Friday, June 28, 2013

A treatise on confidence

When I want to find a specific definition for a specific word, my first (and sometimes only) resource is obviously urban dictionary.  Ye Olde Oxford English Dictionary (online version) is no longer versed in the common vernacular so it is important to keep one's mind open and ready to absorb new colloquial verbage.  That paragraph alone is worth at least an 800 on the Verbal test, FYI.

So today I found myself google UB'ing "self confidence."  There are some great options here:

1) "Text confidence" - when someone has no self-confidence in the real world but when behind a screen they become confident.  This one applies to practically everybody these days.
2) "Shelf Confidence" - having the confidence - literally or figuratively if you choose - to sit on a shelf and KNOW that someone will buy you. Similar to self-confidence but in a more arrogant manner.  It is more desirable, however, to have shelf confidence than self confidence. I don't have too many, if any, examples of this one.  I don't think triathletes have a great deal of shelf-confidence.  They're, generally speaking, too geeky.
3) "Man-self" - Used in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (did UB just quote John Steinbeck??? weird), it refers to the self-confidence that men have. Another useful expression, but especially when placed into context by UB: "I took a real blow to my man-self today." To use in a triathlete example: "all the guys on the Tuesday night ride generally take a blow to their man-self when they get dropped and Jenny stays on."
4) "low self esteemy" - adjective for low self-esteem. Showing a lack of self-confidence and too much need for approval from others; being too whiny. It goes without saying that there are a TON of specific examples of this in the triathlon world. 

Now, the ACTUAL definition of self-confidence is pretty simple: "confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities." "Without self-confidence we are as babes in a cradle," Virginia Woolf. "Realistic confidence in one's own judgement, ability, power, etc."

Self-confidence carries no negative connotations.  There is no implicit or explicit suggestion of arrogance, of narcissism, of anything related to those general behavioral traits.  It is about being CONFIDENT in what you have been given and in what you have made of yourself.  There is nothing wrong with it.

Self-confidence is ALMOST ALWAYS mistaken for arrogance.  It is almost always associated with cockiness.  It is almost always associated with a sense of self-assured RIGHTNESS that does, in fact, have negative implications.  Why? Why can people not be self-confident and be appreciated for that? Why do so many people have NO self-confidence? We are what we are, but to an extent we can change ourselves and make ourselves into something we want to be.

There are some things I am confident about:

1) My athletic abilities: I know what my body is capable of and I want to push it as much as possible to explore things that were heretofore not possible.
2) My family: I know that they are and always will be there in support of what I choose to do
3) My friends: I trust that my friends will always be a source of positive influence and feelings (otherwise we wouldn't be friends!)
4) My self: My parents genes and their parents genes and my family's genes back through the history of the world have combined to make me who I am.  I can be nothing but confident in that, because it's who I is.

Those are all appropriate things in which to have confidence.  I should be more confident about some things (like the opposite sex) but I am just not. I have been trying to change that particular one for years but it is a slow, steady, progression (kind of like getting better at triathlon).

So if you're out there and you read this and you believe I am wrong, don't be afraid to tell me. But I am confident that I am not wrong. There are a lot of people I know who could do better at appreciating themselves and their strengths AND their weaknesses.  The more you genuinely like yourself the happier you will be and that is contagious.  Happy people surround themselves with other happy people.  And if an unhappy person latches on to the happy group they will generally become more happy because the happy people will reinforce their own latent confidence and then the happiness will come out and everyone will be happy! It's kind of like the circle of awesome.

I mean, there's so much awesome right there you GOTTA love it.

Hey everybody, come see how good I look!!
It's also important to remember that sometimes, I am being sarcastic. And, for the record, I do not own nor tweet from the @Haycrafts_Hair even though I'm pretty sure most people who read this think that I do.  It's not me.  But it is awesome.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rev3 Williamsburg

Well, a half-iron that takes place - literally - right on my college campus cannot in all good sense be passed on, right? Right. I'm not exactly sure when I first discovered Rev3 Williamsburg but I have to give complete credit on that one to Tara Martine, fellow William and Mary alum and fruitarian extraordinaire.  Fortuitously enough, my parents and youngest brother were also going to be on campus THAT weekend as Travis was starting a seminar/camp/institution at the school about some nerdy thing for three weeks and my mom was teaching a seminar of some sort to a bunch of teachers about writing and my dad was organizing and helping.   So needless to say, racing this weekend was a certainty.

