Training Camp Week 3: The Wrap Up

Well I’ve been training back home now for a couple of weeks. My time in Poway seems like a distant memory as I look outside and see Richmond blanketed in a freshly fallen snow the last few mornings. I miss 65 degree training runs quit badly right now. But this makes me tougher damnit….

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Trail running behind the house

So it’s about time I wrap up my thoughts from my three weeks in California with The Triathlon Squad this winter. The general idea behind me going out to California was to have my coach watch me train for a while and to immerse me in the training culture he has created. We wanted to use a few weeks for me to see and understand how everyone on the Squad carried themselves and went about daily training and such. While I originally talked about committing to the process with no excuses and making sure I finally started to relax the overarching theme for my time out in Poway was about understanding how to handle my business. I feel like I sound like a street hustler saying that.

Much like the idea of acting like a “professional” the idea of handling my business mostly came down to what I did on a daily basis that would allow me to continue doing what I was doing day in and day out for training. It wasn’t so much about running a certain pace or making sure I swam a certain volume in the pool, handling my business was all about what food I ate in preparation for a workout, how much sleep I got, how often I used the foam roller, my stress levels, stretching, being on time and a host of other ideas like this. Handling my business was about not giving myself the opportunity to make excuses during a workout because I came prepared. I came into my workouts with the best preparation I could in order to perform (or hang on for dear life) and I needed to.

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Blurry shot of a hard trainer ride with Taylor

Anyone can go out and run fast or bike hard. We see that every day on Strava. Handling your business is what you do in between those hard workouts… and knowing that not every workout should be hard (actually very few of them ever are). If I want to succeed in triathlon I need to make sure I’m always putting myself in a place to perform. This probably sounds really simple and self explanatory but putting something into practice 24 hours a day and 7 days a week… yeah good luck with that. Lots of people say they do this stuff but do they really put in the time to get loose every night, do they really drink enough water each day, do they really think about protein and fat contents at every meal… and the list goes on. This stuff is exhausting but it’s what it takes.

There is a reason most professional sports teams have cooks and dietitians and meals ready for their athletes all the time. Its hard to handle your food and training let alone all the other stuff. And this was my biggest lesson from being out in Poway where I solely focused on my training and handling my business… I need to bring that environment back home with me. This is certainly something most people can’t do with crazy work schedules and kids activities and spouses commitments (lets be honest, its too boring for most people too). If I want to see success in triathlon this is how I must structure my life. I need this order in the chaos to be able to handle my business.

Today is a good day!

Training Camp Week 2: Relax already

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Warning: Hard squad workouts will shock the system!

Two weeks of camp have gone by now. The shock of really hard workouts around a pile of amazing athletes has worn off and now I’m fully entrenched in the grind known as off-season training. As I’ve worked a lot on my first two lessons of commitment with no excuses I’m started to work on my 3rd biggest lesson of camp now: relaxing.

If you know me or have ever read my blog you know I don’t relax very well. If I needed to be defined by one single character trait it could probably be “high-strung”. Its not that I worry all the time or that I’m particularly tense its more about me needing to let things come to me. More specifically when I swim, bike and run I need to let the form come to me more often instead of pushing things.

The biggest example of this comes with my run form. I’ve seen all the videos online, I’ve taken the coaching courses that tell me what to look for and teach and I’ve read the textbooks on what the body should essentially do. Implementing these ideas and techniques on myself has been a 6-7 year process that gets turned on its head every few years and this is definitely one of those times.

The squad has some hill repeats each week right now. On one of the days we do them together and on a second day I do them with only a few folks (or specifically this week it was just me and coach Paulo – yikes). I’ve already had to keep pounding out of my head to not worry about “proving” myself to anyway (including myself) now it was just me and coach getting shit done on a steep hill on a sunny afternoon.

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Such a nice, “relaxing” view on a long bike ride this weekend

For anyone who has had to drastically change a swim stroke and tells me it feels all wrong when, in fact, I can see they are finally doing it “all right”, well that has been my week on the hills. Every repeat I ran alone this week I had coach barking at me from the side with his camera running analyzing my every step. How my run form felt when I started to finally get it right is easy to describe: totally F’ing weird. I felt so awkward and off balance and ridiculous AND THEN I HEARD THAT MAGIC WORD: “good”. I only heard it once but I heard it and I knew that super weird feeling was money right there. Time to replicate that awkwardness over and over again until it becomes relaxed and natural.

So what is my point about relaxing on one of the harder workouts I do all week? I need to let the hill come to me. I have to stop trying to force my way into and up it. I’m always trying to attack the hill and I spend so much energy fighting it. I need to let my feet and legs carry behind me more so I build up that chain of kinetic energy to spring my legs forward and up the hill, not into it. If I allow my legs to swing back more freely I’m allowing my hips to relax more and do their damn job. As coach showed me, in amazing fashion, I’m running like a “tight, old man shuffle”. I need to relaxed… damnit.

relax-blocksThis whole lesson in relaxation on the run is then extrapolated to my entire attitude on training and racing this year. As I wrote in a previous blog this winter I’m done chasing races and pushing for outcomes. This year has to be about relaxing, letting things come to me and settling in. If I don’t relax my hips I’m not going to run fast and if I don’t relax my attitude I’m not going to be able to succeed in races. If I can relax my body it will just do its job and if I can relax my attitude my life will fall in to place a little bit better (or at least that’s the theory I’m working with). So here’s to relaxing!

Today is a good day.

Training camp: week 1

I am officially the newest squad member of The Triathlon Squad these days. As such I needed to make the trek out to Poway (San Diego), CA to get in some time with coach Paulo Sousa and the rest of the squad. Now I’ve been coached before but this is a whole new experience for me committing so fully to triathlon. In the past I’ve always had one foot “in the door” of another world and even though I was trying to commit fully to triathlon I wasn’t really doing it the way I should have to get the results I wanted. Not so much anymore. I’m all in.

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Not a bad place to ride…

Showing up to camp (which really isn’t a camp because most of the squad live and train here year round) was pretty eye opening. If I thought I understood what it was to commit to a goal before I didn’t have the slightest clue until now. I’m side-by-side with 70.3, Ironman, and Continental Cup winners/podium finishers with a pile of WTS starts to boot. Add to that three guys on the squad are ranked at the top of ITU points for US men heading into the Rio Olympics. If I wanted to experience being all in and committing fully to my goals I came to the right place. The guys and gals I train with every day ooze commitment.

