Qualifying for Age Group Worlds didn't really mean much at the time. Honestly, 9 months ago written it off an decided that is was too far away to get excited about. That being said, I was dead wrong and would gladly slap some sense into my "past" self if given the chance. Competing at this level, surrounded by talent, was truly humbling and extremely motivating! I'll keep this brief but will highlight my lessons learned.
- Traveling overseas to a "A" race can either be super stressful or a remarkable journey. I decided to make a " remarkable journey" out of it, focusing on what was within my control while ignoring typical stressors i.e..change in diet, a destroyed circadian rhythm, many hours lugging around lots of heavy items, excess time on your feet, cold weather, 22 hours of sweat in one outfit...etc. It's best to take it all in and keep your chin up. Attitude is everything!
- Getting a feel for the course was easy, there were races all week long, not to mention tons of crashes. We practically walked around in a continual mist, which made the roads dangerously slick. We all knew it was going to be a dodgy course and expected to be extra cautious. There was an aquathlon (what?), Paratriathlon, open olympic distance race, pro men and women race and sprint distance worlds. Talk about race overload. Luckily our hotel was within striking distance (10 minute walk). I volunteered to help out the paratriathlete's and I have to say it felt great to help some very dedicated athletes.
- Hyde Park was amazing for some pre-race training. I have to compliment the locals for being very fit. You could throw a rock and hit someone running or biking. I literally can count the amount of obese people on one hand...and they were probably American or Irish. Swimming wasn't really my favorite though, since the Serpentine is Doo-Doo brown and very cold. It's brown due to massive amounts of goose poo. I have a friend who had gotten pretty sick from swimming there, luckily my immune system held it together.
- Jet lag subsided by race day, however my travel companions insisted on talking with a british accents and giggling until late in the evening. Regardless, I'm so glad we were able to enjoy the fruits of London as a Team.
- MY RACE wasn't until Sunday and I was totally prepared to execute. The weather in the U.K is the opposite of Florida so I'm very thankful we had blue skies for our race. The days leading to the race (taper week) are always bittersweet, but like I said earlier, attitude is everything. My general mood concerning my race is excellent, I give it a 8 out of 10. The swim was definitely my weakness; no warm up, low 60 water temp, low 50 air temp and maybe lack of toughness. My feet were numb running to transition, so were my hands, making it hard to secure my helmet or make a frownie face. I'm very happy with my bike performance! Holding an average speed just short of 26 mph on a technical course felt good. As far as the run is concerned, I'd like to say WOO HOO! Despite months of working through lower leg injuries, I negative split every 2 mile loop, running a 36:40 10 Kilometer. I know I have a long way to go to be super competitive, but the good news is I'm always getting better! Unfortunatley, I did walk away with a Peroneal Tendon Strain....but it's already getting better.
Armed with my toilet seat pillow, plenty of healthy snacks and roaring excitement for the unknown....London awaits.
I'd like to first thank my Mom and Dad for being awesome cheerleaders. My Dad FINALLY learned how to use Facebook and has since been no stranger to hitting the "like" button. I managed some sleep on the plane; roughly 4 hours. Unfortunately my Monsters University movie session was cut short due to our arrival. Seriously, couldn't we hold pattern for another 15 minutes so I could finish my free movie?? Needless to say, the journey was only mid-way once we arrived at London-Heathrow airport. After my travel companions learned that their luggage had not taken the same route, the mood wasn't as pleasant. Luckily, the bikes made it in one piece though (whew). After a 45 min Tube ride and a 1.5 mile walk (which felt like 20 miles due to the bike case, heavy luggage, backpack....and sweaty/stinky armpits) we arrived at the Corus Hotel. We are a 10 minute walk from everything we need.
Speaking of walking, I've definitely walked more in the past 3 days than I have in the past 5 months. Since the race is tomorrow...we'll see how that paid off.
I was lucky enough to meet some great ParaTriathletes and even luckier to be a "handler". Truth is, he didn't even really need me...but I'd like to think I at least helped a little (high fives, chest bumps and what not). Needless to say, totally can't wait to leave it all out there on the course, just like they did. I definitely can't wait to see these guys compete in the Rio Olympics. The amount of spectator support was also very inspiring. Despite the weather not being able to make up its mind (it's either cold or misting and cold) the crowd was very large.
