Saturday, May 23, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
A few months passed and I eventually received an email asking if I was still interested. With only a few options that fit my schedule, I had signed up to officiate the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon. Unfortunately, a last minute scheduling conflict with a wedding that weekend forced me to have to cancel. The only other option was for Patriots, which I was planning to race, but eventually was canceled due to the hurricane, so last year was a no go for me.
So...take 2. When the email came out this year, I quickly responded with the first available date on my schedule - the Columbia Triathlon. I was really excited, especially since the race typically hosts some of the top triathletes in the world. This year did not disappoint with a stacked mens and womens field.
The officiating clinic consisted of 2 main activities - the clinic and the practicum (actually officiating the race). So Saturday afternoon, after a nice, hilly 40 mile ride, I drove out to Columbia, MD to attend the clinic. The clinic lasted about 3 hours and covered all topics of common USAT rules. We also had an exam to complete prior to class, which required us to become very familiar with the USAT rules. My favorite part of the clinic was having a discussion of common formations that happen out on the bike course and breaking the situation down to determine who should be penalized for drafting, position fouls, right side passing, etc. Having this discussion made me realize that being an official is not all fun and games. It is actually quite challenging.
For example, in order to effectively identify a penalty on the course, an official is asked to identify at minimum the following: race number, male/female, bike brand/color/model, jersey color/details, helmet brand/color, and any other items that would help uniquely identify an individual from everyone else. Because in reality, when you are out on the course with 2000+ triathletes, people tend to look pretty similar. Stating that a guy on a black bike, with a black uniform....doesn't really cut it. So in addition to identifying characteristics about their physical appearance, we also have to, you know, look for penalties. Trust me, its a lot to do from the back of a motorcycle.
Sunday morning brought about the second part of my training - officiating the race. Our orders: be at transition by NO LATER THAN 4:45 AM! So lets do some backwards math. In order to make to transition at 4:45 AM, it takes about an hour to drive, maybe 20-30 minutes to get ready, and factor in some time for randomness that can fill up time. So what time did I set my alarm for? 2:45 AM! Now that is early! Want to know what a triathlon looks like at 4:30 AM? Look to the right. Not much going on, is there?
Once we met up, we were introduced to the other officials that were not part of the clinic the day before. Lindsay was officiating too, so I got to finally meet her. We were then given assignments for covering transition during pre-race to make sure everyone was racking appropriately, helmets were legal, and all was good.
Unfortunately, the only thing we couldn't control was the weather. It was started to turn ugly. The winds were howling and the temperatures were falling. It was warmer when I woke up at 2:45 then at was at 6 am and the weather just got worse as time ticked by. As the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped into the 50s, the rain began to fall. So glad I wasn't racing!
After transition watch, we met up with the motorcycle crew. Each official got paired up with a driver and we staggered ourselves to leave every 5 minutes to head out onto the bike course. My assignment was to cover a good chunk of the middle of the course. So in the wind, rain, and cold, we zipped off. Fortunately, the helmet I was provided was a full face with a visor, so I felt none of the effects of the weather. I had a few layers on as well, so all was good.
As we headed out on the course, we were passing by mostly elites, since they had just started to head out on the course for a bit by the time my driver and I set out. Toward the end of our first loop, we came up on Chrissie Wellington. It was definitely the highlight of my day, being able to ride along while watching her in action, even if it was on a miserable day. It was just really cool to watch a triathlon from this perspective. After 2 hours of riding the course, we headed in to compile our findings and debrief. And the race - well here is how it turned out. Quite the exciting finish.
Overall, it was a great experience and I'd recommend anyone interested in the sport to give it a try. You learn a lot about the rules of the sport, which can help you be a better triathlete. I know it will for me once I finally get around to racing an actual triathlon again this year. I'm now signed up to officiate a bunch more races and looking forward to more great experience (in hopefully better weather). If anyone is interested, feel free to shoot me an email and I can give you more details.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
A) "Poor Piper, how could mean Rebecca do that to an innocent MALE cat?"
