"If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise." ~P.Z. Pearce

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

posted Jul 30, 2014, 3:12 PM by Bob Gannon   [ updated Aug 3, 2014, 5:15 PM ]

My journey from couch to Ironman finisher.

In 2010, after spending most of the year cycling, I had my first thoughts of entering a triathlon.  So one day I went to my neighbors pool to swim laps but I was only able to swim one lap before I gave up!   But I didn't totally give up, instead I signed up for an eight week swimming class and before the class ended I registered for four triathlons.  While I was learning to swim I also started running.  I hadn't run since my high school days and I discovered what happens when you run too far, too fast.  I quickly developed shin splints which caused me to give up running for a couple of weeks.  I eased back into running and knock on wood, I haven't had any issues with shine splints.  

In 2011 I finished three sprint distance triathlons and two duathlons.  One of the duathlons was actually a sprint triathlons but the bike portion of the tri was cancelled due to the road conditions.  The other duathlon was supposed to be my first Olympic distance triathlon but the swim was cancelled because the river was flooded after a tropical storm.

Things went much better in 2012 and I finished 2 sprint triathlons and four Olympic distance triathlons.  I replaced my road bike with a tri bike and set new personal records at my last two triathlon.  Since every second counts while racing, in January 2013 I bought Zipp 808 carbon fiber race wheels for my bike.

In my third year of racing I completed ten triathlons with my "A" race being the Ironman 70.3 Eagleman triathlon.  The Eagleman triathlon was in late June and I had been dealing with a foot injury since May.  I should have put in more time running in preparation for Eagleman but it didn't matter.  I did well with the swim, bike and run, finishing the triathlon thirty minutes faster then expected.  A highlight of 2013 was meeting Sister Madonna Buder at Eagleman and meeting her again in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Age Group Nationals triathlon.  Sister Madonna is an inspiration to many people and you can read about her in this article on Wikipedia.  

So my four year plan was to keep increasing the distance of my triathlons until I reached the full distance triathlon, the Ironman.  All 140.6 miles of the Ironman, that's 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling and 26.2 miles running.  Why is an Ironman distance race equal to 140.6 miles?  That is a good question and luckily it's been answered in this Wikipedia article.  As difficult as an Ironman triathlon is, the events are very popular and sell out quickly.  I was lucky enough to get registered in a "race package" that included the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse and Ironman Lake Placid.  Most training programs recommend athletes complete a half Ironman triathlon four to six weeks before the full Ironman.  The Syracuse 70.3 triathlon was timed just right for the Lake Placid triathlon.  The hills on the bike and run course at the Syracuse triathlon also prepare athletes for Lake Placid.

Some people might be able to finish an Ironman triathlon without the assistance of a coach but I wasn't taking any chances of not reaching the finish line.  In January 2014 I started working with Bill Hauser at Mid-Atlantic Multisport.  I've know Bill for years and I knew Bill was the guy to get me trained for Lake Placid.  We didn't have the best winter for training and many days I replaced swimming and running sessions with snow shoveling.  But overall, I finished almost every training session Bill scheduled over those seven months.  In March I ran the Love Run half marathon and set a new personal record.  Two weeks later I set a new personal record when I ran the Garden Spot half marathon.  While not required, I did one 2.4 mile open water swim during one of my training sessions.  You don't need to run the marathon distance when training for a marathon but there is something psychological about knowing you can swim 2.4 miles before you get to the Ironman triathlon.

My last weekend for a long training session was the July 4th weekend.  One day I completed a six hour bike ride and ran for an hour.  The next day I went swimming and then ran for four hours.  I had trained as much as possible and now it was time to let my body rest and recover before going to Lake Placid.  Those last three weeks before the triathlon are an interesting time.  You have lots of free time because you scaled back on the training and you also have mixed emotions about the race.  Some days I worried about things that could go wrong and some days I was excited to be racing.  

I had already cycled the bike course in May so I drove the course to let my wife know what I would face during the triathlon.  It was raining while driving down the hill into Keene and in the safety of the car at 50 MPH my wife was scared.  Hopefully it wouldn't be raining on race day.  On Saturday we had beautiful weather and I went for a quick swim, bike ride and run.  I met Bill and his other athletes at the lake for a pre-race photo.  There were lots of other groups waiting their turn for the photo op at the "Ironman rock."

