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Indoor Cycling Tips to Survive the Winter

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, January 09, 2013
in Cycling

Unless you are lucky enough to live in a snow less environment, chances are you are going to have to ride indoors at some point this winter. Many of us put this fact off for as long as possible because the reality is indoor cycling sucks. All of the things you love about cycling do not exist when riding indoors. Riding down a country road enjoying the sights and sounds of a beautiful spring day. Pushing your body to maintain speed over a small rise and then accelerating on the downhill. Designing a new route for your long ride and then feeling like an explorer as you cover new ground. Compare that to being locked in a stationary position sweating your #@!* off as you turn the cranks hour after hour in a dark corner of your house. Now there are many different ways to "spice" up your indoor training. Here are a few ways to get you through the winter.

The Bike Trainer

Almost every cyclist/triathlete has a bike trainer of some type. The problem is most people find riding on a trainer consistently all winter very difficult. Here are a few tips that may help you keep your sanity.

1) Design a program that meets your fitness goals. If you trudge down to the basement with no plan you are not going to last long on the trainer. Create a winter workout plan that is realistic and will help you stay focused. Keep in mind the trainer can be a tougher workout than riding on the road. There are no downhill breaks or coasting. If you stop pedaling the bike stops. Creating a high intensity workout that lasts 30-60 minutes can really increase your fitness.

2) Don't waste a lot of time riding junk miles. The last two winters I religiously spent 6 hours a week on the trainer during the winter months. Of these 6 hours I would say only 1-2 were quality and the rest were just spinning my legs. I honestly do not think riding junk miles on the trainer increases your fitness level. I would have been better off riding a couple of high quality workouts and a long ride each week. Everyone has a winter indoor cycling tolerance and every time you get on the trainer it goes down just a little bit. You don't want to waste your time. Make each workout count.

3) Have trouble designing high quality workouts? Try Spinervals indoor cycling workout videos. I have purchased several of these videos and they have worked for me. These videos are great because you do not have to plan or design your workout. You simply follow along with the video, changing gears and applying the appropriate trainer tension as described on the video. A note of caution.....most of these videos are really tough workouts. They are designed to be high intensity workouts to increase your fitness. If your "workout" on the trainer is spinning your legs in an easy gear while you watch the news you are in for a rude awakening.

4) If you want to get a "long ride" done on the trainer set yourself up for success. I am not sure if it is beneficial to ride 2-5 hours at one time on the trainer but if you feel this would help your fitness then you need to plan ahead. Just because you are indoors doesn't mean you don't have to plan out the details of your ride. Just like on the road you have to still plan out your nutrition, fluid intake, etc. All of these items need to be accessible during your ride. In addition how will you pass the time? I usually plan ahead and make sure I have several movies or TV shows available. Keep in mind if you are riding for four hours that is at least 2 entire movies. There is nothing worse than running out of things to watch and still have 60-90 minutes left to ride.

 Spinning

Sick of the trainer? Spinning can be a great way to break the monotony of the bike trainer and can be an excellent workout. If you have never tried a spin class you should definitely try one this winter. Riding the spin bike takes a little getting used to but you should not feel intimidated going your first time. The spin bike is similar to the trainer as you control the tension on the pedals. That is why I said spinning "can" be an excellent workout. The instructor will guide you though the workout but no one is verifying your tension level. When I attend a spin class I am looking for that high intensity workout. I try to use as much tension as I can tolerate to make the most of my time.

There is no denying that you can get a great cardio workout from a spin class. There is some debate as to whether spinning will increase your cycling fitness. The spin bike is not the same as your road bike. Seat angles, pedaling, lack of shifting, and general positioning are all different. I can only give advice based on my experience. Three years ago I did limited riding on the trainer but consistently did a spin class three times a week all winter. In February of 2010 I came close to my PR at the Mercedes Half Marathon after running a great 5k the day before. I started riding outdoors a month later and I was shocked that I was not in great cycling shape. I was very uncomfortable on my bike and my leg strength was not there. My opinion is that spinning can get you in great overall shape and is great cross-training but cannot replace riding your bike on the trainer.

Computrainer

A Computrainer is your bike trainer on steroids. Sensors are attached to your bike, the bike trainer, and your person to monitor cadence, power output, pedaling efficiency, heart rate, etc. While you ride you are watching a screen with a pre-loaded bike course of your choice. The tension on the trainer changes based on the course conditions. Most of the Ironman bike courses are available and it is a great tool as you can actually ride race courses in advance. Many top triathletes use Computrainer to train for specific early season events. The big drawback with the Computrainer is the price. The lowest end version is around $2000 and each race sells for $99. One option to avoid the big price tag is to look for a local club or YMCA that may offer use of a Computrainer. In my area there is a club that has a Computrainer Center and charges $25 an hour. (check it out here) This is a great option if you would like to try it or just add sessions into your training plan.

As all of us try to drag ourselves through the next couple of months of winter the key to maintaining your cycling fitness is to keep training. Don't get burned out...Adding in a spin class or Computrainer session can break up your week and keep you motivated. I think variety in your indoor cycling training will keep you sane and make your winter training more enjoyable. Of course if you really want to have fun pack up your bike and head somewhere warm for a week!  Cool

 

 

 

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Week One on the Road to Weight Loss

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Saturday, January 05, 2013
in Weight Loss

 

Starting a weight loss program can be exciting. Setting a goal and creating a plan can be motivating as you dream about what the results could be. You imagine the "new you" down the road and how awesome it would be if you weighed your goal weight. Today is the first update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. As I mentioned last week I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See last week's blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.


Dave

Week One Strategy:  
I already eat healthy...I have just been eating too much. This week I cut back on portion size and eliminated second and third helpings of dinner. In addition I have been eating out a lot during the Holidays so I made a point of not eating out this week. I am not counting calories or dieting; just following my instincts with portion control.

