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!
On a personal level, it was definitely one of the most impactful and memorable years. Why? 2015 marked my first year as a dedicated endurance coach, pro triathlete and veteran. After 10 years of active duty in the U.S Air Force, I finally realized, I truly need to be in charge of my own future. No longer would I depend on the steady and reasonable military paycheck and benefits…it was time to toss it all aside, start from scratch and do my own thing. Sure, it sounds crazy! I essentially left a career only 10 years from “retirement”. I decided to walk away from the stable, predictable lifestyle about 8 months before it was over. Having found a tremendous passion within the sport of triathlon I quickly realized my new direction in life; Pro Triathlete, Future Champion and Endurance Coach. A direction I really wish I could have found much earlier, since now I’m playing a bit of catch-up. Despite the obvious perils and adjustments required when striking out on your own, I find it fits my personality. So not only was 2015 huge for my career, it was even bigger for my love life. Karen, my fiancé, never once questioned or doubted my direction during the course of these changes. Without her generous support and race-sherpa-ing over the past 2 years of moving, traveling and changing, I’d be petrified in a permanent fetal position. Needless to say it’s why I asked her to be my wife and the icing on the cake concerning 2015’s epic-ness.
2015 was my first break-out year training full-time with a new coach and mentor. If I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right. My coach Lesley Patterson and my business partner Jon Noland have been instrumental concerning my professional development. Despite these past dedicated years, in too many ways, I’m still a kid when it comes to this sport. In the course of 5 epic years of triathloning, I’ve been groomed, educated, certified, mentored and pushed beyond all limits…with much more to learn. I had zero background in competitive sports until 5 years ago. I was never a track star and worked (making pizza) during high school. I was (am) just an incredibly hard worker. I even took my Pizza skills to the next level, winning the pie-in-the sky dough-spinning award in 2010 (kidding). We all thrive in an environment we’re engaged in, hence my sporadic stellar grades in certain college classes I was interested in. For that reason, triathlon became my essence. My success is totally dependent on ME! 100% of every single moment dedicated training, suffering and overcoming means a direct positive change for my future performance. I started small, taking out a few local nemeses. Odd are, if you live in Tampa Bay area from 2012 to present and have some top results in the local races, I made a mental note to try and humbly destroy you. I surrounded myself with the best training group; bought the best gear I could afford and trained when everyone else slept. Mind you, until now I did this while working a full day. Luckily, my leadership in the Air Force totally supported me since I also worked just as hard for them. It also helped that I was part of the Air Force Triathlon team. 2015…the start of the rest of my life.
Sure there were also plenty of races in 2015. When I look back at the traveling, lessons learned and races around the country, I can really only say one thing…”Meh”! Like any of the athletes I work with, I get a bit ahead of myself often setting outlandish goals, searching for that perfect race. There’s never a perfect race, duh. Even if there was, a triathletes mind doesn’t allow for it. How many times have you seen your friend win their age group, win a race or set a huge PR yet STILL complain about the damn water temperature, wind direction or aid stations not handing them water properly? I mean, it’s total blasphemy! As a coach, I’ve had to remind athletes they’ve literally PR’d EVERY distance of running from 5k to marathon since joining our squad and I still get a response of “yea, I guess that’s good”. (Rant Over)
Here are all of the fun Photos I browsed through recently. I think they give a solid depiction of how truly amazing this journey has been, with all the people places and races....life couldn't be better.
Back to my races in 2015! If you want see how I placed, check my results page. If you want to see how the races went, find the blog for that specific race as I wont bore you with mindless talks of splits, how I “felt” and whatever else happened to prevent me from winning besides the overall rookie year….I’ve got a few more years hoping for top 10’s before I can even think about a top 5! This sport is super hard and the top-fastest guys don’t look to be slowing down. So until I put in my time, allow for gradual adaptations of speed and mental toughness…I can only expect to be on a rolling hill course of ups and downs. Luckily I know it’s going to happen since I’ll turn myself inside out during training, learn from the best and will always be inspired by the athletes I’m coaching with the same mindset.
The 2016 season is set for the most part and I’ll be competing in Ironman Austria this June, moving up in race distance from 70.3’s. There will still be a butt load of 70.3 races but I want to see how I hold up for the 140.6! I’ve had 2 botched attempts thus far but have since put in huge volumes of training towards mental prep. All that matters is, its on…it’s on like Donkey Kong. I’ll be running my first competitive marathon next weekend, straight into a 3-week training block in San Diego and Tucson, finally wrapping up with the LA marathon on Valentines Day (with Karen). Then it’s onto the race where I had my first crash, 70.3 Puerto Rico. Shortly after, it’s time for the annual progress check against the always-stacked field at 70.3 Oceanside. I expect these first few months to fly by in a blur of adventure. Sometimes the only way to remember all of the fun times is to look back at your iPhone’s photo stream (hence the photos above)!
