Thursday, July 28, 2011

What a week!

I know my updates have alternated between extremely wordy and extremely sparse, and often lacking a lot of interesting substance.  I apologize for that and I know it might continue for a little bit, so please bear with me as I work through all of the craziness that's going on. Here are the important details:

- I've lost 6 pounds. Shooting for 30, and I'm 1/5th of the way there with 45 days left until the race. So, 30 isn't looking feasible but 15 definitely is, and maybe a bit more than that. If I hit 15, that will mean I'll be at my lowest weight since I started racing, and I'll shoot for more.

- I've been averaging 51:xx minutes per mile in the swim at an easy, non-race pace. We're doing 2 miles tonight and will find out where my 2 mile stamina is at just trying getting through without stopping. Still want to do a lot of work in the water to be sure I'll be in under cutoff, and how close I can get to 2 hours for 2.4 miles.

- We're doing 80-85 miles on the bike on Saturday. That's going to be wicked fun! I found a great place to ride the middle part of the route that's low on number of cars and offers a little climbing without being overly challenging. It'll be a good place to go even if it's warm.

- We're putting our furniture in storage this weekend. That will be fun... oh wait, no. But at least we'll be staying at a place where they clean up after us every day. The house is almost packed, and we're going to get the rest of it done, so hopefully we can take a pretty easy day monday moving into our new digs.

- 35 days of real training time left including today. Plenty for what we've got left to do.

- 35 days of fundraising time left, and with thanks to teammates and friends I have just $500 left to raise before the race.

Monday, July 25, 2011

21, 47, 50, 133, 140.6, 683, and 20,000

Hey gang, sorry for the lack of a Friday post, it was a really busy day and things got away from me. Anyways, today's post is brought to you by the numbers 21, 47, 50, 133, 140.6, 683, and 20,000... and by the letters WTF.

21 - The 21st and final stage of the Tour de France was held yesterday on the Champs-Elysee and it was wonderful going out party for this years tour. Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey in the overall classification in a masterful display of time trialing on Saturday. The two Schleck brothers rounded out the podium, and at least one of which (Andy) will likely be on the TdF podium for many years to come. I just hope he eats some damn cheeseburgers along the way because he's skinnier than my wife, who is pretty skinny.

Andy is the left piece of bread in the Schleck podium sandwich
47 - It is now a mere 47 days until Rev3 Cedar Point. I get chills thinking about it, but overall I'm not terribly nervous. I still need to do a lot of swimming this month, and continue to eek up my mileage on the bike, but I know I'll get what I need to do done. I had a long run planned this weekend that got postponed due to rain and packing, but I'm doing it Tuesday night so I have time to recover for next weekends long workouts.

50 - Speaking of eeking up my mileage on the bike, packing and weather got in the way a lot this weekend, but I was able to get in a long ride Sunday afternoon. I got in a late ride, and rode until I ran out of daylight. Rachelle wasn't feeling well so for the first time in a couple months I did a long ride all alone. I wound up doing 50.47 and had a terrific ride. With traffic stops and starts, i still managed over 14 MPH. I cracked climbing a small steep hill but I pedaled through it, and then followed that with a mile of slower paced riding and was able to get myself back to speed. Total time was 3:36, so if I'm able to duplicate that pace for the race, I'll be in very good shape. Next weekend is 75 to 80 miles, so It'll be a bigger challenge yet!

133 - You guys know me and contests by now, right? Well, I'm participating in a contest where people entered daily recaps of each Tour de France stage in 133 characters or less. Each day a winner was picked to go into the finals for a series of 8 different prizes. I was fortunate enough to win 2 stages (stage 12 and 16) and I would have won Stage 9 had it not been "neutralized" due to all the crashes. Anyways, this contest isn't just about me, because voters on the contest are entered to win their own set of prizes. All you need to do is go HERE and read the entries and rank the ones you want to win, either via email or blog comment. You can't enter anonymously, so make sure to leave your twitter or facebook name. Personally I'm shooting for prizes #1 and #5, as those would be great additions to my cycling collection!

140.6 - Our friend Caratunk Girl finished IM Lake Placid yesterday with a 15:XX time!! So super proud of her. For a while the athlete tracker wasn't working and we were afraid something had happened to spoil her day (and she's a way better athlete than Rach and I so if she had problems...) but thankfully everything worked out and she is now an IRON(WO)MAN!

