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Thanks 4 Giving 5k Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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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
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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
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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
in Uncategorized

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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on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
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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on Thursday, October 04, 2012
in Uncategorized

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
in Uncategorized

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
David Hardy
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on Friday, September 21, 2012
in Uncategorized

 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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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
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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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on Tuesday, September 04, 2012
in Uncategorized

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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Thinking about running in the Walt Disney World® Marathon?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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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
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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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DNF (Did Not Finish) at Vineman Triathlon 2012

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, August 06, 2012
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No one likes to talk about their failures, but blogging about them is a little easier. Last week I attempted my first Ironman distance triathlon at the Vineman in Windsor, California.  This was the culmination of a year of training and done with the support of my family and friends. Throughout the year of training, I never thought there was a chance I would not complete the race. Even though I knew how difficult the event could be and that in any long distance race there are a multitude of reasons why someone might have to drop out, I truly believed I would be able to overcome any issue and finish. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

As I reflect on my failure to complete the biggest race of my life last weekend, I have experienced the whole pendulum of emotions. I experienced the expected sadness and disappointment of not achieving my dream of completing the Ironman and the let down of having worked so hard without seeing the result. During my training I received a tremendous amount of support from many people. In the first few days after the race I felt like I had wasted everyone's time and energy, and I had let everyone down by failing. To see a DNF next to your name at the biggest race of your life is a tremendous blow to your personal psyche and self-esteem. I have a great network of family and friends, and I have received many messages and words of encouragement since the Ironman disaster. My uncle told me DNF stands for "Dave Never Fails" and I should keep my head high despite the disappointment. My mother said the truest test of my character is what I do right now. I let myself be sad for about 48 hours, and then I got back on my bike and went for a ride.

Below is my race report of my failed attempt to finish the Vineman.

Vineman Full Distance Triathlon Race Report

Pre-race:  I woke at 3 AM after a good night's sleep and had a big breakfast and felt prepared mentally for the event. We had driven the bike course and saw the swim area the day before. It was a cool 52 degrees with no humidity. Perfect for racing.

 

 

Swim:  The 2.4 mile swim is in the Russian River in Guerneville, California. The water was comfortable (low 70's), and I was wearing a full wetsuit. The swim was a double out and back with the the "out" being against the current and the "back" being with the current. The start went off without a hitch but about 10 minutes into the swim the river narrowed and it started getting real crowded in the water. I have been competing in triathlons for over 20 years and in this race I was hit the most I have ever been hit in the water. Many people were swimming off line slamming into my ribs, banging my head, chopping my legs, etc. I had to continuously site and try to steer away from the chaos. None of this really effected my time but it made for an uncomfortable and irritating swim. As the swim waves converged I was constantly being passed by faster swimmers catching my wave or running into a "wall" of very slow swimmers from the waves ahead of me. Due to the narrowness of the river sometimes it was difficult to find some clear water. Another factor on this course is that in a couple of areas on each lap the river is extremely shallow. It was so shallow my hand hit the rocky bottom forcing me to stand up and walk for 2-3 minutes before it was deep enough to swim. Despite all of these issues my time was not really affected. I finally exited the water in 1:21.  I wanted to be at 1:20 give or take 5 minutes so I was right on track. First event done..I felt great and now onto the bike.

 

Bike:  The bike was a rolling course that traveled through many vineyards and small towns. In my experience when passing through large areas of farmland usually the crop is corn. This area was very similar only the crop was grapes instead of corn. The bike course is two loops with the only difference being about 8 miles on each loop.  The first part of the course was rolling with no major hills. The main challenge during the first part of the race was negotiating all of the rough road. I saw a lot of lost water bottles and an unusual number of flats during the first 20-30 miles. I was feeling pretty good and kept to my plan of just riding easy on the bike. I made it to the only big hill on the course, Chalk Hill, and made it up with about 90% effort. Surprisingly I was starting to feel better as the race went on. Miles 50-80 went by at a steady pace, and I was feeling good. It was about mile 80 that it started to fall apart. For some reason I started to feel hot for the first time and I started feeling bad. During the next hour I went from feeling decent to feeling terrible. I began to have major leg cramps and my speed dropped. I took a longer break at the next two aid stations, but I couldn't bring myself back. Finally, I stopped at an aid station about 3 miles from the start of Chalk Hill. (2nd time around) I knew it was going to be an extreme challenge to make it up that hill again with terrible legs cramps and almost no strength. I probably stopped for 10 minutes and then decided to go. Climbing this hill took everything I had to make it to the top. Once I crested the top I was relieved but I am sure my heart rate was over 200 BPM. I immediately pulled over and rested until I was able to get my breath back. The last 10 miles of the bike were absolutely miserable but I was finally done.  2nd event done....but barely hanging on...

