Friday, June 27, 2008

Race Updates

I'm now up to date with all 7 of my triathlon race reports--find them filled below:

Parvin sprint Race Report

2008 Parvin Sprint Triathlon
Race Report #7: 6/21/08


The 5th edition of this small New Jersey gem. I had previously raced the 2004 and 2006 races. I volunteered in 2005, as I was just 9 days past my shoulder separating bike injury of that year. The swim length and shape is variable but advertised as a quarter mile. The bike clocks out at 12.3 miles and the run is a mixed surface 5K.

Race morning was pleasant with the earlier threat of rain evaporating. It was in the mid-70s with some humidity but nothing to worry about given the distances involved. Before the race there was very little wind though some probably developed during the race itself—more on that latter.

This was my third race in as many weekends and my 4th in 5 weeks. As such, and coming just 22 days before IM Austria, this was definitely a “C” race for me. In the past I have always raced poorly when I’ve tried to race 3 weekends in a row. However, given that I’m treating IMAUS as a “B” race (IMC will be my “A” race this summer) and all the personnel distractions of the past few weeks I thought it would be fun to just get out and blast a sprint. In particular, I really wanted to let it rip on the bike. My good friend and long-time competitor, Mickey Syrop was racing and he was really targeting this race to give me a battle so I got up at 4:30am and drove the 40 miles to Parvin State Park eager to do have at it!

The Swim

Us dinos were in the 4th and last wave. The swim was set up as 3 sides of a rectangle with 2 clockwise turns. The lake is a typical central New Jersey body of water and pleasant enough for the short time we would be in it. I put the water temp at about 78-80 degrees but as with other Chuck Sellers’ races this one was wetsuit legal (hoo-ray!).

I chose to line up to the right on the buoy line right next to fast Eddie Wright. Mick went to the far left. At the gun I got an excellent start and was able to pull away from everyone around me. In my haste I swam a little of-course and soon found myself inside the buoys and had to redirect and head on a line to the first turn-buoy. Since I was on the right and I breathe on the left I could see all the competitors in the wave easily. There was one swimmer clearly in the lead and I assumed this was Howard Levine. I soon learned that this was really Mickey (Howard had gone in an earlier wave).

We converged on the buoy from our opposite tact and Mick reached the buoy first, about 2 body lengths in front of me. I could feel another swimmer on my feet as I rounded second. I knew it was essential for me to stay on Mickey’s feet if I wanted to stay close because he is a stronger swimmer than I. This strategy had worked for me earlier at Hammonton where I was actually able to out split him in the swim for the first time. This was not to be the case in this race however as despite my going into the red zone he began to pull steadily away.

I noticed that I was fairly anaerobic and had to back off. I was passed by another swimmer in my wave. Soon I was weaving threw the slower traffic of the prior waves. I knew I was going to face a significant deficit in this swim to Mick and as I regained my balance I tried to stay calm and smooth to limit the time damage.

I hit the shore in 7:24 with an average HR of 154bpm, which tells me I probably did not push hard enough in the last 1/3rd of the race. (Last week at St. Andrews I had averaged a HR of 164). I was 18 seconds down to Mick so the damage wasn’t too great. I ended up with the 3rd best swim spit in my AG and the 26th best OA. Here is how this compares to the two prior year races:

2008 2006 2004

Time 7:24 8:07 5:58

AG rank 3/14 1/13 3/14
AG %-tile 85.7 100.0 85.7

OA rank 26/235 18/159 32/173
OA %-tile 89.4 89.3 82.1

In 2006 I had been 28 seconds down to Mick so from that perspective, I was in pretty good shape heading into T1. It should also be noted that the 2004 course was set up significantly shorter—my guess is this was my best swim here at Parvin. Despite that, I felt like my swim fitness had begun to degrade a bit from 2-3 weeks ago.

Transition One

Up the man-made beach and straight to the racks, T1 at Parvin is a straightforward affair. Mick and I were racked right next to each other and in the ideal location. I was pretty quick (for me) and completed my T1 in just 1:15 with an average HR of 167bpm. This was the 15th best in the OA field but Mick was even better. He put 9 more seconds on me and started the bike with a 27 second lead on me. Our transitions were much faster than the rest of our AG competitors so we were now head-to-head.

The Bike

A simple big rectangle. The roads are not ideal in some places and there is quite a bit of traffic to contend with (this is mitigated by relatively wide shoulders). They coned a number of the turns to keep us away from the vehicular threats so there were 2-3 places that were slow and congested.

