Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hammonton Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #4: 5/24/2008


Hammonton, my fourth race of the 2008 season, is a low-key, local New Jersey sprint triathlon. Distances are 0.25- mile swim, 12.7-mile bike, and a 5k. I did this race in 2004 and returned and did the bike/run portion as part of a relay with Judy in 2005 nine days after my shoulder separation.

This race is a “C” race for me. Raced in the middle of a heavy 3-week training block as part of my final prep for Eagleman, my first “A” race of the season. This race was also 13 days after my H-IM at Gulf Coast. My objectives for the race (in order of importance) were: 1. get a high quality brick workout in; 2. win my AG; and 3. improve on my prior performances time-wise.

The Swim

Race day dawned with nearly ideal conditions which was a treat given the weather we were subjected to for my first 3 races of ’08. Sunny and temps in the 55-65 degree range. Modest wind at 7-12 mph. The water was a bit nippy at 61-62 degrees but given the short swim this was not a concern.

Twelve guys started in my AG but the only competitor I was concerned about was my old buddy Mickey Syrop. Mickey is a great guy I’ve raced about 20 times through the years. He is a very good swimmer and a better runner than I. The bike is typically where I have to beat him.

The swim is an out and back in a shallow, weedy lake. It’s not for everyone but I rather like this swim. Once again the dinosaurs go off last (come on Chuck—give us a break!). It’s real fun to be in a low-key race. Kind of a return to my roots. There is a lot of good-natured kidding as we await the horn. Ed Wright tells Mickey to make sure he knows where I am. It’s fun being a “marked man”.

I break hard at the start—a full sprint for about the first 50 yards. I start right on Howard Levine’s shoulder. Howard isn’t in my AG but he is clearly the best swimmer in our wave (he was an Olympic caliber swimmer back in the day). I feel great but fall increasingly further behind Howard who is awesome. I seem to be clear of most other folks in our wave.

About 75 yards from the turnaround I get crashed into from the right—my blind side. We hit about 4-5 times and I decide to back-of and jump on his feet. I quickly figure out that this is Mickey (he’s wearing an orange cap under his white). Mick has a very strong kick and he’s easy to draft on. This is great! Mick usually beats me by 30 seconds or so in a swim like this so to be on his feet at this point is nice. Mick is swimming hard and I have to focus to stay with him.

We begin to swim through the slower swimmers from the waves in front of us as we reach the turn. The field compresses and I’m on Mick’s feet several times as we navigate the turn. We sort that out and Mick applies the accelerator. I struggle to hold on and briefly contemplate letting him go, as I know he’s supposed to out swim me. I’m able to regroup however and focus on a nice tight draft.

The crowd is thick in front of us and we have to weave through them. As we near the finish, Mick veers left to avoid a big clump of slower swimmers. I conclude that this is a tactical mistake, as the right, nearer the shore, appears to be more open and a more direct line. This also allows me to keep my eye on Mick as I breathe predominately on my left. My path proves to be superior and as we pass a large group I notice that I am a couple of body lengths in front of him. I decide to drive hard to the beach and I exit the water in front of him.

I hit the beach in 7:10, five seconds in front of Mick. I learn latter that I’m 2nd out of the water in my AG (out of 12) and I’m 36th overall out of 238 individuals. Surprisingly, my HR only averages 151 bpm, which is still an aerobic effort for me. All four of my swims (from .25 to 1.2 miles) this year have basically been at this HR. This is curious and I’ll have to evaluate it some. But one thing for sure is that I have excellent swim fitness at this point and I’ve just had a very good swim in this triathlon! Here is the data:

2008 2004 Delta

Time 7:10 8:56 19.8%

AG Place 2/12 2/9
AG %-tile 91.7 88.9

OA Place 36/238 35/122
OA %-tile 85.3 72.1

Competitively, here is where we were at after the swim:

1. Richard Grout
2. Randy Christofferson +0:22
3. Mickey Syrop +0:27

I also did one final post-race analyses by looking at how triathletes who raced both Bassman (4 weeks ago) and Hammonton compared on their swims. My comparison group was Duprex, Smith, Donohue and Grout all who swam faster than I in both. Relative to this group I did 5.4% or 24 seconds faster at Hammonton than would have been predicted by my swim at Bassman. This could be explained by a bad swim at Bassman for me (relatively) but I really do think it’s consistent with a good result here at Hammonton and a validation of my peaking efforts for Eagleman. That’s my story and I’m going to stick with it!

