Race Report: New Jersey State Triathlon (Olympic distance)

Garmin data: New Jersey State Triathlon

My plan for this tri was to go hard. It’s only an olympic distance tri at a point where my Ironman training is at full distance for swim, nearing 100 milers for bike, but very low volume running because of my meniscus tear.

Pre-race: breakfast was 3 scoops Generation UCAN chocolate while drivng to race. When I started using UCAN in 2012, I’ve use this same breakfast for all races and it’s served me well. For longer races, it gets me off to a good start that lasts through an Ironman swim and then time to get settled into the bike and more UCAN. For shorter races like this, it’s enough to last to the finish line.

Water temp was 82 degrees – not wetsuit legal, so I swam in my DeSoto Liftoil. I saw at the top of my three-stroke-per-breath effort. Kept my lines pretty well with good and frequent siting on bouys. My swim cap came off, twice, which has never happened before. This season, I finally started putting my cap on over my goggle straps to insure I don’t lose my goggles. For sure, having the cap come off and spending about 10 seconds getting it back on takes less time than getting goggles back on, readjusting them, etc. Time of 36 minutes and change was slower than I had hoped, but better than my last two Oly tris, so I’ll take it.

Bike: plan was to push an average of 20 mph, which is harder than I’ve gone for this distance for quite some time. HR was between mid-150s and low-160s throughout. I’ve only hit a 20 mph average for one tri, ever, which was at NJ State Tri in 2013 on the day that was my Oly PR. Garmin says my average was 19.4 mph. Official results say 22.82. The question is the bike distance. Race guide says 20 miles, which is roughly right with Garmin. But with official bike time of 1:00:28, the official speed of 22.82 would make the bike course almost 23 miles. Will have to check with them in a few days but for now I’m going with Garmin. Had only one water bottle on bike, with 1.5 NUUN tabs. This race has no aid stations on bike. Did not pee while on bike.

Run: plan was to go hard as long as my knee could handle it. Although my pace of 9:31 (official time says 9:21)  was hardly “hard,” it was hot and I had just pushed a bike leg harder than I would in a race i was trying to place well. I ran at the top of my three-step-per-breath pace (HR mid-160s most of the run). Knee felt good most of the time – had a couple moments of discomfort but nothing bad. Did not pee during run – not until after finish line.

Posted in Race Report, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Eagleman 70.3 2016 (race report)


Eagleman 2016 was my 100th race since toeing the line for the first time at the Rothman 8K, November 21, 2004. My seventh Eagleman.

Swim: with new DeSoto T1 First Wave, I swam my fastest 1.2 mile race time in three years, and my fastest Eagleman. That’s not just the wetsuit – with a meniscus tear, I’ve been doing more swmming than usual, also strength training for more power in my stroke. With seven Eman, that covers a range of wetsuit and non-wetsuit years, weather, wind, and tide stages. They moved the swim course outbound a bit this year so we didn’t have to wade/walk the last 1/4 mile. Official swim time 44:29. 97th in M50-54. 982nd male. 1388th overall.

T1: 5:19, my second-slowest half-ironman T1. My only slower was at Mooseman, when goggles failed and I had to wait in T1 until my vision cleared enough to see again. Stopped to pee in a port-a-pottie because we had no time to take care of business after getting in the water at the start.

Bike: with reduced run prep because of meniscus tear, I was perhaps even more vigilant to stay in my aerobic zone on the bike so I could make it through the run. Lots of head wind, so just kept cranking through it in my zone. Turned into tailwind and smoked it, making up some time. And then accidentally hit lap button on my Garmin so “bike” became “run” at about mile 43. So the rest of bike portion recorded as run. Came off bike 3:16:51 (17.07 mph), my slowest Eman bike. 101st M50-54 (lost 4 spots from swim). 959th males (passed 23). 1311th overall (passed 77). Bike nutrition/hydration: took in full bottle with three scoops Generation UCAN, two full bottles of NUUN, and probably a full bottle of water from aid stations. Also poured cold water into helmet vents and over face and torso at each aid station. Did not pee. A woman went down hard a little in front of me at mile 4.1 – a big dog launched at her and either hit her or she went down trying to avoid it. Several of us stopped with her. Blood on head, probably around ear. Said shoulder hurt (clavicle?). Her husband was there, also racing, and after it appared she was not critical, he urged the rest of us to go on while he waited with her for medical.

T2: 3:29, well behind my normal Eman T2, but not my slowest.