I had originally hoped for a big NC crew to come with and race but unfortunately due to injury or timing nobody from Charlotte was racing.  I whined about this and my solo trip to Jenny who volunteered to travel with me; not too shabby! It must be my hair, it honestly is my best feature.  AND, a couple of weeks before, NC's best triathlete the past two years Matt Wistoff also asked me if I had made travel plans yet (I hadn't, which galvanized me into doing so; I didn't wanna disappoint someone whose hair clearly trumps my own).  So, it was a merry crew of three NC pros that stayed at the Governor's Inn Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday was the practice swim in the morning, pro meeting at noon, and resting the rest of the day. Now, I don't always practice swimming, but when I do I make sure it is awesome.  The swim took place in the James River, which is a big ass body of water. The current was moving purty good from left to right (looking out at the river) which made the second leg of the swim pretty fast and the first and last difficult to navigate.  I swam a little bit more than I normally do and the rest of the day passed uneventfully.

Alright, on to race day.

Race morning arrived at a too-early 4am.  Breakfast was consumed. Plans were made. We departed with our bikes in the man-van for T2 where we quickly set up our run stuff (this was mostly done in the rain as it rained from about 4am to 6am) before hopping back in the van to get to T1.  At this point we were actually pretty early and so lounged a bit before setting up our bike area.  Once 6am rolled around we were pretty much completely ready to go and Wistoff and I got in the water for a little warm-up...

Now, there were some delays before we get to the real deal.  Pro men were supposed to start at 6:30, but we were told that some cars were blocking the bike course and they were having to alter transition navigation (they actually drew a map in the sand as we huddled around...) so consequently all waves were delayed.  We did not actually start until 6:55 or so I much for any warm up! Oh well.

Swim - 32:17 - 15th after swim

Well, this was interesting.  Non wetsuit legal for the pros and wetsuit legal for AG'ers, the James River swim would hopefully be kind to me (its namesake, obviously).

I knew the first 50 yards or so would be very shallow and at the start everyone raced out, took a couple of lunges and then dolphin dove into the water.  Unfortunately for them, it remained shallow for a very long time.  I just kept on running and at one point I was basically leading the swim (or at least, on the front lines).  At a certain point, however, swimming needed to start so I reluctantly put my head under and carried on with it. The main group was fairly close for a while but it strung out before too long.  The course was basically a big triangle: outbound kind of steering left then turn right and go along the "shore" before turning right again with a slight "inwards" angle.  Everything was normal then we got to a certain point and the swim got a little crazy.  It was like crossing some magical threshold of epic-ness.  The chop was quite wavy and unpredictable.

At the same time, the current appeared to also impart its force upon us and while I HAD been sighting directly on the red turn buoy I was now getting pushed noticeably to the left.  This become even more apparent as I felt as though I had swum and/or been pushed PAST the red buoy and now had to make a hard right turn towards the marker.  I was about 50 yards away from the buoy but it felt as though it took 50 strokes to actually reach it.  Once I finally passed the buoy I would look back over my shoulder and it stayed in what-appeared-to-be close range for an alarmingly long time.  This leg of the swim felt as though it took absolutely forever.  There were a couple of other guys around me at this point so I KNEW mentally that we were all being affected but it was very tough to deal with.

It's during a swim like this that you ask yourself the question: "At what point do you give up?" I literally felt as though I was making no progress forward in the water.  The second turn buoy never seemed to get any closer for quite a period of time.  How long should you be willing to swim in and endless pool with an edge that never gets any closer? Luckily, I didn't have to answer that as the turn buoy finally made some perceptible towards-me movement.  I reached the second buoy and made the last right hand turn.

