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.
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.
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!!!
NO MORE TRIATHLON's UNTIL MARCH! Whew, now that I've gotten that off my chest, here is a Tri Key West recap!
First off, the race was just an appetizer. The real treat and victory came in the hours following the event. Honestly, there was nothing more reviving than having a morning drink and lobster Benedict with some good friends at Blue Heaven. I LIVE for "post race" high.
The event overall went off well if you consider it was in Key West (not a very organized or regulated place). That being said, there was definitely room for improvement. The Swim course buoys were spaced a little too far, leaving you quite lost if you were in the front. My major complaint was swimming under a pier and then having zero indication of where to go afterwards. The only thing that made sense was to head to shore, where 2 flags waited for you (they were practically invisible). I think it goes without saying, we're lucky it wasn't very choppy because it could have been dangerous under the pier.
The Bike course (Olympic) was actually accurate, which is very rare at a grassroots event. Unfortunately, due to poor course marking and haphazard directions by volunteers, this was the biggest disqualification list I've ever seen. Some negative highlights of the bike course were:
- Bike out/Bike in at the same location
- Sprint course 2nd lap turn around directly in front of "bike out"
- Single lane sharp corners without any seperation between between coming/going traffic
Seriously, the corners were the worst part. I would be surprised if there weren't any head on collisions due to people cutting corners.
The Run course was just lovely, with an amazing view along the cost. Yes, I said it was lovely, which seems wierd but Key West will do that to you. Oh wait...I had to run across oncoming runners in order to get to the finishing chute, which meant dodging a 6ft 5inch tall giant as he trudged out of transition. I also dodged a few bikes, not sure what they were doing there either. Thankfully I avoided the handlebar of a purple Huffy from impaling my stomach.
FINALLY the awards ceremony, in all of its glory....was ruined by MulitRace. They botched the results despite my efforts to "verify" standings prior to the ceremony. The 3rd, 4th and 5th guys were called up as 1st, 2nd and 3rd...leaving me with a "WTF" expression and disappointed attitude. We work hard to make podium, so when that seemingly insignificant moment is taken away from us, it takes a lot of the fun out of the ceremony. Plus, no one likes to have to coordinate getting their award. Multirace didn't have a reason for the mix up and with a very condescending attitude told me I should have "checked the monitors" (which I did). Either way, they treat athletes like cattle and totally do the bare minimum as far as customer service. NONETHELESS, my spirits were as high as they could ever be because I raced well despite injury and all of my friends had a GREAT energy which totally turned things around. Plus, like I said....it was an appetizer for the events to come.