Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Favorite Race Moments of 2014

2014 was a year of growth, change, and new experiences. I am very happy with the year overall, and these are my top 5 race moments.

5. Ironman 70.3 NOLA
Just about everything wet wrong nutritionally in NOLA, but somehow I still snagged a spot to Worlds. I went into the race prepared to have a great race. I felt fresh and peppy. A great swim (for me) set me up to have a great day. Unfortunately I dropped my fluids early in the bike, and I was never able to recover from it. I ended up walking and sitting down quite a bit on the run, but I fought through it. Keeping a positive attitude can go a long way in endurance sports - a great lesson to learn.

4. 50k debut
I took a road trip out to California with a new German friend and raced the Malibu Canyon 50k. 6300ft of elevation gain. Set the 25k course record during the 50k. Finished 3rd OA. All of tha was exciting, but so was the actually road trip. He is in the states traveling for a few months and wanted to go from Denver to LA. We left Denver in a snow storm and made it to Vegas that night. It was great to see his reaction as we were driving through to CO mountains, UT canyons, and all of the lights of Vegas. It definitely made time fly by.

3. Marathon Debut - 2:37
Road trip back to IL.
Seeing family and friends.
Elite Athlete meeting with some studs.
Marathon debut.
I mean what more could I ask for?

2. 70.3 Worlds - 4:28
I had made my retirement from triathlon public the week before. I honestly believe that was the best thing I could have done. There was not any pressure on me to perform and I felt like I could just go and soak in the experience. During the swim something inside me said, "no,you're here to compete - get it done." I ended up with a PR swim and bike, along with a 10 minute overall PR. I couldn't have had a better ending. I still get people that tell me, "you're wasting your talent by not racing tri" or, "it's a shame you quit so young." I may come back to it someday, but I don't have plans to at the moment. New adventures await.

1. Clermont AG Sprint Tri
Giving Jack a high five at the finish of the Clermont AG Sprint Tri is hands down my favorite moment. I could have picked a race win or course record as my favorite moment, but this trumps them all. It was one of those days where things just kind of clicked and then I got to give a buddy a high five. People were like "you just made his day," but really, he made mine. Those are the moments I love about racing.

Thanks for reading. What was your favorite race moment of 2014?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This & That

Rather than bore you with the details of mono, here are some pictures of my move to Leadville, CO.

We are pretty high

Sleepy little Leadville

Looks like great snowshoeing territory

The snowstorm

Mineral Belt Trail

Twin Lakes

More from Twin Lakes

Almost a Christmas card photo

Seriously...I love Colorado

Oh look, my new training partner!

Hot yoga studio or living room?

Tuesday night bingo in Leadville.

So, what's your goal for 2015?

If you were wondering, mono recovery has been going well. I am finally not sleeping 14-16 hours a day. I am also able to go for some light jogs and do some yoga. Sure, it is probably going to be a long time before I feel "normal" but that is okay.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

September, October, & November

This is the quick version of race reports from September, October, and November...

September 7
Ironman 70.3 World Championship
M18-24 25th • 4:28 (PR)

September 21
Coyote Classic 5k
1st • 17:25 (CR)

I felt recovered enough from 70.3 Worlds to race a 5k...a week before my first marathon. All I knew is top 3 won a pair of running shoes from the local running store in Golden. Adam and I ran the course as a warm up - 300 feet of elevation gain..gah! First half downhill, second half uphill. I took the lead early and somehow held on to win and set a course record. That was also where I met Anthony (a stud runner also from IL) and started coaching jr high cross country with him.

September 28
Quad Cities Marathon
6th • 2:37:13
(Full RR next)

October 11
Durango Double Trail 13.1
9th • 1:52

I found out within the first mile of this race that I was not recovered from the marathon. It was my first trail race and I just was not ready for the climbing at altitude. I finished 9th OA on day 1, but 5th of people doing both days.

