It’s May 2009, and I am 22 years old (soon to be 23). I had just finished my first 7 months in the “real world”. Working in the public accounting field and studying for my CPA exams had taken a toll on me both physically and mentally. Luckily, I had made it through the worst of it. I shouldn’t say luckily, because really we always “make it through”, it just seems more difficult at times than others. I needed an outlet and going to the gym just wasn’t cutting it. Ever since I had been to Kona in March of 2009 I had a certain itch to try this triathlon business. I had done a sprint triathlon a long time ago but that was in 2004 when I was just messing around and having some fun. It didn’t go very well and I never got caught up in the sport, I will blame my really old and heavy bike, but the reality was that I was just caught up in playing baseball and doing a lot of other things. Racing triathlon and trying to be the best you can at it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. Something I did not have at that time….at all. Truthfully I probably didn’t have much patience a couple years ago when I got into this sports. However, triathlon unlike anything else has taught me patience and how if you work towards something with all your efforts that you can achieve your goals, it usually just takes a long time to attain. I’ve grown so much in the last two years. The simple fact of training for an Ironman triathlon really brings out the true character of a person. Sure you can go through the motions and if your young enough, or gifted enough you can “fake” your way through the race and have a very disappointing time, and hurt the whole way. That’s not how it is for me. Right from the start I had numbers, I had goals…they were pretty crazy goals in retrospect, however now that I look at them and see how far I have come along I can only imagine that I will be achieving these goals in the very near future, I have no doubt of that. I guess the point that I am trying to make here is that a lot has changed for me in the past 2 years. I have found something to do that I love. I have never been as dedicated to anything in my life. Personally, race day is it for me. It is the day where everyone is on the same level, a day of judgement if you will. When you get to the starting line the only thing that matters is getting to the finish line as fast as possible. Your training, preparation, toughness, fitness is all tested and you cannot hide. It doesn’t matter what you look like when your doing it, all the matters is that you do it. When you finish a race, no matter what your time…you earned it. You did it yourself. There is no genetic blue print for the optimal triathlete. What matters is the effort your put into your training and your preparation and come race day your mental and physical toughness gets put to the test. At its root its a personal battle, what better way to make yourself a better person than to challenge your pre-conceived notions of what is possible. I imagine that for many people the thought of doing triathlons and racing in an Ironman was extremely daunting to them before they started training. If you have now completed one, how do you feel? I imagine that you are extremely proud of your accomplishment and if you went back to the way you thought before that you would laugh at how much of a challenge you thought it was going to be. The big secret to it all is dedication. Are you willing to train?…to sacrifice some things? Believe me, ANYONE can do this stuff, its all a matter of getting your head in the right spot. Once you have a direction the only person that can stop you is yourself.
So I have been typing away here and I have not really talked about what I was planning on talking about at the start of this blog. I wanted to share a sort of personal anniversary with you all. And I will…in a just a little bit, stop back in a little while 🙂
Just two years ago my triathlon career started in earnest with the Musselman Half-Iron. I came into the race wide eyed and in awe of everything. I had an old pair of running shoes from college, a new road bike (not aero), and I actually wore a cycling jersey on the run. Needless to say I have come a long way in the past 2 years and for myself as well as my family and friends it was really special for me to be able to validate all the time and effort that I have put in. It’s not only the athlete that sacrifices but its their family and friends. I can’t count how many times I have had to tell my cousin that I had to get back home to get to sleep on a Saturday night at around 8PM so I could wake up early and ride my bike. And the most important thing is how lucky and fortunate I am to have my parents by my side the whole way. Without them truly none of this would be possible. I’ve been to many places all throughout the country in the past couple years, met awesome people, and made friends for a lifetime….and its only been 2 years. Who knows what the next year and the many after that will bring. I can only imagine that it will get better and better. But for now I can honestly say that the triathlon has given me life and given me happiness during these past 2 years of which I desperately needed. The commorodery through training and racing has really brightened up some otherwise “dark” times. By dark don’t take that to seriously, nothing has really been that bad. Its just than when your young in the working world some things can get you down. Life after school is different and it takes some time to get used to and time to accept. Triathlon and everything about it has really been the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. Just ask my parents, they will tell you the same exact thing.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this years race I wanted to share with you my results from the first half-iron I ever did, which was the 2009 Musselman. You could say that the 2009 race was a turning point in my life. Yes, life. I remember looking at the results after that race and hearing people talk about going 4:30 whatever, watching the people fly by me on the bike and run…I was hooked. I hurt bad on the run and my legs felt even worse after I finished. But at the same time I wanted more…I wanted to go race again and again. As it turns out, less than the 2 weeks after that first half-iron I would be driving up to Lake Placid and signing up for IMLP 2010 and truly setting the ball in motion for a complete life-change. A complete life-change that has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So here for your viewing pleasure are the comparative results from 2009 and 2011.
