Tag Archives: race report

Three little letters

I was worried. I was worried you were going to show up looking terrible and want to continue and I would have to tell you to stop. You have no idea how relieved I was when you were adult enough to pull yourself out — Dad
I wonder if this is where they get the starter's gun
I DNFed a race. The big one for the season. I suppose it was inevitable. You do enough endurance races, and at some point it won’t be your day. How did we get here?
Before I get into it, a quick thank you to everyone who supported me going into and coming out of this race, especially my dad who traveled ~20 hours in total to watch.
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Rev3 Old Orchard Beach: Stop and go penalty

Alisa, my home stay/teammate from Portland last year, flew into Boston and we drove up to OOB together on Saturday. An early morning for me was an even earlier morning for her coming from the West Coast. Friday had been an interesting day. I had run into work, and though it’s only a 2.5 mile run, I had felt terrible. I decided not to run that evening on account of not feeling great and having a stomach that wasn’t quite settled. Despite the knowledge that I should go to sleep early, I hadn’t. So Saturday morning was a very early morning to drive the 1.5 hours to Portland. Fortunately, we had some Sludgies® to eat along the way.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.


Upon our arrival, Alisa went to swim and I just messed around for a bit, talking to the Powerbar rep, saying hi to all of the Rev3 family that I’ve come to know so well, and getting myself psyched to go for a run. I realized I had forgotten my Garmin, but no matter. I’ve been running with it a lot less frequently during the summer of nomojo, and having done the half course last year I vaguely knew where things were. As I ran, as I often do, I alternated between being in the zone and dreading the next few steps. This is not an infrequent occurrence, but when I have less mojo, the speed with which I alternate between the two states increases dramatically. Around mile 4 of my run, I stopped and used a portapotty[1]. Made it to 5 miles and decided it was time to turn around. I ended up walking a bit of the run in: my head was definitely taking it’s time working through what it wanted to do.

While checking in my bike, I ended up talking to a city council member from Old Orchard Beach, who was raving about the triathletes and how they bring such a good group to Old Orchard Beach. Well, Old Orchard Beach certainly does a great job in bringing out the best volunteers.

Alisa and I both grabbed an early dinner and then headed back to the motel. I ended up watching a bit of Too Cute Puppies/Kittens. Perhaps the best thing to get someone psyched up before a race?!

Early is terrible

Early is terrible


The Swim
I had a long time before my swim wave went off, so I spent the time drinking Coke and having Swedish Fish and Goldfish. You know, the standard. My stomach had seemed settled for a bit, but once I had my wetsuit on and was in the swim corral, I knew something was off. But there wasn’t enough time to do anything about it other than hope that I could keep my shit together. The tide was probably at its lowest which meant a very shallow start, including a fair bit of trudging through thigh deep water. The inbound and outbound legs seemed normal (aside from the walking) but the cross-leg seemed to go on forever. Looking at everyone’s times, it appears that it did (the fastest age groupers went through the swim in ~24 minutes which is just pretty damn slow for the fishes if there’s not something counteracting them. Also slowing people down? The cold: the water temp was announced as 62. That said, aside from my face freezing, my BlueSeventy Helix kept me warm as a… (what’s the opposite as cool as a cucumber?).

The Bike
Nothing to report here. Went entirely by feel. Dogged a bit of it where I could have pressed. Started pressing on the inbound leg, but my heart wasn’t truly in it. That said, there were moments of sheer exhilaration where everything that just clicked and felt amazing. Big todo for next year is to overhaul my drivetrain: I’m not sure I can stand the slipping gears or how much power I’m losing to it.

The run
I love running. I was giving everyone whose path I crossed a high-five. I grabbed a delicious PowerBar Pomengranate Blueberry Acai gel and probably got more of it on the ground than in my gut (it was good though. I typically go for the blander chocolate or vanilla flavored gels, but sometimes you just get lucky when you grab something). Continued on the downhills and then I made it to the mile 4 aid station where Carole was cheering for me (and everyone else):
Carole: Go Jordan! Go!!!
Me: (Pointing at the portapotty) Oh I’m going to go so hard.
Carole: (laughing) Number 1?
Me: No no.
At some point while I was in there, Carole asked if I was done yet. I’m not sure how long I had been in there. 2 minutes? 1? 3? Definitely a stop and go penalty of some sort. But hey, I’m not trying to crush myself for triathlon right now, so now reason to get in the dumps about it. So I kept on giving people high fives. Ryan passed me as he started out on the half run course and called me a sandbagger, but hey, I was just out there to have a good time.

