Race Reports

ITU Long Distance Duathlon World Championships

Zofingen, Suisse

September 2, 2012


By Gary Smith


The Long Course Duathlon World Championships were held again this year in Zofingen, Suisse. It was run in conjunction with the PowerMan Duathlon World Championships. This race is known as the "Kona of Duathlon" as it is the PowerMan championships that result from the many PowerMan races around the World.
We arrived on Wednesday morning for the Sunday race to help with getting over jet lag and acclimating to the time change (6 hours).
On Thursday I led a ride of fellow Team USA athletes over one loop of the course. An Aussie and Brit joined us as well.
While climbing the second mountain one of our guys dérailleur actually BROKE off his bike. We knew we couldn't fix it as it was a gonner. So here we are in the middle of nowhere when I look up and see a farmhouse that also has a Pub sign on it. So I gave him 20 Suisse francs and he called a taxi to take him back to Zofingen. Very lucky indeed.
After the bike we ventured out in the heavy rain to run one 5K loop of the opening run course. OUCH! That's a hill we said.
I then coordinated dinners the next two nights for the team. It was great getting to know so many super people from the states.
The race is a 10K (6.2 mile) run / 150K (90 mile) bike/ 30K (18.6 mile) run. Unlike last year when we had rain for the entire second half of the race, we had overcast skies and 65 degree weather.
The first 10k STARTS with a 13% climb for the first 1/2 mile it then heads into the woods and returns down a hill for the first of two 5k loops.
We then start the bike which is 3 -50k (30 mile) loops over 3 mountain passes for EACH loop. The first pass is a 2 mile climb over a 10% grade, the second is a 1 1/2 mile climb over a 14% grade! So steep in fact that they use helicopters to bring the spectators to the top! The third climb is very steep as well, the road is actually a series of switchbacks! After doing this three times we go into transition to begin the grueling 30 K run.
We begin  the first of two 15K loops heading up into the forest with a climb of 3k. Once up to the top there is a series of trails we follow for 9 k going up and down most of the time. We head back down the 3 k hill and go thru the transition to do the 15k run all over again. Only this time your quads, hamstrings and mind are questioning WHY?
I felt good until that climb back up to the top of the mountain. My nutrition was working pretty well until that point when I felt bloated after some coke. I slowed some during the second loop but always playing with my mind to keep going.
I finished in 9 hours 1 minute. Good enough for 4th in my age group and 1st American . I missed the bronze medal by just one place! In my age group the winner was from Austria, second place Germany and third France.
Next year the ITU World Championships will be held in Zofingen ,Suisse once again. It will be the 25th anniversary of PowerMan. Time for a little recovery as I have the National Championships in Oklahoma City in less than 3 weeks......Gary

ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships

Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

July 29, 2012


By Dave Slavinski


The race was in the Basque Country of Spain, the proud north eastern corner of the country, in a city called Vitoria-Gasteiz. This is the home of internationally acclaimed ITU triathlete Eneke LLanos and the guy is a rock star in the region. The city dates back to the middle ages and has some interesting history, including the Basque language, which is more like Russian then Spanish and is required to be taught and learned in the region. Until the last decade the region was dangerous as Basque Separatists warred with the Spanish Government demanding the regions autonomy. Like many other places in Europe, the city is the center of the region while only a few kilometers outside the edges of the city the hillsides roll with small and medium sized farms. There are no suburbs, its the city and places to train on the bike, and they love their bikes!


The swim was in a large lake 20k outside of the city. The race forecast called for 62* water, but it was closer to 70 on race day. The bike, two loops through the rolling countryside that looked every bit like the scenes from the Tour de France and ended in town. The run was a 7.5k loop through a raucous crowd in the city and ended in the plaza. The weather was ideal, in the 70’s, and overcast, and the people of Vitoria really understand and appreciate triathlon. It was truly a race to behold.


The swim started with the Team USA bus taking the athletes to the swim venue. Pretty cool to be with 100 other “teammates” at a race instead of the usual feeling of being part of a sponsored team, a club team, or all alone. The Spanish federation provided bathrooms....mobile bathrooms. A poop bus at the transition area and one on the run course. I would hate to be the guy who has to drive that one home after the race, but it sure beat port-o-johns!


There was no real warm up as the time did not really work....done by 8:15 and race at 8:50. Didn’t want to stand around and get cold in that 35-minute stretch of time. With a 2.5 mile swim I figured I would do some land drills before the race and then just start slow and get warmed up.


The race: 4k=2.5 mile swim (Yeah that’s 200 meters longer then a full Ironman swim) Beach start on the ITU blue carpet with the 40-49 age groups combined was pretty special. I got off to a fast start as the turn buoy was 1500 meters straight out into the lake. After the turn I lost some form in the chop and struggled, relatively, across the lake to the 2nd turn. It didn’t get much better until the final 1000 and the turn for home when the water flattened out again. I got out of the water in 1:02.59 but was really hoping for a sub 1-hour swim. It works out to be a sub 1-hour Ironman swim.....so I’ll take solace in that. Got out of the water 12th in the age group, although it felt like I was back further then that.


Bike: 120k=74.4 miles. Transitioned out of the swim and actually put socks on. It is only a surprise to those who know me because I don’t ever bother with socks in the 70.3, but since this race is somewhere between a full and a 70.3 I opted for the socks. Rode almost the whole first lap with a 50-year old guy, Anthony Frost, from Canada. I was hoping for a fast group of 30-somethings rather then the 50+ crowd, but later came to find out that the other 50-something I hooked into near the 30 mile mark and Frost for the two steep climbs that ended the first lap were ITU World Champions, both past and present. Moral of the story, if you are going to get hooked in with people, it is good that they are athletes with a pedigree. It was a little unnerving as I didn’t see many....check that, any other 40-44 guys on the road. 


The ride went through little villages where there were more cows and sheep then people, but every single man, woman, and child was on the road yelling “venga, venga!” The course had two steep climbs that were about 1k long, two short steep climbs of 500-meters or less, and two short steep climbs of 200-meters or so. This being said, there was hardly a flat spot on the course until you got near the city of Vitoria and there you had a total of 6-miles combined of flat road. The course was continually up and down with a pretty good head wind at times, unless the speed I was rolling just make it feel like a headwind. Riding power on the bike is the key. I was looking for 225 watts for the 1st lap and increase from there, but sticking with Frost I was at 233-234 watts for t he first loop, so I decided to just keep it there for the second loop and work out the pain later. Just after lap #1, on one of the downhills, I moved away from the group of 5 I had gotten into on the climb back to the top of the mountain where the swim venue was. These guys would kill themselves on the hills, with crowds of people yelling like they were in the tour! I just stayed within myself and my wattage and worked the downhills and flats to put a good time gap between myself and them in the final 30-miles. The legs were starting to get uncomfortable, but I could only believe that Mike from the Peddler was right about the Retul fit and that my legs would respond better to the new, aggressive position when I got to the run. 


The final run-up through the city was cool as the crowds were pushing you forward. T2, was awesome....huge crowds and someone to take your bike to the rack as you took off into the transition tent and went out to run.


The run 30k=18.6 miles. I was nervous about the run! Even being a runner, 30k is a long way, especially to race. As I ran out of transition I realized I left my Gamin on the bike and had no way to pace myself. This was a little unnerving since I run every run with that damn Garmin! The second part that was unnerving was that crowd! It was loud and huge. All the way through the old city there were 4-5 people deep creaming at you, and since your name and USA is plastered across your chest they are yelling directly AT you! The course weaved it way through the square and the old, tiny streets that were super-loud and then out onto the promenade  where it was a little less hectic, but only a little less. The quiet part didnt come until you were between 4-6k of the course, out by the university, and then it was back into the tumult.


I moved fast on the 1st lap, thinking I would save something for laps 3-4 though. I finished lap one and found a great Irishman, Matt Molloy, who I figured would help me figure out where we were in the race, and he did. As I ran up on him I said,” Hey Matt (names are on the bib number), how are we lookin’ in the overall?” To this he responded, “I WAS in first, now it’s you!”