I didn't sleep well the night before the race due to pre-race jitters.  When I raced the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse I lost my timing chip.  That was the first time I lost a timing chip and while the system works well to get a replacement the clock is ticking the whole time you are waiting for an official to show up with the new chip.  It also takes a couple of days for the Ironman organization to manually add the time from the new chip to your race results.  I didn't want to lose my chip during the Lake Placid Ironman race so I used a safety pin to secure the Velcro strap. 

I woke at 3 AM, ate breakfast, packed my nutrition bags and headed for the field.  It rained over night and I hoped that my race clothes were dry.  Transitions work differently at Ironman triathlons, your bike is out in the transition area and your race clothes are stored in bags outside the changing tents.  When we brought our bike and bags to transition on Saturday I found out many people had little tricks to prevent water from getting into the bags.  Some people ran the draw strings through red solo cups, some people taped the bags shut, some people used the draw strings to tie the bags shut and some people used a clear bag over the clothes bag so the clear bag acted as an umbrella.  I was able to scrounge up a couple of clear bags to protect my clothes.  The system worked well because on race morning my clothes were dry.

Calm before the storm - Official photo on the Ironman website.
There was no reason to hang out at transition so I headed to the lake.  While I thought my swim would take me 1:30:00 I seeded myself in the group 1:20:00 to 1:29:00.  The sky was cloudy but the sun was trying to break through.  The air and water temperatures we perfect for a wetsuit legal race.  The cannon signaled the start of the race for the pro men.  The next cannon signaled the start for the women and the third cannon was sounded for the Age Group athletes.  The sun came out before I went into the water around 7:45 AM EDT.  I walked across the timing mat, ran into the water and started swimming.  I thought it would be crowded with 2800 athletes racing but I stayed wide of the buoys and avoided the other swimmers.  I like this photo from the Ironman website that shows the swimmers in Mirror Lake.  
Ironman Lake Placid swim, official photo on Ironman website
When the swimmers return they have to swim around the dock, run across the beach and dive back into the water for the second lap.  While I was swimming out on the second lap it started to rain.  Then it started to rain really hard.  I didn't care and didn't think about the rain.  I finished my second lap, ran across the timing mat and headed for transition.  It was a raining during that long run on wet sidewalks and about half way to transition a group of runners came from another direction.  I'm not sure where they came from but it seemed like there were too many people heading to transition.  I grabbed my "bike bag" from the hook and went into the changing tent.  It was crowded and the inside of the tent was like a sauna.  As soon as I put on my glasses they fogged up and I couldn't see unless I looked over the top of the glasses.  I finished dressing, shoved the wetsuit into my clothes bag and ran outside for my bike.  I ran the bike to the "mount line" but it was so crowded I was delayed getting on my bike.  The race starts with some tricky downhill streets before you make it to the highway.

Even the highway was crowded with bikes, like nothing I had experienced in my previous races.  After leaving town we headed down a hill where the state police had stopped traffic.  Going up the next hill the police had placed orange cones on the double yellow line.  We were riding four abreast with me closest to the yellow lines.  I was squeezed as close to the cones as possible and I didn't see the road sign in the first cone until it was too late.  My left hand struck the sign which fought back and cut my knuckle.  Blood rain down my hand amid the the raindrops.

