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Another Good Time at the Good Times 5k in Lowell

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
in Road Races

Last night was the 8th race in the 10 week Good Times 5k series in Lowell Massachusetts. As the weeks keep going it gets harder and harder to get excited about blasting out 3.1 miles every Tuesday night. Especially since I have been riding 75+ miles the last 3 Sundays. Tonight was similar to the last couple of weeks. My legs were a little sore and I had a lot of overall body fatigue. The good news is that I broke 20 minutes again with an 80% effort. Basically Tuesday night has turned into a nice short tempo run for me.

For once my brother-in-law and sister-in-law did not PR. They were close but finished just off their best times. My daughter ending up running for the first time this year after finishing up lacrosse season and ended up with a PR. It seems every week someone gets a PR. The rain also held off, and it ended up being a decent night. Next week is the reverse the course week. Basically we run the same course we have ran for the 8 previous weeks in reverse. Should be interesting.....

 

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Overcoming Open Water Swim Anxiety

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Tuesday, May 29, 2012
in Training

All triathletes at one time or another have experienced open water swim anxiety. It is impossible to predict when it will happen. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that can trigger a panic attack. Earlier this month I had a "mini" panic attack in the water during the Bassman Triathlon. I started out swimming fine for the first few minutes but then my goggles completely filled with water, and I couldn't see a thing. My speed dropped and I started getting bumped in the water. I couldn't see, people were banging into me, and I started to gasp for breath. Just like that, a 20 year triathlon veteran was having a silly panic attack in the water. I was able to fight through the panic, calm down, and successfully complete the swim, but for several minutes I was in difficulty. (see Bassman blog post)

Why do we all panic at times in the water? Well...I think it is obvious. On the bike you can stop if you are tired, on the run you can walk or stop. In the water if you can't make it, you need to be rescued or you will drown. It's that simple. All triathletes know this and most take the necessary precautions to stay safe while training in open water. How do you stay safe and minimize the chance of having a panic attack in a race? Practice..Practice..Practice...Just like everything else. If you only swim in open water during a race and you only race 5 or 6 times a year do you really expect to be comfortable in the water? Once the water warms up in April/May as a triathlete it is time to start training in open water. A few years ago I started swimming 1-2 times a week in open water. In a short amount of time I started to feel more and more comfortable in the water. You learn how to navigate, deal with choppy conditions, pacing, etc. All of those things cannot be learned in the pool. Not to mention you get more comfortable swimming in your wetsuit.

In order to be safe I use a swim buoy . I have it attached to my ankle, and it floats behind me while I swim. It pulls on your leg a little bit but before long you don't even notice it. Any issues in the water and I have a safety buoy of my own to lean on. That is the only way to go. Anything can happen in the water, and you want to stay safe while training. I highly encourage anyone who struggles with anxiety in the water to join a group (never swim alone), get a swim buoy, and start training in open water. Before long you will notice a big difference in how you feel in the water, and your swim confidence will increase dramatically.

Start practicing in open water and maybe next time this won't be that intimidating....

 

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Are runners obsessed ?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, May 24, 2012
in Road Races

As a runner/triathlete I have a lot of time to think during my long training sessions. I have been thinking a lot lately about the drive most dedicated athletes have for training. Many runners, regardless of ability, are following some type of training plan. This training plan becomes a voice in our heads that refuses to let us relax. You are constantly thinking about the next few workouts and how you plan on including them into your life. There is never an option to skip a workout...typically that is not even discussed. If you are sick or having a real bad day you may shorten a workout but missing one is only reserved for 1-2 times a year life events that prevent you from working out. You will wake up at 3 AM to get a workout in before an early morning flight. You will workout in rain/snow/wind/heat/cold etc. Weather is not an issue. Many times I have seen noticeably sick athletes show up for a race. It begs the question...Why?

I am currently competing in the Good Times 5k Series which is held on 10 consecutive Tuesday nights. In this series points are cumulative for overall prizes at the end of the 10 weeks. This means that if you miss a week you are probably out of the running. What does this make people do? People show up sick, tired, cancel appointments, etc. There have been many examples of people competing the day after running the Boston Marathon or other Marathon events. Your VTR host even ran 2 days after doing the Bassman Half Ironman. Are we not reasonable people? Do we have no "common sense" filter in regards to running? What drives us to keep going at this frenetic rate? Are we obsessed? If we are obsessed what are we obsessed with? Running a certain amount of times a week? Running a certain mileage number no matter what?

