Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Training Totals update

Due to travel and general lack of awesome stuff happening on a daily basis (as is the norm with yours truly) the past two weeks have gone unnoticed on the blog front.  I find this generally unacceptable.

In two weeks I've roughly done this:

Swim - 38,000 yards
Bike - 100 something miles
Run - 45ish miles

The noteworthy item there is obviously the swimming.  Two weeks ago my total was 16k for the week (in 5 swims) and last week it was a hair under 22k in 5 swims.  I'm getting a feeling back for the water, which is good because Brian sent me an email last week with the innocent question:

Hey, for my own curiosity I was wonder how many days a week COULD you swim and which days you could swim twice?

Thank you,


I added the last line there for effect.  Hopefully bumping well over 20k/week for some time will help me bring the pain in swim workouts and races! One can only hope...

I also turned 28 last week, I drove home for Christmas and am about to eat dinner.

That pretty much sums it up; merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A few of my favorite things

Since I don't have anything else better to do and the swim this morning wore out my arms such that the only position in which they are comfortable is resting in my lap(top) I figured the best option would be to peruse music videos on youtube and post some of my recent favorites.  To be perfectly honest, I can't imagine that anyone else out there that reads this would want anything other than this.  My music tastes are generally regarded as the best in the entire world so I'm fairly confident in saying that everyone relies on me for where to get their music.  It's a burden that I'm willing to shoulder, despite its thankless nature, because I know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  And here I am, getting going.  There were no grammatical issues whatsoever in that last sentence.  Don't worry about it.

This is a guy I'd never heard of until he came on AltNation a couple of months ago.  When the song initially started playing I was thinking it was gonna be some Format-ish indie alt-rock or something.  Then, the electronic beauty washed over my ears and I decided that this was possibly the most interesting song I'd heard in a long time.  There's nothing really crazy special about it, just the fact that it's such an odd mix of music genres.  It's pretty rare to hear someone with DeLong's vocals (I assume that's who is singing, I could be wrong) singing along to a pretty funky electronic beat.  Anyway, I dig it.

I definitely dig this song a lot.  It's a little poppy but I really like the bass line.  That plus the lead singers vocals are really what got me into this one.  In the interest of full disclosure, there is  TON of making out in this video.  Chicks and dudes.  Chicks and chicks.  Dudes and dudes.  It's...interesting.

Alright, I'm gonna geek out big time.  The first time I heard this song was when watching the trailer for Assassin's Creed: Revelations.  The trailer itself is totally badass.  The main character of the game (Ezio) is this super awesome assassin and the video is all about him wreaking some havoc on some baddies.  It's pretty epic.  So despite the kind of slow-ness of this song it gets me jacked up because I imagine doing some damage to my enemies in a totally assassin-ish way.  Plus, the drum beat is sweet.

This is another one of those times where the music video seems to have no connection to the song itself.  Definitely a nod to my general fan of "pop-y" music but I really like the trumpet (?) in the background.  Plus, it's short.  If you've only got one good song (at least on this album, in my opinion), best to make it awesome and short. 'Nuff said.

I'm gonna be that guy and say that I liked Muse well before they got really big.  I believe it started my senior year of college when my roomie Seth (or maybe Jeremy? I don't remember) sent me the youtube video of "Knights of Cydonia."  Of subsequent Guitar Hero (III Legends of Rock, for the curious) fame, Knights of Cydonia is one of the most epic songs, ever.  Look up that video if you've never seen it because it is nothing short of spectacular.  Madness is another great Muse song: big, epic guitar riffs, huge vocals, epic-ness all over.  Slow and steady to a big, loud finish...

I think one of the Wurtele's used this song in a video they made earlier this year.  Cheerful, awesome, etc.

Now, none of these songs are necessarily "get me as jacked up as possible to crush this next interval or whatever," but they all have their purpose.  Maybe the get jacked up music list will be next...

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Year in Review

First I am going to go over my general feelings on the year.  For the obvious reason that everyone wants to know all about my feelings.  How can you possibly get enough? True or untrue: I am the most interesting man in the world...? Anyway, secondly I'm going to go over how much I worked out this year (compared to previous years).  Because I obviously like bragging about my sweet, sweet volume.  Who doesn't enjoy reading about my volume?!?! Honest answer: nobody.  Lastly I'm going to do a little brief overview of each race I did and a blurb or two about it.  Let's get it started!

The first thing that comes to mind is how pleased I am with how 2012 went.  There are obviously going to be ups and downs, but for the most part this year has gone very much as I'd like it to.  There was a steady progression from last year.  I did not have any "bad" races.

I was a faster runner (I don't have any metrics to really prove this like a 5k time or 13.1 time but I KNOW that I am faster and more consistent).  I was a stronger rider; my functional threshold was higher, my highest 20' power was higher, my bike splits were faster and this I can all prove because of the beauty that is a powermeter.  Swimming was a bit different; from January to late March I objectively sucked at swimming.  I could NOT get motivated.  I was slow, I was unhappy, and I generally disliked the sight of a pool.  Then, for whatever reason, in April everything changed.  I started liking swimming again.  Lo and behold, I was faster in almost every way versus last year, despite having accumulated fewer yards from Jan-Mar as I did in one month during the summer last year.  I swam faster and better in races, I swam faster and better in the pool, I just swam BETTER.  With 500k+ in the pool last year my body had that base to rely upon when it needed it.

I was a better racer in 2012 than in 2011.  It was a different dynamic this year racing guys like Doug and Matt (although it was tough to call it racing as I never saw them until the end of the bike or just never at all).  Playing catch up the entire race is pretty tough.  The only races I didn't win in the series (of the 7 I raced) were won by Matt or Doug.

I'd say my only "mediocre" races this year were the ones in which I raced in the pro field.  Just like when I did my first triathlon not all too long ago, there is a learning curve.  It's a different game, both in the actual competition and the "vibe" of the field.  Everyone probably feels more pressure to perform and those feelings are reflected in the atmosphere.  This isn't negative in any way, it's just different.  In the Setup races I feel much more casual and laid back.  I still want to perform well but I also know there aren't that many people that are going to finish in front of me.  With that comes confidence.  That confidence is not the same amongst the pros.  One day hopefully it will be, but in 2012 I knew I was in with the big fishes.

