Jun 9, 2009

Edinboro Triathlon 2009

After the Cleveland Half Marathon, I took a very needed recovery week. I took a few days, but I slowly got my legs back underneath me. I was actually shocked on how sore I was after this particular race. After two days of limping down stairs, I started to feel a bit better. That weekend I ran a bunch of trails to try to loosen everything back up. Following a long recovery week, I decided to take Sunday completely off. It was my first day off in nearly 6 weeks. Jim Dalberg, Brendan Barton and I decided to go on a kayaking trip in Hiram, Ohio. A chill 7 miles on the river turned into 4 hours of drinking and flipping each other’s kayaks. It was the perfect day off. I just wish we would have brought more beer. An 18-pack for three people is NOT an acceptable amount of beer for an afternoon on the river.

The following morning, I started one of the tougher training weeks I've had in a while. On memorial day, I took to the track and hammered out 11 miles of 1000s, 800s, and 400s. I followed it up with a 30 mile ride out to my parents house for some BBQ. On Wednesday, I was told to go test myself against one of the toughest, most die hard bike riders in Ohio, Aussie Rob. We have such a strong rivalry. We would both rather die than let the other one win in anything. He is the perfect training partner... if I want to limp home. We rode over 50 HARD miles that night. We spent the evening riding 27-30 mph off the front of the pace line. I know we pissed some people off, but we wrecked each other; it was perfect. Our ride ended with a 2 mile sprint towards Sweetwater. I had never ridden my bike so hard. After that night, my legs were shot, but the week's training was only beginning. Before Saturday morning's race, I managed to knock out several more hours of riding. The morning of the race, Jim LaMastra, Dave Deucker and I went out and rode the course. My legs felt dead. I had no power, but like Jim had told me, I would have to rely on my fitness, not my preparation, to get me through this race.

After the morning ride, we headed down to transition to get ready to race. The swim was a short out and back in Edinboro Lake. At first, the lake seems murky, muddy and gross. But, after you swam 100 yards from the shore, it was surprisingly clear and calm. We all lined up a few meters from shore and got ready to start the race. I stood in the front of the pack laughing and talking to Jim and Dave when we heard a "BANG." We were all shocked. There was no countdown, the race had already begun. We all feverishly raced for the first boat. Not surprisingly, Jim, Dave and Dan Pierce flew from the front of the pack. I tried to settle in but was fairly uncomfortable the entire swim. On the way back towards shore, I was able to pace with a few other athletes. I finally got my heart rate under control during the last 200 yards. That gave me the ability to put together a quick swim exit. When I got to the beach, I was able to get my legs under me right away. I sprinted towards T1 passing the clock, it read 15:30. I was a little over 2 minutes down from the lead pack.

As soon as I got on my bike, I felt my lack of power. I couldn't seem to get going. I was having trouble picking up momentum. I knew my legs were shot from Wednesday night's race with Aussie Rob. I tried to push the pace during the 23.6 mile bike leg, but I felt like I was loosing time. I caught one other athlete at mile 15, but was passed by another around the same time. I didn't like the fact that anyone was passing me during this race. All three of us exchanged the lead a few times, but we all ended up coming into T2 within seconds of one another. My bike split was a slow 1:00:21, slowest split of the season. I am still having trouble getting my Olympic distance bike splits down, I always push faster paces in 70.3’s. When entering T2, I immediately passed those two guys, I flew onto the run course with one thing in mind, making up lost time. I flew out of T2 running a pace closer a mile repeat, not a 10k. That is just how I like to start the third leg, hard. I feel like it sets the tone for the rest of the race. As I settled into more sustainable pace, I passed my Dad and Jim's family. I was told that I was still over 2 minutes down from Dave and 6 minutes down from Jim. I couldn't even believe it. I knew my bike split was slow, but I couldn't believe I lost 4 minutes to Jim. I am not surprised he rode 55 minutes; I am just surprised he did it today. Note to self: JIM LAMASTRA IS ALWAYS FIT, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE SAYS OR DOES. Everyone should know that by now.

As I ran towards the turn around, I started to feel pretty strong. I was sitting in 4th position and I could see Dave and Dan ahead. I knew I would catch them. I just didn't know how long it would take. I finally closed the gap. I passed Dan at mile 3.5 and Dave at mile 5. As I passed Dave, I was hoping he would go with me. I wanted that race to the finish like we always talk about. Unfortunately, Dave got directed off course and had run a quarter mile extra. His extra effort kept him from going with me when I passed. I know it would have been a very close race if he would have stayed on course. When I ran into 2nd position, I knew I couldn't catch Jim, so I cruised in the last mile. I was working hard, but there was no one pushing me to go any faster. I was in cruise control. I had accepted my fate. I crossed the line second to Jim. I had just run about 36:30 for the 10k. It was the second fastest run split of the day. I know I could have run 1 minute faster if I needed to, but there was no one pushing me to run faster. I guess if someone is out of sight, they are out of mind. I knew Kevin Park was in the race, but he started in the wave after us. I had no idea how far back the wave had started, so it was hard to gauge how far I was ahead or behind. He ended up getting me by about 30 seconds. I am sure he was thrilled about this. I just wish we would have had the opportunity to actually race one another. After looking at the splits, I realized that, if we started in the same wave, we would have both started the run together. That would have been a real race. I think most people know how I feel about Kevin Park… However, I have tremendous respect for any man who can race into their 40's and still be one of the faster guys in Ohio.

After a tough week of training, I ended up finishing the 3rd overall in 1:54:26. I was very happy with my result and even happier that Rachel and my Dad came out to watch me. I had a ton of fun and realized that the Edinboro Triathlon is one of the best local triathlons around. Anyone from Cleveland, Erie, or Pittsburgh should definitely give this race a shot. The race director was very sweet, the volunteers were helped, and the course was perfect. Congrats to my coach and close friend, Jim LaMastra, who crushed everyone by over 4 minutes. No one was in the same league as him that day. Also, congrats to Dave Duecker, who took 4th overall (first out of the water, as usual). The Fleet Feet / Bike Authority team had a very solid race by taking 3rd and 4th place. We are definitely starting to make our presence known. Finally, congrats to Brian Stern who had a very impressive run split, one of the fastest for the day.

Next up, a short taper before racing the Kansas 70.3. Hopefully, I’ll have a solid race and get that result that I’ve been building towards all season.



  1. a.j. I love the edinboro race...the atmosphere..the run course thats up hill in first part.
    great job 3rd overall

  2. Good race, you flew out of transition like you were on fire. I was the one guy that passed you on the bike, and I could tell it ticked you off. I had visions of a decent sub 40 run but a huge side cramp killed me, ran a 24 out and 19 something back. Wanted to neg split, but not that much!