2018 Jingle Jaunt 5k & Chocolate Marshmellow 5k Weekend

The holidays are a great excuse to get together with family and run a themed 5k or two. So that is what we did! As Hannah looks to test the progress of her recovery from two torn ACL’s in the same number of years she had her sights set on running the Sutton Jingle Jaunt, a race in her hometown, and the Seekonk Chocolate Marshmellow 5k alongside some of her new friends at her physical therapist office. These races happened to fall on back-to-back days, but we were up for the challenge.

This would be the second time that Hannah, her father Keith and I would run in the Sutton Jingle Jaunt 5k. We signed up for the race the first year as a way to help Hannah work towards a full recovery from her first torn ACL and give us another reason to be back in Hannah’s hometown to spend time with her family for Christmas. It is starting to become a yearly tradition although we could all do without an annual torn ACL. The first year was also the first time either of them ran an entire 5k! Being the supportive father that he is, Keith ran the race alongside Hannah and had a fun time posing for pictures along the way.

2017 Sutton Jingle Jaunt

They finished their first 5k in a respectable 33:56, with Hannah being 8 months post ACL replacement and some slippery conditions on the road. I ended up winning the race that year in 16:40, also good enough for the 25-29 year old age group course record but still a full minute off of the overall course record.

Fast forward 4 months and unfortunately Hannah tore her ACL again and needed another replacement. It happened at just about the same time as the previous year so she committed to racing the Jingle Jaunt 5k again as a gauge of her recovery to compare against the previous year. Her recovery went very well and she had been able to train a bit more leading up to this year’s race. Both her  and Keith were poised for huge personal bests and improvements over the previous year. 

The 2018 edition of this race had similar cold conditions as 2017, but without the snow. The dry footing gave Hannah the extra confidence she needed to run well ahead of her time from the previous year, finishing in 28:06 just behind Keith at 27:40. Nearly a 6 minute improvement! I broke the tape in 17:56 with a comfortable lead and being sure not to overreach my current fitness to leave plenty in the tank for the following day at our second race of the weekend.

Having a goal to work towards to is a great motivation for those days when excuses start to get the best of you. During one of Hannah’s physical therapy sessions she and the folks at the office decided that they would get together for a series of local 5k’s throughout the remainder of the year. As a way to promote the physical therapy office, Personal Best Physical Therapy, they came up with a team name and ordered t-shirts. They let others in on the action too and Hannah signed both her dad and I up for Team Besties and we were on our way to running personal bests with our besties. 
Feeling the effects of a solid effort the previous day we toed the starting line of the Chocolate Marshmellow 5k. Looking forward to returning to the warmth of Seekonk Knights of Columbus hall and awaiting gallons of hot chocolate we set out on a fast and flat lollipop loop.

Chocolate Marshmellow Start

Whenever I race a new race or in a new town I always get excited and nervous about who will show up. When I was on the starting line I knew there were potentially a few others that could run with me so I set out from the gun to put forth an honest effort to see if any of them would join me. I was surprised when I put on a 10 meter gap to second place very early and even more so when that gap grew to 50 and then 100 meters. As we rounded a series of corners through a neighborhood at the 2 mile mark I could look over my shoulder and see that the gap was only getting longer and I knew that as long as I finished strong I wouldn’t get caught. Rounding the last corner into the finish line I was greeted by my parents who had come out to watch us run. It’s such a great feeling to have the support of your family at a race no matter how big or small.

Hannah, Keith and I all earned our hot chocolate with times of 28:14, 27:11 and 16:55 respectively. Keith improved his personal best set only the previous day by 30 seconds as Hannah kept it consistent just about matching her personal best also set the day before. I was happy with my effort and was glad to be able to be out there in front of and with my family. These races will finish of my racing for 2018. I will be focused on building up for an attempt to qualify for the 2019 Half Ironman World Championship for the next several months and hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey.

Bringing home the hardware from the Chocolate Marshmellow 5k

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

#IRaceLikeAGirl 250 mile challenge – August 2018

About 8 months ago I was introduced to Angela Naeth, founder of the IRaceLikeAGirl team and professional triathlete, during an indoor cycling time trial series. Within the first few moments of meeting her I was immediately captivated by her talent, attitude, and smile. While we were talking after finishing the time trial I learned that she was a sub 9-hour Ironman finisher and Ironman North American Champion. I was impressed and excited to know that there was someone of her caliber who was local and rode at the same studio. The fact that I was able to edge her out during the time trial gave me a boost of confidence that I was making progress with my own training and was starting to have the strength to compete with some of the best in the triathlon world.

After that first encounter I learned more about who she was and what she was all about. It turned out that she had recently launched the IRaceLikeAGirl triathlon team aimed at empowering women through triathlon. Members of the IRLAG team race and train in some of the most eye catching triathlon kits I have ever seen! They sport vibrant colors and a bold neon backed slogan making the statement “I Race Like A Girl” incredibly loud and clear. When you see the kits, you immediately understand the message that Angela’s team is sharing.

As a regular competitor in triathlon events I can definitely say that the sport provides opportunities for every person to be healthy and happy. The combination of three already impressive events, the discipline required to train for each, or the skin tight outfits we sweat in all day develop a sense of empowerment and self confidence. I think Angela and her team are doing an incredible job sharing that message all over the world.

One of the many events that Angela and the IRaceLikeAGirl team organize to help their share their message and prepare the team’s athletes for their events is a monthly challenge. For the month of August the challenge was to cycle 250 miles. I thought that it would be a great opportunity and motivation for Hannah to continue her recovery from a second torn ACL on the same leg in back-to-back years. After some convincing we both signed up for the challenge and started pedaling the miles away together. 