The way back in was much less difficult than the previous stretch and I had no issues with getting back to shore although I was a wee bit more tired than I had expected to be (although I was also expecting a 28ish minutes swim) as I lunged/ran up to shore and under the arches after seeing a 32:XX on the swim finish clock.

-shrugs and carries on-

T1 - 2:19 

T1 at this race is very, very long.  You have to run up off the beach and across a very large grass field before entering transition.  It was fairly tiring.  Luckily T1 went quickly.

Bike - 2:14:25 - 14th off bike

I got out of T1 before the other guys I had come in with/near and started to put out the watts.  I figured this course would be fairly fast despite some decent elevation change and some wind.  I had almost 30 more watts to play with at this race than at White Lake and NOLA 70.3 so I was hopeful of being able to make up time on some people with the increase in bike fitness.  It was pretty flippin' cool to ride on roads I had ridden on for four years while in school at William and Mary.  Anyway, I always feel like I talk about the swim forever and then forget about most of the bike.  This one was pretty uneventful; here's what stands out:

1) I actually caught people in a pro race
2) Soon after catching them, I turned too early (into the oncoming 2 lanes vs the other side of the median and before you ask I actually did find it somewhat confusing and no there was no traffic) and lost out on a sub 2:14 bike split wahhhhh

3) I've said it before and I'll say it again, people just totally underestimate the swim. Leading into the first out/back I saw Eric Limmkeman with a huge lead over #2 Kyle Leto (like 2-3 minutes) with a big lead of #3 Starky (another decent, but smaller gap) then a big group of 7ish dudes (including Matt) all riding in the stagger group.  THAT was the race, right there.  Then a straggler, then me and the dude I was riding with (some team TBB guy on another P5) then more stragglers/catchers.  The swim made the top 10 with only 2 exceptions (Adam Otstot and Darby Thomas).

4) I rode pretty dead nuts even both front and back half watts-wise.  Second half had lower AP but same NP due to some more hills.  

I rolled into T2 about 10-15s behind Adam Otstot (fellow WM alum and runner).

T2 - 1:00

Pretty quick T2, was pleased to see it was this quick even with putting on socks.

Run - 1:26:32 - 15th after run/at finish

Again, gonna go over key remembered points on the run as it's way easier

1) Headed out way, wayyyy too fast (at 2 minutes in I looked down and lap average was ~5:30 pace).  Oops.  

2) The run course was quite hilly - Mile 1 mostly flat (with a downhill then uphill at the University Center, relatively steep), mile 2 mostly flat with slight downhill at end, mile 3 mostly uphill with a sharp uphill on Mill Neck Rd and gradual climb to the turnaround.  Then reverse that while adding on a slight downhill then uphill to second turnaround and back to start/finish.

3) I caught Matt just after the first turnaround and it was apparent that he was hurting. It was humid, hot and his first half basically.  I did not envy that feeling.

4) I held pace pretty well through the first 10k (a hair under 6:30 pace) which was good considering the hilly nature of the course.

5) Lap 2 brought with it more suffering and a pass by one guy

6) I ran steady but slowly in to the finish and only cramped up a wee bit in the finishing chute.  Good timing!

I was happy to again not get chicked and to be ahead of all the age-groupers.  While I may not have run as fast as I wanted or placed as highly as desired it was a nice consolation to know that I was 15th male pro and 15th overall.  The swim was excruciating (it was worse for me than White Lake '13, which was pretty dang bad), the bike was fun and honest, and the run was tough.  Just the way a good half course should be!

Napping or dying? You be the judge

Possibly the best medal I have ever received from a race

Travis, Dad, Mom and the James Haycraft

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A state TT title, among other awesomeness

S - 18,900 yards
B - 170.4 miles
R - 25.4 miles

Time - 17.46 hours

Most of this week was just a preamble to the weekend (is that not the way it usually works out?). Blah blah blah swimming, biking, running, sleeping, working, etc. Then, awesome ensued.

As an aside, I get the feeling that a lot of people think I'm seriously thinking I'm the awesomest person out there.  This is not true. Gandhi was way more awesome than I'll ever be. You just need to have a sense of humor about a lot of things I say.  There's this thing that exists and I'm not sure many are aware of it that is colloquially known as "sarcasm." Generally, the more obtuse you are the less you are able to pick up on such things.  I can't write everything in pink font, sadly.