And so here I am...it's almost like Christmas Eve...hopefully I can sleep. My trip thus far has been full of great and hilarious events. Somehow, my travel companion packed two rear wheels...but luckily the guys at Specialized helped her out with a front wheel and a "triathlon for dummies" book. It's hard to believe that there has been so much preparation for just one event, but that's what makes what I do amazing. It gives a greater purpose to traveling and brings everyone together in healthy competition. I LOVED having a front row seat , 20 feet from the water, watching the elite women fly by...too bad I was numb since I had just swam myself. Finally...let me just say...I'm SO thankful there is a Whole Foods nearby!!
Tomorrow's projected conditions:
Air Temp....probably around mid 50's
Wather Temp....Mid 60's
Rain: It's ALWAYS misting or just recently misted....so the course will be slick
Smell: Fish n Chips with Ale....and Goose poop.
So you're colleagues bring in donuts...before you know it you slip deep into a sugar coma (since you ate 3). Birthday party? Why not eat 2 pieces of Oreo cake? We only live once right? A friend mentioned that chocolaty treat you're eating is "healthy" because it's "gluten free" or "paleo"....Go Nuts, right? It's around 2 o'clock and you feel the hunger monster, let's get down on a candy bar (Cliff bar, Raw Bar, Crackers or something else processed), right? These little decisions ADD UP and are limiting your bodies ability function as it should....forcing it to hold onto fat, even if you're working out. PLAN AHEAD and bring some healthy snacks with you at all times...be prepared or prepare to fail!
Point being, it's always easy to find a reason for a snack or sugary delight. Odds are, we all crave something that's probably not going to eliminate any fat from the butt or gut. I've been there too, but now....things are exponentially better.
SOOO here is what I'd like to share. It's been over a month since I've been immune to the past unhealthy "additions" to my body fat. If you know me or have read previous posts, it's easy to see, I prefer some healthy (tasty) meals. OF COURSE, I cheat from time to time and have some fun (Froyo)! However, the majority of everything I eat is pretty simple. I eat butt loads of (clean) local vegetables, fruit and humanely raised, sustainable MEAT sources. Ever since I decided to make this change, life has been really.....kick ass! First off, I'm not on a sugar kick anymore, body fat is on the decline and I feel more energy than ever. FACT is, you DON'T NEED REFINED GRAINS OR PASTA to have ENERGY! Also, once you decide the "American Diet" isn't for you, the vail will been lifted. As a matter of fact, STAY out of the center of the grocery store (stick to the outside). Anyway, everyone comes from a different experience and carries around a different pallet. Challenge yourself to make smart decisions on a daily basis....IF you're interested, let me know and I'll totally shed some knowledge! As active as I am, I'm proof that the common perceptions of nutrition are mostly foggy or flat out wrong.
Above, are a few meals I recently enjoyed. It's a pretty obvious to see, there are lot's of veggies with some delicious protein. Also, check out all of the snacks that are available (still in moderation). Odds are, these types of meals and snacks will sustain you longer and exceed the needs of your taste buds, while helping you stay lean. If nothing else, I hope all of you are taking small steps to drive your health and fitness needs in the right direction.
I was shark bait for 1 hr 26 minutes...
Aaron Vaughn Frogman Swim! This event was incredibly inspiring and I felt honored to participate. Honoring those who have given their lives for our country is absolutely necessary. Too often, we forget that our fellow brothers and sisters are giving their lives, the ultimate sacrifice. Honestly, as much as I think everyone has forgotten about the men and women in harms way, I'm suddenly astonished on many occasions. Whether it's someone buying my groceries, dinner or coffee OR even a simple comment honoring my service, It's a nice reminder that we're all compassionate people.
Swimming 5k was really not as bad as it seems. The water temperature was very refreshing, the current was fighting back and the energy was high. I will definitely consider more long distance swimming in the future. Coming in 4th was awesome, as I had no idea how to pace this event. My watched clocked a solid 3.5 miles, which means I was in the water for awhile (1hr26min). I was able to average 1:20 per 100yds....very happy with that. Either way, I had tons of energy an really recommend everyone support a noble cause, especially Navy Seals and their families. Additionally, one of my favorite athletes completed the swim....this being the longest distance he'd ever swam too. As the 4th of July approaches, it's once again...time to dig deep and DO WORK! Stay safe while training and make healthy decisions!
