IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead was SUPPOSED to be stellar but as we all know to be true, life happens. The end of this story is...I crashed and broke my clavicle but here is a recap of the race and the trip.
Michigan, my home state and a place I rarely get to visit. I’m notorious for the race-cation (racing with a little vacation) and luckily Karen decided she wanted to come too. I think it’s because she loves Benton Harbor as much as I do but she’s basically a super Sherpa too. We rented a very nice house 6 miles from the race site and spent 4 nights total enjoying the area. Just so you know, there are a lot of fun things to do in Benton Harbor! There are some GREAT food spots you should check out.
#1 The Mason Jar
#2 Bread + Bar
#3 Pheonix Rising
Aside from the food and the clean, serene beaches are the cider mills. We visited a few before I was tired and ready for a nap. Plus all that movement while in a sling kinda sucks. We had a HARD cider tasting at Virtue Cider Mill and then on the way home I was feeling saucy, so we stopped at a regular cider mill for apple cider and donuts…my childhood fave! So, if you decide to race IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead….check out the food, sights and more food!
Having just come off IRONMAN Austria and Challenge Iceland, I had been feeling great on the bike and run. My swimming has been about 3-4 seconds slower per 100yd in the pool but I think it’s because I lost about 8 pounds during my Euro trip. I’m not sure why, but I think I’m just really busy and basically eat everything fresh and home made. The food is just better over there. Plus I train like a mofo because it’s impossible to sit around with The Alps in your back yard! So, answering the time honored, annoying question we always get before a race…YES, I was ready.
We popped into Detroit airport with our 5 bags and puppy, headed to Clarkson and stayed with my Mom for a few nights. Saturday, the day before the race, we drove down to Benton Harbor and met my best pal Trav Hill. After scrambling to the race meeting, our house was ready for us and all pre-race rituals were performed. It was actually really odd showing up to the race site the day before the race. I didn’t really feel “rushed” but I didn’t feel settled either. I would have liked to be there at least 1 day early for sure. I’ll put that on my “to do” list for next year...since I’ll be back.
RACE DAY STUFF
The weather was perfect and the water was also perfect. Luckily with a 58 degree air temp and 72 degree water temp, the pro field was non-wetsuit so I could try out my new BlueSeventy swim skin! Since we all love to race with sleeved tri-kits, it only seems right to swim with a sleeved swim skin, right? Totally amazing! The fit was perfect and it came off very, very easy. Okay, getting back to race stuff…I was ready to go! My bike was set, new Alto disc was perfectly fit and my INFINIT mixes were all aboard.
As I mentioned before, my swim has felt quite off, but I was still 2 minutes off the leaders by the end of our 1.2 mile swim…so pretty normal. I ended up chasing Matt Russell in the water. I wasn’t quite on his feet until the last 200 meters or so but it was really nice to see some bubbles from time to time. The water had a slight swell and chop, but was still very comfortable. I came out feeling less than happy with my swim but honestly, was just hoping to see how the bike legs felt.
I’ve been really focusing on my bike power over the past 2 months and with a bit of weight loss my power to weight ratio has been booming. I’ve never been able to ride with some of the super strong guys before, but I was definitely hanging…until I crashed. The bike course is awesome though. There are a good amount of left and right turns and I’d say 60% of the road surfaces are great. Michigan roads are notoriously shit so this is a GREAT venue to race. Before my crash, which was around mile 45 or so, I was riding 305 NP and IF I finished, I would have been around 2:07 for 56 miles. For me, that’s pretty good! BUT…then the crash.
How did it happen, you wonder?
Imagine racing for 7 years, taking random items from bike-aid stations here and there...never feeling nervous or worried. Since we start first, the aid stations are pretty clean too, no need to worry. I also point at whomever I plan to target…which has been helpful. Looking at my data, I was still going pretty fast through the aid station and honestly, my decision to grab a gel was kind of last minute…or last second. I still pointed and had a solid target but I guess since I was riding so hard I burned through more than I though and needed a “gel” safety blanket. So…I went for a gel. There was 1 volunteer at the end grasping 2 gels and here are the 2 things I remember thinking.
#1 – I need to grab this gel hard and,
#2 – I vividly remember how tightly the volunteer held onto the gel…and didn’t let go.
In true sling-shot fashion I was slung back and then flung forward as I recoiled. This put me laying on my aero bars and rolling to the right. My right shoulder took the full blast, saving my hips. The injury list is quite long but here is the good news:
The break isn’t displaced and I don’t NEED surgery to improve my quality of life. I’m still dealing with a 4(ish) week recovery period which is REALLY good. The road rash is the worst part and basically covers the right side of my body. The ONLY other issue is where my pedal jabbed into my left shin, severely damaging my calf muscle…which will probably take a long time to heal.
When I crashed, I was swarmed with helpful volunteers who cleaned up the yard sale of my bottles, but I never remember hearing from the person who contributed to my crash. I was bleeding everywhere, my full shoulder was exposed, my kit was destroyed, but I couldn’t see any bones. Since this was my first broken bone, I wasn’t sure if I dislocated my shoulder or actually broke something. I rode back to the medical tent without much pain…I must have been in shock. My left shin had a golf ball sized lump and I knew there was a very painful bump on my collar bone, but I still tested that shit out like I could run!!! (dumb triathletes) I think the funniest part is…EVEN though I was going 15-18 mph, sitting up, bloody and torn...people still cheered for me like I was racing. I was like “can you not see this blood”? Super nice to have support, but when you’re basically ruined, it was more comical than anything.
The Med Tent really hooked me up, cleaned out my wounds and sent me to the hospital. I had a really great hospital experience and was basically done by 11:30am…left to collect my shit and asses the real damage. My business partner, Jon, immediately connected me with Dr. Jeff Watson, our local orthopedic surgeon and hero. I am so thankful to have so many people in my corner who messaged me and set me up with words of encouragement from past experiences. I’M SO GREATFUL and not in the least bit worried about my recovery. This is the most rest or time off from training I’ve had in a few years and my first major incident…life goes on. I only wish I could have helped more with our luggage on the way home. Karen, my amazing wife, should write a Traithle’s Wives Handbook. I know it would be long and have a lot of laughter at my expense. I mean after all, I can’t even change my own dressings or my clothes…so, thanks Babe!!!!!
Thanks to the Tampa Bay Orthopedic group and Dr. Watson, I know I don’t NEED surgery and in 10 days I SHOULD be able to run…for like 1 mile. Until then, I can bike on the trainer and work on my diet…trying not to eat everything!!
Duh…didn’t happen, but I’ll be back!
For now, I am still planning to race IRONMAN Italy on 23 Sept. I'm finally riding the bike with both hands on the trainer and plan to execute my first jog tomorrow morning. I've been keeping busy in the meantime, baking my own sourdough bread, smoking some meats and generally doing my best to keep my body loose. More updates to come very soon and I cannot wait to see my friends back in Austria!
