Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lessons from 2013 & moving into 2014

Well the end of the 2013 season has cone and gone and I am currently coming up on the end of my second week of training for the 2014 season. Typically I would be planning out my swim, bike and run schedule for the next 4-5 months and determining which races will fit best, but instead I am going a different route. I have made the decision to step away from triathlons this year and focus on bike racing only. There are many things that played into this decision, but the main one is the fact that I took an assistant swimming coach position with my old high school which will limit the amount of time I have to train. That and I was burned out from trying to fit in all 3 sports into 7 days week after week. I felt like I never got a break because if I took off a day then I sacrificed significant training hours for that discipline. I didn't want the stress of that hanging over me and I also didn't want to be worn out and fatigued come January! I really enjoy riding my bike and the strategy and team atmosphere that is involved, more so than triathlons. I've even been very competitive in bike races given the limited training and having to fit in swimming and running on top of it. So this year I'm going to change things up and have fun trying something new. Not only am I excited but I'm also having fun again. I'm able to train with friends and teammates sometimes, which breaks up the monotony of training by yourself each day. So I've set up a training plan which I feel will make me a stronger rider and give me the ability to win some races this year and maybe push towards a Cat 3 upgrade. One thing for sure is that only 2 weeks in and I am thoroughly enjoying only having to worry about 1 sport and what I am going to do that day. Who knows, maybe I'll stick with this. All of this internal discussion with myself has gotten me to my first analysis of what I need to do to move forward and be successful next year...reviewing what did and didn't work this past season. This past season was only my second year bike racing and first year in Cat 4. I raced a total of 12 races throughout the year, but never once did I really concentrate on these races solely. Looking back over the beginning of the season I started strong with a 5th place finish at the Naval Yard Crit, but my results slowly went down from there. First and foremost I can determine that by July I was very tired physically and I think it showed in my racing. I always finished and stayed with the group, but when that surge came right before the finish I either couldn't hold on or was just not in the right position to be in contention. Secondly, I burned to many matches during the race. I had bad tactics and didn't hold wheels sometimes. I would also try and make an attack at wrong moments when the race wasn't all that hard. That on top of not staying towards the front and giving up positioning were certainly direct factors of my finishing places. Third, my ability to climb. I am not a climber, but thankfully around here there really are not races with long climbs, just mostly short punchy hills. I didn't pay enough attention to hill work this past year and that definitely hurt my strength as I would lose ground and could not accelerate with the group as easily. Fourth, my lack of workout specific training. To many times I found myself just going out for miles as opposed to concentrating on raising my FTP or working on my aerobic capacity. Simply "riding" is just not enough. I've already been implementing some of these things into my training and combined with my strength training I can already tell a difference. I'm excited to see what 2014 holds for me and how much I improve. I have some "A" races established and will be working towards those, but plan to hold a pretty heavy racing schedule throughout the whole season. Updates will certainly be more timely as I intend to destroy myself with Tempo rides in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

