Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic Race

photo by Jeff Caron
When you can no longer run the way you want to or without painful consequences, you have to find a new way to move and to get the competitive juices flowing.  I have found the perfect way to train with the ElliptiGO, but I like racing too! That is where the ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic comes into play. When I first heard about the race around the time of the 2013 Boston Marathon, I knew it was something I had to try. It intrigued me so much, I got an ElliptiGO a couple of months later and raced the first ElliptiGO race ever held on the east coast that August. And won it! It was a thrill to be involved with an all out racing experience again. I continued with all my ElliptiGO training indoors throughout the winter and back outside this spring and summer. By this weekend's 2nd New England ElliptiGO Summer Classic race, I had accumulated 7000 miles on my ElliptiGO in 14 months and loved every minute of it! Of course, I kept thinking about this race, and wondered if I could repeat again (I have never come back to repeat a win in any type of race win in my 40 years of racing).

The ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic is a 5 mile race in Hingham, Ma  on the ElliptiGO, and to me that distance is a sprint. My winning time in 2013 was 16:21. Sure, I hoped to win this year, but I also dreamed about dueling it out with other racers and possibly having a sprint finish, as well as hoping to break 15 minutes, which would be a pace of 20 mph. I knew I was faster than last year, but have never gone that fast for 5 miles. Last week I did my 30 mile training route at 18 mph taking 3 minutes off my previous best time on that route. I knew I was getting ready! ElliptiGO riding is slower than riding a bike due to aerodynamics. You are standing up taking the brunt of the wind with your full body. I wasn't sure what would happen this year as I knew some serious ElliptiGO riders were coming to the race and my nerves were flying as Friday race night approached, particularly when race director John Childs announced a prize purse with three ways to win some money: the first person to reach the 2 mile point of the race would win a prime of $50, the overall winner would win $100, and anyone who broke my course record while winning the race would get another $50. I knew that would up the competitive fire in a few racers. This was all added to my even bigger worries about getting a flat, losing my chain, crashing, or not getting to the race on time due to traffic.

I arrived for the 6 pm Friday night race after a long drive through stalled 128 traffic, but this year I had enough time to do a warm-up ride and meet some of the racers who I met previously or who I knew from the ElliptiGO groups online. I did some miles with Chris from San Diego and Dan from Ohio along with a new ElliptiGO owner from the Boston area, Steve, who I knew previously from running and racing. A couple of entrants were not able to come to the race, so I think there were 16 riders ready to GO at the starting line. It was a small, but enthusiastic crowd. As my nerves were jangling, I envied the other riders who were just in it to test themselves and to have a good time out on the course.

Chris Zito, me, and eventual women's winner Julia Girman
photo by Jeff Caron
I was trying to figure out how I might do in the race while looking around. I knew I was doing a lot more miles than what I knew the other racers were doing (according to Strava). Despite that,  there were some very experienced and fit looking ElliptiGO riders riding around. All that I knew was that it was going to be fun, no matter what happened (unless I crashed). During the warm-up I noticed that the route had been changed from the previous year. Last year we had a tricky 1/4 mile segment through some dirt. This year we went another way to avoid this, but there would be a 180 degree turn-around on some grass and dirt instead. I noted that this might be slippery and told myself to be cautious and slow down when turning there. The course was well marked, but I noticed there was a bit of light wind that had a slowing effect at certain parts of the course. Although the race is basically flat, it has a few little hills and it zig-zags around a bit, so it is not as fast of a course as it might appear.

