Now that I have your attention, please understand that I'm totally aware there are infinite ways to live. Some find total joy in cave diving or underwater basket weaving. However to me, "Tri-life" is totally up there in the top 10, enabling serious ass- kicking skills, developing both mind and body. I'd be willing to debate with any multi-millionaire as to why a competing in Escape From Ft. Desoto would upgrade their status of existence. Even if they already have 10 Ferraris, they could still benefit from some healthy competition. I've seen people lose 100+Lbs, repair relationships, relieve stress, conquer fears and finally value their lives like they never have before. It's about the freaking JOURNEY!
Over the past few weeks I've met some incredible folks, all of them proudly throwing a roundhouse at negativity, enhancing their lives through activity. Recently I've attempted some serious meditation on my "current existence" and realized I'm definitely where I want to be. To be clear, my meditation is usually full of spastic thoughts from handling race-day anxiety to streamlining airline overhead luggage procedures (it's a serious pain right?). It's pretty random. BUT either way, I allow myself to simply enjoy the moment. I also find value being inspired by others on a daily basis. I freaking love giving energy to those who need it and literally beat back the "standard" outlook on life. More often then not we totally get sucked into what the world wants or what society wants. When are we not in a hurry, not on a strict timeline or under pressure? That mindset/lifestyle totally overshadows our true purpose, putting a black cloud over the amazing amount of freedom we truly have. We can be free from all the garbage popular culture gets caught in. Does anyone really care that Ke$ha has a "$" for an "s"? Seriously, start making your own decisions and stop being a zombie. Essentially, think of the movie Office Space. Liberating yourself from the mold of what everyone wants you to be is the only life worth living. Re-invent yourself! Even if that means taking 5 deep "meditative" breaths right when you rise or inventing your own line of embroidered sweater vests...DO SOMETHING you're passionate about and finally....SHARE IT with someone else! Seriously, call your friends and remind them of all the goodies you just read!
So this brings me to the Team RWB Camp that I was honored to be part of. The weather was super windy, the water was choppy but it didn't stop anyone from walking away with anything short of a remarkable experience. Seriously, I saw combat veterans with PTSD, lower leg amputations and mega-open water anxiety conquer their world. BOOM, Triathlon literally turned the tables on stress, fear, doubt and isolation. I hope you don't allow anything to hold you back from seriously taking a dive into the best version of "you" because life can slip away pretty quickly.
This Starts my 4th Year
Whew, it's literally been 4 years! I can honestly say that this sport changed my life. Leading me to triumph I could have never imagined. I've always been fortunate to have a supportive family, driven attitude and great friends...but life still needed another "spark". I found triathlon through my Boss Traveler Hill. He was the first "Ironman" I had ever met. It was because of his invitation on a weekend bike ride that I'm here today. After feeling the sense of community, immediate gratification of improving fitness on a daily basis and feeling like I could finally be REALLY good at something, I was ALL IN BABY. Since then I've traveled across the nation and the world, hunting down the next experience that will impact my life, building both body and mind. Being an Active Duty military member (go Air Force) has also been a vital part of my success. There is a huge network of support out there, especially through the US Military Endurance Sports program.
Presently, I'm squeezing every second out of every day. I'm serving our country, coaching 10 athletes who keep me sharp and trying to set myself up to be one of the top 10 triathletes in the world (long-term goal). I can't think of another way to live want to say "Thank You" to everyone who supports me. I'm so freaking jazzed to know tons of amazing people. The final lesson I've learned is this: If you put positive energy into the universe it will most certainly feed your life with positive experiences. Thanks again for all of the FB "high fives" and shout outs!
