Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer of 2016 Downs and Ups

Helli loyal followers! My blog is once again active with plenty of races to update you all on!  I took a brief hiatus after running the Baystate Marathon in 2015 (3:54:00) and the Marine Corps Marathon (4:00:00) in 2015.

The long school teacher summer of 2016 started out on a dark note. I suffered from a herniated disc in my back...I could barely walk without pain and was bedridden for weeks. Luckily, I have one of the best chiropractors around and he fixed me up after 4 weeks of treatment!! While I was incapacitated, I started reflecting on all of my goals and how I had always taken my good health for granted. I vowed not to do the same once I was recovered...

My back started feeling better right when I brought my girls out to California for a vacation. One day while in LA, my host and friend, Vince, asked me to go on a bike ride with him. I took him up on his offer and off we went along the Pacific. By the end of the ride, Vince was impressed with my fitness and proclaimed me ready for a sprint distance cycle. After going through all of hat pain in July, this compliment meant the world to me! It was a huge first step to getting back into triathlon shape. My confidence needed this!! The rest of the trip I started doing some ocean swims to slowing work back into the end of that vacation, I had already signed up for my first triathlon- the Witches tri in Salem, MA... More to follow

Thursday, October 11, 2012



This coming week marks the kickoff of the Dutch Invasion.  This is the busiest and most exciting time of the year at work. It’s a stretch where I’m sleepless, working like a boss, and having a great time.  It’s when my Dutch colleagues are with a posse of their students for an intense, 8 day, student exchange.

Where set up all types of activities, trips, and gatherings for the kids. The two weeks leading up to this is killer for me! I am at my most efficient work-pace all year-churning out lessons, correcting, recruiting, organizing, and communicating. It’s a crazy time, and it’s the best of times!

The Dutch arrive on our doorstep this Monday.  My fam is ready to host the teachers for the 6th year in a row. We have gotten to know the teachers very well by now and have built a great working relationship and friendship with my colleagues from the Nederland.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit my friends in the Netherlands the last few years and their homeland has really impressed me. I’ve gotten to explore both the city(Amsterdam) and the countryside quite extensively.  Their cycling lifestyle is very contagious!  If only I could train on their flat, car-less, endless trails along the dikes and farms! 

So it’s time to break out the orange, cheese, stroopwaffels, and Heineken’s and enjoy the invasion.

Can my training schedule survive??? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I've Got Nothing to Offer but Blood, Toils, Tears, and Sweat.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Winston Churchill

What exactly does it mean? First-that I am a history geek!  Second- I’ve accomplished my immediate goal of competing in a TRI.  Third-it’s time to advance my training to the next stage and not to be happy just ‘getting here’.  
Too much junk food in my diet? You betcha!!

This quote sums up exactly where I am in my training. Not the end-even though the big part of the race season is over.  Not the beginning of the end-I’m not retiring from sport!  Maybe- the end of the beginning! I’m ready for the next phase of my TRI career!

It’s been two weeks since my first triathlon and the training has dropped off a bit. I did run a 5k race last weekend but I’ve slacked since. I do have one more 5k race on my radar this year but it’s time to step up the training of all 3 tri disciplines. I’ve been taking it easy since the big race and it’s time to regroup!

I’m going to have to take some steps to ensure training success.  One thing I need to do is put up one of those training widgets on this blog so my loyal handful of followers can keep track of my workouts and continue to motivate me. I have received some great encouragement from fellow bloggers and it has provided some great motivation to me. Please keep those shout-outs coming!

Another part of plan tri-recommit is to sign up for a tri or two for next year. I’d like to do a handful but I need to make it official! Olympic and Half-Ironman are my goals…not planning on holding the world-wide press conferences on these until the $$ is sent in but will keep you posted.

Time to chill out is over, but some 80's tunes, firepit, and a sociable are just what I need
Seafood diet...Jacqueline's favorite-Steamers!
There is no better time to start the training than first thing tomorrow morning(yeah it’s late now!), so it’s time to fire up that  ‘80s music because I’m ready to rock! BTW-quality 80s tunes are VITAL to my training!

Here are some pics from life since TRI#1…
Time to stop being a weiner?

What gives you motivation between races????

New training workout: Chasing Riley Ann!

No Sleep till Brooklyn for Jacqueline

Riley starting her TRI training?