It turns out that he know exactly where he was during the race. I guess it isn’t hard when you swim 55 minutes (sub-53 Ironman) and are the first one out of the water to count places. He said he was passed by one German on the bike, passed him back on the 1st lap of the run, so there we were. 


I was both great motivation and scary news all at the same time. I could only hope he as right and all I could do is continue to run as fast as I could. Lap #2 went well, but in long course races nutrition is the limiter. Once your stomach shuts down and once you can get anymore calories in, things can go from good to bad in a real hurry. My plan was to start with the Coke during lap #2 and continue through the remainder of the race, but I would have been better off bringing my own, flat soda. The carbonation didn’t work and cramped my gut. So I was down to water and salt tabs. I threw my Cliff Shots after lap #1 and wasn’t going to mess with any of the gels they had “on course” since I had never used them before. The plan to go faster on laps #3 and 4 didn’t workout for me as I faded from 6:00 pace back to 6:24 overall. I did stop three times in the final 1.5 laps to suck down a Powerade just to be sure I didn't totally bonk. Overall run, 1:59.26 and the total 6:09.23 for the race. 


You would think that not having to chase anyone down over the final 5-10k would make for a more relaxing race, but it didn’t. I had no idea where I was in relation to the others, so I just kept pushing including a full sprint to the finish in the final 200 with a Team Espana athlete close behind, apparently with one lap to go, but I wasn’t going to take any chance on him beating me by 1-second over the course of a 6+ hour race. 


Closing: The take-away: Being on Team USA is special feeling as you get to be part of something bigger then just yourself. USA Triathlon does a great job arranging the hotel, transportation to and from the airport, working out the logistics of the course previews, race day, and having USAT personnel there to trouble shooting during the week of the event. This includes having a team doctor and bike mechanic. Thank you to USAT!


As for ITU, they do a great job. Eneko Llanos led a 50k bike course preview on Friday. We got the chance to ride with a triathlon legend and talk about the course and the race with a police escort, lead car, and trail car. All were very impressive. Results are tough to come by with ITU as they didn’t post them until just before the awards ceremony. This means I had to “hope” I won for 3+ hours which was a little nerve racking. The awards ceremony make Ironman look like a bunch of amateurs. Stands full of people hours after the race, national flags and anthems.....awesome! And then there was former ITU and Ironman World Champion, Chris McCormick, who was just riding his bike around town after the race with his medal around his neck. He rode over to Carrie and the kids and me and was happy to talk triathlon and take a picture with the family. 

ITU Long Distance is a great race to get you ready for an Ironman as you have a chance to work on building toward the distance on the bike and run as well as the nutrition aspect. with the 4k-120-30k format you get to see if you have what it takes to do 3-times the Olympic distance. The jump from 70.3 to Ironman is pretty momentous, while the ITU step is perfect. In order to compete in the ITU Long Distance triathlon there are two options: The first step is to find a race and going in as an open athlete. The second option is to qualify at the USAT Long Course Nationals in Oklahoma City 0n September 22nd (top 25 in each age group) and then book the trip to France on June 1-2 weekend.


ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships

Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

July 29, 2012


By Gary Smith


This year the Long Distance Triathlon World  Championships where held in Vitoria, Spain on Sunday , July 29, 2012. The race is 4k (2.5 mile) swim / 120k (72 mile) bike / 30k (18.6 mile) run.
Vitoria is a magnificent village in the northern part of Spain in the Basque country. The Basque people are very proud of their heritage.
We arrived on Wednesday flying thru Frankfurt and on to Bilbao,Spain. From there a bus picked up the US Team for the hour ride to Vitoria.
On Thursday I went for a short easy run on part of the course thru the village.
On Friday, Dave Slavinski and I rode our bikes with some of the other team members to the lake (15 mile) for the official swim course familiarization. First we all had to "sanitize" our wetsuits by dipping them in a solution provided by race officials. This is to prevent the Zebra Mussels from getting into the lake. Vitoria is the European Green capital for all of Europe for 2012. This is a huge honor that they are very proud of.
After a short swim we joined racers from many other nations for the bike course familiarization . This was a 35 mile ride that was UNREAL. We had a police escort with flashing lights and followed by an ambulance with flashing lights and the busses with the team managers. At every intersection there were people stopping traffic. When we got about 5 miles out from the center of the city 10 police on motorcycles led us thru town. AND THIS WAS JUST THE PRACTICE RIDE!
The course is a rolling one with a few short hills that you would get out of the saddle for. The course was 2 loops.
That night was the  opening ceremonies for some 35 different nations. They really get it in Europe. They pulled out all the stops for us.
On Saturday we just spent time meeting other team members and trying to relax. We had to bring our bikes out to the lake that afternoon and rack them. They even had large plastic bags designed to cover the bike as there was a chance of rain that night.
On Sunday morning we boarded the bus at our hotel for the 30 minute trip to the swim area and T1 (Transition 1).
The pros headed off at 8:30 and my wave 55-59 males left at 8:55. The ITU Long Distances are very exact and yet different from what we are used to. The swim is actually a bit longer than an Ironman swim at 4k (2.5 miles).  The course started with a 1500 meter straight swim out to the first turn buoy. I was feeling pretty good until I was kicked big time in the lip. It is still swollen and black and blue two days later. Oh well I just swam on although seeing stars for a while. I finished in 1:26 about 6 minutes slower than I had hoped. The transition was right by the lake but we needed to pack everything in our T1 bag including wetsuits so they could transport them back to the finish.
The bike was 2 loops of 36 miles each over rolling hills. I had a good bike and finished in 3:35. The entire route was closed to traffic and they had EVERY SINGLE side road closed and roped off with a volunteer stopping any traffic!  As we passed thru each village it seemed like every person was there cheering us on. On the hills it was like the Tour de France with people cheering us up the climbs! THEY REALLY GET SPORT HERE!
The run was 30 K (18.6 miles) made up of 4 loops of 7.5K thru the village. Mostly flat with a few minor climbs. The spectators would see us 8 times as we passed thru. The crowds were 6 deep at many sections! It was like the entire country came out to cheer us on. There is something very special wearing the uniform with USA SMITH on it. People were screaming "Go USA" , " Go Smith". I once again realized I was competing for our country, what an honor! As you run you see someone ahead of you say from Great Britain or South Africa or Japan and it motivates you to push past them.
I have NEVER in my 30 years of competing seen crowds this deep and loud and knowledgable. THEY GET IT! Even the male pro winner Chris "Macca" McCormick commented after the race he has never seen it this crazy! I was motivated by the crowds for the first three laps and it really helped on the 4th and final lap as I was getting a bit tired.
I did the run in 2:43 for a total race time of 7:53:46. Good enough to meet my goal of finishing in the top 25 of my age group. I was 21 in my age group and 5th American. Goals met!
My good friend Dave Slavinski WON the 40-44 age group to be crowned WORLD CHAMPION! I know NO ONE more deserving of this great accomplishment. Needless to say we celebrated the night of the race!
After a couple of recovery days it's time to get back into it. I have just 13 days after this race before competing in a brand new race Ironman NYC/NJ. Yes 2.4 mile swim/ 112 mile bike/ 26.2 mile run.
3 weeks after the IM NYC/NJ I will be competing in Zofingen , Suisse  with the USA Team at the Long Course Duathlon World Championships. 10K(6.2mile) run/150K (90 mile) bike/30K (18.6 mile) run. This is up and thru the Suisse alps. I did this race last year and without a doubt the toughest course I have ever competed on.

USAT Duathlon Long Course Nationals

June 3, 2012


By: Dave Slavinski


Cambridge, MD: With weather in the upper 70’s on race day in June I was fired up for the Blackwater Duathlon! Knowing the course would be super-flat, I was happy that the sun would not be baking us on either the bike or on the runs, so it was a great relief that the weather was on our side. 


