2016 Updates- THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES WE GROW STRONGER

Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
 

 

 

After a rough end of the triathlon season last year with a DNF at Ironman Vichy and a less than ideal race at Ironman Chattanooga 4 weeks later I was ready for a break from Triathlon.  I thought I had done the right things, dotted the "i's" and crossed the "t's" However, when looking back on the training and the racing, I wasn't enjoying it, I was just going through the steps - I was doing the 6 hour bricks, I was doing the 20-22 mile long runs and I was getting the proper sleep - all with a very understanding wife, friends and work family. With three Ironman starts over a 13 month period I can strongly say that I truly enjoy the 70.3 distance more- hence why 2016 includes no full distance races. 

After the triathlon season ended in 2015 I went back to my roots as a runner- I ran a quick 4 miler and even competed in my first open Marathon.   I surprised even myself by running 20:52 for the 4 miles. It was very exciting running that fast again - it brought me back to my college days at Lehigh University where I ran both Cross Country and Track.  After that, I decided to sign up for the Philly Marathon  in the goal of trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2017.

Scott and me before the start of the Philly Marathon

Scott and me before the start of the Philly Marathon

My friend Scott Bradley (also a pro triathlete) and I were going to run it together and just try to run 2:55 -3:00. The cut off for our age group is 3:05 with typically a 3:02 getting you into the race based on seed times.  I was actually very excited for the marathon as I felt no pressure and just wanted to enjoy myself. As the race begin I really was enjoying myself - cheering to the crowd, talking to Scott and just trying to be in the moment.  

 

When we hit the half marathon at 1:25 I was still feeling good and knew we had a mostly flat out and back left ahead of us.  I still had to think to myself - this is still a marathon and a lot can happen really quickly. Scott and I were still running together when 18 miles hit - at that point I reassessed how I was feeling and decided that if I started working I could run a decent time here.  I started to take off - going from running 625 pace to 5:55 pace. The surge came with surprising ease and I kept reeling in those in front of me in.  I can say, the way I was running seemed a lot more fun than the people that went out quickly and were coming back to me! After passing through Manayunk and hitting our turn around point I was starting to get excited about how low I could take my time. As I was nearing the finish, I could hear the screaming crowd, the Eye of The Tiger - Rocky theme song and feel myself gleam with excitement. Right before passing the finish line I saw Chelsea (who was ALL over the course) and I told her I loved her- she knows when I am able to say that at the end of the race that I am happy and feeling good!  After crossing the finish line, a wave of excitement went over me and a feeling of euphoria. I had just completed my first marathon in a time of 2:46:11. I was very happy with that considering I went in with no long runs in over 3 months, no pressure on myself and a goal of just getting the Boston qualifier. 

I didn't fall or kill myself!

I didn't fall or kill myself!

Shortly after my marathon came the holidays. I wanted to enjoy the down time, do some things I normally would not do during the race season and really appreciate forming memories with my friends and family. I told myself 2016 was going to be a year of fun triathlons and I was going to really try to enjoy the training and racing that I fear I lost at the end of 2015. I actually was very excited for one last "push" before life changed forever. 

The reason life will change forever is that my wife - Chelsea and I are expecting our first child - a little boy named Asher George come September! Because of this momentous life change Chelsea gave me the go ahead to travel more to races than I normally would! How exciting!  The real question now for me was - which cool races do I go to now???

 

 

Fast forward a little further and I was fortunate enough to join a new running team and family through the Ragged Mountain Running Shop here in Charlottesville, VA. This collection of some of the fastest runners in the country is name RMR or Ragged Mountain Racing. With joining this elite group of runners I believe I can take my running to a whole new level. I think about where I was mentally, physically and emotionally as solely a runner back in college to where I am now - I am much stronger in all aspects. Running taught me to be fast but triathlons taught me the mental fortitude to keep pushing for hours, the physical maturing of my body and the emotional investment it takes to get to the next level.  Now, with the help of the team and coach Mark Lorenzoni I believe I have some of the best running ahead of me! With the excitement of the 2016 triathlon season, joining RMR and the news of my first child - I was on cloud nine!

A little while later, after coming back from an easy run I felt a twinge in my lower calf/upper achilles. I felt nothing of it and went out for my long run 2 days later.   I remember it vividly - it was a beautiful day here in Virginia with temperatures soaring into the 70s! I was in Richmond, VA coming back from an Optometry conference and went out for my long run.  7 miles away- aka the furthest point from my car- the slight twinge I felt turned into a debilitating pain in my left achilles. This I knew was nothing good. At the end of the 14 miles of intermittent severe pain and then dull throbbing I put on an icepack and remember saying this will heal up quickly and no need to worry. 

Fast forward 4 months with basically no running: 1 week of steroids, 2 weeks of being in a walking boot, 2 PT visits, 2 doctors visits, multiple deep tissue massages,  countless eccentric exercises, long weeks of doing nothing but swimming and many hours of complaining to anyone around me - especially my wife and work family - I am finally able to start running again. This severe case of achilles tendinitis led to thickening of my tendon to more than double the size of normal and a crepitus/creaking that could compete with the squeakiest of old rocking chairs.  I would like to thank Dr. Robert Wilder, Eric Magrum at UVA Health south and Anne Pike with her Magical Fingers at DNA Movement(that hurts so good!) for getting me through the toughest sections and finally getting me out there running again! I still have some days better than others but I know that is part of the process when I have done that much damage to a tendon that is so integral in our everyday lives. With the injury, I missed out on a number of triathlon races that I had planned on doing the first half of the season but just because it is my plan doesn't meant it is THE plan. 

