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

I Eat Baby Food (my love for Fuel For Fire)

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A staple of the my Pre-Race breakfast is applesauce. Having applesauce before a race or key workout always seems to throw a wrench at people who hear about it for the first time. However, it really makes a lot of sense. Applesauce is chock full of water (a big plus), easily digestible, very low in fiber (so as to avoid GI distress), has no fat and low in sugar content. Pair the applesauce with a banana and scoop of whey protein and you have the power trio that make up the my Pre-Race Breakfast.

I use this combination of Applesauce, Whey Protein and Banana for all pre-race breakfasts as well as before most long workout days. Its easy on my stomach, gives me plenty of the fuel I require before I set out for a long day and is quick to put together. My trick has always been to cut up the banana, throw it into the applesauce and mix in some chocolate whey protein to complete the bowl of goodness. What this creates is basically a sports nutrition morning soup. Sounds yummy right?

Where am I going with this? Well, that’s where Rob Gilfeather and Fuel For Fire come into the picture. Rob, who like myself has been eating the applesauce breakfast for many years, used his culinary background as a Professional Chef to put together an on-the-go solution to the pre-race/workout breakfast, as well as the “what do I eat between main meals”. The end product that has been created allows for a banana, scoop of whey and applesauce to all be carried in a persons back pocket as they head to the pool for a morning swim, rush between work assignments in the office or as they navigate traffic on the way to an after-work training session. Fuel For Fire is an easy to eat, on the go solution to pre and post workout fueling.

The beauty of FFF is in its simplicity. The ingredients are all natural, and their are only a few. to boot. As a bonus, it is GLUTEN FREE and PALEO friendly. Whether you are a triathlete, Crossfit connoisseur, Marathoner, or a 60 hour a week Accountant looking for a healthy snack at the desk; do yourself a favor and check these guys out. www.fuelforfire.com.

How I use:

-In-car snack while making the long drives all over the country

-A quick snack during work. No prep time required, just unscrew the cap and go.

-A go to grab as I get out of the pool and head to my car after the morning’s workout.

-An easy to digest snack between workouts, so as to not upset my stomach so I am primed to nail my next session without any GI distress.

Twenty Fourteen

Wow, it is 2014. I will have been out of high school for 10 years this June, out of college for 6 and out of the Corporate World for 3. It’s truly astounding how quickly life can change courses. 6 years ago I would have never placed myself where I am at right now. With that said, where I am at is fantastic! I am happy, satisfied and at the same time eager for what is ahead.

2014 is a chance for me to take it to the next level in triathlon. To race Professionally and gain the experience necessary to truly compete with the world’s best. To do so will require utmost attention to detail. The swimming, biking and running are the easy part. Getting enough sleep, enough recovery, eating right, reducing stressors, etc… is the hard part. With taking care of the details the hard work put in through training will not be able to show through. Thus, its up to me to take care of the little things.

So here’s what I’ve got planned so far for 2014:

In February I will be heading south to Clermont, FL where I will be spending the better part of a month in dedicated training mode. During this period, QT2 Systems Founder and Head Coach, Jesse Kropelnicki will be leading a focused and intense 17 day camp for all QT2 Team Professionals. This camp does not include making friendship bracelets and roasting marshmallows over the fire. It is a camp to push athletes to get the most out of themselves. A camp that will be used to lay the foundation for a massive 2014 season. It is not a camp for the weak minded. No matter how physically strong you are, if you are weak in the mind you will inevitably crumble. A theme that has been reinforced this offseason by my coach and mentor, Tim Snow. It is a theme that can be seen in all walks of life. A person can be the best professional in their chosen career, the smartest or the one who has the most credentials/best grades. Yet, if they aren’t there mentally. If they aren’t willing to give 100% at all times then they are no better than a shmuck off the street. Believe me, I’ve been on the other side, when you know you aren’t there mentally. It’s a tough thing to deal with, especially for someone like myself and COUNTLESS others like me who live by the mantra of “ALL OR NOTHING”. Mental Fitness is huge and as important as any physical gains I achieve, will be the mental ones as well. Sitting here writing this already is giving me the chills. It’s not that I am scared, it’s more of that fact that I know I will have to push myself into the uncomfortable places. The places that feel so great to be in and to have been in, but are hard to get there. Its that 6 hour ride where the first 2 feel like pure agony and the last hour is bliss. Without the pain and struggle the achievements wouldn’t feel as good.

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With camp under my belt I will look to springboard that fitness into my first race as a professional. I will be traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico to compete in Ironman Los Cabos on March 30th. Racing about 4 weeks after camp will be great as it will get me away from the cold in the Northeast and get the first professional experience under my belt. From there I will take a very short break and get back at it in preparation for Ironman Texas on May 17th. Building a solid foundation this winter will be imperative towards my success in these two races. I am really looking forward to taking on this challenge as it will truly test me.