That's A Wrap

Well it has certainly been some time since I have last posted here. An the past two months have sure been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Where do I start? Well first off, coming off an okay performance at the trip the wildwoods race, I was eager to get back into things and hone in my running to finish off the year strong at Atlantic City Tri. Things started off great and I had some confidence boosting track workouts 2 weeks out that gave me a whole new look at my running. I also finished up with a local road race that saw me go for a late break and completely blow to pieces. Watching riders fly by like your standing still in the last 200 meters is never a sight I enjoy seeing. After that things went downhill. The week after labor day we set out on a family vacation to Dewey Beach, DE. I had not been there in years and was looking forward to relaxing by the beach and getting in some run sessions by the ocean. That never quite panned out like I had planned and I ended up with extreme pain in my lower back and barely being able to walk. How did that happen you ask? Well your guess is as good as mine! To this day I can't pinpoint anything that I did to cause the pain. I was determined to still enjoy my vacation and suffered through the pain as to not hamper my wife's enjoyment. By the end of the week I had given up on racing AC and decided it was time to call my season officially over! I had really made up my mind about that a couple days into vacation since I decided to eat everything in sight and feel like a beached whale! But the food and fudge was so good that I couldn't resist, plus I had the rest of the winter to get ready for the 2014 season. After seeing the doctor as soon as we got home I was diagnosed with a pulled lower back muscle. Since we couldn't figure out how I did it, he assumed I was fatigued and my back had just had enough! I took about 3 weeks off from doing anything. Literally all I did was sleep, work, eat, drink, eat and drink some more. Its amazing how fast I can put on weight because by the end of the binge I had already gained 12 pounds! I was somewhat productive though during my break. I planned my goals for 2014 and what I thought I needed to accomplish in my training. I also was offered an assistant swimming coaching job at my old high school. I couldn't pass it up as I love coaching and the head coach is my best friend, so it will make it twice as fun. With this new information I know I had a lot of thinking to do as far as my triathlon season for next year would go. I wouldn't be able to put in the same hours over the winter since coaching will be added in there and I'm not about to sacrifice my relationship with my wife either. I did determine however though that although I was putting in 12 hours a week, 4-5 of those hours were "wasted". Now it's not like I was messing around, but I was doing a training session that really didn't have a purpose to it. One goal for me is to increase my FTP on the bike and I realized this past season I didn't do a lot of threshold workouts and really out myself in the pain cave like I should have. So this year I've decided to try more periodization for a training plan and also more quality and less quantity. This way I can fit in solid training, but not have to devote the same hours. Since the break I have been slowly getting back into things. No set structure yet, that starts Nov 4th, but I have been riding and running regularly. Although I have been struggling to determine if I want to focus more on cycling or continue with triathlons as a focus. The hardest part for me is fitting in all 3 sports. Things don't always work out as planned and I can't get to the pool or can make it to the group ride and I know that will only get harder with me coaching. I do know however that I could focus on cycling alone and really put forth a solid effort without much sacrifice. But will I miss triathlons? They will always be there if I want to come back, but how much will I lose of my running? So many decisions to be made over the next month or so! Any input is appreciated!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tri the Wildwoods Race Report

This is without a doubt one of my favorite races. Steve the race director and DelMoSports put on great races and I have yet to be disappointed. For a little flashback, last year I won this race and had high hopes of doing the same this time around. The weekend prior I had just done the Steelman Olympic triathlon and I felt like I had recovered well and was ready and 100% for Saturdays race. The wife and I drove down Friday after taking a half day from work and planned on checking into the hotel and possibly getting in some beach time, but unfortunately Philly traffic spoiled our plan and a just shy of 3 hour drive turned into about 4.5 hours. I hate traffic and can only watch the stupid people weave in and out of traffic so many times before I want to pull my hair out! Once we arrived in Wildwood we unpacked all our stuff and walked a couple blocks down the street to check in and pick up my race packet. I had convinced my wife to do the 5k so she got the liberty of also picking up a race packet and timing chip. This would be her first 5k EVER and she has done absolutely no running what so ever. Probably not the best idea, but I wanted her to at least try even if she walked some of it. Saturday morning came quickly and I headed down to transition, which was a short 2 block walk from the hotel, to set up my bike in a prime location. Got a nice end spot near the bike in/out and had plenty of room to put my things and not feel contricted. They provide a lot of racks for this race and transition seems to go on for days. You do not want to set your bike up down at the swim in and run out otherwise you have to run with your bike 200 yards to bike in/out and imagine trying to do that if your wave is smack in the middle of 1000 athletes, makes for a lot of manuevering. After I got everything set up I heading back to the hotel to get the wife and get ready for the race. The past two races I have felt a little pukey once I reached the bike and had a feeling it was because I ate and drank to much before the race to try and properly fuel. For this race I decided to dial it back and had my normal bagel and banana with peanut butter, but did not have gel before the race and only took a couple sips of my Infinit Jet Fuel drink mix. This was a win for me because no pukey feeling! Before the race started I went for a nice easy 15 minute jog to loosen the legs and headed back to transition to get ready for a 6:45 start. Last year the race start was delayed about a half hour which makes you feel like your warm up was useless. This year they introduced a new bike course (which was a huge improvement I might add) and had trouble getting all the cars of the main roads, which once again delayed the start about 30 minutes. Warm-up = useless!

