It all starts with an abrupt comment, made by a small man as he exited my local coffee shop (Banyan Cafe). While I was enjoying my early am. almond milk latte, this little guy sat next to me...silent. I asked him a couple of questions about Tonka trucks and Ninja Turtles (typical man stuff). Oddly, he didn't answer any of my questions, he just starred at me in my military uniform. 10 minutes pass and the little lad and his Dad are on their way out. I'm pretty sure he took 5 to 6 steps, did a 180, ran back inside and screamed a phrase that changed my life (or at least my week). He stomped in, paused for 3 seconds and screamed "You look like a tree"! That seemingly insignificant moment reminded me how FUN it was to be a carefree, nose picking 6 year old. EVEN though I still occasionally pick my nose, I kinda wished I was a kid again, filled with blind courage. Soo really, the "take away" from this moment leads me into something I contemplated on my 5 hour drive home from Panama City. No matter what, focus on where you've been and LOVE what you do. Keeping it simple and innocent makes a big difference.
The main reason I wanted to travel to this race was so I could support a close friend as he tackled his first triathlon as "Race Director". I don't usually try and fill 4 weekends in a row with races, but I thought I would give it a shot. Sprint triathlons are intense enough, however there is usually a 2 hour post workout involved. I suppose the real test will be in 2 weeks, once I've competed in two highly competitive Olympic distance races. So here is the White Sands Triathlon low down.
It was so awesome to travel to Panama City stopping at awesome vegan/organic restaurants and cafes along the way. I stopped at this place called Sweet Pea Cafe, a totally raw/delicious experience. Small venue, walls lined with ingredients, menu written in chalk and EVERYTHING is homemade right in front of you. Moving on, the food was awesome during the whole trip...Mellow Mushroom Pizza, a farmers market falafel wrap and fresh caught blackened fish at a neighbors!
This race is very "up and coming" and is definitely the #1 sprint on the Emerald Coast. Since this event is under New Management, I see it growing larger and larger every year. Sharing the course with Gulfcoast Triathlon and Ironman Florida, this race has a lot of history behind it and is obviously a great venue! Smaller, locally organized and sponsored races really bring a great feeling. Local races that don't treat athletes like dollar signs really keep this sport alive. The Swim came with crystal clear water, calm rolling waves and the water temp was perfect. An unseasonal cold front rolled in the night prior but actually led to perfect conditions. The Bike course was well marked, safe and was rather fast! Despite the wind and being blown around a bit, it was perfect. The Run was a simple out and back, well supported and flat. Honestly, it was everything you could expect from a first class event.
Alright, it's obvious from that large smile on my face, I had a blast and I will be soliciting many of you to join me next year!
Back to my general thought about racing and getting back to our "roots". I had a lot of thinking time today, which means my mind was content listening to static on the radio while my mind was jumping around through hundreds of random thoughts. I LOVE competition, but I think being too focused on the numbers, results and overall place can be taken a little overboard. Triathlon is a way of life, not just something we do. We aren't just a "brand" or an advertisement and it's easy to forget that. We race for our own reasons, each story taking a unique twist. Essentially, I heard a really awesome interview with Macca today, it reminded me that even the top pros take a step back to appreciate the sport, it's heritage and how fulfilling it can be to race with your heart. It all makes sense when I heard a guy crashed at Kona, broke his bike, picked it up and carried it the last 20 miles so he could "Finish" the race. IF that doesn't freaking rock, I don't know what does.
It often takes something small to remind us that we are taking life a little too seriously (kids are a great example). It doesn't mean we have to severely change anything but it's nice to stop and appreciate what we have, remembering we can truly accomplish anything if we focus enough time and energy. So I hope for a great race this next weekend at St. Anthony's and at future races as well, but I truly believe I'll get better and better just by loving what I do and surrounding myself with others who feel the same way:) I'm grateful for all of the support and great friends I've met thus far.
P.S....Still need to check out Tom Cruise in Oblivion. I hear it's amazing.
After the non-existent "off season", it's time again to slim down. Ritually analyzing and planning meals is a daily routine. Unfortunately, the mind tends to wander into the danger zone more often then not. Is watching the food network or travel channel a good idea (Cupcake wars/Man V Food)? Probably not but food is probably passion #2 on my list of priorities. Anyone who spends any significant time with me will probably notice my slight food addiction and would probably enjoy telling me to "shut it" on many occasions. Ideally, losing 5 pounds would be totally awesome, however my body seems very comfortable at 170. In fact, I'd have to agree with anyone who says I'm definitely worst than a woman when it comes to weight and image. Even with the large amount of research and knowledge I've gained over the past few years, it's still hard to make a solid choice. Should I eat for purpose or for pleasure? For now, the best way to go about it is to SIMPLIFY and eat for purpose. Once a week, I'll throw some delicious, damaging creations into my body. Current favorite meals consist of:
- Roasted root vegetables and Blackened Salmon on a bed of mixed greens
- Home Made Veggie/quinoa burgers, topped with a fried egg and a side of baked sweet potato chips
- Blackened Cod Fish tacos in a red cabbage wrap
- Slow roasted chicken in fresh salsa, corn tortilla, cilantro lime farro
Since I'm still on the subject of food, I recently started a home vegetable garden. I mean, why not? Let's add another aspect responsibility to my life, right? I'd really like to not kill these plants so I've been doing a lot of research. So far they are green...which is a good start right? In a week or so I'll be up and running with fresh beans, kale, eggplant, radish, beets, lettuce, bok choy and collards. Odds are I'll be building an additional garden next year (if I don't totally suck at this). I ALMOST got carried away with my urban food endeavors. My over-zealous self thought, "why don't I get some chickens and have fresh eggs, ALL THE TIME"? The reality is, I'll just find someone who is already taking on that task...and support them with money.