I put that bible verse in the top of this blog to remind myself and others that God does have a plan and even through the tough times he is there for us. Through all of the no running or biking or let alone walking I was able to spend more time with my wife and friends and was able to really focus on swimming for truly the first time in my life. With the help of friend and UVA swim coach Cory Chitwood, my swim is better than it has ever been and I have a new found confidence in my ability to swim faster with less effort. 

 

Now that I am almost back to 100% I can say that I am more hungry than ever and truly enjoying the journey. I will follow this post with a few of the races I have done this year but I wanted to share the reason the 2016 season is really just getting started! Thanks again for all the support from so many people in my lives! I feel very fortunate to have such a great network of family, friends and sponsors! 

 

 

Ironman Chattanooga.....my first Ironman Experience!

I am officially an Ironman! this past weekend I competed in my first Ironman competition in Chattanooga, TN. What an experience! This is has been something in the making for years now.....dating all the way back before I had ever done a triathlon. I remember the times back in high school when I would go up to Lake Placid to camp and seeing people training for the Lake Placid IM. I thought that they were completely crazy! How could anyone swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 then run a marathon?!?! However, the summer of my senior year of college I raced my first tri at the Musselman Triathlon in Geneva, NY. Moving forward a year later, I did an  Olympic distance traithlon at the Fingerlakes Triathlon in Canandaigua, NY. Four years went by competing in sprints and Olympics while earning my Doctorate degree before I did my first half IM. Come fall 2011 I raced Pocono 70.3 however the swim ended up getting canceled so I had to wait until the the next June(6/2012) at Rev3 Quassy to complete my first half event with the swim, bike and run. I had been asked by numerous people when would I race my first full Ironman. And up until only a few months ago could I confidently tell them, September 2014. I wanted to make sure I was fully committed and prepared to do an Ironman. I didn't want to just finish, I wanted to race it and be proud of my effort. After a number of 70.3 events over the last two years, speaking to Chelsea my wife, and Doug Bush my coach we finally decided it was time. 

 

 

Ironman is something you don't take lightly. It is a commitment - commitment to put in the training, to sleep right, eat right, know that you can't have much of a social life outside of training, and know that your family won't see you as often. The early morning workouts, the times you travel when you have to bring your bike ( in our case to a number of weddings this year I would have to get my long rides in before the wedding) , the early nights as your body craved sleep are all a part of becoming an Ironman.  Whether it takes someone 8 hours or 17 hours everyone goes through it. 

 

Anthony Wind and I on the Riverfront over Labor Day- 1 month before IM Chattanooga

Anthony Wind and I on the Riverfront over Labor Day- 1 month before IM Chattanooga

Even though you have done everything in training asked of you to prepare, there is that little voice inside saying have I done enough? And even then, will it all come together on race day? What happens if I have a mechanic difficulty? Will I actually reach the finish line.........

 A month before the race I had the opportunity to go down for the weekend and scout out the course. As with any race, I will try to do this to be more familiar with it. It just made it that much easier on me come race weekend and gives me a peace of mind.


Chelsea and I with Miles, Ellie, and Christanna

Chelsea and I with Miles, Ellie, and Christanna

Chelsea and I ended up getting into Chattanooga on the Friday before the race around noon as the Pro meeting was at 1 pm. I was interested to see who was going to be racing as a few Pros from the cancelled Lake Tahoe IM had been added to the mix as well. When the meeting got started it was a full house with some big name athletes there. After the pro meeting and checking in I got a swim in and then headed to our Chattanooga homestay...my wife's cousins house! A huge THANK YOU to John and Lara, and to there three kids: Miles, Ellie, and Christanna. Having family there always makes it that much more enjoyable! Talking about family, I was happy to have my Dad share in the first IM experience as he made the 14 hour drive down from Rochester, NY. 

 

 

Thanks Blue Ridge Cyclery for getting my Cervelo P5 ready!

Thanks Blue Ridge Cyclery for getting my Cervelo P5 ready!

Right before dropping my bike off at the transition zone the day before the race I did one last overlook of the bike.  I am so happy I did as I noticed a small piece of glass embedded in the tire of my front wheel! Thankfully I had brought down an extra race tire and was able to change the tire without incident.  

Excited for the swim start!

Excited for the swim start!

 

When race morning came I woke with excitement. Fortunately, getting to transition, getting my bike ready, getting on the shuttle to the swim start all went smoothly.  It was great having the opportunity to ride with Chelsea on the shuttle as she helps calm the nerves. We also got to share the bus ride with fellow Rochester, NY native Pro Matt Curbeau and his girl friend ( who is a Pro racing her first full IM) Kait. We were able to catch up a little bit on a bus ride that seemed to go on forever....realizing that I would be swimming the whole way back! 

 

As we jumped in the water for the swim start I knew the current was going to be in my favor...we were being held back literally by a rope...and even holding onto that was quite a task.  After waiting for a few minutes more than expected as we waited for the sun to rise, the gun when off. Because of such a large pro field I knew I was going to be able to find feet to swim on. I was feeling great but didn't want to push it too much as I knew I had a long day ahead. It is hard to really think about the race as a whole...you need to break it up into sections. As we kept winding our way through the channel of the Tennessee River, I could see us getting closer and closer to the aquarium where the swim finish was. I kept doing checks on how my body was feeling and as I got out of the swim I actually felt really  good. I came out of the water in a nice current aided time of 44:14. 

 

After seeing Chelsea as I was running into T1 I told her I was feeling good and prepared to start the 116 mile ride.  After careful consideration, Doug and I came up with a power number that we thought would give me my best opportunity to have a great marathon. I was going to ride my own race and stick to it without being dragged into higher efforts that would come back to bite me later on.  I kept doing checks to see how I was feeling.  My heart rate was staying between 135 and 142 and the power was right at a 265 avg watts and 267 normalized.  I actually did the first loop of two at 264 then the second at 266. I actually had a very uneventful ride- which I would say is always a plus as so many things can happen over 116 miles.  I was very cognizant of following my nutrition and hydration plan....and thank goodness that the weather was cooperating as well.  A nice cloudy day in the upper 60s/low 70s. I ended up getting back to T2 with a bike split of 4:56:00 or 23.5 mph average.

