Thursday, June 27, 2013

70.3 Done!


Thank you again for coming back.  My race recap will follow, but first big thanks to all those who have donated to the MMRF. ( you can learn about the MMRF by clicking here )

Although this journey is done, there are thousands of MMRF patients who are battling Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer, every day.   They don’t have a choice, they need to fight for their life every day.   Fortunately with organizations like the MMRF, patients are receiving the incredible gift of time and quality of life, and, hopefully, one day, a cure. 

If you have any money in your charitable budget, it's not to late to donate - any amount - please donate by clicking here

I’d like to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU to all the donors so far:

         Nicole Bettencourt
         Marianne Babylon
Casey & Beth Callahan
Chris Campbell
Jack Chapman
Sara Devlin
Robin Dewey
Bill & Pat Dreyer
Diana Duffty
Michelle Dunn
Jill Hall-Ernst
Lisa Eliopoulos
Beth Falkner
Virginia Fenlon
Eric Gelber
Susan Gimilaro
Gina Grable
Tim & Emily Hale
Adam Harley
Phil & Diana Jackson
Melissa Kubick
Sarah Larosee
Paula Lavigne
Frank and Beth Lukovits
Trish Manning
Frank and Kristen Mulcahy
Marty Perlmutter
Carmen Phaneuf
Tim Putnam
Benjamin Riordon
Tom Rogers
Dave Silvestri
Karen and David Veronesi
Gary Walker
Bob and Elaine Weddleton
Mary Madigan

If I’ve left anybody out, please let me know.
Collectively between the Race for Research and the donations received for this event so far, we have raised almost $5,000 this year for the MMRF – so far!


Patriot Half - East Freetown, MA - June 15, 2013

Race Recap
First, I'd like to give a big shout out to:

Rick Durgin - Coach - E3 Training Solutions -
     Great coach and great service.  Rick was able to work with my schedule and my ability level (novice at best) to get me ready for this event.  If you have a big challenges, I highly recommend Rick and the e3TS team - they have options for everyone from novices like myself to elite level athletes.  You can read more about Rick here.  With all the challenges of balancing the multiple elements of life, having someone like Rick to direct you and tell you what you need to do to accomplish your goals is priceless.  Thanks Rick!

Larry Rodman

     Great friend, inspiration, and training partner.  Can't say enough good things about Larry.  Larry carried me through my first marathon last fall and sacrificed his own race time to make sure I finished.  He was also a terrific (and very patient ) training partner for this event.  Larry completed the Patriot under the most adverse conditions ( you can read his blog on the event by clicking here ) and can only be defined as "driven".  Thanks Larry!

Sarah Crane

     Great inspiration and IM rock star. Whenever we talked or ran into each other, Sarah always had something inspirational or positive to say to keep hope and confidence on a high level.   Watch out for this girl - she earned a 3rd age group podium at Patriot and will be at IM Louisville this summer picking up her Kona bib ( right Sarah? ).  Thanks Sarah!

Beth Falkner

     Beth was with me from the beginning of all this stuff as a training partner and a person to kick me in the butt when I needed it. Her favorite phrase is "You're fine!" She was always there to support our family, and especially my wife Jeanie in our darkest moments. Thank you Beth!

Jack Chapman - Super Bike Guy -

     Jack provided some great assistance and help in getting me squared away with my bike needs.  I don't have a TT or Tri bike, so he help me make the changes on my road bike to give me the best possible advantage that I could get in the race - I changed out my frame and seat and added a power meter.  He also provided me a bike fit to make sure I was efficient as possible.  He was fast, very flexible, and focused on my needs and budget.  Thanks Jack!


     Inspirational every day and in so many ways.  Couldn't have done this without her support and enormous levels of patience.  Whoever said that you can balance work, life, and training didn't have two sets of twins, a job requiring heavy travel, and a 70.3 training schedule.  Fortunately, Jeanie allowed me the latitude I needed to focus on this goal (without complaint) and held together the family during my multi-hour training sessions which always showed up at the worst possible times.  I love you Jeanie - Thank you!


