It all starts with an abrupt comment, made by a small man as he exited my local coffee shop (Banyan Cafe). While I was enjoying my early am. almond milk latte, this little guy sat next to me...silent. I asked him a couple of questions about Tonka trucks and Ninja Turtles (typical man stuff). Oddly, he didn't answer any of my questions, he just starred at me in my military uniform. 10 minutes pass and the little lad and his Dad are on their way out. I'm pretty sure he took 5 to 6 steps, did a 180, ran back inside and screamed a phrase that changed my life (or at least my week). He stomped in, paused for 3 seconds and screamed "You look like a tree"! That seemingly insignificant moment reminded me how FUN it was to be a carefree, nose picking 6 year old. EVEN though I still occasionally pick my nose, I kinda wished I was a kid again, filled with blind courage. Soo really, the "take away" from this moment leads me into something I contemplated on my 5 hour drive home from Panama City. No matter what, focus on where you've been and LOVE what you do. Keeping it simple and innocent makes a big difference.
The main reason I wanted to travel to this race was so I could support a close friend as he tackled his first triathlon as "Race Director". I don't usually try and fill 4 weekends in a row with races, but I thought I would give it a shot. Sprint triathlons are intense enough, however there is usually a 2 hour post workout involved. I suppose the real test will be in 2 weeks, once I've competed in two highly competitive Olympic distance races. So here is the White Sands Triathlon low down.
It was so awesome to travel to Panama City stopping at awesome vegan/organic restaurants and cafes along the way. I stopped at this place called Sweet Pea Cafe, a totally raw/delicious experience. Small venue, walls lined with ingredients, menu written in chalk and EVERYTHING is homemade right in front of you. Moving on, the food was awesome during the whole trip...Mellow Mushroom Pizza, a farmers market falafel wrap and fresh caught blackened fish at a neighbors!
This race is very "up and coming" and is definitely the #1 sprint on the Emerald Coast. Since this event is under New Management, I see it growing larger and larger every year. Sharing the course with Gulfcoast Triathlon and Ironman Florida, this race has a lot of history behind it and is obviously a great venue! Smaller, locally organized and sponsored races really bring a great feeling. Local races that don't treat athletes like dollar signs really keep this sport alive. The Swim came with crystal clear water, calm rolling waves and the water temp was perfect. An unseasonal cold front rolled in the night prior but actually led to perfect conditions. The Bike course was well marked, safe and was rather fast! Despite the wind and being blown around a bit, it was perfect. The Run was a simple out and back, well supported and flat. Honestly, it was everything you could expect from a first class event.
Alright, it's obvious from that large smile on my face, I had a blast and I will be soliciting many of you to join me next year!
Back to my general thought about racing and getting back to our "roots". I had a lot of thinking time today, which means my mind was content listening to static on the radio while my mind was jumping around through hundreds of random thoughts. I LOVE competition, but I think being too focused on the numbers, results and overall place can be taken a little overboard. Triathlon is a way of life, not just something we do. We aren't just a "brand" or an advertisement and it's easy to forget that. We race for our own reasons, each story taking a unique twist. Essentially, I heard a really awesome interview with Macca today, it reminded me that even the top pros take a step back to appreciate the sport, it's heritage and how fulfilling it can be to race with your heart. It all makes sense when I heard a guy crashed at Kona, broke his bike, picked it up and carried it the last 20 miles so he could "Finish" the race. IF that doesn't freaking rock, I don't know what does.
It often takes something small to remind us that we are taking life a little too seriously (kids are a great example). It doesn't mean we have to severely change anything but it's nice to stop and appreciate what we have, remembering we can truly accomplish anything if we focus enough time and energy. So I hope for a great race this next weekend at St. Anthony's and at future races as well, but I truly believe I'll get better and better just by loving what I do and surrounding myself with others who feel the same way:) I'm grateful for all of the support and great friends I've met thus far.
P.S....Still need to check out Tom Cruise in Oblivion. I hear it's amazing.
So far so good! The race energy is roaring as everyone gears up for the season. Yesterday marked my third race attempt at Escape from Ft. Desoto. As my first EVER triathlon, this event holds some special memories. It's also the first race I won the right to get #1!! I did decent the first time, won the overall last year and ALMOST won again yesterday. In a Sprint, every second counts, so losing by 60 seconds or so is rough! The event is very well organized and flawlessly executed. Thanks to all of the great volunteers who support triathlon events, you certainly don't get the recognztion you've earned! All in all, despite 3 months of various lower leg injuries, I managed to give it my all. Sadly, a few good friends couldn't even compete due to illness and injury (I shed a tear for you). I always remind myself how lucky I am to even have the opportunity to excel in this sport. The local scene brings some amazing talent, which means from time to time...we all get our slice of humble pie. As far as a race recap....it was a sprint. We drank a few cups of salt water, sat on our bikes for a few minutes and ran out of breath for a bit....enough said:) Fortunately for me, I'm sitting on my couch, just recieved a painful yet necessary massage and am reflecting on a great weekend of training. Todays bike in San Antonio, Fl with Jon Noland and friends...was absolutely epic. My advice for anyone who wants to get faster is....train with the fastest people you know. !!Fort Desoto Results!! A serious thanks to Flying Fish Bikes for all of the continued support! The next 3 weekends, I'll be racing...so stay tuned for more race reports!