On to the recap (yayyyy).

I had, several weeks before, decided I did not wish to do Tri Latta. I love that bike course, but the rest of that race is - quite simply - completely unattractive.  It is so close to home that it is nearly impossible to pass up on but I managed it this year.  I would not be subject to its whims!!! So long ago I looked for a race that would substitute and lo' and behold I found one: the South Carolina State Time Trial Championship in Awendaw, SC (near Charleston). Not wishing to simply drive down by myself, do the race, and come back up immediately following I enlisted the help of two friends (would've loved to have had others but I fear many people are intimidated by the time trial or subject to the pull of Latta), Jenny and Ross.  It would be the first 40k time trial for both of them.  I told them to not be intimidated by the equipment of the roadie-verse.  They pay wayyy more attention to that sort of stuff than triathletes do (generally).

Example A:

Yes, that is a Porsche GTsomething...(3?).  Yes, that is a P5-6 with Campy Super Record.  Yes that is ALSO a P4.  Both had sick wheelsets.  The P5 guy came in 5th I think so it's very slightly almost justified.

Anyway, we made ready. Jenny started first, I started later and Ross started even later.  As I made my way to the start line I was confident that I was about to go fast.  I am on - quite literally - the fastest bike in the world.  I have - quite literally - the fastest wheels in the world.  I am wearing - quite literally - the most awesome skinsuit that makes me look even more awesome.  I have an awesome helmet (although I genuinely don't know if it's fast or not on me...maybe I should book time at the wind tunnel in the next couple of weeks....hmmmmmmm).  I put on shoe covers.  I spray-glued my bib number to myself instead of pinning it (saves some watts right thurr!).  I checked ALL the boxes.  I have a super fast, low rolling resistance, aero front tire.  I have a super fast, low-ish rolling resistance, slightly more durable rear tire that is also aero (for next TT I will likely change my tire selection).  Latex tubes OF COURSE.

I set off on my journey.  I could tell that I was rolling along and I was able to keep my head down and grind out the watts.  For the first 10' my watts were a little high but I could tell there was some slight head/cross wind so resolved to hold the effort level.  The second 10' saw my power drop a little bit but the pace continued to be high and the effort was starting to show.  I was perspiring quite rapidly at this point (a 3/4 sleeved skinsuit is not the coolest piece of apparel) and my legs were burning.  I made it to the turnaround and was glad to get the first half over with in roughly 27:52 and put my head down to continue the back half of awesome.

At this point I had basically passed everyone that started in front of of me within about 3 or 4 minutes.  But I saw some carrots up ahead and this helped me pick my power back up after a slight drop leading into the turnaround (and by slight drop I mean the 7.75' split from 20' to the turnaround was 10-12 watts lower than the one before it and the one after it! oops).  At one point there was a woman up ahead riding in the middle of the lane and I was catching her quite rapidly.  As I got closer she moved even further left and to stay in my lane I had to pass rather close.  I was closing the gap so quickly (seriously, I was probably going 28-29mph and she was maybe going 15 it seemed like) that my shout at her was not really in enough time and she let out a very loud squeal as I came rumbling past.

The last 20 minutes of the race were just a symphony of delicious suffering.  The last 10k had a fairly sweet tailwind so consequently there were some high speeds seen on the bike course.  I crossed the line and my garmin read 54:56 for 25.0 miles.  A very solid split.  Leading into the race I was not expecting to be top 5 as I figured with a flat, fast course like that there would be some big TT guns out there but after waiting around on results it turns out I was the fastest overall on the day by less than 2 seconds! I was pretty stoked.  Eric Christopherson is a beast and I'm sure he was kicking himself after the race.  I know he could've found a couple of seconds on the course (I could've as well, no doubt) but that's the beauty of an individual time trial.  It is all about your effort over the bike course.  You never know until the results are posted!  Ross and Jenny both had crazy times too and I have absolutely zero doubt that if Jenny were to give bike racing a try she would be the best racer and TTer in North Carolina.  Nobody I've ever ridden with even comes close to her ability to suffer.  Ross' 57:20 or thereabouts was a super first time 40k split! He has put in some serious work on the bike and is really devoted to improving not just his fitness but the way he approaches racing and training.  He reminds me a lot of me when I first started working with Brian back in 2011 actually...