The only problem with being in the 40-44 division is racing time-trial style. By this I mean that when the gun goes off for the 1st wave, I have to stand there and watch all of the fastest guys, usually the 39 and under divisions, take off. Thankfully in this race they started the entire woman’s field 2-minutes after the 39 and under, so I was only 4-minutes behind the 1st wave. This was good motivation on the first run, and on the bike.   I went out pretty hard on the first run knowing how flat and fast the course was. I was alone from the gun, but I knew that was going to be the case and was prepared for what was ahead. Figuring that I ran 5:41 pace last year on a really hilly course, I figured 5:20 pace would be do-able, and it was for the 1st run. I was happy to get on to the bike after splitting 33:15 for the first 10k run and running through a good number of people who started well before I did. 


The ride consists of two loops. There was one 180-degree turn 11 miles from transition and another 180-degree turn at transition so once you were on the bike, it was head down and aero the whole way. I have been working on reforming my aero-position and was pretty happy with the results on the first part of loop #1. I got to the turn around and had already passed a number of athletes in the younger age groups. Less then a minute into the return trip toward transition Lucas McCollum, a Snapple teammate rode up on me and I used the opportunity to sit legally behind him and ride through the remainder of the field, especially since the ride back in was into a headwind! I cant thank Lucas enough for being so strong on the bike! It was a huge help just to have him there to push me forward and when he would get sore or stiff, I would make the pass and tow him along for a few minutes. To be completely honest, he did most of the heavy lifting. I knew he was having a monster ride when he passed me and I was averaging 270 watts. By mile 38 we rode past last year’s Elite Champion Ryan Giuliano. By mile 40 Ryan was off the back. I was happy getting back to transition as the 3rd off the bike. That means I made up the 4 minute stagger on everyone.....well almost everyone. Eneas Freyre was nearly 7-minutes ahead of me. It was hard to do the math, but 7-4=3....could I run 3-minutes faster then him on the 2nd 10k?


I started the run thinking that 5:22 was the goal. By mile 2 I was only running 5:35 pace and it wasn’t getting any easier. By the time I reached the 4k marker Freyre was at the 6k on the way back in. My math skills aren’t the greatest, but I understood I would have a VERY hard time making up 1K on Freyre in the final 6k of the race.....that’s all my body needed to know and it was shut-down time. I backed off to 6-minute pace for the rest of the way. I would like to say that pace felt good, but in all honesty it was a sufferfest! I finally got to the finish line, 2nd across, 2nd Overall-5:07 behind Freyre and 4:07 ahead of 3rd. It felt good to finish.....and one of the benefits to finishing early is getting on the massage table first! Between the massage and the two cans of Sierra Mist my legs felt pretty good after the race. Know, with the ITU Triathlon Worlds looming in July, it is time to add some more mileage into the training program. I knew I was a little light with my bike mileage going into Blackwater, but there is only so much you can do when you have a job, kids, wife who trains, and a side business. Summer is here and the time is right.......


It was great seeing the finishes of people who I know...Glen Thompson, a good friend finished 3rd overall, Lucas 5th overall, my wife who finished 6th female and 2nd in the age group. And props to Eneas Freyre to putting it together. He has been on a tear even since winning the ITU Duathlon Worlds in Gijon, Spain last fall as an amateur. It was a great race, as usual, put on by Rob Vigoritto of TriColumbia.


Duathlon Nationals and Wildflower Triathlon.....A Good Week!

By: Gary Smith


Went to Tucson for the USAT National Championship for Short Course Duathlon. 5K run/35K bike/5K run. I went Out to get some speed work in as I am concentrating on long course races again this year.  We stayed at the Hilton El Conquistador a great resort. We did indeed spend some quality time around the pool after the race in 90 degrees.
The day before the race I caught up with Dave Slavinski last years overall winner and his wife Carrie. We went out to the course and rode one lap of the rolling course. We also ran the hilly part of the run.
The day of the race I felt pretty good and decided to hold back on the first run and did it in 22:22
Right on target. I pushed the bike for both laps and did it in 59:45
Then the second run I pushed it feeling like I did a negative split but my time was 23:20
Overall time of 1:47:15 And good enough for 13 th place and a spot on the National team for the World Championships in Nancy, France later this year. Not sure I will do this as it is a short course race and I am already on the National team for the Long Course Triathlon in Spain.
After the race and pool we had a nice time at a REAL Mexican restaurant with rolling mariachi band and all!

Flew to San Francisco a few days later and stayed in our old stomping grounds of Pleasanton.
The first night had a great dinner with my old boss from J&H Jim Altman and his lovely wife Pat.
The next night dinner with dear friends Jenny and Mark Swoboda.
Wednesday night we had dinner a Carlos Santana restaurant "Maria Maria" (get it, his ex wife and title of one of his songs). We dinned with great friends Steve DePaoli,Suzie and Danny Lister and Curtis and Linda Takahasi. Old racing friends from California.
Drove down to Paso Robles as we were staying at a hotel this year for Wildflower 1/2 Ironman.
Went to the "Woodstock of Triathlon" to register and take in the whole crazy scene. Over 7,500 athletes for three races over the weekend.
Did an easy practice swim and the water was perfect . Then rode a bit of the course and ran a bit as well.
Race day started out a bit chilly at Lake San Antonio but warmed up to over 80 degrees.
I bumped into an old friend from California in the transition area as we set up our bikes for the race. Ben Lee and I raced hard "back in the day". He looked good.
I started 1 hour after the pros as they had age group wave every five minutes.
I had a real good swim for the 1.2 miles. Actually was 3 minutes faster than the last 3 years here. Must be my new stroke and new wetsuit! 35min 38 sec.
Had a loooooong transition as the area is huge.
Left on the bike for the 56 mile bike leg over the toughest bike course in the world.
Felt pretty good but the winds were brutal this year. Many many areas of head winds.
Saw a huge crash at mile 46 at the base of the huge mountain we all scream down. They actually blocked the area and we had to go around the other lane.
I was a little slower than in the past due to the winds. 3:06.
Now for the brutal 13.1 mile run over 60% trails and hills. I stayed steady the entire way over the brutal hills and trails. It is incredible to run thru the various campgrounds with thousands of cheering drinking fans. I get chills every time.
As I got to mile 8.5 the Cal Poly volunteers were in unreal form.
From behind a bush on TOTALLY naked guy jumps out with a boom box blasting .
Then a few dozen male AND female coeds all jump out in the FULL MONTY!
I couldn't stop laughing (and looking).
That helped get me prepared for " the Pit" from mile 9 you run downhill and then turn around at the bottom for the CLIMB back up. I just lowered my visor and gutted it out passing many, many runners walking. True carnage out there.
When you get to mile 12 it is all downhill to the finish line, except it is sooooo steep you need to be careful of not face planting.
Run time was a1:54.
Overall time of 5:44:34 good enough for 5th place podium age group finish!

Had a free massage and then free chiropractic adjustment at the festival. We stayed and listened to a few really good bands on the stage.
As Chris "Macca"Mcormack said again at the race, " this is the toughest 1/2 IM on the planet.
Add to it all the people racing and camping and spectating and you have "The Woodstock of Triathlon".
This was my 20 th year doing this fine race on it's 30 th anniversary .
I can't wait for next year......