So what it is like to train with such an array of incredible athletes every day? Well its hard. A better description would be that I’m truly learning what I need to do each day to get the job done and make it to the next day ready to start things all over again. It isn’t about PRs or feeling good or having a great workout. Day in and day out it is about getting the job done no matter what, no excuses. I’ve learned VERY quickly to own my failures (lots and lots of them), suck up my pride (who am I kidding, I’ve got none left!) and keep moving forward. No one wants to hear me talk about why I didn’t hit a hill repeat well enough or why I was behind on the interval in the pool. They expect me to just do the work.

If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting. - David BowieAnd the work, I mean it is only swimming, biking and running right? Yeah some of the hardest I’ve ever felt. Every day is something like “how am I going to get through this workout without falling on my face?”. And you know what, I haven’t fallen on my face (ok maybe a little…jk). I’m doing it though. I’m making the intervals. I’m hanging on. Every single day I’m doing something that is making me better.

It is NOT easy for me to be out here. I’ve taken a GIANT leap of faith with Christa that committing so fully to triathlon will pay us back what we put into it. We want to do it though. We want to see this process through. As things are moving along I’m making a lot of new friends, learning more than I could have imaged and gaining A LOT of new fitness. Now I just need to get through the next two weeks! 🙂

Today is a good day.

My 2015 triathloning year in review

I wish I had the patience or knowledge to wax some philosophical offerings on my racing and training in 2015. The fact of the matter is that I’m a simple fella who likes to use simple words to simply say I had one hell of a difficult athletic year. As I tell everyone I ever have the opportunity to work with, please learn from my mistakes. Without further adieu enjoy this list of things I failed at and attempted to recover from this year.

  1. WebMove on as quickly as possible from any and all failures. I have a terrible history of failure in sports. I can find a new way to fail at my “job” every single time I head out the door to compete with others. Thankfully because I’ve done so many things wrong I’ve always been granted copious opportunities to learn from my mistakes and get the hell past them as soon as possible. I suggest you learn how to have a VERY short term memory when it comes to racing and training failures.
  2. tumblr_nnysqoh4fO1qd45ayo1_1280Seriously, seriously, seriously stop worry about what other people think and do. The more you focus on the finish time of someone else the less you focus on lowering your own time. The more you focus on what other people think of your race the less time you focus on actually producing a race performance you can be proud of. I fully understand the interest in analyzing podium finish times and Kona qualifier spots but the reality is none of that makes you faster and none of it helps you achieve your goals.
  3. I’ve tried to chase races for too long. I’m done trying to hit a schedule or set up a “perfect” season. For 2016 I’m picking my first race and just going from the flow past that. While an age grouper needs to schedule a few more races in advance I suggest picking out a few key races and letting the local scene dictate the extras you want to drop in along the way.
  4. 514YfxbgaZL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Swim more. Get in the pool more often. Go now. Swimming (and riding) are the foundation for a good race.
  5. Stop trying new things in races. I won’t let my athletes do it but I still experiment from time to time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. it bites me in the rear.

I might do a lot of things wrong but the nice thing about that is I keep learning what not to do in so many different situations. The ‘right way’ to success isn’t always the same way but the ‘wrong way’ definitely creates patterns I’m learning to avoid (even if its taking me a while).

Today is a good day and next year will be a better year!

 

10 things off-season has taught me

Off-season, non-competition season, winter or whatever you want to call this time of year it typically means one of two things for endurance athletes:

  1. Eat more food (or the same amount you ate while training), enjoy the fruits of your labor from the season and take some ‘down-time’ or
  2. I’m gunna be so ready to crush everyone next year, watch out world, domination starts now!

Rarely do I find folks in the middle of those two. Most of us are either ON or OFF when it comes to our training and focus. I suggest keeping the switch somewhere in the middle this year 🙂

With the idea of having a foot in both of the camps mentioned above I present the 10 most important things I’ve learned from my (and others) history of off-seasons:

  1. For most folks gaining weight back on when you’re in a block of time that doesn’t include racing is a GOOD thing. A proper weight balance helps hormone production (ie. recovery).
  2. This is a perfect time of year to practice self-control, restraint and the exact same mental tactics you would use in a race when it comes to that 2nd, 3rd or 4th slice of pie. You didn’t need it then and you don’t need it now.
  3. Don’t step on the scale unless you’re in the process of losing lots of weight.
  4. The vast majority of athletes don’t need to take more than a week or two completely off of training. Most folks simply don’t build up enough volume during the year to warrant no training for a month or two… or four.
  5. Focus on your weakness. That doesn’t mean only train your weakness, just focus on it.
  6. Focusing on your weakness also doesn’t mean you go so hard so often that you put in the same about of ‘training stress’ you would during the race season. When you aren’t racing you are building fitness, this is when you build the fitness you race off of during the warmer months. See what I said there? Its building… not digging a hole.
  7. You have family and friends. Say HI to them again. If you don’t have any family or friends its pretty easy to meet some if you leave your pain cave.
  8. No one wants to see your training metrics on social media during race season…. they really don’t want to see them in off-season. I get it if that’s part of your job, the humble-brag needs some downtime though.
  9. Do something to re-balance your life. If you spend all your time in the pursuit of that illusive Kona slot now is the time to learn about something else… anything else. Diversify.
  10. If you want to truly get better or be really good in anything (whatever good means to you) there is no off-time. There is relaxed time, intense time, slow time, fast time…. yadda yadda…. but there is no off-time.

So that’s my list in no particular order. I’ve seen and done all sorts of wacky things during off-season. Learn from mine and others mistakes. 🙂

Today is a good day.

A case study in poor racing strategy: Racing in Des Moines, Iowa

My entire 2015 racing campaign was going to be an experiment in going short and going often. I put a lot of sprint and Olympic distance races on my calendar in hopes to continually build my speed and learn to suffer better. Racing in Des Moines, Iowa was a real test to see how far things had come.

This is a different kind of race report from me as I won’t be running down a play-be-play of my day (even though this sorta turns into that), rather I’ll be speaking to the issues I faced on the day and how I did or did not overcome them.

Start fast!

Start fast!

Let us start with the swim, it comes first in the race anyway. My swim had always been solid in the age group ranks but as I’ve transitioned to racing more pro/elite fields I’ve learned just how far it needed come. If I’m speaking in a training sense I need to hold all my 100s around 1:15 on the 1:20-5 interval in a short-course meters pool to typically hold the 2nd pack. If I’m swimming my 100s on something like :20 seconds rest I need to be able to hold just under 1:15 and not feel like I’m dying the entire time. This type of swim fitness allows me to hold the first pack through 1/3 to 1/2 of the swim before I get popped. If I want to make and hold the first pack (excluding the swim leaders off the front) I’m going to need to hold sub 1:10 on the 1:20 interval and probably closer to 1:05 (speaking to short course meters). For those of you in yards pools you’d be looking at 1:00ish minute pace on :10-:15 second rest to hold the first pack in most professional races. This is all contingent on sighting well, following the course, not getting kicked in the face and making the whole-shot sprint for the first 200-300 meters of the swim.

