Monday, November 22, 2010
As I mentioned this was my first World Championship and the atmosphere was pretty incredible. There just seemed to be so much anticipation for the race. I was staying a little ways away from the race which had its limitations and also some benefits. It made getting to the race site every day before the race a little more difficult but then again I was able to rest and be away from all the excitement. Thankfully my dad went to the race with me and that made the logistics a lot easier so I didn't really have to think about that. By the time race morning came around I felt calm and confident in my preparation.
My race plan was to be the first person out of the water. Stay at the front of the race but not be the one leading the whole time (failed at this) and then have a strong half marathon because that is what I had been focusing a lot of my training on. I succeeded in being first out of the water but I failed at not leading the bike. Based on the way the race was last year I knew it was important to be at the front but to not actually lead. Because the bike course is so flat there are many opportunities to "legally" draft (and for that matter illegally draft). Because of that, being the first person in the chain of cyclists would take much more energy than being in the middle of it. For some reason I abandoned this race strategy and led the bike through about 40 miles. At this point I sort of realized that I needed to run still and backed off and just hung out in the pack. (this is where it was made obvious to me how much easier it was to actually just hang out in the pack than lead the race...learning experience.)
I got into the run and my legs felt very heavy but I was running at a good pace. Unfortunately this only lasted for a few miles and by 3 or 4 miles in I started to really struggle. I spent the majority of the middle part of the race slowly loosing time off of my pace and started to really loose my mental focus. I had high expectations of having a really good run because I was training so well and it was obvious to me that I wasn't running anywhere near my pace. That was until on the second lap when an age grouper came up by me (he was on his first lap of the run) and he flat out told me to run with him. With someone there to motivate me I quickly got back into a better pace and finished the last 2 or 3 miles much stronger. Overall I was happy with the whole experience and by the end I was happy with my effort. I'll take what I learned and I am excited to race the course in Las Vegas next year.
I am happy to have my season finally over. This was my first full season as a professional and I gained a lot of experience while staying competitive in some tough races. I look forward to a much needed short break and to start working on a true breakout year in 2011.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
When I was swimming at Davis our coach called our winter training dog days. It was the time of the year for a week and a half before Christmas and a week and a half after Christmas that we trained 2 sometimes 3 times a day, basically with no other teams in Davis and all of our friends on winter vacation, and with terrible weather (one year the wind was rain was so bad that signs at the pool were being ripped off, there were legitimate waves in the pool, and the entire town lost power except for the campus which had its own power source which meant we could still train.) It was our last big push of training before we started our dual meet season and it was something we all hated but loved at the same time because we knew that the work we did during that time period would carry us to conference.
The past 3 weeks for me have been somewhat similar except that for the most part the weather has been a lot better and unfortunately I had to do all of my training by myself. Doing that much hard training solo really started to wear on me and for awhile it was hard for me to see the end. I just tried to take it one day at a time and the one motivating factor was that I knew I would be prepared to race at the end of this block. (I was also excited for the ensuing break from training that would follow my last race.) When my coach first gave me my schedule for this block I laughed because I really didn’t think I would be able to do the workouts. He told me I could and just told me try them and see what would happen. I did and each key workout was better and better even though I was in a very exhausted state. After the first week and a half without a day off and doing some of the hardest workouts I have ever done I was in a place that I had only felt during the dog days of swimming. (Except unlike swimming when I could nap and recover between workouts I had the enjoyment of working all day every day) My last days of this block were over the weekend and I am proud of the effort that I was able to put forth the past few weeks. I can only rest now and race the way I trained. I am looking forward to the end of my first full professional season and I am also already excited for the work ahead to start preparing for the 2011 season but not until after a much needed break.
My last Olympic distance race of the year was at the US Open in Dallas (actually Rockwall) Texas. This was my 3rd race in a row and I was not sure exactly how my body would react because I have never raced 3 triathlons in a row but I was feeling pretty good going into the race. I was trying to balance my recovery with staying in enough shape to prepare for Clearwater.
