Boston Olympic Triathlon

Boston Triathlon Olympic Race Report & Review

This was my second year competing at the Boston Olympic Triathlon. The race is run by our good friend, Mike O’Neil.  For some background on Mike and the race, here’s a Slowtwitch interview

I really enjoyed the event last year but faded on the run so was looking forward to finishing the race much stronger this year and hopefully earning a podium finish in the elite field.

I started with the elite wave, competing against strong competition always brings out my best performances.  If I want to make the jump to the next level, these are the kind of athletes I will need to beat.

The swim was a simple out, over and back course with an out of water start. As they gun went off, the pace was fast.  I entered the water without too much drama and started swimming hard.  At the first buoy I was in level with the two other leaders. For the next 300 meters, I focused on keeping my tempo high and getting as many deep breaths as possible. At the first buoy, eventual winner, Lucas Pozzetta and I were level and my body was finally starting to come around; I pushed the pace a little harder. On the second half of the swim, I was able to take the lead and continued to up my tempo to the shore.

The bike course is four five mile loops, including two 180 degree turns and an out and back around the Head Island light house. Early on, Lucas was not pushing the power I anticipated on the first lap and 3rd place Spencer Ralston was starting to catch us. I decided to take the lead and stick to my planned effort. The power was coming easily and did my best to enjoy the effort, stick to my nutrition and power race plan. I led the first three laps with Lucas in tow and about a 30 second led on Spencer. On the last lap, Lucas decided to push and I did not chase, I knew I wanted to run hard and so I stuck to my plan and entered T2 about 10 seconds off the lead.  Bike section here

My goal for the run was to hold sub 6:00 pace. My running has consistently lagged behind my swim and bike splits but there have been some good signs of progress over the past year. I was excited to see the improvement. For the first mile, I focused primarily on keeping my tempo high and taking deep consistent breaths. I was quickly passed by Spencer but knew I had to run my race so stuck to my plan. By the second mile, I was starting to feel much better. I ran the middle 5 miles solo and for the first time in a long time, I was able to really work hard at the end of a race. In the closing mile I was passed by two more athletes, Matt Alford and Thomas Whitmore, obviously this was not the best feeling but I was giving it everything I had so just put my head down and focused on getting to the finish.  Run section here

I finished in 1:46.37, two minutes faster than last year, all of which came from the run split, 36:16. My run pace was 5:51’s for the 10k which is a personal best.  Despite not being in a position to take the win, I was very satisfied with the effort and improvement in pace, good signs for the future.

Up next is a solid four week training block with very specific work on 70.3 efforts and as always trying to extract the most from my run split at the end. Onwards.

Boston Triathlon 2017 results 

King Pine Triathlon Race Report & Review Olympic distance

King Pine Triathlon was an addition to my race calendar this year.  The bike course features a 32 mile route, longer than the standard 24 mile (40K) Olympic bike.  The benefit of the longer than standard bike was preparation for my A race at Ironman Syracuse 70.3 two weeks later.

On race morning it was cold, warmer than the New England Season Opener race, but still in the 50’s. The water was chilly although once the gun went off it was the best I have ever felt in a swim leg. The course was an angled out and back and I was able to take a good look at half distance and focus on my form and breathing for the rest of the swim, being well ahead of the trailing swimmers. I came out of the water a few minutes ahead of the 2nd swimmer.  All systems go.

On the bike the race place was to push between 310 – 320 watts, drink 2 small water bottles and eat 2 gels. As with most plans, it was interrupted when one of my bottles ejected about a mile in. I readjusted my pace of drinking and made sure to grab an extra bottle when water was available.

Early on, I realized I was having a great day and the power was coming easily. I was still on top of my breathing. As I made my way through the du-athletes who started ahead, I focused on staying under control and relaxed.

Once I was in the lead, I had a motorcycle escort ahead of me for the remainder of the ride. Unfortunately, as much fun as it is to follow a motorcycle, the driver was not familiar with the figure-8 nature of the bike course and I had neglected to memorize the bike course map.  At mile 32 and beyond appeared on the Garmin, it was clear something was awry.  Instead of taking the second loop of the smaller figure-8 course, we were doing the bigger first loop a second time.  At mile 34, I waved down the motorcycle driver, compared notes and we determined we went right when we should have gone left at the second loop. Oops.

Mistakes happen and thankfully I had a nice easy 30 min ride back to transition where I was able to cool off and manage my frustration. It was a strange end to the lead the race and then suddenly DNF.   The upside was I was secretly very happy with how I felt on the swim and bike.   Checking bike power and effort were part of the day’s race goals, along with swim effort and both of those were achieved.   And lesson learned: Always know the bike course map as even the moto-guy may not know it!

King Pine Triathlon 2017 Race Results


Photo Courtesy of Harrigan Photo

Photo Courtesy of Harrigan Photo

Patriot Half Race Report & Review by Katie Clayton, U23 athlete

Patriot Half Ironman race recap: 

    On June 17, I crossed the finish line at my first 70.3 race, the Patriot Half. Patriot is put on by Sun Multisport Events every year in East Freetown, Massachusetts. It features a swim in the warm, calm waters of Long Pond, a mostly flat two-lap bike course with a few rolling hills, and a beautiful run loop on quiet country roads with an aid station at every mile. If there ever were such thing as a “beginner friendly” half ironman, Patriot is it. 

