Friday, December 13, 2013

IRONMAN Cozumel 2013 Race Report

By Ian Williams

In December of 2012, I made the decision to register for an Ironman triathlon to be held on the beautiful island of Cozumel on Sunday, December 1, 2013.  Most people would think that to be insane since I had only completed my first triathlon (Nations Triathlon) just three months prior.  However my coach, Lloyd Henry was very happy I decided to pull the trigger and locked myself into a race.  He then said we’d come up with a training plan starting late summer.  I remember saying to Lloyd, “Dude, that’s way too late.  I am going to need the entire year to train to cover 140.6 miles.”  I wanted to say to him, “You know 2.4 of those miles will be in the ocean with waves and changing currents right?”  But I trusted my coach to take me through the journey and from there began spending the winter months focusing only on my swim technique. 
During the late Spring and early Fall of 2013, I signed up for 2 additional Olympic distance triathlons to gain more experience with transitioning from one sport to the next and I formally started my training program in September.

Arrival in Cozumel
I left for Cozumel on Thanksgiving Day with the hope of getting there a few days early to relax and get my mind right for race day.  The journey seemed to take forever but I finally got to the resort and checked in.  There was a lot I needed to do like get tons of bottled water for hydration, pick up my bike from Tribike Transport and get my race packet at the expo.  Just before leaving for the expo, one of the guys from Endurance Sports Travel (EST) mentioned they may have already picked my bike up for me.  This would have been great news since it’d be one less thing to do in limited time, so he went to check and my baby was there in great condition from the two week journey.
The expo was great! There was Ironman merchandise all over the place but I refused to buy or wear any of it until I earned it, not even the “free” jacket I got at packet pickup.  Roxanne and Eboni, my Specathletes that came along were laughing at me but understood.
So on Friday I was sitting in an EST athlete’s meeting being held at the resort and saw a shuttle bus pull in just outside the doors.  I saw Lloyd, Marsha, Colin and Carla (my other Specathletes) get off the van so I left the meeting to go give them all a hug.  As I was greeting Lloyd, I saw a very familiar looking bike off to the side and was about to say, “Look Lloyd, someone else with a black and white Kuota bike”, then I noticed the OnPoint flag behind the seat.  So I looked at him in confusion and said, “You brought your bike???”  He then gave me this big grin and held up his wrist showing me his green Athlete’s band.  Needless to say how excited I was and gave him a few big hugs as we laughed about the surprise.

On Saturday Lloyd and I went to check our bikes in at T1, the energy was amazing.  We stopped to take some pictures, get body marked and then walk our way from the swim exit through the bike-bag pickup to the change tent on to where we’d get our bikes and finally exit T1 on race day.   We then left Transition to head back to the resort to eat, hydrate and rest up. 


Since arriving in Cozumel there had been strong winds and heavy downpours periodically that impacted every practice swim that was scheduled.  One of the locals said the storm had been lingering over Cozumel for the past four days but is expected to leave by the weekend.  I hadn’t realized the major impact to the race until the reports of the Mexican Port Authority not allowing boats to leave the dock, which means the race support team would not be able to set up the buoys for the swim portion.  This would mean a no swim Ironman.  Even though commonsense said, Ian this is about safety, my emotions were yelling, this is nuts!  You didn’t train all this time to fly to Cozumel and spend all that money to do a really long brick workout! 
Fortunately, Ironman and the Mexican Port Authority came to an agreement to move the swim start further north and make it a point to point instead.  Whew!
After hearing this news, we all went to eat our last meal for the evening at one of the fancier restaurants at the resort.  Colin and Carla were celebrating their wedding anniversary but decided to do so being Specathletes by supporting us for the race.
It was off to bed after dinner, but apparently not to sleep but to stare at the wall and ceiling until about 1:30AM. The alarm went off at 4:30AM, I leaped out of bed like it was on fire, put on my tri suit, placed my race morning clothes bag at the door and then proceeded to force feed myself breakfast.  Next we all met in the lobby, jumped on the shuttle and headed to the race.