Austria, my second home!
Being “ready” and feeling “good” about your pre-race preparation stops when you bounce off the pavement and instincts kick in. but before I talk about that little mishap, here are some tips on racing IRONMAN Austria – btw, you should come next year for their 20th birthday!
This venue is quite perfect for an event this size and since they’ve been running this race 20 years, it’s a smooth operation. The Wörthersee by itself is a scene from a postcard. The crystal blue water basically begs you to swim, drink and relax at the Stranbad (basically the beach). Parking isn’t a pain, transition is separated from swim start by about 1k and the walk is about 10-15 minutes based on your current walking PR. What I can’t get over is the crowd support...no other event I’ve been to has come close. I haven’t raced Challenge Roth yes, but I can honestly say Austrian’s and the people who live here in Klagenfurt embrace this race. The only part about this race that would really suck for any non-climbing athlete is….a all the elevation on the bike.
My Prep & Other Thoughts
So deep down in the essence of me….I want to be “the man” more than I can really quantify. Personally, I get a bit star struck when I’m sitting with world champions or IRONMAN champions. I know what it takes to get there because I’m doing my damn best to try myself. Now, what I lack in raw talent and experience I’m trying to fix with smart, diligent training and living. I think about being on that podium all the time….and when a race doesn’t really work out in spite of my efforts, it’s definitely a bit of a reminder what I’m up against. So, that's that!
I arrived here in Austria about 12 days out from the race and it took me about 6 days to feel decent on the bike, which is usually screwed up because sitting for so long jacks my next and back. Also, when it comes to sleep aid in a new time zone, Body Health Healthy Sleep Ultra is a necessity! I’m incredibly fortunate to have an Austrian family waiting for me, who I really couldn’t get by without. Last year I really got to know the area and Pewag athletes, so this year I was happy to catch up! I climbed one of the local HARD Mountains, decided my bike position was not suited for sustained climbing and really got to work. I basically slid everything back but I think my seat height might have still been a tad high, more to follow there. My running has been actually awesome, so I was pretty confident a PB Marathon was going to happen too! I’d say with me losing some weight, eating super healthy and working in a new race breakfast/fueling protocol I had a really thorough plan. So, for me, 3 days out it was just time to relax, eat some sweets and enjoy being around my amazing Austrian friends! I think I maybe trained 2 hours per day until the last 3 days.
Race AM (0240 breakfast)
The fueling plan dictates breakfast is complete about 3.5 hours before the race since it’s a boost in calories from a 70.3, which normally is only 3 hours. I ate about 900 grams of applesauce….somehow. Think of your biggest protein shaker, then imagine it’s full up apple sauce…that’s my nightmare. I took that down with a lot of cinnamon, a banana, some Gatorade and some INFINIT Repair for some added protein/carbs. It’s actually not that bad once you’ve let it set in your stomach for an hour. It’s super easy to digest, low fiber and pure carbs. Anyway, the bike was already checked in…which reminds me, I was a bit out of it when it comes to planning this event.
For IRONMAN 140.6, transitions work differently. All of your belongings are in either red or blue bags, hung on racks before the change tent. When you check-in, you must bring your bags, race bib and helmet. Let me just say I drove 35 min into town with only my bike…and then again, with the rest of my stuff. I was seriously forgetting things left and right, like...my race day Alto front wheel! For example, guess who got another mandatory 1 mile warm-up run before the start? ME! I opened my race bag in the Pewag lounge and my little green socks were just chilling. Hmm….definitely need socks for an IM run, oh wait, only 15 min before transition closes. Hence my losing my mind. Anyway, I got back to the lounge 15 min before the START of the race, needed to put on the wetsuit and warm up for 3 blinks of an eye…and that’s it. It was on!
It’s funny what we think of right before we embark on a 9 + hour race. The dumbest, deepest thoughts pop into your head. I found myself wondering if I charged my computer since I needed to use it later and then, oh wait look, the swim course! Basically, my little deep negative voices were telling me I didn’t feel ready to start, I was too rushed…but screw them. The start was more hectic than last year, meaning I actually drank 3 or 4 mouth full of water instead of breathes of air. It was congested and choppy and after some head dunking, coughing and serious contact, I actually wondered if I was going to get spit out the back. I will say though, swimming in the middle of a pack is like, a warm up swim effort. Now, I know I could have been in a faster group but, oh well…bridging up didn’t seem necessary. This was a wetsuit swim as well given the new rules concerning air tem vs water temp. I feel like it basically makes all luke warm swims with cold air temp, wetsuit swims…not a fan. I think the air temp was 14 and the water was 74 so I would have definitely preferred non-wetsuit. Anyway with a wetsuit I would have liked faster but I was able to sit in and not over-exert. Plus this is my first IM with a wetsuit and it stresses the body a bit different. My triceps were NOT happy after! However after my 3rd wear of the BlueSeventy Helix, I was incredibly comfortable. In the hip area, which normally sucks, zero restriction. So after we all went the wrong way at the swim exit, it was time for a dizzy run to the bike.
I tell you what, I could NOT have been happier with my swim group because I rode with a few of these guys at IM Zurich and I knew we could all have some solid riding. So, here’s were it went wrong. Since I was basically mentally out of it post swim and was working at 105% FTP to catch the 6 guys who were about 200 meters away (I had a crap transision) I had a lot of speed headed into our only 180 degree turn. I can see it in slow motion, my wet right hand slipped forward as I rounded the corner. It wasn’t fast but I bounced like a ball. So, there goes that group…even 1 minute behind at this level can take 30 minutes to bridge while riding very hard! I had one last chance to make it when a friend of mine, a Pewag rider came by. I thought I could get it back until I went to shift….then looked down and saw my oversized pulley wheels were all jacked up. I had to stop and adjust…or ride in 3 gears! This was the ultimate low point where I even thought I would not be able to continue and I was missing out on what I knew was certainly an awesome position. I could have come in top 10 off the bike for sure. Trust me, this whole story gives me a heavy heart. It was at this time I realized I couldn’t put much pressure on my left wrist out of the saddle and, my low back was really hurting more than I could stand. Anytime I was in the power, for about 30 seconds after I let up, it was like a deep burn left and right of the sacrum. That quick spill cost me the day I knew I could have. I ended up taking my emergency motrin quickly but I don’t think it started working for another 2 hours because I actually mentally “quit” about 5 times when the pain was so bad and I felt so terrible. But I tell you what, every time I felt that way a group of people on the side of the road would cheer like I was their favorite athlete, and I kept going. The second loop I started to get some mojo but I lost a lot of time in the wind and debating my future. I can honestly say that somehow, in the way my weird mind works, the thought of quitting actually motivated me to keep going. It was crazy. So once I started fueling again with some INFINIT in my bottles and a little coke at the aid station, I was feeling better and thought I would at least try the first 10k on the run.
