Thursday, August 26, 2010

Timberman 2010 - What a weekend!

This post will mark my first full year of blogging about triathlon.  My first ever race report was Timberman 2009.  I took the time to read over that report before starting this one.  Funny how lots of great memories from that race flooded back.

I headed up to Gilford, NH on Friday afternoon.  This was the last day of Pingree camp and I was eager to get out after lunch and get up to the race prior to the late afternoon traffic that was sure to come.  The ride up was pretty good except for a little slowdown due to some construction south of Manchester. 

I got a big scare when I was almost up to Gilford in a town called Alton.  I headed down a long hill in the car and looked in my rearview mirror only to see a police SUV pull over on the other side of the road and then quickly make a U-turn and head my way.  I had to have been speeding and my pulse rate started to race.  He pulled in behind me and then flashed the lights for me to pull over.  He came up to the car and informed me I was doing 57 MPH in a 40 MPH zone, asked for my license and registration.  I did not argue and handed them to him.  He went back to the vehicle and I sat there for about 5 minutes expecting a pretty hefty fine.  Not a great way to start the weekend.  When he came back to the car he handed them back and said he was letting me go with a warning.  What a lucky break.  Maybe he checked my record and saw no other tickets in my past, or maybe it was the bike on the back carrier.  Either way I assured him I would be careful and headed into Gilford. 

I arrived at Gunstock Resort for the Expo where I would pick up my race packet.  First thing to make note of was the weather.  It was gorgeous!  Last year it rained most of Friday and during the morning of the race on Saturday.  The forecast was for a beautiful 2 days.  I immediately went to the registration tent.  WTC purchased this race from Keith Jordan and registration was a lot more regimented.  There was a "gauntlet" to go through in order to get my race numbers, swim cap, t-shirt, timing chip and wrist band (I am still wearing it 3 days after the race).

I made a point of searching out Maria Spesia.  She works for IRONMAN with Athlete Affairs.  She has been my contact regarding WTC adding dwarfism to their list for inclusion as a classification for their physically challenged division.  At this point they do not include dwarfism.  I wanted to take the opportunity to meet her face to face so in the future as I continue to lobby WTC, she will have a face to put with the emails I will continue to send to her.

After checking in I toured the IRONMAN clothing tent.  I refuse to buy any IRONMAN branded clothing until I complete my first 1/2 or FULL IRONMAN.  That might mean I will never own anything, but I refuse to jinx myself.  I have heard stories of people getting the M-DOT tattoo after completing a 1/2 Ironman race.  I feel it's just bad "MOJO".  Kind of like professional hockey players refusing to touch the Stanley Cup until the win it themselves. 

I looked around the Expo and spent some time talking with the Hoyt's.  Dick and Rick were to be racing in the sprint again.  I had a nice chat with them and with Kathy Boyer as well.   I ran into a few team-mates from Team Comp who arrived as well to register.  Andrea, Colleen and Deb were to be racing in their first triathlon.  Most of the team were to be staying at a hotel in Laconia called "1848".  I was lucky enough again to stay at the Stephens's lake house in Meredith.   If you can take the time to read my report from last year's race, my stay there was a lot more stressful due to me locking myself out on race morning at about 4AM.  This year all went well and I was very lucky to be staying there again.  Jon Mangsen, one of my team mates stayed there as well with me.  He was going to do the 70.3 on Sunday.

I decided to stick around and attend the first timers meeting with Andrea in the hopes of helping her relax a bit about her upcoming first triathlon.  I had also purchased a ticket to the dinner that night in the hopes of getting a chance to meet Chrissie Wellington, current WORLD CHAMPION TRIATHLETE at the Ironman distance.  In fact, she has never lost a single Ironman distance race in her career.  The dinner was to run from 6 to 8pm.  I was hoping it would not run too late, since I did not want to get to the house in total darkness.  The meal started on time and was not as well attended as last year.  I sat a table with 2 other couples.  We had a nice time while eating, meeting each other and talking about races we had done.

