Still kicking it down in Phoenix

Regrettably, the blog has been neglected over the past week due to a couple factors.  One being that I did a great job of tiring myself out over past few days along with the second factor and probably the more pressing of the two is that I have no wifi connection at the house I am staying at.  Yes, I have my iPhone for the important things like Facebook checking, occasionally twitter updates and of course keeping up with my “Words with Friends” games.  Words being the most important of those very important things 🙂

It has been great training here in Arizona, where the weather is absolutely magnificent.  Sure the heat does make the workouts and keeping hydrated for the workouts tough, but really those are minor things.  It just boggles my mind how nice it is every single day here.  The weather forecast for any fay on the calendar is pretty much, “Sunny and warm with no clouds and no chance of perception”.  It really is the place to be if you want great consistent training.

So with the miles adding up from last weekends rides and this weeks training workouts I got pretty beat down by Thursday and it finally came to a head with a horrendous swim workout that I actually cut short due to absolute fatigue.  It was a fatigue I had not really experienced since sometime last year when I was working a lot and trying to fit in lots of training.  This time the fatigue was curbed by a solid nights sleep and the fact that I didn’t have to go to the office the next day or get up for another workout at 5am because I had to go to that office.  So the simple fact is that I am being blessed with a special opportunity to do this sport right now and I am not going to waste it, nor do I want to take it for granted.  I want to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of my chance.

After a good nights sleep the fatigue was mainly gone and since then I had a solid weekend of training.  Todays brick session rounded out a great training week that was the biggest of the year for me.  Now the challenge is to back it up with an even bigger week, which will have some challenges as I will be traveling back East on the weekend after the flight from AZ to Portland on Saturday.  But those “challenges” aren’t so bad and the end result is that by next Monday morning around 11AM I will be riding in the car with my Dad after he picks me up at the airport…which is pretty nice.

Operation Phoenix has begun!

Hi All,

Eric and I arrived in Phoenix on Friday morning and have been settling in over the past couple of days.  First thing first, we made our way to the grocery store to load up on our supplies.  Since we don’t have a car down here we had intentions of putting all the food in our backpacks and carrying the rest in bags.  However, when you buy the amount of food we bought that just isn’t possible.  Here was 1/2 the haul (my portion) –>

Food food food

And here is the cart we “borrowed” to get the food home.  We took it back today, don’t worry!  Many thanks to Safeway for the cart though, it really saved the day.

Taking the food home

We took a quick spin around the area on Friday afternoon along with a short run in the shadows of South Mountain.

On Saturday the plan was to ride ~32 mi to the AZ State Crit Championships and Eric was going to race and most likely dominate.  However, right after we set out to make the trip my rear wheel broke when the rim snapped, thus rendering my bike useless.  After a quick cab ride back to the house and wheel change I rode back to where Eric was only to find out that since my departure he had succumbed to two flat tires.  Luckily I had snagged an extra tube.  After his final tube change we were on our way to the Crit.  After riding harder than we planned in order to still make the start time we were disheartened to find out that we reached our “destination” only to discover it was 10mi the opposite way of where the race was.  With the start time coming and going the chance to race for Eric was lost.  We sill made our way to the race site so that we would know where it was since Eric was going to race again on Sunday (today).

After we stopped at the race for a while we headed back home, had a fantastic lunch in Scottsdale and stopped by Tribe Multisports since I forgot to pack my swimsuit.  We finally arrived home a little after 3pm and got settled in.

That brings us to today.  We are currently hanging out at a nearby McDonalds utilizing the free wifi to check up on our emails, post blogs, upload ride/runs and book flights.  Yeah, living the dream!

We are going to set out for the trip to the Crit in a little while.  Now that we know where it is we can hopefully make the to and from ride a lot easier, mostly a recovery of sorts…and at the race Eric better win because money is on the line.  $100 to the winner I believe!  That would buy us some nice food for a few days!

Pictures and updates to come tomorrow, so stay tuned!

KIWAMI saves the day!

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” ~Sam Ewing

It’s not always easy and some days are going to hurt more than others…and today was one of those days.  The workout plan itself was not over the top by any means.  I’ve had longer and more intense sessions already this season.  What made it so darn tough was how mentally trying it was. (I will add that I did go through some decent physical suffering as well)  Along with the mental and physical obstacles, today also came with its fair share of WTF’s.  Like after I wrapped up my outdoor segment of my ride and reset my garmin.  When it correctly resets itself you would expect to be able to then go back and see in the history section the data from the ride right?  Nah…not with my trusty Garmin 500.  The F’er decided to just erase it completely without even asking me.  I don’t live and die by my data and the fact is the power was off because I was using a spare power tap from the shop that was not calibrated to my bike, the speed didn’t matter because I climbed like 5 huge hills within the 3 hours and the cadence was irrelevant because of all that climbing.  BUT the one thing I did want was to be able to upload the file to STRAVA!!!  If there is one single thing I am most livid about today it is that…now I do not get any climbing points in the Specialized challenge nor do I get to share my work with my Strava followers.  It is truly heartbreaking.