Transition One

The transition at Hammonton is a relatively simple affair. It’s a neutral flow through set-up, although being at the bike out end is a definite advantage. Having arrived at the race site at 5:30 this is where I was racked. I thought I did a reasonable job on the transition although I lost a few seconds getting one of my shoes on. I completed my transition and mounted up in 1:39 with an average HR of 161.

In 2004, I did this transition in 1:25, although the transition flow that year was faster—by 5 seconds or so I’d estimate. I had the second fastest transition time in my AG as Mickey beat me pretty easily and was out on the bike ahead of me—primarily because his bike shoes were clipped in to his pedals (more on that latter). I was 35th OA. While this seems pretty reasonable, I do have to conclude that my transitions are pretty mediocre—I really should work on them!

The good news was, excepting Mickey; everyone in my AG was considerably slower than I. I was 16 seconds faster than Grout and 21 seconds slower than Mickey. So here are the standings after T1:

1. Mickey Syrop 8:25
2. Richard Grout +0:10
3. Randy Christofferson +0:16

The Bike

The Hammonton bike course is an out and back affair that measures 12.7 miles. It only has 7 turns so is a technically simple course. It does have some smallish hills and today we had a helping wind on the outbound leg and headwind heading home. It’s not a real “fast” course for reasons that are not entirely evident to me. Maybe a combination of the road surface, the undulations, the slow turns and the wind make it a mile per hour or so slow.

In any event, off we went. Just after exiting the park I saw Mickey ahead trying to get his feet into his shoes. I had already made up a good portion of his 16-second lead. I’m probably old school on this but I just don’t think the shoes in the pedals thing works that well for us old guys. I think it leads to slow bike splits (which I hate) and is a bit dangerous with all the traffic leaving and then entering transition.

We have a tight race leaving T1 in my AG but I am very intent on changing that quickly. While Grout does not pose a running threat, Mickey does and I sure don’t want him anywhere near me leaving T2. I put the hammer down and by 0.75 miles I catch and pass him. Presumably, I also pass Grout somewhere early in the bike leg.

It was an unremarkable bike leg from then on. I tried to keep my power up—I wanted to average 260-280 watts. I made the turnaround and saw I had about a 1:45 lead on Mickey and knew then that the AG victory was most likely mine. It was a bit of a challenge back into the wind as the speed bled off but the great thing about a PM is that you can just focus on your watts and ignore the speed.

As I came back into transition, I saw Midge crashed on the side of the road. She had just gone down when Jocelyn Saunders had run into her from behind as they were nearing the park. When Midge was hit she was busy taking her feet out of her shoes. Hmmmm. Midge is fantastic at transitions—much better than I will ever be and there is no way to know if the focus on the shoes contributed to her crash but I do think I’ll stay old school on this.
I completed the bike leg in 32:02 for an average speed of 23.8 mph. I averaged 254 watts with an average HR of 158 bpm. The latter is pretty good and is only 4bpm or so off from what I consider to be my “peak sprint HR”. I seem to be getting close. The power number is disappointing. I feel like my normalized power is considerably higher and I’ll have to download it into training peaks to check. My average cadence was 80 rpm which is below where I’d like it (85-90) but this probably, in part, reflects the turns and the sections in the park where you coast and soft pedal a fair amount.

I was 3:33 faster than Mick and 3:40 faster than Grout on the bike. I hopped off the bike with a comfortable lead:

1. Randy Christofferson 41:02
2. Mickey Syrop +3:07
3. Richard Grout +3:24

My bike split compared favorably to my two prior Hammonton bike legs:

2008 2004 2005

Time 32:02 32:25 32:52

AG place 1/12 1/9 NA
AG %-tile 100.0 100.0 NA

OA place 9/238 5/122 7/219
OA %-tile 96.6 96.7 97.3

Comparing my relative times vs. Bassman and my comparison group shows I did 1.4% better which was good for a 27 second relative improvement. I’m not happy with a 9th place bike split but if I had been 15 seconds faster I would have placed 6th which would have been more in line with my expectations.
Transition Two

Short and simple. Although in my case, not that fast. I complete T2 in 1:09 with an average HR of 154 bpm. This is the 3rd fastest in my AG and a pedestrian 75th OA. Did anyone mention I need to work on my transitions? Mickey is 12 seconds faster than I but I’m able to put 20 more seconds on Grout. We leave T2 as follows:

1. Randy Christofferson 42:03
2. Mickey Syrop +2:55
3. Richard Grout +3:44

The Run

The run is a simple out and back. The initial part in the park, about ¾th of a mile, is on a dirt and sand path. After that it’s sidewalks and roads. The run is very flat, and with the near ideal running weather, very fast. And I feel fast right from the start. Due to my wave start, I’m passing more people than are passing me. I feel good with a nice lift in my legs. This is very encouraging given the heavy workload since Gulf Coast.