Having arrived home from Germany on Thursday night, I only had a few hours on Friday to get everything together.

Curious about what is needed? 

Here is a photo of my “stuff” staged out for the event:

After finishing a few hours of work, I jammed all this stuff into a couple bags and headed down to meet meet Larry Rodman, an incredible supporter and training partner, for the ride down to East Freetown, MA.  After a few hours stuck in traffic, we finally arrived to pick up our bibs and swag from the race.  Larry had made arrangements for dinner with some of his teammates from Northeast Multisports and we only had a couple of minutes to view the transition and swim start. 

Sidenote:  Larry’s blog on the Patriot Half can read by clicking here. 

It was enough time to get this shot, to touch the water (cold, but not as cold as I would find 100m out), and to chat briefly with Sarah Crane (incredible supporter and IM/Tri Rock Star )before she took a race pre-swim offered the night before.

If you look real, real closely, you can see the first turn buoy way off in the distance ( no, not the big triangular buoy - the spec way way way off under the tree branch nestled in the small valley in the picture - yup, that one ).  A couple things I got from this view as I stood for a moment - First, I noticed how CALM and FLAT the water was - it was peaceful and serene and second, I came to the realization that I wasn't nervous, but actually excited.  It could've been the energy exuded from uber positive-ologist Sarah, or it could have been the realization that I was actually (gulp) ready.

After a brief moment of calmness, I headed out to find Larry and grab some dinner. 

One of the most enjoyable things I enjoy about pre-race activities is the people you meet and the discussion that follows. Discussion that is typically not common in normal circles, is rampant just prior to events - the excitement of other events, the challenges, the victories, and some great stories of over coming adversity. 

At dinner with Larry and some members of the Northeast Multisports group, I had a chance to catch up with Frank Mulcahy, a friend ( and donor - thank you! ) who had previously been from town and who I had the chance to share a pre-race tour in Nashua before our first open water swim in 2011.  After 2 years since that inagural event, Frank was tacking his second Half Ironman ( 70.3 ) and was in top shape ( Frank, by the way, KILLED the Patriot Half with a 5:38 - a 30 min improvement over his first 70.3) and on his way to his first IM in Mont-Tremblant in August. 

We headed back early, pre-mixed some race day fuel (gels), downed a quick protein shake,  and turned in early with alarms set for 4:15 AM. 

Race Day

Morning came fast and we woke again to more food ( believe it or not, trying to get all the fuel you need in the last couple of days before the race is actually hard - you get sick of eating ).  Larry was trying a new concoction of apple sauce ( a lot - 2 3/4 cups or so ) and protein powder and I was getting in some last minute carbs and protein with oatmeal, a banana, and bagel with peanut butter.  We rushed to get everything in the car and over to the transition area to set up our stuff. 

We arrived at the transition area around 6:00 (about and hour before race time ) and quickly set up our stuff.  Since there wasn't much time before the race, I did miss a couple of key important steps in my pre-race ( a lengthy warm up of about 15 minutes - this does have an impact), but again, my confidence and excitement helped to drive me forward.

Here is a quick shot of my transition area with my MMRF gear:

I didn't get a chance to see Larry ( he was in a later swim wave ) prior to the start,but Larry had some distractions of his own ( you can read about it in his blog by  clicking here). 

The rush to set up took away a lot of the pre-race jitters and nervousness.  However, about 10 minutes before the start of the race, it began to all sink in..and hard.  

For a couple of minutes, I began to get overwhelmed with the magnitude of what I needed to achieve .. not just for me, but for my wife, my family, and for all the donors that believed in me, and my cause, that led me to this event - my first half distance triathlon - 70.3 miles under my own personal power. Thankfully, Sarah was nearby finishing up her race preparation nearby and she was able to do what she does best- exude "positivity" and taking a couple of moments to remind me that I was ready for this.  In her immortal words - "You got this!"