No injuries that reduced training or racing.  I did have the one mishap with the car but that wasn't too serious.  I also dealt with increasing PF pain manifested in heel discomfort as the year progressed but it never became debilitating.

I can't say too many negative things about my year.  I copped out of more workouts than I did in 2011 due to being a wuss more often but I also had a LOT more fun, both in training and racing.  A different crowd is starting to emerge in the front of Charlotte triathlon and it's refreshing to see all the positivity that is following in its footsteps.

2012 will have roughly these training #s (I'm estimating the last couple of weeks for blogging purposes)

Swimming - 500,000 yards
Biking - 8,500 miles
Running - 1,850 miles

2011 looked like this (actual #s, no estimation required yo!)

Swimming - 564,485 yards
Biking - 8,244 miles
Running - 1,772 miles

So it was actually pretty darn close and by some metrics better than 2011's totals.  Despite working full-time I became a (slightly) better time manager and fit in the training when I needed to. Roughly 835 training hours will be accumulated in 2012 by the time New Year's Eve rolls around town.  I don't have the motivation to go back and figure out how many hours I accumulated in 2011 but my guess is that it was pretty darn close to 835.  January to early March was filled with what basically amounted to full-time training in New Orleans, Gulf Shores, Charlotte and Tucson.  That was awesome but it was also a bit much at times.

On that note, just since January I've been to - in a rough chronological order:

Fort Morgan, AL
New Orleans, LA
Atlanta, GA
Tucson, AZ
Santa Barbara, CA
Tuscaloosa, AL
Santa Barbara, CA
Columbus, OH
New York, NY
Gulf Shores, AL
Andersen, SC
Wilmington, NC
Venice, FL

So that's a pretty sweet list of travel destinations for one year!

Now, off to the races!

04.11 - Lowe's Speedway TT - 22:18 - 1st AG

The only thing I remember about this TT was that it was cold, windy and slow.  It was one of my first rides back on the TT bike and I was definitely dissappointed with the time... Well below my perceived potential. 

04.14 - Belews Lake "International" - 3rd OA

I was happy with how Belews went.  I knew Matt would be tough to beat, and despite feeling like I should have been closer to him I was pleased with the race.  DVW was a bit of a surprise as I knew his talent as a swimmer but not how good of a runner he was.  I think, had I seeded myself more appropriately, I could have beaten Doug but hindsight is very generous.

04.15 - NODA Grand Prix (Cat 3/4) - 11th OA, 7th field sprint

Only bike race this year the day after a tough international race.  I was victim of a horrible starting position that basically required me to burn all my matches in the first half of the race and left nothing for the second.  No sprint whatsoever. 

04.29 - Huntersville Sprint Triathlon - 1st OA

I remember enjoying this race.  I swam surprisingly fast; pretty close to Derek Kidwell's time (although I did have a speedsuit and he did not).  Biked as close to 30' even as I've ever been on that course and ran fast enough to hold off for the win.

05.06 - White Lake Sprint - 2nd OA

In this race I remember getting crushed by Matt.  I had, admittedly, ridden 56miles the day before at 26mph so I was definitely fatigued.  That being said, I was well clear of third place so that was good.

06.06 - Lowe's Speedway TT - 20:45 - 1st AG, 6th OA, new 25-29 course record

Not huge watts at this TT, but they were well paced watts and the conditions were good to go much faster than I ever have before.  The cool part was how close to the overall top I was while setting a new CR for my age group.

06.09 - Tri Latta Sprint - 1st OA

Another race in which I surprised myself on the swim.  I came out of the water just seconds down from Jenny and Derek and never looked back once I left T1.  A solid race for the victory.

07.08 - NC State TT Champs - 55:35 - 2nd Cat 3, 8th OA

All I remember is this being extremely hot and very difficult.  I wasn't super pleased with my performance given that my watts were a bit lower than I'd like but given that 1st place Cat 3 should probably be a Cat 2 I take solace in the fact that I went pretty darn fast.

07.29 - Giant Eagle 5150 - DNF

Mediocre swim, good bike (actually a pretty darn good bike despite not having command of all the watts I wanted), was having a good run before a wrong turn.  Ooops.  I would've likely finished top 15 but top 10 was out of reach.  Maybe next year.  Pretty competitive field.

08.04 - Stumpy Creek International - 2nd OA

Since Doug was racing, I knew that I was going to have a significant gap to try and make up after the swim.  I was not wrong, and emerged well back (but another surprisingly good swim in terms of placement for me). I played all my cards on the bike, thinking I needed to catch Doug before the run started to have a chance.  Well, I caught him, but then he ran away from me.  Had I been able to run like I did in '11 then perhaps it would've been a race.

08.25 - Lake Norman YMCA Sprint - 1st OA

A good swim left me with a comfortable distance over the main competition before Donny reeled me in on the bike.  I was sad with my mediocre bike legs but stayed with him and out ran him for the win.  Old guy still has some serious game!

09.08 - Alabama Coastal Triathlon - 1st OA

This was a pleasant trip to the beach with a little racing.  I knew that Chad, another of Brian's athletes, would likely be the main competition but I felt that I should win the race.  With a good swim and a very fast bike I was able to suffer through an incredibly slow 10k run for the W.  Very hot at the beach in September.  Very sunny.

10.14 - Rev3 South Carolina - 16th Pro

This was a good race for me; a fast swim (sub 27' half is easily a PB), a ride-at-goal-watts (tough to ride watts and go super fast on a course as hilly as this), and a pretty darn good run on a hilly course.  Unfortunately, the time was not fast and I didn't place particularly well.  Still, the only pro race I've actually finished!

10.28 - Rev3 Florida - DNF

Was battling some stomach issues leading into this race and despite having a good first run and an ok bike (again, lacking on watts...~15-20 less than Andersen), the inability of my stomach to process anything caught up and manifested in big calf and hamstring cramps.  Oh well.

11.03 - Shipwreck Sprinternational - 1st OA

Fast swim, alright bike, trot run.  Goal was simply to have fun.  I'll also shy away from racing a speedo again.


