Monday, November 15, 2010

Out of Gas (IM 70.3 World Championship Race Report)

Now that I'm back home and have had plenty of time to reflect on my race last Saturday in Clearwater, I've concluded what went well and what went really wrong. First off, before I start dogging myself, I'd like to thank my family and friends for supporting me and God for providing the ability to compete in such a huge race and to even do this crazy sport.
Ok.. Race day, I woke up before my alarm went off (rare) feeling excited and ready to get this day started. I had such a good feeling leading up to Saturday, almost like nothing could go wrong. I ate a somewhat small breakfast (still being full from the pizza I downed the night before) and headed out to the transition. Luckily some dude with a golf cart gave me a ride down to the start (roughly little over a half mile away), which was nice because I didn't need to be on my feet anymore than necessary. After the usual pre race bike check, I chilled out for 2+ hours on the beach listening to my ipod. My start wave, 29 and under, started last at 8:00am, an hour and 25 minutes after the pros. So by the time we got underway, the wind had started to pick up, which meant, with it being an ocean swim, it had started to get pretty choppy and rocky a half mile out to sea. The chop, along with the buoys drifting apart slightly, along with weaving in and out of slower age groupers made for a tough swim. Miraculously, I navigated the course pretty well (if I do say so myself) and exited in 26:57, which I thought was pretty good considering the lead pack of pros did it around 24 minutes in much more ideal conditions. I believe I was in 10th place at the time of my exit.

I jumped on my bike and took off at an olympic distance pace, knowing that I needed to go hard and find some faster guys to pace and work with so I didn't get caught in a fat pack of 50 people sucking each others wheels. Somewhere around mile 4 I hit a pile of concrete and heard something "clink" under me. I looked down and sliding on the ground directly under my right foot was my aero water bottle filled with perpetuem.. my only nutrition for the day. Hmm, I could stop and loose time to pick it up or go on and pick up powerbar drinks at the aid stations. I decided to just keep going (probably because I felt good at the time) which would be a big mistake. I never found anyone to pace with the entire ride. I began to hate this bike course the longer I rode. I would just see massive pack upon massive pack flying in the opposite direction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hypocritically claiming that I had a "clean" race by any means. I was in the slip stream of the slower riders I passed in front of me, but I never sat in a pack and got the benefit of a "draft"the entire time. Not to mention it was windy. It felt like a constant head wind for the first 25 miles and in various places on the back half of the course. I remember specifically, at mile 50 my legs started to really hurt. I hadn't had anything but water for the first 25 miles, then only powerbar drinks, passing by aid stations after that. So being a little under 3 hours into this race, I was already bonking.

The Run (or jog)
I got off my bike feeling encouraged though. I've been doing so much running lately, that I was sure I could overcome my nutrition deficit to finish this race in my goal time. I felt great for the first 3-4 miles, averaging low 6 minute miles. I purposefully held back a bit, knowing that this was not an olympic distance race (like my body had been use to in the past month), I'd have to pace myself correctly in order to conserve energy. I hit the 6 mile marker in 39 minute exactly. I started to slow after I went up and over the bridge again, the legs were starting to feel heavy. It must have been funny for my family to watch this next portion of the race unfold. They were standing about a quarter of a mile away from the turnaround of the second lap. So they saw me go by feeling pretty good, running around a mid 6 minute mile. Then as soon as I hit the turn around, I lost my momentum and rhythm and went into survival mode. As I ran past my family, literally just 3-4 minutes later, I was a completely different person. I looked like I was about to fall over. All I could think about was how hungry I was. My stomach was eating itself and my muscles were on fire. I ran past someone cooking cheeseburgers and I would've paid $100 to have just a bite of one. I staggered thru an aid station and grabbed a handful of pretzels. The second they entered my mouth, it dried up like a desert. Coke, and more coke was all I drank for the remainder of the race. It was the only thing that I wanted... sugar, carbonation and calories, and immediately. I ran miles 7-10 at a snail's pace. People were trying to encourage me but nothing was working. I was out of energy. It sucked because my heart rate probably wasn't even above 120. My muscles were just so exhausted. I didn't even feel like I was working aerobically, I was watching the ground moving slowly under me, thinking to myself "dang I'm really going slow.. my mom could probably outrun me right now". After I crossed up and over the bridge for a 3rd time, I dove into the coke at an aid station. Three cups. About a minute later, it was like my legs turned on. I could move them again. I started to cautiously pick up the pace and stretch out my strides. After crossing the last timing mat, I knew I only had three+ miles to go. Looked at my watch and said "I don't care how tired I am.. I have to break 1:30 today". Just like that, I started running low 6's again. Ran past 4 guys in my age group going up the bridge one last time and didn't look back going down it. I flew past one more guy in my age group in the last mile and knew I was home free. Just happy to be done with this race, I crossed the finish line with an underachieving 1:28 half marathon and 4:12 overall on the day. Ended the day in 14th place in my division and 110th overall. Compared to 19th in my division last year and 202 overall.