There are no mile markers but I feel like I’m having my fastest run of the year. At the turn I see that I’m about 2:30 ahead of Mickey and basically cruise home. I’m pushing it but if I needed to I had another couple of gears ready to be selected. I hit the finish line with a 21:15 run split and an average HR of 165 bpm. The latter indicates I was pushing, though not as hard as I can in a 5k. I’m a little surprised my HR was that high, as it did not feel that hard. My HR may be a little elevated from my recent training and the associated fatigue. If the course was accurate, my split translates into a 6:51/mile pace, which while a step in the right direction, is still not where it needs to be.

Relatively, I showed the same ratios in comparison to Bassman as the other four triathletes—so no progress was is evident in these numbers. Mickey was able to put 56 seconds on me in the run so I beat him by 2:10 (63:17 to 65:27). Grout was another 3+ minutes back. Here is the run and overall race data:

2008 2004 2005

Run time 21:15 23:11 22:26

AG place 2/12 1/9 NA
AG %-tile 91.7 100.0 NA

OA place 60/238 36/122 51/219
OA %-tile 75.2 71.3 77.2

Total time 63:17 66:43

AG place 1/12 1/9
AG %-tile 100.0 100.0

OA place 21/238 11/122
OA %-tile 91.6 91.8


1. Good race—all pre-race objectives achieved
2. My swim is in great shape. I should be able to PR at Eagleman.
3. My bike is also in pretty good shape. It’s not where I wanted it to be (2:20 bike split at EM) but I’m probably capable of riding near a PR or better if the conditions are decent.
4. My run is still very suspect. The 1:38 I ran at White Lake seems completely out of reach. I probably need to run 1:40 and certainly 1:43 (which I did last year at EM) to have a chance of qualifying for Kona. I feel that I’m really at risk here. But you never know! I’m certainly going to go for it like I believe I can do it. We’ll find out in less than 2 weeks!

Monday, May 12, 2008

GCT Race Report


Third race of the season and first “real” race. The GCT is a Half-Ironman distance race in Panama City Beach, predominately on the IMFL racecourse. My two “pre-season” races were the Kinetic Sprint in Virginia where I finished 2nd in my AG and the Bassman International Distance race where I finished first two weeks ago.

GCT, a “B” race for me, comes at the end of the 4th week of my 8-week build to Eagleman70.3, which is my first “A” race of the year (in early June). I’m beginning to feel in pretty good shape as I sharpen up and drop weight with my increased focus on training and nutrition.

A week before the race I had a bit of a scare when I apparently impinged my Peroneal Nerve in my right leg and my lower leg and foot became partially paralyzed and I loss the ability to dorsiflex, or lift up my right foot and toes. This made it difficult for me to drive, walk and certainly run as I kept stumbling around. After seeing the doctor I was relieved in that he felt it was highly likely to be a transient effect and would likely disappear in 4-6 weeks. Indeed, by race morning I felt like I had about 75% of my normal functionality in my right foot—I felt good to go.

Competition wise, there were 112 people entered in my AG (although some of these folks were Clydesdales) and close to 1800 overall. As it turned out, only 81 would start in my AG and 1312 overall. Some of this may have been due to the weather conditions which looked daunting as we awoke a 3am on race morn. The dew point at 3am was 73 degrees, which is downright scary. The high was projected to climb up to 85 by the coast and into the 90s in-land. This combined with the excessive humidity made the run especially look very difficult. It was also going to be windy, 15-20 mph, and given the wind direction, this would make most of the last 25 miles on the bike quite challenging. There was concern with the swim as well as the water was quite rough and the race director said at the pre-race meeting that the race might be turned into a duathlon if the water was deemed unsafe.

