Search Results for 'griskus'

2022 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Earlier this week (Wednesday night) I did the Pat Griskus Triathlon for the 7th time since 2009, but the first time since 2015. That means I did it many years in a row before taking a long break. This is one of my favorite events. The course (especially the bike loop around Lake Quassapaug) is awesome. The start/finish/transition area is at Quassy Amusement Park.

The other great thing about this race is the vibe. The traditional mid-week summer evening timing makes for a very cool atmosphere. In the past, this race has attracted 300-400 triathletes, and many of them beginners. The race always honors all first timers with a medal. However, this year, there were only 131 finishers. That is much less than before and much less than I expected.

I know I haven’t done much triathlon racing in recent years, but it appears the numbers are down across the board and post-COVID-19, down even more. It’s a bit disappointing that more youth and young adults aren’t getting involved, but it is a very gear and money intensive sport. Even still, if you are interested in doing a triathlon, this Griskus event and the one held in June, are wonderful for beginners. Pat Griskus was a legendary athlete, so it is always great to do an event that honors his legacy.

The race was always very competitive and I’ve had some strong results in the past. This time, I was 4th overall and 2nd in my age group. Amazingly, and another sign that the sport is aging, the race was won by 58 year old David Giampietro. Kudos to him. I hope I can go like him when I get to 58. Second was Zachary Yannes and third was John O’Brien. John only beat me by eight seconds, but he was in a wave behind me so I never saw him. I would like to think that if we were racing head to head, I would have run him down. As usual, I had a terrible swim, which was responsible for most of my deficit to the top two guys. I had a decent ride and an OK run. Regardless, I’m happy with my result as I am good shape right now.

The first woman was Riann Duffy. She was followed by Crystal Holick and Celia Christake. Again, congrats to all of the finishers including those first-timers.

The bike course had a several mile section of milled road surface. That made it a few minutes slower than past races, and it hurt. The weather was beautiful. I stuck around for the awards ceremony and was home by 10:00 P.M. It was a nice night.

Race Results

2015 Pat Griskus Triathlon

Last night, I returned to the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon for the sixth time. I missed last year’s race because of my injured foot, but had raced the previous five years since I made my return to triathlon in 2009. Griskus is probably my favorite triathlon. I just love the format and the vibe. The sprint distance is perfect for me, especially during a year when I’m not going “long.” I love the course around Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, Connecticut, and the idea of a mid-week race in July is great.

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The only significant change since the last time I raced Griskus was the swim. They used to start the men and women simultaneously on two parallel courses. Now they do a wave start and instead of an out and back, it is a rectangle. I insist the swim was longer than the 1/2 mile that they said it was. It was certainly longer than past races. The longer swim relative to the bike (10.5 miles) and run (3.1 miles), was not good for me, but that’s life.

I conceded 3-4 minutes to the other top competitors and that is hard to make up. I passed a lot of folks after my 14 minutes in the water, but there were still eight in front of me when I reached the finish. One minute less on the swim could have helped me pick up for more spots in the standings. Regardless, the placing, whether it be overall, or in my age group, is not why I do these races.

I saw so many friends. This was my first USAT race since August 2013. Last year was a mess with the plantar fasciitis and stress fracture that plagued me all year, and then got worse when I fractured my scapula Labor Day Weekend. I’ve done several weekly “scrimmages” at Lake Terramuggus and Winding Trails, but Griskus was my first race against some of the best triathletes in Connecticut. This race is great for beginners and there were more than 30 first timers. Rookies are celebrated at this race, so it is a great way to experience triathlon. The post-race festivities are always a lot of fun.

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I ended up 9th overall and 2nd in my age group, though I was technically the third 40-44 athlete. Chris Thomas was 2nd overall and the top 3 don’t get to “double dip” in the age group awards. I gave it my all last night. My bike and run were solid. I rode my new Zipp wheels on my Seven Kameha SLX for the first time. Unfortunately, I had to give up my Zedtech 8 (front) and 10 (rear) when Zipp had a major hub recall earlier this year. They replaced my wheels with a new 808 (front) and Sub-9 Disc (rear). It’s a fast setup and felt good. I had one mishap on the bike course. I had a late arrival at Quassy Amusement Park and had to rush my preparation in transition. I did a sloppy job at putting my frame number on my bike. I used electrical tape and it came loose during the ride. With three miles to go, the number and a wad of tape got jammed in between  my rear wheel and the chain stays. I rode it that way for a mile or so, but it was loud, annoying, and was causing drag. I stopped, hopped off and pulled it out before getting going again. That cost me 30 seconds or so and was a rookie mistake. I picked off a few guys on the run course, but ran out of time to make up more ground. I was still very pleased with my effort.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary race, and I’ll likely return.

Race Results

2013 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Tonight was the 26th Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon. I’ve done it several years in a row and it is one of my favorite races of the year. It is a true summer classic. The Wednesday night format is a blast. The post-race party is one of the best of all the races I have done.

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I love returning to see my friends. Tonight’s race was held despite heavy rain and the threat of thunderstorms. It was hot and humid, but the race started only 10 minutes late as the race organizers waited until a storm cell passed.

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This race has the best volunteers and very enthusiastic spectators. It is a great event for first time triathletes and every year it attracts more than a 100 newbies. I was a little slower this year. I gave up some time on the swim, and oddly in T2. I’m not sure what happened there, but you can’t make those mistakes in a sprint. If I was a minute faster, I would have picked up five spots!

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It was that tight. I had a good bike leg and an OK run, which makes me happy. I like challenging conditions and slick roads. I wish I was a bit faster on the run and I wish I had a few more miles of road because I would have surely made up even more ground after my slow start. Unfortunately, I’ve got gear to clean again, but it was still worth it. Congratulations to Chris Thomas and Tara Kupersmith, the overall winners.

Race Results

2012 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Yesterday, I made my annual pilgrimage to Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut for the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon. The 26th edition of this classic race was run in brilliant sunshine and beautiful summer weather. Last year, we had a massive thunderstorm that delayed the start and in 2010, it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the start.

This year was cool compared to that, but 85 degrees is still lovely. I had a pretty good race, though my swim and T2 were downright ugly, which would come back to haunt me. The swim felt long, but that may have been because I stopped several times to look where I was going, perform my synchronized swimming routine for the crowd, and doggy paddle. If I had a ball, I would have played water polo. T2, well, I couldn’t get my shoes on.

My bike was fair, and I ran well to finish strong. I improved on last year’s finish, but my time was slower. I was 7th overall and 2nd in my age group. It is tough when Chris Thomas, the men’s winner, is also 40. You are always going to be relegated to 2nd or worse!

Cassie Maximenko also repeated as a winner. She led a strong Waterbury YMCA Triathlon Club contingent and a massive showing from Timex and Team Timex. My club, the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes also field a strong team. HEAT was out in force, which was great to see. This race has an awesome vibe, so if you are a triathlete and haven’t done this, you are missing out. If you aren’t a triathlete, this is a great first time race, and is in memory of a fantastic and inspirational athlete. Tom Wilkas and his dedicated volunteers and sponsors go out of their way to make you feel good. The post-race festivities are always fun. I celebrated with a Kona Brewing Company Fire Rock Pale Ale. I hadn’t had one of these fine brews since I was at the Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii nearly two years ago, so it was fitting that I would enjoy one tonight. I’m not exactly on the road back to Hawaii, but the inspiration is always helpful.

