100 Triathlons
Go to the early blogs to read how I got into triathlons. Click on any picture to enlarge it. I'm now in USA Triathlon's Century Club; go to
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." Theodore Roosevelt 1910

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Training continues...

Big 4 day Thanksgiving weekend! I did a 10.2 mile run in the park Thanksgiving morning on some new trails. Encountered 4 wild turkeys who were enjoying the turkey day morning up by the youth camp. Biked 25 miles on Friday morning and then did a 6 mile run in the park on Saturday. Finished up with a 65 mile bike on Sunday morning, which ended up tougher as fatigue did set in at mile 45. I'm seeing a new physical therapist on Wednesday to address the nagging running issue. Hope she has the solution.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

# 104 Masters Championship Olympic Tri

Some might call it dumb, some might call it chancy. But I didn't want the season to end on my middling performance in my first Half-iron distance triathlon last Sunday. So after much week long discussion and second guessing, I awoke at 4:00 AM this morning, gathered my thoughts, my bike, and my tri-gear and headed out to the Masters Championship Triathlon at Moss Park in Orlando. I like longer events so I chose the Olympic distance (.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 5.5 mile run) rather than the sprint. It was 66' at the start with water (wetsuit legal!) at 76'. I had a solid swim followed by a great bike (average speed 20.0 mph) and a very good (no problems) run with 8:35 mile splits, finishing at 2:30:11, which was good enough for 1st place. My old friend (and former/future competitor) Bill Floyd won the 60-64 age group ahead of me. (Pictured above on right with me). Bill is a USAT Certified Coach and you can visit his website at http://trifloyd.com/ . This was the perfect end to a perfect season of triathlons.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

# 103 Atlantic Coast Half-iron distance Triathlon

Well, after 102 triathlons, I've finally decided to do a Half-iron distance triathlon, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. I can't say Half-Ironman 70.3 as that belongs to World Triathlon Corporation, which happens to be a client of my employer. I considered doing the Florida Challenge Half in Clermont in September but was dissuaded by Ken Junkins, a friend and competitor in my age group. Ken said the hills on the bike and the run with little shade and the run temp in the 90s make it a tough race (Ken won the 55-59 age group with a 5:31 time, 1 hour & 2 minutes ahead of 2nd place). I didn't think that was good for my first long race so I looked around and after considering the Miami Half, I chose the Atlantic Coast Triathlon on Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville (a 2.5 hour drive is better than 5).

I raised my training level beginning in July, going to Lucky's Lake every Saturday morning for 2 laps, totaling 1.33 miles, and riding 60-70 miles each Sunday. My running was limited to a few long runs and a lot of short ones as the osteitis pubis still bothers me a little. My last weekend before the race was the final tuneup, with a Saturday morning Lucky's Lake swim followed by the Breast Cancer Bike Ride at David's World Cycle (25 miles). I got knocked over on the bike at a stoplite and suffered a vicious calf cramp and a bruised ego. Sunday, I got up early, did a 25 mile bike followed by a 6 mile run and felt totally ready afterward.

The following Saturday I headed north to Amelia Island and checked in at the Comfort Suites by the beach. I was given room number 103, when I suddenly realized this was my 103rd tri! The hotel was half a block from the race site and a block from the pasta dinner on Saturday night, so it was very convenient. I checked in, getting #170, and racked my bike. The transition area was well laid out in a parking lot split by a grass strip with 6 porta-lets and 2 changing tents. The olympic distance race (held at the same time) was on one side and the half-iron on the other. I met some really nice people at the dinner and then wandered down to the bike -filled transition area and spoke to several of the race officials including a really great guy named Phil Royal. I woke at 3:00 and laid in bed until 4:00, gave up on sleep and got up and began mixing my Hammer nutrition (5 different bottles) before heading out to check-in, which opened at 5:00. Next to my bike was Kathy, who was doing the race with her fellow Tampa Bay Tri-gal, Jen. They were also first-timers and very excited. On the other side of me was a married couple Annie & John, along with Stuart, more first time half-iron distance competitors. About 7:00 the sky over the Atlantic began to brighten with the promise of a beautiful sunrise, no wind, and 1 foot waves. There were about 240 half-iron racers and 175 doing the olympic distance gathering on the beach for the start. The air temp was 56' and the water was 76' so conditions were ideal.