In Des Moines I was able to stick with the big lead pack until, about, 1/3 of the way before I found myself in no-mans land. The first 1/3 wasn’t just swimming hard, there were about 3 surges I needed to cover each time digging as deep as I could to hang on. No luck on the 4th surge which happened right after a turn buoy. As I was on the back of the pack I felt the slinky effect and needed to work extra hard to hang on but it just didn’t happen. Even with getting popped and swimming all by my lonesome on the way back to shore I managed to hold most of the main players to 1-2 minutes. Typically I’ve been in the 3-4 minute rage in the past. This is progress, painfully slow progress.

IMG_4915As I got on my bike I could tell I was already hurting. My HR popped up on my computer screen in the low 180s. That, my friends, is not a good place for me to be. It turns out, while I may have been a little sick for this race, my pre-race caffeine strategy was not doing me any good.

On the bike my power was low. I was riding fast and slowly pulling guys back but I wasn’t pushing the watts I needed. If I’m throwing down a solid top-10 bike split, I need to ride in the 300-320w range depending on the course. I have a pretty good setup on my bike so my watts tend to be a little lower than most guys at the same speed (or maybe its just my Quarq reading that way). If I’m able to push something into the 340w range I should be a top-3 guy off the bike without issue. For this race I was having trouble managing 280s. Thus, I think I barely broke top-9 for the bike split. Again, my HR was crazy high the entire bike ride.

IMG_4920About 1/4 mile into the run there is an out-and-back section where you get a look at everyone. Aside from the top-3 fellas everyone was there. My dismal-feeling ride still put me into contention with everyone including the likes of Greg Bennett. Again my HR was in the 180s. If I’m doing all-out intervals on the bike and run I’m working my HR up to the mid 180s and maybe hitting something at the low 190s on a serious day. During the typical 70.3 or Olympic-distance race I’m spending most of my time on the bike in the high 160s and low 170s, then pushing to the high 170s and low 180s for the run. I had just spent 1.5 hours at 180 bpm…. not good. My chest felt like it was exploding through the first mile as I eeked out a high 6 minute per mile pace. Typically I’m in the mid-5 minute per mile range during the first mile of an Olympic run. Yikes!

I made it one mile into the run before I decided it was smarter to walk/run for the rest of my 10k. I would run until my HR hit the high 180s and then walk until it got into the 170s. Repeat. I did this over and over again in the heat and humidity unable to make it more than a 1/4 mile at a time while running. It was pretty damn demoralized out there.

I needed this.

I needed this.

So what happened? Let’s make this a case study in what went wrong and how I can adjust a few things for next time. If we go back to the beginning I already didn’t feel 100% the morning of the race. My nose was running like crazy, I don’t do well when my sinuses are acting up. My first mistake was sticking to a caffeine intake I use when I feel 100%. I’m not a habitual caffeine user so I need to be VERY careful about the way I consume any quantities of caffeine. When I’m sick my HR tends to go up and when I use caffeine… yeah you guessed it, the HR goes up. I should have skipped the caffeine.

During the swim I did what I needed to do to hang on and I don’t feel that needed to change. I do feel the first 5 miles of my bike needed to be a lot easier. While I wasn’t paying particularly close attention to my power because it was lower I should have thrown it all out the window and relaxed for a little while. By not allowing my HR to drop back down to something sustainable I wasn’t giving myself any chance. I know there are a lot of folks out there who don’t put a ton of stock in HR data but the reality of any HR number is that you can only hold a number so high for so long. If I was in high threshold with plenty of jumps into Vo2 max territory there is no way I’m sustaining that effort for 2 hours. It just won’t happen. I was too caught up in trying to hunt everyone down so I didn’t take care of the most important part of the race… ME!

By the time I had gotten to the run I had about 8 minutes of threshold work left in my system. I tried to push through the pain, believe me, but I would just start to get super dizzy and running became… difficult. I think my walk/run strategy worked well for as crappy as I felt. Unless I’m in dire circumstances I’m not interested in DNF’ing races anymore. I needed to see this one through to the end.

listenConclusions: Just as I tell every single athlete I work with, I needed to listen to myself a lot. I know what I’ve done in training and I know the ballpark of what I should produce on the race course. When I’m not even on the same planet I need to better adjust.

While this was a beautiful race around a course that suited me really well I just wasn’t able to push the way I would have liked. All I can do now is learn from it, apply the lessons and move on. I’m so glad I finished the race too!!

In the end I still had a lovely weekend with Christa and enjoyed many texts/emails/messages of support from everyone so thank you lovely people and sponsors! 🙂

Today is a good day.

Luray Double Triathlon Weekend

So this race report has been a long time coming. I wrote it (mostly) then forgot about it as the rest of life happened this summer. Now I must finish!

So let’s start with this: I have a confession to make, I’ve been say Luray wrong for months now. I’ve been told it is pronounced ‘Looouuuray’. Yes, that is exactly how it should be spelled out phonetically. Now that I’m saying the name of this lovely town correctly I’m going to write about it and the awesome race held there.

IMG_4658Luray, VA is hilly. Actually I’d call it rolling with hills on either side of town. No, scratch that, I’m calling it the false-flat capital of my racing career. This race is not for the faint of heart. I mean if you are prepared you can do just fine but I’m not suggesting any new athletes I work with start with this as their first ever triathlon. Ok, I would suggest it if they like a challenge and enjoy a prolonged burning sensation in their legs!

In all seriousness this is one of the most beautiful and honest courses I’ve ever raced. When you race in Luray you have to be ok with incredibly fast descents (I hit 49.7mph), a fairly technical turn or two (at the bottom of going 49.7 mph), a handful of super steep climbs (I was going about 8-12 mph on these) and some of the longest stretches of uphill (and thankfully downhill) flase-flats I’ve ever seen. That’s just the bike course. The swim is in a silky smooth little lake. Thankfully you get to start the day without any crazy adversity. But after the bike course you enter a run that seems rather nice on these rolling, winding roads until you realize at the turn-around that you’ve been rolling DOWNHILL for 1.5 miles and need to roll your rear-end back up hill again. That hurts. It’s beautiful but it hurts.

