Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Josh Billings RunAground

“It is a darned sight easier to find six men who can tell exactly 

how a thing ought to be did than to find one who will do it.”
---- Josh Billings 

Overlooking Stockbridge Bowl in the "Heart of the Berkshires" at Tanglewood.

The 2015 North Country Endurance Challenge was cancelled and my teammate John McCarthy was tentatively planning heading back to compete at The Josh. Plenty of energy to spare and green lights flashing, we turned our attention to the Josh Billings RunAground on Sunday, September 20, 2015. This would be my very first Josh Billings and instead, I would be going head to head with my previous years teammate in the same division!

Opening the Fall multisport racing season with the Josh Billings, one of the country’s oldest continually run multisport triathlons! Putting a twist on the modern triathlon, The Josh starts with a 27 mile mass start road cycle, a not to be taken lightly 5 mile flat-water paddle, finishing with a net uphill smack in the face 6 mile road run.

Team "Accidents Happen" became Team "Babies Happen!"
It’s truly an action packed multisport event. The top teams delivering epic athletic performances, competition from first to last place are buzzing with stratospheric amounts of energy.  Almost 500 competitors across 40 divisions all making their way from Great Barrington to the spectacular venue of Tanglewood in Lenox.

Sharing in the race experience as a family and with friends is unique. Good friends John, Crystal and our little daughters alongside us for a wonderful weekend in Western, MA found the perfect balance and placed our racing addictions in perspective. In the photo above, John and I with our 20lb packages the day before the event exploring some wilderness trails locally. I still think his secret plan was to tire me before race day. So much for tapering the day before but I conceded, handing the ball full of joy off to my wife for the final 5km... it was all downhill from there!

Weather can be unpredictable in the Berkshires. Much chillier that morning than anyone anticipated with a nipping wind chill and certainly Stockbridge Bowl was likely going to be a torrent of head and cross winds.  A race is not without its challenges, but stage was set and the framework for an amazing bluebird day with plentiful spectators and racers alike was about to begin. We were almost go time!

The mass start began at Great Barrington Airport as an alternative location because roadwork in the center of town moved the course. Typically the course sends you through town and hangs a tight left turn before taking another quick right turn up a steep hill slowing things down and separating much of the pack. On the new course, we would be starting under a cautionary controlled start for safety because much of the beginning was fast and flat.

I am on the left (long red sleeve, white helmet) getting passed by this huge pack. Final climb before the finish
(Photo by John Marran Photography)

There appeared to be about 50-60 elite and category riders sectioned off in the corral.  John and I positioned ourselves about 3-4 rows back in the sport pack.  Michael McCusker, organizer of the Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon, was adjacent to us in that very same starting pack.  High fives and friendly conversation ensued!

Riding out of the airport in a controlled start for overall safety of the 500 bikers would remain for ~3 miles at no greater than 15mph. At the signal, the controlled start ended and made a break for the front. In less than half mile the road turned sharply to the right and an immediate uphill attack ensued pushing the intensity separating the majority of riders into packs. Over the top of the hill the third pack formed and about 25-30 riders assembled.  I remained there until mile 21 feeling like an overall strong cycle but lessons in group riding was learned.

Over committing in the hills during several surges eventually led to getting dropped. Could not hang onto the pack and made a mistake letting off the gas a little too much and drifting off the back.  I was facing a headwind at the time and slowly watched the pack move away from me.  Was by myself for 3 long miles until the 4th very large pack caught me at the bottom of the final climb passing Tanglewood.  They moved past me with a ridiculous amount of energy. I must have been passed by 30 riders in less than 10 seconds.  I finished ~12 minutes behind the leaders, in other words, I got my butt kicked all over the place in the cycling leg.  After joining the massive third pack of riders, I finished respectively with a time of 1:20:06 and in 75th place overall.