photo by Victoria Pearson
I decided that I couldn't chance things with some of the strong riders in the race, so within a few strides after the starting gun, I went into a pretty much all out sprint. I rode as hard as I could only easing up when going around corners. After about a minute, I was sucking wind pretty bad, but I was pulling away from the other racers. I kept pushing as hard as I could while following the lead motorcycle and slowly made it around the 180 degree turn where I saw a had a decent lead, but the others were also flying and in hot pursuit. Had I gone out too fast? Had they saved their speed for the final miles? It was fun to see the other riders and to cheer a few of them on when I found some air to cheer through my gulps. My Garmin got turned upside down because of all the rattling going over bumps in the road, and I had to keep using my fingers to turn it back up where I could see it. It wasn't easy to read, but the first two times I checked I was over 20 mph for an average speed (perfect for breaking 15 minutes). However, a head wind and some small hills were slowing me down. When I looked back I was still gaining ground on the other riders until we hit the second half of the course, then I couldn't see anyone behind me for the rest of the race due to the corners. It was a bit more technical riding the second half, around one corner at about 4 miles, my wheels slipped off the path and skidded in the dirt throwing my right leg right out of the toe clips and off the foot cage. I braked and almost came to a full stop, losing a lot of momentum before climbing a hill. I decided to be a bit more careful and not crash due to trying to go too fast. I was working very hard with my heart rate pounding and my breathing was furious as I tried to suck in some more oxygen. Eventually, I knew the finish line was ahead and I did the best sprint I could to end the ride as a repeat champion. I had improved my time 37 seconds from the previous year. Jeff finished second, with Andrew right behind him after having a good duel on the course. These guys are are good athletes. Jeff, who works for ElliptiGO, ran sub 31 minutes at the Beach to Beacon 10k a few years ago, Andrew raced the 5 mile running race after finishing the ElliptiGO race to do the "double". Then the next day he rode an century on his ElliptiGO through the White Mountains, and the next day after  that he ran for three hours! Phew!  Dan set the ElliptiGO world record for riding the most miles in 24 hours back in 2012. He rode 234.94 miles. Chris has ridden his ElliptiGO at 55 mph down some hill near where he lives (this is the most impressive stat of all). I was able to meet all the other ElliptiGO athletes and they are all wonderful and outstanding people. It is good to meet people who are as enthusiastic about ElliptiGOs as I am. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to push myself as hard as I could from an athletic perspective. I just miss competing these days. The race was a great thrill and anytime, I can
photo by Victoria Pearson
even be competitive or compete for a win at 55 years old can only make me think that it might be my last chance to ever do so and that is why I put so much effort into this race.  In the grand scheme of things, it is only a tiny race in a small growing sport and as much as I enjoying competing, I enjoyed getting to know all the other ElliptiGO enthusiasts even more. We are pioneering a new sport. Whether it takes off as a competitive sport or just remains as the best way to cross-train, rehab or recover from injuries or training, or just becomes the favorite fitness tool of aging athletes who have worn out body parts remains to be seen.

Earlier in the week, I saw someone write that riding an ElliptiGO is, "Just like running, but tastes like ice cream!" That is the perfect definition for the ElliptiGO, as I enjoy riding my ElliptiGO as much and as often as I can. People that haven't tried it, do not know what they are missing. It gives a fantastic and fun workout without the stress or discomfort of running or cycling. It is my fountain of youth that restores rather than breaks down the body!

Jeff outsprinting Andrew for 2nd place
photo by Victoria Pearson
First woman, Julia finishing with Steve (before a stray dog got in their way!)
photo by Victoria Pearson
Matt Byrne (somehow missing from results) of Extreme Fitness in Newton
where I bought my ElliptiGO last year.
photo by Victoria Pearson
photo by Jeff Caron
The following morning, after the race, many of the riders got together again to ride a leisurely 20 mile ride through the beautiful seaside villages on the south shore of Boston. It was awesome to finally see other riders riding an ElliptiGO (You know what? They do look pretty cool!) and it is impressive to see the lineup of GOs tooling down the roads together. We had a chance to share stories on the ride and also when we met together for some refreshments. It is exciting to be pioneering a new sport with these enthusiasts. Jeff Caron is doing an outstanding job on the east coast promoting ElliptiGOs and race director John Childs needs to be thanked for putting this ElliptiGO race and tour together where we can have fun and meet other riders and start the growth of this sport in New England. I was just thrilled to be there!

photo by Jeff Caron
photo by Jeff Caron
photo by Jeff Caron
I have started new PT to get out of my anterior  pelvic tilt due to tight hip flexors
and weak glutes (among other imbalances). You can see I am not standing tall,
like I should be, but instead stick out my butt. Eleanor, in front or me,
has a much better stride! 
Relaxing after a group ride!
photo by Jeff Caron


ElliptiGO Time Trial

PlaceBib #First NameLast NameGun TimePaceAgeGenderCityStateAge Place
99MichaelThomas19:29.33:5443MPalm HarborFL8
102KimBrown19:36.63:5543FRocky HillCT2
155SvenjaDanforth21:59.24:2448FMansfield CenterCT5

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Falmouth Road Race Elite Men's Photos

Brian Baker #666 finishing his 36th straight Falmouth.

Top 10

1   Stephen Sambu726M31:46+0:00
2   Micah Kogo128M32:31+0:46
3   Emmanuel Bett429M33:01+1:15
4   Ben Bruce531M33:21+1:35
5   Andrew Colley1723M33:27+1:41
6   Jordan McNamara2427M33:47+2:01
7   Zachary Hine1426M33:54+2:08
8   Craig Leon929M34:04+2:18
9   Robert Molke9623M34:15+2:29
10 Will Leer2329M34:20+2:35

2014 Falmouth Road Race Women's Division photos

Here are some photos I took of the elite women at the 2014 Falmouth Road Race.

Top 10 Women
1   Betsy Saina22635:56
2   Gemma Steel12836:03
3   Molly Huddle32936:15
4   Diane Nukuri-Johnson82936:17
5   Mary Wacera132536:59
6   Emily Infeld182437:08
7   Risper Gesabwa42537:22
8   Rachel Ward152437:50
9   Katie Matthews72337:51
10 Erdman Tara112538:04