So that's it in a nutshell.  I may have further thoughts on the year but this kind of encompasses everything I feel like I have to say.  I got back to training this week with ~11hrs of deliciousness.  5 swims, 3 bike rides, and 4 or 5 runs.  I rolled my left ankle pretty badly on Friday so missed out on some yardage Saturday and some running Sunday.  But other than that not too bad.  Plan is similar for next week so hopefully we'll see 15-20k in the pool!! Exciting!!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Freedom isn't free

Freedom is glorious.  Most of us take for granted our freedoms.  No, I don't mean our Amurrican freedoms we usually take for granted (except for on Veteran's day and another couple of days a year), I mean our freedom from constant training stress as endurance athletes.  January through October or November is a constant battle with warring emotions.  The desire to complete every workout as written, the desire to eat as much as possible, the fatigue that sets in and remains a constant presence, the desire to weigh as little as your body deems healthy, trying to be social and having a "life," eating, sleeping; I could go on and on I feel like.

Then comes something amazing.  Something every year brings with awesome anticipation.  The off-season.  I've surprised many a triathulete with how little I workout in November.  Not by choice, mind you.  My mind is always aghast at the amount of time I take off once racing is over, but luckily I have a coach that slaps me in the face (you know, metaphorically) and tells me to relax.  Once October 28th came and went (Rev3 FL) it was two weeks completely off from working out (no I do not count Shipwreck as "working out").  Then it was three weeks of next to nothing.  In those 5 weeks I ran 5 times, I biked 11 times, and swam 7 times.  That means in 35 days I worked out 23 times.  Pretty, effing, awesome.

What that means though is that as I write this I am drastically out of shape.  Riding the Tour de el Amigo was an incredibly shock to the system this past Sunday.  And by incredible, I mean it was horrible.  Amazing, but horrible.  Luckily, however, I was able to wrap up the sprint and KOM competition early on in the ride so I could completely fall apart on the back half.  Next week begins anew a regular training regime! I'm excited in some ways and scared in others.  It's gonna be a bit of a struggle at first but hopefully my swim, bike, and run comes along quickly.

I also recently ordered a waterproof case for my Contour camera, so hopefully I'll get to experiment with that in the future.  My first attempt was this morning; I wanted to put it on the ledge at the wall (under water) but the case floats! So I compromised and put it in the gutter just to see what it looked like. The set we were doing was 8x100 on 1:10, 50 on I was a bit tired haha.  Haven't swam that pace in a while!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All in a week's "work"

When the myriad of workouts I completed this week are added up my math skills tell me that I put together another astonishingly huge volume week of work.  I swam once, ran twice and biked thrice.  I still have yet to hop on my road bike.  I actually haven't ridden on the roads since ye ol' Shipwreck Sprinternational.  I will not get back on the roads again until next Sunday, when the world-famous Tour de El Amigo takes place.  That epic test of human performance and appetite is invite-only, so if you are hearing about it for the first time it would appear as though you have yet to make the cut.  Just kidding, sort of.  As defending champion of the sprint and KOM competition from its last iteration from 2010 I, despite lacking any semblance of fitness, must show my face and complete the race.  

That was tangential, but I was getting to the fact that I have spent all my ride time the past two weeks on the trails.  As I was saying last week, it's an interesting learning process for me.  I've added to the list of trails I've explored by heading to Sherman Branch this week.  I'd heard good things about those trails for a while; most described them as "fun and fast."  What this translates to in my mind is "fast and easy."  In some ways I've taken a complete 180 since my previous experiences mountain biking in college, where I much preferred big, roaring downhills with big jumps and lots of berm-age.  One of my favorite things to do now is make my way up or down a technical section that requires lots of power and careful selection of line.  Sherman Branch doesn't have a lot of that.  The Whitewater Center has become the go-to place for me.  It has a good mix of trail types, lots of miles and I'm now the proud owner of a parking pass! 

Don't get me wrong, Sherman Branch was awesome.  I went by myself though, which is never quite as much fun as with some bros.  The trails there also contain ample opportunities to demolish oneself and definitely more than the WWC.  SB has faster trails and some definite jumps so taking one of those wrong can lead you straight into a tree at 20mph in the air.  Not the best position in which to find oneself.  

I say all that, but I experienced my first crash this weekend on the mountain bike.  Due to the season, there are - literally - millions of leaves on the ground and consequently, on the trails.  At Sherman Branch someone has clearly blown the leaves off the trails (which is apparently bad for it, actually; leaves are like mulch and help keep the soil healthy) whereas at the WWC the trails are completely covered in some spots.  To provide further context, my longest mountain bike ride has been 1.5hrs and one thing I've noticed with mountain biking is that as you get tired you start to make a LOT more mistakes.  On the road bike (and when I'm fit) you can zone out and have nothing bad happen (sweeping generalization, but the point is made).  On the mountain bike, however, zone out and you crash.  That's it.  1.5hrs of mountain biking requires 1.5hrs of constant attention and focus.  It's quite tiring when you're not used to it.  So on Sunday we were at about 1.25hrs and I was definitely tired.  I was pushing up a hill and it had a somewhat sharp left turn and I turned late while my front wheel was on a patch of leaves.  My front wheel slid out and I fell over and slid into a tree.  Boom.  Scraped up my left knee a bit but was pretty much entirely ok.  Now, had I fallen over on the road pushing up a hill on a turn I would certainly have more scrapes! So that's one good thing about being on the trails: the injuries are frequently much less severe.

Before riding, I took this picture of Behme's bike (in front) and my bike (in back) just because it was a funny display of how much bikes have changed.  Behme's is a custom designed Ted Wojcik (Whoa-Jick) steel framed mountain bike from back when he used to race "expert" some undetermined number of years ago.  My bike is a mass-produced Felt Nine 20.  The differences are pretty obvious.  I ride a bigger sized frame than Behme to begin with but the difference in size of these bikes is incredible.  Behme's bike was legit top of the line back in the day.  It's got XTR, Rock Shox Sid fork, custom titanium spoked XTR wheels, etc.  Mine is almost top of the line aluminum-framed (XT vs XTR or XX) and outweighs Behme's bike by a LOT.  But the huge wheels on the 29er (vs. Behme's traditional 26" wheels/tires), the powerful hydraulic brakes, and very nice suspension fork mean my bike can absorb a lot more "damage" than Behme's bike.  I can be significantly less careful and power my way through some obstacles that Behme has to navigate more carefully.  It's interesting riding behind someone on a 29er vs. riding behind Behme.  The 29er just bombs through stuff whereas Behme meanders a lot more.  I definitely appreciate my bike taking up some of the slack my lack of skills leave!