Finally, all of this costs money, hook-ups and freebies within the industry. I’ll be working my butt off for a few companies that I’ve really benefited from and built a positive, growing relationship. It’s hard to find companies willing to help build a future athlete so my hat’s off to these guys:
A few weeks ago I came across this video during one of the heaviest training blocks of my life. Since then I've adopted #pitted to how I felt over those 2 weeks training 1 on 1 with my coach. Getting pitted has seriously become a dual term for how I live each day. At times getting pitted means I'm totally turning myself inside out; descending at 50mph, about to puke/die/pass-out on some hill repeats. Other times it's a way of life, living with the exact California goober mindset this dude has...just seriously getting amped by what I love. How the heck did I make so many deep mental connections with this ridiculous video and it's hilarious antics? I suppose when you're mentally stretched to new areas...any little mantra will get you going and prevent you from tossing your bike off the side of Palomar Mountain. So there it is folks....get #pitted in your own way and never forget this badass surfer who is probably high, totally stoked and loves barrels WAPAHHH.
A Butt Load Info You NEED to Read
First off...let's recap the past 2 months of no blogging....
AUGUST - Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver and Challenge Epenticton -
Let me start off first by saying how annoyed I am that spell check on my computer and iPhone doesn't recognize Penticton as a word. This means EVERY TIME I tried to type it out I would get corrected 3 or 4 times, until the device realized "oh snap, they probably are misspelling this shit on purpose". I have had to re-correct "auto correct" about a google times from Epenticton (how is that a word) to actual "Penticton". You can also imagine that while writing all this out, I've had to deal with rising frustration as AGAIN my computer auto corrects my spelling. Go ahead and try it....type out Penticton 3 times and see how long it takes to not have it changed....I dare you!
Oh so anyway, back to the real deal. Karen and I LOVE Vancouver and used SeaWheeze 1/2 marathon as an excuse to get there. Because let's be honest, why else would we travel anywhere? We need to be incentivized by a freaking race! We also were hosted by the best Canadian Ambassador we've ever met! Thank you Jordan....I'm coming to crash your home in the future for some awesome Vancouver Training.
As far as the 1/2 marathon goes, it was spectacular! If you aren't familiar, it's hosted by lulu lemon...so it's like Estrogen-fest. I can't lie though, I have done my best to replace 90% of my wardrobe with lulu lemon...it's so damn comfortable! This was a no pressure race for me, just wanted to see how I could perform on a hilly 1/2. Unfortunately I started in the wrong corral, missing the 1st because the dividers weren't anywhere to be found. Either way, I still ran a 1:22, perfectly balanced and finished 5th overall. I could have used some "Rabbits" though as I was alone when I bridge from 1st to second corral group...either way it was a beautiful weather and location! After the race, I rode my bike from Vancouver to Whistler...a beautiful 80 mile ride! Karen was kind enough to drive up there and meet me so I didn't have to ride back. (Reason 1099 why we are now engaged).
-Challenge Epenticton 70.3-
So this race is the same day as 70.3 Worlds....the field shouldn't be too stacked right? It's also super far from any convenient airport and in another country too. I mean we flew into Spokane and drove 4.5 hours because it was so expensive to fly direct! All of these thoughts were gone when I saw the start list....70.3 champions galore! I suppose the previous IM Canada course brings in a lot of able bodied Pro's looking for some $$. This didn't really change anything from normal races though. When you're stuck to a lot of U.S based races, the fields are often pretty packed and they are getting deeper each year. All of that aside, this place would be awesome for a training block too. Each morning I woke up and swam in the pristine lake that had a 900 meter white buoy line all the way down the coast. The water temp was PERFECT...hovering right below 70 degrees. Personally, I like it colder! It feels like anti-freeze cooling me off as I give max effort!
So anyway...again, I was pleased to have my Vancouver host (Jordan) here announcing for the race. We were able to meet up for some training shenanigans too, where he tried to kill me on my pre-race run....how nice! The town is perfectly designed for a huge event but this year, #'s were super low! I swear there were no more than 1000 athletes racing. Hopefully in a few years it becomes another huge race! The course was very tough too, with a ferocious 20mph head wind, bumpy roads and some steep climbs! The run course wasn't too challenging but for me...it was mentally tough since I was rapidly deteriorating. The good news was I swam a PR and feel I can even swim faster in the future! The only down side for this race was the smoke caused by surrounding wild fires. In the days before the race it was really heavy, however on race day the gail force winds blew it all away....perfect if you ask me!
Latest and Greatest!
Karen and I are getting married! After months and months of steady, low dose drugs....I was able to keep her at a such a low buzz...she said YES to my proposal! My plan worked!!! But seriously, we are getting married and it's probably the most exiting time of our lives. We've always hated the wedding cliches but it's very easy to get caught up in! I think the main goal for both of is to celebrate with loves ones! Besides the holidays, it's rare we would ever be able to get so many of our best friends and family together for an occasion! Bring on the months of planning, invitations, more planning and then PARTY!
