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IRONMAN Maryland

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Before I even really get into the race report I need to say thanks to everyone that helped make this possible. I know that the massive amount of training put lots of pressure on everyone in the family to help out in ways that they are not normally asked, so THANK YOU. I am have also been a little bit of a pain in the ass at times during my training, and then again during my taper.

I also had a lot of friends that stepped up and helped out during the year. Including a few that may have wished that I would quit messaging them with constant questions. 

It has been a fun journey, so again THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in it.

SWIM
Target Time: 1:30
Race Time: 0:56:49
Nothing went the way I wanted before the swim even started, and I ended up having the best swim ever in a race. The race was scheduled to start at 7am, but there was a small craft advisory so they couldn’t get the safety boats launched. So everyone stood around in 42 degree weather wearing just their wetsuits freezing. We couldn’t even get in the water to warm up because of the advisory. Then it was announced that the race would start at 7:30 and the swim was going to be shortened to 1.2 miles. That didn’t make anyone happy, and everyone was letting them know it. 20 minutes later it was announced that the course was going to be changed to allow us to do 2 laps for a total of 3000 meters, so it would be a little short, but still an official IRONMAN. YEAH!!!! A couple minutes into the swim I started to have what I thought was a panic attack, but something felt different this time. It took a couple minutes to figure out that I was cooking in the wetsuit. I grabbed the collar and let some cold water in and then felt better instantly. Other than that the swim was really uneventful, which was a nice change for this year. A+

T1 0:14:17
Transition was really slow because of the weather. It had warmed all the way up 45 degrees at this point. There was no way that I was going to go out on the bike with wet anything on, so this was a full change with damp skin. The changing tent was packed, so there was also some standing around waiting to even get in. Painfully slow, but completely out of my control.

BIKE
Target Time: 5:30:00
Race Time: 5:46:57
I do not think I could have scripted the day much better other than the wind. I drank 3+ bottles of water and 2 race bottles. I also had 2 packs of GU Chews and a piece of beef jerky on the bike. The bike worked perfect. I was targeting 190 watt average on the bike and finished with a 185 average.  Without the steady 25-30 mph winds I’m pretty sure I would have been well under my target time. There were a couple time early on the bike that riders would go by me like I wasn’t moving and I really wanted to go with them, but the mantra of the day was “Make this the most boring ride of your life.” And I passed quite a few of these riders again by the end of the day. A+

T2 0:08:19
Again I did a complete change. The temperature was already starting to drop, so I didn’t want any of the damp cycling cloths on at the start of the run. We also didn’t have bike catchers, so we had to rack our own bikes. This is a little different than at a standard IRONMAN event.

RUN
Target Time: 4:30:00
Race Time: 4:46:12
I was comfortable that I had done everything I could on the bike to setup the run, so I was willing to let things start a little faster than I had originally planned. Through the first 5 miles I was holding around a 9:20 pace. I would have loved to try and stay there, but this was going to be the longest run ever for me and I decided to be a little conservative. I slowed to a 9:40 pace for miles 6-10, and then a 10:30 pace until mile 21. At mile 21 I had my first and only issue all day. My legs said enough is enough, we’re done. I walked for about 4 minutes while trying to find something to get me moving again. I had a bet with a good friend that I could do the run in under 5:15 with the loser buying the beer. I generally don’t even drink beer, but for the rest of the run I was just repeating “I am not buying the beer.” After that little hiccup, I managed to hold a 10:40 pace to the end. My overall pace was a 10:09, which is pretty good. My best pace prior to this was an 11:11 in a half IRONMAN. For nutrition on the run I was doing BASE Electrolyte Salt with water at every aid station. I also used 3 packages of GU Chews and a piece of beef jerky. I had two race bottles with me, but really did not feel the need for the extra calories. Added bonus was that when you cross the finish they have catchers, and to my surprise my wife was there in case I needed someone. I never expected that, so pretty cool. A+

OVERALL
Target Time: 11:30:00
Race Time: 11:32:34

SUMMARY
What an incredible day. Everything seemed to be working against this even, but the people that were putting it on did and incredible job of rallying the troops and putting on a first class event. Everything went pretty much to plan which never happens, so now I’m worried that I may have just had the best race at this distance that I will ever have. Guess I’ll have to put that to the test next year. Maybe try and go sub 11 hours. And for anyone that was wondering, yes I did get the tattoo.

IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

SWIM: 
Target Time: 0:35:00
Race Time: 0:43:02

I guess the best way to describe the swim was a complete shit show. The swim started good, and I was quickly off the front with the top couple of guys. I caught a wave over my head that caused me to drink a little water and all of a sudden I was having a full blown panic attack. I managed to get to a kayak to hold onto and try to get my head back in the game, but it was over. I pretty much swam from kayak to kayak for the first third of the race just trying to get the swim over with. I managed to swim the last two thirds of the swim by myself way to the outside of the course, but every time someone got near me I freaked out. At some point I swore that I would never do another triathlon again. F-

Bike

T1: 0:04:28
I took a little extra time here to try and get my head back into the race. 

BIKE: 
Target Time: 2:35:00
Race Time: 2:44:06

I was targeting 90% of my FTP for the bike. I did a really good job of controlling myself on the out bound part of the course and hit the turnaround averaging 22.5 mph. At some point on the return trip I forgot about my nutrition completely. D- because of the nutrition

T2: 0:01:48
Really happy about my T2 times as of late.

Run

RUN: 
Target Time: 1:50:00
Race Time: 2:26:35

The run started out really good, but after about a mile and a half I started cramping. This was about when I started thinking about it and realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat in a while. The day before I had bought some BASE Electrolyte Salt and had brought some with me. It really did help out a lot with the cramps, but once the tank is empty it is pretty hard to recover. I managed to mostly jog from aid station to aid station for the rest of the run, but it was not really what I wanted to do. It also ended up a little hotter than I was expecting.  C+

Overall: 5:59:59

Summary:
The good. I was pretty happy to get under the 6 hour mark for a IRONMAN 70.3 for the first time. I was also really happy with how I felt on the bike. I held a good pace and was still feeling pretty good coming off the bike. I was also happy with how the BASE Electrolyte Salt worked on the run. Even though my nutrition let me down, it wasn’t because it wasn’t working, it was because I forgot about it in the heat of the moment. I’m pretty sure that I do have it figured out.

The bad. It doesn’t matter how much training you do, if you forget something simple like eating, your day is over. My swim is killingly me during races.

Nutrition Plan: Plan A, Execution C-
Race Morning: I had an Ensure and part of a bagel with cream cheese. Unfortunately my pre-race nerves kept me from eating more than a couple of bites. I also drank a couple bottles of water and my have been over hydrated at the start.

Bike: 1 Race bottle containing 3 scoops of Strawberry HEED, 6 scoops of CarboPro and 8 Endurolytes capsules split open and added to the bottle. Two bottles of plain water and 3 packs of GU Energy Chews. I ended up drinking half the race bottle and took a couple of sips from one of the water bottles. That is never going to cut it in a race.

Run: 1 Race bottle containing 2 scoops of Heed and 4 scoops of CarboPro. I was also carrying 2 packs of GU Energy Chews and a container of the BASE Salt. I pretty much finished the race bottle and was doing a lick of the salt every mile with a glass of water at the aid stations. I never fully recovered from my mistake on the bike, but I held together better than I would have expected considering the heat.

Blackstone Valley Olympic Tri

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

SWIM: 
Target Time: 0:30:00
Race Time: 0:33:40

Going into this race I had been swimming really well and was hoping to put together a really good swim. Unfortunately this was not to be. During check-in we were informed that the swim would not be wetsuit legal. I do almost all my open water swimming by myself, so I never get to try swimming these distances without a wetsuit on. I decided to race with my wetsuit, which makes you ineligible for awards. The swim started good, but once I started to get mixed in with the slower swimmers that I was catching I started to have panic issues. I still haven’t figured out why this happed during races, but it needs to get figured out. I ended up swimming the long way around to stay away from the other swimmers. F

T1: 0:03:34
There is a big hill you have to run up coming out of the water, so I just wanted to get to the bike.