My opinion is most people who train seriously as a runner or triathlete are very committed people. This means once we lock onto something we don't stop until we've completed it, no matter what. The drive to continue is very strong and is not easily deterred. This is a great asset to have when you have miles to go in a marathon and you feel terrible.  It helps you finish the race. Unfortunately, most of us can't shut this off in day-to-day life. It is a part of us. That is why we will run a 5k on Tuesday night when we ran a marathon the day before.  At a later date we may agree what we did wasn't the smartest thing to do but soon enough we are in a similar situation, and we do the same thing over again. It is part of us...we can't stop. (oh...I think I just answered my question...I  guess we are obsessed.)

The photo below is me getting an IV after refusing to quit and successfully completing the Timberman Half Ironman in 2009...Nothing wrong with hitting the medical tent after an event, right?

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Should you be scared of the Mooseman Triathlon Bike Course?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, May 23, 2012
in Triathlons

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

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

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

Check out the Mooseman International.

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

 

 

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Whatever Happened to the Speedo?

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

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

dave cycling in speedo

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

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

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

old race photo in speedo

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

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

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Why can't you be a normal person?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Thursday, May 10, 2012
in Training

If you have trained for a big event at some point someone has asked "Why do you do this?" Don't you wish you were a normal person that didn't have to train everyday? Why do you inflict self-induced torture upon your body by swimming in 60 degree water, running in cold/snow/rain, cycling in 90 degree heat...etc. I have asked myself this question many times. Many times I have asked myself this question while I was in the middle of a "self inflicted torture" session.

In 2001 I had completed a little over 100 races in my career (see Race History) and reached a point where I was sick of all the early morning workouts and long training sessions. All I wanted to do was to be a "normal" person. I had been training for something my entire life and just wanted to eliminate the pressure and daily grind of training and racing. I dreamed that "normal" people live pressure free lives and do not have all of the self-induced pressures to continuously train for events. Finally I said, "That's it. I quit. I am now retired." I stopped working out and started living my life as a normal person. Over the course of the next few months my weight climbed from my training weight of 175 to a high of 199. I had a chocolate chip muffin and a regular coffee every morning on the way to work and couldn't care less about what races were going on next weekend.

As the months progressed I would occasionally take in the smell and freshness of a beautiful morning and remember how awesome it was to run in the early spring. A couple of times I drove by a lake or saw a group of cyclists and thought about how fun training and racing for a triathlon can be. As the summer came and went these thoughts started to become more frequent. As the 2001 fall racing season began I really started to miss training and racing. I finally figured out that being a normal person wasn't all that great. I really missed the excitement and challenge of competing in triathlons/road races which was a big part of my "normal" life. I missed the way my body felt when I was in great shape. I missed everything about my old life. I found out that being "normal" is different for everyone.

In November I decided to get back into racing. I was 25 pounds over weight and hadn't worked out in 10 months. After a few weeks of running, on Thanksgiving Day 2001, I entered the Turkey Trot at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport Massachusetts. This is a 5k race on hard pack trails in the park. This race turned into a real eye opener as I really struggled during the race and almost had to walk at the end. I completed the race in 24:06. This was by far the slowest 5k race I have ever run and to this day is the slowest recorded 5k time by your VTR host. I worked hard over the winter and ended up competing in 24 events in 2002. I would like to say my form came back quickly but it didn't. I truly did not regain my form for several years. Now when I am extremely sore after a tough race and someone asks me if I wished I was a normal person and didn't have to put myself through all of the effort and pain to compete my answer is simple....What do you mean?..I am a normal person.

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Bombed at Bassman Half Triathlon!

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

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

Bassman Bike Transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Good Times 5k May 1st

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, May 02, 2012
in Road Races

Last night I ran in the Good Times 5k in Lowell, Massachusetts. This was the 4th race in the 10 week series that is held every Tuesday night at 7 PM in Lowell. So far I have completed every race and my intention is to complete all of the races in the series. If you take a look at my race history you will see that I have done this race quite a few times. As a matter of fact I actually checked my race history and last night was the 44th time I have completed this event.

Why do I love this event? One reason is that I hate to do track workouts. I have difficulty getting motivated to complete a hard track workout. I always thought if I am going to put out that much effort then I should be racing. To me nothing replaces the intensity both mentally and physically as competing in a road race. I have been using 5k road races as my "track workout" for years and I believe this has been a big component to my consistent performances. I really believe to do well in a 5k road race you have to be comfortable with the pain you feel during the race and have the ability to sustain that effort for all 3.1 miles. After you complete 3-4 races in the series you start to feel comfortable with the required effort and your fitness starts to improve. This is especially true if you put out a 100% effort each week regardless of your fatigue level.