Exercise:

Sunday-40 minutes on bike trainer

Monday-off

Tuesday-Ran 5 miles easy

Wednesday-Ran 5.5 miles (track workout-15 x 1 minute at 10k race pace)

Thursday-off

Friday-Ran 5 miles easy

Saturday- Ran 7.1 miles (long run pace)

Totals: 40 minutes on the bike and 22.6 miles of running

Results:

Starting weight: 189    Jan 5th weigh-in: 187.5     Weight loss: 1.5 pounds

Mike

Week One Strategy:  
If you don't know my story I lost over 60 pounds last year by using a strategy of juice fasting and becoming a vegan. I wrote a number of blogs explaining in detail how I did it and you can read them here. This year I am happy to say I do not have to lose 60 pounds. I only have to lose 24. I like to dive right into weight loss so I decided to do what I do best right out of the gate....juice fast! Since January 1st I have not eaten anything. Last year I became a real believer in juicing and as you can see the results speak for themselves. In addition I have started exercising primarily with yoga and the elliptical.

Exercise:

Sunday-off

Monday-off

Tuesday-30 minutes easy on treadmill (running)

Wednesday-yoga 60 minutes + elliptical 60 minutes + 30 minute spin class

Thursday-off

Friday-yoga 60 minutes + elliptical 60 minutes

Saturday-yoga 90 minutes

Totals: 30 minutes of running + 2 hours elliptical + 3.5 hours of yoga

Results:

Starting weight: 192.5    Jan 5th weigh-in: 187.2     Weight loss: 5.3 pounds

Week one Recap:

After week one you can see that we both approach weight loss in different ways. On the competitive side you can see that Mike's extreme strategy really paid off. I chose a more measured approach and to be honest was content with the 1.5 pound reduction before I heard Mike's results. If you have not weighed yourself in awhile the initial weigh-in is always a little questionable. Weights fluctuate all the time so it is hard to tell if Mike had an inflated number to begin with. This week will be telling as it is the first full week without a Holiday distraction and also we both have a better idea of where we stand. Can Mike keep it going? Will I see better results next week? We will see. I know this is motivating me and I hope you have started your return to race weight!

 

Next update January 12th!

 

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Lose the Holiday Belly and Return to Race Weight

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Monday, December 31, 2012
in Weight Loss

 

 

 As the calendar turns symbolizing the end of the holiday season, every athlete should begin to switch gears from the "off-season" mode to 2013 race season preparation. At VTR we will focus on two athletes who gained some weight this off-season and are starting the process of returning to race weight. This will not be a scientific examination of the process. The goal is to give helpful tips and hopefully some motivation to start losing the extra weight you inevitably gained over the holidays. I think you will find it interesting as both athletes begin to return to race weight in two completely different ways. The focus will be on total weekly mileage, general nutrition strategies, and of course the results of the weekly weigh-in.

This is not a weight loss contest but what usually happens with competitive people is that everything turns into a competition. It will be interesting to see who reaches their goal race weight first but the focus will be to gradually lose the weight and increase fitness as we get closer to serious racing in the spring.

Profiles below:

Athlete #1: Dave   (your VTR host)                                                           

Goal Race Weight:  169         Current weight:  189

Last year: Great season as I completed the Ironman in Montreal on September 10th. In addition completed 18 races including a half-Ironman, 3 half marathons, and a failed Ironman attempt at Vineman.

Off-season: Mostly ran; averaging 100 miles a month since September.

2013 goals: Break 1:30 in the half marathon on April 13th. I want to be at my goal race weight on that date as well.

 

 

Athlete #2: Mike (popular juicing blogger)                  

Goal Race Weight:  169         Current weight:  192.5

Last year: Incredible year losing 65 pounds in the first 4 months of 2012. After completing all 10 events in the Good Times 5k Series, started training for triathlons and completed the Montreal Olympic Triathlon in 3 hours on September 10th.

Off-season: Yoga 3x a week and several spin classes. Limited running and swimming.

2013 goals: Finish a half-Ironman. Goal to return to race weight by start of Good Times Spring Series. (mid-April)

 

 

 First progress update Jan 6th.....Time to get moving!!!

 

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5 Steps to Planning Your Next Goal Race

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, December 20, 2012
in Training

After the holidays many us start the process of planning out our big races for 2013. Some of us already have a plan, and others are still trying to decide what they want to do next season. I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything if they commit to it. This is a great time of the year to figure out what you really want to do and then start down the road of meeting your goal. As an athlete and a veteran racer that usually means selecting a big race and then putting together a plan to train for it.

 


5 Steps to Planning Your Next Goal Race

 

1) Self-Evaluation

How did last season go? Are you happy with your race results? Are you burnt out? Proper self-evaluation is a key part of the race planning process. For most of us racing is a hobby and something we enjoy doing. Did you have fun this year? If running and racing has stopped being fun then you are doing something wrong and need to fix it in 2013. Don't make the mistake of signing up for races in 2013 just because "I always do that race". Once you evaluate where you are mentally and physically start to think about what you "really" want to achieve in 2013. What distance do you enjoy the most? What event have you always wanted to race? Make a point of making sure you know what you want to do before committing to a bunch of races.

2) Be Realistic

A big part of making sure you have an enjoyable and successful season is choosing realistic goal races. If you are reading this and have never swam before I wouldn't recommend signing up for an Ironman event next season. Look back at 2012. What races did you complete? Did you leave any "unfinished business" in a particular race distance? As I mentioned above,  I do believe anyone can finish any event. What I am recommending is for you to consider all of the training involved with each event before you sign up. If you barely finished a half marathon this fall signing up for a marathon next year is going to take a tremendous amount of effort. Do you really want to do this? Choosing an event that is so far above your current fitness level is a recipe for disaster. Remember step 1? Self-evaluation....Complete an honest self-evaluation and choose events that are a natural progression from your 2012 season. I guarantee you will be a lot happier in 2013!

3) Timing is Everything

Now that you have completed steps one and two you are ready to sign up for your big goal race. The key to choosing the right race is to make sure you have enough time to train for the event. If you have decided 2013 is the year you want to complete a marathon you need to make sure the timing is right. When do you want to start training? What kind of shape are you currently in? Do you want/need stepping stone events to lead up to the big goal race? Don't make the mistake of rushing to the nearest race calendar and signing up for the race with the best website. Do your homework and find out how long it will take to train for your event based on your fitness level. If you don't plan on starting any serious training until February 1st and you plan on taking 4 months to train for your marathon then June would be the first month to start looking at races. Know in advance how long you need to train before you start looking at events. The worst thing you can do is set a goal and then sign up for a race that is too soon. Make sure you have enough time to train to ensure your goal becomes a reality.

