Wow! When athletes I work with execute a balanced race and are ON FIRE with their progress, nothing compares. After this past weekend of racing, I can honestly say I've never been more proud. It's still sinking in, totally larger than life and each deep breathe is another reminder that Damnit....I'm good at this stuff. I think since I'm so passionate about this way of life and all it entails, guiding others is truly gratifying beyond anything I've ever experienced. I love racing with my athletes!
At this point I've got the Tri-life pretty locked down. I recently left the Active Duty component of the USAF and will now be a Reservist. This will allow me to really focus on training, coaching...and recovering (lot's of couch time). It's only been a few months since it's all been coming together with selling my house and all. It happened very fast, it's hard to believe I"m here right now...banging out another blog about a stellar race. To think Augusta 70.3 was my first EVER 70.3 back in 2011 and now I'm back as a Pro!
The build up and taper for this race seemed to be pretty spot-on. We drove up a day earlier than normal to allow for an additional preparing (doing nothing)! Of course when I say "nothing" I mean some light swim, bike, run sessions followed by healthy eating and lots of TV watching with our feet up. The goal was to eliminate any amount of stress that would detract from the task at hand--putting together a strong, balanced race. I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with a great friend Brett, who really added value to this trip with his distorted humor and positive attitude. Brett worked his magic so we could stay at the host hotel...meaning the expo, pro meeting and general triathlon vibes were 2 steps away. Swim start and transition were within view of our 11th floor room; sublime. The awesome room, vibrant energy and minimal amounts of stress made our pre-race build very enjoyable. To cap it all off, Augusta finally got themselves a Whole Foods! We ate there every meal. It just makes sense, right? They really have everything! Eating at restaurants can be very tricky since you're usually forced into a certain quantity and type of food. With a Whole Foods near by, I was able to keep my diet 98% consistent to what I normally make for myself at home.
Pre-Race & Swim - I woke up a few times during the night...which was actually nice. I remember waking up at 1am, checking my watch and letting out the biggest sigh of relief. A few more hours of sleep is always nice on race morning. My internal alarm went off around 4:20am. Breakfast consisted of some Ancient Grains hot cereal, banana, cinnamon and almond butter and almond milk. I like to have around 3 hours of digestion to prevent any unexpected pre-race food burps...or poops. After washing it all down with a small amount of coffee I was ready! I got to transition super early and took the shuttle back to the hotel, leaving me with an hour and 30 minutes to kick up the feet, sip some water and listen to some music. With 30 to go, I walked 8 minutes to the start line, saw some fellow competitors already suited up. I was really glad to see Brett and Lori before the race (athletes I work with), they seemed totally ready for the event which made me even more confident. I remembered they still had to wait another hour before they could start their race.....
Once I was suited up in my XTERRA Ventedda, I walked down to the dock. Since I have a tendency to drift to the right during hard swim efforts, I started to the left. After the first 500 meters of "puke pace" I settled in and passed a few pro men, knowing I would speed up even more as I kept going. I'm like a diesel engine! I'm still working on that really hard start speed. It's tough and tense to give such an extreme effort with hopes of settling into a solid tempo. The goal is to gradually taper off into a high tempo pace but when I have to go out at 150% sometimes I slow too much and lose contact with the studs. A down river swim helped me stay a little more up front than usual. The sun was freaking blinding so it was tough to see a direct line but it worked out well enough. I came out of the water with enough time to see the bigger pack exiting transition. I was only a few minutes down. By the way, running with a wetsuit is totally hard....I may just take it off at swim exit for the longer transitions to open up the hips.
Bike: The goal was to conserve a bit, hopefully allowing a 2hr 15 min bike leg. The Rudy Wing 57, Scott Plasma Premium and American Classic Wheels worked very out very well. I went out steady and reeled in a group of 4. After realizing they weren't really going at a fast enough, I took advantage of a small gap that opened and decided to push onward and catch another few riders. I couldn't have planned it any better...came off the bike in 2:15 and some change! Unfortunately there were still a lot of hard efforts in there since the tempo was up and down...so the legs weren't as fresh as I'd hoped. I took in 2 bottles of OSMO (3 scoops each). One bottle had a Honey Stinger gel in it as well. I like to take in some solid food after 60 minutes or so too.
Run: Mile 1-3 were steady and I did my best to keep it under control....but it looks like we all went out a little too hard and faded. I was really suffering at mile 7 and it wasn't getting an any better. WHERE IS THE COKE?? I resorted to coke which keeps me going in times of need (sorta). Thankfully I didn't slow down to turtle pace but I certainly didn't run like I'd been training. I still finished 4hrs 11min, ONLY 1 minute off my 4hr 10min prediction. I came in 9th, didn't get chicked (for once) and finally feel like my career as a Pro Triathlete has some merit. Every small victory helps keep me going, even if I'm still years away from my true abilities.
I'll be pretty much tapering down toward the end of the season, hoping the hard work this year will help me build some top end swim speed and further my run endurance. I'll keep you guys posted as I trudge through the training, recovering and coaching....Thanks for all of the support! I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate you taking the time to keep tabs on me.
