Thursday, July 31, 2008

First Race Back - Post Ironman France Nice

The IM recovery period is over and back to racing. Last weekend was the Mass State Triathlon Olympic distance. The weather looked to be sketchy and we did get pounded with thunderstorms all weekend, including 3:am the night of the race and I didn't really sleep after 4:am, so it was a sleepy morning.
The race went pretty well. LONG 0.9mi swim and hilly bike and runs, but overall I am pleased. I didn't really have a great segment, but everything went good and fairly consistent. Here are the numbers:

10th overall
3rd Elite
overall time: 2:06:01
0.9mi swim: 24:14
22mi bike: 1:00:57
10K run: 38:50

The bike course has one pretty tough hill, which starts hard, but then tapers off - but it keeps going and going! The second loop my legs were absolutely burning by the time I hit the top. More stupid stuff; I forgot my tools - don't ask me why (because I was trying to get the tow kit onto the new car, so we could haul the camper). No cassette tool means no disc wheel. I think the disc would have helped regardless of the hills.
I'm glad I did the race. Tim (Maxperformance RD) puts on a good show. This is my third of his races and I have nothing but good reports. The campground is also very nice - we got pounded with T&L the second night also, which filled the campsite completely with about 3" of water.

Now for the dumb news; like a knucklehead I had signed up for the Yankee homecoming 10miler on Tuesday. I was definitely still tired and my Achilles still bothering. I didn't have any expectations for the race, but was out way too fast; 5:50, 12:00, 16:30 and 31:30 @ 5miles. That's actually a pretty good 5 miler time, but when 6mi rolled along I felt exhausted and kaboom! The next four miles was a cool down.

Anyway, I am not going to run much and see if I can lose this Achilles thing. I will be racing again at the sprint in Lowell Sunday. Race report to follow.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

I will take the heat at Ironman France Nice any day!

The weekend up at Lake Placid was absolutely brutal! The day of the race it rain from start to finish with only a few small breaks. For a total of three inches! I was wet, miserable and shivering, but happy I was not racing. I stayed out as long as I could to cheer my team-mates and friends on, but had to go back to the house to dry my clothes several times. And many thanks to my friends and team-mates for letting my family crash at the house or the whole thing would not have been doable, Our tent was submerged in water after the first night and I would have had to go a long way to find a hotel room. Congrats to my team-mates and friend's - many first timers! and some great performance in those nasty conditions!

Anyway, I am signed up for next year. I need to have a great race as there were even more Europeans this year grabbing slots.

This picture is of this year's swim. I'm some where to the right in one of the chase groups. I really enjoyed swimming in the mediteranean, it's absolutely beautiful. That's something I will remember for a long time. I don't have the opportunity to swim ocean much, although maybe down the Cape next month - if there aren't anymore of those shark reports! Watching those guys bomb down the hills in the Tour brings me back everytime I watch. I will remember the spectators in the small villages yelling "Allez Kyah!" as I whipped by. I guess that's how the real French folks prenounce Kyle - on my bib number as I go by.

I will be racing this weekend at the Mass State Tri in Winchenden. The weather once again looks to be sketchy. I have had enough time off - back to racing. This should be a good race. I hope to finish in the middle of the elites.



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moving On To 2009, Final Thoughts On Ironman France Nice

I'll be heading up to Lake Placid this weekend to signup for 2009. This will be my final year in the 40-44 AG, but I still think I have a shot next year as I again more and more experience in Ironman. This weekend will be enjoyable for me as I will go up and soak it in, seeing how I have done my Ironman for the year. I look forward to getting into the environment and back to swimming, biking and running on the course only for pleasure and activity purposes. I have been ramping back up to things, although the last two weeks has been crazy and it has been difficult to get a lot of training time. Getting away for a long weekend will be good as I will have no distractions. We'll be winging it also, with no place to stay - I think the tent will be going with us and we will camp or find no $$ accomodations. The money has already been spent in Nice.

Some final thoughts on Nice: I really loved the country. If at all possible I would like to move there or maybe be able to live there for a period in some point of my life. I have really enjoyed watching the Tour this year and every time I watch I feel like I am revisitng a little bit.

Some final notes on the race:

Lot's of drafting duing the race. L'arbitre (referee - also on la moto (motorbike)) was more than generous blowing the wistle and motioning with his hands for guys to spread out. I did see a couple of guys get nailed and they deserved it. I think a lot more guys got away with it though.

In hindsight, if I had known that the temps were going to be so high (94deg), I would have left the aero helmet at home. Mine ventilates pretty well, but the added ventilations as it was so hot and it didn't really help on the downhill because the section were so technical and I found that we start to bunch up and be forced to spread-out (non, le prison pour moi - you go to the prison after the bike leg for cheating).

This course is porbably best done on a road bike with clip-ons - although I had no trouble on my bike, there were several times I shifted my mid-section behind the seat, like in a steep mountain bike descent. I di not want to get lanched off that bike! There were too many hairpin turns were you need to deccelerate quickly.

Before trying a course like this, I recommend taking a trip to bike in the Alps or at least go for another week to get acclimated.

This race was a great experience, very well organized and very unique.

Any well. Good luck to all of the 2008 LPers! I will be cheering on.

Next week I resume racing season with some shorter tris (Mass State Olympic 7/27) and some raod races (Newburypost 10mi 7/29).