Run: No expectations for the run, given my meniscus tear and reduced running volume. With Hoka One One Bondi 4, I just hoped to be able to find a comfortable pace and hold it. And I did. Run time 2:35:07 (11:50/mile), close to two minutes faster than last year’s super hot run. 77th M50-54 (passed 24 after bike). 799th male (passed 160 after bike). 1103rd overall (passed 208 after run). Started with a full bottle of NUUN, which lasted until about mile 4. Then took on Gatorade at each aid station. Had volunteers put ice in my DeSoto Skin Cooler long sleeve’s back/spine pockets at each aid station. That really helped with heat management. Also water on head at each aid station. Did not pee.

Posted in Race Report | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Because I Ran Without Music Today

Because I ran without music today
The birds sang in the woods
Their voices filled the morning
With joyous, trilling crescendos

Because I ran without music today
The children played in the warm sunshine
Chortling and screaming
Celebrating freedom after a long, cold winter

Because I ran without music today
The dogs played in the park
Panting heavily as they lay in the grass
After catching the ball one too many times

Because I ran without music today
Neighbors greeted each other on the street
During momentary breaks
Helping gardens come back to life

The world was alive
And I was in it
I was alive
Because I ran without music today

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ten Reasons to Run (in addition to the fun)

Runner’s World gives you ten good reasons to run, based on researchon running’s benefits to your body.  So, what are you waiting for?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Product Review: DeSoto Skincooler Longsleeve Top with Ice Pockets

A recent nine mile trail run had the four H’s of summer: Hot, Humid, and Hellaciously Hilly. Great time to pull on the DeSoto Skincooler Longsleeve top with ice pockets. Rather than trying to keep athletes cool by wicking sweat and counting on evaporation to cool the body, DeSoto says they “want to keep you wet.” On a humid day, when nothing evaporates from anything, that sounds like a good idea.

DeSoto Skincooler LS Front and Back
Front view: simple, no zipper. Back view: three pockets along the spine for ice from aid stations during a race or ice packs when going self-supported; longer tail covers back in the aero position on the bike. NOTE: these post-run pics show that the Skincooler fabric goes Lululemon when wet with sweat. 

I’ll admit, I’ve had this shirt a couple years, but hadn’t really put it to the test until now. It’s just too counter-intuitive to don a snug-fitting, long sleeved shirt for running in hot weather. Here’s why I found that traditional thinking to be wrong.

The first thing I noticed was the sensation of cooling on my arms. Every swing of the arms brought a new mini-breeze and cool feeling. I had the same sensation on my arms when doing a four-hour ride on my tri-bike on a day when the heat index was over 100 degrees. Is it only a sensation, or is the shirt really cooling my arms? If my arms feel cooler, does it matter?

I did not have the same cooling sensation on my torso – front or back – except while running through shade or caught a breeze. Shade created a definite cooling, as did even the slightest breeze. When the breeze came from a different direction, the coolest of the cool spot was right there. The same thing happened on the bike: when I had a decent headwind, the cooling was most noticeable on my front; a steady side or tailwind brought the coolest spot around to the wind’s point of contact.

Although I have only started using the long sleeve version, I have had DeSoto’s Skincooler Helmet Beanie for three years (as bald guy, I have to wear something up there to avoid a helmet-stripe-tanned-dome). I have also used the Arm Coolers on long rides and in some hot races. After three years of frequent use, the Helmet Beanie keeps its shape better, and does its job better, than the HeadSweats beanie I now use only in cooler weather.

Now, back to those ice pockets. The bottom pocket is smaller than a traditional bike jersey pocket, but bigger than a traditional tri-top pocket. On my long ride, I put my Droid RAZR in a neoprene case in the pocket, along with my house keys. They fit fine, with no threat of coming out, even over some bumpy roads. If only my seat-mounted bottle cages held on as well. I have not used either of the higher pockets, and I’m not sure they would be comfortable for anything heavy, hard, or with points or angles, but a map, ID/cash, or a basic patch kit would probably ride fine up there.

Bottom line: I’m going to keep wearing the Skincooler products on my hot runs and rides. Do they work better than other fabrics that claim to cool? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you’re going to drop money on a cooling garment, this stuff works.

Posted in Gear | Leave a comment

Cleveland Rocks!