After a rousing version of our National Anthem, I headed down to the water to start in Wave #2. We all took off at the horn and I hung back, promising myself to take it easy on the swim. The sunrise was so beautiful I actually paused twice during the swim to look around and enjoy the moment and sight the course buoys. The 1.2 miles went quickly and after a brief encounter with a jellyfish, I hit the beach with a time of 41:33.
I jogged into transition, grabbed my bike bag, and entered the changing tent. I pulled off my wetsuit and put on my bike shorts/jersey, pulled my bike off the rack, and headed out on the bike course. We started out on A1A for several miles and then turned right to head towards the mainland. Unfortunately, a group of olympic-distance cyclist were ahead of me and in my concentration on catching them, I missed the turn. I caught my error almost immediately and turned back, losing only 1/2 a mile. At mile 17, I reached the intercoastal bridge and began the long climb up and over. After many miles on the mainland, I headed back over the bridge (spectacular view at the top!) and hit 29.7 mph on the descent. I was feeling great and my average speed was 19.6 at this point. I then headed to the south end of Amelia Island and over the Nassau Sound Bridge into Duval County. Crossing this 1/2 mile long bridge in the early morning was stunning as the Atlantic was just to the east. I went back over the bridge after reaching the turnaround and headed north on A1A towards the finish. The combination of a slight headwind, slight incline, and my own fatigue slowed my final average speed to 19.3 for the 56 miles, finishing at 2:55:55.
I quickly changed into my running shorts/singlet and stopped in a porta-let. I was treated to the sight of cramping calves twitching uncontrollably and took off on the 13.1 mile run. The run quickly became a walk as my body tried to quickly adjust to the new activity of running. I ran/walked for the next 8 miles and pain and minor cramps threatened to derail my race. The run through Fort Clinch State Park was exceptional though, as all the roads were heavily shaded by a canopy of oak trees. By mile 9, after 2 Hammer Gels and more water, I was feeling much better and my running pace picked up. I ran strong the last 4 miles, passing 2 of my competitors in the process. The finish line looked mighty good as I charged across it with a 2:39:45 run for total time of 6:33:32. I finished 8th out of 10 in my age group and 170th overall. Oddly enough, 170 was my race number too, coinciding with the Room 103/103rd tri.

In closing, I have to say I had a great time in spite of my poor run. My PR for a half-marathon is 1:54:52 so it's easy to say I was way off. The venue, location, race organization, officials, volunteers, and race course were all first rate, so I can recommend this event to anyone. It was especially nice that the aid stations (every 10 miles on the bike/every mile on the run) was well staffed with cold water, gels, and a porta-let. This was a text-book example of a well-run event; hats off to DRC Sports ( http://www.drcsports.com/ ).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

HFCS & 2 great books

Just a quick note on something amazing I saw yesterday at The Fresh Market, a high end/gourmet supermarket chain that has a store near us. They had a product tasting yesterday and several of the products featured were Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, & Sprite. So what, you say. What was incredible is that these were IMPORTED from MEXICO and contained REAL SUGAR instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Sugar. It tasted like the Coke I drank as a child. I have recently seen ketchup and soda with "NO HFCS or MADE WITH REAL SUGAR" on the labels.

I use Hammer Nutrition products exclusively and they use no simple sugars in their products but are really opposed to HFCS. The July 2010 edition of their magazine, Endurance News, had a great article about a March 2010 study done by Princeton University. Three groups of rats were given different diets. Group A got rat chow and water, Group B got rat chow and HFCS water (at 1/2 the concentration of soft drinks) and Group C got a high-fat diet. The result was a increase in weight by some of the rats on the high-fat diet but all the rats on the HFCS water became obese. They found that the HFCS is processed by the liver into fat while sugar went into the bloodstream to provide a glucose/energy boost (though temporary).

