Monday, April 23, 2012

Collegiate Nationals 2012

This week was a bit of a wash in terms of training for me.  I had a great early week's workouts, most notably the IOS ride on Tuesday in which I managed to crush myself on some pulls and not get crushed too much by other people's pulls.  Other than that, my travel to Tuscaloosa, AL took precedence over working out for me.  I haven't been as consistent this year as last year (entirely my own fault) but the big weeks have certainly been much bigger and I'm certainly in better shape than this time last year.  So I don't feel TOO bad about missing out on a weekend.  Last year I crashed and took basically 2 weeks off so I just gots to stay rubber-side down this year!  Anyway, I digress...

I headed down to Atlanta on Wednesday night to cut my drive in half and get some bonus time with Jeremy.  When I got there we spent a significant amount of time reminiscing on our college years before going to sleep.  We both woke up early before Jeremy headed off to do lawyer-ish things at work (such as watching movies, apparently!) and I hopped in the man-van to complete my drive to Alabama.

I arrived at the Warren abode before noon and for the next two days proceeded to cart Moose all over the place for race prep. I did my job well and we experienced little to no hiccups before race day.

The race was a successful one for all FFT members, whether they really feel that way or not.  To get 5 spots in the top 10 between men and women is pretty impressive, although FFT's recruiting methods certainly help in that respect.  It was great for me to see the talent that is on show at Collegiate Nationals.  Top 10 all being under 2 hours on that course (for men) is really impressive.

For me, it's time to get back into a rhythm of working, sleeping and training.  It's time to get back to my consistent ways that have made me a (relatively) fast triathlete.  There is a lot of racing coming up in the next two weekends so I am excited to go fast!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Belews International + NODA GPX

Number of races: 3
Calories expended: a great many
Mountain Dew weekend consumption: 150oz (appx)
Fun had: Yes

Since my last report/blog/whatever I've experienced some more racing.   Some more hard racing.  Some tough racing.  A little fast racing.  Anyway, herein lies its tale.

I'm sitting here on Sunday evening pretty exhausted.  My Thursday and Friday were pretty low key in preparation for the weekend's festivities, which began extremely early on Saturday morning when I hopped in my man van to head to Jenny's house so we could carpool up to Stokesdale NC for the Belews Lake "International" Triathlon (I insert the quotes there because Setup likes to call races International despite courses that are varying lengths, admittedly only with the bike; which is usually longer).

We arrived at the race site with plenty of time to prepare and began our preparation for race day.  Water temperature was apparently 66 degrees.  I think that's cold.  There are some who shall remain nameless that live in a small but well known city on the west coast that is about two hours north of LA who would disagree but my opinion is actually fact.  A fact as indisputable as the fact that minivans are awesome.  Blah blah blah, it got to be 7:55 am and I was excited to test out the new Blue Seventy Helix (easily the most expensive, nicest wetsuit I have yet to wear) in the TT start at Belews.  I was seeded 30th (self seeding based on submitted swim time) so had 2:20 to wait after the first starters (Matt Wistoff and Jenny).  I was excited and anxious.

Swim 1.5k - 21:53 (13th)

I started next to a guy named Keith and immediately set a smooth tempo towards the first buoy.  The water was a bit chilly but not overly so; I had double capped so felt comfortable.  The shoulder flexibility made this my most favoritest wetsuit legal swim ever.  Last year I was absolutely HATING wetsuit swims (AG Nats, BOUS, Augusta, B2B) but maybe this year I'll actually learn to enjoy them.  Anyway, I started out strong and knew Mark Carey was starting just behind me so I was hoping to see him pass and latch on to his pace.  Unfortunately, I breathe to my left and he passed me on the right; it's not likely I could have stuck to his feet anyway as his swim was a good bit faster than mine. Beyond that, I passed a fair number of people seeded ahead of me and had a generally uneventful swim.  I sighted well, made no mistakes and came out of the water just ahead of some racers that had started way in front.  I exited the water and made my way into transition.