USAT Duathlon Nationals-Tucson Arizona

By Dave Slavinski

Left school early on Thursday after the NJ middle school state testing was over so I could go home and finish packing the car and run. All went well there. Go to Newark Airport without a hitch, go through check in on Southwest Airlines ($50 for the bike and free bags!). Rain in Newark delayed the flight by 90-minutes. Get to Denver for the connection to Phoenix and encounter another 90-minute delay as it was raining, hard, with a crazy amount of lightning. Finally got to Phoenix and picked up the car at midnight, their time. Drove to Tucson....got to bed at 2:30 am, or 5:30 EST.....so it started well, just like last year. I figured my bike would be totally screwed up, I would spend the whole day in Tri Sports, like last year, and I would win again! The good news it that the bikes went together fine and we were on the bike course with Gary Smith, another friend from NJ, by 11:30 am. We rode one loop, ran the hilly half of the run and went to check in at the USAT race headquarters at the El Conquistador. Awesome Hilton Hotel that is pretty reasonable for how nice it is. Great view of the mountains behind the hotel and a great pool/bar/restaurant. Got a small meal and hit the pillow at 9 pm. All was right with the world.
Race day: 
The course for Duathlon Nationals is really top notch. The views are great, the roads and the course are awesome, and Tim Yount announcing is always worth the price of registration. There is no more the 50-meters of flat road on the run or bike course so it shreds the field from the starting horn. The first mile is a false flat for the first 800, then a pretty good little downhill to the turnaround, so back up the little hill and turn back toward the starting line. From there is goes DOWNHILL....all the way to the 2-mile mark and then it gets difficult as you have to climb back to the transition area and onto the bike. I knew going in that I had hit the first run pretty hard last year and that hill really hurt on run #2, so this year I decided to take a more measured approach and slowed the first 5k down with hopes of riding a bit faster and running #2 faster. The problem with being an old guy is that 18-39 all started together while the 40-49 had the start 10-minutes behind. I really had no idea where I was after they ran past us at the 2k mark. I started with a friend of mine from Chattanooga, TN, John Sillery. He was all about the first run and actually took the first 800 a little harder then I wanted to go, so I asked him to slow down....and he did. We go the to bottom of the hills and started the uphill portion of the race. From the 2.2 miles mark I was alone in an individual time trial while the younger AGs were battling head-to-head. I pushed as hard as I could, but it is a funny thing when you are 13-ish minutes into a 90 minute race knowing that you are going to win the AG....it is hard to keep your focus and push through all the thoughts in your head saying "back it off a little."
The bike course is awesome. After mounting the bike you ride up to the 1st of only 2 turns on the course. From there is goes down hill at 30+ MPH until the longest climb on the course. A 2:30 minute climb where you are still able to do 17-18 mph in the big chain ring. Riding a Quarq power meter is very helpful on these rolling courses. No matter how fast I go, I focus on the power. This kept me focused on a few of the 35+ mph downhills where I blew past people who stopped pedaling and were happy seeing 30 while I was hitting 40+. The momentum you get at 40 carries you halfway up the next hill so you are not only putting time on them down the hill, but you are putting extra time on them up the next hill as well. The course is two loops and the speed was all over the place. You had sections of 21 followed by 28 mph sections. You are never bored during this ride. Two loops on the bike with 2-180 degree turns and roads that were smooth and pot-hole free was great. I have to admit, although I improved from 25.3 to 25.7 on the bike this year on this course, I had a hard time holding the power I thought I could produce. I ended up at 268 watts, but I was hoping for 275-280, so I have some work to do there. 
Run #2 was a little rough at the start and I was thinking about how I should have done a few more bricks before the race, or at least one brick! I hit the water stop at the 1k mark, threw some water on my face and it really woke me up. I ran the remaining 4k faster then I did last year and did not wish for death on the final, long, hot hill leading to the finish line. I crossed the line 26 seconds faster then last year and found out I got my butt whipped by 4-guys in the early wave. 
Oh well! I did what I wanted, had a little more conservative game plan and, for once, actually stuck to the plan. When the final results came out and the awards were handed out, the #1 finisher was not counted in the USAT Championship since he was a Canadian! So that moved me to #4. At the award ceremony the USAT Committee, voted me as having the performance of the day! Finishing 5th? It is an honor and it was a total surprise as well. Last year I won the award as well, but I was the first 40+ to ever win the overall, so that made more sense to me. When they handed out top 3, I got 3rd! Evidently the #3 OA must have been hit for a 4-minute penalty. I guess that is why his bike improved from 
24.7 last year to 26.0 this year. Cant feel sorry for anyone who isn't playing by the rules.....sorry. 
Overall it was a great race, great venue, and great people. Keeping everything in perspective I had a great race last year. This year I had a great race as well. My overall fitness it different this season. I ran out of gas at the end of August last year and limped through the ITU Du Worlds. This season I laid out a plan that is more focused on strength instead of early speed. Patience is not one of my strong points but the plan is working. Last year I couldn't walk the day after the race while today I ran 7-miles....enough said. 
If you haven't attempted a Du I would strongly urge you to give it a shot! You will see what really counts.....running fast and riding fast! You will see how you stack up against those with that specific skill set and when you do the work and nail a Du, your Tri's also get faster and easier. It was nice meeting Jenny from Snapple DC in transition before the race and I hope she had as much fun as Carrie (my wife, who finished 6th in the AG and posted a 2-minute improvement from last year as well as a 21.5 average on the bike).
Things to remember from my two years at USAT Du National in Oro Valley, AZ: Fly SW Air, only $50 for the bike......fly to Phoenix as there are way more flights in and out....you need a car anyway because Oro Valley is no where near anything, host hotel, Tri Sports, food, etc. Run hills, bike hills, Stay at the host hotel. The race will be in AZ for one more year and then there is talk of it heading to the wet and cool Pacific Northwest. The long course Duathlon nationals is in our backyard, Cambridge, MD (Eagleman territory) the first week of June and one week before Eagleman. 10k-70k-10, a good test! Give it a shot!

ITU Long Course World Championships, Las Vegas 11.6.11

By Gary Smith


The ITU Triathlon Long Distance World Championships were held this year in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday November 5. The event is a 4K (2.4 mile) swim, 120K (75 mile) bike and a 30k (18.6 mile) run. The race was held in Henderson, Nevada with the start in Lake Las Vegas and finishing in downtown Henderson.

I felt ready for the event, although I picked up some bug the week before the race while staying on "The strip" in Vegas.

When we arrived on the Tuesday before the race we drove the bike course over some significant hills around Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. The gusts were in the 60mph range. I had heard about this possibility and was glad that I brought two rear wheels. I chose to not use my sub 9 disc and changed to my 1080 rear with an 880 front. In fact at the pre race meeting the ITU reps highly "recommended" not using a disc.<br/>


The weather the remainder of the week turned cold for Vegas, highs in the 50's and low 60's.

When we arrived at the race start early Saturday we were informed that the swim was cancelled! Yes, cancelled do to the Lake temperature of 60 degrees and the air temperature at 40 and windy. They stated that for our safety they had no choice. They thought about shortening the swim to 1500 meters or even 750 meters, but decided to cancel it. This was a World Championship!??

They even bent the rules about covering you country's uniform. They allowed jackets over the uniforms.

The race started with a Time Trial bike with each athlete leaving in 5 second intervals.<br/>

I had a good bike, even with the hills and high winds. At one down hill the cross winds had me hanging on for dear life hitting over 45 mph.

I finished the bike in 4:13:01 and had a 3:05 transition to the run. The changing tents even had heaters in them.

The run is a typical ITU Loop format. There were 4 loops so the spectators could see you on 8 different times. I didn't seem to have my legs as I think this bug I was fighting took over a bit.

Each lap was 2.4 miles up and then 2.4 miles down. Lots of climbing. The format was also good in that there were many fans out on the course cheering. It is always good to hear people you don't know cheering "Go USA" or "Go Smith". it also allowed you to see you competition on many occasions throughout the run.

I finished the run in 2:50:06 for an overall time of 7:06:12. Good enough for a 13th place in my age group and 7th American in my age group.


Now time for some nice little R+R after a very long season that stretched from early March to early November.

Already planning some races for next year......Gary


70.3 World Championships, Las Vegas 9.11.11

By Joe Donahue



The following quote is from the main story in the race program. it really sums things up nicely!

“In the past, Ironman World Championship 70.3 was all about raw speed. Not any longer. The move to Lake Las Vegas promises to dish up heaping portions of heat, wind and hills. This course is designed to do one thing: separate the very good from the very best.”<br/>


Liz and Myself arrived in Las Vegas on Friday around 1pm. We drove right to athlete check-in on our way to our hotel. We stayed at the Loews which was the host hotel. It is a super nice hotel with beautiful pools and right on the lake, this area is about a 30-min drive from the “Vegas Strip.” The pre race dinner, awards ceremony etc. all happen here. The hotel is about a 1 mile walk to swim start and the race transition area. If you want to stay closer Joe McMahon stayed at a place called Luna di Lusso which was literally right at the swim start and transition area. Myself, Joe, and Dana Dobbs spent race morning hanging out on Joe’s patio watching all the early swim waves go off. Awesome hanging out with these guys before the race!!!