B) "Hey, every once and a while you've got to show some bling and that cat is stylin!"
I look forward to your thoughts ;)
Friday, May 8, 2009
This year I'll be out there, only not as a racer. I'm going to be an official, or at least performing my practicum as part of becoming an official. So in case you need any other reason (besides seeing me of course), check out that list.
ENTRY LIST for THE COLUMBIA TRIATHLON 2009
Select another category
|Last Name||First Name||Mid.||City||State||Country|
|Defilippis||Scott||Normandy Beach||New Jersey||United States|
|Foster||Chris||A||Redondo Beach||California||United States|
|Fritzsche||Paul||L||State College||Pennsylvania||United States|
|Jerdonek||Lindsey||H||Washington||District of Columbia||United States|
|Kenny||John||Atlantic City||New Jersey||United States|
|Wassner||Laurel||J||Hoboken||New Jersey||United States|
|Wassner||Rebeccah||I||New Paltz||New York||United States|
Thursday, May 7, 2009
So back to the race. When I signed up for this race through my company, I figured I'd just show up and run it, since 1) It is only 2 miles from my house and 2) It is a free race and you can't turn down that! I was however, still sticking to the training plan, since I've never run an 8k race before and really have no reason to try and taper for a better time. The hope was to train through and just run the race comfortably hard.
As you may recall from the day before, I set out for a long, hilly bike ride that turned out to be 56 miles. It was a great ride and I finished it feeling fresh. Race day morning, I woke up to fresh feeling legs too. The plan called for about an hour of running and since I knew 8k wasn't going to take me anywhere close to an hour, after I got my race packet info at the check in, I set out for a longish warm up. The weather wasn't all that great (50s and rain), but it actually felt quite nice. After about 20 minutes of jogging some of the course, I came back to the race start and stretched for a bit, while scoping out the field. This was a smaller race than I was used to (about 350 people), so I knew I'd finish toward the top end. I saw quite a few people sporting their collegiate uniforms, which told me they were fast. Most of them were pretty top D-1 schools, so who was I to judge. They lined us up finally at the start line and the typical types of people thought it would be fun to line up at the front. The race director pleaded with people to only be toward the front if you were planning to run 5-6 minute per mile pace. I knew I wasn't running that pace, but I wasn't to line up just behind that group. I saw maybe one person step back, but all those people who clearly should not be there all stayed! I was stuck a few people deep, which was farther back than I wanted to be, but since the idiots at the front wanted to stay at the front, I had no chance to move up any closer.
The gun went off and within 3 steps I ran right into a slow person. Ohhh...so that's why they want the slower people to move back? Hmmmm. I guess some people will never learn. After navigating those people, I started to settle into my pace about a half mile into the race. What was funny was that there were quite a few people who were at the front of the race that started off on pace with the group, but at about this point, they were all fading fast. One guy was gasping for air. I guess they too don't quite understand the concept of pacing. As we hit the first mile, I could still see the front pack but they were pulling away from the jumbled mess of a group I was running with. We hit the Mile 1 marker in 6:36.
I was still feeling good, but I did not want to "race", because I didn't want to completely trash myself since this was just a training race. I held pace and the course flattened out a bit for mile 2 compared to the hills on Mile 1. At this point, I was pretty much running by myself. The front runners were way ahead and I guess there were some people behind me, but I only had a few people in my slights in front. It was hard to keep pushing a quick pace, but I just pressed on. I passed Mile 2 in 6:40.
The course was a 2 loop design, so we started to loop back shortly after passing Mile 2, which meant more up hill for Mile 3. I was starting to reel in one guy at this point, who didn't seem to like the hills very much. We would keep pace even on the flat sections, but once we hot the hills I'd gain ground. As we approached the Mile 3 marker, I passed him on the up hill. Mile 3 came in at 6:57.
With the end in sight, I started to pick the pace back up a bit. Unfortunately, the 2 loop design of the course made it a challenge, because the walkers were in full effect. Apparently they didn't get it either than this was a race, because they were walking 5 wide on the course, which at this section, consisted of a bike/run path about 5 feet wide. So with a lot of shouting "On your left!" and in most cases passing people on their right, since in response to my heads up they would turn around and move to the left (seriously, why do people do that?) I pressed on and picked off another guy. We passed Mile 4 and headed back toward the start/finish. Mile 4 was 6:46.