Honestly, I was dissapointed in my swim. Although I felt strong and not fatigued in the least (maybe a good thing) my time didn’t really reflect the effort I thought I was putting out. I ended up with a 31 and change swim. The first section was a little choppy and I didn’t really distance myself from the main group until the mid-way point. I’d say at around the halfway mark I started to get a little distance from the big group and myself and another swimmer swam the rest of the way together, alternating drafting. I would go ahead, then he would and so on. I ended up putting about a 5 second gap between us in the last 150 yards to pop out of the water a little ahead of him. In the end the swim would be the biggest determining factor of the race as this was where the champion Chad Holderbaum put the most time into me as he swam a 27 something, putting nearly 5 minutes on me…remember that number.
I was out of the water and on my bike in no time. My transition was smooth and I even managed to clip both feet in on the first try. As I headed out onto the course my Dad was cheering for me as loud as I have ever heard him. That along with seeing many familiar faces on my way out only made the experience that much better. Out on the course I didn’t really know where I was in terms of OA placement. Starting the first wave I knew that whoever was in front of me was my competition. Over the first half of the ride I knew that I needed to race my race and not let anyone else affect me. Meaning that if someone decided to pass me I would let them go. Over the first 15 miles probably 3 people passed me. Only one of them with any authority..and that was the eventual champ so you know I will let that one go 🙂 The other guys were moving along well but didn’t blow by me with the same force. I let them go and kept moving along. Once I hit the mid-way point I changed my mind-set. Coming into the race I knew that I would do this and I was prepared for it. What was the change? The change was that I reminded myself that this is a race and when you race you go after it. You don’t sit back and stare at the powermeter. At the half-iron distance I think this is ecspecially important since with the proper amount of training you can allow yourself to go after it. Now by no means did I start cranking 300 watts. I just slowly increased my effort, little by little I was gaining back time on those in front of me. At about the 30 mile mark I started getting numbers from the aid stations and fans telling me I was in 8th. I was amazed..I thought I was probably 10-13th at best. The best part about this was that on the straight aways I could see 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th. I knew where they were and I could tell I was gaining. Over the last half of the bike course I passed them all. One by one without overextending. I was feeling good and as I came into T2 3rd place got off only a couple seconds before me. I ended up getting out of transition while he was still racking his bike and changing into his shoes. I would never see him again, although I always felt that he was one step behind me on the run. I guess thats a good thing. In T2 Jeremy Hammond, a friend of mine who was working transition came up to me to give me an updated on the guy ahead of me who was slowly getting through transition. We chatted, I slapped his hand, and he even took care of my garmin bike computer that I mistakenly was going to go run with and quickly decided to throw back to hime to put by bike. THANK YOU JEREMY.