The crowd at transition was the best crowd I have ever seen at a triathlon by far. I was fully impressed with the Chattanooga IM volunteers and supporters- top notch! After getting through the changing tent and out onto the run I told myself that I had a long way to go and to hold back.  Again I checked how I was feeling and assessed the effort.  I was feeling great and my legs were loosening with every step.  The course is broken up into 2 loops with each loop having a flat 7 miles and a very hilly 6 miles. I was feeling great through 9 miles making sure to get the proper nutrition at the aid stations. Then around mile 11 my stomach started to turn and actually had to make a quick stop at the Port o John- thank goodness the aid station was right there!  After about a 45 second break I was back at it.  However, I could feel the lactic acid that built up from the break.  I kept plugging away but could tell the legs were starting to get heavy and I was getting that feeling of pre-cramping.  I was able to make it to mile 15 before I had to give in as both quads started cramping. I actually started walking a portion of the aid stations as I needed to make sure I was getting my calories in. I kept plugging away by putting one foot in front of the other - before I knew it I was at another aid station which meant 1 more mile down.  After finally getting to mile 23, I vowed to keep pushing and not stop at other aid stations.  I was able to use my last bit of energy to run those last 3 miles at a mid to upper 7 min pace.  As I approached the finish line I tried to enjoy the finish chute - I was able to give my Dad a Hi- five along with other spectators.  As I crossed the finish line I heard the phrase, "You are an Ironman!"  I had finally gotten to the finish line in a total time of 9:11:58 for 20th Male Pro. 

Even though it was not the most ideal race performance, I am proud of my accomplishment. There are always things you would have done differently but I am happy to have my first full Ironman under my belt.  I have learned a lot from it and will use that for the future.  Now I will have some time off to allow my body to heal and spend some time with Chelsea, friends and family. The 2014 season is over......

I want to give a HUGE thank you to my wife Chelsea, family, friends, Coach Doug Bush, and to all my sponsors. So many sacrifices go into training and racing that can be very trying.  Whether racing as a pro, experienced amateur or your first race you understand the time, effort, early morning, early nights, sweat, and pain that goes into an Ironman.  The question for me now....what is next??

 

 

Happy to be done with Matt Curbeau who finished 13th! Matt and I trained together back in Rochester, NY.  With my Dad in the back left and Chelsea! 

Happy to be done with Matt Curbeau who finished 13th! Matt and I trained together back in Rochester, NY.  With my Dad in the back left and Chelsea! 




The Amazing Adventures in Luray, VA

This past weekend is one I will remember for years to come. There was racing, training, leading of a triathlon clinic, eating, relaxing and spending time with family, old friends and making new ones. All of this wound not have been possible without the Luray Triathlon and race director David Glover.

The Luray Triathlon is one of, if not the biggest races near Charlottesville, VA.  It takes place right in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains offering breathtaking views and breathtaking climbs! The race takes place at Lake Arrowhead - a popular destination of Luray, VA to escape the heat and enjoy the beach.  As I was scanning the internet for an Olympic race to do this year this race came to my attention.  In its 9th year, this race offered close proximity, a competitive field and even a prize purse.  What made it even more enticing was how inviting David had been when considering to do the race. I really wanted to race this but was unsure how this would effect the training leading up to Ironman Chattanooga at the end of September.   In talking with Coach Doug he made it clear that no tapering would be done and that I would even be doing extra training daily along side the races.  I trust in what Doug has to say and knew that this weekend was going to be a painful one but would make me stronger in the longer run for Chattanooga.  The weekend prior I had a wedding up in New Jersey for my college friend Sahil.  Even though there was a wedding - training still had to get done.  I was able to get a nice 130 mile ride in up to Sandy Hook, NJ and a 20 mile run in on the way home with long time friend Anthony Wind (and 2014 North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile DC champ!). After that weekend with all the travel and training I was pretty beat up but new I had to get through one more week of training and end it with an Olympic/Sprint Double.  After getting through the days leading up to the race I had some very tough patches mentally and physically where I had to keep reminding myself of the goal of racing well at Ironman Chattanooga.  I had never gone into a race with such heavy legs and really was doubting how I could perform.  However, it is amazing how the body can respond.  

Lake Arrowhead   

Lake Arrowhead 

 

This weekend also was a chance for my sister in-law and two nieces, as well as Dr. Franklin and her daughter, Emmy to come watch me race. It is nice to be able to show people what a triathlon is all about and see the results of all the hours of training.  Friday, the night before the Olympic race, I decided to stay in Charlottesville and go for dinner on the Downtown Mall with Chelsea, Wendy and my two Nieces. It was a beautiful night and a relaxing one.  It was also great to sleep in my own bed before racing.

One of Charlottesville's most popular places- the Downtown Mall 

One of Charlottesville's most popular places- the Downtown Mall 

Day 1 of the Weekend- Olympic Tri and training 

 When getting up at 3:45 am to make the 90 min trip up to Luray I realized my legs felt surprisingly well and began to get excited for the weekend of festivities.  After an uneventful drive through the backwoods of VA, I arrived to an unseasonably cool morning at Lake Arrowhead.  As the race start came near I saw that Chelsea had arrived along with Wendy and the two girls in tow.  I was excited to see them and to get going with the race.  This race a unique in that there was a prize purse that had drawn other pros and top age groupers to this small yet scenic mountain Paige County, VA town. My goal this weekend was to get top 3 in both the Olympic on Saturday and the Sprint race on Sunday as each race paid 3 deep.  I knew this race was going to go out quickly in the swim as John Kenny, a 5 time US National Open Water Swim Champ was in the race.