4) Stay Focused

Now that you have selected your goal race don't make the mistake of signing up for major events that are scheduled after your big day. If you are completing your first marathon in June don't sign up for a second marathon before you have completed your first one. Enjoy the process of training and focusing on your big race without having to worry about other challenges. Many people forget or are unaware of the mental and physical strain they will experience after months of training. Once you have successfully completed your goal many times all you want to do is take some time off. After some reflection you also may decide to do something else. Don't lock yourself into another event.


5) Keep Racing

Keep the racing juices flowing! if your big event is 4 months away or longer, break up some of that impending training monotony with some racing. If you are training for a marathon sign up for a half marathon that will fit nicely with your training. Maybe you can even find a 30k or 20 mile race that would also fit. I recommend reviewing your training plan and signing up for a few events that fit right away. Not only will this keep you motivated but completing these secondary races are excellent training for your goal race. These races can be used to test your pacing, nutrition, and pre-race routine. Don't wait! If you wait to sign up for secondary races something will always come up and you will not be able to enter the race.

 

Follow these simple steps and you are well on your way to having a great 2013!

 

 

 

 

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What motivates you in the off-season?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Friday, December 07, 2012
in Training

 

As we get deeper into the off-season some of you probably have not been training much and some not at all. Of course there are probably some of you that have already signed up for an Ironman event next year or an early season marathon and your training is still in full swing. After training right through the off-season for the last 3 years I am faced with my first real stretch of time where I am not signed up for a big event and don't really have a "reason" to train. In some ways this is liberating and in others it is a little scary. My whole identity for years has been focused on my training plan and preparing for either an Ironman or marathon. In some ways I feel a little lost without my training plan "blanket".

After fumbling around training randomly for the first 2 months post-Ironman, I decided to enter a few races to determine my fitness level. I entered a 5k on Thanksgiving Day and 3 days later I entered a half marathon. I did not have stellar performances in either of these events but it got me back in the game. Unfortunately there are not a lot of races to choose from for the next couple of months. Racing every weekend or even every other is very difficult with all of the Holiday commitments and limited race schedule. So now what?

I needed another plan to keep me motivated....Sign up for a big event in 2013? No....not ready....Then I remembered something I always wanted to do. I hesitated to write a blog post about this because it is not that big a deal and also it may not be that smart. I have always wanted to run every day for an entire month. I know....why? It isn't even that cool or exciting...I think I watched a news story about a guy called "The Raven" who has run 8 miles a day on Miami Beach for 35 years in a row. This intrigued me and I have occasionally thought it might be cool to do a very limited version of this insanity. After much deliberation (with myself) I decided I would run a minimum of 4 miles a day for the entire month of December. Now I am not running the same course, I just have to cover the miles. Again I am not writing this because I think this is an incredible feat. This is just something that will keep me motivated for the month of December and then we will see what happens....I post all of my workouts day by day here if you want to see if I make it.....who knows maybe if I am successful I will keep going....Remember this quote from the movie Forrest Gump ?

Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.

 

                                                  What keeps you motivated?

 

 

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Wolf Hollow Half Marathon Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Monday, November 26, 2012
in Road Races



Yesterday I ran in the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon in Nashua, New Hampshire. The race was held primarily in Mine Falls Park near the Nashua YMCA. I got the idea to enter the race after I completed my longest run since September (11 miles) last weekend. I said it was good idea to keep me motivated and ensure I continued to increase my long run. My plan was to run it at my "long run" pace and enjoy the trails of Mine Falls Park. I figured if I ran between 8-830 pace I would handle the increase to 13.1 miles easily. Sounds good on paper, right?

Regardless of what I say....I find it almost impossible not to run hard in a road race. Yesterday was no different. Looking back at my recent run history there is nothing that would make anyone think I was in shape to race a half marathon. Not to mention my body was tired and lethargic from the Thanksgiving day parties and the fact I had just ran in my first race since September three days before (Thanks 4 Giving 5k). Oh, and did I mention the weather? Freezing with a strong wind. Add all of this together and you would think I would run nice and easy like I had planned. Nope....

The Race

The race started right behind the Nashua YMCA. The first 2.15 miles were on roads and then we entered Mine Falls Park for two loops before exiting the park and a short run to the finish line. I started running what I thought was nice and easy and ended up running a 6:40 first mile. I won't bore you with the details but I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I didn't follow my plan and I paid the price. By mile 5 my legs had seized up and my pace dramatically slowed for the next several miles. Mine Falls Park has several short but tough climbs and each one really hurt. This was not the nice and easy long run I had planned and it was my fault. I continued to suffer for the remainder of the race. Just to give you an idea as I mentioned above I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I ran the last 5k in 28 minutes. It took everything in my power not to walk the last tough uphill around mile 12.75. I finished the race in 1:46:42 (809 pace). On paper it looks like I followed the plan....if only.

Lessons Learned = 0

Racing a half marathon the Sunday after the Thanksgiving Day festivities will always be tough. Add to that a lack of training and some cold, windy weather and you have yourself a recipe for failure. In hindsight I should have started at 8-8:30 pace as planned and ran a nice and smooth 13.1. I probably would have ended up with the same overall pace of 8:09 and would not have suffered for most of the race. Next time I am sure I will follow the plan....yeah right!

 


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Thanks 4 Giving 5k Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Friday, November 23, 2012
in Road Races



What a great morning to race! The weather conditions for yesterday's Thanks 4 Giving 5k Road Race in Lowell, Massachusetts were absolutely perfect. Temp's in the 40's, sunny, and no wind. This is my hometown race, and I completed this race for the 9th time yesterday. I love racing on Thanksgiving Day!

This was my first race since completing the Ironman in early September. I have been training consistently since the race but have reduced volumes considerably. I have been running around 18-23 miles a week and biking on the trainer once a week. Swimming is out until next year. The last time I raced in a 5k was the last week of the Spring Good Times 5k series in June. Since that time basically I have been doing long, slow distance training. I had no idea what kind of shape I was in or how my body would react to 5k race pace.