October 12
Durango Double Road 13.1
5th • 1:23

I woke up and considered not racing. I couldn't feel my legs and they were absolutely destroyed from the precious day and the marathon 2 weeks prior. Somehow I still pulled off a decent race and finish 5th OA to move into 3rd for the combined days. I was thrilled as we got some pretty sweet gear for the race.

Durango Double combined - 3rd

November 2
Solemates Collaboration 5k
1st • 15:58

I was not sure how this would go. The previous weekend I did my last long run (21 miles with fast finish) before Malibu Canyon 50k, so my legs were not super fresh. The OA male and female winners won a keg from Left Hand Brewing Co, so I wanted to win! I was not sure who was I the race and I do not race well at altitude -- yet. I took the lead about 1k in and figured if I was going to hurt, I may as well make everybody else hurt too. I came through the first mile in 4:57 and almost had to check my shorts. That was the first sub 5 mile I had popped off at altitude. I came through 2 miles in about 10:10 and was still feeling good. About 1/2 mile from the finish I was able to start shutting it down as I thought I had the win AND I wanted to save my legs for the 10k the following weekend.
Thanks Shoes & Brews and Left Hand for the keg!

November 8
Longmont Turkey Trot 10k
4th • 34:31

I was feeling pretty good about my first sub 16 at altitude the previous weekend, so I decide to just go for it. I came through mile 1 in 5:15 and was already gapped by 10 seconds. Yuck! I ran alone the next 2 miles, until the women's winner pulled up next to me. We ran together for about a mile, and then she pulled away from me. At that point I thought "save it for the 50k next weekend." I finished in 34:31 for 4th OA...which was a altitude 10k PR.

November 16
Malibu Canyon 50k
3rd • 4:35:36 (25k CR)
Already posted.

Over the past few months I would say I had learned quite a bit about myself. I said I was done racing and just wanted to do my own thing...and that is exactly what I have been doing. I have not followed a strict training schedule, but rather going to group runs and having "Saturday Adventre Time." I have been wearing my Garmin to keep track of miles, but I never look at pace. I entered a lot of events that sounded fun. I just went and ran. I have met a lot great people at these events, and for that I am truly thankful. I can't wait to see what exciting adventures are in store for 2015. Here's a hint:

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thoughts and Malibu Canyon 50k RR

Top 5 thoughts after the 50k.

5. What. The. Hell. 31xmile, 2x25k, 10x5k, doesn't matter how you break it down, it's still 31miles.

4. "Easy course." LOL. Since when does easy include 6300ft of elevation gain, blazin' sun, and up to 40mph winds. Maybe they meant "easy course to follow."

3. That was probably one of the most well marked courses I have very done. I somehow find ways to get lost in a 5k, but was never lost during this 50k.

2. They didn't have peach rings at the aid stations... I wasn't stopping.

1. I laughed, cried, smiled, hurt, and got it done. I could not be happier with the race and wouldn't change a thing.

Race Report

50k (31 miles) 4:35:26 • 3rd OA

I stayed pretty calm until the day before the race. My first freak out moment was when I realized I left my racing flats in Boulder. I was kindly reminded that is is a trail race and I didn't need flats. Whew.

The night before the race I came up with my Top 5 list for before the 50k. That pretty much sums up how I was feeling - excited to be going into the unknown.

I woke up at 4:30am, had coffee, granola, two Toaster Strudels, and some rice. Such a healthy breakfast, right? Anthony and I left around 5:30 Togo pick up Sergio, then we were off to Malibu.

Packet pick up was simple as easy.

The race started at 8:00am. They put the 25k and 50k start together, and the 10k was 10 minutes later.

Within the first mile, there was a pack of about 8-10 of us that broke away. The first section was flat (woohoo) and then you start to climb.

I know I am not the best climber, but I have a pretty simple system - run the flats and downhills, power hike the uphill. I can power hike up the hills faster than I can "run."