So lets recap what happened today and why it became one of the toughest days I have ever had while training.  It started off at about 5:45AM when my iPhone alarm abruptly woke me from a really good sleep.  With cat-like agility I swiped the screen lock button and turned that b#$%h right off.  I did not have to work today and I was going to wake up when I darn well pleased.  That ended up being 7:30.  I rarely sleep past 6AM so getting up at 7:30 was a bit of a shocker and in all honesty I could have gone back to sleep but I felt that if I did not attempt to start the day that I would have absolutely no chance of getting my long ride done.  So there I was, with one eye open and the other one crusted shut because I forgot to take my contacts out the night before, driving to the grocery store to get the jar of applesauce and shower soap I had neglected to obtain the night before because I was “too tired”.  The applesauce was for my breakfast so I could practice my pre-race nutrition.  I usually do this on my long training days to make sure my body is acting behaving properly.  After the quick purchase of goods at the Safeway and the weird look from the cashier…I was really a mess, Hoody on with the hood up, gym shorts, moccasin slippers and a 8 day beard….yeah I looked good; I strolled on over to Starbucks to get a giant coffee and a couple more weird stares from the female baristas.  Back at home I got after breakfast and for some reason I ate like a starving ravenous coyote.  Yeah a COYOTE, who hadn’t ate in 4 days.  I usually don’t get all carb crazy like that but this morning the english muffins were just too good and the cheerios were SPOT ON.  After eating enough for 4 people I still felt a bit hungry but felt I better cut myself out so that I would not created any unwanted “issues” during the training day.  Some other things happened between the hours of 7:30 and 10:30 but nothing else to bore you with.

I was on my bike by 10:45 and set out from Athletes Lounge in search of hills, lots of hills.  I had a grandeous idea of climbing a butt-load as I had previously been staying on the flat grounds in preparation for Texas.  Since I had 4-5 big long rides in the bank while being aero on the flats I figured it was time to change things up a bit, tire my legs out and then hit the short transition run even more tired than normal.  Plus it would help take up some time and give me a mental break.  Staying aero in the flats is cool because you can really click off the miles but boy does it make you work mentally.  Since my trust garmin decided to act up I will tell you my route instead of being able to point you to a web page.  It went something like this (if you are not from Portland you can just skip this next part because I am going to just being naming roads out here and it will most likely have no meaning to you whatsoever.  Left the A Lounge, went up through the zoo to Skyline, along Skyline and down Germantown, up Newberry, down McNamee, up Logie Trail and down Rocky Point.  All in all when I last checked my garmin (it would end up being the last time of the day I saw data) I had climbed over 4,500 feet and had about 32 miles in.  That was at the 2:40 mark I think…somewhere around that time.  All was good going through the Zoo and even down Germantown.  However, after the descent down Germantown things began to go South. The rain that had started after about 45 minutes on the bike coupled with the sub 40 degree temperatures began to really chill me to the bone.  My feet were going numb.  I trudged on and was happy to climb Newberry since climbing warms you up nicely.  The climb had me feeling good about things and I was still planning to ride the entire 5:10 outside.  This was at about 1:40 into the ride…I was ambitious.  The descent down McNamee is long and was freaking cold.  By the time I made it to the bottom I had some doubts about continuing on outside.  Those doubts quickly went away as I hit flat ground and cruised to Logie Trail.  This is about a 20 minute climb and again got me feeling better.  However, I had made the decision that after I reach the top I was going to head for home and finish the rest on the trainer.  Well, that didn’t exactly happen.  After I reached the top I just turned right and continued on toward Rocky Point.  Why?  Good question, I guess it was because before the ride even started I had wanted to climb Rocky Point, and for some reason my body kept pushing me towards it.  I went through snow and rain to get their and when I finally got to the base of the hill after having descended it I was just cooked.  My feet were frozen and my body was just cold.  I was done with being cold and wanted to get on my trainer and suffer through the rest of the workout.  The only issue was that I was about 20 miles from the shop.  I very seriously through about puncturing my tire and calling for help…the puncturing so that I wouldn’t look like a puss.  I hardened TFU and got my butt back to the shop.  During this flat stretch along 30 my heart rate actually came up a bit and I felt relatively good, but I knew that staying out in the cold for another 2+ hours was not a good idea.  I am all for being a “hard man” and suffering through crappy weather but when it gets that cold and a race is getting very close (less than 2 weeks) I just don’t want to push the sickness envelope.

So I made it back to the shop, peeled of the cold wet clothing, warmed my feet enough to allow them to depress my gas pedal and made my way back to my house.  It was 3pm and I still had about 1:45 left to go on the bike plus a 30 minute transition run.  I flipped on Netflix (Friday Nights Lights Season 3) and got down to business. Business was not flourishing but I got the work done.  After the bike I was feeling pretty smoked and the run looked like it would be sub-optimal.  In truth the run was the best part of my training as I negative split that s$%*.  The heart rate went up and pace decreased exactly how I wanted it to.  The only downside was that I was fighting some major stomach issues.  Issues that just recently took care of themselves…and not in a great way.  But at least I feel better now and can get some food in me.

This ultimately leads me to why I titled my blog the way I did.  The reason is that life threw a lot at me today and made for a pretty tough training day.  I was not feeling super great when I got back to my house after the outdoor portion of my ride.  Luckily I saw a package on the front steps.  I quickly picked it up to check it out and after jumping up and down a little because it was actually addressed to me I opened it up to find this!

YEP, YOU BET THAT SAYS TURBEAU!