Paddling strong is key to this event and historically, plays a huge role in finishing with top teams battling it out overall and at the top of your division. Iron competitors are allowed to use ICF classification of boats which is understandable because any handicap on the water puts the soloist at a greater disadvantage coming into the water tired and then into a long run.  It certainly keeps things competitive at the top of the solo field. I chose to use my Fenn Millennium Surf Ski which is 21 feet long and just north of 17" wide.  It weighs about 35 lbs.

The paddle requires two full laps around the perimeter of Stockbridge Bowl.  This body of water is the perfect oval.  Buoys mark the perimeter of the course and paddlers must stay on the shoreline side of the buoys.

Josh Billings would absolutely test my threshold racing this surfski, paddling with grueling head/cross winds and 20mph gusts. There were many capsizes along the short turn in the course, as paddlers were battered continuously by wind driven chop doing everything in their power to remain upright. Then came the challenge of paddling into the constant resistance of that head wind along the long stretch back around the bowl.  Both circuits in complete fear of breaking down, loosing control of my stroke or balance in the chop and hints of capsizing ensued.

Holding it together in adverse paddling conditions challenging and overtaking position that would send me into the run with an advantage of time. Moving up in the standings 40 places with a time of 56:00 and 35th place overall! Could I preserve this lead on my nearest solo competitors going into what presumably was my weakest leg of the event?

Stockbridge Bowl becomes a "sea" of paddlers stretching end to end, all the way around its 2.5 mile oval circumference
(Photo by Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle)

Kari Crowe competing in the 2015 Josh Billings
(Photo by Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle)
Kari Crowe, women's solo record holder at The Josh, was out there in the massive crowd of cyclists. This year she was competing on a two person team where she was cycling and paddling, saving her legs for other fall events and no doubt trails not road running. I had spotted her in the bike coral earlier as I was working my way towards my buddy John and sent a 'high-five' her way and wished her luck.

The Josh Billings run is net uphill, nothing extraordinary but will be hard pressed to match your personal best 10km personal best on this approximate 6 mile course distance. I defended my position with a controlled and confident run in the hills breaking the 45 minutes mark.Nothing earth shattering but as a solo competitor this is a portion of the race that requires absolute proper nutrition and hydration prior to beginning this final effort.  Result was a 3:00:13 finish ranked 36th overall of 449, 16th of 248 kayaking and most notably 5th overall solo of 125 alongside two friends in John McCarthy of Ludlow (4th) and Josh Flanagan of Cohasset (2nd).  Other incredible competition in the top 5 were some "oldies but goodies" in Kent Lemme and Jack Morse.

Friendly faces of the MRA Multisport were also representing at The Josh.  MRA athlete Kate Egnaczak competed in the SUP division with a 2nd place category finish in 4:01 and Rich Victor who competed in his first Josh rounded out a solid performance with a 3:43 finish time.
Look who was waiting and cheering for us at the finish line!
Noelle and her little friend Rose absolutely enjoy all the sights and sounds around them. Must be that incredible amount of energy in the atmosphere surrounding the competition!!!

History was made at the 39th Josh Billings with the top overall team Pittsfield Health Food Center taking the victory with a 4 person team in the kayak class with a lightning fast time of 2 hours 23 minutes! Never before has a team taken the overall fastest time in the kayak category. With that said, surf skis will now be allowed in the team categories where before were restricted for use only by solo competitors. Perhaps The Josh was waiting for the moment a kayak team took that overall spot to announce dropping the surf ski restriction in the team based category. There is a huge following of surf ski racing and deep competition in the Northeast. This change could forever see the top teams battling it out in surf skis for years to come.

Team Allen Heights continued their achievements with a strong second place finish and top overall canoe 2 hours 27 minutes. This team also made history the prior year with a record 4th in a row overall title. Despite the surf ski announcement, Allen Heights remain steadfast and on "Any Given Sunday" could reclaim the champion title at The Josh. Vermont Sports Connection rounded out the top three with a time of 2 hours 36 minutes undoubtedly one of the top teams for many years at this competition.
Sweetest Finish Line Reward Ever!
Josh, John and I.  2nd, 4th, 5th overall solo finishes at the Josh!

