Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to Run Mount Washington

A brief retort to Steve Wolfe's blog.

10. Every March I look forward to seeing whether I get in or not to the lottery. It's like Christmas in March(or at least a lesser semi-formal holiday). I have gotten in 25% of the time, but by volunteering through the Gate City Striders two years and being a mountain goat the third, I have been able to earn a spot each year. If you're willing to volunteer or run up six other mountains the previous or are fast enough to secure an elite spot then you can bypass the lottery. Otherwise you get to let the fates decide. Like I said, I have won the lottery 75% of the time by not being selected.

9. Eccentric strengthening has been shown to help ward off injuries as well as make you stronger. Not only does Mt Washington Road Race allow you the opportunity to run up but for no extra cost you can get some strengthening in on your way down. And its faster than a car!

8. The weather can be epic! I have had bluebird days at the summit four years in a row. Two of those years were overcast and lousy below treeline. Sure it can be cold and wind-blown, but where else can you say you ran up the mountain with the worst weather ever recorded?

7. Every year I have gotten a very different shirt. Very unique and I prize each one.

6.  Great races are built around a very loyal fan-base. This one is on par with Boston or the Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race.

5. What's nice about this race is, that since there is no other race like it to compare it to, times mean very little so nobody cares how fast you did it in.

4. I love all the endless stats, streaks, records, books, bumper stickers etc.

3. For only $80 you get to run up Mt. Washington, get a fleece blanket, a finisher's medal, the feeling of self-effiency on finding your own way down and free ice cream and soda. At least it's not $300 like the bike race.

2. One of the only races that walking is faster than running.

1. There's only one hill.

With that being said, If you're a runner in New England, I'd still recommend you avoiding this give me a better shot getting in.

Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway

Less than a week after writing about the health concerns of ultra-distance racing, I have decided that in September or early October, I am going to try to go for the record in completing the 75 miles of the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway.
SRK Greenway
Okay, so the Greenway Coalition doesn't formally recognize speed records, but I figure that if I complete it in a reasonable time, it will give others motivation to topple the "record" and in the meantime get to enjoy some of the best trails in the Lake Sunapee Region. The trail is a cooperation of landowners and local authorities through forests, mountains and sometimes old logging roads creating a "necklace" connecting the three mountains of Kearsarge, Sunapee and Ragged.

Before I picked up running, I used to hike a bunch of it that went through my home town of New London. Due to the fact that the trail is primarily located on private properties, camping is not allowed so this will force me to keep up a solid pace throughout the run.

Although not too much elevation gain/loss, there will be plenty of steep short hills, technical switchbacks as well as the three major climbs to the main peaks. This will be balanced out with plenty of nice double track running to hopefully keep my interest and average pace up.

I'll probably start below Sunapee and get it out of the way early and go counter-clock wise to tackle the challenging hills of Sutton and Warner, as well as Mt Kearsarge, and then get some relatively benign end miles towards the Springfield Croydon areas.

I'll be shooting for under 15 hours but it will all depend on how much supplies I'll have to carry and whether I sucker someone in to joining me. Either way, it should be a fun time...

UP NEXT: Wedding Double(Genny's and Gattie's) and possibly a 4th of July Race, then Providence 70.3 for Amber.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Sustainability of Endurance Sports

A conversation Am and I had the other day sparked this blog topic. I had questioned at what point does a good thing cease to be a good thing. We spoke specifically of all the benefits that training for a sprint triathlon(or any aerobic activity) could provide: increased muscle strength, improved cardiovascular function, decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, increased bone density, positive mood, and a pletheora of other benefits. We wondered whether the risk/reward ratio worsened as the distance(and training time allotted) increased up to an Ironman distance.

Are Ultra-Endurance Athletes Healthy?

The definition of healthy, as defined by those handy online dictionaries, is:
1) Appearing vigorous and youthful
2) Freedom from injury, imperfection, or impairment
3) Absence of illness
4) Good mental health
5) Active and high energy
6) Vitality.