I had inadvertently plugged my SRM into a faulty socket the night before so I had no real time data during the race—old school racing strictly by feel! As I mentioned above, my intent was to take no prisoners on the bike and it was my goal to post the top bike split in the race OA. That plus my 27-second gap to Mick put some urgency in my pedaling.

I was passing tons of triathletes from the earlier waves but it seemed to take forever for me to catch Mick. I had no idea how long or how far but Mick told me latter that it was about 3.5 miles into the race before I caught him. This computes to a 7-8 second per mile advantage for me vs. Mick. I didn’t know this of-course but if I had I would have been concerned—I had averaged 17 sec/mile faster than Mick at Hammonton. It did seem to me at the time that Mick was doing relatively better than at Hammonton. I thought I was riding well but couldn’t be sure. Mick definitely looked strong. Yikes—we have a race on our hands!

I just kept hammering as hard as I could. It was weird having no quantitative feedback—I definitely do not like racing this way. I had to slow down a couple of times due to the aforementioned congestion but generally had a drama free bike. I’m also happy to report I saw very little blatant drafting for a change.

I came flying into T2 with an elapsed time of 29:57 and an average HR of 164bpm. I was able to get this split during the race by looking at my Polar HR monitor and I was bummed because I knew it was slower than my prior year efforts. The 164 is probably about 4-5 beats below where I want a sprint effort to be at so I was generally thinking I had a bad bike split.

But the fact of the matter is that I had the 2nd fastest bike split OA, just 4 seconds off the top split. As I look at people who raced in prior races this year seemed decidedly slow so maybe the wind was more of a factor than I thought (it was blowing considerably harder as we left the Park after the awards ceremony). I’ll never know for sure as I don’t have any of the other data I usually analyze.

What I do know is that I averaged 24.6 mph, which isn’t too shabby, and that I had managed to put 2:27 into Mickey on the bike giving me an even 2-minute lead entering T2. This implies I was an average of 14 seconds per mile faster over the last 9 miles or so. I was relatively stronger as the race wore on and this tells me that my buddy Mick was really pouring it on in the beginning of the bike. Here is how this ride compares to prior years:

2008 2006 2004

Time 29:57 29:28 29:34

AG rank 1/14 1/13 1/14
AG %-tile 100.0 100.0 100.0

OA rank 2/235 3/159 2/173
OA %-tile 99.6 98.7 99.4

Transition Two

I felt like I flew through transition—very solid. I did have trouble weaving through a crowd of bikers who were coming in as I was exiting—this cost me a few seconds. I completed my T2 in 0:51 with an average HR of 163 bpm. This was good enough for 14th OA but Mick was even better with an outstanding 3rd best OA transition that was an unbelievable 14 seconds faster than mine. Mick was having an awesome race and my lead was a decidedly uncomfortable 1:46 to the fleeter Mickster.

The Run

As I left T2 I was annoyed at the congestion I had just escaped and was worried that my bike wasn’t very good and that Mickey wasn’t that far behind. I figured that Mick was probably about a minute faster than me on the run and I was hoping I had at least that big of a lead. The good news was that I didn’t see him as I left T2.

I felt only “OK”—not bad but not particularly good. No tapers and a lot of extracurricular activities will do that to you. The run is an out and back with about 50% on a dirt path and 50% on a road. I kept glancing at my HR monitor and saw 167-171 throughout so I knew I was pretty close to the right effort level. I hit the first water station that Mick had told me was at 1 mile in 7:13, which again was only “OK”. I was eager to get to the turnaround and see what the last half of the run was going to entail.

At the turn I looked at my watch and when I saw Mick I yelled: “Going to be close!” I looked at my watch again and calculated that at my pace I was 1:26 in front of him. Given he was running faster I was probably about 1:20 ahead at this point—so Mick had closed the gap by about 26 seconds. I didn’t know this of course but had I know it I would have been very pleased. I did know that I was unlikely to lose more than 45 seconds over the last part of the run and I figured I was going to eek out a victory.

I tried to run smooth and steady down the stretch—trying to focus on my form. I think I did a pretty good job and hit the tape with a run time of 21:53, which is an average of 7:04/mile at an average HR of 169. I’ll take it. Mick steadily closed the gap and ended up finishing 40 seconds behind me as he ran a 20:45. This was a pretty good run for me considering everything. My split looks pretty good as compared to the prior year races (I should note that the course has changed through the years so there is no guarantee that these splits actually measure a run of the same distance):

2008 2006 2004

Time 21:53 23:09 21:41

AG rank 3/14 3/13 5/14
AG %-tile 85.7 84.6 71.4

OA rank 44/235 42/159 48/173
OA %-tile 81.6 74.2 72.8

Overall I finished the race in 61:20 that was an improvement over 2006 (although not 2004 with it’s much shorter swim course). Here is the comparison for the overall race results:

2008 2006 2004

Time 61:20 61:43 59:30

AG rank 1/14 1/13 2/14
AG %-tile 100.0 100.0 92.9

OA rank 9/235 9/159 18/173
OA %-tile 96.6 95.0 90.2


1. Good race, especially considering everything that’s going on.
2. My swim fitness has probably degraded over the last 3 weeks as I have not been able to get the yardage in
3. Probably had a pretty good bike although it’s hard to tell without the SRM data
4. Solid “get the job done” run.
5. Here comes IMAUS—need to have a big training week which will be tough with hospital visits and then it’s time to taper—Yikes!!! Could be ugly.

Eagleman Race Report

2008 Eagleman70.3 Race Report
Race #5: 6/8/08


My first of two “A” priority races for 2008. This is the fourth straight year that I’ve competed in this major, highly competitive IM70.3. There are 28 Kona slots up for grabs including a likely 2 in my AG. There are 121 guys from my AG entered (although due to the heat and other factors only 77 actually started) and a quick analysis indicates that I am one of 10 or so who has a legit shot of securing one of them.

Generally, my training has gone well and my body composition is close to “A” race level for me. I was coming off a nice win at Hammonton where I had an especially strong swim and run. On the downside, I was dealing with a number of family illness issues and this had me on a plane and down to Naples, Florida the week before the race. However, my guess was that this would not greatly impact my race fitness.

The biggest issue was the weather forecast. It was forecasted to be incredibly hot and humid on race day. This forecast, if anything, kept getting worse as the week wore on and indeed on race morning we were hit with the most oppressive conditions I have ever seen for a triathlon. The temperature would climb into the mid to high 90s with a dew point of 73-75 degrees. This combination led to a heat index in the mid to high 100s. Indeed, the temperature on race day set a new record for Cambridge, Maryland.

I knew that this was likely to be a big problem for me. I’ve always have had trouble in the heat and my recent race down at the Gulf Coast H-IM was just another confirmation of that. At the GCT I was barely able to get across the finish line and the weather would ultimately be even worse at EM. That said, this was a key race for me and I found it impossible to sit this one out. Anders and I drove down the day before and hoped for the best.

Competitive Situation

As I mentioned above, I felt I was one of the top 10 guys in my AG who had legit shot at the Kona slots. Here is my quick read of the field:

1. Herb Spicer: current IM70.3 WC (4:12 last yr)
2. John Wilson: won St. Croix and already qualified
3. Bill Beardsley: AA/31st in country. Perennial qualifier
4. Jeff Oxman: Rated close to me. SC specialist
5. Sean Norton: 4:39 prior EM. Beat me at IMFL
6. RC: In the mix with a shot
7. Thomas Glista: did 10:48 at ChesapeakeMan LY
8. Mark Howson: slightly behind my times
9. Jim Irvine: did a 10:58 at IMLP a few yrs ago
10. Ralph Loveys: did an 11:27 at IMLP

So, if Spicer took the first slot, which was guaranteed if he had a normal race, I’d have to beat Beardsley, Oxman and Norton. A tall order frankly but if I raced to my potential (4:40) it was certainly possible. I was approaching the race like the slot was mine to win. Of course, the weather forecast and my normal reaction to high heat and humidity did not bode well for my chances. Only one way to find out!

The Swim

Anders and drove down early from St. Michaels and had everything set up in plenty of time. We were both in the 2nd AG wave, which was nice and a real advantage given the heat and the number of waves at EM—we were going off an hour before some of the other triathletes. As we helped each other into our wetsuits, the fronts of each of them were absolutely drenched in sweat. We had been aggressively trying to hydrate all morning (really all week) but I suspected I was already at a deficit. We said goodbye to Judy and jumped in for a few warm-up strokes. Speaking of warm, the water really was—hard to believe it was wetsuit legal. Nonetheless, I felt good and ready to rock.

Anders and I started to the right near the buoy line. My plan was to try to stay on Anders’ feet as long as I could and take advantage of his draft. At the gun, Anders surged ahead and I dug deep to hang with him. I was able to stay with him for about 100 yards and he was just too fast—man is he strong! Unfortunately, I found myself anaerobic and getting pummeled by stronger under-30 swim studs. Not much fun over the first 500 yards.

I finally settled in and experienced the usual give and take of a large, competitive wave towards the front of a swim. The swim course was changed this year with an added turn. The current was forecasted to be less favorable than last year so I expected to swim slower than my H-IM distance PR of last year.