Ok, the run, I am the 3rd person out of T2. This is either where the race is won or lost and where you either feel comfortable or like hell. The first two miles of a longer race like this usually feel awesome. They always feel awesome, the important part is to step back and ease into the run. I did and with it being a flat course I was under 7’s. I looked at this skeptically knowing that their were a lot of hills in my future. I knew that If I made it up the first steep incline (literally a grassy hills going straight up) and then proceeded to go sub 7 again on the next mile that I had my legs that day. Well just that happened. After the first climbing section I proceeded to keep rolling along. I could have pushed it here but I tried to keep it low key and just get through the first 6 miles with the least amount of extra effort as possible. I made sure to raid the aid stations every time, grabbing at least 4 water cups, drinking 1 or 2 and throwing the rest all over myself. Once I made it to Barracks road which is a dirt road that leads to the highest part of the course I knew things were clicking. I was alone, no one was behind me for a good distance and I was getting news that my time difference to “2nd Place” (really 1st place) was steadily decreasing. When I started the run I was 8 minutes back of the first guy and 4 minutes back of Chad. Once I crested the dirt road I was at mile 8 and it was pretty much all downhill from their. I started to get after it a bit, really trying to work the downhills to go as fast as possible while making sure I had some in the bank for the last 2.5 miles of flat ground along the lake. I was moving well and soon enough I was on the shoreline. I finally saw Chad, I checked my watch at one point and calculated that he was ~ 1:30 up on me. I had 2 miles to make that distance up. I didn’t know that Chad was in the wave before me. And this is a good time to mention that Mary Eggers was on her Mtn bike during the whole run. She was riding ahead of Chad as he was the first place male, uknown to me. I want to take this opporunity to thank her for being on course and providing a friendly face and support. It was great to see someone you know when your climbing a road solo with no one else around you and another voice to tell the aid stations to get massive amounts of water ready! That was great! Anyway, never made the connection that Chad has started a wave behind me and was thus 5 minutes ahead of me + another 1:30 at the 2 mile to go point. Therefore, I took my first swig of coke at the 11 mile mark and put my head down. I could see his jersey and wanted very badly to catch up to it. This was the first time I had the chance to actually chase someone down. With a quarter mile to go I passed my great friend Mike Corona and my Dad who was screaming is butt off. Inside I wanted my Dad to be quite so I could sneak up on 2nd place…funny what goes through your mind at the end of a race like that, I was all strategy I guess. In the end I was about 3 seconds short of catching Chad. I was sprinting my butt off to get him but came up a bit short, then promptly figured out that he had beaten me by 5 whole minutes…remember that 5 minutes I gave up in the swim? Ouch! Haha, it was a great time and I really enjoyed the hell out of that run. I was in control the whole time and was able to kick it up a notch when I wanted to. I really thank Chad for helping me push those last 2 miles. Even though they are flat they are LONG and since you can see the finish line the whole time (and it doesn’t seem to get closer), its just more torture.
MINI report for the Mini-Mussel: And the day before the Half-Iron I raced in the mini-mussel. This put me in the running for the Double Mussel. I had a pretty strong performance as my swim was only 15-20 seconds back of the top swimmers, my bike was solid, and my run got the job done. I ended up finishing 2nd OA to the now two time winner Steve Rosinski. He set every record last year and nearly duplicated it again this year on less training as he recently was married and just got back from his honeymoon about a week ago…I can’t imagine he was doing much swim, bike, and run while on that trip.
BTW, check out these AMAZING custom-made jerseys that were given to the Top Three Overall Athletes. These were made by Woolsports, the title sponsor of the 2011 Musselman Weekend. These jerseys are awesome, and by far the best award/swag I have EVER received from any competition. Thank you Woolsports for all you did, you guys Rock! I look forward to next year!
And in closing I want to let you all know that I am definitely going to Lake Placid this weekend. I was leaning towards not making the trip due to the travel time, expense, extra vacation days from work, etc…however after seeing all the cheering, all the support, all the everything at the Mussel its really just affirmed how important stuff like that is. I would really be heartbroken, truly, if I didn’t see all my freinds racing and crossing that line on Sunday. My great friend Mike Corona will tearing up the course, Travis Earley is going to be chasing down his demons of the past, Kim Ammon will once again prove to herself and everyone else that anything is possible, Josh Gonsenhauser will be taking on his first 140.6 adventure, one that I am sure will test him on multiple levels, he will come through a different person I guarantee. Joe Crispino will be taking on #2 looking to better his time from last year. Jochen is going to destroy the bike course, Steve Gonser is going to go by me on his bike going “whooomp, whooomp”, a new friend Pirate Nick is looking to destroy the course and if his preparation says anything…he will…and gosh there are countless other people I know who will be on the course this Sunday. I would really really be bummed if I missed this event. So the long and short of it is that I said enough is enough and I am heading up Friday night no matter what so I can watch all my friends have amazing races. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in Lake Placid. Its going to be a great weekend.