Appearing vigorous or youthful?
Maybe at the start of the race after a couple weeks taper but typically, these athletes are day in/day out limping around after a hard workout, definitely not bestowing the virtues of vigor or appearing youthful. Emaciated athletes fill the pages of Ironman and Ultra-running magazines as much as do their model counter-parts fill the beauty magazines. And just as those models are not healthy by this definition, neither are these athletes.

Chrissie Wellington After a Bike Crash

When is thin, too thin?

Typical Ultra-runner

In addition to the emaciated looks of these ultra-athletes, the noticable wrinkles should be a clue of premature aging. All those hours in the sun not only causes those wrinkles but can also cause skin cancer. The researchers of an article in a 2006 issue of Archives of Dermatology found that the runners had a more suspicious moles and other skin abnormalities suggestive of an increased risk of skin cancer than non-runners.

TAKE HOME: Don't worry about your body weight but rather focus on a well-rounded body type that fits you as an individual and don't forget the sunscreen.

Freedom from Injury, Imperfection, or Impairment:
A 2007 American Family Physician article cites: patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial band friction syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome(shin splints), Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fascitiis, and stress fracture as the most common acute injuries that can be sustained by endurance athletes.

Kujala et al. found athletes from all types of competitive sports are at slightly increased risk of requiring hospital care because of osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, or ankle. Egermann et al. found that with increased number of weekly training hours with triathletes, the risk of muscle-tendon injuries increased and that 62.1% of all participants in their retrospective survey sustained either a muscle-tendon or ligament-capsule injury. This was corroborated with an American Journal of Sports Medicine study on Ironman triathletes which found 91% of all athletes sustained at least one soft tissue overuse injury during the previous year's training.
To make matters worse, Burns et al. has found that the most significant predictor of injury during the triathlon season was a previous injury. Vetter and Symonds agreed, findings 50% of all college athletes report chronic injury and was correlated with training intensity. So it appears injuries beget more injuries.

Interestingly, a study looking at Olympic distance versus Ironman distance triathletes found that while the number of overuse injuries in the two groups were fairly similar, the recurrence rate of injury and time away from the sport were greater in the Ironman group. The researchers stressed the importance of understanding "cumulative stress" which often occurs when an athlete is prevented from doing one aspect of training so they increase the load of another discipline. They state that this can actually increase both their risk of injury recurrence as well as time to full rehabilitation.

TAKE-HOME: Injuries need to be avoided rather than treated. If we can listen to our bodies we are sure to find a way to determine when we are about to cross that line into over-training and subsequent injury. If you're injured already, take the extra time to heal then work on the physical impairments that lead to the breakdown in the first place.

Absence of Illness:
It has been shown that while moderate levels of activity can boost the immune system, over-training and ultra-races can lower resistance to disease due to the release of cortisol and its subsequent suppresion of the immune system. While this reduction in immunity is only short-lived, chronic overtraining can, and often does, lead to chronic illness in this population. Again, not healthy by this definition.

TAKE HOME: Take time after races to fully recover. An extra day of rest may not seem like much of a benefit to you but your body takes a lot longer to recover than you think. At first sign of getting sick, cut back on your training intensity and durations.

Good mental health
Another concern for endurance sports is pyschological. Motivation is a huge determinant in successful longevity of participation. Too much(or inappropriate) motivation may lead to over-training and physical and mental burnout. Too little motivation may lead to under-training, poor results and potentially mental burnout.

Perception of self can also impact endurance sport participation. People who train hard and do not see the improvements that they expect, are probably more likely to discontinue participation than those that continue to progress(or maintain) performance times or placements.

A study of mental exhaustion with college athletes, found that with increased training intensity and durations came increases in both physical and mental exhaustion.

However, if you love training and you do it for the love of the sport and not due to extrinsic goals or rewards, studies have shown that this can actually be a benefit to mental health. So for this one, it depends on the person.
TAKE HOME: Evaluate the reasons for doing the activities that you do and make sure they're the right reasons.

Active and high energy
A healthy person is one that has energy throughout the hours awake- not just during their training. As mentioned above, it is pretty common to see ultra-distance athletes hobbling around exhausted due to their training regime. If your training is limiting all other aspects of your life, are you really healthy?