Warm-up

My day started with sharp pain in my lower back due to an intense leaf raking session the day before. I took 2 Advil and ran to the start of the race from my house. A little bit longer than I would usually run for a warm-up prior to a 5k but I felt like I needed it to work out the pain in my back. Total warmup: 2.1 miles


Registration

This is a well organized race so registration is a breeze. Registration is inside the Lowell Elks and I was in and out with my number in 5 minutes. Bathroom was wide open too (the women's line was crazy) and I was quickly ready to head to the start. No issues.


Race

I timed my arrival to the race perfectly and after just a few minutes of waiting the race was ready to start. I always start in the front and decided to place myself in the second row of people just behind the start mat. The race started and for some reason I was quickly swamped on all sides. Maybe I didn't react quickly enough to the start but for the first few hundred yards I was pinned behind slower runners. As a racing veteran I knew I just had to be patient and wait until the road cleared a bit. This is always a little stressful because you feel like you are losing time every second you are pinned in a crowd. I finally broke free shortly after the right turn on Varnum Avenue and I immediately moved to the center of the road. At this point I had the road to myself and started running hard. I probably passed 20-30 people in the next quarter mile and felt good. The only hill on the course is at the .75 mile mark (check out the video) and I felt like I was running a strong tempo pace and felt in control. I ran the first mile in 6:23. Now I usually run the first mile closer to 6 minutes but with the only hill on the course out of the way and that slow start I was happy with my time. The second mile starts slightly rolling and I just continued to run a strong tempo pace. Normally in a 5k I would have a couple of more gears but my high end speed is gone. Strong tempo is all I have right now until I get my speed back. I started to feel it a bit as I rounded the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard and quickly looked over my shoulder and saw a friend of mine only about 20 yards back.


**** Side note. Every year several of my friends run this race. One of my friends, Henry, always tries to beat me. Now we are not overly competitive with each other but for some reason every Thanksgiving there is an unwritten competition between us. This year was no different. I completed the Ironman in September and ended my season. He ran his PR at the Chicago Marathon and ended his season so we were pretty similar. We both are a little fat and happy and really don't care about our Thanksgiving 5k time. But guess what...that unwritten competition remains and I want to make sure he doesn't beat me.****

Returning to my story I look over my shoulder at the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard and sure enough 20 yards back is Henry. I knew I was starting to lose it but I threw in a "surge" and tried to increase my pace. I was hoping he was hurting too and hoped if I accelerated he would be discouraged and shut it down. I refused to turn around and check if it worked and kept pressing. I passed through mile 2 in 12:46 (another 6:23 mile) and kept pressing. Unfortunately, the wheels were starting to come off. My breath was fine. The problem was I just couldn't increase my leg turnover and I was starting to fade. Several people passed me over the next half mile. I still refused to turn around and ran as hard as my dead legs would carry me. I rounded the turn on Old Ferry and sprinted to the finish in 20:18. I really died toward the end but all things considered I think I did OK. Henry finished in 20:33. Come to find out he thought he would get me after the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard but just couldn't close the gap. Fun race on a great day.


Time: 20:18   Overall Place: 20th   Age Group: 6th

What's next?

If you have followed my blog posts or seen my race history you will know I love to race. Due to all of my Ironman training in the last 18 months I have really had to cut back on racing due to all of the training. Now that I have completed my first race I feel like I am back in the game. It may be premature but my next race is going to be Sunday. Yes... this Sunday. I have entered a new half marathon in Mine's Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire called the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon. Look for my race report next week.

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Sharing the Running Lifestyle

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, November 08, 2012
in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving is a time when many people pause and take time to reflect on the past year and what they are most thankful for in their lives. Some families share specific things they are thankful for together and others choose to be thankful in a more private way. I believe it is very important to be thankful and you should never take things for granted. I was taught regardless of what position you are in life there is always someone else who is hurting worse than you or has less than you.

 

As I reflect on the past year, one of the things I am most thankful for is the great times I have had running, racing and living a fitness lifestyle. My wife and daughter have been running and racing for years, and I am thankful we have been able to share these times together. As a runner it is wicked awesome (yes, I am from Massachusetts) for your entire family to enter the same road race. One of the proudest moments of my running career was a couple of years ago when all three of us entered the The Coaster Run 5k Road Race, and we each placed in our age groups and received medals. Sharing the running lifestyle with your family is really motivating and is a great way to share experiences.

This was also the first year my brother-in-law and sister-in-law embraced the running lifestyle. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the Good Times 5k Spring Series completing all ten events. If you are a runner you will understand that racing a 5k and then drinking a few beers with family once a week is really a great time. It is cool to be able to run with family and share running goals and experiences. I am thankful for the quality time we were able to spend together before and after the race each week. Good times with family can be limited by geography or the business of life. The opportunity I had this past year to share my running lifestyle with my family is something I am truly thankful for, and I hope to have this opportunity again in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Thanksgiving Day Road Race: A Great Holiday Tradition

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, October 25, 2012
in Road Races

 

Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Race in Andover, MA

When you think of Thanksgiving Day the first thing that comes to mind is probably turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and pie.  For many, Thanksgiving is also associated with a sporting event.  You might be thinking football, but there's another type of event that thousands of people participate in each Thanksgiving Day...running a road race.

According to the website Running in the USA there are 68 road races on Thanksgiving Day in New England. Chances are if you're a runner you will be running a race that day. These holiday races are also filled with families and friends who have a tradition to run their local Thanksgiving Day race each year. For many of these entrants it is the only race or even the only run they complete all year. The question is...Why do we run on Thanksgiving Day?  I did some research and did not find a definitive answer. It appears that the idea of burning calories off the morning of our big Thanksgiving Day Feast is a popular reason. Also, the idea of a holiday tradition seems to be important to many.

I do not have a long standing tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day. This year will be my 6th year in a row. Running a local Thanksgiving Day Race is convenient, so you don't have far to travel after the event. My hometown race is the Lowell Thanks 4 Giving 5k. This race has only been around for 11 years. I have completed this race 8 times and plan on entering every year. I really enjoy the atmosphere of running Thanksgiving morning and including this race in my holiday traditions.

New England is not the only place where Thanksgiving Day Races are popular. The oldest Thanksgiving Day Race in the country is the Buffalo Turkey Trot (117 years) followed by the Thanksgiving Day Race in Cincinnati, Ohio (103 years). One of the biggest events is The Dallas Turkey Trot which has over 25,000 entrants.