In my AG, I had two primary concerns. The defending champion, Scott Ewing was signed up and he is an outstanding triathlete from Florida. He was ranked 11th (I’m ranked 67th) in the country last year and his winning time at last year’s race was the 3rd fastest for our AG over the 12 years that I could find race data (this is the 26th edition of this venerable race). The other fellow was Laurence Cohen, another perennial All-American who had among other accomplishments, won my AG twice at the New York City Triathlon—a highly competitive national level event. Besides these two guys, there were a half-dozen or so other guys who I felt could give me some trouble. While I was not yet 100% and being a “B” race I was not fully tapered, I did think I had an excellent chance of finishing in the top 5 and potentially giving the top two guys a good run for the money.

The Swim

After going through our usual pre-race routine, Dave Spartin and I arrived at the race site at about 5:15am. We were in the 7th wave, which was scheduled to head out at 6:45. Pre-race preparation went smoothly (although I noticed I was sweating just getting set-up) and we headed towards the water at about 6:15. We learned that there would indeed be a swim and that the water temp was 75 degrees so wetsuits would be allowed. We also learned that Ewing was a no-show and it looked like I had only one major obstacle for the 50-54 AG title.

After a brief warm-up and watching the first 6 waves head out we were standing at the water’s edge waiting for the horn. The water was choppy/rough but not excessively so. It was overcast so there wasn’t a lot of light at this early hour. Finally we were off.

I started way over on the right hand side as I figured the rough water would make for a chaotic start. The swim course was set-up identically to IMFL so we were swimming counter-clockwise and I had the buoys on my left, which is great because that’s my preferred breathing side. I didn’t overly push the start because I was focused on navigating the rough surf and the two main break points. There was some bumping with other swimmers as people had trouble swimming straight but I was soon able to find relatively open water and I sighted on the second buoy (at about 450 yards) and thought I would reintegrate with the pack and try to find a draft there.

I felt pretty good but awkward because the waves continually threw me off-balance. None-the-less, I could tell I was ahead of most of my AG. I rejoined the gang at 450 yards but did not find a draft until the third buoy, around 675 yards in. Here we began to swim through the slower swimmers from the waves in front of us. This would be a feature of the swim the rest of the way. With older men and all the women in front of me this turned out to be a bit of a challenge and I had to spend a lot of energy sighting to avoid running over swimmers in front of me. I must say at this point in my triathlon career I prefer mass starts.

I lost my draft after the first turn buoy and swam without one the rest of the way—it was too difficult to maneuver with the masses of slower swimmers. I hit the second turn buoy at 18:30, which I knew from my IMFL experience meant I was swimming about a 35 minute pace. I was VERY pleased with this news given the conditions. My best H-IM swim times are around 33 minutes so I figured 37-38 minutes would be good today.

I seemed to feel better and stronger as the swim progressed and I saw fewer and fewer green caps so I knew I was having a very solid swim. I tried to body surf up to shore but missed all the good waves and finally hit terra firma at 34:44. I was thrilled with this time. This is the 5th fastest of my 11 H-IMs but given the conditions, a very good result. To get a sense of how much the conditions affected my results I took the times of the 10 fastest guys in my AG who raced last year and then this year. This group on average was 3:03, or about 8.2% slower than last year. If the same ratio applied to me I would have swam 31:44 last year—I think it’s safe to say this was an excellent swim for me.

I averaged 152 bpm for my HR, which indicates I swam with a relatively easy, aerobic effort. Very nice! I didn’t know exactly where I stood in my AG but in fact I was 7th out of the 81 competitors. Here were the standings after the swim:

1. Laurence Cohen
2. John Mrosek +0:57
3. Ronald Woods +1:43
4. Jon Rubel +1:57
5. Michael Meece +2:31
6. Kevin Mahan +3:32
7. Randy Christofferson +3:36
8. Mark Miller +4:29
9. David Garrett +4:30
10. Richard Clarke +4:31

At 7th, I finished at the 92.6 %-tile in my AG. Overall, I was in 234th after the swim or 82.2 %-tile. I was well-positioned and only 3:36 behind my main competitor.

One last note on the swim. A 38 year old in the wave behind me had difficulty during the swim and by the time hey got him to the shore he had passed away. While this may have been due to the rough surf I think it more likely he had some type of other trouble like a heart attack. Last year when I raced IMFL at this venue a 43-year-old woman also died during the swim. Scary!