683 - I still need to raise $683 to finish my fundraising for my Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 race. It's been a busy summer and my opportunities to do another raffle have not materialized. I'll contribute more myself in the next couple weeks, but with us moving somewhere when Rach finds a job, I can still use all the help I can get. If you're considering donating, please visit my fundraising link to do so. Thanks again!

20,000 - Finally, sometime around noon ET on Friday, I passed the 20,000 unique visitor mark here on the blog. If you told me I could get anyone other than my mom and Rach to read it when I first started, I would have never believed you. It thrills me to no end to share my thoughts in this way and as much as it allows me to reflect on the past and keep working on my goals, it's an added bonus that so many of you have gotten something from it as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

busy, busy, busy

It's been quite the busy week this week, hence my lack of posts these past couple days. Lots of news so I'll just lay it out in a list.
  • How do you know you're getting more fit? When a ~1 mile swim takes 51 minutes and you know you weren't going close to full gas at any point in the process. We've slowly been picking up swim distance looking to hit 2 miles by the end of next week and build up the rest of the base we need for the 2.4 mile distance over the next several weeks. It really seems like the long rides and long runs are building up the general fitness for workouts of shorter duration. That's VERY exciting!
  • It's been a lucky couple of days for me. On Tuesday I learned I won a prize in the Aquaphor Map My Ride Tour de France contest. I won a HR monitor watch from Polar. Unfortunately it's not something we really need, so I've asked to upgrade. If they can't accommodate that, I'll likely include it in my next raffle. I also won a Warpia which is a wireless streaming device for sending online video to PC.
  • We're moving at the end of the month, and we found the furnished place we're going to sublet. Pretty happy about that as it's only a few mile drive and far cheaper than our plan to stay at the extended stay hotel. Rach has done a lot of the packing but we'll be finishing up this week around our big ride and run.
  • Rach has finally seen some real positive movement on the job front which is very exciting.
  • Bikes are getting their pre-race tuneups and it looks like we'll have to invest a few bucks into Rachs bike. After a little less than a year of having her tiny self pedaling it around, she has stretched out the chain and the mechanic is suggesting a chain and cassette replacement. Considering she has an entry model bike, it isn't surprising that she'll need new bits to the most heavily used parts of the bike.
  • Until such time as we move into permanent residence, the mountain bike will be going into storage next week, so I'm going to get in a couple good rides on it in the next few days.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm gonna do it...

At some point I think we all question how much we can actually do. What is our own personal limit, and is that limit truly physical or merely mental. Each week for the next couple months I'll be pushing that limit to figure out where it is and then find a way to go past it.

This weekend was on of heavy training; I commuted to work on Friday as a way to get in some "for me" riding, but after that it was all business. Saturday morning, we did the Tri-ROK 5k up near Gloucester as it was a free race for me, and Rachelle signed up as well. Also, our engagement photographer and friend Barb and her husband were in town this past week and Barb came to race as well. Rach and Barb did great, and while I was around my usual time for a hot race with some hills (42:xx) but I did manage to run the first 1 1/4 miles straight through at a 13:00 pace. Plus I passed a couple folks in the last half-mile so I was pretty happy with that.

After breakfast and a nap, I got back out to finish my work for the day. I had planned on 8 more miles but a sore left leg made me think better of it, and I did just 7. Still 10 miles in a day is the longest I've ever done in training walking/running. Next Sunday, its a half-marathon worth of training. Hopefully it won't be as humid as it was Saturday.

Yesterday was where the big news happened: 60 miles on the bike. My longest ever ride to this point. We did 3 out and backs on the minuteman bike trail, which although fairly flat has several miles of false flat uphill each direction that make you work some. It suits most of our ride in Ohio for Rev 3, though we'll still be doing some hill work to make sure we're ready for the couple of hills the race planners throw at us. The first 40 miles were again very close to race pace (just a hair under 15 MPH due to all the starts and stops from crossing 7 roads in 10 miles each way). The battery in my 305 died after 42ish miles so I dont have a data file on the last 20 to go by, but I am fairly positive they were at least a little slower.