With this week being monumental on many levels, I had planned 70.3 as a victory lap. The previous world championship course is every athletes biggest challenge. This course contains every challenge you could think of. The water was VERY choppy due to high winds...slowing us all down and making it near impossible to swim straight. Being a few minutes off the first pack is huge, considering I'm still only 5 years into any sort of swimming! After kicking a few large rock running out of the water, I couldn't wait to get on my bike. Having ridden some of the course over the past few days, I was really looking forward to the challenge...but didn't expect the winds to be so high. In retrospect, I may have ridden a 404 front and rear instead of a disc rear/404 front. I found I was really able to make up time on the fast descents but going UP was a bit more challenging with a very strong head/cross wind. When you're fighting to go downhill, it's pretty freaking windy. Right before the turn around point, energy levels started to trend downward and my body was feeling very tight. There is a list of reasons I'm looking into for this, but I know I'm a stronger rider and can handle this intensity....something was not right. This puzzle always seems to be complete but is then totally destroyed!! Either way around 40 miles I was over it....despite reminding myself of how awesome the week had been. I new I felt good enough to run and rode conservative, only averaging 273 NP and riding the exact 2:26 I had planned using Best Bike Split. The first was like my run at Penticton...no energy, super high HR. No matter how many times I said "Fudge it" and tried to GO, it was the same answer every time! At that point I had really been counting my cards. Knowing I was going to be passed by pretty much everyone if I "Finished"....leaving me with another race complete...but still feeling frustrated at the same time, it made sense to just sit it out. I gave the best 5 miles and after I packed it in, it was apparent I needed to. I found some uncontrollable coughing each time I took a deep breath and felt totally lethargic...I still think the bike nutrition needs work. Each race is an experiment for me, especially being so young in the sport. I have to accept these races will unfold like this from time to time, no matter how frustrating....I can't think of anything else I want to succeed so badly with....I will grind my way to the top, that's a promise.
Now it's back to the drawing board...more testing and training hours ahead!
"Although I didn't feel 'bad' , rarely was there a time where I felt 'comfortable'. The frigid cold, unrelenting 10+% grade climbs, cramps, mild GI issues, frustrations with being mediocre at my strongest event and battling the emotional ripples this realization caused. Resiliency, determination, self realization, trust, and acceptance sum up aspects of this race and it was the toughest singular athletic quest I've ever done." Patrick Ellison
For the die hard triathletes, Norseman Xtreme Triathlon represents the #1 race on the bucket list. This is probably because, if you haven't heard, it's the most bad ass triathlon in the world. Before Patrick was selected to be one of the 9, U.S competitors, I'd only guessed at the true value of earning a black T-Shirt. That's right! The BLACK T-SHIRT, given to the first 160 athletes to reach the cut off point. The cut off point sits atop a monstrous system of switchbacks called Zombie hill. You can probably guess why, considering the grade is above 8%...starting from 25K, it's a freaking HIKE. The tough and driven athletes who make the Black T-Shirt list have already survived 2.4 miles (only 1900m this year due to <50 degree water temps) in the Fjord, suffered for almost 6.5 to 7 hours on the bike, climbing over 10,000ft and FINALLY ran their hearts out for 32K to secure a position to be among the best.
This journey started quite awhile back when Patrick notified me he would apply for the Norseman lottery, where they only allocate a small number of positions to U.S athletes. Before I forget, I'd like to note that 47 countries were represented by 249 athletes, with only 36 being women. Don't judge them for being sexist either, they often don't fill all of the female slots. So anyway, Patrick calls me and notifies me "it's on, I'm racing Norseman".
A very unique aspect of this race, is that each athlete must have a support crew or crew member through the duration of the event. This means Patrick was also soliciting me to be a Uber-Sherpa for one of the most challenging races I've ever heard of. It's takes place in a brutal, unforgiving and frigid environment he will have a hard time recreating while training in San Antonio, TX. My thought after our phone conversation was "holy shit he actually made it in". I also, remembered Patrick Finished St. George IM (on its last year) and savage man 70.3, which are/were some of the toughest events in the U.S.
Most people fly into Oslo or Bergen. Oslo is about a 5 hour drive to Eidfjord and Bergen is about 2.5 hours. Why drive from Oslo? Because you get to drive a LOT of the bike course and the views are absolutely stunning!! You'll also need to rent a larg-ish vehicle. I recommend a wagon, small SUV or small van *** the roads are very narrow so be mindful!. Also, if you have the means to do so, a two person support crew is ideal. Luckily Patrick's good friend Chad was able to join us, providing some welcomed companionship during our travels. We spent about 13 hours in a car, constantly shifting supplies, food and keeping each other awake. We crammed 3 years of bonding into one very long car ride....epic.
Depending on where you're staying, plan to wake up around between 1:30 and 2:30 am. We were about 30 minutes north with a STUNNING view. We stayed at hotel Ullensvang since everything in Eidfjord was booked. TOTALLY worth the price and drive. We couldn't have been in a fancier place! We also had access to some grocery stores too, so it's not 100% vital to stock up before you get there. So the overall idea is...you and your athlete will have a VERY long day. Even after ONLY providing support all day, I was smashed when I was allowed to join Patrick for the last 18k or so. I was astonished he climbed up a freaking mountain!!! Check the elevation chart below....the very end is the mountain top finish.
Finally, you'll need to make hotel accommodations in Eidfjord for the start of the race and then stay in Rjuken for the finish. Most people stayed at the top of Zombie hill, which was coordinated by the race directors and where the awards ceremony was held. It was also full so we had to stay 15 min away....in Rjuken.
Race Morning etc...
1:50 am, only 4 hours after I managed to fall asleep...time to get the car packed for the day! Having 3 people, a bike box and all of our luggage meant a 100% packed car. Luckily we had some friends to help shuttle us down to the race site. Armed with 20lbs of food (mainly junk food) and all of our gear we set out on a road narrow enough for 1.5 cars...