So how did the race go? This was my 4th time competing in Escape from Ft. Desoto, it was literally my first triathlon EVER. The second year I did it I actually won! These past few years I've lost by a few seconds. This year, a 17 year old ITU athlete beat me by 6 seconds. Seriously.....hats off to these young athletes. They are most definitely going to grow this sport to a new level, keeping us older guys working hard. To be so fast, so young...I could only wish I had such opportunity. None the less, I'll alway make sure I race this event every single year. In short, my swim, bike and run effort was certainly all I had for the day and I'll ALWAYS say there is no greater feeling than finishing a race. I don't care if it's a 5k, Sprint tri or an double anvil....you've freaking accomplished something great, relish in it.
Surrounded by the hard work of our team staff members, we all made our way into the briefing room for our first meeting! As you can see, "wholy crap thats a lot of swag"! The amount of support we've received from our sponsors for this camp is unmatched by anything I've ever seen.
With SO much to cover over the last few days, I wanted to take a few minutes to "brain dump". Also, the hours and miles are piling up and I'm sure in a few more day I'll be at a 3rd grade reading level and may need a feeding tube with a constant flow of OSMO Acute Recovery. None the less the amount of positive energy here is just tremendous, even those who are over-worked manage to sneak in a smile from time to time (maybe it's the doubletree cookies)...
For starters, I cannot believe I've witnessed hand carts making their way up categorized climbs. Team4Mil is out here, demonstrating what it truly means to be an athlete. Also, each athlete has their own volunteer to aid with anything they might need along the way. I mean come on, climbing for a few hours with 1 leg or with only your arms, I simply cannot emphasize how impressive these guys are. It's truly remarkable to share the road with them.
I'm going to let the pictures do the talking but here is the skinny:
- This is my first time to Tucson, AZ and it's definitely different than what I'm used to. The terrain is dessert, with cactus farms, dust fields and intense sunshine. It's pretty much just like Breaking Bad. As far as the weather is concerned, we couldn't ask for a more ideal situation. It's a little brisk in the AM, definitely sweating around noon but we need warm clothes for the long descents. The roads are probably the only complaint, which is minimal to say the least. HOWEVER, yesterday I felt like we were riding on cobbles for about 30 minutes straight ....at the end of our 100 mile ride. Talk about some grumpy cyclists! Good thing we had some solid leadership out there to keep us in line.
I've been digging in with the A group, where there is a ton of talent! Everyone brings something strong to the table but this camp favors the light bodied climbers. I've always been a better climber when I'm at my own pace, so I let the studs go zip up the hill and I make it a few minutes after. As far as fatigue, the legs remarkable rebound every day. We've been getting lots of veggies in for meals. I've probably eaten about 10 salads thus far. A plant based diet has always helped me stay strong during long weeks. If you understand training lingo, you'll appreciate that after only 3 days, my TSS is about 640. I suspect it will be one of the biggest weeks I've had....EVER. So anyway, enjoy the pictures, there will be more to come. The overall goal is to learn and break through barriers. I know I have a race on Sunday but I'm definitely not holding back this week. For nutrition during the rides we've been seriously killing all the Honey Stinger products and OSMO that they have to offer. Finally, thank you Boeing for the huge amount of support, it's an honor to represent this company!
As you can see from the very attractive people in the pictures above, early season training camps are happening all around. A camp worth your time should include 2 studs for coaches (Jon and I), detailed workouts, each precisely fitting in their place and most importantly, FUN. (Camp Location) Beyond the physical stresses, your mind must to be engaged too! This means paying attention to the nutrition presentation, swim demos, Training Peaks/power file analysis and running drill execution. There are always a few who really get balls deep in this process and it's likely those few who will have the most success. This isn't ONLY due to the fact that everything we say (as coaches) is worth it's weight in gold...kidding... but because a mind that is open to new methods can really tap into their abilities. As Jon would say, trust the process and achieve the results. The missing link between your racing goals may not be MORE volume or MORE intensity, you may just need to get smart. When I say get smart I don't mean you should take some college classes at the local Community College. You can spend 15 minutes a night reading some blogs from doctors, learn about Training Peaks, understand your thresholds or read about the food you're eating. Simple stuff can often have the biggest impact.
