Monthly Archives: May 2008

Sugarloaf Mountain Bike Ride

I started biking again this week. I went out for a short yesterday to make sure the ankle would feel alright it has been pain free. This morning I decided to use a bike ride I found on the Potomac Pedlers web page. It started at Poolesville high school and went out towards Frederick Maryland then around and up Sugarloaf Mountain and back to Poolesville.

Sugarloaf mountain is really not much of a mountain it’s only 800 feet higher then the surrounding area. I ran up the trail earlier this year and figured it was about time I biked up it.

The route was ~45 miles including the climb. A really neat thing with my triathlon bike is you can tape the cue sheet (directions) right between the aerobars and not have to worrying about looking for it when turns are coming up.

This was a really tough ride it was about 2000 feet total of climbing. On one of the downhills I hit 40 mph which was the fastest I have gone on my bike. On a couple of other occasions today I hit 30-35 mph while riding in the aerobars which means no access to the brakes, it was a very weird feeling to know I’m not slowing down going down the hill.

I was actually really surprised with the effort to get up Sugarloaf mountain. I think it was a mental thing because I was prepared to grind my way up there and knew I was going to have to work hard. So it turned out not to be that bad. The other thing that helped is it was a really winding road which the grade a lot lower then I was expecting. It ranged from 5% to 13% with about 7-8% for the average.

The hardest part of the ride for me was at about mile 15. I hadn’t really read the directions that well before I went out and I turned on to Park Mills Road. I kinda zoned out for a while going down a hill until I realized I was on the road tat heads to one of the golf courses that I play at when I get to the bottom of the hill there is going to be a very steep climb coming up. I put a little arrow on the picture for this part part. It was about a 15% grade the entire way up for 1/2-3/4 of a mile. It sucked.

Overall this was a great ride, the weather was about 65 and sunny and I can feel myself getting stronger at climbing and building up my leg strength. I really enjoy biking around the roads near Poolesville and can see why people come up here to bike.


Jim McDonnell 1 Mile Lake Swim Race Report

This is my race report from today, my first swim only race. The pictures are from my mom’s mothers day gift. It’s an awesomedigital camera with like 12 MP and it a SLR camera. It makes mine look like crap.

This was an open water swim race at Lake Audobon in Reston Virginia put on by the Reston Masters Swim Team. There was a 1 mile swim and 2 mile swim and more then a few people did both. I would the say the crowd was 70% triathletes and 30% masters swimmers.

I had signed up for this race in April figuring it would be a good idea to have a long open water swim race under my belt before the half ironman. With my injury running is on the self for a while but I can still swim so I figured I would still do this race.  My main goals for this race where to get comfortable in open water swimming and work on my sighting.  


I woke up at 5:30 am and had a coffee, powerbar, and apple. The race was in Reston Virgina so it took about an hour to get over and the race started at 8 am so I wanted to get there by 7. My brother was doing this race also so the whole family went to the race.

We got to the race site at 6:45. The lake was right off of I believe Hunters Mill road which was one of the road I used to drive to work on last summer, I was really surprised Reston get sort of rural right off of one of the main roads. I think living back by this lake would be a great place to be.

We waited in line for about 5 mintues to pick up the packets. The race was chip timed which was nice but as a backup you also had a bid number like at a running race but for this you put the number under the swim cap and handed it to a volunteer at the finish. I thought that was funny, but it stayed dry.

We went down to the start area to see what the course looked like.

 The course followed the buoysand you stayed between them and the shore going with the arrows in a counterclockwise fashion. The last long leg had more markers then in the picture but was looking right into the sun. This is a lot more turns then the typical triathlon course so I was going to get to work on my sighting which was good.

From the schedule online the race started at 8am in waves of twenty. The prerace briefing and lineup was suppose to begin at 7:45. They weren’t allowing people to warmup in the lake but there was a community pool right next to the lake for use. My plan was to put the wet suit on at 7:30 and go warmup for about 10 minutes and get going.


Well right at 7:30 when I was getting ready to go warmup the race director decided to do the prerace meeting. It lasted for about 5 minutes and then they told everyone to line up in waves. We were standing around for about 20 minutes before the race started so I never got a chance to warmup.