I made a couple mistakes I can learn from in the nutrition and hydration departments. i didn't bring nearly the food I normally would for a ride that distance, and though I brought almost enough fluids for 60 miles in 90 degree heat, I went the 10 miles between miles 30 and 40 without anything to drink. It cost me at Patriot Half, and it cost me yesterday too. By the time I got to mile 40 I was fairly bonked, and drank most of 32 ounces in the next 10 miles. In total I drank over 15 pounds of fluids yesterday during riding and recovery and at the end of the day was up less than 1 pound. That's how hot it was.

Obviously nutrition is key to getting through an ironman distance race, so while it sucked for yesterdays ride, it was a valuable lesson learned. My Hydrapak is working out great, but I also saw that packing a couple of bottles on the frame with fluids would have been a good call as well. Lots of lessons learned as we prepare to go longer and longer distance training these next few weeks. I was really happy with my legs especially considering the 10 miles the day before


- Rachelle actually did 70 miles yesterday. She did 10 miles in the morning while I was watching le Tour. Sorry, guys got to have his priorities.

- We got the aerobars from Matt at Enjoy the Ride along with some beads as Matt lives in New Orleans. Suffice to say, I'm not sure which Rach was more excited about, but we'll definitely be putting those bars to good use, especially once rach gets her new TT saddle.

- Speaking of saddles, the harder saddle I bought for my birthday isn't working out. My hiney muscles are not capable of keeping me comfortable and my weight puts too much pressure on my other bits to make a saddle without a cut out a good idea right now for longer rides. So, I went back to the saddle I got last July, and it sadly, is giving up the ghost. The padding around the cutout has started to roll off the plastic so I wound up riding on harder stuff than whats on the hard saddle for part of yesterdays ride. I had to stop and adjust it at the turnaround point after every 10 miles. A new saddle is now at the top of the upgrade list, along with new shoes, and shoes for Rachelle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ESPN's Michael Smith: Missing the connection

I've been pretty busy lately and a bit stressed out, so I haven't had as much time as I'd like to blog, which usually helps me with my stress level, so it's sort of something I need to make time for. Because I haven't had the time I'd like, there haven't been as many pieces about the Tour de France as there would normally be. Because of this, let me catch you up to whats been going on:

  • Contador is not in top form, and is a few minutes off the pace
  • The guy in yellow right now is a Frenchman who is very unlikely to win the race
  • A great many crashes have taken their toll on the RadioShack squad that now has no chance of winning
  • Oh, and then there's this:

Thankfully both Flecha (the rider the car initially hit), and Hoogerland, (the rider thrown into a barbed wire fence by the collision) both finished the stage, and in fact Hoogerland holds the polka dot jersey as the best climber, even after receiving 33 stitches.

Adding injury to insult, on ESPN's Around the Horn, the four "sports journalists" on the 7/11 show took turns mocking and laughing at the accident (and to a lesser extent, the race) and even more so cycling as a whole. One of the regulars on the show even stated "I don't want bicycles on the road when I'm on my way to work", taking their lack of comprehension of the danger in this type of conversation way beyond the race itself.

After the show, ESPN's Michael Smith stated on his Twitter:

For real, am I wrong for laughing at that Tour de France crash? Can't get over the driver speeding off as if he didn't know he hit someone!
I'm sorry that crash is hilarious. Every. Time. 
After an entire day of defending his thoughts, he took to his twitter account to issue a formally worded apology, clearly the result of a massive effort of the online cycling community to have him reprimanded by ESPN. His follow up statements to the apology clearly indicate he is not only unapologetic, but undeterred, and has simply gone quiet on his twitter account temporarily to let the volatility out of the situation.An ongoing attempt asking ESPN dismiss him from his post can be found on TdF Lanterne Rouge's blog.

What really saddens me about the whole thing is that ESPN so clearly is missing the connection between an Olympic sport, it's fans, and everyday consumers. As bike lanes sprout up in every city big enough to pave its streets, we still see incredible anti-cycling advocacy in the general media. Dismissed as hippies or even perhaps folks who can't drive due to DUI's or other problems, cyclists in the US often do not garner the respect deserved.

Cycling is one of the few sports that to practice it, you need to make use of the public roads. Whether you're training for an Ironman or just commuting into work, it's hard to feel safe when people driving cars and trucks share the same attitudes as some of the hosts on these shows. I've had every mean thing you can think of said to me while on the back of my bike and stuff thrown at me along the way as well. And I consider myself very fortunate because I've never been involved in any serious crash nor have I come even close to being injured by a car.

As fossil fuels become more and more a precious commodity and bicycling continues its push into the mainstream of transportation in the United States, there will soon come a day when many with the attitudes like Mr. Smiths will have to face the facts that sharing the road is a responsibility of every driver whether they like it or not. I don't think Mr Smith, a father of young children, has really though out the consequences of attitudes like his and sharing those attitudes with an increasingly media impressionable audience.

I personally am not fully behind the idea of having Mr. Smith fired, I'd much rather see him be re-educated through a series of interviews with professional cyclists and triathletes like Jordan Rapp and others who have dealt with life threatening injuries from being hit by automobiles while on their bikes. When dealing with someone like Mr. Smith, it's not the person with the microphone you have to think about, it's the people with the speakers.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Generation UCAN energy drinks

A little over a month ago, I was participating in the #fitblog chat on twitter when I saw an energy drink company Generation UCAN that's located here in New England advertising their product and giving out samples. They were kind enough to send 2 packets each of their 3 flavors of energy drinks, and 2 packets each of their 2 flavors of their recovery drink. When Rach and I visited the expo for the Patriot Place 10k on the 3rd, we talked to the Gen UCAN folks on hand, and they provided me with a couple samples of their Cranberry-Raspberry product.

What it is: drink mixes sold in powder form designed to be used in 16-20 ounces of water modified according to taste.

How it works: From their science page, Gen UCAN uses a complex carbohydrate that provides a less of an initial sugar spike than sugar based energy drinks but also burns slower to provide longer lasting energy.

How it feels: While it's not the same chemically, I liken the effects I got from the Gen UCAN drinks to that of what I got from Chocolate #9 energy gel, but with even less of that initial "energy spike", and not feeling a need to reuse as quickly. 45 minute runs in average heat (70 to 80 degrees) were sufficiently fueled by one packet of the energy drink, and anything between 1-3 hours on the bike were sufficiently recovered by the recovery drinks.

How it tastes: I'm going to approach this flavor by flavor, but the consistency of the drinks, a key component, I'll address seperately.

Energy Drinks:

  • Plain - This essentially has no flavor, but there is a hint of sweetness to it. I mixed blueberries in to provide flavor after drinking some of the it plain. Definitely the flavor choice for someone looking to make smoothies out of the drink.
  • Lemonade - While I wasn't expecting much from the lemonade flavor, I actually liked it a good bit more than I thought. It's tangy/tart though, so if you don't like tart, you may want to steer clear
  • Pomegranate/Blueberry - This was the one I was expecting to like the best, and while I thought it was good, the blueberry felt overpowered by the pomegranate. I admit I am a die hard blueberry fan though, and my response to this flavor was "this would have been better as blueberry/blueberry". Definitely the flavor for you if you like POM Wonderful.
  • Cranberry/Raspberry - You may not know this about me, but I pretty much loathe raspberry. There are occasional times where it's ok, such as in mild amounts in cake filling or other such dessert uses. In general though, it is my least favorite fruit, and the reason why I approached this flavor with much trepidation. To my utter shock and surprise, it was VERY good. Unlike to the Pom-Blue which did not reach the balance I had hoped for, this flavor had just the right mix of the mild flavor of cranberry with just the slightest zing of the raspberry in the aftertaste. I found this to be my favorite of all the flavors.
Recovery Drinks:
  • Vanilla - The vanilla tasted exactly like I expected, except a bit richer. Some of that was due to the thickness, which I'll get to, but in general it was quite good.
  • Chocolate - I have to say when mixed with water, I was disappointed in the chocolate flavor. It just didn't stand up. Not that this is terribly surprising; I've tried several different powder based drinks mixed in water and somehow it just never comes across tasting the way you'd think it should. Part of that I'm guessing is the use of very small amounts of Sucralose (think Splenda) as the sweetener across the entire line. Chocolate needs sugar to taste like the chocolate we're all used to.
Consistency/Thickness: This is the one area that may take some getting used to. When you think of a product like Gatorade or other energy drinks on the market, you think about how they're kind of syrupy. It's sugar or a sugar-like substance which dissolves fairly easily into water. The SuperStarch of Gen UCAN doesn't dissolve quite the same way and what you wind up with is closer in consistency to a frappe, which is the slightly runnier New England version of a milkshake. My wife took a while to get over this, and the consistency tends to lighten if you drink it slowly over the course of a workout where it continues to mix (a la in the bottle holder on a bicycle). My wife also found it to have a slightly chalky taste, but that was resolved through use of a blender instead of just mixing or shaking.