T1 - 1:22 (27th)

I got to my bike with my wetsuit halfway off and put on my helmet but had some trouble getting the wetsuit all the way off the ol' legs.  Once done, I put on my shoes and headed out of T2

Bike 27mi - 1:06:56 (5th)

Heading out on the bike there was a steep hill and I had trouble clipping in (noob!) so it took a bit to get going.  I quickly passed a couple of people with better transitions than myself and settled in on the machine.  It seemed as though the first half of the course was generally uphill with a headwind and the back half net downhill with a tailwind (2 loop course).  This may or may not be true, but those were my impressions. After a while I passed another and from then on I didn't see anyone for quite some time.  It took until almost the end of the first loop before I saw another group ahead.  There may have been one racer or another in there that I can't remember specifically but eventually I got to the second loop and other participants that had started later were now in the mix.  This was somewhat annoying because many of them were riding all over the road and they also obscured the people I had seen up ahead.

Regardless, I kept making my way up the road and eventually FINALLY passed Jenny at mile 17 or so (finally making up for her 4.5 minute lead after the swim) and then soon thereafter saw Sebastien, gutting it out on his road bike.  I was a little jealous because I sort of wished I had been on my S5, but not jealous enough to actually be on mine.  As we got to the turn off for the bike finish I saw Mark Carey up ahead and I knew he had started 10s behind me so I knew I'd have to run him down and put some time on him to actually beat him.

T2 - :44 (3rd)

I had a good T2 and didn't waste any time putting on my shoes (trying out new shoes and new laces, Asics Hyperspeeds and XTENEX laces, both of which were amazing), grabbing my sunglasses and number and heading out just behind Mark who had been a bit slower in T2.

Run 10k - 36:11 (4th)

The run headed out of the middle of transition and back around then up the big hill we had also passed twice on the bike. I had caught up to Mark at this point and jumped in front of him to push the pace up the fairly steep and surprisingly long hill.  I could tell he was working hard so knew that this was the time to press my advantage and hope he stayed with me just long enough to really hurt.  I got some separation and reached the top of the hill to turn left and head downhill for the next mile (maybe?), passing aid stations manned with cheerful and a little forceful volunteers.  No, I do not want any water thank you! I saw Matt at the second and knew that he was too far ahead to catch so I tried to focus on pushing the pace and catching whoever I could.  We eventually hit an uphill then a steep uphill followed by a gradual uphill to the turnaround.  Before turning around I had seen Doug Van Wie a bit in front and Greg Thompson a little closer so after turning around and grabbing my bracelet I chugged along after them.

Mark Carey and Sebastien weren't too far behind so I worried about them catching me if I blew up but I felt comfortable and knew that wasn't going to happen (soon anyway...).  I continued to press on the net uphill all the way back to the turnaround and after grabbing my second bracelet I focused on catching Greg who was only a short ways in front of me at this point.  It took until about mile 5 to do so but once there I pressed again to make sure that he couldn't stick on my pace.  Eventually I made my way to the right turn which marked the last 2/3 mile downhill to the finish and I tried to push the pace all the way down to make sure I didn't give up any free time and crossed the line fairly sure I was still stuck in 3rd place behind Matt and Doug.

OA - 2:07:04 (3rd)

Overall I was very pleased with this race.  I didn't make any mistakes and the only downside was my rather poor bike ride.  Mah watts were lower than I'd want but I managed to have a very good run time.  No one else in the top 10 ran faster except Matt Wistoff and he seems to be in great shape right now so I'm definitely pleased with that.  Hopefully this race galvanizes me to be more diligent about my swimming as it's obvious I'm not in quite as far behind as I thought I was...

That wrapped up the Saturday morning festivities so Jenny and I hopped in the man-van and made our way back to Charlotte where I sat around, drank a lot of water while compressing then went downtown to watch the Presby Crit for a while.  I crashed pretty hard into bed and woke up nice and late on Sunday to set up my S5 for the bike race(s, although I only did one I signed up for 2) that afternoon in NODA.

