The funny thing about blogging is that the longer you go without posting, the more things you need to say in your next entry, which greatly detracts from the desire to write another entry, and somewhat explains why this is coming 2 weeks after the race. As such, I am going to start by condensing the past 11 months of my life into 3 bullet points:
- Graduated from Ball State with a PhD in Human Bioenergetics
- Accepted a post-doc in the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University
- Moved to Boston (living in Charlestown aka "The Town")
Oh, and upon hearing I would be moving to Boston I of course needed to run a marathon to try and qualify for Boston 2018. While my run training was inadequate, the bike fitness carried me through and I ran a 2:52 on a beautiful day in Grand Rapids (one of the best cities in the world, that no one knows about).
Running along at Grand Rapids with racing partner Nathan!
Ok, so that wasn’t so bad. Now we can move onto more important things, like my 2017 triathlon season. Unfortunately my first planned race of the year was cancelled (Ball State Sprint Sprint). Although it was just an early season rust buster, I was excited to get to race against my buddies Adam Voss and Kyle Perry. Kyle is a big-time cyclist that I had persuaded into racing a triathlon. Unfortunately morning thunderstorms had other plans. We took out our frustration with a final FTP test in the training garage that hurt a lot more than the race probably would have.
Kyle had too much espresso? Or just the right amount before the test.
One of the biggest bummers about the sprint being cancelled was that it meant my first race of the season would be Syracuse 70.3. I always like to try to open up with something shorter to get some of the nervous energy out and dust off the winter cobwebs. Alas, this year I would be afforded no such luxury.
Going into the race I was pleased where my fitness was at, especially considering the recent move across cross-country. Almost immediately I found two great training buddies here in Boston in fellow EMJ teammate Corey Robinson and MIT grad student Richard Fineman, who went out of their way to show me the ropes. Syracuse was a Sunday race, which I really appreciated as it eliminated a lot of the stress due to traveling technicalities. That of course didn’t stop me from getting a speeding ticket as we drove through Utica, NY on our way. Fortunately, the officer thought Ellie, who was barking her head off in the back of the car the whole time, was cute and only cited me for “obstructed vision” aka my radar detector. He then encouraged me to return for the Utica 15k, and proceeded to wish me luck at the race. As far as getting pulled over goes: 10/10.
For the first time in my life I actually have a group of triathletes to train with.
Thank you Corey and Richard!
The day before the race Bri and I chilled out and went to the Wegman’s dog park with Ellie. We figured she deserved it after helping me get out of the speeding ticket the night before. Ellie had a total blast and it appears we sufficiently tired her out as she didn’t destroy the hotel room when we went out for lunch with teammates John Kelly and Mike Hoffman. After a post-lunch nap, I chauffeured the girls (Bri and Ellie) around to a couple of local dog-friendly breweries (you rock Syracuse) before grabbing a quick bite to eat and heading to bed.
Pre-race lunch at Brooklyn Pickle.
Race morning alarm went off at 4am and we quickly loaded up the car and headed over to the venue. Although this meant we pulled into the parking lot 2.5h before the race began, I would far prefer that then dealing with the stress of waiting in line for a parking spot. Before the race Mike, John, and I casually chatted and discussed race strategies. The high for the day was supposed to exceed 90 degrees and the humidity was substantial. Going into the race I tried my best to keep this in the back of my mind, knowing that this being the first race of my season, the proclivity for me to go out too hard and blow up would be high.
The swim at Cuse was a square with right turns. Based on my strong performances in the swim last year I positioned myself at the front of the age group, next to a dude that looked kinda like a fast swimmer. The good news was I was right, but there was no way in hell I was going to stay with him. Almost immediately from the gun a group of 3-4 guys jetted away from me at a pace way faster than my body was ready to handle. My self-confidence hurting, I focused on swimming strong and maneuvering around the gaggle of swimmers from other age groups who had gone off before our wave. Why is it they put the 20-40y old men at the back? As the swim progressed, I could tell the long course training I’ve been doing was paying huge dividends. My arms never seemed to fatigue, which was huge as we smashed into sizeable waves on the return back to the beach. Exiting the water I wasn’t sure what to expect for a time but I was glad to be on land and ready to chase.
Happy to not be swimming.
In triathlon every athlete hopes to have his or her bike right next to the bike exit in transition. I need to get better at hoping. After throwing on my new Louis Garneau P-09 helmet, which looks totally bad ass, I hauled my bike to the other side of transition. Flying mount? Totally botched but at least rubber was still down. The first 2 miles of the bike course flew by, the next 10 did not as we climbed over 1,000 ft, which happens to be more than 60 miles in Muncie. Being my first race of the year, I of course started to hard, pushing 280 for 20min. About 40 minutes in I began thinking back to a tremendous blow-up on the run I had at Muncie two years ago and all of a sudden I was happy to back off the pace. At mile 30 a rider came by me. Reeling him back in we traded legal pulls for a while until he blasted a hill, escaping me for the remainder of the race. Ive got to give it to him, he rode stronger than I did. Fortunately he’s very active in the Boston triathlon scene and so I look forward to racing him again. At mile 54 there was a “no exceeding 25mph zone” where I was again passed by 3 people. I hope they realized they were disqualified before the run....
I smile more when I run with my bike in my hand. Maybe I should just take it through the whole run course.
I always like to compare coming off the bike to opening a present you didn’t ask for. You never really know how you are going to feel about running until you take a few steps! While today I certainly hadn’t received the keys to a new Ferrari, I was content with my old reliable Volvo. The two-loop run course was hilly and unrelenting and offered little protection from the baking sun. The day before the race I decided to purchase a 10 oz water bottle hand carrier and it may have been the smartest move I made all weekend. The entire first loop of the run I just kept telling myself to stay within myself, its all about the second loop. I feel fortunate that over the years of racing I have trained myself to know where the fine line between “racing hard and blowing up” is, and today was not a day to flirt with it. As I rounded the turn of the first loop I passed Davis Frease, an incredibly talented athlete in my age group who was currently sitting in second place but had fallen victim to the heat. Focusing on keeping my legs turning over, at mile 7 I was alarmed to feel that the sole of my right shoe (Adidas Adios) was squirting out the back! Trying to come up with a solution I decided to ditch it at the next aid station. Not sure why this happened, I would guess they got too wet. Adidas was unfortunately not over supportive when I shared with them so I have moved onto the Brooks Hyperion which I am loving. The next few miles my slow-but-steady pacing paid off and I finished strong.
Overall: 4:37.44 (2nd place OA)
With two dudes who inspire me to get it done, every day.
Having had some time to reflect back on my performance I am very happy with what I was able to accomplish. Although the time was 33 minutes off my PR, the course + weather at Syracuse made for an extremely challenging race that is not for the faint of heart. I was REALLY hoping to have a break out run. I know I can run faster than I have been in the 70.3 distance and I’ve really been training hard to do so. That said, Cuse was not the course to prove it. My racing schedule this year has been a little bit flexible with the move but I am feeling good and have decided to enter a local sprint next weekend with Bri before racing Musselman 70.3 in Lake Geneva the next weekend. Big thanks to Team Every Man Jack and all of our wonderful sponsors, and most of all, thanks to Bri and Ellie for your love and support. Thanks for reading!
These two though.