Sunday, November 7, 2010

Now I belong….Ironman Florida Race Report

The first time I ever did a tri was more than 25 years ago. It was the Wolfeboro, NH GraniteMan Tri. I did no special training and thought I could rely on my running ability to carry me to the finish line. Boy was I wrong. I remember going into the swim I went all out and was soon sucking wind within 50 yards. It was a half mile swim. I was going into survival mode already…ugh!!! Then I struggled through a very hilly 18 mile bike ride and then a 4 mile run. I don’t think I passed a soul. I remember driving home and saying that I would never do that again.

Fast forward to 2003. I had taken the summer off from work and decided to do the Timberman ½ ironman race. All summer long I planned on training but there was always another boat ride to take or beer to drink. I didn’t run a step, or bike much at all. The only swimming I did was to take a quick dip in the lake. When I was picking up my race packet, I took a look around and noticed that these athletes weren’t you average Joe’s. They all seemed to be ripped and laser focused. I was out of my league once again. The weather wasn’t cooperating either. It was hitting 95 degrees. I used a jet ski wet suit which is high on the friction scale. I struggled mightily to finish the 1.2 mile swim. I think I invented a couple new strokes. On the bike I was cramping up quite a bit at mile 40. So much so that I had to stop and stretch. Once the run started I figured I’d kick some A$$. Didn’t happen!! I had no legs left. I ended up finishing in 7:30. I was close to last place. I was humbled.

Over the years I’ve done the Timberman race many times and have had a little success but no real triumphs. So when I decided to sign up for the Florida Ironman, I knew I had a lot of work to do. A real lot of work. I needed to learn to swim long distance, I needed to learn how to stay aero on the bike. I needed to learn how to run after a long bike ride. I needed to learn about nutrition during the race. I needed a plan, an audacious plan. I seeked out the knowledge of all my friends and they all came through.

So one year later I was standing on the beach with some doubts about my abilities but I had 2 things I was focusing on. The first was the race directors words of wisdom “you WILL do this”. The second was what I live my life by “Never give up”. I wrote this message on my right hand.

On race morning I was up at 4 AM. Took care of my normal pre-race business and had a protein shake and a raisin bagel with peanut butter on it. Followed by a Gatorade. Then it was off to the transition area to put PB&J sandwiches in each of my transition bags and to do final set up of my bike. Lastly I needed to drop off my special needs bags a ¼ mile down the street. Then it was back to my room to rest.

At 6:30 it was time to head to the start. My room was located 20 yards from the beach and 50 yards from the finish line. This made many logistics very easy. I slipped on my wet suite, swim cap and goggles. I was about to use a new set of goggles. The ones I had the day before were leaking. This goes against everything I know about racing. Never use anything new on race day. I had no choice.

I headed down to the swim start with 2500 other competitors. 1375 were first timers to the Ironman distance. I was nervous, but kept telling myself that “I WILL do this” and “stick to the plan”. To remind people I actually had 4 plans
1. Finish at all cost.

2. Finish in 13 hours

3. Finish in 12 hours

4. Finish in 11 hours

My swim plan was to stay far right on the 2 loop counter clockwise course and stay out of the hoards of people, it would only cost me about 7 yards if I was able to swim on a direct path to the first turn buoy. At 6:50 AM the pro’s started. Holy cow can they ever swim fast. Then it was my GO time. The announcer did a count down then started yelling GO, GO, GO!!! I didn’t run and dive in, I walked in and eased myself into the water and started to swim. I was getting the s!#@% beat out of me, mostly by women, old women. I kept having to stop and look up to see if I could find an opening to swim. When I reached the first turn buoy I checked out my time, it was around 18 minutes. I was pumped. But I told myself to relax. At the 2nd turn heading back to the beach I had a good rhythm going. I hit the beach in 40 minutes. I was pumped. I had figured I’d be around 45 minutes. I had to run up on the beach and step over the timing mats and by the time I was back into the water I was at the 42 minute mark. The second loop was much less crowed and I was able to get a good rhythm going and ended up finishing in 1:23:04. I was shocked. In my widest dreams I figured I could do 1:30, with a 1:45 my realistic time. I got out of the water in 1677th place.

Off to T1. I grabbed my T1 bag and it was off to the men’s changing tent. It was packed. I ended up in a dining hall that they had to start using for over flow. Changing went slow but I didn’t want to rush. Then on the way to my bike all the fluids I drank in the morning were pushing on my bladder. So I stopped at one of the porta johns. Finally I got to my bike.

By the time I hit the bike mount line 13:09 went by. I didn’t know this but I really didn't care. I mounted my bike and I was off. I started off slow so I could ease into a smooth pedal stroke. Now drafting is a no no and carries a 4 minute penalty if your caught. But this was next to impossible, so I hung on the right side and was passing people, lots of people. I was using many of them as a sling shot when I’d go by. I stayed in the aero position most of the time and was taking nutrition every 3 miles. At the 10 mile mark I took my first GU. Another rule is that littering carries a penalty. When I finish my GU I had to take the almost empty packet and tucked it in the bottom of my biking shorts until I got to a aid station where I could throw it out. But within a mile I felt this dripping on my lower leg. I reached down to find out what it was and my hand and leg was covered in GU. So I had to ride the next 100 miles with a sticky leg and hand.

As the ride continued I was in a good zone. The road was smooth until the 50 mile mark. Then we got on this 10 mile spur road that was like riding on a very bad New England road. It was bone shaking. At mile 55 I had average 21.7 MPH. I was shocked. I was having the ride of my life. At mile 63 we took a hard left into the wind and rollers until mile 80. I was slowing down. This section was taking it’s toll on me. At mile 80 we finally took a left heading south on some sweet tar. I was crushing at 25 MPH. YEEEEHAAA!! I hit the 100 mile mark at 4:43. It was at that point I knew that I’d be able to finish up at over 21 MPH. So for the last 12 miles I took it easy and keep it right around 22 MPH. I wanted fresh legs for the run. I finished up with a 5:17:49 and had an average speed of 21.14 MPH. I was now in 566 place. I had passed 1111 people.

In T2 I took it slow and made sure I kept my heart rate low. RELAX. Once again I had to hit the porta john. This is good because it told me I was well hydrated. I got out of T2 in 7:13. I was carrying a PB&J sandwich and some Endurolyte tablets. I grabbed a Gatorade and munched on the PB&J. It went down easy and I was running smooth. I hit the first mile mark in 8:11. I was thinking “that wasn’t so bad”. So I picked it up a bit. I ended up averaging 7:31’s for the first 6 miles and was passing about 10 people every mile. I was running smooth and easy, I wasn’t even sweating. I started doing the math and thought that a sub 11 hour Ironman could be had. But I was starting to slow. The next 7 miles at the half marathon point I had averaged 8:30’s. At the turn around point I grabbed my special needs bag and grabbed my next PB&J. I took one bite but my stomach was NOT happy. I spit it out and throw the sandwich away. I was starting to get in trouble. I was going into survival mode. All I needed to do is average 10 minute miles. How tough would that be? IMPOSSIBLE!!! My legs were still light and lose but I had no energy left. Nothing at any of the aid stations were helping. By mile 19 I was reduced to run a little, walk a lot, run very little walk a real lot. My sub 11 hour Ironman was gone. I went into total survival mode and it wasn’t until mile 24.5 that I was able to regroup and take it home hard.

My fastest mile came in at mile 26. I ran a 6:50. Crossing the finish line I screamed as loud as I could. I probably sounded like a teenage girl. Then I heard those magic words “Scott Graham from Westford MA, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”!!! I finished in 11:14:28 in 513th place. I had averaged 9:39 per mile in the marathon. I was given my finisher medal, a hat and a shirt then was escorted over to have my picture taken.