Obviously a lot goes on in a 1.2-mile swim but most of it was not particularly newsworthy so I’ll spare you the details. One thing I will report is about 400-500 yards from the swim finish my left goggle suddenly filled with water. I stopped and reached up to adjust it and pop, the goggles split in half at the nosepiece! I looked at the goggles and couldn’t believe it. I let them float away and finished the swim with my eyes mostly closed. It really wasn’t that bad but it certainly didn’t help my swim pace.

I hit the top of the ramp at 37:03, which was indeed quite a bit slower than last year. I still, at the time thought it was probably a pretty decent swim. My HR averaged 158, which is a pretty good effort for a H-IM. Anders finished 5:20 in front of me, which is his biggest gap on me to date—this is as much a reflection of his still improving swim fitness as it is a reflection on my race. Here is how I stacked up versus my prior 3 EMs:

2008 2007 2006 2005

Swim split 37:03 32:45 39:47 45:33

AG place 29/77 35/157 47/151 96/122
AG %-tile 63.6 78.3 69.5 22.1

OA place 548/1382 616/1609 532/1561 1011/1436
OA %-tile 60.4 61.8 66.0 29.7

Looking over the swim data it was clear that the swim was 3-5 minutes slower for most folks this year than last. This type of a swing is not surprising at this race with the variable tide conditions form year to year. That combined with the course change and it makes comparisons tough. That said my guess is that my swim was probably only “OK”. I probably needed to have a 35-36 minute swim to feel like I had brought my “A” game.

Competitively here is how I stacked up against some of the key M50-54 players:

Spicer (2) 28:39 ----
Beardsley (3) +0:33
Irvine (8) +3:07
Glista (11) +3:38
Wilson (18) +5:38
Howson (24) +6:14
RC (29) +8:29
Norton (30) +9:09
Loveys (32) +9:37

I of course didn’t know any of this but looking at the data now, this was not the kind of start I was looking for. The near 8-minute deficit to Beardsley was about twice as big as I had hoped for. Oh well—the good news is that a H-IM is rarely won on the swim.

Transition One

T1 at EM is a very long one—especially with the reconfiguration of the transition area they implemented last year and continued this year. I pushed as hard as I could—I could feel my heart racing as I ran to my bike. I’ve ditched my Camelback for long course this year so I expected to have a better T1 than last year. However that was not the case and my T1 took a whopping 4:01 with an average HR of 171 bpm! Geez—I needed to get it going!

2008 2007 2006 2005

T1 split 4:01 3:20 2:35 2:32

AG place 10/77 35/157 8/151 19/122
AG %-tile 88.3 78.3 95.4 85.2

OA place 291/1382 331/1609 133/1561 236/1436
OA %-tile 79.0 79.5 91.5 83.6

The above indicates it was an OK transition. I actually picked up 1:20 on Beardsley so there were some bright spots in this transition. I was oblivious to all of this but I knew I needed to have a big bike—probably near 2:20 if I was going to be in the game at the beginning of the run. This is what I hopped on my bike intending to do.

The Bike

The course was changed from prior years and it actually added about 0.8 miles to what had been a 56.0-mile course. Early on the wind (which wasn’t very strong by EM standards must have been in our face as I found it difficult to average 22 mph. My power was pretty good—in the 220s—but I just wasn’t moving as fast as I expected. At about 20 miles this changed as we changed our direction and I began to roll in the 24-26 mile range.

I was steadily picking off guys in my AG and it seemed like everything was on track. I was very conscious of drinking early and often. In fact I went through well over 100 ounces during the ride. I also downed 18 Enduralytes to make sure to keep the cramping at bay.

At about 30 miles I was passed by a very large and organized pack of about 20 riders. I noted that these were primarily 30-34 YOs but there were also 5-7 guys in my AG and a couple of guys in their 60s—many of the older guys I had passed over the prior miles. They were organized and blatantly cheating. Oh crap, here we go again with the EM drafting BS. Of-course there were no draft marshals anywhere around.

After the group passed me I went into attack mode and worked my way pass the whole line doing 300 watts+ and expressing my negative opinion to many of the scofflaws. When I got to the front I put my head down and tried to breakaway for 3-4 minutes and when I turned to look behind there was a nice maggot peleton sitting on my wheel.

I wasn’t pleased by this and sat up and watched them all scoot pass me, merrily cheating away. I dropped out of the draft zone and watched them for a while. I found I had to ride at 250-270 watts to stay close. Meanwhile, some guys were actually sitting up and ridding no-handed.

I tried to go past them again and during this surge I called out one 61 YO and told him he was much too old to be cheating and that he should be ashamed of himself. He just looked away. My second surge had the same impact as the first and I finally gave up and dropped to the back again.

