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...
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.