Next was the food tent but I was not able to even look at the stuff. I headed back to my room and cleaned up. I took a couple of calls from friends and family and proceeded to take a 1 hour nap. When I woke up at I grabbed some food from my fridge then headed out to the food tent and grabbed a couple pieces of Pizza. After that I headed over to the bar to grab a Coke. While in the bar the race director came in and I approached him and thanked him. Especially, the enthusiasm of all the volunteers. I though Boston was fantastic, it doesn’t compare to this.

At 11 PM I headed out to the finish line. Here to me are the true determined people. At this point they had been out there for 16 hours. This was a huge party atmosphere. Everyone was dancing, the music was loud and people thumping anything that would make noise. For every finisher the crowd went wild. You could see tears rolling down the faces of most of these people. The last guy finished at 16:59:30. Talk about cutting it close to the 17 hour shut down time.

I went back to my room at 1 AM and was still wired. I needed to sleep but I had drank 4 Cokes. I was wired, I needed to get up at 5 AM to get in line to purchase Finisher stuff. I woke up right at 5 and went out to get some ice and noticed there was already 10 people in line…WTF, these people are tough. I made myself a protein shake and put it in a cup to go. I dressed in just about everything I owned because it was 35 degrees outside. I was about 30th in line. At 7 AM they let us in and in 10 minutes I had everything I wanted. Next it was off to the picture company. They handed me 2 photos of me crossing the finish line and will be sending me a link to all the photos they got of me during the race.

Now I needed to do some laundry. This hotel had 324 rooms and no laundry room. So I ended up walking 3 miles to the laundry mat and 3 miles back. My legs were surprisingly fresh. On the way back I stopped off at a diner and grabbed 2 hotdogs with onions. Boy did those taste good.

The weather had warmed up and I wanted to see what I had left in my legs so I went for a 4 mile run on the beach. It felt great. I had already done a lot today so I took a 1.5 hour nap. Then it was time for the awards banquet. I attended and they showed a video of the race. Guess who made the video? MOI.. On my first loop I was getting interviewed by a guy camera guy on the back of a motor cycle.

I found out that I finished 27 of 239 men in the 50 - 54 age category.

So now I know that I can compete with these Tri people and hold my own. I belong!!

Thanks to everyone who helped me in my journey. There was a lot of you and you know who you are. Thanks again!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Florida Ironman Day 3...T – 12 hours and counting

I am nervous, very nervous. This morning after waking up I did a quick X Stretch and felt wonderful. Then it was time to try my luck in the water. I stepped outside and took a look at the ocean. Holy S%#@%!!!! The water looked like something you’d see in a horror show. The good news is that the sun was shining, but the wind was blowing causing to the ocean to have white caps for as far as the eyes could see.

OH well, let’s give it a try. I slipped on my wet suit and dove in, or should I say I had to walk out 100 yards through the breakers to be able to start swimming so I would get killed by the waves. There was one other guy out there and it looked like he was struggling too. Then there was another problem, my goggles were leaking…NOOOOO!!! But I did plan for such a problem and brought a second new pair. Anyway I continued swimming for about 15 minutes and gave up. It was just to ruff. I headed in and sat on the beach for a couple of minutes trying to figure out what I was going to do if this weather continues tomorrow. I came up with NOTHING!!!

Time to head back to the room and make one of my now famous protein shakes with my not so secret recipe. After that I just hung out for a couple of hours and tinkered with my bike. That’s when I realized that I was not able to get my pump to work with the front 808 wheel. Off to Ironman Wheels I went with my pump and bike. They had the same issue and made some adjustments to the wheel and I was now good to go.

Well then let’s go for a ride. So I put on one of my aero suits and stopped dead when I stuck my head out the door. It was still about 45 degrees out sided. Back in I went and got a set of arm warmers. Heck I’m from NE and we’re tough. I went out and got a good 10 miles in at a fair pace.

Back at the hotel I grabbed some lunch, a Graham PB&J Special with some grapes and a Gatorade. Yum.

Now it was time to start organizing all the transition bags and special needs bags. Thank god I created lists for each thanks to Randy Uram’s starter list he sent me a couple of weeks ago. I also did all the final tweaks to my bike and applied all the numbers to all my equipment. This whole production took several hours. I checked and re-checked everything. Leave nothing to chance I always say.

By 2 PM it was time to put my bike over in T1 and hand off my 2 transition bags. First thing I needed to do is make sure that I would have access to the bags tomorrow morning because I still have to add some PB&J sandwiches to each (fuel of the gods.

After racking the bike it was time to take one more look at the ocean. S@%$@ it’s worst then this morning. After talking to a couple people they assured me that it will calm down by the morning. I sure hope so because I don’t want to DNF in the swim.

OK time to get some grub. I walked back down to the little place I was at the other night and got some more chicken and veggies. My favorite pre-race fuel. As I walked along the beach on the way back from the restaurant I received a call from 2 friends, David Katz and Matt Carroll. They were commuting together from work. They busted my chops for a couple of minutes and wished me luck.

Now it’s time to chill out. I created another list of all the things I need to do tomorrow morning. Which includes making sure I bring my water bottles out to the bike, and adding stuff to my Transition, and special needs bags.

I’m as ready as I can be. I most likely will not send out another report until Sunday. All systems are go, I’m locked and loaded. NEVER GIVE UP!!!!

Forecast for tomorrow...Pain Heavy At times!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Florida Ironman Day 2

Day 2 started off a little later then day 1. I was able to get a solid 8 hours sleep and woke up at 4:30 AM CDT. This is good because that’s the time I need to be up on race day. I started my day off with an easy P90X workout, XStretch. This is an hour of slow easy stretching.

Next I thought about going out and doing an easy swim but the rain storm from yesterday was still hanging around and making the ocean look pretty bad. So plan B was to go for a run. I headed out onto the marathon course and ran easy. There were tons of people out on the course and I ended hooking up with a guy from Tampa. We ran easy 8 minute miles and covered 8 miles. I finished feeling refreshed but very wet.

I then cleaned up and it was time to make breakfast. Protein shake. Over the past 6 months I’ve kind of developed my own special formula. 8 oz skim milk, 1 whole banana, raspberries, 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 raw egg, 2 table spoons of coconut oil, and crushed ice. Blend until smooth, pour into a tall glass and enjoy a delicious frap like drink.

Next item on the schedule it was back off to the Super Walmart. Once again I was walking in the rain. I needed to get some more bread, a tall plastic cup for my protein shakes and some straws. I was successful on all accounts.

Then it was back to the expo. Things were really starting to pick up. Yesterday there weren’t many people or vendors. Today the vendors doubled and the line to get checked in was over 2 hours long. I don’t understand why it takes so long to check people in but their process is very poor. Mike O should give them some lessons.

I scanned the long line and spotted Sean Snow, coach of S2 Tri team. Sean is from Concord, NH and did Lake Placid, then went to Kona, now is here for Ironman #3 in 3 months. Next he’s off to Clearwater, Fl next week for the championship 70.3 race. He is an animal. We chatted about the race on Saturday but then got talking about Snow Shoe season. He and I are really looking forward to a change of pace.

Now it was time for lunch. PB&J was on the menu with some nice ice cold grapes. Now your might be thinking PB&J, what kind of power food is that. Well think about it, peanut butter is high in protein. The J of choice for me is strawberry preserves, so I get a fruit and some sugar. The bread was whole wheat with a touch of honey. For me this is my perfect energy food.

After lunch the sun finally came out so it was time to get out on the bike and test out my control of the new wheel set. The wind was blowing pretty good so I started off slowly to get used to how the wind moved the bike around. After a couple of miles I was comfortable with the wheels and got down to business. The area is so flat that I was able to easily bring the speed up to 23 and hold it there for 20 miles. At the finish once again I felt light and refreshed.

Now I was taking a look at the ocean and thinking of heading out for a quick swim. I walked down to the water and stuck my feet in. The water was about 75 degrees, nice!! However, I decided to walk away and save my ocean training swim for tomorrow morning.