NODA Grand Prix Cat 3/4 2:30pm

I rode to the Booty Loop around 12:30 to get in a nice long, easy warm up before heading further north into the "hipster" area of Charlotte.  While warming up I almost got destroyed by a car so that was a nice way to get the HR up a bit... I got to the race site around 2:00 and got my number and then sat around waiting for the race to start.  As the field began to line up I realized how big it was.  90 starters for a crit course is ridiculous on the relatively narrow roads we would be on; it was certainly the biggest race I've ever done.  I was in the back and at the gun the leaders basically sprinted to the first corner, meaning that the field strung out immediately.  I spent the first 15-20 minutes of the race basically playing catch up as people around me were getting dropped left and right.  Eventually I got into a more coalesced group and the race got a little "easier" until with about 5 laps to go a group of four got off the front and stayed away.  They were always within sight and as the laps left dwindled I kept thinking we'd catch them but I didn't have the horsepower left to do it myself and nobody else seemed to want to either soo...we didn't! On the last lap I moved up into the top 10 on the back stretch and coming into the corner I tried to sprint but just didn't have any matches left in my legs.  I came across the line 11th OA, 7th in the field sprint. It turns out a former masters world champion was in the break and ended up winning so that's small consolation.

I decided not to do the second race as it would have been a bit much I think; thus ended my week! Whew.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lowe's TT

My first experience with this 10 mile everything-you've-got-in-the-legs-before-they-seize-up-entirely-and-vomit-commences time trial was back in June of 2009.  I was fresh off a bout of thinking I was awesome and a severely sprained ankle (my first of three right ankle sprains in 1.5 yrs) so decided a crack at the TT was right up my alley.  I drove up to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord (~25min drive), warmed up, and gave it my best effort to come in at 22 minutes and 14 seconds, which works out to 26.97 mph.  I was happy on one hand and not on the other.  I felt like I paced poorly and could have done better.

The next month I had another go and improved my time massively with a 21:28, or 27.94 mph.  I was pleased and thought that time was a good indication of what my head said I should be doing.  Actually, I take that back.  The beauty of a training log is that it can produce little nuggets such as this one:

Traffic sucked getting up to the speedway and I got myself lost so I had very little warm up compared to what I wanted. I still need to figure out how to really redline it because I still think I'm faster than this. Ashley was almost a minute ahead of me, that guy is fast.

I guess I thought I was better than I was...what can I say; it happens.  To a certain extent it's good to be tough to satisfy but if you take it too far it can show you the other edge of it's double-edged swordness.  

My next attempt was not until September 2010, fresh off the disappointment of a DNF at Ironman Louisville and in (what I thought was) very good shape.  It was not proven at the TT as my time was somewhere around a 21:40ish.  Again, slower than I expected... Theme? I think yes.

Finally that brings us to last year.  Fresh (well, not really) off a big training camp with a certain someone in Santa Barbara and a double race weekend at Stumpy Creek I made an attempt to retake my course record for the 25-29 dudes.  My time was my fastest so far at ~21:22 or so but I was still getting beat by people I felt had no business being faster (everybody).  (just kidding).  (but not really).  Conditions were incredibly hot, humid and windy so it was less than ideal.  This was also my first time on the course with power and my watts were a not so impressive 4.23 watts/kg.  For 20 minutes that is significantly lower than I wanted.  

That brings us to this year.  My power numbers have been better than I ever could've imagined.  Maybe Brian expected it, but I've been producing numbers in training that I didn't expect to see until after a full summer of training.  My FTP has increased to a hair under 4.5 watts/kg, which is a fairly impressive figure.  I'm certainly happy with it! So needless to say, despite some recent panicking over my fit, I was hoping to ride fast.  With cool temps in the forecast for Wednesday night I was even more hopeful.  I was excited.  

Jenny and I drove up after work and both warmed up appropriately.  It was extremely windy.  Like, B2B 2011 windy.  We both had 808/disc setups so it was slightly worrisome (more me worrying about her than me worrying about myself since I had set up her bike...).  My legs felt fairly normal (tired, a little sore, but cautiously optimistic) and I continued warming up as Jenny headed out for her start.  After a bit, she came back as I was getting ready to ride over for my start and immediately exclaimed that the wind was AWFUL, especially in turn 3.  

I headed over to the start line, wondering whether I would still be alive in 20 minutes, and took my place.  My goal was to average about 4.5-4.6 watts/kg and consequently produce a time under 21 minutes.  Priority number 1 was power, priority number 2 was speed.  Unfortunately, I achieved neither of those goals.  

Started out on target and slowed down immediately.  I had no "oomph" that evening.  I too easily drifted into "not-so-hard" effort level.  After several laps I just stopped looking at my computer.  I was freezing cold.  I was, like at B2B, not into it.  I do not like being cold.  