 

 

 

Run:  The run course at Vineman is 3 out and back hilly loops. At this point in the day it was pushing 85 degrees, and I had just barely survived the bike. I was greeted in transition by my family who had made signs and were very excited to see me and cheer me on. They had no idea what kind of condition I was in or what a fight it was just to finish the bike. I tried to rally; I changed and headed out on the run...sorry, I meant walk. I could not run. My heart rate was still through the roof and I was struggling. Over the next few miles I tried to run the downhills but as soon as I returned to a walk my heart rate was so high I had to slow down to a slower walk or stop altogether to catch my breath. I knew I was in serious trouble. After the first 4 miles I stopped attempting to run at all. By mile 6 I had trouble walking. I was seeing black spots and walking any pace was a struggle. I finally completed the first lap (8.6 miles) and knew I was done. After speaking with a race official I was assisted to the medical tent and my race was over.

Post race and reflection: In the days after the race I relaxed and let my body recover from the event. I had the usual soreness, chafing, swelling (I was stung by a bee during the bike), sunburn, etc. Unfortunately, you still have to deal with those issues even if you didn't finish the race. At this point I will be re-analyzing my nutrition/hydration plan and try to figure out where I went wrong. My training was right on target, and I was in the best shape of my life. Completing the Ironman in my first attempt and having the story book ending would have been a dream. But life is not always easy. The reality is, sometimes we do fail....and guess what...we try again..and again..and again..until the goal is complete.  I will make my second attempt at Ironman glory on September 8th, 2012 in Montreal. I do not want to waste my current high level of fitness and I will not give up on my goal. I will finish the Ironman.

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Running in Nassau, Bahamas

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, July 18, 2012
in Training

As a runner being on vacation does not mean you take a vacation from training. Many times it is quite the opposite. Being on vacation gives you the opportunity to run in new places and explore new areas. For me this is always exciting.

In 2010 I was able to go to Nassau, Bahamas with my wife and daughter to escape the cold New England winter. If you read my previous post about running in Washington, DC you will know that my family enjoys running from place to place while we are sightseeing. We did the same in Nassau. We mapped out a running route that would take us by all of the sites we wanted to see. The route we ran took us to Rawson Square where all of the government buildings are located, the Queen's Staircase, the Water Tower, Fort Fincastle, and the shops on Bay Street.  The run was about 6 miles long and while we enjoyed the sites there were a few drawbacks to the adventure.

I have traveled to a few Caribbean islands and there is always one thing that stands out while you are running. Dogs!! There are loose dogs everywhere. In all my years of running I have never seen a loose dog in a downtown city area. In the Caribbean this is commonplace. The first time you see it you are shocked. After awhile you try to ignore it but seeing 2-3 loose dogs walking together down a main street in a major city is very strange. The other thing you will notice is that many of the tourist attractions are located in run down areas. On our short run we noticed people living on the streets, broken down cars, and whole neighborhoods of dilapidated houses and trash very close to popular tourist areas.

Beyond our running tour of the island, I ended up running quite a bit to get around. We were staying on the main island near the bridge that goes over to Paradise Island. The very famous hotel and casino Atlantis is on Paradise Island. On the first day of our trip we took a cab over to Atlantis. After a short drive up and over the bridge we arrived at Atlantis and were told the cab fare was $20. After I stepped out of the cab and realized it was going to cost me $40 round trip every time I went to the casino I said...No way!! I was not paying $20 to travel 2.5 miles. Now I love gambling and had planned to go to the casino every day of my 4 day stay in Nassau. I would much rather spend the $40 x 4 = $160 in the Atlantis Casino than on a cab.

So I decided to get myself to and from the casino by running. Each day I put on my shorts, fanny pack (for wallet) and golf shirt and did an easy jog over to the casino, and when I was finished I would run back. Unfortunately the bridge over to Paradise Island is no picnic to run over. It is a very steep uphill followed by a steep downhill. I have to admit it was a pain to have to run a total of 5 miles just to gamble, but I did it. The sweat on my shirt probably wasn't cool when I arrived at the casino either, but I didn't care. I'm a runner, and it goes against my nature to pay for such a short ride.