- T1 and SWIM - 1 Crew member is allowed to help their athlete during T1 set-up. Make sure you have your yellow reflective vest, GPS unit and head/taillights. They will NOT let you enter until you can provide all of those items and YES they are very strict about this. T1 was open from about 2:30 to 3:45....but It was early and I'm sure my times are a bit fudged. The crew member allowed in T1 should be very involved in the set-up because they will likely be dressing the freezing and incoherent athlete after the frigid swim. Plan for accidental nudity, bring some towels and accept that your athlete will shiver A LOT as their cold blood returns back to their core (it's normal). The Ferry leaves around 4 am and these Norwegian's are very prompt! Patrick was all set with his XTERRA Wetsuit, booties and neoprene head cover...we could only hope he'd find some comfort within the last 60 minutes, because it was about to be ON! The ferry pumped Fjord water into it's cargo bay so athletes could splash it in their face, preventing certain shock! From the shore we could see the ferry, hear the cannon and knew they were off! Now....there aren't any buoys to follow...just a wall of kayaks and a viking like fire on the shore...pretty awesome.
Plan for 6-8 Hours of Saddle Time
Patrick said the shivering and cold lasted until the first 18k on the bike so make sure you dress warm. The good thing (i suppose) is you'll be climbing at a slow rate for about the first 90 min to 120 min, allowing the primary muscles to generate some heat. The athlete cannot receive any support for the first 20k. Also, If you're not too strong in the cold, you'd better put on every warm article possible, you can shed them later to your support crew. Patrick had a solid set-up with a few pairs of gloves, a pair for each variation of cold and wind. Also, I don't care how strong of a cyclist you are....come to this race with a compact crank and a 11-28 cassette. The climb up Imingfjell is very steep and if you'll notice...it's the 5th and 2nd longest climb. With 250 athletes on the course, you've also got to be very aware of your surroundings...since that means 250+ support vehicles blazing around. Also, keep in mind there will be some Italians driving...and they are aggressive! Any illegal activity the support crew gets caught up in will be a time penalty for their athlete, so be careful out there.
After seeing Patrick handle the emotional battle of the bike course, we had no idea how we would feel or fair on the run. Needless to say, after the steep, grinding effort up that last climb...he was emotionally challenged to a entirely different level then he had ever experienced. The last 20k is a non-support zone since it's a very technical descent, so we headed to T2 to set-up for his arrival. He actually made up 3 or 4 minutes on the descent, putting him in 153rd position heading onto the run course...only 3 positions behind is good friend Simon, another American who Patrick works with.
This is how the run breaks down. It's a 25K run to Zombie hill, where you'll be pretty much power hiking. The goal here is knock out that 25k as fast as possible, holding your position until the hill. At 25K one of your crew members can join you for the last, long ascent up the mountain...to the tallest point in Norway.
Within the first 2 or 3 miles, after working out some cramps and a well needed bathroom break, Patrick looked GREAT. I was worried some GI issues would take him out but I think as a team we planned and executed very well. After, passing a few people and also being passed by a couple of dudes, Patrick hit 25K around 153 position...holding strong. At that point, him and I spend the next 4 hours working our way to the top of a mountain. This power hike took HUGE mental focus by Patrick as each big step threatened to lock up any part of his deteriorating body. We used some mantra's, some good old fashioned mind tricks and a high tempo strut until we hit 37K....the black shirt cut off. Believe it or not, we had a bunch of power stepping vultures behind us who also wanted their Black T. Everyone after the 160 person cut-off had to finish with a white shirt and was not allowed to summit Gaustatoppen (they took a different route)...a barren rock wasteland in the clouds.
It was emotional to say the least but as any triathlete knows, the journey is long and full of unforeseen events. The absolute drive within each of us needs to be measured from time to time, requiring great sacrifice and let's face it.....this is an expensive trip. This sport isn't cheap on any level but nothing worth having comes at a small price. I can honestly say that I've never experienced such a challenging event! My hats off to anyone who can push through such extreme circumstances and finish, let alone earn the black t-shirt. It was a privilege to coach Patrick to and through Noresman. I had to ask a lot from him and he'll be the first to say he sacrificed a lot along the way. Many women had their hearts broken when he had 5+ hour rides to accomplish...rather then spending quality time doing what normal people do. Norway is an amazing place to visit and the Norseman crew truly put their heart and soul into this race...it was truly World Class on every single level. Oh and if you're going as support crew, remember you have to walk back down the 90-120 min ascent up the mountain....It wasn't as bad though. Plus, the number of older folks and younger children doing this kinda brings it to another level....this is their weekend "family time". Norwegians are freaking tough!
"This effort and success are not mine alone. They are the direct result of a coach that designed a 9 month program of diabolical training evolutions. A guy who was there at a moments notice and even stood by my side to the very end. Always pushing me to journey on in the bitter cold, wind, rain, and sleet in spite a body and mind that wanted to quit. Onward to the highest point in Norway, a mother of a climb to finish atop Gaustatoppen. Thanks Nick you're one in a million." Patrick Ellison
Every endurance athlete I've ever met has a very special relationship with food. I would argue it's as unique as the training program from person to person. Some folks want sushi before the race, some skip a traditional dinner pre-race and eat only 4 snickers bars. Personally, I can say that I've tried just about everything. Keeping it simple and familiar and FUN is key!