The Swim (00:52:54)
I got to T1, checked on my bike to make sure all was working, filled up all four of my bottles, wiped off some of the night’s rain water from my bike and left to join the line for the swim-start shuttle.
After arriving at the new location, I did some last minute prepping and waited for what seemed like an eternity before it was time to get in the water.
Lloyd asked me if I was ready and we began making our way, slowly swimming out to what was literally a sea of humans dangling in the water.  The horn soon sounded indicating the start of the race and all I remember is Lloyd saying calmly, “That’s it, let’s go”. 
I began making my way through the crowd and very soon realized an Ironman mass swim start is really a warzone, there’s a lot of elbowing, punching, kicking and blocking.  I learned quickly after getting kicked in the right eye that I needed to be strategic in making my way through all the bodies.  I was able to get a rhythm going and trying to hold to my form and discovered the reason for all those multi-zippers during swim training. There were times during the swim when I felt as if I was slowing down, so I returned to the multi-zipper to reset my form and things felt right again immediately.
I looked at my watch a few times during the swim to make sure I was on track, I remembered seeing 38 minutes and thinking, well I still have quite a way to go.  The buoys were not marked or maybe I just couldn’t see any distance markers so I was basing my approximate speed on my watch time and my heart rate.  I soon was able to hear the sounds of people cheering and yelling indicating the swim exit was pretty close.  I saw the turn buoy not too far away, I darted in aggressively, fighting my way through all the arms and kicks to the steps out the water.  I was very excited to be out the water but I knew I still had a long day ahead.

The Bike (6:31:00)
I exited the change tent at T1 and hobbled in my bike shoes to my bike, quickly checked to make sure all my bottles were securely in place and then jogged with my bike to the bike mounting line.  I clipped my shoes in and began my way on loop one of three.  I found a gear that was comfortable, one that allowed me to have a high cadence then I got into my aero position and began cranking away.  After about 30 minutes, I figured even though I wasn’t hungry I should eat so I tried my best to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I stuffed in the pocket of my tri top, sipped some hydration and began to enjoy the moment that I was actually racing in an Ironman triathlon.  It wasn’t too long into enjoying my moment that I was convinced I made a wrong turn into a wind tunnel.  All I can say is holy cow!  The winds on the beach side of the course are absolutely ridiculous and complete madness!  I cannot find the words to describe what it’s like riding through the winds that stretched that 13 mile part of the loop.  It just wears you out, the equivalent of climbing 13 miles of a steep incline without a break.  There is no aero position that can help you in that wind tunnel.  It could have been related to the storm what was passing through but it’s intense. 
I pushed and pushed and finally made it out.  I tried to quickly pick up the pace to make up the time lost during that part of the course but then I thought about the beating it’s going to put on me on the final loop.  I decided to put that out of my mind, remembering Lloyd’s advice during training to treat each workout independently and not base my current on what’s to come.  I followed my nutrition plan by making sure I was taking in fuel and hydration periodically.  I knew I had the potential to bonk based on my experiences during training so even when I didn’t feel hungry, I’d still take something in.
I soon started the second loop and made a friend; we rode together for quite some time and talked about everything.  After a while she picked up the pace from the 22mph we were already doing!  The good thing is it helped to push me, I’d pass her and she’d pass me (no, we weren’t drafting off each other), we did that for about 30 miles then I lost her somewhere.  I was truly enjoying the experience, our names and nationality were printed on our bibs so people would come by and say, “You’re doing a great job Ian, keep pushing buddy”, and I’d return the favor.  

As I got into town, the shouts of “Si se puede” and “Yes, you can do it” lined the course; kids put rocks in bottles and shook them hard.  I have never been to any race ever where folks were so happy to have athletes take over their space.
As I passed by the T2 area in town heading to start my third bike loop, I heard my name yelled out by Roxanne and Eboni. It didn’t sink in until I was about a half mile away that the voices sounded familiar.  I was in such a zone to attack the third loop and the wind tunnel.  I made my way around again and all I kept thinking is, “this is the third loop, give it all you have now so when you get slammed by the wind it averages out”. I rode and rode then started that section of the course again, I watched my speed drop and drop.  I tried everything from putting my chin on the handle bars and keeping my knees close to the top bar on my bike.  It was an effort to try in every way not to be a parachute.  This guy rode up next to me and said, “Good job Ian, it’s rough out here but we’re gonna do it”.  I asked him “how much further papa smurf?” he responded “no where close” we laughed together in our torture as he pulled away.  During that stretch of wind on the third loop, I passed two people about 5 miles apart laying on their backs, holding their chest.  The ambulances were heading in that direction.  I immediately began to closely monitor my heart rate and made sure I dropped it into HR zone 2.  I was soon done with that part of the course and pushing to make my way to the T2 area.  I soon heard the cheers of all my specathletes yelling and screaming as I pulled into the bike dismount area.  It makes such a difference when you have folks cheering for you out there, especially on a long day.  A volunteer took my bike to re-rack it, I grabbed my Run bag and I went into the change tent.  Another volunteer came over to lather me up with sunscreen and I shot out the tent with joy because I knew on that day I would be an Ironman. 