All the hard work and preparation would not be possible without the unending support of our wives. Taking position on the starting line and knowing that when you finish they will be there to greet you never mind the result.   At the end of the day, Astrid and Noelle are my shining stars and seeing their shining, happy faces brightens my day.

Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Harder!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MRA Multisport - XTERRA French River

"June is bustin' out all over, All over the meadow and the hill! Buds're bustin' outa bushes And the rompin' river pushes, Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!"

With the Summer Solstice behind me I tapped into this energy and momentum took me to the next level.  I signed up for a weekend of racing at the XTERRA French River in Oxford, MA hosted by none other than MRA Multisport! XTERRA racing takes the same format of the classic mainstream triathlons - Swim, Bike and Run but takes it off road. Off road racing offers a multitude of alternative racing opportunities, taking your favorite outdoor activities and putting those skills to the test.

Many multisport events change the order of the events and offer kayaking in place of swimming. Multisport distances can vary greatly, along with the terrain and all the technical disciplines imagined. Generally speaking, multisport is the gateway to Adventure Racing which requires solid endurance, strength and technique across multiple disciplines.

Off road racing challenges your body at every moment adding elements of intense variability, demanding constant change along every twist and turn in the trail. Variable environmental conditions, loose rock and gravel, rolling sets of short, sometimes steep hills, lightning quick burmed up and banked turns, river crossings, mud crossings and best of all, its catered to you layer by layer, a game plan that the organizer carefully and methodically designed unfolds in front of you.

Race Director Alex Rogozenski of MRA Multisport!
Northeast Race Photo

Alex providing necessary race instructions to the field of  57 competitors.
Northeast Race Photo

The Sprint course was held on Saturday offering several choice divisions decided by which opening leg you prefer; swim, run, or paddle. I figured I would save myself the pain and suffering of another swim and of course, joined the paddling division. Starting with a 1 mile paddle, 8 mile mountain bike and 3.5 mile trail run. This is a great introductory distance into the world of off road racing and yet still features a challenging course that will leave you breathless, gasping for more!  Here are the XTERRA French River Sprint results.

Tom Lamont , (red) Wilderness Systems Tempest, battling for position against his nearest rival!
Northeast Race Photo

Kate Egnaczak killing it out there on her racing SUP!
Northeast Race Photo

Scott Samuel paddling his very sleek and fast Perception Shadow 16.5
Northeast Race Photo

Just hanging around after the sprint event with race buddy Scott washing off the dirt, dust and sweat from the day.  I finally met Ben Kimball the photographer behind the camera from Northeast Photo who  just so happens to be quite the trail running extraordinaire.  He recently authored a book about "Trail Running Western Massachusetts."  There I was telling him about Seven Sisters Trail Race, blah blah blah and this is the guy that knows every square inch of that tract of land not too mention every other hidden gem in Western MA just waiting to be tracked!

Taking the Fenn Millennium out for a "spin" in the opening leg of the XTERRA Sprint on Saturday.

On Sunday, the long course featured a 12 mile mountain bike and 5.5 mile trail run.  I was nervous about getting on the starting line with a 1/2 mile swim ahead of me and judging by the difficulty on Lake Singletary the swim leg was not in my favor. A simple change in format from kayak to swim  as the first leg completely changes the entire strategy for executing a good race plan. The difficulty of an XTERRA off road triathlon is typically about the same effort as an Olympic Triathlon distance.

I just love the feeling of getting all nervous before a race, a good exercise in focus to remain calm, cool and collected. I was absolutely stone faced before the race began with typical race day nerves and jitters.... We were all shivering in 55 degrees, with wind and rain using up valuable energy just staying warm. Everyone showed up in extremely challenging conditions and some were dressed in very fashionable warm-up suits; the poncho!  Soon the race would begin and with fires burning bright its easy to forget about the cold crisp air, whipping winds and driving rain, focused on that one primary goal we all shared....the finish line!