I did enjoy my trip to Nassau and ended up running 25 miles in the 4 days I was there. If you have never been, it is probably worth checking out. However, with all of the travel choices out there, unless you can foot the high price to stay at Atlantis I would probably look at another location.

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The Incredible Story of Mike

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, July 03, 2012
in Training

 

 

The 4th edition of Mike's incredible story will be posted next Monday July 9th due to the holiday week. In order to get the latest info and to receive the newest blog posts "Like" View The Race on Facebook. New blog posts and new race videos are always posted on Facebook first.

 

 

 

Several requests have been sent in to list some of the items Mike has described during his blog posts. Here are the links to some of the items he has mentioned in his posts:

 

juicer (this is the juicer Mike uses)

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead ....(video)

Forks Over Knives... (video)

Smart Water...(Mike's new addiction)

Atkins Bar...(Mike's old breakfast choice)

 

 Enjoy the 4th!!

 

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Running on Vacation in Washington DC

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Friday, June 22, 2012
in Training

Over the years one of my favorite parts of a vacation is the sightseeing. Visiting new places, famous landmarks, historical buildings, etc. My preferred way of sightseeing may be different than most. I have always enjoyed running from place to place during my designed "sightseeing tour". Now this is not an official workout. I typically wear a 3 button down shirt, golf shorts, and running shoes.  This is simply mapping out all of the places you would like to see in a city and instead of riding a bus, cab, or rental car I run between each venue. It may be a little unconventional, but luckily my wife is a runner too, so it works for us.

One of my favorite places to go on a "running tour" is Washington DC. I have made this trip with my family several times. In the early years my daughter was small so I would push her in a jog stroller and my wife would run next to me. We would stay in a downtown hotel and map out a route that would take us by the monuments and museums we wanted to visit. Now remember this is not a workout. We would run at a comfortable pace and stop to take pictures and visit the monuments or museums for as long as needed. Once we were done visiting a particular place we would simply start running to the next location. Being the typical runner you know I was wearing a Garmin. That way all of my miles could be calculated....you didn't think I wasn't keeping track, did you?

Here is one of our Washington D.C. sightseeing running routes

We would start approximately at a hotel 1 mile from the mall and then complete the following "tour":
  • White House >
  • U. S. Capitol >
  • Smithsonian Museums >
  • Run along Reflecting Pool to Vietnam Veterans Memorial >
  • Lincoln Memorial >
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial >
  • FDR Memorial >
  • around Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial >
  • ...then run back to hotel.

 

White House

This would total anywhere from 8-10 miles of total running depending on where our hotel was located. Would you be drenched in sweat?  Yes.  Would you be tired? Yes. But was it fun?   Absolutely. There is nothing like being able to get place to place by running and not having to worry about traffic, crowds, parking, etc. Not to mention if you like running this is actually fun. My daughter was in the jog stroller so she didn't care at all. Once my daughter graduated from the stroller I can tell you we had to abbreviate our "tours" to a 4 mile version. She actually "trained" one summer to get ready for our trip to DC.

I have done many trips like this one over the years in different locations. I think it is fun and active and eliminates the boredom of trudging from place to place on a tour bus or going back and forth to your rental car and waiting in traffic. You also get a better feel for a new location and get to see different things along the way that you wouldn't see otherwise.  Next time you travel to a new location, consider planning out your own running tour.

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5 Tips for Open Water Triathlon Swim Training

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, June 14, 2012
in Training

Rescue Tube / Swim BuoyI wrote a blog post last month about overcoming swim anxiety in triathlons and my experience earlier this year at the Bassman Half Ironman where I had an anxiety attack in the water during the race. I mentioned in the post that the only way to get comfortable in open water is to get out of the pool and start training in a lake/river. There are many, many benefits to training in open water.  Reducing swim anxiety is just one of them. Of course, you want to be sure you take all the necessary safety precautions if you hope to truly stay safe and relaxed in the water.

  1. Never swim alone - There are plenty of triathlon clubs and swim groups that have organized or semi-organized swims in open water. Also, if you get involved in your local club there will always be people that are looking for training partners. We are all in the same boat (no pun intended)....No one wants to train alone in open water, and everyone knows the value of doing it on a regular basis.
     