Chrissie and I.  I was STAR-STRUCK.
Chrissie arrived along with Tim O'Donnell (another professional triathlete).  They both had some dinner and then started to talk at about 6:45pm.  Their talks were pretty brief and when they were done, I quickly walked up to meet Chrissie.  I was the first one to approach her and to my surprise she said, "HI John, it's nice to finally meet you."  I was totally surprised she called me by name.  I had emailed her and she had replied months ago and it was great she had remembered who I was. We chatted for a few minutes about triathlon and she told me how she appreciated what I was doing to help inspire others, including herself.  WOW is all I have to say.  She autographed a magazine cover I had and took a couple of pics with me.  My own camera's batteries had died and Elizabeth (another triathlete), who I had just met, offered to take the pics and email them to me.  Chrissie lived up to everything I had heard about her being so gracious and willing to talk to athletes.

Me and Andy (Defending Timbeman 70.3 Champion
When I walked away (on a cloud) I noticed Andy Potts (reigning Timberman champion) another amazing pro triathlete quietly eating in the back of the room.  I approached him and he was also nice enough to give me an autograph and Elizabeth took pics of two of us as well.  I left the dinner and immediately phone Sue to tell her what had just happended.  I have to admit I felt like a babbling idiot.  So star struck for sure.

I headed off to the house in Meredith and got there just before dark.  I dropped off my gear and then headed back to the "1848" to meet up with a few team mates prior to getting some rest before the early morning wake up for the race.  I headed back to the house around 9:30PM and got my gear all ready.  Placed my race number (372) on my bike, helmet, and race belt.  Jonathan and Erin showed up a bit later and then I turned in for the night around midnight. 

I feel asleep pretty fast and was awoken by my 3:20AM alarm.  I got up quickly and got ready.  Had a bagel with PB and a bottle of V8.  I had my usual homemade "smoothie" already pre-made and would drink that on the way to park.  I loaded up the car and with no drama with the locks to the house, I proceeded to drive to Ellacoya State Park.  I arrived around 4:50AM and got a parking spot on the access road using my handicapped parking pass.  Funny thing, where they had me park, I had to lift my bike and gear over a small railing about 2 feet high and then jump over it.  So much for being handi-capped.  I know a number of you are thinking, why use the pass?  I don't feel it's a cop-out and I only try to use it, when I feel it's necessary.  Well, with over 1000 athletes converging on the park, I might as well park as close as I can without inconveniencing anyone else. 

I proceeded in to get body-marked and found my spot in transition.  It was a great spot.  Right on the outside edge only about 10 rows from BIKE IN and BIKE OUT.  I would only have to run my bike a short distance before and after dismouting.  I put my gear down, racked my bike, and kept hydrating with water.  I drink at least 2 full bottles and stop and hour before race start.  Then the trips to the porta-potties start.  I have pretty much worked out a system that gets me fully hydrated and ready for the start. 

I walked out and down to the water and then walked back to my bike taking the same path I would take out of the water and to my bike during the race.  I also then checked out where "RUN OUT" was so I knew where I would have to go after the bike portion and T2.

I then went back to my gear and set everything up.  A race official came by and told me my bike was racked the wrong way.  I was sure she was wrong but went along with her suggestion.  The athlete who was to be next to my bike showed up about 15 minutes later to tell me my bike needed to be turned around.  I told him I agreed, but was told by an official to place it the way it was.  Not worthy worrying about, so my race prep continued.

Kathy, Colleen, Me, and Deb
It was great to see most of the 70.3 Comp racers around prior to the race to lend support and encouragement.  I also met up with a few of the other Compers who were doing the sprint as well. 

Rob and Maggie.  Not a GREAT pose, but I had to include it.
I also noticed a couple of people I remembered from last year.  I made a point of searching out Robert and Maggie who worked at the massage tent.  I have kept in touch with them throughout the year and was so excited to meet up with them again.  I would end up spending most of my day on Sunday around their tent as I took pictures of the 70.3 race.

One final check of my transition area and I got ready for the swim.  I made my way down to the water around 6:40AM and got in the water.  The air was pretty chilly and the water actually felt quite warm in comparison.  I had forgotten my earplugs back in transition and the water temp seemed fine to go without them.  I swam around a bit in the SHALLOW water and was ready to start.  It is amazing how the nerves and apprehension that I faced before many races seems to be gone.  I was eager and ready to begin. 