Saturday, July 5, 2008

Race Report - Ironman Nice France

We had a great two weeks in France. It is a vacation that the family will remember and who knows if or when we will ever get the opportunity to go back - with the cost of the trip due to the weak US dollar. It was expensive, but a great trip and I come back feeling like I am living in the wrong country. The people there are very passionate about cycling and with the Alps - I don't have to explain that these guys are great cyclists. There is a reason that Lance Armstrong lived there while racing the Tour.

The traveling part went okay - no lost or damaged bike. I did not get much sleep leading up into the race and had to move all our gear into the villa the night before the race, which was crazy. Nice is beautiful, but a city and the increased traffic with the transition area in the middle of the Promenade des Anglais made getting around difficult. Also, Nice is party town, with beautiful beaches (wink, wink) and that guy playing his guitar and yelling into the amp at 11:00 the night before the race! I thought he was going to ruin my race, but it was only just another six hours of sleep again.

This would be my third Ironman (LP '06 & '07) and the first with an ocean swim. In summary, I though I had a real good race, although the time doesn't reflect it. Conditions and the climate in Nice present a challenge as it was very hot there. I never expected 94 degrees in the Alps (I guess I didn't need those arm warmers I packed in my suitcase) and mid-80s with that blazing hot sun.

Here's the report. I will try not to go on forever:

The Swim:


I was very comfortable swimming in the Mediterranean the few days leading up to the race. Although on race day, it turned into a washing machine of blue water. All of these mass start swims are the same. I can't sprint fast enough to get ahead and end up right in the mass of bodies converging for the first buoy. I had a smart swim and stayed just wide enough so that I avoided the mosh-pit. No real issues. I got my goggles punched off once and got some sea-water, which immediately turned my stomach, but pretty much the same as all of the other IMs. Running off the rocks into the water on the start hurts a little more than starting in the water.

Anyway, my first sub-65 minute swim - a PR. No one can take that away. I thought I had a dynamite swim and came out of the water fresh and ready to take on the Alps. My swimming has really come a long way (now in my 5th year of swimming - I could not swim freestyle more than 50yds before then).

The bike:


Who told me I could just show up in France and bike in the Alps? I knew that the climbing would be extremely difficult. I can summarize the climb; my legs were starting to burn just as I passed the 10K to go mark to the top of the mountain. I managed the climb well though, never really had any problem, just kept cranking away. The descents however were something I have never experienced before. The MOST technical descents I have ever done, somewhere between psychotic and suicidal; switchbacks, sharp turns, hair-pins turns. I can only compare it to a motorcycle video game, but if you crash, you go off a 1000 ft. cliff and die! and there were Danger signs. Trying to make that sharp turn and coming one foot from the wall and looking a thousand feet down was very intimidating! and I let the bike fly! Just like everyone else because we are all doing it in the same interest! With all that climbing comes miles of technical descents at high speed. I watched the Tour de France this morning with a special appreciation of the chances those guys take. And I watched a guy almost hit the wall! He went into the rubble right next to the wall slamming on the brake. He had a big smile on his face because he knew he just got out of one easy, only 500ft down over that wall, but I told him "you don't want to be doing that". Post-race rumor has it that one person was seen climbing back over the wall.

One shaky moment; in the first third of the race on the first decent. We bunched up toward the bottom because no one can pass on those crazy turns. We came down into a village with a narrow road and I never saw it and wasn't ready for it; I hit a speed bump which I would have tried to jump. I hit it hard and my rear wheel came way up off the ground, but I hung on to it - all that mtn biking last year paid off. I hit it real hard at about 35mph and luckily hung on - maybe part nerve and part skill, but it was a scary moment. Unfortunately, about 4 seconds later I heard a crash behind and Croix-Rouge ambulance came by as we were once again climbing.

All in all a well managed bike. I was losing lots of liquids as seat poured dwon my face (oh my it was hot) and noticed that guys looked like they rolled their shorts in Margarita salt. Only to look down and see that my shorts were also caked. I had the enduralite tabs though and started taking them because I knew it was going to be a long day. A little bit of a breeze at the top of the mountain as I huffed and puffed due to altitude (How high? I'll post next time), but that would be the only breeze I would feel all day. Another thing I'm not used to La Moto everywhere, weaving in and out bewteen the riders to avoid oncoming traffic, one missing my knuckles by inches!

The run:


Okay, so I was there for three full days before the race, so I knew that the run would be a problem. I just don't run in the heat well, and that sun is so powerful. I felt pretty good coming out of T2. I had a cramp in my leg with about 8 miles to go on the bike, but I worked it out and it seemed that there would be no issue on the run and there wasn't. I knew that the marathon had to be paced or I would bonk due to the heat. I figured right out of the shoot that it was going to be in the 3:45 to 3:50 range and started out at that pace. In summary; at two miles I was hot and at three miles I wasn't sure I would finish the race. I suffered and I think a lot of people suffered. There were bodies strewn about the sidewalk in total carnage. Criox-rouge was non-stop and I really just took one mile at a time. The last two loops (total of four) was just crisis management. I have never had to walk aid stations before. Let me rephrase that; I ran from aid station to aid station the last two loops. They were well prepared with hoses and sponges. Thank god my Asics have drains in the bottom! Never noticed before until I dried the insole outside of the shoe after the race. They really saved my feet, as I yelled "la tete" and they proceeded to spray my shoes directly with the hose.

Anyway, I finished:

333rd overall
4th American
61st AG

I think I will stick to Lake Placid for next year. The top racers were all from that area - Nice, Spain, Italy, etc. Those guys had incredible bike time and were still able to run in that heat. I guess that's their playground and it is a great one! I could move there tomorrow! Sorry for the long post. I will post again later with some details about other parts of the trip.