BIKE: 
Target Time: 1:12:00
Race Time: 1:12:01

Everything went pretty much like I was hoping for. I was targeting an average of 210 watts on the bike and averaged 213 watts. With the exception of one climb on the course, I was faster at every stage of the course. The first half of the course was pretty flat, so it was a case of maintain a good pace and save something for the hills in the second half. A+

T2: 0:01:07
Finally starting to understand how to get through T2 a little quicker. Grab and go, don’t stand there making sure that everything is perfect.

RUN: 
Target Time: 0:49:30
Race Time: 0:50:02

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am not generally a fast runner. I really wanted to go hard right from the start of the run and see what happens. I was targeting an 8:00 pace on the run. I managed to hold my pace for the first 3 miles before cracking a little on the hill in mile 4, but I did recover pretty well at the top and managed to run a 7:53 for the last mile. A++

Overall: 2:40:30

Summary:
The biggest thing I need to work on is the swim. Currently I am having a really hard time during races, and it is putting me into a really bad head space going into the bike.

The bike and run are coming along nicely and I’m happy where I am at this point of the season. Let’s see if I can carry some of this over to Timberman in a couple of weeks.


Race of Rams Duathlon and The Battle at Burlingame MTB Race

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Somehow I let the stupid part of my brain make decisions for the rest of me the weekend before last.  I had planned on doing the Battle of Burlingame 6 Hour MTB race, but I knew I also needed to work on dealing with transitions for the upcoming Half Ironman.  It just happens that there was a duathlon just down the road from me than is known as being good for first timers.  Well the duathlon had a start time of 8:30 am, and the Battle of Burlingame XC race, not the 6 hour event, had a start time of 2:30 pm, so why not do both!

Race of Rams Duathlon (First race of the day)
The race was a 1.5 mile run, 14 mile bike and then a 2 mile.  This was the first duathlon I had ever done, so I was not really sure how to approach it.  

Entering 1st Transition

I decided to go out easy on the first running leg and was a little surprised at the end when I found out I had run a 10:46.  That was a 7:11 pace and 19th fastest run, which is not something I would have ever expected.

Looking strong coming of the bike

I felt really good on the bike right from the start. so I decided I would push a little on the first lap and see how I felt at the start of the second lap.  I was picking off other riders here and there so I was pretty sure that I had a good ride going.  At the end of the first lap I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to go all in on the second lap and just buried myself.  I was pretty sure that it had been a good ride when I hit the transition and there were only 6 bikes hanging there.  The result was a 43:46.5 bike leg that was good for the 5th fastest bike leg of the day.

Got her back at the line.

I didn't want to ruin what was turning into a good race on the last run so I went for it.  The second run was an out and back that was all uphill for the out part.  Almost immediately I had three runners go by me, and at the turn around there were two people right behind me.  I managed to sort of hold them both off to the finish.  Okay one passed me and then I managed to stay with her until the last 100 meters where I passed her back.  Net result for the second run was a 14:41.3 which worked out to a 7:21 pace.

 Race of Rams bike leg data

Race of Rams bike leg data

My overall time was a 1:11:37.5.  That was good for 11th overall and 1st in my age group.

Hopefully this was the finish, because I look awful.