We headed out of the transition area and over to the start.  For those who aren't familiar with triathlons, this was a mass start broken down by waves of age group or special class.  Every four minutes, starting at 7:00 AM, a wave would be released.  Basically, the "wave" was staged standing in the water until released.  I had a start time of 7:08, so I got to see the Elites and 40-44 age group women go before me, and then it was my turn.  Funny thing was, I hadn't even really looked at the water until we lined up - the water that was calm and flat night before was now choppy.

The Swim - 1.2 miles

We were corralled into the water at 7:04 and had 4 minutes to acclimate to the temperatures.  The first thing I did was to completely dunk my head and upper body in the water - and I'm glad I did.  I had heard the water was 66 degrees F prior to the race and based on what I felt, I'm pretty sure they were a little optimistic - it felt a little more like 60.  OK, great, Memorial Day ( read my last post ) all over again.  I had to take a deep breath and figure out how to settle myself - quick.

I watched clock tick away and my thoughts were starting to go in different directions:

1:30 left
OK, deep breath and look around to enjoy the view - about 70 people lingering in the water around - wow, seems like a lot of people

1:00 left
Oh brother, one more minute of quiet before the storm

0:45 left
OK, you are ready - don't freak out - where is that last buoy?  Wait, I can't see if from here

0:30 left
No stopping for 6 more, that's a long time

0:15 left
Oh no, where are my goggles..oh yeah, there on my face - nice

0:10 left
Oh sh*t, my GPS isn't working right - turn power off

The horn went off and I waded in deeper to begin my swim.  Surprisingly, the crowd didn't bother me too much and I was kind of expecting the kicks and hits and sure enought they started early.  After about 100m, I was experiencing some of the same issues as I as had in prior experiences in cold water, which I call "swimming warm-up hell" - anxiety, shortness of breath, and feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. 

I continued to move forward the best I could, constantly reassuring myself that this is only short term and will pass once I get warmed up.  Then I just had to stop and I used a modified breast stroke to move forward for a couple of minutes and collect myself.  As I swam deeper into the lake, the water became choppier, but I must have looked OK because I didn't have any life guards in kayaks swimming over to me.  It was at this time, about 5-7 minutes into the race that I began to question how I was going to handle this.  I could stop, catch a ride back to shore, and call it a day (and face failure after four months of training ) or get it done.  I was really struggling with calming down, so the decision process took place over minutes (which felt like hours).  I would take about 10 strokes free style, change to breast stroke, breathe, and repeat. 

Finally, one clear thought, and I actually said it to myself out loud (in between waves and breaths )that set the tone for the rest of the day.  The people who I am doing this to raise money and awareness for, including my wife Jeanie, don't have a choice about whether the want to stop or not.  They are in a fight for their life every day. 

I simply said to myself, "if Jeanie can't stop, you can't stop - you will not go back to shore unless it's through the arch at the finish line" 

This was one of the moments that I had to draw inspiration from others to help push myself through...and it worked.

After several false starts, I was able to use all that I had learned to deal with the cold and choppy water to get through the last 0.9 miles without many problems and stops.  Other than some sighting issues - I'd look up, set a straight course, and immediately swim right ( I must have added a quarter mile to the swim distance) and an occassional swimmer ending up on top of me, it felt like I had expected.  I remember power swimming (and actually passing a few people) the last 100m and saying as I was exhaling underwater "I got this!" 

It wasn't a stellar performance by any means, but I finished the swim and proven to myself that I could get it done.

