Mid-Season Rugby Update

Continuing on the success of the beginning of the season, Charlotte rugby has racked up a few more wins and a close loss to Life University since my last post. As of right now, I’ve made the switch back to scrum half full time, and it’s been quite a fun ride.

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(Photo Credit: Jess Valentino)

Life JV traveled to Charlotte in Mid-February for the 2nd matrix (or division) match of the season. We actually came out of the gates firing and scored a couple quick tries, but they kept crawling back into the game, with the score close to even at the half. Towards the end of 2nd half we were down by 3 tries. Whether that was due to fitness or a mental block of playing a tough Life team I’m not sure.

Knowing that we had to get within a try to lock down a bonus point (or going for the outright win), we made a last push and put in two tries in what seemed like the last 2 minutes of the game. I even managed a sneaky scrumhalf pick off a scrum for a try right under the posts.

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With the matrix matches played so far, it’s starting to look like it’ll be Life vs Charlotte in the 1st round of the Carolinas Union playoff, as long as we take care of business with Atlanta Old White in the next two games. Hopefully we can finally grab a W from Life and move on to the South Championships in Florida next month.

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Photo credit: Atlanta Old White (vs Renegades)

In non-matrix matches, we’ve been having even better times. We had Baltimore-Chesapeake come down for an A-side and B-side friendly in late February. Although our B-side had a close loss, we put on a bit of a clinic with the A-side match with a closer-than-it-really-was score of 45-31. Not too bad for playing a team a division higher than ourselves.

Mirroring that, this past weekend we traveled to Nashville to play the team we faced in the South Championship weekend last year. The A-side came away with a 46-19 win, while the B-side came back and won by a try or so in the last few minutes. I saw a drone flying above during the first half of the A-side game, looking forward to tracking down that footage! After the match, a well-earned social with the Nashville side in downtown Nashville was the perfect ending to the weekend (And the start of a lot of stories, haha).

Finally, I was able to secure a spot on the USA South select side for the Savannah Tournament. After a few years of trying out for the squad, it was great to be able to put on the jersey for the first time.

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There were a lot (this is an understatement) of experienced coaches and players on the team (As well as a solid representation from Charlotte!), and the experience of playing with those guys will only help with our goals in Charlotte this season.

 

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Off To A Good Start!

With two wins in the first two rugby games, we’ve managed to hit the ground running in the start to our season.

Our first came against Greenville (SC) by the score 41-14. We definitely started out a bit rusty, but eventually pulled away once we settled in our pattern of play. I started out on the wing, and managed a few sprints around the edge to put two tries on the board. The “Hype Squad” came on and beat Greenville’s B-side as well, so a good day overall.

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Next up, was traveling down to play the Atlanta Renegades (GA). After an extremely physical first half, where the score bounced back and forth from a Charlotte lead to a tie at least 5 or 6 times, we managed to pull away in the second half. The final score of 46-27 was closer than it seemed, and I’m very happy putting two W’s up against the Renegades this season. Other than being thrown into a bench (still have a massive bruise on my hip) that somehow wasn’t called a penalty, I can’t complain too much about the match.

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I moved over to scrumhalf for this match as well. It is a very different (and harder) game being involved in every play, linking the forwards and backs, but a much more rewarding one when everything clicks just right. This type of battle should serve us pretty well going into our game versus Life University JV (GA) tomorrow, who managed to be the only team to beat us last fall. Their varsity side just won the college national championship last year, so the team is no joke.

As for the triathlon side, I’ve been coasting a bit from the higher mileage I put up in Nov/Dec. I have three more weeks of “pre-season” Ironman training, and then it’s all about sticking to the plan until July. At the moment some basketball, a few miles of trail running, and a mile or so of swimming each week has been about it. There’s been some rumblings about an early season attempt on the Mount Mitchell climb (6000+ ft of climbing), which would be one heck of a kickstart to bike fitness. We shall see!

 

New Year, New Goals

With a new registration to Ironman Lake Placid, and another year of rugby under my belt is seems like it could be 2014 all over again, other than the fact I’m in a new state (North Carolina), with a new club (Charlotte Rugby), and most importantly, my supportive girlfriend is now my supportive wife. Looking back on last year as a whole, I was surprised by how many big items myself and various racing partners/rugby teammates had crossed off the “to-do” list:

  • Attended a Pro Rugby tryout combine. It’s too bad I’m not 6’5” or with my 33” vertical I’d be playing in the NBA, haha.

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  • Had a successful spring season with Charlotte Rugby, where we advanced through the playoffs as the DII South Champions, until being knocked out in the Elite Eight and finishing 5th in the country. Not too shabby! In addition, two people from Charlotte have been tapped for different professional rugby leagues. I can’t help but think the higher competition level here will increase my rugby skills as well.