Reference: Bocarsly, M.E., et al. "High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels." Pharmocology Biochemistry and Behavior, 2010; DOI 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.02.012

Here are 2 great books I received as gifts: 17 Hours to Glory by Muller/Carlson and Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete by Jef Mallet. Jef is the cartoonist/triathlete who created Frazz, the songwriter/school janitor/triathlete cartoon character. Jef's book has some hilarious observations on triathletes and makes us laugh at ourselves. ("How old is your new girlfriend? She's 30-34 age group.")
17 Hours to Glory profiles 17 Pro or Famous triathletes in their quests at the Hawaiian Ironman. It really give you an insight into the training levels of Iron-distance athletes. Both are available at Amazon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

# 102 Fall Moss Park Olympic Triathlon

This was my first race at Moss Park (just southeast of Orlando International Airport) this year. Buttar.com holds a Tri Sprint on Saturday and Olympic distance on Sunday; the lake is always calm, the 24 mile bike course is flat and the 5.5 mile run is in the woods on hardpack sand. A brief shower as I arrived before dawn allowed the humidity to rise as the sun did likewise.

I've done this course multiple times in the past so I've recorded my splits many times. My bike time and run speed were almost identical to my last race here in October 2009 but I was surprised to discover that I took 5 minutes off my best swim. All my additional swim training for the half-ironman in October is evidently paying off. I've had a cramping problem in my hamstrings on the run several times in the past due to the flat bike but a short stretch in T2 and several Endurolite capsules allowed me a good run in the heat/humidity with no issues. I was happy to finish first as all my competitors were unknown to me. My time was even fast enough for a third place in 50-54, the next younger (and more crowded) age-group. Two more races ahead for this year.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

# 101 Tigershark Daytona Long-Sprint Tri

St. Pete Maddogs Danny Hicks (2nd/65-69), Jan Thompson (1st/65-69), David Burg (1st/55-59), & Jack Finucan (2nd/55-59)

Today was the longest of the Tigershark/Rice & Rose Sprint Series, with 800 yard swim, 15 mile bike, and 4 mile beach run. The overcast sky and flat water made this race more pleasant than 2 weeks earlier, which had big surf and a very hot run. Jan Thompson brought her husband Danny Hicks and David Burg with from Tampa. All three are Ironman finishers and pretty fast. David beat me by 2:06 even though I had the fastest run, with a final time of 1:44:50.
Only 1 other person pre-registered in my age-group so as I climbed the ramp from the beach, I saw Butch exiting the water. Keeping an eye out for him at the first bike turnaround, I calculated I was 36 seconds ahead so I pushed hard on the bike. A big surprise came near the bike finish though when I came upon a unknown cyclist with "59" on his calf. I passed him quickly but we were in transition in just a few minutes. I headed out on the run and at the 2 mile turnaround, I was 1:00 minute ahead of him. As I concentrated on keeping my pace high, I had a sudden visualtion of my passing him on the bike; he had flat handlebars, which meant he was in the "Fat-tire" class. I finished strong but never saw David Burg ahead of me; there were actually 4 in my class. Sometimes you never know where you are in a race until the results are posted.
This ends the Tigershark Series for 2010 with my two First Places and today's Second.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reflections on # 100

On July 20, 2010, I completed my 100th triathlon. I stumbled on this upcoming event several years ago when I totaled all the race numbers I had saved over the years (with the race data inscribed on them). At that time it was a very surprising 72 which in turn provided me with a goal of 100 in the not too distant future. Looking back at the 100 Triathlons I've done, you can view the statistics:

1 Mini-Sprint Tri (my first triathlon; see earlier post)
1 Team event: 1993 Chicago Sun Times Triathlon; Team Ameritech, 2nd place (I did the 25 mile bike leg in a thunderstorm on Lake Shore Drive)
22 Olympic distance Tris (St. Anthony's Triathlon 10 times)
76 Sprint Triathlons (plus 1 fun triathlon, the 2001 New Year's Day Hair of the Dog Triathlon put on by the St. Pete Maddogs. Sandy & I did it together on our tandem bike.)

