The Parts They Don’t Talk About – My 2015 Ends With Another Mexican Adventure

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Kicking Off 2015 in Style

2015 has felt like is has been on fast forward. Between being down in Florida for training camp all of February and an amazing 2 week stay in San Diego, we’ve hardly been at home for more than a couple weeks at a time. No complaints though, the travel has brought us to sunshine and warmth and away from the cold and snow of Boston.

Over the last two weeks while we were in San Diego (thanks to an amazing Homestay from Steve and Cathy Holl – can’t thank them enough for their generosity) where we were able to put in some really solid training, enjoy the warmth and beauty of the area as well as prep for our first race of the season at Oceanside, CA.

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Enjoying the sunshine and views along the Oceanside 70.3 run course. Photo taken by Katie Morse.
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Kait on her way to a 12th Place finish in the Women’s Pro Field. Photo taken by Katie Morse

For now we are back in the Northeast to do some big training and watch the Boston Marathon

See more about our training and how our races went in both the videos below. Hope you enjoy and we’ll be back racing at the Texas 70.3 in Galveston on 4.26.15 and Ironman Texas in the Woodlands on 5.16.15.

Operation Oceanside: The Debrief 

Operation Oceanside: Part 2

2014 Ironman Chattanooga

The Prep:

After a solid training camp up in New Hampshire with our fellow QT2 PROs, Kait and I made the quick packing changed and set out on our road trip to Chattanooga. We wrapped up our last week of training before the race  in my hometown on Keuka Lake and were once again back on the road headed South. Chattanooga welcomed us with great weather and amazing home stay that sat atop Signal Mountain. This was my first experience with a home stay and I must say that it will be hard to top! Getting into town on Tuesday we were able to grab a burger with Mac from QR, ride the bike course and spend some time at the expo where we even had our own Autograph session. The lead in to the race was smooth and went by very quick. In no time it was race morning.

The Race:

Literally hanging on by a thread (a rope tied between a party boat and the dock), the race began. A downstream swim yielded very fast times for all. Those top swimmers were still rewarded with a time gap of about 2-3 minutes on the chase pack, but overall setup for a very competitive men’s pro field. Coming out in around 43 minutes I was in the chase pack of about 5 looking to try and make up any time we could on the 20 large leaders train. I made a decision about 20 miles in, to ride my own race and let the others ahead of me inflict their own damage on themselves. It’s a call I made based on my current fitness and what I feel like is smart on the day. This ultimately came down to looking at who was in that pack and how it might impact me personally. In the end it seemed to work out for me as I ended up picking them off both near the end of the bike and the run. It’s a gamble that sometimes pays off and sometimes leaves you left in the dust.

Riding a steady race, mostly solo on the 116 mile course (extended due to permit limitations in Georgia) I rode a 4:46 getting me off the bike in 18th place.

The Bike Split aboard my Quintana Roo PR6

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Never feeling like I was overreaching, I came off the bike feeling ready to run. Over the first 7 miles I felt really good picking up a few people here and there. The hills on the north shore of the river were nasty and made for a run course with more elevation changes than I’d ever seen for an Ironman. The first time through things rolled along smoothly. However, over the final 13 miles those hills began to take a bite out of my legs and the pace slowed a bit. The fade was there for sure but unlike my previous 8 Ironman marathon’s, I held it together and did a good job of damage control. I got passed and passed a couple more over the final 10 miles and finally made it to the finish line in a time of 8:42 with a marathon split of 3:07.

The Run Split with my Brooks Pure Connect’s

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Overall, this race was a great stepping stone and ends the season showing improvement. The swim and bike are coming along steadily and I finally began to scratch the surface of my running potential. I now head into a nice off-seaon break feeling content about how my first Professional season wound up. I learned a lot about racing in the Pro wave and improved a great deal in 2014. Now the only thing to do is get faster for next year so I can truly COMPETE against the best in the world.

