Mid-Winter Classic 2013 – Recap

This past weekend was my first race of 2013 the Mid-Winter Classic in Cape Elizabeth.  This race was a bit of an unknown going in, I had kept my long runs in the 10 mile range, and done some speed work and hill work here and there, but had only been really consistently training for the month leading up to the race.   My 10 mile PR was in the 1:23 range, and I had my eyes on 1:19:59 but wasn’t sure I had that in me. I decided to take the same approach I took last year at the Great Bay Half Marathon, run relaxed for the first half, then start ratcheting up the pace in the second half.

It turns out that everyone in the world who I know was running or spectating at this race. The Gardiner Girls, Danielle and Sarah (both of which I haven’t seen enough of lately), most of the coaches from The Sustainable Athlete, and a bunch of my other friends.  So I knew it was at least going to be a good time.

me and my friends

Some of my friends

At the start I lined up near a couple of The Gardiner Girls, Carrie, Jen and her stupid fast (age group winning) husband, I figured they would be around my pace-ish so it was a good place to start.  We were chatting away when the cannon went off and scared the crap out of me and we shuffled towards the starting line.  Usually I take off way to fast at the start of races and explode in spectacular fashion, but there was enough of a crowed to keep my pace in check, I was feeling pretty relaxed but was moving along at a good clip, and fell in beside Carrie figuring she knew what she was doing.  We chatted a little as we ran maneuvering around people and finding our place in the race.  The first mile is mostly down hill but passed in a mere 7:53 which made me a bit nervous, but I wasn’t about to let Carrie leave me in the dust so I soldered on.  Mile 2 things started going up hill, once again against my better judgment I let me male ego drag me up the hills with Carrie, keeping a straight face and trying not to look like I was dying.

andy and carrie

Me and Carrie, pre-hills

By mile 3 things started to level out and I started to get in a grove, staying relaxed and hitting right around 8 minute miles.  Around here is where Carrie started to fade a bit, and I repaid her for pulling me up the hills by leaving her to her own devices, I’m selfish like that.  After a short while I spotted a Sustainable Athlete jacket up ahead and soon enough I was running with my friend Bill.  he was obviously not running fast enough as he was casually chatting with anyone who would listen about anything he could think of.  I listened to him and his friends chat away for about two miles until the second aid station, where I took a small cup of Gatoraid and started pushing the pace a little.

This was unknown territory for going this fast for a race of this distance, but I had been feeling good ticking of the 8 min miles, so I gave it some more effort and started reeling people in.  Mile 6 7:25, uh oh…  maybe that was a little to ambitious, but I kept going let’s see what we’ve got. Mile 7 7:44, that’s closer to reality, but only 3 miles left, it’s go time.

After mile 7 I really let myself go, I was feeling good and I can get through a 5K at this point without a problem.  Then I saw Jen up ahead in the distance, no slowing down now.  I slowly reeled her in and was hitting low 7 min miles on my GPS when I went by her (no I’m not competitive, why?).  She yelled something disparaging about my mother (apparently she is not competitive either) and I just waved and continued on my way pretending not to be working hard.  Then the course started to take an uphill turn into the wind and I started to pay for the hills with Carrie and blowing by Jen… But with only 2 miles left, I was giving it everything I had, and started trying to draft as best I can off my fellow runners.  I was just starting to fade, when I came around an uphill corner and saw Danielle and Sarah jumping and cheering.  This did wonders for me and my stupid male ego and I gave it some more gas.

Shortly after I had passed them I recognized the last hill from my preview of the course a month or so ago, I knew I had less then a mile to go so I just put my head down and pushed.  The last bit of the race is downhill and I gave it everything I had in my attempt to break 1:20, and when I rounded the final curve and saw the clock I knew I had it.  1:18:31.


This was way better then I had expected, and it makes me very optimistic for the rest of 2013.  10 miles averaging under 8 min miles bodes very well for me setting a PR on a nice flat half marathon course in about a month.

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Better Then Expected

Well apparently all has not been lost to beer and Doritos the last couple months.  After meeting up with Danielle, a quick DD run, and a courtesy course driving to get familiar with what we faced, we arrived at the Turkey Trot 5K.  Being slackers, we arrived with just enough time to for a short 1 mile warm up before lining up at the starting line.  I had skillfully forgot my gloves and GPS at home, so I was running blind and had some wonderful borrowed black and pink gloves.  Fortunately it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting so I left the gloves in the car.

