Sunday, August 24, 2008

2008 TOBAY Triathlon

On September 24 I completed the 21st running of the TOBAY sprint triathlon in Oyster Bay, New York.

This was my first triathlon in 2006, and I like to do it every year just to gauge my improvement, if any, from season to season. This season I have been concentrating on Half Iron distance, so it wasn't clear how much gain I would show, but at least I'd get a good high intensity brick workout, and have some fun. This is the largest triathlon on long island with over 1,500 participants.

I arrived at the race location at 5 am for a 7:30 am start. I was not the first person there, i think i woke up a couple of people who had slept in their cars. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for my regular pre race routine, a medium coffee with milk only and a plain cruller. I rolled my bike into transition and racked it, went over to pick up my chip and got body marking, and paid a visit to the still pristine portosans. I then walked back to my car, got my gear bag, came back in and stretched and did trigger point and some yoga stretches and listened to Zero Seven Simple Things, kind of mellow and cool and relaxing. Around 6:45 I went over and got my stuff set up, shoes on pedals, helmet, gloves and glasses on aerobars, running shoes and hat on towel below bike. No socks. Simple, straightforward, transitions should be fast.

I was in wave 4, Clydesdale and Athena, and each wave was separated by 5 minutes. i got a little splash around in, feeling very calm and comfortable, and just hung out and shat the shot with some of the guys i have met around at races over the last few years, talking mostly about the upcoming Half Ironman in Montauk.

The swim geometry needs some adjustment. I am not sure why, it may be some restriction due to local boat traffic, but the base of the triangle for this swim is too short. In other words, we swam out to the far buoy, turned left and swan only about 20 yards before turning back to shore and the boat ramp exit. The problem with this is we were running into swimmers from later waves who had encroached into the area between the out and the back parts of the swim route. To compound this, I was now catching the back strokers in the waves that went off ahead of me, and they weren't able to sight very well, doing the back stroke and all. And I was following them. So the second half of my swim was serpentine at best.

Swim 22.44 (2007 24:25)

I ran pretty well from the water. I focused on kicking more for the final 100 yards of the swim, and i felt my leg turnover was very quick. As always, my wetsuit came off easily. I found myself fumbling wit my gloves, actually put the left one on my rigth hand and lost some time switching that. I wonder if its really worth it to wear the gloves. I thought maybe because of the large percentage of inexperienced riders and greater chance for a wreck.

T1 3:51 (2007 3:24)

Having the shoes already on the pedals saved me a bunch of time in T1 (which i wasted with the gloves), but i think i need to work on this a little more. The Velcro straps on my shoes had come out of the little metal loop thingies and so i took some time as i rode out of the park getting the straps all properly fixed and tightened. Still, it was faster than sitting down in T1.

i got that all settled before i left the park and started working. my goal is to maintain my cadence near 90, which i did pretty well with speeds up to 27 mph, until reaching Moores Hill Road, at which point I am down to the 60s and 7mph. That hill is short enough, i think .3 miles, and I did manage to get my speed up around 30mph on the big downhill on 25A. You may have heard me screaming "STAY TO YOUR RIGHT", as several fellers on mountain bikes had a leisurely coast all over the road there. Scary as hell.

On the next up hill I dropped my chain downshifting. After stopping to reset it I got my speed back up and promptly had a puncture on my rear tire. That was it then, my race as over, and so I would get some practice changing rear flats on the road. But before that I alked back and cleaned up what appear to be some construction debris, a metal bracket and some sheet metal screws and plastic lags, that littered the shoulder. I estimate the whole process took me 10-12 minutes. I was able to make up some time on Berry Hill Rd with speeds up to 37mph.

I took my feet out of the shoes and pedaled with feet on top for the last half mile or so. I really like doing this, passing all the guys running in cycling shoes. I dont get much chance to pass people any other time.

Bike 43:38 (2007 35:19)

Emptied the spent CO2 cart, levers and bad tube out of my back pockets, sat down and tied my shoes (got to get yanks with the next pair) and headed out for the run. Grabbed a bottle of water from my xlab, noting I hadn't drank at all on the bike. Had a Power Gel as I left T2, mostly for the caffeine.