And as a side note, hit me up with an email, twitter, text or whatever if your going to be up their this weekend. I’ll be in late Friday night through Monday.
Happy Lake Placid week everyone, rest up and get ready to dominate if your racing on Sunday!
Hope you enjoyed those pictures. On to the good stuff. What’s been going on this week? Well so far a lot! I had a relatively low key Monday (The 4th) with just a 1:30 bike ride around Keuka Lake. It was a good thing since I was laid up in bed until about noon that day from well being out a little “too” late (or early if you want to look at it that way) the night before. Lots of fireworks, good food, dancing, running around, couple full speed barrel rolls…and it was on right on the lake, doesn’t get much better. So basically it was good thing Monday was a light training day. Tuesday and Wednesday (so far) certainley have been a bit “heavier”. Since I was still pretty tired from the weekend yesterday I ended up sleeping in until about 7:45 and then heading into work. With over 3 hours of training to get done on Tuesday I was a little nervous as to whether I would get it all done.
I got out of work around 5 last night and got my bike set up on the trainer, in the garage as quickly as possible. Yes, the trainer folks. Even though it was in the 80’s and sunny I still sweated it out on the trainer so I could get those focused intervals in. Something I would actually reccomend to those who are serious about advancing their cycling. However, if you are in this big ole game of fun for the pure enjoyment then I would advise you to get outdoors in the great wide open whenever you can. I simply am a different animal right now who is trying to focus on some things to improve. Sure it does suck a little to be sitting on a trainer when I could be getting a cyclists tan if I were riding outside, however the benefits that I can get from focused intervals outweight that at the moment for me. Well, the ride actually went quite well. After I got that finished off I literally jumped off the bike and headed directly to the Naz pool to get going on what would be my longest pool workout ever. 5500 yards…however the NAZ pool is in meters and so I ended up really doing like 6k of yardage. A whole bunch of 300’s were in the main set and I gotta say they were a little tough, but I kept chipping away at them and before I knew it the work was done. I headed home, first stopping at Wegmans to get some fuel. After I got back I ate a ton and then finally passed out around 11PM.
Well 4:30 AM came quickly. For some reason when I am really focused and have things I really want to get done I can really work well on not a lot of sleep. Now I can’t do this for days on end but for 2-4 days I can keep things rolling along. So this morning I jumped out for run #1 of the day which was a nice little 30 min run. I transitioned in my apartment and quickly headed to the pool at Midtown for another decent size swim set of about 4k. A little over an hour later I had knocked it out. I must say that I am pleased with myself for starting the week off with some consistency. My downfall typcically is that I start the week off slow and then end it on a high note once I get things rolling. However, the Double Mussel is in just over a week so everything needs to be on lock right now. This is the last big week before the race so I want to ensure everything gets dialed in. Next week I will tackle getting all my equipment staightened out. That will be a chore!
I also just put in for a half day next Friday before the Mussel weekend. So if you are racing down their this year and are planning on registering Friday night, or will just be in town on Friday night let me know and maybe we can get some grub together. I will be setting up shop back home on Keuka Lake (a 15 minute drive) so if anyone needs anything just say the word.
Gotta go be productive right now now, so check ya’ll later.
I wish every weekend was the 4th of July and a three day weekend. I really and truly mean that too. May and June have really gone by fast for me. In May the race season kicked off with a duathlon and an amazing weekend down in Ohio for the Triple T. Before I knew it it was my birthday in Lake Placid, backed up by the following weekend back at home on Keuka Lake for the Keuka Lake Triathlon. June went just as quick with another trip to Placid for a long weekend. Well this first section of my race/summer season came to a close this weekend. I must say that I am a little sad at the moment. The drive from Penn Yan back to Rochester was bittersweet. Great and new things are ahead, but its always hard to leave the lake and my family & friends behind. Luckily I have some amazing friends up here in Rochester who get me through the days. Whether that be getting out of the office to run at lunch, swimming before dawn, biking around Mendon and other areas where I would get lost without their help. I am really lucky to have such great friends here. My only wish would be that we all could work a little less so we could spend more time doing the things we really enjoy.