The desire for perfect training and nutrition is very demanding but when it's dialed in properly, it can be VERY rewarding! I'll let you know if I ever get there:)
Why do I do this again?? Oh wait...because it's awesome!
As I battle my way through injury, it's evident that my body is still adapting to all of the stress and new repetitive motions. Whether it's a sore knee, irritated rotator cuff or tight soleus, it all adds up. More importantly, my body is telling me "something needs to change". I'd like to think I'm indestructible but I've been totally humbled on a weekly basis. Some do it for fun, others for a light challenge but a few train to get better and better and even then it's never enough. People like me need a heavy handed coach, pulling back the reigns just enough to keep me from falling apart, riding the fine line of over-training and forward progression. This is why I'm currently taking today off, increasing average sleep time to 9 hours AND actually tapering for a month of racing (a round of applause for me). As my key races approach, I'm hoping to still have some pep in my step when it comes to running. I'm sure there will be some disappointing areas, but hell...there is always another race and I would rather rest now and continue to do what I love for a long time. Honestly, this lifestyle is truly amazing. Normal tasks at work seem null when you have a 3 hour workout in the evening. We ALL have addictions and I'm totally content knowing mine are Racing/Training/Coaching and Nutrition! Thanks again for reading, I'm still working on not sounding like a total dork:)
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.
True story, it's been awhile since I've had the opportunity to write an update! It's been heavy on my mind though, so although I'm super tired and would much rather sleep, I'll knock out this little piece of literature. The main reason I MUST complete this is because there are soo many good things ahead, some things must be relayed immediately.
I've been busy with the following:
- Post Ragnar Injury
- Personal Trainer Certification (5 others to follow)
- Small Business planning X2
- Being a Father (to my dogs)
Fun Fact: Let me start off by saying if you find yourself in a conversation and "to make a long story short" rolls off your tongue, you've already made the story too long! Moving on, there have been many changes/realizations in my life. It all started when my housemate left for Air Force basic training (3 weeks ago). Since then, things kinda got hectic. The dogs need way more attention, the house is always empty and no one plays video games with me (which rarely happens anyway) but life goes on. As far as my injury goes (medial shin splints), I've been working like mad to get healthy and lose the "freshman 15" I gained from December. Essentially, I've been riding the bike a lot (appx 575 miles in 1.5 weeks) and swimming a butt load (20000 yds weekly). A fellow Air Force Triathlon member and his cycling club came down to Clermont for a visit. We put in some great miles over 3 days. (50 Friday, 75 Saturday, 100 Sunday). Recently, I started running on the Alter G treadmill and have seen some really interesting results. Odds are that some changes to my form have added to the injury, but this treadmill allows me to run at 70% (or whatever I set it to) of my body weight. Additionally, I get weekly massages and have a Chiropractor perform some active release. Check out Dr Scott Rubin for all your Chiro needs!
My favorite way to start the day is with some good energy/Baristas and delicious coffee/baked goods. Both of the above places make my FAVORITE list because number one...Banyan has a cup with my name on it and secondly, Jessica, owner of Jett City Espresso makes the most amazing creations EVER (scones/salads/drinks). Either way, if your day isn't better from visiting these establishments, there is something VERY wrong with you! I also have to say It's always the most amazing feeling when someone picks up the tab for my coffee. It's happened 2 times this week when I've been in uniform. It means so much to me that people support what we do! (High five!)
Additionally, I picked up a GU sponsorship and Honey Stinger sponsorship. Totally amazing that these companies reach their hands out to make racing more cost effective. Flying Fish bike shop totally hooked me up with some great new cycling shoes, plus they ALWAYS make sure my cycling needs are met. They also don't ex-communicate you for having friends from other bike shops. Since I love healthy fuel for racing, I signed up as a member for Jesse Thomas's Picky Bars. The ingredients are stellar and support a very talented athletes endeavors. I suggest you sign up as a member and receive your treats every month. They are like Cliff bars but better X 100000.
All in all, I wanted to get it all the good people who support me recognized. The list is very long, there are even more...but they will all have their time to be written about. Life is so incredibly short and seemingly insignificant, however the memories and bonds we share, make life quite unique and worth taking time to appreciate. I heard somewhere that we base around 80% of our happiness on the relationships we share with others. I guess that explains why lonely people aren't really happy....DUH! Surround yourself with positive people! Also....eat good food!