The Run (4:45:35)
The run is my complete joy. I absolutely love running and marathoning so as long as I didn’t do anything stupid that would risk a twisted ankle or pulled muscle, I’d be OK.  I started the run way too fast but quickly put that in check.  I have never ran a marathon that late in the day, especially after swimming and riding my legs off but I knew how to mentally and physically survive a long, hard run.  It was insanely hot.  I kept stuffing cold sponges in my tri top, putting ice under my hat and kept asking at the aid stations for “agua fria”.  Not too long after the skies opened up and there was a heavy downpour of rain that flooded the streets.  One guy running next to me shouted “Thank you God!”  I told him “I know the feeling”.  The run course was also three loops but these were out and back so you can see the other runners going in the opposite direction.  I tried to keep the pace nice and easy and tried my best to enjoy my first Ironman experience.  I slapped high fives, I stopped to sing and dance at one of the tents on the side of the road.  The singer jumped in front of me with his microphone and started to sing so I joined in and danced around.  He soon sent me on my way shouting, “You can do it Ian!!  USA, USA, USA”.
It was dark by now and the course seemed to be very quiet.  I think everyone was just worn out and wanted it to just be over.  Our socks and shoes were soaked from the flooded streets, I just kept dreaming about the long hot shower I’d take back in the room.  My specathletes were stationed at the loop turnaround point and each time as I approached them they’d start shouting and screaming, it’s such an amazing feeling.  They were battling the horrible weather to be out there, making sure I had enough fuel in the mental tank to make it back to them. 
Soon it was the final loop and it was 3 miles between me and the finish line.  I was spent close to mile 25.  Lloyd was on the opposite side and saw me, I shouted out to him “I ran out of gas!”  He started cheering me on, ran over to me and said with big smiles, “I want you to run past all of them, run past them all and go get your medal!”  I don’t know where the energy came from but I started running hard, it went from 8:23 min/mile to 7:45.  Someone on the side said to me, you’re only half a mile away.  All I kept thinking is I am only 800m, two laps on the track from being an Ironman.  At that point I just opened up what was left in the tank and ran hard, I could hear the loud cheers, then the bright lights and the carpet leading you in.  Then I heard the most amazing words over the loud speakers, “Ian Williams, You Are an IRONMAN!!!”

Post Race
I was making my way through the finisher’s chute when someone said to me, “Your medal sir”, another great feeling as he placed it around my neck.  The moment seemed so surreal.  This was the culmination of all the hard work and sacrifices. All my long days out there in the cold riding and running, early mornings and late nights at the pool, this makes it all worth it.

As I was walking by the massage tent, Roxanne strongly and firmly suggested I get the massage so I gave in and got in line.  The line moved rather quickly and was soon on the table getting all day’s buildup of lactic acid or whatever pushed out of my muscles.

I am an IRONMAN!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Race Report - Hagerstown duathlon #2

By Robert Clarence

Those who know me, know I was on a quest to win my age group in this race.  I raced this event earlier this year and came in second; that motivated me to enter the race with the goal of actually winning.  Normally I enter races with some sort of performance goal.  Not necessarily a PR, but a substantially improvement or a new technique aimed at improving my racing in the long run. Here is a progress report on how my training went as I tried to claim first place.

After racing the NYC triathlon in July I took a week off.  I was debating what to do with the remainder of the summer.  Work was crazy and I had a plethora of family responsibilities, so I knew I couldn't attempt anything too grandiose.  I thought maybe a 1/2 marathon or century,  but I decided I wouldn't undertake any event that would necessitate needing to train more than 2 hours at any time.  The week after NYC I got an email from the promoter who ran the Hagerstown duathlon series not to forget about the race coming later in the year.  I remembered liking the first event and thinking this event is short enough (2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) that I could train for it and not severely impact the rest of my life.  When I made the decision to try and win, however, this meant a lot more detailed work to get ready for the race.