Medal Count:
Firsts - 12, Seconds - 8, Thirds - 10
No penalties ever, No DNFs, 2 flat tires (same race!)

But I think the greatest part of competing in this sport is all the great people I have met. My wife Sandy has been extremely supportive, emotionally with encouragement, physically by being there, and nutritionally with her wonderful meals. (Pic on left is from the 2000 Sanibel Triathlon)

Others who contributed to my success are my friend & occasional coach, Jeff Cuddeback (pic below with former pupil Olympian Hunter Kemper), his wife, Dr. Kim Watson, who got me back in shape after a broken collarbone in 1995 and several other injuries,
Alec & Lera Rukosuev (National Training Center coaches) for their advice over the years, the late Jim Ward (for years the oldest Ironman World Champion), Bruce & Maddie Olster, David Sanborn of David's World Cycle, for his continued support, Race Directors Fred Sommers/CFT Sommer Sports, Zahid Buttar/Buttar.com, and Rob Wallace/Tigershark Endurance Events, USA Triathlon for their guidance & management of this young & growing sport (when I joined it was Tri-Fed USA), the St. Pete Maddogs Triathlon Club, all the wonderful volunteers and referees like Charlie Crawford who labor on hot Sundays so we can race, and many others who I've met over the years. And a big thank you to the fine people at Hammer Nutrition for the wonderful products that I used for many years. Their free guidebook is a great resource for endurance athletes. http://www.hammernutrition.com/
One of the neatest experiences I've had was when a co-worker, Hollie Finley (pic on left), asked me to coach her in her first triathlon. Over several months, we found her a bike and the accessories and did practice rides and transition rehearsals. She then did her first race at Moss Park.

Looking ahead, I've just signed up for the Atlantic Coast Half-ironman Triathlon on October 17 at Ameila Island, Florida (just north of Jacksonville). This will be my first half-iron race (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).

People ask me why I did 100 triathlons. It’s not like I planned on doing one or two and then moving on. I look upon triathlon as a fountain of youth; something that will keep me fit and moving for the rest of my life. But endless training with no goal is to me without purpose. Triathlons, whatever distance, give you a point and a goal to achieve, if just to have a good time. After all 17 years and 100 triathlons, I still get excited on race mornings. I also still say to myself during the swim, bike and run, "Boy, is this great!"! That's why I keep going.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

# 100! Tigershark Daytona Mid-Sprint Tri

This race was #100! I returned to Daytona Beach Shores for the second of the 3-race Tigershark series. My wife Sandy again rose at 4:00 AM to cheer me on. Rob Wallace, the race director, puts on a great event at a really great venue. The only glitch was the rough surface of US A1A but when we turned off of Dunlawton Ave, surprise!, A1A had been completely repaved! I was really looking forward to the 12 mile bike now but this was tempered by seeing the Atlantic Ocean and the 600 yard swim ahead. Despite the lack of wind, the waves were running 3-4' with a strong south-to-north current. At registration, I was delighted to find I was given #100 as my race number for my 100th triathlon! Ken, Joe, & I discuss past and future races. All men were in the first swim wave, so we all charged into the waves head on. I'd been reviewing my rough surf technique since May and it really helped diving into the breaking waves. Finding the swim buoys in the rolling water increased the challenge but I exited the water in 18:27, not bad considering the waves. I jumped on the bike and quickly got into a strong rhythm. The smoothness of the new pavement enabled me to quicken my speed to an average of 20.8 mph over the 12 miles.
I shot out of transition and headed on down the beach for the 3 mile run. It was starting to get hot in the early morning sunshine but it's a joy running by the ocean and I maintained a strong pace, completing the run in 26:41. As I approached the finish I heard the announcer calling out my name and that this was my 100th triathlon. Sandy was there with a big kiss and received a sweaty hug from me in return. My final time was 1:25:12, good for 1st in my age group.