 What races do we offer on View The Race? We currently have 8 Thanksgiving Day events. See our list below.

Feaster Five

The Feaster Five Road Race in Andover, Massachusetts is one of the biggest road races in New England with 10,000 entrants competing in either the 5k or 5 mile races. This race often has some local celebrities competing and will be celebrating its 25th year in 2012. I completed this race only once. (32:46 in the 5 miler)

Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Southport, Connecticut will be celebrating its 34th year in 2012 and has around 5,000 entrants. This race is a distant second to the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT which has 13,500 entrants and is in its 76th year. Unfortunately we do not have that one on VTR.

Dreamcatcher Classic

The Dreamcatcher Classic Road Race in Weymouth, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 20th year in 2012. This is a great event with 1500 entrants competing in either the 2 mile or 5 mile road races. Proceeds support the Julie Rodick Scholarship Foundation.

Thanks-4-Giving

The Thanks-4-Giving Road Race in Lowell, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 11th year in 2012. This race offers both a 5k and 10k race. This is my home course and I plan on being one of the over 1000 entrants that run every year. This year will be the 9th time I have completed this race. My best time is 19:34. (I always do the 5k.)

Turkey Trot Road Race

The 5k Turkey Trot Road Race in Derry, New Hampshire will be celebrating its 39th year in 2012. This is a great 5k road race that runs around Beaver Lake in Derry. This race has close to 1500 entrants. I have done this race once. (20:10)

Whitin Five Mile Road Race

The Whitin Five Mile Road Race in Whitinsville, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 24th year in 2012. This race has a great history and has close to 1000 entrants every year. The race starts and finishes at the Whitinsville Town Common.

Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Ayer, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 8th year in 2012. This race has grown in popularity with close to 800 entrants every year.

 The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k

The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k in Manchester, New Hampshire is only in its 2nd year in 2012 but had over 1000 entrants in last year's debut. This race starts near Delta Dental Stadium and actually finishes with a run around the warning track and a finish line near home plate.

 

Pies at the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Race

If you already have a tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day hopefully I have filmed your race. Watch the video of the course and get excited about this year's race. If you do not have a Thanksgiving running tradition consider one of the above events. If you are not near one of the above events check your local race calendar...chances are there is a race near you.

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Show me your wall of medals!

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Friday, October 19, 2012
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Running Medals Explained

Many people have come over my house and have seen my "wall of medals". For those that are not familiar with the award system of running/triathlon the first impression is that I am some kind of incredible athlete. I am not vain enough to count the amount of medals on my wall but let's say I have quite a few. Now I am proud of "my wall" but I am not an incredible athlete. I have listed the three ways you can "win" a medal in the sport of running below.

There are 3 ways to receive a medal in the sport of road running. The first way is to actually win the race. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner and typically second and third are also recognized. This is great if you are good enough to compete with the top names in the sport. Most of us are not in this category and will never have the opportunity to be the first across the line. In other words there is no chance to ever win a medal in this fashion.

The great part about running is that there is another layer of competition. The second way to win a medal is the age group competition. The age group competition allows for a secondary competition within the race for all runners within certain age groups. Most races recognize 10 year age groups and award medals for 1st-3rd in each age group. If you don't place in the overall race then you are automatically moved into the age group competition. This is great because if you are 55 years old and have no chance to win the race you can still enjoy competing with other runners in the same 50-59 age bracket. In most races you still have to be very good to place in your age group but with the tremendous amount of races out there today once in awhile a mediocre time can still place.

 There is also a third way to receive a medal. Most longer races such as a half marathon or marathon award a "finisher's medal" to all runners that can complete the event. This medal is not for placing overall or in your age group. This medal is simply for finishing the race within the time limit. Now is finishing a half marathon an incredible feat? How about a marathon? The answers to these questions really depend on who you are.  Many people have completing a marathon/half-marathon on their bucket list. When they finally cross the line the personal pride and sense of accomplishment can be incredible. Others have completed the event many times. Either way, what do you think of the finisher's medal? I think the finisher's medal symbolizes an accomplishment but it also is a nice way to remember a moment in time. I consider the finisher's medal to be like a "postcard" from the event. I can look at the medal and remember the day I did the race and everything that was involved in completing the event. I am a big fan of the finisher's medal as long as it doesn't start creeping into shorter events. Once in awhile a race will give out these medals for sprint triathlons or shorter running events. I think keeping it at the half marathon distance or greater maintains a certain effort level required to earn a medal.

I have earned my medals all three ways above.....and you can see my "wall of medals". If you have been in the sport of running for awhile I know you have medals. Where are they? If you have a "wall of medals" please send a picture. Be proud!!  Let's see your wall!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Win the War Against Holiday Weight Gain

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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in Weight Loss

 

As many of us have completed our goal races for the year or are in the final stretch before that big event, we start to look towards the off-season. Now whether your goal race was a half-marathon, marathon, or an Ironman, chances are you went through months of hard training and sacrifices to make your goal a reality. At this point you probably feel mentally and physically drained and need some much deserved time off. Guess what? You are right...you deserve it. This is a great time of the year to take some time off. The weather starts to get cold, plenty of holiday feasts and parties to enjoy, probably much needed vacation time from work..etc.

The big question is...Can we enjoy the off-season and re-charge our batteries without gaining weight? The answer is NO. Now you may have read a hundred articles about this subject and you may have got a candy coated answer about how you can avoid gaining weight. I am telling you it is impossible and you will gain weight. The real question is will you gain 5-10 lbs or will you go crazy and gain a ridiculous amount of weight.

If your big race is over and training for your event is done then guess what? You have started the war against weight gain. Make no mistake...you are in a war. Denying it will not keep the pounds off. I look at the battleground as the day my final race ends in the fall until after the New Year. Usually this is 2-3 months of time. My goal is to enjoy every party, holiday feast, and family gathering and weigh no more than 10 pounds heavier than I was before my end of season event. Ten pounds is manageable. What you don't want is to step on the scale and see 20-25 pounds or more on January 2nd...then you are looking at a major struggle to begin next season.