Prime example of the XTERRA competition swimming strong!
Northeast Race Photo

The Low Hanging Fruit

I had originally planned to bounce much earlier and head home but being part procrastinator and socialite paid huge dividends. I happened onto the opportunity to attend  mini-clinic from XTERRA Ambassador Ken Robins. The clinic was offered Saturday afternoon during early registration for Sunday's main event. He focused much of the discussion on preparation, transition and nutrition but it was his novice friendly swimming suggestions I capitalized the most. Here are some of the pro tips and techniques.

XTERRA Ambassador Ken Robins Mini-Clinic
Photo by Alex Rogozenski
1.  Back of the pack. Do not start in the front of the pack. Start closer to the back  and ease into the first 100m of the swim.  Do not go out too fast. Slow things down on purpose. Starting close to the front of the pack is disadvantageous as faster swimmers approach they converge on your path. Bumping and grabbing gets really uncomfortable and can affect your rhythm, especially at changes in direction around buoys.

2.  Draft.  Find someone swimming at a similar pace you can  comfortably maintain. Get behind reach out and when you can just barely tickle their feet you know your on draft.  Back off a hair and hang on for the ride.  Using goggles you can keep your head sufficiently streamlined in the water and stay on the intended line working the draft. Even better if you find someone kicking, splashing with their feet.  The air bubbles will give you extra buoyancy and literally lift you out of the water.

3. Picking your head up.  Lifting your head lowers your torso and legs, increasing drag and loosing forward momentum.  This requires more energy to get moving again.  Trust your instincts and if your on a proper draft, generally the person in front of you knows where they are going. Follow the leader.

Ken working with Scott on the preferred water bottle hand grab
4.  Interval strokes. I chose primarily breaststroke accompanied by freestyle. In reality, any stroke will work as long as you go with comfort, can travel straight and keep the body streamlined.  During the freestyle stroke, Ken recommended keeping the feet just under the surface of the water and flutter kicking, nice and light nothing more than that to save the legs for the bike and run. 

5. Air stroking with Ken. Something about... reaching over the barrel, straight forward across the surface of the water and pointing in the direction of travel, Something about... cupping loose hands to work on a good catch and pull, Something about....driving  the forearm vertical but not the entire arm.  Something about...taking the arms out at the hips and repeat on the other side. Something about... adding body rotation and creating a pocket of air to breathe without picking up the head. Ken recommended practice, practice, practice and join a swim club/team. Perhaps I could entertain him and trade paddling for swim instruction!

Swimmers hitting the water with speed....
Northeast Race Photo
Explosive Competition!
Northeast Race Photo

Swimmers immediately go into transition mode coming out of the water

The results do not lie. In comparison to the 2:24 per 100m survival mode pace at the Summer Solstice a week earlier. At XTERRA French River the pace astronomically improved to 1:49 per 100m for a  14:30 time. One clinic, pro advice a dramatic improvement of 35 seconds per 100m taking 4+ minutes off my projected 1/2 mile swim. Putting these instructions into action setup the rest of my race that followed having filled my basket with the freshest fruits of the season....Thanks Ken!

Members of MRA Multisport have access to a beautiful beach and stretch of water at Marion's Camp on Lake Singletary in Sutton MA. There are multiple opportunities for group sessions and workouts in order to perfect your form and build confidence in the swim. I need take advantage and join some of these workouts.

During the mountain bike segment competitors would be tossed and turned, over and over by a slick, loose course through huge puddles with no knowledge of what roots and rocks lay submerged. You had to let it loose, lay it on the line, a true gamble at times.  This course literally ate me up and spit me out, eating dirt more than several times. Wiping out knee into the gravel and face first into monster puddles, I was getting beaten up pretty bad on course. I paid a price for attempting a pass at the wrong time and heading into a fairly tight, off camber and rolling, root strewn path. Speeding right along, I skidded, clipping my handle bars onto a tree and getting end-over, twist somersaulted.  So much for making that pass and having to work twice as hard to catch up. I wonder if there are extra credit points in the freestyle of XTERRA? Going off road unto itself is about getting thrown down and repeatedly, getting back up to claim some more dirt!