Swim: 7:13, 2nd Overall
Another new thing this year was the swim start, actually come to think of it this was completely different. Last year the ocean was very rough and it was a wave start, out and back swim. This year however they changed it to a time trial start (10 athletes at a time, self seeded) and you had to run 200 yards down the beach, swim out to the first turn bouy and then swim parallel until the second turn bouy which headed back to the beach where you started. I wanted to put myself in the first group, figuring these would be the fastest guys and I would know exactly where I was in the race. At the sound of the horn we dashed down the beach for the designated lifeguard stand. That run got your heart rate pumping and I needed to be careful not to push to much or I could have trouble recovering in the swim. Thankfully most of the guys realized this and it was a fairly easy jog. We hit the water and I immediately went to work. Rough ocean swims are in my favor and I thoroughly enjoy them, I know I'm sick. You weren't swimming far enough out to sea for it to be calm so it made for an interesting swim when all of a sudden a big wave would form and you would be up in the air then fall back down. Keeping form and sighting was crucial and I had quickly established a lead. Right before the turn bouy back to the beach another guy came up beside me and overtook me enough to grab a slight advantage. When I rounded back for the beach I caught a great wave and body surfed my way towards shore. This helped me emerge from the water side by side with the other guy and we headed up the beach together. He crossed the timing pad right in front of me and up the beach to T1 we went right on each others heels.

Bike: 25:31 (23.6 mph), 3rd Overall
The new bike course I knew would be fast and with a slight head wind going out made for an opportunity to put in some time. I quickly took the lead on the bike and tried to settle in to a rythmn. The course was fast and with a couple 90 degree turns, but since we were the first ones on the course you had no worries of navigating through a field of bikers. About 3 miles in the guy I exited the water with came around, so I knew he was using me to pace and I decided to do the same thing. No use and hurting myself trying to gain a few extra seconds if he had the same ability I did. Fast swimmer, fast biker, I figured his run would be on par with mine and it would turn into the Dave Scott and Mark Allen Kona race where they did the whole thing side by side. Right after the turn around I made the pass around him and we had a slight tailwind going back to T2. There were a couple riders close to us but no one that was closing in fast and they had a minute or so to make up. In my mind I was in the perfect position. On this 5k course making up a minute or more would be tough, especially if I could put in more time on the bike, every little bit counted. After a couple miles I was re-passed and the back and forth we were doing was more of working together than really racing each other. 2 miles before the finish I made the finish pass by him and tried to up the pace. I thought I could maybe put some more hurt into his legs and force him to work harder than he wanted, if he didn't keep up I could gain some time for the run. Heading into to T2 we dismounted together and looked liked it was going to come down to the run.

Run: 19:30 (6:30/mile), 12th Overall
Here is where it all came crashing down! I had no idea how good of a runner this guy was, but as soon as we hit the sand he took off. He continued to look over his shoulder for me so I thought maybe he was hurting and if I kept him in sight I would have a chance of running him down on the boardwalk. The good news was that this year the sand was much harder so it made running that much easier. The first 1.5 miles was up the beach followed by the second half on the boardwalk back to the finish line. I don't wear a watch (thinking of changing this strategy for next year) so I tried to keep a pace I felt was where I wanted to be. By the time we reached the boardwalk the leader was out of sight and my hopes of catching him were fading fast. Shortly after mile 2 another runner came up behind me. I stayed with him, but he put in a little surge and I couldn't respond. With half a mile left and 2nd place runner in sight I attempted to up the pace and run him down, but it wasn't meant to be and I settled for crossing the line in third, but after checking the results another athlete whom had started in a later wave out ran both of us and pushed me back to 4th overall.

4th Overall and 1st in the M25-29 age group with a time of 56:18. The winner was the same individual whom went back and forth with me for the entire race until the run where he ran a 17:17 5k (5:45ish/mile pace). There was just no way I could keep up with that, but this is the 2nd race at least where I have lost on the run. No reason with the shape I am in I shouldn't be able to run low 6 minute miles for a 5k. It's not that I didn't feel good just that I couldn't go any faster. After reviewing some race day photos it looks like my running form is just way off compared to others. I don't look like I am running efficiently and this could be my limiting factor. I certainly don't expect to run 5:45 miles but expect better than 6:30s without a doubt. All in all it was a great race and I was so proud to watch my wife cross the finish for her first 5k. Although she is in a lot of pain still and sore, I think it will give her the motivation to start actually training for another! For me, only one more race left this year, Atlantic City Triathlon, so hopefully I can get some things sorted out before then!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Steelman Triathlon Race Report (Olympic)