Speaking of inspiration, there were a ton of newbies racing tonight. More than 460 people, including relays finished the race, which is fantastic. The oldest male was 75 and the oldest female was 70. I was impressed with their fitness. I love this course. The bike leg is picturesque. I had one close call. I was a bit overconfident on a fast descent and took the 2nd hard right hand turn way to fast and ended up correcting just in time to avoid the woods. I went off the asphalt into the dirt, but at the last moment, my Seven Kameha SLX turned enough to sweep right back onto the road and I never slowed. It was a little spooky, but I was trying to make up for flailing away in the water an ceding valuable time to my peers.

My legs were likely a little heavy after competing at the Winding Trails Tri Series last night. At Winding Trails, I pushed the swim, pushed the first part of the mountain bike, and then slowed down for the run, but the effort was still taxing. I love that race so much and haven’t missed one this year, so I figured I would go anyway. Maybe next year, I’ll rest before Griskus.

Chris Thomas was followed by Dan Theleen and Tim Steiskal. Cassie Maximenko was followed by Jeanne Theleen and Dana Humbert. All I needed to find on the swim and in T2 was one more second! I had a really fun battle with Gregory McKirryher. He couldn’t be missed in his hot pink Newington Bicycle racing kit. I caught up to him in the last mile of the 3.1 mile run, but he hung on. I pushed the final hill and could tell that he wasn’t letting go, but I thought I had him. In the last 1/4 mile, he surged past me, but I stayed close. We hammered the final 200 meters. I tried to take him on the inside of the final left hand turn onto the gravel, then onto the grass, over the min-train tracks, and into the narrow chute. We sprinted to the line in a dead heat as if our lives depended on it. It was a hairy finish. I thought I crossed first, but wasn’t certain where the official line was. There were a lot of timing mats and a banner. It didn’t matter. The results show us with the same time and with Gregory in 6th and me in 7th. It was a lot of fun.

Tonight, I have the option to race for third night in a row at the Lake Terramuggus Tri Series, but I’m going to pass, and just hang with Debbie and the kids. I was solo at Griskus because they all ran the Bolton XC Series. Maybe I’ll crack open another one of those Kona brews and think about going long again. Next up is the Ocean Beach Triathlon on Sunday.

Race Results

2011 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Tonight’s 25th edition of the Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon was a minor epic. It is rare that a short course race like this can have so much drama, but this one was packed with interesting storylines. This was my third Griskus Sprint in a row and I don’t think I’ll stop any time soon. I just love the vibe of the Wednesday evening format. We had a spectacular July day in Connecticut until 5:45 P.M. That was 15 minutes before the official race start. That is when the skies opened up. Until that point, we had deep blue sky and a temperature of 91 degrees Fahrenheit. It was hot, until it rained. By the end of the race, the temperature had come down nearly 20 degrees, though it was still steamy from all of the moisture.

The race was delayed 30 minutes while we waited out the thunderstorms that came roaring through. There was only a little lightning and thunder, but it was enough to force the delay. The sky was an angry grey and black mess and the downpour was constant for nearly 45 minutes before slowing to a steady rain. With the lightning off the radar, they started us on the 1/4 mile swim. I was in the first wave, and there were no warm ups. They lined us up and then the horn blew. The start was insane as the competitive guys violently thrashed for advantage. The out and back swim course is always a bit sketchy.

I had a nasty head on collision on my return leg. It could have been a whole lot worse. I was hugging the buoys, but I know I was in my lane. Someone from a later wave drifted across and we smashed into each other at full tilt. I stopped dead in the water and was fortunate to take the brunt of the impact with my right arm and shoulder. If we knocked heads, it would have been a lot worse. Fortunately, my goggles stayed on and I got going again. I think I had a horrible swim. Results will be posted tomorrow, so I don’t know my split, but I had ground to make up.

It continued to rain as we went out on the 10.5 mile bike leg. I love this loop. It has a mix of rough and smooth pavement with a lot of turns and several steep ups and downs. I felt pretty strong the whole way. Don Gustavson, a good rider, traded blows with me the entire way. We avoided the draft, but still were able to pace off of each other. I pulled away on the final climb and didn’t see him again, until after the race. He didn’t finish because he had a nasty crash in the final fast corner where you merge on to Route 64. His elbow was heavily bandaged, he had a deep wound to his hip, and he was complaining about his collarbone. It must have been ugly. The roads were really slick from all of the rain, and he just took it too fast and his front wheel washed out. There were several other crashes on the dicey course. Let’s hope everyone heals up.

I continued to make up ground on the 5K run. I caught several more people on the undulating out and back course that has several sharp bends. I was able to surge on the final hill and pick up three more spots. I had James Kelly in my sights, closed in, and then my legs gave out. I couldn’t hold on and he sprinted away in the final 50 meters. I think I finished 8th overall and 2nd in my age group (third if you count the winner). It was a good result given the fact that I only had three days rest since Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island. I was really looking forward to this race, but I’m happy to have 10 days off before my next one. My time was 1:01:05. Eventually, I want to break an hour here, but I have to swim faster first.

Cassie Maximenko (1:03:04) was the women’s winner and Christopher Thomas (57:19) was the men’s winner.

The weather cleared during the run and the sun was peeking out by the finish. A beautiful rainbow presented itself, which made for the perfect ending. The sunset was spectacular and the nearly-full moon rose high in the sky. This is why I love this race. The post race bash was lots of fun as we cheered on all of the first time finishers and all of the final finishers. The last athlete to cross the line was Tanya Sage, who lives in Debbie’s hometown of Prospect. There was a story about her in today’s Republican-American.

The volunteers were incredible today. They had to stand in the pouring rain and keep the athletes safe from traffic. The lifeguards had to deal with the rain, wind, and a choppy Lake Quassapaug. Kudos to the race organizers for staying composed, delaying the race, and ultimately pulling it off. I would have been really disappointed if it was cancelled or shortened. During the heavy rain, I hung out in the Giant Slide tower, which wasn’t totally dry, but it kept me out of the wind and was a bit warmer. I had some company in there. The transition area was a mess, with waterlogged gear strewn everywhere. I was happy to have my Seven Kameha SLX for the bike leg. It handled the challenging conditions the way it should. That bike is stable under all circumstances. Now I have to clean it up and my rear tire was flat when I got home. I’m lucky that it happened after the race.

Pat Griskus, who the race is named for, was a legendary athlete who succeeded at the highest level, despite being an amputee. He broke new ground for disabled athletes and set the stage for so many others to follow the path that he blazed. It was fitting that the 25th edition of the race in his honor was completed despite some interesting challenges.