After our pre race meeting on Friday we were treated to an amazing dinner provided by the host hotel. While we were waiting for the room to be ready for our dinner we saw a bridal party and we just assumed that the room that we thought our dinner was in was for the wedding. It was pretty amazing and I took full advantage of the fact that it was all you can eat. After that I was ready to race. I was also actually really excited to watch Kona the next day and at this point was thinking more about that race than my own. Sitting in my hotel room for hours watching that after my morning ride was a perfect way to relax. On the course ride that morning I went out with a large group of athletes and we rode the bike course and run course. The run course was a lot hillier than we all had expected and we were treated with a hill right out of transition but overall both courses looked like they would be fast. The one issue we were all concerned about was the fact that there was only one lane on the bike course. With the stagger rule for non-drafting races we were concerned that 1) it would be hard to pass and 2) that there could be some “accidental” drafting going on. (With the way my race went I did not have to worry about either of these…)
Race day morning I was excited to race against another strong field for the 3rd week in a row and I was also excited for my last Olympic distance race. I had a pretty good race in LA the weekend before (specifically a good bike) and I was hoping that a similar swim and bike could set me up in a really good position. That didn’t exactly happen. If I could have split my race into a half of each distance I think I would have had a great race. I had a good first half of the swim and was sitting right were I needed to be about 3rd or 4th in the front of the pack. Then for some reason when we turned toward the shore with about 500meters left I started falling back. Not exactly sure what happened but those last 500meters ended up putting me at the back of the front pack on the swim which with a slow transition put me behind a group of about 5 on the bike…(that was the group that I knew I needed to be in for my race to go as planned). I did all I could at the beginning of the bike to try to get on the back of that pack but just could not find my cycling legs and ended up by myself for the first 15miles of the bike until I was joined by Greg Bennett. At that point I started to get into an actual rhythm we stayed together into T2 but I was already a lot further behind going into the run than I had wanted to be from the main group. The run followed a similar pattern as the swim and bike and I had a decent second half of the run but really struggled to find my pace in the beginning of the run. This lead to me being passed by I believe 2 guys on the run and I only managed a 10th place finish.
My goal for the race was to finish in the top and by finishing 10th I achieved that goal. However, I believe that if I was able to race the way that I had in LA and also race the way I had been training leading up to the race that I would have been able to be much more competitive. I am excited to get in a strong training block and prepare for my last race of the season at Clearwater.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Two weeks ago I raced the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon on October 3rd. This was a weekend after my race in Alabama and my second ever Lifetime Fitness Race to the Toyota Cup race. I drove down with my friend, training partner, and now eligible new pro Andrew Bauer the Friday before the race and somehow managed to make it through LA without hitting traffic (probably the first and last time this will ever happen for me). The race was on Sunday so we spent Saturday morning out where the swim was going to be at the beach because we wanted to see if there was any swell and to practice our run/swim out in the waves and also our swim/run out of the waves. With Andrew being from Michigan this was the first time I think he had gone for a swim in the ocean and I do have to say it was pretty funny watching him go through the waves for the first time. (To his credit it didn't take long for him to get good at it). There were a few sets that came in sporadically so we knew that the difficulty of the waves would really just depend on what the ocean was doing when the gun went off. After Nationals I was pretty excited to redeem myself with some good races and I woke up race day morning really excited to get out to race. This field was the strongest field that I had faced at a race and I was ready to see how I could race with them. (There were 5 Olympians in the field including the current World Champion). When the gun went off for the swim there really weren't any waves so it was relatively