The inaugural Tribal Mulit-Sport triathlon camp was not meant to destroy, leaving corpses on the side of the road. I would put it more along the lines of a "wake up call". Overall, many hadn't put in any long rides or hard efforts on the bike or run...so naturally we explored those regions of the pain cave. One note worth mentioning; I witnessed some messy swimming while in the NTC pool. I'm not talking about the kind of mess that you could clean up with a single sheet of Bounty. I'm talking about the, drop your bowl of spaghetti squash pasta and red sauce all over your white couch type of mess. Basically, I highly recommend any swimmer have a friend or coach get some video of them. "Volume" in the pool doesn't always translate to speed (duh). Getting a good look at yourself on camera can highlight some major problems. Additionally, once the swim stroke is a slightly dialed in, it helps to have some defined "zones". You're "70.3 Race Pace" and your "All Out" should not be the same stroke rate. Your "Warm Up" and your "Tempo" should be different in the same regards. Knowing your "gears" and getting some eyes on your body as you move through the "gears" will give a better sense of what could be keeping you messy, fighting the water instead of making friends with it.
Recover with nutrient dense meals, perform at your best!
The real life, everyday missing link between you and your BEST possible self: Food Quality. Barely anyone I know in my normal job takes fitness seriously, much less their diet. Sadly, most athletes make succumb to many of the same failures I'm not going to go on a crazy rant but all I ask is that you try to analyze the quality of what you're eating. This is the main message I tried to send out to our humble camp participants. What better way to do so than to cook for 18 hungry athletes, demonstrating that IT CAN BE DONE?? Talk about putting me out of my comfort zone! I'm totally cool getting 3 or 4 people full of healthy food but 18 required some serious planning. Plus, everyone was typically starving and would devour double portions without batting an eye. The meals were simple, HIGH QUALITY versions of what people normally eat. It's crazy how simple it is to actually make this stuff. Chicken fried rice with roasted vegetable salad and homemade dressing? NO WAY!! Spaghetti squash pasta with avocado spinach sauce, turkey meatballs and a side of veggies?? BOOM! Very simple stuff here folks. Had I not been cooking for so many people, I could have whipped it up in 25 minutes or less. So on that note, look below for some quick/easy meals I use during the week to help keep the nutrient density high, maximizing recovery. (They may seem complicated but I promise they aren't)
So hopefully this season, you'll try some new approaches...become more efficient and make some new friends to share some paint with. I'll be traveling a lot this season so look for some healthy eating on the road. I'll prove to you that even without a fully stocked kitchen at your disposal, you don't have to eat a Dunkin Donuts or Steak n Shake. Please e-mail me if you need some more in depth descriptions of my recipes! Stay healthy and be safe on the roads!
So as you can see, I like to take the bull by the horns. However, it doesn't always work out as planned.... but when it does, holy cow, the sweet succulent nectar of success tastes SOO good. This past year has been a bombshell of goodness, almost like I've been attacked by Santa Clause, constantly surprised with amazing opportunities and "presents" along the way. Since I'm a total slave to my cell phone and have a 2 second attention span, I don't really remember EVERYTHING...BUT I'll try and list some sweet events that have kept me chugging along:
- Joined the US Military Cycling Team, attended the most noteworthy camp ever (most miles I've ever ridden)!
- Met some local Pro's and trained with the best in Clermont, Fl...signed on with coach Tim Crowley @TC2 Coaching
- Sustained support from colleagues and leadership within the U.S. Air Force. Totally appreciated!
- Finally getting over some lower leg injuries with lots of PT/massage/A.R.T...Thanks Dr. Rubin and Matt Shanklin
- Traveled to London to compete in Age Group World Championships!!
- Joined forces with Jon Noland @Tribal Multi-Sport. Couldn't be happier to coach along side him!