It started raining harder, with lots of thunder and lightning.  I questioned the logic of riding a bicycle in a lightning storm but I continued to pedal up the hill.  My next concern was the down hill ride into Keene.  In good weather with dry roads it's a ride that will raise your heart rate.  In this weather it was scary.  I did what I could to feather the breaks and slow my bike down but the wheels were so wet I couldn't do much to slow down the bike.  I was surprised how many people flew past me on the bike but I figured I would catch them on the long flat stretch to the town of Ausable.  
Balazs Czoke
Professional athlete 
Balazs Czoke didn't seem to mind the rain as shown in this official photo on the Ironman website.  Besides worrying about crashing in the rain I was worried about how cold I felt.  Wearing a wind vest wasn't keeping me warm and I had no hope the rain to stop.  I wasn't sure how much longer I could stay in the race.  The road to Ausable would require non stop peddling and my only hope was to warm up through physical exertion.  I don't recall when it stopped raining but it did stop and the sun come out and I warmed up.  This photo from the Ironman website showed how some riders decided to stay warm on the bike.
Ironman web site photo of riders in trash bags.
Ironman Lake Placid is a two loop bike course and after 56 miles I made it back into Lake Placid.  I stopped for my "special needs" bag, restocked my food and drinks and headed out for my second lap.  My hope was to complete the 112 miles in 6 hours but the first lap took me 3 hours 12 minutes.  The ride down the hill into Keene was uneventful and less scary since it wasn't raining.  There was a small out and back section just before Wilmington.  I was following four other riders and we all took the turn a little wide.  A rider behind me took the inside turn and distracted me.  As I looked over at him my left foot struck two of the cones on the double yellow lines.  I maintained my balance without knocking the cones over, avoiding a possible crash.  I'm not sure if I twisted my knee in this incident or when I tried to get off the bike at one of the aid stations.  My knee was bothering me when I arrived in Lake Placid after riding the second lap for 3 hours, 20 minutes.  I dismounted the bike, handed it off to a volunteer and ran to the racks for my running clothes.  

After a quick change I headed out to start the 26.2 mile run.  I was close to the first aid station when the runner ahead of me decided at the last moment he would like a drink.  He fell and nearly took me down too.  My goal was to run at least one lap without walking through an aid station but my knee was very painful.  I don't think I ran more then three miles before I started walking.  So many hours spent training and now my knee decided I wasn't going to finish the Ironman Lake Placid.  I was able to run short distances followed by periods of walking.  The longer I was out on the course the less I was able to run due to the pain.  It was demoralizing to have finished the swim early, the bike close to my predicted time and then give it all up on the run.  Bill Hauser was out on river road and his words of encouragement helped me push through.  There were so many people cheering the runners and with people calling out my name I was able to push through the pain and finish strong.  
I'm glad I was running when Bill took this photo.  

After the race I found out why there were so many people running from the lake to transition.  And why the road out of Lake Placid had so many cyclists.  Due to the lightning storm during the swim portion of the triathlon the race officials cancelled the swim.  Everyone that was still in the lake was directed to the closest shore point.  Once the athletes reached the shore they ran to transition.  Some athletes had to run around a large portion of the lake to reach transition.  The race officials decided that anyone who had swum both laps would have the second lap time removed.  Since the transition time was based on how far the athlete ran the transition time was also removed.

I was an Ironman Lake Placid finisher with an adjusted time of 12:43:57.  

My long day started to take it's toll while I was walking my bike back to the motel.  I wasn't hungry, I just wanted to take a shower and catch up on my sleep.  I didn't make it back to the finish line to watch the final racers cross the line but I did watch the live stream on the Internet.  I watched two of my friends cross the line in the final hour.   Congratulations to everyone that raced in Lake Placid and crossed the finish line.  You are an Ironman!   

On Monday morning we walked out of the motel get breakfast and ran into Herb Brown.  Herb was the oldest athlete in Ironman Lake Placid, racing at the age of 78.  Before the race Herb told me he would keep entering Ironman triathlons until he failed to finish a race.  He finished Ironman Lake Placid but Herb said he had trouble with his back while running.  Herb said "he was bent over like an old man" because he failed to do his core exercises.  We all smiled when he referred to himself as an old man.  Herb is already entered in another Ironman race two months from now, what an inspiration to the rest of us!

We arrived home on Tuesday night and found this sign in the yard.  Before we could get out of the car the kids came running over to hear about the race and show me the sign they created.  Maybe one of these boys will grow up to be a future Ironman. 

Those final days of training in early July really had me questioning the logic of entering an Ironman triathlon.  Now that I've finished Ironman Lake Placid I have mixed emotions.  Per my coaches orders, I haven't worked out since the race ended.  I'm looking forward to training again but I need to let my body recover from Ironman Lake Placid.  I have two more sprint distance races scheduled this season but I feel the need to enter another Ironman race.