I was thinking with all those guys in my AG that were sucking wheels that my Kona chances were gone. I was frustrated but I tried to just put it out of my mind and to keep my power up around 225 watts. At this time Judy came driving up and I pointed out the drafting and I chatted with her for a while as she drove next to me. She could not believe how blatant they were.

And so it goes…. I kept on it; doing the best I could and ended the bike ride in a very disappointing 2:27:32. My power was 222 watts, which was comparable to LY’s 223 and my HR was 155 vs. 154 LY. My speed worked out to be 23.1 mph for the 56.8 miles. Anders also had a disappointing split and I actually out rode him by 37 seconds which was a surprise given his fitness. All of this is hard to explain. Perhaps the excessive humidity was leading to increased drag and slower times this year.

All I knew was I didn’t get the job done and that a lot of my competitors were going to be fresher because of their drafting. I’ll call out some people in my AG by pointing out their cumulative times through the end of the bike:

Ferrell 3:08:29
Szymanski 3:08:30
Rezende 3:08:32
Irvine 3:08:41
Lively 3:08:50
Teslik 3:08:58

Also, here are some 30-34 YOs whom I’ve added 8 minutes to their times for the wave start differential:

Scheungrab 3:08:23
Corcoran 3:08:38
Nowak 3:08:43
Showalter 3:08:44

Now I’m not saying all of these guys cheated, but I’m reasonably certain that most of the guys in my AG did. Enough said. They got away with it and one guy even gets to go to Kona, I must’ believe in part by doing this.

At the end of the day it really didn’t affect me because I would not have scored a slot even if they didn’t cheat. From a competitive perspective, Spicer dropped out during the bike and with Oxman’s no-show the weather really was shaking up the competitive picture in my AG. Beardsley, O’Neill, and Wilson were all having legit great days and I dropped several minutes to each of them on the bike. My hats of to them—they deserve their great splits—too bad O’Neill didn’t get his slot—he probably deserved it.

Here is how this race stacked up against my last 3 EMs:

2008 2007 2006 2005

Bike split 2:27:32 2:24:02 2:28:59 2:26:28

AG place 6/77 6/157 7/151 3/122
AG %-tile 93.5 96.8 96.0 98.4

OA place 119/1382 113/1609 126/1561 98/1436
OA %-tile 91.5 93.0 92.0 93.2

Transition Two

I actually felt pretty reasonable as I entered T2. Although as soon as the breeze from the bike stopped the heat/humidity hit me like a ton of bricks. I tried to just focus on my transition and was able to out-transition most of the TDF participants that were transitioning in the M50-54 racks near me. I completed the transition in 2:53 with an average HR of 147. Here is how that compares to prior efforts:

2008 2007 2006 2005

T2 split 2:53 2:49 2:01 2:30

AG place 12/77 35/157 14/151 34/122
AG %-tile 85.7 78.3 91.4 73.0

OA place 335/1382 401/1609 218/1561 485/1436
OA %-tile 75.8 75.1 86.1 66.3

The Run

I left T2 and my legs felt good right away. I grabbed a couple of drinks right away, as I knew hydration was going to be an issue. I decided to run very conservatively right from the start. I pretty much knew Kona was out the window given my swim/bike and all the drafting by my immediate competitors.

I didn’t see the first mile marker but estimate that my first mile was about 8:40 with an average HR of 155bpm. In normal conditions this pace would yield a HR of 137-140bpm. The stress from the heat on my body was already evident. I could sense that I was already beginning to slow. I hit the two-mile mark in 17:53 for an estimated 2nd mile of 9:13/155bpm. I saw Judy and she told me to be very careful. I told her I was running really slow and slowing down.

During the 3rd mile we crossed over the fresh blacktop of the new course section—this was about ½ to ¾ of a mile long with absolutely no shade. The heat was blasting off the pavement in shimmering waves. There were no clouds and the sun was like a scorching spotlight. My guess is that the actual temperature in this area was at least 110 degrees and probably considerably higher. My 3rd and 4th miles passed in 9:50 and 9:57 respectively as I focused on keeping my HR in the low 150s. They had aid stations more frequently than every mile and at each as I walked through I drank 10-15 ounces of water, poured ice down my trisuit and into my hat and took a cup of ice with me to chew on the run . Despite all this I felt like I was being cooked alive. The sweat was pouring off me in rivers.

My fifth mile passed in 10:10 and the grim reality of my predicament was becoming increasingly clear. It was here that I saw Anders and estimated that he was at least 20 minutes in front of me. He actually looked pretty good but I could also tell the heat was getting to him as well. The 6th mile came in 10:49 and despite that near walking pace I felt really, really bad.

