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.....