Yeah, that’s right.  My very own custom tri kit courtesy of the best triathlon apparel company in the business, KIWAMI!  I really can’t thank Andre and the good people of Kiwami for getting this kit to me so quickly.  I literally tried on a sample kit for sizing purposes about a week ago and bam one week later I have a racing kit ready to go.  I LOVE PUNCTUALITY!  The kit is a prima top and bottom, the material is really top notch stuff that doesn’t absorb any water at all.  It repels water like  no other material I have ever seen or touched.  It will be great when I am pouring all kinds of water over myself in Texas, Vegas, Kona and all the other races along the way.  If you are interested in Kiwami’s products or have any questions about my kit just let me know and I would be more than happy to give you my thoughts.  And if your at a race I am at please feel free to seek me out so we can talk shop and you can feast your eyes on my smoking good looking kit 🙂  So thank you Kiwami for being a really big BRIGHT SPOT in a day that was pretty gloomy.

Also wanted to give a shout out to those “other guys” that have earned a place on the kit this year, QT2 Systems for coaching, Base Performance for Supplement support and last but certainly not least Athletes Lounge for employing me, letting me hang out even when I am not working, allow me to start and finish many a workout at the shop, recover in the recovery pump boots and for basically being the most kickass triathlon store ever.  THANK YOU!  I hope I can make you all proud this season.

Pro Cards, Cardboard Boxes and Hawaiian Dinners

Alright then, its Sunday morning here in a very mild PDX.  I’ve been up for about an hour now as I had to run to Starbucks and procure two bags of freshly ground Blonde Roast for the house, as well as a Venti Coffee to go so that I could get the caffeine into my body as quickly as possible.  I will note that as the racing season is drawing closer and the fact that I simply drink even more coffee on a daily basis here in Portland, I have limited my coffee consumption to the workout specific window(s).  Meaning that I allow myself to have coffee before my morning workouts and that is it.  This usually works out to allowing coffee in my life from the hours of 5-8:30 or 9’ish at the latest. This works well for me.

Over the past few days at work I have been working on 1 project which is still not completed and will most likely take another 2 days or so.  That project came about due to the fact that the shop received over 50 boxes of “Spring Apparel/Products” from about 4 different retailers on Friday.  Hooray for new stuff!  But not hooray for the unpacking and adding into inventory and labeling all of the stuff.  Now I will say that I by no means hate this work, in fact its pretty much what I actually enjoy doing.  I am getting to use my natural “bookkeeping skills” in a situation that I actually enjoy.  What it basically comes down to is reconciling the goods on hand to what the packing list says from the shipper and then checking that against what our Purchase Order actually says in our computer system.  So being the accounting nerd I actually don’t mind doing this stuff at all.  So that is what has been going on at work the last couple of days.

In the world of triathlon I have very exciting news to share with you all.  My friend Eric, who I mentioned was racing this weekend in my previous post did indeed race yesterday and in the process took 2nd place in a very large AG Draft Legal race held in Clermont, FL.  In taking 2nd place he earned his Professional License, a goal that he has been working hard to achieve.  He had put in the training and was clearly of the ability, so the fact that he went down to a sprint race (where anything can happen because of the short distance) and got the job done is absolutely awesome.  Plain and simple he executed and got the job done.  Only the top 3 earned a pro card so it was by no means a sure thing with 85 people on the start line, but his hard work and dedication paid off and thats great to see.  I can’t wait to see how the rest of his year will go now, as well as getting him back to PDX so I can have someone to destroy me in the pool, on the bike and while running 🙂 Follow his adventures at his blog site –> http://aggro2016.blogspot.com/  I am sure he will have a race report up soon.

Last but not least I have to mention the awesome dinner that was once again had last night at the Bamboo House Grill.  A huge plate of kalua pig (I think that was what it was called) with white rice and some mac salad was had.  This coupled with a nice kona brewed pint was a perfect Saturday evening meal.  Boy was it good….and super filling.  I think the stomach stretched a couple sizes.

Bonus Day – 2.29.12

I am very happy to say that I am coming to you all from my local Starbucks.  It is 5:45AM right now and I am now on the other side of an insomnia filled night.  I was able to get about 5.5 or so hours of sleep between the hours of 9 and 5.  Once I awoke at 3AM I knew I was going to have a tough time getting back to sleep and thus I lay awake for the next 2 hours.  So here I am at a wonderful Starbucks with my big coffee, some almonds and half a banana I had leftover from last nights little snack before bedtime.

I can’t complain to much since today is a bonus day, February 29th, a day that only comes around once every four years.  All triathletes should welcome this day with great joy as it adds an additional day to train for the upcoming races this season.

I will leave you with this fun video I found from pre-Kona 2010 which includes a bunch of the top male professionals having some fun on the big island.  It just seems like they are truly having about as much fun as you can.  And as a side note I will say that Terenzo is now a sponsored by Athletes Lounge and is planning on being in Portland for a few weeks this summer to train and race the Rev 3 half.  It should be fun to see him around the area and hopefully in the shop.

I must apologize for my scattered postings as they have been less frequent of late than ever before.  I do not like to make excuses so I am not going to make any.  I have simply been lazy.  I have been more busy in the past and still posted so I don’t really know why I have lost the motivation. Possibly because I have begun to drink more coffee at home in the morning from the coffee maker instead of coming to Starbucks.  There is just something about being at a busy Starbucks and being an anonymous blogger with a big cup of coffee that really gets my creative juices going.

Now that I am relatively motivated I will update you all on what has been going on out here in Portlandia.  Today is a bit of a recovery day placed in the middle of a biggish training week.  I had my long ride yesterday, which can be viewed via Strava.  The first two hours went swimmingly, however after that the weather really started to take a turn for the worst.  I can’t be mad since the weather here in PDX has been absolutely unreal this winter.  I was more bummed that my luck had run out since over the last 5 weeks each long ride has been wonderfully placed on a day where the weather was very comfortable.  I never changed a ride based on the weather, it was pure good luck that each ride fell on such great days.  I was due for a hard man ride and I did not stray away.  The winds which were very similar (a little stronger) to the previous week blew me from 23-27mph one way to 15-16mph the other way with more effort being put forth to push me 15mph.  The work is getting done either way and in my mind every time I face a stiff wind on the bike I think how it will only enhance my training for Kona in October.  After the ride I snuck in a short transition run and followed that with a nice warm shower back at the shop.  One of the absolute BEST things about working at a tri shop is the ability to recover in style.  After a warm shower I got my bottle of endurox mixed up and settled into the Recovery Boots for a good 30 minute session while catching up on what happened during the day while I was out training.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

(Had to break out all the bottle holding areas possible on the bike today.  Minus the down tube which has a striped insert at the moment)

In order to not put you all to sleep with my ramblings since I have lots of stuff rattling through my brain this morning I will simply list all the things that have me excited right now: (In no specific order)

-The Texas 70.3 is just 30 days away….and Lance will be racing.

-Strava is really fun

-Ironman New Zealand is this weekend

-Abu Dubai is this weekend!  Go Chris Lieto!!!

-Ironman Melbourne, boasting a stacked pro field is in a couple weeks and should be extremely fun to watch

AND probably most important of all my good friend Eric Lagerstrom is heading down to Clermont, FL to dominate the Age Group Draft Legal sprint race.  The guy is a machine and it will be fun to watch him put all his hard work to use.  Good Luck Eric, we are all rooting for you man.  You can follow him this Saturday (March 3rd) here –> http://www.draftlegalchallenge.com/

Eric & I on our "Snow Ride"

I will leave you all with a cool video I found from Pre-Kona 2010 that includes a bunch of the top male pro’s having about as much fun as you can on a training run.  They just look like they are truly having an absolute blast!  Enjoy!

I will leave you all with a cool video I found from Pre-Kona 2010 that includes a bunch of the top male pro’s having about as much fun as you can on a training run.  They just look like they are truly having an absolute blast!  Enjoy!

The Wisdom of Winston

I’ve recently discovered the wisdom in the words of Winston S. Churchill.  Growing up I was enamored with a love of History.  I’ve often wondered why I did not follow that passion.  Many would say that it was a regret of mine, however I’ve come to the conclusion that you simply can’t have regrets in life.  This one has been hard for me to grasp as I do feel regret for certain things in my life.  Some more so than others.  However, when I take a deep hard look at the past 25 years it is not with regret but with a great deal of happiness and joy.  Life has not always been peachy and many forks have arisen in the road.  That’s just how it is, would life even be worth living if you had a predetermined path and you just followed it?

With each passing day I am growing as a person.  I feel like the growth is exponential lately; and its totally internal.  Results and visual growth/achievement have a funny way of hiding themselves until you least expect them.  It is usually the patient who reap these rewards.  As Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”  A most valid statement that has a very strong impact on me.  It is essentially the motto or mantra that I base my life around.  This was not something I decided at one point in time but it was something that was fostered and developed from a young age.  I was not the smartest or the most gifted, but what I had was determination.  Determination to succeed by whatever means possible.  Over time the challenge to persevere only grows.  This one hits home for me on a lot of fronts…think about the quote above and how it relates to the sport of triathlon, Winston was pretty much spot on.  Those who succeed do so because they give themselves fully to the task at hand and persevere.

What is the trick?  What is the formula for success?  “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”― Winston S. Churchill  Doesn’t that do a great job of summing it up?  Nobody wants to be around a “loser” or someone who constantly surrounds themselves with negativity and self doubt.  Positive people surround themselves with positive people who have positive energy.  Those that succeed in life and at whatever they set out to accomplish do so because they have a passion.  They have such a belief in themselves that nobody and nothing gets in their way.   For those who can stay positive and optimistic when it is hardest are the ones who come out on the other side winners.  The darkest dark is before the break of dawn right?

Success if also about being blunt.  “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”― Winston S. Churchill  

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”― Winston S. Churchill So be ready to attack each and every day.  Be that beacon of light that makes all those around you better.  What better thing can be said about a person than, “They are such a joy to be around” or “I am a better person because of them” or “Its just fun to be around them”.  “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move thier tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”― Winston S. Churchill  So take care of yourself, do what is right and believe wholeheartedly in your way.  Believe in yourself and if you do this your your internal happiness/conviction will shine through to all those around you, lifting them up along with you.

 


An Update from Portland in Pictures

Hey all,

Here’s a few photos from the last couple days here in Portland.  Today I rode with my buds Chris and Danny from the Athletes Lounge.  We made our way along Skyline, out to Helvetia, past the Little People – Big World farm, and back to Portland.  Along the way we caught some nice views of the Mountains.  Also, you’ll see some pictures of Llama’s and Elpaca’s from Friday’s ride out to SE Portland with my friend Melissa.

The living is good here in Portland, there is no doubt about it.  The Dream of the 90’s is alive and well!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: IMFL 2011 & More

It has now been a full 367 days since I finished the 2010 edition of Ironman Florida.  Over the last year things have changed in many aspects of my life.  Since the triathlon part of my life is more interesting and pretty much all of it and what you all really want to hear about, that’s the part I will stick to.  With that said, lets begin!

Some of you know that I have been to Kona once before in my life, for those of you who didn’t know…now you do.  It was back in March of 2009 on a family vacation, before I understood what an Ironman triathlon was all about.  I had an amazing time on the island.  The funny part about the whole thing was that when we left the airport we turned left and headed to the Hilton Wakiloa instead of going into downtown Kailua-Kona, thus even though I have been to the big island I never went near the epicenter of triathlon.  Instead I traveled along much of the bike course by car on our various sight seeing trips.  It was during this trip when I suppose the triathlon seed was planted in my head.  This because when I was at the resort I kept seeing dudes wheeling around there fancy bikes (this was March so they were just out for training/pleasure) and all I could think about was who they were going to go ride there bikes for over 2 hours straight.  How naive right?  I am not joking for exaggeration when I say that either, I literally had no concept of what really went on when training for triathlons, no less an Ironman triathlon.

Anyway, during the summer of 2009 I entered a couple short triathlons after I decided to purchase my first road bike and subsequently signed up for a 1/2 ironman distance race, that being the 2009 Musselman in Geneva, NY.  Then, just a week after the Musselman race where I trudged in with a 5:25 I boldly took the next step by driving through the night to Lake Placid and signing up for the 2010 IMLP.  Yep, after just over 2 months of toying with triathlon I decided it was time to do an Ironman…seems logical right?  My mantra has always been to do something 100% all the way or not at all.  So that’s what I began to do, I put my mind to the task and gave it my full attention.  My life slowly morphed into one that was centered totally around the sport, this was for the good..believe me.  Some might see that as lame but honestly when a person finds something that truly fits them from a lifestyle, personality, and happiness standpoint…well their is nothing lame about that at all.

So there I am, its November of 2009 and I have begun to train for not just IMLP, but also IMFL which I decided I would do in 2010 as well.  Why? Well 2 is always better than one right?  Oh how little I knew and how far of a journey I had in front of me.  It was around this time that I truly believed I could race in Kona.  Its almost laughable that I thought I could KQ at IMFL in 2010.  Sometimes not really knowing or understanding is bliss.  All I had to do now was to train and become what I wanted to be, which was good…respected for what I spent my time doing; in a sense I wanted what most people want…validation.  I’ve always been decent at many sports across the board, and when I say decent I mean it because I was never a prodigy or great at anything, but I had enough hand-eye coordination, smarts and the ability to endure to get by and fit well on teams.  However, triathlon offered me the opportunity to totally re-define myself and achieve success purely based on how hard I wanted to work and how much time I was willing to devote to the task.  I’ve learned more about myself in the past 2 years than in the 23 previous.  The beauty of this sport and why it will always have appeal no matter what the big corporations do or how inflated it becomes is that the clock never lies.  What you do on the race course once the cannon blasts is totally yours and it does not matter how it looks or what it took to get there.  The only thing you are left with is a set of numbers at the end of the day.  I am by no means demeaning the experiences along the way because some would presented a valid argument that everything in life is about the journey’s that are taken along the way…and truthfully I agree with that 100%, but in the sense of personal achievement in the sport of triathlon you train and mold yourself to excel on race day.  For most that means training one full year, 365 days, for 1 race on 1 day.  No mulligans, no do-overs.  What you have after that one day is a set of numbers as your report card.  In order to better your odds of a passing grade you train and train so that on race day all that is left is for you to execute at the ability you already have.  The simple fact about triathlon is that as many have said before me “You can look it up”.  Talk all you want about how you train, what your volume is, your nutrition, your personal life, your injuries, etc…all that it essentially shakes out to be is a time, a series of numbers.  All of these numbers mean something very different to each individual.  I guarantee you that the 16:58 meant just as much, maybe more to that person than it did to the winner who broke the North American Ironman distance record with a sub 8 hour time.  One’s perception of time is the only difference.  Well since I need to wrap this section up and get on to the actual race  I will conclude by saying that after IMFL 2010 I wrote some numbers of my own down.  I had signed up for IMFL 2011 and I knew with another year of training I would be coming back a different athlete.

Those numbers added up to around a 9:45 and as of last week I had written down even loftier goals of :59, 5:00 and 3:15.  Yes, these were my hypothetical “great-day” scenarios which would put me around a 9:30 or less.  I wasn’t 100% I was in 9:30 shape but I knew if I had a smooth day without mechanical issues that I’d be very close.  I knew I had improved over the past year and last Saturday was my final test.  All the races and training before Saturday were preparation for this day.

My parents and I flew down to FL on Wednesday and I took care of registration, bike build, grocery shopping and everything else that day so that the rest of the week could be totally focused on relaxing and getting myself ready to race.  I spent Thurday and Friday playing scrabble, watching The Walking Dead and getting my last couple of workouts in.  I even broke down and bought an episode of The Walking Dead on iTunes once I had watched all of season 1 on Netflix.

