Well, after an absolutely unforgettable birthday week, reality had to set in. Actually, before I start talking about the Georgia Grand Prix, it's incredibly important I talk about the importance of good people. GOOD PEOPLE surprise you and never let you experience something important on your own. I may not have the biggest group of close friends but I truly appreciate the athletes/friends who constantly support my cause...(which is totally selfish and self-indulgent). Athletes would agree with me, the demands of training take their toll on the social life. With early bed times, lazy movie recovery days, constant eating and habitual soreness.....there isn't too much room for tons of fun. I've always noticed, the harder I work during the week, the more I hate stairs. Literally, if the remote control was upstairs and I was already in "Recovery" mode, parked on the couch. I would be sitting in silence, smelling my own farts
- Surprise Gathering of Important People
- 27 X 400 on the track
- 127 mile bike in San Antonio
- 2.7 Mile Swim
- Paleo Cake....which was immediately destroyed by all.
To start this off right, imagine 6 bike races...in 5 days (obviously nothing compared to what the Pro's do)! A fellow athlete and I (the famous Nicholas Sterghos) embarked on this journey with a little red TDI Jetta, loaded with hopes and dreams (4 bikes, a year supply of race nutrition, smelly shoes and nasty burps/farts...oh and a grill). NOTE: NEW FAVORITE CLEAN BURNING BAR The journey took us about 7 hours since we had to pee every 3 minutes and hunt down delicious Paleo/Vegetarian friendly foods. I'd like to go on the record and say "Atlanta Bread" may sell themselves as a competitor to "Panera Bread" but DO NOT be fooled. If you think you're going to be left with a delicious meal which is designed to your liking, introduce those expectations to the GROUND! Either way once we arrived, we were able to race on some incredible, technical courses that had some great rollers. There was typically a plan on each day...make everyone hurt and try to finish in the top 5%. This was totally going to happen, except I crashed on the last 2 days, pushing me out of the top 5 GC standings. However, I will say that despite drivetrain malfunctioning on the TT, I still blew away the CAT 4/5 field (so I pretty much dominated the lowest category of riders...no big deal). None the less, we recovered VERY well with fresh veggies and visits to Athens GA for swim and run sessions.
For now...I'll be dealing with the ups and downs of taper week as 70.3 Steel Head approaches. Typically, the worst I feel the better I race. Right about now I'm feeling like a dry white turd. In 2 days time, I'll be ready to unleash the Crackin on these Michiganders! I have to go build my bike though, which means the next time you'll hear from me is POST RACE!
Before I go, I'd like to highlight an athlete I am currently coaching towards Triathlon domination; Captain Hila Levy. Next time you think you've done some "stuff" in your life...read this story, then quietly head back to college to learn 14 languages, 5 Masters Degrees.... and get on HER level! READ HER STORY HERE
Before I get to all the exciting race information, I've got to start off by mentioning how easy it is to maintain a garden. Obviously, it's not completely sustainable unless you've really got a good system going on BUT it's pretty rewarding when you get some goodies. Not only do you get the reward of eating your own creation, you get to play with chicken crap! I mean who isn't pumped up about some hearty chicken poop for fertilizer? Anyway, I definitely have a lot to learn, mostly when it comes to proper veggie spacing. Plus there is a fiendish cat that consistently paws around, tearing up my beets. I can't take full credit though, I have some cool friends helping me water the crops and keeping the bugs away. So onward to better things!
The past 4 weeks of racing have been full of emotion, laughs, large bowel movements and sleepless nights. For St. Anthony's Triathlon I hosted some great friends for the race. I'll have to remember to stock up on toilet paper before I have a lot of triathletes around....dead serious. So anyway,race week was pretty typical, light training and an attempt at a "taper week". Taper week is quite telling and often hard to nail down, plus it's hard to break routine. Since I'm so used to working out at a certain volume and intensity, it's hard to throttle back BUT it is very important to "Chill Dude". Not only for the physical side but for the mental aspect as well. It's smart to remember the hard training days where your legs feel like tenderized meat and reflect on the hard work you've put in. My favorite aspect of training is recovery! It typically allows for some delicious meals and some nice couch time. It's a legitimate reason to be a little lazy. My race at St Anthony's wasn't the best representation of my fitness or capabilities, yet I managed to thoroughly enjoy the event. As far as talent goes, this race is a magnet for the best athletes in the US. If this race were made of red meat, it would be a very tender and succulent filet mignon OR if you're a veggie lover....it's a Simons black bean burger (the best I've ever had). All nonsense aside, this event delivers a piece of humble pie....topped with "you need to get faster" whipped cream. I'm waiting to have a stellar race and I think it's going to come down to a little different approach mentally. Being injury free would totally help too. The pictures tell a decent story. Great people, positive energy and most importantly everyone, including me, ended up doing better than they had in previous years. What else could anyone want? Despite a shortened swim, the overall weather turned out perfect! I ALSO managed to score a brand new Aero Helmet for free from Louis Garneau...they deserve some love for that one. Also, had a GREAT time with the St Pete Mad Dogs on the Wednesday prior to the big race.