- Earned Elite Card! Next year I'll be at the bottom of the totem pole with the big dogs....but not for long!!!
- Earned USAT Level 1 Cert and 1 yr long Master Trainer Cert with ISSA...Always learning!
- Started Coaching U.S. Masters Swim Program at St. Pete Beach
- ACCEPTED AS 2014 ELITE TRIATHLETE ON US MILITARY ENDURANCE SPORTS....truly honored!
So the road ahead is still full of questions! Will I perform well and continue to grow in the professional ranks of triathlon? Will I develop a phobia of water and become a duathlete? Will I move to Iceland? Who knows!!!?? That's the best part about life, the direction you take is totally up to you! Of course you have to have the courage to take a path less traveled but IF you LOVE what you do, you're no longer at a "job". At least that's what I've noticed about being a coach. Waking up at a steady 4:30 am most every day to either workout before work, coach masters, get home late from a strength and conditioning session and staying up late-er to take care of training plans/research better ways to thrive as an athlete...Now that's my JAM! Of course the icing on the cake is being part of the U.S. Air Force, knowing every day I work to help sustain the mission and support our nation. So when I hear people complain about not having time and they don't have kids....I just sigh and hope one day they get their priorities in line. Life is to short to have excuses!
Next season is packed with lots of travel and proud representation of the US Military Endurance Sports team and our sponsors. I'll be cruising on a new Scott TT Bike, staying warm yet flexible in my Xterra Wetsuits, hydrating with OSMO in my bottles, keeping my noggin safe using Rudy Project helmets, wearing some great Primal kits, rolling on American Classic wheels and precisely monitoring power and selecting gear ratios on SRAM hardware! I'm pretty much spoiled! Given this opportunity, I plan to race with a fury I've not yet experienced. This new year is sure to throw some curves and require deviation from the plan but shoot, I'll remain resilient. I'll be like an amoeba, just mold me into a new shape whenever you want! So for now, thanks for all of the support and continue to CHASE your dreams!!
So, starting this jam-packed blog off with a bang should be easy since I've got some truly remarkable news. I'm joining forces with Jon Noland and Tribal Multi-sport. You might be asking, what the heck does that mean? It means Jon and I are going to blend our training philosophies to create super-mega athletes. Okay, that might be a little extreme but just know, we're kind of a big deal. The overall goal is to add value to each athletes experience. You can check our mission statement and program at Tribalmulti-sport.com. Officially, the website will be 100% operational 1 January but I wanted to give those who read my blog a sneak peek. I couldn't be more excited to be accepted into this stellar network of athletes. Training on my own all the time has been dull and I definitely benefit from having a positive energy around me! Super Pumped!
Holiday Weight Gain? Don't stress!
I'm not sure how everyone tackles the holiday season in relation to food and drink but I'll give you a glimpse of a stress free method I currently practice. As a striving top-level athlete, I'm continuously thinking of performance and if you ask me, nutrition is most definitely linked into my plan. It's probably a "Top 3" priority. That being said, I don't have any races for awhile and this is the time of year to accept a few healthy pounds. My goal was to finally get to 160 lbs by December, which I managed to do in a very healthy manner. I think it took be about 5 months to lose the 3 or 4 pounds I had set my sights on. Now that I've reached my goal, it'll be easy to get back there once the training volume increases. Since then, I've been allowing more sweets and treats into my diet, never stressing about a moment of indulgence. Despite the previous statement, don't for a second think that I've been lowering the level of "quality" food I eat. If I decide to eat something a little on the sweeter side, I'll bake or make it myself. That way I can closely monitor every quality ingredient I enjoy, knowing that the bar is still set high. To be blunt, you wouldn't catch me with a store bought pie, snickers or fatty fudge sundae. I LOVE FOOD but I also know that everything adds up and being "mindful" now will, will pay off later. If I feel like eating more sweets, why wouldn't I keep the quality high? Why wouldn't I want to be involved in it's creation? Why settle for garbage ingredients you can't even pronounce? My point is this, be passionate about your food and it doesn't matter if you eat meat, diary, gluten, soy or wood chips...set a high standard for what you'll allow into your body. Remember you're a finely tuned machine and you need high octane fuel!! Enjoy the off-season, gain a few pounds and spend time with those who have been neglected due to high training volume :)
Tri Key West Race Report
First off, you cannot beat the weather. While the rest of the U.S was hitting some cold weather, we had the pleasure of some tropical vibes and limited clothing! The long drive was well worth it, especially since I was able to make the journey with a fellow athlete, Brett Hendricks!