TAKE HOME: Leave something in the bank so you can play with your kids or go for a spontaneous hike once you're done your workout.

This one is definitely interesting. Terramoto found that elite endurance athletes do survive longer than the general population which they attribute to lower cardiovascular disease mortality. However, there also have been studies looking at low bone density in female endurance athletes which one of the most accurate predictors of mortality in the elderly. Additionally, cyclists have a similar problem with osteoporosis due to the limited weight bearing they do during training.

Hackney states that the cardiovascular protective effects comes at the expense of "spermatogenesis" problems. It is surmised that there is a shift in the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular regulatory axis which results in reduced testosterone which has a cardiovascular protective effect but also makes reproduction a little tricky. So while these athletes are at less risk of death themselves, they are also at less risk of continuing the circle of life.

TAKE-HOME: If you're a female athlete or primarily a cyclist, make sure you're doing some resistance training to develop and maintain your bone density. If you're young and thinking of having kids, maybe hold off on the extreme ends of the endurance activity to ensure your swimmers can at least keep up with the rest of you.

Let's be honest. Ultra events are very expensive. Just registering for an Ironman is more than a lot of people make in a week, no less getting yourself and your bike there, staying the requisite three-day minimum, the bike, the access to a pool etc. Additionally, with the rise in attendence of these events, there has come an equal rise in cost. This can certainly be a limited to participation in ultra-events.

In addition to financial restrictions on participation of ultra-events, societal restrictions are a huge impact. Family, friends and jobs all can impact participation due to the sheer amount of hours per week that these events require. An average marathoner may run 60-80 miles a week(6-12 hours/week),while an ultramarathoner may do a weekend long-run in the range of six hours. Ultra-cyclists and triathletes often dedicate 5-8 hours on the weekends to those long century rides.

So with the potential health risks associated with ultra-distance training, these socioecomonic restrictions also can impede on an individual's ability to sustain ultra-distance training and competition year in and year out.

TAKE-HOME: If you have a great support group of friends and family that all can train together and you choose to spend your money racing rather than boozing, you're golden. Otherwise evaluate your situation.

While I love the challenge and appeal of these ultra-long races that challenge one's mind and body, the costs associated(both physically, psychologically and socioeconomically) need to be considered when training for and competing in these events. Use of sunscreen, being aware of early signs of overtraining and injury, allowing for full recovery after strenuous workouts and ensuring that I am addressing and caring for all aspects of my life, not just the sport, are necessary for allowing for ultras to be sustainable in my life.

Train less, train smart, eat well, love what you do and who you're with.


Nottin S, Doucende G, Schuster I, Tanguy S, Dauzat M, Obert P. Alteration in left ventricular strains and torsional mechanics after ultralong duration exercise in athletes. Circ Cardiovasc Imaging. 2009 Jul;2(4):323-30.

Egermnnn M, Brocai D, Lill CA, Schmitt H. Analysis of injuries in long-distance triathletes. Int J Sports Med. 2003. 24(4).

Scott JM, Esch BT, Shave R, Warburton DE, Gaze D, George K. Cardiovascular consequences of completing a 160-km ultramarathon. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Jan;41(1):26-34.

Braam L, Knapen M, Geusens P, Brouns F, Vermeer C. Factors Affecting Bone Loss in Female Endurance Athletes: A two year follow-up study.

Kujala, UM, Sarna S, Kaprio J, Koskenvuo M, Karjalainen J. Heart attacks and lower-limb function in master endurance athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 1041-1046, 1999.

Burns J, Keenan AM, Redmond AC. Factors associated with triathlon-related overuse injuries. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Apr;33(4):177-84.

Vleck VE, Bentley DJ, Millet GP, Cochrane T. Triathlon event distance specialization: training and injury effects. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):30-6.

Vetter RE, Symonds ML. Correlations between injury, training intensity, and physical and mental exhaustion among college athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Mar;24(3):587-96.