Having spent countless hours calculating calories, processing exact meal macro nutrients and learning about how my body handles the lot, I've finally figured out what NOT to do right before a 70.3. If you read about my St. George experience, I drastically under estimated my taper week calories because I failed to change gears out of weight loss mode. Also, losing weight in peak-season is just silly...you end up losing some GRIT and raw power. Feeling flat on race day is a serious bummer!!
I just completed Raleigh 70.3 a couple weeks ago and backed it up with an Olympic ITU type tri the following weekend. Donuts were defiantly part of my fuel plan....no more cutting calories on race week. Pre and post race was nutrition was relaxed and I felt stronger from a power and endurance standpoint. I obviously need to continue fine tuning this protocol but let's just say it'll be much more relaxed. I'd also like to highlight I still kept to 90% of my normal eating habits...I didn't go willie nillie on twinkles, hobo's and ding dongs. I just added a few extra treats I would normally shy away from...#YUM
Raleigh 70.3 turned out to be a solid experience in that:
- I came out leading the second swim pack despite having a sluggish start
- Rode within 2% of my BestBikeSplit.com race plan
- Made it through the first half of the run feeling strong...before fading, sigh
- Had a TON of friends and family on course to support my emotional needs.
At the end of the race, I rode myself into 8th and ran myself into 13th. Note to self----run faster you NARP!! (Non Athletic Regular Person)
Armed Forces National Championship @ Leon's Triathlon
Two races with a long heritage combined once again for a tremendously moving event! Initially, I have to say that my heart was a little broken when I heard the California race was moved to Indiana. It's no questions that staying a the beach hotel, being lulled to sleep by the Pacific is ideal (sorry Indiana). However, the Pt Mugu race location is very isolated and lacks community support...mainly because it's on a isolated military base.
On the other hand, Leon's Triathlon has YEARS of heritage, is proud to support veterans and couldn't have been better hosts! I think it's safe to say as much as the Air Force team missed the beach, we couldn't have been more amped to race in front of a larger crowd and bring some more limelight to what Leon's Triathlon stands for. They really rolled out the red carpet for all of the armed forces teams.
For me draft legal racing is always a blast...if I manage to nail the swim. Unfortunately, this swim will not make the "nailed it" list. Despite being incredibly unorganized at the start and incredibly violent for 3 to 4 minutes, I couldn't get a solid line close to the buoys. I still swam 20 min BUT know I could have brought a low 19. Other highlights include...
- Lots of hard work on the bike (no thanks to the Navy)
- Working harder on the bike so the 3 AF guys in our group could run stronger!
- Running sub 6 min pace despite having blasted the legs
- Air Force WINNING GOLD!! (after 3 years of silver)
After the race I planned to take my first ever WEEK OFF. Again, unfortunately this was a forced week off anyway since I ended up getting pretty sick after. I noticed after my recon swim Friday am, my voice was getting coarse and I started feeling a cough coming on. I suppose the drop in temperature, downpour on the run and howling wind took my immune system down a bit more post race. We even put our wetsuits on after the race to try and stay warm!! Either way, this week is an off week. The rest of the race schedule is still going to plan so on 5 July I'll race in Canada for the first time!
Also...next time you see me on a bike I should be rocking my new Scott Plasma 5....
Thanks for reading, please let me know if you think you've found the best donut place EVER so I can add it to my list.
The picture may give away my location or it might at least give a general idea of where I am. I'll give you 3 seconds to guess......
I'm in St. George Utah, getting mentally and physically prepared for one of the most challenging races of the season. I've always thought that taking on 1 or 2 top-tier races races per year would really help keep my "reality" meter in a good spot. In 3 to 4 years I truly hope to achieve some stellar performances so right now I want to surround myself with the best...and yes even get beat'n (to a pulp) by the best! The U.S Pro Championship start list is like a tri-nerds wet dream. I wouldn't say 100% of every top name I've ever known is on the list but there are some very talented athletes listed whom I truly look up to.
Let's get some deep thoughts going.....
I'd like to take a few minutes and get really deep with you guys (skip this paragraph if you're in a hurry). I don't often take the time to really figure out why I've made key decisions or how they've all added up to this very moment, but the general consensus I've come up with is; respect. Even at the smallest level of my development, I would stand in awe at watching local Age Group winners at St. Anthony's and oogle at the future professional athletes who won the Elite Amateur division. I just felt like..."I want to be where they are, feel what they feel AND work as hard as them". I've never been truly driven by results but more or less love the idea of what being at the "top" stands for. I'm all about the journey and I respect the hell out of it. Thus far, mine is worth it's weight in platinum..or a diamond bedazzled bike frame. I've never worked harder or put more effort into anything in this world! The best part is, with enough persistence and positive energy dedicated in one direction, you're bound for success. More than once I've though "maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew" or "you're so far away from the winners". Especially when I decide to take on challenging races knowing there is some humble pie at the finish line. However, I'd like to think I still race and think this way because of the same respect that made me want this experience to begin with. I respect the process, the insanity, the people who support me, learning through highs and lows and the thought that one day, I'll be right where I'm supposed to be....writing another blog like this after winning a championship (top 5 would make me happy too)!