                                                          Live from NY, it's....US!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reliving the Dream ... pics of my first TRI

It’s now almost 2 weeks post-race and the race pics have just been posted. With my workouts slowing down, I need to relive the moment so here are some action shots!
The BEFORE pic...Race time. Even though showers were forecast, the sun was shining on us that day!
1- My inaugural tri so you guessed it, one of the first on the scene. I had already been at the reg table for about an hour by this point!

2- Just before the gun! Notice the waves visible ABOVE the heads of the racers...

3- We're off. Wasn't easy getting past the first few swells!

4- I'm somewhere on the far left...

5- Finishing the swim, Gameface is ON! Actually, i was a little wobbly at this point after getting thrown around in the surf.

6- Trying to make up some time after a sub-par swim.  Headwind!

7- Salt marsh and me.

8- Feeling good at this point and just taking it all in!

9- Yup!

10- Not gonna lie- Kirk has a much cooler victory dance than I!

11- Telling war stories already!

My photographer (dad!) taking an accidental photo of himself! May have to convince him to take part in a relay next year!?!

Time to keep the dream alive and recommit to training!!!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

On the Road...Again- Jack Kerouac 5k race report

For the 2nd straight year, I decided to run in the Jack Kerouac 5k in my hometown…the Big City…DTL…the Mill City…Lowell, MA! 

It was an exciting day scattered with some showers and a few race faux pas by yours truly.  I thought the weather would clear up by racetime but the light rain would be constant all race.  Editor’s note-now that I’m home watching football, it has turned into a beautiful fall day with plenty of sunshine and colorful foliage is lighting up all over the place!

The first negative sign of the day was at registration when I got the bad news that no more race shirts were available.  I’m all about the race gear and getting denied some race bling was not cool!  Things started looking up when I bumped into a couple of old friends while stretching out. Jeff and Becky are a couple I got to know after working with Jeff’s brother for about a decade. They have two children the same age as my own and our oldest both went to preschool together.

After saying hello, we all made our way to the start line and as usual, I queued up my ‘80’s tunes. Because it was a bit cool, I made the gametime decision to run with a long sleeve tee. This would be an irritation all race long. Another minor pain was noticing that one of my earphones lost their bubble piece thingy that helped them stay in my ear. Oh well….

                                                          Pic from the 2011 Kerouac race website-i'm the green guy!
At the start, it became clear that this would be no ordinary 5k. There were about 1000 numbered runners! Last year, there were about 150! It seemed that every racing club in the state had a crew racing! With 1000 people at the start, one unfortunate driver tried to make her way through the entire field waiting for the gun. There were some light moments from the would-be run rioters,joking about tipping the car and I found that runners jokes weren’t too funny- I fit right in!!!!

Once the gun went off, I got off to a decent start. Crossing the Merrimack River and to mile one in about 7 minutes. This was one of the funniest parts of the day.  At the one mile mark, there was a gigantic sign with the race time on it. You couldn’t miss it! Right in front of the clock, a race volunteer was yelling out the time: second-by-second. Being a wise guy, I had to yell on the way by “hey buddy, turn around!” This  produced a few chuckles from the handful of runners around me and we kept trekking away. As I mentioned in previous blog entries, I believe racers are way to quiet on the course. Whether it is in triathlons or 5k’s, we need to talk it up people! Have some fun out there and take your minds off the pain!

The long straight away in this race was parallel to the mile of mills in the city and provided for some great sights along the run. I am, of course, a little biased being from the city but this race brought you through all the mills and historic areas of the city. Good times.

                                                  Another '11 race pic. Today was wetter!
Over the last mile, I picked up the pace by the Lowell Auditorium at a nice downhill stretch and was moving quickly over the cobblestoned streets of DownTown Lowell (DTL). The last half mile brought us by City Hall and the Tsongas Arena before running parallel along the Suffolk Canal to the eventual finish at the Lowell Beer Works.

My final time was about my average: 23:37. I was happy about a couple of things: 1-I hadn’t run since my triathlon 1 week earlier so under 24minutes was nice. 2- I had checked my time from last year’s Kerouac race(different course) and it was 24:17 so some improvement.  I still feel like I have lots of room for improvement if I can ever get serious about my run training…
Where else in the world do you find two graves in front of City Hall???? No- we aren't crazy here...they are two of the first victims of the Civil War...
The race organizers did a great job of putting together some food and snack options at the finish line. They also had a PA guy giving shout-outs so props for that.