Race Results

Republican-American Recap

 

 

 

2010 Pat Griskus Triathlon

The vibe was rocking at last night’s Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon in Middlebury, Connecticut. More than 500 triathletes toughed it out in less than ideal conditions. With the Northeast gripped in one of the most severe heat waves in recent memory, it seemed ironic that folks (including me) were donning wetsuits for the ½ mile Lake Quassapaug swim. One of the things that I love about New England is the changeable seasons, but it is no secret that I dislike heat, at least the sweltering and humid type.

I don’t complain about it because compared to other places on Earth, 95 degrees Fahrenheit is considered cool. My travels in Arizona and Sonora during summertime have been marked by temperatures that were 20 degrees warmer than last night’s. Of course, you expect it in Death Valley, in the Gobi desert, and in Western Australia. The thing about New England is that there was snow on the ground less than five months ago! All of those rides and runs in the snow, wind, and rain were meant to prepare me for riding in more beautiful conditions. Last night’s conditions were far from beautiful. In Connecticut, we get it all and that is why athletes in these parts are hard-core.

The ½ mile swim was followed by a 10.5 mile bike and then a 5km (3.1 mile) run. I first did this race last year, but have been following it for years. Next year will be the 25th annual. Just holding a Wednesday night race in July is exciting. Add more than 500 athletes and an equal amount of spectators and the Lake Quassy Amusement Park turns into Ironman Hawaii for a night. (I’ve been told that it is hot in Kona too!). The post race part was extremely lively. I stayed through the awards ceremony because I was solo. Last year, we had our son with us, so we hit the road shortly after the race was over. Last night, I wanted to enjoy the full experience. Heck, it was still 85 degrees at 9:00 P.M.

As for the race, well, let’s say it was OK. I shouldn’t complain. I’m not in peak form right now, and I didn’t have any snap in my legs. I also raced twice on Monday. My result was par with last year, 10th overall and a bonus was that I was 3rd in my age group (5th last year), which earned me a nice medal and a new Timex Ironman watch. You can never have enough watches! My swim was erratic. I couldn’t hold a straight line and that had to have cost me some time. I was definitely not comfortable in my wetsuit. It was just too warm for the insulation, but the rule of thumb is that if they allow them, use them. The performance advantage matters.

The bike course is a rolling. I made the mistake of staying in the big ring on a few climbs, rather than shifting down. My new Seven Kameha SLX was awesome, though I have a little work to dial in my perfect position. By the end of the loop, I was wiser. For the most part, I just made up ground on the bike. That has been my mode lately. Horrible swim followed by a better bike and an even better run. Last night, I left off the “even” part of the better run. I only passed and didn’t get passed, but I didn’t make up as much ground as I would have liked. I got by a few people, settled into a rhythm, and then got stuck there. I couldn’t speed up. The 2nd half of the out and back course is more hilly, so if you haven’t got any pop, you are going to pay. I wanted to at least pick up one more spot, hoping to improve upon last year’s finish. I really want a top 5 finish at this race, but it is likely I will have to prepare FOR it rather than use it for preparation, if I’m going to reach that goal.

I had only one man (Matt Boobar) in sight on the 2nd half of the run. The gaps had formed and he was the only guy left that I had a chance to catch. I gauged his gap at about 20 seconds. I was actually closing in on the downhills. That would make sense. He is a super strong mountain biker and cross-country skier. He probably has the lungs and legs of a mountain goat. I might have gotten within 10 or 12 seconds, but when it went uphill again, he extended his lead. Ultimately, I was 19 seconds behind him in 1:05:19. That is 2:02 slower than last year, but both the conditions and my conditioning were factors. I’m curious to see my splits. I suspect that the run was much slower. The crazy thing is that Chris Thomas blew us all away again, finishing in under 58 minutes. Thomas and the guys that put up times that are 20%+ faster are at a whole other level. It is fun to watch. I know…train more, right? John Babcock was second and Dan Theleen was third.

The women’s race was a tight battle. I passed the two leaders early in the run and they were neck and neck. Michele Wolfson got the best of Cassandra Maximenko, with only two seconds to spare at the finish. Kathryn Flodquist was third. Finishers were streaming through the finish line as darkness was settling in and the rest of us were enjoying the BBQ and music at the finish area. It was great fun. The volunteers, particularly at the busy intersections on the bike course and at the water stops on the run course, are to be commended. Of course, all the volunteers were great. You can’t forget about the lifeguards in the kayaks who were baking in the hot sun like the rest of us. It was probably a harder than usual night for them too. Communal suffering. That is what triathlon is all about!

Coda: one drawback of a 6:00 P.M. weeknight start. You can’t sleep well with adrenalin and endorphins coursing through your body. Factor an almost-four year-old into the mix and it makes for a very restless night of sleep. Hiking and some rest are on the agenda in the next few weeks. I’ve got to watch the competition…it can burn you out, literally.

Race Results

2009 Pat Griskus Triathlon (Sprint Race)

The Pat Griskus Triathlon is the real deal. I first heard about this race years ago, but had never done it or even seen it. I only heard about it. I never gave triathlon a serious go until this year, so when I laid out my 2009 plan, I knew that Griskus was going to be on it, even if it wasn’t going to be one of my “A races.” I did the younger Griskus Olympic distance race last month, but the classic is the Wednesday night sprint race that has been held in early July for the past 23 years.

The race is wildly popular with Connecticut triathletes and is known for the huge number of first timers that compete every year. Griskus is often a triathlete’s entry into the sport and the race has to be one of the largest of its kind in New England. There were 501 finishers last night. More than 100 of them were first timers. That is remarkable considering that most people worked yesterday too! The other interesting thing is that 400 people came back and did it again. For many, it is probably their only triathlon of the year.

Quassy

Held in Middlebury, Connecticut at Quassy Amusement Park, the race includes a 1/2 mile swim, a 10.5 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run. The park was jammed with its regular customers and there were many spectators too; so it was a crowded venue. The swim course in Lake Quassapaug was just fine. I gave up nearly four minutes to the fast guys, which is something I’ll need to work on. It put me at a big disadvantage heading into the bike leg. I was also seeded in the second wave, so I was already three minutes behind the top triathletes. That is no big deal, but it would have been fun to compete side by side with those guys. The race was scored on net time anyway. The bike course was on the undulating and beautiful roads around Middlebury ,and I had a lot of fun with the downhills. The run course was an out and back leg from the park with some significant elevation change for a short course. 

I made up good time on the bike and run, finishing in 1:03:17. I was secretly hoping to break 60 minutes, but I didn’t really come close. I was training through this race, so maybe in another year, it will get more focus. Regardless, times are meaningless when you have so much fun. The race had great sponsors, wonderful volunteers, and a cool vibe. I saw a number of athletes with disabilities, including a guy on a hand cycle. That was inspirational.

It was great to see this guy finish!

The top three men were Domenic Gillen, Christopher Thomas, and Ian Ray. Gillen put up a 55:52, which is really fast and faster than his 2008 winning time. He had the fastest splits on two of the three legs. The top three women were Cassandra Maximenko, Michelle Wolfson, and Robin Passander. Maximenko’s time was 1:05:38. You can view the full results here. The competition was great, but it was even more interesting and fun to see all of the finishers telling their stories after crossing the line. The post race party was lively and I heard it lasted long after the sun set. We wish we could have stayed longer, but Thursday was another work day, we had a long drive home, and my three year old was running on fumes.

