Sunday, December 29, 2013

Two Thousand and Thirteen

2013 was a long year.  But it was also a very short year.  I might venture to say that it is surprising that so much can be crammed into three hundred and sixty five days.  The year went by really fast, but it took just as long as any other year I've had the great joy of experiencing.

My first Mardi Gras
It feels like just yesterday it was January and plans were in the works to make 2013 the most fantastic-est year in the history of my years.  Fast forward a couple of months, a few workouts and some racing and we've arrived at the end of yet another year of life.

Since my life is all about triathlon and triathlon to me is all about racing, let's skip the sappy, emotional parts and get straight to the meat.  So if you're a vegetarian...PEACE.

My year began at the Cary Du Classic, where I opted for the long-course helping. A 5 mile run, a 30 mile bike and another 5 mile run on a rolling venue were enough to sate my early-year appetite.  I luckily managed to snag the win but more importantly raced on my P3 for the last time.

Up next for me was the White Lake Half, wherein I achieved my first 2nd place finish of the year to speedy first-year pro Patrick Wheeler (look at me, referring to a rookie pro like I'm a VETERAN, ha!).  My memories of this race circle mainly around how ridiculously miserable the swim was (sub 55 degree, choppy water) that day and how fast I ran (sub 1:18, setting a new half-marathon PB).

Only two weeks later, I headed down to the home state of Louisiana to participate at the New Orleans 70.3.  I have completed this race 4 times out of 5 editions and while this race was nothing special for me from a performance standpoint, it was a welcome trip home to see my family.

My next venture into the racing world was up in Salisbury at the Buck Hurley Triathlon.  This race, sponsored by local businesses and the YMCA in town, was absolutely spectacular. The friendliness of everyone, the pre/during/post event availability and contact was fantastic (and the prizes weren't too shabby either). In spite of being sick all week and dreary, cold weather (in early May), I managed to snag the win along with Jenny (our first, but not only, double win of the year) by almost 3 minutes.

Once I got healthy and paraded around with my prize-purse purchased pimp cup (just kidding) for a while I raced again in Kings Mountain, NC. I haven't raced Over the Mountain in several years but ended up with the victory. Tyler Jordan, who crossed the line first, was relegated to a lower placing due to a drafting penalty on the bike.  It was a decent performance from me. In hindsight I would have not started the run so hard, but hindsight has (usually) perfect vision.

We carry ourselves to another bustling metropolis of NC: Hickory.  This short but sweet race was good in most respects other than the bike; I ended up in second place There is nothing remarkable about the Lake Hickory triathlon other than the fact that it's a solid, no-frills race with beautiful scenery.

Considering I was doing whatever I could to NOT race Tri Latta in 2013, the choice of the South Carolina State TT Championship as that weekend's racing should come as no surprise. Jenny and I managed to come away with a double win again (and Ross a category victory), me by a mere 1s over TT badass Eric Christopherson and Jenny by a whopping 3 minutes. I am proud of my sub 55 minute 25mi time, but am hungry for more faster-ness.

My next adventure found me up in Williamsburg, VA for the inaugural Rev3 Williamsburg Half. It has been a great many years since I was in the ol' stompin' grounds (William and Mary '07) so I was excited to return.  The course was on roads I traveled frequently on two wheels and the run went right through the middle of new campus...pretty suhweet! This swim was abysmal, as the tidal currents wreaked havoc on the non-elite swimmers among us.  My bike was good and my run was average.  A great weekend though.

Staying closer to home I next found myself at Cane Creek Park in Waxhaw NC, trying my best to win the Tomahawk Triathlon.  This was a first-year event put on by veterans (but new to NC) Start2Finish racing and they also offered a prize purse so there were extra incentives.  My main competition was Tyler again, but the more "normal" length swim of this race (vs Lake Hickory) proved to be good for me and I snagged the win.  This was another double win for ICE Racing, as Jenny won by a fairly commanding 15 minutes.

For the next journey, I went a short ways up the road to Mooresville, NC to compete in the Stumpy Creek International, a race I have done each of the years it has existed.  Matt Wisthoff and Derek Kidwell were both going to make an appearance, so I knew my A game needed to be brought-en.  I raced to win and managed to come away with the win. I was happy to finally beat Matt at a short-course race. He's been the cream of the crop in NC for quite some time so I was happy to give him something to think about. I figured he'd get his comeuppance soon enough...  Stumpy was...yet another double win for ICE, with Jenny winning by a...decent margin (15 minutes again?).

My first "title defense" of the year came at Lake Norman Sprint up in...Lake Norman, NC. I wanted to win and figured I "should" barring any catastrophe. Luckily, my dreams were not thwarted with ill-happenings and I crossed the line in first. The main thing I remember about this race is the awesome quad-copter drone that was flying around at the swim start but I've yet to see any video footage or anything as a result of this curious appearance (maybe it was a UFO?).

The next race was a chance to have a go with Matt again at White Lake International (Fall edition).  This course is flat and fast (and a long bike, as all NC "int'l" triathlons are wont to include) and hot so it was gonnd be a slug-fest.  I ran out of room on the run despite running sub 35 minutes for the first time, losing to Matt by 22 seconds. The 16 seconds I gave up to Matt in transition is something I'd like to have another try at, but that will have to wait a while!

Yet another local race and my last NCTS race of the year was the inaugural Carolina Half in Davidson, NC.  This was going to be a tough course, with a rolling and twisty-turny bike with a very hilly run to follow.  I had a decent swim, a decent bike, and a good run to take the win by ~7 minutes (and set a course record? hell yea! haha).   ICE came away with two wins (yea, Jenny again) and a third (Kenneth in his first race of the year), not too shabby for a small team!

My last "planned" race of the year involved another trip down to Venice, FL for the Rev3 Florida Half. Embarking on the trip with Jenny and Ross in our rented [amazing] mini-van was a dream come true.  I had a solid race and set a new PB of 4:08 and change. It was a controlled race as I knew a bigger event was on the horizon.  Both Jenny and Ross set new PBs as well (Jenny earning money at her first pro race), making it a successful race experience and trip.

My truly LAST race of the year was Ironman Cozumel.  I really just wanted to finish this race. It has been 3 years since I attempted the full distance and 4 years since I finished such an endeavor. I only added this race in late September after getting curious about trying again while spectating Ironman Louisville. It would allow me to finish the year as planned (at Rev3 FL), while continuing training and carrying more fitness into 2014.  Unfortunately, my race didn't go as "planned," but I still had a fantastic experience and enjoyed the race in spite of myself.

My yearly totals were a bit down from 2012 in some respects, but it's obvious where the concentration was versus the year prior (plus, in early 2012 I wasn't working so had all the training time I needed AND spent time in Tucson putting in some SERIOUS hours).

Swimming - 745,300 yards (510,800 in 2012)
Biking - 6,905 miles (8,320 in 2012)
Running - 1,685 miles (1,822 in 2012)

The story isn't told completely by numbers however.  I increased my FTP and my MMP over various time periods, lowered my running paces across all levels setting several new PBs along the way, and dramatically increased my swimming capacity and pace capabilities.

Since Cozumel (December 1st), I have run ~13 miles and have swum ~1200 yards (no biking) so I am feeling a little slower than I was 4 weeks ago. But that is ok. Few people take as much time off as they really should so I am reveling in my readiness to crush more dreams by being more rested so I can better prepare.  And all that good stuff.

All in all, it was a pretty great year. I have few complaints and hope to take advantage of every year I get to race, train, blog and other sweet stuff with good friends! Here's to 2013; you were a good one.

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