When you are racing to win everything matters. All those thing that are normally overlooked must be scrutinized.  Old habits need to be evaluated and tweaked or perhaps thrown out completely.  Transitions need to actually be practiced!  Race nutrition must be honed to a science.  I even created a race day plan, documenting exactly what I should be doing right up until the race start. So I now find myself one week out from the race, here how its gone so far......

Week 0: Establish baselines before training starts.

So before I even started training for the race I did a few tests to see where I was and what I need to work on.  I determine my lactate threshold wattage on the bike and my lactate threshold pace on the run.  Next, I looked back at the race in which I came in second place.  The guy who won, finished in 1:15:55, he beat me by about 2 minutes.  So my first thought is, make 1:15:00 my goal in case that guy shows up again!  Right there I know I need to lose roughly 3 minutes off my time of 1:18:11.  So where can I get it?  Well I know I was not at my best on the bike when I did this race so I will try and recoup 2 minutes on the bike and another minute over the 5 miles of running (which is about 12 seconds per mile faster).  My transitions are generally pretty good but I figure with practice I can shave 10 seconds off each.  So that's my game plan going in.

Week 1 - 5 See my previous post here.

Week 6 -10

Work has been extremely busy so I had a lot of late night workouts.  Big thumbs up to @TheSufferfest for making my cycling training challenging.  If you have to get on the trainer for any length of time, have a Sufferfest video ready!

My running was really nothing but interval work.  I didn't have time to do many long runs but I made every run pretty intense.  I was doing my interval work at 7:05 to 7:15 pace, well below what I ran in the first race.  Training was brutal, but I could see the improvement, and despite a very harried last two weeks of training, I went in race ready.

The Race:

I got to the race early, set up my transition area and started warming up.  I was expecting rain for the race, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it reasonably dry and warm.  Since I was racing to win, I started scoping the people in my age group.  I started near the front of the pack so anyone running faster than me would have to run past me and I would see them.  The race director started the countdown and then we were off!  I noticed 1 guy in my age group immediately go to the front.  He was running F*CKIN#& FAST! I didn't want to let him get too far ahead but when I looked down at my Garmin I was running at a 6:44 per mile pace!  Way too fast!  I slowed down to a more reasonable 7:15 pace only to watch 3 more guys in my age group go by me!  Having never really raced a triathlon like this I made a decision that I would bank on my bike strength. I was not going to try and run these guys down only to blow up spectacularly.  I zipped through transition with just one mistake, I left one bike shoe on the wrong side of my bike, that probably cost me 5 seconds.  

The Bike:

I was riding my road bike in this race since that's what I had been training on.  I have a Colnago Flight TT bike but I had been having trouble getting comfortable on it lately so I went with comfort at the expense of aerodynamics.  I was moving quickly, but holding back just a bit as planned.  Problem was, apparently no one told those 4 other guys to hold back.  I watched as they pedaled away into the distance.  I was using my power meeting to measure my effort and it worked out perfectly.  At the end of the 10 miles my normalized power was dead on my lactate threshold power.  My coach would be proud!  I felt pretty good coming off the bike and zipped through transition in 1/2 a minute.  

Run #2:

Coming out of transition my legs felt  a bit heavy, but I knew from experience it takes me about 1/2 a mile for them to loosen up.  I expected to run somewhat slower than the first run and I lived up to my expectations.  I still felt strong and I felt even better as I passed a guy from my age group at the mile marker.  This got the adrenaline pumping and I picked up the pace to slightly under 8 minutes per mile.  I grabbed some water at the turn around and started trying to close on the nearest competitor I could see.  It was a woman who had passed me on the bike just before coming into transition.  I set my sites on running her down, but every time I closed just a little she would open up the gap back up ( I later found out I was chasing the woman who finished 3rd overall, yeah I didn't catch her).  She turned out to be a good rabbit and I ended up with a very respectable 25:02 for the 5k run.

At the end of the day I ended up fourth in my age group.  I can't complain though I annihilated my previous best time on the course.  I dropped almost 6 minutes since my race in April.  I ran over 30 seconds per mile better on each run and knocked 3 minutes of my bike as well as almost cutting my transitions in half.  I think this course suits me, so I look forward to returning next year.  Hope to see some you guys out there next year.

Keep training ......



Thursday, September 05, 2013

Advice for Newbies on Race Weekend

By Jessica Post

Nation’s Triathlon in 2011 was my third race as a triathlete, and my first Olympic-length tri, and the night before the race my heart was pounding out of my chest. I’m still a back of the pack racer, so you are likely to see me on race day.  I’ve outlined thirteen tips below, in honor of your next race.