Mile 7 continued the downward trend passing in 11:17 and I began to seriously think about walking. The majority of the people coming the other way were in fact doing that. I would say 5 out of 10 were walking, 3 out of 10 shuffling and only 2 out of 10 actually looked like they were running.
It was more like a charity walk than an elite triathlon.

Miles 8 (11:37) and 9 (11:52) were horrible and I began to feel not quite normal. I was beginning to get dizzy and as I passed the 9-mile aid station I decided to start walking. This was a little better but frankly I still felt really bad—even the prospect of walking 4 more miles was intimidating. Every now and then I’d try to jog a little and would immediately feel like I was going to pass out. I finally decided the hell with it and embraced my death march.

Back across the sea of fresh asphalt and EVERYONE coming the other way was now walking. Nobody was saying anything. There were no spectators. This truly sucked! Somewhere between 10 and 11 I saw Mark Facciani weaving back and forth on the road in front of me. I walked with him for about a mile commiserating about the weather. I shared some ice with him, as he seemed on the verge of fainting. I passed mile 11 31:26 after mile 9 so I was now averaging a speedy 15:45 or so per mile. Mile 12 came 15:27 later and Mark decided to jog in. I tried again and almost passed out once again. It was amazing how bad I felt. Even walking was very difficult.

As I passed the Choptank in that last mile I seriously considered jumping in for a while. I knew I would break 6 hours (wow!!!) even if I swam for a while but I decided to try to get it done as soon as I could. I was even able to jog the last 300-400 yards and finally hit the finish line with a 2:36:50 run (Avg HR of 150)—for the first time in a triathlon I had actually taken longer on the run than the bike. My final finish time was 5:48:22—my worst H-IM and indeed triathlon by far.

I was surprised to not see any of my support crew near the finish line but I soon found them over by the medical tent were Anders had to go after finishing in 5:13—he was passed in the last mile by the guy who would get the Kona slot in his AG. He also had to walk the last 2 miles.

The post race logistics were hell on earth. Anders and I helped each other down to the river to try to cool off. As we tried to round up all our stuff the sun continued to fry us. It was now past 1pm and it was hotter than I can ever remember. I was just wearing shorts and my body was pouring rivers of sweat. Anders had to lay down 2-3 times as he felt like he was going to throw up. Judy helped us and we were finally able to slowly ride back to our car.

It was exhausting getting everything into the car but finally we were leaving what truly was a living hell. We tried to hydrate all the way home but still I was 11 pounds lighter when I got there. Normally I bounce back in 2-3 days after a H-IM but this time it took me a good 10 days. I vowed after this and Gulf Coast to never race a LC triathlon again in this kind of extreme heat and humidity.

Here is my run and overall data:

2008 2007 2006 2005

Run split 2:36:50 1:43:56 1:45:04 2:26:28

AG place 41/77 31/157 30/151 42/122
AG %-tile 48.1 80.9 80.8 66.4

OA place 843/1382 376/1609 346/1561 464/1436
OA %-tile 39.1 76.7 77.9 67.8

Overall 5:48:22 4:46:55 4:58:27 5:14:59

AG place 21/77 19/157 16/151 23/122
AG %-tile 74.0 88.5 90.1 82.0

OA place 521/1382 250/1609 187/1561 300/1436
OA %-tile 62.4 84.5 88.1 79.2

Lesson Learned

1. Shouldn’t have raced in this heat!

Here is an excerpt from Triathlete Magazine on the race:

June 11, 2008 -- Paul Amey of Great Britain overcame a heat index of over 100 degrees to win the Eagleman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon on June 8, beating out New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone by over three-minutes. Joanna Ziegler from Boulder, Colo. easily took the women’s title, with a comfortable eight-minute gap over second place finisher Dede Griesbauer.

Heat and humidity proved to be the toughest challenge this year for both pro and age group athletes at the 17th annual race held in Cambridge, Md. The 1.2-mile swim began in the Choptank River with over 1500 athletes. Swim conditions were favorable, with water temperatures in the mid-70’s and little chop or current. But the 83-degree air temperature quickly climbed as racers transitioned to the bike.

“Today was the toughest day in Eagleman history,” said the finish line announcer. Race director Robert Vigorito said the 97% humidity made conditions Kona-like.

Mark Van Akkeren from Boulder, Colo. dominated the swim, emerging from the water over two-minutes ahead of the pro pack, which included Amey, Bozzone and Aussies Chris Legh and Richie Cunningham.

Van Akkeren held the lead through the bike, but opted out of the race after T2. Legh, a two–time Eagleman winner, clocked a 2:06.54 bike split, the fastest of the day. However, a drafting penalty resulted in his disqualification after he chose not to sit out the four-minute penalty in the tent.