At the awards ceremony, Rob Wallace presented me with a plaque commemorating my 100th, as well as my 1st place age group award. My friends all congratulated me and as a capper, I won a door prize for a RoadID wrist band! A new friend from the West Volusia Runners, Ken Allen, who entered the tri after encouragement from me, picked up 1st place in the 70-74 age group. Joe Evans and his girlfriend Charisse, was there too as well as Howard Montgomery. We finished the day with a celebratory dinner at McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant. A great 100th triathlon!

Ken Allen with Jack waiting for the start.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lucky's Lake Swim

I finally got out to the Lucky's Lake Swim on Lake Cane by Universal Studios. I heard about this last year but never got a chance to go. Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer generously opens his home and lake up to anyone who want to swim. The lake is one kilometer across and back and the swim starts at 7:45 on Saturday morning. You can use the bathrooms and showers by the pool too. There were about 85 people there this morning, all having a great time. I swam 1 lap at 24:12 and then another at 26:00 after a 5 minute rest. So 2 kilometers (equals 1.32 miles) in 50:12; not bad. Had a great time; I'll be back soon.
For more info, go to http://www.luckyslakeswim.com/.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

# 99 Tigershark Daytona Sprint Tri #1

Big day today with #99! My wife & number one fan Sandy rose at 4:00 AM to accompany me to the first of the Tigershark Series of Sprint Triathlons. The races increase in distance over the series of three. I spent a bit of time checking out my four competitors online (which became three when one decided to compete as a Clydesdale) since I had never raced against any of them before.
Jack with Jan Thompson

Howard Montgomery & Jack

The weather was crystal clear, 74 degrees, no wind, with a calm Atlantic Ocean at the start. As low tide was 60 minutes after the start, it was a 100 yard dash off the beach to water deep enough to swim in; it was also 72 degrees! I had a good swim (after another 100 yard dash out of the water) and headed north on Rt. A1A on the bike. I warmed up after several miles and got up to 21mph for a while, pushing my average to 20.4 for the bike. The rough pavement on A1A kept my speed down and I felt I could go faster.

Since I had not seen any of my fellow 55-59 racers, I took off immediately on the run down the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach. I was running strong and felt great the whole 5K, finishing it in 26:17, with an overall time of 1:02:14. When the results were posted, I was stunned to see I had won by a margin of 7:01! So much for my pre-race concerns. As usual in sprint tris, the rule is just hammer the entire event.
I did run into Joe Evans again after another great 4th place in only his 2nd triathlon! Also saw Jan Thompson (Maddog #27) win her 65-69 age group; her son Andrew picked up a second in Clydesdale. Also met a great ex-marine and current fireman, Howard Montgomery; he'll be in my age group next year (uh-oh!).
Jan, Ashley, & Andrew Thompson

Sunday, June 13, 2010

# 98 Clermont Sprint Triathlon #1

June 12 was the start of the Clermont Sprint Tri series, put on by Fred Sommer of Sommer Sports. Fred pretty much started triathlon in Central Florida (and the Tri-America series across the USA). He also puts on a 1/2 Iron-distance tri in September and a full Iron-distance in October. These 4 sprint tris are held several weeks apart on the same course, which is great if you are tracking your splits and looking for improvements. I did my first tri in Florida at one of the Clermont sprint events in 1994. Interestingly enough, I drove my first auto race in Clermont, Indiana. The waterfront park in downtown Clermont is a great venue and Lake Minneola is rated "pristine waters". The area around these events is quite hilly with some really big hills, Sugarloaf, Grassy Lake, Buckhill Rd., nearby.
This race had an entry list of over 400 with 11 in my age group, 55-59. My old nemesis, Ken Junkins, was there (we first competed in 2005) and blew the field away as usual, finishing in 1:01:33. You can read about Ken at the Facebook page his daughter created: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Incredible-Ken-Junkins/332767313666