While racing in Luray you are presented with three options: Olympic, Sprint or Both. I chose both (that probably won’t happen again).

Olympic Pre-race:

Christa and I rolled into town on Friday afternoon and I promptly headed out to ride the bike course while she went for a run. It was really nice to see and ride everything before I raced it. After the ride I had an enjoyable shake-out run on the course as well. Then we checked in to our hotel, took a short nap and headed back to the park to help out with a pre-race briefing and pre-race swim. Everything went smoothly. Packet pickup came next with the purchase of two awesome hats and we headed back for dinner and bedtime.

Race morning I tried something new (gasp!). I am sick of trying to make oatmeal when I’m on the road at races because its never the same as when I’m at home so I decided to try some Ensure for breakfast. Ensure Plus has 250 calories per bottle and piles of other stuff in it. I figured two of these bad boys should do the trick and boy did they fill me up! On to the race site, got warmed up, racked, marked, this and that and it was race time.

Olympic Swim:

Such a pretty lake

Such a pretty lake

As this was an Open/Elite race my swim wave included more than just pro men but a pile of age group women, age group fellas and pro women. While some folks might not like this I’m all for it. I know there is always some chicks and AG guys who can swim with me or faster than me so I’ll gladly use the help out there. For this race in particular the stud swimmer who was supposed to be in the field didn’t end up showing (due to injury) so it was anyone’s guess who would lead the swim. Well if you guessed it was me who led most of the swim I owe you a high five. I sure didn’t think I’d be out there by myself most of the time. When the gun went off (or someone shouted GO!) I took off pretty hard but certainly not all out like I need to do in most pro fields. I wanted to make sure I didn’t gas myself too quickly if I was going to hold a lead pack. It turned out I was the lead pack by the first turn. I made the first turn after our starting whole-shot and tried to look around me a little, to my surprise I saw no splashing to the left or right. Awesome!!! From there I buried my head and tried to dig in. I wanted to put all the time I could into those guys (and gals). About half way through the swim I realized I was pretty alone out in front, it was a surreal experience not having any one to swim around. For as decent of a swimmer as I am I’ve never led a swim before.

After swimming, about, 3/4 of the 1500 meters alone I felt someone on my feet. I could take peaks behind me and see we had a solid gap on the rest of the field so I tried to get whoever was there to come up to my side so we could work together. It turned out one of the chicks was hanging with me (I would find out later she was in no-woman’s-land for a while before bridging up to me) so this validated my excitement about swimming with the females. We swam side by side for a few hundred meters then I tried backing off a little to sit on her hip or feet and catch some draft heading into the finish of the swim. We ended up coming into the beach that way and she led me out of the water. We had a solid 10-15 second gap on the next closest guy. I was very happy with that effort.

Stairs...

Stairs…

T1: Go baby go! I was red-lined out of the swim so it was just about staying steady as we ran across a beach and up a boat-load of stairs to actually get to the transition. Looking back I had one of the fastest T1s of the day. Happy.

Olympic Bike: Time to put a hurtin’ on these guys! The goal, as always, was to just ride as hard as I could out there. I’d be lying if I said I felt great going into race day but I planned to hurt bad out there regardless. In the words of uber-bike Andrew Starkowitz, “if I’m hurting, they must really be dying”. So it was just me and the moto for 40k of hills, screaming descents and absurdly long false-flats. My power was a bunch lower than I would have liked but I just kept my head down and put as much power into the pedals as I could. Other than riding hard

They see me ridin'

They see me ridin’

the bike was really uneventful. I wish I had more to say but it was just about pain management and forcing myself to hold my watts for a few minutes (and seconds) more each time I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I ended up hitting T2 with something like a 2:30 advantage on 2nd place. Mission accomplished on the bike.

T2: Fastest on the day. Zoom, zoom!

Run: Pain management 101 baby. Actually the first 1.5 miles was good (it always is). My heart rate was high but I was right on target with pace. The second 1.5 miles to complete the first loop got a little rough but I still held my own… and I was still leading the race. In my efforts to hold on to the lead I was successful through about 4.5 miles. I heard the quick cadence of my friend Adam Ostot behind me. The inevitable had come, bummer!

They're coming, they're coming!

They’re coming, they’re coming!

At the last turn-around, after he passed me, my goal was now to hold on for dear life to second place. I have a buffer of about :30 seconds on my teammate, Tom Wood, and wanted to hold him. I did hold him… until mile 6.18 (of 6.2). He pulled up on my side as I felt like I was dying and said “hey man” so I let out a giant “AH F@*#”. From there it was an epic sprint to the finish where he literally beat me by a nose. I promptly fell to the ground and enjoyed not moving for a few minutes before the medics took to making sure I wasn’t going to die.

Finish: I should have won. I really should have taken 2nd too. It was 100% my own

Totally a tie...

Totally a tie…

doing for not being able to hang on well enough during the last 2 miles of the run. I’m getting better at managing my head during races but I’m not quite there yet. I can be happy enough with 3rd though. I still worked really hard for it.

Day #2 Sprint tri

I apologize if this sounds ridiculous but doing two races back-to-back is a terrible idea. I don’t see how people find this enjoyable. My whole being, I literally mean my whole being, felt like it was on fire during the sprint.

Swim: Just don’t die.

IMG_4711Bike: I feel like I’m dying…. don’t go into the light!

Run: Is this what death feels like?

To be serious for a brief moment (over-rated!) this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done up until this point in my racing career. During the swim I didn’t do too badly. I swam with the lead pack and had a tiny advantage over some of my main competitors. During the bike I lost my advantage about 1/2 way through and just tried to manage the discomfort and keep the two leaders in sight. Then on the run I just ran through blinding discomfort hoping I could hold off the guy in 4th running me down. There was no strategy, no pacing, no concept of “good”. I just did what my body would allow me and tried to break myself in the process.

Conclusion

Adam, Jack, Tom and I

Adam, Jack, Tom and I

Racing two days in a row is difficult. This is not for the faint of heart especially when you pour the entirety of yourself into each race you do. If you go into a double race like Luray with the idea of pacing day #1 and pushing day #2 I think you’ll really enjoy the process. If you go in to a double with the idea of racing all out for both days you’re entering a world of pain my friend. In the end I finished 3rd both days. I should have done better in the Olympic but it was everything I could possibly give for the Sprint. No complaints.

Thank you!!!