Whipping around the 'Wet and Wild' trail system at Hodges Dam in Oxford, MA

This weekend is prime example of how fast conditions change.  Over 2" of rainfall, cool temperatures and wind all on a flooded out, sloppy course did not stop anyone. Across the entire field of competitors, posted times were clearly slower than the previous year on the same course. Wet and sloppy conditions can added significant time on course and I was approximately 7 minutes slower than my previous days riding pace.

The trail run lived up to the hype of an XTERRA.  It had a good mix of single track and jeep roads including some surprises like a river crossing 1 mile into the race to "wash off" the body and then a mud flat 1 mile from the finish to layer it all back on! An additional 2 mile route added onto the previous days sprint course containing stout elevation gains that slowed down the pace and sent the heart rate soaring.  The downhills were equally intense, loose and slick, racers would have trouble gaining traction and must remain focused at finding both speed and sure footing. Holding back on the previous days trail run allowed me to keep the pace up and best my projected goal.

Charging across the river!

Embattled competition at the river crossing!
Northeast Race Photo

Brad Waterson getting his groove on DirtTV!
Northeast Race Photo

Off road racing brings you up close and personal with nature's obstacle course  just like stumbling across the most random river crossing. You never know what your going to get,  its the tapas of culinary delights.You thought I was going to say "box of chocolates didn't you! You will never get bored going off road with each and every twist and turn offering up a delicate balance of sustained and interval efforts.

I crossed the finish line in typical Trahan fashion all jazzed up, adrenaline rush that built up slowly, to stratospheric levels, just exploding into the finish.  I finished 13th of 57 with a time of 2:15:015 and 2nd in age group at my first off road XTERRA. In comparison, the top finisher in the 35-39 age group was a time 2:05:35 so I have some room to grow. Not too mention an impressive performance by Steve Croucher from Vermont 1st place overall in 1:54:27 whom is competing for nationally and eyes set on the World Championships in Hawaii.

Big shout-out to Alex Rogozenski at MRA Multisport and his awesome staff putting on the best event weekend EVA in Central MA!  The energy and excitement is very addicting.  Here are the XTERRA FRENCH RIVER long course results.

Checkout this fantastic video edit of the XTERRA French River from Thom Parsons of DirtwireTV. It speaks for itself just ignore everything the dude at the beginning and end has to say!  Okay but I will say it.  Every competitor on course that day had such outstanding character to grin and bear the conditions and finish this race.

Taking the river crossing in stride!
Photo by Ben Kimball
Culminating an epic month on the "Tour O' Trahan" ending in an incredible weekend of racing at the XTERRA French River in Oxford MA. Absolute 100% heart pounding action in the grit and grime with some outstanding results in the books. Throughout this one month stretch I have been surrounded by awesome friends, sharing new experiences with incredible competition from one event to the next.

I could not resist, adding another race to the schedule and pulled the trigger signing up for XTERRA Skyhigh on Saturday July 18, 2015 in Grafton Lakes State Park in New York. Another week of preparations!

Proud 'dirtbag' American!
Photo by Alex Rogozenski
Apparently the attempt to slow things down and come back to earth was abruptly halted by an impulsive decision to continue racing.  My current plan is to place the intensity on the back burner when I make travels to visit the family in Sweden. Well earned time to let the body heal, rest and recover...

I have exceeded personal expectations this season and certainly not possible without the encouragement and understanding of my lovely wife Astrid. I look forward to introducing that 'peaches in the pie' daughter of ours to the many active, outdoor pursuits we share with so many wonderful people.

