Several NEMS racers took on the 2013 Patriot Half 70.3 in East Freetown, MA. This course is known to be flat and fast, and our teammates took advantage of this, collecting half-iron PRs or completing this distance for the first time. During the following week, the club’s email group was treated to a slew of in-depth race reports. And, judging by the humor and detail in those reports, it’s clear we have quite a few latent writers in our club. This race report will be a collection of excerpts from those reports.

Some of the NEMS members who raced Patriot Half

No race ever goes off without a hitch, but this race got off to a rough start for 2 of our athletes, before they even got to the venue.

Race preparation: My week started with 80 plus hours at work. So Friday night I am looking for my gear, find tri-bike—hope it still works—Yes, did a service last year before it went into storage. No helmet—darn – cant find my Aero-helmet. I guess the other will do. Sneakers was easy then—yes. Nutrition? Good news! I find my carbo-pro can and some GU. I will be ok. Morning comes 4:45 (not sure what happened between getting in bed and the alarm sounding) and we are actually rolling at 5:05 Apple Navigation gives us directions heading south on 95—waaaaaay too far south. I just get that feeling something is not right—and yes apple is about to send us somewhere but not to Freetown. At the end, we roll into the place at 6:10 and make it to packet pickup at 6:20—at least no need to wait around for the start. – Mikael Taveniku


Karma kept telling me not to race, and I chose not to listen. Approximately three weeks before the race I broke the middle toe on my right foot. During my final race rehearsal my tubular blew 14 miles into my morning. The week before the race I got a stomach virus. Despite all that I was determined to race. – Larry Rodman

At Patriot, teams are grouped together in transition. It was like a pre-race party with all of us in there.

Little did Larry know, that was just the beginning.

It was a beautiful morning and I was setting up with the other members of NEMS when a USAT official in a red shirt came over to look at my helmet. I have a POC Tempor helmet and he had never seen one before. He looked it over and told me it was illegal and he could not allow me to race with it. He said there was no CSPC sticker and that meant I could not race. I immediately began to panic until Richard Hostler said he had an extra helmet in his car. He asked his wife and kids if they could grab it and when they brought it back I tried it on and it fit. I was now able to ride with a legal helmet. For me the race was still on! – Larry Rodman

Phew! Now that all that’s out of the way, it’s on to the swim. The water was in the mid 60’s and the wind started to come up, creating just enough chop to keep things interesting.

Got the bike and transition location all set up, threw on the wetsuit and was ready for the swim wave whistle when it blew. As you regular NESMers all know, I swim about as fast as boat anchor in quicksand, so I simply try to stay out of the chaos as best as possible and go about my business on the fringe.

All was good until two things happened:
1. Goggles continually lost their seal and were taking on water which impacted my visionsighting and led to….
2. Mistaking a $#@%^ red kayak for a %$^#&* red turn buoy which…
3. Had me swimming much longer than I should have.

On a good note, being as slow as I am, I was not tired when I did finally reach shore again. I may have been another year older but was not tired which was great because I am targeting a full Iron in August and this was refreshing. – Tom Frost

Tom wasn’t the only one happy to be out of the water.

So for a lot of this season I’ve been having difficulty getting a seal on my goggles on my left eye. I’ve gone through a dozen different sets in pool and OWS, and thought I finally had it rectified at Quassy a couple of weeks back. As a standing water start with 4 minutes between guns, I got the goggles on and kept face dunking and shaking head. Immediate flooding every time. Sweet. I tightened up the straps, gave the seal a push, and hoped for the best. Didn’t get it. Okay, so we’re going to try something else new today, Frank, a 40 minute eyes closed swim! Nothing to do but continue, so that’s what I did. Swim was pretty good, but about 400 yards out, the chop happened. That was unexpected. Every other lake swim I’ve done has been really flat. I did have an ocean swim last year with 4 foot swells, but this was different. As I haven’t mastered the ability to bilateral breath I just chalked it up as something else to deal with. Swimming blind wasn’t too bad in retrospect, but combined with 7 waves in front of me, it did result in my swimming into a lot of folks. This made me feel really guilty. I mean, I’m not good, and it bums me out when people punch me in the back of the head and grab onto my shoulders and legs in the swim. I usually get angry and say mean things to them, but as I’m usually struggling to breath, not sure my point always gets across. Either way, from experience, I know these folks are probably thinking I’m just some ass trying to be better than them and swimming over them, but I’m totally not, I’m just blind! Irish/Italian Catholic guilt issues at play here. I made the two turns pretty tightly and headed back in. About midway thru the home stretch I realized I was way, way off the line to the outside. I triangulated the course and just headed for home. Coming out of the water I looked down and saw a 41 on the watch. My goal was 38, but given my last 1.2 race was 46 and I that I easily burned 3-4 minutes swimming blind and offline, I was pretty happy. – Frank Mulcahy

Kris Heads out for 56 miles of fun.

After a quick trip through T1, our racers were hammering through 56 miles on the bike. The flat course offered the perfect opportunity to push hard.