The plan was simple, go out slow and slowly ratchet up the speed as the miles ticked by.  that plan lasted right until the starting cannon scared the shit out of me, and I took off like a shot, leaving Danielle far far behind.

The first mile is downhill and I managed to control myself enough to relax and hit the miles at a to fast but not suicidal 6:57.  From there the second mile was mostly flat with a bit of up hill thrown in to soften you up, trying to stay relaxed but on the edge of exploding brought me through 2 miles in 14:12, which seemed about right.  Then the uphill began. I was expecting this from our short preview, but it started sooner then expected.  Turns out hills look a lot smaller when you can just put your foot down to get up them.  Things really started to hurt up the biggest hill just before the 3 mile mark. I missed the time as I went by the 3 mile mark, but managed to pick up the pace for the all important .1 and finished with a respectable 22:49.

This was WAY better then I was expecting.  It gives me actual hope of breaking the 20 min mark sometime in the foreseeable future.  Now just comes the hard work.

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In Which I Prepare to Go Slow

So this weekend I’ll be running the Turkey Trot 5K, it will be my second 5K of the year.  The other one was in the midst of an epic 4 event weekend at the Black Fly Tri (1 Bike TT, 2 Triathlons, and a 5K), so I don’t really count it.  Considering all my races besides that 5K and the bike TT have been well over an hour long, and the amount of training I have been doing recently, I’m preparing myself for a not so fast 5K.


And by “not so fast”, I mean slow…  There is a better then even chance a pregnant woman will beat me.  (Granted this pregnant woman runs sub 4 hour marathons while pregnant, it would still be quite humiliating. )  I haven’t seen the course, but I’m looking at the high 24 to low 26 range as my current guestimate.  If I surprise myself and break into the 23’s it’ll still be one of the slowest 5Ks I’ve done since I got back into this whole endurance crazyness…

Think positive!

Thinking positively, this will be a baseline to see where I am, and how much work I need to do, to break the dreaded 20 min mark (Hint: a lot).  The last three weeks have been great training wise , getting in the runs and the miles, now it’s time to keep rolling and start with the speed work.

Yea, we’ll see how well that goes…

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In Which Trash Talk Backfires

[ed. note: In my continuing effort to make blogging more efficient, here is another entry that I tricked someone else into writing for me. This time I answered the riddle of a small trollish woman, and in return she had to write this post.]

My get-speedy-or-die trying race schedule for 2012/13 seems to be well intact at this point.
I have a kickass coach/slave driver/pace booty/sidekick (Danielle, DUH) to organize my agenda and tell me what to do and where to go.
I feel like I should be ready to kick ass and take names on the super speedy!

Bad news. We are about to start the journey down the long, cold, sad road into winter. Or, as I prefer to call it the start of my Jabba The Hut eating plan of excellence. I like nothing more than to than to dive face first into a vat of spinach and artichoke dip (diving equals excellent swimming training!) or perhaps running (speed training!) to the fridge to double fist a couple of Bud Lights.
Nothing would please me more than to spend the majority of the winter holed up in my burglar proof apartment doing just that. Alas, I feel that at the end of my winter long sloth fest when I reemerged sometime in April (or june, who’s really paying attention!) not only would I be bursting from my Ironman finishers jacket but I’d also be terribly slow.

For quite some time now I have been enjoying the view from the top. I love to brag about how I’m the speedy one in my group of friends. My lethal and deadly skills, sharp wit and scathing verbiage push me to the front of the pack with ease. I have tremendously enjoyed laying claim to the top dog prize in my hood, and up until this point have felt that I could maintain my amazing prowess despite my diet of pizza and grilled cheese.

I have recently lost my crown. Dethroned at the pinnacle of my career by a tiny speedy brat who on first glance appears to be a 10 year old boy stuck in a wild disarray of running attire. Upon eating her dust at Great Bay last year I realized that I was going to have to man up in a big way if I wanted to be on the top of the fast friends podium ever again…

My motivation to train like a BOSS this winter? FEAR!!! And FEAR HAS A NAMEEEEEE!!! (Andy! This is where you add a picture of me looking badass! Steal one from FB, NOT a bikini pic but something scary! Or, you can just leave this text in and people can imagine my scary race face… *sigh*)

Fear never looked so peppy.