What a gorgeouse day for racing we had yesterday, you couldn't ask for better conditions in August for PA. It was a cool 67 degrees around 6 am and by 10am had only gotten up with the low 70s with an overcast and little wind. I had been targeting this race as an "A" race for this year with hopes of taking a Top3 overall podium spot. I knew by looking at some of the names on the entry list that this would turn out to be a fast race and everything would have to fall together if I wanted to reach my goal. The wife and I decided to drive up to Quakertown Saturday afternoon and get a hotel for Sunday as opposed to making the 1 hr 45 min trip VERY early Sunday morning. The race was a 7am start and apparently parking filled up fast so they advised you to get there by 5am to get a parking spot by the marina. Well they were right. Triathletes are a special breed and we enjoy waking up early to be the first ones at races, but the people that were at this race were extra crazy! We arrived just before 5am and there must have been 75 cars there already, with a line of cars behind me pouring in. I am all about waking up early, but come on people get a life! I parked the truck and decided to sit there for a while since it was pitch black out and wasn't getting light anytime soon! I eventually got my gear together and slowly made my way over to transition to get set up. I had decided to sign up for the Elite wave and see how I faired against the tougher competition. I have gotten to that point where my cupboards are filled with mug from age group wins and I really don't need anymore or soon Elena will start making me find another place to put them! The athlete guide stated that Elites would have a seperate rack and get a bit of a head start for the swim, well when I arrived in transition there was no elite rack to found, a little dissappointing but certainly not the end of the world. I picked the first rack marked with Wave 1 and stationed my bike and set up my area. The nice thing was that there were plenty of racks and bikes were not crammed side by side so I was able to have plenty of space. Went about my normal routine and took a little 25 minute run to warm up on the run course. The website states that this run is flat and fast although I beg to differ. There are some small rises on the path and although not hard by any means they are enough to take a little extra out of you to push over. Once I felt ready to go I headed over to the swim start to get ready to rock n roll!

Swim- 1.5k; 9th overall; 20:06 Remember that head start we were supposed to get? Yeah that didn't happen as all of wave one started together. I am not complaining since it ended up being a clean start for me, but still the principle. The swim was actually wetsuit legal so I decided to wear my B70 full sleeve helix, but looking back on it I should have went with my sleeveless. The temperature was in the mid 70s and I started to overheat a little about half way into the swim. I had a great start and quickly caught onto the heels/hip of a lead swimmer (this was a goal of mine since I typically swim in no mans land). I was having a little trouble keeping contact and felt like I was pushing to hard to stay with them and by the second turn bouy the lead group of four had started to distance themselves. Great, once again I am swimming in no mans land all by myself, so much for that plan. About 500 yards from the finish I see a female swimmer pulling up beside me and I decide to use her as a draft. I have no shame in being beaten by a female and will use her to my advantage :) Other than having to fix my cap that almost fell off I came in with a fairly good swim and started to head up the ramp to T1. I had come out in 6th position and had some work to do on the bike, which was fine by me!

Bike- 40k; 11th Overall; 1:08:40 (21.7MPH) The bike course was completely closed to traffic and consisted of Oly athletes doing 2 loops. I like the loop course because you tend to know where you are place wise and how much work you need to do (will touch point on this later). As soon as you left the marina you immediately were going uphill and it was a small ring climb, although apparently not everyone though that because the guy in front of me was in the big ring and was really struggling to power his way up. Makes it even harder considering you just finished swimming, better luck next time. I quickly passed him and made my way out of the park and onto the main highway for my 2 loops. This course was a little harder than I thought it would be and looking back over my split and assessing how I felt, I don't think I had a good ride. My legs were hurting for the first half and I never felt like I could get into a rythmn. As I approached the first turnaround I saw I was in 5th place and about 2:40 down on the leader who is very strong. I figured I could pick off 2 guys or so in front and come off the bike 2nd or 3rd and I would be happy with that. Unfortunately by the time I reached the second turnaround I had caught no one nor had I really closed the gap. What is going on here and why did my legs feel like bricks?!?!?!? Remember how I said I like loop course because you can tell where you are? Yeah well I take that back for this race! They started the sprint race 30 minutes after the start of the Olympic and by the time we started lap 2 all hell had broken loose and sprint and oly athletes had littered the roads left, right and center. At this point I had no idea who was who and figured the best I could do was to keep pedaling hard and see what happens. On lap 2 I felt 100x better and started to pick up more speed, wish I could have done this on the first lap, where were you then legs?!?! I was passing all sorts of riders, but again I had no clue if any of them were individuals whom were ahead of me. I entered back into the park and prepared myself for the run where I was hoping to loose no ground, but also knew there were some fast runners charging.