When I was walking back to the hotel from the water’s edge, a women stopped me and asked “you didn’t swim without a wet suit, did you”. I’m looking at her thinking that these southern folks are wimps. But then again, I am very afraid of the heat so everything is relative.

Next was the pre-race banquet and mandatory meeting. They really get the crowd going at this event. Their message was “You WILL do this”!!! That’s right there nothing negative in this message. They brought a couple people up on stage. The youngest, 18 years old. The oldest, 81 years old. The person who lost the most weight during training, 90 pounds. Lastly the person they called “The Everyday Hero”. This guy, named Jack is blind. He has a pacer on the swim who is attached to him with a rope, and rides a tandem bike, then is hooked to his pacer by another rope on the run. WOW!!!

Now it’s time for bed.

Florida Ironman Day 1

I was up at the bright hour of Dark:30 on Wednesday. Did my usual SSS and was out the door to Manchester Airport to catch a 7 AM flight to Panama City Fl. No traffic at that hour so everything went smooth. Had to connect through Atlanta, boy was that airport busy. Landed in Panama City Airport right on time at 11:11 AM CDT. Panama city is right on the edge of the EDT but is on Central time. So the race will start on Saturday at 8 AM EDT.

I gathered my bags. OH BTW, never fly Delta. My one bag I checked weighted 66 pounds. Which was 16 pounds over weight. $90 thank you very much!!!! WTF!!!! I asked if I get a discount because I only weight 150 pounds and most males clock in at 200+ dice.

I went out to the taxi stand. Yeah right...This airport is to small for one of those. However I asked one of the Panama Cities finest and she told me to go and stand "over there and something might come along". GREAT!!!! Did I mention it was pouring. OK, but low and behold and transport service car did show up in 2 minutes and I was on my way.

Holy cow is this area flat. The driver got me to my hotel in no time. I checked in and was off looking for my bike. I used TriBike Transport. I found them and everything was out in the rain, including my gear bag. I found my bike and bag. Next up is to go get my bike set up with a set of Zipp wheels.

I show up at the Wheel tent and give them my name. I'm not on the list...WTF!!! There was a mix up and they had me on the list for Kona. I had received a call the day before Kona. "Scott where are you, we have your wheels and we don't want you to miss the race". I had explained to them that I was doing FL, not Kona.
The good news is the guy I spoke with remembered the mistake and the guys had me set up in no time with a 808 front and a 1080 back. Nice.

Back to my hotel room to add all the pieces back onto my bike that I took off for shipping (back bottle cage, bike computer, and peddles). In no time my bike was complete. Nice.

Time to check in and go to the IM shop. Check in was the worst race check in I've ever seen. I had to go to 5 different tables to get fully checked in. What a cluster "F". It didn't help that none of the volunteers had ever done any kind of a race in their life. Off the the IM store. You could spend a lot here but I held back. I don't want this stuff if I don't complete the race.

Now it was time to round up some provisions. I knew there was a Super Walmart about .7 miles away but it was raining very hard. Oh well, looks like I'm getting wet. The good news was that I packed my rain jacket at the last minute so it wasn't to bad. You know jeans weight a lot when they are soaking wet. I bought some bread, eggs, bagels, milk, gatorade, water, bananas, and raspberries. Made the walk back to the hotel.

Time to hook up some dinner. There is a place about 1/3 of a mile down the road that I walked to in the pouring rain. I got some buffalo chicken wings then a chicken meal. That hit the spot.

After all the travel and walking I turned in early. Today is a new day and I hope to get a run and ride in. Hopefully the rain will stop.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

8 days left until Ironman Florida

I really can't believe that after almost 1 year of training for this event I'm finally on the door step of actually running it. I am very tired of training. I've put many things in my life on hold for this selfish pursuit. I can honestly say this will be a "one and done" event. I've neglected far to many things at this point and need to refocus my energies on what's really important in life. Like family, food (I can't wait to have a big bowl of ice cream, or a couple of donuts), and fun. I'm finding that I have a very short fuse these days. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

At the same time I'm extremely excited to get on that plane and head down to Panama City, FL. This has been a life long goal of mine. From the first time I saw the Hawaiian Ironman on TV I decided that one day I would compete in one of these races. I've always believed that you can do anything that you set your mind to. For and Ironman it takes 4 things. First you have to have the burning desire, without that you will not do all the training required and will cut workout short or skip them all together. While doing some of my longer bricks, many times I would think that I was tired and should stop, but I just kept telling myself that I would only be cheating myself and "NEVER GIVE UP" (more to come on this). Second, you need the time. The amount of time you spend training is insane. I've been averaging 3 hours a day on week days and 5 hours a day on weekends. That doesn't leave much time for anything else. Third, you need a good support system. My wife has been fantastic. I've been generating mountains of laundry with up to 3 workouts a day. She has also been great keeping me fueled, with all the special nutrition I need. I think she's running to the store 2 - 3 times a week. I can't thank her enough. Fourth, you need the financial means to do an Ironman. It's not cheap. I started adding it up the other day and total ended up being.....WTF, WAY TO MUCH!!!!! An example of this is I dropped my bike off at a local shop where it is to be picked up and transported to FL for me the other day. They checked it over and called me up. "Mr Graham, we have some bad news, your front forks are cracked and need to be replaced". Oh SH#$%@$@. So now I have to spend a couple hundred dollars more or risk a catastrophic failure.

Good thing I'm not doing any more of these things because they are so tough to enter, but the WTC who puts these on came out with a new program yesterday. You join their Access Club for 1 year and you can enter early before anyone else for the small fee of $1000, and then you have to pay the $550 to enter the race.....WTF!!! Talk about corporate greed. They have made this so the average person is not able to afford these races.

Goals in order if priority

1. Finish at all cost. I worked so long and so hard at this I can't back down. My father taught me many years ago what the secret of life was "NEVER GIVE UP". I've always competed with this in mind. You just never know what is going to happen. Look at the Red Sox in 2004. I now pass this learning on to my kids and I think it is sinking in with at least 1 or 2 of them, the 3rd I'm not so sure of.

2. Finish in 13 hours. With all my training I think this is the most realistic goal. My targets are a 2 hour swim (this is very conservative), 6 hour bike, and a 5 hour run.

3. Finish in 12 hours. I'd have to be having a very good day but this is possible. The way it breaks down is a 1:45 swim, 5:45 bike and a 4:30 run.

4. Finish in 11 hours. I would have to have the day of a life time. 1:30 swim, 5:30 bike, 4 hour marathon. I can do any one of these three alone but adding the three together will be a real challenge. I doubt this will happen.

My focus for the next couple of days is to maintain my fitness, I can only do harm now if I try "cramming for the test", and stay relaxed. During the race I'm going to stay within myself and never push it until that last 13 miles. At that point I don't think I'll anything left in me to push but you never know.

If you want to track me on race day my # is 1883 and you can go to or

Monday, October 25, 2010

12 days left until Ironman Florida

It's been one long year of training. I can honestly say that I've never trained and prepared myself for something so throughly. It all started back last November when I noticed that the entry for Florida Ironman was opening up right after the race on November 6th. I was at the keyboard and ready to enter my info, but alas they sold out in just a few minutes and I was on the outside looking in. Then I noticed that there was another way in. It was called the Executive Challenge. For as very large fee and if you were a high ranking person is a company, you were in!! I signed up. Then a couple of days later I noticed another way in. The Community Chest entry. Once again the price tag was higher then the normal fee but no where near the Executive Challenge fee. So once again I put in my entry. Funny thing happened as it always does in these matters, the day after I put my Community Chest entry in the people from the Executive Challenge called me up and said I was accepted. Thanks, but NO THANKS.

Now I had to start pulling together all the logistics.
Hotel, no problem the host hotel still had rooms. IN

Flight: big problem, nobody seemed to be going to that airport. WTF!!! After a couple of days poking around I found out that they were changing the name of the airport and 3 letter code over the summer so that is why none of the airline had it listed. I was able to get a flight with Delta out of Manchester NH. Good I don't have to deal with Boston!!