The Bike - 56 miles

After getting my land legs back, I headed to transition, took several deep breaths, and got ready to head out on the bike.  On the upside, I was able to get my GPS working to a point where I could get power and HR information that I needed to work with the plan Rick had made for me.  The bike started slow as I tried to get my heart rate into an endurance range because it was still elevated from the swim.   It took about 5-7 miles, but I was able to get into a groove.  I remember being passed by Sarah about 8 miles in and Larry catching me about 14 miles in.  Larry and I were going back and forth and we completed the first loop (28 miles) in about 1.5 hours ( on plan ).  As we started the second loop, fatigue began to set in and the temperatures started to rise.  The ride had started in the mid-upper 60's and was now heading to the high 70's.  Again, for those not familiar with triathlons, riders are not allowed to draft ( be within 3 bike lengths of the bike in front of them ) or ride side by side, so it can be very quiet and lonely at times.  This is both good and bad.  During the good moments, it allows focus on maintaining cadence and power levels, but during the bad moments, all pain and discomfort can be amplified.  About 40 miles in, could start to feel tightness in my quads, so I dialed it back a bit remembering that it had been my quads that locked up during my marathon.  Also, my GPS failed again, so I was riding on feel and on the feedback I could get from my simple bike computer ( HR data and partial power data).   I managed to get to the bike dismount point close to plan ( I was targeting 3 hours ) and got a huge energy boost when I saw Jeanie and the kids waiting for me.  The bike was the best part of the event for me - close to plan, no major cramps or lock-ups (result of a good plan and training - thanks Rick!), good fueling, and an awesome finish seeing my family.

The Run - 13.1 miles

The heat had risen to the high 70's early 80's by the time the run started.  Overall, I felt pretty good - a bit tired and experiencing some tightness - but nothing (at least at the start ) that would slow me down to much.  (OK, on this point, I am not fast..I meant slow for me - my target was to do the run in 2:10-2:15 hours which is around a 10 minute pace average) 

I made it out of transition and through the first mile.  I tried, again,  to get the GPS working again to at least get my heart rate,  and in the process completely reset the unit - I mean a total reset, like when it asks what your weight and height are, etc.  The distraction was actually welcomed as it kept my mind off of things, but unfortunately I had no idea what my pace was.  Just past the Mile 2 marker, I could feel my quads begin to tighten up, and fearing a complete lock up, I began to stride, vary my pace, and do anything to prevent it from happening.  The heat and fatigue was starting to have a major effect. 

Past the 3 mile marker and I could begin to feel my hamstrings tightening, and then my calves.  Ugh.  I needed to make a change, or I would not get through this.  I had vivid memories of my first marathon where I had some major quad lock ups late in the race that required me to stop for minutes at time to strech and I didn't want a repeat of this.  I chose instead to continue to vary my pace with some intervals, add in brief ( 30-60 second ) walking breaks at water stations, or in between where needed.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked.  By the time I reached the 8 mile marker, I was still feeling the same, but had not locked up or had any major cramps.  I kept visualizing the finish line and couldn't wait to get there.  About 3/4's of the course was not shaded, so the heat was really beginning to take a toll.  A lot of the people around me were struggling as well, so I was at least comforted in the fact that I wasn't in this alone and that others were struggling through to get to the finish line too.  

I vividly remember getting over the last hill about a mile away from the finish line and seeing the intersection before the campground.  I knew I was going to make it and it gave me that last bit of energy to finish. 

The best part of the race was when I saw Cam in the distance sitting on the grass looking for me.  As soon as he saw me, he sprang up and ran over yelling "Dad - you made it!".  He started running beside me for the last 1/4 mile, and in true Cam fashion, talking in one continuous sentence, but with multiple thought streams.

"We were wondering where you was the run... we were worried about you..I can't believe you finished the swim..slow down you're running to fast I don't want to you bonk..really Dad, slow down"

All I said was "Cam, I can't slow down - if I slow down I will stop" and then as I rounded the corner, I first saw Sarah, and then I saw Jeanie and Emily. 

I was finally realizing my vision that I had focused on for the whole race and this is what it was - Jeanie, My Mom, and my kids waiting at the finish line:

Done - 6:42:43.7

Longer than planned..harder than planned..but a time to beat. 

What's next?  70.3  (?) for Time and a Cure

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