The jog from the bike to the transition tent was a bit ugly. The hips were locking up on the bike, I felt a little weak and the achilles was really tight from a quick cramp when we all changed directions in the swim…yea, I was still feeling that!! However, once the shoes were on, I felt pretty awesome. I was really feeling strong for about 22k! I was hitting a TRIPWIRE shot with water/ISO sport drink every other aid station and a little coke and water on the others. In between that I had a cliff shot block in my mouth since, for some reason having that steady source of sugar seems to keep me stable. Around 32k I hit this crazy 3 minute spot where I had to walk. It was right after an aid station and all of the sudden I was stumbling around like a drunk person. I think I saw Elvis run by me. Anyway, like the snap of my fingers, I was back running strong again out of no where. I think the early lack of fueling on the bike got to me. When I was debating quitting I wasn’t as diligent on the nutrition. So, the legs felt better as far as pain and my running form goes. But still wasn’t much faster this year. It’s a bit frustrating but all I can do is sharpen up my game…plain and simple.
The overall take away from this race is, a few minute PR and some severe respect for what the body can endure. I’m fortunate I could ride away from my little spill but it still effected me, cost me a faster bike split and ultimately means I didn’t hit my ultimate goal of a sub 9 hour IM. Racing 140.6 distance is probably the biggest emotional roller coaster ride around. I would say that for anyone who is looking for some advice and has maybe had some issue, just don’t think! It doesn’t matter how you feel in that moment or hell the day before the race. What matters is how you logically battle through the problems you are facing and most importantly, be patient. You will hit extreme lows and serious highs out there and for a little bit, you’ll feel golden and actually love the day. If you can keep going, why not try? Oh wait, I also stayed for the midnight-finish and it’s basically like a techno club!! It was CRAZY loud with tons of support!
Two days ago was the first Triathlon of the season. Instead of making the pilgrimage to the west coast for Oceanside like I’ve done the past two years, I opted for IM 70.3 Texas in Galveston. I liked that place so much, I’ve decided that I’m going back to Oceanside next year (wink)! But before I get into the heavy race details that I’m sure everyone is drooling over, especially since I took 22nd, here are some other cool topics.
Planning The Season
I’ve been quite fortunate in my endeavors thus far to be linked with some incredibly giving people, they know who they are. Without them, this season couldn’t have been planned! With their help, I’m doing what I can to try and diversify this year. If I look at my past 2 professional seasons, I’ve bitten off a lot by design. This was for a few reasons. The first reason was because I wanted experience and I wanted to surround myself with the best in the sport whenever possible. I’m super analytical and I like seeing how they handle themselves, almost more of a sports psychology type of approach. To me, it’s the most important part about my evolution. I’ve already proven that I can work as hard as anyone out there, but that’s just not going to be enough. The past two seasons have been about learning or more like cramming. I’m stepping up against guys who were drinking pool water at 8 years old! It’s been very frustrating at times but my body and mind still need more time to grow.
This season is where I’m really banking on a decent harvest since my mental and physical capabilities have grown a bit...here are some facts;
This list could probably be longer but you get the idea. So this season I’ve gotten a bit pickier on the races I choose. I wanted to check out IM 70.3 Texas since all of the races I’ve hit in the past few years were very hilly on the bike. 70.3 Texas is pancake flat like my main training ground in Florida. I’m used to the heavy head and cross winds and I thought I’d handle the humidity too. Anyway into the recap and then a brief summary of what’s next…
70.3 Texas Recap
All week long, I’m sure every athlete was like “Great now the weather forecast is predicting HAIL….oh, wait now there are tornadoes”. Even at the Pro meeting we had discussed a very probably duathalon scenario. To our avail, it was just super windy and overcast! I flew into Austin a few days before the race and traveled down to Galveston with my good friend Shawn Panchacharam. It was his first IRONMAN 70.3 spectator experience and I wanted him to be inspired by what we all do out there. We arrived…it was mega windy, ugly and overcast – this never changed until the day we left. Our Air BnB was in a rather dicey building but the condo was newly remodeled and quite nice. Despite the staff reminding us to never leave anything of value out front in the car as windows are broken often, we felt decent enough. I’d say this beach, the area and the overall vibe was like a very used and run down theme park. A theme park where you wouldn’t drink from the fountain, ride a wooden rollercoaster or use the public restroom for fear of flesh eating diseases. THAT being said, there were some nice parts like the blue sky the day we left, oh and Moody Gardens is cool.
After we settled in, it was time to get into my favorite part of pre-race. Sit around and do nothing. After facilitating two camps in Tucson back to back, traveling home for a few days then heading back out…I was a bit spent. I watched the whole new season of Trailer Park Boys on Netflix, caught up with the stellar athletes I work with and did my best to shame Shawn into eating healthy with me. With the weather looking so ferocious, there wasn’t much to do besides chill out.
The day before the race I hit up a nice ride with Barney Matthews. We proceeded to white knuckle our bars as the 25mph gusts rattled our wheels…it was said to be worse than Kona. Then it was time for a BIG breakfast, some rest and then a MEGA lunch – NickGriddles! At the pro meeting I was able to catch up with the former Team RWB camp organizers/coaches and we all hugged it out. Triathletes are family…plain and simple. Finally, it was time to catch up with my wonderful wife, ensuring her that I won’t get struck by lightning on race day.
So it went like this…
Woke up in the morning feeling like "T.O" and Rinny (yes this is a Ke$ha reference)! Seriously, felt great…weather was not at all horrible – Just über windy. I decided that I’m not showing up to the race site 2 hours early anymore. From now on, 45 minutes is the window. It’s nice to relax a bit and take in the experience but overall, I could be in bed watching a show or waiting for the final race day BM!
First time in the BlueSeventy PZ4TX speedsuit and I swear now matter how much weight I lose, when I put a skin suit on I feel like a muffin overflowing it’s wrapper…UGH. However, that’s the point…it did it’s job in the best way possible. My swim was great, came out with a group of about 10 guys and overall, I felt awesome. There was a bit of chop out there too which is how I like it.
The bike was the usual 5 mile race for position as we all went out about 150% above threshold. At a certain point I kept seeing 350-360 watts and I was finally like, “ENOUGH FELLAS” and then settled in around 290-300. I mean we were already going about 30 mph with a nasty cross wind but I let them get about 300 yds away and then it was pretty much passing 4 or 5 guys who blew up on the first ½. A flat race means you’re stuck aero without reprieve. On top of that a miserable cross wind means that if you sit up for even a second you lose 4 mph instantly. That being said, it’s still important to get out of the saddle a bit too loosen up the back and shoulders….so I did. My back was still super tight though. My rear bottle ejected around the 35 mile mark so I was stuck with the last ¼ of my 900 cal 24 ounce INFINIT bike mix. Thankfully it was enough! I came off in 12 or 13th I think, feeling energized…but knowing I worked hard. After seeing the data, I actually rode the exact numbers I wanted, despite going out to hard in the first 10 miles.