This race is a little late in the season to really "care" about but it's always fun to do it. Since the past month or so has been super relaxed, I wanted to hit the race with cruise control set to "moderate". With that in mind, I'll briefly take you through where I was mentally and what went into the race prep.
- Prep- We arrived mid-day, ate some awesome squash, enjoy the beautiful view and enjoyed the full belly (a little too full) of treats. Breakfast was at 4:30am and consisted of a banana and almond butter, followed by some coffee blended with avocado, ghee and coconut oil (for real). I always get in my breakfast AT LEAST 2 hours prior to "go time". This race actually had a "Pro/Elite" field and I was pretty pumped to see a few names I recognized from last year! The competition would still be there and I was pumped to see how I would perform on limited preparation.
- Swim- Well, this is where I first noticed I was lacking comfort at "race pace". I quickly slacked off into a pace I could maintain without totally de-railing. I ended up 3rd out of the water with a high 22 min time. Not stellar by any means, but good enough for the day. The warm water and awesome sunrise set a perfect stage.
- Bike- I've accepted that when I race this course, my chances of death increase 20 to 30%. With tight corners, two way traffic, police marshaling cars in front of you and sudden course changes....you have to really be on your toes. I was a little slower than last year but was still happy to ride down the 1st place swimmer (from Aruba). We entered T2 like a couple of buddies and he quickly applied some speed to which I mentally replied "PSH.......whatever". With a jovial attitude, I pressed forward, sweating like one of those Corona bottles in a beach commercial.
-Run- So 1st place dude from Aruba pretty much went out too fast and blew up by mile 3 (Mentally I thought, "AHA"), which meant my effort was enough to pass and hold him off. I quickly accepted a top 2 position when I was run down by the stud behind me...but then he also blew up with 2 miles left. I thought, well I might as well see what I have left, taking full advantage of his misfortune. At the end of the day, it all worked out and I was able to walk away with nice win. A steady pace won the race!
All in all, I couldn't be more proud to have been part of this event. It's not because I won but because 2 of my athletes raced along with me. Brett Hendricks, despite coming off a hip injury, smashed his AG and took the win in the Sprint. Lannie Marsh, taking on her first Olympic Triathlon, took 3rd to some very fast women in her AG. I have to say, watching these two succeed and having been part of their journey was incredible and solidifies why I love being a coach. For the love of sport and the company of extraordinary people, I'll continue to thrive with this lifestyle!
BOOYAH! Another race under my belt! This means more knowledge and a better understanding of my abilities as I head into Olympic Distance Worlds in London! I decided I would give a little more detailed race "wrap-up" since I tend to learn a lot from others experiences....but it'll still be pretty short:
1- DIET- I've been on the "Paleo" or "Wild" eating plan for several months now, transitioning my fuel sources. To keep it simple, I pretty much decided that processed foods aren't really "food". With precise planning and a powerful understanding of ingredients/nutrients, I get WAY more bang for my buck using veggies as carbs (when needed). It's hard for most to understand since the sandwich, pasta and dairy "mindset" is engrained in us since birth. Anyway, I'm not here to sway you, just know that I've NEVER had issues with GI distress or "bonking" while racing/training.