On another note, it's coming close to time to part ways with my beloved 2011 Cervelo P3.  I rode it a lot in two years and am perfectly happy to keep it a third if it comes to that.  Interested parties inquire within!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big training!

Many hundreds of hours of training throughout the year leads to pretty epic fitness.  It also leads to tons of residual fatigue.  To account for that, most high performance athletes (and those all across the spectrum of performance) should have several weeks of being "normal" people.  By normal, I actually really just mean "lazy."  Catching up on sleep, getting out of shape, and enjoying a great deal more free time than usual is an excellent, amazing, stupendous way to spend a November.

Some may recognize where this is from...but no one in NC!
Having recently purchased my first mountain bike my main goal this past week was to familiarize myself with it as much as possible.  If triathletes being bike racers (although I'm stretching that a little at this point given I only did a single race) is a paradox, triathletes riding mountain bikes with any sort of competence is an even bigger one.  That being said, I don't like sucking at things.  I consider myself to be a pretty good bike rider in all respects (not related to fitness)... I make rational decisions.  I handle well in a group.  I pick good lines.  I have confidence in myself and my bike (this may sound silly but it's actually one of the most important aspects of being a good bike long as it's not misplaced confidence!!).  This all goes out the window a little bit when it comes to mountain biking.  I DON'T know what my bike is capable of (yet).  I DON'T pick good lines all the time (yet).  I am NOT familiar with the trails in the sense that I'm familiar with the roads.

So, all the things I'm NOT good at tend to add up on the ol' trails.  All that being said, I think I hold my own pretty well.  I'm not afraid of crashing, which means a lot on the trails.  I'm afraid in the sense that it would hurt, but I recognize the likelihood of actual injury is much smaller than on the road.  If a handlebar catches a tree at 10mph I am less worried about the consequences than if my wheels slide out at 45mph on a downhill while cruising on the roadie.

The physiological demands are also different on a mountain bike.  Lots of spikes in power.  LOTS.  It actually reminds me most of road racing.  A good bit of coasting, a lot of hard, short efforts and relatively little "cruising along." I assume that as you improve skill-wise it likely smoothes out but I have certainly not hit that point yet.

While I may not be as bold as (for example, this guy)

some out there, I figure I can only get better!  Next week brings some more of the same training-wise but also some Thanskgiving!  Yay for being out of work a day next week! That is always fun.

Also, here's a brief (and not as cool as the above) video I made this week of a very quick part of a ride on Friday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A week of sweet nothings

When fellow athletes (and non-athletes) ask me what I've been doing lately my reply usually leaves them slightly incredulous.  The exchange often goes something like this:

Noob 1: "Yo dude, what have you been doing since your last race?"
Me: "Ahhh, not a whole lot man...sleeping mostly."
Noob 1: "But you're still pounding out the hours, right? There's no such thing as an off-season, right?"
Me: "I literally have not worked out in two weeks."
Noob 1: "Wait..what?"
Me: bites apple, continues perusing interwebs

The landscaping fact that is "peaks and valleys" is (usually) not lost on most people.  For all hills, there are valleys.  The metaphor carries over into exercise physiology as well.  I was in very, very good shape at the end of October.  Now, per Brian Schmover, I will get out of shape.  That's what the two weeks post Rev3 FL were all about: getting out of shape.  The little race in the middle did nothing to abate the process.  So, since FL I have not gotten in a pool, on my bike, or laced up my shoes other than Shipwreck.

What I HAVE been doing, is cultivating a better athlete into my daily routine.  How does he do it, you may find yourself asking...yourself...? Well, if you don't know me, one of the biggest issues I've been putting on the back burner over the past two years has been my daily diet.  There are some things I do RIGHT when it comes to eating (like eat a lot of calories), but there are more things that I do WRONG.  My weekend at Florida and the result were just the final straws.  Being around Chris Caamano further served to galvanize my process.

I really felt the need to change this (pretty) major part of my personality as an athlete.  No, it doesn't have anything to do DIRECTLY with swimming, biking or running but it has a direct impact on everything else and an indirect impact on all three sports.  It just made sense to make some changes.

On the drive home, some of the discussion for our 11 hour jaunt along the highways of rural southeastern Amurica revolved around what I ate on a daily basis.  I was embarrassed.  It's not as though I go out and eat fast food all the time (but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart/stomach for Bojangles and Popeyes) but with the lack of planning I had my diet revolved around instantaneous gratification.  That meant Dunkin Donuts coffee and bagels for breakfast.  It meant a massive sub, chips and soda for lunch.  And it meant whatever I was craving after a tough workout for dinner.  Basically three huge meals a day left me feeling calorie sufficient (really full), but with an inefficient delivery and poor timing.  It was obvious to Tara that starting to make small, smart decisions here and there could lead to an overall big change in my nutritional outlook.

Some of the things I've started doing over the past three weeks include, but are not limited to:

1) Eating a healthy and milk-less breakfast.  This is oatmeal (I have yet to graduate to legit oats, still on Quaker instant oatmeal) or healthy, whole grain cereal with vanilla soy milk.
2) Preparing and bringing a lunch to work everyday, regardless of it's simplicity.  This is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on (real) whole wheat bread (with good peanut butter and real preserves), a granola bar, an apple (or two, occasionally, if I am feeling frisky), water, and some almonds.
3) Snacking throughout the day on healthy items like almonds, apples, to hopefully not enter a calorie deficit and feel "forced" to eat big meals
4) Dinner consisting of lean proteins, whole grains, and some veggies.  Burrito is a good example.
5) "Dessert" being mostly limited to popcorn, an occasional cookie, etc.