The first 4 miles of the run, I was the man. I mean I still got passed by like 5 guys even though I was running a 6:05 avg but damnit…a guy can dream! This was one of those days where I was burning up with the high humidity and with the tail wind it felt 5X warmer. The second loop and yea, the third loop…I lost even more speed. It was ugly. It was one of those runs where within 4 miles my HR was again around 175, like Raleigh 70.3 every time I race there. I slipped the HRM down to my stomach since I didn’t even want to know how high it was getting. The worst part is, it stayed the same even though I slowed down…so I wasn’t as fueled or fit as I had hoped. I ran my way into 22nd…lol, the wrong way. It’ll most certainly come together with some more tweaking.
This swim and bike still put me In position for a sub 4 hour day but my run led me to a 4:05….so I still left a lot out there. The run fitness IS there as proven during training over the past months, but damnit…putting it all together seamlessly on my end is just tough.
In 2 weeks I head to Lima, Peru. I’ve increased my stab insurance and my bike should also be covered so…all good. I’m hopeful that I can have a solid day including the run, which might mean backing off a bit somewhere or maybe eating a different breakfast. I’ll let you know how it goes…..
Until then, THANK YOU to everyone who has been following me over the years. I promise it’s never enough, haha! Also, believe it or not I DO miss my wife terribly during all this travel but as all of you know, we drive our energy from our loved ones when the lights go out! Make sure you take care of your loved ones who sacrifice so much for your dream!
- RaceChase OUT-
Here is a proper T2
I believe the last time I took some time to reflect publicly was July 2016. Talk about slacking….right? Here are the major bullet points since then.
Current Events – This is really where you’d want to read if you want to catch up on the happenings of 2017.
I just raced the first event, Austin Marathon.
For those of you who’ve been following some of my posts and videos, you may know some of this, however I feel the need to re-quantify the pure gravity of this 6-week euro-trip. My goal today isn’t only to provide a race report while acknowledging sponsors but to somehow capture the raw emotion that I’ve been feeling over here, as it's been pretty deep. Having listened to Anthony Bourdain narrate enough TV shows, I’m hoping I can take you on a little journey.
IRONMAN, a race I’ve basically revered and or feared since I’ve known about it. 6 years ago, I popped my head in for duty at MacDill AFB. Shortly after my arrival I ignorantly accepted an invitation to ride my old 2001 Cannondale slice with a group of seasoned IRONMAN athletes. This started my future career in triathlon, however young and dumb I was at the time. Fast forward or review my facebook photos for the past 6 years and you’ll see an evolution. I’ve been astonished in how my mind and body have evolved due to such a focused lifestyle. The way I sleep and eat is all designed to cultivate a lifestyle consistent with what I deem valid in order to forge a Champion. If you check the gallery below...you can see just how much I've changed over the years....starting from my first race experience.
Triathlon is to me as food is to a chef; it’s on mind, in my hands, heart and body (pure passion). Being and endurance coach means there is a lot of additional added pressure to take care of those who’ve trusted me with their triathlon experience. It’s a fact I hold above my own success. If I’m honest, traveling so much makes me feel like a neglectful parent. Not to mention being a neglectful Fiancé…let’s not forget I’m marrying the woman of my dreams in a few months! It goes without mention that she’s the granite (much more elegant than just a “rock”), the foundation and the light at the end of every dark tunnel I put myself in. So you get the picture…I LOVE this process, the knowledge, the people and most importantly the journey, which leads me to where I am now; Europe.
People; they are what make this sport and any sport like this, exceptional. Traveling for long periods, training camps and racing often would cost me 5 times the amount without people. I’ve stayed in around 20 home-stays thus far, met fascinating people and for a short period became their pseudo son. The only thing that makes me feel guilty about this is, we don’t have enough room in our condo to pay back to others…however, one day I plan to host as many as Karen will allow. It’s because of amazing, generous people, that this trip to Europe has been undeniably the most exciting and memorable trips of my life.
It started in Austria, 1 week before IRONMAN Austria, staying with Sonja and Gerhard in a small town right outside of Ferlach. They live with a beautiful view, which you’ve probably seen by now and training here is truly amazing. The only thing it’s missing is altitude, however, you can still get it by driving 2 hours. Nestled right next to Italia and Slovenia, the mountain ranges and roads are a cyclists paradise, a new view and solemn moment of gratitude around every corner. The Austrian people who took care of me, cheered for me and supported me will always be best friends. The Pewag team is like a TRIBAL family all there own, only they have a huge financial sponsor and throw a GREAT party! Rene and Ella were my gateway to Austria and without them; I’d have never known this experience. Again, people are amazing. Lisa and Melanie, two sisters and Andy also took me around to historical places, their parents garden for home made food, traditional Austrian farms and some of the best sights I’ve ever seen…This trip to Austria was the absolute most memorable experience as a tourist I’ve ever had to date. I WILL be back!! I’ll not hit you with the IRONMAN Austria race report again but get ready, IRONAMN Zurich is next!
I knew I was coming to Zurich about 2 weeks before the race. I’d do some light training; get to know the area etc. However I didn’t actually plan on traveling to St. Mortiz (an altitude training mecca) with my coach and a few friends because of the cost. I knew how much the rented the house for and honestly, it was well above my budget. To my huge and most grateful relief, they invited me to come free of charge with the pretense that there will not an “official” bedroom but they will make something work. Uhm…that’s a huge, humble YES!!
The second part of my unforgettable journey started in St. Mortiz and ends today, the day before I head back to the U.S. What did we do up there? How was the weather and was it basically postcard living? YES! St. Moritz is like the Boulder, CO of Switzerland, along with maybe 1 other location. There were around 5 or 6 Olympians (to include the brownlee’s) you could find at the track of running around the lake on any given day and every pro-tour cycling team could be found riding when I went through Livigno Italy. Even though we got some snow and froze our nuts off for a few days, just living at 6000 feet was value added. We actually stayed right outside of St. Mortiz in the town of Pontresina, nestled right next to a beautiful pass and glacier. The riding here again; an experience previously unknown to me. The first 3 days were spent huffing and puffing as Lesley did her best to destroy me with some all out ¼ mile track repeats and threshold bike workouts, optimizing every moment forcing the body to adapt to altitude. Being the cycling nerd I am, I saw that we were only a few hours away from Stelvio Pass, the iconic climb they use during the Giro de Italia. I couldn’t be so close…and not make this pilgrimage. Thankfully the rest of the campers agreed and we made a whole day of it! It was around 13,000 feet in total elevation gain over 85 miles. We drove to the town of Zernez and took a beautiful mountain pass (Ofen pass) on our way to Stelvio. I still can’t believe where my bike has taken me…I love my bike!! After Stelvio, it was another long-hard run day and it was about 7 days until IM Zurich. Honestly, I needed to rest, as the week before the race was much bigger and harder than anyone would normally train before an IM. Monday through Friday, I was pretty wrecked, especially since on my 30th birthday we did a traditional birthday workout of (age) X 100 meters on 95 seconds. I was pretty pooped but Lesley, Jacqui and I made it through. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous after that week of hard training leading into an IM…the TSS alone for Stelvio’s ride was over 320 TSS, which is quite huge for 1 bike ride. I think my ride from IM Zurich was only like 260 or so. It might have been too much, but honestly it’s hard to back off when you’re in your element. Also, knew the altitude training would pay off heavily if I could just endure the harder efforts! Staying in Pontresina was amazing. We cooked amazing dinners every night, had an outdoor mountain BBQ and I really relaxed like a pro! Then it was time to take the train back to Zurich 4 days out from the race!