Bike transportation: I contacted the TriBike Transportation company and they had space left and they would pick up my bike at a local bike shop. Done!!

Training Program. With the help of a friend (Randy Uram) I selected Gale Bernhardt's training program. It's a proven method and seemed to fit well with my skill set.

Learn to swim: Big, BIg, BIG problem. I wasn't just bad I was the WORST. Now you're thinking "how can that be". To give you an idea of how bad I was, in one drills I was suppose to be kicking my way across the pool using a kick board. Sounds easy right? Not for me. As I kicked with everything I had, I was slowly moving BACKWARDS!!! This was going to be a problem. In addition I couldn't go 50 yards without stopping to rest. I needed help. I signed up with a local health club with a pool. Then I signed up for the Master swim program. My instructor was very supportive and very patient. I would struggle at most of the drills but kept telling myself that I'm investing my time and sooner or later it would start coming together. It took over 6 months before I started feeling OK, not good but at least OK in the water. I've had good days and I've had days were I could only swim 300 yards before getting out of the pool in disgust. Now after almost 1 year of training I've done 2 mile swims and felt great afterwards.

Biking: Now I've biked many miles over the years but never 112 miles at one time. And surely haven't done that kind of mileage with out drafting off other riders. I needed to put in a lot of lonely miles. And I did. A couple of weeks ago I had a day of "Firsts"
1. I bike the furthest ever, 118 miles
2. I did this without putting my foot down once.
3. I did it alone.
4. I did the first 100 miles in under 5 hours. That's a 20 MPH average.
5. I felt great after the ride.

Running: Well I think I know how to run a marathon but having to swim and bike before doing it would be a test of mind over body. My long run to date is a 25 mile run in 3:15. I felt great after it. This is thanks to my many friends who meet me at the bright hour of Dark:30 on Saturdays to do 1, 2 or 3 loops with me. These guys have been fantastic. David Katz, Peter Floss, Tom Skahen, Matt Carroll, Norman Kim, and Bryan Widmann. Here's a photo after my longest run

Core strength: It's so important to build up your core for an Ironman and that's just what I've been doing. One and a half years ago I did the P90X training program while getting ready for the Boston Marathon. I decided I'd do the same thing for this race. It's working, I've dropped a ton of fat and gained some muscle and increased me endurance exponentially. The down side is that with P90X training and the Ironman training combined I've been working out an average of 21 hours a week.

Family: Here is where things get tough because I couldn't totally control it. My wife, Christine has be SUPER. She hasn't complained once. She understands how important this is to me and has encouraged me every step of the way. I can't say enough about it.

Nutrition: I had to learn how to eat while exercising. I tend to bonk in most distance races and that would be deadly in an Ironman. I seeked out advise from 2 friends. Both have completed Ironman triathlons and knows what it takes. Bill Rozen and Randy Uram have been very helpful in developing a plan while I'm training and racing. I feel really confident about it.

Last Saturday, 14 days before the race was a big test. I would be doing what I called a "Monster Brick", a long swim, bike and run. I was able to swim 2 miles in 1:15, then jump on the bike and go 90 miles in 4:30 then finish up on the run with 12 miles in 1:35. WOW!!! I can only hope that I'm even close to these speeds come race day. But my plan is to go out a little slower in each to make sure I can finish.

I'm getting down to just a few days be for I head out to Panama City, FL. To make sure I don't forget anything I created a list. A very LONG LIST:

Prior to leaving Get

Batteries for bike computer (3 x CR2032)
Reflective tape for running shirt
Black Sharpe
Regular baggies
Snack size zip lock baggies for electrolytes and Advil
Re-align bike computer.

Bike maintenance

Take Xwing off
Take pedals off
Bring to Fast splits 622 Washington st Newton on Thursday 11/28

Bike Bag Pack:
Write Name on bag with tele #
Red helmet
CO2 cartridges
Chain whip tool
Cassette release tool
Wrench to install Xwing
Alan wrench set
T9 oil
Endurolytes tablets
Vial for endorolytes
Protein powder
GU (lots)
Hammer Gel (lots)
2 spare tubes

Pack in my Blue Seventy bag:

Wet suit
White goggles
Race number Strap
Biking shoes
Biking gloves
Aero helmet
Biking shorts
Blue Seventy biking top
Racing flats
Acidotic singlet (white)
Blue and white racing shorts
Running socks
Sun glasses (Rudy Mask)
Ironman headband
Running visor
Body Glide
Itouch charger
Laptop charger
Running watch
HR monitor
Bike Computer
Electrical tape

Pack in regular suit case:

Bike Pump
5 pair shorts
6 pairs of underwear
6 pairs of running socks
Sweat suit for pre race
Biking jacket
Arm warmers
Toe warmers
Sweat shirt
Biking shorts
Tri suit
Coconut oil
Protein Powder
6 water bottles
Running shorts
Small towel
Tooth brush
Advil Liquid gel caps

Buy at grocery store:

Peanut butter
Strawberry Preserves
Orange Gatorade

On Bike:

2 bottles of Perpetuem with 3 scoops each
Water bottle with Orange Gatorade
15 GU’s
Endurolytes in vial

T1 bag:

Biking shorts
Blue Seventy top
Sun glasses (Rudy Mask)
Head Band
Aero Helmet
Race Belt with number
HR monitor
PB&J sandwich

Bike Special Needs bag:

2 Bottles of Perpetuem (3 scoops each)
Spare tubes
Spare CO2 cartridges
2 PB&J sandwiches

T2 Bag:

Racing Flats
Run sunglasses
Acidotic top with reflective tape
Blue and white shorts
2 PB&J sandwich
Orange Gatorade
GU’s 3

Run Special needs bag:

Bottle of Perpetuem (2 scoops)
Orange Gatorade
Long Sleeve shirt
GU’s 3
2 PB & J sandwich

Saturday morning things to do:

4 AM - wake up – SSS
4:30 AM Protein shake
5 AM Bagel w/peanut butter
Also start drinking water and Gatorade
5:30 AM go to bike
6 Put body glide on
6:30 AM put wet suit on
7 AM GO, GO, GO!!!!!

Things to remember when racing:

Relax during the swim..RELAX
NEVER PUSH…stay within myself at all times
Stand on the bike every 20 minutes
Eat and drink often on bike and run

Smile for the camera at the finish line.

Call Chris after I finish!!

So there you have it. The hay is almost completely in the barn and I'm ready to have some fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Double Secret Training Continues

I've been racking up the miles over the last several months. In fact, this past weekend I did the most training hours I've ever done in one weekend. The funny thing is I don't feel tight at all. More on that later.

Friday was an easy day leading up to the weekend and only consisted of 1:15 of weights and Ab workout with a 1 hour easy bike. No problem 2:15 in the bank.

