2015 Shamrock Duathlon

Finally kicked off the season this weekend with a win at the Shamrock Duathlon. While duathlons are usually associated with poorly-run and non-competitive races, this was a top-notch event. Bravo to the Hartford Marathon Foundation for putting this on.

The race itself went smoothly: a relaxed 16:51 first 5k to come in to transition first, then a strong 26k bike in which I had the 3rd fastest split, but managed to stay in front. The final 5k was a hot one and I was happy to have built up a lead by that point. At this point in the season, I'm "racing into shape", which can be a painful process.

It wasn't until the awards ceremony that I realized the first place prize: a full-scale broadsword! Have no idea what I'm gong to do with this one.

Shiv 2015

After months of waiting, I have a new addition to my triathlon family: the Shiv 2015. It joins my other Specialized powerhouse, the 2011 Venge. I am beyond lucky to have this a-list Specialized duo, thanks to the help of Zane's.

Quick takes for the non-bike-enthusiast: I got a new bike. It's a Time Trial bike, meaning you race it solo, without drafting off of other people. TT bikes tend to be more aerodynamic, more aggressive, and therefore faster than road bikes, but with relatively fewer uses. It's very pretty, and very fast.

For bike enthusiasts, check out the gallery below to see the specs and upgrades on this very cool ride.

The highlights:

  • Sexy, matte black carbon frame
  • Full electronic shifting from two locations
  • Full carbon clincher wheels, plus training wheels
  • New Garmin speed and cadence sensors
  • Internal water bladder, storage, and battery

Now for several months of torturous waiting before I can ride it outdoors!

Swim Analysis

After a strength-based training block, this and the next two months will be largely dedicated to whipping my swim into shape, starting with a few substantive technique improvements that will pay huge dividends in open water. Last week my coach got out the camera to evaluate where we're at.

In general, underwater video analysis should be an essential tool in any triathlete's arsenal – even if just once a year. Most people who didn't grow up swimming have a very hard time visualizing what their limbs are doing when they swim, so it can help spot common issues such as crossing your hand way over to the opposite side to pull, or hand entry/catch problems that set you up for a weaker pull.

In my case, I found I am gliding far more than I realized (see first picture above), doing too much of what most swimmers call a "catch-up drill". While this might not hurt me if I had the build of Michael Phelps and competed exclusively in pools, for a guy 4" shorter competing in open water, it's not so great. A higher stroke rate can help to keep momentum in rough water and to change pace quickly, if needed, to navigate packs and buoys. Quickening my stroke (and setting up for a better catch as a result) is therefore my top priority for the training block ahead.

The best example of a stellar high stroke rate is of Jodie Swallow, in a video by SwimSmooth that my coach sent me. Check it out and see if you can match Jodie's cadence and rhythm!

2014 in Review

Happy New Year! 2014 was a slow and relatively uneventful year of racing for me (which may explain my long silences!). But the silver linings are encouraging.

The first hurdle came in January. After a month of ankle issues, the doctor put me in a boot for almost a month to heal a tendon. This ended up being a bad idea, because fully recovering from a month in a boot took until mid-summer. And the rest didn't appear to have a lasting effect on my tendon, anyway.

The second hurdle was in late March. It started raining on an uneventful long bike ride, and I hit a nasty patch of sand and went down. Despite it being a very mild fall, my wrist broke, and I spent the next 6-8 weeks in a cast, and two months afterwards regaining strength. When August hit, I was mostly healed, but still very cautious, and very out of shape.

With little endurance base, my coach and I did a hail-mary strength/speed program to get what I could out of the remaining season. The first two races were shaky, and I took second in both because my legs were still on vacation. But I finally nailed a race at Hammerfest, crushing my previous course-record times from previous years from when I was in much better shape. In all of this, I think I've found a way to tone down the endurance work in my training plan and still race fast.

In 2015, my goals remain largely the same as they were when 2014 began, and with more of a focus on non-draft-legal races. I am also anxiously awaiting my new (and first) TT bike that Zane's is building for me as I type! It should be a very fast year.

 A sneak peak of my new bike – coming soon in 2015!

A sneak peak of my new bike – coming soon in 2015!

Fall Road Races

My dad and I after the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning!

It's that time of year! After a fun Halloween race, I dove into two more races this month to have some fun. Having taken around 5 months off running earlier this year because of an injury, my expectations were low.

The first one was a small race in Cheshire, CT, where I surprised myself running a 15:45 off of very little fitness, with some hills in the mix. The second one was a solid win on Thanksgiving day at the Branford Turkey Trot. With all of the college runners back home to race, I took it out in 4:45 for the first mile, managing to drop everyone (who were all in much better shape than I am!) and cruise the last two miles on my own. Both results are extremely encouraging given the little training I've done, and how much time I have before the 2015 season begins. Looking forward to running stronger than ever next year!

Meb and Generation UCAN

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of hosting Meb Keflezighi at Yale! Meb has become an American distance running hero over the past decade, winning a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, the 2009 NYC Marathon, and the 2014 Boston Marathon. Oh – and he's the nicest guy you'll meet.

He was joined by his sponsor, Woodbridge, CT-based company Generation UCAN. They are really a terrific group that is doing a lot in the community, and worth checking out. UCAN is dedicated to finding the best way to fuel athletes, and provide consistent energy to workouts. They started by trying to find a solution for a child named Jonah, who had a rare metabolic disorder, by creating a complex carbohydrate that would provide a steady release of glucose, keeping blood-sugar levels (energy) steady for several hours. They remind me a little of Brian's Hope! In any case, they have sent me a care package and I will be trying them out this month and reporting back.

The event drew over 300 people into a packed Yale auditorium, and Meb stayed until 9:30 p.m. signing autographs and taking photos with every last person. He is easily one of the best role models in the sport. It is my hope that we can draw in Meb and others to our Greater New Haven community more often with events like these!

Holy Smokes, Batman!

It's Halloween season! My roommate Ryan (also a former runner and captain of the Cross Country team) and I geared up as the Dynamic Duo this morning to race the Wesley Village 5k in Shelton, CT. Halloween races showcase the best of the road racing community: runners at all levels supporting each other and having fun. The kids' race was easily the most fun event of the day – our favorite costume was a boy in a full-body dinosaur suit (see photo below), who we named "Dinokid".

The race itself was tame, and just for fun. Ryan did two mile repeats beforehand to get more of a workout in, and I was coming off of a hard week of training. The course, however, was not tame: downhill on the way out, turn around, go up a big hill, and uphill the entire way back. We took it easy on the way out, hitting the first mile in 5:15, but my HR was through the roof on the way back! That said, we ran a relaxed 16:55 for a side-by-side Batman and Robin 1-2 finish.

This is my first race back after taking nearly 8 months off running due to an ankle injury, so we still have a lot of work to do! I am back to building endurance with tempo runs and increasing my volume. Check out photos of the event below: