Bright Beginnings, Rising Stars and Mountain Tops reached are all the feel good stories that get fed to the media. There just isn’t general interest in the Grinder; the one who is climbing the ladder but still only toiling in the middle rungs. Progress is progress and climbing that first rung is just as important as the last one.
The paradox created is that the middle rungs are the weakest as the most pressure and stress are placed upon them. The lack of support in the middle creates the deterrent to press on and instead seek the safety of remaining static or worse regressing.
These middle rungs are tough. There are a lot of them, they are largely unseen and quite often you will push so hard that they break and you are forced to repair them in order to continue your progress. It has been in these middle rungs where my 2015 season has been. The safety and stability of being new to the sport without expectations, the excitement of becoming the best in your circle and the fresh and exhilirating start of lining up with the best of the best disappears below you. No longer does the excuse “I’m cutting my teeth” work. All that matters is what you produce when it counts. I would wager to bet that I am among the majority, and that it is the exception when someone goes from the bottom to the top without getting hung up in the middle. It’s just that you don’t hear about it and the people who are in those middle stages frankly don’t talk about it because it is unexciting, doesn’t draw to much interest and still comes back to the hard line that it really only matters what you can produce.
2015 has been a Grind. A most necessary step, yet one that is largely unrewarding if you solely look at it from the outside. As illustrated by my lack of activity on this blog I have both been very busy in all facets of life as well as I just plain and simple did not have much that I felt was worthy of sharing with the public. There were no wins, no trophies, no personal bests. It was a year of unsensational mediocrity. Yet I probably made the most progress I have ever made in a 12 month period. Too much focus on the singular can lead to not seeing the whole picture.
2015 Wrapped Up With a Bow On Top:
As I sit in the Muffin House (a fantastic coffee shop that obviously makes a delicious baked good) I can reflect on 2015 and how it all went. All in all it was another great chapter in my life. Dodging the cold I spent most of February and March in both Florida and California. May was largely spent in Texas training for and racing both the Texas 70.3 and Ironman. The summer included lots of training, the annual pilgrimage to Lake Placid to spectate and ended with a great experience at Ironman Chattanooga.
That left Ironman Cozumel to tackle as the season ender. It is this race that got my juices flowing to actually shake of the rust and share my stories with the public. This since I actually feel like I have something somewhat interesting to share. Unlike the rest of the season which largely went without many bumps in the road, my second trip to Mexico certainly added to the Mexico es no bueno por Matteo files. For those who either missed or want to catch up on the last time I went to Mexico you can read HERE how it went down. (For more graphic pictures, leave a comment and I’ll pass it along to you).
Cozumel 2015 setup to be a great season ending race for me. With a quicker than normal swim, a tough bike due to wind and heat and a run that was sure to be a sufferfest in the conditions I was really looking forward to the battle. It was a race that suited me and a race that I was physically and mentally prepared for. Race morning although filled with a couple shuttles went really smoothly and led to having plenty of time to warmup and get prepared to start Ironman #12. With no real in-water warmup, we were cut loose. With 30+ starting, there was a good deal of chaos at the beginning. This also means plenty of bodies to get drafts off of. After several hundred meters we formed into a group of about 10 or so strong which stuck for the rest of the swim. Getting onto the bike after being in the water for :49 minutes, things were in a good place. I was moving into the back of some strong cyclists and it was setting up to be a good day.
Unfortunately for me I had a flat at about 14 miles into the bike (if you have raced Cozumel, it happened right after you bear left and go into the exposed section of the course to the ocean that is the windiest). That change essentially knocked me out of contention to ride with the strongest cyclists. Continuing on I had the misfortune of flatting again about 15 minutes later and then again at about the 40 mile mark. Alas, after one loop of a three loop course I had been on the side of the road for about 40 minutes. With each flat my resources to fix them were diminished and I was forced to rely on Mexican Bike Mechanics on mopeds to come along and assist. I’ve got to say they were all great and helped me out immensely…it just takes more and more time for them to get there the further back from the main groups you are, that’s just the cold hard facts.
Luckily for my attitude my third flat happened to fall exactly where a fellow english speaking, and Quintana Roo tweeting friend was watching from. Sonja (goSonja.com) who was down to watch the race came over and hung out with me as I waited for help. With the 1st flat being devastating to the race and the 2nd and 3rd just being insulting, I certainly enjoyed a friendly face and encouraging words.
So the race went on, devoting myself to finishing what I started I made the most of the day on the island. The bike course really is pretty beautiful, it’s almost like a kick in the pants that the most scenic views happen when the wind is the worst and all you want to do is get beyond it. But with the pressure lessened I can say I was able to soak it up a little more than I would have. It really was pretty.
Getting to the run course with Matt Russell (Ultimate 2nd place) already beginning his second of three ~8.5 mile loops was pretty discouraging. I resigned to give it a steady loop and see where things were at. With one loop down it was really apparent where things stood. After the second loop I stopped to give my trooper of a Mom a hug and tell her I’d be a little longer on the final loop but I’d be back soon. Finishing off a tough day with another medal around my neck was to be my glory.
Unfortunately, the above recap of my time in Mexico really was only a piece of what I was referencing when I said this trip to Mexico added to the list of WTF Mexico Moments I’ve had. Getting back to the Hotel about 45 minutes after finishing I went to take a #1 and out came what appeared to be Beet Performer, however I had not been able to bring the cans down with me on the plane…so with that ruled out and the fact that no red gatorade was on course I took a walk back to the Med Tent to see if I could get an IV.
Now I know some athletes might stretch their condition at times to get a line in their arm…however I have never played that card feeling that when I really needed it I didn’t want to be the boy who cried wolf. Well, who would have though Mexico would have sticklers for medical personnel. (If anything I would have thought in Mexico they would have been the first to be like, an IV? Sure! Let’s plug it right in.) Well about 5 hours later I walked out of the Hospital (2 for 2 in that department when being in Mexico now), 3 hours worth of IV drip in me. It was another crazy experience and I was super glad that my Mom was there to be a reasoning voice as at one point the Mexican doctor was talking about putting in a catheter and keeping me for up to two days!
Things have “cleared” up and I think everything is A ok now, so that is that.
Mexico certainly did not disappoint….and you know the twisted part to all of this is that even though I have raced two times in Mexico with both trips yielding visits to the hospital, I am still thinking about how I am going to win that race next year.
Thrown in all of this was the fact that I am now engaged and a home owner…so yeah, I guess 2015 was actually pretty damn successful!
I’m a pretty average dude. I work hard to be the best I can be in the sport of triathlon. It’s pretty easy to do this since I’ve made Triathlon my life. When I am not actually swimming, biking or running I am working at a Triathlon Specific Shop (Fast Splits), Coaching Triathletes (QT2 Systems Coaching), traveling to races in support of my girlfriend, Kaitlin Anelauskas, a professional triathlete as well, or talking about triathlon with my buddies over social media and iChat. Really, throw eating food and sleeping in the mix and you’ve got my entire life. Not really that bad when you get down to it. The 401k and savings accounts don’t love me at the moment, but the memories and experiences I am banking are absolutely priceless.
I love to race and I love the process of getting better. It’s exciting to compete and challenge yourself to do better the next time. I’m doing it, albeit slowly, but I am doing. I absolutely know that my peak, my true potential is still ahead of me. Like an onion every race and every major training block leading into the race peels another layer away. I have a lot more in me…a lot more and both the fun part and the hard part is finding out how to get to that next layer. IMTX was another chapter in the journey. Many thanks to those who make it possible for me to follow this passion. Couldn’t do it without you guys. (Mom, Dad, Kait, Hughes & Fast Splits, Tim, Mac & QR, QT2 Systems, Jim at BeWell Massage, Normatec guys keeping the legs as fresh as possible, Tri Bike Transport for getting my bike to the races..and countless others who help me along the way.)
Ironman Texas was a solid step forward for me in the developmental department as a Professional Triathlete. After the way the last couple of races have gone for me it was a relief to jump into the water and start the race injury free and fully prepared to go. It’s really true when people say that the hardest part of this sport is to get to the start line injury free. We expose ourselves to so many variables that can lead to our un-doing that staying healthy, injury free and mentally focused is quite hard.
Swim-wise I made my first pack. Not just my first pack in the Professional wave but my first real swim pack in any triathlon. This is a big deal, as I came into the sport without a swim background. I got into the pack by going hard for about 800 yards and then all of the sudden a string of swimmers formed and I just started slapping the feet in front of me. Turns out I was with a group of probably 10 swimmers, mostly female with a couple dudes. Swimming in the pack made the swim truly effortless…I highly recommend this drafting stuff! If anything, I would have liked the pack to push the pace a bit as I think with the combined power of 10 athletes we could have swam around a :57 instead of a :59…but I wasn’t going to be the one to pull around 6+ swimmers and try to make that move. So, I tucked in and rode the train all the way to T1.
On the bike I rode solo for 112 miles. Passing the women’s field here and there but mostly it was my typical Saturday long ride on the Texas tarmac. The first 50 or so miles were pretty quick and effortless, however the road surface and wind changed around the halfway mark. The road was more or less worn down chip seal, which rattled the bike and my body for a solid 30-35 miles. Luckily once done with those roads I confirmed that my bike was indeed not broken. In fact my bike was awesome. If you’ve followed my path in triathlon you will know that I love all things cycling and have had a few cool bikes in my day. Last Fall I begun a relationship with Quintana Roo and truly couldn’t be happier with the decision to start riding their bikes. I was on the Illicito for Kona 2013 as well as in Cabo a couple months ago. It was a great ride and certainly did the job, and more. Alas, I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest so when I was afforded the chance to get my hands on the new PR6 from QR, I jumped at the chance.
I could proclaim a lot of things about this bike and you all would probably think I am blowing smoke at you or just trying to please the sponsor that has supported me. The bottom line is that the bike is solid. It weighs in at 18.06 lbs with training wheels, so somewhere around 18 or just below with the race wheel setup. That is LIGHT for a TT bike, trust me..it is! It’s no non-sense in its setup, which makes it ideal to travel with since Professionals and Amateurs alike travel constantly with their bikes, whether its by plane or car. Its just a simple fact of the sport. Overall, I was super happy with how I felt on the bike, how the bike actually performed and most importantly of course, how the biked looked. Because you know, looks matter! (See for yourself below!) Gotta work on matching the wheels, but that’s for another time after I get a new piggy bank to replace the once I smashed open this spring 🙂
The run. The run is where the field is weeded out and all things training, racing and daily life rear their ugly heads. There is just no way to fake it during 26.2 miles after having swam 2.4 and biked 112. I had a plan for the run, not your typical plan, but a plan none the less. The plan worked very well for the first 8-10 miles, but after that things didn’t really continue the way I wanted them to. By no means am I disappointed with my day. In fact I am encouraged by it. It makes me more motivated and driven to perform to my true potential. A potential that I feel I haven’t tapped into yet, especially on the run.
Now I rest and enjoy the other parts of life. This weekend Kaitlin’s sister is getting married, which means I get to dress up and party, then I turn 28 on the 28th of May and that is followed up by a road trip with Kaitlin down to Raleigh for her next 70.3 race. So lots of fun things to keep me busy and occupied while I stay off the bike, only walk and go nowhere near a pool…unless it is this pool (yeah thats a giant waterslide tower!)
I’ll be getting back to this blog soon with updates for my mid-season break. Look for some fun stuff over the next couple weeks as I stay away from the swim, bike and run & focus on the eat, sleep and recover.
Everything’s OK here, the sun is bright and it is in the 80’s. Doug brought his SPF 360, so I’ll be well protected. On the drive down Tim only got pulled over twice. Once near DC and another time right on the border of Georgia and Florida. That was a scary one, the police man’s car had a confederate flag painted on the front hood. Luckily he let Tim go without any tickets or jail time. I think it was because Cait started eating her bag of Brussel Sprouts in the car and the police man couldn’t take the smell. In any case, we avoided any further trouble on our drive and arrived in Clermont, Florida around 2am on Wednesday morning.
The house we are staying in is large, yet we have made quick work of filling it with all of our stuff. There is enough Powerbar nutrition here to feed the US troops occupying Afghanistan for at least 6 months. There is also a strangely large amount of pistachio shells in just about every nook and cranny of the living room. I am not sure how they got there, but I have a hunch that some sort of varmint is taking over in the wee hours of the night. I will put traps out and update you as to my progress on taking down this unwanted house-mate.
I tried to pass a swimming test today; the highest one but failed. Coach Jesse yelled at me for a good 10 minutes. Then I took the second highest one and did it. I am now able to swim to the deep end of the meter pool. We also went on a run around the Clay Trails. I ran really fast around this one part where a bunch of boys were firing rifles at empty beer cans. It was scary and I am glad that I can run fast.
Florida has a lot of natural beauty. Just last night we were near the swamp lands, real close to the everglades border. While we were running a real live alligator made an appearance. It was real scary but Coach John stepped in and saved the day. Just like he always says, “when an animal is threatening you, you must stand your ground and become the Alpha Male”. True to his word, Coach John ripped off his shirt Hulk Hogan style, started sprinting directly at the alligator and subsequently scared that alligator so much that it tucked its tail between its legs and hightailed it back into the darkness of the night. Coach John at this point was foaming at the mouth and his eyes were a strange yellow color. None of us campers were sure if this was from his gluten free diet or if he was some kind of strange animal-whisperer. From that point on Coach John received an eerily reverent respect whenever he addressed a camper. Funny thing is, Coach John left in the middle of camp and no one has heard a word from him since.
We eat a lot of food down here at camp. Just yesterday Pedro ate 6 burritos, 4 2-liter Pepsi’s and a half dozen bagels during our 2 hour bike ride. Also, my friend Pat eats 3 large cheese pizzas every night. It’s pretty unbelievable how much they can eat. All the gluten free women in the house hate Pat for his pizza eating and are secretly planning a late night raid of his cupboard. I am scared for the outfall that may ensue. I fear having to side with Pat or the women of our house. Pat and I are drastically outnumbered, yet I feel a strange sort of loyalty to Pat and his pizza eating. I know not yet of my choice, however I feel confident that in the heat of the moment I will make the right decision.
UPDATE: I sided with Pat on the pizza issue. We are now camped out in the front yard, using my car as our storage unit. It’s not so bad though, the sprinklers make for great alarm clocks.
Just the other day, we were all hanging around the house talking about our most recent race’s. Chris kept telling us how fast he can run. We were all super impressed and secretly hoped an alligator would come out at us the next time we were in the swamp so we could see his speed. Unfortunately this did not occur and we are left with only his word. He is pretty tall and skinny so in this instance I’ll talk his word and would not bet against him. His fiancé knitted me a winter hat, she is nice, I like her.
It appears that the last time I gave you all an update was way back in September. It’s safe to say that a good deal has happened since then. As far as triathlon goes, my season wrapped up in Kona where I had a decent race. I finished with a time of 9:24, which put me in 188th place overall. It’s no top 20 like at Lake Placid, but considering the depth of both the pro and amateur field I will take it. I had slightly higher ambitions with times in the low 9 teens. However, that was not meant to be. When all was said and done I swam and rode in a manner that allowed me to be where I wanted to be, yet the run portion of the race was where I suffered a bit and dropped back a few minutes short of my goal. So be it. There will be another chance to prove myself in the near future.
After the race I got very sick (nasty cold/flu stuff) and was actually looking forward to getting back to the mainland as I had been in Kona for the better part of a month. The time spent there preparing for and racing the Ironman was truly a gift that I will always cherish. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back there for that long, so to have had the experience means a lot to me. I have yet to conquer that race (very few do) so it will always remain a challenge to me and someday I hope to return and give it another shot.
Moving forward, back in Boston I have settled into somewhat of a weekly routine. Splitting my time between Brockton and Newton with the occasional trip into the City for shopping, eye exams, movies and of course frozen yogurt 🙂 The off-sesason has certainly been a welcome change to the daily grind and afforded me the opportunity to take a trip to NYC for the weekend to see friends, run in Central Park and paint the town red all night long. I’ve even been working hard to put on some extra winter weight, which actually is harder than you would think. I can’t forget to add that this happened all “MOVEMBER” long –>
Although over the past week it seems to be getting easier and easier…all part of the process. Put some extra on to keep you healthy and then slowly get back to fitness when it counts. For me when it counts will be on March 30th down in Los Cabos, Mexico where I will make my Professional Debut. Just yesterday I officially became a card holding member of the “ELITE” division certified by USAT. This has allowed me to purchase an annual membership to race the WTC races in the PRO wave and as they say in the business world, “Hang out my shingle” and see what happens. Racing in the PRO wave is going to be vastly different and challenge me on every level. The preparation and level of true professionalism by which I attack the sport (Training and Racing) is more important than ever. Under the guidance of QT2 Systems I have no doubt that I will be in the best possible position to get the most out of myself come March 30th.
So come February I will once again have the opportunity to join up with the other QT2 PRO’s down in Clermont, FL for a 3 week camp where we will be truly getting down to business. It is through the fitness gained at this camp that I hope to launch right into the 2014 race season. Until then I will be enjoying the relatively relaxed base part of my season and try my best to embrace the fact that I am not at my fastest and not in my most fit shape. That’s probably the toughest part of recovering from a season. Getting back into shape (really peak shape) is tough and it takes a lot of time. From November to February each year it feels almost as if a backwards progression is taking place, yet it is this time that we NEED in order to take the upcoming year to another level. So steadily the training goes on and an excitement of the new year begins.
A LOT of great things have happened in 2013. I am truly thankful for all those people in my world who allow me to be the best me. I can’t wait to share next year and the years to come with you all.
Until next time, Have a great Holiday Season. Enjoy Christmas and have a very Happy New Year!
It is amazing what can take place in the course of 365 days. Just last year my friend Eric Lagerstrom visited me in New York after he raced is last ITU race of his first professional season. Eric stayed with me for a few days as I was preparing to race in Kona for the first time. During this time Eric was contacted by United States Triathlon to be a part of Team USA at the World Championships in New Zealand in the U23 Championship. Almost 365 days later, many thousands of miles run, biked and yards swam he had one of his best performances to date in becoming the United States Elite Sprint National Champion. Yep, a National Champion. Ask him 365 days ago if this was going to happen he probably wouldn’t have been able to give you a good answer. However, his determination and drive would tell a different story. He took the steps necessary to achieve what he did at the Super Sprint Triathlon held in Las Vegas, NV. Simply put he followed his passion and did whatever it took to achieve his goal. All this in just 1 year…365 days. What’s more inspiring and refreshing than achieving a HUGE goal in 12 months? Anything is possible when you allow yourself to be completely and utterly devoted towards making something work.
Eric’s a good friend of mine and I’m glad I can share a brief glimpse of his story with you all. I am sure he will have his own thoughts up for you all to see very soon as well. The reason that I write of Eric’s story is to illustrate how things can take a 180 in 365 days. In my case the past 365 have brought me to the exact same place, at least geographically speaking. As I put these thoughts to paper (or wordpress paper) I am flying across the country on the first leg of my trip back to Kona for my second crack at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. Last year’s race was an amazing experience for me. To experience the race and all that surrounds it was a unique and special experience. One that I was able to spend with my Mom, Dad, Brother and his family. I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied with my performance as I felt I had more in me. However, the fact is that I did what I did. That’s the beauty of the sport. No excuses, no corners cut, no adjustment of reality. All the training and work done in preparation comes down to a time XX:XX, that’s what your left with. It’s pretty great actually.
So here I am making the pilgrimage back to Kona once again. The goals are different, yet the same. With another year of training behind me, my fitness is at a higher level than last year and thus a better performance is to be expected. However, that expectation is purely based on training and the data from that training. What that expectation lacks is execution and execution is exactly what dictates whether my race day goes “Good or Bad”. Simple as that, the hay is “almost” in the barn as they say. I’ve got a few big training sessions left in my preparation for the race to get through along with the numerous other workouts that will be on my schedule. None are to be taken lightly as within a 3-4 week window everything I do can and does have a direct impact on race day performance. But enough talking about something that isn’t going to happen for another 3+ weeks.
What I really wanted to get across is that over the past year my own life has had a lot of change in it. Change that I feel I has been laying the ground works for quite some time, just as my friend Eric had with his. Change typically does not come from nothing. Instead it is the conclusion to a long process of foundation laying, brick by brick construction of a long term plan. In my case I feel that ever since 2010 and more so in 2011 when I left the world of public accounting that I was building towards a life that I wanted, a life that was extremely rewarding and equally challenging. For some that comes in the corporate world of business and trade…for me it comes with trying to be the best triathlete I can be. Ability aside, what it comes down to is that I love trying to push myself to the next level and achieve goals that I didn’t even realize were on my horizon when this all began. I don’t expect things to just happen or just happen quickly, but what I do expect is that I will stay the course, pursue the right steps and fight hard to realize my goals. I am EXTREMELY luck to have opportunities I have and to waste them would be a disservice to myself and those that believe in and support me.
Last year I was living at home in Penn Yan, NY with my parents on beautiful Keuka Lake. A really great place to be for most of the year, with the exception being the cold and bleak winter months. Luckily, last year I was able to skip town and head South for a quality training camp during February and March with a great bunch of QT2 Pro athletes. Since that camp my life has seemed to be on almost fast forward. Going from race to race in Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut and finally making camp in Lake Placid for the majority of June and July. It has really been an awesome experience. Through it all I have landed in Boston, MA, a place that has always been on my radar ever since deciding on which college to attend. I took a long round about path but I have finally made it to the home of the Boston Red Sox. I’ve got some great friends who have allowed for this move to happen and who have given me the opportunity to be sustainable. To them I can’t say thank you enough since without them this truly wouldn’t be possible. Hopefully someday, somehow I can repay them. I really mean it, you guys know who you are and your kindness and generosity is tremendous.
The move to Boston has really been great. Allowing me to be with the people I want to be with and progress in my goals. On top of spending time with those that matter to me, I have been able to find solid training here in Boston. Between the weekly group rides, runs along the Charles and miles of suffering in Brockton things are pretty darn good. The ability to train with those people who can kick my butt on a daily basis is priceless towards my own development. I just hope that my training partners are getting as much out of our workouts as I am.
So that’s a little update on what has gone on in the past year. In summary I’ve bounced around a lot, raced a bunch, moved to Boston, got a job working at Fast Splits, a triathlon specific store in Newton, MA, spent way to much $$ at Whole Foods and have seemingly acquired two news bikes I did not know I was in the market for. (SHAMELESS PLUG: I have two bikes a Trek Madone and Speed Concept for sale. Any takers? At a steal of a price!!) All this has led me to be headed to the same exact place I was last year…right on Ali’I Drive. Even though I will be at the same place, I know that I am definitely different in many good ways, and that difference will help dictate the course of events out on the Big Island. I can’t wait to toe the line again in Kona against the worlds best. My support system will be with me and that’s the icing on the cake. Because win or lose I know that someone will go pig out on junk food with me after the race!
For the last couple of weeks in April I had the pleasure of residing in what could best be described as “Pleasantville”. Taking the chance to visit my friend Brendan who is in the Navy, I flew out to San Diego for a couple weeks. What better way to get through the remaining cold and nasty days of Upstate NY then by flying the coop and getting the heck out of dodge. Brendan lives in Coronado, a peninsula of sorts just across the bay from Downtown SD, accessible only by a long bridge…or a very long trip through Chula Vista. So, really Coronado is basically a private island of sorts for the wealth and affluent, as well as all those military types who are stationed at one of the many bases located on the island.
I had a great time in San Diego as the weather was perfect every single day. Sunny and in the 70’s; like clockwork. I was able to put in a solid two week training block without having to utilize the trainer once. It was a good trip that allowed me to focus on my training as well as connect with a long time friend and meet his new friends. I was able to take in a Padres game, see an ITU event in person and catch up with my buddy Eric Lagerstrom who is doing big things in short course triathlon as he works towards RIO 2016.
San Diego training was legit. As evidenced by my face here:
but it was also paradise as evidenced by the 50m pool just 1 mile from my friends house:
…or the coast line up by Encinitas
and of course catching a Padre’s game at PETCO Field.
Bidding San Diego farewell I left the perfect weather and went back to NY where I thought I would be facing the depressing rainy Spring season. I was delighted to come back to an Upstate NY that was in full bloom and felt like summer was already in full swing. I am extremely thankful as I would not have been in great spirits if the weather had been awful. Being able to get outside and ride and run very comfortably was a great way to knock out the last few training sessions before heading down to New Jersey for the Bassman Half-Iron.
Bassman Half-Iron Recap:
I headed down to New Jersey on Saturday after stuffing myself with pancakes, blueberry and sweet potato…an amazing combo. The carb loading continued as I made the 6 hour drive to Bass River State Park which is located near Atlantic City (you know the place with the casinos..and where Boardwalk Empire takes place). As a side note, if you do not own an “EZ-PASS” be prepared to shell out some serious coin as tolls run rampant down in that area. I have never gone through so many toll stops in my life!
I registered Saturday afternoon and headed to my hotel which was about 30 minutes away. It was a good bargain at $90 bucks and was really the only one within an hour that had rooms available. I was just staying one night so I needed everything ready to go at 5am when I was planning on heading to transition. By this time it was getting towards 7 and I wanted to be in bed by 7:30 since I had not been sleeping well in the days leading up to the race. No real reason..just restless. Well I got my stuff together and even sat in my Normatec boots for 30 minutes and was sleeping by 7:30…I was on pace for a GREAT nights sleep when disaster struck. At 2:15 the fire alarm went off. In my foggy state I wandered aimlessly around my room wondering why I was awake, trying to figure out what the noise was and searching for the bathroom since I had to pee. Well I eventually figured out what was going on and relieved myself. Let’s face it my room wasn’t on fire…so I took the chance to use the bathroom and put on some warm clothes. After some talking with the neighbors we heard sirens and decided that this alarm might actually have some merit. We headed outside and there we stood for the better part of an hour as the fire department made sure everything was safe. There are few things in this world that make me truly unhappy and those are not letting me sleep the amount of time I was told I would have to sleep and being hungry. Both make for a very grumpy Me. It was 3:30 when I finally crawled back into my bed. I closed my eyes and tried to get some rest. Soon enough it was 4:15 and I figured I should get moving as the earlier wake up call had messed my body up and my normal routine. I figured since I was still pretty much up at this point that I should just man up and get rolling.
I’ll conclude this section of the recap by telling you that I found out what happened and it was not cool! My buddy Gibbons informed me that right around 2:15 am he and his roommate heard young people screwing around in the hallway, most likely they were stumbling back in after a night out in Atlantic City, remember that the hotel was just a few miles from there. Gibbons could hear them being idiots and sure thing, the fire alarm goes off seconds later…weird…I hope they found out who it was and made them pay!
The race itself can probably be best summarized by two words Cold and Grind. New Jersey for some reason was not getting the heat wave that upstate NY was in the midst of. This made for a chilly start to the day. The water being around 60, as it was a small lake made for comfortable swimming, but this was nullified by the fact that once on the bike the 50 degree temps and chilling headwinds made for a tough day.
The swim was a 2 loop course which had 7 turns in total. My wave consisted of all males under 39, which was great because it meant that all the contenders to win would be in the same wave. I lined up next to Jesse Kropelnicki, QT2’s founding father and swam on his feet through about the 3rd turn. Being able to get that initial draft was great and help set me up for a good swim. After the 3rd turn I went in front of Jesse and returned the drafting favor for the remainder of the race. It looks like the swim course was a tad short as I exited the water right around 27 minutes. By my estimation the swim was around 2 minutes slower than normal..but hey I’ll take it.
The transition area was pretty small and allowed me to find my bike without the usual 2 minute escapade of running around looking for my bike in a fanatic fury. Once out on the bike course (a three loop circuit) I got cold. The sun was NOT out and the wind was UP. Even though it was a relatively pancake flat course the road surface, head winds and cross winds along with 50 degree temps made it an absolute grind. I was definitely feeling it in my legs and both my cadence and HR were lower than expected. However, it appeared that everyone was having the same issues as the multi loop course allowed for many points in the race where I was able to check on my competitors. As it turned out the #1 challenger was a fellow QT2 Teammate (and QT2 Coach) Vinny Johnson who was completely at home in the cold weather. He had put a couple minutes into me in the swim and I was not getting any of it back on the bike. After the first two loops I was still counting Vinny as being about 2:30 up on me. I tried to up my effort on the third loop in order to give myself a shot at running him down. It looks like I made up between 20 and 30 seconds on that last loop. Not a lot, but every second counts.
After dealing with the cold wind that never seemed to be a tailwind the run was a welcome challenge. After flying over my handle bars and making an amazing save while dismounting my bike (don’t ask..) I changed into my run shoes and got to work on tracking Vinny down. At this point it was myself and Vinny who were at the front of the race. The first few miles were a little rough for me as I had to make a couple visits to the woods. It’s not a pretty part of the sport but sometimes nature calls and you must answer. Luckily the run was completely in a forest, which made cover easy to find. After that was behind me I felt better and was able to resume my chase. The cold tough grind of a ride left my legs pretty smashed and I wasn’t exactly running fresh. This coupled with the HR being low, most likely due to the cold temps made really running fast a challenge. I liken running to shoveling coal into the furnace of a big old steam engine. You need to really get that thing burning bright to get the real speed and when your HR isn’t being stimulated its just hard to get the body moving at top end speed. It really took me quite a long time to load the coal into the engine on Sunday. Luckily I was able to manage well on the run and slowly built into it. Not the plan I had envisioned, which was to start off around a 6 min/mi pace and keep the pedal down the whole time. Instead my splits were as such:
So the run played out like this. Around mile 7 to 8 I began seeing the back of Vinny who had been in front of me all day. I was beginning to make up some decent time on him and around the 9 mile mark the gap was somewhere around 30 seconds. I thought I was going to make up that ground within a mile but Vinny was really making me work to bridge the gap. I kept trying to push the pace but my legs just weren’t going as fast at I wanted them to. Finally over the last 3 miles I just told myself that I need to put in a really good push because I was so close to 1st place. Its not everyday you get a chance to race for the win and I didn’t want to let the opportunity to slip away. It can be easy to just settle for second place, and your mind can trick you into thinking that its a perfectly good thing to do. So the tricky part is overriding your brains circuits and telling it to not settle, to go for it and try to be first. You’d think it would be an easy thing to do, but after 4 hours of racing trying to coax your body into its biggest effort is pretty hard, it would much rather go in cruise control and enjoy the last 10 minutes. In my case I was able to push myself just a little bit harder over the final 3 miles I finally gapped up to Vinny with literally a quarter mile to go. There was a slight incline where I caught him and then a sight descent (this is NJ so it was basically flat…but still a little downhill). I made the pass and put some space in between us. After a few seconds I looked back and saw that Vinny didn’t appear to be putting in a huge sprint. Whether he was being gracious or tired (I hope more tired because of the effort he put in to keep me off during the run) he didn’t come back to me and I was able to run across the line first. I’ve won a few races before, local sprint races but this was the first Half Iron distance win and it feels pretty good. It was a small field and the race was not a big WTC event but it was a damn good race. Having Vinny ahead of me all day was absolutely awesome. Racing WTC events you just don’t get this experience unless your in the PRO wave due to the masses of people that crowd the course. You can never really race head to head because a lot times the biggest competition started either before you or after. So in this regards this race really was great. If Vinny had not been in the race to challenge me or vice versa it would have been a much more lonely race for us. However, having someone to duel it out with really helped me get the most out of myself. I hope Vinny feels the same way. I had an absolute blast trying to track him down all day. This time I came away the winner but I am sure (and hope) we get to battle again. Overall, chasing Vinny down led to a swim PR (with an * due to course length), a bike that saw some one of my highest avg power days and a 70.3 run split PR. All these things weren’t exactly pretty and a lot of the times I didn’t feel awesome, but that’s why I deemed this race a COLD GRIND. It really made each competitor work for a finishing time….and truthfully that’s how every race should be. Each race should have aspects of it that test both the physical and mental fitness of the athletes.
Race Splits were (full listing below):
Swim – 27:05, Bike – 2:19 (Included transition I believe) and Run – 1:21 for a total time of 4:10.
My re-created finish line picture.
Final Results from the race:
Once the race was wrapped up I took off on the next leg of my East Coast journey and headed towards Boston to see my Red Sox take on the Twins Monday night. The drive to Boston for Bass River State Park, NJ was a story in of itself as the trip took about 7.5 hours due to distance and the amount of traffic within the NYC limits. I had never had the chance to experience NYC traffic and it did not disappoint. I was in huge traffic jams, I felt like I was in a nascar race at times and I also paid a $13 toll to cross the George Washington Bridge. Yeah, that was not a typo. It COST THIRTEEN DOLLARS! I am someone who understands that in this day in age things cost a good deal of money, but even Matt Curbeau draws the line at $13 per car to cross a bridge at 1mph…on the brightside I suppose I got my moneys worth since.
Anyways, I got into the city late Sunday night and had a pretty restless sleep. Between being a little fried from the race and wired from the drive, I was just out of sorts. Luckily I just hung out all day on Monday. Visited Whole Foods (AMAZING), found a shop to get a fresh apple, beet, carrot, lemon and ginger juice, and then rested up in preparation for the Sox Game. My buddy CJ, who I went to school with in London was able to drop by the stadium before the game and we had a couple adult beverages at the Bleacher Bar. (My post race celebration)
Where I got my juice!
The game itself was amazing. Baseball games often have the bad rep of being boring and anticlimactic at time, however this was not one of those games. Personally I would enjoy any game I was at, but the fact that this game went 11 innings, saw many lead changes, a Dustin Pedrioa BOMB! (he’s my favorite player, I mean just look at him…a short white second basement, he’s my idol) and a game winning hit just made it all the better. Fenway never disappoints. I can’t wait to get back to another one.
And the story does not end here. The epic adventure continued on Tuesday when I packed up my stuff and headed for home. I was about 20 miles into the drive home, just having merged onto the Mass Pike when my check engine light came on and my engine started making some pretty weird noises when I was accelerating. These noises were ones I had not heard before and they sounded serious. I pulled over, called AAA and shortly after a super nice tow truck driver showed up. We took the car to a Firestone shop and a couple hours later my car was diagnosed with a broken TurboCharger. I guess my epic weekend was just to much for my Subaru. The end result was that a new replacement part would need to be ordered and would be taking 1-2 days to arrive, plus the time required for installation (currently Wednesday afternoon and no word yet). Luckily, a huge mall with every cool store known to man was right across the street so that helped eat up about 4 hours of my afternoon. Then there was this blog which filled in the rest. All in all it was a jam packed afternoon and really could have been a whole lot worse. Imagine if my car broke down as I was going through the traffic jams of NYC or in the middle of my drive today where I would essentially not be close to anyone or anything. Thankfully, I have a place to stay here in Boston while my car is on the mend and I also have the amenities necessary to keep training uninterrupted and lets face it, I get to spend more time in Boston which is awesome! The only bummer that could arise is if I don’t make it back in time for my debut cycling road race at the Bristol Mountain Cycing Race this Saturday morning. Time will tell.
