2575 Las Olas

imageI have been in Miami for 9 weeks now and I couldn’t have asked for better weather to train in during the winter months. As everyone up north suffered through “snowmageddon” I was sweating through 80 degree workouts. About 5 weeks into my stay here I decided to sign up for 2575 Las Olas, an 800 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike, and a 5k run. It was going to be a good race to test my speed in the early season. My run training leading up to the race was solid and it paid off. My biking, not so much. With the purchase of Black Thunder, my bike, about 6 weeks ago I finally was able to start riding, but I never really got any good solid training rides in. Most of my rides were long and averaging a decent pace, but not race specific to build the speed I would need for the 12.4 miles. As far as swim training it was non existent until the week before in which I did 2 1k swims.

4:30 a.m. on race morning the alarm clock sounded and I was up showering, eating, and preparing the last few things. Jeanna, my girlfriend and biggest supporter, and I were in the car by 5:30 and off to the race. We arrived to wind, hard winds, strong enough to make them change the swim to 600 meters. I got everything set up and it was down to the beach to watch the pros start and wait my turn.

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The swim was rough, but the current was strong which definitely helped with my limited training. It was one of my rougher swims in a while, and considering I am use to the calm waters of Puerto Rico the waves were a bit of a change. I managed the swim in a time of 10:46 and I was fine with that.

Transition 1 was flawless for me until I couldn’t get my feet on top of my bike shoes to start the bike. Definitely need to practice this a bit more. The bike was a two loop course and was completely flat. Heading out I felt good and was holding a good speed until I realized it was due to the high winds at my back. I made the turn and it was like I hit a wall. I was not ready to battle the winds. I pushed through and was still passing people so it made me feel like I was doing well, but in the end it would not be fast enough. I finished the bike feeling good and ready to run with a time of 36:37. It was nice feeling ready to run, but I wanted to have a faster bike time. Looking back it’s obvious that I didn’t have enough training time on the bike, and in my previous races that would have been ok considering a bunch have been draft legal. Being my first non drafting race in a while, it was an adjustment and I really feel that there is a huge difference between the races. All in all I learned that I need to step it up on the bike and give Black Thunder the rider that she deserves.

T2 was good and like I said I felt ready to run. I headed out on to the course following a guy that seemed like he was going to keep a good pace. I ended up following him for about 2 miles (thanks for the pacing whoever you were). I was averaging about 7:00 miles and I knew I could push it for the last one. Bye bye pacer, I was off. I pushed it and then for the last 200 meters or so ended up in a sprint finish battling a fellow competitor. It may have not been to win the race, but we both pushed like it was. I finished the run in 21:22 (6:53 min/mi). Running has always been my hardest part. I could never get the pace I wanted due to cramps and GI issues, but I have worked a lot on it and it keeps paying off.

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My total time was 1:10:38. I was satisfied with my swim and pumped about my run, but can’t get over how I got smoked on the bike. I finished 4th in my age group and the difference between me and the podium basically came down to the bike. Its a little hard to take, but it’s early in 2014 and I can guarantee I will be ready to ride in my next race.

I didn’t have my Moxie Multisport race kit for the race, but it was awesome knowing that I had their support even if it wasn’t on my clothes. It was also good to meet fellow teammate C.J. Fleming who rocked it out there. Thanks to all our sponsors for your support and can’t wait to get back out there.

One Big Week

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When I finished up in Puerto Rico right before Christmas it was time to pack everything up and move back to Pennsylvania. I have successfully travelled back and forth multiple times with my bike without any problems. That would soon change. I packed my bike in its soft case just like I had the previous trips, but upon arrival in Pittsburgh I opened the bag to a cracked frame. The bike was a Scott Plasma pro which is equivalent to the new Plasma 20. I immediately filed the report at the airport and got the process rolling. Finally, after Christmas I was able to get the reports from the bike shop I needed and got the paperwork sent in. 3 weeks passed until US Air decided to contact me, but at least it was with good news. They were giving me the max amount they are able to ($3400) and I just needed to give them the cracked bike. I was pumped. I thought it would be a lot of hassling back and forth, but there was none at all. Thank You US Air.

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And now I introduce you to Black Thunder

During the 3 weeks I knew I was going to need a new bike no matter how big of a compensation I got from the airlines. So I started doing my research and it mainly came down to a new Scott plasma 20 or Black Thunder, a trek speed concept 7.5. To me it was hard to beat the price of this bike with all the advanced features it comes with and it also seems to fit me perfectly. I have had it for a week now and have got to put about 70 miles on it. I love it even though I was pretty nervous to ride it for the first time. The guys at All4Cycling in Miami really took care of me and I would definitely recommend them to anyone in the area. I’ve only made one upgrade which is my ISM Adamo saddle, and as of right now I don’t think I need to change anything else. I’m excited to keep putting miles on it and can’t wait till I get to race it. I am the only thing that can slow down Black Thunder. It’s a great addition to my big 2014 season. If you are in the Miami area and want to ride along with Black Thunder let me know I’m always looking for people to train with.