Hackney AC. Effects of endurance exercise on the reproductive system of men: the "exercise-hypogonadal male condition." J Endocrinol Invest. 2008 Oct;31(10):932-8.

O'Toole ML, Hiller WDB, Smith RA, Sisk TD. Overuse injuries in ultraendurance triathletes. Am J Sports Med July 1989 vol. 17 no. 4 514-518

Kujala U M, Kaprio J , Sarno S. Osteoarthritis of weight bearing joints of lower limbs in former elite male athletes. BMJ 1994;308:819

Cosca DD, Navazio F. Common Problems in Endurance Athletes.American Family Physician 2007. 76(2)

Teramoto M, Bungum TJ. Mortality and Longevity of Elite Athletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2010. 13(4).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mount Washington Road Race Over the Years

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast. It has some of the worst recorded weather in the world. It has an auto road from the base to summit which allows people of questionable fitness experience the beauty that would have otherwise(due to the strenuousness of the hike) been out of their reach. It also, every June, hosts a 7.6 mile uphill running race. Amber and I have been running this race since 2008 and have had many great memories that we thought we'd like to share.

2008-After dating for a couple years together and having the most fun that I had ever had in my life, I knew that I had to spend the rest of my life with Amber. I knew I wanted to propose during a meaningful race. I had planned originally to do it at the Boston Marathon but I started far enough back from her that I never caught her during the race and it didn't seem right to do it after. When we got into the Mount Washington Road Race, I knew that that would be the perfect time. In addition to be able to catch her when she was anoxic, Mt Washington was also meaningful as we had hiked it on several occasions and had it as the background to many of our trips up into the White Mountains.

We ran the entire race together, Amber crossing the finish line a second ahead of me. I cross and fall down to my knees faking a heart attack so Amber would come back to me... What actually happened was, I fake the heart attack, medics rush in and Amber rushes to get herself a water. Only after shrugging off the medics and calling over Amber, am I able to propose. She begrudgingly says yes. We celebrate by taking the Cog Railway down the mountain. We finish in 1:33:45.

2009- Amber has started her triathlon training and thus thinks biking 50+miles from Bethlehem, NH to the start of the race would be a good idea. We get to the start of Crawford Notch, hit some railroad tracks which causes Amber to slide out. She lets out a yelp which causes me to turn back, which doing so causes me to slide out too. I rush over to Am to make sure she is okay and to get her to the side of the road. After a few shaky moments, Amber decides to continue(despite my recommendations that we go home shower and have a nice leisurely morning) to head towards the race. I follow reluctantly. We make it to the race but cannot find a place to store our backpack with our bike shoes and helmets so we decide to carry it up with us. After a mile or so of me carrying it, complaining and slowing down the pace, Amber graciously takes the backpack for the remainder and STILL has to wait for me. After a brief stay at the top, we hike down via Lion's Head Trail, get a ride from Pinkham Notch back to our bikes, then bike the 50+ miles back to Bethlehem. Due to my hip hurting from the bike crash, excessive whining and a lot of walking, we finish in 1:52:24.
Danny Turning the last corner
2010- We decide this year that it wouldn't be such a great idea to bike to Mt. Washington, we decide to, instead, drive there, help out with parking and soak our legs in the river. After having to get a ride the three miles from Pinkham to where the auto road last year, we decide this year to park the car at Pinkham so when we hike down our car would be at the end of the trail. This lets us also get a nice three mile warm-up before the race. This will be our first year we don't run the race together. Amber has been having an excellent season so far, most recently coming off an exceptional Mooseman finish. I, on the other hand, am just coming back from six weeks of no running due to the stress fracture I sustained during the Flying Pig Marathon. I had no illusions of being able to keep up with Amber and told her not to let me slow her down. Within thirty seconds of the start, she's off and I don't see her until the finish line. She ends up finishing up as the first NH resident finisher and seventh overall in 1:19:47. Also it is her first year running under the name Amber Ferreira, instead of Cullen. I spend a lot of the second half of the run walking but still finish with my fastest Washington time in 1:31:16.
Rich and Danny at Tuckerman's Head Wall