John Holloway and I battled back and forth on the bike leg with me in third exiting T2. But he passed me about 1/2 mile into it with a blistering run and finished 1:20 minutes ahead of me. I came in 4th out of 11 with a 1:10:03. My top downhill speed was 38.4 followed by a long climb at 9 mph! Another great race!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

# 97 Ocean Deck Triathlon - Daytona Beach

Great race today! This is a low key race, utilizing an all beach format. Held at the Ocean Deck bar right on Daytona Beach, you must have a mountain bike or beach bike to compete. My old Softride hybrid has 1.5" tires, so it worked well. The transition area is set up on the beach too so you don't have far to go to complete each leg. I did decide to bike in my running shoes, so I switched the Shimano cleats for regular pedals with toeholds.

The ocean was much calmer than last weekend and I had a great swim followed by a fast downwind ride north reversing course into a headwind going south for a total distance just over 8 miles. It's interesting weaving around the soft spots in the sand (you can drive your car on Daytona Beach) and the early morning tourists. The run was a quick out & back 5K down the beach. My finishing time was 1:08:27, nearly 3 1/2 minutes faster than last year's 1:11:59, good enough for first in 55-59! My training seems to have paid off as my times keep dropping.

I met some nice people doing there first tri's, Joe Evans and Dave Johnson. Joe got a 3rd in his age group, which always entices people to keep competing. I think I'll see him at future races.

Joe Evans readies himself for the ocean swim.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

# 96 Tri-Y Ormond Beach Sprint Tri

Sunrise across US Route A1A.

This triathlon is now in it's seventh year and I always found it on the calendar too late to enter until this year. Ormond Beach is on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Daytona Beach. When I arrived at 5:40 AM the wind was blowing a steady 15 mph from the south. The transition area was located right at the corner of US Route A1A and Granada St, directly across from the beach. I think the wind picked up bit at sunrise and the waves looked about 5-6' at the start. The Race Director announced 5 minutes before the gun that you could compete in a duathlon because of the rough conditions. As this is a small race, 200+ people, there were 2 waves, men and women. The swim headed north with the tidal current after the first buoy but the waves were horrendous and as everyone was getting tossed around, it was difficult to get any sort of rhythm going. Finally I came ashore and took off on the bike. I passed the second place rider at mile 4 on a downwind sprint and entered T2 about 40 seconds ahead of him, averaging 21.8 mph. However, he could really run, passing me at mile 1 and kept accelerating, passing the guy in 1st at mile 2 and never looking back. I had a great run (7:54 mile splits) and was closing on 2nd place when the race ended. I was quite happy with my 3rd out of 6th finish. The capper was winning a $25 gift certificate for Stonewood Grill at the post race party!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

# 95 Baldwin Park Sprint Triathlon

Today I discovered the new way to win a triathlon; smash the 2 small toes on your right foot the evening before the race.
The previous week we spent in heaven on Captiva Island, Florida, at our timeshare condo on the Gulf beach. I used the "rest" week to kick up my training and posted 3 long bike rides and 3 long runs. We had a garage sale on Saturday so by Sunday I was well acclimated to the 90' heat too. Saturday evening however, rushing through the garage barefoot, I "found" the 4''x4" we use as a car curbstop with my right foot. After several well chosen words, I limped off to dinner. Tylenol and ice eased the pain/swelling so off I went to the race early Sunday morning. (Nice color purple though!)
Baldwin Park is an upscale "new urban" community created with the closing of the Orlando Navy Base several years ago. The entire race is conducted inside the community with the swim in Lake Baldwin (site of the Navy's Sonar Research Lab), an unusual 5 lap bike course of 13.4 miles total, followed by a 4.5K around Lake Baldwin. All my spring swim training paid off with a great swim, getting me a 2nd in the swim (I'm usually last). I had one of my fastest bike rides ever, averaging 22.1 mph on the flat course. The 5 laps result in lots of passing and yelling "on your left!". The run around Lake Baldwin was fabulous as I warmed up within the first 500 meters and then really took off. I "felt" my foot the whole race but it never bothered me and I picked up a 29 year old guy with 1 mile to go who stayed with me to the finish. My final time was 1:15:09, good for 1st out of the 5 guys in my age group.