Time Trials, Sprints and Olympics
The weeks following Oceanside 70.3 have been great! The hard work from January - March has started to actually take hold. I've seen some solid gains on overall FTP, threshold swim speed and yes...even some running gains. I've also been getting back to "race weight", dialing in my nutrition, monitoring everything coming in. So here I am, having won a local TT, local sprint tri and placed 10th at St. Anthony's. I'm 6 pounds lighter, feeling strong and hitting all of the key mental aspects of heavy training and racing. Life is good!
Quick Recap on St. Anthony's
- I definitely prepared much better than last year! I rested more during the week and didn't end up being as social (sorry fans). I actually felt very heavy, tired/lethargic until the day before the race, skipping out on a local open water swim event. I'd like to say the taper worked out perfectly, but who really knows? After heavy racing and training volume, once allowed to rest I sometimes feel mentally and physically shot. As weird as that may sound, I sort of look for that as an indication that taper is going well. My body is able to get into a "rebuild" mode, meaning the normal high-stress, sensory overload stimulus is less and my endorphin and hormone levels actually start to feel "normal". It might just be me, but taper week is often a harder week...it's a science worth perfecting. It's like telling an indy car he can only go 75 mph instead of 200...it's like asking how's a rainbow made or how does posi-trac on a plymouth work? It just does....
btw if you're interested in how post-trac works on a plymouth CLICK HERE
PRE RACE & SWIM
- I Woke up feeling like I wanted to sleep in (also another indicator I'm ready to race), ate breakfast at 4:30am. Next, I took a hot shower to loosen up a bit, hopped on the treadmill for some overspeed intervals, foam rolled. Then I zoned out until I got to transition. Weather update for swim: opposing current, light chop and heavier swells in deeper water. Not too shabby.
- This was the most aggressive swim start of the year and by that I mean, there was a lot of contact. I think 4 guys swam over me diagonally trying to get to the left. Maybe it was bad positioning or just lack-luster "Whole Shot" speed...but I was shot out of contention for any sort of "pack" swim. I managed to inch away from a group of 4 but came out 14th...sigh
- I politely asked my legs to wait for me next to my bike in transition (last year they never showed up) and luckily, this year they were there! I was holding my ideal power within 5% or so and didn't really fade too much. I took the corners as fast as possible, charging out of each one. Ideally I'd like to bike around 56-57 min, so with the wind I really had to push harder on some areas to maintain speed. I was able to bike my way into 9th...so even being 60 sec faster on my swim would have gotten me 9th or maybe even 8th!!
COACHES NOTE: Swimming is tremendously important (stomping my foot)!! It's hard to truly help an athlete get their race times down when poor swim mechanics really drain them. Meaning they have to fight, fight, fight on the bike (I speak from experience). I'd say most athletes thrive in the bike/run atmosphere because it's more social and less of a chore AND doesn't require being numbered in a alien environment. Essentially, it may seem like you get more bang for your buck having a mega-bike...but it's not an excuse to swim 10k a week. Why play catch-up from the start? Simulate your race environment as much as possible at least 1 month before the race. I'm talking about hard, lactate threshold 100-300 yd swims with 400 to 500 of race pace...limit your rest periods so your HR doesn't drop too much! Steal some bike/run volume for a few weeks and dedicate it to some focused (coached) swimming that highlight your weaknesses...forcing some adaptation. It takes time and patience...I'm a prime example
- So far this is the slowest developing aspect of my training, but I actually ran well off the bike!! I still don't feel like I've got the leg speed or ground contact time I'm looking for but the durability and fitness is certainly evolving (despite having foot pain since Nov). Plus, being 6-8 pounds lighter then I was at Oceanside really made a big difference. My teammate Nicholas Sterghos passed me with a little over 1.5 miles to go....he was moving fast, like a little hamster on drugs. I wasn't upset about it though given his running abilities. However, I knew I couldn't let anyone else get by me....I wanted a top 10 position dammit! BOOM....I sewed together a solid day and fell i love with this race again! The local scene couldn't have been better.
There you have it! I'll finish with some pictures of some amazing athletes I work with, great friends and one of my favorites sayings..... Get comfortable being uncomfortable.....
My #1 fan and head of my support crew and I just got back home to FL, already missing the great state of CA! I’ve been gone since 6 March and now it’s time to get back to the grind. Of course by “grind” I mean the same stuff as always but at home instead of across the US....and with more clean clothes! But the hat says it all....
After a few days of tough training, I jumped into the “Pendleton Ride”(the weds ride) that hits the front side of the Oceanside 70.3 bike course. This ride is notorious for brining the best talent I’ve personally ever seen. I think Chris Horner favorites this ride from time to time, not to mention most of the pro cyclists in the area. Needless to say, despite being on a TT bike, I gambled that my odds of completing this ride were pretty solid. In reality, my odds for success were probably like 30%. After the first 2 minutes of sustained 420NP climbs…I knew it was going to be a blow out. The surges were relentless and after the ride I noticed my abs hurt in new places, like I engaged hidden abdominal muscles for extra strength. Either way, I’m not afraid to limp it back home. I did what I could on the day.