When it comes to triathlons and California, all of my friends know I'm a sucker! As a matter of fact, it pains me to make my last 70.3 of the year Augusta instead of Rancho Cordova...another trip out west just isn't smart (6 races this year). Sure, it's part of the epic adventure but I can't consider putting myself out there, enduring more pain as I struggle to sew together a solid performance with back to back 70.3's. Maybe next year, after more miles and experience have absorbed into my bones; I'll be ready. That being said, I cannot wait to finally pour out my thoughts concerning this race and experience as Karen and I headed out Californi-way.
Pre-Race: Per usual, the morning we left was busy and hectic. Luckily, the dogs we already set up at the dog camp, hopefully enjoying their mini-vacation. Even though the dogs were off the radar, our bags were packed and we had a solid mode of transpiration to the airport, it's always hectic. For some reason I always feel like I'm running behind and stress levels are elevated until shortly after hitting airport security. Luckily, TSA pre-check makes life much easier (and they were gentle)!! The flight took us to San Jose airport, where we then chartered a magnificent Chevy Equinox that had ZERO turning radius. After stopping for a phenomenal meal at the Santa Cruz Cafe Gratitude, it was time to head to what could arguably be the BEST home-stay ever! Thanks to Tri-California and their ultimate care and consideration, we were able stay 30 seconds from the race site. James and his Wife Lilly opened their guest room to us. We took in the fresh ocean view and great company, knowing good things were to come.
The 20th Year Triathlon at Pacific Grove: I've heard some great stories about this race. After reading Macca's book, I remembered there is a legacy behind this race and I couldn't wait to toe the line! The race line-up was full of former winners, WTS series competitors and dudes like me...rookie pro's looking for some experience. I had no idea of the pay out...or that there was one, but luckily they paid 10 deep....because I came in 10th. I'll lead you through the progression.....
Swim: A noon start time is not normally in my wheelhouse. It's tough to figure out how to properly start the day but it's really nice to watch the AG race. Coming from the east coast makes it harder to actually sleep in...but I I managed as usual. Luckily the kelp was almost nonexistent and there was a flat, chilly 2 loop course for us. My race started with goggles full of water, followed by the standard...phrase of "shit I hope I'm not last". LUCKILY, I wasn't and there were 3 of us to bring up the rear. All in all, another intense swim.....complete! For what it's worth, I know I learned a lot from this one....most notably; SWIM STRAIGHT! (yes, I'm still working on that) Karen said we took more of an arc than a straight line...like the McDonalds arc.
Draft Legal Bike Racing: I've only competed in 6 or 7 draft legal races thus far, only making it into a bike pack a few times. This race did not disappoint, we did some work! The Scott Foil and American Classic wheels felt great....I love doing some hard work on a road bike. The top swimmers and those with other various national titles were definitely in a race of their own. Draft legal triathlons break the race up into multiple races....we were definitely working our butts off trying to catch up as much as we could. Luckily, myself and one other strong cyclist were able to catch 4 or 5 fellas and we soon formed the last group of stragglers...knowing we would all have to seriously run hard and fast in the near future (or at least try to). It's a cool dynamic. Here is the strategy: Temporarily work together for a common goal knowing we'll be against each other shortly after. Oh...by the way, I'd like to say thank to Scott Giles for calling out the splits as we made our 4 laps. Sadly, the gaps were getting bigger.
Running: It's no secret, I've been really blowing the run over the past year. It's been tough but hell, how else do you learn? I started strong, felt awesome but on the 3rd lap I really started losing ground. The legs and lungs just couldn't do anything more with what I had given them. None the less, the new kits looked great and I appreciated running into some awesome friends along the course. I had no idea I knew so many people in Pacific Grove. This lifestyle has proven to be a fantastic way to meet amazing people.
What Else Did We Do?
If you've got a few more minutes, allow me to unveil an epic trip which started immediately after the awards presentation! I'll keep it brief but I recommend everyone visit some of these places. First off, let me highlight the initiating factor of this journey. My friends Brad and Hila held a wedding ceremony in beautiful Murphys California and we were lucky enough to be invited. After the race, we drove 4 hours, right outside Sacramento. We arrived to a great "get away" town in the middle of no-where. Ton's of great people and great energy gathered together for the rehearsal dinner (to which we arrive late). After a short "hello' we needed some sleep...off to the hotel. I woke up in the morning and knocked out this fun little ride. Being from Florida...I totally take advantage of the opportunity to climb a mountain pass if presented.
After catching up with some good friends at the wedding ceremony which was held at a beautiful vineyard, we tried to plan out the assault on the next day. The plan was, drive an hour up to Lake Alpine...a beautiful serene lake at 7000ft. This plan was awesome until I woke up in the morning and decided we should drive 3 hours to lake Tahoe and enjoy the altitude, sights and beautiful drive. We ran 12 miles along the lake, I jumped into the clearest water EVER....we grabbed some lunch and food for our picnic dinner and headed back to the hotel. I decided I would ride Ebbetts Pass on the way back and Karen played leap frog with the car, making sure I was safe. It was some of the toughest riding I've done in a long time with 24% grade switch backs....totally awesome descents too. This all lead us to a terrific picnic dinner at Lake Alpine!
As I wrap up the blog I just want to say thanks for taking your valuable time to read and most importantly, thank you to USMES for organizing such great sponsorship. I've been more than taken care of this year and it's all thanks to a long list of supporting brands....they can be found HERE