Around mile 5 I found myself in the lead group of 4. I started to think that this was going to be the pack that the top 3 OA came out of and they are all stronger climbers than me. With this being a 2 lap course, I did not like my chances of holding them off the second loop. There is a little downhill between miles 6-7 and I decided to make my move. My goal was to open up a gap on the short downhill. Get over the next climb as quickly as possible, then open it up on the descent to the turnaround. I figured if I could put a couple minutes on them going I to lap 2, I might have a chance to hold on for the climb back to the top.

My plan to gap them seemed like a good idea that the time. What I didn't know is that I would come through 25k at tap 2 minutes off the 25k course record.

I was fine for the next flat section, but then the climbing started. I was starting to cramp, and I know I would not be able to run. It was warm, sunny, and winds up to 40mph. I was running scared knowing my lead was probably shrinking by the second.

20.5 miles in, the eventual race winner passed me during the grinding uphill. He said, "run with me," as he went by. Clearly the goal was to run ahead of him, and not with him, but I could not make it up the hill fast enough.

Then at mile 22, the 2nd place guy passed me. I still had a bit of climbing and 9 miles to try and hold on for 3rd.

When I finally made it to the top, all I could think was, "uggh, downhill!" My legs were cramping and it is a very steep downhill. Every step hurt. After a couple miles of downhill I was relieved to finally be on a flat section.

I saw Sergio about 2 miles from the finish and he took some GoPro video. I just remember saying, "I have no idea what is going on behind me, all I know is I can walk and shuffle." About 2 minutes later Anthony came into view again. I had 2 miles to try and hold him off. I just wanted to sit down and be done.

Somehow I crossed the finish like 3rd in 4:35:36, to be closely followed by Anthony in 4:37 (and a big PR).

A fun, great day of racing.

What did I learn? Pay attention to hydration. It was warm and I do not feel like I took in enough fluids. My body was not happy the last few miles.

Thank you all for the support. This has been a fun journey trying to figure out what to do once I stopped racing triathlon. I think this was my last thing for 2014. I'll get the rest of the race reports up soon, along with a season recap, and possibly a glimpse into 2015.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thoughts Before My First 50k

Tomorrow I will be running my first 50k. I have been slacking with race reports, but I hope to get them all up on the way home. It's around 4:30pm the night before the race, and these are the top 5 thoughts that have gone through my head today.

5. "Oh no! I forgot my racing flats!!" I was not worried or stressed about the race...and then I realized I left my racing flats in CO. Good news - its a trail race. I don't need flats. Whew!

4. So...5900ft of elevation gain over 31 miles. That is ~200 feet per mile. Ain't nobody got time for that!

3. Wait, did I just say I am running 31 miles tomorrow? Well that is basically 31x mile or 10x5k or 5x10k...oh hell, what did I sign up for?!

2. I wonder what kind of candy they have at the aid stations. It just says "assorted candy." What does that mean? This is important!

1. Thank you for all of the support over the past few months. I have gone trough many changes (life/coaching/racing), and I would not have madecitvthrough without all of you. I appreciate the runs we've been on, talking over cups of coffee, and messages/texts/calls along the way.

Tomorrow I will take on the 50k! Leggo!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2014

As some of you know, about a week before the race, I decided 70.3 Worlds was going to be my last triathlon for a while. Really, the decision had been made a few weeks ago, but it took some time to be okay with the decision. A lot of people were shocked and wanted to know why. I had many people tell me, "But you love triathlon." True, triathlon can be fun, but my heart/mind just has not been in it. After a long talk with Coach Steve, I have decided to purse other adventures next year.

Thursday - Travel
Fly and drive in Canada. Dad picked me up from the airport,

Friday - Travel & Check In
Finished the drive to Mont Tremblant. Checked in for the race. (One thing I found to be odd is that they weigh you at check in. I had not been on a scale in months leading up to the race.) Went to the rental house and put my bike together. Welcome banquet. Fireworks.

Saturday - Pre Race
Gear bag check.
Bike check in.
Grocery shopping.
Short run & ride.

Dad made his famous spaghetti sauce for the pasta dinner. He says it was "just alright" but I disagree - great as always!