T2 3:00 (2007 3:08)

This year they moved the first water stop from right outside of transition to a little further down the course, good idea. There are plenty of spectators lining this section and that's always a big help. I noticed, as usual, I was going too fast, around a 7:00 pace. Slow down. After a short flat section I came on the first hill, a short but steep climb leading to another flat section. i struggled up and around the corner and soon enough I started to find my groove, around 8:45 pace.

At the end of this flat section we turned right up a long challenging climb up Underhill Rd toward Planting Fields Arboretum. The course is an out and back and you see the people finishing before you coming down the hill you are climbing. The road is crowned and alot of people run the double yellow because its flattest. I am one of those people.

At that corner the grade steepens, and i walked about 30 yards, then ran up to the turnaround, and now back down, FUN! I was cooking along around 6:30 to 7:15 pace.

About half way down the hill I heard a car coming up behind me, some distance back but you know how you can kind of tell from the sound how fast a car is coming. I looked back and confirmed this white car was coming down the center of the road, straddling the yellow double lines, about 20 miles an hour. People were moving off toward the shoulders to avoid getting hit.As the car passed me I moved off slightly and struck the driver side door with an open hand and shouted "slow down!".

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see the woman slow slightly so that I could look her right in the eye as she gave me the finger and Yelled "F* YOU".

In retrospect this might have been a good time for me to drop it.

Instead, as she drove off I struck the driver side rear door. Now she stopped and rolled down the window and unleashed a tirade.

Come to think of it this would have been another chance for me to keep running and forget this crazy bitch.

If you know me, you know this stuff happens to me all the time and I suppose I have to take some responsibility for it. So at this point, don't ask me why, I reached down and opened her door. I think this might have been a mistake on my part.

She tried to get out of the car to get at me, clearly agitated. Fortunately she had her seat belt on and so she couldn't get out. Fortunate for me, and also for the several hundred runners in front of her, because the car was still in drive.

I yelled at her "Put it in park! Put it in park!". Alright this was good she was fumbling with the gear shift and we were actually working together toward a common goal. I once took a course in conflict resolution so I knew this was a positive step. As she got it in park, she finally also got her seat belt off and lept out of the car at me.

"You want a piece of me? Come and get it!"

Oh shit.

I backed up quickly toward the front of her car and she started to chase me. I figure she was about 5'5" and 180 pounds, and she looked like she could probably pummel me pretty good before I knocked her out. She quickly realized we were going to run in circles around the car, I was not interested in wrestling. I was yelling for a cop and calling out her plate number (New York CES 7369).

A woman running up the hill yells to the driver "cant you see there is a race going on?".

"Oh shut up, you dont even look good in that outfit!"


She got in her car, yelled a few more choice curses and drove off, still too fast, down the course.

I turned left on Lake Ave, running hard now because I was kind of riled up. At the end of lake I found a couple fo Nassau County cops and announced "I want to report a crime". I gave the officer the plate number and told him what happened, and he agreed "She is not allowed to do that". He didnt take my name, but I now felt released of my obligation and starting sprinting the last half mile, at around a 7:00 pace.

Run 27:40 (2007 27:02)

At the finish line I saw a guy vomit! While his effort at the end of the run was obviously impressive, I wonder if he should have eaten all them pretzels.

On my way over to transition I saw a couple of race officials and relayed the story to them as well, and so hopefully someone will be paying that lady a visit.

One of the great things about this race is the free beer from Blue Point Brewery. I had a Hoptical Illusion, a Toasted Lager and an Oatmeal Stout. Oh yeah, and a bagel. I had a nice chat with Teddy Roosevelt and a new friend, Franco Zuccoli.

Awesome day. I would have had a PR for sure without the flat, and my run was great considering the shenanigans. Thinking about a family relay next year. Maybe they will keep me confined to the swim.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Self Supported Montauk Olympic Distance Tri

Last weekend Jen and I drove out to Montauk to reacquaint ourselves with the Mighty Montauk Half Ironman course. I am registered for the Half, and Jen has been on the fence a bout whether or not she will pull the trigger and register. We planned to swim in the pond, and then do one loop each of the bike and run course (two loops for the 70.3)giving us an international distance course, a good swim-bike-run brick, and a measure of our fitness at this point in the season, preparing for that final peak and taper before October 5.