Run- 10k; 26th Overall; 40:12 (6:29/mile avg) If you remember at my last race I battled stomach cramps real bad in the run and could not keep up any kind of pace, so I was a little worried, but tried to focus on my breathing to held subdue those cramps. I really wanted to be in the low 39 minutes for the run and always have a problem with starting out to fast, so I told myself keep it easy (6:30) for the first mile and build off of that. While when I hit mile 1 and looked at my watch I had ran a 6:07! Great Jason, way to screw that up. Oh well all I could do now was hold on and keep pushing. On the first lap of the run I could get a better idea of the Oly athletes that were ahead of me and was able to determine that there were only 2! Although they had a pretty good gap and I didn't see myself catching them, I was confident I could hold off anyone coming from behind. At the start of the second loop, the run course started to become clustered and since it was not a very wide path and athletes were coming both ways, it made it very difficult to pass. I found myself running into the grass just to get around some people. I paced off of a women who was running pretty fast and was doing the sprint, so for about a mile I stuck with her and then tried to pick up the pace and finish strong. When I crossed the finish line my tank definitely empty and I felt I had a pretty solid run. I thought that I had come in 3rd Overall and I even received a text message of the results comfirming that. I was excited, but after checking the results later that evening online I saw that I had come in 5th Overall with a time of 2:11:05. A little dissapointed but still feel pretty confident with the result. The only discipline I don't feel was up to par was the bike and I am not sure why. Typically this is a strong part for me, but I guess I just didn't have the legs for it that day. Oh well, take what I can from that race and move on to the next one. Which just so happens to be this Saturday in Wildwood, NJ! Thank goodness it is a sprint, since my legs are hurting a little today, but I really want to win this race as I did last year because I could use another beach chair!!!!! Back to Back Champion?!!? I like the tone of that. Right now it is all about recovery and carrying over fitness.

Things I learned from this race: I think this is something I should write about in every race since there will ALWAYS be something to take away. In this race I learned that I need to do more tempo runs in my workouts and I think I will incorporate those on the treadmill. I read an article recently about pros doing a lot of their tempo runs on a treadmill where they can control the pace and enviroment as opposed to outside where they are to many factors that cause pace change. I think this will help significantly with my running for next year, plus it takes a lot of mental toughness and forces me to run at an uncomfortable pace (note to self; future blog post about treadmill advantage and workouts). Also I believe I need to fine tune my cycling a little bit, but I plan to change that this off season with the addition of a powermeter.

Well that's all for now. I am looking forward to Wildwood this weekend!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