    I decided to sign up for the race in October after a great summer of several sprints, my first Olympic distance race, a bunch of road races, and a century ride. I was ready to push myself to the next level of triathlon training, and I was motivated by three other U23 athletes who had the same goal. Our “70.3 group” met weekly with Jim and Eliot in the fall to set up TrainingPeaks accounts, talk about what training would look like, and generally come to terms with the idea of racing for multiple hours. Our official base training period, complete with detailed daily workouts imported into TrainingPeaks, began on January 1st.

    It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the new training plan. I had never really done doubles before (two workouts a day), and I was exhausted after the first week of waking up early to fit in one workout before my internship and then doing a second workout directly afterwards. Luckily, the plan was designed to ease me into the increased volume, so the intensity level of most of the workouts was low. As I came to learn, base training is all about keeping your heart rate low and slowly turning your body into an aerobic engine that will be able handle higher intensity speed work in the spring. So, I spent a LOT of time pedaling determinedly on the trainer with my heart rate in the 140s (while making it through five and a half seasons of The West Wing), jogging along snowy roads in the dark at a pace that felt much too easy, and doing light but consistent strength training in my basement to ward off injury. My only intense workouts were in the pool, as the swim was the triathlon leg that needed the most work for me (I have a background in running, but could barely get across the pool when I started triathlons). I did several weeks of “swim blocks” where I would be in the pool, usually before 7 am, six days a week. Even though it was tough to force myself into the water on those cold winter mornings, the consistent high yardage worked. My times started to drop off, and I felt a lot more confident in the water. I sent Jim and Eliot a video of me in the pool a month or so in, and they didn’t even believe it was me at first. From there, I was sold on the swim block strategy, and I continued to improve. 
    I was back on campus at Dartmouth in the spring after my winter off-term, and I was thrilled to begin training alongside two other U23 athletes (and some of my best friends), Abiah and Valentina. We excelled at different legs of the triathlon and our schedules didn’t always overlap, so we didn’t do all our workouts together, but we really enjoyed having each other’s company for our longest workouts. The other big change of the spring was transitioning into the build period, where we finally got to incorporate some speed into our bike and run workouts. On the bike, we started to ride outside and began doing “sweet spot” interval training, which involved rides with several 6-15 minute intervals at threshold heart rate with recoveries in between, as well as longer rides with 15-20-minute race pace intervals, and super long 3-4-hour rides at low intensity to get used to being on the bike for a long time. On the run, we added 15-25-minute race pace efforts to the end of our long runs to simulate how it feels to go hard on tired legs. We kept up the intensity in the water as well, and focused on improving our technique, maintaining our speed, and developing open water swimming skills like sighting and swimming with a wetsuit. As the intensity increased, I noticed how much stronger I felt from all the base training. My run times and bike power were improving significantly too, and I could go much harder than I could at the beginning of base training without maxing out my heart rate.

    One of the most important elements of our spring training were three “big weekends” or “big days” in which we tried to simulate what it would feel like to exercise as long as we would be racing. We also practiced our nutrition and hydration strategies on those days so we could get used to fueling mid-race. Our biggest training day happened a little under a month before the race, and it featured a 2500-yard open water swim with wetsuits, a 60-mile endurance bike, and an 8-mile run with five miles at race pace. Although the intensity wasn’t as high as it would be at the race, completing that big day showed us that even without tapering, an audience, or any type of special race preparations, we were physically capable of exerting ourselves for a long time. Mentally and physically, our big days made us feel race-ready. As Jim told us, when the race came around, we would be more than prepared: it would just be about execution. 

    The two weeks leading up to the race brought a big decrease in overall training hours. We kept some of the intensity to keep our legs from going stale, but we dropped the volume to get rid of some of the micro-fatigue that had been accumulating since training began. I was antsy, to say the least, but I knew that it would pay off when I felt fresh on race day. I took the day off completely two days out, spent the day before doing a series of pre-race prep workouts on the actual race course (a short bike and a short run with a few pickups on each), and did everything as planned on race evening: laid out all the gear, ate familiar pre-race foods, and tried to visualize success as Jim had recommended. At 4:30 am the next morning, I was up and ready to go.

    I’m happy to report that Patriot itself went as well as I could have hoped for. The weather was ideal, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70s. My swim wasn’t all that fast, but it was much faster than it would have been had I not spent so much time working on it. More importantly, I got out of the water feeling strong and ready to ride. The bike was awesome, and all the high intensity training (particularly on the hills of the Upper Valley) made the relatively flat course seem easier than I expected. I drank every 15 minutes and ate every 30 minutes as I had practiced, and I kept my heart rate high but in check to save some energy for the run. When I got off the bike and looked at my watch after the first mile, I was shocked to see that I was actually running at goal race pace (which I had told Jim would be impossible after the swim and bike), but I held on to it as long as I could and made it to the finish line in just under five hours (4:58:18), with a half marathon PR by five minutes (1:35:11; that’s including the half marathon road races I had previously done without biking 56 miles and swimming 2100 yards beforehand). After getting down some food and water, I called Jim to let him know that it had all worked. Sure, I was tired, but the exhilaration I felt post-race almost made me forget that I was totally spent: it was the ultimate triathlete’s high.

    The whole week after Patriot was recovery mode for me. Not only was I chafed, sore, and stiff, but I also had to get four wisdom teeth out two days after the race. Luckily, having a week to do nothing but drink smoothies and relax was enough to make me feel more than ready to jump back in. A week later, I was up and running, swimming, and biking my way towards the next goals for the summer (another century ride, the Boston Triathlon, and USAT Age-Group Nationals in Omaha). I’m not sure what the training goals will be after that, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll cross that Patriot finish line again. After all, now I have a record to break!    - Katie Clayton, U23 athlete
Patriot Half Triathlon 2017 Race Results