Race Results

2009 Pat Griskus Triathlon (Olympic Race)

We awoke at the crack of dawn today so that I could finally compete in my first triathlon of the year. Last month, I went to Harriman State Park for a Half Iron-distance race, but it turned into a long duathlon because heavy fog caused the swim to be cancelled.

Numbers.

Today’s race was the Pat Griskus Triathlon (Olympic Race) at Quassy Amusement Parkin Middlebury, Connecticut.   There are two Griskus races, with the older (23 years) Sprint Race scheduled for its usual Wednesday night slot on 8 July. I’m doing that one two because I have always wanted to do the summer race. It is one of the most popular triathlons in New England.

Today’s race consisted of a 1 mile swim/25 mile bike/6.2 mile run. It started at 7:00 A.M., which is good and bad. The bad part is that we had to get up so early. The good part was that the race was over by 9:30 and we were home by noon with the whole afternoon to relax and do stuff around the house.

Open water swim.

My first triathlon was in 1999. My second was in 2002. My third was today. I wanted a change of pace in 2009, so I chose triathlon as my focus. I never took it seriously in the past, but this year, I’m giving it my all. I’ve been swimming a lot and I built a triathlon/TT bike purpose especially for these events. I’m working my way up to the Ironman distance, but I’m not ready yet.

I was a bit nervous about the mass start open water swim. With limited experience, and none recently, I really didn’t know what to expect when 200 people charged into Lake Quassapaug with arms and legs flailing. I did OK. It certainly isn’t like swimming in the pool where you have lane lines, clear water, and your own space. My biggest problem was swimming straight. I kept looking up and making course corrections, which is horribly inefficient.

My transitions were OK, but not great. Getting out of the wetsuit was easier than expected, but I was just slow. I opted for comfort (e.g. socks) rather than speed. I was watching the hard core guys and gals. They have the drill down pat. The bike leg was my strong leg today. I made up ground the whole way and just ran out of road otherwise I probably could have continued improving my position. The course was beautiful with lots of ups and downs. It was moderately technical with several tight turns and some rough pavement to deal with.

Finishing the bike leg.

The run went OK. I picked up a few more spots on the twice out and back course. There were a few hills to contend with. Once you did the first out and back leg, it was difficult to chase because the first leg runners were mixed in with the second leg runners. That was a minor frustration, but no big deal.

Starting the run leg.

I ended up 14th overall in 2:21:19 and was 5th in my age group, which met expectations. After the mediocre swim, I did a lot of passing, which is OK, but next time I don’t want to lose so much ground in the water. I had a lot of fun, as did many others, which was the main objective. I simply needed to do a triathlon so that I could go into the next one with more confidence. The Pat Griskus volunteers were awesome. There were lots of road marshals and police on the bike course; the aid stations were well stocked, and the finish area had a mini-expo set up with lots of post-race refreshments.

I’m still adjusting to the triathlon scene. The culture is the complete opposite of trail running. There is a lot more gear. The entry fees are much higher (excluding ultramarathons). Most people spend more time training. There are lots of do-dads in addition to all that gear. The top athletes have a certain intensity. The trail running scene is much more mellow. We are going to get a chance to chill out tomorrow because we are taking part in a Father’s Day tradition, the Mt. Greylock Trail Race. I hope the race numbers that had been written on my arm and calves with black magic market fade by then. Othwerwise, I’m going to be getting some serious flak!

Race Results: Click on results and go to Pat Griskus.

2015 Winding Trails Off-Road Summer Tri Series

Last year was a tough sporting year, but thanks to the challenges I faced, 2015 has been a fantastic comeback year and the results have been even sweeter than imagined. I haven’t “gone long” but the short sprint triathlons and other local races I’ve done have been so much fun. Of all the races I missed in 2014, the Winding Trails Summer Triathlon Series races were the ones I missed the most.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-2

The 10 race series celebrated its 15th year and 150th event tonight at the season finale. That is an amazing accomplishment. I have more than 30 of them on my palmares. The format, a 1/4 mile swim/5 mile mountain bike/3.1 mile trail run is tried and true. I raced 9 of the 10 events this summer. I skipped the race that was the day before the Pat Griskus Triathlon.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-7

The epic “tempest” race didn’t count towards the results, so rather than scoring on your best eight finishes, the overall results were scored on your best seven finishes. I was fortunate to win five of the nine races I entered and was second in the other four (behind four different competitors) which secured me the overall win. I had an insurmountable lead going into tonight’s race, but I was focused on finishing with a very strong result. Last week, Jon Arellano out kicked me in the final meters and that stung a bit. I was proud of his victory, his first in many years trying.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-6

I didn’t have the best preparation for tonight’s race, but that is out it goes. If you choose to “go hard” on the weekends, then you aren’t always fresh for Tuesday night. That is one of the things that makes the series so challenging. You have to bring your best effort every week and remain consistent all summer long. Climbing Mt. Washington twice in a weekend (once on my bike and once on my feet) left my legs heavy and sore, but I was determined to push through the discomfort. I had a decent swim and a strong bike. Ken Schulz is my usual benchmark, and he held me off until the start of the run, so I knew that A) he was having a good ride and B) I was going to have to suffer on the run.

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I knew that Jon would be breathing down my neck. I passed him, Roberto Diniro, and Joel Emmendorfer, all serious rivals, earlier on the mountain bike leg. It was a warm night, but a very pleasant night. After passing Ken, I set the pace as hard as I could, going through the first mile in 6:34 and then the second mile in 6:25. The trail was a bit rougher than usual with wood chips and eroded sand making for some challenging footing. I decided to not look back until I could feel Jon breathing down my neck. I knew he was coming. His running has been getting stronger all summer. Coming in to tonight, we have had two fierce sprint finishes and I felt that we were in for a third.

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I punched it on the last few uphill sections hoping to stave him off, but he closed in on me on the final descent before the bridge. I chose to glance back twice to get a sense of where he was and to ensure that he wouldn’t jump me. I was throughly beaten in the sprint last week, but felt that I had better legs despite the biking and hiking in New Hampshire. I surged with 100 meters to go, but he passed me on the left. I didn’t let go, didn’t give up, and pulled even again before unleashing a furious kick up the right side. He had worked very hard to close the gap and I knew that if I sustained my sprint, that he would break. He had nothing left to give and in a role reversal, eased just before the finish, giving me a well fought victory. That made me smile.

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I was absolutely cooked. We have been pushing each other all summer long and for a couple of 40+ year-old athletes, that is very cool. That intensity and competition is why we race. In the overall standings, I was followed by Jon (who leapt from 4th) and then Roberto.  Debbie came into the series sitting in third a mere two points out of first. She needed to pick up a couple of minutes on her rival, Lizz Weiler, who took over the lead last week. She moved up one spot and came oh so close to making it a husband/wife top step of the podium, but Lizz prevailed. Debbie was 2nd and Alison Masopust was third overall.

