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Mill City Triathlon: The Best Race for First Time Triathletes

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 13, 2016
in Triathlons

Are you a new triathlete? Have you always wanted to finish a triathlon? Is completing a triathlon on your “bucket list”? The Mill City Triathlon in Lowell, Massachusetts on June 26, 2016 may be the perfect race for you.

The Mill City Triathlon Sprint Event is Perfect for Your First Triathlon

Why do I say this? 

First off I have completed almost 100 multi-sport events from the sprint distance to the Ironman distance and well over 400 races in total. I know a thing or two about what it takes to complete an event. As new race director of the Mill City Triathlon my goal is to put on a safe and fun event that challenges veteran triathletes and allows new or first time triathletes an enjoyable race experience.

Top five reasons to add the Mill City Triathlon to your race schedule this summer:

  1. 1) Swim course: For most first timers the swim is the most intimidating. The sprint course swim at the Mill City Triathlon has a low intimidation factor. The course has been shortened to only a quarter mile and is an out and back. We have small swim waves and a very friendly group. You will not be intimidated!

  2. 2) Bike and Run Courses: Both the bike and run courses are one loop. We have added course videos for both courses so you will have plenty of opportunity to view the race course prior to race day. Both courses are mostly flat and have all right hand turns. Check out the course videos on our website: millcitytriathlon.com. Remember to View The Race Before You Do The Race!
     
  3. 3) Early start time: Summer is usually hot!  We start at 7 AM to take advantage of hopefully cooler morning temperatures.

  4. 4) Amenities: We offer a safe and friendly environment, impressive post-race refreshments, finisher medals, bike support, and a few surprises to help commemorate your event finish.

  5. 5) Price: At only $59 until May 1st you will be hard pressed to beat this price. If you ever considered tackling your first triathlon why break the bank?

Check out our website (millcitytriathlon.com) and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our event. We also have an Olympic distance race, Aquabike, and relay options for both our sprint and olympic distances. 

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Wild Cat Sprint Triathlon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, August 04, 2014
in Triathlons

After a close to two year hiatus from triathlon I finally completed one yesterday. Why? No real reason. I just figured it was time. About mid-week last week I saw that the Wild Cat Sprint Triathlon was on Sunday in Lowell. The race is on my home turf and I know every inch of the course. If I was looking for the perfect race to get back into the sport then this was it. Even though I knew I was not in shape I knew I could get through a sprint and was hoping I could use this as motivation for the remainder of the year. I do not have this race on VTR but the course is almost exactly like the Mill City Triathlon

Prior to last weekend I had not done any swim training. On Saturday I went to the Merrimack River (the site of the swim course) and swam for 10 minutes to see what it would feel like and make sure I wouldn't drown on Sunday. I was slow, but pleasantly surprised all of those years of muscle memory were still there. 

Sunday morning came and I couldn't believe I had not been at the start line of a triathlon since my Ironman finish in 2012. I have to admit it felt good. As I entered the water for my 74th triathlon I felt a lot of fond memories of prior events and training. 

The Race

The swim was a quarter mile in the Merrimack River starting at the Lowell Beach. This beach is just slightly different than my vacation at Huntington Beach two weeks ago. (haha) I decided against a wet suit because the water was warm enough and I was concerned it would take me too long to take it off. I figured I would fly through T1 and make up for my lost swim time. I did several tests a few years ago that showed me without a wet suit I swim like a rock. I ended up swimming 9 minutes for the quarter mile (ouch!) but felt good in the water. My plan seemed to work as I came in 8th overall in T1 with under a minute. In hindsight I probably should have worn a wet suit but at least I felt good.

The bike was an 11 mile loop with only a couple of small hills. I recently sold my tri bike and purchased a road bike and on this course it hurt. The first 5 miles are completely flat on Pawtucket Boulevard and being in the time trial position would have helped a lot. Either way I muscled through the bike course averaging right at 20 MPH. I did mention I was out of shape, right? Either way I felt decent after the ride and it was on to the run.

The run is a perfectly flat 3 miles out and back on Pawtucket Boulevard. Now at least I was in a discipline I have actually been training for of late. I immediately noticed at the start of the run that I was not 100%. Go figure...it is a triathlon not a road race! I was able to maintain decent speed but did not have the legs to do anything special. I finished in 21:45 (7:15 pace) for the run. 

Observations

After two years off there is one important thing I forgot about triathlons...they are hard! This is not a simple 5k I can blast through in 20 minutes and then grab a beer. Even the shortest triathlons are a lot of work when you are undertrained and overweight. 

I have not earned the right to complain about my time. I am just happy I finished without embarrassing myself. I do enjoy triathlons and hopefully this will jump start me to enter a few more events before the season is over.

How did I do:

29th overall in 1:06:57

Check out the full results here.

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Rockbuster Offroad Duathlon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, April 21, 2014
in Triathlons

I mentioned at the beginning of this year that I wanted to enter a ton of races in 2014. Too many long events over the last few years have prevented me from entering many of the shorter races I used to enjoy. When you are training for long distance events most weekends are filled with long runs/rides. There is really no time to enter a sprint triathlon/duathlon. This year is different for me. I do not have any long distance races planned at the moment and I plan on enjoying as many shorter events as I can squeeze in.

On Saturday I entered the Rockbuster Offroad Duathlon. This race is a 1.8 mile run, 5.5 mile mountain bike, and then finishes with another 1.8 mile run. The entire race is held in Ashland State Park. Now since I do not mountain bike, I recruited my brother-in-law to ride and we entered as a relay team. I figured it would be fun to race as a team and to get a little off-road racing in to mix it up.

The run course was a tough rolling course. The first .75 miles were on pavement and then the last mile was off road on trails. The off road portion I found to be tough. The start of the trail section was mild but soon after there was a short jump over a stream and then a real tough climb. The remainder of the course was rolling with a lot of roots, rocks, and other debris. I managed not to twist an ankle but unfortunately fell pretty hard on the second run. I quickly bounced back up and luckily only got a few cuts on my leg. I did a decent effort on both finishing in 1202 and 1246 for both runs. It was interesting to run and then wait for 28 minutes before running the same course again. I thought I would be tight for the second run but actually felt fine.

The bike course was similar to the run course with an added section that went out to an aqueduct. It was fun watching the mountain bikers negotiate the stream crossing and then carry their bikes up the tough hill. The bike course went up the same tough hill I completed on the run course. Almost all of the riders had to carry their bikes due to the steepness of the short tough hill. It was a loop course that included climbing this hill twice.

How did we do? Well first off I will be honest. There were only a total of two relay teams. We ended up coming in 2nd place. I gave my bother-in-law a 10 second lead after the first run but the cyclist on the other team had the fastest bike split of the day and beat him by 5 minutes. Now I knew there was no chance to catch the other team but I still ran hard on my second run. I do not feel bad about getting our 2nd place medals because we had a decent time and almost certainly would have placed if there were more teams.

This was a fun event and was my third race of the week. Not a bad week.

Our results: Total time 53:21   2nd Relay Team

 

 

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Nor'easter Reverse Triathlon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, April 14, 2014
in Triathlons

On Sunday I did my first triathlon since my Ironman finish in September 2012. The Nor'easter Reverse Sprint Triathlon is held on the campus of the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. What is a reverse triathlon? Basically it is exactly what you would think it would be. Same thing as a normal triathlon except the disciplines are in reverse order. The race is a 5k run-11 mile bike- then a 150 yard swim in the Campus Center pool. I had never completed a reverse triathlon before but it sounded interesting. Not to mention it is the first triathlon of the season within driving distance of my house. 

The Race

I enter a lot of races and I have to say that this race was extremely well run and organized. A ton of volunteers, very clear signage, huge indoor transition area, and easy logistics in and out of the race venue. I left this race knowing I will definitely add this to my schedule next year.

This year unfortunately the weather was not cooperative. The rain started lightly in the morning and then became steady rain for most of the race. In addition the temperature dipped and was freezing. Basically the entire race was 40 degrees and steady rain. Luckily this event is prepared for this and has an indoor transition area. This really was a life saver on this cold and rainy day.

The Course

Remember...this race is a reverse triathlon. The race starts similar to any 5k road race. The course starts in front of the Campus Center at the University of New England. The 5k course was slightly rolling throughout but overall was not that difficult. Dealing with the rain, wind, and cold was not too bad on the run. I did not hold back at all on the run and ended up with a 20:18 5k good for 11th overall. Since the transition area is indoors you actually run to the side entrance of the building and run right into the transition area in the gym.

The bike was cold...I dressed appropriately but was wet from the run and started to feel the cold on the bike. The course was soaked with a lot of puddles but was not a technical course and did not have any tight turns or long descents. I really did not feel unsafe at anytime on the ride. The course is slightly rolling with no big climbs. I had no problem maintaining 20-24 mph for many sections of the course and was in the big ring for the entire race. The training is paying off for me on the bike as I ended up placing 15th on the bike portion of the event. This is huge for me as I usually place high on the run and then give a ton back on the bike...not this time.

After completing the bike I now had my first bike/swim transition. My hands were numb and I was soaking wet. It took forever but I was able to take everything off and then ran to the pool area. Now the race clearly stated that for safety there is no running once you reach the pool area. You have to slow to a walk and there is no passing allowed until you enter the water. The swim is only 150 yards and is one length of each lane. Once exiting the pool you immediately cross a mat and the race is over. I completed the swim without issue. The warm water actually felt great after the freezing ride.

My results: 1:00:58      11th overall and 4th in my age group

Recap

I would definitely do this race again. Great organization, good venue, and a nice and easy early season course make this a great way to get the triathlon juices flowing in April. I was able to film the course the day before the event so look for a course video soon.

The race venue is very close to Old Orchard Beach. I ended up getting a hotel the night before and had a good time in OOB. There are a ton of bars and restaurants with many of them open despite the early season. We ended up checking out a disco band called the Motor Booty Afair at the Brunswick on Grand Avenue. This is a great bar right on the ocean. Lively nightlife on Saturday night and then a great race on Sunday! How can you beat that!

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Prospect Park Duathlon Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, March 23, 2014
in Triathlons

 

I am back!!  Last Sunday I completed the Prospect Park Duathlon in Brooklyn NY. This duathlon has several distances to choose from, but I went with the Classic Distance. Due to construction they had to lengthen the course so the race ended up being a 3.8 mile run, 14.2 mile bike, and then a 3.9 mile run.

What do you get your family for Christmas? Last Christmas I gave my brother-in-law Mike entry into this event as his gift. Not a conventional gift but he was happy as an early season race of this length forces you to get motivated. After a long winter of training I wanted to see the results of our training.

 This was my first multi-sport race since I completed the Ironman in September 2012. I have not written many blog posts this winter but I have been training hard for the last 3 months. Due to the terrible winter we have had and my schedule, all of my rides and many of my runs have been indoors. Training indoors has definitely reduced my training volume but I hoped that an increase in intensity could compensate for some of that reduced mileage.

The Course

The entire course is held on a traffic free 3.75 mile loop inside Prospect Park. The race starts and finishes by running this loop (with a short additional run to transition) and then the bike covers 4 laps of the same loop. Half of the loop is flat to downhill and the other half is rolling with one tough hill that gets progressively harder with each loop. I would have taken video but by the end of the race there were so many walkers/runners/cyclists going around the circle it would have been impossible to film. This loop is very popular with local residents. This creates some minor issues as you are racing alongside people that are not racing. Several times I had to slow down to avoid packs of runners or walkers. Not a huge problem but something to be aware of when competing in this event.

 My Performance

The race started with a 3.8 mile run. I ran a controlled pace keeping in mind this was not a road race and I needed to keep my pace in check. I ran a solid 6:38 pace for the loop and then headed out on the bike.

Now it is always interesting when you haven't ridden outdoors since Labor Day and your first ride is a race. I didn't even get a chance to warm-up on the bike. My first loop was tentative but I got progressively faster with each loop. I ended up with an 18.6 MPH average. Not that fast but the hill on each loop did knock down my average speed. I should have done better but I am not unhappy with my first race performance.

I have been training with my brother-in-law Mike all winter and he ended up beating me by 45 seconds on the bike leg. I will get him next time. We are not competitive for the run portions but are usually close on the bike splits. I always joke and say he sandbags his first run just to beat my bike split. Either way this is added motivation to make sure I hammer my next ride.

The second run was 3.9 miles and I was pleasantly surprised my legs did not blow up. I really haven't done any brick workouts so I was interested to see how my legs would respond. I ended up with 7:38 pace for the second loop. One minute difference per mile first run compared with the second run. Not terrible but again plenty of room for improvement.

Results

I ended up finishing in 1:44:33  25th overall and 6th in my age group. Very happy with my first race of the season! My brother in law finished in just under two hours and also had a good race. Definitely gives some validation to all of our hard work this winter.

Post Race

One of the great things about racing in NYC is that there is plenty to do after the race. We had a great time at several of the fine establishments in the city. There seems to be a bar or restaurant everywhere you look. We did a little sightseeing and relaxing.

On Sunday I woke up and felt fine with minimal soreness. I actually ran a nice and smooth 6 miles in Central Park to complete my trip. Overall a nice weekend and a great way to start my racing season! Next race in two weeks.

 

 

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Finding Motivation After Ironman

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
in Triathlons

For two years (2011-2012) all I thought about was completing the Ironman. Everything I talked about in some way was related to my nutrition, training, or race day preparation for the big race. My complete focus was to fulfill my life long dream of completing the Ironman when I turned 40. The mental and physical effort required to train for and complete the Ironman was immense and all consuming. In less than one year I entered 3 Ironman distance events. (Clermont Aquabike, Full Vineman, and Montreal Esprit). Read my story here

After 2 years of training....I did it! I completed my goal! Finishing the Ironman was by far the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my racing life. In my mind I have reached the top and there is no event that will motivate me anywhere near the level I needed to complete an Ironman.


OK....Now what? After racing for 22 years and completing hundreds of road races and triathlons of all distances now what should I do? Should I retire and become a golfer? Should I take up gardening? I completed my Ironman on September 9th, 2012. Since then I have done a few half marathons and a number of 5k's but my motivation just isn't there. Every year at the end of the racing season I usually would get an idea about a certain event or distance I wanted to do the following season. This winter that did not happen. I tried to mentally force myself to "want" to enter a spring marathon or get in shape for early season triathlons but I just cannot generate any motivation or true interest. I am truly content and it is a little scary.

That's not to say I haven't been working out. One thing I have learned is that if you don't have to do something and you choose to do it then it must be something you truly enjoy. Since the Ironman I have not swam one stroke. I have done a few easy spins on the bike trainer over the winter but until last week my bike was still on the trainer collecting dust.

What I truly enjoy doing is running. I have been running 25-30 miles a week this year and I am not signed up for any big events. I just run 4-5 times a week and typically run 5-9 miles each time. For me this is very enjoyable and keeps me in reasonable shape. I also have been running in the Good Times 5k Series every Tuesday night which is also fun and satisfies my craving for racing. I am having a great time!

 

So is this a problem? Shouldn't I continue to be super motivated and ready to tackle my next big challenge? How can I possibly be happy if I am not training for a major event? I think what I am learning is that I do this for fun and right now I am having fun. In addition to running I have re-joined my Friday golf league. I stopped golfing last year due to Ironman training. I forgot how much I really enjoy playing golf and enjoying the company of friends on the golf course. Due to Ironman training I basically alienated a certain group of my friends due to lack of time. I didn't have time for golf or any of my other interests. I think this is typical for many people training for a major event. You are either training or recovering...not much else.

After completing a major event like the Ironman I think it is beneficial to take a break. Too many people try to ride the "high" of completing a major goal and roll right into another event. Sometimes this works but many times I have seen athletes get injured or the whole process becomes a lot of work with no enjoyment.

I know I will get motivated to tackle another challenge but I am not rushing into anything. I will continue to enjoy my Ironman "high" and run/race for fun. I plan on getting out for a few rides and open water swims and re-connect with the enjoyable parts of triathlon training. The big difference from last year is that if it is rainy, windy, or cold I will not have to force myself to ride or swim...better yet I will go for a run instead!

In case you haven't seen my Ironman finish...check out the video below.

 


 

 

 

 

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Montreal Esprit Triathlon 2012: Ironman Dreams Come True

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, September 16, 2012
in Triathlons

Ironman Finish

Most stories of success end with a paragraph of thank yous and acknowledgements to family and friends that helped to make a dream possible. I am going to change it up and lead my story with that paragraph.

First of all I could not have accomplished my dream of completing the Ironman without a tremendous support team. Training for the Ironman is the hardest thing I have ever done and has consumed my life for 18 months. I would like to thank my wife Sarah for supporting me while I made my dream a reality. Thanks to my daughter Alyssa for all her support and grace as she listened to me talking about my Ironman training for the millionth time. Thanks to my parents, for supporting me since I was a 17 year old boy who wanted to start competing in some crazy sport called triathlon. A huge thanks to Mike for cycling with me every Sunday since April without fail and for traveling with me all over the country to compete in different events. Thank you to Mike's family for giving him up for the past 6 months. I know it wasn't easy every week. I want to thank all of my friends who joined me at Lake Mascuppic at various times (Pam, Mike, Rodney) and especially Claire, who I have been swimming with at least twice a week since last year. I once cancelled on Claire, and she made me feel like I was calling in sick to work....never missed another swim. I would like to thank Josh for letting me use his bike for 2 months with no questions asked. Many other people supported me with words of encouragement and advice over the last year and I would like to say how truly thankful I am to have incredible family and friends.

Background

In 1989 I watched the Hawaii Ironman on the show Wild World of Sports and became immediately inspired by the incredible determination portrayed by the athletes as they struggled to complete the event. It was on that day 23 years ago that I vowed to one day complete the Ironman.  At the time I had only swam in back yard pools and ridden my bike as a means of transportation. So at the age of 17 I started the process of entering the sport of triathlon. In 1989 triathlons were not very popular. I did not know anyone who had completed one. I had to explain to most people that it was a race with a swim, bike, and then a run. Anyway...I bought the book Dave Scott's Triathlon Training and read it over and over. I read it so much the binding ripped in three places. I joined a gym and taught myself how to swim using several books and videotapes. I bought a bike and started riding. I had already done a lot of running because I played soccer in high school so starting a run program was easy. I entered my first triathlon about a year later. Fast forward to this year, I had completed 72 triathlons covering all distances with the exception of the Ironman.

For several years I have been talking about fulfilling my Ironman dreams as close to my 40th birthday as possible. Kind of a "screw you" to the aging process. For this reason I chose to enter the Vineman Triathlon on July 28th which was 4 days before my birthday. My Ironman dreams did not come true that day. (read the depressing story here) Despite the devastating DNF at Vineman I was determined to finish the Ironman, and I wasn't waiting around. A couple of days after Vineman I signed up for the Montreal Esprit Triathlon which is another Ironman distance race......

Pre-Race

The Race

The Montreal Esprit Triathlon is held entirely on ILE Notre Dame which is a man made island in the St Lawrence River. The swim is in the Olympic Basin which was built for the rowing events for the 1976 Olympics. The bike is a circuit course on the Formula 1 Grand Prix race track. The Montreal Casino is in the middle of the track. The run course does multiple loops around the Olympic Basin area.

My swim

Weather was 73 degrees and water was 75. Montreal has a small Ironman field so all athletes start in one wave at 7 AM. The swim should have been my easiest of the season, but my time didn't show that. I purposely swam slow to conserve strength. Unfortunately, I took it too easy. I ended up 11 minutes slower than I was at Vineman. Effort level was right on but for some reason I must have "fell asleep" in the water because my time was way off. I did not waste too much time worrying about it because this is the Ironman. No one at my level cares about 11 minutes. The whole point of the swim was to finish and feel fresh for the bike. Mission accomplished.

My bike

The bike course was on the Formula 1 race track. Each loop is about 2.7 miles, and I had to complete 41 loops. The course is flat with the exception of one short hill that you have to do 41 times. Now about the time I finished the swim the wind started to pick up significantly. By the time I got on the bike course the wind was very strong. Since the course is a circle you face north for half the loop and south for the other half. About 30 minutes into the bike the wind was howling. Riding into the wind was very difficult, forcing me to downshift. At times it felt like I was going to be blown over. Making the turn to change directions on each loop put the wind at your back, and I would shift up 3 gears. As tough as the wind was on the first half of the loop, for the second half I was pedaling nice and steady and was comfortably riding 25 MPH. Many people were passing me like I was standing still. I really wish I could have seen how fast I could have gone on that stretch if I went all out. The wind made this course more difficult, but it really was a flat course.

My nutrition plan on the bike was radically different from Vineman. After receiving advice from many sources I decided to have a large variety of options in my special needs bags. During the bike I had the following....peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, bag of chips, mountain dew, electrolyte tabs , salt tabs , Gatorade, snickers bars, and water. Mike called this my "teenage diet" nutrition plan. It may have been unorthodox but there is one thing I had drilled into my mind for this race...I was going to eat and drink as much as possible on the bike. Sugar, caffeine, electolytes, salt tablets.....I wasn't trying to win any nutrition awards....I just needed to eat anything that would get me to that damn finish line. I finished the bike 50 minutes faster than Vineman and felt good. Mission accomplished.

My run

Bacause of my Vineman experience I was very nervous about how I would feel at the start of the run. The Montreal Esprit Triathlon run course has a short 2k section on a dirt road on the first lap and then all of the remaining laps circle the Olympic Basin where the swim took place. I had to complete 9 laps for the marathon course. I started the run feeling decent. I actually started running!! In Vineman I was dead at the start of the run and barely ran at all. My running was short lived as I needed a walking break at the 2k mark but when I had to walk I was walking fast and steady. Once I got to the basin I faced the same issues on the bike. Half of the course was directly into the wind and the other half the wind was at your back. I saw Sarah and she told me to treat the wind like a hill. Walk fast and steady into the strong headwind and then run as much as possible with the wind at my back. This method would conserve my energy and maximize my efforts when I could run. I stayed focused and continued this strategy for the entire race. At one point there was a torrential downpour for about 15 minutes and the wind must have been blowing 40-50 MPH. The rain stopped but the wind never let up all day. I didn't care if it started snowing..nothing was going to stop me. I ran when I could and when I couldn't run I walked. This race actually allows non-racers to run/walk alongside racers at the 12 hour mark. This was a big boost. Sarah was with me for the last few hours. I finally finished at 9 PM with a race time of just over 14 hours.

Finish - I'm an Ironman!

Post Race

I have dreamed about completing the Ironman for over 20 years. Finally finishing this race is an incredible feeling. Training and finishing this race is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I have incredible respect for anyone who completes an Ironman. The dedication, perseverance, and commitment is all consuming. The inner strength and focus required to keep pushing your body for 14 hours really can't be described. Even if you never have the desire to compete in a race like this I would encourage anyone to be a spectator at one of these events. Watching athletes of all ages, sizes, and abilities give everything they have to finish this race by the 17 hour cut-off is awe-inspiring. I am truly humbled and honored to be an Ironman Finisher!

What's Next?

I have been completely focused on Ironman for so long I forget what it is like to have other goals. I am going to take some time off and figure out what the next challenge will be. I will definitely be competing in a lot more events in 2013. Training for Ironman has prevented me from competing in a lot of the shorter triathlon events and road races I have enjoyed competing in over the years. Entering a marathon soon has crossed my mind. Can't rest too long!!

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Ironman Finish Video

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Monday, September 10, 2012
in Triathlons

Watch me cross the line in Montreal!!   I am an Ironman!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Should you be scared of the Mooseman Triathlon Bike Course?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
in Triathlons

The Mooseman triathlon races are June 2-3. The international (Olympic) event is on Saturday and the big race (half Ironman) is on Sunday. The Mooseman triathlons have a reputation for being challenging bike courses. I have done the International event twice and have trained on the roads around Newfound Lake for years.  I can tell you that both courses are tough, and unless you are Lance Armstrong you need to pace yourself.

The International course has the famed "Devil's Hill" which should strike fear in the hearts of the undertrained cyclist. Devil's Hill comes early on in the race and is a short but very steep hill. I usually spend the first few miles after transition settling into the bike and keeping my heart rate down. There are several decent rolling hills prior to Devil's Hill. You definitely do not want to go crazy until you are over Devil's Hill. Settle into a nice rhythm and warm up your legs. As you come through the center of Hebron you will have a nice downhill (25 MPH no peddling) and then you will start to climb Devil's Hill. The beginning of the hill starts with a short but tough part and then it really gets steep. I try to spin my way up as much as I can. I try to delay standing until the last 20-30 yards if possible. Another key is making sure you start the hill in the correct gear. If you start in too high a gear you risk not making it. Every year you will see people walking up the hill. After you get past Devil's Hill the course is tough but nothing else on the course is scary.

The half Ironman event does not go up Devil's Hill. You might say...great...easier course. You would be incorrect. The course now travels over Mount Rumney twice. Mount Rumney is a 3.5 mile long climb that is extremely steep in certain sections. This is one of the toughest climbs you will experience in a triathlon in New England or anywhere. I think the "scariest" thing about this climb is that you have to complete it twice. If I was doing this climb in a race that would be all I would be able to think about it. This hill is the type of climb that will keep you up the night before. If you are an inexperienced or undertrained cyclist I would definitely recommend the third chain ring (granny gears). Having the third chain ring will reduce your chances of having to walk.  Once you make it up the climb, the descent off this hill is extremely technical and fast. If you do not like flying down a steep twisting descent then the downhill section of this course may be just as nerve racking as the uphill.

Check out the Mooseman International.

You can check out the Mooseman Half by joining View the Race.com.  Due to production costs we aren't able to offer longer events like this one for free. After spending over $200 to enter a race I know I wouldn't mind spending an additional $5 to see the bike course. Just saying...If you are interested, sign up and view the Mooseman Half here....

 

 

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Whatever Happened to the Speedo?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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User is currently offline
on Monday, May 14, 2012
in Triathlons

In the last 10 years there has been a tremendous increase in the popularity of the sport of triathlon. Increased attention on the sport has brought about better equipment and products for triathletes.  There's also been a change in the staple clothing item worn at a race. During my early years in triathlon when you stood at the start line of a swim and looked around you, almost everyone was wearing a speedo.  The "Speedo" was the thing to wear. If you watched the yearly broadcast of the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii all of the pros were wearing speedos. Amateurs too raced in their speedos for the swim, bike and run. I wore a speedo for my first 25 triathlons. They even had speedos with a bike pad. Fortunately speedos have disappeared from my wardrobe and the wardrobe of virtually every other triathlete. Here are some reasons why this switch has been a positive change for the sport.

dave cycling in speedo

1) Let's be honest. Regardless of how well-chiseled your triathlete body is...Bottom line...no one wants to see you in a speedo. There is nothing worse than the guy setting up transition and walking around prior to the start of a race with nothing on but an old faded speedo. No one wants to see that much skin. Plus it's a bit awkward having a prerace conversation with a stranger standing there in his speedo.

2) If you have worn a speedo for any length of time you have experienced chafing. Due to the repetitive motion of cycling and running the inner thighs are very prone to chafing. Most athletes figure out what clothing works best for them and eliminate this issue, but the speedo did not give you many options to avoid the "chafe". You could try putting vaseline on your legs or some other kind of body glide but that usually wore off quick. Basically if you are prone to chafing the speedo is the worst thing to wear. There is nothing worse than training hard for months for an event and then have your race ruined by a severe chafe. Thank goodness for tri-shorts. I have never had an issue with chafing since I made the switch. Even if you are one of the lucky ones and don't chafe with a speedo..if you are still wearing one maybe you should consider switching to tri-shorts as well. We will all appreciate it!!  Smile

3) Wearing a speedo with a bike pad made cycling a lot more comfortable. Unfortunately when wet, the pad became soaked and would not dry until you were on the bike. Because of this, every time you ran from the swim to T1 it looked like you had a wet diaper on. Not very attractive. It was even worse if you went for a warm-up swim and then had to walk around with your wet diaper look prior to the race. Not cool.

old race photo in speedo

4) Last but not least, the speedo looks good on the top 1% or less of the people on this planet. Not only do you need the right body but you also have to ensure you have been tanning, shaved properly, etc. Unfortunately, back in the day when the speedo was the "uniform" for a triathlon, 95% of triathletes chose to wear one. It really wasn't good.

The sport of triathlon has changed quite a bit since I completed my first event in 1990. We have better bikes, aero equipment, training plans, etc. One could argue one of the best changes to the sport was the introduction of tri-shorts. Not only did this almost completely eliminate the issue of chafing but it also improved triathlon fashion considerably. If you are one of the last triathlete holdouts still wearing a speedo please consider upgrading to the tri-short . You won't be disappointed...and neither will we.

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Bombed at Bassman Half Triathlon!

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, May 08, 2012
in Triathlons

Last weekend I drove down to Atlantic City, New Jersey and competed in the Bassman Half Distance Triathlon. It was a well organized event in a great venue.  However, I wasn't thrilled with my performance. It was one of those days when I kept thinking, "Why am I so uncomfortable"? Racing is often "uncomfortable", but usually in a long event you hope to settle into a steady pace as the hours tick by.  That was not the case on Sunday for me. Unfortunately my "veteran status" did not make me immune from having a bad day.

Bassman Bike Transition

The Bassman Half distance triathlon is a 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike, and a 13.2 mile run. The race is located in the Bass River State Forest in Tuckerton New Jersey. Tuckerton is about 30 minutes north of Atlantic City. The course is just slightly longer than the typical half distances. As I setup the transition area prior to the event I felt calm and prepared. I really had no prior warning that this was not going to be my day.