As I neared the finish line, I thought I heard some breathing on my shoulder, so I kept trying to pick up the pace. Turns out it was probably my own breathing, because as I hit the steep downhill toward the finish, I glanced back to see if I needed to go with an all out sprint and saw nobody, so I cruised it in. Strange how we sometimes hear things and they turn out to be nothing. My last split, which was .95 miles came in at 6:19 (6:38 pace).
I finished the race in good shape. I wasn't too exhaused, but certainly felt like I ran hard. I noticed they were giving free massages, so I figured why not. I mean, I biked 56 miles and had just run about 8 miles (including the warm up), so I dereserved one, right? The bonus was the fact that there were only a handful of people who had finished by this point, so there was no line. I also think I benefitted because the massage people hadn't given 1000 massages yet, so mine lasted quite a while. She worked my calves, hamstrings, upper and lower back. It felt great!
After that, I bumbled around and grabbed some food and coffee while we waited around for the remaining runners and eventually the awards ceremony. Unfortunately, "technical issues" with the timing caused a major delay in announcing the results. After they started raffling away prizes. Though I didn't win any of the raffle prized, they didn't give away free coupons to get a Road ID to the first 20 people who grabbed them. And guess who got one! I am actually really excited to get this. Normally, I don't leave for my runs or rides without bringing my ID and insurance card. Now, I can just throw on the Road ID and it won't take up room in my shorts pockets. Sweet!
Below are the overall numbers from the race:
Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:40
Mile 3: 6:57
Mile 4: 6:46
Mile 5: 6:19 (6:38/mile pace for last .95 miles)
Average Pace: 6:42/mile
Average HR: 174
Overall Place: 29/343
Age Group (21-29): 10/57
Like I said at the end of my previous post, I believe I would have easily PR'd in the 10k distance had I run the additional 1.2 miles to make it 10k. But I'll have to save that effort for another day. I will also say that this course was much hillier than the previous 10k I did, so I know my speed and power is coming back. I'll continue to run hard as my training progresses and at some point race another shorter distance in the hopes of dropping that time again.
Any maybe one day they will post the pictures from the race and I'll share those too!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Equipment Crackdown Brings More Turmoil to Cycling’s Time Trials
Professional cycling is in a heated struggle among its governing body, its teams and the companies that manufacture expensive equipment over what is a legal racing bike.
The International Cycling Union abruptly alerted teams at the start of this season that it intends to clarify and reinterpret its often oblique rules governing bicycle design through increased equipment inspections.
The announcement was an unwelcome surprise. Bicycles and accessories may be banned within weeks. That could leave teams scrambling to find new bikes for top riders, and the manufacturers could find it harder to sell their merchandise.
“When I initially looked at it, I wasn’t too worried,” said Phil White, a co-founder of Cervélo, a Toronto-based bicycle manufacturer, which also sponsors a European professional team. “But now I’m quite concerned. This could be quite crushing.”
The crackdown and the renewed debate over bicycle design are not entirely unwelcome. Some prominent cyclists say that recent advances made possible by new materials and manufacturing techniques may be unfairly penalizing teams that have limited access to the latest technologies.
The cycling union first told teams about its plans through a warning letter sent in January, after the teams had accepted delivery of their bikes for the season. A month later, in the middle of the Tour of California, cycling union officials said that they would begin banning equipment immediately, although they backed down after protests. Now, the cycling group’s president, Pat McQuaid, said components must comply with standards by July 1, which means after the Giro d’Italia, which starts Saturday, but before the Tour de France. Enforcement of other standards, however, would not begin until next year.
Exactly why the cycling union decided to raise the issue without giving notice is unclear. McQuaid said the warning letter came out of discussions at the end of 2008.