As the race was about to start all 1100 of us got out of the water and were ready to start.  After the anthem the 9 waves of up were ready to go.  I was to be in the 3rd wave (ORANGE CAPS!!!) with 40-44 year old and 50-54 year old men.  With the in-water start we got to wade in to water about 5 feet deep so I gently treaded water until the horn sounded.

I started to the left of the pack but a number of men seemed determined to be near the back of the pack.  This was my plan but I was not going to fight over it.  I proceeded to swim toward the first buoy and it surprisingly came early.  I swam on the feet of another swimmer for a while and when I looked up, he was gone.  As I neared the next buoy I looked at my watch and it said 4:50, which meant the next wave would start soon.  I had been worried about being swam over top of, but in the end, it really didn't happen.  I almost missed the last buoy and started to turn early.  When I looked up I had a clear path to the beach with no other swimmers in sight.  Something had to be wrong.  When I looked to the left I saw them heading for the last buoy.  I turned in that direction and felt good.  I could see a number of swimmers passing me from a previous wave, but again, not the "washing machine" I expected.  I made to turn at the last buoy and headed in.  I could hear the crowd getting louder and see the water getting shallower.  The general rule of thumb is to keep swimming until your arms drag the bottom.  Since my arms are shorter, I tend to swim closer to the shore.  Many nervous triathletes love to walk as early as possible, but it is much slower.  Near the end of the swim, I found myself swimming around walking racers.  I swam right up and then stood up and RAN.

Nothing felt better than looking back and seeing 100's of people still behind me in later waves.  When I crossed the pad and press th lap key, I saw the first good news.  I was in at 13:37.  I was aiming for 17:00, so I had a great boost.  I jogged in and got to my bike.  Being close to the fence, I could hear a number of people cheering my name as I got undressed and then ready for the bike.  A bit of struggle getting my shoes on, nothing I can't fix, and I was on my bike.  My transition was slower than I had hoped (2:30) at 4:25.  I miscalculated that the run to my bike was much longer than expected, but I also fumbled around a bit.

When I got on my bike, I loved the fact that the lane was lined with cheering fans.  Having my name printed on my race number, probably helped a lot with that.  I got into a low gear making sure to not go out to fast with a big hill to conquer first.  The ride up went well and the biggest hill was done with my breathing and pulse rate at comfortable rates.  The ride is pretty much a 7.9 mile ride up and back with most of the ride out being uphill, thereby giving a nice ride back.  I got out there in pretty good time and watched all the riders heading back in make quick work of the downhill ride.

There were lots of cheering people and different points on the ride out and plenty at the turn-around.  Of course,  the "devil" was there cheering us on as we headed back in.  I got a real boost going back as I saw 100's of riders behind me, still heading out.  Even though many were gaining on me, emotionally it was a real boost, as last year I was one of the last riders to get in. 

Coming in to transition after a GREAT bike leg.
I got into my aero position a number of times and watched my speed climb to more than 35 MPH a couple of times.  Heather passed me and looked strong giving me a boost seeing a team mate.  At the last turn before heading down to the park, Tim and Alice were at the corner to cheer and of course, it was another great boost for moral.

The last downhill before the park is a no passing zone, which I entered with no one in front, so I could take it fast.  I did she Jen out cheering and Kurt was at the corner.  I took it pretty fast but was in control the whole way in.  Lots of fans lined the lane and with lots of racers still on the course, the buzz I was feeling was electric.  I got to the dismount line and got off with no problems.  I crossed the line and looked at my time.  At 1:04:58 I had taken a ton of time of last year's bike split of 1:16:15.  I got into transition and this time worked faster to get out on the run.  I managed to job all the way out and crossed the mat with a T2 time of 3:45.  Even with the longer run out, it was still a bit slower than expected.

Now prior to the race I had written some initials on my arm for motivation as well as a time to hit.  The intials were SODV.  The S for Sue and the O for Owen.  The DV was for Don Vescio, a team mate of ours who was severly injured in a bike accident in a triathlon last weekend.  The time I had written down was 1:33:30.  If I went out on the run at that time or under, all I needed as to run 15 min/miles and I would finish under 2:20 which was my target time. Well, was I excited when my watch read 1:26:45.  I had been going SO STRONG.  All I had to do was stay strong and I would break 2:20 for sure.