The swim was an "in water" start and I felt fine in the calm clear 65 degree waters of Lake Absegami. As the swim started I felt great for about 5 minutes. Then the problems began. My goggles started leaking and completely filled with water. Now being a veteran triathlete I calmly sat up in the water and re-adjusted them. This continued for several minutes. I just could not get my goggles set. Then maybe due to the stress of the situation I started to get some "in water" anxiety and completely lost my stroke. My eyes were stinging, I was blind in the water, and I started to slightly panic. I finally relaxed and tried to salvage some kind of stroke. I then noticed that the person swimming next to me was standing. I put my feet down and then realized I was swimming in about 3 feet of water! I immediately stood up and spent about a minute trying to fix my goggles. I was finally able to get them fixed and then continued on with the swim. As I progressed there were about 3 short sections of the swim where it became very shallow and many people stood up and ran 5-10 steps before the water got deeper. The second half of my swim was much better but I was still about 5 minutes off my usual time for this distance. The whole second half of the swim I just couldn't believe what had happened.

Crossing the finish lineThe bike course was flat and fast. I was flat and not fast. Basically I had a very uninspiring performance on the bike. To make matters worst I had two mechanical issues that set me back about 6 minutes. I just could not get comfortable during this entire event. The bike course was two 29 mile loops. I started out feeling decent but that feeling quickly faded. I just had a flat performance. I finally got off the bike hoping that I could turn my day around with a great run. The run is my best event and I was hoping that due to my great conditioning I could at least end my race on a positive note. I started off great, keeping the first 6 miles under 8 minute pace. Somewhere around mile 8 I suddenly started to lose my form and started feeling bad. By mile 10 the wheels had come off and my pace had dropped by 2 minutes a mile. I did not allow myself to walk, but for the last 5k I would not describe what I was doing as "running". I finally finished and left the race wondering "What just happened" ?

The bottom line is that I am competing in an Ironman on July 28th and I just bombed a Half Ironman on May 6th. Not the best scenario. Over the next few days I will be analyzing what happened and make adjustments as needed. I am not going to let one poor performance take away all of the good training I have done over the past few months. This poor result does bring up one question. Should I compete in the Mooseman Half Ironman on June 3rd to attempt to get a better performance or should I just continue training and focus on the Ironman? Would it mean anything if I did well in a race that is only half the distance?  Now that you've heard my experience which option below do you think I should choose? (comment below to help me decide!)

(***Note*** I ended up training as scheduled and forgot about this performance***)

1) Continue training as scheduled and don't worry about bombing the Bassman!

2) Sign up for Mooseman Half Triathlon today and kick butt on June 3rd!

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My First Triathlon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Sunday, April 29, 2012
in Triathlons

One of my favorite times of the year is when I sit in front of the computer and look through different race websites to plan out my early season schedule. One race that has always caught my eye is the Marlboro Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon. I have a special feeling for this race as this event was my first triathlon.

I remember way back (further back than I would like) in 1990 a nervous 17 year old arrived at the Marlboro Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon. My parents who had no idea what I was signed up for, came with me for support. The sport of triathlon was not as popular as it is today and keep in mind there was no such thing as viewtherace.com or the ability to simply go on a computer/phone and check what races were scheduled. There were no elevation charts, satellite views, race course videos, websites, etc. Basically you would send away for a race application, fill out the form, and mail it in. When I showed up on race day morning I had no idea what the course was like.


To be honest my memories of my first triathlon are very limited. I survived the pool swim and took off on the bike. Somehow on the last few miles of the course I ended up taking a wrong turn with about 3 other people. (Did I mention I didn’t have viewtherace.com?) I ended up riding an extra couple of miles before I got back on course. After completing the run we waited around for the results, and I was shocked to see I was second place in my age group despite adding on several miles to the bike course. I ended up getting a nice trophy (see picture) and was immediately hooked on triathlons. I only ended up completing a couple more triathlons that year but I returned to Marlboro in 1991 and won my age group. I have now completed this race 8 times over the years. Although I don’t enter this race every year, I always think back to my first race in Marlboro as the triathlon season begins.

Marlboro Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon

Here’s some VTR information on the course (you can also visit the official Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon website.) The pool swim is 250 yards. The swim is at the Wayside Racquet and Swim Club at 80 Broadmeadow Road in Marlboro, Massachusetts. The bike course is hilly and will definitely test your legs. The 3.2 run course is challenging. It features a couple of tough hills and one extreme downhill. Check out the course and maybe this could be your first triathlon.

Tell us about your first triathlon experience in the comment section below...

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