Independence Triathlon 2014

posted Jul 3, 2014, 7:25 PM by Bob Gannon

I like to have many short term racing goals and it was weird not having a triathlon in May.  I went to Buck's county Pennsylvania for the Independence Triathlon.  It was just a sprint triathlon but it would be a good warm up for the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse in late June.  These triathlons typically have just two swim waves, first the men and then the women about 5 minutes later.  Sometimes it can get rough around the buoy's but this course wasn't bad since the first buoy wasn't close to the start of the race.  This was a wetsuit legal race and I knew every second would count so getting out of the wetsuit fast was vital.  

My swim time wasn't any better or worse then previous years but I gave up too much time to the other men in my age group.  I was able to quickly transition from my wetsuit to the bike.  It was a very steep up hill start and one guy got clipped onto his pedals but didn't have any momentum.  He fell over just to the left of me, any closer and he might have taken me down too.  There were a series of rolling hills on the bike course.  Being light I powered up the hills only to get passed on the downhill by riders that out weighed me.  I rode well but wished the course was longer so I could have made up the time I lost on the swim.     

Bob Gannon results
I made it down the hill into transition without crashing on the speed bumps.  I thought my transition time was good but looking at the results it's clear I need to work on my transitions.

I forgot how to setup my Garmin watch for multi sport events so I only had accumulative time.  I can tell how hard I'm running but I like seeing my pace on the watch.  I was running so fast that I had a "side stitch" pain but it was only a two mile run and I didn't want to slow down.  The run course was an out and back and I saw Robert had a big lead and couldn't be caught.  I knew I couldn't win my age group so I raced to make sure no one else in my age group passed me.

I finished second in my age group and was photographed with the classic one leg photo.

It took longer to drive to the race then it took to finish the race but it was an enjoyable race and I would go back.

Bob Gannon

Training, training, training

posted Jul 3, 2014, 6:53 PM by Bob Gannon

In the month of May I continued my Ironman training with a trip to Lake Placid, New York.  Swimming in Mirror Lake was an unbelievable experience.  When I got to Lake Placid I went to Mirror Lake to check the water temperature.  There were people swimming in the lake but the water was only 58 degrees so I skipped the swim.  Two days later the water was 63 degrees so I went swimming.  The water was unbelievably clear and sighting with the aid of the underwater cable was like sighting the black line at the bottom of the pool.  That water was colder then 63 degrees once I got away from the shore but I made it across the lake and back before heading to Starbucks to warm up.

I experienced almost every type of weather possible while riding the Ironman bike course.  Now I know what to expect on race day.  I wasn't happy with the condition of the road from Lake Placid, NY to Keene, NY but I heard they were going to pave the road before the Ironman triathlon.

On the last day of my trip I spent three hours running the course.

So many people told me about their experiences racing in Lake Placid and it seems like every week I meet someone else racing there this year.  I'm really looking forward to my first Ironman!

Broad Street Run 2014

posted May 16, 2014, 5:15 PM by Bob Gannon   [ updated May 16, 2014, 5:19 PM ]

Sunday May 4, 2014 marked the 35th year for the Broad Street Run and the city of Philadelphia capped registration at 40,000 runners.  The race quickly sold out in previous years so a lottery system was implemented a couple of years ago.  Last year I didn't know anyone that didn't get selected in the lottery but this year I knew many people whom were not selected. 
As you know from reading my blog I'm training for Ironman Lake Placid.  That training does not include training to run fast and my coach had specific instructions I was to follow while running the Broad Street Run.  I also had open water swimming and a five hour bike ride the day before the Broad Street Run.  I wondered if my coach was making sure I'd be too tired to run fast of testing my ability to run fast after a big workout.  

The weather was perfect and the drive to the stadium uneventful.  I like to get to my races early and today was no exception.  I was on the subway at 6:30 AM and since the race didn't start until 8:30 AM I had lots of time to kill before the start of the race.  With 40,000 runners in the race you would think I'd run into more then one friend but year after year I run into the same friend.  Maybe it's because we run the same pace and are seeded in the same corral.  I always planned to run the race as fast as I could and once the gun sounded I took off running like everyone else.  I looked down at my watch and saw I was running a 6:30 pace, way too fast for me to sustain over a 10 mile race.  I slowed down and tried to run a 7:30 pace.  Around the 5 mile mark a guy running with the flag of the United States passed me.  I'm always amazed how well that guy runs given he is carrying a full size flag. 