Also I wore a red swim cap so it would be easy for my parents to spot me, which resulted in some good pictures.

Race Overview:

The water temperature was measured on Saturday at 64 F but once I got in it felt a lot warmer then that. They started everyone in waves of 20 based on estimated finish time which resulted in a lot less kicking then the traditional triathlon race.

 That is what my route looked like which isn’t the shortest route and clearly the sighting needs work. I am going to break my report into three parts; the dogleg (top part on the map) , out and back.

Race part 1: dogleg

It took me about 3 minutes to get comfortable in the water and get my breathing under control so I was towards the back of the wave. I was trying to find someones feet to draft off of but wasn’t able to which is something I also need to work on.

I started out on a wider but still good line until the first buoy and did a good job there. Going back into the dog leg is where I had some issues with my line. I went really wide and was not hugging the shore line. I looked up to sight and made an adjustment. I wound up overdoing it and swam right into someones side a couple of strokes later, a solid blow to the midsection. I readjusted again and wound up back towards the middle of the lake which required a readjust at the buoy.

Heading out towards the last buoy on the dogleg was uneventful but lots of corrections when sighting.

Race Part 2: Out 


During this part of the race I began to feel really comfortable and was able to draft off someone for a while which saved some energy. The problem was I took a wide turn on the last buoy of the dogleg which resulted in some corrections and extra distance.

After going through the first buoy on the way out I thought the buoy in the back left corner of the map was what I was heading towards but once I saw I was swimming away from most people I made more corrections and got to the turn around.

I was picking up the pace during this leg and feeling a lot more comfortable but lost a lot of time due to poor sighting.

Race part 3: Back 

Heading back was mostly in a straight line but was looking into the sun. I decided to sight less and work on making sure I was breathing every 3rd or th5th stroke. This made a big difference and I felt a lot smother. I did a much better job here and passed a lot of people. I didn’t have to do a whole lot of corrections and just felt very comfortable, I had found a good rhythm.

I made it around the last turn which was a drainage thing and headed to the finish. I got to end and didn’t feel tired or out of breath at all. I could have gone so much harder but I have no idea how to pace which a swim race which is what I wanted to learn.

Finish and Post Race:

Those are the finish picturesfor me and my brother, the clock is not right because of the wavers but he beat me by three minutes. From swimming with him in the pool I am faster but he beat here because he stayed a lot closer to the shore line and cut the corners really close. He said surfing helped him out alot with staying on course.

The official times where; Phillip: 28:12, Andrew 31:12

The results were broken up into 4 races, 1 mile wetsuit and non wetsuit and the same for the 2 mile swim.

For the 1 mile wetsuit Phillip was 50/191 and I was 82/191. Here’s the results.

Next was the awards. They were by age group, Phillip came in second and I came in third so we got some medals. There were only three people in our division so just by finishing I got an award, but it was still a podium finish which makes me 2 for 3 in podium finishes since I stared triathlon training. 

 gotta love that swim cap hair.

Recap and Lessons Learned:

It turned out to be a beautiful day and there was a decent sized crowd. We stayed until the start of the 2 mile swim and then left.

This was a very successful race for me. I was looking for something around 28-29 minutes but learned a lot of valuable lessons.

1) Doing a warmup of a few minutes would help me settle into a rhythm earlier.

2) I need to work on my sighting more but getting experience will help.

3) Work on Drafting more.

4) My stroke is much smoother and faster when breathing every 3rd or 5th stroke.

5) I need work on keeping my head down unless I am sighting. I spent a lot of time at the beginning with my head sort of up but not out of the water. This dropped my legs and caused a lot of drag.

6) I am about 1/3 of the way through the pack for a triathlon swim of this distance.


In summary I had a blast, I finished strong, I got an award, and was pain free in my ankle the entire race. I want to try and find a few more open water swims for June so I can more practice while I am sidelined from triathlons.

Ankle Update

I went to an orthopedits yesterday to get my ankle checked out and it was not good news. It is a severely sprained ankle which means no running for 6 weeks. The doctor said I can begin jogging in 3 weeks with the brace on and running in 6 weeks. That picture was taken today and is my ankle after six full days from the injury. It’s very nasty looking.