2011- This year we have figured it all out. We are joined by our friend and teammate Rich Lavers of aR who with his wife, Christen, and brother-in laws will hike down Lion's Head with us. We park the car at Pinkham, get our warm-up in(in the pouring rain) and get to the start line. We both have been in better shape this year than in the past but also both had hard work-out weeks(Amber is at the tail end of an 18 hour training week) so we aren't sure how we'll fare. We take off together and I can hear Am breathing as we hit mile 1 in 7:38. I continue to lead for about another half mile until the pitch steepens enough to put strain on my calves to the point where I have to slow my pace. Amber quickly passes uttering brief words of encouragement before taking off. I continue to run until my calves cannot take it, at which point I turn and walk backwards to take the strain off them for a while. As I'm facing backwards, I see a ton of racers who will eventually pass me. The rest of the race pretty much consisted of me running all but the really steep sections, at which point I would have to turn around a walk backwards. I finish in a time of 1:24:06 and Amber finishes in 1:22:37 which is good enough for 10th female overall. We spend the afternoon in N. Conway after hiking down Lion's Head again(and Am rolling her ankle).
Danny Smiling? Only because there's not enough oxygen to his brain
2012? It will be the US Mountain Championships next year again and Am hopes to make the team(I know she can). My goal is to increase my ankle range of motion where I can be able to run the whole race and in doing so break 1:20. We will see.

UP NEXT: Amber- Lake Placid Training Camp; Danny- Chip's Wedding in Chicago

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Addendum to the Last Post

After posting yesterday's blog, I was confronted with people pointing out several inconsistencies with the post. Here are the corrections:

Amber: "Oh I saw that you went to Jeremy's class. I would have gone with you."
Danny: "Errr. Well I haven't actually gone yet."
Amber: "But our blog said...nevermind. When did you sign up?"
Danny: "I haven't yet done that either."
Amber: "Do you know if the class has any availabilities left? They usually fill up very quickly."
Danny: "No, I just thought I'd swing by."
Amber: "Swing by?"
Danny: "Yeah don't they have walk-in classes?"
Amber: "No"
Danny: "Oh"

So I better get talking with Jeremy and seeing if he actually does have any availability left and, if so, whether I can sign up.

2) While running with Rich Lavers of aR yesterday, he pointed out that:
"Danny, the 58 year old woman that passed you was actually pretty nice, wasn't it the 68 year old lady that trash talked you as she walked by?"
J. Massa added:
"Danny weren't you the only finisher to walk across the finish line? And didn't it take you longer than most hikers?"

Thanks guys for the corrections. As always, very helpful.

3) While Keith Shields did sign up for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, he did so only because his number one choice(NYC) sold out in 15 minutes.

4) It was also pointed out to me that to have A-races, I need to put in the appropriate amount of training(which apparently cannot consist entirely of holding my breath and flexing my stomach). From that kind person's perspective I haven't done a race that should be classified higher than an H.

Again thanks.

5) And finally, despite actually requiring more flexibility, it would also be helpful if I ditch my basket and bell on my tri-bike, take the baseball cards out of my spokes and to try to be a little more aerodynamic.

So that's it I think. Again I apologize for all of the confusion that this brought to the great readership of the Irongirl etc blog and hope that I could help clarify any angst that this may have brought you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Live Life to the Fittest: Ironman Mont-Tremblant, Yoga, and Upcoming Races

I just registered myself for the inaugural Ironman Mont-Tremblant scheduled for August 19, 2012. According to the website, the race will start with a 2.4-mile  swim on the "golden sands of the Beach & Tennis club" next to the village of Tremblant Resort. The two-loop, 112-mile bike course will then run primarily through Mont-Tremblant's forests and mountains. We will then run a two-loop course is known for its scenic beauty and finish after 26.2-miles in heart of the pedestrian village of Tremblant Resort.
I am very excited about this race as it will not require shipping my bike and dealing with connecting flights or any of the hassles of traveling across country. As much as I loved St. George(and am still potentially considering it), having a race within a quarter day's drive is very appealing. As Amber will be most likely doing Lake Placid in late July next year, we are still not sure whether she'll race this one, but she'll at least be there to check out the scene and cheer on her fellow athletes. Already I have found out that Keith Shields of NHPR fame is signed up and I expect more Concord-area residents will follow suit when they realize just how close(and beautiful)this venue is.