Conclusion: There are a great many drink choices on the market today, and with all of the different dietary/food lifestyles taking place in the endurance sports world, it's hard to say any given drink is the right fit for all of them. The unique thing that Gen UCAN brings to the table is that they offer a non-sugar sweetened alternative to Gatorade that still provides ample energy without going down the road to a lot of caffeine or other stimulants. Further it's gluten free which will definitely appeal to many folks looking to avoid both sugar and gluten. I personally found it an enjoyable experience to drink and will continue to use specifically the vanilla recovery drink (likely mixed with a little fruit) as one of my primary means of recovery from hot workouts.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Getting Harder
Starting next weekend, each week the ride will be longer than I've ever done before. Adding about 45 minutes of saddle time each weekend will be a challenge for sure, especially as we work in some more rolling hills. Starting the week after that the walk/run will be longer than I've ever done before. 5 weeks from now I'll culminate the distance training with a 23 mile walk and a 100 mile ride. Then it the last two weeks of heavy training will involve longer bricks so that volume will be maintained and I can get accustomed to longer walk/runs off the bike.

Getting Stronger
We had hoped to do a 60 mile ride Saturday, but after Rach's Dr. Appt on Friday she just wasn't up for it. Instead we did some harder riding for 30 miles followed by a 10 mile "cooldown" ride. No including the starts and stops that come with riding the Minuteman, we were able to average the 15 MPH race pace I'm looking to do.

My original plan for my run/walk race pace was better than 4 MPH. But then I started thinking about it and realized after 112 miles, I probably will be strictly walking for the majority of the marathon, so I decided I should train for that. So I grabbed my Hydrapak and out I went for an 8 mile walk on Sunday evening. I wasn't quite able to maintain a 4 MPH pace, but I was under a 16 minute/mile pace and for my first walk of that distance in a long time I was very happy. 
Getting Noticed (sorta)
Last week, the folks running @Rev3Tri's twitter announced another pro being added to the Cedar Point field. I jokingly shot off a tweet to them saying that I had committed months ago, where was my formal announcement? Kind enough to play along, they sent the following tweet:

Getting Stuff
As anyone who reads the blog will know, I like contests and prizes. I don't just enter any contest, only those that I actually want to win. Matthew over at Enjoy The Ride recently held a contest for a lightly used aero handlebar/aerobars set. He emailed me yesterday to let me know that I'd won! On our budget, we can use all the free upgrade hand me downs we can get. In this case, they will likely wind up on Rachelle's bike as I'm still a ways away from being in the shape I need to be to ride in an aero position on my road bike.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A successful week

Sometimes when training, I feel like not everything went the way I wanted. This is not one of those weeks. Even with the holiday and some post 10k soreness, I've gotten in all the workouts I had planned, with just one shortened due to shortness. In fact, every time I've been on the bike I've felt strong, and yesterday I swam at Upper Mystic Pond for 50 minutes, and I felt like I could have done another hour at least!

It's raining today, and Rach has a Dr.'s appointment, so depending on opportunity, this might wind up being a rest day. We've got our shortest long ride planned for tomorrow, set at 35 Miles, but I won't do less than 40, and may try to talk Rach into 60 depending on how she's feeling. Fear combined with progress made on the weight loss front and a general improvement in how I've been adapting to the workouts has made me even more motivated to get out and train. I feel a little like I'm behind in my training, but I know I've built and solid base and haven't taken any time off, so it's really just ramping up the mileage, which we've been making good progress with.

On the weight loss front, I've lost 5 pounds since last Saturday and meaning I have just over 26 pounds to lose before race day. With this being the Morning of Temptation, I had a careful breakfast, and plan on having a light lunch, so I can fit in my bagel without feeling guilty or that I'm hurting my progress. We're also meeting up with a teammate and friend Jordan who I'm going to pick his brain about Ironman and what secrets we should look for in managing that first race day. Sunday I have a long run/walk planned of 10 miles. Hopefully the heat will stay away for a while so I can do most of it at race pace.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's going to be the little things...