The bruising is a result of ligament damage. According to the docotor I can expect the bruising to get worse in the next couple of weeks, spreading to the top of foot and toes. The swelling should continue on and off for a month or more.

I have to walk around with a lace up brace like this one for a couple of weeks. The doctor said I can still swim and I can bike if I keep the brace on. I went swimming today and didn’t feel to bad, so I might try some indoor biking tomorrow.

I haven’t had any pain in my ankle since Saturday afternoon which has been nice. It feels very stiff which is what I expected. But there is also the sensation of it being unstable and weak. I have sprained my ankle a few times before and it has never felt like this.

The main reason why I have to take it easy on the running is because the ligaments are weak and are going to be that way for the next month or more. If I sprain my ankle again in this state it would cause much worse damage, probably tearing ligaments and require surgery.

So what does this mean for my summer plans?

 This means I am 98% sure I am not doing the Rhode Island race. I left the 2% in there because it is passed the refund date so I might as well not cancel it and figure out if I can bike and swim my normal amount at a 100% I might do an “AquaBike” and just drop out of the run but I probably wouldn’t do this. Even if things go perfect and I can fully run six weeks from now that only gives me 1-2 weeks until the race and I don’t feel comfortable doing the race without being fully prepared.

I should be fine to do the Peachtree 10k in on July 4th. It will probably be more of an easy jog/run then an actual race for me. So I now need to rearrange my year and figure out what I want to do.

What I think I am going to do is race a lot of the Virginia Triathlon Series in August-October. These are a lot of Sprint triathlons which I can use to build up my speed before I move on to longer distances and I have the Nation’s Triathlon which I am looking forward to.

The main thing for the rest of the year is the Marine Corps Marathon in October and based on how running was going if I can get health by the end of July I think I can set a big time PR. I was wondering how I was going to fit marathon training with shorter distance triathlon training but I found a cool plan that I like. I bought the book and once I read through it I will write a post about it.

Looking ahead to next year I will do my first 1/2 Ironman races. By looking far enough ahead I can make sure I get into the two races that I really wanted to do. The first is Eagleman in Cambridge MD in June. I might actually go watch the race this year. The next is Timberman in New Hampshire in August. Hopefully by taking the extra time I get quicker and am able to qualify for the half ironman world championships.

I am going to try and take a positive approach to this and take the time to improve my swimming and biking as much as I can.


Weekly Summary 5/12/08-5/18/08

Swim: 10,100 yards

Bike: 61miles

Run: 20 miles

Time: 10:32

So I finally had 10k yard swimming week which was my main goal for this week and I got it done. I also hit my 20 mile mark for running this week which was good.

I got a new pair of running shoes  which I am excited about. They are very light and I can feel myself running more efficiently and am very happy with them. After I get a few more miles in them I will write up a review.

What was missing this week was my 50-60 mile long bike ride on Sunday. To see why this was missing look at the previous post. I did a the majority of my bike miles on the tri bike and am very happy with it and am comfortable riding in the aerobars now


Ankle Injury

My brothers graduation was Saturday so instead of doing my 8 mile run on Saturday I decided it would be a good idea to get out of the way Friday after dinner. So I went out to run at about 7:15 and ran the first 3-4 miles with my brother and then rest with myself.

I’m having a great run going about 8:30 minutes per mile for a long run pace which is great given my heart rate. It’s now about 8:30 and it’s totally dark out and I’m about a 1/2 mile from home. I’m running along and with my right foot step on a large twig/piece of wood about a half an inch in diameter and roll my right ankle really badly almost falling down. I catch myself and decide it would be best to walk back the rest of the way and it’s causing me a lot of pain as I’m walking back but it gradually dies down.

I hop in the shower and am going to ice it when I get out. Well I get out of the shower and it has swollen up a ridiculous amount. It’s look someone replaced the outside of my ankle with a grapefruit. This looked just like when I broke this same ankle several years ago so it was off to the hospital to get an x-ray.