Such is life right? I’ll stop with the mushy stuff now. Just wanted to let my family and friends know that they really are my glue and what get me up in the morning, out the door for a morning jog (with a soft J), or on the trainer when its zero degrees out in February. I know its America’s Birthday not Thanksgiving, but I really am thankful. A lot of people would give anything to be able to run and bike, and swim and all that stuff. Many folks simply can’t whether its due to injury, handicap, etc..I don’t ever want to take that for granted. I am one of the lucky ones who has the ability to open my door and start running whenever I want. It’s a gift to be able to do all of these things, a privilege, not a right. So I am going to take it one day at a time and enjoy all the moments. The good, the bad..they are all moments…moments that make YOU who you are.
Why am I a little sappy tonight? Well because its weekends like this which really make it apparent that I really have it good. I have a great life because of my great family and my great friends. Plain and simple. If you are the type of person who can motivate themselves to do anything they want to do…well than you have the triple threat going on my friends. Things become very clear at the strangest of moments. Take for example today when I am riding my bike along the East side of Keuka Lake. Its a gorgeous day with the sun shining and the lake filled with activity. I can’t help myself from just grinning ear to ear. Its just that good. People will talk about a “runners high”, well I had a “bikers high”..and no their was no performance enhancing drugs involved. Its these moments where you know what you are doing is right. Riding my bike today was ride, riding my bike yesterday with my good friend Don was right too! We traversed about 6,000 feet of elevation in a little over 3 hours. We ended up making our way to Naples where we stopped at a little bakery shop and had bagels. It felt as if we were somewhere in Europe…far away from the stresses of real life. For a little over 3 hours we were free, we were relaxing. We were relaxing because our minds were turned off, we weren’t thinking we were just reacting to the ride…to the terrain…to each others subtle conversation. This is another moment and one that is every bit as important in the broad scheme of life as passing a test, getting a job…its just another layer to the cake I guess.
By the way, did I mention that the weather has been absolutely amazing for the past 4 days. I don’t think I can remember the 4th of July weekend every being so perfect in every way. Usually their is some rain or cold that comes through during one of the days, but none of that this year.
There were reasons I attained this Zen like clarity. Some of them I mentioned earlier like the ride with Don yesterday and the ride this morning. But their were also a couple other nifty little things that happened in my world. I raced on Saturday in Buffalo. I left Rochester at around 4:30 in the morning on Saturday to race the sprint version of the “Tri in the Buff“. I had some wonderful alone time as I listened to the Mumford & Sons album all the way through as well as some other more “pump me up” songs as I got closer to the race sight. I allow myself to enjoy the splendors of music while in preparation for training and racing..but during actual training (ir swimming, biking, or running) I don’t touch the sauce. I used to run with an iPod when I first started running a couple years ago but over time and I guess especially this winter I just stopped. One day I decided that since you can’t race with it, why would you train with it. Since then I have seemingly discovered the peacefulness and calm that comes from running without music. Trust me, if you go out in the early morning before sunrise when the rest of the world is still sleeping, and the sound of your feet hitting the ground is the only noise you can hear..you will be mesmerized by the melodic repetition. Running on fresh layer of snow early in the morning or late at night when the world literally feels frozen..like its just dead with no noise whatsoever can produce an equal sense of serenity in my opinion. Where was I…well I had a great cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s on my way to the race and that really made my morning I must say. Everything after that was icing on the cake. In terms of the race everything went pretty darn well. No flats, no mechanical issues. I signed up to be in the elite wave of the sprint tri thinking there would be 10-15 of us racing against each other making it really fun since you can’t always race against the best since they are often spread out in various age groups that start at different times. Well silly me because I was the only one who signed up for it. Luckily I had told one of my friends about it when I saw him in transition and he was able to have his wave start switched. This meant that it was truly a one-on-one race..kinda cool really. We both swam about the same time, I came out ahead by about 20 seconds or so and took that lead out onto the bike. I had a pretty solid bike and before I knew it I was the first one back to transition and I was off an running in a flash. The best part of the whole race was the fact that I finally had a bike rider lead me out through the