Having just wrapped up my first 4 weeks of solo-suffer fest utopia out west, I have to say I'm very excited to see where I am come 20 March. It'll be the first 70.3 of the season down in Puerto Rico. I've been there before a few years ago and remember the tough run. At the time, it really put me in my place and I remember my legs throbbed so bad and I was so hot, I collapsed right into an ice bath! It was also the first time I crashed and got some road rash. I know you're concerned...but please know it was during a 180 degree turn around on wet pavement. The front wheel lost traction on a slick painted yellow line, like I was on ice. So the big story for today is....I'm pumped to go back! Here's a look back @ some 2013 pics!
Where I Was and What I Did...
I spent around 30 days out west, hoping for as much time in challenging terrain as I could get. It started with a Camp in San Diego, where it was basically 7 days of pure intensity. Setting a huge 4min PR up Palomar Mountain, hitting some sub 5:20 mile repeats on the run, mentally overcoming some long hill climbs @ 45rpm and swimming very fast made this trip GREAT. San Diego really has it all, especially when it comes to quality swim groups. Encinitas Masters and Mission Valley YMCA are my prime swim locations, followed by the UCSD Masters program. Beyond that, the riding is crazy good...almost impossible to get bored with a route! The final crux to my existence since living in Florida has been hill running! I've known it's a weakness since I started, however I face it head on whenever I can.
- And then I froze my ass off and grazed a guard rail -
After this fun week, the plan was to travel to Tucson with my 4 favorite training partners. Well I should say now that I understand life happens but I still can't help but talk some smack. Basically, everyone bailed on me, despite planning this for 5 months! I guess being totally alone for all these rides added some value to my internal dialogue...but really, I'm so thankful for Audiobooks and Pandora-One!!!
Tucson, AZ is a place I've been for 2 years straight with the USMES camp, however this year it's an elite cycling camp only and later in the year. There are about 5 or 6 different rides you can jump on, however they all very in pain induction. I decided to spend the first few days getting in some of the more popular climbs, hitting Madera Canyon and Kitt Peak. What I didn't intend to do...is almost lose my toes!! I knew it was going to be cold, so I invested in some very nice Rapha clothing. The problem is, once you've worked really hard up hill w/ a tail wind, you sweat. Then, once you take a quick breather at the top and come down, you're hit with sub 30 deg winds!! Madera canyon wasn't so bad since it's not at 7000ft...I wasn't happy but I survived and endured! Day 2 led me to Kitt Peak. This mountain is quite far from civilization and I could probably ride to Mexico in under an hour after the climb. My point is, it's remote (this is an issue later). Like any responsible cyclist, I plan the route...know my food stops and understand I'll be solo, bring extra clothing etc. I even went to a shop and got some additional toe warmers and such. The climb up is probably one of the best views around. As you're not on a mountain range, you get the full panoramic view and nothing comes close to being as high in elevation near-by. The road started to get icy around 6000 feet and I started to feel quite shitty with the cold/sweat thing going on again. The head wind and temps up there were much worse on the way down and my cold, wet clothing quickly screwed my reality. I made it about 3 miles down on the decent, literally riding brakes as much as I could to limit wind infiltration. I stopped about 5 times to try and compose myself but my hands/arms were locked, couldn't' open them up (which was okay since they helped squeeze the brakes). Now I'd like to point out that when you're this cold, you become very disoriented. I decided since the oncoming traffic lane had sunlight on it, I'd try to ride there for some hope of sun-warmth. Wind + downhill + mentally disoriented + lock-tite legs and arms + nonexistent motor control = guard rail. After that incident I about lost it..."how the F*** am I getting off this climb"? There are cars every 20-30 min...no help! About 5 min after my last stop and I knew I needed a ride to the bottom, a big truck comes up and I wave him down. WOO HOO he blasted the heat and brought me to the bottom...where it was 40 degrees! I still had about 30 miles back to the car and would finally regain feeling in my toes later that night...I was worried about those guys. Ever been so cold you are scared to remove your socks and see blackness??? AHHH....whew, they are still a weird skin tone after all! I'll never forget that day and how I was out on my ass but still made it home!
After that debacle I decided I've push off climbing Mt. Lemmon until I was better rested and the temperatures increased. After a few days warming up on some great rides, swims and trail runs...it was time for Mt. Lemmon. I decided to ride from where I was staying...so a 100 mile round trip. With the head winds and hills, it took 90 min for the first 22 miles or so and I was pretty broken up when I finally got to the base and knew I still had 24 miles of climbing. I had some low points due to the head wind while climbing and being blown into another guard rail after a car grazed me...but I soldiered onward. Mt. Lemmon is unique and my favorite because you start at a desert climate but summit into a ski town surrounded by evergreens! All that bitching and moaning aside, I made it up there...slammed some pizza and root beer and knew I had a long way back. 6.5 hours later and I was at whole foods, eating a huge box of food!
After all the mayhem on the bike, after all the hard solo work. Here are the stats pre- LA Marathon.
- Total Time: 90 Hours
- Swim Yards - 52,000
- Bike Miles - 960 miles
- Run Miles - 140 miles (not bad for a bike focus)
- Bike/Run Elevation Gain - 103,380 ft
I went though 3 Bags of INFINIT!!! Bike and Run Blend GET SOME HERE
Finally, it was time for Karen and I to take part in the LA Marathon! Finally, I truly experienced real California traffic in all its glory. LA is by far much worse then both San Diego and San Francisco! I also cannot wrap my head around just how BIG LA is...and so wide-spread! Either way, thanks to Karen's awesome friend Thom, we stayed in a beautiful home located in Pasadena (away from the smog)! After all of the hard work on the bike over the previous weeks I can't say I was very confident in my ability to run a 3 hour marathon, however I was going to give it my best shot! Here is how it went down:
- It's a point to point race, from Dodgers Stadium to Santa Monica...travel logistics were tough. We had to Uber our way back to the stadium...$95!!! Despite the expense, it was the best way we could have done it post race. My legs hurt as bad as they did for my first marathon over 9 years ago! I'll keep it simple and call it the THROB!! Race morning was seamless, despite having to sneak into a seeded coral. Oh wait...I didn't get to pee before the race, so I held it until mile 18 (sigh). Stopping is the worst when you're hurting but seriously, had to go! I started right in front of the 3:05 pace group and was doing well until mile 17 when they passed me up. By that point, the THROB was in full effect...hip flexors and IT bands like old crusty rubber bands left out in the freezing weather. Why did I run this race? I wanted to get one under my belt despite being quite beat...I Wanted to see if I could fight my way out of the corner and I wanted to know that I can persevere despite tremendous TRHOB! After all was said and done a 3:11 Marathon was the best I could give on the day and I'm super happy for that! Plus, I'll be racing 2 IM's this year and it's time to pony up and start to earn!
Here are some races I'll be nailing this season :)
Thanks Jay Weber for letting me crash at your case anytime I need to! You're seriously the most generous friend!