So what are the takeaways from this race? I love it. I love racing. I loved the triathlon, and I’m a lot better at all three sports combined than I am at any one of them individually. I’m not trying, nor will I ever, set the triathlon world on fire. But whatever was missing is back now. Perhaps this means I need to race more to keep my competitive juices flowing (racing, it’s been said, is just icing on the cake… and I love icing). So now I turn my attention to the fall running schedule, which will see me take on new, terrifying challenges while trying not to be bummed that I’m currently a bit slower than I was last year. The speed will come back. And that’s a lot easier to do when the challenge of racing is ever present.

  1. For those of you new here, I had never used a portapotty until I was 25 or so, despite high school sports, etc

Oh right. So all of that happened

I had the post-marathon blues pretty bad: I wasn’t super psyched to train, I wasn’t super psyched to race. Life was good, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like the marathon training, coming back from the mangled ankle, and a general lack of focus and fitness in the biking and swimming left me far behind where I wanted to be. I traveled to Knoxville to help out with timing for Rev3, and while that was a wet and wild weekend (torrential downpours, driving all over Knoxville, etc), it didn’t bring as much of a fire to my belly as I might have hoped. So going into Quassy, I was not expecting good things.

The swim at Quassy probably went as well as I could expect. For the first time, I felt a lot of contact at the start, but I felt consistent (albeit slow) in the water. The bike was as difficult as I remembered. Up, down, around… I hit a high speed of ~50mph. While I didn’t blow up my race on the bike, I did drop my feed bottle around mile 20. Compounded with the fact that I had very little nutrition pre-race, I was going to be in a world of hurt. I was already feeling a bit of a bonk coming off the bike, and then the run… oh boy. It was 90 degrees out, and while my body might have been strong, my mind was not. Last year I had been able to run the entire course. This year, after mile 2, the course turned uphill and my mind just kind of shut the day down. I’m not sure if it’s the extra weight I’m carrying around from the lack of focused training or if I’m just being a giant wimp, but something has to give.

Today was the Mount Washington Road Race. I wish I could say I’m a mountain lion or mountain goat or whatever, but nope. The course is spectacular with views of the surrounding White Mountains. But there’s really no way to soft peddle the fact that the course is a bear. An average 11.7% grade. No downhills. No respite from climbing. No shelter from the wind above the tree line. A cruel finish that pitches up ridiculously. Yes I walked. Quite a bit of it in fact. But in doing so I had a great time with a bunch of people and prevented those thoughts that keep on telling me: just pick one sport, you’re not good at this. So up we went. Up up up into a stiff winds that were godsends when they were tailwinds and the coldest winds from the depth of hell just about any other time. And I can’t wait to try again next year: hopefully a bit lighter [1], hopefully with strong mental resolve, and hopefully, if I buckle down, much better fitness.

  1. Hopefully the June of Sobriety (except for one birthday that deserves celebrating) will help shed a few pounds.

Boston Marathon

It’s impossible to write a race report for Boston and not think about what happened after my race was over but before so many other people’s races were not. But I think part of getting back to normal, to living, is to be proud of what I accomplished that day. Not to treat the day as though nothing else happened, but to remember it for all that happened, the awesome and the awful. I’ve been trying to piece through my thoughts about the terrible things that happened, but what about the rest of the day?


It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning
Shoes and medal
The marathon is, so far, a singular experience in running for me. So often, a marathon is early in the day with only the hardiest of fans (often friends and family) lining the course early on. My previous marathons were often spent with a feeling of being alone (not lonely, just running alone or around 2-3 other people). Sometimes this feeling was just because my day was not going the way I wanted it to, sometimes because there were actually no other runners around, and sometimes there was no one there to cheer you on. At Boston this was never the case. At Boston, there is always someone there, running with you, cheering just for you (or so it seemed). It’s the Boston running community. It’s the Boston community.

Pre-race
Given that I was in wave one, given that I am a stickler for doing as I am told, I woke up at 5 AM, took my time getting dressed in race clothes and pajamas, grabbed a bagel, two bananas, some water and jumped on the T to get on the buses to go Hopkinton. Yes, I was early. Yes, there were still 4 hours before the race would start. But given my previous history with a terrible stomach, I wanted to make sure that I was hydrated, rested, fully finished with my morning duties, and with good thoughts about race day in my head. So it was that I arrived in Hopkinton with hours until race time, hundreds of port-a-potties to be used, and scoped out a place to lie down, eat my food, get hydrated, and relax. And that’s precisely what I did.

As race time approached, I knew I had to use the bathroom one last time. I dropped off my gear bag, but didn’t know if there were port-a-potties at the start (pro-tip: there are!), so waited in line, and was finally ready to head to the start with 15 minutes to go. Jogged my way through the hordes of runners in my wave and future waves and got to the start with a couple of minutes to spare. And this is where my memory of the day is not as clear as I would wish it would be. But I remember the important parts.