easy getting out to the first buoy. I found myself sitting in 3rd for most of the swim behind Cameron Dye and Javier Gomez and was happy to just hang out there knowing I wouldn't be able to push the pace any faster. The interesting part of the swim came about right after we made our right hand turn to head towards the beach...for those of you that have been in the ocean before when a wave is starting to form it starts sucking water back towards it. So if you are swimming right in front of a forming wave you will typically have the feeling as if you are being pulled backwards. Unfortunately I was in this position when the not a huge wave but definitely the largest we had seen so far that day was forming. I was in the position where I was too far in front of the wave to actually catch it and in the perfect spot for it to land right on top of me. As soon as the wave hit me I started flipping and tried to use some of the wave for any sort of forward momentum (this is also the point where the guys who caught the wave were able to ride it way past where I was). After I was able to get myself out of the water I had lost contact to Cameron Dye, Docherty, and Gomez and I was with Matty Reed and Andrew Starykowicz. I knew that Andrew would be pushing the pace on the bike and did my best to hang with him at the beginning of the ride but he quickly dropped me. At this point I was by myself and knew that the guys ahead of me would be hammering it so I did my best to really work the bike and I was feeling pretty good. (especially after I paced Gomez who would then later run by me so fast it made me wonder if I was actually walking instead of running.) At the turn around on the bike I saw that I was in 4th and saw the quality of guys behind me and just continued to ride as hard as I could to see what would happen. I ended up coming off the bike in 4th but was quickly passed my Greg Bennett as soon as I got onto the run. After the hard bike my legs felt really heavy and the steep hill that we had to run twice didn't help. I ended up having a pretty slow run and fell to 8th which I was happy about because of the quality of the field but also pretty disappointed about because it was one spot out of the money. Overall I was glad that I was able to follow up Nationals with a good solid effort. This was also the first race in which I feel the work I have done on the bike actually paid off. I still have the very obvious weakness in a my run but that will continue to be a work in progress. I have one Olympic race left for the season and that is next weekend at the US Open Triathlon in Dallas.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Race Day: It was no secret that the weather in Tuscaloosa for nationals was going to be hot. I had heard rumors that the water temperature was reaching up to 88 degrees (lucky for us it was only 84 degrees...just about 6 degrees warmer than I would race in a pool). I haven't heard anything about the actual temperature on the day but it was just flat out awful. I had a terrible start to the swim. For some reason didn't get off the dock very well and had to swim through a group of people just to make it to the back of the front pack. At that point I was just getting mauled. It was probably the slowest I have swam in a race and also the hardest at the same time. Getting on the bike it was quickly apparent that there was going to be one big group of about 20-25. We cruised around for a lap or so and with the heat it was almost hard to breath. I just tried to drink as much as I could. I went on a couple of short attacks to no avail early and I was starting to think that being aggressive might not be a good idea. At the beginning of lap 5 I somehow managed a little separation without really making a move and with that I decided I would really accelerate and see what could happen. I was by myself till the top of the hill and then was joined by 3 other guys. (Charbot, Fretta, and I was not sure of the third) We didn't stay away for very long and by the 6th lap we were one group again. By this point I was starting to regret being aggressive early and was just boiling. By the final lap and I got dropped at the top of the hill...threw up...and then decided I might not even try to run. I did eventually make it to the run and with the help of my parents and friends cheering me on I knew I couldn't give up and gave what little I had left on the run which mainly consisted of putting one foot in front of the other. I am glad that I was able to finish the race and I am still glad that I took some chances on the bike. I want to continue to race aggressively and I am still learning so much about draft legal races. I do however look forward to the next two weeks where I will be racing in non-drafting Olympics at LA and Dallas.
So this was my first real vacation of the year. Of course I would take a vacation where I hike over 40 miles in 3 days but it was well worth it. Yosemite is probably my favorite place that I have ever been too. I have spent so many trips here camping with my family or going on backpacking trips with my dad and brother. I had been wanting to take some of my friends that had never been there to this amazing place. We had a trip planned that had 3 long day hikes over 3 days. Our first was probably the most epic of the 3. We decided that we could drive to Yosemite, pack up camp, and hike to the top of Cloud’s Rest all in the same day. Although we did accomplish this we did spend more time than I would have liked hiking in the dark. Seeing the sunset from Cloud’s Rest might have been worth it…I haven’t decided yet. The hike to Cloud’s Rest I thought was 10 miles round trip. It ended up being 15 and you hike up 2500 feet and down 2500 feet. An ambitious hike for starting at 3:00pm. We set a fast pace and our group quickly split into the group that was determined to make it to the top regardless of time and the group that was sane. We made it to the top and seeing the faces of my friends that had never been to something like that was priceless. I now know what it must have been like for my dad when my jaw dropped the first time I saw that view. From Cloud’s Rest you look down Half Dome and you can see the entirety of Yosemite Valley. On all the sides around you can see the vast wilderness and granite peaks. The sun went down on our hike back and I was pretty surprised how quickly it went from being sunset to dusk to complete darkness. At this point I was really happy that I had packed a few headlamps in my day back and it was actually not a bad hike in the dark. Eerily peaceful I would say. That was until Heidi and I decided that we were walking faster than the other 3 in our group and we decided to go up ahead and get the car and drive it closer for the other guys. About 5 minutes after Heidi said how safe she felt even though we were in complete darkness, I was trying to make sure we were going the right way at a trail junction she sees what we are very sure was a mountain lion. I had seen eyes in the darkness following us the whole time but was hoping that it was a deer or even a bear. Bears are much more afraid of humans than a mountain lion. At this point we pretty much just screamed at it and tried to make ourselves look big. That didn’t really bother the mountain lion who just stayed where it was which happened to be right on the trail that we were tying to go on. At this point we decided it would be a good idea to head back up the trail to rejoin our group because a group of 5 is much more intimidating than a group of 2. (especially when one member of the group is 6’9). At no point did the mountain lion seem like it was going to attack us or anything it was more watching us but that was a very terrifying moment. We successfully made it back to camp and were able to enjoy the next two days of our trip which included a hike to a lake with a gorgeous meadow where there was a wildfire pretty close to us (we might have ignored the signs), and a trip to the top of Yosemite Falls. For some photos check out my brother’s and Trent’s facebook page…
I had the honor of being chosen to represent the United States at the World University Games in Valencia, Spain. This would be my first trip to Europe and although I was only going for a few days I was extremely excited to go to Spain. My brother spent a semester abroad in Barcelona so after hearing stories from him about Spain I couldn’t wait to be there myself. The trip over was really long but pretty uneventful. I had the advice to not sleep when I arrived in Spain regardless of how tired I was which worked out well. When we arrived we had to go through the process of getting badges for the race. This turned out to be an ongoing problem for our team and our coach Steve Kelly took it all in stride. We didn’t get to see much of him during the trip mainly because he was dealing with making sure we were all credentialed (the ITU makes everything easy right?). The hotel that we stayed in was basically an apartment. We had a few rooms, a kitchen (which Dustin McClarty, Chris Stehula, and I used to make amazing breakfasts), and an amazing ocean view. Chris had arrived to Valencia a day before the rest of us and he had toured the city around on his bike. I had really wanted to see some sights while I was there and Chris took Dustin and I out on our bikes and we rode around the city of Valencia for a few hours. It was pretty surreal riding around on our bikes with race wheels through the streets of Valencia and this was probably the highlight of my trip. The architecture is amazing and there are two very different parts of the city. The very old part with cathedrals and old beautiful buildings and then a really modern part of the city where they have museums and such. We would visit this area again for the post race and to this day is definitely the coolest place I have every partied in. More on that to come. Our race was in the middle of the day and happened to be on the hottest day. The days leading up to the race were very mild and not humid. That quickly changed on the race day. I do not typically do well in heat so I was less than thrilled about our mid day start time. That and the fact that the water temperature was I believe 70 and they made it wetsuit legal (not sure how that fits in the rules). So the course had a really long run out into the water and we did that twice and then also had about a half mile run to the transition area. So with all the