After the race, I caught up with Jeff and Becky. We had some sociables in the Beer Works with some of their friends and we were able to catch up on lost time while watching the Pats on the big-big screen.

All-in-all, it was a quality race with the biggest sized field I have been a part of. The next biggest field that I’ve raced in was about 500. The weather was a drizzle but nice to run in. The layout of the course was probably the most scenic that could be offered in the Mill City. This race definitely fit into my requirements of taking part in races of either great scenery or great post-parties! I give this run a thumbs up for both of these categories.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Race Report for the Wallis Sands Triathlon- breaking the ice!

After months of training and planning, TRI day finally arrived. To avoid getting up ridiculously early, my fam rented a beach house for the weekend that was about a 15 minute drive from the race location.

The evening before the race, I went to great pains to make sure everything was packed properly…my race bag…check. Water bottles….check. Race equipment….check. Although I am not the most organized person, I made sure everything was laid out the night the night before, packed what I could in my car, and filled all my bottles up that night.  I even was able to call it a night at a respectable hour. It was looking like I would get a quality night’s sleep and be totally recharged for the race.

My alarm was set for a 5:30am wakeup but it turns out that this wouldn’t be necessary because I awoke at exactly 2:59a.m.! After playing on the iPhone for a few hours, I was ready to depart for the big race. There were two big fears I had going into the race. 1st- the ocean swim. My training was mostly in the pool with a few ocean swims and to be honest, I was a bit concerned about completing the swim in a decent time. Worry #2 was the weather. The forecast said there was a decent chance of showers and I had not cycled on wet pavement at all in my training.

Leaving the house, the first thing that struck me was the 60F temp and that it wasn’t raining. The only drawback was that the pavement was wet. Hopefully, things would improve by race time.

Once I arrived at the race, I quickly picked up my race packet, got marked up, met up with my racing partner Kirk, and went to watch the sun come up on the beach.

After stretching out a bit, I made my way to the transition area to set up. I was happy to be assigned a decent spot at the end of a row and a little more room for my gear. Things were off to a decent start.


“Where are all the lonely people?”

About 10 minutes before the race start, I took a quick dip in the North Atlantic to get acclimated to the water temp. The good news is that it wasn’t that cold. Bad news is that the waves were over my head! After a few minutes, I got back to the start line and spotted my wife and Kirk’s wife and waved hi. It was gametime!

           Myself and Kirk without pre-race jitters!

The start was in the water, about knee-high. I had a decent spot on the outside. The course was an upside-down triangular shaped course. When we were off and swimming, I had a little trouble to get past the breakers. The swells were still pretty intense but eventually I got out! By the time I reached the first buoy, I was a little tired so I started to conserve my energy a bit. After making the first turn, the crowd had thinned out and it seemed like it was just me and the ocean. There was no panic in me(unlike in my training!) and it was actually pretty peaceful out there. I had no doubt that I would conquer the swim, it just went slow. I wasn’t the last out of the drink, but most of my wave(wave 1) was in front of me.

 I am somewhere on the far right…..

Coming around the final buoy, I made a decent angle just as a big swell swept past. The swell threw the buoy on top of the swimmer in front of me and he was out of sight. I turned for the home stretch and could barely make out the sure through the crashing surf. By the time I reached waist-high water, I started walking. Not going to lie…I was a little wobbly at this point so I just made sure I started a steady pace towards T1.

I was able to get the top half of my suit off nice and easy before reaching T1 so I was in pretty good shape to nail this transition.

Swim time- 13:05; 1/3 mile

T1- by the time I reached my bike, I started ripping off my suit. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion at this point! I got the suit off and quickly got into my cycling gear. At this point, Kirk ran by with his bike and gave me some encouragement. I told him I’d catch up with him soon! Thankfully, I had some water/Gatorade mix and it did the trick-I felt much better after getting some electrolytes back in my system. At this point, I grabbed the bike and took off for the T1 exit.

T1- 3:56

Bike- I started out the bike course at a pretty good pace. I quickly passed about a dozen people in the first half mile.  I really pushed it on the bike. Although about a dozen of the top females passed me, I pushed it most of the ride and passed more people than passed me. The one tough part of the bike was the headwind facing us for more than half the cycle course. Although I was pushing it, I never spotted Kirk, who left T1 about a minute before me. He must have been moving at a good pace!

