After the Wednesday Kit Peak Climb, I think we were all ready for a more relaxed day. Personally, I was ready for a “real food” fueled day. The OSMO and Honey Stinger products certainly kept me in gear for hard days, but my body needed a small break. On that note, Nicholas Sterghos and I decided we would break in our new bikes, spend a little time away from the cycling group and take a break from hard riding (sort of). The “triathlon” program at the US Military Endurance Sports Team is still developing so time trial bikes weren’t really allowed unless you were on the elite team, plus I needed it for Sundays race. That meant we had to venture out on our own, no big deal. I definitely see a large future within this program, especially since our Triathlon Elite Team director Kathy Rakel has already started plans motion to tailor a camp for triathletes.
My new whip, the Scott Plasma Premium, rode very smooth and despite riding it only once before camp, I was definitely comfortable. Joel at Flying Fish Bikes has taken care of me for about 3 solid years now and the bike fit is always legit! It’s one of the better-looking bikes out there too, so it’s nice to ride an “eye catcher”. It’s like having a supermodel around…everyone is interested in it…and I get to say “yea, that’s mine”. We headed to a nice park with an 8 mile loop, pretty technical with fast corners. It’s definitely a rush to bank a corner at 28 mph, feeling the wheels grip, the wind blasting through the carbon. All of the road cycling has totally boosted my bike handling skills on the Tri-Bike. I TOTALLY recommend you get on a road machine and get comfortable with it. Nicholas Sterghos was also able to break in his new Scott Foil 10. Finally a bike that fits him!
Friday was the big one…a 26+ mile climb up Mt. Lemmon, a 100+ mile journey overall. This was another reason we decided to chill out on Thursday. With all the (earned) breaks, it ended up being an 8 hour day with about 5+ hours of riding. The breaks were spent eating a cookie the size of my face and two pieces of normally “illegal” pizza. The climb to the top was astonishing. It was freaking snowing up there….SOO glad I brought my warm hat, gloves and leg warmers for the descent….which lasted about an hour. So anyway, the climb definitely put a hurting on me, especially since I tried to hang with some of the Pro Cyclists. After about 12 miles, I backed it off a bit. I was later caught by a group of 3 studs so I hung in with them until about 4 miles from the top when I was able to break away. I climbed for a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes. There was an additional area on the mountain that was opened which took us to the absolute top. Totally, regrettable decision since the grade drastically increased and the temperature dropped even more. Either way, the cookie, pizza, awesome descent, stellar company and delicious lunch at LE BUZZ and the bottom totally made the day unforgettable.
Saturday was a travel day, 6+ hours to Coronado, California….a stones throw away from Mexico. The drive there was mainly dessert until we climbed over the last mountain range. Then I finally saw some green trees and the beautiful Pacific Ocean! The weather was back to being humid, breezy and …PERFECT. After the long car ride and lack of activity, I felt pretty flat, so the race “prep” was a nice wake up. I felt like 10 pounds of poo in a 5 pound bag, like a piece of burnt toast, like Frodo felt after walking up Mt Doom. I’d already completed 24.8 hours of swim, bike and run training…most note-ably I’d ridden 465+ miles. I totally expected to feel this way, so no stress. This race was the icing on the cake. If I could get through with decent result and attitude, it would be a victory. The weather was perfect, water temp a solid 64 and a light breeze filled your ears. Again, perfect. Naturally, the top end swim speed was all but gone after the first 4 strokes, so I held on for dear life…getting beat by most of my wave. The last half of the bike left me reaching for my “goal” power numbers and then the run was pretty much a “tempo” effort. A low energy level wasn’t really an issue since I fueled pretty well. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with how things went. My Team Director WON the Pro Female category so it was remarkable to be part of that event. I ended up 10th so I was glad too. I may have ALMOST been the last pro, but I didn’t get chicked or beat by an age group athlete. This race actually brought out a serious Pro field, no doubt they humbly kicked my butt!
Bonus! It was awesome to connect with the XTERRA CEO since they are our wetsuit sponsors! He informed us they have some seriously awesome wetsuits coming in the near future. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!
What do I do every time I come to California? Eat In and Out! I do have to say, I got a double double, animal style….IN A LETTUCE WRAP…BOOM. No idea why I still try to “church” up the fast food…but oh well, it was seriously tasty! I still held back a little for my next trip, opting out of the chocolate shake.
Quick Recap: This has been a huge block of training and racing, three races thus far and a training camp! It was also amazing to meet up with Samantha Morrison and Brad Williams, my hero's. It’s scary to think I have another race at the end of this month. Oceanside 70.3 is right around the corner and I completely made a rookie mistake. I didn’t really take into account that “beginner” Pro’s should stick to low key Pro races…oops! Taking a look at the start list quickly brings on the pucker factor. I suppose I could re-arrange it but the flight and home-stay are already set up. At the end of the day, it’ll be nice to be in California again and toe the line with some serious talent.