The following weekend, another of my favorite events was held; The Florida International Triathlon. Typically it's two weeks after St. Anthony's, however this year it fell on following weekend. This wasn't really the coolest decision I've made, since the week also included a Time Trial and some NEEDED intervals on the Alter-G Treadmill. Needless to say, If I was a piece of toast, I would be burnt. I'd also like to add that I felt like 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag. Even if the decision wasn't too hot, I wanted to come check out the new venue and wear the #1 I had earned from a victory last year. Two other races decided 5 May was a good day for a race too...so this once popular event took a bit of a hit. None the less, a wonderful training day and FINALLY a relaxing weekend! My friend Jesse invited a bunch of our friends to a beach condo in Siesta Key Village. While everyone was out partying their faces off, we enjoyed the view but not the a-typical colder weather. All I wanted was to crush the swim, do whatever I could on the bike and possibly not suck on the run. In the end I accomplished my goals and despite my energy being zapped, I was able to win. This event should grow once again considering it's a one of the BEST venues for triathlon. Nathan Benderson Park will be a premier Olympic rowing facility and bids are already in for more ITU races. It's a very "fast" location with perfect amenities for fans. So now it's finally time to wind down for 1/2 a day and then get amped for Armed Forces National Championship in June. It's time to rid myself of injury and become yet again.....a fast freaking runner! The new diet will consist of bullion cubes and water, this will expedite "race weight". Oh and by the way, the new Giro air attack is pretty cool...don't hate.
I'm finally able to sit on my butt and relax at my local coffee shop. It's going to feel pretty good to reflect on this past week of EPIC-NESS. The memories will always be there, along with the scars (i'll explain later). Before I get into all the San Juan 70.3 stuff, I REALLY need to knock out a few "shout outs". First off, these past few months have been very difficult, specifically when it comes to running (or lack of running). I'd like to thank my coach Hank Campbell for really keeping me positive during the recovery process. Not being able to run with intensity, slowly feeling the endurance and speed slip away, has been lame. To be honest, it's been ULTRA lame....ANYWAY, all of my friends have been extremely supportive, helping me keep my head on straight. Scott Rubin's Active Release Technique has aided lower leg strength/recovery, Jessica Glover @ Jett City Espresso has been fueling me with perfectly balanced salads/scones for lunch and obviously my sponsors have kept my training affordable. A huge whopping shout out to Flying Fish Bikes in Tampa, Nuun Hydration, Maui Jim, Felt bicycles, Picky Bars and Protandim! Everyone I know provides me with strength. Every single ounce of support is appreciated and it's all I think about while I'm in the "Pain Cave".
The always exciting "Race Recap"
I'll keep this short and sweet:
Swim like a fish: I swam medium/hard, worked on "saving the legs" but in the future, I'll kick more and look for more speed. Also, I hope I can get involved with a fast pack of swimmers next time, it makes the difference. It's the key to a fast swim, just watch the Pro's. Water temperature was perfect, with a heavy opposing current at the end.