I improved my time by 4 minutes on a tougher course, in tougher conditions, with no nutrition other thank coke and water. I know I could've run well under a 1:25 which makes me upset, but you learn from your mistakes. Am I happy with 14th place?... not at all. However, the positives of this race outweigh the negatives by a good amount. I've got to remember too that this isn't a local sprint tri, it's a world championship, so the level of competitiveness is much higher. It has been a good year, and the races that have been my "A" races, I've done well in. (California 70.3 3rd, Hawaii 70.3 2nd, Vineman 70.3 1st, Alcatraz 1st).

So yet again, I just have more motivation to work harder this next year and keep improving. I'm going have my good friend, the speedy Mike Clinch, help coach and work with me this offseason to achieve some major improvements in my running, which is feeling stronger every day.

I'd like to thank family, friends, and B+L bike and sport for all of your support.. my girlfriend Lindsey Addie for putting up with all of my training and ridiculousness, and Jesus for saving such an unworthy person. I couldn't be where I am with out you!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clearwater - IM 70.3 World Championship (Pre Race)

Well, it's been an interesting last month or so. Came out of my last 4 races feeling horrible. I've been sick ever since my race in Alabama and finally went to the doctor and got rid of it last week. I've managed to get in some decent training in the presence of me feeling like crap but it hasn't been too solid. Nonetheless, I'm feeling really strong going into this race. Mentally, I'm probably the strongest I've ever been right now. I want this race more than any other I've competed in. I experienced everything about this course last year and I know what to expect, it's just a matter of doing in on Saturday. Last weekend, I had a little moment of relief when I blew out of my "slow" running rut, that I've been in the last 4 months. I won the November SDTC triathlon with a nicely paced 21:56 4 mile run. Not only did I finally start running fast, but it was a pace that I felt I could sustain for much longer. It doesn't matter this week though, all that matters is what I do on race day.
This is going to be a really competitive field like last year, where the winners of my division were running 1:15 and 1:16 half marathon splits. I definitely don't have that kind of capability right now but I know I can put up a strong run. I've never broken a 1:30 half (in a 70.3) before, so anything under that will be a success. I'm also feeling quite strong swimming as well. I've hit 26:00 on the dot three times this year in a 2k swim, but never gone under that. I feel like I can break it right now if we're given somewhat clean conditions. Who really knows what is going to happen in the bike. This bike course is flat and narrow and packs forming are unavoidable. So I could end up going 2:30 or 2:00.. you never know. My goal is to race to the capability to which I know I can. I don't expect to be throwing down 5:45 miles but I know I can run a lot faster than 1:30. My body may be lagging a bit from being sick right now but mentally I'm way fired up. I just pray that God gives my body the strength to do what I know I can do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Part II: The beginning of the end (of the season)

Finally.. I thought this day would never come. Four weeks ago, I kicked off my first of what would be an extremely painful series of Olympic distance races. I was unpleasantly surprised in my first race (the San Diego Classic) that I had actually gotten worse at running. Didn't think that was actually possible. However, I saw a major improvement in my cycling. In my first year of racing, I would just go as hard as possible in all three sports and it would all kind of equal out. But as I improved at each discipline, I was able to put in a greater effort and use up much more energy in one sport, resulting in a lack of energy (that I expected to be present) in the next sport. So while I'm racing and going as hard as I can on the bike leg of a race, I pay for it in the run. I'm coming to find out triathlon is all about balance, and as evidence of the Ironman World Championship last weekend, it's easy to see the guys who go balls out on the bike, end up dead on the run and fade out. It was great to watch Chris McCormack's race, because he pushed it in the bike, but only to a point, then when the run came he was in a decent position, with plenty of energy left to put out a strong run. He didn't have the fastest bike split of the day, and he didn't have the fastest run, but they were balanced perfectly. It's harder than it sounds, but pacing is one of the biggest parts of long course racing.

AG National Championship (ALABAMA)
I was pretty excited about this trip for a few reasons; I've never spent time in the South before, and I've always wanted to, the race is the same course for Collegiate Nationals this year, and lastly, it was a National Championship. It was awesome to have the city of Tuscaloosa host the event (which is basically just The University of Alabama), they were really supportive of the race and everyone was friendly and helpful. As the raced approached, I was feeling really good physically and mentally. I went for a little ride/run the day before the race and felt amazing. Race day, I was surprisingly calm and confident.