running in the swimming we all came out in one large pack. We had talked about race strategy as a team before this race. We had decided that we were in a unique opportunity to represent the USA as a team, something that is not typically done in triathlon. Our best runner, Greg Billington, had a good swim and was in the large bike pack that game out of transition. We thought that with our swimming background Dustin and I would be off the front out of the water and we would hammer the bike to try to go into the run with a lead but since this didn’t work out we were there to work for Greg. I wanted to make sure that the bike pack stayed together so that Greg would have the best chance to outrun everyone. I basically just sat at the front of the pack and chased down any breaks. It was pretty fun doing this and I was getting yelled at by other competitors who were trying to work as a team to make a break on the bike. All in good fun, except that while I was doing this I forgot to eat and drink on the bike. A mistake that would later destroy me on the run. The bike group came into T2 all in one piece and we were off on the run. I completely blew up on the run from my lack of hydration and the effort I was putting in on the bike but Greg was able to run his way to a 5th place finish. It was really fun to be part of a team in a race and was something that I had not been able to do before. After the race we immediately went to a beachfront restaurant for some Spanish beer to celebrate the race (and also Greg’s 21st birthday). The post race awards were a the really modern part of the city and it was really fun to celebrate the games with all the other competitors from all over the world. I was truly honored to be picked for this team and has definitely been one of the most memorable trips of my life.
So I haven’t written a blog for awhile and I thought I would start up on this again. Sometimes work, training, and life seem to be pretty consuming and I just forget about certain things. A lot has happened since my last post and at the same time it is more of the same. Lots of training and work. (I try to throw in some fun when I can for example my trip to Yosemite) But first a recap of the last few races I didn’t write about. I raced at the Silicon Valley Triathlon and was able to come away with 1st overall. I then raced at the ITU race on Treasure Island in San Francisco. At this race I found out that if you are given a penalty and don’t take it they don’t add 15 seconds at the end of your race. They just disqualify you. I was a little frustrated with this because they did not have a clear penalty board with who had penalties or anything and they never told me I had one. I had seen the penalty board while in Spain and there it was very obvious if you had a penalty or not. In SF not so much. This was an unfortunate learning experience as I had finished 8th at this race and it would have been nice to get some ITU points since I am not doing many ITU races this season. Unfortunately it happens and I will from now on rack my bike before unstrapping my helmet…not doing it simultaneously. I followed this race with my first ever race in the Lifetime Fitness series. I do enjoy Olympic non-drafting races and I want to be competitive in this series but I was going to this race more for the experience than for a specific result. That made finishing 3rd at this race even more surprising. This is probably the best race result of my short career as a triathlete and I got to celebrate that with my first champagne podium finish. (The crowd seemed to enjoy it when the announcer told us that the champagne was real and not to drink it at the exact same time that I had the bottle vertical to my mouth! Oh well I was enjoying the moment!). I then raced my second ever 70.3 race in Calgary. I was able to go to this race with my mom who decided to take a little vacation. It was great to have her with me at the race and having someone cheer for me. I definitely made a rookie mistake at this race. I did not drink or eat nearly enough on the bike. I actually ended up only consuming the same amount that I do during an Olympic distance race. This combing with the GI issue I had at mile 3 of the run didn’t lead me to the outcome that I was expecting. (I had a use the porto potty…that was a first for me in a race and hopefully the last). I came off the bike and started feeling pretty good on the run. Even with the porto potty break I spent a lot of the run running in 3rd (which was my goal going into the race). At about 15km into the race I blew up in ways that I had never experienced before. I think the lack of nutrition really hurt me at this point. I spent the remainder of the run trying to put one leg in front of the other and was amazed at how weak my body felt. I ended up getting 6th at this race. I should be a smarter athlete than to make this mistake but I am glad that I made it there that way I can learn for it is I prepare for my first 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I completed my first 70.3 race last weekend in Oceanside, CA. This distance is something that I don't normally train for; but I spent a lot of the winter doing base work so I thought that it was a good time to through in a half. I drove down on Friday before the race with my parents and my brother came up from San Diego to meet us. I met up with my Aunt and Uncle who live in Carlsbad and we went to this Mexican place in Carlsbad that we always go to because it is amazing. The race start was at 6:40 which was really early for me because I have been getting used to the late start times of ITU races...although I like early starts better.