Bike: The first 20 miles left my back a little tight so I decided a break was needed... I crashed. DON'T worry, I broke the fall of my bike, so it's safe:) A sharp 180 + slick painted line + too much speed = Oil Slick. Step #1 after the crash, stop the Garmin...Step #2...fix the wheels/chain...Step #3, continue to kick butt (don't forget to start the watch). After the quick relaxing break on the side of the road, I felt even better...no more tight back! All in all, the course was well designed/marked/supported, with only 2 major groups of obvious drafting. Headed back into town I hit some heavy rain and I noticed there was an unwanted cheater on my wheel. I quickly went into "drop this a-hole" mode. That included some solid acceleration and random zig zags (and flipping the bird), leaving that cheater behind. I would also like to add that O'Donnel and Rinny also crashed...so I feel honored to crash on the same course:)
The Run/Jog: So it already was known...it would be a slow run. Which is exactly what it turned into. The steep inclines did a number on me, however the aid stations were AWESOME! The kids were totally on point with ice/water/coke/tequila (kidding) and a great attitude. Hardest half marathon I've ran and WILL be back to conquer it next year. I'm gonna hide a razor scooter on the run course though (shhh). This was the first race I've ever required assistance at the finish line. I was carried directly to the ice bath, the best feeling ever! Pretty sure I scared the Poo out of Jesse.
At the end of the day, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING compares to the feeling of a "finish". It's completely emotional, no matter how many times I've done it. Even if it's not a stellar race, the sense of finishing keeps me EVER motivated. Learn from every race and appreciate the hard work, motivation and support you've utilized to get there.
The entire "build" to this race has been very busy and the best learning experience. I've been working with some very talented, positive athletes and am very grateful I can help others achieve their goals. Finally....a HUGE thanks to Jess Bono. She came along as my support crew. Literally, she worked with the intensity and care of 10 people. From amazing food, tons of walking, telling me I'm "Awesome" (all the time)...even though I get a little snappy, she definitely kept me level:) We also were lucky enough to meet up with some very talented Team RWB athletes. We were hosted twice for dinner for a home cooked meal and great company. Thank you to Hila Levy and here family for having us.
A big season is on the horizon and I can't wait to meet or exceed my own expectations! Oh by the way, if you ever go to Puerto Rico...be prepared to wait awhile for your food. It's delicious but I suppose you can't rush a good thing??? Right? Oh Also, I did manage to qualify for 70.3 World Championship, but sadly cannot compete due to a Age Group Worlds in London :( Bummer...
It's been a SUPER few weeks! As you can see, it's been SO super, Captain has been running around in a cape. His #1 fan made it for him (Thanks Jesse). With his cape, he's been creating even more havoc. Eating Lavash bread off the counter, digging out Honey Stinger Waffles from my training bag and generally ruining all things that are good:) At the end of the day, he's still a way faster runner than I'll be so....Touche big guy!
This week has been a mixed bag of emotions, like a trail mix full of salty nuts, delicious dark chocolate covered blueberries and tart dried cherries. First off, I would like to highlight that I LOVE where I live and totally appreciate the amazing atmosphere I am allowed to train in. I just returned from a TDY to Holloman AFB in New Mexico. Needless to say, a total 180 as far as surroundings are concerned. I'll highlight a few things that were really NOT my cup of tea:
- Zero green trees, plants or ANYTHING remotely resembling a "happy vibe"
- No water access (except a pool, which was closed due a toddlers diaper exploding)
- Alamangordo, NM is a fast food/processed food MECA....no Bueno
- Very cold with 45+mph wind, mixed with lots of dust=Poop
- Ate at Chilis since ALL mexican food was rated Sub-par...and totally was.
Ok, so let's flip the page and point out some things I enjoyed:
- Mountain range, elevation @10,000
- Hotel was 1 minute walk from the gym w/ indoor pool (Great facility)
- The Base was very well designed and looked brand new
- Climbed some very tall towers and enjoyed the view...
- Closest I've ever been to Mexico
I would also like to highlight that my flight was delayed 5 hours, which means we got in at 1am. My ride home forgot where he parked in the "long term" lot, which meant walking around aimlessly like an infant sucking his thumb, making subtle disgruntled comments. An hour later I arrived at home and realized my house sitter totally locked me out...so after waiting in the cold for 30 minutes, I finally got into bed . Totally had to push through the rough spots and YES it could have been wor
Wait...it's time to race? Crap, it's a 70.3!! :)
I feel like I signed up for this race a few days ago...time has literally evaporated. I really would like to be 100% for this race in Puerto Rico but a Ragnar Relay induced injury has been holding me back. Luckily, I completed an MRI yesterday....so after a month and a half of light running, I'll finally know if the damage is REALLY bad or just kinda bad. At the end of the day I'm truly happy to race, especially since I get to represent so many great people, who in turn support me:) Without the United States Air Force, I wouldn't be able to live this life. Without a doubt, I'm grateful my leadership and colleagues are cool with me being a "full time" athlete. Be sure to check out my "sponsors" page, as they make my life so much easier and cut a lot of my training/racing cost. 70.3 San Juan will start my season, which means that if the run is too painful, I'll have to proudly step out in order to not jeopardize my entire season. Either way, my swim and bike should be solid. At the end, tequila and good company will make this trip one of the many unforgettable experiences I'm sure to encounter this season. Stay tuned for the report in a week or so!