The Battle of Burlingame (Second race of the day)
I went out to warm up before the race and was not real impressed with the hill at the start, until I found out that the course was pancake flat.  That pretty much told me that there was nothing left in the legs and it was going to be a real long race.  I put in a good hard effort for about the first 1/2 a lap and then decided that I needed to just back off and try to finish.  On the 3rd lap someone passed me and said he was surprised I was still even out there after racing in the morning.  My only comment to that was that I didn't really think the pace I was riding at really counted as racing.  That was maybe not the most polite thing to say being that he was just catching me at that point.  After a quick laugh he more or less paced me to the finish.  My finishing time was 1:38:53 which was good for 14th.  I was a little surprised by my lap times.  I figured they would drop off really bad after the first lap.  The second lap was only 2 minutes slower than the first, and the third lap was actually 20 seconds faster than the second lap.

 Battle of Burlingame data

Battle of Burlingame data

This may have been a really good race course and I would love to try it again without the dead legs.  Maybe next year if these two events do not fall on the same day.

Willi Whammer 1/2 Marathon

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

For some reason I decided to register for the IRONMAN Timberman 70.3 later this year.  I’ve never done a triathlon of any length before, so I decided to jump right in and see how things go.  At some point my brain must have switch gears and figured out that I should really put some effort into this, or I was going to be in for a long and most likely not enjoyable day.

One of the first things I wanted to get out of the way was working on the run.  I ran track in high school, but I was a sprinter.  After high school I ran a little and have even done a few 5K races.  Not sure that is the makings of a good half marathon race.  In mid-February I started to train for the Willi Whammer 1/2 Marathon on April 26th.  I started easy and just kept slowly adding distance and managed to get to the point where I was up to 11 miles comfortable.

My Happy face?

Well race day came around and I was greeted to pouring rain and low 40’s for a temperature.  Basically I could not have asked for better weather, yeah right.  Well I decided to make the best of it and just go out and run.  I had originally been targeting a 2 hour time, but with the weather I figured I was going to slip a little on my target time.  Most of the hills were located in the first 6 miles of the race.  I’m not sure if it was due to the temperature or what, but I really struggled with the down hills.  My shins were killing my ever time the road went down and I was just about walking.  Fortunately I felt strong on the up hills and flats or that first half would have taken forever.  The second half of the run was just a case of keeping a steady pace and try having a little fun, which I’m not really sure that I pulled off that last part.

All in all I was happy with my time even though I missed my target of 2 hours.  I’m not sure when the next half marathon is going to be, but I am going to be lining up at a duathlon the following weekend.

Splits:

  • Mile 4.2: 0:39:24
  • Mile 6.6: 1:02:07
  • Mile 9.7: 1:32:32
  • Finish: 2:04:48
  • Pace: 9:32/Mile

First Race of 2014

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Over the weekend I ran in the Courthouse O' Putnam 5k.  It was the second time I have run this and was hoping to lower my time a little.  Well I ended up 3 seconds slower than last year.  Overall I was still happy with my run.  My first and last miles were close time wise, while my second mile was almost 50 seconds slower.  The second mile is also where all the climbing is during this race.  At the end I felt that I may have held a little too much back and could have easily held the pace I was running for a second 5K.  My time was 25:15, which worked out to 8:08 minute miles.  This is well under what I need to reach my first big goal of the year, a sub two hour half marathon.

Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Weekend …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.

Going into this weekend I had a good recovery after three solid weeks of training.  It was probably the best I have felt going into a race weekend since I returned to racing last year.  Instead of the usual worries about what I hadn't done I spent the week working out some of the bugs in my bike position and getting my tires dialed in a little better.

Banging though the sand!

Saturday was going to be a hard race no matter how you looked at it.  It was a monster field, 150 riders, and there where way too many guys racing in this that had not business still being in the Cat. 4’s. I wanted to try something a little different for this race, so at the start I just plain went for it knowing full well that I was going to pay for it later in the race.  I was rewarded with a really good position after the first lap and surprisingly the cost wasn't as high as I thought it would be.  Yes, I did give up some positions later in the race, but my lap times after the first lap were 9:11, 9:13 and a final lap of 9:12.  Never expected my times to stay that consistent after the effort I put in at the start.   The one thing that I did notice that I need to work on was at the start of the second lap a teammate passed me and I was able to hang with him for the second lap.  On the third lap, every time we accelerated out of a corner a little gap would open and it got harder and harder to close it down until I finally snapped.  All of a sudden I was 19 seconds behind him.  Finished 54 out of 133.