We were in Cleveland last weekend for a family get together. I didn’t want to spend a three-day weekend without a good workout, so I packed my running shoes and clothes. Saturday morning, I headed out for a one-hour run from our downtown hotel to Edgewater Park, on the Lake Erie shoreline. Had a great chance to see some of the neighborhood and morning runners and bike riders when everyone else in town was still in their PJ’s. While running over the Cuyahoga River, I caught a bit of some crew boats headed upstream for a race. No better way to see a city.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Race Report: TriRock Philadelphia

TriRock Philadelphia, and its predecessors, Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon and simply Philadelphia Triathlon, has always been my favorite triathlon. (Come to think of it, this race has changed names almost as many times as some of the banks in town.) As my hometown race, it’s the only triathlon I get to ride my bike to and from. No hotels, no flights or trains, no driving – just an easy 20 minute ride to the race site, and then a 30 minute ride home, afterward.

I like this race because of the swim in the Schuylkill River. Yes, the Schuylkill. It tastes better than the Hudson and the Ohio, it’s clearer than the Ohio and the lakes at most race venues, and the swim course is practically a straight shot downstream until the final 100 meters.

I like this race because the bike has everything I like: long flats to cruise along, four climbs to grind out the leg strength, and four descents for some great yeehaw speed.

I like this race because the run is about as flat as they come. The first half is mostly shaded so you can maintain a good pace, and the second half is mostly sunny and hot so you have to dig deep to keep pushing.

My plan for TriRock was to put together the best swim I could. I’m a slower swimmer, with my best non-Hudson Olympic distance race swim at a non-wake-producing 34:12. I was in the New York City Triathlon a couple times, and with the all-downstream swim in the Hudson River, my best time was 23:30, still slower than many people in the current-less Schuylkill. For the bike, my plan was to keep a relatively consistent effort with a heart rate in the low-160’s, my Lactate Threshold zone. I don’t have a power meter on my bike, so I use heart rate to gauge my effort. The effort let me push it on the flats and downhills, and make it up the hills without going into the red zone too much. My run plan was similar: stay in the low-to-mid-160’s for the first half, and then start building effort to the end (Super LT building to V02 Max).

How did it go?

Swim: 1,500 meters (.93 mile)
The swim starts at the St. Joseph’s University boat house, on the Kelly Drive side of the Schuylkill. Like past years, each age group goes to the dock. Unlike past years, a new swim start format, a modified time trial start, had swimmers starting, ten at a time, with each group of ten starting a few seconds apart. This format is similar to changes taking place throughout the triathlon world in an effort to increase safety (or at least the appearance of increased safety) by reducing the chances of injury that can happen during mass swim starts. From the start, the course is nearly straight downstream before making a turn toward the Martin Luther King Drive side of the Schuylkill for the last 100 meters. Large, orange buoys mark the course every 100 meters, making sighting and keeping the line much easier than many tri swims, but again, mirrors a widespread evolution in the sport.

Getting into the water, it took a few meters to get into my stroke rhythm, and then it was pretty much straight and smooth sailing (er, swimming) until the last 400 meters, when I ran into traffic. Usually, I don’t run into traffic – traffic runs into and over me. I am used to seeing different colored swim caps pass me from two or more swim waves that started after me. That happened here. What is not usual is catching up with a group of swimmers from my wave. I attribute that more to the larger number of first-timers than to my swim speed.

After making the turn to the swim exit, I had 100 meters of smooth strokes before exiting via an aluminum ramp (new this year, previously we exited via a sand “beach”). Once on my feet, I took a glance at my Garmin 310XT, which said 29:55 – an all-time fastest swim for me in open water. I crossed the timing mat at Transition at 30:21, for a swim pace of 2:01 per 100 meters, 16 seconds/100 faster than my fastest non-Hudson swim.

Transition 1: swim-to-bike
As soon as I exited the water, I pulled off my swim cap and goggles, and while running to Transition, unzipped my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit and pulled the arms and torso down to my waist. As soon as I got to my bike, Maybellene, on the bike rack, I finished pulling off my wetsuit, put on my helmet, sunglasses, and race belt, pulled Maybellene off the rack, and ran her out to the bike start. Time in T1: 2:43, about average for me in a wetsuit transition.

Bike: 40 kilometers, 24.85 miles
The bike course comprises two loops around Martin Luther King and Kelly Drives and includes trips around the Philadelphia Museum of Art and over the Falls Bridge, with two climbs on each side of the river. None of the climbs are too hard: three are long but not steep, and one is steep but not long. The flats along the drives and in front of the art museum are nice stretches to make up for speed lost on the climbs. Along the way, riders have great views of Boat House Row, the High School of the Future, the Please Touch Museum, and Smith Memorial Arch.