Transition One

I had a mediocre transition taking 4:11 with an average HR of 167 (10th/88.9% in my AG and 442nd/66.4% OA). I don’t remember doing anything especially poorly but I guess this old man is just getting slow! When I grabbed my bike my SRM unplugged and since I had 56 miles ahead of me I did stop for 5-6 seconds to plug it back in. I’m a little disappointed with my transition as I’ve switched over from a Camelback to a Hydro-Tail for my hydration and I would have expected a faster split. Oh well!

The good news was that Cohen put only 6 seconds on me I was now 3:42 out of the lead. I did move up on some of the other competitors and was now in 6th, just 5 seconds out of the top 5. And the best was about to start!

The Bike

The bike course is somewhat different than the IMFL course as you actually go east on an out and back for the first 4 miles. I knew what Cohen’s bike looked like and up to the turn-around and for several minutes after it I looked for him. I guessed that I must have missed him and that he was probably in front of me. I put it out of my mind and settled down to business.

I felt very good and was concentrating on keeping my power in the 225-240 watt zone as much as I could. I was passing many other cyclists in the beginning and due to my 5 minute head start on the young guys and decent swim I had very few pass me. The wind was generally behind us for 20 of the first 30 miles out to the turnaround. I found myself comfortably cruising in the 26-30 mph range. I wasn’t really that focused on my speed as I knew I would be riding 5-8 mph slower on the way back. Still it was fun with the wind at my back.

I don’t remember passing anyone in my AG but it was probably due to everyone’s ages being sweated off by this point. Just as I reached mile 20 I saw Cohen. I was very pumped and immediately threw on the power and I went by him at 32mph. I was very psyched. I correctly surmised that I had moved into first. I said out loud: “Were racing my race now. Come and catch me mfers!” I had made up an average of 11 seconds per mile on Cohen. I went through 25 miles in just 62 minutes. I was averaging 24.2 wind aided MPH at that point in the race.

I settled down and focused on trying to get as far ahead as I could. At the turnaround, I estimated that I had picked up about 2 minutes on Cohen, which was about 12 seconds per mile. Based on that, I figured I would be about 5:15 ahead of him at the start of the run. I thought if I could run about 1:50 for the half-marathon I would be gold. I definitely thought I could do that as I’ve run as fast as 1:38 (White Lake last year). Even with the heat, this seemed doable.

It was a nice problem free ride. I drank 2.5 bottles of Cytomax/Gatorade—about 65-70 ounces which I thought was about right. I also consumed five shots of Gel and ate 18 Enduralytes so I figured I was good to go for the run.

I hit the end of the bike leg in 2:26:32 with an average HR of 151, average power of 222 watts and an average speed of 22.9 mph. This was also my 5th fastest bike split but only 2:30 off my PR, again in tough conditions. I figured I was at least 5 minutes ahead of anyone else. In fact, I only had the second fastest bike split today and while I had indeed opened up a 5:21 lead on Cohen, I only had a 1:04 lead on Burkhalter who had out-biked me by 32 seconds. Here were the standings after the bike:

1. Randy Christofferson
2. Boomer Burkhalter +1:04
3. John Mrosek +3:14
4. Jirka Chaloupka +5:14
5. Laurence Cohen +5:21
6. Mark Miller +8:25
7. Floyd Coleman +8:34
8. David Garrett +9:53
9. Michael Meece +14:40
10.Curtis Brooks +14:43

My bike split was good enough for 2nd/98.8% in my AG and 99th/92.5% OA. The group of 10 who raced both years was on average 5:01 slower this year or about 3.2%. This implies an equivalent time for me for last year of 2:21:51. My best ever H-IM split is 2:24:04. This was indeed a very good bike for me.

Transition Two

I felt like I had a solid T2, even though I took 15 seconds or so to pull on my compression socks. My total T2 was 2:01, which was good enough for 9th in my AG and 116th OA. Both above the 90%-tile. MY HR averaged 148 bpm. What I didn’t know is that I had a bunch of guys right behind me and that Laurence Cohen was about to DNF (I’m not sure when after entering T2).

The Run

I started the run figuring I had a nice, but potentially insufficient margin. I figured if I could run 1:50 I would probably win. I thought that if I ran 1:42 I would break 4:50, which seemed possible. I though a sub-5 hour result was basically in the bag.

I felt very good right away. I was running with a nice spring in my legs, which felt very good. I hit the first mile in 7:44 which seemed a little slow. But I also noted that my HR was 162! This is 2 bpm above my H-IM run limit and about 10 bpm higher than I expected. I averaged 158 bpm for the first mile.