With our time in Boston potentially coming to an end soon, I've started to think about the things I'm going to miss about living here:

  • The beauty of the tree lined street we live on no matter what time of year
  • Waking up in the morning to see Cambridge across the river every day before I get in the car
  • The sound of the baseball fans at Fenway suddenly cheering on the warm summer air 
That's just the first few of a very long list of things I'll miss if we do wind up moving, and I'm finding it's the little things I think I'll miss most. I was thinking about this on my run last night and how it equates to what I'm learning about training for an Ironman distance race, and how my body responds to it. 

Following the hot 10k on Monday, my calves were very tight, and for some reason I didn't think to stretch them after the race. I've never really run enough on back to back days to get the kind of tightness I had been feeling lately, so I don't really have a stretching routine in place. I've also been dealing with some lingering soreness that wasn't bothering much except right after exercise.

I started doing some stretching last week, and on my run last night realized that I need to be doing it after every workout, because as I run just 1 1/2 miles last night, the discomfort I had following the 10k lingered on. Even running in my recovery socks only did so much to reduce the discomfort. It wasn't until I got home and stretched that I started feeling better. I kept the recovery socks on for almost an hour after the run too, for good measure and by the time I took them off I felt 100% better. Hearing people tell you that the difference in training for a half and training for a full is like night and day doesn't really hit home until you start noticing the differences in how you feel along the way.

Also, I have to tell you about the best $60 I've spent in a LONG TIME. Back when I paid for Rachelle's entry for Rev3 Cedar Point, I joined Active Advantage. Nearly every race we register for these days is through, including the big expensive triathlons. The idea of Active Advantage is for a flat fee, you can register for all the races you want at a discount. The discount depends on the cost of the race. 

Aside from the discount you also get access to other promotions including free race signups. Plus, you can use it for all the people you register for a race, so if you and a spouse do a race together, you get the discount on both entries. The $60 paid for itself with the first 3 races we registered for (all the triathlons we registered for qualified for the maximum discount), and I've taken advantage of 4 free race giveaways. I gave the first 2 away to friends as they turned out to be scheduled on the same day as other races I was doing, but I did the Harvard Pilgrim 10k for free, and now I've get to race the ROK-a-5k on 7/16 up near Gloucester MA. Rach love Gloucester, so it gives us a chance to go back up there. 

If you do a lot of races, it's definitely worth it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Race Report: Harvard Pilgrim 10k at Patriot Place

You may remember I won my entry to this race on in mid-June. While I only had a couple weeks to train following my less that fulfilling day at the Patriot Half, I wanted to get the taste of a bad race out of my mouth, and at that point any race would do, especially a free one that ended on the 50 yard line of an NFL football field.

The stadium actually played an integral part in our moving here: When Rachelle and I first started talking about the possibility of moving to Boston, Rach told me that what she knew about Boston came from seeing all the snow on the ground at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots play. She always got very excited at the thought of Boston as a wintry wonderland. She was pretty bummed the past couple winters when Foxboro got all that snow causing school delays and the like while Boston avoided the worst of it. To say we were both excited to go there is an understatement.

We spent part of Sunday at the race expo where we got a chance to meet the Generation UCAN folks and talk to them about their new Canberry Raspberry flavor, and pick up a packet to add to samples I already received. They offered me more of the original flavors, but I didn't want to be greedy. This race had more than it's fair share of healthy food vendors which is great for a couple triathletes on a budget.

The race started in the open air mall that surrounds the stadium and then through the parking lot before heading off into the heart of Foxboro. I started well with a sub-13 minute first mile, but I already figured it wasn't going to be a great day. It was over 80 degrees at the start of the race, with 85% humidity. The first half-mile was mostly downhill, but when we started climbing near the end of the first mile, you could really feel the heat in the air.

My plan coming in was to do 5/2 intervals every other mile, and walk the mile in between. My hope was to average 13's during the running miles and 14's when walking. At mile 3, I was in good shape for a longer race at just under 42 minutes, and thinking I still had a shot at that 10k PR. But mile 4 was a lot of uphill, no shade and it kept getting hotter. Mile 5 got back into the shade but didn't go any faster. Mile 6 I was running again, but I was beyond hot and really slow.