“We decided to bring both the sport and the manufacturers back to reality,” McQuaid said from his office in Switzerland. “The sport needs to be a sport of athletic ability, not technical ability.”
The dispute largely involves bicycles and parts designed for time trials, the individual race against the clock. Because time trial rules ban drafting, aerodynamics are thought to significantly boost a rider’s speed. During the off-season, well-financed teams use tests in wind tunnels to evaluate bicycles and to optimize riders’ positions. What emerges are expensive and exotic bicycles.
The cycling union has long banned the use of anything intended to cheat the air. But the increasing use of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic resins, which can be shaped into a variety of forms, during the 1990s created new issues. In the ’90s, the British cyclists Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree broke the distance record for one hour — the sport’s gold standard — using bicycles with unusual designs and aerodynamic riding positions. Obree broke the record twice, on two bicycles he built himself (one used bearings from a washing machine), only for his designs to be banned later by the cycling union. In “The Flying Scotsman,” a 2006 film based on Obree’s life, the role of the villain is played by officials from a thinly disguised International Cycling Union.
In 2000, new rules included requiring bicycles be the traditional diamond shape and not weigh less than 6.8 kilograms (about 15 pounds). But another rule is more ambiguous, referring to “a fuselage form,” which the cycling union defines as an “extension or a streamlining of a section.” Whatever that may be, it cannot have a ratio that exceeds three to one. (For comparison, traditional bicycle tubing is round and has a ratio of one to one.)
Until January, manufacturers assumed the rule covered only the individual sections of a bicycle frame and went to great lengths to increase that ratio without breaking the rule, or so they thought. Giant, Scott and Felt make time-trial bicycles with elongated front ends for better aerodynamics. But in a bid to stay within the ratio, those bikes connect the forks and handlebars to the rest of the frame in unusual and complex arrangements. On its Web site, Felt asserts, “Our design created an effective airfoil shape with approximately a 6:1 aspect ratio, that is still U.C.I. legal because it does not rely on a fairing-instant speed.” U.C.I. are the cycling union’s initials in French.
In an interview, Jim Felt, the founder of Felt, an American company, said he was still confident the bicycle would pass inspection. Giant, however, had doubts and redesigned it. The biggest surprise for the industry was the announcement that all the parts of a bicycle would be under the ratio rule. Many handlebars and some cranks greatly exceed the limit. Cervélo’s White said that many of his company’s seat posts also violated the rule.
White was initially unconcerned because most of Cervélo’s customers do not race or they compete in triathlons, which are not governed by the cycling union. But he said that when a clip-on handlebar extension was banned for road-racing bikes in 2000, the popular product’s market evaporated.
Even recreational cyclists, White said, shun products once they are banned for professional use. That, combined with the current recession, he said, could ruin some companies.
“I am sometimes a bit surprised by the way things work in the industry,” said René Wiertz, a former electronics executive who owns 3T Cycling, a major handlebar maker based in Italy. “Doing things like this is pretty arrogant.”
Some riders say they would like to see not only stricter enforcement but also more restrictive rules for time-trial bikes.
Marco Pinotti, the current Italian national time-trial champion who rides for Team Columbia-Highroad, acknowledges the special equipment has benefited him, but he also says that it gives an unfair advantage to teams with large budgets for wind-tunnel testing and sophisticated equipment.
He favors forcing riders to use conventional bicycles without aerodynamic handlebars or wheels for time trials. That is unlikely to find favor with bike makers, who rely on time-trail bicycles to generate publicity — and sales.Pinotti’s American teammate, Craig Lewis, agreed, saying in an e-mail message: “It was first named the race of truth for a reason. Now it’s just a race between the biggest budgets.”
Monday, May 4, 2009
Saturday, I loaded up the bike and drove out to Glen Echo to meet the other HIPsters who were doing the planned ride. The ride called for options of 30, 40, or 55 miles. You can guess which one I chose. I rode 40 miles last week (and suffered through it on a flat course), so I needed to progress in my training to be ready for the Crystal Ride road race in a month. However, I was not looking forward to it, because the planned ride was pretty hilly, through Potomac and out to Poolesville and back. If I was going to feel anything like I did last week, I would be in for a long and painful day. Below is the route:
Because my longest ride to date this year has been 40 miles (and I felt terrible on it), I didn't want to go too hard out of the gate on this ride. I knew there were hills, which have burned me in the past toward the end of my rides, so my plan was to go out comfortably and ride in easier gears than I typically would for the first half, and then see how I felt and try to ride a bit harder for the second half.