I decided to just ease back a little and my second mile was 8:13 with an average HR of 162. Oh-oh! Trouble in River City! No way my HR should be this high at this pace. My HR averages 140 at an 8-minute mile pace in training runs. I felt really good but began to suspect that I was under a lot of heat stress. The sun was coming out and it was getting very hot. I was buying everything they were selling at each aid station. I was drinking 2-3 cups of fluid. Pouring 3-4 over my head. I used 2-6 sponges and poured ice down my tri-suit and put it into my hat. This was every mile.

Despite this, my third mile was 8:43/162bpm and this slowdown was unintentional. I actually tried to push the 4th mile and did an 8:39/163bpm but noticed that I was feeling considerably worse. At this point I decided I needed to really back off as I was afraid I was going to blow up on the run. No one had caught me yet and maybe they were having trouble with the heat as well. I decided to use my cushion and to run what I thought was very conservatively.

Miles 5 and 6 were 8:52/160 and 9:10/159 respectively and as I neared the half-way point of the run I realized I was in a fair bit of trouble and that I was going to finish over 5 hours. I just shook my head and told myself to suck-it-up and keep going. Who knows what was going on behind me?

Miles 7-10 were: 9:18/158, 9:34/159, 9:48/158 and 9:44/159. I was at my limit and plodding along slower and slower. I was hurting a great deal. In fact, I felt horrible. Far worse than I’ve ever felt in a H-IM. I was extremely hot. I didn’t know that my soaked white tri-top was essentially transparent to the sun and I was being fried alive (I think I got a bit of sun-poisoning during the race). I desperately wanted to walk but since I hadn’t seen anyone pass me I decided I would run until someone did. This was VERY hard to do.

Things went from bad to worse in the 11th mile as first my arms and then my right hamstring began to flash warning signs that I was about to go into a major cramp. I had already eaten 12 Enduralytes on the run and I tried to find my last pack of 6 but couldn’t. I panicked a little as I didn’t think I would make it without them. I must have been losing it a bit because finally I was able to find them and get them down. My 11th mile was 10:44/158bpm and I was barely running faster than a fast walk. Still, I wasn’t aware of anyone passing me.

In fact, most of the guys behind me were having just as much trouble as I with the heat, with the notable exception of Mark Miller. As you recall, Mark was in 6th after the bike and after putting 42 seconds on me in transition, he started the run 7:43 behind me. As I run the math, probably late in the 11th or early in the 12th mile he passed me. I never saw him (maybe it was when I was fumbling for my Enduralytes at mile 12) and continued to believe I was still winning (though I knew at this pace, I could just as easily be in 5th).

The last two miles were very, very hard. I was running just under 11 minutes per mile with a HR of 160. I tried to pick it up several times but there was no way. With less than a half-mile to go I turned to see if there was anyone in my AG behind me but saw no one. I really wanted to walk or stop but I trudged all the way to the end. I didn’t even smile when I hit the finish line. I bent over and some volunteers walked me over to a chair about 10 feet from the finish line. There I sat for the next 10 minutes. I couldn’t get up. I was completely wasted. It occurred to me that I couldn’t have gone much further.

It seemed like it took me forever to get back to my bike and pack up my transition zone. I was really hurting. After packing up, I knew I needed to wait a while for David so I wandered over to the food tent to try to find something cold to drink. I looked at the prelim results and saw that I was first after T2 but they didn’t have the final results up yet. I also saw that a bunch of guys were a lot closer to me than I had expected and I guessed at that point that I didn’t win.

I went into the tent and saw people with ice cold Gatorade and sodas. I started to walk over to get one and began to feel light headed. I almost passed out and sat down with my head bowed down. I couldn’t get up. I wanted to ask someone to get me something but just sat there. Finally, I felt a little better and walked over and pulled a chair up by the tubs of drinks. I drank 2 Mountain Dews and 1 Pepsi and felt a bit of a rally coming on. I managed to walk outside and shower and change. I walked back to the results area and saw that I had dropped to 2nd in my AG (204th OA). I eventually rounded up David and we drove back to the Edgewater. 45 minutes later I was in my car for the 1117-mile drive back to Delaware.