After that ride, it was a good idea to take some easy days. I headed up to Fontana, CA to watch Lesley race about 6 former Olympians for a UCI points Mountain Bike race. This was a big deal! There were helicopters, pro teams warming up on rollers and tons…I mean TONS of intense riders. Lesley ended up nailing down 10th on a very technical course (I know because I ran some of it). Go figure, she wins her next XTERRA race despite having to swim with one-arm after a pre-race crash. How could I ever complain after that type of grit is displayed? Anyway, after a few days and a 24-hour week of training, it was time to taper a bit. Which leads me to my Oceanside 70.3 Race Recap!
The Rookie Pro Perspective…
As I wandered to the pro meeting, I knew I would soon be amongst some serious talent. Naturally, I show up wanting to ask for autographs, almost drooling over the champions who sit plainly before me. The truth is, everyone is really cool and casual but making very little eye contact. It’s an atmosphere just friendly “enough” but there aren’t any college fraternity vibes going around. No one is giving high fives or grab-assing. Logistically, this race was very well executed, especially for the bike course “speed zone”. Camp Pendleton required age group athletes to maintain 25mph (35mph for Pros) during a fast downhill section of the course where a man had died during this event’s second year. Last year, there were supposed to be radar guns that would disqualify anyone who sped…but that certainly didn’t happen. THIS YEAR, they had a timing mat at the top and at the bottom…clearly showing the speed of each athlete within this zone. I was very pleased to see this method of control. It totally kept it legitimate and fair for everyone competing for the big $$. It’s tough to rationalize at times but yes, I’m most certainly racing for experience and fitness. Looking around, I know I’m not a top 10 guy ...yet. Luckily, I’ve aligned my life to allow for this type of lifestyle until I’m a contender and a driving force within this sport. It’s tough at times but even the Pro Football player who sat on the bench gets his Super Bowl ring. All I’m saying is, this type of fitness take a long period of physical and mental evolution…something I’m most certainly dedicated to earning…from the ground up, baby!
- Race Morning and Swim Start-
I woke up feeling the same as I always do on race morning...tired, not looking forward to the ritual and waiting around for the cannon. I ate my breakfast 3 hours before start time, wait for the morning “movement” and then mentally relax a bit, remembering that no matter what…today is what it is and I’m not going to give up at any point. After a few last minute checks, Brittany Pierce and I make our way down to transition with our bikes and gear. It’s perfect temperature and very hazy and as we approach transition…the heart beat picks up a few beats. It’s race time baby!
Personally, I need every minute of pre-swim warm up that is offered. I always feel better when the wetsuit is soaked! So after a quick jog, I suit up and get ready to hop in the water. No looking around, no wondering what will happen…just knowing I’m about to hit 9000 rpm’s and will hold it for the whole swim! BOOM...and we’re off! Lost the 1st group (duh) and trailed somewhere between the second and third group…knocking elbows with a few fellas. I swam 3 minutes faster this year, which was GREAT and I came out with a few athletes I look up to! MOST importantly I DID NOT get chicked on the swim. Hey…every battle counts during this war! Lastly, if you’re not sure if the sun is going to blind you or the fog will keep it low visibility, get some ZOGGS Predator Flex with transitional lenses. This way you don’t ever have to guess. They stay clear until the sun hits them…totally great for the Oceanside swim because it’s either foggy or the sun is directly head on when you turn to come back!
- BIKE –
So let me warn you, built in visors should NOT be used on foggy days. I couldn’t see very well for the first 20 minutes, which made me ride a little conservative until we were out of the bumps and tight turns. I had to use the tip of my pinky to try and squeegee when I could but it didn’t really help. Finally, the sun broke through and I could see. The power meter wasn’t registering, my hips and back felt like rubber bands stored in a freezer. It’s the second time I’ve felt this way on the bike…last time was my first DNF…but that was NOT going to happen again. Despite feeling like garbage, I managed to ride up to the second group…but then the climbs started and the group was gone…sigh. I felt the fatigue of the previous week in my legs for certain and was often frustrated. None-the-less, I wanted to beat some of the other newer pros I knew I’d beaten out of the water…so I motored on, finding some speed on the back half. I rode 5 minutes faster this year…marginal gains baby! Rode some Zipp 808’s this year VS the American Classic Disc…felt much, much better going up hill!
- What's next? Oh wait...RUN -
At a few points on the ride I couldn’t fathom how my legs would feel off the bike. I imagined a giraffe on ice but refused to accept that fate. At the dismount line, I felt decent enough…even with screaming hip flexors. Let me tell you, I ran the first 2 miles exactly how I wanted to run the whole race…right around 6 minute pace. It was at that point where my legs felt exponentially heavy and I felt that initial “spring” fade away…like many races before, I hit survival mode. In survival mode, you really have to keep your mind right. Quitting isn’t an option so you just get from aid station to aid station…slamming water, Coke, water, Coke, Red Bull!! I didn’t get "wings" though, just burps that tasted horrible. I was in a decent position but was passed by 6 or 7 athletes…so then I didn’t really care about the position, just knew I had to hold off a few dudes that I’d previously raced with. Survival mode…it’ll get you to the finish line feeling great because when it’s finally over, you’ve earned some serious grit and mental toughness. I’m super happy with my attitude and attack given what I had to work with. Plus, 2 athletes I know had some mechanical issues and waited for 45 min on the side of the road for tech support…but still finished the run! I LOVE the courage and dedication this sport carries. Next 70.3 is in St. George!!! That will be another humble experience for certain, but getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to improve!