As the gun went off I knew I had to do my best to limit the losses as in all Olympic distance races the swim plays a much larger role in the race as it does in longer half and full Ironman events.  After really working the entire swim, sighting well and trying to have a smooth stroke I exited the water in a PR Olympic time of 22:11 and 3:30 down from John.  I was actually really happy when Chelsea told me how far back I was because I was confident that my bike and run could bring me back into it.  

I ended up getting onto the bike and really started to roll.  This is a very challenging bike course and can be tough to get into a rhythm. I fortunately had the opportunity about 2 months back to come ride the course.  I am glad I did as I knew the turns, descents and other places that might cause me to slow down. I credit my Pro cycling friend Curtis Winsor of Winsor Creative for helping me work on my descending this summer.  I have a long ways to go but much improved thanks to him! I was able to work my way back to within striking distance off the bike with a race best bike split of 1:03:40 for this very hilly difficult 41Km bike leg.  After coming into t2 in 3rd place I was a couple mins down from John and ITU pro Dan Feeney.

I knew Dan could run like wind so I was really hoping to see if I could catch John.  After running a first 5k of  17:20 i wasn't gaining ground on Dan but I was gradually gaining time on John.  However with 2 miles to go I was still 1:03 down from John. He looked good at the turn around and with no one behind me I thought to save some energy for tomorrows sprint. The likelihood of me catching him at that point wasn't very good.  I ended up cruising in with a 10k split of 35: 11 for 3rd overall in a time of 2:03:24. Finishing 1:30 down from Dan and 58 seconds down from John.

 

 Overall I was really happy with the race and how it went considering it was an Olympic distance and in my opinion of all the triathlon distances that is my worst.  I was pleasantly surprised with how my legs responded considering the amount of training I had put them through over the last few weeks without much recovery.  After the race I quickly changed my shoes, changed out of my race kit, said hi to Chelsea and the family and started off on my second session of the day - a nice 8.5 mile cool down.  After a few mins in, my legs that had felt great just moments before became heavy and lethargic. The back mountain roads didn't help that feeling much either.  After slugging through the hour run I showered, ate some food and got ready for the awards ceremony. Brad Rex the announcer and David Glover did a great job with the awards ceremony and we even came home with a wine carafe with etched glass.  

When the awards ceremony ended I said my goodbyes to Chelsea, Wendy and my two nieces as they were to spend the rest of the day at Luray Caverns.  I decided it was best to get out of the hot sun and take a nap, roll out my legs and stretch.  When 4:00 rolled around I went down to the beach and help lead a transition and swim clinic for the next day's Sprint race.  It was nice to see so many people out there, hear their stories and just give them advice in which I have picked up over the years.  It was also great to get to know David better and realize what an amazing job he does with the race and the positive impact it has on the Luray and Paige County community.  David was also very helpful in helping me set up a home stay with a wonder couple, Jim and Virginia Newman.  They opened their home to me and even took me to their 

grand childrens performance of Alice in Wonderland at the Trackside Theater in Luray. It was nice staying only 6 miles from the race site so I got so sleep in a little extra.  I was going to need it as I had a very long day ahead of me.  

Day 2- Sprint Tri and more training

Jason from Bonzai Sports with the Zipp 404

Jason from Bonzai Sports with the Zipp 404

After getting to the race site I went through the normal race day routine.  When I was taking out my bike to get it ready for the race I noticed that my rear tire had gone flat.  And to my surprise, I remained calm, changed my Reynolds carbon clincher rear tube and continued on getting everything ready.  A few mins later put my front wheel on but noticed some unusual brake rub like the wheel was out of true.  I thought, this couldn't be- maybe the front brake came out of alignment while in my car.  However when I inspected it more quickly I realized there was a 4-6 inch portion of my brake tract that had bowed out.  I knew right away this wheel was nice safe to race on and I quickly went to David Glover.  He told me to go to the Bonzai Sports mechanics and see what they could do for me.  I was really worried as I didn't even have an extra training wheel with me like I normally do!  Jason from Bonzai Sports was truly amazing to me and actually had a front Zipp 404 carbon clincher that I could use!  I didn't even have to change the brakes or anything.  If it wasn't for them being there I am not sure what I would have done....so a HUGE THANK YOU to them! 

After surviving a mild heart attack I realized it was about 30 mins from race start and I hadn't even completely set up transition.  I did that quickly grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the lake.  Fortunately when I go there I saw Chelsea's smiling face and a she quickly noticed the anxiety in my face.  She helped calm me down and get the wetsuit on.  After that, I was able to say hi to Shannon Franklin and daughter Emmy before getting in the water for the swim.  I noticed as I approached the water there were a few new faces that hadn't raced yesterday.  I knew I would have to swim even harder this morning as it was only a sprint. As the races get shorter the races become more painful.  Don't get me wrong, the longer races are painful too but this is a different type of pain.  After getting out well the first 350 meters I turned into the sun and could not see the next buoy as I was blinded.  I just kept swimming in the direction I thought I was supposed to go to but a short while later a kayak guard got in my way and re-directed me as I was about 25 degrees off.  A mistake like that could easily have cost me the race but I couldn't do anything about it now and just kept swimming hard.  As I finished the swim Chelsea let me know I was 1:45 down from the leaders.  That was a surprise- the wrong direction on the swim really cost me time.  I got out of the water in 11:02.  