Over the course of the next 31 days in August we spent a lot of time together trying to squeeze in as many miles as we could. One of our favorite parts of the journey was planning routes around the area of our new house. Some of these routes got us into unexpected areas and going down very poorly maintained roads, but they all lead to entertaining stories. Along the way there were days that were more difficult than others, flat tires and tears but for the most part it was all smiles. By the end of the month Hannah had managed to cover 274 miles and I had ridden a few extra to get me to 346 miles. I was grateful to be able to spend the time together and see Hannah make significant progress throughout her rehab. You can count on us signing up for this one again!

2018 Cranberry Trifest

Day 1 – Sprint Triathlon:

I was able to put together a decent race at the Cranberry Trifest Sprint Triathlon despite breaking my toe coming out of T1. My foot slipped off of the top of my bike shoe during a poorly executed flying mount and I smashed my big toe into the pavement, fracturing a bone. I’m not going to lie, it hurt and was a bit bloody. I slowly rolled away from the mounting line trying to slip both feet into my shoes. I spent the next 35 or so minutes pedaling around the course with a range of thoughts about what happened and why, but mostly wondering if my toenail was still attached. I really didn’t want to deal with losing a toenail, but now I’d much rather have had that happen than a fracture.

The pain was manageable on the bike, actually feeling more numb than anything, but I knew that wouldn’t be the case for the run portion of the race. As I came into T2 I kept it safe and left the shoes on my feet until I reached the bike rack. It turned out that I still had the toenail and I gingerly shoved my running shoes on to get going with the last leg of the race.

I was very uncomfortable leaving T2, but I knew I hadn’t been passed since getting out of the water, so I must have been doing well. I figured I would give the run an honest effort despite the way my toe was feeling. After the first mile of the run I still hadn’t been passed and I decided to pick up the pace to cover what remained of the 5k. I managed to bring it home in 5:38 for the last mile finishing 7th overall, 2nd in my age group, and about 4 minutes back from the winner, who I’ve been trying to chase down for the last 4 years.

After crossing the finish line and taking my shoe off, I knew it was more than a stubbed toe and I decided to get some x-rays to confirm. Sure enough it is fractured and I was sent home with a boot. Quite a bummer. #Chriscantfly

Day 2 – Olympic Triathlon Aquabike:

Despite breaking my toe yesterday, I decided I was going to race the Olympic distance aquabike at the Cranberry Trifest. This dropped the run portion and allowed me to finish the weekend on the right (left) foot. The folks at Sun Multisport Events were nice enough to let me transfer over from the Olympic triathlon without any issues. My expectations going into the day were to have fun, get a good workout in, and keep my foot safe from any further damage. I gave the bike a test ride in the morning to make sure I could actually ride comfortably and it was all systems go! As I was standing at the start I couldn’t help but think about making it more of a race effort.

As I progressed through the swim, a race effort became the new plan for the bike portion. I took my time walking through T1 and had a really great time doing it. I thought it was great to be able to appreciate more of the moments and interactions with spectators along the transition route. I’d recommend everyone try taking their time through transition at least once in their career! After a nice and relaxing transition I started hammering away at the pedals and put in an a much riskier effort than I would have if I was planning to run after. This was a great opportunity to push me out of my comfort zone during the bike. I realized that I am capable of going even faster than I thought before.

Ouch.

As I rolled into the transition area, I felt confident that I could have run well off of the bike if I had too. With my toe as it was, today was not that day. I finished 3rd overall and won the 49 and under age group. If you didn’t catch that, two gentleman more than twice my age absolutely crushed the race and finished in front of me! I hope to be one of those guys in 25 years! Below is an obligatory podium pic and a nice shot of what my toe looks like after an eventful weekend.

2018 USAT Aquabike New England Regional Championship 49U Podium

2018 Ducky Dash 5K

The Ducky Dash 5K is one of those small town races that flies under the radar for most people other than the locals and vigilant vacationers. The race brings in a crowd of around 75 people who are each given an entry into the annual Allens Pond Duck Derby. The duck derby is put on as a fundraiser for Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary which brings in $60,000 each year that is put towards conservation efforts, educational programs, and advocacy for the environment. Every entry into the duck derby has a chance to win one of 40+ prizes including the grand prize of a paid dinner anywhere in the world, round trip airfare, and two nights of lodging. The Ducky Dash 5K organizers offer up additional duck entries for the derby to each of the 5K overall male and female winners as well as the winners of each age group.

The race heads out from Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Westport, Ma and heads down East Beach Road towards Gooseberry Island. This section of the course greets you with a face full of wind as you run along the shoreline. After crossing the causeway, a quick trip around the dirt parking lot sends the race back towards the sanctuary with the wind at your back. This year’s race took place in some sweltering early morning heat and high humidity which gave my post Ironman body a hard time trying to find any kind of speed. Despite the level of discomfort I was having I managed to hold off one of Pennsylvania’s up and coming high school athletes (who already has a faster mile and 2-mile time than I can claim) for the win. This year, the awards for the overall male and female winners consisted of beautiful handmade pieces that capture the essence of the the wildlife sanctuary and gave me some extra motivation to run fast enough to take one of them home.

This race brings me back to when I was a student at UMass Dartmouth and the memories I created as club president and trip leader of the Outdoors Club. Every year I would spend time enjoying the spectacular ocean-side views, walking the wildlife trails, or helping clean up the beach. Now that I’ve graduated, I enjoy participating in this race as a way to continue giving back to the community and take in a breath of the salty air. With a little bit of luck, my rubber ducks and I will get the opportunity to dine anywhere we would like!