I averaged under 4 watts/kg.  That is not good.  But you know what? One twenty-ish effort does not change or negate all the good workouts I've had this year.  It doesn't affect the race on Saturday.  It was fun (to talk about afterwards).  It was a good learning experience.  

I will be back Lowes.  And next time, you will be my bitch.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Shot from last year, courtesy of the Honey Badger

Sunday, April 8, 2012

And heeeere weeee...go!

S - don't wanna talk about it
B - 206.8 mi
R - 49.7 mi

Time - 17.13 hours

Well, it feels like a lot happened this week.  I was sad to leave California behind.  It seems as though it has gotten harder every time.  Not only is it a gorgeous place but there's a gorgeous person there as well!  Well, there's actually a ton of gorgeous people in Santa Barbara but only one that actually finds me somewhat entertaining.  I'll take what I can get! Especially when I'm outkicking my proverbial punt coverage!

After that bit of get-points-for-myself blurb moving along; my travels back from the west were tough to deal with.  My flight out of LAX was scheduled for 12:00pm ish on Monday, which is an awkward time as I had to travel from SB to LA (~2hr drive no traffic) and needed to be there well beforehand to drop off my rental car and check-in for my flight with two bags.  So, I left at 6:40 am or so.  The drive was fine until the 405, which apparently is always miserable.  But I made it with more than enough time as I totally overestimated how long it takes to drop off a rental car (never having rented one before), breezed through check in, and waltzed to my gate.

My first flight from LAX to PHX was uneventful and I made it to the airport and had about 3 hours of layover to kill.  I walked around a lot and eventually made my way back to my gate and found out I was sharing a flight with Alex Mcdonald and Justin Park; Alex I had spent camp with and Justin was returning home after racing at California 70.3 (formerly Oceanside 70.3).  It was good to sit in between two like minded guys for the four hour flight and much was discussed.  I was able to geek out about aero stuff with Justin (who wants to make better use of the 360 watts he pumped out over the bike leg at CA 70.3!)  and discuss the Hunger Games with Alex (who was just starting book 1).  Landing was smooth and bag pickup went well.  I got back to my van at about midnight or just after.  Now, for the three hour drive home...

I didn't get to sleep until a hair after 3am and then woke up for work shortly thereafter.  While this may seem like a short term effect on training, it actually ended up having week-long consequences.  I felt like I was having to catch up on sleep all week.  Not ideal.  I mixed in some good workouts (Tuesday IOS ride, Wednesday hard run) with some bad and started riding my tri bike in anticipation of the coming week's races.

This week will have some seriously hard efforts, mostly on the bike.  The plan is for Wednesday night to feature the first Lowe's 10mile TT of the year, Saturday morning Belews International (whose competition level has been growing steadily) and Sunday not one, but two bike races here in Charlotte.

This schedule is a bit intimidating but I think it's going to be a TON of fun.  The Lowe's TT's are always incredibly painful but I *think* that I'll be better served this year than last in my quest to set a record time.  I actually have the 25-29 AG course record but it is not too impressive so I'd like to lower it.  Belews is going to be a competitive race.  Of all the names on the list, Matt Wistoff's certainly stands out the most.  There are some other names that I don't recognize and it's important to remember that there's always an unknown or 8 that can beat you.  I certainly don't expect to win; I just want to have a solid race and, more specifically, a fast run.  If Tom and/or Kenneth aren't racing I'd like to have the fastest run split of the day.  Sunday will bring even more pain but hopefully no carnage.  I'm signed up to do the Cat 3/4 crit at 2:30ish pm (45 minutes) and the 2/3 crit (50mins) at 4:00 pm or so.  Needless to say, the second race is the real humdinger.  I think I should win or close to it in the first race but will be surprised if I finish with the pack in the second.

I always find it amusing when triathletes say that they're going to do a bike race as a "workout."  As if there is any other way?? They find solace in the fact that they broke away for a lap or two and got in some "good TT work" but then blew up and had nothing for the sprint.  That is a bad way to race.  Triathletes too often approach bike racing in an entirely inappropriate way.  The goal is to win.  Plain and simple.  Expend as few matches as possible to save the power for the five to ten seconds when you REALLY need it.  It's not a good race if you blow up, even if you were AWESOME and went off the front (and showed how bad of a bike races you are).  It's important to set your triathlete self aside and approach it in an entirely different way.  Use your strengths to your advantage.  If you don't have a sprint, make a go with 1 lap.  If you have a sprint, sit in and use it!