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  • In our first ever “adventure race,” my buddies Donnie, Peter and I took 2nd place at the “Shenandoah Strong” race in the 3-person category, qualifying for the US Adventure Racing National Championship. Our day included 50 miles of canoeing, mountain biking, and trail running. To say it was a tight race was an understatement, as we got to the last way point in view of the other team and the finish line. A mad half-mile dash had us into 2nd place by less than a minute, in a race that was 5+ hours long! Unfortunately the championship took place right smack in the middle of the fall rugby season, so I had to pass for now. I’m definitely filing this type of racing in the “when retired from rugby” category to return to.

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  • Back onto the road bike! After not riding at all halfway into 2016, my coworker and I dragged ourselves up Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in the eastern half of the US. I paid for the lack of training the whole time up the 6,000’+ climb, but finishing gave me some additional confidence since I won’t have a longer climb in basically any other race I do! Riding up the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first time was awesome as well. Smooth roads and slow/respectful traffic is pretty hard to come by. Another future “to-do” item may be a full ride of the BRP, most likely with Donnie in that adventure as well.

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  • Another first was my first season of 7’s rugby. This is a much faster paced and much shorter game than the 15-a-side version I typically play. Luckily Charlotte has a few 7’s teams, and we ended up winning the Airborne 7’s tournament near Ft. Bragg over the summer in our first test. The game speed helps keep the size of the players down and I can’t say I don’t like that versus having to tackle some 300 pounders during the regular season. Over the course of the summer we had a few tournaments around the US South East, culminating with a shot at Nationals during the South Championships at our home pitch. We played teams from as far away as Oklahoma, Miami, and New Orleans, and unfortunately came up short. Looking forward to next season already, although practicing in 90 degree temps with 90% humidity can be quite exhausting.

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  • The final “mission accomplished” has to be my 2016 New Year’s Resolution of running 1,000 miles in 2016. Happy to say, even with traveling, buying a house, fractured foot, etc., I was able to keep myself on track and knock out that goal. Being a notorious procrastinator, I did save a half marathon for the last day, although it could have been much worse! Now that it’s over, I do feel a sense of relief I can do more swimming and biking, in lieu of all that running. Looking back on my training logs from the 2014 IMLP, I DRASTICALLY under trained on the bike and will be looking to reverse that this year. Also helps that I can ride in January in NC, instead of waiting until April/May in Syracuse!

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Here’s to just as good of a year in 2017!

 

What a Game!

Rugby Scrum

Now that I’ve finally warmed up from our most recent match, I can say that was one of the most intense ones I’ve been a part of in ten years of rugby.

This game was the initial playoff game for the “Upstate” division of our NY/NJ league, and was extremely important in the seeding for the remainder of the playoffs. We had beaten Rochester two times during the regular season, but the conditions took away almost all of our advantage we previously used running the ball very quick and wide.

In temperatures hovering around 37F, and winds gusting to 35mph, Rochester come out and trudged their way to 22 to 9 lead by the 2nd half. Lots of sloppy play by both sides initially had a couple spectators calling this “the ugliest rugby game I’ve ever watched”, haha. I was backing up the other scrumhalf today, so I managed to snap about 300 pictures while trying to stay warm, definitely not a bad gig in this type of weather. When I was called to sub-in with about 25 minutes left in the game, I almost immediately got tackled into some standing water and realized why half the guys out there were doing the “thousand-yard stare” and uncontrollably shivering.

Syracuse Chargers Rugby Scrum

Having not been turned into a Popsicle on the sideline, I actually found a couple sneaky holes in the defense I could run through, including two or three 50+ meter runs within the first 15 minutes of going in. We were also awarded a penalty at our 10m line, and someone from Rochester knocked the ball right out of our flyhalf’s hands and directly into mine. Not a whole lot of people could tell what was going on, and after a second of shock from my good luck, I took off running. I was able to offload the ball about 60m down the field and we put another try on the board.

Syracuse Rugby Scrum Half

So thankful every time I took off there was one or two other Chargers following, because running through that mud was worse than trying to sprint on a beach.

With a penalty try scored just before I came in (thanks forwards!), and the recent surge at the end of the game, we managed to tie the game up and forced the match into overtime. Pretty sure both teams would have settled for a boat-race to decide the winner at this point, but off we went for 20 minutes more of rugby (even colder and wetter this time).

Syracuse Rugby Scrum Half 2

Similar to the 1st half, Rochester managed to pull ahead 29-27 after tries by each club (including another sneaky run by yours truly), and a converted kick by the Aardvarks. With time running low in the 2nd half of overtime, we managed yet another push with the wind behind out backs, and put up two tries to go ahead for good as time ran down.

Can’t explain how hard the team fought to crawl back in the game multiple times. I can definitely see this being a great motivator to push forward in the playoffs in the upcoming weeks. Next is Buffalo this Saturday, where we hope to break a losing streak in Buffalo against their top team, which has been kicking around for too long.

Lake Effect Half Marathon Recap

Little snowy...