As I started the bike and climbed the first, hill I realized that my legs weren't going to be there like yesterday. A little while later, I actually got passed by Matias Palavecino. I knew I couldn't let him go otherwise it would be that much more ground to make up on the run.  I got back up to him a little while later and we actually ended up working together for a majority of the ride, exchanging leads trying to get ourselves up to John and Dan. With 5 miles left we saw the two leaders up in the distance.  We kept pushing to get to them...Matias pushed hard enough over the last few miles that he actually got to T2 right with them as I came into T2 25 seconds down from the group of 3.  I ended up riding better than expected with a 2nd best split of 43:06 - having the seconds fastest split behind Matias' split of 42:32 for the 17 mile bike.  

As we started the run I knew the other racers were right in front of me, I just had to reel them in one at a time. At the turn around I was only 8 seconds from John and Matias where Dan was about 30 seconds in front. I had that point in the race where you either go for it or you don't.  A few meters later I went for it and put in a massive surge to first go by John then right by Matias.  I knew I had the strength to hold it together till the finish.  After no response from either I found myself in 2nd place with a half mile left.  I kept pushing and looked back coming into the park to see a comfortable gap from me to 3rd but too far to catch first.  I ended up having the second fast run split of 17:20 and a runner up finish to Dan in an overall time of 1:13:43.


After the race I congratulated everyone and took a breath realizing I had put in two quality races back to back after a monster training block.  After saying good bye to Shannon and Emmy I was able to spend some quality time with Chelsea, shower, get some food then head over to the announcing booth to help Brad as the finishers came in.  I was trying my best to stay off my feet as I was only partially done with my day.  After the awards ceremony and a great weekend in Luray, Chelsea and I headed out to go get some lunch.  



You would think I would be done with the training/racing for the weekend right?  NOPE! After lunch Chelsea dropped me off and I proceeded to bike the 80 miles home.  It was a tough 80 miles but I knew how important it was to get the miles in.  And to make for an even better weekend...when I finished the 80 mile ride back to our house in Crozet I got to run another 8 miles.  Needless to say I was exhausted from the weekend's festivities but it really was a great weekend. 

I want to give a huge thank you to David Glover for putting on a great race, being so gracious with the prize purse and for being so helpful the entire weekend.  If you have never done the Luray Tri I would highly recommend this gem in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Now, in the middle of a down week I am trying to catch up on life, let the body recover and spend time with Chelsea. I am excited though for this next block to really give it one last push before Ironman Chattanooga.  I am looking forward to labor day weekend as I will be headed down to Chattanooga to familiarize myself with the course and get more comfortable with the city.  Sorry it was such a long race report but a lot happened! Till next time...thanks for reading!





  


Challenge New Albany Half in O- H- I - O!!



This race brought me back to the Buckeye State..good old O- H - I - O!  After going there for my Doctorate degree I had a great bit of nostalgia.  The actual race was in the small town of New Albany - just Northeast of Columbus.  I used to ride out in New Albany every Thursday night for a great group ride with some of the area's best cyclists.  This is where I truly learned to ride and suffer on the bike.  It has just the right combinations of flats and hills to make things interesting.  I thank my best bud from Optometry school - Bill Catt, for showing me the way. I was especially excited to be doing this race because much of the second half of the bike course was on the same loop we used to do on Thursdays.   When every advantage helps I was going to try to milk this to the fullest. Another reason I was excited to race was the fact that this was a Challenge event - a first for me.  I had heard great things about them with their roots strong in Europe-  Challenge Roth being the most known. I was very happy to hear that they would be paying out to the top 10 Pros as well.  In today's triathlon world there have been many discussions regarding prize money for Pro athletes. Take Eric Limkemann's view here. I know I have a lot of hard work still to do to say I really make money as a triathlete but thankfully I can race at a high level while still practicing as an Optometrist. Would I like to make more money doing this?...absolutely!  I just have to keep putting the time in, find the right races and with a little bit of luck I can say I do this as part of my living. 

After working all week, Chelsea (my wife), my training partner Dan Harris and I filled up the car and left early Friday evening.  After an uneventful drive and stay in beautiful Ripley, WV we finally got to the race site mid-day Saturday.  We were able to check out the swim course in Alum Creek then proceeded to drive the course.  I always drive the course the day before if I haven't had the opportunity to ride the whole thing.  I always recommend doing one or the other as it makes for a faster split on race day knowing the course.  

After taking care of registration with packet pickup I actually ended up meeting with Bill from TrifromanceSBR- he was my mechanic back in my days at Ohio State.  It was great catching up with him and he did a great job on my rear brake as it needed an adjustment. 

Bill and I showing off my Cervelo P5

Bill and I showing off my Cervelo P5

Afterward we made it to the Pro meeting where we went over the USAT rules for Pros which are very different than those of WTC/Ironman.   The two biggest differences are in the swim where wetsuit rules are different with types allowed and temperatures at which a wetsuit can be allowed as well as in the bike with the different rules related to drafting.  

That night our amazing hosts, Bill and Charlene Catt, opened up their home to us and made us a delicious meal.  The Catt's had been like parents to me while I was in Optometry school and it was really good to catch up with them this time around as well.  After dinner I set up all my stuff for the next day and put the numbers on the bike.  I really liked the bike numbers -  they connected to the seat post via zip ties and went directly behind the bike- a nice change from numbers that leave sticky residue.