Monday, April 19, 2010

# 94 - St. Anthony's Triathlon

Pre-Race: This weekend is my first tri of 2010; I had planned on doing two tris before this but Florida's frigid winter kept water temps very low even into April. Wetsuits are helpful but 56' is still pretty cold water. I've done St. Anthony's 9 times before, starting in 1995, but have not been back since the 2005 race. It's grown now to 4,000 triathletes, so it should be a major show. My wave is 25 out of 32, starting almost 2 hours after the pro's. Also it's fun to join the club Sandy & I both belong to, the St. Pete Maddogs, who throw a great party Friday night. The club does homestays for all the pro's so you get to meet some famous people at the party. Sandy got a chance to talk with Katie Knight-Perry, one of the first Maddogs. Saturday morning's mini-tri, The Meek & The Mighty, features children and adults competing together around downtown St. Petersburg and is great fun to watch. We did manage to get into a B&B, the Sunset Bay Inn, within walking distance of everything, which makes the congestion easy to deal with. We had a great breakfast Saturday morning after I had a short bike ride.

Race Report: We had a great weekend and I had a great race. One of the issues with big races like this is the fact that it takes a huge effort to organize and work out the logistics to have 4,000 triathletes race at the same time. I got up at 4:30 AM and walked the 3 blocks over to transition. Once I had set everything up (bike was racked on Saturday), I walked back to Sunset Bay and relaxed until 8:00. Sandy & I then walked the mile to the start at Spa Beach and waited for the 8:39 start for Wave 25.

The wind, which had been blowing since sunrise, began picking up along with the waves and the race director decided to shorten the 1.5K swim to 1K, which delayed the race 36 minutes. They were already pulling swimmers from previous waves out of the water. Finally the gun went off and we began. It wasn't too bad and I finished the swim in 18:51. A long run through transition (it looked like 10 acres of bike racks) and I was off on the bike.

Great picture, Sandy!

By now, the wind was blowing 15-20 from the south with higher gusts. By mile 5, my AVS was only 16.4 MPH! As you rounded a corner, you'd get hit with a big headwind that slowed you immediately. At mile 10 I felt I was getting into a good rhythm but everything clicked at mile 17 and I was really cranking with a strong tailwind. My speed jumped to 25-29 MPH and as I headed into transition, my AVS was up to 19.7 for the 25 miles! I drank 2 bottles of Perpeteum during the 1:15 minutes bike ride so I was well hydrated & fueled.

As I ran out of transition, I swallowed 2 Endurolite capsules in case of cramping. Sure enough, at 1/2 mile the first hamstring cramp hit; I slowed and stretched and at the 1 mile waterstop I had 2 more capsules and continued on. My speed kept increasing and after a Hammer Gel at Mile 4, I was flying. I finished the 10K with a time of 58:23 (9:18 mile) which was slow as I lost about 2-3 minutes with the cramp. My final time was 2:39:47, which was skewed from my previous times by the shortened swim. One nice thing on the run was the overcast and the wind, which was really blowing by now. I finished 35th out of 100 competitors in the 55-59 Male age group, so I was very happy.

