out effort, and not beat myself up too bad.

I felt pretty decent on race morning. Ultimately I chose to do something in between effort wise. I made my goal to maintain a zone 4 effort, and see how well I could keep my heart rate in a 155-160 bpm range. If I felt really good, I might bottom out the gas pedal. In the back of my mind I always worry that I might push too hard, then either injure something, or not recover quick enough for my long runs which are a priority for my remaining ‘A’ race.

Race packet pick up was super easy at the Cortland YMCA. I took the opportunity to use the pool to shake out not swimming in recent weeks. A few hundred yards, and my usual not so efficient stroke was normal and expected. All stuff I need to work on this winter. Just the same, familiarity and that things had not changed for the worse was comforting. I may be slow, but I will be steady, not panic, and just get it done.

Race morning was a balmy (not) 52 degrees, with the water hovering at 68. All good with a wetsuit. Picked up my timing chip, and got set up in the transition area. Again, well organized and easy. Saw a bunch of people I knew, and it was great to see them again. Yep, I was excited to race, and in a great mood for the day.  The 800 yard swim was set up as an out and back course. Simple and easy. Wave starts went as advertised. I went out on the second wave. No problems getting settled in, and finding a rhythm. Other than the water/bottom being a bit gooey & stinky the first 1oo yards, and some oncoming traffic that crossed over on the return leg, the swim was one of the better experiences this season. Swim time: 21:29, 2:41/100. Slow, but no problems, enjoyable first leg of the race. One last mention, plenty of volunteers on the swim course looking out for our safety. Plenty of coverage from canoes and kayaks. Very much appreciated.

For the bike, I opted to put on my (dry) running top after the swim, and then my EN team cycling jacket over that. Worth the extra time. I did forget to bring a towel, and used my fleece pullover to dry off a little bit. Got out on the course with no problems and settled in quickly on the aerobars. I had to back off a little the first mile as my heart rate was spiking, and there was a little headwind. I was very happy that I got my pedal cadence up in the 90-92 rpm range and kept it there. Once I felt dialed in, I increased my effort, and passed a bunch of folks on the bike course. Crossing over on the north end of the course I had to come out of the aerobars, as the rear disk I was running was being pushed around with the wind gusts. A little unnerving. I should have ran my trispoke in the back. Once we made the turn south, it was all good. Bike pace picked up with the tail wind. I passed more cyclists on the back roads to the west of Preble. The last few miles were very fast. Overall I averaged 18.5 mph on the 14.8 mile course. Happy with keeping it at a zone 4 effort. 160bpm for most of the course. A lot of effort to be applied this winter to improve bike splits for next year’s season. Overall I liked the bike course, and there were plenty of very loud and enthusiastic volunteers at all the corners and intersections. Very safe and well controlled course.

Back into transition, again volunteers were fantastic, very helpful. Not much to mention in T2 other than I tore my race bib,and had to find my keys to punch a new hole, and reattach. Lost a minute there. Plesantly surprised that I got my running legs under me quickly as I did a fare amount of work on the bike course. Even though I didn’t ride pedal to the metal, I was working it. I felt good going into the run. Absolutely loved the run course. most of it was packed or gravel trail that was mostly wooded. A favorite setup for me. I normally dislike double loop courses, but I really enjoyed this one. I remember thinking to my self about how I was looking forward to the second trip around as I crossed the little bridge. There is something inherently evil  about having to choose right or left chute within sight of the finish line. left to go back around, right to finish. Seriously, I didn’t mind it, but your brain does look at that and go, hmmmm. The run leg of the race was just as consistent as the other legs with the course being filled with great volunteers.  I ran the 5K leg in 27:23, a 8:50/ mile pace. Considering that my current 50-54 AG PR is 24:02, and that I stayed within my planned effort until the last half mile, I was happy with it. Other than my legs being a little tired today, I’ll be ready to do my 10 miler.

I finished the race in 1:42:03, and made sure the back of the pack was well represented 🙂 Before the race I predicted a range of 1:34 ish as an all out effort, to a 1:40ish time if I stayed within my effort box. Very solid training day and a very enjoyable one.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of 70-79 and 80+  athletes there. I can only hope I live that long, and look that good. Even larger hope is to look as good as they did tackling the course. Very inspirational.

Again, kudos to all those that help put the event on, and looking forward to this event in 2013

As much as I tell myself, that I am slowing down, and focusing on my priorities, my list of things to do never seems to end. This fall season is no exception. All good stuff, so I can live with it.

Next ‘A’ race is NYC marathon. A bucket list item, with a goal to finish and look good doing it. No set time goal. This will be my tenth marathon. The nine prior marathons were all ran in the nineties. My lifetime PR still remains @ 3:26:28 that I ran in the 1994 Toronto marathon. Most of my times are between that and 3:45. Back to 2012, my prediction on a fast course would be 4:15 with my current weight and fitness. Either way, I will enjoy the ride, and will have a great experience. Glad to be back at it.

Training so far has been subdued compared to the Syracuse Ironman ramp up. No injuries, I feel decent, just a bit slower than this spring. Currently using Endurance Nation’s short course plan with a marathon hack. I like this as historically I could never tolerate high run mileage. With this approach I can still improve my fitness without pounding my legs. Long runs are going well. I have several half marathons done in August, and posted a 16 miler last weekend. All good! Still have 18, 20 , and 22 mile long runs to put in the done column in route to running in the big city.

This weekend is the Little York Sprint Tri. A fun event, no goals other than some quality training time. One last multisport event to end the season. I may push a little, but my focus is the next long run. End of the month, I return to Festival of Races 5K. Been many moons since I ran that one. I volunteered as a technical coordinator and help put on the inaugural event and a few subsequent races after that. This year it it the day before fall turkey season, so no moral conflict at my house.

Once we get past the New York Marathon, then it will be a planned and focused effort for 2013 Ironman Lake Placid. I’ll have plenty to blog about that subject at a later time.

Still up in the air about 2013 Syracuse Ironman 70.3 as to do it as a team or volunteer. Obviously I feel a real connection and fondness for the event. I have ruled out doing it as a solo “A’ or ‘B’ race as it is only 5 weeks from Lake Placid. The rational for is better explained at Endurance Nation: http://www.endurancenation.us/blog/training/racing-a-half-ironman-before-a-full-ironman/

If I was an elite level athlete, maybe I could look at it differently as a ‘B’ race. No worries for me on that 🙂

I am feeling pretty good on the Core Diet, great recipes. Also gathering up some of the recipes that fellow bloggers are posting. The pictures are yummy. No weight loss yet, actually up 6 lbs from Ironman Syracuse. Still getting use to the diet, and figuring out what works for me. Dialing down calories, and no doubt I’ll get this figured out.

I have some thoughts for upcoming blogs and will post soon. Hope that you all have a great fall season!

Along with having a great race experience, a few days later I got to preview what I thought were some great pics from finisherpix.com.  Almost look like a runner. Love the tan lines, the tell tale signs of being too much of a cracker, and spending more time in tri-shorts that running shorts. I ponied up, and now have some pics that capture a super nice day, and a race I enjoyed very much!