2 Race Reports as Quick as the Crits themselves

Trying to do a better job of updating this in the future, but since I was lazy you get to read to race reports in the same post, aren't you lucky! Liberty Criterium, Malvern, PA Rainy and wet morning around what was to be a fast and wide open course that with its oval shape provided no real turns. The field was pretty big and the road was uber wide so I lined up right in the front with a goal of staying near the front for the majority of the race and taking my chances on breaking away with about 3-4 laps to go. Although crits are very hard to get away in, especially on a course like this which is not technical, I figured with the rain my chances would increase and no one would want to chase. The first 10 laps were very uneventful. The norm of a couple riders trying to attack when everyone was fresh were quickly realed in the pack stay together with a lot of movement in position happening. It was tough to stay near front and I would sometimes have to use the outside unprotected to move up. This is not typically what I want to do, as ideally you want to stay sheltered and find wheels to carry you towards the front which I actually did a good bit of that as well. A couple riders then got up the road and with 8 to go they were brought back just as easily as they went. The pack slowed and I kept my power balanced and used my momentum to move up to the front, when suddenly I look back and there is no one there! "Now or never Jason, you have a gap now fully commit!" I upped the power and opened up about a 15-20 sec gap (maybe more) on the field. At this point I had 7 laps to go, which was way earlier than I had intended to go, but sometimes you have to take risks and see how they pan out. The gap stayed pretty consistent and with 4 to go a rider bridged up and I was no longer all by myself. I knew if we could work together we would have a chance. Although that day it was no meant to be and with just over 1 lap to go we were pulled back by the fast approaching peleton. I quickly found a place towards the front and knowing I had not enough for the sprint, I thought why not see if you can catch them by surprise and jump with a 1/2 lap to go. Well I went, but didn't have the punch and they were quickly on my wheel. I had nothing left for the sprint and soft pedaled across the line for 2nd to last :) Cycledrome Criterium, Trexlertown, PA Yet another wet and rainy day! This was a great course and actually a little technical. Would have loved to do it in the dry as it provided a great opportunity for a breakaway, although it may have worked just as good in the rain, the last corner was fast and I didn't feel confident enough to take any risks there. On the first lap around the last turn before the start/finish a rider up in front of me a little went down and took and couple others with him. Come on guys, it was the first lap!! A couple breakaway attempts, but nothing would ever stick. I found myself in good position sometimes and then next thing I knew I would be towards the back. Since this was the end of my first week of taper, my legs actually felt very strong and fresh. With 2 laps to go I knew I needed to move up if I wanted a chance for a good placing. I figured being 5-6 wheel going into the last turn would be optimal. With one to go I was 4th wheel, but quickly a group moved up the outside. Coming into the last turn I wanted to be on the inside and unfortunately I was not confident enough in my cornering skills and I lost a couple positions going into the turn. I had a strong sprint and picked up some spots to end of 20th. All in all not a bad 2 weeks of racing. Each time I race I learn new things about what I could do better! Now it is race week for my second 'A' triathlon race and I am pumped! Training feels spot on and I hope to come away with an overall win, at least that is the goal, but if I have a solid race and am top 3, I will take that also!

Excited to lay it all on the line again!

My last 'A' race was Columbia Tri back in May and now here we are in August, and although I have done 1 race since then in July, I am itching to race fully rested and put it all together! This week has been the slowest week imaginable and the anticipation is killing me. Sunday can come fast enough and I am very excited to be racing Steelman Triathlon for the first after all the great things I have heard about it being such a great event. The hardest thing for me during taper is 1) no over training or trying to do a confidence booster workout. I have learned I need to trust my training and the great sessions I have had leading up to this race and just follow the plan I have laid out for myself. And secondly is not eating to much damn food! I love to eat and also have some beer, but if there is anything my college swim coach (Tim Verge) has instilled in me, it is to watch what you eat during taper so you don't put on that unnecessary 5 pounds. What I wouldn't do for some chinese food and a Killian's Irish Red!!!!!! Unfortunately with another big traithlon next weekend (Wildwood Sprint Tri) I can't even partake in my normal post race gourge or food. Instead I need to make sure I take in the proper recovery food and some cool down efforts to keep my body in peak shape for 6 days following. Today I will finish up with a light 25 minute run with a couple 20 second strides, then tomorrow is a travel day to get settled in and prepared for Sunday. The bike is ready to fly on the open roads and my legs are ready to put the hammer down in the run and bring it home. I know the most important thing for me to concentrate on during this race is my mental toughness. I want to make sure I keep myself full of positive thoughts especially during the run where I tend to let my mind wander. There are some fast cats racing this weekend so hopefully all goes to plan and most importantly I hope I have a blast!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Diamond in the Rough Traithlon Race Report

Well, Saturday the 13th was my first triathlon since Columbia in May. Since then I have been doing some cycling races and have been pretty consistent in my training. I have felt very confident in my cycling but not so much in my running. Seems like I don't perform as well in the heat and humidity which tends to put a damper on my pace. On to the race report...

This was the first time I was doing this race and it took place in Perryville, MD. It was only an hour and twenty minute drive from our house so we decided to wake up that morning and drive down. The course is not your typical Olympic distance course, as the swim is 1 mile, the bike is 27 miles and the run is only 5 miles. To me this seemed to play right into my strengths with the longer swim and bike and shorter run. Although I placed this as a 'B' race since I wanted to peak in August for two back to back Tris. This did happen to fall at the end of a recovery week so I was somewhat rested, but definitely no where near top form. I still felt I could be competitive and give everyone a run for their money!