My final run time was 2:07:25, an average of 9:44/mile. I averaged a HR of 159bpm. My run was 14th/84.0% in my AG and 348th/73.6% OA. The comparison group was on average 13:27 or 11.1% slower this year. My comparable time to last year would have been 1:53:16. One other thing. The run was actually 13.39-13.45 miles long according to he gang with Garmins on Slowtwitch. The last “1.1” miles took me over 16 minutes. Here are the top 5 finishers in my AG:

1. Mark Miller
2. Randy Christofferson +1:36
3. John Mrosek +7:05
4. Curtis Brooks +8:40
5. Todd Davidson +12:08

My final overall time was 5:14:55. I’ve only gone slower in two other H-IMs. None-the-less I finished 2nd/98.8% in my AG and 204th/84.5% overall. I could not have gone any faster down the stretch and while maybe if I had done some things differently I might have held on for the win, these changes are not immediately evident to me. I did the best I could do on this day and despite my total time today, I think I have a real chance to challenge my PB of 4:43 when I race at Eagleman in a month. I’ll need to if I hope to qualify for Hawaii. Time will tell!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gulf Coast Triathlon

Dave Spartin and I are down in PCB once again.  We are the DE contingent for the 26th Gulf coast Triathlon.  It is hot, humid and very windy--bring it on!   I'm psyched to be here to race the H-IM distance again--my favorite distance.  Also, this will be the 3rd time I've raced on this course (the other two being IMFL).   This will be a good building block for Eagleman in 4 weeks....more later!

PS--P is for Peroneal and S is for Syn-Visc

P:  My youngest son has had a baffling condition in his left foot for the last several months--his big toe droops down and he has trouble dorsiflexing his foot.  His muscles in his shin and the top of his ankle are atrophying.  We have learned that this is probably due to some problem with his Peroneal Nerve--a nerve that leaves the spine at the L5 region and travels down his leg to his ankle.  We just went to Hopkins Medical and learned that his nerve damage is probably located near his knee and that it is not deteriorating--both relatively good news--we hope to isolate the problem in the near future and hopefully correct the problem through surgery or otherwise.

With that as a backdrop, the events of last weekend are pretty surreal.  On Saturday night i was watching my daughter play Kate in "Kiss Me Kate" and when I got up from Intermission I noticed that my right leg was numb--like it was asleep.  Later I had trouble driving home and stumbled a bit as my right foot didn't seem to work right.  when I woke up on Sunday, I was no longer able to dorsiflex my foot and I had no muscle strength at all in the top of my ankle and my lower shin.  Further, most of the outside of my lower leg was numb.  Given Alex's situation, I immediately suspected that I had damaged my Peroneal Nerve by the way I was sitting during the play.

To make a long story short, I went to my ortho on Monday and confirmed that this was the problem.  He thought it was temporary and that I should expect to get most of the functionality back in 4-6 weeks.  However as I sit here on thursday, I already feel like I have 30-50% of the strength back--my running seems to be less impacted and that's good given I have the Half-IM this weekend.

S: I'm now 5 weeks from the start of my latest Syn-Visc cycle and the miracle has happened again--I am starting to run with only mild pain now in my left knee.

PS--take nothing for granted--you never know when it's going to be taken away from you!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Off to the races--preseason report

Well I finally got back to racing over the last two weekends.  I first raced down in Virginia at the Kinetic Sprint--a 750m swim/17.6 mile bike and a 5k.  Torrential rains greeted us that day.  I had a good race, especially given the conditions and finished 2nd out of 18 in my AG.  I finished about 40 seconds behind the leader.  I was 70 seconds down after what I thought was a very good swim (though my time was a bit disappointing).  I made up some time on the bike (despite being very conservative) but never was able to see him and I cruised through a slow 5k split on a tough course.

Last week was Bassman, a 0.55 mile swim/29 mile bike and a 4.4 mile run.  I won my AG by over 10 minutes.  My swim was solid, but still unintentionally conservative.  My bike was solid (though not great) and the good news was that I averaged 240 watts with only a 148 bpm HR.  My run was better again and I averaged around 7:20/mile--still a long ways to go, but getting there.

So now the season starts!  I've been dropping weight ( last fat measurement was 5.9%) and building towards Eagleman.  Next weekend, I'm down in Florida for the Gulf Coast Triathlon, my first real race of the season.  I feel like I'm in decent shape--sub 4:50????  Obviously not as good as at White Lake at this time last year but I'm feeling good about how my fitness is progressing towards Eagleman--my first "A" race of the year.....