As always I thank my amazing wife Christa first. She makes all of this possible. Then I must thank all of my friends, family and sponsors who support me. USPro Tri, EnduroPacks and The CobbMobb are awesome, support them please. Thank you to everyone who comments on social media, says something nice at a race or just reads this report. I’d also like to thank Ken Racine and Racine Multisport. This was the first year they put this race on (they took it over form the previous director) and I couldn’t be more excited about how the race was run, top notch work done by these folks!

Today is a good day.

TriRock Philly and life update

It has been a busy few weeks that morphed into a month or two it seems. Funny how the summer does that. Whenever I had a free moment to write about my recent happenings it seemed I was given the opportunity to enjoy some quality with Christa or go on another ride or do something other than sit at my computer all day. Obviously I took advantage of the majority of those opportunities 🙂

For now a recap on life!

IMG_4590Ok life. I raced TriRock Philly in June and was supposed to race LifeTime NYC in July. The NYC race didn’t happen because I was a bit sick leading up to the race and couldn’t get healthy enough come race day. Fortunately we couldn’t get any of our money back on travel so we made the race weekend into a mini vacation… our first ever. Don’t get me started on how little down time we’ve had since we’ve started this crazy life together (not complaining just saying!). Since the NYC trip life has been filled with lots of hard hours of training. I’ve been putting in some good work as I get ready to race in Luray, VA this weekend and then head out to Des Moines, Iowa for my next pro race in a few weeks. I’ve stayed healthy since NYC, built some new fitness and am ready to tackle the second half of my season.

As for some info on TriRock Philly and my first ever top-10 pro finish…it was basically another Oly race this year and another day with inclement weather. Heading into TriRock Philly all it did was RAIN. We are talking Rock-a-doodle style rain for days. So much so that the Sprint, the day before my race, had its swim cancelled and then my Olympic-distance race became a bike-run affair as well. My first professional duathlon it would be!

Before!

IMG_4431Christa was having a busy week at work so we were unable to head out to Philly until early afternoon on Friday. Traffic was a nightmare. Then it was worse. I’m not sure what’s worse than nightmare traffic but if you know of that word please let me know. Every time we head up past Washington DC from Richmond our drive gets considerably longer. Why I keep racing in the North East is becoming increasing difficult to answer with these drives. Ok, it wasn’t like we spent days in the car but our 4-something-hour-long drive slowly turned into 6 and 7 hours. Once we were done sitting in the car and grabbing a bite to eat we met up with our amazing homestay, Joy. Joy is a rockstar and her two dogs Pinky and Loki are awesome. We love all three of them and can’t thank them enough for being so great to us.

So Friday was settled. Saturday was a mix of the usual: get up and find a place to ride and run, eat lots of food, attempt to stay off my feet, pro meeting, dinner and bed. I think that basically covers it. I got to skip out on a pre-race swim as I knew by 1pm that I wouldn’t be swimming for the race. Easy-peazy and on to race day.

Race morning was still soggy and rainy. We got up before the crack of dawn at 2 or 3 something. Big oatmeal breakfast with all the fixins, mix the bottles and get down to the race site. Philly has an odd set-up for its race because you must park in one area and walk everything down a giant hill to get to transition. If its your first time at the race there is a good chance you have no idea where to go so you (me in this case) just follow everyone else. The transition area and a good deal of the bike course are closed to cars so you (me) can’t drive around much of the course before the race to scope things out. I did ride my bike down to transition the day before but the Sprint race was going on and I didn’t really get to see much as I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.

I changed up my pre-race warm up for this race too. As the professionals were going to be starting in a time trial fashion about 20 seconds apart I knew I needed to get good and warm on the bike. I probably spent 35-40 minutes riding my bike around before the race just going back and forth on the same stretch of rode. I wanted to make sure when it was time to go I could go. Run warm up went by uneventfully as well. I felt ready to go hard.

Swim! <—- not this time!

T1<— this didn’t exist either!

Bike!

The flash!

The flash!

So I was seeded 11th. This meant I had 10 guys start ahead of me (all :20 seconds apart) and a bunch of guys behind me separated with the same time. My only goal for this race was to go as hard as I could. While I felt very confident I could hang out in my pain cave for a while I really had no idea what to expect on most of the course since we couldn’t drive it the day before. As I started the race my secondary goal became to pass everyone I could because I assumed (and this ended up being true) I’d have to ride a bit more cautiously than I would normally have liked on certain sections of the course. If I was still kinda pushing it plenty of guys would be more cautious (I tend to be VERY aggressive with my bike handling) so I’d pass them on the technical sections. As the bike course is a two-loop affair I spent most of the first loop going hard and then figuring out how to brake and power-slide various descents on the course. I could see in some sections that I was gaining on a group of guys ahead of me but I was much more focused on riding the safer sections as hard as I could while marking the technical stuff. About 1 mile into the 2nd loop I made my first pass, then my second… and they fell like dominoes after that. It seemed like my strategy was working. My power was a bit lower than I would have liked but I still felt like I was pushing hard and taking some good calculated risks. By the end of the bike I passed 5 or 6 guys and had ridden time into everyone behind me so I got off the bike is a great spot, 5th overall.

T2!

Mud-fest-everywhere. Crossing the dismount line and sprinting into T2 was gnarly. The timing mats were as slick as can be and there was no stopping a body in motion. I hit them at full speed and went sliding into a volunteer and barricade. I wasn’t being reckless I just didn’t realize how slippery everything would be. In the process I totally tweaked my groin a bit too, that did not feel good. Muddy feet go in the shoes and I’m off through transition to the run-out arch. Running through T2 was probably the coolest moment in my pro career so far. The age group race hadn’t started yet and everyone was in transition at their rack cheering for the pros as they ran by. I felt like I could fly right then. Thanks for the support everyone!!

Run!

IMG_4480Time to go to work. The bike is my weapon, my swim is at par and my run is when I need to hang tough. Considering I lost one of my strengths I knew I really had to make it happen on this run. The idea was to go hard and every time someone passed me (someone always passes me) I was going to hang with them until I popped… then do it again and again. The first guy came by me just after I exited T2 and it felt like I was standing still. One step later and he was gone… oh well, next guy. I ended up running the first 5k without a pass after that (excellent!!!). My first two miles kept me under 5:45 pace so I felt pretty confident I could hold on. 3rd mile got a little tougher but I still stayed under 6 pace. The 3rd mile rolls around again (as starts the second loop) and as I’m approaching an aid station the (very few) volunteers all see me coming (we are talking, maybe, 4 people). Moments after they see me they look in the opposite direction and see Cam Dye running up the road in first place. Then a moment later, after I pass the first volunteer holding Gatorade, the second volunteer holding water takes a step right in front of me and we collide with a giant, sweaty, water-flying, OMG hug. It all happened so fast I just yelled “Ohhh… Sorry!!!” as we collided and I wrapped my arms around her to spin her off me and attempt to maintain my momentum. Needless to say Cam didn’t get his water but I don’t think he needed it as he went on to win.