The United States Military Endurance Sports program is a must! If you are a Veteran, Active Duty, Guard or Reserve member, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by not becoming a member. Seriously, anywhere I travel I have a free place to stay, the deals are amazing and the community is tremendously uplifting and supportive. Please, please…take a look at the website, come out to a camp or see if someone in the program lives near you.
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, 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!
I don't care if you've just sweat blood racing a 5k or spent the majority of your last 12 hour IM regurgitating gels and Bonk Breakers, NOTHING feels better then finishing a race! For some of you, eating 5 pizzas may be better than finishing a race, I'm not judging. Before I start "fatting" out on some delicious food topics, let's get into my main point; we don't spend enough time appreciating the "glory". Think about it really hard. We spend hundreds of hours in preparation for one day of performance, execute our race plan and before we know it, the race is over. Sure, we all feel like celebrities on Facebook with all the "good jobs" and "congratulations", but do we really take the necessary time, giving credit to massive amounts of sacrifice it took to get across that line?
Personally, I know I don't...which leads me to think there might be others out there who also dumb down their accomplishments. Of course there have been others who have completed races before us and have even posted better results, but "glory" is relative to each person. Sometimes, it's the simple things that can give us some glory. A solid fartlek run or interval session deserves some credit too. On too many occasions I've woken up the next day, forgetting what I subjected myself to. The shower is always a good reminder since steam will irritate any sun burns or road rash. The first few steps out of bed are also a tell tail sign of hard work, screaming calfs...etc.
I know when it comes to being an athlete; each race is just another "check box" and it's probably about time I figure out what the heck to do with the finisher medals I've earned. Volunteers are so eager to hand them over as I struggle to stand up straight and catch my breath. Next thing I know, I've had my moment and I'm wondering how I'll race again in 2 to 3 weeks. This is why I've decided to make next season more about the post-race "GLORY", forcing a more jovial, laid back mindset, harnessing every amazing emotion so it lasts until the next race. Hopefully, this means I can smile even more when I'm on the podium (fingers crossed)! I'm not saying I'll change to unhealthy eating habits (like most do), but I'll spend some quality time trying to give myself some peace and enjoyment I've missed out on (more Froyo?), reflect on what it took to accomplish that goal and soak up the "GLORY". Waking up at 4:30 am, 5 days a week means an early bed time 7 days a week...Even then, it's impossible to feel caught up.
So it's almost time to hang up my tri-suit for the season. My last two races are within 90 days from now and will certainly require just a little more training. Luckily, I've avoided any further injury, meaning I was able to actually get in some decent run mileage. I actually competed in my first open half-marathon last weekend. It was the Halloween Halfathon at Ft. Desoto! A flat and windy course with some perfect weather made for a great day (Finished 1:22). Like most local running races I was still beat by a girl...(dangit), BUT I'm confident I'll eliminate future "chicked" moments very soon! I'll just need to lose 20 pounds immediately. As I roll into the end of the season, I still want to challenge myself to be the best version of "me", achieving goals, sharpening coaching fundamentals etc. The main reason I'm reflecting is to seriously learn from my experiences. Just like we need to rest and absorb fitness, the mental aspect of training needs it's time as well.
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.
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
Seriously, think about that question and apply it to your everyday life. #1 We wear clothes to protect us from the elements and/or wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. #2 We "climate control" everything because it's just way too uncomfortable for us to live in the natural environment of the world. #3 Our dear friend "gravity" turns our knees, backs and joints to shit. #4 We can't simply live off the land, we have to chemically alter food in order to consume it. THE LIST GOES ON!! Louis C.K got this thought process going and I thought I would expand on it a bit. This is just a quick reminder that we totally complicate everything, diminishing it's initial pure "goodness".....turning it to shit :)
Life is about to get hectic!
So in a few short weeks I'll be racing again. I'll either knock out an epic 4 day cycling event in Georgia OR just chill out and rest before 70.3 Steelhead. I've FINALLY gotten my (moderately) broken butt back on the track, which feels completely alien at this point. None the less, I'm getting my legs underneath me again, getting faster every day. If you've ever been injured for a sustained period, you'll know what I mean when I say...it's scary to go fast again. The main reason being...I don't want to be injured again. My Coach is keeping me focused and motivated, reminding me I can handle more than I think. I'll be back in no time! Until then, I'll be dealing with sore calfs and hips!
Want to come to train in a beautiful location with Hank Campbell and ME?? Check out our group page on Facebook if you're interested in coming out!! The focus will be knowledge, but there will be TONS of great training. All you have to do is work hard, eat and recover...we'll do the rest. There will be some educational seminars, running drills/demonstrations, open water swims, race nutrition "chats" etc. You will walk away with a GREAT understanding of your own limits and I'll definitely provide ALL of the knowledge I've gained from Pro athletes, nutritional experts and personal experience. Come on out, don't be lame!!
Check out this awesome Dinner!!
- 1 pound Grass Fed BEEF
- Salt/pepper/garlic to taste
- Crushed red pepper/Cayenne pepper
- 2 Cups caramelized onions/sautéed mushrooms
- Avocado/tomato/lemon juice
- Red Cabbage
- Sautéed Spinach
- Brussel Sprouts
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!
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.