White Mountains Triathlon & Lessons from the East

Two weeks ago I raced the first race on the east coast, The White Mountains Triathlon in Franconia, New Hampshire.  I heard about the race because it is a Hammer Nutrition sponsored event and would be serving up Hammer products on the race course.  It was a first year event and I was excited to finally get to race and see where my fitness was.  I had a few crazy weeks of travel and training has been intermittent and swimming was non-existant.  Despite my lack of training I knew that I needed a jump start for my Ironman Lake Placid training.  After racing for several years and logging many miles I have developed a premature case of man strength.  In my early days of triathlon I was always amazed by some of Montana’s great triathletes like; Matt Seeley, Todd Struckman, John Weston and others.  The old guard of Montana Stampede seemed as if they absorbed their training efforts much quicker and turned into monsters on race day.  After several years of training I have suddenly felt that I have some form of this and I can often times fake a race without the proper training.  The half ironman distance was new grounds for racing primarily on man strength so I was interested to see the outcome.

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I love racing although sometimes I get sick of the WTC Ironman race scene so the small local race was a fun scene.  The race was based out of Franconia State Park and was limited to 200 racers.  The venue was beautiful and Echo lake; a small mountain lake served as the swim venue.  It was a two loop course and I was able to swim the course the day before the race and see if I still knew how to swim.  Fortunately I did and I actually felt decent.  The bike course had lots of climbing with 3,000+ feet and the run was equally difficult; although I did not find this about the run until I was racing it.  I went through my normal race routines and after adequate 53×11 Coffee I was ready to take on the challenge.  Coffee makes everything more enjoyable even getting up at 5 am to get in some food 3 hours before the race start.  For those that do not drink coffee here is some motivation from The New York Times.  Caffeine and coffee aside I was ready to rock and roll!

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The race had a few waves and I was grouped in the 40 and under category of about 60 racers. The gun went off and I had a good start but one of the swimmers took off like he was shot out of a cannon!  I felt good on lap 1 but lap 2 I started to fatigue and knew that my lack of swimming was beginning to show. I exited the water in 31 minutes which was 8 minutes behind the dude that was shot out of the canon.  Once out onto the bike I was flying and I felt good aboard my Look 596 bicycle!  Big thanks to The Cycling House for setting me up with my new race bike.  I knew I would be flying on this section because the first half of the bike course was a net elevation loss and I made up some time on the leader and I was really pushing the pace.  At about mile 40 we hit the real hills and the race had a KOM on a short 10+% grade which had a $100 prime.  I dug in and went hard up the hill although my efforts fell short and I had the second fastest time.  The effort left me a little fatigued and I quickly regretted the choice to sprint up the hill because the rest of the course offered many more short steep hills.  I struggled for the last 16 miles and did not make up any more time the leaders. My legs felt heavy!  I now knew how Tyler Hamilton felt after having a bad blood bag although I did not have a blood bag and I was just hitting a wall.  I kept myself focused with a few caffeinated Hammer Gels and I hit the transition a couple of minutes behind the leader.

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I started out on the run feeling decent although I was a little discouraged that I had not made up the difference to the leader.  Regardless I set out at a good pace and began fueling with Hammer Gel in a flask (I add 4 servings of gel and the rest H20).  At the first turn around on the 2 loop out and back course I found myself right behind the leader.  Shortly after the turnaround I moved into first place and held strong until the finish.  The hilly two loop course took its toll and  I started to slow down durning the last 4 miles of the run.  I hit the finish line in 4:46 with a 31 minutes swim, 2:38 bike and 1:31 run.  The White Mountains triathlon was probably the hardest 1/2 Ironman course that I have ever raced.  The race director, volunteers and everyone involved made this a very good first year race.  I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a good challenge or the perfect tune up race for Ironman Lake Placid.  I was happy to win but more happy to find out exactly where my fitness was at.  I knew that I still had a lot of hard work before Ironman Lake Placid and since the race I have been buckling down and hitting training hard.

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I have been in New Hampshire for a little over two weeks and I have learned some valuable lessons.  Here are a few things that I have learned.

  1. New Hampshire is not flat!
  2. Humidity is the real deal and it will slap you in the face if you are not prepared.
  3. Mountain biking is much, much more technical than the trails of Montana.
  4. You can do a multi-state ride relatively easily.
  5. Bike commuting in Manchester, New Hampshire is always an adventure.
  6. Rain happens…

All for now, until next time.

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