It was my first go racing in the elite wave. Two years ago I went 2:21 on this course on 255 avg watts, so I felt I could be close to 2:15-2:16 on 275 or so watts. Not really sure what happened, but it seems like overall times were slower than in previous years. I made a concerted effort to go easy to start on the bike, holding back. Instructions from coach Steve said to stay under 280 watts, so that was the goal. Over the first loop I slowly built power (maybe a bit too much), and was around 283 avg watts at the end of the first loop. By that point, I’d moved from 10th (out of 10) in the elite wave to 6th. During loop two, there was far more traffic on the course, and I was able to pass one more guy from the elite wave a few miles from T2, so I came into transition in 5th in the elite wave. My power had dropped a little on the second loop, but I was able to average around the same pace. I felt good coming off the bike, and felt I could salvage the race with a decent run. – Nate Thomas

I start out on the bike and everything feels good. Coming up to the 1/2 way point on the bike I’m averaging 19.4 so I decide to slow down a little on the 2nd 1/2 some save some fuel for the 13.1 mile run that I have never ran before. My bike split is 3:04:31 right about where I wanted to be and I still feel really good at this point. – Norman Carbonneau

Had one of the best bike legs in a long while—did a rare descend; avg 21.5 the first lap and 21.7 the second lap. Never had to get off the big ring, and just kept the peddles spinning. – Norman Kim

The adventure just kept coming in T2.

My transition from Bike to Run ran into a snag. I had a great dismount as I leave my shoes on the bike and run into the transition in my socks. Problem is had to run through wet grass and a puddle. I had to make a quick choice to run in no socks (with shoes I have never ran without socks) or with drenched socks (and know will get BAD blisters). I decided to go with no socks. It worked, but I have some very interesting marks on my feet. – Craig Stoller

Chris goes out hard on the run... perhaps a bit too hard.

Just one leg left: the run. The sun was out, temps were climbing, and this year’s 13.1 miles tested our athletes in numerous ways. For some it was the last step toward a PR, for others, many difficult steps that lay between them and the finish.

I’d done a 13.1 early in the season and crushed my previous PB by putting up a 1:48. This curve busting effort caused me again to have delusions of grandeur. After talking with Colin, we decided to go out at 9:30’s the first 4 miles and then if I was feeling strong at mile 5 or so, pick it up. Mile 1 was 8:40. This was not me being a cocky, stubborn little brat. I really could not get going slower, I tried, but I think adrenaline was just really coursing through me. By the mile 1 marker I got slowed down into the 9:20 range and felt pretty good. I got into a 2 water pick up rotation at the aid stations, one for my head, and one for me to drink and carry to the next station. Even without my binky, I had to keep water in my hands to feel comfortable. Mommy issues? Wall hit hard around mile 4 and the great shuffle step began. Colin had told me to keep it down on the bike, nut I was a cocky, stubborn, little brat, and I paid for it on the run. The heat and my tired legs caused me to slow to the 10’s range. I also kept wanting to hurl. Second time around this has happened, but only during the races, not training. I was really feeling it on the hills that totally were not there on the bike. Kept trudging, knowing it was only 13. I got passed a good amount, which was a bummer given how strong I felt on the bike and that I was giving back time. At mile 8 told myself all I had left was the equivalent of a Tuesday lunch run to the end of the road and back. Picked it up a bit around mile 12 and ran strong to the finish and ended in the 9:45 range. I stopped doing that silly all out sprint to the finish I used to do, it’s just going to cause me to fall on my face in front of the crowd soon. When I saw the clock, I was elated, I was coming in under 5:39! Better than 30 minutes my last 70.3 time. – Frank Mulcahy

The Run was amazing as very nice course and this is my BIG strength. I averaged a 7:11 pace with some splits at 6:50 (not bad for an old gummer). I was concerned that I could not be able to keep this up but pushed on. I think the nutrition I had on the Bike helped a lot. Because of my slow swim had a lot of people before me and was passing continually. I think I was passing someone about every 10 sec, or sooner. It became a problem in the water stops as the volunteers were working with people doing 8++ splits. It got to the point going into the water stop that I had to yell “Need water and coming in fast” because if not they would have the water ready when I was 10 feet past them and could not get it. – Craig Stoller

I jog in with the bike, get my sneakers, down a small bottle of Gatorade and head out for the run – first mile feels Ok (8:15 pace). At mile 2 I am dizzy and freezing – not good so I slow way down to try and cool off a little – I kind of make it to mile 3, get a triple water two for outside and one for inside – not helping – so it’s time to walk – Not Happy! – but at least I am not throwing up 🙂 – think positive – it is not that warm but I just can’t get cooled down – or whatever it is, so I walk to the next stop – more water and try to run – just not working – heart rate shoots up like crazy, so I call it a day and slowly jog walk my way keeping pulse below 175, to the finish with a 2:18 half marathon time. – Mikael Taveniku

A quarter mile into the run I stopped due to stomach cramps and some minor cramping in my quads. I again took a moment to catch my breath, stretch, and then started walking. I ended up walking the entire 13.1 miles. There were a number of times I stopped due to the pain then just kept on going. There was no way that I was not finishing this race. Mile after slow mile crawled by. At mile 10.5 I thought I could go no further, and then I took a step. Then another. Finally, after Three hours and 29 minutes of walking I crossed the finish line. – Larry Rodam

In the end, all NEMS members made it across the finish line. Here’s a list of notable performances from the day:

Nate Thomas—7th-place overall, 1st time racing elite
Jim Piper—5th overall, AG 2nd-place in Aquabike
Norman Kim—AG 1st-place
Chris Stevenson—AG 2nd-place
Richard Hostler—AG 1st-place, 70.3 PR
Frank Mulcahy—70.3 PR
Larry Rodman—1st 70.3
Kevin Zajas—1st 70.3
Norm Carbonneau—1st 70.3

Great job, NEMS!