Looking forward to some fun and festivities at events this Fall.....
Josh Billings Runaground in Great Barrington, MA Sept 20
Greenway Challenge in Blackstone Valley September 26
Great River Challenge at Northfield Mountain Recreation Area, October 4
Tully Lake Triathlon in Royalston, MA Oct 18

Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Harder

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MRA Multisport - Summer Solstice Sprint

"June is bustin' out all over, All over the meadow and the hill! Buds're bustin' outa bushes And the rompin' river pushes, Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!"

The next event on the "Tour O' Trahan" was the Summer Solstice Sprint Triathlon, my first official USAT triathlon. The race venue is held at Marion's Camp on the pristine waters of Lake Singletary in Sutton, MA. Always held on the closest Friday to the actually solstice. The race is organized by MRA Multisport a local triathlon coaching club that hosts a multitude of unique race offerings in central MA. They have something for everyone at any level of the sport; running, cycling, swimming and throw in a trail series, snowshoeing, and paddling and you have a nice selection of events to pick and choose. Many of their triathlon and multisport races even offer a team relay division.

We all know that committing to a race, any race requires travel and eats up entire weekends in preparation and execution. The idea of racing on a Friday evening during the longest days of the year is brilliant, leaving the better part of the weekend to be spent with family and tend to much necessary yard work. How productive!

144 triathletes enter the water to begin the 2015 Summer Solstice Sprint!
Photo by Emily Hayes
The event starts at 6:30pm sharp in a controlled time trial format where swimmers enter the water in pairs every 3 seconds.  The 1/4 mile swim is set in a triangle around two large orange inflatable buoys 100m out from shore 200m across.  Following this is a short but steep hill to climb into transition onto the bike.  The 10 mile cycling course was on the freshly paved roads surrounding Lake Singletary back into the transition area to setup for the run.  The run is an out and back 5km effort. The typical racer finishes on average in 70-75 minutes. Just in time for a brilliant setting sun over Singletary! My goal was to survive the swim and break 65 minutes.

Three Embattled Friends
 Photo by Emily Hayes

               Pairs of two, every 3 seconds in time trial start format. 
                        The women  begin their calculated assault.
                              Photo by Emily Hayes

Showing up to an event facing the leg I have devoted ZERO training time; the swim. I would surely be challenged. Anyone that knows me, I prefer to kayak and if your swimming while kayaking then your doing something terribly wrong! Lining up with seasoned triathletes is a little intimidating knowing that the Clydesdale figure 15 years older was going to obliterate me in the water was unnerving.  Good news was being surrounded by friends, colleagues and many new acquaintances from MRA Multisport.  Its always a pleasure to race with so many fellow outdoor enthusiasts. The energy in the atmosphere at an event like this is contagious!

Chef Mike and I paired up 30 spots from the front.
Photo by Emily Hayes
My triathlon version of the seal launch.
Photo by Emily Hayes

So the race started and a group of friends competing directly against each other started uncomfortably way too close to the front.  Starting out in pole position 30 with over 120 people behind me was the first mistake of the day.  Second mistake was charging out too fast in the first 100m and burning out. I fizzled out upon reaching the large orange inflatable buoy marking the first turn in the course.  Racers converge on this target area like sardines. Getting bumped and beaten out there, lost my rhythm, breathing uncontrollably, lost my direction and came up briefly treading water to look around. Surrounded by swimmers just cruising passed me almost effortlessly. I was in survival mode from this point forward and it was painful.

Athletes quickly transition to their bikes....
Athlete crossing the timing mats coming out of transition onto the bike.

Friend and Colleague Justin Deary
Photo by Mike Luchini
Working hard at playing chase on the bike course.
Photo by Mike Luchini
The bike ride around Lake Singletary is an outstanding time trail course.  Relativity flat and fast with freshly paved roads and only 5 turns over the 10 mile course make it an all out burn session.  Can you feel the pepper! Coming out of the swim in 93rd position required a huge effort out there on the bike. I passed numerous competitors but for some reason noticed how much more effort was required to make each and every pass, seemingly in slow motion. Riding triathlon specific bikes built specifically to place the rider in an aerodynamic position thus competitors were speeding right along in a fury while conserving tons of energy. My road bike and I were completely surrounded, this time by cyclists cruising at almost effortless speed. I was able to command a 21.6mph feeling remarkably good coming into transition and ready to put the legs to the ultimate test coming off the bike.