About an hour or so into the ride, with the miles clipping by pretty quickly, we ran into a sheet of rain coming down. This was just as we were hitting the hills of River Rd and on our way out to Poolesville, so we were at the furthest point from the cars. Despite the thoughts in my head of just turning around, I realized that turning around was no different than finishing the ride! So into the rain and hills we pressed. It was ugly, windy, and wet but eventually the rain stopped and to roads started to dry out a bit. I was glad too, because the return ride back on River Rd has a lot of big hills and without being able to fly on the downhills due to the wet roads, that would mean I would actually have to work to climb the whole hills, rather than coast into the hill with some good pace and spin up the rest of the way. So we hit the turnaround of the ride in "downtown" Poolesville and I was really feeling great. I pressed on and starting increasing my level of effort. Turns out, I was able to hold a strong effort for the rest of the ride, passing a bunch of other cyclists on the roads and seperating myself from the group I was with, who seemed to be hitting a hall at about 40 miles into the ride. With only one slight wrong turn, we rounded out at an even 56 miles, with an average pace of about 18 mph. Not bad for a hilly course with some rain mixed in! Workouts feel so much better when you negative split them, don't they?
Sunday brought about more rain! And I had a race to run. I'll save the details for a formal race report, but my legs felt awesome, despite the long ride the day before. While I didn't "race" the course, I ran it pretty darn hard. My unofficial time from my watch was 33:19, which turned out an average pace of 6:42/mile. Though I've never run another 8k race (an automatic PR!), my splits and average pace would have also worked out to a 10k PR from my recent time at the Ukrop Monument Ave 10k. Using the McMillan Running Calculator, my projected 10k time would be 41:59, which factors in a slowdown in my pace over the remaining 2k that I would have run. I try not to read too much into these predictions, but in a race so close to the distance, I have figure I would hit a time close to that, if not slightly faster. I felt great in the race and as I was coming to the finish line I was thinking to myself that I could definitely have held this pace and even put in a stronger kick (Remember - I didn't race this, it was a training run, so I didn't want to completely waste myself) for 2k more. So while I can't claim this race as a 10k PR, at least I know there is a high likelihood that I could crack 42 minutes in the 10k, without honestly doing any speedwork. I'll save that for next time I guess.
I'm also not sure of my final standing, as I ran a good chunk of the race alone between pack groups. After the first half mile, nobody passed me and I probably passed about 3 or so people total. It was a well paced effort by myself and those around me. I'll have to wait till the final results are posted, but my work's running club, which was one of the sponsors of the race won the overall co-ed team competition. We took home a trophy and smiled for the cameras on stage. And I got a few other goodies. Details and maybe a photo or two to come!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Fit for Fame
May 3, 2009 | By Sarah Wildman | Photographs by Timothy Devine
Running in his parents' footsteps taught Adrian Fenty the importance of endurance
Some people grow up playing catch with their fathers. Some recall the smell of barbecue, or reading time, or family dinners. For D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, childhood was a blur of watching his parents run: 10Ks, 10-milers, marathons, triathlons. "My father was my original inspiration for getting into working out, way back in high school," he explains.
Phil Fenty, 68, didn't run his first race until he was 39, he says, a year older than the 38-year-old mayor. "D.C. didn't have anything like the exercise culture we have now," he says. "My wife and I would run, and people would throw things at you on the road. If you ran in the city, people would holler at you out of their cars. It wasn't in the culture at all."
The Fentys set out to change that, taking their sons -- Shawn, Adrian and Jesse -- along with them. By the time he was in his early teens, Adrian Fenty was running right alongside his parents. The training began early, and it hasn't stopped.