I am grateful for the support of my parents who are my number 1 fans, QT2 Systems for their coaching and guidance, Quintana Roo for their machines (bikes) that will help me ride at Turbeau-Velocity (which means “wicked fast” with a Boston accent of course), as well as their tremendous support for myself as well as all QT2 Athletes (ps, check out their twitter handle @quintanarootri for the latest piece of triathlon coolness. Hint: It has two wheels and requires pedaling to move and the picture is at the bottom of my post), Brian Hughes at Fast:Splits as he not only employs me but spends countless hours helping me make sure my equipment is ready to roll, Normatec for keeping me up to speed with the latest in Recovery Technology, Powerbar for helping to provide me with the optimal nutrition to allow me to perform at my utmost and of course my girlfriend Kaitlin who keeps me balanced and gets me through the tough patches that come along with training and racing, makes me dinner, puts up with my love of brussels sprouts and the list goes on. You should actually follow her even more carefully than me…she’s way faster!

For more information on the QT2 Systems Elite Team Sponsors click HERE. Tell them Turbeau sent you!

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QR SNEAK PEEK:

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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!

Ironman Lake Placid 2013

This year’s IMLP journey started while I was spectating the 2012 edition.  I was trying to decide on an Ironman for 2013 and after experiencing the energy that Lake Placid exudes on race week as well as race day I knew that I wanted to race this course again.  Come Monday morning after the race I jumped on my computer and secured my 2013 slot.

In 2010 Lake Placid was my first Ironman and since then triathlon has evolved from simply a fun outlet to a true passion and way of life.  Thus, racing the 2013 edition really meant a lot to me as it was a bit of a culmination of almost 4 years of hard work dating back to the summer of 2009.  I’ve made decisions in my life and chose certain routes to allow me to make triathlon a priority and having something validate those decisions means a lot to me personally.  So leading into this years race I really afforded myself the opportunity to train hard and train focused.  I was able to have a solid start to the year in Texas and continued improving through May and June.  After an early June race at the REV 3 Quassy half, the rest of the month was more or less spent in Lake Placid where swam, rode and ran a bunch.  Getting to know the course on a very personal level…and also spending some quality camping time with the one and only Tim Snow aka “The Pride of Brockton, MA”.  After the time in LP and a few solid weeks of busting my hump in Brockton, MA, I headed back to LP to prepare for race day.

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Race week went by quickly with a few decent workouts to get the body ready to really put out on Sunday.  Once Friday afternoon hit, it was time to eat and rest.  Oh yeah, as you can see in the above photo from Saturdays “Big Breakfast” my buddies (The Strater Brothers) and I got the clippers out on Wednesday night and did some creative work on each others heads.  Don’t worry though, my head is back to normal now.

After breakfast on Saturday I spent most of the day laying in bed along with the quick trip down to transition to drop my bike off.  Sometime that night I drifted off to sleep until 3am.  Race morning went by quickly and before I knew it I was laying on the beach listening to Mike Reilly give pre-race directions.  With 15 minutes to go until the AG start I popped my Powergel and swam over to the swim start line.  This year’s race incorporated a new rolling swim start whereby each competitor assembled into a line that was determined by their approximate swim pace.  I made my way to the 60 minute and under group and started asking around as to what people were going to swim.  I ended up being surrounded by 58-60 min swimmers.  In reality it didn’t matter that much as there were only about 20-25 of us at the front of the swim start line, so once the gun went off I was in the water within 3 seconds.  In fact I was taken by surprise since I thought I’d have a good 30 seconds cushion from when the gun went off and I’d get in the water.  None the less I hustled in the water, running around a few people who were gingerly getting into the water and began my day.  The first loop was nice.  With the new rolling swim start a decent pace line of sub 1 hour swimmers was formed and we moved through the first 1.2 miles pretty quickly.  Coming in around 29 minutes flat.  The second loop ended up being a but slower due to the fact that we had caught up to the slower swimmers, who had entered the water about 17 minutes after we did.  That loop ended up feeling like we were swimming through a minefield. Constant dodging and weaving to avoid the masses of people swimming.  In the end I exited the water right around 59 minutes.

Swim: 59:22 – 8th in AG, 92nd Overall

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Just about time!

Transition went by smoothly as I was able to locate my bags, change in a relatively clear tent and my bike was waiting for me as I ran through transition thanks to an astute volunteer.  Once I was on the bike some muscle near in the vicinity of my butt was really agitated.  Maybe it was a cramp or something…and it HURT!  With 112 miles ahead of me I wasn’t to happy to find it hard to pedal at mile 1.  I put down a couple salt tablets and drank a bottle as I soft peddled the first 4-5 miles.  By the time I was climbing my way towards Keene things began to feel a bit better and I was able to start putting down some power.  The muscle tightness never really went away all day but it got to a point where it was manageable to race, so it ended up being all good.