Race day morning it is dark and freezing at transition. (there were also 35 bathrooms for a race that had like 3000 people...which wasn't great) It was still pretty dark when I ran to the water for the start of the swim. The swim is in the harbor so it was protected from any wind and we had super clean and calm water. For it being an ocean swim the water really wasn't that cold so the conditions were great for the swim. My buddy and training partner John Dahlz took the swim out really fast for the first 200 meters or so which I knew he was going to do. I was able to pass him and led the entire way from that point on. I really tried to hammer the second half of the swim and we were able to string out the field a little bit. I was first out of the water but was passed immediately by Raelert while running through transition. We had to run all the way down one side of transition and then all the way back through transition which seemed really long.
Out on the bike I started pretty conservatively. I was passed by a few guys that were hammering it and with this distance being new to me I wanted to try to play it on the safe side. I settled into a good pace and was taking turns at the front with Rasmus Henning which I thought was pretty exciting. The bike course was flat for probably the first 25 miles or so before we headed into Camp Pendleton. My old teammate from swimming had just moved to San Clemente to be stationed at the base so I was lucky enough to meet up with him on Friday and he drove me through the course. The parts that were through the base were really hilly. There were a couple of good climbs but there were also just a lot of rolling hills. It also seemed like we had a head wind the entire time so overall the bike course was pretty challenging. I knew my position was right around 6th or 7th and I think I actually went into the run in 7th place. I had spent every other Saturday for the past few months before this race running off of a long group ride but the feeling in my legs at the beginning of the run was completely foreign. As I was getting into the run I saw my friend Kelly Reed and she gave me some advice on just keeping my form and I just kept thinking about that for the entire time. Even though I felt terrible I was running the pace that I wanted to be doing and finally started to get into a good rhythm. This lasted up until about mile 10 where I completely fell apart. I was literally just trying to keep one foot in front of the other and make it to the next aide station where they had these sponges soaked with cold water. I am pretty sure if it wasn't for those sponges I would have passed out. Right before I blew up I was in 6th place. I was first passed around mile 10 or so and couldn't even attempt to make a surge to pick up the pace. I was still in 7th till about mile 12.5 where I was passed at this little uphill section. At this point I was able to compose myself and knew that I was going to be in a lot of pain but I was able to pick up my pace and got right on the heels of Hoffman who had passed me. I tried to push the pace with maybe 400 meters or so but I couldn't open up a gap at all and Ben was just right with me. I put everything I had into the finish but was beat out at the end. As soon as we passed the finish line we both just collapsed on the ground.
I was really proud of my effort for this race. The field was really stacked and it was a hard race. It definitely makes me wonder what I could do if I spent a little more time focusing at this distance. My focus will remain with draft legal Olympics but it was a fun race. I will probably be doing another half in June at Rev3 and I was also able to get a spot for the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater. My next race will be a non-drafting Olympic at St. Anthony's on April 25th.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
As far as my triathlon training has been going I have been putting in a lot of work this off season to build upon my first year as a pro. I was able to have a strong enough season to be honored USAT's Rookie of the Year after 2009 which was a huge honor for me in my first season. I can't even compare where my training was last year to where I am now and there was no way that I would be where I am without training with my friends in the area. Specifically John Dahlz, Andrew Bauer, and Ken Rakestraw. I have a few big races coming up soon the first of which is the ITU race in Mazatlan Mexico. I will be following that race with my first 70.3 race in Oceanside, CA.