The BIGGEST thing for me in that list, if you know me, is the incorporation of fruits and, to a certain extent, vegetables.  I've always LIKED some vegetables, I just never went out of my way to prepare them.  Fruits, on the other hand, have been non existent almost my entire life.  By almost, I simply mean I probably had some as food when I was eating baby food.  So, that's it.  Just simply eating an apple was a huge step for me.  Lo and behold, I discovered it was positively delicious! Why had I been denying myself the fruits of the earth (hehe, literally) for so long? Who knows.  So, even if nothing else had changed, simply eating a piece of fruit a day would have represented a huge shift in my diet paradigm.

I've also set some goals up for the near and long term future.  I think, honestly, that this is nothing but a positive for me.  My diet has been a cause for much, let's call it "ribbing," over the past years.  Often referred to as the "James diet," or the "tan diet," or the "brown diet" it's something of a thing I've "cultivated."  My philosophy has always been that "if the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn."  I don't necessarily feel as though my opinion on that little gem has changed, but I do feel as though if I have the opportunity to put better fuel in the fire, it can only burn hotter.  And I could use as much of that whole "hotter" thing as I can get!

So these are the new things around the house that would surprise anyone that walked in:

Felt Nine 20.  The new hotness. All I am allowed to ride for the next 2 weeks!

Wtf are those?!?!

So many granola bar options, so little time...!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shipwreck Sprinternational

First, this race has been on the "schedule" for many moons.  I put quotes around "schedule" because I never told Coach Brian about this race until last Sunday, immediately following my DNF at Florida.  My emotions ranged from "I want to crush Shipwreck's dreams" to "I don't even want to do it."  Brian kindly told me to stop being a chick and make up my mind.  I quote him.  Literally, word for word. Sometimes I'm soooo happy I have the bestest coach ever!!!

This weekend was to be one of fun times, and had little to do with fast times.  I figured Ashley, Melissa and myself (only ones who ponied up the race entry fee as most others backed out, LAME!) would be up front so there was no need to concern myself with actually going fast.

All that being said, I wanted to swim hard, bike somewhat fast, and trot the run.  I LOVE ocean swims, so swimming hard was a no brainer.  I wanted to race in the speedo, so figured I'd have to bike somewhat fast just to stay warm.  I needed to wear a costume for the run and so would not (nor did I want to) be able to run hard.

Just to give the reader a little taste of the awesome that is the Holden Beach Shipwreck Sprinternational, here's a little taste of some of the 2011 edition.  To set the stage: it was about 45 degrees, incredibly windy, and most (all) of the future ICE Racing participants had a pretty solid hangover.

What more can one say to influence someone in their choice of races?!?! Sorry the links above are to facebook videos, if I had to do over I would've gone with Youtube first.  They're worth the click, I promise.

Well race day dawned and no one had too bad of a hangover and we meandered casually to the race site, less than 30 minutes away.  Setting up our area was remarkably easy, the weather looked fantastic (50-60 degrees with a light breeze and TONS of sunshine!), and we donned our wetsuits to make our way over to the start "line." Since the race was so small (~70 participants) the director just told us to mass start.  Very cool.  Not many races get a mass start, but it's neat for sure.  I knew that I wanted to take the swim out hard, so I pranced around in place to warm myself up and get JACKED UP!!! w00000t

Swim 1000m - 15:31 (1st)

As you can see in the video, at the sound of the horn I bolted out into the light surf.  I wanted to set the tone early and I even kicked a good bit!! It was so awesome.  The water was ~67 degrees and so my face felt quite cold at first but shortly it warmed up nicely.  I got to the first buoy and it appeared as though there was still a large group pretty close so I kept the pace high.  After about halfway I did a backstroke-look-behind to see if anyone was there and only one guy in a green cap was with me.  I knew Ashley had on a light blue cap so I was curious as to who this might be.  I kept the pace high, getting more uncomfortable, to the last buoy where green cap was still with me but we had a pretty sizable lead on the next racer.  As we climbed out of the surf I was happy with the swim performance.  I am positive that we swam faster than 1:3X/100m pace as our time indicates.  Running up off the beach I dropped my goggles, a foreshadowing of things to come...

T1 - 01:17

I made my way through T1 pretty quickly.  I took the time to put on socks as I was worried my feet would get a little cold.  Considering I've never worn a speedo in a race before, I was curious as to how the lack of padding would feel on the bike ride...

Bike 30k - 44:27 (1st)

Headed out onto the bike and just tried to ride steady.  I had next to nothing in my legs after an entire week off and so just wanted to limit my damage.  Luckily, I still had on my race wheels and entire race setup when I knew Ashley was on training wheels with his TT bike.  So I counted on my aero-ness to save my hide.  The winds were a little swirly in between the houses and while not a big deal, I can't imagine what it was like last year! I've done a lot of crazy windy races this year and last and was uninterested in more of that.

The course was basically a double out and back so I had ample opportunities to see my pursuers and yell at Ashley and Melissa.  Shortly after the first turn I saw the first chasers and had some good fun yelling at Ashley and soon enough Melissa.  All the way back nearly to transition then another turn.  Unfortunately, coach Brian's disc wheel had run out of them there batteries and so I no longer had my power numbers! Oh the horror.

Back out again to see everyone and pass some people (yes, there was a wide range of abilities at this race...).  It was pretty uneventful.  The most fun part of the bike course (besides yelling "ARRRgggHHH" at Ashley and Melissa) was seeing the facial expressions of the spectators at the turns.  Needless to say, I probably stood out.

Back into T2 for quick change of costume.

T2 - 01:15

Put on race flats, grab number and sunglesses... yea that's normal.  Put on skull and crossbones bandana, put on pirate hat...yea that's unusual.

Run 8k - 29:42 (2nd)

I headed out onto the run course for a two loop (sort of) run of 5ish miles.  I would bet the course is a little short as I'm fairly sure I wasn't running 6 minute/mi pace...

I ran for a while before seeing any other racers.  It was apparent that I had a pretty sizable lead, which was good because that darn hat fell off my head about 3 times.  I'd stop and pick it up and run with it in my hand for a while before regaining the confidence to put it back on my head.  Then it would fall off again.  Oh well.  I was really worried about my run so this was a HUGE DEAL! Not.