We arrived at the pond around 9:10. There is plenty of free parking by the soccer field as well as down toward the boat ramp. Good news, swimmers, a new concrete ramp has been installed, so you can hopefully avoid some of the ankle twisting boulders as you enter and exit the water.

We decided, since we didn't have any distance markings for the swim, to go about 15 minutes out and come back. I led the way out toward the big white hotel to the right. Sighting on the way out was not much of an issue, but we did have a slight wind blown chop into our faces, and i did notice one fishing boat seemed to be pushed back toward the ramp. We stopped, turned and returned toward the ramp, using the condominium towers to sight on. Nice swim, done in 22 minutes, probably around 1000 to 1250 yards.

A short walk up to the car for T1, which probably was a leisurely 15 minutes, no rushing.

We headed out on the bike, a somewhat challenging ride with some rollers, and beautiful scenery throughout, especially at the tops of the toughest climbs.

Crossing in front of the lighthouse a group of kids were crossing in the cross walk, and decided to play a little game of whack a mole with Jen. Step, stop, step, stop. She almost took one of them out. Seeing this, I decided not to play, and stopped to let them pass. The ride, for me, was pretty easy. I raced this course last year, and between lake placid and my recent bear mountain ride, these hills really did not cause any trouble. Jen did super too! Thanks, Jen for reminding me to drink. that's where i screwed the pooch on race day last year, making a note for this time. Bike done in 1:14, average 22.5 mph.

We had another relaxed transition, bikes on car and shoes changed and headed out for the run.

Jen wasn't feeling it, so I suggested we take the hills first. I like to do that in case we need to bail, at least we get some work in. The run course is challenging. With sections named "Murder Hill" and "The Pits", i think psychologically alot of people get whipped before they start. I have run this two loop course a bunch of times, enough to really look forward to the hills. And again, because of my hill training this year, you know.

Jen really wasn't feeling it. That, or else I make her physically ill with all my talk of ancient Indian science of life, food and eating, breathing through the nose, and probably other annoying stuff I cant remember. Anyway she headed back to the car, and I felt terrible leaving her, but i had to finish the run. So I hurried. Run done in 1:04, 10:32 pace.

Total time (without transitions) 2:40. I did the 70.3 last year in 7:13:54. Based on my times this day, I guess I could go out on a limb and predict something around 6:40. That would be a significant improvement over my current PR set at Tupper Lake TinMan this year, just under 7:00.

We had a dip in the pond, dried and changed in the public restrooms, and headed by car down to Duryeas Lobster Deck for Lobster Rolls. Then a quick stop for chocolate ice cream shakes, and the day was complete.Jen home by 5:00, me home in time to catch cake at the nephew's birthday party. Everybody happy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Morning High Intensity Breakfast

My new Wednesday morning routine:

Wake 445AM, walk dog
Brief stretch
2 X 30 pushups
7 mile tempo run 10K pace +:20
4 sets of 10 pushups at mile 3, 4, 5, 6
Push hard last mile

I think I can keep this up every week right up to my A race, even during my taper. Maybe need to increase the intensity.

Thanks to Brian Mc Nitt , Coach Adam, Drew Holmes for providing the inspiration to start.

If you are interested in doing pushups for good core strength, health, positive mental attitude and self image, check out

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bear Mountain Boondoggle Part II- The Disgruntled Bear

The Ironman Lake Placid bike course is hilly. It’s in the Adirondack mountains! It’s a two loop course and the end of the loop has a legendary series of hills known as the bears. Actually, first there are two hills that make up the ‘cherry patch’, Big Cherry and Little Cherry. Then you’ve got Mama Bear, Baby Bear and Papa Bear.