As most of you may know, I am still a sponsored athlete with the United States Military Endurance Sports team. Yes, it's a mouthful! Being part of this team means a lot to me, especially since it supports every walk of life! Initially started to help elite military cyclists compete in the biggest and best races around the world, USMES has certainly impacted thousands of otherwise under-developed athletes. Fast forward to 2015, there are over 750 members world wide! They include cyclists, triathletes, adaptive athletes, runners and adventure racers! There is a spot for everyone...except ping pong players.
Anyway, this past week I was lucky enough to help organize the first ever Triathlon specific camp in Tucson, AZ. Kathy Rakel and I developed some seriously challenging days suitable for all levels. We climbed Mt. Lemmon, Madera Canyon and Gates Pass. We practiced open water swimming in 55 degree water (Lake Patagonia) and killed some trail running. To really add value, a swim technique course and running strength clinic was offered...talk about the whole Sha-BANG!
So here I am in San Diego with the BEST Home-Stay Ever (Jay Weber from XTERRA Wetsuits), 1 day after my first race of the season and an EPIC camp! I really have a lot to share but have decided I'll space it out over the next few weeks...and start with some pre-season highlights! Here are some fun things I've done over the past months....
- Braveheart Games Camp in San Diego - I came out here in January to get some serious pre-season hill work since (for some reason) I've decided to load up on the "hilly" races. OceanSide 70.3 is in 2 weeks then there is St. George and Vineman...so I need to get in some elevation. My coach put together a STELLAR camp for everyone out here and I walked away having climbed some local mountains and getting my butt whooped by a few elites! Either way, I'll never be afraid to get dropped, blow-up or try with all of my heart! As I like to tell all the stellar athletes I work with "You can NEVER fail if you NEVER quit" -ME-
- Tribal Multi-Sport Camp -
At the end of Feb, we opted for a local camp in Tampa Fl, since all of the hotels in Clermont were on "triple rate" mode. Seriously, we couldn't squeeze any deals on hotel rooms up there. Either way, we made the best of a solid 3 day weekend...adding in multiple challenging efforts, supported rides and super-sprint simulation at the pool I work with. Being a coach has offered me tremendous growth as an Elite athlete. It helps me keep it all in perspective. I can certainly complain (and I do) about heavy legs...sleepless nights etc...but at least I don't have to deal with a boss and children. I am in NO way saying that those things aren't GREAT...but for an athlete trying to make it to the top, I totally see this is the only way to be a World Champion! I'm grounded because of the amazing people I get to work with on a daily basis. They have trusted my vision for them and for that I'm so grateful. I don't think I'm a great coach because I'm an Elite athlete...I think this is genuinely what I would love to do even if coaching was my ONLY "job". To wrap this portion up, I just want all of the Tribe to know how much I am inspired by their efforts and I always think of you when I'm racing!
- USMES CAMP and SUPERSEAL TRI.....and BEYOND!
So after a week at camp - I raced the season "opener"....Super Seal Olympic in Coronado, CA
- 250 miles of biking (16+k of climbing)
- 40 miles of running (5 k of vert)
- 15K of swimming
This was pretty much the same protocol as last year but I think last year there was about 200 more miles of cycling since I participated in the "cycling" camp. This past week was actually just what I needed, very specific and challenging enough to develop some fitness without digging too deep before Oceanside. Camp was a blast! I really came out with a stronger sense of what this season has to offer and some great indications of what I can do. The race re-cap is as follows....
SWIM: By far where I've grown the MOST over the past year. I'm consistently hitting faster and faster times on a bi-weekly basis. I was able to swim the 1500M in 20 min this year, as opposed to about 23 min last year. I came out 3rd and was very pleased I didn't have to bury myself to knock that out!
BIKE: The legs weren't totally there but my bubble butt still has some "Umph" left to give. I managed to ride myself into the lead on the bike by the last half...of the last lap. I was very happy with the power numbers considering the weeks efforts! Flat and fast courses better WATCH out this year!
RUN: I didn't expect to hold off the second place dude...he was wearing an ITU kit so I knew he would most likely out run me. At mile 2 he sped on by but I certainly kept him in my sights. My run time wasn't very stellar and the field at Super Seal wasn't as deep this year...so I was fortunate to still walk away with 3rd. I have to say...running is the one aspect of this sport that really really takes some time to develop. I envy those collegiate All-Stars who have put in thousands of miles at such a young age. I'm not discouraged by it...but dang it would be nice to be able to throw down with them.
That's the "Nicholas Chase Life" recap over the past few months! Oceanside is in 2 weeks and I'm getting ready to go faster than last year against the best athletes in the world! Thanks for taking the time to read up on my travels and adventures! I certainly surround myself with amazing people...I wouldn't be anywhere without them!