I finally got my hat back on for the run through the finish chute (please start spelling that correctly all you triathletes that write race reports!!!!!) to the applause of the legions of fans that our group has attracted at this race.  Either that or they were clapping because I'd be putting on real clothes again... who knows.

Ashley finished shortly thereafter to take second place and Melissa crossed the line as first female (but she probably had the most complete and pirate-y costume!).

Full Results Here

Needless to say, we all had a great time.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect.  It's a wonder to me that this race isn't more popular.  It's possible that people have heard that we show up in speedos and pirate costumes and that deters them, but realistically there's no reason why more people shouldn't do this race.  It's a great venue, the course is flat and fast, and the weather is usually spectacular this time of year on the NC coast!

It was also my last real race of the year and now I move into the official off-season.  I am going to do my best to enjoy it while it lasts...because soon enough I'll be waxing about how much I miss the days of very little to no training...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rev3 Florida!

I've had this race on my schedule for quite some time.  So long, in fact, that I had managed to get pretty gosh darn excited about it.  To me, this race represents the marriage between two of my favorite things: the beach and destroying myself.  I've gotten to do those two favs once already this year down in Alabama but I felt like another state of destruction (oh yes, that pun was intended) would not be a bad thing.  It'd be a good thing.  A real good thing.

Revolution3 puts on a great race.  If I had to describe the "vibe" of the race, I'd liken it a lot to Setup Events but with WAY more cash.  A very friendly, down-homey feel but with that pomp and production one normally associates with WTC events.  This course LOOKED as though it'd be super fun and crazy fast.  An ocean swim (awesome; despite being no way wetsuit legal for pros infinitely more fun than a gross lake swim), an insanely flat bike course, and a flat run course along various forms of water (the ocean AND the canal; a one-two punch of osmo-awesome).

In the middle of the week, however, my thinking took a turn towards the negatory.  As with other times in my life, a Hurricane decided to throw a proverbial wrench into my plans.  Growing up in New Orleans meant that every Gulf-targeted hurricane meant some hurrication mixed with a little panic.  There's nothing quite like living in a city below sea level in between a massively shallow lake and the biggest big muddy river on the continent.  That being said, it was unsure how Sandy would affect the western coast of Florida.

The plan was for myself and Mr Caamano to head south in the man-van on Thursday afternoon; spend the night in Jacksonville and make the rest of the drive on Friday morning.

Our travel was uneventful and we arrived in Venice, FL early on Friday afternoon.  A scoping out of the race site was down and it was obvious that mother nature was striking back this weekend.  The water was wavy, the wind was whipping, but the mood remained mild.  We rested easy and woke up Saturday ready to get all the pre-workout workouts and stuff all done up and dusted.  They were uneventful despite riding 28mph in one direction and 16 in the other.  Needless to say, the weather had not yet calmed.

Saturday evening brought a pre-race mandatory dinner of pizza and a [relatively] early bedtime with questions about the likelihood of a swim on race day and performance anxiety.  I was nervous for several reasons:

1) My bowels had not done their usual movements for 2.5 days. I felt...strange.
2) If the swim actually went forward for the pros (it was already determined the AG'ers would not be swimming) I was skeptical I'd actually be able to complete it.  It was honestly that bad.
3) It had been ridiculously windy the past two days.  Certainly the windiest race conditions I would experience so far (including NOLA '11, Myrtle Beach '11, and B2B '11).
4) Racing makes me nervous.  When it doesn't, I'll stop.
5) Just because a top 4 is less awesome than a top 5.

Race day itself dawned bright (but not too early, as the race didn't start until 7:50; awesome!!) and windy.  We headed over to the race site and prepared ourselves.  I found out the pros would do a simple out and back 1.5 mile run to start the day and the AG'ers would be lined up as we ran in before they started their races as a bike/run.

I knew that my chances at a high(er) overall placing just went up as I'm a better runner than swimmer and I thought the mass start would be pretty DANG cool so I warmed up and got ready to go!

Run 1.5 miles - 7:41

I'm not gonna lie; this was pretty awesome.  We headed out with a stiff tailwind so the pace came very easy. After about two minutes or so I had drifted back from the main pack (pretty big, and filled with some phenomenal runners) but I just held pace until Brian Fleischmann passed me.  I stuck right on his heels and hit the hard 180 turnaround and turned into the wind.  I stuck on his feet and eventually Joe Umphenour (sorry I'm sure that I am butchering the spelling but do not want to look them up out of sheer laziness) came up alongside me.  The two of them lost me a little bit around the final corner and we stormed into the cheers of basically every other athlete which, to put it mildly, was super ridiculously awesome.  It's good to feel like a rock star, even if you want to barf.  I had gone through the first mile in 5:02 (on the garmin and including a complete 180) so to say I had run pretty fast would be an understatement.  The main pack had about a 25ish second gap on me into transition.

men race start from REVOLUTION3 Triathlon on Vimeo.

T1 - :48

I transitioned quickly and headed out on the bike just behind Andrew Starky, ALLLMOOST making it into some sweet video coverage.  Dangit!

Bike 56 miles - 2:15:27

Well, Starky rode off like he wanted to mash his pedals through the earth's crust and I set about minding my own business and minding my watts.  The first thirty miles was basically a tailwind and I felt like I was absolutely FLYING.  It was actually kind of hard to hold watts (which I later decided was a combination of tailwind and massive stomach discomfort) as we blasted down the flat roads at 30mph.  The race was pretty uneventful to mile 30, where I passed through an aid station and replaced my bottle of water in between the aero extensions.  At mile 31 I crossed an intersection with a big bump and the bottle flew out at 25mph.  I had only this one bottle and no shot at replacement for another 35-40 minutes so I made the decision to turn around and pick it up.  There had been a couple of guys getting closer in front of me and no one in sight behind me so this decision was not reached lightly.  I turned around and found the bottle in the grass but it had emptied upon impact, leaving me with nothing.  I said a slightly exasperated word of exclamation and headed back on my way, water-less for the next 15ish miles.