Credit for many of these tips go to my coach, Lloyd Henry of  OnPoint Fitness, my triathlon sensei, Emily Passini, and my OnPoint Fitness mentor and fellow Nation’s Triathlon Brand Ambassador, Heather Butler

 1.     Have a race plan. Before you jump in the Potomac, it is worth considering how quickly you want to swim, what mph you want to maintain on the bike, and your goal pace for the run. You could also consider run/walk intervals to the run, as I did at my last race. It is worth figuring this out before you go out too fast on swim, or hold back too much on the bike. Also…

2.     Remember race nutrition and be the queen of hydration. Multisport events require a considered approach to eating. Plan out when you are going to eat during the race.  Before the race, eat a healthy breakfast and hydrate. Many athletes eat oatmeal and a banana; my go to is a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter, a cup of coffee, and at least 24 oz of water. During the race, my coach advised me to take one energy gel packet before the swim, one energy gel or three Clif Shot Blocks before the bike, three more Clif Shot Blocks on the bike, and one energy gel pre run. It seems impossible, but taking in a little nutrition during the race helps a lot. Many other racers fill one water bottle with a sports drink and another bottle with water. Remember, there is no bottle exchange on the bike course, so make sure your bottles are full when you show up to transition on race day.   You also may want an extra bottle of water to lie on your transition mat, to drink between events, so you don’t take from your bike water.

3.     Nothing new on race day.  Race day often provides temptations to try out a new tri kit, sports bra or new race nutrition that is provided by generous race sponsors. Stick that energy gel in the pocket of your tri suit, and take it on your next training run. Save those cool new socks from the race expo for your next ride.

4.     Trust your training and rest. The body does not gain strength in the last two weeks before the race, that is why we taper. I’m sure you are ready to race, so rest your legs now so you feel fresh for the race. 

5.     Body Glide everything, especially if you are swimming in a wetsuit. Body Glide is a triathlete’s best friend. When you swim 1500m in a wetsuit, your neck, and arms are likely to chafe. Body Glide around your neck, arm holes, anywhere your tri suit hits your body, especially around the sportsbra, for the lady racers.

6.     Attend the course briefing, and ask questions.  During the Nation’s Expo, there are course briefings, if you are a first time racer, this is a great place to think through the course, and help your spectators plan for routes along the course.  

7.     Read the athlete’s guide and take note of race rules and road closures.  The athlete’s guide will help you with any uncertainties, and provide course maps for your spectators. This is worth downloading on you or printing out. Always remember to stay to the right on the bike course, and follow the instructions of the race officials.

8.     Use a checklist for your items to take to the transition area. Lay out your transition area in advance the night before, on the transition towel. Most triathletes are friendly to newbies, so unless they have their headphones on, Michael Phelps style, and feel free to ask questions about the race course. There are several good triathlon checklist sites (h/t Heather Butler) you can use to make sure you have everything you need as you head into transition.

9.     Go for a short jog the day before, for around 20 minutes. This is especially good advice to work some of the nerves out the day before, so you can sleep more easily.

10.  Be off your feet by 8 p.m. the night before.  Many people have trouble sleeping the night before their first big race. It is still worth reading a book and relaxing in bed, since you will be on your feet all morning in transition.

11.  Keep calm and race on. Things may happen on race day. You may forget your goggles, or lose a water bottle on the bike course. You could get kicked in the Potomac by another swimmer. Just take a deep breath and keep going. Perfection is in finishing. Visualize yourself racing a great race, and adjust on race day as needed. Be zen and accept the world as it is.

12.  Keep a sense of humor, and approach the race playfully.  Many of my pre-race mantras are not appropriate for this family-friendly blog, but breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth to calm down the morning of the race. Everything is going to be fine.