Heading out on the run.
The run was great.  Of course, knowing ahead of time it is mostly uphill going out and then downhill coming back in, helps.  I did experience some slight leg pain early on the run, but a shot of some gel and some thoughts about the pain Don had probably been feeling helped me realize mine was probably minor compared to his.  My mind wandered and the pain quickly subsided.  I would end up negative splitting the 3.1 mile run with no problem.  Lots of people on the road.  With Andrea and Christen from Team Comp passing me and both of them giving me high fives as they headed back in. Heather also was there for a high five on her way back in ahead of already from passing me on the ride.

I greated lots of others and was amazed how fast I hit the turn-around after passing the 1 mile mark.  I was really happy to run most of the way back in.  With the way back mostly downhill and the sound of the PA announcer bouncing off the water, I kept going with the running and only a little walking.
Andrea and I wearing our hardware.
There were lots at the turn into the park and the finish was just a few yards away.  I headed down the chute and tried to sprint in.  Crossing the line at 2:09:34, I blew away my target time and destroyed my time from last year.
Rob making it hurt, REAL GOOD!
I got some food and relaxed a bit.  Meeting up with team-mates and waiting for Deb and Colleen to finish made for a perfect day.  Capping it off with some nice massage and stretching from Robert made it all feel real good.

All I had left for the weekend was Sunday which turned out to be a great day.  I ended up getting lots of great pics of the pros, but more importantly, my team mates.  I set up near BIKE IN and OUT and RUN OUT and got some many great shots. 
Seth and Jay looking strong on lap 1.
Even had the chance to wish Chrissie luck before her race and she even made a point of coming over to see me after her race for one final hug and good-bye.  What a SUPERSTAR she is.

Chrissie coming in from the bike.
Chrissie going out on the run.
Andy and Chrissie after both finished 1st and broke their own course records.
Nancy always smiling and running strong.

Roz on the run.  Not bad after donating a kidney to her
dad 3 months ago.
But really, the SUPERSTAR this weekend for me has to be Rox Puleo.  On May 11th, she donated one of her kidneys to her ailing father and then managed to recover enough to complete this 70.3 just about 3 months later.  What devotion, strength and character she exhibits.  Agian, another reason to support the fact the I believe COMPREHENSIVE RACING is the best team of athletes, supporters and friends around.


  1. Another great race report and another PR! Congrats on killin' it!

  2. Awesome race report John! I was so jealous about the Champions dinner. They didnt call it that on the race sign up this year, so we didn't do that one. If we'd known it was the day to go and meet Chrissie and hang with other superstars like YOU we would totally have gone!

    Your time was awesome! it sounds like you've made real progress this year on your overall speed. I worked on distance this year, next year I'll be working on speed (and distance it's beginning to look like).

    I totally agree about the Ironman Stuff. I barely wanted to touch the Ironman branded stuff they gave us in the race packet at first. But I decided that I wanted to buy some stuff before I finished the race because i wouldnt have a chance to get any after the race as the sales tent closed at 3 on Sunday and I knew I wouldnt be done by then. Plus, I figured I "earned" wearing the gear I bought by paying for them. The one thing I'd only be able to wear if I finished was the finishers medal. I have been considering a very small M DOT tattoo, but it will either have the 70.3 under it, or it will be just half the M DOT.

    Plus, just so you know: With training, I know you can do any race you enter regardless of distance. You have WAY more heart than I do, and I just did the 70.3. If WTC doesnt recognize dwarfism, maybe look at the REV3 races? I don't know if they're different in how they do things than WTC, but they claim to be about change, and I imagine a newer organization is easier to get rule changes in if they arent already identifying your specific medical condition within their rules.

  3. Greetings. How do you make time to train and have a full time job? It seems incompatible if you work 8 hours or more...?

  4. Lots of early morning workouts for sure. I used to do a lot of sitting around and now I don't do nearly as much.