Finally....The Race Report
I am staying in the home of Mark and Nadja, the same couple who organized the trip to Pontresina. I had a perfect, quiet scenario before the race…I just had to figure out the Zurich public transportation aspect since we are 8k from the race site. I have been using a mountain bike to get around for the most part but needed to take the train on race morning and I was a bit nervous because it wasn’t very easy to navigate at first….but damit, I worked it out like a local! I checked out the longer climb on Friday by bike, left the run course as a “surprise” and got my gear ready for race morning. After the Pro meeting on Friday, it was time for my eyes to catch up on the Tour De France replay and eat some chicken and rice! Saturday I ONLY rode my bike to the race site, ate a huge breakfast and then had some dessert around 6pm, then….early to bed for a 3 am wake-up. Okay so here’s where the play-by-play will start.
3AM: Hit snooze once, wake up at 3:15. I left some oatmeal to soak overnight since this makes it easier to digest. However, for IRONMAN I think I’ve been eating too much oatmeal race morning; I will try a new approach next time. So it was Oatmeal, lot’s of cinnamon, salt, banana and 1 egg over easy, done by 3:40 am. This was 3 hours before race “Start”. I then chilled out until 5am when I walked 15min to the train station, ready for the 5:30am train to the race site.
5:45 AM: Race Site Arrival. Since this was the earliest train it was the only time I could arrive. Normally, I’d like to arrive around 5:15…but really, there isn’t much to set up and it meant less time waiting to race. I set-up the bike, hung up my bags and headed to the Strandbad (public beach).
6:40 AM & SWIM: After a quick 5’ warm up in the water, some dry land drills and light hip openers, I was on the line. There were 80 men signed up for the race but I think maybe 40 showed up. I felt GREAT on the swim, so powerful and despite increasing my effort, I was never winded…THANK YOU altitude. I actually did made some decisions during the swim that I normally can’t. I moved up 2 groups!! I was thinking…”These feet are too slow” so I hit the next group…. then though, “shit, still slow”. The next bridge took about 5’ but was very worth it. I can tell that the feet I’m on are a good choice when I try to make a pass and realize it’s taking a lot more effort. At that point, it’s better to sit in and tickle some toes and follow the bubbles. When I checked my watch it said 55:30 when I came out…perfect!! NO mega calf cramp either!
BIKE TIME: Okay, to be 100% transparent, having a ceramic speed chain, bottom bracket and pulley wheels PLUS being adapted to altitude, really boosted my bike performance. After IM Austria, I realized my bottom bracket was installed with the wrong washer on the non-drive side and during the race, it was basically seized up. Now, when the disc is free spinning, the resistance is so low…the crank turns on it’s own!! Anyway, my mission for the first 20k on the bike was to catch Miss Ryf, who is incredible by the way. After I was riding @ 70.3 effort for the first 30k or so, a group caught me and I was clear of Daniella. As I hit the first climb, 4 guys came up…and I jumped on the pain train. Eventually it ended up just being 3 of us and man, those 2 guys were hammering. Especially on the climbs. There are 2 long climbs on the first leg, the first taking about 12 minutes above 320 watts, then it’s rolling…then another longer steeper climb followed by another around the same power. There are some technical descents where I was really able to make up time on the 2 ahead of me, as I’m more of a risk taker on descents. Max speed of 60 mph baby! Then it’s flat for 20k or so until Heartbreak hill and then it’s 3’ @ 340 watts!! Climbing through a crowd of people makes the pain fade away…it was awesome! I didn’t really start to feel the pain until the last 15k or so but was luckily able to hand onto those to strong cyclists ahead of me. I think they both went onto run into top 5 so it was nice to know I can hang with them. I ALSO have to point out the the referees were on POINT during this race. They had a great rotation. Every 20’ a new bike would come up and the other would leave, I think this helps eliminate and bias…Great work there IM Switzerland! It was a super clean race from what I saw….except for the normal AG peleton’s here and there.
Marathon time: Okay, I was kinda dreading the run because I think it became a reality with 5k left on the bike, I was a bit of a mess. My low back was super tight and energy levels were a bit off. I set a mental goal to just run the first 2 laps (of 4) around 7 min to 7:15 pace. The 1st 12 miles were there, exactly what I wanted…but then my stomach really went to shit. It’s the first time I’ve had this happen. It really crippled me and it might have been due to the harder bike ride. I found that I was getting a 5’ energy boost from each gel, but eventually couldn’t stomach a gel. Starting the 3rd loop, felt like I had another mental marathon to run…I was in bad shape. Thankfully the support and encouragement from 2 strangers got me at least moving again. The last lap I was a mess and an IRONMAN aid station marshal forced me to slam some chicken broth…and a lot of it. It settled my stomach a bit and I was running 9 min miles again. I just kept repeating “finish, finish, finish”, drive energy from all of you, my friends and supporters. After the race, it actually got me quite emotional as I’ve never wanted to quite so badly but wanted to ALSO finish more than I wanted to quit. The hardest mental day of my career…for sure. Anyway, I finished with a the biggest smile and surge of emotion…it was everything I hoped it would be. The IRONMAN finish line is on a level all its own. I’m truly grateful to have gotten through this race, learned so much and I’m excited to race again. Today…I see that I was 1 position away from getting a paycheck, finishing 11th…sigh. However, to me, the ultimate victory was to give that huge fist pump at the finish as I had no clue of my position during the whole race. Ignorance is bliss!
I’m still on cloud nine having spent the past 6 weeks in a foreign land, learning and growing. I know this is the launch point of my really goal of being a champion. I’ll need to get to the mountains as much as I can, be very smart on my run training and maybe…just maybe…REALLY rest well before my next event.
Finally, for everyone who made this financially possible for me, you’ve opened huge doorways for me, into realms I’ve never imagined existed for me. I’ve got the mind and body to make this happen, I promise. Thank you for allowing me the means to travel, train and experience life in a way I’d never planned for. You know who you are…..and you don’t need a # to feel the gratitude I’m sending yourway.