The Race
I woke up at 5:25 on race morning and felt decent. I had my usual breakfast (oatmeal with raspberries) and was out of the house by 6:00. Dad & I walked down the hill to the transition area. I pumped up the tired and went to swim start.

Swim - 34:41
Place after swim: 71 AG, 1127 OA
I had not been in the water since the Boulder Sunset Triathlon 8 days prior. Standing on the beach I was excited to race. Right before the cannon went off, Sebestain Hayes came over and introduced himself - always fun to meet a fellow IG'er. I don't really remember much about the swim besides feeling comfortable. I really had no contact until the turn for the finish. At that point the AG behind me had caught me. I was shocked it took them that long. I exited the water in 34:41 and thought "it's not over yet." I had been in the water 3x in the past 15 days and somehow pulled off a PR swim.

T1 - 3:40
As soon as I was out of the water I had a wetsuit stripped help me out. We had a nice run to the gear tent and then to the bikes. I don't mind the long T1!

Bike - 2:24:48 (23.2 mph)
Place after bike: 45 AG, 635 OA
I really don't have much to say about the bike course besides, "WOW!" If you are looking for a stunning course...Mont Tremblant is it. The scenery is awesome. I'm not sure there is a flat spot on the bike course, but it is so much fun. I rode without a power meter, so I have no idea what kind of wattage I was hitting. I just know my legs felt comfortable spinning and I am 99% sure I used every gear at some point. Of the 3 hills course I have done (Branson x2, Vegas, and MT), Mont Tremblant is my favorite for sure. The pavement quality is awesome, the crowd support is sweet, and it is an honest course.

My favorite sections of the course are the out and back through the town of Mont Tremblant and the last 20km on the bike. Ride hard for 70km, but to better save something for the last 20km and the run. The hilly last 20km is just getting your legs warmed up for the run rollers on the run.

T2 - 1:03
In and out. No need to sit down!

Run - 1:24:37 (6:27/mile)
Place after run: 25 AG, 328 OA

A lot of people seem to think I am a runner, but I like to think of myself as a bike/run guy. I usually have a strong bike but still set myself up to run well. This time I did not necessarily pay attention to nutrition the last bit on the bike and it showed late in the run.

My plan was to take the first 6.55 mile loop comfortable, then pick it up on loop two. There are very few flat sections on the run. Everything is either rolling or gradual with the exception of a semi-steep downhill and a steep uphill though the village.

I started out running 6:00s and dipped a little under. By 10k in I was comfortable but I knew loop two could be rough. I had two issues going on - a) I had to pee b) I needed solid nutrition. Normally I could take care of issue A while running - if you are relaxed it should not be a problem. Apparently I was not relaxed and I finally had to stop around 15km into the run and go. B, on the other hand, was a major issue. I was hungry and a liquid would not fill the void. I basically had a coal/perform cocktail from 14km on and could not shake it. Was I happy with a 1:24 run? No, but I was happy with the race I put together overall. I knew I had just PR'd, the question was by how much?!

Total - 4:28:49
25th M18-24
328 OA

I was stoked to find out I had a 10 minute PR at the 70.3 distance. I went to the race to enjoy myself and soak in the experience. I had no idea I would be heading back to Boulder as a sub 4:30 guy! It was honestly a dream come true and the perfect ending of this chapter.

I am not going to read too much into the results and try to say "if this, then that." I am happy with the race and enjoyed the day.

People have been asking me if I am stil taking a "gap year(s)" and pursuing other adventures next year(s). The answer is still yes. I went out with a bang, but it has not made me hungry for the sub 4:20 - it only made me feel better about choosing to take time off. Colorado (Boulder) is a wonderful place and I look forward to seeig what is out there. I picked up a pair of cross country skis right before Worlds, so I am actually slightly excited for snow. There are also many mountain bike/run trails I cannot wait to explore. I am thankful/greatful for the opportunities I have had by racing triathlons, but now is the time to explore.

After the race dad and I did a little tour of Canada and VT/NH/MA/NY before heading back to IL/CO. Another awesome trip!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Hope to see you on the trails!