Saturday started out bright and early. 5AM, which means I needed to break out the head lamp. I met 2 friends down at East Boston Camp (EBC) in Westford where we were scheduled to run 3, 1 hour loops. The first loop gave us just over 7 miles. We then hooked up with another group of runners and by the end of the 2nd loop we had 15 miles in the bank. After the second stop for fuel my right leg started to lock up. I wasn't cramping but was not that fluid anymore. The third loop got me back to EBC in exactly 3 hours and 23 miles in the bank. Great way to start the day. I headed home to clean up then off to my daughters Softball game. After that it was on to cutting the lawn. This family stuff is really cutting into my workout time. Next it was swim time. I wanted to do an open water swim but didn't want to travel all the way over to Walden. So I headed over to Nabnasset Lake in Westford. I circled the entire lake which I mapped out to be 2 miles in 1:12. I'm starting to really feel good about my swimming. One year ago I couldn't do 100 yards without stopping to rest. No rest for the family guy here, next I was driving my 2 daughters to their social events. Now it's 8 PM and I'm off to do my last workout. Thank god this one was an easy stretching routine for 1 hour. At the end of the day I asked myself if I could have done a 100 mile bike ride and they answer was "YES", WOW I'm in good shape. Saturdays total 5:12

Sunday I planned on getting up and being on the bike just after it is light enough to bike without a head light. Which would have been around 6:30 AM But at 6:30 AM I found myself still in a nice warm bed. Time to get going. I found myself on the road at 7:05 with winter gear on. It was 39 degrees at my house at the start. I needed a 5:30 ride and was looking to put in a century or more. I also wanted to simulate the Florida Ironman course. So I headed down to the Rivah and did a 10.1 mile loop that took me through Chelmsford, Tyngsborough, and Lowell. I did this loop 9 times. Talk about boring but I was able to stay in the aero bars most of the time and only put my foot down a couple of times for lights. I stopped only once because my fingers wouldn't operate correctly in retrieving my Gu from my back pockets with the lobster gloves on. In all I was out for 5:30 minutes with 5:23 of moving time and covered 102 miles. I got home and knew I was spent. There was no way I could do a marathon after that ride. I'm hoping that all the work I did the day before was the cause and not just the bike ride. Once again family time started and I was off to other activities. It wasn't until 6:30 PM that I was able to get my last workout of the weekend in, with 1:15 minutes of lifting and ab work. Sunday total 6:38.

Weekend total: 14:05

My weekly total is up around 21 hours per. Boy do I sleep good these days.

Why do I feel loose? While doing all this ironman specific training I've been doing P90X for the last 6 weeks, which incorporates loads of stretching with each workout and Yoga at least one day a week. My flexibility has been improving while my work load has been increasing.

Next weekend is the peak of training and I'll be adding on another hour of training.

I sure can't wait until this race is in the books. I just passed up donuts. Now that hurt.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Presidential Traverse...aka....Death March report

Mt Madison climb

So what brings a person to do something like this? Well in my case it goes back to February where a group of us had a great idea to run the 50th Mt Washington Road Race. We all put our names into the lottery and formed a “Group” , which we hoped would all but guarantee us entry into the race. Now I’ve run this race 4 times before and at each attempt all I could say at the top was “Get me off this f’n pile of rocks”. So after the lottery was held we looked up our names and found out that we had “won” the lottery. That’s right our names did not get picked so we didn’t have to run up the “Rock Pile”. So what was our big adventure going to be? One of the guys, Tim Smith, comes up with the idea of doing the Presidential Traverse. So 6 of us decided to take up the challenge,

Tim Smith aka Shutter Bug & T-shirt design king
Joe Karner aka Mr. Organization
Ken Rousseau aka Eagle Scout
Keith Spinney aka Trekking pole challenged
Scott Graham aka Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it.
Glenn Swanbon aka No Show

So what is the Presidential Traverse? It is a hike (scramble, crawl and fall) across the Presidential mountains in the Mt Washington National Forest. We decided to take the North to South route, starting up at Appalachia on Rt 2 and ending at Crawford Notch on Rt 302 in NH. This trail crosses 9 mountains, over a 20 mile span and has 8500 feet of elevation gain. Now you may be thinking that 20 miles for me should be easy, and you’d be correct if this was what I would consider a normal hike. This was NOT NORMAL!!!!! All the books and web sites that we read about this hike stated that it should take us 14 hours and 10 minutes to complete. For 20 miles? Come on now, back in this groups hay day we could cover that distance in a little over 2 hours and Keith could do it in less than 2 hours. WTF were people doing along the way?

So we started the planning. Joe was our lead man who spent countless hours researching different routes, getting us a place to stay in Woodstock at his sister’s cabin, arranging food, and countless other details. As a group we must have traded 100’s of e-mail on all sorts of details including:

Water purification
Fleece coats
Shoes (we were very obsessive about this)
Food to carry
Escape routes
Car placements
Car pooling
Hike Estimates
Strategy of how to pace ourselves
Who we were going to eat if the going got rough
Getting the 3 day pass from our wives.
Insect repellent
Rain Jackets
Rain Pants
Shoes (there we go again)
First Aid
Parking Passes

We even met as a group at Joe’s house a couple of weeks before to get agreement on the timing, route, and list of things we needed to bring. Were we anal about this? Yes, and for a good reason. All of us had run up Mt Washington and we all found it very tough and the weather to be horrible, and that was on the road!!! We weren’t going to be on any roads and would be longing for one at many points during the hike. We had all hiked together last fall and it was rough on all of us, but this hike had twice the distance, three times the elevation and three times the number of peaks. In addition we would be above tree line for almost 75% of the hike. But we had a plan, an audacious plan. Everything was set.

Keith for several months had warned us that he may need to pull the rip cord once on top of Mt Washington because of his knee. We hoped that he was not going to have to take the escape route we had planned because he was our food if the going got rough. Our first real speck of trouble was with Glenn bowing out a couple of days before. His knee was giving him trouble and he didn’t want to risk the trip. That’s was too bad. Glenn is always good to have on these men’s weekends.

On Thursday four of us (Keith, Joe, Tim and I) meet up at the Visitor Center up on Rt 112 to purchase parking passes and drop cars off at the Appalachian Mountain Clubs parking lots at the Cog rail way (our bail out point) and at Crawford Notch (our final destination). After completing our car shuffle we went over to Joe’s sisters place in Woodstock to make dinner and put together some food for the hike. Soon Ken would show up and Joe cooked us a fine dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. To help pay for our stay we agreed to do some work around the cabin. OMG the work that was planned was to move some rocks to predetermined locations on the property. We were having fun with this but it was back breaking work. We also spend a couple of hours sitting around drinking adult beverages and laughing about past adventures. We all crashed early, 9:30, because the alarm would be sounding at 3:30 AM.

At around 2:30 I was wide awake and went into the living room and just relaxed in the dark. At 3:30 sharp alarms started ringing all over the cabin. Everyone was up and ready to hit the road at 3:45. Not bad. We had pre-made bagel and egg sandwiches the night before and feasted on the ride. We arrive at our starting point at 4:50 AM….NOOOO we are already running 20 minutes behind schedule. By the time we got all of our gear, took pictures and answered Mother Natures call, it was 5:05. We needed to get going. The very last thing we wanted to be doing is hiking off the mountains after dark. So Joe lead our merry band UP. It was still dark and we needed to use head lamps for the first 30 minutes. Come to think of it, I lent one to Keith and I forgot to collect it after the hike. So we started up towards Madison Hut and a good pace. We tried to take it easy but I think we were all a little excited and the pace was quick. We did make a couple of stops along the way so Keith could leave his mark along the trail. We had all dressed light but the effort of going from 1300 feet to 4700 made all of us sweat up a storm. Then the trees opened up and we were at the hut and just about at tree line. The weather was much different. So different, that we all threw on jackets and hats. We decided to leave our packs at the hut and make the final ascent up Mt Madison without the extra weight.

As we started our climb another pair of hikers were right with us. They were experienced and managed the final climb like it was nothing. I on the other hand was nervous and starting to doubt my decision to do this hike. Mt Madison to me is not really a mountain as it is just a big pile of rocks that happened to be stacked up really, really high. As we climbed the wind really started picking up and I was afraid that I was going to loose my Mt Washington road race hat. By the time we hit the top I was physically shaking from fear of falling or getting my leg caught between the rocks and getting injured. The top was nothing more then rocks piled on top of each other. The view was great and we had made it up to the top in 2 hours and 30 minutes, wow that almost 2 hours faster then the hiking books predicted. As I looked over at Mt Washington I could see the auto road. I was longing for that road at this point and will never complain about how steep it is. As we climbed down I really started thinking about turning around and heading right back to the car. I was scared sh@tless as I crab walked back down to Madison hut. This was going to be a lot tougher then I expected. Then it got even tougher!!