The lifestyle I’ve chosen and subsequently subjected Karen to (Love you Babe!) is quite different than what I could have ever imagined. Yes, I travel to scenic and far off lands to train and compete…I don’t just wake up, work and come home like I used to while in the Air Force. When you're working for yourself, there are very few days off and the pressure is always on. This journey has now led me to the completion of my first IRONMAN, finishing 9 hours, 13 minutes. I broke the yoke or popped my cherry so to speak. I chose to do it in Austria of all places, not entirely sure why…but it had to be somewhere, right? I suppose if I rationalize, it’s because for years I’ve known Rene Vallant, a former Austrian Professional Triathlete who would visit St. Pete w/ family and friends during Austria’s colder months. Through a large network of athletes, I’ve become good friends with him, traveling to races and training together often. I believe for me, the “unknown” is a thrill and I love the idea of being in Europe. It’s intriguing and ultimately a huge challenge I wanted to take head on. I think deep down it’s why the adventur-er in me took over. While in Austria, I’ve been hosted by the Pewag team staying with Gerhard and Sonja and another American guest David Frazier (also a St. Pete local).
Here in Austria you will not find any large Walmart sized super centers, Starbucks or ANY other common establishments/chains. I’ve been shopping at a local butcher, local baker and have had a total of 2 restaurant meals. Everything else has been home cooked! It’s awesome! I’ve eaten roast deer, some of the best-dried meats, a Noodle from a local market, a bunch of sauerkraut and more bread than I care the mention. Thankfully I've enforced some self control
, as Austria is known for sweets and cakes! I’ve managed to choose them wisely and in small portion…after 5 hour training days. The food is good, the company is perfect and the views are unforgettable. I'm ONLY missing my KAREN!
IRONMAN Austria Race Report
Preparation: The week before the race was probably a tad higher in volume leaving me quite tired until around Thursday race week. Not ideal, however with another IM coming up soon, I wanted to put together some longer sessions for mental confidence. The swim and bike I knew would be decent, especially if I was able to make a bike group (which did not happen) and I knew the run would be a ultimately survival or slowing down as little as posisble. My pre race goals were quite vague, knowing I’d love to swim under an hour, bike near 4:40 and run under 3:30. I think since I put together a open Marathon early this year @ 3:10, this should be doable. Just set the freaking cruise control on the run and deal with the pain! All in all, race week was great! The Pewag lounge and social gatherings are more than what I’m used to but really, I enjoyed meeting so many people. The owner of Pewag, Castelli, Stork bikes and other heavy hitters made appearances! Pewag, for those who don’t know, make industrial strength chains for tires and other heavy machinery. They sponsor a lot of athletes on a race team but specifically have Marino, the winner of IRONMAN Austria 8 times (as of yesterday). This lounge and the support on course were among the BEST I’ve ever seen. At one point I felt like I was in the Tour De France!
What did I do race week? Not much to be honest, mostly shorter efforts at race pace, plenty of sleep and maybe a bit more nervous eating that I’m proud to remember. I think this week was near 8 hours in total with little time spent running. By Friday, I was antsy…ready to get on the course and see what the day will bring! We knew the weather was going to be a toss up, with predictions of rain and storms but we didn’t get much wind or rain until the back half of the course. It was a sprinkle here and there, enough to wet the roads. On the run, it rained a bit more but it was for 15 minutes. Normally It’s much much warmer, so I was very happy for mild temperature.The race director made the most common sense decisions I've ever seen. Stefan Leitner was a huge supported of pro athletes and made some decisions that made this event flow! Huge recommendation for this venue!
Will I be back for this race next year? YES! My plan is to maybe spend some more time in Europe, in this mountainous terrain. Maybe I will plan to race a 70.3 and a 140.6 instead of 2X 140.6. The village it took to get me here is truly something I reach for on days like yesterday. I think of those who will still be on the course hours after me, those tracking me, those who love me (a short list I’m sure, lol) and those who are screaming at me to GO GO GO even though I couldn’t go any faster even for 1 billion dollars!! Finally, the financial burden of this trip has been heavily cut down at it’s knees by staying with Gerhard and Sonja, cooking my own meals and doing little else. Without my financial sponsors, Brett and Karen, I’d be on a college kids diet of ramen and bullion cubes.
Now…I must plan for IRONMAN Switzerland and it’s 4 loop run course, yikes!
After a solid day of eating, I took a nice stroll on the IRONMAN Florida course since it was only 10 miles away. Let’s just say after all that jet fuel, I felt awesome! However, don’t get too excited, we have a 10 hour car ride to Raleigh, NC. I actually did something smart though. I was like, hey…we should break this drive up over 2 days! So on Wednesday, we headed to Jacksonville where I booked a pet friendly hotel. Why was it pet friendly? Because the bed could be hosed down with a power washer after we left. Basically….a bed, television and bathroom on damp tile floors….ooops. No big deal, it’s only 1 night! Thursday morning was another 6 hour stent to Raleigh, where we stopped at Savanah and Florence for some Panera and other dog related activities. Finally…Thursday at 3pm, we arrive at the Air BnB I booked in Raleigh! 10 minutes from the convention center and T2!
This time….my decision was solid! Our host does research on all public bike path usage in the state of NC. A total bike enthusiast, who recycles, composts, has her own jam, bike decorations and chickens in the backyard. Totally awesome! Anyway, it was a great place to get settled in with the pups and Karen loved it!
From here onward…it’s standard race stuff, but I promise to make it fun!
I may not have finished in the top 10. I may not have even finished top 20…I finished 21st male pro. So why am I so excited?
I’ve spent 3 years turning myself into a training, eating, coaching machine. After dealing with many learning experiences; aka…races gone bad, it’s like finding a unicorn when I feel how I want to feel on race day. I’m learning how important a training environment is for my development as an athlete AND as a coach. It’s why I dedicate so much time traveling to tough terrain, where I can get out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I’ll throw myself at any mountain climb, masters swim sessions and technical trail running in efforts to diversify my fitness and get super pitted in the name of research. Typically, most of my races involved a lot of hills or mountains so it only makes sense to get stronger on the long climbs. During the sessions, countless hours of training and multiple ups and downs, I am forced to find out who I really am, resisting the urge to “tap out” often. Why am I doing this to myself? I mean there isn’t any large monetary pay out at the moment and I am working harder then I ever have before but It’s all so I can have a race like I did at 70.3 St. George. It’s a big leap of confidence since I did not finish last year, the ultimate type of redemption!
The build up for this race was a bit of a last minute decision. My initial plan was to train in Salt Lake City for a week and a half, then drive over to Wildflower a week earlier. After a lot of thought, it made more sense to spend another week at altitude and only drive 4.5 hours to St. George vs 8+ hours to Wildflower. Also, my coach and a few other great athletes were there to train with me so I couldn’t pass it up. Training partners truly make for the best sessions that will ultimately make race day fitness boosts possible. Lesley and I will throw down the gauntlet and can dig to another level of pain when working together! You MUST have people who drive you further than you thought possible. Salt Lake City/Park City was the best place I could have gone in order to get ready for this race. Even if the weather was supposed to be HOT in St. George.