Unfortunately I didn't run as fast as the previous year but I did finish higher in my age group thanks to ageing up this year.      

Photos from the 2014 Broad Street Run are available on Flickr

Bob Gannon Broad Street Run 2014

Upper Mainline YMCA Triathlon 2014

posted May 4, 2014, 5:11 PM by Bob Gannon

This year I'm working with a coach for Ironman Lake Placid.  We are well into the training program and I've done many long runs and long bike rides.  I've even completed two half marathons.  But I haven't done much in the way of long swim sets.  Usually the 50 meter pool opens two weeks before the triathlon but this year it only opened the week of the triathlon.  I decided to take the opportunity to swim 500 meter sets for the night and I was able to keep my times consistent for all of the sets.  I'm still not a fast swimmer but I am consistent.

The bike course was changed this year because one of the roads was so riddled with potholes it wouldn't have been safe for the athletes.  The bike course was shorter which took away my advantage since biking is my strength.  We knew about the change to the bike course a couple of days before the race so I drove the course one night after finishing a workout at the YMCA.

The day before the triathlon I had a long ride on the bike trainer and then I went to the YMCA to pick up my athlete packet.  After picking up the packet I rode the bike course.  I didn't see any issues with the road surface except for one downhill section that required me to pick a less bumpy path to maintain my speed.  It was warm and sunny and I hoped the next day would be just as nice.

This is my fourth year racing the Upper Mainline YMCA triathlon and I've learned you have to provide an estimated swim time when you register.  I've also learned to say I swim slower then I actually do so I get a later start time.  My swim wave was scheduled for 9:01 AM and it was supposed to be 50 degrees so I figured I would enjoy a warm day.  What I hadn't counted on was the wind.  I was so cold just racking my bike in transition that I went back to the car for a jacket.

I did my swim warm up in one of the indoor pools where it was warm.  I pulled on my sweatshirt and went outside to wait for my swim wave.  It might have been 50 degrees but I was cold and the wind was cutting through my wet sweatshirt like a hot knife cuts through butter.  I couldn't wait to get in the pool.  Finally it was time to swim.  I picked lane two and the guys on each side of me looked around and decided I was the fastest swimmer.  A nice vote of confidence but only the clock could prove who was the fastest.  I was coiled up against the wall and pushed off with all the energy my legs could deliver.  I was the first swimmer off the wall and I never gave up the lead.  I was first out of the water and it was my fastest swim in four years at the UMLY triathlon.

I thought I did a descent job running on the cold concrete sidewalk to transition.  I pulled on the jacket and it zipped up on the first pull.  Sunglasses, helmet and off I went to see if I remembered how to perform a flying start.  

One of the issues with this triathlon is you ride the bike course by yourself.  Since I was first out of the water I had no other riders to help me pace the course.  I passed one rider on the first hill and caught five more riders on the next hill.  One scary moment on the course involved two police officers.  I saw two cars up ahead that wanted to turn left and were stopped by the police office.  A patrol car pulled up and was in a diagonal position in the intersection while the two officers talked.  There wasn't a lot of room but I went left around the stopped cars and right around the two officers.I got to the dismount line with another rider and I kept yelling "on your left" hoping the rider would move right and not cause a crash at the dismount line.  I passed the rider and ran to transition.

There were some people setting up their bikes in transition but they quickly moved out of my way.  I dropped off my bike and helmet but I kept the jacket for the run.  I didn't know the run course had changed so I made a left at the first intersection like I always did in the previous triathlons.  There was a guy near the intersection and he yelled at me "if you are in the race you are not on the course."  I stopped, doubled back and saw a sign that said I was supposed to run straight through the intersection and run up the hill.  That guy wasn't a volunteer with the triathlon but he saved me a lot of extra running.  When I got to the top of the hill I saw other runners and more signs.  I hadn't pressed the button on the Garmin 910XT so I didn't know what my running pace.  I just tried to run down the person ahead of me and continued doing that until I crossed the finish line.
Age Group Results

Just like last year I finished third in my age group.  The person that finished second in my age group was only fifteen seconds ahead of me.  If I hadn't made the mistake on the run course would I have finished second?  I'll never know.  What I found interesting was the difference in swim times.  I gave him a two and one half minute head start on the swim.  I'm surprised I ever closed the gap to fifteen seconds for the overall times.