For now I will keep smiling and enjoy the adventure…and the extra days in the awesome city of Boston! Everything happens for a reason right?
Update: It’s now Wednesday afternoon, still no word on the car. On the bright side I got to have an amazing dinner at a REALLY COOL restaurant. For those of you who have been to Breathe Yoga Studio in Pittsford you will know exactly what kind of place. All freshly made healthy foods, I mean the place just smelled of fresh juices and healthiness. It was awesome, If I lived here I might eat dinner there every night. I had a hearty bowl of greens, lentils, tofu, sprouted legumes and brown rice. Topped off with a carrot, apple, ginger, cucumber and kale juice. Delightful right?!
Here’s a couple pictures from last night:
A most badass juicer back there….
Was informed that this unlabeled building is where all the worlds Junior Mints are made. Yeah Willy Wonka stuff going on. You could smell the minty greatness in the streets!
First off, I hope that you all are able to keep up with your resolutions and you are happy with your swim, bike and run totals that you have let us all know about. Thanks for that. Here’s my totals:
Swim – a little bit
Bike – A whole Bunch
Run – Enough
Here are a few tips that I’d like to share to those aspiring triathletes in the three disciplines:
A. The louder and more colorful your speedo is, the faster you will be. If you’re still slow at least people will think you are legit. Always have a sports bottle with you at the pool and when swimming with multiple people ditch the garmin watch and use the one on the wall…or just try not to get dropped by the other people in your lane. Either will work.
B. Shave your legs, wear a cycling cap, always wear sunglasses, always wear bibs and a jersey when training (sleeveless tops and tri shorts are made for racing only), socks should be crew length – no shorter, no taller, and when in doubt refer to “THE RULES“. Additionally, try your best to manicure the tan lines. This one rolls into tip C. for running being that you should only be running shirtless when the weather is above 90 and humidity is above 90% as well. Otherwise you are just showing off and nobody likes a showboat.
C. As stated above, keep your shirt on. Either you have a bit to much pudge to be topless, your way to ripped and should stop wasting your time at the gym doing Crossfit and put some more miles on your bike, or your like the rest of the triathlon world…to skinny without much to really being showing off. So just cover it up for the sake of everyone around you. With that said, if you’ve got the legs go ahead and keep the shorts short. Shave those legs and let the world see your beautifully sculpted calves. Other than that I don’t have much else to say about running. Everyone looks different when they run but the bottom line is how fast you can go when the gun goes off. Ok, I have one more pet peeve to share with you all. When training and especially when racing don’t be the dork looking at your watch every 10 seconds to check your pace and HR. Its annoying to see and frankly you should know your body a bit better than that. C’mon people!
Getting on with things. My New Years Resolution is to be brutally honest with myself and others with discretion for others of course. This means that I am not going to sugar coat anything nor make claims that simply aren’t true. I can tell you that this year I am devoting myself 100% to triathlon through July 28th, 2013 whereupon I will race IMLP and try to win the Overall Amateur Race. I think that so many people lack the gumption or “balls” to make claims that they feel they are capable of achieving…or maybe they just don’t actually believe in themselves. Well, I believe in myself and the path that I have taken. I have been blessed with a myriad of factors in my life that are currently making this endeavor possible. Over the next 6-8 months I will devote myself fully and completely and see what happens. At the end I will take stock and carry on with my life in whichever direction I need to go. I am highly educated and have a license in a profession that will allow me a job wherever I go if I so choose to do so. It’s a nice thing to have in the back pocket but it doesn’t assure me of anything at this point. Currently I have a couple grand to my name and most of that will be used up over the next few months while I travel to warmer temperatures to train and race my butt off.
So there you have it. Next month I will be heading to Florida for almost a month to train with a whole bunch of QT2 professional triathletes who are way better than me. I can’t freaking wait for this opportunity as the only way to get better is to train and live with the best. Not only is this exeperience going to make me “fitter” physically its also going to give me an insight into how the real PRO’s go about their business on a daily basis. What this means now is that over the next 6 weeks I need to be on top of my game. I need to be fit and ready to go if I want to maximize the rewards I can get from such an opportunity. Once camp breaks on March 4th, I will then drive back North train for a couple weeks and then again set sail in my subaru for the south. On April 7th I will be racing the Texas 70.3 in Galveston Texas. This will be my third time competing in this race. I will be going to this race with the goal of winning the amateur race. My time last year was a 4:20 and I have every intention of putting myself in a position to be near 4:10. If I can put this together over the next 3 months I truly believe I will finish where I want to be.
Is that real enough for you all? Triathlon has been everything to me over the last 3 years. I love the sport, the people and the competitiveness that I feel and see at every race. It’s absolutely great to show up to a race and see that everyone is sizing up everyone else around them. I used to get scared by this, but now I am finally beginning to feel at home with it. It’s fun to see who is at the race and how things will shake up. I absolutely love it, its something that I only felt during high school when athletics are taken way to seriously…but they should be taken that seriously in my opinion. It builds character and sets the foundation for that boy or girls future. What are they made of?
This has been my re-entry into the blogging world. I hope that I will be able to do a better job of keeping you (my followers) up to date and entertained. My advice to you all is be honest with yourself and don’t worry about what others will think. So what if you come up short, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never having loved at all.”
Happy New Year!
ps – my next race will be at the Hearnish 10k in Rochester, NY. If your in the neighborhood come out and make it interesting. Last weekend I was beat by two high schoolers in a 5k that took place during a blizzard. It was an awesome time but I am itching for some redemption.
What a memorable week this has been. At times it is hard for me to be fully appreciative because I feel like I underperformed here on the island but the truth is that this first time, it was a reward. A reward and a learning experience that I hope to build upon next time.