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Race morning and 3:00 came early...very early!  I felt a little more rushed in the race due to the fact that we had to go to T2 first, drop off our bags/set up transition then drive the 20-25 mins back to T1/swim start. Two transition races always add to the anxiety dealing with race morning- but I commend Challenge for doing a good job with this one as we ended up getting to T1/swim start in plenty of time.  The weather ended up being a little humid but the temperatures were excellent.  Due to USAT wetsuit rules for pros this was not going to be a wet-suit legal swim for the Pros but it was going to be for the age-groupers.   I knew this race would go out quickly as you had Eric  Limkemann and Andrew Starykowicz on the start line.  After the gun went off on this beautiful morning and I was happy to see the swim arms were there.  I had done a little longer swim warm up this time with some sprints to really get the arms ready and I think it paid off.  I felt strong in the water and did my best to stay with 3 other swimmers.  At one point about 2/3 the way through I almost dropped off but I was able to hang on all the way into the finish.  I would have to say this was one of my better swims as I maintained the whole way.  I knew my time would be a little slower than previous races as it was not wet-suit legal.  I just wanted to do my best to minimize the damage and allow my bike to put me back in it. I ended up swimming 29:17 which embarrassingly I think is my PR for a non wet-suit legal swim.  

When I got out of the water I ended up fumbling with my zipper on my TYR Torque Pro swim skin. After getting it off I finally was able to get rolling on the bike.  

Triathlete Magazine got a great shot of me in T1 with my new Cervelo P5!

Triathlete Magazine got a great shot of me in T1 with my new Cervelo P5!

Happy to be done!

Happy to be done!

After a few minutes I knew my bike legs were there.  I started hitting my power numbers and started to catch other competitors.  The bike course is a mix of flats the first 20 miles to some rolling hills then the last 10 miles are flat again.  I enjoyed the course very much as I knew the last half the course well from all the years of riding on it.  There was one stretch of road I do say was riddled with pot holes and cracks- besides that 2-3 mile section the road surface was great as well.  I was moving myself up through the field and having a great bike...I ended up averaging 328 watts with a Normalized power of 331.  My goal for this race was to hit 330.  I ended up coming into T2 in 6th place with the 4th fastest bike of the day in 2:11:06.  However, there were two guys right with me coming off the bike.

After getting out of T2 I realized my run legs were not there.  I think had I hit 320-325 it would have been better but it is always hard to tell which is faster.:  bike less power and run faster or bike more power and run slower.  I tell you from experience finding that balance is the best way to go. Today's bike faster, run slower was by far the most painful way to go! I tried going with the 2 guys that were with me off the bike but they were just moving too fast and had I tried to run with them any longer than the 2.5 miles I did would have been catastrophic.  After lap one of two I was in a world of pain.  I was still in 8th place but knew others were coming and I would have difficulty holding them off.  I started to count the time of the racers behind me on the out and back and realized I had about a 3 minute lead to stay in the top 10.  There were plenty of aid stations on the course but starting that second lap I really could have used some coke to help spark the system again.  However, even though the race was sponsored by Pepsi there was NONE on the course.  If I were to change one thing that Challenge had done differently it would have been to have that coke on course.  As I have been doing my long training rides and runs, my body has come to rely on that to kick start my system again.  Anyhow, before I knew it I was in 10th place and doing everything I could to get to the finish.  With one last final push I crossed the line in 10th place with a run time of 1:24:43.  A time I am not proud of but a time that did the job and kept me in the top 10.  I would say that was the hardest mentally I have ever had to push myself just to stay with it.  I am proud of myself for that and walked away with my first race pay check of the year. Overall I finished in 4:07:17.


Andrew Starykowicz next to me enjoying his belt buckle medal

Andrew Starykowicz next to me enjoying his belt buckle medal

As the season progresses I feel as though I am getting stronger, more fit and even more experienced.  I am going to enjoy a down week then get right back at training hard for Ironman Chattanooga come end of September.  I still have a few long hard swims, bikes and runs to get my body ready for that distance.  I am excited for the Ironman race yet inside there is always doubt - are you fully prepared, did I taper properly, etc... However, with Coach Doug Bush there to assist and my continual perseverance I believe  the Ironman will be a distance I can excel at.  Up next I will be taking part in the Luray Triathlon in Luray, VA about 90 mins north of Charlottesville.  It will be nice to race so close to home and it will be a weekend affair.  I will be doing the Olympic race on Saturday and a sprint on Sunday.  Should be fun to mix in some shorter racing.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way- to my family, to my friends and to my sponsors.  This is an amazing journey we are taking and I am happy to have you all here to help me as we continue to share more experiences.  It is especially important for me to thank my wife Chelsea, as she has to deal with all the lows of training/races, all the time spent away but then fortunately she gets to be there for the moments of celebration and the amazing places that this sport takes us.  Till next time, if you ever have any questions or just want to say hi feel free to email me at rosirunner13@gmail.com

For a race recap from the Challenge race organizers take a look at this video

Syracuse 70.3 and Summer Training.....

Wow this has been a very busy summer.  You hear people talking about the lazy days of summer...well let me tell you it has been anything but! It seems like every weekend is booked - whether weddings, races, family activities with everything in between. This time of year is a lot of fun   

Starting with my Birthday weekend, June 13-15, (I can't believe I am 29 years old now.  My lovely wife tells me, "Wow, you are almost half of 60!"  Thanks love.) one of my best Friends, Mark Shumski, got married.   I had the pleasure of being in his wedding almost 3 years after he was in mine.  That was a fun filled weekend in the Pittsburgh area and I even got to run on parts of the Great Allegheny Passage. 

 

Mark, his beautiful bride Kara, and our friend Ross in the background photo-bombing us!

Mark, his beautiful bride Kara, and our friend Ross in the background photo-bombing us!

The next weekend was Syracuse 70.3!  I was excited to race this as this was the closest big time race to Rochester, NY where I grew up.  It was nice having my parents, my in-laws and so many other friends there supporting me!  I was also able to help out my sponsor Bolle Sunglasses  at the expo booth....