Looking through the corner.

Sunday I knew was going to be a totally different day as soon as I started warming up.  My legs had no snap to them.  I could push a big gear, but had no cadence at all.  After the results from the day before, I decided to try the same thing and just go at the start.  They ended up being the best move of the day as there were at least three pileups right off the start.  I managed to stay clear of all the chaos and had a good position when things settled down.  Unfortunately my legs never came around, and although I kept a steady pace for the whole race I did give up positions slowly throughout the race.  I was in a group at the end of lap two and didn't hit the lap counter, but what I did get was my average speed for laps 2 and 3 was 12.9.  My average speed for the last lap was 13.2, so that still tells me that I was going as strong at the end as the beginning.  No complains there!  Finished 55 out of 132.

As for the course, it was great.  Adam Myerson and company put on a first class event and it is one that I am already looking forward to for next year.  The course was fast, dry and still challenging.  Both days had full fields in the Cat. 4’s, but the course was open enough that the racing fun.  Can you use fun to describe a ‘cross race?

Providence Cyclocross Festival ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Game Face

Saturday:
I went into this event without any real plan.  I had been sick all week and lost 10 pounds in the 9 days heading into the weekend.  I hopped onto the course to get in a quick pre-ride after the first race ended.  Then I took my pit wheels to the pit area.  At some point during this they called for staging and I never heard it.  By time I arrived at staging it was too late for my call-up, so they stuck me in the back.  If nothing else, it gave me a plan for the race.  Go hard until you can’t go any more, and then go harder.  It may not have been the most elegant plan, but I did learn something from it.  For the 40 minutes of the race I had an average heart rate of 182, which was higher than I thought I could maintain.  I ended up with a solid 60th out of 99 finishers.

Later in the day I found myself sitting with a bunch of great friends watching the pro race.  Holy shit those guys are fast.  In my race I am looking to go about 45 seconds a lap faster to finish near the front.  These guys were going 4 minutes a lap faster than me.  Watching them also showed me that you can really hammer through some of the corners that I was crawling through because I just didn’t feel like there was enough traction.  They seemed to trust that the bike was going to go where they pointed it.  Jeremy Powers held on to win over a determined looking Ryan Trebon.

Fly Over

Making the pass

Sunday:
I had a solid plan for the race today.  Make my call-up, start hard and suffer.  I dropped my wheels off in the pit area at the start of the race before mine and then started working on getting a good warmed up.  I made my call-up in the 5th row.  It was kind of neat being that close to the front without having to kill myself getting there.  Once the whistle sounded, I again tried to get by as many people as possible before the course narrowed.  I really worked on trying to trust my tires and drive through the corners during this race.  I have no idea where I was running position wise, but this was the first time that I could still see the leader at the end of the first lap in a race of this caliber   The next three laps where just a case of holding my position and gaining any that I could.  I had a much better sprint at the end and gained two spots in the final 100 meters to finish 34 out of 77 finishers.  It ended up being a GREAT race, and lets me know that what I worked on all summer should pay off.  This was far and away the best 'cross race that I have had.

It was great seeing the crew Saturday at the pro race and even better getting to line up with a couple of good friends and battling it out on the course.  This might be the best part of racing ‘cross.  I didn't see any pictures of the three of us together, but someone had a good one of John and Gary.