Coming off the bike and into transition I still had my work cut out for me.  It has been a long time since I have raced a short distance for speed and this 5km would define how far I have come since running again.  Coming out of transition in stride with a spring in my step.  Something I have not felt in a long, long time. I carried the pace and intensity onto the main road working my way past competitors asking myself, "is this for real" and concerned about loosing my stride.  It never happened and I cruised into the finish line with a ton of steam left in the tank.

Coming off the bike.... Check out the cyclists bike next to mine.

Patrick Royce of Sutton, MA coming off the bike into second transition

I successfully achieved my projected goal with a time of 1:02:10.  Thus managed a 20th overall and 3rd place (35-39  age group) after coming out of the swim in 93rd place moving up 73 positions through the 10 mile bike and 5km run. Ranked 11th in the bike and was completely blown away with a 20:15 run a triumphant 6:32/mile pace. I just whooped and hollered with excitement!  Here are the entire race day results.

Justin Deary of Uxbridge, MA accepting his finish line medallion.
Photo by Emily Hayes
In the battle among friends Justin Deary took the belt in yet another event of going head to head with him with a 16th overall with a time of 1:01:23 and 2nd (35-39  age group).  He is a pure machine on the race course and an adrenaline rush when he gets moving.  I could easily point to how poorly I felt on the swim but interesting enough I actually lost the race in transition of all places!  This is a stark reminder of how important it is to practice transitions especially between the swim and bike.  In comparison, Patrick Royce of Sutton, MA finished 4th overall with a lightning fast time of 55:57 and 1st (35-39  age group)!!!

Nick and Ted competing in their first ever triathlon.
Photo by Emily Hayes
It was such an inspiration to see racing partners Nick Draper and Ted Painter competing in their very first triathlon together. They are both members of Team Hoyt New England.What was even more impressive was their stats....

Check out these results!

                                  Swim Tran1 Bike Tran2 Run Finish        
===== ===== =================== ============ == === = ======= =======
1 258 NICK DRAPER SPENCER MA 27 M 13:36 5:37    37:47 2:41    20:24 1:20:03  
2 256 TED PAINTER OXFORD MA  44 M 13:36 5:36    37:48 2:42    20:24 1:20:03 

 Visit them online at "In the 'Nick' of Time" and keep an eye out for them.  
I think they are hooked on multisport!

Race Director, Alex Rogozenski
Photo by Emily Hayes
The Summer Solstice Sprint Triathlon is the perfect event to bring the entire family for a delightful evening cheering on the athletes and enjoy the setting sun over Lake Singletary. An entertaining evening with a DJ spinning tunes and full food service firing up the grills on-site.  MRA Multisport puts the exclamation point in what is undoubtedly a stellar racing experience for anyone from a first time triathlete to the most seasoned competitor. The support of the Town of Sutton along with local Police and Fire departments along with the swarm of volunteers making this race possible is simple outstanding!

The Summer Solstice Sprint has just become a favorite on my list of events and hopefully for many more years to come. The competition was stout and with some improvement I might even be able to edge ever close to breaking the 60 minute mark.  Must focus my efforts on both swim strategy and technique, speed up my transitions and who knows perhaps even a time trial bike in my near future!

Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Harder

Waters colleagues Ed Ognibene, Cheryl Turner and Nicole Asrenault soaking in those very last rays of the solstice.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Balancing Burnout on the "Tour O' Trahan"

Exactly one year has passed since my comeback to soloing multisport competitions.  2014 to 2015 has been a fantastic year of competing and my personal renaissance in the world of multisport.  An incredible spring at the Berkshire Pentathlon, Tuckerman Inferno, Whitewater Triple Crown and Seven Sisters all events shared in the presence of my loving, supportive wife and sweet little daughter.