And now onto Sugar Heaven for a couple weeks :)…literally. (Funny side note it that I went into this place on Thursday while I was walking downtown and I wanted to get some M & M’s. I filled a bag, about 3/4 of a pound with all cool colors thinking that buying in bulk would be a nice way to get some sweet treats. As it turned out this place charged me up the wazoo! It was $18 bucks for a bag the size of my first. I couldn’t leave it at the counter because I had already mixed all the colors together, so I handed over a $20 and fumed for about 15 minutes until I cooled down and ate those damn M & M’s. Lesson learned!)

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Ironman Texas 2014

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.)

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Pre-race Swim Facilities. Yep, a high school Natatorium. Not bad for high schoolers, eh?

THE RACE:

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.

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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 🙂

Rolling into T2 on my #PR6 Courtesy of Nick @trijuice

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.

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Rolling on the first lap of the Waterway. Still feeling good. Courtesy of Nick @trijuice

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!)

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The Waterslide tower, poolside at The Woodlands Resort.

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.

Some random fun pictures from the trip:

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The Day-After Breakfast, one of the best meals on the planet earth. @ The Egg
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And then I saw this happen. As I was strolling through the open air shopping plaza on Sunday morning I came across a Lululemon store where a whole lot of hoopla was going on. I went inside to see what the big deal was and it turns out there were giving away free tattoo’s to any Ironman finishers…yep…no joke!
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Look closely, I have no idea who these people are but they sure have their priorities in line.

 

Viva La Mexico

“Life Isn’t About Waiting for the Storm to Pass, It’s About Learning to Dance in The Rain” ~Anonymous

Bottom line, I didn’t have my best day down in Los Cabos last Sunday. That is not to say that it was a disappointment by any means. In fact, last Sunday was probably my proudest moment in the sport. In terms of the race, I did a lot of things REALLY well. In fact from a purely non-physical perspective, I nailed the race. Unfortunately it takes many aspects to all come together on one single day for it to be deemed successful.

“CLOCK DON’T LIE”

The week leading into the race started out exceedingly well as I had a whole row of seats to myself on the plane ride from Newark, NJ to Los Cabos, Mexico. I stretched out, took a nap, read a book and in no time I was South of the Border. I waited for a little while in this area –> IMG_0807

Yep, those are fake ATV’s and a fake set of golf clubs on a fake Golf Cart. What appeared to be an arcade for children was really just the sitting area for American Tourists awaiting their pre-packaged, all-inclusive vacation to begin. Eventually after sitting in the golf cart for about 30 minutes, I was informed that there was another terminal at the airport and that was most likely where my friends were who were coming in at the same time. Turns out the nice Mexican gentlemen (who asked for a Tip for that nugget of wisdom) was right and I finally met up with Beth (Schutt) and her mom. Beth is a QT2 athlete and fellow PRO as well.  We got into our rental van and began our Mexican Odyssey.

Beth did a pretty great job of summarizing our lead up to the race. Check out her blog post here –> http://thetrialofmilesmilesoftrials.blogspot.com/2014/04/ironman-cabo-back-story.html

So if you checked out her blog you’d see that Beth, Doug and myself had ourselves quite an interesting week. I even began to make a list on my phone of all the things that went on (this was during the point where we were locked out of our condo). From flat tubulars, to GI Distresses, to Mexican Emergency Rooms, to Rental Car Insurance Claims due to getting sideswiped by a local in the parking garage…it was one hell of a trip!

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If you didn’t follow my advice and didn’t check out Beth’s blog, I’ll give you the cliff notes of why there is a picture of me on a hospital bed. I was heading out for a run on Wednesday morning last week and fell through a Mexican booby trap. As I crossed a dirt path to a sidewalk that led to the beach, where I was going to run because I thought it would be safer than the busy roads (not such a bright idea), a metal door fell out from beneath me and my left leg slammed against the side of whatever it was covering. I didn’t do to much investigating because after I looked at my leg I knew that it wasn’t just a little bruise or cut. Instead what appeared on my leg grossed me out and told me that I needed to get to a hospital. Going to the hospital any day isn’t the greatest, going to the hospital on race week is even less great and going to a hospital on race week in Mexico is downright bad. In any case Doug and Beth were troopers and took me to the nearest one. As I was drifting in and out of consciousness (no, JUST KIDDING, I was completely fine). It took us a little while to make it to the hospital, but in the end we found it and it turned out to be a really great place. I was in the door and had 7 stitches in my leg within 45 minutes. I can now say after having them removed today, that Dr. Musi of Amerimed in Los Cabos, Mexico knows his stuff.  In any case, that’s what went down in Mexico. I can’t thank Beth and Doug for getting me to the hospital and making sure everything was all right. Beth even hung out while I got the stitches…she looked at them being put in and everything too. I was impressed, there was no way I was looking at that!