That's what makes bike racing so much fun; it's a chess match played out at 25mph.  Nobody has any idea who is going to take the W, which is very different from triathlon.  I have a pretty idea of the top 5 for men's and women's on Saturday, but I have no idea about Sunday.  I may very well be the strongest person in the 3/4 race but if I race like a moron it's not going to get me anywhere.

Anyway, if I ruffled your feathers, I'm not sorry.  Bike racing is totally different.  I'm no expert, but I know a LOT more about it than most triathletes.  So, I'll call myself an expert.  That's just the way it is.  Deal with it.

Sorry, I digress.  I'm just excited.  It's going to be a fast week.  I'm excited to race my first tri of the year.  I'm not nervous.  I'm going to have fun.  If I know you I'm going to try and yell at you.  If I yell at you then you had better go faster.  Or slap me in the face, depending on the context.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I am a lucky guy

S - twice
B - four or five times
R - four or five times

Time - 18ish hours

I'm approximating my training because I don't feel like opening Athleticore because it's being frustrating lately.  It's sort of amusing that going to a training camp ends up being a relatively low volume week for me.  I didn't run even close to as much as I've become accustomed to, I had a good bike ride or two and one very good track session but not a whole lot of "other" running, and a couple of very good swims.

My week began with a trip out west to California.  I left Charlotte at around 10am for the 2.5-3hr drive to Raleigh Durham International for my Southwest flight (to save on the bike check) at 3pm (I like to be early for flying).  The drive went smoothly and I arrived at the airport only to discover that my flight had been pushed back for an hour, meaning I'd miss my connection in Nashville.  The ticket agent said she had been "able" to get me on a flight that would "allow" me to arrive at LAX around 11pm.  That's great, except I'd still have a two hour drive to Santa Barbara.  Not awesome! I boarded the flight annoyed and frustrated but arrived in Nashville to discover they had held the flight for the 3-4 passengers on my flight (including myself) to make the connection! Now that was awesome and it totally made my day to that point (obviously).  The rest of my travels went well; I arrived in LAX along with both of my bags, picked up my rental car and drove to SB to arrive to a RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous house rented for the week around 10pm.  I was greeted by my favorite girl named Moose in the whole wide world and went in to meet everyone there for the FFT - PD training camp (that was still awake after a long day in the saddle).  Still up was Jay McCurdy (Rev3 series amateur winner past two seasons, also beat me at NOLA last year), Colin Riley (top 3 at BOUS and other big olympic races, beat me at BOUS last year...sensing a trend? haha), Alex McD (former pro triathlete whose legs were both broken by a truck's impact last year and is currently pursuing road cycling with a great deal of success), and probably more but I'm forgetting. Sleep came quickly after a long day.

Woke up in the morning with the joy of learning that the group would be doing a double brick workout today (warm up on bike, 20k tempo - 2k race pace run - 10k tempo - 4k race pace).  Since I generally find bricks to be disagreeable with my disposition I decided to just ride with them and not run.  It was a tough workout and everyone was riding really hard and fast.  I just kind of did my own thing but had a good time.  How could I not; I was in the prettiest place ever riding through one of its most expensive neighborhoods!! (Hope Ranch, Santa Barbara CA, look it up).  Later in the day everyone swam, but I don't remember specifics.

On Wednesday we did what is probably my favoite loop that I've yet done in Santa Barbara.  The ride starts downtown and heads north over the mountains and into Solvang (where the Tour of California's TT used to take place), which is a really cool little town (/tourist trap) and then back south along the coastline via the 101.  All in all it ended up being a hair over 80 miles and a great day for riding.  I tried to ride as much as possible with Moose, both to accumulate massive brownie points and because I generally prefer enjoying myself in gorgeous locales vs. riding hard and stressing about my watts.

Unfortunately, Moose was bricking 20 minutes off the bike and I couldn't allow myself to get chicked so I suffered through a short run with her.  Later in the day everyone headed to Prevail Conditioning to go over a lot of self-massage techniques and corrective exercises.