Having a August race also(hopefully) will keep my motivation up through the race season. Having done three half-marathons, the Hyannis and Gansett Marathons, Texas 70.3, Ironman St George and Mooseman 70.3 before the triathlon season even really began and now not having another A-race probably until October's Cape Cod Marathon has certainly diminished my motivation. Coupled with bachelor parties and weekends of weddings, I expect quite a loss in my fitness by fall. With next year's schedule, between Mont-Tremblant, hopefully an entry into Hardrock 100 and a smattering of smaller races, I can maintain my early season fitness for the full season.

Amber has definitely taken the smarter route, having opted out of those halves(except New Bedford) and marathons and using her early-season triathlons as building blocks for her late season races: Providence 70.3, Lake Placid, and probably Timberman and Syracuse. This strategy allows her to build upon her fitness while allowing necessary recovery and the ability to keep motivation high. Then a nice recovery in late fall before Snowshoe season starts again.

I have already started to have low-motivation without any races in my near future(barring next weekend's painful Mt. Washington where I can just hope not to be passed by a trash-talking 58 year old woman and the Chet Warman 151 mile bike race which has "the longest, steepest stretch of road in America"). Since I can see myself going out and purchasing premium cable and sitting on the couch wallowing in my own filth if left to my own devices, I have decided to proactively(or preemptively) keep myself fit. Therefore, I am planning(much to my disgust at having to wake up before 6am) to sign up for Jeremy Woodward's morning fitness class. For those of you that don't know Jeremy, check out his blog. Amber works with him when she's not in triathlon season, and the improvements in her strength have been remarkable. So despite my misgivings on trusting people who wake up early to exercise, I have enrolled in twice weekly fitness sessions. In addition to Jeremy's classes, I am also making a concerted effort to improve my flexibility which anyone who has seen me on a tri-bike has probably noticed, I am lacking. I will be doing this by working with the excellent people over at Living Yoga and hopefully getting myself a little more limber. So twice weekly Jeremy and yoga sessions, with my 3/week lunch-time runs and weekend rides(or whatever the race schedule brings) should keep me in fairly good fitness. We will see.

Up Next: "Only One Hill"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mooseman 70.3 Race Report- Danny's Perspective of Miss Amber Ferreira's Race

It is sometimes tough to do a race report for some one else but I think I can pull this off for Amber.

Amber with her dad at the swim start
 Pre-Race: The Saturday before racing Pro for the first time at Mooseman, I joined Danny, my sister Deidre and my mom for a big breakfast in Bristol after seeing my dad off on the swim of the Olympic distance triathlon. After filling up on pancakes and poached eggs as prescribed and willingly adhered to as part of my pre-race ritual, we walked across the street to watch the triathletes as the biked by at mile 14 of their 26 mile ride. Almost immediately we saw and cheered for people we knew. First past was J. Massa, one of Danny's Wednesday night running buddies. Soon thereafter came Steve Reed, of Rock on Reed fame speeding by. Then it seemed like S2 after S2 racer would pass with a few others mixed in like Eric Gattie whose bachelor party in Killington Danny will be attending this weekend. Due to the wave start, it was hard to tell who was placed where overall and it seemed a while before my dad came back but that was due to a later seed time as he had actually improved on his swim and was faster than expected. He came by with his long sleeve shirt on flapping in the wind and took both hands off the handlebars and cheered back at us as we cheered him on. He may not have had the fastest bike split of the day but he definitely seemed to enjoy it the most.
After seeing him pass, we drove back to T2 where we were lucky enough to again see a bunch of familiar faces come and as well as once again cheer dad on as he went out on the run. He ended  a little slower than I think he had hoped for on the run, his strong discipline, but still an amazingly fast overall time considering this was his first Olympic distance triathlon.
Amber with her sister, Deidre "plugging up"
Danny and I quickly made it back to Concord to do some laundry and have lunch then back up to Bristol for the Pro meeting and dinner with the family. Back to Concord to set aside all morning morning stuff as we would be waking up at 3am to get back up to the race and set up.