On race eve I was in bed by 7PM and slept right on through to 4AM, no restlessness or nervousness disrupting me.  Race morning consisted of about 600 calories of assorted foods, a trip to the bathroom and a really warm shower to warm me up before I hit the Panama City Beach which was chilly on this November morning.  Luckily by dressing properly in my $10 walmart hoody and $5 walmart slippers I was very comfortable, aided by the fact that it was about 5 degrees warmer than the previous year at race start time.  I was very comfortable and relaxed.  My parents dropped me off at transition, I got marked by a girl (always a female who lays ink on this body on race day….always) and then went to check my bike before I headed to the beach.  As I was pumping my front tire I noticed that the tire’s valve was looking weird and that the tip of the valve was dangling.  The tip ended up falling off when I gave it a little twist and so I figured I’d better change out the tire even though it was still holding air.  Thanks to the wonderful IM bike guys they changed my tire for me so I didn’t have to sweat about it and could continue getting ready for the race.

Down at the beach I met up with my friend and local pro Kristin White, we chatted and I wished her good luck as she headed to the water for the PRO start.  After that I said goodbye to my mom and handed what has now become my lucky $10 walmart hoody.  Right before the start I met up with my friend Ken Koppenhaver, wished him all the best and finally got myself focused on the task ahead of me, which was to start the race with a sub 1 hour swim.  In my two prior IM’s I have always started the swim a bit cautiously in terms of my placement.  However, feeling I had improved as a swimmer I decided to put myself front and center and get right in the mix from the get go.  Out to the first turn buoy it was pretty crowded and I was hitching every ride I could from those around me, the turn was a cluster and the way back to the beach was pretty quick as I found a buddy to draft off of most of the way.  I was back on the beach with the clock reading 38 minutes.  Subtract 10 from that due to the Pro’s starting 10 minutes ahead of us and you have a 28 minute first loop.  I was happy but I knew I needed to stay consistent and keep pushing as the second loop would be a bit slower as there would be less of an overall draft to take advantage of based on the field thinning out after 1.2 miles.  On the second loop I caught a good draft on the way back to the beach and went over the timing mat in 59:56.  When I went over the mat I calculated that it was a 59 something…i just didn’t know how close I really was.  Those 4 seconds meant that I could finally say I swam a sub-hour swim.  Anyway, I swam under 1 hour and my first goal of the day was accomplished.  The next thing to do was get through T1 and get onto the bike warm and comfortable so I could let it rip.  With the awesome help of the volunteers in transition I was able to get my craft baselayer, socks and bike jersey without any issues and I was off any running.  Other than almost getting pushed into the transition barrier by a couple eager cyclists all was good through T1.  Over the first 10 miles I got my nutrition in and went about my business.  The wind was in our face over the first 40 miles or so but it wasn’t to bad.  Nothing of real note over the first 56 miles other than when we were on that stretch of road that is extremely bumpy.  It simply was driving me nuts, I hope they repair that road in the future…future bikes of triathletes will appreciate this.  One thing I will say about the bike is that when you are able to swim under or right on about an hour it is a different world on the road.  Last year I swam a 1:03 and biked a 5:25.  I was more or less surrounded by people all day long.  However, this year I saw 59:56 and biked 5:05.  I was pretty much on a solo vision quest for 112 miles.  Over the first three hours I did have one guy who would periodically pass me and then I would pass him.  This went on for a while and we ended up exchanging a few words of encouragement, and commiserated about being so alone.  His name was Serge.  I know that it is not pronounced “SURGE” but all I kept thinking about in my head was POWER SURGE!!! YAHH!!!

On the way back to the beach we had some tailwinds which heaped increase the avg mph and kept me on target for my pace even though my power dipped slightly below my pre-race plan.  Over the final 56 miles only one person passed me, and yep, he was in my Age Group, all decked out in a trek/kswiss triathlon kit.  When he came up on me before the short out and back about 15 miles from T2 he informed me that he had been trying to make some ground up on me over the last 40 miles but hadn’t been able to close the gap.  So with this ultimate complasault he went on ahead of me.  I passed him once more during the turn around section but then once we got back on the main drag to the beach he went on ahead and I just let him go.  He went ahead about 200 yards or so and pretty much stayed there for the duration.  Since he was in my AG I had a little motivation to keep tabs on him but I knew that I would be able to make up any ground he gained on me during the run, and if not…well then he was the better athlete.  It was also during this time, the last 15-20 miles that I had my “lowest moment” on the bike.  The wind was starting to annoy me and I could tell I was not totally “all there”.  This was only worsened by the fact that once we turned onto Beach Front Road for the final 6 miles of the course it was like being directed into a man-made wind tunnel due to all the Condo’s that line the road.  These final miles plain sucked due to the wind smacking you in the face and blowing you all around.  But the dude who passed me wasn’t going anywhere so I knew that the wind was the same for everyone.

I rode a 5:05 averaging 22mph over the 112 miles.  My nutrition consisted of 1 powergel package over the first 5 minutes for immediate nutrition out of the swim, then I sipped from a bottle that contained 10 powergels and water.  In addition to sipping the powergel bottle I drank from two other pre-made powerbar endurance mix’s (3 scoops + water in each as well as 1 scoop of both base amino and base salt).  I ate 1.5 powerbars between hours 2-4 on the bike and probably drank the equivalent of 2 water bottles and 2 powerbar endurance bottles that I took on at aid stations.  I am not 100% on all that I took on during the bike in terms of hydrations but that’s what I remember right now.