So now that the commotion of our athlete-volunteer hug was over I tried to pick the pace back up and level the heart rate back out. That was no easy feat. After the collision I was slowed down to 6:30s and had to fight to get back to a 6 pace again by the end of the mile. Miles 4-6 became about saving face and not thinking about my stinging groin as T2 and my water-stop hug were hurting at this point. I was passed by 1 or 2 more folks and made it to the finish in one-piece.

Finish!

What just happened?

What just happened?

Oh thank heavens I was done. I had finally, for the first time ever as a professional athlete, not walked a single step of a run course. Can you believe that?! Finally! Now I didn’t set anything on fire with my run split, it was rather rough but I did go hard and I did do a decent job of running with a few people who passed me. Mission accomplished.

In the end I finished 9th. My first professional top-10. I pushed hard, I didn’t give up on myself and I broke the top-10. Man that feels good to say.

Post-race thoughts:

I can go harder. I can absolutely go harder. I can ride with the top 5 guys in just about any race (yes I’m excluding Worlds and some bigger races). My run isn’t that bad after all (it’s not great but it’s not that bad anymore). I’m going to run wider at aid stations from now on. I still love racing in the rain.

Thank youssss!

To my amazing wife Christa who has never missed a race no matter how busy she is at work. To our homestay Joy and her awesome pooches, you rock! To my family and friends who followed the action and checked-in with me afterward! To USPro Tri, EnduroPacks and the folks of the Cobb Mobb, I’m getting faster! And thank you to everyone else who asked about my race or reads this.

Today is a good day 🙂

Challenge Knoxville Race Recap

Take #2 (for race reports this season). ACTION!

Challenge Knoxville was my first ever professional triathlon three years ago. This past weekend it became my 10th pro start (and eventually my 8th pro finish). Now I can finally say after 10 starts I’m finally getting the hang of ‘elite’ racing.

Lead up: Heading into Knoxville things felt good. I spent a lot of my training since St. Anthony’s tri focusing on mental strategies along with my physical training. I had forgotten how to race when I got to the line at St. Anthony’s and after that painful reminder of a race I wasn’t going into Knoxville with anything but a sound mental strategy. As an aside, Knoxville has been a rough race for me in the past. As my first pro race I competed in the Olympic distance three years ago and things went badly in some really tough conditions. Then last year I came into the race sick and decided to DNF after a lack-luster bike ride. I wanted redemption.

So Christa and I made out way to Knoxville on Friday to set up for the weekend in the empty house of my buddy Andy (we didn’t break in, he was off at a wedding). After getting into town, picking up my packet and dropping off some stuff we enjoyed a nice dinner with some fellow members of the Cobb Mobb triathlon team. Good people!

Saturday was pretty relaxed too. Woke up without an alarm, breakfast, a pre-ride of some of the bigger climbs and descents on the course, a quick run with Christa, a quick swim in the river, back home for lunch, back to the finish for the pro meeting and finally off to an early dinner. Might sound busy but that’s the least amount of stuff I’ve ever done the day before a race. I felt very relaxed. Things were looking good.

Race morning: Alarm went off at 3:45am. I popped out of bed, took a quick shower and started in on breakfast. My staple breakfast is always a giant bowl of steel cut or quick cooking Trader Joe’s Oats with salt, almond butter, chia seeds, flax, banana, blue berries and maybe some other fruit for good measure. I enjoyed this with some water. In past years I’ve eaten a bunch more after my oatmeal (and I typically do every morning of a training week) but for the first two races of this year I really haven’t felt too hungry come race morning. After breakfast I got my things together, pumped my tires and we headed off to transition. After parking, I got out on the bike for a warm up followed by a quick run and set my transition spot up. I try to get to transition as early as possible on race morning so I have some time to “relax”. I hate feeling rushed before a race.

My general mood was pretty good. I’m always a little snappy with my nerves but I actually felt quite confident and prepared (first time for this really). I kissed Christa, got a quick swim warm up in and waited for the gun (which ended up as someone yelling GO!).

IMG_4310Swim: With 32 guys starting the race it was a bit of mayhem out there. I tend to position myself in the 2nd row of swims like this because I know from the gun I’ll have some fast feet to follow. I’m not too concerned about clean water at the beginning as I am more interested in not having to completely kill myself to stay with the pack. So I shoot for feet immediately (in hindsight I think I’m going to line up on the front line from now on because I’m having less and less of an issue going out with everyone). So the swim started and the group stayed together pretty tightly aside from a few studs like Cam and Eric for the first few hundred meters. Then about half-way to the first turn buoy there was a surge. It happened right in front of me and as I saw the feet I was following quickly gap me by half a body length I dug in as hard as I could and bridged back up after 7 or 8 strokes. Those hurt badly but I was able to catch my breath when I hit some feet again. From there I’m pretty sure I was the connecting link between the 1st pack and the 2nd pack because a few guys came around to my side and swam on the feet of a few guys ahead of us. Within a few minutes there came another surge though and I (along with the guys at my side) couldn’t respond. I watched the 1/2 body length gap open and dug in to push again but it was to no avail as the gap just got wider and wider. I was thankful it wasn’t just me as 3 or 4 guys around me couldn’t make the jump either.

IMG_4327Through the first 2 turns (the only real turns on the course) I led the second pack until a few guys came around me and we all stayed put until the end. Then at the end of the swim we all hauled ourselves out of the water onto a boat dock and I was able to see I was in good company in the 2nd pack (and I eventually found out the 1st pack had only put a minute into us which is awesome… well excluding the studs off the front who had 4 minutes).

T1: I stayed with everyone and got on my bike with the group. Success.

Bike: Rain. Rain. And more rain. It ALWAYS rains on this course and that makes for a ROUGH day out there. This is definitely one of the more technical half-iron bike courses out there and you need to be confident to ride some of the descents in dry conditions, wet conditions can be a nightmare for folks. I, for one, was extremely excited about the rain as I know the course well and have zero issues with taking chances. I felt very confident the rain would play to my advantage.

As our 2nd pack left T2 we had a whole ton of folks screaming at us to “STAY RIGHT” (and as Christa shouted to me, the 1st pack went off course right out of transition and completely negated their 1 minute gap on us). The 1st pack came back on course just as we rode out so we were a giant pack of 20-some guys right from the get-go. Fine by me!