Race Day: Boy was it cold! Luckily Danny had a jacket in his car which I wore while setting up all my transition gear. Then back to the car where we blasted the heat. I went over race day strategy in my head while Danny snored loudly beside me. He begrudgingly got out of the car to get ready for the race only half joking, I think, that he would rather stay warm than race this morning.
Danny talking with Mr. Cullen pre-swim

The Swim: Starting with the pro's is entirely different! Instead of having a group of a few hundred at the start, you are lucky if you have 10-20 other pro's at the race. And worse, still you don't have the benefit of the waves in front of you to get the draft off of. So I got out of the water a little slower than I had wanted but considering I pretty much swam the entire race by myself, I did okay.

The Bike: I do a fair amount of training on the Mooseman course so I knew what to expect when it came to the hills. Apparently, I hadn't sufficiently warned Danny about them though as he went on a ten minute whining fest after the race about how terrible they were. "So much worse than Utah, look: I had a slower bike split for half the distance!" -I think that is a direct quote. Either way, I again didn't have the benefit of having to go through and get the draft of all the age-groupers and as a pro, you can't use another rider's slipstream(the 20 feet behind the rider in front) as you pass which does add up on a 56 mile course. But, despite those slight disadvantages, I came into T2 knowing I held back a bit so I'd have enough on the run.

The Run: I knew the top two girls had several minutes lead on me and that I probably couldn't catch them but Melanie McQuaid, the 3 time X-Terra World Champion and Lake Stevens 70.3 Winner, was only a couple ahead and I started to run to chase her down. As a two time out and back course, I would have plenty of chances to see just how close I was to her. As the miles ticked by, I could feel myself reeling her in, seeing the 3rd Place Female bike pacer getting closer and closer to me. Then something must have happened to the pacer because I no longer saw him. Danny who had stopped and gave me a hug made no mention of seeing the third place female ahead. Had she gotten that far ahead? It could have happened because of those descents which I had been taking pretty gingerly. After a minute or two of feeling badly for myself, I picked right back up, now just planning on racing the best that I could. Only as I approached mile 13 on the run, did I realize just how close I really was to Melanie. 100 yards? Oh yeah! I picked up my pace and kicked hard trying to catch her. But to no avail. The finish line came too soon. Had the race been Mooseman 70.4 and I think I would have come in third place. However, fourth place is still a great achievement for me and it was so nice seeing all the familiar faces out there racing. I do wonder just how long that hug that Danny gave me cost and whether he is prepared to reimburse me for the prize money I missed out on by FOUR seconds. Oh well.

Despite Danny's self-reported bad bike split, he managed to finish in 5:11 which was good enough for 17th in his age-group. Not bad since he hadn't bike outside or swam once since Ironman St. George.
Danny: Not too aero

Danny: Debating whether to DNF

Danny outkicking another Age-Grouper

Danny glad to be done.

Up Next:  Gattie's Bachelor in Killington this weekend and then Mt. Washington Road Race the following Sunday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mooseman 70.3

This weekend Amber and I will be participating in Mooseman 70.3. This will be my first time but Amber's third. Here's a brief overview of the last few years of triathlon for Amber:

2007- Amber enters her first triathlon with a mountain bike- still places in her age-group.

2008- Amber just starts getting into longer distance triathlons and in July competes in her first 70.3 in Providence. Comes in 25th in her Age Group.

2009- Amber competes in the Bull Moose Challenge at Mooseman which is comprised of an Olympic distance triathlon on Saturday and the 70.3 on Sunday. She wins it. Proceeds to also win the Lord of the Flies up at Waterville Valley during Black Fly Weekend. Comes third in her age-group at Ironman Wisconsin and misses out by one slot for qualifying for Kona.