                                                       Trying to get my bearings! Awful pose!

I was pretty happy to be out of the water and on the bike! I was determined to enjoy the day so I made it a point to talk it up with the other athletes. Most of the people that I passed were pretty friendly and jumped at the chance to talk it up. I met some good people out there! The people passing me didn’t have too much to say and I really didn’t want to slow them down anyway.  The last 4 miles of the bike were along the coast and the views were fantastic. I pushed it as much as the wind would let me. This was my best effort on the bike to date but I was a little worried that the time wouldn’t be better than my training times because of the wind.

When I approached the lot where T2 was, the rider in front of me was flying towards the dismount line. The scene was pretty surreal with all the yelling and cheering. The rider in front of me was going way too fast so a race volunteer got next to him to warn him to dismount. With his brakes screeching, he wasn’t able to unclip and he wiped out right next to the volunteer. I was moving at a good pace to and I was determined to avoid this mistake. I quickly unclipped a leg and put it over the other side of the bike so I rode to the dismount line on one leg and came to a smooth spot. I never really practiced that and don’t think I could repeat this feat if I had too! However, in all the commotion, I was just reacting without thinking and things worked out just fine!

Bike: 47:34; 14.5 mile;  18.3 mph/avg

T2- 1:35

I quickly got to my gear and looked at the bike rack with disgust. For some reason, I left my swimsuit right on the rack where my bike was going to go. I can’t really explain why now, but I thought that this was a dumb idea and didn’t even think of putting my bike on top of it(duh!) so I threw the wetsuit on the ground and racked the bike. All of a sudden, I figured out that the suit was actually my neighbors and not mine. Woops!!! After putting his suit back, I racked things up and quickly got my kicks on. A little more water/gaterade and off I went. Without thinking, I ran about 10 yards towards where the bike entrance was before realizing I needed to make a 90degree turn towards the run exit. Overall, I felt pretty good about T2. I also got to see my dad at the entrance snapping away with the cam!
Leaving T2 with a smile!

Exiting T2, the girls where there cheering me on. I started the run feeling decent. The legs weren’t feeling heavy at all. It seemed I was doing ok because I was passing a bit more people than were passing me and of course I was chatting with most of the people on the course still! About a mile into the run, I caught sight of Kirk! He was slowing down a little and I caught up to him. We greeted each other and ran together for a bit. He then urged me to go ahead saying he didn’t want to slow me down. I slightly picked up the pace and what do you know- Kirk picked up his game and stayed by my side! The next half mile went well and we finally made it to the water station at the 1.4 mile mark. That water hit the spot and gave me some new life. We quickly reached the turnaround point and started the run back.

Running past the water station again, the volunteers told us of the different drinks they had. I grabbed one and to make sure it was water, I gave a quick peek to confirm it was clear. After taking a quick chug, I was greeted with something that tasted like lemonade with vodka in it! I tossed the rest and got ready for the rest of the run. Although I didn’t like the drink, within minutes I felt like I had plenty more energy! The final mile of the run would be a piece of cake.

Kirk and I ran a good pace over the last mile, chatting every stride, and just enjoying the race. It wasn’t my fasted 5k time, but it was my most enjoyable 5k run! The last half mile was downhill and the two of us made a good pace to the finish line. We crossed the line at 1:29:15 but for some reason our official time is listed as 1:31:15 and we had no penalties…Too funny because I predicted 1:30….Because we weren’t pushing it that hard on the run, both of us were feeling and looking good at the finish.

                                                                     In my Team Finland gear!

5K time-  25:20

Overall, my swim time wasn’t great, the bike went almost as planned, and the run wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. The race itself was an incredible experience and I will definitely take on this challenge again next season! I didn’t forget to pack anything and although my transitions were the best, I was at least organized. My research online and blogger buds helped with plenty of tips that improved my performance.  Looking back, I am thrilled that Kirk and I were able to finish side-by-side. We got into this together, did some training together, and had a great run together to wrap it up!

I have some work to do in order to be more competitive and I look forward to more tri’s next year!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Finished the race!

Successfully finished the triathlon yesterday! The monkey is now off my back.  My overall official time was 1:31:00 (although the clock said 1:29:10 when i crossed and had no penalties!).

I will put together a race report in a day or so but it was a warm day for September, I had a fantastic time, and I can't wait to do another tri!!!