It was warm and now it was a solid headwind for the rest of the ride.  I had mentally skipped a beat or two with the knowledge of what was to come the next 20+ miles.  I put my head down and tried to punch as small a hole as possible the rest of the way.  I managed to pass some more guys the last 15 miles despite feeling like I was crawling (and, according to my watts, I pretty much was) and while dealing with some cramps in my calf and hip flexor.

The last 5 miles were the worst as I KNEW that I was falling apart a little bit (I had gotten water and chugged as much as possible at mile 45 in addition to getting in as many calories as I'd originally planned) and the thought of running was starting to seem more far-fetched.  I rolled into T2 to the cheers of altogether too many people and in (what I think was) a good position.

T2 - :51

Getting off the bike and taking off helmet, putting on shoes, and grabbing stuff was an exercise in trying not to cramp fully.  I headed out and as I was running my calf was firing off it's displeasure at running.  Not awesome.

Run 13.1 - (or just 1 mile-ish) - 10ish minutes

I ran out of T2, grabbed some water from the volunteers to drink and some to pour over myself and tried to run away from my pain and misfortune.  Unfortunately, my pain and misfortune were much faster than me and less than 100meters into the run my calf locked up completely.  I stretched it out on the curb for a little while before heading further onto the run course.  I didn't make it far, however, before the ol' cramp monster reared it's fugly head again. To make a long story short, I wrestled with running and stopping for about a mile before I decided I didn't feel like doing that for 2+ hours.  I'd had my fill of that at Augusta last year.  I was proud to finish there, but the cramping was also less intense and it was more of a massive stomach baby that had grown inside of me.  This year, finishing was not in my cards.  I turned in my chip.  Boom.  For better or for worse.

Searchable Results HERE

Even though my race didn't go as expected/hoped, I loved seeing Chris have a great race and dealing with the altered course in a smooth stride.  He learned a lot in his first half in several years, stringing together a 2:18 with a 1:32 to set big PB's in both.  It was great seeing Tara gut out a really tough run to finish in second amateur female, continuing to place as one of the top female age groupers at every Rev3 race she attends.

I couldn't have asked for a better weekend and despite (sort of) ending my season on a sad note, I know that it was not a fitness issue.  I am a better swimmer than I was last year.  I am riding stronger, faster, and more awesomer than I was last year.  I am a far better looking runner than I was last year and MAY even be a lot faster.  Who knows.

Oh wait, I do.

Next week will be a fun little make-believe "race" at Shipwreck Sprinternational, the sight of many a catastrophic triathlon failure last year.  It'll be epic.  And somehow incredibly relaxing.  I may or may not have mentioned this, but I LOVE the beach!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Team Mt. AndDewMe B2B Full Relay!!

Well, here is my recap of the relay.

Miles 1-15: Steady as she goes.  Watts are in range, temperature is great, wind is noticeable yet not strong, Bob is way out of sight and consequently out of mind.

Miles 16-50: Settling into pace as get caught by Felt-Guy, S5 kid, Peter Kotland.  Form a "group" of sorts.  Pace yo-yos a bit.  Two of those guys commit many drafting violations and neither were (ever) penalized.  We catch Mark Carey, S5 kid slams into a cone on interstate and goes down 20 yards in front of me; I narrowly avoid him. Finish up with 421 and turn off into the country.

Miles 51-70: Turn left onto small road and into a headwind for a while.  I go to the front as I seem to be the only one willing to hold a steady pace.  Maybe it's because me and S5 kid (who had caught back up, much to my surprise and relief, I felt incredibly guilty after he crashed for riding onwards; it's not like I was "racing" and I should've stopped to make sure he was ok) were the only ones riding with powermeters, but everyone else was very surge-tastic.  I felt good through this section but it was here where I ran out of calories.  Like an idiot, I had told myself "It's only a 4ish hour ride..." But then I thought to myself: "IT'S A FOUR PLUS HOUR RIDE AT 24ish MPH YOU MORON!!! WTF WERE YOU THINKING?!" Due to the long spacing between aid stations, I didn't grab anything other than water because I wasn't thinking about bonking.  

Miles 71-90: Finally at mile 90 I grabbed something, but it was too late at this point.  I was done.  I had made feeble attempts at sustaining watts and we had basically caught Patrick at this point but he (and everyone else still in the group), Peter and S5 subsequently rode away from me.  The pace had dropped Mark and Felt-Guy.  At mile 90ish aid station I was stopped and grabbing clif bars and pretzels when Felt Guy caught back up to me.  He also then proceeded to ride away from me.

Miles 91-112: The longest 21 miles EVER! The stretch coming back in on the highway was absolutely miserable.  Seriously.  I was glad to be done when transition finally arrived.  I was sad to have performed so (relatively) poorly compared to my expectations (and perceived abilities?) but ultimately this relay was just for run. 

112 miles in ~4:56 

The winning team of studs went 8:14 and change, which is amazing.  I'm happy with our team's performance though because it was composed of three friends who could all have done the race themselves and come in near the top of the field.  Triathletes are versatile.  I dig it.  The end result was 9:20 or so with Behme stoically running a 3:3X.  Having not run much recently, it was pretty darn impressive.  This was the result:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rev3 SC Recap

I signed up for Rev3 SC a month or so ago, knowing that it would be the start of a tough 4 weeks of racing. I had heard nothing but good things about the Rev3 series and wanted to see for myself what was up with all the hype...

Judging from reports on last year's race, this course would be tough.  Hillier than Augusta (which has the "toughest" bike course I've done yet in a half; admittedly that is not saying much at all) and a hilly run (nothing but ups and downs according to last year's racers).  I knew my training had been going well and saw no reason why I shouldn't be able to have a good race.  I knew going in that in the Pro field this would be an entirely different race.  I expected (but hoped to not be) to race by myself most of the way and I was not off on this thought...

On Saturday morning I drove to the Whitewater Center to meet up with the weekend's crew, Jeff Wise (president of everything at WWC), Chris Smith (doing his 3rd triathlon), and Mike Selle (old but with a courageously epic hairstyle).  As an aside, the WWC is an amazing facility.  Everytime I go there I wonder why I don't go there more often.  Seriously.  On Saturday the weather was absolutely PERFECT in Charlotte so the center had tons of visitors.  There had been a running race that morning, a dog race, and some form of adventure/obstacle race.  There was also some sort of "build your own boat then race it down the competition channel competition.  Someone had made a "boat" out of giant plastic "kegs" painted like PBR cans.  Awesome.  There are now 22 miles of trails for running and mountain biking (and walking).  New obstacle course, new ropes course additions, etc.