Race Day


The swim is a non-wetsuit swim in Lake Las Vegas.The 45-49 age group was the second to last wave to go at 7:55 am which meant we would be running our half-marathon at the hottest part of the day. Bummer!! The swim is a clockwise rectangle, flat water, no chop, I made it through with not too much contact. The swim exit is on the opposite side of the lake from transition, so you have to run all the way around the edge of the lake to get to T1. I would estimate about 400meter run or so. T1 is grab your bike gear bag run through a changing tent. Nothing is allowed on the ground by your bike. You can have your bike shoes pre-clipped to pedals and your helmet can be on handle bars.



The bike course was hyped as being one of the toughest courses ever. My wheel setup was a 404 front and an 808 rear with disc cover on it. The gearing I used was a 53/39 with a 12/27 cassette. I think a 11/26 would have been better if you can find one....I spun out on the downhills with the 53/12 so a 53/11 would have been helpful and I think a 39/26 would be fine for the uphills. Either way the bike course never really lets up... you are either going up or down short semi steepish until about mile 40 or so, where the hills become more gradual upgrades and downgrades.

Temps on the bike maxed out at 95 degrees but thankfully didn’t feel that bad thanks to low humidity, I wore an aero helmet and didn’t feel any discomfort or overheating although the sun was relentless! no shade at all on the bike course and not a spectator in sight, you are literally riding through a rocky hilly desert!


At T2 volunteers receive your bike and racked it for you so you can grab you run gear bag run through the changing tent and out onto the run course. The run course was a 3 loop course....make a quick left out of transition then approx 1.2 miles slightly downhill with not much shade to the turnaround then slightly uphill with some shade back past transition continuing slightly uphill for another mile or so with no shade to another turnaround then back slightly downhill to the transition area. Each loop was appox 4.4 miles  for a total 13.1 miles. Crowd support was huge going past the transition area


Overall I thought the new 70.3 championship was a fair course, hard but fair, and thats the way it should be. Temps maxed out at 95 degrees, hydration and proper bike pacing are critical. The road surface conditions are good . I can’t wait to go back next year!!!




Long Course Duathlon Worlds, Zofingen, Suise August 21, 2011

By Gary Smith


Here in Zofingen Suisse for the event. We arrived on Wednesday at the Team USA Hotel. The Engel Hotel. A great boutique hotel in the village.<br/>

The race is the famous Powerman Zofingen. A 10k run/ 150k bike / 30k run.<br/>

I knew getting here that my hips continued to be locked even after massage and chiro at home.

Had massage and a very expensive chiro here to see if that would help.

On race morning I was warming up,running for the first time in over a week and I knew it would be a looooong day.

The start of the first run of 10k tells you why this is the most demanding course in the world. The first of 2 laps of 5k goes STRAIGHT UP! The first 2 k was up a 16% grade! What a start!


So I had to take it easy as all my hips would allow was very small steps,no real strides.<br/>

I finished toward the rear hoping the 93 mile bike would help loosen the hips up for the final 18.6 mile run.

The bike course is 3 laps of unbelievable climbs 3 major climbs. So you do a total of 9 major climbs. The fans were unreal. Yelling "HOPP HOPP" meaning Go Go all day.

The first climb was a warm up as to what was to come. A steep 12% grade that went for over 1 mile. Later in the middle of the course this climb was 3 miles of 18% grade. At the top there were lots of fans. They were even using helicopters to get the big shots there and they were all drinking wine in flute glasses!

Then a huge down hill with lots of turns. Able to hit 55mph!

The third climb was all switchbacks ,only way to get up that one. It started to rain on the third lap right after I got stung by a bee as my eye stated to close up a bit. I passed many on the bike. Wasn't sure if I would be able to do the run of 18.6 miles but said to myself let's give it a go.

There is something about wearing the race uniform with USA SMITH on it that kept me going. Doing it for my country as we needed the team points.<br/>

The final run was 2 laps of 15k(9.3miles) for a total of 30k or 18.6 miles. In the deep forest it was 3 miles of climbing on trails and the rains really picked up that you couldn't see the guy in front of you. By the end of the day it had rained over 4 inches! This created rivers of mud. At times we were in mud over our ankles the kind where your feet come out of your shoes. Lots of guys falling down. I somehow kept the same Walter Brennen (no brag just fact) hunched over small steps. EVERY STEP was painful, and I was afraid to stop for fear of falling over. At the top of the mountain as we ran there were reindeer that were fenced in.

Somehow I didn't stop and finished in 9hours 49 minutes. I was 16th in my age group and 5th American in my ag.

Everything I have is still soaking wet. Have had 2 massages in the last 12 hours.<br/>

A super race,one that I would like to do again when I am fit and not hampered by the locked up hips.

It is always great to be a part of the national team and to race for the USA....Auf wiedersehen.........Gary


Timerbman 70.3 Gilford , NH August 21, 2011

By Jesse O'Donnell


The race weekend started off Thursday when we began loading the racing, camping, and spectator gear into the Enterprise rental Suburban.  Friday after work we headed up to my brother in laws house in Massachusetts and spent the night there.  Before heading to New Hampshire on Saturday morning I went for a light 45 minute ride on my road bike and spent some time with my nephews.  I arrived in NH around 2pm and pickup my race packet and setup my campsite at Gunstock Mountain Resort, which was also the host location for the event. 

After setting up camp, I went to drop off my bike in transition, where I met Reneere.   We spent some time in transition together getting our gear setup for the morning and then went out for dinner.   I got back to my campsite around 8:45, packed up the last of my stuff, and went to bed by 9:30.  I was able to get a decent night sleep considering how anxious I was about racing. It has been a long time since I raced this distance and two weeks ago at my last race, Born to Tri, I did not have the result I was hoping for. 

I awoke at 4:45; I got dress and caught the shuttle down to the race start.  I was not in any rush as I was in the 13th wave and did not start until 7:55.  Prior to the race start everything was going well; I had my bike, nutrition, and running shoes all setup. Then, I was putting my wetsuit on and the zipper broke.  This was a bit of a problem, as it was 20 minutes until my wave started and I had no way to close my wetsuit.  I had packed an extra but it was at the camp site and my wife could not get it in time.  I was able to force the zipper on so that it would zipper top to bottom and my wife safety pinned the top to prevent it from splitting open.  The wetsuit stayed closed during my warm up and I was ready to start. 

The swim in Lake Winnepesake was beautiful…the water was a warm, 72 degrees, and clear.  I started in the second row and was able to dolphin dive to almost the first buoy where I settled into a comfortable pace,  I was swimming relaxed trying to find someone to draft.  I finished the swim and headed into T1.  I had a little issue getting my wetsuit off because of the pins but I was able to rip it off.  I headed out onto the bike forgetting to clip my race belt on in transition so I had to wiggle it on while riding.  The bike course is very challenging with some tough climb in the first 10 miles then rolling and climbs again in the last 10 miles.  I had a goal of averaging 23mph I was not sure what my wattage goal should be but I want to stay under 270 watts.  At the turn around I was feeling good and was right on pace.  Riding back towards transition I was focused on nutrition and hydration constantly taking water and gatoraide.  About mile 40 I got a small cramp in my left hamstring.  It did not bother me too much, I was trying to hydrate at much as I could getting ready for the run.  


At the completion of the bike I entered transition, was able to get my socks and shoes on grab my garmin and head out on the run course.  The first 2 miles did not feel good.  I was battling a side stitch as well as a leg cramp.  After mile 2 I started to settle down and feel better.  The run is rolling with mostly shaded but had some hot sunny sections along the highway and around transition.  The run was going well I was able to hold around 7 min pace and was taking water and Gatorade at all the aid stations.  About mile 10 I started to suffer a bit more as I was running out of energy.  The next 2 miles were tough I had dropped to about 7:30 pace.  At the last aid station with only a mile I drank some coke, that and the prospect of finishing got me to the finish line.  All in all it was a great day for me.  I had a goal of 4:45 min and was able to finish well under that time in 4:30:50.  I was 22nd overall 12th amateur but 6th in my AG so I did not get a bid to the 70.3 world championships.  With every race there are things to improve, I have 5 weeks till my next race Pocono 70.3 on October 2, 2011, where hopefully I can improve enough to earn a Vegas slot.  I want to thank Colleen my wife for all her support not only on race weekend but with putting up with my training schedule and making sure I am well fed.  Also thanks to everyone at BPC  and JSMS crit team for all of the group training and racing opportunities. 