Once on the bike, a flat section gave me a chance to get my heart rate under control, get my feet into my bike shoes (which I leave clipped into the pedals in transition so I can run barefoot through transition), and build some initial speed. The first climb of the bike, up Ford Road to Chamounix Drive, is long but at no point very steep. Once on Chamounix, the road gets mostly flat and passes the bike aid station (also passed on the second loop), where I took a water bottle, from which I pulled a couple sips and soaked my head and back. The course then does a tight loop in front Chamounix Mansion International Hostel before starting a long and fast descent back to MLK Drive, over the Falls Bridge, past the Trolley Car Cafe, and on to the next climb up Strawberry Hill Drive for a nice flat along the ridge and then zooms down Fountain Green Drive. Back on Kelly Drive, the course runs along the upper half of Boat House Row, then the only technical climb up Lemon Hill Drive  and then quickly down Edgely Drive to Kelly Drive for the spin past the art museum. Finally, the last climb up Sweetbriar Drive and Lansdowne Drive, then a final quick descent down Black Road before heading back out for the second loop or dismounting for T2.

Time on bike: 1:17:30 at an average speed of 19.1 miles per hour. Some day I hope to hit an average speed of 20 mph in a race. Any race. My fastest bike split in an Olympic distance tri was during my first Olympic tri, during my first season, at the Philly Tri in 2006. That day, I averaged 19.6 mph, which proved to be too much of an effort when I melted on the run and walked about a mile.

Transition 2: bike to run
Before descending Black Road, I took my feet out of my shoes for the coast down to MLK Drive and to do a rolling dismount going into T2. This doesn’t really save me more than a couple seconds, but it looks so cool. I ran Maybellene back to her spot on the rack, switched helmet for my Headsweats ProTech running hat with a neck-covering, turned my race belt so my bib was in front, pulled on socks and running shoes, and ran out to the run start. Time in T2: 2:15, my fastest Olympic distance bike to run transition.

Run: 10 kilometers, 6.21 miles
The run course heads upstream along MLK Drive, turns around after the Strawberry Mansion Bridge to head back downstream, crosses onto the grass to run between Transition and the Schuylkill, and back onto MLK Drive to turn around for the home stretch just before the MLK bridge over the Schuylkill. The first 3.5 miles is mostly shaded and comfortable, so holding a good pace is not much of a struggle (save for the tiring legs). The last 2.7 miles, however, is completely exposed to the sun, which usually shines on race day,  causing runners to heat up and paces to slow down. Working with my Garmin’s heart rate monitor, I kept my effort even in the low-to-mid-160s beats per minute, while my pace slowed from 8:08 for mile three to 8:31 for mile five. I picked up the effort at the beginning of mile six and pulled out an 8:15 pace for that mile, and then peaked at 7:20 pace for the final two tenths of a mile. I took on only water at the aid stations during the run, have fueled during the bike. See “Nutrition,” below.


Swim: 30:21, 2:01/100m, my fastest non-Hudson swim, 876th of 1333 finishers

Bike: 1:17:30, 19.1 mph, 421st of 1333 finishers

Run: 50:31, 8:08/mile, my fasted Olympic distance run, 380th of 1333 finishers

Overall: 2:43:21, my fastest non-Hudson Olympic tri and only 16 seconds slower than my fastest Hudson Olympic tri, 415th of 1333 finishers

Top 31 percent of finishers, top 35 percent of my age group (Males 45-49)

My race day nutrition is based on my current understanding and race/training experience with metabolic efficiency, as explained by Bob Seebohar in Metabolic Efficiency Training. I have not had ME testing, but last fall I adopted the nutrition and training practices Seebohar suggests.

I drank two packs of Generation UCAN Vanilla when when I woke up, along with two cups of coffee. I took a bottle of water to drink while waiting for my swim wave to start. I had one pack of Generation UCAN Pomegranate-Blueberry in the aero water bottle on Maybellene – I drank about half of it during the bike, plus a few sips of water from the aid station. During the run, I had only a gulp of water at each aid station. The Generation UCAN provided enough carbs to make it through the bike and run given my current level of metabolic efficiency, and provided enough electrolytes to keep my synapses firing and avoid hyponatremia.

Posted in Race Report | Leave a comment