The Marathon
Here’s what Steve said to do before the race and how I feel like I did:

  • Run the tangents – Not fully possible
  • Don’t come off of Heartbreak too fast, wait until you get through Cleveland Circle and on to Beacon St. before thinking about taking up the pace. – There was no pace left
  • Your first mile should be the slowest. – It was the slowest of my first half? Does that count?
  • Bring snacks/hydration with you out to Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Sit as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Poop as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Run steady and enjoy the first 16 miles without doing anything crazy dumb. – Partial success? I don’t think I did anything really dumb. My splits over the first 30K are pretty much bang on consistent.
  • Strap it on and get tough once you hit Lower Newton Falls and climb over 128/95 – that’s where the race begins. – This is where I realized I was going to be able to run up every single one of the Newton hills (which I had never run before).
  • The hills aren’t all that hard…yeah, you’ll lose a little time, but nothing serious. – That’s the truth. In fact, the finishing downhills after the uphills are worse

3:00:04. Via the splits tab, I didn’t realize I was being so consistent for the first 16 miles (all miles within 8 seconds of each other). My first five 5K splits were all within seconds of each other.
40K in
I don’t remember much specifically about the first few miles, or about the race in general. I remember male runners jumping into the woods after the first downhill to pee. I remember enormous cheers as we passed the roadside pub in Ashland. I remember reaching the 8K mark (where I had turned around the week before in my tune up) and thinking the rest of this is unknown. I kept thinking to myself: “I’m going too fast. I need to slow down. My legs didn’t feel light all week. My legs feel heavy today.” And yet I churned out mile after mile at around the same pace, running in a still enormous group. I saw my parents in Framingham, and I’m pretty sure I gave them a wave before they realized it was me. I saw a runner drop his cap, turn around and charge back into the group to get it (why?!). I was overwhelmed by the cheers at Wellesley, and then shocked when I heard a thud and realized a Wellesley student had fallen over the barricade. I got cheers from friends and friends of friends and totally random people. I saw my parents again at mile 16 (though I wasn’t expecting them to be where they were). I kept waiting for the start of the hills, then crushed it up over 128/95. I saw the RaceMenu gang at the top of Heartbreak and figured the hardest part was over.I gave just about every BC student a high five as I cruised down the hill. I had a cheering section coming around the bend in Coolidge Corner (which I would still be hard pressed to find on a map). I was tired on Beacon and failing at calculating my expected finishing time. I stopped running for a few seconds. I thought I might be a Canadian marathoner for a while. I had friends at 40K, when I was in a bad place, cheering me on. I couldn’t catch my breath in the cold shadows of Boylston. I finished and I thought I would cry from physical and emotional exhaustion. I shivered through waiting for my gear bag, then hobbled around to meet my family at Parish. And the rest of the day I’ve written about and am still coming to terms with.

Many people have asked if the 4 seconds bother me. Even before the bombs went off, the answer was no. Now even more so. The time is as it is because that’s what unfolded over the day. Every choice we make on race day can go a million different ways. Sure, I could have gone a bit slower in mile 1, but maybe I’d feel the same at the end. I could have pushed through all of the pain, but maybe I end up a mess. That’s not to say that it’s random or it’s impossible I could have gone faster. Next year I will. But there’s nothing about those three hours I spent on that course that I’d want to change.

Running into the ground

This weekend was all about racing hard, training hard, and living better. I had a bad week motivation wise for training, so I was looking forward to having an awesome weekend. And I did.
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The south side of chicago is the baddest part of town

One thing that my coach has impressed upon me is that there is no such thing as a good bike ride followed by a bad run. Meaning that if you have a bad run, you probably tried to go too fast on the bike. I did that in NY.

I had signed up for Chicago a while ago, without really thinking about the logistics of actually, you know, getting there. Flights are easy, but getting goldilocks there would not be as easy. But in my neverending desire to get better acquainted with my bike and to become more self-sufficient in maintaining her, I decided I would fly and pack disassemble goldilocks so that she could fly as well (it seems really weird to refer to a bike as a person, but well, it’s a very meaningful relationship she and I have). In doing so, I performed some maintenance on the rear derailleur (the part of the bike that sets which cog you are in). I hadn’t been able to shift into the smallest and largest cogs in the derailleur, meaning out of the 18 or 20 speeds (gears) I should have, I really only had 14 or 16. The rear derailleur is attached to the aero bars by a long cable, and as you move the gear levers, the cable stretches and cause the derailleur to shift the chain into an easier cog. The night I packed Goldilocks up, I adjusted the derailleur to make sure I could hit all the cogs.
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