Pre-race:
Woke up around 3:30 the morning of to get my breakfast down and get ready to head out the door. As usual the wife is a tough one to get up that early in the morning so I have to promise to buy her coffee first thing (I always make sure to build that into the time requirements). Luckily a friend of ours decided to come with and spent the night so getting her up and ready was not as much as a tussle as some times. 4:30am and we set off with the first stop being Sheetz for coffee and then heading down the road. Perryville would certainly not be my first choice of places to live, it is a small town that sits along the Susquehanna River but there doesn't seem to be a lot around in that area. We safely arrived at the race and of course the first thing out of my wife's mouth is how early we are and how they have to wait around for hours till the start, haha I always know she will say this and it makes me laugh cause she likes to give me a hard time. Got my packet and timing chip and proceeded to set up my transition area. After readjusting the rack, since it was to low for 90% of the bikes, I was set up and headed back to the truck to relax legs for a little before heading out for an easy jog to loosen the legs. Drank some Gatorade and had a gel roughly 30 minutes before my start time.

Swim:
The swim was kind of like a square or diamond shape with 3 right hand turn buoys and a little bit of current. When the whistle blew I set out pretty hard in order to get out in front and out of the way of everyone else. The swim to the first buoy was not to bad although I missed a group of 3 or 4 that got a gap and started to pull away. The hardest thing for me to remember or execute has been finding other lead swimmers to latch onto and catch a draft. After the first turn you were swimming slightly with the current which made for a good pace and same with the second buoy. For almost the whole swim I was in no mans land between the lead group and swimmers behind me. At the 3 buoy to turn for the exit the current not only hit me right in the face but so did the chop of the waves. This is typically where I would try to loosen up and get ready for the bike, but the effort to keep the pace increased due to the current. I didn't over exert myself and kept a steady pace. I exited the water 5th roughly a minute and a half behind the lead 3. In transition I passed the guy right in front of me and was quick to grab my bike.

Bike:
Bike was a hilly and technical course with a pretty decent climb around mile 20. Out of transition I had quickly mounted my bike right behind the guy in 3rd and didn't take long to pass him. I didn't ride the course before hand so I had no idea what it was like other than looking at maps and elevation. The first 5 miles was basically uphill and I struggled to set into any kind of pace. After a hard swim it was tough to power through this section because I didn't want to go to hard and risk blowing up later, although going to easy would cause me time. I held a fairly strong pace and by about mile 8 I settled in and went to work. A guy on the side of the road gave me a time gap of 5 minutes, but I struggled to believe him since he was just walking his dog. At mile 14 there is a sharp left turn at the end of a fast descent and that is when I passed the guy in 2nd. Immediately after this section is a nice long 5 mile flat road along the river. I went into TT mode and tried to make up time on the guy in front. Hit mile 20 and the climb began. I spun up with no problems and back down the other side getting ready for the run. I still did not see the lead rider and knew he was a good athlete so I stayed in my race. Outside of having to overtake a car on a downhill section that was going to slow I had a great bike and came into T2 1:00-1:30 down. This meant I really gained no time on the leader and we ended up splitting about the same. I also had established a gap of about 1:30 to the guy behind me. If I could keep a good pace I could hold onto second and if the leader blew up I would have a chance for the W.

Run:
Well my plan and strategy got thrown out the window pretty damn quickly as soon as I started the run! Abdominal cramps like you wouldn't believe! They started immediately and were very sharp and painful that I could not push my run pace at all! Before I hit the 1 mile mark I had seriously considered stopping and calling it a day, but I decided to trek on at a pace I could endure. Shortly after the first water station a guy passed me, who was next to me in transition (nice guy), and told me latch on. I gave a little burst but the pain was to much and I had to back off again. The remaining part of the run was full of pain and getting passed one by one. When I reached the finish I was glad to be done and just wanted the pain to stop. It stayed with me for a bit and took me till I settled down to go away. Overall I ended up 8th and was still able to manage first in my age group. I'm happy with the race and realize not every race will be perfect but I would definitely be okay with never getting those cramps again!!!!!