As if this week had not been good enough I was also selected to be a part of the 2014 moxie multisport national team. I am so excited to be a part of the team and represent them during my training and racing. It was a great honor to be selected and I plan on proving that they made a great choice in selecting me for this elite team. I will be rocking the W for the 2014 season!! Boom!!

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One Small Island, Two Big Goals

In the summer of 2010 I was accepted into optometry school in Puerto Rico. I could not have been happier. I was headed to a place where it is always warm and I would get to start my journey to become an optometrist. Also, It was just in 2009 that I really got interested in triathlons so heading to Puerto Rico was a great advantage to really start training. 80 degrees year round, can’t complain. Going in I had two goals on my mind: 1. Become an optometrist 2. See what I could do with triathlon.

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1st year: Classes were pretty basic, mostly reviews of anatomy and biology and the introduction into optics and how vision and glasses actually work. I lived on campus and had lots of free time which was spent meeting new friends and my current girl friend who I started dating 1 month into school. As far as triathlons I did some running and riding inside on my trainer, but mostly I was hitting the gym. Bayamon, PR is not a great place to bike or run outside and traveling to San Juan to train was always a bit difficult with all the traffic. That year I did compete in the Worlds Best 10k and an Olympic triathlon. They were great experiences and a good intro to racing in PR.

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2nd year: The intensity of school picked up, but so did my triathlon training. I set my goals on racing San Juan 70.3 in March of 2012. Classes during the day, training in the evenings all while trying to work in time with friends and the girlfriend. It wasn’t easy, but I also learned at this point how important the training was to my studies. It’s my way to escape school and everything that is going on. People always asked me what I would think about as I did endless laps around the loop on campus and I could really never give them a good answer. My mind just wonders and all the stress and things that are bothering me are just released. It’s my Phil time and at that moment nothing else matters. The time for my first 70.3 came around and it was a great experience. My training wasn’t great leading up to it, but I wanted to get that first one out of the way and learn the little things you only learn from racing that distance. San Juan 70.3 is a great course, but the run is hot, really hot. That was my big race for my second year and as the year came to an end I was halfway done with optometry school and half of an ironman.

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CIMG1521. 3rd year: In our school 3rd year is when we started working in the clinic and seeing our first patients. At this point yo hablo muy paquito espanol (I spoke little Spanish) but since then it has improved and I can confidently do a complete eye exam in Spanish. We started studying for national boards and at the same time I decided to race in the 2013 Puerto Rico Triathlon Series. It consisted of 4 Olympic distance races throughout the year and at each race points were awarded to the top competitors overall and in age groups. Training was easier since I had moved to Isla Verde and lived on the beach, but I didn’t have as much time as before. Studying for boards and training were difficult, but I managed to put in the study time and successfully passed part 1 of boards in March and then went on to race the first race in which I placed first in my age group. I followed that race up with another first place age group win in the second race of the series. Our third year ended and the series would finish during the fall of my fourth year.

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4th year: For me fourth year consists of working at clinics in PR from July to December and then working in Miami and NYC in the spring until graduation on June 2, 2014. With no classes and only part 2 and 3 of national boards to study for I had plenty of time to train. In October I raced in the 3rd race of the series and learned a huge lesson. Never Give Up. During the run I struggled with major pains in my stomach and was doing a run walk. Approaching the finish line I slowed down with about 15 yards to go and at that moment I was passed and would end up getting second in my age group by 1 second. There went my series sweep. If only I would have sucked it up for the last few seconds. Lesson to be learned: always know where people are around you and never give up until crossing the finish line. The last race came on our last weekend in PR. What a way to go out. I had the best race I have ever had and finished 1st in my age group and 7th overall. All the run training finally came together and I had a great race. I won my age group for the series and it was a perfect ending to my triathlon career in Puerto Rico. My schooling was going great too. I took part 2 and 3 of national boards that fall and recently found out I passed both of them. I am now nationally certified to be an Optometrist in the United States. I’m still finishing my fourth year and am currently in Miami, FL. I’m getting back into training and have some big goals for 2014. It’s gonna be a great year in all aspects of my life and as I sit outside in 80 degree weather while most states are in a deep freeze I’d have to say that it’s off to a good start.

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Trialo Isla Verde

I haven’t been very efficient at writing on here, but I would like to change that starting now. This past weekend I raced in the Sprint Trialo Isla Verde (Isla Verde sprint triathlon) here in Puerto Rico. Since coming back to school in August I have actually been putting in some decent training so I was anxious to get into a race and see how it has paid off. I have switched up my workouts to include shorter sessions, but with a much higher effort. I also added TRX strength training once a week, which has seem to really help. The change has been nice since my school schedule doesn’t allow me to have much time on tuesdays and thursday since I’m in class from 8-7:20.