On the bike with the cramp more or less behind me I felt very comfortable.  I knew that the climbing and descents were where I could really make up time.  The first descent was a little dicey due to the wet roads and rain coming down.  Glasses were a must to protect the eyes against the rain drops that felt like little pebbles hitting me.  The glasses made it hard to see the road, so a little caution was used while going down the hill.  Even backing off a little bit I was able to pass a few racers and even went by a couple Pro racers who had an 8 minute head start on me.  After the descent it was onto the flat section towards Jay and Ausable Forks.  During both loops this section was pretty quick as we had a slight tailwind, which was nice.  Heading towards Ausable Forks on the out and back I was able to see where I was in relation to the pro field as well as where I was in the amateur race too.  Since I started so close to the swim start (within 5-10 seconds) I knew that I was truly racing those in front of me for the most part.  For reference on where I was in relation to the big guys, Andy Potts was coming up on the right hand turn to the climb up to Wilmington as I was stating the out and back section.

The first loop went by very well and I was feeling good and strong as I went through town.  I held myself in check as I went through town among the masses of cheering people and began the climb for the second time.  The descent on the second loop was much better as the roads had dried out and the rain had stopped.  I worked the downhill as best as possible and hit the flats again.  The last 28 miles coming back from Ausable Forks and along 86 which passes by Whiteface Mtn and finishes with the infamous “bear” hills definitely got a bit tougher and I had to dig a little deeper than the previous loop.  In any case I knew I was in a good position overall and I wanted to get back to T2 and start running.

Bike: 5:06 – 1st in AG, 14th Overall

T2 like the first went very smoothly.  Coming in when I did off the bike allowed me to have the whole changing tent to myself.  I had two volunteers catering to my every need.  After the change it was onto the run course to try and keep the good times rolling.  The first loop was absolutely lovely.  I felt great and for the first 8 miles I had the whole course to myself.  It was really an awesome experience to be in the race and running solo along River Rd to the turn around.  I was in the void between the PROs battling it out for the win and the Age Groupers chasing them.  I knew I had a few AG’ers out in front of me so I was very interested to get to the out and back at mile 6 and see where I was.  I ended up learning that I was in 4th place with 20 miles to go.  A LONG TIME!  Which was good and bad.  Heading back into town the first time I was still feeling good, seeing more and more people as you get closer to town is a great feeling and really makes those hills not feel as steep.  However, once I made the turn in town to head back out on my 2nd loop I knew something wasn’t exactly right.  The best way I can explain it is that I was losing energy and just didn’t have that same pep in my step as I had during the first loop.  It was right around mile 14 when Tim Snow, my training partner of late came by me.  I had passed him on the second loop and been ahead ever since.  It was definitely a motivating factor for me to try and stay ahead of him as long as possible since he’s a crusty veteran who can never be counted out when it comes to the run.  I tried my best to keep him in sight as we made our way out onto River Rd., but eventually he turned a corner and that was that.  I suffered a good deal on that second loop, the miles 14-22 were really rough.  It’s something I have to work on in order to be truly competitive.  Luckily, I will have another shot at 26.2 off the bike in a couple months.

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Excuse me guys

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Run: 3:14 – 2nd in AG, 16th Overall

I ended up finishing in 9:26 which put me in 16th place overall and 2nd in my Age Group.  I accepted my Kona Qualifying spot and thus will be focusing on getting ready to compete in Kona this October.  I can’t wait to get back to the big island and try for some redemption on the Queen K.

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Getting that banana down as I head out on the run.

I want to take thank all those who have helped make this day possible.  First off my parents for helping me along on this adventure.  They support me fully and completely, always come and cheer for me and I absolutely could not do any of this without them.  Next is QT2 Systems for all their coaching and support.  In particular I have to give a big thank you to QT2 Coach, Tim Snow who ended up training me into shape during June and July.  Also, all the QT2 Team Sponsors that allow me to train, race and recover with the best products possible.  Normatec and their boots keep my legs and body feeling as fresh as possible, and I have to say that getting right in the boots immediately post race in Lake Placid has made a tremendous difference on my recovery.  No cankels for this guy! Rudy Project for the sunglasses and helmets that keep me looking good (and safe) while training and racing. Pearl Izumi for our race day kits and all the other apparel for daily training. Dr. Sears Omega Rx Fish Oil for keeping all the inflammation in my body down.  And of course Towpath Bikes for equipping me with some really fast gear.

Before I left Lake Placid I had to stop in to one of the nicest coffee shops in the world.  This little place in the Alpine Mall (the one connected to the Golden Arrow) has one of the nicest views you can get while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.  Here, check it out!

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