So I was back into T2 in 5:05, just 5 minutes over my goal of a 5:00 ride.  With the wind on course and the fact that my power dipped slightly over the final 20-30 miles I was happy wit the 5:05.  I guess the closest think to a hiccup in my race happened when I entered T2 and turned a corner to grab my run bag.  As I made the turn I still had my bike cleats on and did a Tom Cruise like Risky Buisiness slide for about 5 feet before I regained control of my body and played it off like I had meant to do it.  I played it off real cool, you know like I had meant to do it so I could impress the chicks in transition.  Believe me, they knew and were impressed.  (Note to self: learn how to do the flying dismount so you can ditch the bike cleats before running into the changing tent)

I quickly changed thanks again to the wonderful volunteers and once again the changing tent was mostly empty thanks to me training hard enough to not enter T2 at “peak hours”.  I hit the run feeling less than spectacular but was informed as I ran out onto the course by my friend and Syracuse 70.3 race director Kenny Hammond that I needed a 3:18 marathon to be in around 9:30.  This seemed like a pretty daunting challenge based on the way I was feeling at the moment.  I knew I had 26.2 miles ahead of me and I wasn’t exactly bounding with excitement.  However, since Ironman is such a long race I knew I just needed to get started and I would come around eventually.  The first mile was un-paced and I just tried to run easy as my garmin connected to the satellite’s.  After about 1/2 a mile I started to see my pace.  The 7:06 felt very easy but the first mile always does.  My goal was to cruise through the first 10K and re-evaluate how everything was going once I reached the state park.  Over these 5 miles I passed the fella in my AG who had passed me on the bike over the last 15 miles.  He had come out of transition about 50-75 yards ahead of me and stayed that way for about 2 miles.  I was watching how he was running and noticed that he was almost bounding, his heels were literally touching his butt on every stride.  I knew that with this stride he probably wouldn’t be around for long.  I eventually passed him and continued on my journey.  At about mile 4 or so I rolled up on my friend and Pro Triathlete from Syracuse, Kristin White.  We exchanged a couple brief words and then got back to work.  Miles 1-6 went smoothly, the pace was between 7:10-7:25, anything in between was fine with me as I wasn’t working to hard yet.  At mile 6 as I entered the state park Team Eggers gave me an update on my AG standing and informed me that I was in 5th place according to IMLive.com  However, since I knew I had passed at least one in my AG since the last timing mat I knew that I was looking at 4th place or so.  Cool to know but it still didn’t mean much to me since I had 20 miles to go.  Then about a mile later in the state park I passed two guys running in identical racing kits side by side.  A little strange IMO, especially 12 miles into an Ironman marathon.  I think that at least one was in my AG so now I was looking at 3rd place or best case scenario 2nd.  Yep, very nice.  But a lot or work to do still.  It was also at this point that a lone spectator informed me that I was in 20th place in the OA Age Group field.  So 20th place, still feeling good…I could deal with that.  Kudos to that dude for doing all the counting.  I trudged on taking a couple pulls from my red bull flask, a little bit at a time to extend the high as long as possible.  During the solitary 2 miles in the state park I took away 2 main things.  One was that I had a received a nice energy boost by seeing my parents at the park entrance on my way in and my way.  A plan I had created so that they could both see me twice in about 15 minutes and that I could get a real boost at the point furthest from the finish line. The second thing was that I still felt comfortable holding sub 7:30’s.  At the same point in the previous year I was struggling to run around 8 minute miles.  It was here I really knew that I could have a solid respectable day if I could hold it together.

On the way back to the turnaround at mile 13.1 or so I have three things that stick out to me.  1.  I took the fastest porta-potty break of the day, I’d put it up against any athlete.  I was in and out in 15 seconds, for real! 2. I took a very nice 10 second pee behind a bush, and it was awesome. 3. I got passed by the eventual winner who set a North America world record with a sub 8 hour race.  During this pass I may have been on IMLive.com coverage, anyone see me?  haha  I hit the turn around and then starting at mile 14 it got a little ugly for the next 4 miles.  I started losing energy and my legs were feeling heavy.  My HR which was not responding to my effort for the entire run began to dip even lower…a bad decoupling event if you look at it that way.  I got a bit worried and started walking the aid stations to keep getting in my nutrition (cliff bloks, powerbar perform and water).  I really began focusing in on 1 mile at a time, running as strong as I could from each aid station to the next.  It was over these 4 miles that I took my walks and got myself sorted out.  I still had not looked at my overall marathon time now knew what my exact AG standing was.  However, no one was passing me even at my low points which was a good thing.

