The fam and I traveled to Syracuse on Friday. My parents grew up in the area so they came as well. We took separate cars and they offered to take Calvin, our two and half year old with them. There were no arguments at all from my wife or I on that one. We ended up stopping outside of Albany at a bouncy house place for Calvin to run around a bit and give Kristen a chance to feed Eli, our 4 month old. We had a good time there, although Calvin was more interested in the videos games than going on the bouncy stuff.
We rented a house in Syracuse for the weekend. It was extremely nice and they had a pool, trampoline, and 2 horses. My wife and the fam really liked it which was great. We ate dinner at the house and hung out around the house for the rest of the night. Sleep was not ideal that night, I was up with Eli around 1am and then up for good with him just before 4am. However, I was fortunate enough to sneak a couple of my 10 minute power naps on Saturday to try to catch up on some sleep.
Despite the big race being on Sunday, Saturday was also a big race day. However, Calvin would be the participant that day. This was his first Ironkids event. The minimum age was 3 to compete so I may have rounded up a bit on his age on the sign up sheet (shh, don’t tell the WTC please :)), but we got over to the race venue so Calvin could get his first race ever in. It was a quarter mile loop and he did great. We pretty much ran the whole time, he didn’t cry, and we didn’t finish last so it was a win in my book! I actually give the WTC a lot of credit for these races. They do a great job with these and provide the kids which a shirt, race number, and a finishers medal which is cool.
The rest of the day was pretty busy, getting registered, a couple short workouts in, getting training plans and final prep for my athletes done, but I was excited to race this course again. This would be my 3rd time racing this event. I did it the first year they had it and it is my old DNF to date. I broke a spoke and bent my rear wheel on the bike so I was not able to complete the race. Two years ago it was CRAZY hot and humid so it was a very tough day. That all being said, I was excited for a better performance on this course.
That evening we had a team dinner at a local restaurant. Some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins came in additional to fellow club members. I did my best to host the event the best I could, but Calvin was tired from a long day and was not exactly on his best behavior. Nonetheless, it was a great time, we had over 30 people there and the food was pretty good.
I got to bed a bit later than I would have liked, but sleep went better Saturday night so 3:45am was not much of a struggle to wake up for. I got my morning nutrition in and then headed over to the race venue. I like to get there plenty early so I can get everything setup, warm up properly, and not have to rush. Things were going well until in started to down poor. It continued to rain for a good 30 – 45 minutes which included my WU run, which was not ideal. I also met a couple other guys in my age group, one of whom said “You’re Colin Cook?…You’ve got a target on your back.” I laughed and was flattered/honored by them knowing my name and considering me a guy to beat. I then headed over and got a little WU swim in.
11th Age Group
I was pretty pumped to be in the first wave of the race and given there was no pro field, I knew I had a good chance of being up front most of the day. I was a bit frustrated to see that there was only 30-40 guys in my wave knowing that they split our age group up into 2 waves. I know safety is the top priority, but it would be nice to at least know everyone in my age group started at the same time as me. It didn’t appear my age group was that big that we couldn’t have all gone at once. Anyway, I started out relatively strong to establish my position and hopefully find some feet to sit on. I didn’t really end up with much contact during the swim. There were a few guys out in front of me, but it appeared they weren’t too far in front of me and it was sweet to have the paddle board leading the way so I could see how far ahead of me they were. I didn’t over do it on the swim, I just focused on my technique and staying on course. My swim has not been as strong this year, but I was still hoping to break 30 min for the swim. When I came out of the water and saw 30:xx, I was fine with it.
There is a decently long run from the water to transition, but I passed one guy during that and only saw a few guys in transition. Things went well in transition and I was in and out pretty quickly. I didn’t realize until after, but I beat the other guys out of transition and was the 1st guy out on the bike. Score!
2nd Age Group
The roads were nice and open as I got on the bike and we started with a slight descend and a tailwind so I was doing 28-30mph for the first mile or so which is nice, especially knowing I had some hills to climb very soon. As I headed up the first climb, I did see another guy gaining on me, but I didn’t let it phase me. The last time I did this race was 2013 and I went a bit too hard for the first 12 miles where essentially all the hills are. As a result, I really wanted to practice what I preach and not go too hard for this section. In retrospect, I may have gone a bit too easy, but I kept my average power to 293 watts for that section. That guy did pass me, but he had a big build and I had a feeling he probably wasn’t much of a runner so I wasn’t too worried (which I was right about).