Vineman 140.6: In Memory of Gus<

by Jason Martin


Vineman Full-distance Triathlon (140.6)


Location: Guerneville, CA


Date: Saturday, July 30th 2011


# of Participants: 1000 (876 finishers)


Weather on Race Day:


- Swim start (6:30am) air temp was 55 degrees. Water temp 72 degrees.


- 1st half of bike (8am):  Air temp 70 degrees. Winds 5mph.


- 2nd half of bike (11am): Air temp 80 degrees. Winds 10mph.


- Run (2:30pm): Air temp 85 degrees. No wind.


Volunteer support:  1000 volunteers. Excellent support throughout entire race.


Vineman 140.6 triathlon is the oldest independent (non M-dot qualifier) full-distance triathlon in the United States. There is also a Vineman 70.3 a week prior to the 140.6 every year. The 70.3 is an official M-dot Kona qualifier.  The reason I chose this particular race was because it was the only race with available slots in December when I officially decided to sign up (registration begins November 1st every year). Slots to Vineman 2011 didn't sell out until the week prior to the race.


Why I did it:


My quest to complete a full-distance event began last year when I took my family on vacation to Lake Placid a few days after IMLP 2010.  I met a 50 year-old guy with three young kids in one of the shops who had just completed his fourth IMLP, and he convinced me that being 35 years old with one kid wasn't a good enough excuse not to do it!  So I decided to start swimming, biking, and running at the end of September.  I told myself that if my body felt good by the time Christmas rolled around that I'd sign up for an Ironman and get a trainer.  Even though I am extremely self-motivated, I knew that hiring a trainer/coach would hold me accountable and keep me dedicated throughout a long and grueling training schedule. I was right!


In December I was up to one hour of cardio six days a week (two swims/two bikes/two runs per week).  All of the Foundation slots were taken for IMLP, so I signed up for Vineman and thought I'd reward my wife with a week in wine country following the race (if she didn't divorce me before then!)  At the same time I was referred to Joe Donahue at Brielle Performance Center by a friend of mine at the hospital. Joe immediately got me signed up on Race Day, and we got to work setting up my heart rate zones. I also bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS, a bike trainer, and a Cervelo P2 tri bike at Brielle Cyclery. I highly recommend all of them!


In the meantime one of my best friends from the Navy , Commander Robert A. "Gus" Kaminski was battling brain cancer. He and I served together in the same SEAL platoon and deployed to the Middle East together.  His health took a bad turn in September, and I volunteered to be an Ambassador to his family with the Navy SEAL Foundation. I also decided to raise money for the Navy SEAL Foundation with my race as a tribute to Gus' fighting spirit.


- Training:


For me training during the winter months wasn't too bad. We had a bad winter, but my workouts didn't get too long until the Spring.  All of my Winter bikes were on the trainer or in spin classes. My favorite swim was outside in a heated saltwater pool in Park City during a snowstorm in March.  My favorite run was a run I did in Coronado, CA while visiting Gus. I did run outside as much as I could.  Once Spring came around I began doing my weekend workouts outside again.<


My first races in preparation for Vineman were the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon and the Freehold Running Club 10-miler. I really enjoyed both races, and they were big confidence boosters for me early in my training. I then did Bassman 70.3 the first week of May in New Gretna, New Jersey.  That was also a big confidence booster for me, and I completed it in 5:22. After this race I ditched the Powerbars (which felt like a brick in my stomach during the Bassman run) and switched to EFS liquid shot. I also switched from Gatorade to EFS drink mix with Carbo Pro. Brian Shea at Personal Best Nutrition was extremely helpful, and several times he personally delivered my orders to me at home so I could get my nutrition in time for a long training weekend.  In June I did the 2.4 mile open water swim in Lavalette (Lava Swim) with a time of 1:12 and was humbled when Joe Donahue beat me by 16 minutes!


I did every single one of my long bike and run workouts alone. Although I would have loved to have company on the long bike rides, I could never seem to find anyone to do them with me at 5am on Saturday.  In a way it mentally prepared me for the "loneliness" of a long race, but looking back it would have been better to train with a partner (in case I crashed and also to make workouts more fun).  (Note: I started all of my workouts at 5am during the week and on weekends so I could minimize my time away from family).


Unfortunately my friend Gus lost his fight with brain cancer the Friday of Memorial weekend, and my race officially became a memorial race for Gus. The combination of dedicating the race to Gus and the SEALs killing bin Laden made for a big surge in donations, and I cleared $10,000 in donations by July 1st.


My first Century ride was the Bike NY Hudson Valley ride in Poughkeepsie, NY in June. It was a hilly ride, but in hindsight I was glad I did it because it had over 6500 feet of elevation gain, and Vineman had over 4000 feet of elevation gain. I did four rides over 100 miles in all, most of them around Monmouth, Ocean, and Burlington counties.


I stayed injury-free all throughout my training until the final six weeks. During some speed training runs my achilles tendon began to tighten up. I took ibuprofen, iced it, and stretched it a lot, but it stayed tight and a little sore right up to my taper (two weeks prior to race day). Then I discovered "ice massage" (freezing a dixie cup of water, peeling back cup to expose ice, and massaging up and down my calf/achilles with the ice).  It worked great, and my achilles recovered just in time for my race.


During my taper I felt extremely antsy. I kept worrying that I wasn't doing enough and that I was losing all of my endurance. I didn't know what to do with all of my free time! I stretched a lot, researched my race, practiced changing flat tires, and went over my gear constantly.  Joe also showed me how to take apart my bike and change a flat on a tubular tire. Joe hooked me up with a set of racing rims (808 in rear/404 in front). I packed up my bike and flew to CA on Thursday, July 28th.


- Travel:


My flight to San Francisco was a nightmare. The airlines did not know how to check in my oversized bike box. As a result, we missed our flight and had to fly standby to SF via Boston. We landed at 10pm, rented a car, and got to our hotel (Bodega Bay Lodge) at 11:30pm PT (2:30am ET). So much for staying well rested!  I did spend about $70 carboloading in the airport though.  Note: Make sure you always arrive a few days prior to your race in case you need to rest, acclimate to time zone, see the course, etc).


On Friday I continued to hydrate and carboload all day long. I went to the race expo and sat through the course familiarization talk. I was very impressed with the professionalism exhibited by all race coordinators and volunteers. I was very surprised that the majority of the racers in Vineman 2011 were doing their first full distance event.


After the course fam, I went to the run  transition area to set up my gear.  The race expo, run transition and finish line were at East Windsor High School (about 17 miles from the race start and bike transition area).  Then I jumped on my bike and rode the run course loop for a half hour. After that I threw my bike on the rack on the car, and we drove the entire bike course (with my wife jumping out to staple posters with blown-up photos of family on telephone poles every three miles)


Before I went to bed I ate a light dinner and checked my gear again. We stopped at the food store to grab some breakfast food. I went to bed around 8pm with a planned 4am wakeup on race day. I actually slept great considering how anxious I was.


- Race Day:


On Saturday, July 30th (race day) I woke up at 4am. I ate some food and then pumped up my bike tires. I filled my water bottles with 2 scoops of EFS/1 scoop of Carbo Pro and packed the car. We got to the swim start/bike transition area at Guerneville beach at 5:15am. The transition area opened at 5:30am, and I quickly got everything set up. Then I made one last trip to the bathroom and put my wetsuit on.