Coming up to that stadium towards the end of Mile 6 is one of the most memorable sights I've seen while racing. You can't yet see the finish line, but you know it's not that far away. I gave everything I had with the last half a mile or so to go, though admittedly there wasn't much left in the tank. I'm still building towards those kind of runs, so I'm happy I was able to "sprint it out" even just a little.

Me, crossing the line & putting the jumbo in Jumbotron
I wound up finishing in 1:31:39 and for the heat and the amount of prep time, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I missed a PR by just under 5 minutes, and beat 15 people in my age group, coming in 2845 out of 3037 total entrants. This race could have been a lot worse; many people were throwing up on course, I saw lots of people dropping out with injuries, and we even saw a man who was being wheeled away on a gurney after due to what appeared to be heatstroke. I'm always careful to hydrate as much as I possibly can, and I even took advantage of people providing cold drinks at unofficial beverage stops. The race organization would do well to have electrolyte beverages out on the course next year, as there was only water available.

My cheering section (consisting of Rachelle) was a great comfort to me, and she even made a sign to cheer me on. I'm sure with the heat she wishes I really had run faster!

She has a real future in motivational sayings
As it stands, next up in our race catalog is Rev3 Cedar Point at just under 2 months away. We've been training daily, and I now have no doubt we're going to get in the training we need to successfully finish the Ironman distance. The only bad news from the weekend is that my Garmin 305 broke in the car on the way back from the race. Thankfully it's covered under warranty, so Garmin is going to replace it free of change. I'm going to buy another one to use while it's gone, and give that to Rachelle when my replacement is received.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Now this stuff is getting serious!

Saturday was July 2nd, which this year means the start of the Tour de France. As you know, I go a bit crazy about the race, so I hope you'll all be very patient with me over the next 20+ days.

This is the actual size you have to race in the Tour
The first two days of the race have had some surprising results; A crash on day 1 in the middle of the peloton caught 2 time defending champion Alberto Contador over a minute down to all of his main rivals, including Andy Schleck. Then, Garmin-Cervelo a strong team but one that's never won a stage in the Tour, took the team time trial, with both Radio Shack and Saxo Bank (Contador's team) performing less well than expected.  Contador is down almost 2 minutes from the leader and almost as far back from the main players, and the tour is barely going. Should make for an exciting 3 weeks.

Speaking of exciting, We've had the most amazing weekend. With the prospects of Rach finding work in Boston getting slimmer with each passing day, we've started doing all the "Hey, someday we should..." things that we can only do while we're out here. One of those things was whale watching. We got a terrific deal for a chance to go do it, so we took it, and it was an amazing experience. It was a long boat ride, but for 30 minutes we were surrounded by whales.

I took a lot of pics, but this was the best one

The other highlight of the trip for me was finally getting to see the Boston Harbor Light. I really like lighthouses, and it's one of the most famous lighthouses in the US, and it was so close to my house, but I could never see it. It's only visible by boat or one of the islands of Boston Harbor.

The Boston Harbor Light. Another one off the list
Saturday morning, before all that excitement we had a long ride scheduled. Because of the time constraints of the week and a focus on running before Monday's Harvard Pilgrim 10k, it was the first time we'd been on the bike in a week.We'd planned to do 66 miles, but Rachelle had an allergic reaction to something in the air; it was so bad she felt like her skin was on fire. Rachelle stopped after 20 miles to go home, shower, and take some medicine. I on the other hand felt pretty fresh, so I decided to do another 20 miles. 3 hours and 40 miles was a pretty good ride. I was a little slower than I wanted to be, but I have the time to get to where I want to be, and especially during the tour, I have all sorts of motivation.

And if I wasn't already motivated enough (70 days til the race?? Holy crap!), I got my Team Fight kit in the mail today. To say I was super excited was an understatement.

The blue sox aren't part of the kit, but I'm going to treat them that way. A humorous cycling-related twitter account @ANONCX worked with the sock company Defeet to produce some sports socks that the profits for each pair went to an animal charity. The fact that they sort fo match my new kit (which at least partially fits, and the rest soon will) means I'll be wearing them on race day.

Tomorrow is the 10k (well today now that I've finished writing it just after midnight), so tomorrow night I'll finish up my weekend with the race report.