Anyway, we did some more awesome stuff then came back to Charlotte and did awesome stuff again.  Really, it was just awesome.

Full results can be found here:

Unfortunately I was not the SC State champion in my category as I am not a SC resident! But the NC State TT is less than a month away...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lake Hickory Sprint Tri

Time - 14.01 hours

Alright, on to the important stuff. This week basically had two races: Lowe's TT on Wednesday night and Hickory sprint on Saturday morning.  Which one was more important to me? Well, probably Lowe's honestly.  That's such a good fitness barometer that a triathlon can't really compete.  Especially one where - when I signed up at least - I figured I could walk across the line for the win.

Now, before I get into what a fallacy that idea was, I'd like to delve into the Lowe's TT. What makes this "race" so attractive beforehand and so utterly disgusting during? I guess some would liken it to a 5k road race but I would probably equate it more to the mile effort level.  At almost no point does it not suck.

Anyway, I had some high goals for this particular Lowe's experience.  I was coming in off a lot more biking than I'd done Jan-April so I was feeling fit but tired (as usual, see my last blog post).  I was on better equipment than last year (P5-6, Zipp disc, Hincapie Signature skinsuit) and the only variable was a different powermeter (Quarq vs 2012 Powertap, so therefore the watts aren't the exact same) and I had a different helmet (Bambino vs Louis Garneau).

The view most will see ;)

Hair is not aero

Narrow is Aero. Preach it

Jenny and I drove up and got in a decent warmup and she headed off to do her thing while I made final prep to do mine.  I headed up to the start line and made ready...

Lap 1 - far too much power
Lap 2 - still too much power and now it has started raining, hard.
Lap 3 - holy mother this hurts, but it has stopped raining.
Lap 4 - I am almost halfway done, but it is really windy and looks like the heavens are going to unleash
Lap 5 - still 2 more laps?? why the F did I sign up for this?
Lap 6 - ok, almost there
Lap 7 - look cool through the finish line

Time - 20:49, with a BIG 20' power personal best (with tired legs, no big deal) on the TT bike and only 4s off my category record from last year (which was set under much faster conditions, in my opinion) and 4th Overall on the night (I believe 2nd OA listed is actually a tandem).  Tyler Jordan was only 3s behind me so I know I need to bring my A game to these TT's so as not to lose my stranglehold on fastest triathlete TTers!! (just kidding I don't care...but actually really I do care).

Now, moving on to Thursday.  I got a chance to help out with an IOS Cary store customer who was spending some time at the A2 Wind Tunnel.  While I was sad to not be going for myself it was very, very cool to see the process in action.  I got to talk to Dave Salazar a little bit (GM of the tunnel and who runs all the tests) and honed in on what I'd actually test myself if I ever get the opportunity to book tunnel time.

And now, moving on to Saturday and the Lake Hickory sprint.  This was a first year race for the NCTS (although it has been hosted for several years by a different event production company).  I signed up for this race several weeks ago when nobody fast was signed up with the goal of "poaching" some series points by (hopefully) beating 5th place by a large margin. Now, as race day approached Andrej Helleig (German Pro), Mike Selle (oldie fastie), Andrew Fletcher (the Fletch-wound) and Donny Forsyth (no cool nickname that is printable) all signed up; woe is me. There went that plan.

Anyway, race day setup went fine and as we were getting into the water I noticed Tyler Jordan in the open wave.  Well, there REALLY went that plan.

The race was technically wetsuit legal but with a 400m swim I figured I'd lose more time taking it off than I'd gain.  Very few people wore wetsuits, Tyler was one of the only athletes in the open wave that did...Smart move by him especially considering his T1 was quicker than mine...dammit. (another area in which to improve)

Swim - 5:24 (1st...holy crap!)