John and Gary

Pats Peak 12 Hour Solo

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Race Start

I guess I’ll start with the course.  It was a brutal course that could have been SO much fun.  The course was 5.6 miles with 825+ feet of climbing per lap.  The climbs for the most part were technical and steep.  A fair amount of the single track on the climb was new, so it was a little soft.  They did seem to get a little better as the weekend wore on.  Once you got to the top of the climb there was a really fun section that could have been even more fun if you were not completely dead from climb.  The decent back to the start area was just technical enough to prevent you from ever getting a recovery and then right back into the climb.  This course could have been so much more enjoyable if I had only been racing 2-3 laps, not 12 hours.
Lap 1 – The race started with a 100 yard run to the bike.  Looking at the video that a friend recorded, it would seem that I was one of the last 3 or 4 people to get on my bike.  I didn’t want to bust my ass that quick into the race.  That was a big mistake, because the long climb turned into a long hike a bike in the woods.  The lap was fairly uneventful 52 minutes.
Lap 2 – At the start of the second lap I dropped in with a friend and rode with him for most of the lap.  Near the top of the climb I started to get some light cramps.  That was not a good sign, as I would be fighting them for the rest of the race.  On the decent I took a pretty good tumble when a cleat broke and I slid of the pedal.  Had to have the cleat replaced at the end of the lap.  Lap 2 was around 55 minutes.
Laps 3 – 6 – Really started to fight cramps during these laps.  They were just getting a little worst each lap, and I was taking longer and longer breaks between laps trying to get rid of cramps.
Lap 7 – I took a 2 hour break before this lap in an effort to deal with my cramping.  It didn’t work.  At the top of the climb I was hit with cramping so bad that I ended up laying on the ground still clipped into my pedals.  I had to wait for another rider to come by and ask for help getting my feet of the pedals.  After another 15 minutes of sitting there, I finally managed to get back to the start/finish area.
Lap 8 – This ended up being one of my better laps.  I was taking my time on the climb and was feeling pretty good, and wanted to keep it that way.  I was a little over ¾ of the way up the climb when my light started blinking that the battery was almost dead.  If I didn’t finish the lap, then I would be a DNF.  It was surprising how much you can ignore when you are worried about being stuck in the woods without light.

Lap Something

Tour of Battenkill Recap... 25 feet!

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Somehow I let myself get talked into racing in the Tour of Battenkill.  In hindsight it is kind of funny that I would let this be my first road race since the late 80’s.  The night before the race I got pretty much NO sleep.  It was partly nerves and partly one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed at.
The morning of the race I had a early breakfast while hoping that my race day stomach would calm down.  We lined up for our race about 9 minutes before our start time, and it was a good thing that I had a friend lined up next to my.  There were two quick runs to the restroom in that 9 minutes.  

The second the race started I calmed down completely and quickly fell into the flow of the race.  The first 10 miles was covered in a quick 24 minutes with two short punchy climbs.  I have never been a great climber, so my plan was to try and be at the front going into the climbs and give ground slowly to stay with the group.  My biggest concern was a 600 yard climb at 18 percent starting just before mile 12.  I hit the climb sitting 4th or 5th wheel which was perfect.  During the climb I was slowly giving up spots and before I knew it there was a gap between me and the group.  What I didn’t know was that the first two climbs had torn the group to shreds.  At the top of the climb the gap was about 25 feet between me and the last rider.  I spent the next five miles trying to close that slowly growing gap.  On the fourth climb starting at mile 18 someone was dropped from the group and I started working with them.  By the top of the climb at mile 20 we had become a chase group of 4, but were still losing ground.  There was another short steep dirt climb around mile 28 that ended any hope I had of getting back to the lead group.  I was dropped by the chase group and ended up doing a individual time trial for the last 34 miles.  In the end I was just over 30 minutes back from the winner, but only lost 5 minutes to the chase group by the end.

At the end I swore I would never do this race again.  By time I got home 4 hours later I decided I could be talked back into it.  The next morning I started looking at my training program to see what I needed to change to improve my performance next year.  Yeah, I’m hooked.

Some of the funny things that happen during the race was the guy that just before I caught him on Wrights Road, he got off his bike and tossed it into the woods and walked off.  There was another person bent over his bike, so cramped up he couldn’t move.  I felt pretty bad for him because I was fighting cramps myself.
Next year ...