- Swim:


The swim consisted of 2 loops (1.2mi each loop) in the Russian River. Current was very minimal as the river is dammed this time of year (you might lose 2 mins swimming upstream each loop). My age group (35-39) was the second wave to go off at 6:33am. I went out hard for the first 10 minutes to get ahead of the main pack. However, I ended up swimming into the slower swimmers from the first wave, and then the fastest swimmers from the third wave came up on me. The river was only about 100 yards wide, so it was a little crowded for a while.


There were two sections of the river where it got pretty shallow, and my hands actually scraped the bottom. I saw a lot of guys walking in these areas instead of swimming (which I believe was a mistake because it wastes more energy and you risk cutting your feet if you step on something sharp). I swam the entire time, and I passed everyone who decided to walk. Everyone I saw was wearing a wetsuit, and I did too. I completed the swim in 1:11.<br/>


- Transition 1:


Volunteers helped strip off my wetsuit and I quickly sprayed myself down with sunblock. I already had my tri shorts on, so I put on my tri shirt and bike shoes/helmet and ran out of the transition area. My overall transition time was about 5 minutes.


- Bike:


I ran my bike up the steep hill coming out of transition. I got on the bike and settled into a nice, easy pace. I looked at my Garmin, and I realized my HR was at Z-4.0. So I controlled my breathing and slowed a tad. My biggest fear was going out too hard on the bike and dying on the run. The bike course consisted of two 56 mile loops throughout wine country vineyards on mostly rural roads. Road conditions were overall pretty good. Potholes and cracks were well-marked with orange spray paint. I only saw two riders fixing flats during the race. The course was well-marked, and there were volunteers/law enforcement at every stop sign/intersection.


I kept my HR around Z-3.4 on the flats and got it up to Z-4.9 on several of the hills. There was one very steep hill on Chalk Hill Road at mile 44 (1st loop) and 101 (2nd loop). I believe it is a 350 ft climb in a relatively short distance (0.25 mi). I put my bike in the easiest gear and just kept spinning. The fastest downhill was at miles 28 and 84 where I got up to almost 40mph.


There were 4 aid stations on each loop and 7 throughout the entire course (miles 18/28/38/57/74/84/94).

The bike aid stations had Gatorade G2 Perform, water, bananas, Clif bars, Clif bloks, etc. I began the bike with 4 EFS liquid shots and 2 water bottles of EFS/Carbo Pro drink mix. I also use an aero bottle of water to sip occasionally.


My game plan was to utilize every other aid station and skip the ones between. I ended up grabbing a bottle of Gatorade at aid station 2, and at aid station 4 I grabbed my special needs bag with 3 more liquid shots and 2 more bottles of EFS/Carbo Pro drink mix. I believe my nutrition was sufficient for this ride. I took in a lot of calories, but I burned a lot on the hills. The ride ended at the high school, and the crowd was great coming into the transition area.


- Transition 2:


I probably spent about 5 minutes in transition for the run. I reapplied sunblock to my bald head and stopped for a bathroom break.


- Run:


The run consisted of 3 ea. 8.73mi loops departing from the high school and heading out through a residential area into more of a rural farm setting. There were aid stations at every mile of the run.  They had Gatorade, water, Coca-Cola, cookies, grapes, bananas, Clif bloks, Clif bars, etc. Most of the aid stations were blasting some kind of music, and the volunteers were very supportive with spray hoses, sunblock, etc. The run got a little warm, but it really wasn't bad.


I tried to keep my HR in mid Zone 3 as much as I could. It kept jumping into upper Zone 4 on the hills though. My goal was not to walk, and I was successful the entire first lap. (Note: I ran up every hill, and I eventually realized that I was burning a lot of energy and not gaining any speed on those walking). I fueled with a cup of Gatorade, a cup of water, and a few hits of EFS liquid shot at every other aid station. I had the EFS in my tri shirt pockets. I completed my first lap in 1:18 (2 mins ahead of my anticipated 4 hour marathon pace). At this point I realized the hills were really going to be an issue, so I didn't try to keep the same pace on lap 2.


When I hit the first hill on lap 2 (mile 10) I began to lose a lot of energy and was feeling pretty weak. I decided to begin walking the steep uphills and run everything else. I also started to develop a hot spot on my left foot from movement of my foot in the shoe on the steep downhills.  I was sick of EFS, so I switched to just Gatorade and water at every aid station. My mistake was not supplementing with some high-calorie snack (Gatorade and water were not enough).  I gutted it out until completion of lap 2, but I lost time. It took me 1:32.


As I headed out on lap 3 the adrenaline began to kick in. I also made a decision to walk through and fuel at EVERY aid station instead of every other one. I took a cup of Coca-Cola, 2 Clif bloks, and washed them down with a cup of water. The difference I felt was unbelievable. My pace definitely picked up and I walked a lot less on the uphills.


The final 2 miles went by fast. I began to feel all the emotions welling up which I had held back all through training and the race. I thought about all of the support I had from my wife and daughter.  I thought about my family and friends and all the others who donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation in support of my race. And lastly I thought about Gus and his family and what they went through over the last three years.


As I neared the finish line I said one last quick prayer of thanks to God, pounded a closed fist over my heart, looked up to the sky and thanked Gus for pulling me through the race--and ran across the finish line and into the arms of my wife and two year-old daughter who reminded me out loud one more time that "Martin's don't quit!"


In the end, I've raised over $15,000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation in memory of my friend, CDR "Gus" Kaminski.  I had so much fun during the race, and I would definitely do another full-distance race again one day. Vineman was a great experience, and I think it would be a nice race for anyone to do--especially if you're having a hard time obtaining a slot to one of the M-dot races. It definitely isn't a flat course, so be prepared to be challenged by the hills. It's three days after the race, and my legs are still pretty sore!  Lastly, I highly recommend getting a trainer to hold you accountable during your training. In my opinion the training is much tougher than the race. If you can get through all of the training you will have no problem getting through the race!



Ironman St. George

by Jay Gers


I chose to do Ironman St. George because I thought it would be a challenge to train through a Northeast winter for an early season Ironman race and get myself in shape fairly early in the year.  Everyone warned me that it would be hard to do.  They were right.  But I really enjoyed the different type of training which included lots of inside workouts.


After racing the San Juan 70.3, I was able to get in some good training in March and April.  Most rides during the week were on my trainer, and I made sure to do all my long rides outside on the weekend, and every ride was in cold weather gear and booties.  I don’t mind riding in the cold, but the wind in Monmouth County was a killer.  The extent of my hill training for the bike was Line Road and Holmdel Park, as I did not get a chance to travel somewhere to train, due to work and family constraints.  I did manage to get a few 20 hour training weeks in, which included two century rides and two 20+ mile runs.  I thought my bike fitness was there as my wattage numbers were the same or better as last year in July. My running had really improved, as I did all my longer runs at 7:00 min/mile pace or faster, and always tried to include nice hills around Navesink River Road, Hartshorne Woods, and the Atlantic Highlands.  I did not get a chance to do any track workouts.  I went self-coached this year, and based my training off prior years’ plans.


My family and I flew out on the Wednesday before the race to Las Vegas.  On the flight over, I read The Alchemist - a story about a boy who travels to the pyramids of Egypt to find his own personal legend.  After landing in Las Vegas, we drove to St. George.  The drive on Route 15 was spectacular in areas.  When we arrived in St. George, I was able to do an easy swim in the reservoir where the start of the race would be held at Sand Hollow State Park.  The park was a 30 minute drive from the Hilton we stayed at in town.


The next day, I did a quick 45 minute ride on my bike to check the gears and then a short 20 minute run with some pickups to stay sharp.  I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Later in the day, I met up with my buddy Luther White, a.k.a. “400 watt Luther” and “The House”.  I know Luther from his time he spent in Colts Neck but he now resides in Valencia, California.  Luther and I drove the course to see what the talk was all about and if the hype was for real.  The bike course started from Sand Hollow State Park and went back into St. George after 20 miles and then out to a two loop course that was challenging.  We took note of the road hazards, the sharp turns, and the hill ascents and descents.  I loved the last 12 miles of each loop of the bike, as it was a very long downhill.  I planned to think of the bike as a 100 mile ride since the last 12 miles were mostly downhill.  Later that night at dinner, I tried to eat as much as my stomach could possibly handle, to get the calories in.