Little snowy out there…

This one was brutal…

Considering I knocked out 10 outdoor runs during the 2nd snowiest February in Syracuse history, you would think I’m used to running on some snow covered trails. For some reason, the consistency of the snow just gave me no traction during this race, especially after the first pass of runners (double out and back course) made the snow turn to mush.

I really need to throw some spikes in my shoes, or just wear my rugby cleats, because it felt like running on the beach in some spots. My pace in those areas jumped from 8:15ish to 10+ minutes a mile, and it was definitely not a PR-worthy day after two years of doing so at this race. Even though I came in at 1:55:45, a full 10 minutes slower than last year, I was very happy at my pacing and felt I was able to maintain the same effort throughout the race, even if that meant dropping the pace.

Just a touch drier last year

Even though I didn’t place in my age group, I do believe I was the fastest person in shorts there. Considering we averaged 9 degrees this month, officially the coldest month in Syracuse’s history, the 22 degree temps felt almost balmy.

Cheesing for the camera...

Cheesing for the camera…

I have the Shamrock Run (4 miles) this weekend and the Syracuse Half Marathon in three weeks. I’m really hoping there is no snow on the ground, but being in Syracuse you aren’t guaranteed that until about June. We shall see!

Thanks to Lauren Long (llong@syracuse.com) for the pictures.

Training for Rugby & Triathlons

Can Am Rugby Desimone

Recently, I was on the hunt for a rugby/triathlon training plan for this year’s pre-season session. Unfortunately, this blog came up as the third search result, which makes me think there is not a massive knowledge base on how to balance training for both sports at the same time.

I train under the methodology you gain the most if you are doing the actual sport, so there are a lot of running, biking, swimming, and rugby practices in my current training plan, with some weight lifting mixed in. The major benefit I’ve seen from weightlifting would be the biking leg of my triathlons, picking up my average speed from around 18mph to ~22-24mph, but I’m sure there are many secondary gains in the other areas (such as the pull phase in my swim stroke).

As a scrumhalf, I’m not doing a ton of heavy lifting like the big guys in the scrums all day, instead, being at all the breakdowns and tackles to recover the ball quickly is my main focus. Seeing how this is basically a long 80 minute interval/sprinting session, training for both sports has some pretty significant crossover that I can take advantage of.

My typical pre-season training week consists of:

Training Schedule Rugby Ironman Triathlon

Anyone else have an exercise/training regimen that works well?

Annnndddd We’re Back!

Ironman Dylan Desimone

After a “short” hiatus, I’m firing this blog back up to follow along as I train for the Ironman Mont-Tremblant 70.3 and the Syracuse Chargers Rugby Club spring season. A short recap on the major items from the past eight months:

– I completed Ironman Lake Placid! Battling some crazy lightning during the swim, a downpour combined with a 50 degree F bike ride, and a pretty grueling run (seen above), I finished in 14 hours and 31 minutes. Bucket List Item – COMPLETE

Not me in the picture, but it's perfect to show the absolute downpour we went through during the first 15 miles (what a waste of a downhill portion).

Not me in the picture, but it’s perfect to show the absolute downpour we went through during the first 15 miles (what a waste of a downhill portion).

– I knocked out the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman a month earlier in 6:12, which proved to fit very nicely into the training schedule, in the build up to IMLP.

– In rugby news, we were unfortunately knocked out of the DIII playoffs by NYC’s Old Blue, who ended up winning the National Championship. Being knocked out in such an early round in 2014 was a bit frustrating, but it’s nice to know we weren’t very far away from competing with the top clubs in the nation.

– I made the NJ/NY all-star team, and in the same game got DESTROYED by a guy on the other team like never before, haha. I was knocked clean out, but somehow got up and walked off the field (don’t remember anything until I got to the sideline), and later diagnosed with a concussion and three bruised ribs. Looking at the video tape, the guy is about 6’4″ and 260bs, so I can’t say I expected the physics would help me much in that collision. This was two weeks after Ironman, so all of that built up cardio and training quickly dropped after I took August and half of September off from any physical activity to recover. Quite frustrating…

– That being said, the Chargers were elevated to DII status again, and unlike last time we were promoted, managed to secure a spot in the spring playoffs! Not only that, but for the first time in the club’s history, we fielded two teams in the fall. The DIII squad, which has helped the overall development of the team immensely, just missed the playoffs this year. It is quite the testament to how fast the club is growing, and after the first practice in Manley Field-house this weekend, we’re looking in great shape to make a playoff push.

– Most importantly, I got engaged! My now-fiance and I went to London in November and I popped the question up on the London Eye. Will not forget that moment, and can’t wait for all of our future adventures 🙂

Tower Bridge, London UK

Tower Bridge, London UK

Quite the year, I’d say!

Finally, check out my updated racing/rugby schedule below for 2015, and keep an eye out for some new posts coming out soon. I couldn’t find anything during some research on training for rugby and triathlon/distance events at the same time, so I think I’ll share what’s worked for me so far.

https://ironrugger.wordpress.com/race-calendar/