I have been looking forward to this event and put some ridiculous amount of hours training for it.  I love this course and it is one my favorite 70.3 events and was anticipating a good showing. I knew this course was going to be HOT as it has been in the past so I prepared myself for the heat as much as I could. However, living in cold Cleveland and the unusually cold days the week before the race made it a little bit of a challenge. I started heat acclimating a month before the race, spending time in Sauna, staying away from air condition, keeping windows closed in my car, and exposing myself to hot conditions as much as I can. I knew I am acclimated when 90 degrees felt comfortable. So even with the cold conditions we had here I knew I am ready to tackle the heat and was looking forward to it.

However, Eagleman had something else planned. I made few mistakes that I paid for dearly at the end. So here is how my day started.

First mistake:

I decided to go for my favorite breakfast which is full of calories and have proven to give me boost in training days. My wife made me Belgium waffles and I took two large waffles with me. The morning of the race I ate both and added honey and that filled me up. Fine but that’s one more waffle than I usually eat. About 30 minutes before race start and drank mix1 drink, that’s 200 more calories on top of the 1400 I already ate for breakfast, then 10 min before the swim I grabbed one Clif shot and ate that, that’s another 100 calorie. So a total of ~1700 calories before race. This is more than I ever eat and too close to race time and will never repeat that.

Second mistake (this is where my day  almost came to an end):

The race organizer decided to make this a wetsuit legal. I think that was a big mistake since the water temperature was well above the 76.1 mark. However, when they measured it at 4am it was around 75.8. We raced about 3 hours later and the air temp was already above 80 degrees. Now I only have one wetsuit and that is a full body wetsuit. I put that on few minutes before we got in the water. Jumped in the water to do my quick warm up and immediately opened the wetsuit to put water in to cool me down. However, the water felt warm so that didn’t help. Kept pulling on the wetsuit to let water in everywhere as I waited for the start horn. Kept pulling on my kneck, sleeves and just trying to let water in everywhere. About 5 minutes later we started swimming and I started hard and was feeling comfortable and got into my pace. Half way through the swim, I started feeling really hot and felt very uncomfortable in my wetsuit. All I kept thinking about is stopping and ripping it off but just kept swimming and stuck with my plan. As we got closer to the shore, I started feeling cramps in my legs. Not a good sign. I never cramp when swimming. As we got closer to the shore I stood up and tried to do a dolphin dive and that’s when both legs locked up and a dolphin dive ended up looking more like a cow drowning. Made it out of the water and started ripping that wetsuit off and immediately felt nausea and everything in my stomach wanted to come out. My HR was very elevated around above 170bpm and decided to stop and take few breaths before getting out of T1. Didn’t want to try jumping on my bike feeling like that. Now during hard intervals, it is very hard for me to get my HR above 160 so 170 is a mark I haven’t seen for a very long time.

Putting a full wetsuit in that kind of heat with warm water temp is a big mistake. I wish I used my speedsuit instead and maybe come out of the water a little slower but feeling good rather than dehydrated and on the verge of collapsing. Never ever again!

Had few issues on the bike but these are attributed to computer technical issues which I have no control over and losing my water bottle didn’t help either.  Temperature reached low to mid 90s while biking and losing a water bottle is the last thing you want to happen. I was licking the sweat off my face just to get my mouth wet. It was that bad. Still managed to finish in 2:30 which is still a huge PR for me on the bike. At least I knew all the hard biking sessions I did over the winter have paid off even on a off bike day. I probably could’ve crushed that bike course if I didn’t have these issues 🙂

Now the run and this is where you pay dearly for any mistake you’ve made earlier. I started the run feeling already dehydrated. Still licking water off my face. I don’t recall seeing a water stops at the beginning of the run. Maybe there was one but I missed it. Couldn’t wait to get to the first water station after mile 1 which felt like an eternity. At that point my run turned into a jog then walk until the first aid station. Grabbed all the water I could and started running again and looking for the second aid station. At this point the temps were way above 90 and probably over 100 on the tarmac. The first half felt very slow but started to feel ok after mile 5 and decided to just run till the finish and just grab water, pepsi, and lots of ice at each aid station without stopping. This worked until mile 11. The distance between aid station 10 and 11 felt like 100 miles. Once I reached mile 11 aid station I decided to stop and hydrate as much as I could. I felt sick to my stomach and almost collapsed. First time I thought I might not be able to finish this thing. I was looking at the side walk next to the aid station and felt like sitting down but I knew if I do that, it will be the end of my race. Instead, I grabbed probably 6 cubs full of ice and started dumping it all over my body and drank tons of water and pepsi. Resumed the walking and then jogged till the next aid station and finally made it to the finish in 5:20.