Here's the finish with Celine from Ireland by way of the Cayman Islands. We spent most of the bike and run leg within sight of each other. Great race!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Injury & Recovery

In all my years of racing, I've been thankfully free of any severe injuries. For several weeks now, after the Disney Marathon, I've been bothered by a sports hernia/groin strain. It generally manifests itself after a long run so after several doctor visits, I'm being more careful with more stretching before and after training and racing. It's difficult to start slowing down just as the season is ramping up but the message as always is "listen to your body". It knows what it can do and what it needs to accomplish these tasks. So from now on, I'll be a little more careful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winning, losing, and finishing

Here's an issue that triathletes have contemplated since the first (modern) triathlon back in 1974 in Mission Bay, San Diego. As triathlon has always been viewed as an endurance event, just finishing a tri was looked upon as an achievement. Since the media has portrayed tris as a grueling, heart wrenching contest (ala Julie Moss), whenever you mentioned the word "triathlon" the reaction has been "Ironman". When I began my first tris, my objective was to finish. I viewed that as an achievement, as opposed to my days of auto racing, suffering DNFs* due to a blown engine, fried clutch, and my last race, a defective radiator cap. I've never DNFed at a triathlon despite flat tires, cramps, bonking, or injuries. (*Did Not Finish)

And then I turned 50. This momentous occasion coincided with more people than ever competing and with a boom in the number of races in Florida. While I got my first trophy in 1994, 5th place in a Clermont Sprint, my first win came as a complete surprise in 2004. Now I was really excited! It didn't matter that the increase in races or my age meant that there were now fewer people in my age group. A win is a win, and a place is a place. It's made me more competitive and less complacent, made me train harder and with more planning. At the big events, I'm happy to improve my performance over previous years. With 93 tris complete, I currently have 8 Firsts, 8 Seconds, and 9 Thirds, in Sprints and Olympic distances. One of my happiest finishes in the 2009 season was my third at the Downtown Orlando Triathlon, because I beat someone I thought was unbeatable. It's also amazing to me that my times would occasionally win the next youngest age group.

I still enjoy competing and I love finishing; after the results are posted it's just icing on the cake to see my name at 1, 2, or 3.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Right Bike

Here I am in Chicago (Evergreen Park) in 1963; I rode this bike to school and back 4 miles (1 mile each way & home for lunch) everyday. For a child growing up in the late 1950s/1960s, a bicycle meant freedom and a chance to explore your surrounding. One speed, balloon tires, probably 45 pounds. I was totally unaware that bicycle racing existed.

1994 Softride Power V; before carbon fiber was light. This was my first tri-bike; before this I used a Specialized road bike for a few races. Great bike but the carbon frame was a bit heavy. It eventually developed a crack and Softride replaced it with the frame below. Greg Welch won the Hawaiian Ironman on the Power V in 1994. This picture looks so dated now.

1999 Softride Rocket TT7, very aero. Softrides were still a bit heavy and they had a higher center of gravity due to the frame shape. The aero shape was better than anything else at the time and amazing on long downhills. I hit 51 mph descending Hospital Hill during a race in Clermont, FL. Weighing 175 pounds helps on downhills!

2005 Litespeed Tachyon; light & fast! I love this bike! The titanium frame with the carbon fork/seatpost does a fabulous job absorbing road shock and keeps the bike nice and light. Litespeed discontinued this model in 2008 and their aero shape tri-bike was a half pound heavier. I added a FSA Compact Crank (36/48) to give my old knees a break climbing hills.
You can do triathlons with any bike but having a tri/forward seatpost frame certainly helps to alleviate the "dead-legs" feeling I used to get off the bike on the run. The theory is that with the seat forward, you're utilizing a different set of leg muscles to pedal. You can find bike bargains on Craigslist or Ebay (if you know what to look for) or check out your Local Bike Shop's end of year sales. I got the Litespeed in 2006 when a LBS dropped Litespeed and cleared out their inventory. At the last race of 2009, I got a kick out of passing a 30 year old on a Cervelo P3 Carbon (disk wheel/aero helmet). Bicycling legend Eddy Merckx is quoted as saying, "You want to go faster? Pedal harder". You can buy speed on the bike but you still have to train to go fast. So which is the Right Bike? It's the one that feels right for you.