On Friday, the day before the race, Luther and I mostly chilled while getting our bags and bikes ready.  We dropped off the T2 bags in town and afterwards had to take the bikes and T1 bags out to Sand Hollow State Park, as the transitions were in different spots.  We went for a quick swim and although the water was cold in the low 60’s, once we started moving around, it felt great.  We had an early pasta dinner, and I hit up Dairy Queen for a quick milkshake, and I was in bed by 8:30pm ready to race the next day.


On Saturday, I was up at 3am and had plenty of sleep the night before.  I had a banana nut muffin, coffee, and my usual Hammer Products concoction, which I would use the rest of the day.  I jumped on the 4am bus from our hotel to town to drop off my special needs bags and get on another bus at 4:30am to Sand Hollow State Park where the swim start was.  I just chilled on the bus listening to my favorite Bruce songs, including the Promised Land.  “On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert…”


At transition, I got ready pretty quick and had plenty of time.  I chatted up with another East Coast dude, Chris Gebhardt, right before the swim start.


The swim start went well and was 1 loop in the reservoir. I lined up a few rows back and just took it very easy.  I wore new Tyr goggles that I got at the expo, and they got kicked off a few times, so I had to stop and readjust.  There was a pretty nasty glare for part of the swim.  I exited the water in 1:10, which was OK as I was looking to go 1:05-1:10.  I quickly grabbed my gear bag and bypassed transition as I wore my Under Armour heat shirt and compression calf guards under my wetsuit.


The bike runs back into town and we had a nice tailwind going up the hills back into St. George.  I used my Zipp 404 up front and 808 with Powertap for the rear.  My plan was to keep the wattage at 220-230 on the flats and 250-260 up the hills.  This went pretty well, but I started feeling a little tired after mile 70.  It started getting hot and I tried to grab a lot of water and Perform from the aid stations and doused myself with water to keep myself cool.  It was harder for me to hold the wattage on the flats at this point, and I found myself sitting up more than I wanted to.  I used a 12/25 cassette, and felt I could have fared better with a 12/27, as “The Wall”, which was a ½ mile climb at miles 50 and 90, was causing my wattage to spike to 280-300.  I usually try and maintain the best power I could on the downhills until I spin out, but by this time, I used the downhills to recover and stretch out my legs so that they would feel better for the run.  Several times I felt nauseous from the heat and hills and attempted to throw up, but nothing came out.  Miles 80-100 on an Ironman bike are always challenging, and when I got to that 100 mile mark and the downhill section, I started feeling better as I was easily hitting 40mph going back into town.  I tried to enjoy the views and scenery around me.  Those last 12 miles are very nice, except for a short, steep hill a few miles before T2.  I kept stretching out my legs and calves during these downhills and drank as much as I could to prepare myself for the run.  My average wattage was about 205, about 5-10 watts lower than I wanted it to be.  I finished the bike in a respectable 5:33.

When I got off the bike, my lower back and legs hurt as usual.  I quickly changed into running shorts in T2.  I’ve run my best Ironman marathons in running shorts.  I used my Garmin to see where I was in terms of running pace.  I started the run and it was mentally hard to comprehend that I had to run one tough marathon with the temperatures in the low 90’s now.  But I felt good after a few minutes and told myself that I would not stop and walk, even through the aid stations.  I had salt tablets which I attempted to take at mile 2, but as I opened up my salt tablet carrier, I saw that they had all melted overnight.  I tried to salvage 2 tablets, but when I swallowed and chased with water, I quickly threw them up.  I had no salt caps now.  The run course is challenging, even more than the bike, and, as I got to the bigger hills after mile 3, there were guys walking up the hills and I almost stopped and joined them, but I remembered what I told myself about walking.  I kept repeating in my head, “You’re a tough, tough dude.”  I was starting to feel good now and the run felt easy!  My long sleeve heat shirt was helping to keep me cool.  At every aid station, I grabbed lots of water and ice and put them down my shirt and just had the Perform, water, and gels to keep me going.  On the downhills, I ran on the gravel which was off the shoulder to lessen the pounding in my legs. As I got into town after the first loop, I was feeling good and high-fived my wife.  She knew I was feeling good.  My first half was 1:36.  The second loop was a little slower, but I pushed and felt really good.  I kept thinking – no stopping and high cadence.  I passed a lot of guys in my age group.  On the way back into town, I was just cruising in, going from aid station to aid station.  The volunteers and the spectators were great, cheering me on and encouraging me.  With a half mile to go, a guy in my age group passed me, the only guy that passed me all day!  I could not keep up with him and had to let him go.  I still felt awesome but just did not have the leg turnover to keep up with him.  I ran to the finish and heard my family cheer me on as I looked at the clock which just turned 10:07 and I had finished my run in 3:18.  Mission accomplished - I did not walk a single step.  I was pumped that I ran that fast on this course.  As I came to the finish line, I heard Mike Reilly say.  “Jason Gers, you are an Ironman.”  Then he said something that I am even more proud of and what keeps me coming back to Ironman racing.  Mike then announced.  “Jason is a liver transplant recipient.  And now he’s doing Ironman!”


Nearly 10 years ago, I was the sickest person you would have ever known.  I would be about to get onto the liver transplant list due to a childhood autoimmune disease that caused end stage liver failure.  Transplantation was the only option.  My goal was to make a quick recovery and start living a normal life again.  My mission started 4 days after my 12 hour surgery, when I was released from the hospital.  I chose to walk out of the hospital, rather then leave in a wheelchair. I had no regrets as to what happened to me.  What’s done is done, move forward.  I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me and wanted to be self sufficient and not live off disability or anyone else. I returned to work and a normal life a few weeks later and took up running again to stay fit, but never imagined that I would have ever completed a marathon, nevertheless be a Hawaii Ironman.  I would have never guessed that things would turn out the way they have for me. It’s been a long journey that I can never forget and taking up Ironman has strengthened my confidence in everything that I do.  It reminds me how healthy I am now and why I show up at the starting line.  St. George was a very challenging race but I knew I could persevere through it.  Nothing is impossible.<br/>


Although I missed another Hawaii Ironman slot by 41 seconds, I believed that I raced the best race I possibly could and consider this race my best Ironman performance out of the 9 races I have completed.  No regrets here.<br/>


Thanks for reading.  Enjoy your health.  Do cool races.  Never give up.  --JG




Xterra Jersey Devill

by Tim Chambrovich

The Jersey Devil was a great race and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to do an off road triathlon.  When I picked up my packet the day before, I rode the bike course. I wanted to know where I could push the pace, and so there were no surprises on race day. I figured I could do the six mile loop at an easy pace and not be sore the following day. 

Swim – I took the swim out at a fast pace with a few other guys I knew were strong swimmers.  On the second lap they pulled away and I held back because I knew the bike was going to be tough.  I exited the swim in fifth place and about a minute back of the leader.  It was about a quarter mile run to the transition so everyone left a pair of shoes at the swim exit.  I found my shoes, stripped out of my wetsuit, and ran to the transition area.  I had a smooth transition and it was on to the bike course.

Bike – The bike course was two six mile loops with a little bit of everything along the way.  The first two miles was pretty sandy so I had to ride the shoulder to maintain maximum speed.  Miles three and four is where it got interesting. There was a water crossing that was about six feet across and deep enough to submerge my bottom bracket. The first time through I didn’t have enough speed to make it across so I had to dismount and run the rest of the way. On the second loop I made sure to pick up enough speed to make it without a problem. After that there was one smaller water/mud crossing, and then it was some rolling hills and few tight corners to the finish.


Run – Heading into the run I was in fifth place, and about three minutes back of the leader. The first mile was the only place to push the pace and make up ground on the guys in front.  I passed three guys in that time and was running hard to catch the leader.  After the first mile is where the run got tough. There were a lot of roots, tight turns, and a few short steep hills.  With about a half mile left the run opened up.  At this point, I had nothing left and ended up being passed with less than a quarter mile to go. I crossed the finish line in third place and was very happy with my result.