Bob Gannon UMLY triathlon 2014 results

Garden Spot Half Marathon 2014

posted Apr 20, 2014, 2:29 PM by Bob Gannon

My coach had me listed for another long run on April 12 so I entered the Garden Spot Half Marathon in New Holland, PA.  The race offered race day registration, free parking and it was only 45 minutes from my house.  Runners that also finish the Run Amish Country half marathon in September will receive the coveted Road Apple Award.  April 12 was a work weekend for my team and I only managed to get three hours of sleep before I had to get ready for the race.  I'd like to thank my manager and my team for covering for me so I could run the half marathon.
It was still dark when I left the house but sunrise would soon present me with a warm and sunny day.  After sunrise I could see fog sitting in the low spots of the rolling hills in Lancaster county.  I didn't give any more thought to the rolling hills until I checked in for the race.  The t-shirt I received had an elevation map and the phrase "I conquered the hill."  I asked a couple of other races if they had ever run the race and what the phrase meant but we were all first time racers.
Course Profile
 This would be a race like no other in my career.  The Garden Spot Half Marathon made all of my previous races look like they were run on a table top.  

That first hill you see in the course profile was so steep on the run down that it felt like I was leaning backwards at a 45 degree angle.  I was concerned because I couldn't slow down and I was thinking ahead to when I would have to turn around and run up the hill.  My coach had me running hills for a couple of weeks and it really paid off on this half marathon.

I got caught up in the euphoria of the day and I was running this event as a race instead of the training run my coach suggested.  I knew I was running faster then I should but I felt good and I just keep pushing myself.  I finished the day with a new PR at 1:50:50.9  Even with the hills I managed to run a faster half marathon, breaking the PR I set two weeks earlier.  I finished second in my age group, earning myself a custom medal engraved with my name and finishing time.
Bob Gannon race results
The Garden Spot Half Marathon / Marathon is a race for self motivated individuals.  There were some Amish families along the roads encouraging racers and assisting at the aid stations.  But most of the time you were running by yourself with that little voice telling you to stop running.  If you need a race with thousands of people cheering you on to the finish line I suggest you run the New York City Marathon.

Love Run

posted Apr 4, 2014, 6:50 PM by Bob Gannon   [ updated Apr 4, 2014, 7:09 PM ]

I hired a coach on January 1st with the goal of getting me across the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid in July 2014.  This winters weather hasn't been kind to me and I've missed many workouts.  Clearing snow from cars, driveways and sidewalks isn't the same as swimming laps or running hills.  I done as well as I could under the circumstances and on March 30th I was put to my first test.

Love Run
 I signed up for the Love Run back in October 2013 not realizing how tough it would be to train properly during the winter.  I did manage to get in some long runs in the two weeks before the race so I had an idea where I would finish the race.  My coach and I discussed the merits of racing versus training and I agreed to stay within zone 2 and finish the race around 2 hours 10 minutes.  The initial weather forecast didn't look bad but as race day approached the forecast turned ugly.  It started to rain on Saturday morning and didn't quit until Monday afternoon.  Sunday morning the temperature was 48 degrees but it was windy and felt much colder then 48 degrees.  I got so cold just walking to the start line that I went back to the car for gloves and a hat.

I positioned myself at the front of the 10 minute corral since I wanted to finish the race at around 2 hours 10 minutes.  But, once the race started I was caught up in the excitement of racing and passing people.  I felt good the entire race even though the weather was terrible.  Around mile 3 we turned into a headwind and stinging rain.  The rain diminished until mile 9 when it started to rain hard for the rest of the race.  My coach said I could run harder for the last 5K if I felt good so I picked up the pace and even sprinted when I got near the finish line.

I finished the race 7 minutes faster then my previous half marathon PR!  

Bob Gannon Love Run
A post race email from the race director said the previous rainfall total for March 30th was 1.16 inches set in 1962.  The record was blown away on March 30, 2014 with a rainfall total of 3 inches!  I was surprised to see more then 7000 runners finished the race.  Let's hope the weather is warm and dry for next years race.