13.  Get to transition early and make friends. I overslept the day of my first tri, and had to run into transition as everyone was leaving, which did not make the morning any less stressful. Learn from my mistakes.  Think through your day plan, and ride the athlete’s shuttle if possible to leave yourself plenty of time before transition closes.  And remember to be kind to the other athletes, and thank the volunteers. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

My First Open Water Swim Triathlon

Iron Girl Columbia Race Report
0.62 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3.4 mile run
August 18, 2013
By Marsha O’Mara

“My First Open Water Swim Triathlon”

I’ve been called an “over achiever.”  And I will have to agree.  I get these ideas that I want to do the next big thing.  And then I go ahead and do it.  I wanted to do a marathon before I turned 30.  So without being a regular runner and not running a single race before, I trained for a marathon.  I wanted to go skydiving.  So I did it.  And a few years ago, after a friend of mine did her first triathlon, I decided that I wanted to do one too.  Now, I know how to swim…in the shallow end of a pool…with walls to hang on to.  I had no idea that I was afraid of deep water until I took a cruise in 2005 and we decided to go snorkeling.  They gave us life jackets, but even with that security, I frantically had to swim back to the boat after swimming away from it for about 10 seconds.  Flash forward to 2013 and I have completed my first open water triathlon!

I had done a practice triathlon a month before the Iron Girl race.  It was a pool swim and 300 meters as opposed to the 1,000 meters for the Iron Girl Columbia race.  But it was good practice for me to figure out how to lay out my items in transition and what to expect during the race.  I would highly recommend anyone planning on doing an open water triathlon to do a smaller race ahead of time to get used to racing triathlons.  So I was at ease with setting up my transition area. 

I was also more comfortable because I was in the last swim wave.  I heard the stories about how people would swim over you when the next wave would come and I was not mentally ready for that.  So when I found out that I was in the last wave, it was a huge relief for me.  But it may not have been that great because I had about an hour and a half wait until my wave came around for me to think about quitting.  I think I mentally quit about 4 or 5 times during my wait.  But in the end, I decided that I put all this time and effort into this and I was going to at least attempt it before giving up.

0.62 mile swim
When my wave came around, I headed into the water.  We were allowed to be in the water about 6 minutes before we were to start.  I used that time to get adjusted to the feel of the water and blow bubbles in the water as my open-water swim coach had taught me to do.  Side note:  I needed a little extra help getting used to open water swims and was fortunate to go out swimming with a coach who specialized in open water swimming.  It was worth every penny spent.  I definitely used his coaching tips during this race.  When the gun went off, I let everybody go ahead of me.  When I felt like I wouldn’t run into anyone, I started.  I was taught by my triathlon training coach, Lloyd Henry with OnPoint Fitness, to roll onto my back every now and then when I felt tired or when I felt like I was uncomfortable so after a few strokes I decided to do that to calm my heart rate down.  I did that periodically during the swim and that really helped with my anxiety.  They have kayakers along the way in case an athlete needs assistance.  I was always thinking during the swim that I would stop at the next kayak just to take a break, but every time I got to the next kayaker, I said, “No, I’m good.  I’ll stop at the next one.”  I ended up never having to hold on to a kayak.  I was very happy about that.  I realized that I would only be using the kayak as a crutch.  I had the endurance to swim the distance without the help.  But I felt very comfortable knowing they were there. 

Near the end of the swim, I ran into a lot of seaweed or some sort of vegetation in the water.  I was definitely not used to swimming in that type of environment.  I had to keep my stroke going while trying to get the seaweed out of my way.  But since I could see the swim exit, it didn’t bother me.  I just moved it out of my way and kept it going.  My picture coming out of the swim shows how excited and shocked I was to finish the swim.  After finishing the swim, I knew I was about to finish the triathlon.  That is unless I got a flat tire.  Did I mention that I don’t know how to change my bike tire?  Oops.

16 mile bike
Now the bike.  Well, I haven’t ridden a bike in about 20 years.  So when I first went out training on the bike, it took a lot to get used to.  After riding it a few times, I got more comfortable on it.  Also, it was raining the day of the triathlon.  We had gone out on a training ride in pouring down rain so on the day of the triathlon, I was at least used to riding on wet ground.  I was thankful that I had that training ride because it seemed other people were not as comfortable on the ride.  When I started the bike ride, there was another athlete in front of me who was riding a little slower.  I announced, “On your left!” so I could pass her.  But it seemed she didn’t hear me.  I announced a little louder and I was sure she heard me the second time, but she actually kept moving toward the left side.  I was coming up on her and was about to crash into her so I shouted, “ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!!”  I guess she finally got the hint and moved over and said, “Sorry.”  After that incident, the ride was pretty uneventful.  I did ride over a pot hole and it was so rough a bump that my water bottle flew out of the holder.  I had my other bottle filled with Gatorade so I was fine.  I was just happy that it didn’t cause my tire to go flat because once again, I still have no idea how to change a tire.  I missed that session in our triathlon training group ride and never bothered to ask about it.  I don’t recommend doing that and I think I should hit up YouTube before I go riding again. 
3.4 mile run

After the ride, it was time for the run which is my favorite event of the triathlon.  I knew at that time, this race was over.  Since it was raining that day, it wasn’t as hot as it could be in August so I had one of the best runs.  It was a hilly run, but very scenic and there were tons of spectators out there cheering us on.  When I knew I was a ½ mile away from the finish line, I took off into a fast pace.  I was so happy to have finished my first triathlon.