2 -Morning/Swim Leg- NOTE: MAKE SURE you book your hotel the day you sign up for your race. If you don't, you're pretty much saying "sure, I'd love to stay at the hotel that everyone avoids because it smells of urine and is most likely 40 minutes away from the race". SURE, you'll have a good attitude about it and think "all the explicitly negative reviews on Yelp can't be true, right?" HOWEVER they WILL be and you'll soon be layering up in your own clothing, with hopes of preventing any part of your skin from touching the sheets, carpet or even the drapes. Anyway, the swim was one of my favorites. Water temp, 67 degrees and the course was in a straight line, parallel to the beach. BOOM, the cannon goes off and before you know it (13 Buoys later) you're scrambling to your feet like a drunk baby. It felt great since I stuck to a "conservative" approach and came in with the faster age groupers (didn't try to blow anyone away). Being the last wave wasn't very fun though, had to dip/duck/dive/dodge lots of floating mammals with flailing limbs.
3 -Bike Leg- Wow, one of my best times yet! I think it was around a 26mph average, boosting me into the top of my age group. My Felt DA and I were a rocket, taking advantage of every roller available. Looking back at the data, I was able to lower the heart rate and RPE in order to conserve some energy on the run. I managed to demolish about 3 Stinger gels (Ginsting) and a Stinger waffle, while downing 1.5 bottles of NUUN (Cherry Limeade). Aside from getting a great workout, my vocal chords were definitely strained from very politely asking other to share the road (aka yelling ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!!).
4 -Run Leg- As usual, this is the most humbling aspect of my race and it definitely demands respect. I had a solid plan though, which prevented some turmoil. I wish I'd ridden the course though, there were 2 very steep hills I hadn't expected. A 6 mile steady state run, 3 mile tempo, finishing with descending miles at the end=Running Gam Plan. Sadly, the descending part wasn't really happening on the average min/mile part but my RPE definitely went up....along with heart rate. It's pretty standard though, as the race goes on...you'll work harder and harder to maintain the same pace. Regardless, I'm fully aware I'll be developing the run over the next 6 months. BETTER TIMES ARE AHEAD which means....Pro status.
All in all, I broke 4 hours 20 minutes, a marker I'd been hoping to meet this season. I really loved this race and thought it was a great change in scenery/weather. MOST of all my Mom and Dad were there to cheer me on and High Five me as I finished. I couldn't have asked for better support as I'm totally aware my needs are often demanding and a pain.
Family time=Time well spent (cooking/eating)
What aspect of life is most important with what I do? Recovery! Which means repairing damaged tissues with proper micro nutrients. I've gotten my hands on some great recipes over the past months but haven't had the time to cook them or prepare them for anyone who would enjoy. Luckily, my parents are always munch on what I prepare and are obligated to like it. I finally made a frittata, which will be a staple for my weekly meal planning from here on out. It's so easy, always available and will definitely last a few days in the fridge. After some trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joes, we made some other treats as well.
- Dark Chocolate Paleo Brownies
- Blueberry upside-down cake
- Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with sweet potatoes apples and onion
- Grass Fed Beef burgers stuffed with Avocado
So the desserts were mostly because I NEVER make them at home AND since I wasn't home (in MI) for my birthday, it was a nice way to enjoy some moderately healthy treats. At the end of the day, the ingredient list is short and simple and I will always give kudos to those who indulge in their own, homemade desserts. It definitely eliminates a ridiculous amount of unecessary ingredients. Seriously, why does Yellow dye #5 need to even occur in the world??
I'm completely ready and excited for the end of the season and to continue my learning and experience. Finally, I'm currently working with some very talented and inspiring athletes and I'm lucky enough to be called their "coach". This is the first time I've really talked about this on my Blog but I have to say, being a coach is truly rewarding and on a small scale, I feel like they are my kids....growing, learning and always challenging themselves. Kinda Cheesy, but it really makes me happy. How Happy? Happier than Elmo at a tickle convention.