Delicious, Nutritious, Home Made Stuff
I made some nice little recovery/pre-training treats. Inspired by so many who have already done so...I thought, OF COURSE I can make a delicious RAW treat too.
- Almonds/Brazil Nuts
- Coconut oil/Shredded Coconut
- Maca Power/Almond Flour
- Vermont Maple Syrup
- Ginger/Carob Chips/Cocoa Powder
As always, a homemade pizza fills the belly and ALWAYS makes life better. The best part that I would like to highlight is the FRESH made roasted tomato, red pepper, garlic and basil pizza sauce. Additionally, I went with some home made Gluten Free pizza crust. At the end of the day, you can't hate on pizza. Especially one with the best ingredients. It's pretty cool to make something totally from raw ingredients. Love the good eats!!
Finally, a nice veggie stir fry with some Bison cube steak and cold Farro. This is a great meal with a perfect carb/protein ratio. I'll make it a definite point to have veggies with EVERY meal. I've found that at least 2 servings of lean protein ( the size of my palm) have been adequate, even during heavy weeks. Whatever your nutritional needs and preferences are, there are always a few staples to remember. More colorful veggies and fruit = Good. Lean meats, grass-fed, zero growth hormones=Awesome. Earn your carbs! Limiting them to pre/during/post exercise. Of course you can find that information anywhere and hear it OVER and OVER again...but you MUST follow a plan! At the end of the day....Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail!!!
This past week was built and designed with one thing in mind....TITS (Time In The Saddle). I know for a moment you "non-cyclist" were like, "Whoa, a week dedicated to TITS sounds awesome". Think again! My first experience with the US Military Cycling Team has come to an end, however the epic adventure will NEVER be forgotten. The LARGE amount of planning and logistics involved was seamlessly managed by some top notch guys. Thank you to everyone who enabled us to focus on 100+ mile rides, race tactics, time trials and regimented recovery. With a focus on safety, quality workouts and team building, I'm set up for a successful race season! Some highlights:
- Multiple Century rides with out any saddle complications (458 total miles, 6 days)
- Epic 20 mile TT on the Suncoast Trail (4th Overall)
- Racing tactic advice and group training with Jeb Stewart
- Finally running off the bike for a few miles (without 100% pain)
- Proven results with Protandim, feeling fresh the ENTIRE time (2X a day for camp)!
- FIRST EVER ROAD RACE!! Great experience!
- Meeting/riding with the best cyclists in the US Military!
The whole event wouldn't have been possible without tons of support. This is a non-military funded team and requires a lot of sponsorship dollars to operate at the professional level! PLEASE, help the cause. The team supports many wounded veterans who would otherwise be blind to the benefits this team offers. For Military athletes, it's incredibly hard to compete at the professional level (since we also have a full time job and have to deploy) THANK YOU to the amazing sponsors who give so much! Check out the following brands in the picture below, show them some love!
And then.....There was recovery...and food
Recovery is still an ongoing process, waking daily with a stiff shin/calf. I truly believe attitude is everything though. You MUST find a way to stay positive and push through any negative aspects, otherwise you'll be spinning your wheels. I have to remind myself "Dude, you've got two good legs, swim and bike until your face falls off". I suppose that's the beauty of training in three disciplines. I've shown much improvement with weekly massage and visits to Dr. Rubin. Acupuncture, Cold Helium laser, Active Release Therapy and good old fashioned REST has been my prescription. ANYWAY, enough whining right? It's time to talk about the most important part of recovery...FOOD! It's what keeps me going and my second passion in life.
Hard training requires delicious, wholesome recovery food. A solid balance of carbs, protein and fat is all we are really looking for here. Basically, those who know me well will say it's rare to find me without food in hand. Focus on the foods, not the nutrients. If you consume a lot of green or brightly colored veggies, prepared without all the heavy oils/butters, don't even start to feel bad about eating often. Keep your diet simple and know your body but also shop smart. Convenience is the enemy in this country. Take the time and make yourself something wholesome. Eat better, feel better, look better! E-mail me if you want to know specific nutritional advice since I'm certified in sports nutrition (indeed, I just gave myself a high five).