I will say that this is the first race where I cried after finishing.  There was so much that I put into training for this triathlon that I just can’t have room for in this race report.  But I have to say this was my greatest physical achievement to date...mainly because I overcame my fear of swimming in deep water.  For the future, I plan to work on my speed and efficiency in swimming so I don’t need to roll over too often on my back and so I can sight better.  There were a few times that I looked up from my swim stroke only to find out I was going sideways instead of forward.  Definitely not a good thing.  But I still feel as though my performance was good for this race and it will go down in my record book as one of my life highlights.
Iron Girl Finisher 2013!

Swim – 40:31
T1 – 5:50
Bike – 1:11:12
T2 – 3:42
Run – 35:15
Total – 2:36:29

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 Tri Rock Philadelphia Olympic Triathlon Race Report

By Ian Williams

On Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 I did the Philadelphia Tri Rock Triathlon. I 
haven’t been doing Tri’s for a long time; as a matter of fact this was my 
second Tri ever with 2012 Nations Triathlon being my first. After not doing 
as well as I’d hoped at Nations Tri last year and not wanting some of the 
scary moments during the swim portion, I signed up for some solid training 
with Lloyd Henry at OnPoint Fitness. I can’t say enough great things about 
Lloyd and his gift for coaching. However, this proved to be very valuable and 
shows how investing the time and preparation can return dividends. 

Due to the Sprint Tri on Saturday morning those of us competing in Sunday’s 
Olympic Tri had to rack our bikes Sunday morning starting at 4:30am. I 
walked my bike into Transition just before 5:00am and tried to find my rack in 
a dark sea of metal aisles. After figuring out the numbering scheme and 
finding my little area, I began to setup exactly as my coach instructed by 
laying out my towel and organizing my biking and running paraphernalia in a 
systematic way. I chatted for a bit with some friends and then started my walk 
to board the bus that would take us to the swim start.

The Swim
I was given a White swim cap that indicated Wave #9, so I figured “I got some 
time to chill because the pros go first, then Waves 1 through 8”, little did I 
know how quickly they were getting folks in the water. Before I knew it, there 
was a sign for Wave 9 to start lining up. I was a bit nervous because of all 
three sports, I believe the swimming to be my weakest but I was determined 
to take it on with some serious confidence. 

As I walked through the gate we were instructed to get in a single file down 
the ramp. At the bottom of the ramp, there was a timing mat to signal the 
swim start.  Even though I was a bit nervous about the swim, I was 
suddenly annoyed that they started our time while we’re still standing and 
waiting in this line. All I kept thinking is, this swim is going to be embarrassing 
enough by taking me an hour (basing that on my Nations time of 1:00:16 !!), 
now they’re robbing me. Anyway, from the single line we were instructed 
to form two rows of 10 swimmers. I was in the second row and we stood 
directly behind the first row. At this point we were given instructions that 
we’ll enter the water ten at a time and twenty seconds behind the first group 
of ten. After about 40 seconds, it was my row’s turn to get ready so I sat on 
the dock and hit start on my watch. Before I knew it, the whistle went off and 
I just jumped in and started to do what I was taught. I decided if I were going 
to make it to the other end, I’d have to do everything to maintain form and 
balance. My spirit sunk after several minutes because I thought with all the 
effort I’m putting out, I’m going so slow and my heart is already racing. 

At about 400m in, I saw people holding on to buoys and I remember thinking, 
what are you guys doing? Not thinking at the time that maybe some needed to 
rest, adjust equipment or whatever. Anyway, the real surprise came at about 
500m, I began seeing swim caps from the previous wave. As embarrassing as 
this is, I was wondering if I made some turn I shouldn’t have and will be DQ’d 
for not doing the full swim course. When it rang through that I had actually 
caught up to the Wave 8 swimmers, I became so filled with drive that I must 
be doing better than I thought. I went into a serious zone and became focused 
on buoy after buoy. I forgot all about the other swimmers in the water and was 
determined to close the gap between each buoy as fast as possible. This was 
the true definition of what Andy Potts meant when he said to me “These 
races, including Ironman is 90% in your head. The heat, weather conditions, 
etc. are all there, but it is all mental.”