As the 29 and under wave lined up in the river along the dock, I got an odd spot, right in the middle of everyone. Not too stoked, because my strategy was to all out sprint to the first buoy to make sure I could be in position in the lead pack. I hate battling a big crowd to get out in front. Sure enough they didn't announce the the gun going off so I missed my usual quick jump on the pack to sprint past everyone. I fell victim to the chaos of the crowd. I've only gotten stuck in the pack at the beginning of a race a few times (my first race, Hawaii 70.3 both years, and this race). Each time I haven't gotten past everyone, I've had a horrible swim. Needless to say, I had a horrible swim. I couldn't get past these big doofy guys taking up space, splashing around like they knew what they were doing. By the time I worked my way out of the pack of "non-swimmers", I poked my head up and saw that the lead pack was a good minute ahead of me. There was no chance of catching up to them so I put my head down and pushed the hardest
sustainable pace I could. Unfortunately, the swim was a complete solo effort. There was no one around me swimming my pace, I was constantly passing guys that somehow got in front of me.
When I exited the swim, I didn't get down about it and knew if I was going to do anything great today, I'd have to push the bike pretty hard. I seemed to only get faster the longer I went on the bike, and to my advantage, it was hilly! I was passing dudes left and right and felt great. I decided to really put down the hammer on the second lap and floored it. I caught a big pack of guys in my age group all drafting off each other at the bottom of a hill. As I passed all of them going up the hill I shouted "nice peleton guys" (referring to draft-legal cycling) and three of them jumped on my tail and started drafting off me! Two of these losers actually hung with me until the end of the bike. When I dismounted I checked my watch and saw my split was 58:45 (which I later found out was a little off due to me hitting my watch a minute late). So it gave me a little confidence that I had just biked under an hour on a hilly course in a National event.
I threw on my shoes and booked it out of transition. I flew past a dude that was drafting off me, within 20 feet after I ran out of T2 and wanted yell "Man's Game Bitch!" (Jim Rome reference) in his face but restrained and smiled at him. God was probably getting me back... after running a blazing 5:20 first mile, my stomach cramped up and forced me to stop. After standing on the side of the road for a good 30-45 seconds, I started running again, determined to push through it. My legs just felt way too good for my stomach to ruin my day. I hit the first hill and recognized the guy that got 4th last year in Collegiate Nationals 20 seconds ahead of me. I got really amped and charged up. My day ended seconds later, when I threw up. The pain of my side stitch was out of control and I knew this run was not going to happen. I tried to walk for a bit to see if it would subside.. Nope. So I sat in the shade (did I mention that it was 90+ with heavy dirty south humidity?) with my head between my legs throwing up disappointment. I won the DNF group handily through.

My trip got a lot brighter when I watched the elite race later that day. It was awesome to see those guys go at it in a fast paced ITU (draft-legal) style race. I rarely get to see races, as I'm in most of them, so it's great to watch the best and learn from them. The next morning in the airport heading home, I was on the phone with my dad and sat down at my gate in seats on the opposite side of the only other two people in the terminal. As I hung up the phone, I glanced over my shoulder and noticed I was sitting next to Greg and Laura Bennett (two of the best Triathletes in the world, who had not only raced in the elite race the day before, but Laura won the female elite race by a dominate margin). I introduced myself to them and they were two of the nicest people I've ever met. I learned that Greg had to drop out of his race because of the same problem, stomach cramps around the first mile. I talked with them for over 45 minutes and they were really inspirational and encouraging, to say the least. So I came back from Alabama with a disappointing race but a lot more motivation to keep improving.
LA Triathlon & OC Triathlon
I realize this post is getting long, so I'll wrap it up. With great timing, I got sick the day I got back from Bama. I guess something has been going around :-/ So I couldn't train all week and was forced to lay around with a lingering flu. Had it not been for my good friend David's hospitality, I probably wouldn't have gone up to race. I didn't have a great race, performance wise. It wasn't pretty (snotty and mucusy) but I was proud of myself for pushing through it. I ended up taking first in the Collegiate Division, but the good/elite collegiate guys weren't out there so...
OC was basically a really good training day. I had an ok swim (kinda hard being the last wave, pushing people out of your way), a really easy bike, I didn't push it too hard knowing the run was all hills, and a decent run, running a hard & hilly course a minute 30 faster than I did the previous year. I won the 20-24 division and I believe came in 2nd in the amateur field.