Lessons Learned:

– Pre race nutrition: the best races I have had involved my normal breakfast with additional calories in the form of sports drink till race start. No need to fill up that much.

– Need to get myself a sleeveless suit. When air temps are high and the sun is strong and water temp is borderline or anything above 70, swim with either  a speed suit or at the max a sleeveless wetsuit. The next time I will put my full wetsuit on is if I ever do Alcatraz!

 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of this race, however, I was excited to do one last half Ironman and actually be able to run it and not just swim/bike or swim/bike/walk like I did in my previous races due to my Achilles injury.

The Pocono area was hit with major flooding the past few months and race week, the rain just didn’t stop in the whole NE region. It actually rained the whole way Saturday in my drive from Cleveland to Pocono.

On Friday, the decision was made to cancel the swim due “the hazardous river conditions which have developed over the last few days”.  So the race is now Bike/Run.

Got up Sunday Morning around 4am and had my usual pre-race breakfast. Packed my bag and headed out to T1. The temperature was in the 40s and overcast. I made the decision to race with toe covers, arm warmers and a Castelli WindStopper on top of my tri top which I got from RealCyclist few days before the race. I wanted to be able to take the top easily in T2 and that jersey was just perfect for that and the wet and cold condition.

Before the race I drank a full serving of EFS energy drink and about 10min before the race I took a double shot espresso clif shot.

The Bike:

The race started as a time trial format. Racers grabbed their bikes and started at the mount line. There was about 3seconds between each riders in the AG category. I started about an hour after the first wave. It was crowded the first 5-10 miles. I broke every USAT rule on the bike from drafting to passing. It felt more like a bike race than a triathlon race. Around mile 6 or 7, we came into a giant uphill right after a turn and most were surprised by it. Lots of racers were walking their bikes up. On that hill after averaging close to 25mph the first 6 or so miles I dropped the chain and fell of the bike. Moved to the side and fixed the chain then I had to walk the bike up the hill which was frustrating. I lost about 7-10 minutes in that accident.

The bike course was very technical and the wet road didn’t make it easier. I started to worry about nutrition because I just didn’t feel safe holding the bike with one hand. I had about 300 cals of EFS in my water bottle which I started with. I realized I was drinking that slowly and was worried that I wasn’t taking enough calories so I opened my Honey Stinger Waffle and finished that. Those waffles are nice little treats on the bike. In the second hour, I finished two Clif shots and my EFS drink.

Came very close to getting into a major accident around mile 40 going down one of the hills to suddenly find a turn. I had enough time to slow down but I think with the wet roads and slick wheels, my rear wheel didn’t have enough traction and lost control during the turn. I though I was going down for sure going 20+mph but somehow I was able to gain control of the bike. After that moment, I became very conservative with each hill and turn. One crash was enough for me at this point.

I took my last clif shot about 15 min before the bike finished. Just some water the rest of the way.

Total bike nutrition: 660 ~ 330 per hour
1- EFS 300 cal
2- Honey Stinger Waffle (160 cal)
3- Clif shot cappuccino x2 (200 cal)

The Run:
No body told me I will be doing hills repeats right after biking 56 miles. That’s how the run course felt. I ran through T2 and quickly found my bag and put my Newton racers on. Grabbed my visor and race belt and took one EFS liquid shot with me. My plan during the run was to only drink water the first half and leave Coke as late as possible. I felt I had enough calories on the bike to get me through the run so I kept the EFS shot with me just in case.