The ankle wasn’t hurting much when I was at home and I could put weight on it but after the car ride walking up to the ER check in it was starting to hurt to put weight on it. It took about 30 minutes to get an x-ray. On Friday night in the ER I was very surprised it went that fast. 

While waiting to see a doctor I was very upset thinking I had a broken ankle and there goes my entire summer, no ironman or any of the other races, and since it’s my right ankle how am I going to get to work. I was pissed 4-6 months of hard work would be gone just like that by stepping the wrong place.

It turns out it was not broken. That was a huge relief.  The doctor gave me an air-cast to wear for a few days and said I need to see an orthopedists and maybe do some physical therapy before I start working out again.

I was able to set up an appointment for Wednesday afternoon with a sports orthopedists. Since injuring it on Friday I have been icing and trying to rest it. I can put all  my weight on it and walk around fine which is good. It is still stiff but that’s what happens when it heals. The one thing that worries me that it looks like this three days later.

The bruise usually indicates torn ligaments which would make this a longer recovery time. I’m going to guess that it’s a grade 2 ankle sprain, which indicates damage to the ligaments. The doctor is going to give me some stretching exercises to do and tell me to stay off it for the rest of the week and easy back into next week.

This week was suppose to be a rest week on my training plan with a lot less volume so I guess I will be getting a lot of rest this week. If it’s only a week or two I should be fine with my training plan and not miss much. If it’s more I should be fine to be able to complete the race but probably wouldn’t be in peak form so hopefully things go good on Wednesday. The fact that I am not in pain makes me think things will be all right.

On another note my horse racing prediction has been right so far and I made a nice $20 this weekend on the race.


Rhode Island 70.3 Course Maps

So the course maps for the half ironman are out and I posted them below.

The swim map is not very helpful, it’s just go out .6 miles turn around and come back. The swim is in the ocean but is in a cove or some other such thing so it shouldn’t be choppy or have lots of current.

I was surprised by the bike couse and the elevation that is there. I thought Rhode Island was flat. I looks like about 500 feet of elevation gain between miles 16 and 30 but after that a lot is downhill so I pace it right I should be feel good coming into the run.

The run seems like it should be nice. It is two laps in downtown Providence. The fact that it’s two laps and is downtown means there will be a lot of spectators on the course and a lot of support which will be nice and probably needed at that point in the race.

The other nice thing is it looks like I will have an off Friday the week before the race. What I might do then is work an extra hour or two on Monday-Wednesday and leave in the afternoon Thursday and then come back Monday or Tuesday the following week. Once I get that finalized I need to book a hotel which is going to be expensive. 

Overall I am really excited about this race and am looking forward to the challenge. I know I can finish the race now it’s just a matter of how fast I go do it.

Weekly Summary

Swim: 7,500 yards

Bike: 102 miles

Run: 23 miles

Total Time: 12 hours 10 minutes

This was a good week. I got off to a slow start and only ran on Monday and Tuesday, I was able to fit a lot in at the end of the week and still feel good. I was planning on swimming 4 times this week but only got 3 in but other then that I did all my planned workouts. I can really feel improvements in my running and the pace keeps dropping for the same amount of effort.

Today was a 45 mile ride around Montgomery county which had more hills then I was used to. This ride went along a lot of back roads with no traffic up to sugarloaf mountain. I was really scenic with logs of horse and cow farms and not a lot of traffic. After the ride I ran for 2 miles. My legs felt really bad for the first five minutes and then started to feel good, it’s going to be tough at the half ironman race running afterwards.

Going from doing most of my riding on trails that are relatively flat and having to do an out and back loop to get my distance in I liked the fact this route made a big loop and the hills made it much more challenging and interesting.

On Saturday I went for a 7.5 mile run and then took the tri bike for a 26 mile ride. The run was around the neighborhood and uneventful, 8:40 pace not a very hard effort. 

I was surprised how fast I was able to get comfortable riding in the aero bars. Going from riding normal to riding in the aerobars was an increase of about 3mph on a flat road for the same amount of effort. I am really excited to ride on this bike more and get comfortable with it.

Next week is week 3 in the first “build” phase of the program. I am going to try and do a lot of my riding on the tri bike this week and see how that goes.