From there, I tried to stay focused on my nutrition and keeping my power in the 280 – 285 range. Another guy slowly gained on me and ended up passing me at about my 20, but I ended up catching him at mile 40ish where we went back and forth for essentially the rest of the bike. I did “spit up” a decent amount which seems to be a theme this year. I don’t think my body likes Gatorade Endurance too much so I am going to explore some other options. However, I just focused on my technique and keeping my power up the rest of the way. This was a bit of a struggle towards the end, but it was good to have another competitor right around me to keep me honest. I was in front of him by a good 75-100 yards as we headed into transition.
T2 went pretty well. I was the 2nd biker in so there was some great crowd support. I was pretty smooth in transition and I was excited to get out there and run. Nothing much to report here.
2nd Age Group
As mentioned, it was cool being up at the front of the pack heading out of T2. The crowd support was awesome and having the biker lead me was cool. In retrospect, this did cause me to go out a bit harder than I should of, but I was feeling good. They did change the run course a bit for the worse. They made us run on grass for a while and go all around the parking lot. Due to the rain, it was pretty muddy and there was an interesting little hill towards the end of that section. Once I finally got out on the road, I felt good and I saw the runner that was in first. I passed him quite quickly and could immediately tell I wasn’t going to have to worry much about him for the rest of the day.
From there, I was out front and it was just me and the lead biker. I was getting some great support from the aid stations, which included fellow club member Mia Konovelchick at one of the early aid stations. As I headed into the tough climb for the first time, I could feel some solid fatigue in my legs/quads. I didn’t worry about my pace and just focused on my technique and getting to the top. There is another roller not too far after it so it is a very challenging section of the course. Once I hit the turnaround, I focused on my turnover and making sure I kept it up as I headed down the hills I had just climbed. That went pretty well and I headed back towards the transition area.
I was again greeted by lots of crowd support as I headed back in and then out again for the 2nd loop. I was a bit fatigued heading into the 2nd lap, but was feeling pretty good. I knew I was quite a bit out front in comparison to the guys in my wave, but again, with my age group being split into 2 waves, I knew I had to keep pushing. There was a bit of congestion on the 2nd lap, but it wasn’t too bad. The 2nd lap was relatively uneventful, but I did actually walk a bit going up the big hill for the 2nd time. I wasn’t thrilled to do this, but my heart rate was pretty high and I didn’t want to over do it. I did start to fade and struggled to keep my cadence up on the 2nd half on this lap, but just did my best. It did start to Myst a bit which was nice and helped cool me down.
As I headed back into the grass section, I knew I would be the first to cross the line. Based on some of the competition that was there and my time being about 10 minutes behind where I expected to be, I had a feeling I would not be the overall winner. However, as I headed down the finishing chute and saw the tape across the line, I said to myself, well, hopefully this is a warm up for Maryland and I might as well embrace being the first to cross the line. It was a very cool feeling to say the least and they got some great photos of me. 🙂
1st Age Group
After the race, I waited for a while and was soon joined by Chris Thomas, who ended up being the overall winner. He is a phenomenal athlete (former USAT Triathlete of the Year) and had a chance to chat with him. Very nice guy and I was thrilled that he was a good guy. He did share the not so good news for me that he is also racing IM Maryland this year as well. However, I’m just going to use that as extra motivation and to nail my prep for Maryland if I’m going to have a shot at the overall win.
After that, I spent some time in the massage tent and got something to eat. I tried to find my family, but could not find them. Come to find out, none of them made it to the race! My parents went home early due to the rain and Kristen didn’t have a car so she didn’t come. I was pretty disappointed given it was father’s day, but what are you going to do? Actually, later on when the race got canceled due to the storm that came through, I was very happy the boys weren’t with me. The parking lot was a nightmare with no organization and it took me over 2 hours to get out of there. When I got out, I was able to have a nice dinner with the fam.
This was about an 11 min PR on this course for me so I was happy with that. As mentioned, I was expecting to be quite a bit faster, but with the wet conditions, it was a slow day and I’ll take it. It was great to have a bunch of PTC/NEMS athletes racing and they all did AWESOME! Very proud of all of them.