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Our children both did the kids race and had a blast. My parents and Debbie’s parents came to watch. The post-race festivities were fantastic and full of good cheer. Race Director, Sharon McHale, was honored for her 15 years of service. She said she is “retiring,” so we will see what 2015 brings. The best and worst award that I received was a free entry into next year’s series. The 10 races take a serious commitment. It isn’t easy to work all day, fight the Hartford and Farmington traffic, and push yourself week in and week out. I haven’t set any goals for next year, so I’ll give it some time before deciding if I’m gunning for the series title again. This was my first after being runner-up in the past, so it is a nice accomplishment and one that I’m proud of. I love the Winding Trails community. Sharon, Tiny Tri Race Director Jimena Florit, the staff, and volunteers do a great job. The race has many great sponsors including Fleet Feet, Collinsville Canoe & Kayak, CT Outdoor Guide, CCAP, Timex, Biker’s Edge, Central Wheel, Newington Bicycle, Berlin Bicycle,  and Team Horst Engineering’s shop sponsor, Benidorm Bikes. There were some fine results from my teammates on the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes. The race has introduced hundreds of athletes to the sport of triathlon. The kids race, Tiny Tri, and main event have a high status in my ranking of well-run events.

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I’m hoping to do one more road sprint triathlon before hanging up the wetsuit and triathlon bike for the season. Cyclocross season is coming and I’m planning to translate my sprint fitness into good cross results. I won’t get too far ahead of myself. Right now, I’m ready for a shower bedtime because the Wednesday after Winding Trails always brings one sure thing…work, and I’m on the road again.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale

Race #10 Results

Series Results (will be posted when available)

Winding Trails–Triathlon in a Tempest

I had to document the events of this week’s Winding Trails Summer Tri Series race. I don’t often write about individual weekly training races, but last Tuesday’s race was amazing. Over the years, I have used the various weekly series races including Winding Trails, the Lake Terramuggus Triathlon Series, the Bolton Summer XC Series, Wickham Park Summer XC Series, Rentschler Field Criterium, and Wompatuck State Park Circuit Race to build fitness and hone skills while “shaking out the legs” after a long day of work.

2015_Winding Trails Triathlon Tempest

The big races are usually on the weekends, but I’ve found the weeknight series races to be just as competitive and even more enjoyable. The entry fees are lower and the camaraderie level is high. The Winding Trails series has become one of my favorites. Since 2009, I’ve done it 27 times. I have that course dialed in.

Each year, there are 10 races in the series. In 2014, I did the first race and then had to stop because of my foot injury. If I were still a hockey player, I would only say, “a lower body injury.” I missed the remaining nine events, but Debbie got the off-road triathlon bug and did five of them. So, coming in to 2015, I made the series one of my main objectives. I finished tied for second in 2013 and wanted to have a strong 2015 comeback with the overall title in mind. The scoring is based on eight races, so to finish in the top three, you can only afford to miss two. I skipped the race two weeks ago when I did the Pat Griskus Triathlon on Wednesday night instead. I needed to save my legs for that A race.

In the end, it is just a Tuesday night “scrimmage,” but I take them seriously. The competition is solid for a local event and I like seeing the same folks every week. The staff and volunteers are excellent. This week was race number six. Debbie had done all five, but skipped this week because she is at the Speedgoat Trail Running Festival this weekend, and like Griskus was for me, Speedgoat is an important race for her. Our son was at camp and our daughter stayed with Debbie, so I went alone.

I drove straight from Sterling Machine in Lynn, Massachusetts, arriving in Farmington at 5:50 P.M., only 25 minutes before the start. I was stuck in the usual nasty Route 4 traffic. With all the stop and go, I was able change in the car. After registration, I placed my gear in transition, and did a short warm-up.

The weather looked to be the best of the year. Every Tuesday has been marked by heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. It was warm and a bit muggy, but I thought it would be a dry race. Wow, I was wrong. We started at 6:15 in Lake Dunning. I didn’t see it, but after the race, several people told me that as we were diving into the water, a bolt of lightning appeared in the distance. I didn’t have the best swim. I wandered to the right towards the buoy line and wasted some valuable strokes. Then, when I was working my way back to the left, I kept bumping into another guy. Thankfully, I was disguised in my wetsuit and goggles. I was frustrated but also embarrassed. I eventually got past him.

I had trouble removing my wetsuit. I always remove it in the water because I put my mountain bike shoes on at the beach and then run the ¼ mile to transition. It got hung up on my timing chip, which was comical. Photographer Chris Moore caught the moment perfectly. Even he admitted that he was scared off by what was to come!

I picked up some spots on the way to transition and started the mountain bike leg with about eight guys in front of me. I quickly passed three of them, and then picked up a couple more. I was locked in after a week without racing and hammered the first few miles. We were in thick woods, but I did notice that the sky had darkened. I was wearing dark lenses and wished I had worn clear instead.

I worked my way up to fourth by the third mile, with a strong rider tailing me the whole time. I couldn’t tell who he was. The top three of Jon Arellano, Roberto Diniro, and Ken Schulz were in a group riding close together. Jon and Roberto, the two “Yaleies” were slightly ahead of Ken. I know that because they have “Yale” on the back of their shorts. As I passed, Ken confirmed that there was no one ahead of them, but I still had this other guy hot on my tail.

I caught up to Jon and Roberto and surged past on the sandy hill before the four mile mark. I still didn’t hear thunder, but it was dark and breezy. I never looked back. Recently, I’ve purposely avoided looking back. I wasn’t worried if they were hanging on. I just went as hard as I could, taking every corner with as much speed as possible. I nearly crashed in the sandy right hand corner before the left over the bridge. I’m pretty sure that the guy who tailed me the entire time was the one who stuck with me all the way to transition. He was pressing me hard when I took that corner hot. After I recovered, he said, “Whoa, I’m good” or something like that to signify that he wasn’t trying to pass me. I got a look at him in the last 100 meters of the course as I reached down to undo the Velcro straps and get out of my shoes. He opted to keep his while I chose to dismount barefoot. I would have to drop him on the run.

I was a little confused coming out of transition. We were rubbing elbows and I quickly pushed ahead. I thought I had a good gap, but never bothered to look back. I was startled when 1,200 meters into the run, I had company. It was Jon. He closed the distance that I built up in the last mile of the bike leg.  He and I went stride for stride for a while. He sat on me until the steep downhill. At that point, he blew by me. I never let him get more than two seconds ahead.

The wind picked up, leaves and branches were falling on the ground, and I swear I saw hail. Then, it started to pour. It was so dark that I put my sunglasses on my head. Then the rain got heavier and the thunder and lightning went crazy. It was right over our head. I didn’t have a second to worry about all the other racers. I was in a dogfight on this run. As the rain got heavier and heavier, it was as if buckets were being poured on our heads. My sunglasses were going to blow off, so I held them in my hand.

Jon doggedly pushed the pace and all I could do was hang on. My contacts were starting to wash out of my eyes, so I pulled my ball cap down tightly to keep the rain out. When we got to the last big hill with less than a mile to go, I figured I would jump him and see if he could hang on. I knew that if I couldn’t break him, that I would be forced to wait for a sprint. The trail was flooded with inches of water eroding the soil. It was ankle-deep in spots.