Again, why am I soo happy with this race? Well last year at Austin 70.3 I ran what I knew I could off the bike and after 2 sub par races this year, I wasn’t sure if St. George would produce. It’s a brutal course when it’s NOT freezing, wet, hailing and windy, with temperatures normally above 90 deg! I not only biked within the goals I set, I ran with the highest intensity the whole time. At Puerto Rico and Oceanside I felt lethargic on the back half of the run, giving up a lot of time and position. I raced the entire run!, Full on at St.George! All in all, it is the race I needed to nail the next…5 or 6 races!!
This past month was an experience that will define me as an athlete. I met and trained with friendly, grounded people who were more giving than I could imagine. I always say at one point in my life, I hope I can give back as much if not more than others have given to me. I’m so grateful to know athletes who will open their homes and lives to my hectic triathlon lifestyle. Honestly, it got me a little emotional the day after the race on my easy spin up snow canyon as I was SO greatful. I was able to get to know so many people on this trip I would have otherwise missed out on. Also, since I switched races, Karen was able to be there with me. After 3 weeks apart I was SOO looking forward to being around her, especially on race day. What else is new? I’m trying to do my best to market myself a bit more, relaying my experiences to those who would love to be with me! Also, representing sponsors is also a key point of my life, so thank you for supporting those who support me and TRIBAL Multi-Sport.
I’ll spare you the traditional race analysis but just know that there were noticeable benefits from adding a Cermamic Speed Chain and derailleur pulleys to my bike, about 12 watts to be accurate. So a huge thanks to the guys at the expo who changed out my gear and cleaned up my bike. It was a breathe of fresh air since my rig was trashed from all the bad weather in SLC. Also, EPIX gear has sent me a number of kits to try out this year, always finding the best way to add value to my experience. The Aero TRI kit was very well received. I got TONS of complements on the look of that thing! I also visited Scott headquarters while I was in SLC where they rolled out their in depth company history, current market standings and how hard it is to be a bike company these days. My ultimate goal is to proudly represent them as I DO stand behind their passion for bikes. Also, they make a damn good product.
So here I am, still trying to remember every second of that race, absorbing the great energy and gearing up to do it again in Raleigh! There are tons of athletes out there and I can’t you thank you enough for taking the time to follow me, support me and for always having my back! Now what did I eat out there? Here are some pics of what really matters!
Before we hit the MEAT of this blog, I really want to take a minute to shed some light on what YOU can get involved in when you visit these amazing race locations. We usually don't appreciate what we have until it's gone or until there has been some sort of tragedy (sadly) so in order to fix that, I definitely try and give back a bit more than I used to. Why? It helps keep everything in perspective. I mean seriously, sometimes my biggest stress is that the headset on my bike is loose As much as I see success all around, there are examples of the struggle and turmoil everywhere. Karen and I took a few hours as More Than Sport Ambassadors, partnering with Race2Rebuild and we cleaned/painted a church dedicated to youth services. Some of the kids came out to see us but the 15 volunteers we met WORKED their butts off! I mean it's like 85 degrees and SO humid and we're scraping walls and floors, planting gardens and getting sweaty...15 hours before the race. It was a huge honor to work behind such dedicated athletes! Trust me, they broke their backs to make this church shine! Alway, please check out the links and consider donating some time! You can organize a school-supply drive, food donation...the sky is the limit!
I was sooooo excited to race 70.3 San Juan! I was thrilled to be back in Puerto Rico, one of my first, unforgettable half iron events! I had some great sessions building to this race, high energy and my good luck charm (Karen) on site! BUT>……
It’s hard to know that you were ready, yet came up short…said every triathlete. No matter how many “CONGRATS” or love you get post-race, there’s always that deep nagging voice that says, “you could have done better”. I suppose it’s why we continually show up on race day. If we KNEW we would kick serious ass and WIN, it wouldn’t be a test. It’s why I have hope, despite wanting to be one of the very best in the world RIGHT FREAKING NOW. I know it’s this journey that defines who I am and it’s why my story matters. The lifestyle, the hours spent alone on the bike, the copious amounts of delicious,healthy food…it’s all worth it. Honestly, looking back at this past race, I still came away with some knowledge and some tools for the next race….only 14 days away @ 70.3 Oceanside. I just saw the start list and it's awesome to line up with the best!
So how does a guy like me, with zero background in endurance sports get to travel around, race all year and be his own boss? Discipline! I wake up at 4 am, handle some admin work, respond to e-mails, book tickets, eat breakfast and brew some coffee. Whoa whoa whoa, why do I wake up so early? Because it’s when my body wants to wake up. If I don’t set an alarm I still wake up within 15 min of that time. Plus I feel great, look forward to the routine and prepare for the days training load. After the food digests I either head to a to the gym, swim, bike or…YOU guessed it, run! I like to get all major sessions in before 1pm but the longer days don’t usually end until 3-4 pm. Sometimes, driving to and from training locations adds some extra time but the bulk is spent grinding it out. I usually plan all my food in advance and know where I’ll stop or have some food on hand. Either way, I PLAN. Someone once told me “I sometimes forget to eat”. Really? Do you forget to start your car with keys?
Oh man that sounds so awesome doesn’t it? When I used to do all of this and work full time, I’d have said it was going to be super easy but human beings find any excuse to stress or complain. So how could I not tell you that it’s still the hardest work I’ve ever done. My biggest weeks are almost that of a full time job if you don’t include recovery. Either way just know, I usually smell afwul, have a bag of wet clothes, drive around in a stinky car, go to bed super early and have tantrums if I don’t eat when I need to eat. Karen would say I turn into a Diva. I have to constantly apologize for the things I did when hangry, hiritated, or huncomfrtable.
Despite the seemingly illogical complaints and brief moments of diva-ness, I generally keep the discipline on high alert. I want to be a contender at the highest level of this sport and I want it now. Patience is my weakest area as it is for most control freaks…so I’ve evolved a bit, learning to take it as it comes, only focusing on what I can control. It’s why 70.3 San Juan doesn’t get me too down. It was an opportunity to dominate or meet my goals and yes, the sun still rose even when I ran like poo. So here is the recap of the event in a brief, efficient rundown.
All in all I’m happy with the nutrition plan I set out and looking further into the training load, I might not have been as fit as I was last 70.3…which should have been pretty obvious. But who really thinks logically when they want to do great things? I will continually set the sights high and know that when it clicks, big things are going to happen! I still have a LOT of racing to do this season and I think Oceanside will be a chance for redemption. The Pro field will still beat the crap out of me but I can’t stop….wont stop!