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I was fortunate enough to have gone up to Syracuse a few weeks before the race to train on the course with good friends Mike Hoffman and Scott Bradley.  In addition, workouts leading up to this race were going very well so I was expecting some big things. As race morning came I was feeling good and excited to be racing again as it had been 7 weeks since I had last raced St. George 70.3.  


As the gun went off I wanted to do my best this time to get on and stay on the feet of the other racers.  I told myself to go out past my comfort zone for the first 500m and reassess then.  I was doing really well swimming with a pack of a few guys till around 1300m then I started falling off.  It was one of those feelings where you are mentally still trying but the arms on not working the same.  I started to fall off the pack but get pushing.  I ended up holding tough though and came out of the water just under 28:00 mins.  I was not very pleased with the time as I was hoping to be closer to 27 mins but at that point I just had to start riding.  


If you haven't done Syracuse before there is a hill you climb from mile 3 basically to mile 14. You would not think Syracuse, NY would have such a long hill but its there and it is a big smack in the face during the race.  After finally cresting the climb I was finally able to start getting into a rhythm. I gradually kept moving myself up.  I caught up to a group of riders, then two more..finally at mile 35 I just didn't see anyone up ahead.  For the last 20 miles I didn't see anyone.  I finally came to T2 in 12th place with a bike split of 2:18:13 or 24.3 mph. I was slightly disaapointed in this as I feel as though I lost focus the last few miles of the ride as I didn't have anyone else to chase.  This is a good reason to have a power meter- I was happy to have it there to keep me honest and just try and hit my numbers.


Off the bike I new there were others to catch.  Chelsea let me know there was a guy 1 min up.  I did my best to stay controlled the first loop as I knew that this course was a tough one with some pretty steep hills. After loop one of 2 I was only about 20 seconds down.  I was able to finally move into 11th place at around mile 8.  Sadly though I didn't have enough left in the tank to catch 10th place and I ended up in 11th overall with a 1:21:27 half marathon split for a total time of 4:11:16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall I didn't have a bad race nor a great race.  I did however have a well balanced race that I paced well.  It would have been nice to have a little more running legs at the end but it wasn't meant to be that day.  It was so great though to have the support of my family and friends there! Racing back home meant a lot.

Scott Bradley, Mike Hoffman, myself and James Cronkwright! 

Scott Bradley, Mike Hoffman, myself and James Cronkwright! 

Now it is time to buckle down the training over the next few weeks and get ready for Challenge New Albany. I am excited for this half distance event and even more excited to get to go back to Columbus, OH where I did my Doctorate degree...O- H - I- O! 

Till then I will be ramping up the swimming yards, bike and run miles in preparation for IM Chattanooga! 


CooperVision Sponsors Dr. Steve Rosinski

I am thrilled to anounce my partnership with CooperVision- a global leader in contact lenses. Being a Doctor of Optometry, I understand the importance of eye health - especially with those that wear contact lenses. Contact lenses have changed my life- I am very near-sighted and they allow me to see the world without the use of glasses. In sports, corrected vision is crucial to perform at the highest level -whether you are trying to hit a fast ball thrown 90 mph or even catch a football vision plays a role.  In triathlons, for myself I need to be able to see the course swim markers (buoys), spot the best line of sight while riding my bike and have the comfort and confidence to know my contact lenses will be there for me.  Check out the press release here!

Texas 70.3 recap

A first race filled with mixed emotions. I write this purposely after a few weeks- allowing myself to think about the race: how it went and how it could have gone differently.  The nerves of the first race of the season were there as always but there was a calmness about me that was unusual. I had put in the yards in the pool and the miles on the road -biking and running. The calmness came from the fact that I didn't put too much pressure on myself and I was just going to use this race as an opportunity to see where I was. I had put some great workouts in  -some better than I ever had before, but even though the workouts were in the bag I did suffer a knee issue 6 weeks out from this first race. I was feeling much better the few days leading up to the race and I even got a nice deep tissue massage from Ernie Kid of Champions Table Massage. Even though it was feeling better you still have that thought lingering in the back of your mind, what if? Chelsea and I got into Texas on Thursday night giving us some time to acclimate to the warmer weather and not be so rushed.  We were very fortunate to have friends in Houston where we would be staying for a few days -a huge thanks to Alison and her fiancé Jelani! To our surprise, when we got there our 8 month old niece and Chelsea's sister, Wendy, had also arrived to celebrate the engagement and to show their support all the way from Rochester, NY.  After relaxing Friday and getting a quick run and swim in we ended up checking out one of the local favorites- Cedar Creek Cafe....a very cool place with some good food. After calling it an early night we woke up Saturday packing up to make the hour trip down to Galveston where the race was being held.  

 

 

As we left Houston, the sky became cloudy and the wind seemed to pick up....it was not going to be a hot race day --mid 60's ....I will take that especially after racing Wildflower(Lake San Antonio, CA) as my first race last year where it was easily in the mid 80's! I was feeling pretty good and was excited to pick up my bike from TriBike Transport. I was very impressed with the whole operation as it was easy, hassle free and gave me a piece of mind that my bike would get there safely. In all honesty...if you have not tried them yet please give hem a try for races you have to travel to....it is one less thing you need to worry about coming into the race. 

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Shortly after I was on the course and ended up running into fellow pro , Canadian Jeff Symonds- I last saw him crush the course of Wildflower - we chatted about the course and wished each other best of luck for the next day. After the ride, the pro meeting followed- which mind you was in the beautiful  Moody Garden Aquarium- where the typical race day logistics were explained.  It was more crowded than most as this is a big early season race- everyone is out to see if their off-season training has paid off!  

After the meeting we headed back to our home-stay of Beth and Cary.....you guys were the best ever and this weekend wouldn't have been possible without you! A HUGE THANK YOU!