With my wife and daughter travelling to visit the Swedish family this summer season and I staying home to work, I thought to myself.  You better not watch the grass grow and God-forbid start playing MMORPG's (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).  Trust me, if you know how much energy I place into sport; imagine what happens when I get addicted to gaming! Forgoing any plans to sit on buttocks killing time, I tentatively planned the "Tour O' Trahan!"

              2015 Early Summer "Tour O' Trahan!"

  • Jersey Inferno Adventure Race - June 6, 2015
  • Black Fly Challenge - June 13, 2015 
  • Summer Solstice Sprint Triathlon - June 19, 2015
  • XTERRA - French River, Sprint and Long Course - June 27 & 28, 2015 

With lots of baby gear I learned to travel light and only bring the necessities. You know the usual; kayak, bike, skis, half dozen pairs of shoes, helmets, packs, paddles, poles and protein! Fulfilling this hit list of early summer events I would sadly be solo. There were no strollers, carrycots, diaper bags, Baby Bjorns and car seats, etc. No heart warming support, holding hands, big hugs and sweet kisses. What was I going to do with myself? How would I hold up all alone and "feeling" like a bachelor again... and oh the trouble I could get in!

Waters colleagues band together for the Summer Solstice 
Challenged by the possibility of burnout my body was sending warning shots following each event. Sudden and momentary instances of fatigue, headaches and multitude of muscle aches and pains facing lactic acid buildup. Nothing quite like an overdose of testosterone, the HGH of the human body, followed by increased levels of cortisol, a natural pain killer.

A consistent approach in training, preparation and recovery allowed me to maintain a relatively high level of intensity going back to back for one month. Elements of cross training such as kettle-bell and TRX strengthened areas I was lacking and proved successful last season. This year I am experimenting with bike commuting which gives me additional fitness opportunities without being a time constraint on the family life. I have already accumulated a 14% increase in lower intensity zone 2 training as compared to 2014  adding to my overall fitness base. 

Trail running proves a convenient way to get combination strength based workout keeping away from the impact and road stresses triggering tricky knee tendentious. Light treadmill sessions just keep the feet moving and succeeded in getting my stride back, controlled breathing and maintaining a constant heart rate in my lower work zones were an important part of this training.

MRA club members representing at the XTERRA French River Sprint
As a certified spin instructor I have been able to supplement my outdoor workouts further delivering structured endurance, strength and internal programs to my students which is a good measure of personal discipline.

Mindful of how virtual miles stack-up I opted to instruct 4 of 9 spin classes in June from the floor.  Going over 400 cardio miles across multiple disciplines in a month of training alone can be maintained with relative care and consistency.  However, exceeding 400 miles constantly pushing the intensity of zone 4 is a bit risky. Taking command of the floor 60+ virtual miles of strength internal fitness was banked for use on race day. I could have executed additional sessions but at far greater risk of injury, sacrificing not only results but keeping things technically clean during the events.

Trying to deliver reproducible competitive efforts without completely crashing or getting injured was strategic. Taking days off before and after each event is obvious but sometimes hard to follow.  Following each event training lightly in the endurance zone allowed me to keep the mileage up. Most important addition to the racing seasons has been adding a midweek Yoga session where I would normally would have just been executing a higher intensity interval or double session.

Less is more, when your body is screaming at you. It is amazing how the body recovers rather quickly if you just listen, make day-to-day adjustments and handle with care.  After two long weekends away I chose to pull back a little and keep it local.  A nice relaxing visit with my family was planned after the Summer Solstice Sprint and preparations for a weekend at the XTERRA French River off-road triathlons.

These triathlons are discussed in my proceeding two blog posts are events hosted by MRA Multisport.  Taking the time to document each event is consuming but a privilege as I share new experiences surrounded by energetic and outgoing people of the sport.  Having learned so much in such a short period of time, I am just inspired to make these small, extra efforts in the grand scheme.

Work Hard, Train Hard, Play Harder!