I don’t want to brag, but I didn’t think the bears were so bad. During my Lake Placid Adventure week, we did the loop twice, with a day rest between, and the bears weren’t so bad. Actually they were easier the second day when we knew what to expect. I am sure that two loops in one day without breaks will be harder, I need to get back to Lake Placid to test that hypothesis. (And also because it’s a little bit of heaven on earth up there. The lower Hudson River Valley is a close contender, see the photo above.)

Anyway, someone decided to call our century the “Disgruntled Bear Boondoggle”. I am not sure who it was, it wasn’t me, but I think I liked that name. After all, a disgruntled wouldn’t be so bad, sort like a bear who got his order screwed up at the drive through. Not happy, but he’ll get over it.

Sometimes Things Work Out Better Than You Expect

Of course after reading some of Adam's posts on during the week, a few of us were a little nervous. Someone asked about a SAG wagon. Javier offered to follow us in his car. I was thinking I might want to ride my road bike with the three ring, rather than my tri bike, so I might survive the hills. After all, we were talking about 100 miles, and a mountain.

Don't we look happy? We made the summit in about 3 hours, just short of 50 miles.

A few things to take away from the experience to this point:

1. Plan stops for water, food and bathroom. Organized centuries I've done have them every 25 miles for a reason.

2. Bring lunch. There are no food vendors at the top of the mountain.

3. Use the rest room before climbing. Those portosans at the summit were not approachable.

4. Spend more time at the summit. That's a long climb, hang out a while and enjoy the view.

Sometimes, When You Think The Worst Has Passed, The Really Bad Stuff Starts

I swear it took an hour to climb that 1300 feet to the summit. Does it seem right that we were at the bottom in 5 minutes? Anyway, it got us down to the restrooms quickly which, at least for me, was badly needed. I had intended to practice peeing on the bike, but i just couldn't. And what I did finally do was other than peeing anyway.

Back over the Bear Mountain Bridge to the east side of the Hudson, and here we departed from the route we had taken to get here, and as Adam warned us, we were now into unknown territory. Meaning he hadn't ridden it himself, but he had heard tales of horrible things from some who claimed to have ridden here. Ha! How bad could it be, surely we had this in the bag.

Note to self-avoid routes that include names like "Gallows Hill Road".

Gallows Hills is a long steady climb leading to a nice long downhill, which feeds into a 5-way intersection and Red Mill Road. That is not a road. It is a wall. Christine and Conner were well ahead and out of sight. Adam and I were climbing so slowly I do not think we could have stopped, lest we just fall right over and never get up again. Fortunately Adam found a little side road flat spot and we stopped for a minute. The scene here to the left is apparently from a previous rider who stopped for too long.

Soon we came up on Christine and Conner, buying orange soda from a vending machine. They said they were all right so I kept going and suddenly realized I was by myself. A Breakaway! I was able to stay out in front for about 8 or 10 miles, but they caught me on the long climb up Seven Bridges. Those two are climbing machines.

I waited for Adam, and we rode into Chapaqua. There, on King Street and about 80 miles, he decided he had enough, gave me his cue sheet and went lookigng for a train station. I pushed on, got a little lost as here the cue sheet was lacking.

Adam called and told me he was riding the course backwards (be careful!) and was going to meet me, which he did, and took me in the last couple of miles back to his house. I was really gettign bonky at this point. I couldnt subtract 13 from 116, was feeling nauseous and lightheaded. I had to stop for a gel at one point for fear I was about to lose conciousness.

Finally I saw my car (" I love you, car"), pulled up and racked it on the roof right away. I didn't want to have to sit on that thing another minute.

One more thing to do; a quick run around the block, probably not more than 400 meters. I like to do this after a long ride just to train my legs to move after being in the saddle for so long. That, and I believe moving my muscles in this way helps speed my recovery.

Course Comparison

Everything I do this year is about Ironman Lake Placid, so here is a comparison of the ascent for both routes.

IMLP 112 miles with 8,634 feet climb

Bear Mountain Boondoggle was 108 miles with 19,385feet elevation gain.