After a quick (well almost, we had to wait for Keith to leave his mark in the Madison Hut bathroom), stop we were off to Mt Adams. Now we were above tree line for good and there really isn’t any hiking trails like I’ve known all my life. You know the kind with a nice soft pine needle surface and shady trees. No, this was just a pile of rocks you were walking on and had to focus on every single step or risk injury. To follow the so called trails we had to navigate using cairns, which are pyramid shaped piles of rocks every 100 yards or so that are maintained by the Appalachian Mtn Club. As we looked up Mt Adams we realized that the trail we originally decided to take up was very steep (Airline) so we went around the south sided of the mountain and once again dropped our packs and scrambled up the mountain. Once again the wind was howling and made for an unpleasant stay at the top. Once again I was the last one down the mountain. I was seriously considering heading back to the car once again but Mt Jefferson was next and didn’t look to bad. Boy was I wrong.

As we approached Jefferson, the trail went straight UP. Now we were climbing nearly vertical and were having trouble locating the next cairn. It was so tough that we took a break half way up. Once we hit the top we got socked in with some clouds and couldn't really see a thing. And of course the wind was killing us. This was supposed to be fun….NOT!!! I was suffering and couldn’t believe we were only 1/3 of the way done. The only good thing about Jefferson was the route we took made the decent was much easier.

Mt Clay was next. This is a small peak, in fact it’s not really considered a mountain because there is not enough elevation gain, but it did get our heart rates up.

Now comes the high point in the route, Mt Washington, standing at 6288 feet, which is 5000 feet higher then we started. As we looked up at the “Rock Pile” we could see that it was socked in with clouds, so our views weren’t going to be too good. But as we looked across the mountain range that we still needed to cover we could see that the 2nd half of our hike was going to be “relatively” easier then the first half. Yeah right!! We started are ascent. Joe took it out hard with Keith and I in fast pursuit. Tim and Ken were taking it a little easier. When we hit the Cog Rail we decided to just skirt the tracks and jump the auto road for the final 100 feet of climbing. Joe set a pace that I could not hold and was first on top. I was 2nd and Keith was DFL. Tim and Ken decided to stay on the trail and summitted shortly after us. The top was packed with people who had either drove up or took the Cog…what a bunch of wimps!!! I’ve now been to the top 5 times and always made it under my own power. We all grabbed a bite to eat. In my case I ended up eating my 5th peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We refilled our water bottles and headed out.

We were searching for the Crawford Path down and saw a sign for it. We headed in that direction and after making one small detour we were on the right path, jumping from boulder to boulder. The wind was 50+ miles an hour and the temperature was in the mid 30’s. Nice summer weather we were having.

Our next target was Mt Monroe, by way of Lakes of the Clouds Hut. We did a quick stop at the hut and off we went up Monroe. This was difficult but nothing compared to Madison, Adams and Jefferson.

Then on to Franklin. Once again not to bad. With 7 done we were off to Eisenhower. From a distance this didn’t look to bad but as we finally reached its’ base we realized that we had some work cut out for us. This peak required us to do some real climbing up very steep paths but once we had about 200 feet of vertical left the trail was easy and even had log steps in places to make our footing much more consistent. Once again great views with high winds. At this point Ken was starting to Bonk and while we waited for him Keith suggested that we help lighten Ken’s load by each of use taking some of the contents of his pack. Then someone pointed out that this seemed like an Obama deal where we were all going to carry the load for someone else. It sounded really funny then but we were all very tired. This must have been the yuppie mountain, because there were even log ladders in sections. 8 down 1 to go.

Mt Pierce was the last on our trek and was kind of a let down. This peak is not above the tree line and it was tough to tell when you reached the top. Any way we were done…WRONG!!!

Now the toughest part of the hike was about to occur. We had been hiking for 17+ miles and only had 3.1 miles to go. But all 3.1 miles were down hill, and it wasn’t on a smooth pine needle path. Once again we had to step from rock to rock. Now this wasn’t a race but Keith had poked fun at me all day long about this so I figured I’d make sure I got down off the mountain before he did. I led the group and set a fast pace. I was on a mission. I quick stepped and even jogged in places to try and get down as quickly as possible. After about 2 miles I noticed that I was starting to bonk, but I just ignored it and kept pushing. Finally after 1.5 hours I finished the 3.1 mile trek down. The only problem was I popped out on Rt 302 and not at the parking lot which was about ½ mile away. DAM!!! Now I was running UP 302 back to the parking lot. Thankfully l got back to my car before Keith arrived. I won!!! We ended up taking 13 hours and 30 minutes with breaks. No speed record but we did beat book time.

Soon, Joe showed up followed by Keith then Tim and the guy who really toughed it out, Ken. Now we had to play the car shuffle. The 5 of us got in my van then dropped Keith, Joe and Tim off at the Cog to get Keith’s car. Ken and I headed up and picked up his car, and then we headed back to the cabin. 2 hours after finishing the hike we were finally taking a shower. Did that ever feel good!!

After cleaning up it was time to head into town (Woodstock) for a victory dinner. We ended up at Truant’s and filled ourselves with cold drinks and fine food.

Will I do this hike again? NO, NO, NEVER, NO MORE!!! But I’ve said that about a lot of things in my life.

Today is Monday and my legs have had 2 full days of rest and my quads are still in pain. WTF!!!

Next year I’ll suggest something like a whale watch or really go nut and take a garden tour.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Double Secret Training!!!

OK, I've been out of touch for quite some time now. That's because I've had my focus entirely on the biggest BHAG of my life. First of all I should tell you what BHAG stands for. Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Every year I challenge myself to achieve something that I had never down before. This is sort of like a Bucket list. As you get older this gets tougher to accomplish.

Last year my BHAG was to run 50 races in the year I turned 50. Well I got to race 46 and I was toast. It was not to be!! But I'm OK with that. If you don't set goals, any path will get you to where you want to be. So I was way ahead of most people.

This year my focus is on completing an IronMan. Notice I did not write the word RACE. My goal is to finish and live to talk (and of course write) about it. Now that my goal was set I needed to gain entry into one of the races. In road races this is an easy task. In IronMan races this is the first challenge you face. These races fill up fast. So you have to be quick on the key board right when the entry process starts or be at the event the year prior. I was on the key board. The event I chose is the Florida IronMan. Why this race? Well from the course profile it seems to have the flattest course. I'm not a very good hill climber running and even worst on a bike. I seem to be very good at setting a pace and holding it for a very long time so this course plays to my strength. They say that the hilliest part of the race is the swim!!! Then again this creates yet another problem.

You see I'm a very poor swimmer. How poor you wonder? Well at the half ironman races I've completed in I'm almost dead last out of the water. Yes out of 1600 swimmers in one of the last events I did I was 1582 out of the water. I swim like a rock, but that wouldn't be fair to rocks.

So my next challenge was to learn how to swim. I signed up at a local swim club in Westford and the instructor has worked wonders for me. I'm not fast but I'm improving. This has not been with out some hard work and a lot of laughs. There was one class where Ivana (the instructor) was trying to get me to kick correctly. I kept telling her that my kick was not important in an Ironman but she was determined. After an hour of working with her I think I finally got her to forget about my kick. You see, during the drills as I kicked I was going backwards. Ivana kept saying "that is not possible". Well it is and now I just kick to maintain balance. So my time when we first started was 3 minutes per 100 yards, now it's down to 1:50. I'm still slow but I'm much faster then I was. Thanks Ivana.

I've already booked my flight, booked transportation for my bike, and set hotel reservations. This Ironman stuff takes a lot of planning and $'s.

I also started a 26 week training program for and Ironman. The problem I've been having is it is way to easy for me at my level of fitness. I'm chomping at the bit to when I have to do "brick" workouts and other 2 a day work outs.