So with that episode behind me, I pretty much learned that anything can happen at anytime. There’s no true plan, the only plan is to just accept what’s going on in the NOW and make the best of it. So, I did everything humanly possible to take care of myself and ensure that I could get myself to the start line. I was all the way in Mexico for the race, and darn it I wanted my medal and t-shirt! Luckily, the injury to my leg in no way hindered me from racing and did NOT hold me up. I wish I could blame it on the leg, but that’s just not the case.

Race week went on, our rental van got hit in a parking garage and added 3 extra hours of hassles and stresses as we sorted out that matter (it ended up fine and no expenses paid by us), tires went flatter and stomach’s were upset. But in the end Beth, Doug and I were present and accounted for in the Elite Corral as TJ Tollakson pounded a Red Bull 10 minutes before race start and the Mexican Drumline performed a 15 minute version of their National Anthem.

We all had unique days on the course. (See Beth’s Blog http://thetrialofmilesmilesoftrials.blogspot.com/2014/04/ironman-cabo-back-story.html and Doug’s http://dmactri.com for their take)

A quick word of Congratulations to Beth who was the 4th fastest Professional Female. She really hung tough all day and her hard work and perseverance really paid off. Well done!

As for me, I felt pretty flat from the opening siren (yes, they started the race with a crazy police siren thing). Nothing seemed to be firing on all cylinders. It would have been pretty easy to feel real sorry for myself, but I’m proud to say that I learned a lot about myself and a lot about racing, I mean truly racing out there in Cabo. After a sub-par swim, the bike began no better. But damn it, I stuck with it and each loop of the three loop bike course I went faster. I had 112 miles to cover and I wanted to do it as quickly as my body was going to let me on that day. With the bike ending on a high note I started the run very optimistic about the run. I wasn’t going to light the course up, but I felt I was going to manage well enough. Through 15-16 miles it was alright. However, shortly after my legs called it quits making a 10:15 mile very, very HARD. I made peace with this; my day wasn’t going as fast as hoped for anyways, so whats the point in going into a very bad mental place. The only option is to make the best of the situation…and for me that was to enjoy the fact that I was able to race an Ironman, and like I said before I wanted my medal and t-shirt! So I encouraged people who were having better days than me, encouraged those who were having worse. I got to see Linsey head into the finishing chute and gave Beth and earful of good vibes when she passed me. I learned that when your not 100% that dialing it back to 85% is the best chance at salvaging the day. Some days you’ll bounce back and finish strong and other days you’ll just not have it. But in any case there is no Quit in me. I had my first and hopefully only DNF last year at a race, and my vow from that day on forward is to never willfully not finish a race.

So there you have it, IM Los Cabos 2014 was interesting. The race itself took me longer than I wanted but I had a great time and am truly proud of my effort. But race aside, Doug, Beth, her Mom and I had a blast. We all shared some pretty cool experiences and made some great stories. Wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

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I’ll be getting back in the saddle real soon in preparation for Ironman Texas which is in 6 weeks. It will be PRO race #2 and another shot to pit myself against the best in the sport. I can’t wait!

Sidenote: On the bright side, while Doug’s GI System went haywire from the Mexican water, mine seemed to straighten up and began working like never before. Maybe those Mexicans know something we don’t. (Plus the whole bottled water thing HAS to be a scam. Right?)

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Letter Home from Camp

Hi Mom & Dad,

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.

More later, but its lights out now.

Love,

Matt

Onwards and Upwards! (Kona, Boston, PRO & 2014)

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.

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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 –>

Photo on 11-23-13 at 8.23 AM

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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.

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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.

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Until next time, Have a great Holiday Season. Enjoy Christmas and have a very Happy New Year!

Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Days

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!

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