Close to the 1,400m buoy, the mile marker audio indicator on my watch went 
off. I started thinking; I thought this race is 1,500m. Why is my watch saying 
I’ve already swam a mile? But oh well. I darted for the swim exit and was 
being really aggressive about it; creating a box around me with my stroke and 
maintained a strong controlled kick to keep people away from my space. I got 
to the exit ramp and hit the lap button on my watch, it said 27 mins!!! I initially 
thought, oh man I must have hit the stop button accidentally again, like I do 
sometimes during my runs. When it dawned on me that it was right and I had 
cut my previous Nations swim time in less than half, I had a rush to just keep 
pushing through T1 and get right on the bike. 
(TriRock Swim time: 29:27(includes the 2 mins of waiting in line)).

The Bike
I began running out of Transition with my bike when I realized I left my bib so 
I quickly turned around got it and started my ride. I remember feeling, oh this 
shouldn’t be so bad, I’ve been training for months now with double this 
distance.  Little did I know the race organizers and directors or whomever 
would find every hill in Philadelphia and place it on this course. It was 
insanity! I started talking out loud to myself in annoyance and anger when 
hills were coming back to back. Then the course was a loop so we were 
punished over and over and over again with these hills. There were people 
pushing their bikes up the hills, I heard one guy asked one of the volunteers 
the shortest way back to Transition because he thought it was just too much; 
he literally started to walk his bike back. 

Again thankful to coach Lloyd who during our long rides explained how to 
properly and efficiently use my gears, I began downshifting and upshifting as 
needed to manage these mini-mountains.

As with all races you have your overachievers who are trying to hit 100mph on 
a crowded course and in some cases being reckless. There was one near 
miss where there was a Team-In-Training guy, not being very cognizant close 
to the bottom of the hill and zigzagging, just really enjoying his moment. Then 
all of a sudden there was a swoosh that went by me at lightning speed; it was 
a rider in his aero position with his spaceship helmet. This guy had to be doing 
somewhere close to 30+mph, I could barely watch but it was an extremely 
near miss, that rider at the bottom would have been destroyed. I just 
remembered thinking, is it that deep? 

Like I said, the bike portion was pretty uneventful other that the strong need 
to cuss at the hills and the race organizers for planning and allowing it.
(TriRock Bike time:1:29 . Avg. spd. - 16.5mph)

The Run
Yes, yes the run! Well honestly I was excited to get to the run because of a 
few reasons. Not only because it’s the final event of the Tri but also because 
I would consider running to be my strongest of all three. I’ve been running 
marathons for many years and just have a real passion and love for running 
BUT who would have known that this course was set to run through the 
hallways and walkways of hell. Rebecca put it best when she said, “Lucifer 
came and dragged us to Hades on that run!!!” 

It was insanely hot and with the engine inside already running hot from the 
swim and climbing every hill in Philadelphia, the extreme heat on the run 
made my core even hotter. Still I refused to walk at all because after all this 
is a 10K, come on, I’ve been killing 26.2’s for years how can I walk on a 10K?  
So I pushed on to not hurt my ego. 

The mile markers were either screwed up or I was suffering from heat 
exhaustion because when I thought I was at the end and heading to the finish 
line, I heard a volunteer yell “You’re half way, keep going strong whoooo!!! 
Hoooo!!!!” I remember saying to them, “you got to be kidding me!” At this 
point something came over me and I dug deep and really started pushing 
knowing it’s about 3 miles remaining. When I looked at my watch, my pace 
was 7:15, I was determined to put an end to this torture. As bad as this 
sounds, the more I was passing people on the course walking and jogging, 
the faster I went. I knew the end could not possibly be far. This is a 10K! 
6.2 miles! Come on! The extreme heat just made it feel like more like a 

Soon I started to hear the cheering and volunteers pointed us in the direction 
of the finish line then I just gave it all I had left for that last .2 of the distance. 
It was over! I was once again a Triathlete!
(TriRock Run time: 49:57. Pace – 8:03 min/mile)