The swim was very simple and only had two turns; with the first buoy being very close I figured it would get a little crazy.  I therefore took the swim out very hard and was actually the first around and out of the buoy.  Soon thereafter, however, Jenny made her presence known and passed me on the right a little over halfway through the swim.  I stayed on her feet for a bit (no one else was on hers) to the last buoy where she gapped me a bit into the finish.  I came out of the water roughly 5s down on her and ran into T1.

T1 - :47 (18th...holy crap again...)

Not a very good T1 for me, oops.

Bike - 39:09 (2nd)

Heading out on the bike was an uphill for the first bit and the realization that my legs felt like utter dog-poo was disturbing.  I was in the "lead" at this point and just hoped that I could warm into the effort.  My watts were pathetically low at this point and Andrej came blazing by at high speed and I had nothing for him. He went ahead and the gap grew before at about 15' into the bike Tyler came by; at this point my legs felt a bit better so I stayed with him through the end of the first loop.  The second loop started and it was immediately clear that it was going to be a much sketchier loop with all the athletes, cars and motorcycles.  There were a couple of times where some questionable maneuvers were made (me too) but there really wasn't another option.  The last 10 minutes I rode pretty hard and came around Tyler with a couple of miles to go and we caught Andrej coming into transition.  My peak 5' power was actually at the end of the bike (normally, most people experience it at the beginning).

T2 - :38 (8th)

We all got into T2 at virtually the same time and I had an efficient switch and headed out roughly 5s behind Andrej and 5s ahead of Tyler.

Run - 17:57 (4th)

Heading out on the run was basically all uphill for a half mile.  Andrej was making a lot of noise but running fast and my legs felt pretty good so I was kinda hoping we could experience some sort of sprint finish (have yet to do that in a triathlon...).  Tyler caught me about halfway up the hill but never really increased his lead and we continued on past the first mile marker with Andrej in the lead, Tyler about 5-7s behind him and me about 5s behind Tyler (maybe a bit more, perspectives can be distorted while running 5k pace).  We made it to the first turnaround and headed back up the slight incline the way we came.  On the flat upper section of the course there was a road off to the left with a "Setup" sign and an arrow pointing left.  There were also (somewhat faded) arrows pointing left.  Andrej went past this intersection without looking left then Tyler seemed hesitant upon getting to it.  I knew, based on looking at the course maps, that there was another out/back so was pretty sure of where it was... I told Tyler I was pretty sure we turned left here and we ended up taking the turn together since he slow-jogged while I was telling him to turn. We headed down the hill to the turnaround then headed back up and Tyler gapped me a bit there.  This basically held to the finish where I crossed the line some seconds back from TJ. Andrej was already at the finish line and was fairly annoyed that he had missed the turn.  One cannot say for sure whether he would've won regardless but given that neither Tyler nor myself were closing down the gap on him it's not an unsafe assumption that the German Pro would've taken the W.  Be that as it may, Tyler won and I got second.  Not my favorite position to be.

OA - 1:03:53 - 2nd

I'm happy with the result of this race.  My power on the bike was well below what it "should" be for this distance so to have a good result in spite of a less than stellar bike ride is always pleasing.  It's ironic to me now that this race felt like a disadvantage compared to Andrej and Tyler.  My swim has improved so much that I actually WANT a longer swim against those guys.  Against Van Wie and Wistoff I'd prefer a shorter swim, however (I'm so needy).  Anyway, it was a good race and it ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day to be out racing!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Swim - 10,500 yards
Bike - 235.1 miles
Run - 38.5 miles

Time - 19.65 hours

Last week after the Tuesday ride I was told that someone "hoped that I was tired" and that the ride would consequently be a little easier.  That prompted a slight laugh from yours truly because during the "year" (i.e not including off-season) I am pretty much always tired.

The upcoming week includes a 10mi time trial up at Lowe's motor speedway on Wednesday and a sprint at Lake Hickory.  Hopefully Lowe's brings a new PR/AG record! With a slick skin suit, P5-6, Zipps I - quite literally - have no excuses!