The next day started with a long swim, home for eating and napping, then a track workout preceded by some form drills.  It was probably the best I've run in a long time, due in no small part to being with other people for the majority of the 6x1k repeats.  It's certainly the fastest I've run in training for a while.  I've found that I tend to perform in races at a level I've been heretofore unable to match in training.  Which makes sense I suppose, since I'm usually somewhat tapered for races.  Or at least more fresh than my everyday training. More importantly, Thursday also brought with it a viewing of the Hunger Games.  Moose and I sat behind her parents so it felt very much like a high school date! Pretty awesome.

The next day brought with it another ascent of Gibraltar on an absolutely stunning day; albeit only above 1000' or so.  It was a bit overcast and cloudy at the start but at a certain point we rode through the clouds and into glorious sunshine.  It. was. awesome.  I have some great videos of the descent but it's going to take a while to assemble them into anything remotely watchable (not that that has ever stopped me before...).  Later on everyone went to swim (very short) and I deemed it not worth getting cold for and watched/videoed on deck.

Saturday morning everyone else raced the sprint while Alex and I watched and cheered.  My cheering skills are admittedly terrible so I feel it necessary to train as much as possible and get better.  If that means I have to skip a sprint race in 55 degree water with 60 degree air temps, so be it.  I'll manage... Later in the day we all went for a ride and that ride deserves a paragraph unto itself.

We started late in the afternoon and although the forecast had - earlier in the day - called for rain most of the afternoon, it had until that point held off and the forecast updated to only a 10% chance of rain.  Most of us headed out - it was slightly chilly - with the intention of doing Gibraltar again (~2.5hr ride).  Moose and I decided to turn around about 5 minutes into the climb and do something slightly less taxing.  So we headed off to do our own thing and were really just cruising around on some of her favorite roads.  At a certain point, maybe an hour+ in to the ride she said "why don't we go to do a Gub loop?" I said "sure, whatever you want," which would prove to be a faithful moment.  This would end up adding on about an hour to the ride.  It had been drizzling a bit on and off but nothing that would keep us wet for any period of time.  The temperature kept hovering around to just under 60 degrees and as of yet there were no warning signs.  About 1.5hrs into the ride, however, it started to actually rain.  Not too hard, not too soft, but more a Goldilocks kind of amount.  Juuuust right.  By just right I really mean terrible, as we were not a bit soaked, both from the rain itself and from the standing water on the road.  California roads have terrible drainage, which causes them to have terrible roads in general... At about 2 hours into the ride I started to officially get worried.  There was only one way back to the house and I consistently underestimated how long it would take us to get there.  I was noticeably cold at this point.  As the ride progressed, I got colder and colder and wetter and wetter, at which point I stopped talking because I was afraid of what I would say.  At 2.5 hours I was constantly shivering and had decided I was the most miserable I'd ever been on my bicycle.  Everytime we stopped I looked someone other than at Moose as I didn't want her to see the look on my face.  The first time we had to stop I just told her, "You may want to ask me a question or something, my answer is just going to be 'I don't wanna talk about it.''' Just being blunt! Eventually we made it back to the house in just over 3 hours of ride-time and immediately jumped into the hot tub.  The problem was our hands and feet couldn't handle the heat so we were butt first with hands and feet sticking up out of the water; it looked pretty ridiculous but we did not care.  Warmth is amazing.  This was one of those rides where the telling of it will get more ridiculous each time and that I'll always say "well this isn't going as poorly as THAT ride!"

Anyway, Saturday ended with more food and the packing of most of the athletes.  We had to leave the house by Sunday at 10am and at that point it was just myself, Moose and Colin.  We packed up all our gear in two cars and headed into Goleta to Moose's apartment where we'd all spend the night.  Colin and I went for a 10mile run along the cliffs and through campus before returning to head out on a 2+ hour hike into the mountains.  It's rare that I let myself do "fun" stuff and I think it's really important to try and enjoy where you are as much as possible and forget about how sore it's going to make you (although it hasn't been too bad).  Sunday night Moose and I went out for dinner and that was that.  The end of the week.  The next morning I woke up and drove to LAX to fly home, leaving behind one life for another.

Needless to say, the trip was fantastic.  Santa Barbara is gorgeous and to spend a week there with some of the best triathletes in the country (if you haven't looked into who comprises the FFT-PD team, you should, because it's impressive) is truly a gift.  While I didn't get in quite as much training as I would have liked it's a-OK, because it's a longggg year.