10 simple ways to avoid gaining crazy amounts of weight during the Holidays

1) Slow down your training....but don't stop! The off-season is a time to scale back...not completely shut it down. If you were running 5-6 days a week cut it down to 3-4 days a week. I try to run at least 4 days a week and I run 4-6 miles every time. I don't care about pace and I don't care about distance. I have set a mental minimum of 4 miles. If I want to run more I do. If I don't, then I run the minimum of 4 miles. Simple.

2) Try something new...some people like playing hockey, hiking, hunting, skiing, etc. If you have a sport you couldn't fit into your life due to your training, now is the time to enjoy it. Keep in mind hiking one day on the weekend does not replace a week's worth of maintenance runs.

3) Everyone has holiday parties to attend. If you are the host, here is a simple tip. As people leave give them something to take home. Get rid of the leftover cakes, pies, candy, rolls, etc. Anything left behind will be eaten by you...no question. Do not let people leave empty handed.

4) This goes against #3. If you are not the host, then do not accept anything to take home. Anything you take home usually does not last the car ride home or is eaten in the middle of the night. Politely refuse to take any food home with you. Instant savings to the waist line.

5) If asked to bring something to a party offer to bring a healthier dessert such as a fruit salad or some other low calorie dessert. Just about everyone is battling weight gain and although they won't ask you to bring something healthier they probably won't object if you offer.

6) If you know you are going to chow down at a big meal (such as Thanksgiving) then try to take it easy on the desserts. Maybe just a small piece of pie (just to be social). Limit the damage by choosing to overindulge on the meal or the dessert. Not both. The flip side is if you are at a work holiday party or another small gathering you could choose to eat a lite lunch and then have a big piece of pie. This is basic math folks...everything has calories and they all add up.

7) If you know you are having a huge meal, pie, snacks, etc. at a series of upcoming parties then limit the damage to just those days. It is nice to not have to think about calories or dieting and just be able to eat anything you want at Christmas Dinner. That is fine. Just don't turn every day into Christmas Dinner. Once the dinner is over, it is time to go back to normal eating habits. Don't allow any carryover into "normal" days after the parties are over.

8) Enjoy the parties and dinners but know when to say when. There is absolutely no excuse to have the second, third, or fourth piece of pie. It is OK to let yourself go a little bit, but don't commit dietary suicide. No one enjoys the third piece of pie anyway. Let's be honest. How do you feel later that night?

9) Don't forget that beverages also have calories. Try not to grab the big glass of eggnog with that piece of pie. Again it is all about the math and adding up the calories...one or the other...not both.

10) The Holiday season is the time that chocolates, candies, and baked goods start to show up at work. You must avoid workplace "grazing" at all costs. This is where you could really start to lose the war. You can overcome several parties spread out over a month or two but you will not win the war if you start eating 200-500 additional calories a day from candy jars at work. I know how it starts...you grab a piece of chocolate out of a dish at work and next thing you know you are having one every time you walk by. Then you are finding reasons to walk by the dish so you can have another one.....and then before you know it...

 

 The bottom line is the off-season is a time to relax and re-charge your batteries both mentally and physically. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the Holiday season and spend time with family and friends without strict dietary restrictions or workout plans. The reality is you will go back to training and when you do it will be a lot easier if you have only gained a few pounds. Good luck.

 

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Do you listen to music while running?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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Let me start off by saying I have been running for over 20 years and I have never worn a walkman (those under 30 see picture below) i-pod, or any other device while running outdoors. Call me "old school", but I truly believe a big part of the enjoyment of running is smelling the air, enjoying the sounds of nature, and the freedom to explore new areas. There is nothing like running on a cool October morning on a country road, enjoying the sights and sounds as you cruise along at a comfortable pace. Running is a great way to escape from the day to day grind and the time to exercise your body and relax your mind.

Now that you have the picture of serenity on a nice country road......Why in the world would you want to listen to music while running? This is supposed to be your time away from everything. You would prefer to listen to your i-pod and hear the same songs that you have heard 1000 times than enjoy the sights and sounds outdoors? I think anyone that listens to music while running outdoors is missing out on a huge opportunity. Running is the time to look around and enjoy your surroundings.....Not constantly fiddling with your i-pod or phone, changing songs every 30 seconds oblivious to the world. If you have never ran outside without music try it next time. Learn to relax your mind and the joys of running free.

Even if you disagree with me there is another factor. Safety is also a huge concern when running outdoors. If your music is blaring then you are reducing your chances of hearing a car horn, fast approaching car, or any other noise that should warrant your attention. I may be in the minority but I believe listening to music while running outdoors is just a bad idea.

I do admit then when nature forces me to the dreadmill I do use an i-pod. This is totally different. There are no sights and sounds to enjoy. Safety issues do not exist. Therefore...blare your music and pray the time goes by quick. Hopefully this winter is a mild one with minimal snow so I won't have to run indoors.

 Let me know what you think...Agree or Disagree?

 

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Triathlon Swim Panic: Why are you afraid?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Friday, September 28, 2012
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Since View The Race launched earlier this year the most popular "google search"  I have seen is related to swim panic during a triathlon swim or overcoming swim anxiety. I wrote a post about this subject earlier this year and the use of a swim buoy in open water training. Now I knew that this would be a popular subject as everyone at one time or another is nervous about the swim portion of a triathlon. I even had a mini panic attack myself earlier this year. What I didn't know is how many people out there are really afraid or have a tremendous amount of anxiety about swimming in open water during a triathlon.

 

As I thought about this I asked myself..... What are people afraid of?    Sharks?  Jellyfish?  Is it fear of drowning? Fear of being bumped or hit in the water? Unfortunately, people have died during the swim portion of a triathlon. Usually the cause of death is related to a heart attack or some other underlying medical condition. As terrible as that is I don't think that is the reason people are afraid of the triathlon swim. I believe people are afraid of the triathlon swim for the same reason people are afraid of anything else. It's a mix of rational and irrational fear.  For example, why am I afraid of heights? Who knows....Below are the definitions of what is going on for someone that is experiencing swim panic.

What is fear?     

An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

What is panic? 

Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.