I'd like to keep this short and sweet so here is something that has been on my mind for the last 3 minutes. For any athlete who spends time trying to get faster on their bike, spend some time and money on a quality bike fit. There are loads of local bike shops to get the accomplished, obviously I suggest working with Joel at Flying Fish. I say that because I've come across a large number of athletes (4 to be exact), which really isn't that large but still deserves mention. ANYWAY, if you're spending a large amount of money on a bike, training and nutrition, why wouldn't you optimize all of your energy exertion? I've ridden by tons of people should seriously watch a video of their knee movement as they pedal. It's supposed to be straight up and down, not look like you're trying to do a jig at 17 mph. Next time you're riding, look down...if your knee is doing a figure 8 or moving all around like it's on crack, you're creating a future problem. Finally, kissing the front wheel isn't necessary, that's way being too aero doesn't make any sense when it compromises power production. The bottom line is, if you're putting in quality time to get faster, optimize your effort and make sure you're set up with the proper geometry by a well known bike fit specialist!
By the way, that new movie "Oblivion" looks awesome...Damn that Tom Cruise for being an awesome actor. Seriously, if you don't like Minority Report, your imagination and sense of awesomeness needs some work! BOOM!
After the non-existent "off season", it's time again to slim down. Ritually analyzing and planning meals is a daily routine. Unfortunately, the mind tends to wander into the danger zone more often then not. Is watching the food network or travel channel a good idea (Cupcake wars/Man V Food)? Probably not but food is probably passion #2 on my list of priorities. Anyone who spends any significant time with me will probably notice my slight food addiction and would probably enjoy telling me to "shut it" on many occasions. Ideally, losing 5 pounds would be totally awesome, however my body seems very comfortable at 170. In fact, I'd have to agree with anyone who says I'm definitely worst than a woman when it comes to weight and image. Even with the large amount of research and knowledge I've gained over the past few years, it's still hard to make a solid choice. Should I eat for purpose or for pleasure? For now, the best way to go about it is to SIMPLIFY and eat for purpose. Once a week, I'll throw some delicious, damaging creations into my body. Current favorite meals consist of:
- Roasted root vegetables and Blackened Salmon on a bed of mixed greens
- Home Made Veggie/quinoa burgers, topped with a fried egg and a side of baked sweet potato chips
- Blackened Cod Fish tacos in a red cabbage wrap
- Slow roasted chicken in fresh salsa, corn tortilla, cilantro lime farro
Since I'm still on the subject of food, I recently started a home vegetable garden. I mean, why not? Let's add another aspect responsibility to my life, right? I'd really like to not kill these plants so I've been doing a lot of research. So far they are green...which is a good start right? In a week or so I'll be up and running with fresh beans, kale, eggplant, radish, beets, lettuce, bok choy and collards. Odds are I'll be building an additional garden next year (if I don't totally suck at this). I ALMOST got carried away with my urban food endeavors. My over-zealous self thought, "why don't I get some chickens and have fresh eggs, ALL THE TIME"? The reality is, I'll just find someone who is already taking on that task...and support them with money.
The desire for perfect training and nutrition is very demanding but when it's dialed in properly, it can be VERY rewarding! I'll let you know if I ever get there:)
Why do I do this again?? Oh wait...because it's awesome!
As I battle my way through injury, it's evident that my body is still adapting to all of the stress and new repetitive motions. Whether it's a sore knee, irritated rotator cuff or tight soleus, it all adds up. More importantly, my body is telling me "something needs to change". I'd like to think I'm indestructible but I've been totally humbled on a weekly basis. Some do it for fun, others for a light challenge but a few train to get better and better and even then it's never enough. People like me need a heavy handed coach, pulling back the reigns just enough to keep me from falling apart, riding the fine line of over-training and forward progression. This is why I'm currently taking today off, increasing average sleep time to 9 hours AND actually tapering for a month of racing (a round of applause for me). As my key races approach, I'm hoping to still have some pep in my step when it comes to running. I'm sure there will be some disappointing areas, but hell...there is always another race and I would rather rest now and continue to do what I love for a long time. Honestly, this lifestyle is truly amazing. Normal tasks at work seem null when you have a 3 hour workout in the evening. We ALL have addictions and I'm totally content knowing mine are Racing/Training/Coaching and Nutrition! Thanks again for reading, I'm still working on not sounding like a total dork:)