"You make time, and you don't ever give it up," says Fenty, sitting at the back of the bullpen of cubicles at the John A. Wilson Building one evening in late December. His jacket is off, but the tie is still on, the shirt still pressed, though the day is rounding toward the 14-hour mark. It started at 5:30 a.m. on a bitterly cold track where Fenty and his 15 to 30 training partners run every Wednesday. It's a motley collection of men and women, spanning a range of professions, with a shared dedication to the workout. They line up outside a public school in the pitch dark to run three to six miles in intervals as their families sleep cozily at home. Mondays and Fridays are the long runs, the 10-milers that start and end at the mayor's house. Swims are "squeezed" in once a week or so, sometimes during the day; in summer, a group meets at Hains Point and trains together.
"A lot of my workouts occur before the day begins, before my family wakes up," Fenty says, explaining how he eats breakfast with the family but never misses a training session. "I get back right around 7. ... Then we wake up the kids." What some would see as a slog fits neatly into Fenty's idea of good governance. "Endurance is a big part of this job, and endurance is, obviously, probably one of the biggest factors in being an endurance athlete."
A multisport athlete since high school, Fenty started training for triathlons five years ago. "The discipline," he says, "in doing the workouts, having the schedule and finishing the workouts gives a lot of qualities that help on the job. You perform better because you are doing very different tasks, and it's more enjoyable -- both the sport and the work." The more the mayor trains, the more he feels balanced. "If I'm working to a certain point and don't get a workout in, I think I'm also not being as productive as possible. Getting in the run, the bike or the swim gives me a great release, and then I can clear my mind and come back to work reenergized."
The delicate equilibrium of the Fenty super-athlete model comes from his father, who stopped competing last year. "When I turned 30, Adrian, my second son, was getting ready to be born, and I decided it was time to get in shape, to be there to play with these boys," the elder Fenty says.
We are sitting in Fleet Feet Sports, the quarter-century-old, family-run, sporting goods shop on Columbia Road NW where the Fenty boys all once worked. Shawn is the oldest and recently bought Fleet Feet. Jesse is the youngest. Nine years after lacing up his first pair of running shoes, Phil Fenty tried the Baltimore marathon, then some shorter races, 10-milers, half-marathons. By his second marathon -- a smaller event called "God's Country" in Pennsylvania -- he "fell in love" with the culture of marathoning.
Phil and Jan, who started running in the early '70s, would take their sons along when they ran, and sometimes there would be shorter-distance races where "they'd [also] have kids' runs, a mile or a half-a-mile race."
"Adrian understands ... that athletics is part of life and it feeds your energy system; it doesn't take away," Phil Fenty says. "So when he wakes up in the morning, the first thing he needs to do is run, bike or swim. That's what other people need coffee for."
The Fenty house in Mount Pleasant was stocked with fare from health food stores long before a Whole Foods broke ground in the District; the family shunned meat and chicken, sugar and salt, eating only fish, pasta and vegetables, and making their own yogurt and growing their own sprouts. As an adult, the younger Fenty has added in "lean meats," but he still eats lots of vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Every morning, he has oatmeal, a banana and a cup of tea.
Phil Fenty still spends two hours a day in the gym, cycles for two hours a day, takes long swims and practices yoga. His arms are tattooed with interlocking words: One arm reads "Omm, Metta, Practice," the other "Patience, Balance." "Everything is practice," he says earnestly, a Buddha earring swinging from one ear. "Life is practice, and omm is the universal sound of the universe. And the only way to [live] is to have balance."
Now, Phil and Jan help the mayor and his wife, Michelle, a lawyer, find that balance with their children. The newborn girl, Aerin, has yet to pick her sport, but the 9-year-old twins, Andrew and Matthew, need to be shuttled to practice nearly every day -- basketball, tennis, baseball, football, swimming, golf. The mantle is being passed down.
"My dad completely motivated me to run, but he never pushed it," Fenty says. "I just one day started running. I saw his commitment and dedication, even more so since they owned a sporting goods store. That could happen to my kids, just by seeing me work out."