Taking these two definitions it's fair to say that what people with swim panic are experiencing in the water is uncontrollable fear of impending danger/pain/injury which can result in irrational behavior. For example, trying to take your wetsuit off during a race in the water. (yes, I have seen this)

My first reaction to this definition is..... Are you kidding me? People are that afraid of swimming in a triathlon? I would think if athletes train in open water and are confident in their swimming ability then they shouldn't be nervous or afraid of the swim portion of a race. Then I looked in the mirror....What about the things I am afraid of? Why can't I just get over them as I am suggesting is so easy to do? People have the same feelings of panic and fear felt during the triathlon swim about many different things. Here are the top ten things people are afraid of according to an about.com article:

1) Spiders

2) Snakes

3) Heights

4) Crowded spaces

5) Dogs

6) Thunder and lightening

7) Needles

8) Social situations

9) Flying

10) Germs

Most everyone is afraid of something. How many of the above are you afraid of? (I have 2 out of 10) So I guess my point is that being afraid or anxious about the swim portion of a triathlon is not that crazy. The swim portion of a triathlon can be chaotic. In addition this chaos is happening when you are in water over your head, possibly far from shore swimming in a crowd with no means of immediate escape. I guess that would hit the panic button for a lot of us. This actually seems a lot more legitimate than being afraid to look over the edge of a building (fear of heights) or seeing a snake at the zoo (behind 4 inches of glass).

All kidding aside, I truly believe repetitive training in open water will relieve some swim anxiety. Also, being comfortable with your swimming ability will make you more confident. In other words don't enter a race with a mile swim if you are not sure you can swim a mile. Hopefully with training you can overcome your fear. It is possible that regardless of the amount of training, you may not be able to overcome your fear. Triathlons are supposed to be fun, right? If you are afraid of snakes you wouldn't keep trying to be a snake charmer and enter snake charming competitions...Why is the triathlon any different? Remember if all else fails there is a fall back plan.....duathlons.

 

 

 

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Crazy Conditions at Montreal Olympic Triathlon Swim

Posted by David Hardy
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 The Montreal Esprit Triathlon starts at 7 AM and is the first race to start on the big day of races in Montreal. During the day I completed my Ironman distance event, there was also a half Ironman (demi-esprit), Olympic, Sprint, and a Duathlon. All of these events are run on the same course. The only difference is the amount of loops each race completes. My brother-in-law and training partner Mike competed in the Olympic Triathlon. His race did not start until 1:00 PM.

During the 6 hours I was killing myself on the Ironman course the winds had increased dramatically. While I was struggling to keep upright on my bike in the heavy winds about a half mile from where he was standing, Mike was faced with the toughest swim of his life. The usually calm, no current Montreal swim course had turned into an angry sea with white caps and waves. The water was so rough every time I went by the basin and saw the water in the distance I thought for sure they would cancel the swim. Take a look at what Mike had to face at the "easy" Montreal Olympic swim course.

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Montreal Esprit Triathlon 2012: Ironman Dreams Come True

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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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
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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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Enjoying my Ironman Taper

Posted by David Hardy
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My second attempt at completing my life long dream of finishing an Ironman triathlon will be this Saturday September 8th in Montreal. The race is the Montreal Esprit Triathlon. In case you missed it, I failed in my first attempt on July 28th at the Full Vineman in Windsor, California. I won't re-hash the details...if you need to get caught up, read my story of disappointment here. Many of you may be wondering why I would make a second attempt only 6 weeks after my first attempt. Did my first attempt take a lot out of me both physically and mentally? Of course. Am I sick of the training grind? Yes. The problem is I am not the type of person that can live with failure. This is especially true when I have the opportunity to make things right. I knew the day after my first attempt that I was trying again ASAP.

Chilling in Southern California

Now before my first attempt I actually made a point of not talking about the race and my feelings before the event. I didn't write a blog or post anything on Facebook prior to the event. This time around I told myself I was going to do a lot of things differently. Here are a few things I have done to prepare for my second attempt.

  1. Nutrition and HydrationI have a totally different plan for this race. I will be using Electrolytes , Ensure, and Salt Tablets instead of Gatorade and Balance Bars. I will not go into the details of the science involved but basically during my first event I became extremely dehydrated which resulted in my DNF. I also plan on eating peanut butter sandwiches and several other items to keep me fueled during the event.

  2. Training: Obviously I have continued to train for the last 6 weeks. One difference is that I really have been training less. I had to recover for a few weeks after my first attempt and since then I have reduced my training volumes. I also entered a 10 mile trail race a few weeks ago just to mix things up. I have been less structured and more focused on a few key workouts during this time period.

  3. Relaxation: In addition to training less I have allowed myself freedom to have a good time and do a few things I enjoy doing other than training for Ironman. I have been to several parties (not good for hydration) and I also played 72 holes of golf last weekend. I have given up many good times this summer due to my long runs/rides and it has felt good to relax a bit and have some fun.

  4. Mental Prep: The first time around I had a plan but since I had never completed an Ironman I really had no idea what to expect. Analyzing my failure and visualizing the differences I want to make for my second attempt is definitely an added benefit. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my upcoming event and how I plan to attack the course. I think a more relaxed but focused approach on the bike will help me complete the race.

  5. Stress: Before my first attempt everything was magical. I had planned to complete the Ironman, turn 40, and enjoy a long vacation in southern California. Unfortunately I didn't complete the Ironman and I did turn 40. (couldn't stop the clock) On the bright side I did enjoy a long vacation in southern California. For my second attempt there is a lot less build-up and a more workman like feeling towards the event. I do feel some underlying stress but it is different from the 1st time.The first time it was stress over the unknown and the enormous pressure of the event. This time I know what is going to happen, I just need to fight my way through to the finish.

The Ironman journey is a long one. It started for me last summer when I began training for the Great Floridian Aquabike. I have been training for the Ironman for almost 1.5 years now, and I am ready to close this chapter of my triathlon career. As I once again enter the final few days before my Ironman, I remain focused and know I have the ability to complete the event. I know I have the full support of my friends and family. My biggest supporter is my wife..In her own words..."You will finish this race. I don't care if I have to carry you the last 10 miles". Apparently she may be a little tired of hearing about Ironman.

Follow my progress during the race at http://www.sportstats.ca/about.xhtml?tab=6. I also will have updates posted on Facebook during the race.