[ed. note: This is what you were really looking for isn’t it. You’re welcome.]

Since everything in life is a competition I plan to become insanely fast as playing second fiddle to a barely 5 foot tall smart mouth girl is simply unacceptable.
I asked her about her training plan at one point and she advised me to sit about, eating all the cheesecake and drinking quite a bit of wine. I was able to see thru her scheme to turn me into a 300 pound fatty and I went back to my almost a vegan diet as quickly as I could, just to spite her. (and she went on to eat and drink her way to a BQ, how ridiculous!!!!)

I was hoping that she would vanish from our group of runners as swiftly as she had run in, leaving me to reclaim my thunder (ok, if somebody steals your thunder you can take it back. so hush)  However, she has used her womanly wiles to infiltrate all my friends, even going as far as dating my brother (and refusing to divulge his training plan!!! the nerve!!)

There is nothing that motivates a man like shame. And having all my non-high school (which was well over 30 years ago)  PR’S smashed by this little troublemaker is making me question my manhood.

I plan to steal her training plan for the winter, adding in ridiculous and questionable tasks like swimming endless laps (boring) riding my bike on a dumb trainer (retardo to the max) but most importantly, trying to run 100 miles a week across the frozen tundra.  I feel that insanely high mileage will benefit me in every way and certainly not lead to injury (sidelining me for the season, effectively keeping me from challenging my most worthy opponent…) (and the “author” says.. “HEH HEH”)

So there you have it. Let’s recap, shall we?
-Must not continue to have my hat handed to me by little girls in pink socks
-Must run 100 miles a week
-Must eat ALL the cheesecake and drink ALL the wine! And/or ALL the Bud Light!
-Must take back my rightful place as the fast one in the group!!!!!
-ER or PR bitches!
(or, just curl up in bed, cry, and accept the cold hard fact of life which- is that it is HIGHLY unlikely that I’ll be allowed to be the fastest ever again. But I can swim, SO THERE!!)

[ed. note: Game. On.]

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I Told Her to Write it For Me (And She Did)

[ed. note: I was trying to write a post and was stuck, I asked my friend Danielle to write it for me.  And much to my surprise, she did!  So I figured I might as well post it…  The is her writing as me, in case that wasn’t clear…  🙂 Also of note, she is allergic to the shift key.  But she doesn’t like to talk about it, so it’s better if we don’t mention it to her.]


so i’ve been slacking on my training. well, unless you believe my training is drinking good beer (ie- bud light. yum![ed. note: not so much]) and riding my bike slowly in the rain cheering on all my friends while they run crazy fast (and slow) long distances. i’ve been really good at that training… but since my life for the past year has been all ironman all the time, you could say i’ve been slacking off since crossing the finish line late night on august 11th.
but alas, i am still an ironman, and not too many people can say that. so im going to keep wearing my finishers jacket around, remind people of my accomplishment[ed. note: yea I will!], and soon ill get back to doing some physical activity that doesn’t involve 12 oz curls and video games. [ed. note: I can still do those too, right?]
i want to get fast. and although i like spending countless hours on two wheels, living in maine doesn’t allow for such activity during the cold, snowy winter months. but there are plenty of warm clothing items i can spend money on to keep me warm and i can get fast on my two feet. and that is just what i plan to do over the next few months. with the help of my super cool sidekick[ed. note: super cool? Well, she did write this for me, so I’ll let it slide] (who isnt quite as fast as me yet, but shes trying), we have come up with a tentative race plan which will allow me to show off my hard work (that will happen, please trust me here… remember, goal is to get fast!) [ed. note: I’m not sure I like this, it sounds like a lot of work.]
race schedule:
– sunday november 18th: turkey trot 5k
– saturday december 29th: operation jack satellite 10k
– instead of running the mid winter classic 10 miler in february like all my other running friends will probably do (stupid…), ill be partaking in the 1st annual pub run a few cool chicks i know came up with that will be much more fun (and beer… who doesn’t like beer?!)
– sunday march 3: irish road rover 5k
– and sunday april 7th ill be in prime shape to crush the great bay half marathon course again (last year: 1:48:35… and i could have pushed harder. i will this year)
so that’s my plan thus far, obviously things can change (more than likely add to that schedule since i love to register for ALL THE RACES)… and i know ill need to add in some track work, hill work (get my legs strong!), and core strengthening [ed. note: fact, ugh] … perhaps less beer[ed. note: #false], but is that really all that fun? i can use that as a reward for all the training, right? [ed. note: #true]
[ed. note: So there you have it.  It looks like I have a plan, and someone to write my blog posts…  🙂 ]
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Long Overdue – IMNYC