Recap 2013

posted Jan 1, 2014, 10:57 AM by Bob Gannon   [ updated Apr 4, 2014, 7:05 PM ]

Since I didn't update the blog as I raced I'm going to just make one posting that recaps the year 2013.  I'm on the four year triathlon plan, starting with a sprint triathlon in 2011, Olympic distance triathlon in 2012 and a half Ironman distance triathlon in 2013.  I've registered for two full Ironman races in 2014!

This year I joined a triathlon club and participated in most of their weekly track workouts.  I feel the workouts helped my running and my triathlons.  If you don't already belong to a triathlon or running club you should consider joining one in 2014.  I was planning to run the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013 but I'd been nursing an injury all year and skipped the event.  The Philadelphia Marathon was moved up one week and the weather couldn't have been better, temperatures in the 50's and 60's all day.  The following week when the race is typically held, the temperature was 24 degrees.  If I run a marathon in 2014 I'm going to look for one in late September or early October so I can avoid those cold November temperatures.

I read somewhere that to become a better runner you need to become a better cyclist.  I started using my bike trainer with plans from TrainerRoad and never rode outside unless I was racing.  The bike trainer allowed me to focus on the training plan without dealing with traffic and road signs.  Here are my 2013 statistics from my TrainerRoad Career Page.
WorkoutsTime on TrainerTime on TrainerAvg Workout Time
19210.1 days242.4 hours1.3 hours

One of the highlights from my 2013 racing was meeting Sister Madonna Buder at the Ironman 70.3 Eagleman triathlon.  We ran into each other later in the year at the Age Group Nationals.  Sister Madonna is 83 years young and she has been racing in triathlons for 30 years!  I'm currently reading her book The Grace to Race.

This was my second year racing in the Age Group Nationals and since I was driving all the way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin I decided to race in the Olympic and Sprint races.  I did very well against the clock but since I was racing "the best of the best" I finished way down in my age group.  There was a great video of my sprint to the finish in the Sprint triathlon.  What made the video so funny was the announcer telling the crowd that we were racing for 49th place. The guy I was sprinting against was awarded the exact same time as me.  My cycling computer didn't work at all for the Olympic distance race and only started working half way through the Sprint race.  I've never raced without my bike computer.  I was able to adjust my effort and finished the cycling inline with my expected times.  I've really come to rely on the computer so it was good to find out that I could adjust my cycling based on my perceived level of effort. 

I raced the Nation's Triathlon for the third time.  I used to love the one lap fast bike leg of the triathlon but this year the race director made the bike race a two lap course.  The course had two no passing sections that many of the racers ignored and the course had some questionable turn arounds.  As I final insult, on one of the big bumps near the end of the race my computer flew off the handlebars.  There wasn't any free form feedback allowed on the post race survey which was very disappointing.  I'm not going to race Nation's Triathlon in 2014.   

My 2013 Races  

Sunday April 28, 2013UMLY TriathlonSprintPaoli, PA3rd in age group
Sunday May 5, 2013Broad Street Run10 MilesPhiladelphia, PA119th in age group
Saturday May 18, 2013Escape from Fort Delaware® TriathlonSprintDelaware City, DE5th man across the finish line
Sunday June 9, 2013Ironman 70.3 EaglemanIronman 70.3Cambridge, MD49th in age group
Sunday June 23, 2013Philadelphia TriathlonOlympicPhiladelphia, PA15th in age group
Thursday July 4, 2013Firecracker 5K5KBroomall, PA4th in age group
Saturday, July 13, 2013Diamond in the Rough® TriathlonInternationalPerryville, MD4th in age group
Saturday August 10, 2013Age Group NationalsOlympicMilwaukee, WI118 / 160 in age group
Sunday August 11, 2013Age Group NationalsSprintMilwaukee, WI49 / 82 in age group
Sunday, August 25, 2013North East TriathlonSprintNorth East, MD2 / 11 in age group
Sunday September 8, 2013Nations TriathlonOlympicWashington DC21 / 175 in age group
Sunday, September 15, 2013Marshman® TriathlonSprintDowningtown, PA5th in age group
Saturday November 30, 2013Leftover Turkey Trot5KThe Villages, FL3rd in age group

I received a new cycling computer and a new helmet as Christmas gifts.  I'm really looking forward to 2014.