With two strong pros out of the picture, Bozzone closed the gap to Amey in the run. But, even a sizzling 1:14.21split from the Kiwi wasn’t good enough to beat Amey's 3:53.33 finish. Bozzone followed at 3:56.24, two-minutes ahead of third place finisher Ritchie Cunningham.

The women's race wasn't nearly as close of a contest as the men's. Boulderite Joanna Zeiger led start to finish, pulling away from countrywoman Dede Griesbauer on each leg. After building a small lead during the swim, Zeiger, a former Olympian, dusted the field on the bike with a 2:22:39 split. She closed the deal with a solid run under the grueling conditions to break the tape in 4:22:31. Griesbauer finished eight minutes back, followed closely by American Kelly Handel.

Concerns about hydration and heat-related problems began several days prior to the event. During the two-day pre-race expo, Vigorito gave frequent course talks, advising participants to eat, hydrate, increase salt intake and to wear a hat. A tractor-trailer transported over 25,000 pounds of ice to the event.

During the race, spectators hovered under tents for shade, while the 1,000 volunteers from the rural Eastern Shore town endured the heat to provided ice, water and encouragement until the last racer finished.

“I knew the swim would be the nicest part of the course,” said Joe Askins, 44, from Hollywood, Md., a seasoned 70.3 athlete. He attributed ingesting electrolyte tabs and adequate water to his strong finish

At mile 40, Jimmy Moore, 43, a Clydesdale competitor from Malvern, Penn. made up his mind to cut out after T2. “I had a headache that wouldn’t go away. Even after using all my favorite tricks like Cytomax and fatigue pills, my head still throbbed. My last 16-miles were very slow.”

Transition area volunteer Jim Wilson became alarmed when he noticed athletes walking their bikes down the final stretch and entering the transition area with sunken eyes and a staggering gait.

“If they couldn’t tell me their name or the name of the race, I walked them straight to the medical tent,” said Wilson.

At the finish line, athletes were hosed with cool water and given assorted fluids to rehydrate. Medics tended to fallen athletes, while others were assisted to the medical tent.

By 1:30 p.m., several athletes had been transported to the hospital and the medical tent resembled a scene from the M*A*S*H. Stretchers housed two people receiving IV’s in both arms. Others were cooled down with packs of ice placed on their body. Massage therapists worked feverously to soothe overworked muscles.

The “must be present to win” rule to accept Hawaii Ironman and Clearwater spots required some winners to appear with IV’s and ice bags in hand.

But not all racers seemed effected by the harsh weather conditions. Adam Kuklinski, 44, a Poland transplant who now resides in New York, showed off his finisher’s medal to friends. He completed his first-ever triathlon in 4:59.40, meeting his goal of five hours.

“The swim was hard. I took it out too fast. But during the rest of the race I drank water at every station. I never doubted I could finish.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

St. Andrew's Race ReportSt. Andrew’s Sprint Triathlon

St. Andrew’s Sprint Triathlon
2008 Race #6: June 15th, 2008


The 6th race of the 2008 season is probably my favorite race. This is the 21st version of Delaware’s oldest triathlon and the sixth straight year that I’ve competed on the “Dead Poets Society” campus.

I’m competing one week after the sufferfest at Eagleman and I’ve really had a difficult time bouncing back—the heat really took a lot out of me. Also, the night before this race we hosted 150 people for Kara’s graduation party and I stayed up on patrol and was only able to grab about 45 minutes sleep. I was pretty tired and noticed a lack of “snap” in my legs during the pre-race warm-up.

Anders made the drive down with me to Middletown and I was excited he was racing this race as I felt he had a good chance for an overall podium. I was looking forward to a head-to-head AG class with Paul Schlosser but noticed before the race that he did not show. I didn’t anticipate anyone else in my AG being able to push me in this race.

Race morning brought us some reasonable racing weather for a change. It was partly cloudy and around 75 degrees. There was a modest 10-15 mph wind. It was a bit humid but after the weather of most of the races this year I was pretty pleased with the conditions.

The Swim

The swim is a simple out in back in the lake that sits on campus. The swim has always been longer than the 0.25 miles that is advertised and this year was no different. The RD for this race has an elite wave of sorts and I was placed up in it. No one else in my AG was in this wave so I was racing blind. No issue as I didn’t believe anyone in my AG could push me in this race. It was fun to go first and in the same wave as Anders. The water, by the way, was nowhere near “wetsuit legal”—it must have been 82-84 degrees—but we were allowed to use them anyways.