The first mile I was doing 7:20 pace but know I need to slow down. I knew I can’t keep that pace so I wanted to keep it in the 8min range. My stomach started cramping due to probably eating too late on the bike. Kept running at a slow pace and skipped the first aid station. My stomach didn’t settle down until mile 5 and that’s when I decided to pick up my pace a little. I started feeling good and kept taking only water at each aid station. Around mile 8 my legs had enough and some voice in my head was telling me to start walking at aid stations. But I was determined not to slow down. My goal for this race was to run without stopping.  I started with coke and found my legs again. More coke at mile 9. Mile 10 aid station were out of coke. Grabbed water and kept running. From there I had to basically “embrace the suck” and just keep my head up and run.  Overall I was feeling very good and legs were strong. No pain in my ankle.   Finally at the next aid station I took three cups of Coke and fueled for the final stretch. I spotted a guy in my age group that passed me during the first few miles. He was slowing down and passed him in the final mile and ran to the finish.

It was an amazing finish through downtown Stroudsburg. Great crowd and atmosphere.

Total run nutrition: water and some coke.

Overall, I was happy with the race to end this season.The race organizer and Pocono have done a great job putting this together considering the conditions. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenging 70.3 course.

Considering the injury early this season, I didn’t have the performance I know I can put together in any of my races this year.  I am hungrier to come back stronger next year. I have gained a lot of experience and know what to expect racing in hot and cold wet conditions. I know how much to drink and how much to eat before and during the race. Looking forward to a stronger and healthier season next year starting with Ironman Eagleman 70.3.

I have been looking forward to this race, not just because the excitement of doing a race but I feel like I haven’t had a race where I was able to push myself this year due to my Achilles injury. I have been doing a lot of running lately trying to get back to my pre injury strength and I feel I am close to getting there. It is also nice to do a race locally and wake up in my own bed.

The morning of the race was cold. Temperature was around 50º F.  Arrived at the site around 7am and picked up my race packet. Headed to the transition area and got my stuff all ready. It is interesting how relax and casual this has become. I feel like I have a routine setup and I don’t get nervous or worried like I used to.

I wasn’t sure about nutrition. I’ve done more Half Ironman this year than any other distance so I wasn’t sure what to take with me on the bike.  I decided to follow my training nutrition and take about 200 calories with me on the bike. I mixed two serving of EFS drink and took Clif energy shot mocha flavor. I Like to have a little caffeine at the end of my bike to get me a little boost for the run.

I ate a banana after setting up my bike and took Clif double espresso shot about 10 min before the swim start. The water temperature was warmer than the air. I kept my feet in the water just to keep them warm while waiting for my wave.

My wave went off around 8:30am. The sun was out which made it hard to sight. I was feeling good during the swim and finished the first lap feeling strong. Started with the second lap and half way through I realized I was swimming alone. For a while I thought I hit a nice sport where I am not pumping into other swimmers until I realize I was drifting in the wrong direction and heading toward the wrong buoy. Turned right and got back into place and picked up my pace to make up for the lost time. Finally got out of the water in 0:25:43. First in my age group (35-39).

Ran toward my bike. I decided to play it safe and put my socks on. Didn’t want to freeze my toes. I also had toe covers on my bike shoes. Put my arm warmers on which took forever. I think I am going to try to ware them under the wetsuit next time to speed up transition. My T1 time was 2:29 which was ridicules.

The bike featured nice hills and I was looking forward to it to get me ready for my next Ironman 70.3 in Pocono Mountains. I started well on the bike hammering every downhill and pushing up hills. Then suddenly my right arm rest started dropping. Smart me decided to make adjustments to my aero bars the night before the race and apparently I didn’t tighten the screws enough. I ignored every advise I got about making or trying anything new the night before a race. Now for the next 10+ miles, all I kept doing is getting off my aero position and try to adjust the arm rest. Couldn’t wait to get off the bike at this point.  Bike time was 1:17:24. A lot better than last year but at the same time I knew I can do a lot better.

Ran through T2 and put my Newton Racers on and headed out for the run. I was out of T2 in 50 seconds. Legs felt strong and my HR was around 150 for the first mile which was nice. For the first time this season, I felt like I was able to run without my achilles reminding with every step that it is ready to strike again any minute. Felt good through out the run and crossed the finish line in a little over 49 minutes averaging 7:50 per mile.

Race was great and I was just happy to be able to compete healthy for the first time this season. Now two more weeks and will be heading to Pocono to end my triathlon season.

Thanks to HFP and the great volunteers for putting together this great event.