IMG_4312This is when the race really started and almost ended for many guys. Right here at mile 1 through, maybe, mile 10. It was balls-out riding to break anyone who didn’t want to go right then and there. My PM wasn’t working in the rain yet so I told myself to commit to the pace no matter what and go with the big boys. Holy hell did that hurt for a while too. I really had to put myself out there to stay on the first pack because with 32 guys in the race, 3 of which were out ahead of us, I needed to be in that lead group to have any chance of a good day. Once the pace came down and the dust settled (or it just started raining harder) we had 12 guys in the lead chase group (chasing down those three dudes up ahead).

From those 12 guys the rest of the race was a mix of soft-pedaling and pure threshold riding around the hills and flats trying to pop guys off. We eventually lost a few guys due to a mechanical, a stagger penalty and just getting popped. As we entered the last 10-15 miles of the course we had 8 guys in the lead chase with 2 guys up the road (1 guy, Eric Limkemann, had the unfortunate displeasure of crashing out while in 2nd position on the bike, luckily he will be ok, his bike, not so much).

17687649738_ab1c8992c2_oThe course was super sketchy in the rain with guys sliding all over the road as we tried to attack corners and descents (one guys went down right in front of me) but things got really bad when we made it to the last 10ish miles of the race and entered the Olympic course with A LOT of age group athletes. It was a total nightmare at that point trying to descend around people who were just riding their brakes all over the place (which I totally get). As we flew by all the age groupers some folks were really nice and others got really mad at us… but whatcha gona do!? We were racing!

Heading back into transition the group stayed together so everyone entered T2 in the top 10.

T2: Really, really smooth for me even with getting my socks on.

IMG_4314Run: Ok, this is where I really had to buckle down. I ALWAYS let my head get the best of my on these runs but today would be different. Just about everyone from my bike group took off at sub-6 pace out of T2. I’m just not that fast yet so I hung back for a 6:15. Not too shabby but I already knew my race was about limiting my losses to the faster guys coming from behind. I wasn’t sure what type of time gap we had on the second chase pack (it was 5-minutes) but I knew the longer I could keep them away the better chance I had to push myself at the finish. So I started my lonely march. Miles 1, 2, 3 went by smoothly on the greenway and I kept my paces under 6:30 with a high tempo/low threshold heart rate. Mile 4 was my first test as it greets you with this massive hill. I had to do a little strategic walking because I was maxing out my HR a bit but as I crested I was greeted by wonderful volunteers and an aid station. Miles 5 and 6 I got my shit back together (although slower) and brought my paces back down to the 6:40s as I entered the hilliest section of the course. At this point I was getting really lonely. I had been running alone for 6 miles and desperately wanted someone to pace with. I was doing ok mentally but it was so quite out there with no spectators, I needed a friend!

Then mile 7 came right after the turn-around. I saw how far the leaders were ahead of me and knew I could keep the top-10 in reach if anyone were to fall apart ahead of me. I also saw my gaps to the guys trying to chase me down. I was slowing a bit but hanging in there. Miles 8 and 9 I lost my marbles. I had my first passer and he just blew by me. I was demoralized when I couldn’t even take a step with him. My head was woozie, everything hurt and I was having a really hard time focusing on anything. I knew something was wrong but I just couldn’t think clearly enough to figure it out. I was in rough shape. Needless to say another guy came by me. I tried to go with him too but it just wasn’t happening. I didn’t realize it at the time but I needed calories really badly. I was sweating just fine, HR was in check… I needed fuel. Thankfully I start putting my hand-held to my mouth a little more often. I started to perk up a bit and find my legs again. Somewhere in mile 10 (I think) my friend John Fecik passed me. I tried to go with him but I couldn’t yet. Thankfully I was back on a part of the course with other athletes turning around during their Championship or Olympic-distances races so I start getting pace rabbits to work with and pass. The combo of people and finally getting some fuel back into me really did wonders for my last 2 miles as I started to find a rhythm again and bring my pace back down. I couldn’t really run fast anymore but at this point I was able to hold off any more passers… which is HUGE for me.

Finish: I finished 16th out of 32 guys. While I’ve had highly placings before this is by far the most amount of people I’ve beaten in a pro field. I’m happy with the result. I had a dismal run split BUT it wasn’t a particularly fast day on an already slower course so I can live with it.

Conclusions:

  1. I’m almost ready to make the first pack in the swim. I’m really, really close.
  2. I feel very confident in my bike moving forward. Once my PM started working I stayed well below my target watts riding with the group. I know I can push the bike more even with the 3rd fastest bike split on the day 🙂
  3. My run isn’t fast yet but it is ready…. I just need to fuel better on the run
  4. My run fueling sucked. I need more calories
  5. This was my most complete race to date
  6. If I used 75% of my fitness in St. Anthony’s I used about 80-85% at this race

THANK YOU!!!!!

To my amazing wife, Christa, who makes all of this possible, to the master planner Grant who is building our grand design, to Ed and my thoughts of ‘windshield’ all race to keep looking forward, to USPRO Tri for all the gear and support, to EnduroPacks for keeping my healthy, to the Cobb Mobb for all the support, to Andy and Jenny for letting us crash at your place for the weekend, to my family and friends for all the messages, notes and support, to the volunteers, race officials and everyone else on course for making the race happen and finally to you and you and you (and everyone else) for supporting and believing in me.

One race at a time, I am getting there. Today is a good day!

St. Anthony’s Olympic Race Recap

Tis the season for race recaps. This year I start with St. Anthony’s Olympic!

11193248_1630994417115165_7179297769198274965_nPre-Race: Christa and I started the race travel a little early this year heading down to sunny Florida. We broke the ride up with some stops and an over-night stay in Jacksonville, FL. We enjoyed the city a lot with quite an enjoyable run in the morning on the river walk and some awesome tacos for dinner.

After Jacksonville it was off St. Petersburg and our amazing home stay with Gail and Chuck. Big, big, big thanks to the St. Anthony’s race staff, the St. Pete Mad Dogs Triathlon Club, and Gail and Chuck for helping us out. The race weekend couldn’t have been possible without the help of all of you!

In St. Pete’s we settled in and I enjoyed some hot and humid training in a really triathlete-friendly area and a great dinner on Friday night with the St. Pete Mad Dogs.