Planning to return to do this one again in the next several weeks, and certainly several times next spring and summer. Hey, this is going to be a gorgeous ride in the autumn if we hit it at peak foliage change. Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ride With Purpose 100 mile Bear Mountain Boondoggle Part 1

boondoggle :work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy


I spend probably too much time on the Internet. One of the triathlon websites I frequent is Race With Purpose (, populated by a group of athletes who train and race together with the larger goal to raise donations to support youth-wellness causes. Shortly after returning from a week of frolic in Lake Placid, the following email was sent to some of the RwP folks:

Beautiful view of Manhattan skyline from Bald Mountain

summit...behind holisticguru.

From: Javier
To: jen; christine; coach_adam
CC: tomn
Date: Thu,
10 Jul 2008 15:57:58 -0400
Subject: RE: Warning: Female triathletes, age 25-30, beware...

I am thinking Sunday August 3rd is looking Preeeetttyyy
good for the:

"Ride With Purpose, 100 mile
Bear Mountain

Whats all of this talk about lederhosen? Are those
the revolutionary german tri suits that are coated with tefflon so that after a
race or workout you can throw them on the fire for for cooking stuff

So this is how the Boondoggle started. Christine had discovered some new cycling skills and got a better bike fit, and Javier suggested a long ride. Unfortunately for Javier, shortly thereafter he took a bad fall and broke his collarbone and was sidelined. Jen got roped into a Sunday conference call for work. We picked up a fourth along the way, Conner. Adam pieced together cue sheets from a variety of rides he had done and produced a draft turn sheet which we would use. The course was sort of a figure 8, and after the descent from Bear Mountain State Park we would depart from the route we took coming out and enter unknown territory. One of the purposes of this ride was to check the accuracy of the turn sheet, gather mileage information for each piece, and identify water, food and rest stops throughout.

In addition to getting to spend some time with a few awesome friends, my purpose for the day was to knock off a hilly century to kick off my training for IMLP2009, and to start gathering power data to establish my Functional Power Threshold. I had a loaner Powertap 2.4 installed on my Cervelo P2C a couple of days earlier.

We all met at Adam’s in Scarsdale Sunday morning around 7:30 and were on the road by 8:00. What a beautiful day, nice puffy white clouds, cool clear air. Adam commented it was really like an early fall day, a special treat considering it was early August during a summer of alternating torrential rainstorms and stifling heat waves.This area, considered part of the Lower Hudson Valley, is extraordinarily scenic and includes gorgeous wooded residential property and public parks and several reservoir lakes that provide drinkign water for New York City.

We attacked the course, and in the early stages the ride was pretty easy, no big climbs, some nice descents, and the turn sheet was right on. I had a 3 liter camelback with Gatorade and two bottles behind my seat. I think everyone else had two bottles each on frame cages. We made one brief stop in some bushes to “wag the dog” ( I think this is a New England expression), and a stop at the mini mart near the base of “The Goat Path” for water. Here I discovered i had left my wallet in the car back in Scarsdale. (Chris I still owe you 5 or 6 bucks.)

The Goat Path is so named because it is steep and narrow, and we rode up in single file, me leading and Adam in the rear. Christine and Connor stayed right on my rear wheel all the way up and back down the other side, where we stopped to wait for Adam before we crossed Bear Mountain Bridge. From this spot you look across the Hudson and up at the mountain, and it is awesome to know you will be climbing that shortly. Adam just blew past us and took off across the bridge and we chased him.

Bear Mountain State Park is about 30 miles north of New York and is popular with picnicking families, motorcyclists and hikers. I did not see any other cyclists as we made the climb up 7 Lakes Drive and Perkins Memorial Drive to the summit. I beleive the summit is actually Bald Mountain and is 1080 feet above sea level. The climb seemed to be never ending, with no respite. My mantra was "Collect Data Points", a phrase I repeated many,many times on this climb as well as on the return to Scarsdale.

Adam and I made it to the top and found Christine and Conner eating cheese crackers.

I'm waiting on an updated cue sheet and elevation data and working on my power distribution graphs, hopefully to be included in part 2.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Iron Newman

I've been working to discover my perfect self, on and off, for about 50 years now. With this blog I will chronicle some of that effort, and in particular my assault on Ironman Lake Placid 2009.

Let the games begin.