 

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My First Ten Mile Race

Posted by Meg Tang
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on Saturday, August 25, 2012
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Cross-training

I recently ran the Moose on the Loose 10 Mile Trail Run in Nashua, New Hampshire.  This was the longest race I've run to date, and I chose to run it in preparation for a 1/2 marathon I've been training for in September. Going into the race, I set a goal of stopping at every water station and taking a drink while walking a couple of steps. In the past I have only run 5k races and never saw the need to stop at the water stations.  When I first started running longer distances for a workout, I was feeling really tired during and after.  I couldn't figure out why I was so tired the day after a long run. I finally realized I wasn't properly hydrating.  For my short runs I never had to worry about staying hydrated.  What I drank over the course of a normal day was enough, plus a little extra when I got back from a run. 

When running longer distances, I found out, you have to take care to hydrate before, during, and after.  So I set the goal to stop and drink during the 10 mile race to make sure hydration wouldn't be an issue. The day after the race I was a little sore, but not at all tired from the long distance.  I think taking the extra steps to stop and drink during the race has helped me in my recovery time. When running longer distances, I found out, you have to take care to hydrate before, during, and after. I would recommend this course to anyone looking for a good Sunday long run. It takes place on trails in Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire.  There are no major hills and some down hills to build up speed.  The course is four two and 1/2 mile loops.  You come out of the woods at the end of each loop and run on a short paved circle with a water stop, then back onto the trail. As each loop passes you become more familiar with the path and can get a feel for what is coming. My only complaint with the race is that since it's a small event you will spend some time on the path without anyone in the race close to you. Also, this is a busy location for people working out and taking their families out for a hike in the woods.  At some points it got busy on the trail and non-runners got in the way of the racers.  Besides that, I think it is a great course, and I am planning on running it again next year.

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Thinking about running in the Walt Disney World® Marathon?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, August 21, 2012
in Road Races

I just checked the website...The Walt Disney World® Marathon and Half Marathon are close to being sold out.   I have completed the marathon twice myself. (Check my race history...2009 and 2011.) My wife has completed the half marathon. Most runners at one point or another have thought about entering this race. Why?

Well here are 5 reasons why you should put the Walt Disney World® Marathon on your bucket list.

  1. It's Walt Disney World®! Running a race through the 4 parks of Walt Disney World®...starting and finishing at Epcot®. It really can't be beat. Definitely a once in a lifetime type opportunity. Unfortunately, I don't think Disney is going to allow me to film the course anytime soon, but I can give you an idea. Most of the race is on access roads and areas around the parks where you would never go as a guest. These areas are not that exciting but during the 26.2 miles you get to run around the Epcot® circle, right through Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom® Park, through Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park, and through Disney's Hollywood Studios.
     
  2. The course! Not only do you have the sites and sounds of the different theme parks to take in you also have a fairly easy course. There are just a few rolling hills on the course. No big climbs at all. There are a lot of twists and turns especially through the parks but not too bad. I really have no complaints about the course. Another cool thing about the course is the 5:30 AM start time. Now if you are not an early riser getting up at 3 AM to get ready for a race may not be what you consider a  highlight of this event. I liked it because you get to run the first hour of the race in the dark. It is really cool running through Epcot® in the dark.
     
  3. The weather! The weather in January in Orlando is usually ideal for racing. There has been a recent example where the weather doesn't always cooperate. In 2010 (the year in between my 2 Disney finishes) the weather was 30 degrees for the race. Both years I did it the weather was around 50 (perfect) at the start and warmed up to 60-70 at the finish. It did get hot both years towards the end of the race, but overall I think the weather is typically perfect for racing.
     
  4. The Destination! Another great thing about Walt Disney World® in January is that the race is in Orlando, Florida. If you live in the Northeast or another area of the country where you do not see 60-70 degrees for 6 months it is very easy to talk the family into turning your Walt Disney World® Marathon dreams into a little mini vacation. I have found airfare prices to be reasonable and have enjoyed extending my stay to 3-4 days. Obviously there is plenty to do if you have children, but even if you don't care to visit the parks there is still plenty to do in Orlando.
     
  5. The Medals! I usually don't put a lot of importance on a finisher medal at a marathon. Believe me..I want one...it's just as long as I get one I don't really consider that a factor on whether I enter a race or not. But I have to admit the Disney medals are cool....take a look at my hardware....

Walt Disney World Marathon Medal Walt Disney World Half Marathon MedalWalt Disney World Marathon Medal

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Are You Afraid to Fail?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, August 09, 2012
in Uncategorized

 Last weekend I had an interesting conversation with my brother. I was describing the details of my failed attempt to complete the Ironman and his first response was not what I expected. He said, "Big deal...you didn't make it this time but at least you're in the game." This comment got me thinking. I should be legitimately disappointed in my failed attempt but I AM in the game. Being in the game doesn't guarantee success every time, but I'd rather fail sometimes than live my life on the sidelines.

What kind of person are you? Are you afraid to fail? Does the fear of failure change the way you live your life? I am an avid fan of the Boston Celtics. One player on the Celtics who is not afraid to fail is Paul Pierce. When the game is on the line he not only wants to take the last shot, he demands it. Does that mean that he makes the shot to win the game every time? No...but he puts himself on the line every time. Hero or Goat? Either way, doesn't matter. Many people shy away from the "last shot" in life for fear of missing/failing. Why? Because if you step forward and take the last shot you are exposed. You leave the flock and put yourself out there. You open yourself to possible ridicule and negative exposure. It is much easier to stay in the safety of the flock and remain anonymous. But is this living?

Failing is part of living. If you never fail, either you are one of the few exceptionally talented people that have never failed or you live a completely vanilla life in the safety of the crowd. I am not promoting taking senseless risks such as cliff diving, swimming with sharks, or going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. What I am talking about is when you are at work and they ask for a volunteer for a new project....or when you know everyone in the room needs to say something to the boss and just one person has to step forward and say it. How about trying something new and getting out of your comfort zone? Why do you always find a reason to put it off or say no?  It is so easy to stay on the sidelines in life. But is this living? How many times have you held back from doing something due to a fear of failure, and then as you watch the person that did step forward you think...I could have done that...I could have done better, and then you kick yourself for not stepping up.

Do yourself a favor....Get in the game! Not only will you grow as a person but you will eliminate a life full of regrets and could have beens. Someone has to take the last shot in every game...why can't it be you?

 

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