  2. Be aware of your surroundings - Swimmers often share the open water with boats, jet skis, canoes, etc. Wear a bright colored swim cap and continuously sight for potential hazards or obstacles in the water. I often practice in a river and occasionally there are large tree branches or debris that has floated down stream into the area I swim. I try to sight in the water every 4th or 5th stroke to make sure I am not going to bump into something and to ensure I am staying on line with my target. This is excellent practice as in a race you also always need to be aware of other swimmers and ensure you are taking the shortest line to the finish in the water.
     
  3. Be aware of weather conditions - Weather can be a factor when training in open water. I train in open water 2-3 times a week and it is amazing how weather affects the conditions in the water. Again this is excellent practice. You definitely have to swim differently if there is a lot of chop to the water versus a completely calm day.Training in all kinds of weather eliminates stress on race day. You will know how to swim in all conditions!
     
  4. Practice with the equipment you use in a race - If you plan on using a wetsuit in your race then wear one in training. If you know you definitely can't use a wetsuit in your upcoming event then train without one in practice. A few years ago I hardly ever wore my wetsuit and was extremely uncomfortable wearing one. I finally started training with a wetsuit and now I am very comfortable. Practice..Practice..Practice...You will never be comfortable and confident with equipment if you only use it in a race.

  5. Use a swim buoy - I mentioned using a swim buoy in an earlier post and I have received a lot of questions and inquiries about how to use a swim buoy during training. I created a video to explain the use of a swim buoy during training in open water. Check out the video below. 

 

Swimming in open water can be a very rewarding experience and is a lot more enjoyable than swimming in a pool. If you enjoy running you wouldn't do all of your running on a track, right? Not to mention, you are training to compete in triathlons and most of them are in open water. Doing all of your training in a pool is not going to eliminate any of your open water anxiety. Get into the open water and start swimming for REAL. You will be glad you did.

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Fastest 5k Race in the World?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, June 05, 2012
in Road Races

I am not sure if the Hollis Fast 5k is the fastest 5k road race in the world, but it is certainly the fastest 5k race I have ever completed. What makes this course so fast?

1) It is a point to point course with only one turn. You basically run straight down one road for the entire race.

2) The course has a gradual downhill grade. You will not be running out of control like you would if the downhill grade was steep. This allows you to run the entire race with your normal 5k stride, and you will be able to maintain your top end speed for a lot longer with the same effort.

3) Wide road, so really no issue with crowding.

4) Last mile has quarter mile marks so you know where you are for the entire last mile. (1 mile, .75, .50, .25 to go)

Here is some real data about how fast this course can be. Last year I ran all 8 races in the Good Times 5k series in Lowell, Massachusetts. The last 5 races in the series I ran between 19:06-19:36. The Good Times series ended the week before the Hollis Fast 5k so my conditioning did not change before I entered this event. My time at Hollis was 18:32. Not only was this about a minute faster than my average time last year, but it also broke my all time PR of 18:44.

Here is how I ran the race. I started out running with the normal effort I would give in a 5k but ended up running the first mile in 5:45 which is 10-15 seconds faster than usual. I am a crash and burn 5k runner so I usually run the 1st mile very fast and then die off to the finish. This is where the speed of the Hollis course pays off. Because the race is a gradual downhill the entire way, you are able to maintain a faster pace for longer. My time for the second mile was 6:02.  The course flattens out in a few spots so you need to concentrate to maintain your pace. Keep telling yourself that if I can hold this pace for another 30 seconds the road will start heading downhill again. The beauty of the Hollis Fast 5k is that it continues going downhill right to the finish. My third mile was 6:07. I was dying, but the course enabled me to hold pace. I finished in 18:32 with a new PR.Hollis Fast 5K

I recommend that you do not wear a watch for this race. Since it is a downhill course you will have no baseline to know what is a good pace or bad pace. Run a hard controlled effort for the entire race and then give it everything you have for the last half mile. The bottom line is that if you are in good form right now, you should definitely enter the Hollis Fast 5k on June 14th. Sign up today as they only accept 1200 runners, and there is no race day registration. If you want a PR in the 5k this year....run the Hollis Fast 5k....you will not be disappointed.

 

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View The Race In The News

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Monday, June 04, 2012
in News

View The Race write-up in the Wicked Running Club newsletter.

Check out the article about VTR on page 4 of the Wicked Running Register.  Big thanks to John Childs from Old Colony Running Events for writing the article and for his support and efforts to spread the word about VTR!

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