We had a relatively large wave that seemed to be populated with quite a few young and strong swimmers. Before the race I noticed a number of competitors from the Brandywine Y Men’s National Swim Team. As a consequence, the swim was crowded and pretty rough all the way out to the turnaround. I cruised along catching a draft here and there. At the turnaround I glanced at my watch and saw 3:48 and knew my swim was going to be somewhat slower than last year.

I pushed it on home in a mostly uneventful swim and hit the shore at 8:02. My HR averaged 164 bpm, which is a function of a hard effort, my lingering fatigue, or both. I averaged 161 last year. Here is how this swim compares to my prior races here at St. Andrews:

2003 9:32 129/271 7/19
2004 9:16 80/275 4/18
2005 8:33 50/299 2/23
2006 8:06 38/263 4/21
2007 7:32 24/257 3/23
2008 8:02 43/294 2/11

I came out of the water 1:15 behind Anders and I was also behind Mark Facciani and Bryan Sauer both of whom I out swam last year. So the effort was there but the results were only mediocre. Competitively, I was 5 seconds behind the best swimmer in my AG with no one else being close. Oh well, time to transition to the fun stuff.

Transition One

I labored up the hill and down the road in this long transition. I managed to step on something and slice up my foot pretty bad but this did not slow me down in this transition. That said, I had a pretty slow transition taking 2:57 to finally get on my bike. My HR continued to be elevated (174 vs 171 last year). My transition times from the last 6 years:

2003 3:01
2004 3:18
2005 2:49
2006 2:44
2007 2:47
2008 2:57

At this point I was 50 seconds behind my race last year. Time to get to work!

The Bike

I quickly began to pick off all those good swimmers who were ahead of me. As I came up on the main body of competitors I was depressed to see blatant drafting again. There were several cheaters but Mike McConnell was clearly the worse. He has no business cheating like this because he’s good veteran triathlete. I yelled at him a couple of times and just basically tried to ignore me. Anders and Mark also reported that the guy who would ultimately end up 5th overall drafted the entire bike. Oh well, what can you do.

I did reasonably well on the bike and basically was able to keep my power up the whole ride. I completed the ride in 38:12, which was a new course record for me. I averaged 254 watts this year versus 249 last year and my HR was 167 bpm both years. My cadence was only 80-rpm vs 86 last year and this reflects a trend this year—I’ve neglected working on my cadence and it shows. I’m going to tweak this over the next couple of months. My average speed works out to be 24.4 mph for the 15.55 miles I measured the course to be. Here is how my ride this year compares to prior years:

2003 39:41 9/271 1/19
2004 39:40 8/275 2/18
2005 39:43 6/299 1/23
2006 39:03 6/263 1/21
2007 38:34 7/257 1/23
2008 38:12 8/294 1/11

I’m pleased with this ride, especially given the fatigue I brought into the race. This is a tough course with a lot of rollers in it and to average 24.4 is very encouraging. I seem to be rounding into very good biking shape this year. Competively, I was almost 6 minutes faster than the next guy in my AG.

Transition Two

The second transition in this race is very straightforward. The favorable rack that Anders and I scored helped this. I had a very good transition and started my run just 39 seconds after hopping off my bike. Anders was 2 minutes in front of me and having a great race. He left T2 in second overall. Here is how my T2 times have changed over the years:

2003 0:47
2004 0:40
2005 0:40
2006 0:43
2007 0:40
2008 0:39

My HR averaged 166, which was actually lower than the 169 I had in T2 last year.

The Run

I pretty much just mailed in this run. I gave it a good effort (my HR was 171 vs 170 last year) but I could feel the fatigue and I definitely held back some—I probably had another 30-45 seconds available if I had really wanted to go for it. I cruised home in 21:00 for the 3 mile run. This brought my final time to 70:50, which was the first time I did not PR on this course. I won my AG by over six minutes for my third victory of the year. Here is how the run and my overall time stack up against prior years:

2003 21:50 81/271 5/19
2004 20:55 60/275 6/18
2005 19:46 39/259 2/23
2006 20:38 42/263 5/21
2007 20:20 46/257 7/23
2008 21:00 64/294 1/11

2003 74:53 28/271 4/19
2004 73:46 24/275 3/18
2005 71:21 14/259 1/23
2006 71:14 16/263 2/21
2007 69:54 9/257 1/23
2008 70:50 19/294 1/11


1. A nice race and fun way to spend Father’s Day.
2. A victory is a victory—I’ll take it any day. Obviously it was a weak (and small) AG field but there is nothing I can do about that.
3. The swim was disappointing and I cruised the run. The bike however was very encouraging—I seem to be ahead of where I was last year, which is very encouraging.