As race morning rolled around I did my double and triple check of everything from my bike to my shoes to my set up of transition. Many people don't realize the importance of a properly planned transition area- it could mean valuable wasted time if not executed correctly. I suggest practicing transitions weekly before really having it down.  

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After a warm up run , I got my wetsuit on with body glide and Chelsea wished me the best- I can always count on her to be there for me! Thanks Chelsea! 

As we hopped in the water the sun still had not risen- we were barely able to see the buoys. After a five minute delay and treading water in the choppy saltiness of the bay the gun went off. After a 6 month wait since Miami 70.3 I was back at it- racing again!  I tried to use my new found swim speed from the thousands of yards this off season to get on some feet as part of a group. I was in a nice group till about half way where I just couldn't hold that effort without hurting the rest of my race. However, To my delight there were two others that couldn't hold that effort either and we formed our own new group.  The rest if the swim went pretty uneventful and I came out at 29:00. Not exactly what I was hoping for time wise but came out with some riders to work with on the bike.

 


After a quick transition I started to hit my power numbers. Because there was a strong tailwind I knew that my effort out was going to be less than my effort coming back. After talking to Coach Doug we settled on 310 watts going out then 330 coming back. I hit 311 watts and over 31 mph on the first 28 miles.....I saw at the turnaround my position and realized that there was a big group just about 45 seconds ahead of me. The front of the group would put me at 14th place. After a few miles  I caught the group and kept rolling, I was feeling great and hitting my highest power numbers of my life. After the ride was done I had averaged 335 watts on the way back and put myself in 10th place but I could feel my lower quads start to tingle. I did surprise myself though with a 2:05:26 bike split. A 5 min PR.

 

After surprising Chelsea with how much I had moved up I immediately got after it...probably a little too much. Doug and I talked about holding 6:10-6:15 the first loop of the 3 as I had not been doing as much running as I previously would have due to the knee issue. After that I was to assess how I feel then pick it up if I could.  However, within the first mile I knew that this was going to be a tough run as there were 5 guys right on my heals. I ended up running 5:45 -5:50's the first loop and then my quads started to lock up.  I had never had this happen to me this early into the race before but I kept pushing. Sadly however, it was not my day and my legs didn't want to cooperate. At one point I had both quads cramp up and my left hamstring cramp as well. I hate to admit it but I actually had to walk a couple times to loosen up my cramps. I knew I had to stick with it and get to that finish line.  After a tough run(1:26:18 for the half) I ended up finishing in 4:03:30 and in 23rd place.  One of my best times but not one of my best finishes. 

After looking back at the race I am happy with how the swim and bike went but know that more work needs to be done.  After the first race of the season I am excited to race again at the US Pro championships in St. George Utah the first weekend of May.  

Thanks to everyone for the continued support as I pursue my goal of qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Canada. Next race is right around the corner!! Check out the Pro Start list here- it's a loaded field. 

Texas here we come.....

Tomorrow, Chelsea and I head off to Texas for my first race of the 2014 season. This will also be my first time racing Texas 70.3 in Galveston. I have heard great things about this race and knew at some point I would toe the line to experience it for myself. Known for its flat, yet windy conditions- which mind you is completely different than what I have here in Charlottesville (I get about 1k of climbing in every 12-15 miles of riding), I am excited to see what kind of race I can put together.  There is always that feeling you get that first race of the year - the unknown- did I prepare myself for the season?  Did I eat correctly?  Did I get enough sleep?  At this point being only 4 days out the best thing I can do is get my sleep, get a massage and enjoy the trip.  With 37 male pros on the start list it will be fun to get out there and see where I am at. Follow the race while it happens here..... the season for me starts this Sunday! 

The close of winter and the start of the 2014 season

As the snow melts and the grey skies turn sunny there is an excitement in the air. With a rough winter behind us(I hope) we turn to the start of the 2014 triathlon season. Many have made escapes to Tucson or Clermont, where as others have braved the elements of Rochester, NY. When all is said and done we are all excited to get racing again and see how our training has paid off.  

Looking back at 2013 in my first year as a PRO I gained a lot of experience and had some great races.  Racing pro is a whole new ball game and I am happy I made the jump from age-group ranks.  I have always tried to put myself in a position to improve and race with the best and that is what the Pro circuit is.  Overall it was a great season but sadly I ended the year with a DNF at Miami 70.3 as I had a hip injury. With the off season and a time to heal comes new goals for 2014 and beyond. 

After two good results at Timberman and Augusta 70.3 where I accumulated some points, I turned my thoughts to see if I could qualify for the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant Canada. As a Pro, only 50 males qualify so as you can imagine it is very difficult with all the great athletes out there.  In trying to qualify I had to start chasing points and give it a go. In addition to shooting for 70.3 worlds I also decided to undertake my first Ironman in Chattanooga. I have always had the thought in the back of my mind of doing an IM, I just never knew when I would be mentally and physically ready to race an IM and not just finish. I remember going hiking in the Adirondacks of NY back in high school where iconic Lake Placid IM takes place and thinking how amazing it would be to do some day. I can vividly remember watching the  press conference on TV and seeing athletes from all over the world ascending to Lake Placid - at that point the feat seemed not only crazy but just not possible. And now I partake on the journey of hearing the words "You are an Ironman!"

With Texas 70.3 a mere week away - all the trainer sessions, the laps and the cold windy runs will have prepared me for hopefully my best season yet. I want to say how excited I am for having this wonderful opportunity to push my body to extremes to share the journey with my friends, family and other athletes alike. With my new website I will be giving updates as the season progresses.  I will have some exciting news to share with all of you in the near future as well.  Best of luck to everyone as you start your season - make it a memorable one!