2010- Mooseman does away with the Bull Moose Challenge so Amber competes in just the 70.3 race. She finishes first female amateur overall. Qualifies for Kona at Lake Placid the next month.

2011- Amber enters Mooseman as a Pro. Is coming off a tough Ironman St. George due to a mechanical but is stronger and more fit than ever. Can't wait to see.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Third Annual Gold Jacket Tournament

No races this weekend for either Irongirl or running boy(note ultra is removed as I haven't been doing any ultras in recent months). I was scheduled to go up to New Gloucester, ME for Pineland Farms 50 miler, but after realizing my sister, Mar would be gone for the rest of the summer for Europe and Asia we had a relatively last minute organized, Gold Jacket Tournament. As fun as 50 miles of running is, it doesn't compare to having the saw-dust beaten out of you by your siblings and their significant others.

For those of you not familiar with the Gold Jacket Tournament, or didn't see my seemingly hundreds of Facebook posts on it, here's a brief intro. Two years ago, my brothers devised this event in celebration of my Bachelor party. They came up with a weekend full of different events ranging from soccer to quarters, tennis to baseball, darts and billiards culminating with an obstacle course. The winner would take home the Gold Jacket Tournament Cup(similar to the Stanley Cup but a little more prestigious). It was such a success(despite me finishing dead last) that we decided to make it an annual event. Last year, it was in celebration of my sister's 21st birthday and this year it was for her and her boyfriend, Matt Menning's, college graduation.
Offical 3rd Annual Gold Jacket Caps: "I'm just easing the tension baby."

This year my brother, Andrew, organized the event. Despite pulling off a very successful March Madness bracket this year, our expectations were pretty low. We were wrong. At the start of the weekend, Drew had us sit down around the table and distributed a packet to each of us. In them contained a rule book, itinerary, a hat with a Happy Gilmore quote(every year we have to do a different quote from the movie), and a Bruins lunch box(to conceivably to hold our food as it appeared from the schedule we would be busy all weekend).
Copy of the Leader Board

The schedule looked pretty similar to years past, starting out with darts and billiards on Friday night, with some new events thrown in like Chinese Checkers and Boggle. However, most notably different was the point set up. Instead of doing a 10, 5, and 1 point schedule for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, Andrew made it so all six participants would get points for placing: 6 for 1st, 1 for 6th etc. This made is so every event became even more important.

I started off Friday night in the lead, winning at adult beverage chugging, billiards and coming in second at darts. I woke up the next morning in third though because Matt Menning and Andrew decided to start off with the Case Race which put them in great position to start Saturday. With a 7am tee-time, I had decided to get a reasonable bed time(3am) while Matt Menning did not sleep at all. This became apparent as we began golfing. Usually one of the better golfers, Matt M was only a few strokes ahead of me after nine. For those of you who haven't golfed with me, to describe myself as a hacker would be an over-estimate. I spend so much time in the woods that Matty Ferreira decided to give a bonus for most balls found. Not even a joke.

Matt Menning, Andrew and Marilyn all eventually beat me and Matty Ferreira tied me(I had a six shot handicap) but beat me in the putt off. Luckily Matty's friend, Cindy, was there and was apparently worse than me so I didn't come in last.
Matty, Mar, Danny and Drew with a dirty upper lip
As the weather was nicer than expected, we wanted to take advantage of it by getting in our outdoor activities. So basketball and tennis were up next. I did play varsity basketball in high school and intramurals all through college but I was scrappy and hustled. Doesn't do a lot for one-on-one king of the court. After losing handily to Matt, Matty and Drew and barely beating Marilyn, I quickly saw my chances of winning fade. After Matt Menning scored a second place finish at tennis, I realized I had to revise my goals to beating him rather than winning.

Didn't happen. Other than the food eating contest which I won without issue, I didn't win another event the entire weekend. Matt Menning, despite a horrendous home run derby and poor baggo game, actually gave Matty F a run for his money, with Matty barely winning thanks in part of a good strategy during the obstacle course and a nearly flawless mini-golf game.

Despite my third year in a row of losing pretty badly to my siblings, I am already looking forward to our 4th annual tournament.