Now to last night. Weather was cool and wet but the rain held off for the race. In other words the weather was perfect for running and not so perfect for socializing at Hookside Kellys afterwards. I have been starting way to fast the last few weeks so I decided to start at a more conservative pace. When you run a weekly series like this one many times you end up running near the same people each week. This week I ended up right behind a woman that I have seen each week at some point on the course. I was running a solid pace and kept pace directly behind her for over a mile. I would give you my pace but I don't typically wear a watch for 5k road races. I run as hard as I can so to me a watch is irrelevant for such a short event. Anyway if you are familiar with this race as you turn right after you cross the University Ave bridge you have a choice to run on the right side of the guard rail on the sidewalk or run in the breakdown lane of the divided highway. The woman I was running behind went for the sidewalk so I followed close behind. Things were going well until we caught up to another runner. Some areas to the right of the guardrail are a little tight and passing is difficult. I am estimating that our pace dipped about 10 seconds a mile for quite a stretch on the highway until there was room to pass. Once the road opened up I ended up passing both runners in front of me and ran strong to the finish. In hindsight the reduction in pace on the highway although frustrating may have actually given me a little "break" that enabled me to finish strong. The bottom line is that I finished in 19:13 (6:12pace) which is my best time of 2012.

Of course my brother and sister-in-law both ran a PR for the 3rd time (photo above) and picked up yet another PR medal. As usual we hydrated after the race at Hookside Kellys. Good night and a Good Time.

 

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My First Triathlon

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

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

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


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

Marlboro Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon

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

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

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Looking for a Good 10K Road Race?

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

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My sister-in-law (pictured on the right with Good Times 5k PR medal) has been asking me for months about where she can find a good 10k road race to run north of Boston. Of course, being the VTR expert, I thought it would be easy. After searching several race calendar websites I came to the conclusion that there really are not many 10k road races out there. I also checked my race history and noticed that of the 370+ races I have completed, only 7 of them have been 10ks. Interesting? I guess I don't really like the 10k distance. Anyway, after searching and discussing for a few months we finally found a great 10k road race right in our backyard, The Westford 10k Road Race (See video below.) I have never completed this race but on the same day they have the Westford 5k Road Race which I have done a couple of times. I loved the race but as someone who is not a big fan of 10ks, I always opted for the 5k.

Running the Westford 10K Road Race

After deciding on which 10k to run the next question was how to run this course successfully . Of course, she followed my advice to View The Race Before You Do the Race. From the video you can see this course is not easy. First you start on a slight downhill, leave the school grounds and then have to run up a short but tough little uphill to the Town Common. Once you get past the town common, you now have an incredible downhill to handle. Trust me...you will not encounter too many races in the Boston area with a downhill like this one. The real  key to this downhill is to keep your legs under you and let the hill do the work. You don't want to overcook your legs but you do need to run faster than you normally would on this stretch of the course. You will need this "free speed" during the last mile of this course. Once the road levels out there are a few miles of rolling terrain where you will have a chance to settle into your normal race pace. I would be a little conservative through this stretch. The middle part of this course is not flat but there are no major hills to contend with. The toughest part of the course is the last half mile stretch of road on Main street. There is a very short but abrupt downhill as you take the right from Flagg Road on to Main Street. Use this as a "springboard" as you start the hill. Once on the hill you have to really dig deep to maintain your pace. This hill is going to feel a lot longer than a half mile. After reaching the finish at the Town Common there is a festive atmosphere and some really nice awards for each race.

 

If you are in the area on May 6th check out the Westford Road Race. Take on either the 10k or 5k. You will not be disappointed. Visit our race page for more info about this event or visit the Westford Road Race website.

What do you think is the best 10K road race? 

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What is viewtherace all about?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Sunday, April 22, 2012
in News
The idea for this website started last fall when I was searching for an Ironman race to complete in 2012.  I'm turning 40 this summer, and I'm planning to complete my first Ironman as part of the "celebration".  Last fall I started researching Ironman races to decide which one to sign up for.  But even by scouring race websites I wasn't able to get all the information I would have liked to make this big decision.
 
Unfortunately this experience wasn't new to me. I've been completing road races and triathlons for over 25 years.  I love to travel to events, but I also complete a lot of events locally.  When I'm training for an important event, I try to prepare myself by learning as much as I can about the course.  If it's possible, I'll even drive the course before the event, so I know what to expect. 
 
However, driving the course is often not an option and relying on race maps and descriptions can be frustrating.  So I decided to create a product that offers runners, cyclists and triathletes a chance to preview a race course prior to the event. Viewtherace.com offers videos of race courses with commentary.  I'm launching the site with over 50 race videos and plan to build the race library by adding new videos every week. I'm excited about offering a product that will provide fellow racers with an up close view of the race they're training for or thinking about signing up for. Welcome to viewtherace.com and I hope my website can be a valuable tool in your race preparation.

And remember.....View The Race Before You Do The Race at viewtherace.com!!


 
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