whole course. I have never had this opportunity. At Keuka last month their were so many duathletes and intermediate racers on the course when I got their that their was no need to have anyone lead me through the course. However, on Saturday that was not the case as I was running solo. It was pretty special for me as it was another “first”. The first mile was great, second was so-so, and the third was steady. No records were broken but I laid down a solid time on a course that seemed to be a little longer than a 5k, but no worries since all the competitors had to run the same course. As I made my way to the finish line in first place I was once again greeted by my good friend Mary Eggers who was announcing the race again (who by the way did a fantastic job). I had a brief moment of exuberance I will call it where I was 100% happy in my mind, absolutely could not be in a better place at a better time kind of moment. Sure these races are the local sprint tri’s but they are really special to me. I am learning how to race, and how to race hard at these races. Its not the results that matter to me, although it is very rewarding to win a race and it provides a sense of validation to the time spent training. What really matters is that I am learning how to race against my competition. How to make myself hurt on the bike and keep pushing. I still have a long way to go and I hope that by the end of the summer I can hit some of the target numbers I have set in my mind. I am going to do 3 more sprint races this year and I know that I will accomplish my goal very soon. Anyhow, it was a great venue and Score this put on a great race as always. None other than the ageless wonder Curt Eggers finished 2nd, making it 2 races in a row where we both stood on the first two steps of the podium. Curt is over double my age and still absolutely destroying courses, it really is impressive. And I know that if I don’t bring my A games to these races that he is going to wipe the floor with me 🙂 I am sure we will have some more great fun racing against each other over the next few races this year. I’m looking forward to it, I know that! FULL RESULTS HERE
So the weekend was started off with my second W of my career. Not a bad way to kick off the Holiday weekend. I ended the weekend by spending some time with some friends on the lake. Directly across the lake from us live some of the nicest, most classy, most generous, people I know..and I the funny thing is that I knew them before I was even aware of it. My dad was friends with a woman named Jane and yada yada yada they ended up having kids, so did my parents and through the mid to late 90’s I spent a lot of time on the lake with a good friend by the name of Matt Weaver. So this weekend he was having his annual 4th of July weekend where all his buddies from college come down to the lake for a weekend of fun, lots of fun. I was graciously invited to join in the festivities yesterday afternoon and had an absolute blast hanging out with a bunch of really fun kids my age (I guess this is a change from the usual 8PM bedtime at the parents house). The food was amazing, their were tons of fireworks set off…some almost doing some real damage to one another, hahaha…but we made it out alright, only a couple fingers were lost..not a big deal :)), sloshball was played (I didn’t participate in this as I was a late arrival, however the basis premise of the game is quite intriguing and I look forward to someday having the opportunity to excel at this game.) Anyway, it was just a really fun time on the lake. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
It’s now close to 10PM on Monday night and I need to get some rest for the week ahead. More training and real life fun is ahead for sure.
On July 30th, I will be participating in the Krossin’ Keuka event along with other swimmers and paddlers to benefit the Keuka Comfort Care Home. We will come together to complete a .67 mile course across Keuka Lake in order to raise money to support our local home for the terminally ill here in Penn Yan. I hope you will join me in supporting the home.
By making a pledge on my behalf, you are supporting the Keuka Comfort Care Home’s mission of providing a facility and staff to ensure compassionate care in a peaceful, home-like environment for our community’s terminally ill residents and their families, at no cost to these residents or families.
My goal is to raise as much money as possible. Please help me reach that goal with your pledge. Your donation is tax deductible.
You can support my swim by going to krossinkeuka.org , clicking on my name and making your donation (for any amount) online through the secure website.
You can also make checks payable to the Keuka Comfort Care Home and mail them directly to Krossin’ Keuka, c/o KCCH, PO Box 107, Penn Yan, NY 14527. Please write my name on the memo line of your check.
If you would like to learn more about KCCH and this event, please visit www.keukacomfortcarehome.org Feel free to contact me with any questions. I deeply appreciate your support of this worthy cause and thank you for considering this request.
Once again thank you in advance for you support. This is for a great cause and I am really looking forward to swimming across the lake with many of my friends and family. It is going to be a great day.