The proudest moment of the marathon came shortly after I saw my parents at mile 18ish.  I entered the park for the second time and when I hit mile 19 something clicked for me and I began to pick it up a bit.  I decided that it was time to go, time to use all the endurance, strength and mental power I created during the previous 11 months.  By no means was I blowing the race up but when your struggling to keep the pace under 8 min miles for 4 miles and then can start dropping the pace into the 7:35-7:45 range, its a big deal!  Only one dude passed me over the final 6 miles.  He may have been on his first loop I just couldn’t tell.  Then again he could have been an 18-24 AG’er who was running really well.  I will have to check if one of them beat me.  The only thing that really ticked me off about when he passed me was that he had a woman, mom maybe? who was riding a bike right next to him chatting away, probably giving him standings updates, etc..I couldn’t make out the exact details but would have appreciated if the lady could have divulged some info to me as well.  Anywho, he went on his way and I went on mine..he running a lot faster.  Kudos to him.  From mile 20 on I ran strong, no surges but pretty consistent.  With about 4 miles to go I finally looked at my overall run time and saw that if I could keep it below 8 min miles that I would be right around a 3:20, real close to the 3:18 Kenny had told me would put me in around 9:30.  I ran steady and kept looking for landmarks ahead to tell me how far I had to go.  Soon enough I had made it to the home stretch which is a little less than a mile long and the false finish line (inflatable thing that tells the announcer your name which is 50 yards before the finish line) is in sight.  I still didn’t know where exactly I was in the AG placing but some spectator informed me that with about a quarter mile to go I was in 12th place in the Age Group race.  At this point there was one guy ahead of me by about 50 yards.  I decided to track him down figuring 11th is better than 12th.  I was able to drop it down a notch and ended up finishing ahead of him by about 15 seconds.  So yeah, I’m that dude who picks it up in the finishers shoot and brings it home strong.  And it was a good thing I did because 2nd place in my age group finished less than one minute behind me.  Just after I crossed the finish line Team Eggers informed me that my time of 9:31 had won me my Age Group and punched my ticket to Kona!  This caught me by surprise and I don’t know if I responded to them accordingly.  I think I just told them I was pretty tired and that the run was tough.  Truthfully I was pretty freaking psyched, it had just caught me off guard.  Usually it takes a 9:00-9:10 to win the 25-29 AG at IMFL.  A 9:31 is a respectable time but I didn’t think it would take the win.  I guess I should take this opportunity to thank the stud Euro’s who usually show up and throw down the speed.  Its nice of them to let this short pudgy American take the win.  I appreciate it guys!

Overall Results 2011

1st AG 25-29, 37th OA

Swim: 59:56 (2010 – 1:03)

Bike: 5:05 (2010 – 5:24)

Run: 3:19 (2010 – 3:39)

Overall the biggest takeaway for me from this race is that I am capable of a lot more.  I cannot wait for 2012 and all that it will bring.  There is a lot of work ahead of me as I start my trek across the country to Porland, OR where I will be starting fresh and looking for new opportunities that will hopefully bridge my passion for triathlon with an actual income.  Be it working part time at a bike shop or having the ultimate success of landing something with the likes of Nike.  Big goals huh?  Yeah, they are…but you always gotta DO IT BIG!

I am paid in full for both the 2012 70.3 World in Vegas next September and Ironman Worlds in Kailua-Kona next October.  I will be there to race and am extremely lucky, excited and blessed to have the opportunity to participate in both of these races.  All I can say is that 2012 is going to be an interesting year.  I hope you all will continue to check in on me along the way.

Remember to always “Put Your Name On It”

-Matt

PS: Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.  The last two and a half years have been a truly incredible journey and I am extremely grateful to have had the experiences I had had already.  Qualifying to race in Kona next year is simply amazing and I can’t wait to race alongside all of the elites.  Achieving this really means a lot to me because it is something I set my sights on right from the start.  Some may have looked at me and called me overly ambitious in my goals but I knew that If I truly put my mind to something that I can achieve it.  Sure I had a lot of luck and things go my way in the process but at the same time you always have to put yourself in a position to succeed and to grasp the opportunities when they present themselves.  I believe that is what has happened to me.  I prepared myself and got myself to the starting line so that I could put my hat in the ring.  That’s all anyone can do.  I hope that this hard work and willingness to put myself in the right positions will follow me as I move to Portland, OR because I am really going to need it.  All of this can really be summed up by two words “Be Present”.  If you can always be in the present in each moment you will always give yourself the best chance at succeeding in whatever you are doing.  So thank you to all those who have helped me achieve my goals.  There are truly to many to name, but you know who you are!

Signing that Kona Paper
IMFL 2011 25-29 Podium

No Doubts

I just read a really good article by Paulo Sousa about not having any doubts in regards to training and racing.  I suppose since I am currently coached by one of his own athletes on the Squad that I too should have no doubts based on the passing down of the “message” from coach to athlete to the athlete’s athlete, if you can follow me there.  My take on this is that if you let any doubt about your preparation or your potential into your head then you are only letting in bad thoughts and bad energy.  It’s like the book, “The Secret”, if you think something bad is going to happen well then you are enhancing the probability that it will, simply because you let it enter your subconscious.  Instead of letting negativity invade your thoughts, be extremely positive and willing to follow the plan.  However, following a plan is not always as easy as it seems because a certain amount of trust must be given to the person in charge.  What trust comes down to is believing in the person who is leading you.

I trust the my coach and I bought in.  I won’t lie I sometimes get caught up in the details, think to much and yada yada but for the most part I have gotten my instructions and executed to the best of my ability.  What the outcome will be?  That will be determined on race day.  However, I realize that it is now all about execution.  I have the tools and the ability to create something and it is up to me to use them correctly.  And I suppose that is the beauty of triathlon.  All the real work is done in training.  Race day for triathlon is like game day for football.  You’ve practiced many hours, drilling, running your playbook, prepping for the opponents defense (course obstacles)…etc.  The only thing in your control when the big day comes is if you can put your skills and your preparation to use.

I feel physically and mentally good.  I am ready put in my best effort and make it happen on Saturday.

Good luck to all my friends who are racing, see you on the course!

Special thanks to Towpath Bike Shop, Tri Running and Walking, Ian Mikelson for getting me ready and of course my parents for making it possible for me to do all the training and racing I do.

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