Saturday night I had a delicious dinner consisting of steak, a potato, and steamed broccoli that my girlfriend prepared. I don’t really have a pre-race dinner especially for a sprint distance race. I got all my gear ready and my bike cleaned up and stickered. Sunday morning came way to quick and I was in the shower by 4 AM. I made an omelette with american cheese and a cup of coffee, threw on my race clothes and headed out the door. Transition opened at 5 AM and since it is first come first serve on spots I wanted to make sure I was there early. Transition was located about a mile from my apartment so I was able to just ride my bike to the race. I got there just as they were opening transition and got what I thought was the best spot on the rack. I set my stuff up, filled up my aero bottle with a Base Performance mix and was ready to go. The race didn’t start until 7 so I had plenty of time to wait around and walk through transition multiple times to make sure I knew where I was going. My girlfriend eventually showed up a little after 6 so I had someone to help keep me relaxed up until race time.

The swim was an open water ocean swim and luckily it was the calmest I’ve seen the ocean in a while. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions especially because swimming is my weakest area. It was a mass start of about 250 people so I started on the outside to stay away from all the mayhem in the middle. The swim was pretty smooth, I got kicked in the chest pretty hard going around the first bouy, but other then that I maintained a steady pace to put myself in a decent spot for the start of the bike.

Finishing the swim I climbed the sand bank and it was off to the bike. Helmet, race number, sunglasses, shoes and I was ready to ride. I ran out of transition and had a quick mount and was off. It was a draft legal race so now the main objective was to find a good pack of riders to lock on to. My own pace had me going faster than some of the small packs so I just made my way from one to the next until I finally found a decent pack of 3 riders. I rode with them for just a little bit to rest and then I knew I could go a little faster. Just at that time two riders came flying by and I knew I had to get on their wheel. I stomped on the pedals and was able to catch up and once I did we were flying past other people. It was a 5 loop course so there were plenty of other riders around and we were able to weave around them making a lot of time up on the leaders. I stayed with this pack for about 3 loops and then lost them on the start of the last loop when the stronger bike just took off and left the other ride and me to fend for ourselves. I finished the bike by myself and still felt pretty good for the run.

Into transition, off with the bike gear, and on with the running shoes. I had a pretty quick transition, started the run, and was immediately surprised to learn that part of the run was in a grass field. This shocked me at first and I didn’t really like it, but I adapted quickly and knew that I just had to keep pushing my self. It was a 2 loop course with lots of turn arounds so I had a pretty good idea of who was in front of me and what I was going to have to do to move up and hold my position. I felt pretty good the whole run and was only passed by two runners, one which was involved in a relay team. I finished strong and knew I had put in a decent race that I could be proud of.

Living so close I was able to pack up all my stuff except my bike and take it back to the apartment, shower, and eat before the awards ceremony that was suppose to start at 10 AM. We got back in time, but the 10 AM start time turned in to 11 AM and then finally started at 11:45 AM. I knew I had done pretty well so I was hoping that I had placed in my age group, turned out I got 2nd and got a little trophy along with the finishing medal. Overall it was a good race, and a great day. Puerto Rico is a beautiful place to race and the scenery will never get old. I started off with some high standards for this falls racing schedule.

Swim 750m: 16:02
T1: 1:05
Bike 20k: 35:52
T2: 0:57
Run 5k: 23:22
Total: 1:17:16

A long week


4 tests, long labs, and an injured calf made for a pretty miserable week. The past week consisted of long days and nights of studying followed by little sleep and consistent periods of icing and stretching. Last Friday (Feb. 24) I hurt my calf during a 13 mile run in preparation for IronMan San Juan 70.3 on March 18th. This injury sidelined me all week in hopes that it would almost fully heal and I would still be good to race. Not exercising for a couple days already puts me in a bum mood and add multiple tests to that and it makes for an extremely bummed mood. It started with a test on Monday and then Tuesday which went pretty well, but the one I was most worried about was on Friday. Fridays was difficult, but I was definitely relieved to have it done. Only one more left tomorrow and then some freedom.

Saturday my school, IAUPR, celebrated its 100th anniversary in San German, PR. The day included a parade, some concerts throughout the day, and then the closing ceremony with fireworks and the whole deal. I got a late start, but it was nice to sleep in finally. The drive is very scenic, but about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

When we made it to San German parking was almost impossible to find until we lucked into a pretty good spot. The event was fun and the music was loud and crazy, typical Puerto Rican style. We lasted for about an hour or so and then finally had enough and decided to go to a nearby hotel with friends to have some beverages around the pool. That turned out to be a lot of fun and took up the rest of our day.

Sunday was spent studying once again and I was actually able to get a short bike ride in to test the calf. It felt pretty good so tomorrow will be another testing day. Hopefully it goes well and I will be able to really get back to my training.

What do you use to relieve some of your stress?

I use my training. Hours spent by myself running, biking, and swimming really helps clear my head.

Newbie

I have been debating whether to start a blog for a long time now, and after studying for 4 days straight I needed a little break and figured now is the time. I’m not sure what I’ll all post here, probably what my days or weeks have been like, how my triathlon training is going, stories about being an optometry student, or maybe random things that happen to me while living here in Puerto Rico. I don’t know what it will be, but I hope it will be interesting and I hope I find time to write occasionally. Enjoy!