Having just wrapped up my first 4 weeks of solo-suffer fest utopia out west, I have to say I'm very excited to see where I am come 20 March. It'll be the first 70.3 of the season down in Puerto Rico. I've been there before a few years ago and remember the tough run. At the time, it really put me in my place and I remember my legs throbbed so bad and I was so hot, I collapsed right into an ice bath! It was also the first time I crashed and got some road rash. I know you're concerned...but please know it was during a 180 degree turn around on wet pavement. The front wheel lost traction on a slick painted yellow line, like I was on ice. So the big story for today is....I'm pumped to go back! Here's a look back @ some 2013 pics!
Where I Was and What I Did...
I spent around 30 days out west, hoping for as much time in challenging terrain as I could get. It started with a Camp in San Diego, where it was basically 7 days of pure intensity. Setting a huge 4min PR up Palomar Mountain, hitting some sub 5:20 mile repeats on the run, mentally overcoming some long hill climbs @ 45rpm and swimming very fast made this trip GREAT. San Diego really has it all, especially when it comes to quality swim groups. Encinitas Masters and Mission Valley YMCA are my prime swim locations, followed by the UCSD Masters program. Beyond that, the riding is crazy good...almost impossible to get bored with a route! The final crux to my existence since living in Florida has been hill running! I've known it's a weakness since I started, however I face it head on whenever I can.
- And then I froze my ass off and grazed a guard rail -
After this fun week, the plan was to travel to Tucson with my 4 favorite training partners. Well I should say now that I understand life happens but I still can't help but talk some smack. Basically, everyone bailed on me, despite planning this for 5 months! I guess being totally alone for all these rides added some value to my internal dialogue...but really, I'm so thankful for Audiobooks and Pandora-One!!!
Tucson, AZ is a place I've been for 2 years straight with the USMES camp, however this year it's an elite cycling camp only and later in the year. There are about 5 or 6 different rides you can jump on, however they all very in pain induction. I decided to spend the first few days getting in some of the more popular climbs, hitting Madera Canyon and Kitt Peak. What I didn't intend to do...is almost lose my toes!! I knew it was going to be cold, so I invested in some very nice Rapha clothing. The problem is, once you've worked really hard up hill w/ a tail wind, you sweat. Then, once you take a quick breather at the top and come down, you're hit with sub 30 deg winds!! Madera canyon wasn't so bad since it's not at 7000ft...I wasn't happy but I survived and endured! Day 2 led me to Kitt Peak. This mountain is quite far from civilization and I could probably ride to Mexico in under an hour after the climb. My point is, it's remote (this is an issue later). Like any responsible cyclist, I plan the route...know my food stops and understand I'll be solo, bring extra clothing etc. I even went to a shop and got some additional toe warmers and such. The climb up is probably one of the best views around. As you're not on a mountain range, you get the full panoramic view and nothing comes close to being as high in elevation near-by. The road started to get icy around 6000 feet and I started to feel quite shitty with the cold/sweat thing going on again. The head wind and temps up there were much worse on the way down and my cold, wet clothing quickly screwed my reality. I made it about 3 miles down on the decent, literally riding brakes as much as I could to limit wind infiltration. I stopped about 5 times to try and compose myself but my hands/arms were locked, couldn't' open them up (which was okay since they helped squeeze the brakes). Now I'd like to point out that when you're this cold, you become very disoriented. I decided since the oncoming traffic lane had sunlight on it, I'd try to ride there for some hope of sun-warmth. Wind + downhill + mentally disoriented + lock-tite legs and arms + nonexistent motor control = guard rail. After that incident I about lost it..."how the F*** am I getting off this climb"? There are cars every 20-30 min...no help! About 5 min after my last stop and I knew I needed a ride to the bottom, a big truck comes up and I wave him down. WOO HOO he blasted the heat and brought me to the bottom...where it was 40 degrees! I still had about 30 miles back to the car and would finally regain feeling in my toes later that night...I was worried about those guys. Ever been so cold you are scared to remove your socks and see blackness??? AHHH....whew, they are still a weird skin tone after all! I'll never forget that day and how I was out on my ass but still made it home!
After that debacle I decided I've push off climbing Mt. Lemmon until I was better rested and the temperatures increased. After a few days warming up on some great rides, swims and trail runs...it was time for Mt. Lemmon. I decided to ride from where I was staying...so a 100 mile round trip. With the head winds and hills, it took 90 min for the first 22 miles or so and I was pretty broken up when I finally got to the base and knew I still had 24 miles of climbing. I had some low points due to the head wind while climbing and being blown into another guard rail after a car grazed me...but I soldiered onward. Mt. Lemmon is unique and my favorite because you start at a desert climate but summit into a ski town surrounded by evergreens! All that bitching and moaning aside, I made it up there...slammed some pizza and root beer and knew I had a long way back. 6.5 hours later and I was at whole foods, eating a huge box of food!
After all the mayhem on the bike, after all the hard solo work. Here are the stats pre- LA Marathon.
- Total Time: 90 Hours
- Swim Yards - 52,000
- Bike Miles - 960 miles
- Run Miles - 140 miles (not bad for a bike focus)
- Bike/Run Elevation Gain - 103,380 ft
I went though 3 Bags of INFINIT!!! Bike and Run Blend GET SOME HERE
Finally, it was time for Karen and I to take part in the LA Marathon! Finally, I truly experienced real California traffic in all its glory. LA is by far much worse then both San Diego and San Francisco! I also cannot wrap my head around just how BIG LA is...and so wide-spread! Either way, thanks to Karen's awesome friend Thom, we stayed in a beautiful home located in Pasadena (away from the smog)! After all of the hard work on the bike over the previous weeks I can't say I was very confident in my ability to run a 3 hour marathon, however I was going to give it my best shot! Here is how it went down:
- It's a point to point race, from Dodgers Stadium to Santa Monica...travel logistics were tough. We had to Uber our way back to the stadium...$95!!! Despite the expense, it was the best way we could have done it post race. My legs hurt as bad as they did for my first marathon over 9 years ago! I'll keep it simple and call it the THROB!! Race morning was seamless, despite having to sneak into a seeded coral. Oh wait...I didn't get to pee before the race, so I held it until mile 18 (sigh). Stopping is the worst when you're hurting but seriously, had to go! I started right in front of the 3:05 pace group and was doing well until mile 17 when they passed me up. By that point, the THROB was in full effect...hip flexors and IT bands like old crusty rubber bands left out in the freezing weather. Why did I run this race? I wanted to get one under my belt despite being quite beat...I Wanted to see if I could fight my way out of the corner and I wanted to know that I can persevere despite tremendous TRHOB! After all was said and done a 3:11 Marathon was the best I could give on the day and I'm super happy for that! Plus, I'll be racing 2 IM's this year and it's time to pony up and start to earn!
Here are some races I'll be nailing this season :)
Thanks Jay Weber for letting me crash at your case anytime I need to! You're seriously the most generous friend!