The race is 4 months from today. I hope I'm on the right track.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boston Marathon Race Report

By taking great risks you can reap great rewards…or great misery.  Time will tell


After months of training through what I consider the worst type of weather most of the time (35 degrees and raining), heck I even did a 21 miler in that weather.  I was ready to toe the line.


Friday afternoon I picked up my number and managed to get out of the expo and only spend $5 on GU.  Saturday I headed back into Boston to work at the expo where I handed out the tech t-shirts to the official entrants.  Everything went well and this time I got out of the expo without spending a dime.  So far so good.  On Sunday my plan was just to take it easy and hang out.  However I needed to coach my daughter’s softball team practice in the morning.  No big deal because it was sprinkling so it was a very short practice.  Later on Peter Floss and I drove back into Boston to drop one car off across the street from the hotel we would be using after the race.  We were there and back in 1.5 hours.  The weekend leading up to the race went like clock work.  Sunday night I managed to fall asleep by 9 as usual but was wide awake by 2 AM (as usual).  I did manage to get back to sleep by 3 and woke again at 5….Perfect.  I felt good.


I cleaned up, downed a protein shake, downed 3 Advils and was out the door.  First stop was the Country Store to purchase 3 news papers for the bus ride.  Second stop, the bagel shop for 2 multi-grain bagels.  Third stop was to Matt Carrols house for the scheduled 6:05 pickup.  Fourth stop, Mike O’Connor’s house for the 6:10 pickup (I was late by 2 minutes).  Last stop was back to my house were Peter Floss was waiting to drive us to the bus.  We loaded up his car and were off to Lowell to pick up the Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR) bus.  In a short time the bus was rolling and we were in Hopkinton in no time.  Taking the team bus is absolutely the best way to get to the marathon.  In addition the team rents a couple of rooms at the Park Plaza hotel so after the race you can get cleaned up and have something to eat and drink.  Anyway we arrived in Hopkinton at 8:15, late by my standards but they wouldn’t let me drive the bus.  For the first time in 20+ years of taking the GLRR bus I got in the team photo, ugh, I hate these things.  Next I headed over to where the BAA buses were dropping off people.  I was looking for a good friend, Melissa Weiksnar who was volunteering.  Melissa is one of the most determined people I know and has been working on a Boston qualifier for a couple of years now.  I’m sure she’ll get her chance one of these days.  I really wanted to find her because she tragically lost her daughter, Amy, the day after Christmas.  I wanted Melissa to know that I would be thinking of Amy as I past by BC where she was a student.  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate her and headed back to the bus to get ready.  At, 9:05 it was “GO time”  I was all changed up into my racing gear, gloves, and pin with Phil Riley’s initials on it.  Phil had passed away the prior week.  Phil was coach of the Stoneham track team and was out on a run with the team when he suffered a heart attack, a week later he was gone.  Phil was 58 and was a highly competitive runner.  I had running 100’s of times with him and his wit and knowledge of running made the miles go by fast. Phil was a coach, mentor and most of all a friend.  I will truly miss him. Other things I had with me were a bottle of Gatorade, 3 GU packets, 3 Advil’s, a throw away shirt and a 50 gallon trash bag on to stay warm in.  As I was leaving the bus who was standing there?  No other then Melissa!!   I was so happy to see her and gave her a big bear hug and told her that I would be thinking of Amy.  We also decided that we needed to get together for a run after I heal up from the race.  She wished me good luck and I was heading off to the starting line with a smile on my face. 


I started the ½ mile jog to the starting line.  Now I’ve been doing this race for more then 20 years so I know the quickest way to get from the high school to the center, but the police wanted me to take the LONG way.  I wasn’t buying it and just ran on past them.  I wasn’t going to go any further then I need to that day.  I got to the corrals and located #3 and was the first runner to enter it, in fact I was the first runner in all the corrals.  I took a seat in the front and just relaxed.  At 9:30 it was time to take the 3 Advil’s and wash them down with the Gatorade.  Soon there were runners all around and the excitement was building.  I met a whole bunch of first time Boston participants who were really fired up and were looking to go sub 3.  I thought to myself that sub 3 was a little rich for me and a 3:10 was a better target based on all my training.  Well we’ll just have to see how this plays out.  The national anthem was sung and 2 fighter jets did a fly over a few seconds later.  I think they were in Boston in 3 minutes.  Oh to be young and fast!!!   Now it was really GO TIME!!!  I ate one of the GU’s and stuffed the other 2 in my gloves for later.  I ripped off my trash bag and threw off my shirt.  I was ready!!!


With 15 seconds to go they had not dropped the ropes dividing the corrals.  The runners started chirping at the officials, and with seconds to spare they had the ropes down.  The gun was fired, and we were off in a couple of seconds.  It took me 1 minute and 14 seconds to reach the starting line but I was in full stride in no time.  I was feeling light and fast.  It was at that point I decided to risk it all and go for sub 3 hours.  Now this may sound like a foolish decision but I felt I had the endurance, the question was, did I have the speed?  Also the group of people I train with on bikes and runs have a little side betting competition every year to see what order we’d finish in.  Now there are 70+ people in this group so there were a lot of opinions.  Based on how each of us trained the finish order should have been  Peter Floss, myself, Matt Carroll, Mikael Taveniku and last but not least Mike O’Connor.   Pete has been training like mad man.  He has been killing me all winter long on training runs.  Every long run we did he would finish 5 – 10 minutes a head of me.  By all logic Pete was the big dog to beat.  Matt had trained well.  As a matter of a fact he followed a marathon training plan to the letter.  He was ready to go.  Mikael is just plan tough.  He didn’t really train much but was in Japan the week before doing some special Japanese Monk ultra running classes  (LOL), so he was a mystery to us.  Mike, didn’t really run more then 5 times in the last 2 months.  How the heck was he going to be able to make it through this thing?  He had be injured and called me up on Saturday saying that he needed a lift over to the bus on Monday.  I was shocked, the last time he ran with me was 3 weeks before and he only managed 200 yards before stopping.  He was in serious trouble.  So that is how the logical order for our group was derived.   Then there was the smart money betting, which changed the order to Scott, Pete, Matt, Mikael and Mike.  I guess I just seem to get really lucky every year at Boston and always finish first for the group no matter how poor I trained or how good other people trained.  Time will tell.


What follows is my mile spits


Mile      Mile Splits

1          06:46.3  WOW I got off to a good start

2          06:29.5  That was fast but I’m feeling good

3          06:31.8  That’s a little more like it

4          06:21.6  SLOW down idiot

5          06:40.3  That’s were I want to be

6          06:29.3  Damn I’m all over the place today

7          06:34.2  OK can I just hold it at this pace?

8          06:42.1  I’ll take it

9          06:39.1  Good, now just keep it together

10         06:46.5  I’m slipping

11         06:55.3  Don’t lose focus

12         06:49.0  Working back in the right direction

13         06:58.9  Slipping again and I’m getting tired

13.1      00:46.0  At the half way point I was at 1:27:30  The last time I ran a half this fast was in 2005.  I was in trouble

14         07:36.8  I decided that the world was getting very dark and I needed to slow it down.  But this was bad.

15         07:39.8  OK I guess I’m stuck with running 7:30’s or worst

16         07:05.0  Down the hill and I started feeling good

17         08:01.5  On rte 128 was my buddies they handed me some Gatorade.  I was in tough shape.

18         08:04.0  Turn the corner onto Com ave and up the hill

19         07:44.6  Pulling it back together

20         08:57.0  I think I just lost four tires on the bus..NOOOOO  Now I’m starting to worry that Pete is catching me.

21         08:39.5  There goes the roof.  But I’m thinking of Amy to get me over this hill.

22         07:32.9  Amy carries me over the hill and down along BC.  I will finish this thing!!

23         08:13.7  I slow a bit but I’m pulling it back together

24         08:09.1  Hang on

25         08:41.4  That GD hill over the Mass Pike really hurts.  I stop for a second to regroup and my legs are jello.  I wobble a few steps and start running again.