Race morning: All was well. Woke up 3 hours before my start time, had my shower, oatmeal with all the fixins and got things ready to go. At the race site I got in a quick ride on the run course, a really quick run and got my bike all set up on the rack. Sipped on some sports drink, took a quick warm up swim and got ready to go. At this point I felt oddly calm and peaceful. Typically I feel a lot more anxiety before race start but today I felt almost numb

11169960_1630253190522621_5762226456986742240_nSwim: The swim is pretty straight forward. You swim parallel to shore for a bit, head away from the beach, back parallel again and then into the finish. The course is pretty easy to follow but on this particular morning I had the unfortunate pleasure of swimming with a few ITU studs in some chop caused by 15mph winds. I knew I’d be in for a hurtin’ I just didn’t realize how rough the water would be too. I hung on to the main group until a big split happened, maybe 200-300m into the swim. From there I swam with a sizable 2nd pack through about half way. At this point we were swimming away from shore and into the chop. You had to ride the waves a bit and come crashing back down at times. I made the unfortunate error of taking too many strokes without sighting thus swimming a few strokes away from the pack and then losing the pack. I would then spend the rest of the swim on my own, on the back end trying to catch the guys who were dropping off that second pack. My time was a bit rough upon reflection but other than losing the second pack I still feel confident in my swimming right now. The fitness was there, the execution was lacking. The positive side of this issue is that there are a number of good swimmers around town I can work with to help my pack swimming but the bummer side is that I just don’t have the ability to swim in sea chop. No matter how windy it is in Richmond I can’t re-create those types of conditions so it’s more about race experience this season than training on that end.

T1: Smooth. I only run so fast so my time is middle of the pack for a pro.

Bike: Folks seem to say this bike course is technical. While I agree that it does have a few extra turns (over 20 for 40k) compared to most courses it only contains one true 180 degree turn (another is around a median), a few speed bumps you can ride around or semi-bunny hop over and a weird roundabout. Riding to my local bike shop takes more bike handling skills than this course did. Now I saw the course as a prIMG_4205o with tons of room to move around, I suppose if I’m in a tight age group race with a bunch of folks around me I’m going to think the course is a bit more technical. Overall I really liked it.

As for my bike ride I rode the 9th fastest pro split of the day on total crap power and even worse focus. I have no idea where my head was (not in the race obviously) because I really just shit the bed on my execution here. My head just wasn’t in it. For those that don’t know the pro race is a completely different animal from the age group race. In a race like St. A’s following USAT rules, we have different drafting and passing rules (we can pass on the right) and the dynamics of the bike shake out in a much different fashion. Instead of trying to ride efficiently or evenly through the bike it’s more about catching packs, legal drafting, mind games with passing and bursts of speed. Because I got out of the swim 2-3 mins down on the main pack of guys the goal was just to ride to them, sit in then try to break them. My first issue with this came when my power numbers just didn’t seem right. I started thinking about them too much. I checked HR and that was way off too (HR monitor slipped and after fixing it at the beginning of the run my numbers were on again). Now my metrics were messing with my head. Instead of just riding I chose to think about why the numbers were so off. I had trained so hard… why, why… why. Obnoxious, I know. I totally got wrapped up in stuff that just didn’t matter because I was so focused on my intended effort coming from watts rather than riding. This was just plain dumb and I didn’t mentally recover.

The nice thing about my bike ride was that even with taking my head out of the game I was riding through a fair bunch of guys and no one was touching me after I went by. I was actually astounded. I rode by and waited for someone to sit with me. I’d look back and they were gone. In the end I probably left a solid 1-2 minutes out there on the course by just not focusing more. The fitness was there, the mind was not.

T2: In and out. Smooth.

11200596_1630380753843198_5684091525711480606_n-1Run: The run is basically an out and back through a ritzy neighborhood. Couldn’t tell you what any of the houses looked like though. I left transition and felt like I had decent legs. I was looking to take the first mile out around 5:40s given my recent run training but the heat and humidity of the day slowed that down a bit (mid 80s and 89% humidity). First mile in 6 flat. I can work with that, if I’m suffering others are suffering too. Mile 2 clicks by in 6:02. I felt like I was running in slow motion but the HR was in check and the turnover was there. Approaching mile 3 the hurt started setting in but no one had passed me yet so I was feeling confident. Coming up on the aid station just before the turn around I started really feeling the heat. I was playing the mind games to keep myself running using driveways, aid stations, lawns, anything to give me tiny goals to keep hitting. Then, I’m almost certain, that ugly voice in the back of my head told me I’ve never raced this far on the run in a pro race without someone passing me. It’s going to happen like it always does. “You’re going to crack”. Well of course if I think something like that then it’s going to happen. And so it happened. I lost my focus and then it kept happening because if I relapse once I relapse many times.

The nice thing about all of this ‘falling apart’ on the run was that in the last mile when I should have been dying I totally had the ability to kick it in and run low 6s again for the last 1/2 mile or so. I wasn’t spent, I had room with my HR and PE to keep pushing. I didn’t believe in myself and cracked early.

Take-aways: My fitness is there. I probably only tapped 70% of what I was capable of on the day and that’s ok. I tend to get caught up in what other people will think of my finish time at a big race like this but the reality of the day is that I did what I intended to do. The goals for this race were to 1) Finish. I hadn’t finished a race since last July and needed one under my belt. 2) See how my training would translate into a distance I hadn’t raced at the pro level in two years. This went pretty well actually given all my mental mishaps. If I kept it together on the bike and swim I’m positive a top-10 was well within reach. 3) Remember how to race again. It had been a while and I train 99% of the time alone so it takes me a little time to get a good race mentality back. 4) Race something bigger but still not use it as an ‘A’ race. I wasn’t coming into this race with the idea of ‘killing it’, I was here to race and see how things would go. I think I could best describe this race as a ‘test’.

Now I know what needs the most work moving forward this season, my head. I think, in a nutshell, I forgot how to race and how to apply myself to a big race. I have a hard time with self-confidence and in races when I go up against guys like at St. A’s, I start to shut down mentally and I start the self-talk that I don’t belong. I practice the positive self talk during every training session but sometimes it goes out the window at these pro races. I’ve got to really work on this moving forward if I want my fitness to translate past training. One day at a time!

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank all the folks around me who help me to start AND finish these races. Thank you to my amazing wife Christa, my triathlon guide Grant, my life coach Ed, my family, my friends, the volunteers on course, Gail and Chuck for opening their home to us, the St. Pete Mad Dogs triathlon club for everything they did, USPro Tri, Cobb Mobb, EnduroPacks… and everyone else I’m missing. Thank you everyone.

Today is a good day!