Before I regurgitate all of the goodness within me for your reading pleasure, I'd like to get my race report out of the way. Yes indeed, the Armed Forces Triathlon took place this past Saturday at Point Mugu Naval Base in Ventura County California. This race makes me feel special because #1 The Air Force chose ME, along with 15 other athletes to represent! #2 I was surrounded by some of the most accomplished people/athletes I've ever met #3 I roomed with a great friend Brad Williams (killer deep tissue massages by the way) #4 Training in California with 1 hour, CAT 1 climbs and 40+ mph descents can't be matched.
In the days leading up to the race, the team all re-unites, attends a few group sessions and delicious meals. We crack jokes, talk about the season thus far and generally kick back. I think I got more sleep in the 2 days before the race than I had in 5 months. Thursday is full of fun stuff like team gear issue (Thanks to our coach), team pictures, dinner at a sweet Mansion with all the competitors and plenty of sexual innuendoes. Apparently, everyone thinks my AF job is a personal car washer for Generals, where I pay special attention to "waxing on" and "waxing off". Friday is a "nothing" day....where we try as hard as we can do to as little as possible. Somehow we manage to do a mini triathlon though. A 60 minute spin, 20 minute run and 15 minute swim starts off the morning. It's all part of the routine for the big day....
THE SWIM: Water Temperature around 62 degrees (Perfect Temperature), calm, clear water. Since last year, this is my favorite place to swim. The lower temperature really allows you to go full throttle without over-heating. It's way better than 86 degree salty whale pee back in Florida. However, dealing with numb toes until the run is to be expected with such low temps. I swam a minute or so down from the lead pack, still have some work to do. Everyone seemed to have a little extra time this year on the 2 loop, ITU style swim. Came out at 23:44, which I'm pleased with. Well within striking distance. Lead swim was 21:18 with the pack around 22 minutes. Blazing fast for the day.
THE BIKE: After a nice scenic beach run to spike the heart rate, transition was in sight. Pulled a great T1 time but didn't really come in with a big enough group to start anything up right away. Pulled a solo effort for the first 2 laps. Lot's of snot and cold toes on that first 20k but I managed to bridge up to a few guys...but they weren't worthy and had to be dropped. A 10-13 man group pulled up (with the guys I dropped), everyone working hard. There were a few attacks by the stud cyclists but a "time-trial" off the front wasn't going to happen. Sadly one of our own Air Force members went down, taking out a possible top scorer out....gladly he's doing well and only ended up with road rash that will most certainly stick to his clothing everyday until it finally heals. (Been there)
THE RUN: Since we ended up catching the lead pack near the end of the 40K, it was an all out foot race. For me, this is when I sorta ended up...falling apart. Started out feeling awesome, even passed a few fellas. Then my body remembered it hadn't really ran this hard for 10k in quite awhile. Being injury free for a few weeks kinda erases the reality, the fitness isn't where I want it to be. I ended up not being able to break up a pack of 4 Navy guys. As I attempted to wish myself into top 10, I was fading. Luckily I didn't blow up and fought until the end....but when is a triathlete ever "really" happy with their results??
The rest of my team performed very well. An absolute honor to be around such talent! Congrats to the champion, Nicholas Sterghos! I'm fortunate enough to be able to train with him in Clermont from time to time. (not to brag or anything)
Speaking of results: CLICK HERE
Goal for next year.....Top 5.....OR I'll retire
Why do I want to live here? Read Below...
Okay...now we get to the good part. The Race is the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned. I LOVE training out there and definitely look forward to the post race party at Chuys. Florida is pretty flippin great, but I've never loved any place more than PCH around Malibu, CA. Sure it's a little chilly at night and in the am, but it's also perfect weather for training. The haze burns off around lunch time BUT if you climb high enough (about 3k ft), you'll be rewarded with an amazing view. This place is magical. I'd consider getting into some illegal sources of income so I could afford to live there (kidding). All in all, the pictures really tell the story. It wasn't until after the race I embarked on the epic definition of a "climb". Literally, a real climb....Take that Florida! I've also never descended around hair pin turns going 30+...BOOYA. However tough a race may be, I always learn and walk away fulfilled. The new certainly took me to the next level, I ate some delicious meals and once again...attended my favorite race of the season!