Escape from Fort Delaware 2013 Sprint

posted Jul 8, 2013, 6:17 PM by Bob Gannon

On May 18, 2013 I went to an open water swimming session at Marsh Creek State Park.  After swimming I went straight to the bike shop to have my bike fixed.  The Cervelo P3 has a set screw in the rear dropout so you can adjust how close the rear tire is to the bike frame.  Somehow I managed to bend one of the set screws and I couldn't center the tire.  I didn't want to race with the tire rubbing the frame of the bike.  I actually got to the shop before they opened but I only waited a short time for the shop to open.  The mechanic had a little trouble getting the set screw out of the dropout and he had to get some assistance from the other mechanic.  After removing the screw they decided to thread the screw through small rubber washers so the screw would be less likely to bend.  I was only at the shop for an hour but it seemed like I was there much longer.

I went home, ate lunch, packed the car and headed to Delaware City, Delaware.  I'm glad I left the house when I did as it took almost two hours to get to Delaware City.  I still had plenty of time to checkin and setup in transition but I was still a little stressed.  I've never done a late afternoon triathlon and given the darkening skys I was hoping we would finish before it rained.  It was very windy and there were white caps in the bay so I was happy we were swimming in the canal.  This was a wetsuit legal race and the water temperate was supposed to be around 70 degrees but it sure felt much colder.  There was a strong current in the canal so they had us queue on the boat ramp until the very last minute.  

While it looks like there was plenty of room in the canal it was like swimming in a washing machine.  For the entire 500 yards I was hit, kicked, swum into, etc.  I was very glad to exit the canal.

They used the ladder truck to shower us with clean water as we ran up the ramp from the canal.

My fingers were numb and I was wearing a watch on my left wrist.  I had to carry my goggles in my mouth as I tried to get the wetsuit off my arm.  I didn't make any mistakes finding my bike or transitioning to the bike out on the road. 

If I had know they were going to photograph me on the bike I would have worn my aero helmet.  As I said earlier, it was windy and I ready had to hang onto those aerobars to keep the bike on a straight line.  This was my first triathlon since I switched to the Zipp 808 wheels and I was starting to question my decision to put an 808 on the front of the bike.  I passed a bunch of guys right after I got on the bike and another group of guys in the first couple of miles.  I settled into my comfort zone and just cranked out the miles.  It was an out and back bike ride and I started counting riders as they came back into town.  If my math was correct, I was in seventh place.

I was in and out of transition before one of the guys that rode in before me putting me into sixth place.  I wasn't going to let him catch me so I just ran as fast as I could.  I could see two runners ahead of me and I worked to chase down the slowest runner.  I counted the runners as they made the turn and headed back to the finish line, now I was in fifth place!  I crossed the finish line and everyone congratulated each other and confirmed our finishing place.  It's a fifth place finish for Bob!  I was the fifth fastest man but finished seventh overall as two of the women finished faster then me.  

It was getting colder and starting to rain so they decided to have the award ceremony a little earlier then planned.  The guy that won the triathlon wasn't around when they took the photos.  Awards went to the top five men, the top three women and the winners in each age group.  

I was the third fastest cyclist in the triathlon.  I guess all those hours riding the bike trainer paid off.

A first place finish in my age group and I was ten minutes faster then the guy in second place.

The Broad Street Run 2013

posted Jul 7, 2013, 1:22 PM by Bob Gannon

The Broad Street Run in Philadelphia is the largest 10 mile race in the United States with 40,000 people entered.  I ran the race two years ago and finished in 1 hour 20 minutes and didn't think I could beat that time due to some nagging injuries.  The weather was perfect if not a little chilly and I ran like there were 39,999 people chasing me.  Finishing 6 minutes faster was a shock to me but finishing 119 in my Age Group was also shocking.  How could I beat my previous finishing time by 6 minutes and yet finish so low in my age group?  It's time to research running faster instead of training to run longer distances.  

May 5, 2013
I finished in 2901 place out of 38,144 people that finished the race. 
I finished in 2269 place in my gender.
I finished 119 in my age group of men 50-54 years young.

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