I pulled up along side and he wouldn’t let me pass. He wanted it as badly as I did. I love this kind of racing, and even better, it was Tuesday night! I backed off and tucked in behind him again. He led me all the way over the footbridge and around the final bend. Normally there are folks watching, but it was deserted. I passed him on the left, kicked it hard, and thought I had it. I couldn’t see a thing. It was raining so hard. I saw the line and someone (maybe Sharon McHale like usual) was holding the ropes to separate those transitioning from bike to run from the finish. I went for the wrong timing mat before making a jerky last second adjustment to get across the right finish line. I got him just before the line.

Usually, there is a big crowd, but all the people were huddled under the pavilion. Everyone was soaked to the bone. It was unbelievable how hard the rain was coming down. Jon  paced me to my fastest run of the year and second fastest total time, but the results were wasted. The organizers made the right call. Less than 1/3rd of the competitors were able to finish, so they are not counting the results. I heard that only your best seven races will count towards the overall results. I learned after the race that the second wave was delayed by 15 minutes and combined with the third wave. That bolt of lightning as we entered the water was real. The delay and the timing of the storm hitting during the wave two/three bike leg made for a mess. Most of them were stopped after the bike and never started the run. As far as I know, everyone was safe. We were just wet. Those conditions can be dangerous, especially when they catch you by surprise, but when it works out OK, it makes for a great story.

I was happy to finish. I grabbed my bike and also huddled under one of the pavilions. I was wild-eyed as if I had seen a ghost. Those were some of the most intense weather conditions I’ve ever competed in and to top it off, with a fierce battle raging while the storm was raging. I loved every moment of it. The results are a little messed up, or I’m confused. Kudos to Dave Arnold and his team for hanging in there. Their timing gear got drenched. I don’t think Joel Emmendorfer was between us. He and I had a battle the week before, but I’m pretty certain that it was Jon and me fighting it out on the run. Who knows? With the weather the way it was, the whole thing could have been a dream.

Race Results

2015 Falmouth Triathlon

This morning, I raced the Falmouth Triathlon for the first time, and had an absolute blast. This event has been on my wish list for years.

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My uncle and aunt have been part-time Falmouth residents for 37 years, and we enjoy visiting them at their place. They have hosted us many times, and for various Cape Cod events including the Martha’s Vineyard Half Marathon, the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler, and the Cape Cod Marathon. Their house in Falmouth Heights is 1.5 miles from the start/finish of the triathlon, which is located on Surf Drive. We built a family gathering around the event, so it was fun to have some spectators.

Debbie stopped by during her morning run and captured some fun images during all three stages of the race. The swim was 1/3rd of a mile, the bike was 9.6 miles, and the run was 3.1 miles. My partner for part of the weekend was my Hartford Extended Area Triathletes teammate, Ken Schulz. We met up last night at packet pickup, and then again this morning at 5:15 A.M. We rode over to the race and warmed up together.

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Yesterday, I scouted the venue and did a couple of laps of the bike course, which is very scenic. The bike leg is now one of my all time favorites. I wish it was longer! The loop starts on Surf Drive, heads west towards Woods Hole, and goes past the iconic Nobska Point Lighthouse. Then, it takes a right and heads east on Woods Hole Road past the golf course. It takes a right on Elm Street and heads south towards the beach. It takes a left back on to Surf Drive and finishes at Surf Drive Beach. The roads are narrow, windy, and undulating. The pavement was in good shape. It’s a fast course, and a real joy to ride with all of the twists, turns, and corners.

Falmouth is promoted by Streamline Events, a professional race management organization. This was a big race, with more than 800 registrants and nearly 700 finishers. In addition to their staff, they had good volunteer support. I would describe the race as no frills, and high quality. Triathlon has gotten quite expensive, and this race was no exception, but the value I place on the racing is highlighted by the quality and unique characteristics of the courses.

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In the case of this long running race (nearly 20 years), an ocean swim with Martha’s Vineyard in the background, the previously described bike course, and a run along the coast and on the Shining Sea Sea Bikeway, they have the course to draw strong participation. The race is friendly to first timers, so there were a lot of beginners, which is great to see.

Ken and I weren’t the first to set-up our spots in the transition area. Some early risers beat us there, but it was still super-easy to roll out of bed and ride over in less than 10 minutes. There was a little chop during the swim with a strong wind coming from the west. The wind and current pushed us back towards shore on the counter-clockwise rectangular swim course.

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That wind proved to be an added challenge on the bike leg when we rode straight into it. We got some shelter after the lighthouse and then the wind was with us after we turned and headed east again on the back side of the course. I was scheduled to start in wave nine with the 40-44 me  and Ken was scheduled for wave seven with the 35-39 men. Wave starts were three minutes apart. When we got to packet pickup last night, we talked about the situation, figured their would be hundreds of people to navigate around on the tight course, and petitioned to join the Elite Wave.

That was a wise decision because we got to start at 7:30 A.M. and had much less traffic to deal with. Ken was fourth out of the water. He is a very strong swimmer. I ceded two minutes to the leaders for a 79th place swim, which is ugly, especially for a short race. I always leave myself a big hole to dig out of and a lot of folks to pass.

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I had a strong bike and was 6th fastest on that leg averaging 26.1 mph. I let it all hang out and that probably cost me on the run, which was slower than I wanted. I didn’t catch Ken until the last mile of the bike, so he had an excellent ride. He was third on the road, so when I went by, there were only two guys in front. He is very fast in transition, so we were battling as we exited for the run. Ken was actually gunning for the Jet Blue Transition award, which would have scored him a flight anywhere in the USA, but his combined T1 and T2 times were a mere five seconds behind the winner, who happened to also get 2nd overall.

When I started the run, there were a lot of bikes to navigate on Surf Drive, but I was able to get in a rhythm. It was a warm morning with a blazing sun. I didn’t see first and second until the bike path when they were headed back at me after the 1.6 mile turnaround. They had a big gap, so I had to bear down and push in an effort to hold off those chasing me and anyone who started in a later wave that might be faster. I ended up with the 4th fastest run. Clearly, biking and running are my strengths, and swimming is not.

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The finish was on the beach after a short 100 meter sprint over a dune and on to the sand. My Mom was there at the finish, which was pretty cool. I know she was happy that the race, and associated suffering, were over in less than an hour, rather than in 10 hours like at an Ironman. At the long races, she worries a lot more.

This finish was exciting and I crossed the line in third. Ken wasn’t far behind. I ended up fourth overall because a 26 year-old “young gun” who started in a later wave, bumped me back a spot Ken was 16th. We were both very happy with our results. The win went to Raymond Botelho, and he was followed by Abraham Rogers. Both are 42, so I finished third in the Elite Masters age group. The result wouldn’t have changed if we were in the regular age groups. Triathlon is a sport dominated by top-tier masters racers. The fist woman was Claire Twark. She was followed by Kathryn Sweeney and Deborah Stevens.

