IRONCLAD for an IRONSHERPA

Ironclad triathlon is a sprint distance race consisting of a 1/2 mile swim in the chilly waters of Glen Cove (was 58 degrees) followed by a 13.5 mile bike ride along some nice roads in the hood, then a 3.2 challenging trail run in a nature preserve with some single track dirt roads and a boulder of which you either jump over or need to stop and walk around. All of this happens on the campus of  Webb Institute which is a naval architecture college with tough academic standards (hence the name of the race). It raises money for their scholarship program which makes the race meaningful, and serves as a good course for seasoned athletes as well as those looking to do their first triathlon.

We had done this race 4 years ago when they first held the event, but I had done it as part of a relay with FPC since he didn’t want or care to swim in cold open water. We had a great time so it made sense to come back and revisit the race, this time as a individual, but also to get into the race feel of a triathlon and “switch gears” from all the running races this year. We knew it was a top notch organized race since it was under the sponsorship of Sunrise Tri and JP over at TriandDu Sports. They had a big athlete contingent out there and record 500 athletes came out in what made for a great day.

We came out here the day before to pick up my race stuff and we sure had to visit our pre-race Rita’s which is also in Glen Cove. Gelati magic and hydration!!!! It was going to be another warm weekend and even though it was a sprint race, I normally don’t eat or drink anything for these events other than a few sips of my “drink”. It was fun to just chill and hang outside a Rita’s. I shaved down and trimmed the nails for the wetsuit so everything felt nice and slick. Love the pre-race preparations.

The weather that morning was a humid 65 degrees and any ideas I had of doing the race in my wetsuit was diminishing (yes I actually considered it due to the water temp). I did however plan to ride the Black Widow in my run flats to make for quick tranistion from bike to run. Gina and I made the 20+ minute walk from where we had too park to the start and had plenty of time to get settled. It’s a private area hence the parking thing but we had timed the walk the day before (back AND forth) and had no problems navigating where things were. It was the same layout as years past. a beautiful area and campus.

Everything was easy to set up and we caught up with Wayne a bit since he was part of a Sunrise Tri relay team (thanks for the shirt!). Gina gave praise for the signage, announcing, and race crew for all their work from a spectator standpoint. The main thing now was to go by the water and check it out. Mind you I have not been in a pool NOR an open water for a swim since Clearwater back in November. All UBE baby. I went knee deep and knew this was going to be a chiller. Splash the face, jump up and down, well, maybe it won’t be so bad after all. But I had to get out and wait for the start. I was already layered head to toe in Aquaphor so it helped keep me warm.

I was in the third wave with my age group (35-39) which was one of the largest. The wave before us had a 3 minute head start which consisted of 3 age groups, and that was also huge. I gave Gina several kisses as norm and got myself into the water. I was able to line up front and off to the left giving me a nice line to the first bouy. But the sun would be in our eyes once we made the turn so getting out there fast was imperative to avoid any slammin. This felt all familiar real quick. Silence.  Three deep breaths.

Off we went and I quickly made way and got to the bouy no problem. In fact, I was already warmed up thanks to some “relief” and was all focused on catching the group in front while maintaining a clear line. “Nice and smooth, nice and smooth, kick like crazy- damn its cold”. Sure enough I was in with the group ahead and had no problems navigating each bouy and making my way back to the finish. I was churning nicely and quite pleased. Out of the water and then over some rocks and up a hill to tranisition. Gina said I had a great swim and she was right – 15 minutes or so.

I did have some issue getting out to the wetsuit but not much since I wasn’t dazed or disoriented as when you get out of water that cold and it’s just as cold outside. Slipped on my flats and off I went on the Black Widow. It wasn’t long before I was able to crank and the only issue was being that it was a 2 lap bike route, the second lap was now filled with everyone else doing their first. No joke – one guy was pushing hard on his Pee-Wee Herman bike complete with kick stand and going at a good clip. You had to constantly say “on your left”  due to the one lane we shared and other than one close call I had with one car trying to turn and stop per volunteer instructions, of which I almost endowed over, it was a clear ride.