The short version: Eric and I finished The IronMan US Championships in a touch under 14-and-a-half hours. We were exhausted, emotional and surrounded by friends and family.

There is more to the story than that. This event was four years in the making, the last eight months dedicated specifically to training for this race: Over 600 miles of running, 2600 miles of biking and 155,000 yards of swimming; weekends spent alone in the saddle getting the miles under your belt; waking up at 4am for runs; staying up late to fit in a hard interval workout on the trainer; getting to know the lifeguards at the pool by name.  Sore muscles, nagging injuries, doubts that you have what it takes.

There are no sharks in the Hudson, right?

The race draws near. Did I swim enough? Did I run enough? 140.6 miles… what was I thinking?

Then the race starts, you’re swimming, the water is warm and dark. There aren’t sharks in the Hudson River, right? The swim is over and you’re on the bike where you spend the bulk of your day, over 7 hours. It gets hot—too hot. Things start to unravel. I can’t do this—eighty miles down, still 30 to go—relentless grinding hills, with the hot sun still beating down. Finally the bike is over, “only” a marathon left: a measly 26.2 miles. The run starts well, but deteriorates quickly. “Walk the hills” was the mantra, and there was a lot of walking. The runs got shorter, the walks got longer. Negotiations were made: that ramp up the curb, that’s definitely a hill, we should walk that. Yes, definitely.

“Cause I’m out here grindin'”

Then came the stairs, whose cruel joke will never be forgiven. Forty-three stairs to the top of the George Washington Bridge, then 43 stairs down the other side. (I counted.) But the big hills were done. The stairs were done. A feeling started to creep up: we can do this. The mindset started to change. Instead of counting up miles, we were counting them down: 8 … 7 … “Pfft, I can do a 10k in my sleep.” It was a march now, the combined effect of 133 miles and 12 hours of effort. Feet compressed flat, hips in agony, relentless forward motion, trying to balance the need to walk with the desire to be finished.

Throwin’ up the horns over the GWB.

Three miles left, grim mouths start to turn upwards. Runs—though still a shuffle—become longer, faster. Nothing can stop us now. The crowd thickens, urging us on. We can hear the announcer, see the glow of the finish in the distance. The last mile is a blur of people and bright lights. We start strategizing our finishing pose, eliminating several awesome combinations because our legs don’t work right. Eventually we settle on our victory pose, it’s gonna be epic. Finally the finishers’ chute, our family cheering us on, flashbulbs go off (too early!) as we cross the finish line.

“You are an IronMan.” Sweat. Tears. Pain. Worth it.


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MDI, A True Story

“Once upon a time, there were three craaazy girls… (technically 6 and a few guys)”

It all started Friday afternoon when I headed down to Danielle’s for some pre-race eating and fun.  I spent the afternoon working on the couch while D and Sarah, headed out picking up a bunch of random travelers from far off lands.  As everyone trickled in they started playing agonizingly long games of scrabble (Note: “hm” and “mm” are legit words, not lying) while texting, chatting and twittering up a storm about the coming race.  When Sarah and Ruddley finally made an appearance it was time for dinner, a lovely pasta dish D was whipping up.  While that was going on we figured out that the cable was acting up and there was no beer in the house.  Ruddley and I took one for the team, drove the 1/2 mile to  Sara’s house and watched the game and drank a beer away from the flood of chatting taking over D’s house.

Ruddley and I recovered for an inning or so before being notified that dinner was ready.  We arrived with our booty of beer and dug in to our yummy food.  During our absence Brendan had wandered in to join our little party.  I, being one of two people who were not running a marathon in the near future, did my best to drink all the beer.  Including some Bud Light, for which I was roundly ridiculed for.  In my defense  it was like beer #7, so why waste good beer at that point.  Great fun was had by all (well I had great fun anyway) and far to soon everyone was off to bed, and I was out the moment D turned off the TV.