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Ken and I packed up and rode back to the house, and then went for another short cool down ride along the coast. We washed up and returned to the start/finish for the awards ceremony. Both of us met our objectives for this race and we look forward to competing again in the future. I finished in 51:02, and breaking 50 minutes is future goal. I’ve now tested the legs twice this week. I did the Pat Griskus Triathlon on Wednesday. Next up is a return to the Winding Trails Summer Off-Road Tri Series on Tuesday. After that I’m taking a week of “rest.”

Race Results

Bolton Summer XC Series

I was really bummed to miss tonight’s Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon. I’ve done it five years in a row, but with my foot hurting so bad, triathlon has been deferred to 2015 at best.

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So, the next best thing was Race #3 of the Bolton Summer XC Series with the family.

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I’ve made all of the first three races as a spectator and photographer. It is such a joy to see the young children run and equally as inspiring to see the older adults.

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This race is a jewel and it’s within walking/riding distance of our house which makes it that much sweeter.

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The Bolton Heritage Farm (aka Rose Farm) is such a nice venue. I cherish these evenings with Debbie, the kids, and our community.

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The 40/40 at the Baystate Cyclocross

Today was my 40th race of 2012, my 40th year. About half way through the year, when I was struggling to find a suitably epic event to commemorate  my 40th birthday, I came up with the idea to stop looking for one impact event and to instead focus on doing 40 races. After all, 40 years is a longevity milestone, so it only made sense to focus on a lot of races rather than just one. I opted for the epic milestone one day event to be one without a number.

There is precedent for prolific racing. I routinely did 40+ races in the 1990’s. Many of those were bike races. It was easier to accumulate races in those days. It was before kids. It was before I met Debbie. It was before work really got busy. Still, I came close last year. I was at 36 in 2011. In 2010, I did 31, choosing quality over  quantity. I did 38 in 2009. My peak year was 1993 when I did 63, all of them on bicycles.

Nowadays, there is much more diversity to my endurance pursuits. With 40 year to date (and 2 to 3 more still to go), I’ve mixed it up a bit:

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My first race was Brian’s Beachside Boogie in Madison, Connecticut on the first day of April. I didn’t compete in the first quarter. My 40th race was today at the Baystate Cyclocross (Verge Series Race #6) in Sterling, Massachusetts. Not all races deserved a blog post, but many did.

I’ve raced in 8 of 11 months and will likely score a race in December to make it 9 out of 12. I’ve raced in spring, summer, and fall. I’ll get winter done before the year is out. I’ve only raced in one country and five states (CT, MA, NY, PA, VT), highlighting that my 2012 races have been of the local variety. The races finished in 24 unique towns. Some were point to point (e.g. S.O.S.), so more than one town was involved.

10 of the races were at Winding Trails in Farmington, Connecticut. They were all off-road triathlons. You are probably wondering what constitutes a race. The only rules I apply are that they are officially timed and publish results. Most, but not all, have race numbers.

Thankfully, I made it 40 races without a DNF. That’s a good stretch. Hopefully I just didn’t just jinx myself. At least I finished today! I take them one at a time. It takes a simple Excel spreadsheet to track the stats. The 40 races totaled 642 miles, with the longest being the Wilderness 101. That is a 16 mile/race average.

Why? I’m often asked that question. I really enjoy it. Some of these races were with Debbie. Many of them had kids races in conjunction with the adult races. My family watched some of them. Others involved travel with friends. Several were solo affairs. For me, simply going for a swim, ride, or run isn’t enough to clear my head. On a solo ride with little intensity, my mind will still think about work or other daily things. I’m thinking that  my best race of the year was the Vermont 50. I was definitely on that day. Niantic Bay, Griskus, and Greylock were pretty good.

In most races, I’m focused on my swim stroke, my running form, or that next corner. You have to focus when you are pushing. I feel good about doing what I do. Some folks spend hours a week on the golf course. That wouldn’t do it for me.

So, what about the 40th? It just happened to be that the Baystate Cyclocross was the milestone race of 2012. 39 was this past Thursday at the Manchester Road Race. Oh, I don’t race every week of the year. Year to date, I’m at 26 weeks with a race, which means that some weeks, there are two, three, or four. After today, I’ve done four in a nine-day stretch.

This is the biggest cross campaign that I’ve done in years. I don’t have the speed that I need, but I’ve been having a blast. Today’s race was another fast affair against the best 35+ riders on the east coast. I was 37th out of 50 or so riders, which means that cross isn’t my strongest discipline. At the Verge races where the fields are stacked, I’m lucky to crack the top 40 and I’m closer to the back than the front, but it’s still fun.

My lack of cross results meant that I started today’s race in the last row (thanks to my poor ranking), which is a serious disadvantage when the race starts with a full on sprint into a hairpin turn. The holeshot is more important in cross than in any other sport I do. I don’t expect to get it, but I also don’t expect to be last going through the first corner. Oh well!

I got better as today’s race went on and was able to pick up the pace (I was going slower but felt faster!) a bit at the end. My heart rate numbers seem low, but my HR monitor may have been off because my heart was pounding at times. It was frigid with the temperature hovering around the freezing mark. The wind was whipping, so it felt a lot colder in the breeze. I wore shorts, but my legs were coated in embrocation, which meant they were burning up. I wish I could say the same for my feet. They were ice blocks. The course was hard packed and dry.

I avoided calamity about half way into the race when longtime friend, Eric Fleming, crashed in front of me on a washboard descent. His front wheel washed out in the turn, sending him sprawling, but I was able to ride to his inside and dodge him, preserving my chance for a 40th finish. It was still good to see Eric (though not on the ground) and many other friends from the New England bike racing community. Today, I went to the race with Art Roti. Debbie and the kids were warm and inside at the Bushnell, where they saw the musical The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. See, that is the other thing about these races. In addition to being serious sport, physically challenging, and intense, they are awesome social networks.

I doubt I’ll hit 40 in 2013. I’m already laying out my goals and I actually want to race less and perform at a higher level in certain key events, much like I did in 2010. I’m planning a return to the Ironman distance and that means an emphasis on training rather than racing. My 2012 events have been haphazard, but that was the plan, or lack of a plan. One thing is for sure, I want to improve my cross results next year. Oh, and I have to beat my MRR time.

As for this year, I hadn’t thought about doing 40 until I thought about turning 40. That messed with my head a bit, so I’m glad that I achieved a milestone goal in a milestone year.

Race Results

2012 Winding Trails Tri Series

This past Tuesday, I finished race 10 in the 10 race Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. This off-road triathlon (1/4 mile swim/5 mile MTB/5 kilometer run) has been a real highlight for me. I’m proud to have done all 10 races because doing all of them was the goal I set for myself before the season. It felt good to punch my series card for the last time at registration, and I made it official when I crossed the timing mat for the final time in 2012. I kept me luck #44 the whole season and the last body marking is almost faded for good.