Nutrition:

1- One banana (90 cal) about 30-45 min before race. Clif shot double espresso (100 cal) about 10 min before the race.
2- Two serving of EFS drink on the bike. Only drank half (90 cal)
3- 1 Clif shot mocha on the bike (100 cal)

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic was my first triathlon of 2011. Luckly I was able to sign up for it the weekend before race day after my local triathlon was canceled due to flooding.

Saturday May 14th:

I left early Saturday morning before 6am hoping to get there early afternoon. The seven hours drive went by quickly even with few stops. I have been trying to stay hydrated so had to make frequent stops every other rest area.

My iPhone GPS app was wonderfull and got me there just around 12:30pm and was able to pick up my race packet and check in my bike right on time. Headed straight to the hotel and got everything ready for the next morning.

My ankle started to bother me from all the walking I did. I injured it last Wednesday after a tempo run and didn’t run since in hope it will recover. However, from all the walking I did, it started aching again so I kept an ice bag on it the whole night.

I had to make a stop at Starbuck to get myself Starbuk VIA to use the next morning. Can’t start my day without my coffee.

Sunday, May 15th (Race Morning):

Setup my alarm to go off at 4am. Ate my special mix cereal and drank my coffee. Packed my car and checkout out of the hotel and headed to transition. Transition area opened at 6am and I was there right on time. Headed to my section and my bike, running shoes, visor and every thing ready for race.

Headed to the swim start to watch the pros. I kept a clif shot with me to eat about 10 min before my wave start around 7:50am.  Right before my wave started, headed to the porta patty one last time. Only in triathlons we get to use these barefoot. Anyway, I didn’t think about it and just did my business and got out. I will be jumping in the river soon so that should clean my feet… right?

The ankle felt ok, however, I knew it is going to start bothering me during the run. My goal was to run in less than 45min but I knew this might not happen with my ankle problem. More on this later.

Around 7:50, the gun went off and my tri season started. I started strong and tried to find my spot. As I got closer to the turn bouy, I started hitting swimmers form the previous wave which is the half rev. That made swimming back a little more challenging as I had to navigate through all the swimmers. Navigation was great and felt strong throughout the swim. As I came close to the dock, I felt like I was on time. As soon as I got out of the water, I looked at my watch and it said 26 minutes… “What 26 minutes… I am way behind my time”.

Started taking off my wetsuit and headed to my bike. Grabbed my sunglasses and for what ever reason, I kept dropping them.  After two drops, they finally stayed on my face. Got the helmet on and headed out.

In the past I had problems getting my shoes on while riding. This time, I practiced a different method to get them on and it worked. Instead of letting them swing and catch the opening with my toes, this time I first grabbed the front of the show, insert my foot and strap them on. Worked great and the shoes were on in few seconds.

The first section of the bike felt strange for whatever reason. I think I need to fuel more before my swim but tried not to take my first clifshot until about 10 minutes into the ride. I averaged over 18mpg for the first leg of the bike which is not what I was hoping for. Started pushing harder and made another mistake of taking nutrition while going up hill. Don’t ever do that again. my speed went down to about 6mph and everyone started passing me. Bad idea!

Finally finshied the bike in about 1:15 minute and headed to T2. Strapped my running shoes and out to the run.

Grimacing from pain in my ankle

About 1 minute into the run, my ankle started acting up. Felt like someone was stabbing me in my left ankle with every step. Tried to block it out and kept my stride short and my head up. It became a mental game. My left ankle wanted me to stop but I kept telling my body “DON’T DO THIS TO ME”. I knew if I stopped I won’t be able to walk the 6.2 miles. Walking was actually more painful so I just kept running and let the momentum take me. Came into a short uphill and the ankle felt a little better, then a downhill and the pain is back again. Kept looking for the turn and just wanted the run to be over with. It is not the kind of performance I was looking for. I worked very hard on my run this season. Finally, 49 minutes later I saw the finish line. This is the section where I usually like to sprint and pass the final few guys. However, this time few guys behind me started sprinting to the finish and passed me. I couldn’t do anything about it. I was just happy to finish.

I was very fortunate to finish with this time. I started limping and one of the medcal personal came over and asked me if I was ok. He took me to the medical tent and gave me ice. Sat there for 15 minutes then headed to the A.R.T tent.

Official Time:
Swim: 0:27:16
Bike: 1:14:58
Run: 0:49:56
T1: 1:55
T2: 1:05