The competition channel.  It is fierce.  Especially in a rodeo boat

The "holding pond."  To the left of the picture are the huge pumps that make the whole thing work.
We all loaded our bikes and gear onto Jeff's car and proceeded to become a driving advertisement for the Whitewater Center.  I'm definitely ok with that.

 The drive to the race site was quick and easy (not quite 2.5hrs from the Center) and packet pickup and bike dropoff were also very easy.

Swim start, transition is through the trees on the left
Race night was pretty normal and we all woke up on Sunday morning (mostly) excited to race.  It would be the first half I've done since B2B/Augusta and I hoped that it would be a better race than both of those, since they both sucked.

Swim - 26:42

Can you see me? 
It's hard to describe the way it feels to be lined up next to some of the guys at this race.  It's a very interesting experiment in self-deprecation to be lumped in as part of a group with them.  When I was picking up my timing chip the guy asked what # I was to which I responded "number 14 please'' and his response was "Oh you're one of those fast guys!" I wish.  So to line up next to a former world champion, multiple Ironman winners, many 70.3 wins winners, etc was a bit surreal.  I am in no way at the same (or close) level to those guys.  I mean, somebody's gotta be at the back of the pack, right?!

On that note, I lined up at the back near the swim start and at the sound of the horn ran in and jumped in the water.  It was cold, but didn't feel like the advertised temperature of 67.5 degrees.  The water was churned up quite nicely through the first 100-200m before I lost close contact with the main "pack." I just focused on not going out too hard as I didn't want to induce any anxiety issues this early in a 4.5hr race.  I felt smooth and comfortable and at about halfway I latched onto a guy and ended up swimming most of the swim behind him.  One of us swam quite crookedly though, so that got a bit annoying towards the end.  I typically swim pretty straight, so I'm not pointing the finger at myself...

With about 200-300m to go the lead female caught us (and maybe there was another one) and ended up coming out of the water ahead.  I exited the water and saw the clock reading "26:40" so I was both pleased with that time but a little sad that such a time had resulted in a multiple minute deficit.  The main group of guys was about 3.5 minutes up already.

T1 - 1:34

I was pretty efficient through T1, didn't lose anything meaningful here.

Bike - 2:29:49

I knew this course was hilly, but I completely underestimated what that would do to my time on the bike.  I had a watt goal and so rode at that the whole way.  I came out onto the bike with a couple of the girls and another two guys.  I passed the girls and knew the guys would probably ride away from me up the hills.  'Twas true.  My plan for this ride was simply to hit the watts I'd been given and let the chips fall where they may.  If I ended up rolling up some peeps towards the end who got tired, that'd be cool.  If I didn't, that'd be cool too.  After a while Malaiko Homo caught me and we ended up riding "together" for a while.  The stagger rule was used at this race so it's tough to get any legal draft effect from a fellow racer.  After a while (40 miles or so), this got pretty boring so I decided to drop her.  Actually, I ended up just riding away as I continued to hold watts whereas she fell off.  (also, I realize the semi-ridiculousness of me talking about racing/riding with one of the pro females but you've gotta take the victories where you can!) My only real thoughts on this ride were:

1) Dang, this is kinda tough.
2) This pavement sucks
3) What are all these bumps in the road??
4) Lotta farms out here
5) Watts
6) A little drizzle, how nice!
7) I'm ready to get off this bike
8) What the HELL roads?!
9) That little town was cool
10) There musta been 100 turns on that bike course, and 90 of them were in a 1 mile section. (exaggeration, but the point remains...)

I was a bit surprised by how quickly the dismount line appeared as I guess I was unaware of where I was so I was not very smooth off the bike.

T2 - 1:06

I also got lost going into transition.  The pro's bikes were blocked off by a barrier that "blended" with the transition barrier so I was disoriented and subsequently looked like an idiot.  A bunch of people were lined up against the racks by the pro area so that was kinda cool.

Run - 1:24:06

I headed out on the run feeling fairly good and consequently my first several miles were pretty fast.  There isn't much to say about the run.  It was constantly up or down, sometimes the pavement was a bit rough, and there were a TON of people out on the course.  There was both an olympic race (1 loop of out/back) and a half (2 loops of out/back) going on at the same time so it was very crowded.  The aid stations were very well volunteered and I never had any problems getting what I wanted.  Although, what I really wanted was to be 20 minutes up the road! But you can't always get what you want...

I held pace fairly well from miles 4-9 but slowed a bit the last 5k+.  My legs were getting pretty tired and I felt the nagging closeness of some potential cramping problems and I was just ready to be done.  I crossed the line, DFL for male pros but ahead of the chicks! Yessss...

Eventually, I discovered that 2 age groupers beat me, one by a lot (4:10) and the other by not as much (4:23).  I can't complain.  I raced by myself, they had people around.  These things happen.

Overall - 4:23:16 (16th Pro, 18th OA)

I'm a little sad that my time was slow, but I'm happy at how much I've improved over the past couple of years.  I had a fast swim, good bike (most watts I've held for a half-iron) on a hilly course, and a fast run on a hilly course (actually the fastest run I've had with a full swim/bike/run).  I know that a 2:29 is in no way representative of my abilities as a cyclist, but only time will tell whether or not that's true...

Another bonus to the weekend was despite me being there, I was awarded 3rd place overall in the Inside Out Sports North Carolina Series, behind Matt Wistoff and Doug Van Wie.  Both are stellar athletes and seems like swell dudes, so - despite wanting to be on top (obviously) - I'm content to have placed somewhat close to them.  With that came a sweet check and the knowledge that we'll go head to head again next year.

I have 5 days of light recovery and then it's a 112 mile TT at Beach 2 Battleship Full (relay).  I have no idea whether I'll feel good or not, but I'd like to ride somewhat fast if my legs allow me to do so.  GAME ON!