The sad part of the story is that the days are getting shorter and I’ll miss this great event until next June when the 2013 series kicks off. Seven races into this weekly series, when I was beginning to tire, I was thinking that I would cut back in 2013. I lose some production at work when I leave early,  the I-84/Route 4 traffic is a bear, it’s hard to come back to a Tuesday race when you just had a race on Sunday, and some weeks it would be better to simply take a break. Most of the nights, I was also giving up some family time, though Debbie and the kids joined me on at least three occasions. All reasoning aside, my 2nd place (tied) overall finish got me free entry for next year, which I very much appreciate.

So, we will see how my 2013 sporting goals shape up, but barring a big shift in my approach, I’ll aim for 10 again. Of course, I didn’t have travel this summer, and next year, it could be different. Debbie has some big races planned and I may opt for a big event or two that requires travel. The Tuesday night stuff is just for fun, but it gets me fit, and I love the low-key vibe. It’s also great to see the same friends week in and week out. This race consistently attracts nearly 200 athletes of all ages and abilities. The weekend stuff will always take precedence, but 10 races for $175 is a great value and the cumulative 500 minutes of racing can’t be beat for workout impact.

At times, you wouldn’t know that it was a scrimmage. I battled with the same guys (and gals) all summer and nobody was relenting. Some people joked that this is our version of the “Tuesday Night World Championships.” I agree. I pushed as hard in these races as I push in any. There is no “going easy” in my mind, so whether it is Tuesday or Sunday, you lay it all on the line.

Since they score your best 8 finishes for the series awards, you really have to get to all of them if you want a shot at the podium because you are bound to have at least one or two off nights. I had five 2nd place finishes, four 3rd place finishes, and a 13th. I went hard in all but that one race because the Pat Griskus Sprint was the next night and it was an “A” race for me. That was the only time I backed off. A couple of times, I went into the race with cooked legs. The toughest one was two days after the Wilderness 101 mountain bike race. I was fried and it was a painful evening, but I salvaged a result.

Matt Chisholm took the overall series title. He won seven of the eight races he started. Peter Kuth won the other three. Matt had our number every week after week one. He is only 16 years old and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his amazing talent. I would love to have fresh legs like him and the chance to run free of the other things going on in “life.” Despite getting my clock cleaned on numerous occasions, I got in my shots. A few nights, I really made him work for the win which felt good since I’m 24 years older. My best race against him was in week #7. I was on and he was off. I tried to get in his head by catching him on the bike and surging ahead at the start of the run. He recovered to catch me and I pushed the pace like never before in a last-ditch effort to break him. Instead, I’m the one who broke, but I hung on and he only got me by 20 seconds. That is a race I’ll remember.

I also pushed Peter on several occasions. Though he beat me to the line in both of the races that Matt didn’t start, I got the best of him on several other occasions. We had a supreme battle in week nine when after catching him on the bike, we traded blows throughout the run. It came down to a sprint and he went so hard that he wiped out with a total face-plant 30 meters before the finish. At race #10 earlier this week, I never saw him, but I still pushed like a maniac because I had a slim overall series lead over him going into the final race. Matt couldn’t be caught, but I wanted to retain my second position and keep Peter in third. I had a bad run, but still thought I got it done.

At the award ceremony, they said that Peter and I had tied with 611 points. I have no idea how series points are scored and haven’t seen the final tally yet, but it doesn’t matter. The “secret formula” somehow factors both your weekly place and time. The tie is pretty amazing and pretty cool. I ceded him the 2nd place goodie bag because he won the last race and he had a total of three wins to my zero. I may have been more consistent, especially on the fast nights, but he earned his podium spot fair and square. I’m happy with my results. The only time I beat Matt was in week one, when the weather was bad, the course was slick, and that played into my favor. Peter won that night, which was also the only time that he finished in front of Matt, who has the course record.

Every week, those guys started the bike at least a minute up on me. My swim is my weakness and when you do the same course 10 times, you can really analyze your performances. I experimented with several transition strategies, but ultimately the one I settled on yielded me some of the fastest changeovers. I’m glad I improved that part of my game because it matters in sprint tri’s. I was happy with my riding on most nights. My Seven Sola 26er is a great bike for the course. My running was up and down. I’m not going as well as last year and had trouble closing on some nights.

Looking at the stats is kind of fun.

Fastest time: 48:12, week 7
Fastest Swim: 7:44, week 7
Fastest T1: 0:12, week 10
Fastest Bike: 20:44, week 7
Fastest T2: 0:15, week 10
Fastest Run: 18:43, week 2

If I took my fastest splits and added them up, my best virtual overall time would be 47:35. That would have been the perfect race!

There were many strong performances. It wasn’t just the top three guys. Awards went three deep in every age group. The overall female winner was another 16-year-old, Rachel Rosow. Like Matt, she was getting stronger every week and proved it in week 10 with a course record. She even ran faster than me in that race. That is awesome. My tri club, the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes, had a huge presence all season long and we were a factor in many of the age groups. Like I said, many of them enjoy the racing as much as I do.

Race Results

2012 Amica 19.7 Triathlon Ocean Beach

I kicked off Sunday with my third triathlon since Tuesday. I could have done four this week, but three was enough. This was the third time that I’ve done the Amica 19.7 Triathlon Ocean Beach in New London, Connecticut. I really like the course. All three legs are enjoyable.

The 1/2 mile swim is in the ocean, which I prefer to murky ponds. The current wasn’t very strong, and the waves were small. The 16 mile bike is on a beautiful course in New London and Waterford. There are lots of twists and turns along with a few hills. The 5 kilometer run is along the water in a nice New London community. On a hot day, it was good to start the race at 7:00 A.M. and be packed up by 9:00 A.M.

Last year, I had a rough race. There was a t-storm before the start. I got kicked in the face during the swim. I punctured a tire on the bike course. This year had no drama, though my legs weren’t as fresh as I would have liked. The Pat Griskus Sprint on Wednesday was my “A race,” so this was just for fun.

Tim Steiskal had a fine race to take the win. He was 3rd at Griskus, but got his victory today. He had a crazy fast swim. Apparently, that is his strength because that is where he put most of his time into me. I chatted with him after the race. The kid is getting faster.  With some more speed on the run leg, he will be winning a lot of races. He was followed by Zachary Yannes and Joseph Turcsanyi. The women’s field was led by Elaina Mertins. She was followed by Addy Danaher and Shaina Short.

Garret Henchcliffe beat me by less than a minute at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon last month, and it was the same story today. He took the 40-44 division by staying in front of me the whole way. I just couldn’t close the gap on the run, though coming up Ocean Avenue, I could see him the whole way, less than 1/4 mile up the road. There was a slight headwind on the return leg and I didn’t run as well as I did on Wednesday. Oh well!

I saw the usual gang of friends along the boardwalk in New London. The weather was great. I had a good battle with another rider during the second half of the bike, but I was in no-man’s land on the run. All in all, this was a great week of summer triathlon. The fun continues at Winding Trails on Tuesday.

After stopping off in Old Lyme, I returned to Niantic later in the day to do a loop of the Owegatchie Hills Nature Preserve. A friend was visiting from California, so he rented a bike from Niantic Bay Bicycles and we spent part of the afternoon together on these tricky trails. It was a blast.

Aside from Winding Trails, I’ve got a big week ahead support Debbie with her running.

Race Results

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