One group of 5 looked like they weren’t lucky as ambulance was attending one dude who hit pretty hard. For the most part, I kept my heart rate high and steady looking at the power data on my CS600. It was all systems go indeed. My legs were fine despite May’s volume/intensity and I focused on keeping rhythm and my flats even pressure on the pedals. I had a 50/50 power rate so I maintained some level of efficiency on a nice rolling course. I only needed a few sips of my Nuun for fuel (but I did have a Jet Blackberry Gu prior to start so was well jacked) as the engine was burning nicely. Soon I was heading towards the finish and ready to rally light it up. Bike time – around 38 minutes averaged 21.7 mph.

Thanks to having my flats already on I made it from bike to run in about 40 seconds. I took my bike computer off and ran with it to keep heart rate tracking and off to the trails I went. I got onto the single track once I opted to hurdle the ROCK. Being that I was going at the speed I was, it was all intense focus as they come. I had to scan and adjust speed on the fly due to the terrain and it made for a great cross country type course. As well marked as they come, you also had to check for arrows indicating where to turn. It was muddy in some areas, branches and roots in others, with a few good hills thrown in.

My mind went something like this – “churn it, whoa, branch, easy back on, mud, whoa, rock, heads up – turn right, and Squirrel!, no wait turn left now, hill, back down, rock, turn right, hop, Squirrel!”
I did start passing a few guys ahead after the first mile and knew my heartrate was around 160-170 range so just kept as focused as I could. I passed about 5 guys in the woods and once I made my way back out, it was only 200 yards to the finish. I passed one other guy before making the final push and completed the run portion in 18+ minutes for a total time of 1:12!!! I placed 14th overall and first in my age group. I posted the fastest run split of the day. Great results, great test, and a great big hug and kiss from G made it a great pre-birthday present for her to come back with 2 medals.

We walked around for a bit, saw Wayne finish and his team came in 3rd. We talked to some athletes, thanked Frank from Sunrise for hosting such an event and got some shade and relaxed a bit before the awards ceremony. At 11 am, we were ready for destination 2 on our schedule.

We walked again the 20 minutes to the car – which is good since such a fast race for me causes residual soreness 24 hours afterwards so moving around is always good even with BioFreeze - and drove to her sister Chris’ house by noon. I only got to munch on an Odwalla bar but was feeling good despite no java. It was getting warmer and we were going to her church’s fundraising picnic in which the baseball field of the school becomes an outdoor tailgate for $5-10 each. Everyone pitches a canopy and bbq’s, hangs out, they give out prizes, while everyone just has a relaxing good time. The fire company had a hose spraying very cold water as a “sprinkler” and was quite refreshing. Then the Mr Softee trucks came and if there are two things people would wait on line for is free beer and ice cream. They had both and the ice cream had at least a one hour line (of which I waited on for of course).

By 5pm we headed on back to her other sister’s house who joined us as we soaked our feet in the pool and demolished her bake off contest entry – a nutella/chocolate ice cream cookie crumb type of thing that really put up a challenge to not only her own peanut butter pie that I love, but the church picnic contest. She won it last year and this year came in second. She won first prize in our books as it capped off a splendid day! MMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!

By the time we got home, we unpacked, unraveled, and after being up at 4-4:30am, were in bed by 9:30pm. One smoothie concoction for recovery and it was lights out. Pictures in the gallery.

Next week, Gina and her 2 sisters from Long Island will be doing the MacArthur 5K Run/Walk to celebrate her birthday. Her 2 nephews will also be going. I get to race the 5K then cheer them on for the walk which takes place afterwards. Thanks to a few items from Brooks, she’s all geared up and a big thank you to YOUBARS as I got to create the IRONSHERPA BAR and get a box for her. A sherpa needs to be fueled and it’s a great bar. (yes there already is a TeamMC bar).

Side note – Polar was recently awarded 22nd out of 40 in the best companies to work for in New York, as voted on by employee surveys analyzed. The new CS500 cycling unit is out as well!

June will be more tri training and now eyes on for the Myrtle Beach Half-Ironman Halfmax National Championships – which I hope to get another personal best in. I also got invited to be a part of the Hood to Coast Relay which is being held at the end of August. I am a member of the Big Kahunas which hope to crack the top 25 out of 1000 teams that take part in this event. It is a non-stop run relay made up of 12 runners that go from Portland, Oregon to the coast. I was asked by Chris Spano who recruited the team – he was a runner I knew from Charlotte and he has a great team lined up. Stay tuned.

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