“who are going to run super far up and down mountains”

Saturday dawned way to early and a far to chipper D came down and dragged me out of bed saying something about running, then Sarah showed up blinding me with her large smile as I tried to hide under the covers.  They managed to haul me out of bed into the 30 degree weather for a 2 mile run.  They chatted along merrily as I waited for a car to come by so I can throw myself in front of it to end the headache, dry mouthed, suffering I was going through.  After 18 grueling minutes the run was over, and I could start to recover in a nice hot shower and then D prepared me a some oatmeal and granola as we waited for the other two who crashed at D’s house to make themselves pretty.

Once they were all primped, we headed out.  The three girls in D’s car and me by myself with my bike, in my car.  About three hours and a couple stops later we were at our destination

“along came a handsome gallant bike rider who inspired them to go faster…”

After a glorious carbo-loading dinner, we headed to the hotel and to “bed”.  This did not turn out as expected, the three girls in my room were a little wired in anticipation of the race. About 30 minutes after they “went to bed”, I hear giggling and then, “Annnnndy, come tell us a bedtime stooorrry.” Having two of my own children, this was a task I could handle.  So I told them a wonderful story, which turned out to be very prophetic.  After tucking them in, giving them all kisses on the head, I told them to shut up and go to sleep. Surprisingly this actually worked and shortly after the giggles had subsided and I could get some much needed sleep.

I was awoken way to early by people getting ready to run and panicking about the weather.  I threw on my bike clothes, added an underarmor cold weather shirt, my Ironman finishers jacket (that’s right, Ironman finisher right here…  😉 ) and a pair of wind pants to try and keep me warm in the cold wet weather.

They all piled in the car and I biked the 1/2 mile to the start, I ran into Jill, Wade and Ward who were there supporting Jen.  The cannon went off and everyone was on their way, I cheered as everyone went buy, hopped on my bike and puttered along the tail end of runners for a mile or so until things thinned out enough that I could weave my way through.  I worked my way up, to near the front of the pack and found Sarah who was motoring right along pulled over a bit in front of her, and cheered as everyone ran by. This was repeated about 4 times, each time getting progressively harder for me.  Sara, was going stupid fast so the gap between her and the new friends I had been making with each successive trip was spreading, until the last time I caught Sara, around mile 20, it took me 20+ min biking not slowly until I caught up to her.  This game was quite fun, I aw the same people over and over again, got a lot of “thank yous” and some “hey I know you”s, and hopefully they weren’t annoyed at seeing me all the time, either standing cheering or riding by them.

I finally made it to the finish a touch over 4 hours after starting, hoping to find Sara and get her her dry clothes, soon after she finished.  Turns out, she is stupid fast (I had predicted this, as I had predicted her 1/2 marathon time back in April), and instead of her predicted 4 hour time, she just missed Boston Qualifying (again!) with a 3:35:30. So she had been hanging out in the freezing cold rain for a half hour before I got there to get her clothes.  Oops, her fault. I got her clothes, congratulated  people I knew or who knew me.  Then I rode back onto the course to check on D who had been having issues and Sarah who had been kicking ass.

I saw Sarah coming up the final hill to the finish and cheered her on to go faster, she gave me the death glare, as only someone busting ass up a hill at mile 26+ can do.  I rode down and saw D a mile-ish down the road and checked on her.  She was doing OK, I took her water bottle and lone glove and escorted her to the finish.  From there we all hung out a little and then decided warm clothes and food were a priority. I went to my car and blasted the head, stripping off my cold wet layers and throwing on some way to big RTB sweatpants and a dry sweatshirt. I picked up Sarah and Ruddley and we headed back to the start to get their car and some food.

After a fun lunch/dinner trading war stories and making sure everyone in the twitterverse knew in exacting details what had happened we all headed out. Once again I was on my own with my bike in tow, my GPS decided to take me the scenic route, which was fine with me as I had pumped myself full of caffeine when I stopped for gas.

All my friends dis so well! Three PRs, an almost lazy BQ and the rest were solid finishes on a tough course.  I had a great time, so much so that I signed up for next years race inside of ten minutes of registration being open on Monday.

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