26         07:50.0  I’m picking up a little speed

26.2      01:56.0  I turn the corner on to Boylston street and I wish I could say I was flying but it was more like a slog.


100 yards before the finish line I noticed a couple of timing mats on the far left hand side.  So I hung tight to the left and ran over them.  Just after I did I hear the announcer yell out “And here comes Scott Graham from Westford Ma.”  And the crowd goes wild (maybe not the last part, but they did call out my name).   I finished in 3:13:41.  I was hurting but I was able to keep moving.  Twice the medical volunteers grabbed me and wanted me to go to the medical tent but I refused.  I quickly got my potato people blanket and my medal and started running again.  It’s 4 blocks to the hotel and if I stopped I figured I might not get going again.  Once at the Park Plaza hotel I was able to make it up to out team rooms quickly and got one of the first showers.  Then it was onto the massage tables to loosen up the muscles.  As I was getting worked on Pete came into the room and once again I was able to utter the words that my buddies hate to hear from me “What took you so long”?  Pete smiled and said he had a tough day.  But then again Pete is a big boy and I can’t imagine how he is able to move so fast.  Next to show up was a surprise, Mike OOOOO.  Holy $&!# how did he do that?  He is one tough SOB.  Now we were starting to worry about Matt.  GLRR had a PC in the room and were tracking each of the runners.  The last time we saw Matt’s status was at the 30K mark, but that was an hour ago.  Something was wrong.  On and on our watch continued, until Matt finally showed up in the hotel.  He ended up cramping and dropped out.  That’s really too bad, Matt had done everything right and obsessed over every detail.  I’m sure he is more motivated then ever and will kill the course next year.  Mikael ended up finishing but also had a lot of trouble.  I guess he got some bad water or something because he puked the last 10 miles.  But he’s tough and finished. So nobody got the exact order correct but it was fun with all the smack talk that preceded the race.  


So now I have 24 consecutive Official Boston Marathons in the bank (25 if you count the 1st one I did as a bandit).  Every now and then I think back to that first race.  I was a newlywed and had a friend who did it every year and this guy was big and tough (a 250 lb lineman).  I figured if he could do it, I could do it.  Well I ran a 3:19 that year and after the race I was sitting in the middle of Boylston street in tears.  I was mentally and physically broken.  My mother and new wife were standing over me and through the tears I told them that I would never do something that stupid to my body ever again.  As my better half says: “Stupidity repeats itself year after year”.


So now I going to take it easy for the next 2 weeks then start my training on my next BHAG “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”, I’ve signed up for the Florida Ironman.  I can’t imagine how I’m going to be able to run a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.  I guess I’ll just have to toughen up.




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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holyoke St Patrick's day 10K

I trouped out to Holyoke to hook up with my cousins the O’Connor’s at the 35th annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K.  As I drove through Chicopee I noticed that I was only about a ¼ mile from where I  lived as a kid on Pendleton Ave and figured I’d swing past the old house after the race.  Upon arriving in down town Holyoke I couldn’t help but noticing how rundown the city is.  Old mill buildings and 3 and 4 story tenement houses were in degrees of disrepair with most windows missing.  Now I’m thinking “what have I got myself into”, “where am I going to park my car”?  I drove to the location Dan O’Connor had given me “the corner of Chestnut and Dwight” and found that the O’Connor’s had commandeered a parking lot and were only letting their friends in.  Great, I will have a car after I finish this thing.  


I was greeted by Mike O’Connor, who was already enjoying a St Patrick’s day beverage, “No I’m not running, I’ve had 2 knee operations already” Mike said to me.  Soon I was saying hello to almost all of the O’Connor’s.  Tommy, Johnny, Jimmy, Judy, Irene, Michael, Danny and Kevin.  Francine, might have been there but I’m not sure.  Along with the O’Connor’s there was many of their kids (most are adults now), grandkids and many friends.  In all I’d say there were about 50+ in the group.  The weather was perfect, 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  However 75 degrees is perfect for drinking adult beverages and watching a race but not so good for running if all the running you’ve done is in below freezing temperatures or 35 degrees and pouring.  This was going to be one hot race for me.  


I asked around to see who needed to get there race number and discovered that most of the O’Connor’s weren’t running, with the exception of Danny and Kevin.  Most of their kids were running.   OK I needed to get checked in and get my number.  I jogged over to the start area and quickly checked in.  There were over 5000 people registered for this race, making it the 3rd largest race in MA.  WOW.  As I jogged around I noticed that there was a pub on just about every corner and every one of them had outdoor taps running and people were packing them at 10:30 in the morning.  On the common across from where I was parked was a huge tent which was set up with more taps.  This was going to be one big block party after this race.  


I socialized with all the crew up until 12:30, then it was time to get ready.  I did some stretching and loosened up a bit with a light run.  I walked down to the start with Kevin and as I did a guy about my age grabs and says “Hey aren’t you Scotty Graham”?  I responded “yes”,  He introduced himself to me and said that he recognized me from my picture on my blog.  I was flattered because I recognized this guy by his name, Paul Bazanchuk, and he is one of the top 50+ year old runners in the country.  We headed over to the starting line together but the race officials wouldn’t let us jump in the front.  They wanted us to go around the side and to the back of the pack.  Paul and I decided that this was not going to work for us so we jumped over the barriers and got into the 4th row.  Paul warned me to take it easy on the start of this race because we would be climbing to the 3.5 mile mark, and the big guns were going to take it out at 4:30 pace. 


Soon the “GO” command was given and we were off.  I was running hard, TO HARD, I was going to pay sooner or later.  About ¼ of a mile in I passed the O’Connor PARTY.  Then I noticed Danny up in front of me.  Dan had jumped in from the ¼ mile mark to avoid the crush of 5000 people.  He wasn’t going to win so why not.  I ran up behind him and gave him a slap on the back and encouraged him to hang with me.  No doing, and I continued down the road.  Soon we were climbing, and climbing and climbing.  I was toast.  People were passing me in waves.  There was one guy in front of me who would do a cart wheel every now and then to get the crowd going.  This really pissed me off.  I marked him for a kill.


Finally we reached the top of the hills by Holyoke Community College.  The homes up there were very nice and well maintained.  A huge difference from down town.  Now it was time to open up my stride and see how many people I could reel in.  I started off slowly and began picking people off.  As I continued I was catching loads of people.  At the 5 mile mark the O’Conner’s were on the side of the road cheering us in.    I even caught Mr. Cart Wheel.  Now I can sleep at night.


I ended up running 43:34 which works out to a 7:01 per mile pace.  I was 169th of 5000 runners and 9th in my age category and 12 Irish American.  This was my slowest 10K EVER!!  This was even a slower pace then I ran Boston marathon last year (6:55 per mile).  This was one tough race.  I got back to the O’Connor’s tailgate party and was the first runner back.  Soon Danny’s son was back then came Danny, Kevin and the rest of the kids and friends.   Soon the party was in full swing.  Food, soda, Gatorade, and adult beverages were flowing.  I spent some time speaking with each of the O’Connor’s.


When I say there was a big party in down town Holyoke, I mean really BIG.  It was 9 square blocks with all the roads jammed with people, and beverage tents everywhere.  It was the largest block party I’ve ever seen.  And to think on Sunday it was going to be 10 times larger with the parade.  WOW


Around 3 PM it was time to hit the road so I headed out and swung by our old house on Pendleton Ave.  Funny we moved out of there when I was 9 years old but I remembered the way from the old dinner like it was yesterday.  The road was pot hole city, I think there were more pot holes then tar.  The two houses on the lot hadn’t changed much but there was a fence in between them now.  I can’t believe that 6 of us lived in a house that size.  Thanks Mom and Dad for moving us east and giving us a path to allow us to achieve so much.  We are truly blessed. 


Time to really focus in on Boston!!!



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