All in all there were so many amazing experiences here. Many included meeting and chatting with my idols in the sport like Chris Lieto, Craig Alexander, Chrissie Wellington and Dirk Bockel just to name a few. Check out all my photos on Facebookhereto see all the people I met, places I went and how I was looking during the race. Additionally Craig Alexander deserves a tremendous shout out for stepping up and helping Mary Eggers with her Teens Living with Cancer initiative. Craig just two days post Ironman took time out of his busy day to stop by the Kona Aquatic Center to “kick off” versus Mary. In just one hour Craig and Mary were able to generate over $1,500 dollars to the cause (as of this morning it is up past $2k). My hat goes off to you Craig. To donate to the cause click the following link –> http://www.imathlete.com/donate/Campaign.aspx?fCID=1600
In keeping with the charitable theme I am also proud to say that I helped out another true professional in every sense of the word, Chris Lieto, in donating to his Do More Than Sport campaign which had a Kona focus of raising enough money to put 141 children (the miles covered in an ironman are 140.6) through a mentoring program. I was able to meet and speak with Chris about his initiative and what the program was all about. It was a pretty amazing experience to be able chat with Chris here on the big island as he was the first “big triathlon guy” I ever followed when I found the sport and also the first professional I ever met and talked to way back in 2010 at the Texas 70.3 A picture of Chris and I has hung on my wall ever since. And this one will go next to it now.
So those were a couple awesome experiences I wanted to share with you all. In addition there have been countless other encounters that I could talk at length about but I won’t bore you all, you’ll just have to ask me in person. Well alright I’ll just give you some bullet points:
-Meeting Dirk Bockel and talking shop with him and the TorHans guys, who actually set up my front aero 20 bottle for me..just like Dirk’s (we have the same bikes…) Check out the TorHans product line, they have some great stuff. Especially when you need both hands on your bike because of the wind, makes it so you can still be drinking while ensuring you aren’t falling over from the wind (LIKE GOING UP AND DOWN HAWI)
-Seeing “star sightings” (the pro’s) everywhere I turned
-Seeing my family on Ali’i during the run portion of the race
-Experiencing what all the hype about Lava Java was
-Experiencing what all the hype about the Race Course was like (hahaha…thats a bit of humor there)
-Pre-riding the Hawi ascent and descent on Wednesday morning before the race in the early morning when it was just me and the course and nobody else
…and I could go on for a long time.
This post is already long enough so I am going to save an in-depth race report for later if I can work myself up for it. In the mean time here is a brief summary:
Swim – truly like none other. Arms flying, feet kicking….every man/woman for themselves. I came out in 1:03 and was super pleased with my effort. I now know that I can put together a respectable swim here in Kona. Other than leaving my swim skin pulled down to my knees everything went great. I figured out the swim skin was still on me right as I got to my bike, luckily I ripped it off and didn’t leave it on..that would have been bad.
Bike – First half was awesome. Then about a quarter of the way up the Hawi climb the winds kicked up and it made for a much harder day. My strength and power never wavered but the force of the wind made everything slower and probably used up more energy than I felt I was actually using. None the less I am satisfied with my effort, riding on that day a 5:07 (yes, I had a 4 min drafting penalty..kinda BS in my opinion, I can explain further if you would like but not here). So going forward with more training and the experience of having ridden the course I am confident my time will keep decreasing. Good experience on the bike to build on.
Run – started the first couple of miles bloated, got it together on Ali’i and ran well through about mile 12. Was still at a 7:26 pace at mile 17 but the decline had already begun around mile 12 and it was already to late. Ended up struggling over the last ~14 miles with a lack of energy..just couldn’t seem to get the engine going. The section of the course that goes on the Queen K and turns around in the Energy Lab truly humbled me. I thought I was going to go out there and conquer it the first time but it got the best of me…like I am sure it does to a lot of worthy competitors. But it taught me a lot and I hope to use that education to my advantage next time!
I did something last year that was totally uncharacteristic of myself up until that point. I decided to put aside certainty, comfort and stability to instead go out on a limb and chase something that made me wake up every morning excited to get up. To me, that is what it all comes down to.
Does what you have in your life make you wake up every morning excited, with a smile on your face and eager to get going? If the answer is yes, then you’re doing it right…whatever “it” is. “It” doesn’t have to be some athletic or crazy endeavor; “it” can be a wife, a family or a fulfilling job. What matters is that it’s getting you out of bed every morning with excitement coursing through your veins and a big smile on your face. Sometimes you can’t even get a good night’s sleep because you’re so excited about the next day. Well my “It” was this sport I have chosen to dedicate myself to. I am glad I decided to go outside of my comfort zone. I am glad I did something I usually don’t do. Up until last year I would usually strategically choose the option in life that I was certain I was able to attain. This can be seen all the way through my primary education to my college years. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard and excelled in these areas, but it was always with a careful eye on making sure I didn’t extend myself too much. I always wanted some certainty to what I did. (I like having a plan!)
It was almost that I wanted assurance that yeah, it might be tough, but in the end I would get where I wanted. Well, when I decided to leave my career in public accounting, I left with a big unknown ahead of me. I left not knowing if it was the right move. It hasn’t been easy since I left my job… my life…. but I can tell you one thing that it has done, it has opened my eyes and freed me. It has freed me to succeed at things I previously thought unattainable, and given me the confidence to chase things that feel right and make me happy. I am also learning that life is about balance, and without having balance you can never truly be happy. (So go and have that drink with your friends tonight, your long run tomorrow isn’t really that important…) I am truly grateful for this awakening.
“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
~ William Jennings Bryan
I am doing things in my life both within sport and outside sport that excite me, scare me and inspire me. Sometimes I go to bed absolutely exhausted, floored, sad and with doubts. However, all the while each morning brings a new opportunity to stick my neck out and see what happens…and that excites me. So every morning I am waking up excited. I don’t need an alarm clock and I never want to just keep lying under my covers…there is just too much to do.