With the race season right around the corner, I'm super stoked about the fitness gains that are ahead. There are a few local athletes to compete with this year and Damn, they are getting even faster. I'm constantly looking to represent positive, athlete minded organizations and would LOVE suggestions. Also, if I can help you achieve your goals as a coach or a just a good friend, let me know...and support your local shops!
If you're looking for a new, non pharmacudical to improve the state of your life, I'd love to share:)
I'm positive, NrF2, Oxidative Stress and Protandim will be in your daily vocabulary future.
This picture says it all. I shed a tear every time I think "a small child has seen Hank Campbell in a speedo". However ridiculous we may look, I assure you we took this more serious any anyone in the history of Ragnar Key West. Not only did we WIN the "fun run", we came in over 2 hours ahead of the next 12 man team. That's right, over the course of 197 miles we literally ran past over 6 thousand people (probably) and it ONLY took us 22 hours and some change. This year we incorporated 1 full time driver and 1 full research team from Barry University. We were turned into sweaty, butt fungus, smelly armpit test subjects. This year was much warmer and the humidity was stifling. I think the only thing we really needed to bring more of was dry towels. Around 3 am, we'd all been through 2 or 3 legs of hard running, that's when the reality set in. Someone may literally die (probably Owen, but hopefully Gus). The highs and lows throughout the race will forever be remembered. From being lethargic, to feeling like a king (5 hour energy) we certainly had to rally our "man goods" to finish this race on a high note. I'd like to highlight that this years race lacked severe IBS (squatting in random grassy areas), a van that smelled of dead people (6 runners in a minivan), air humping and near death experiences. Having two vans and "dedicated" drivers, made the trip 100% better. There was however, lots of blood. Our trustee scientist from South Africa took over 30 blood samples from each runner over the course of the trip.
To sum up Ragnar Relay, Key West, I'd like to say that despite us not really "winning" anything spectacular, the memories and true BROner love will always make me want to do it again. I had to remind everyone on the team that "Winning at this race, isn't really that cool". However true that may be, it's important to me that we smashed everyone else and seriously pushed hard to finish at the top. I'm more than proud to have raced with such a great group! I think it also goes without saying that the after party and awards ceremony brought out all the important people from Tampa who support us! My friends are such a great support group and really gave the Broners some great love! Thank you!!
other stuff that's important to read about....
If you've never met me, you should know that I LOVE making homemade pizza and taking pictures before I eat it. Not sure why the pictures are important, but I like to look back at them from time to time and smile at that delicious pie. I' made a great new pizza with an avocado base, roasted veggies and salsa, topped with an egg. Quite a delicious mexican pizza!
SOOOOO it's back to reality. December, brought some seriously amazing memories, lots of beer, delicious meals with great people and about 5 pounds of belly fat (which I already lost). It's time to plan out the next few months, which are sure to be tremendous. My Mom and Dad are visiting, I have a Half Marathon, Half Ironman in Puerto Rico, cycling camp and many many many miles ahead....(hopefully I am able to run again soon)
Not being able to run has given me the *spark* again. I was super bummed to miss the Turkey Trot but I've spent over 200 miles this week on the bike trying to stay active. Watching everyone else run has been revealing and torturing but also inspiring. Once I get back to it I'll put some more "love" into my morning run. It's nothing short of beautiful when the entire town I live in is full of runners/cyclists every single morning. Sadly, I've spent more time in my bib shorts and less time in my Knivara 3's. Literally, I think I cleaned the house yesterday wearing ONLY bib shorts.
After a deliciously flavorful week, it's time to get back to normal! This means tons of veggies, wholesome carbs and a balanced amount of protein (lots of homemade pizza). Speaking of back to normal, my knee is definitely not there yet. I'm going to try some natural antioxidant supplements to see if I can prevent further damage and heal a little faster (more to come on that). Anyhow, I'll be ending the week with a breakfast, dinner...Sweet Potato Pancakes!? Also, I think a 5k swim/aqua jog session will be good enough to end on a high note for the weekend. Everyone else got to enjoy a long run in the trails while I ate enjoyed my coffee and scone!