Now the real fun begins as I start my build for Clearwater. I feel my running legs are finally coming up to speed and I'll be able to get my endurance stronger. Thanks to all my family and friends for supporting me! I'll keep you updated

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Alcatraz & 4 Races in 4 Weeks: Part I

Been a little while since my last update.. I apologize, but I promise to make up for the lack of info with a sweet little two-part post. I believe I last talked about Hawaii on the blog. This race had much more of an affect on me that I realized. After analyzing that race, came to the conclusion that my cycling was weak sauce. I flat out got beat on the bike and had been concentrating so much on my run that I'd forgotten about cycling. I ran a 1:30 on an extremely tough course where Luke Bell (one of the best iron-distance pros today) ran a 1:23. So when I got home,I basically put my running on the back burner and worked on cycling. By the time the Vineman 70.3 rolled around in late July, I had gained around 5lbs of muscle in my legs (which doesn't sound like much, but when you take into account I've weighed 148lbs for the last 4-5 years, it's a pretty big thing). My swim and bike were really strong and they had improved a lot, which was evident in racing Vineman. I ended up winning the 20-24 division by just over a mintue, but only after having one of the worst half-marathon runs of my life. I'll never forget going for a run the day before the race and realizing that I hadn't actually ran in over a week. It felt awkward and I actually forgot my form completely.

After Vineman, I continued to train my strengths of Cycling and Swimming and ignore running more. This was a really smart decision... but not really. I had the San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz coming up at the end of August and really wanted to show off my swim in this race. The race course was catered to my strengths (somewhat). Tough swim (1.2 miles from the
island), hilly and technical bike course (25 miles), and tough/hilly off-road 7 mile run. Aside from the run, I thought I could really put down some time on people in the swim and bike. For the most part, that's how the race unfolded. Race morning, I woke up early, biked to the transition, set up and shuttled over to the docks to board the boat and head out to Alcatraz.
The race started off by jumping off the ferry and swimming to the shore. The problem was.... I had no freaking idea to where we were supposed to be swimming to. There were no markers and they told us on the boat to swim towards the Ghirardelli's sign (which, I knew was nowhere near our target destination). The pros got a 15 second head start on the AGs. So I quickly devised a plan that I could be the first off the boat, dive and catch up to the back of the pack of pros and hang on to that pack and be in ok shape. Cause lets face it, you really cant trust swimming in a pack of age groupers, who knows where you'll end up, especially swimming blind in the middle of the SF bay. My plan actually worked and when I jumped off the boat, I sprinted to latch on to the back of the pro group.
I swam with this group for probably 10-12 minutes (maybe 800/900 meeters). I didn't even look where we were heading towards, to be honest, I was just concerned with staying on someone's feet.
Right around then I felt a side current come out of no-where and split the group up into two. I "pulled a Keith" and stopped swimming for a second to check out my position, do some quick sight seeing, have a chat with God, then decided to start swimming again. After my little 2 second break, noticed that I had fallen off the pack. Once you fall off the pro pack, unless your name is Andy Potts or Kosuke, your not catching back up. So the second half of this adventure was a solo effort, trying to figure out where I was actually swimming to. I still managed to have one of the better swims of the day, getting to shore in 30 minutes. The bike course was tough... I really took delight in catching up to the big powerful cyclists on the steep climbs, then getting smoked on the descents and turns and feeling depressed. I had a decent ride but was running out of gas around mile 20, just using all of my matches by powering up all the climbs. Got to the run and felt really good for the 1st 2 miles. In fact, I hit the 2 mile mark in 11:25. Then the hills start. That's where I threw in the towel and decided to go into survival mode.
I couldn't run up these hills to save my life. I just hadn't done much running to have any significant speed. Then right as I got into a rhythm, we hit the deep sand on the beach and had to climb the dreaded "sand ladder", which is basically a vertical climb up a, yes, sand ladder. I think I ended up running a 7:10 pace when all said and done. Anyways, I hung on to win the Collegiate division by 3-4 minutes.

Four Races
Now comes a pretty significant 4 weeks out of my year. I have 4 Olympic distance races (well, 3 after last week) in 4 weeks. All of them are pretty big races. Last week I raced the San Diego Classic at Liberty Station in Point Loma. I feel like I had a big advantage on the bike course, because it goes through my standard training rout to the point and back. The race went alright. I raced in the Pro division (with Chris McCormack) and again fell off the lead pack on the swim near the last 800 meters. Luckily, I only came out 50 seconds behind the leaders. I had great bike ride, considering I repetitively pulled an "Andy Schleck" and my chain came off on three seperate occasions while downshifing into the small ring. I lost a good amount of time getting off and fixing the problem. Still managed to have a decent ride though. I had, and I quote, the WORST 10k run of my life. I don't know what I was doing. It was disgraceful.

Luckily, I've asked my good friend Mike Clinch (a great runner(/triathlete) himself), to help coach my running. As of right now, I'm trying to find my leg speed again. I have the AG National Championship in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this Saturday, so we'll see how this race goes.. There are a lot of really good guys racing this weekend, so I'll have to bring my "A game" to be competitive. I'm feeling really motivated to do well. My parents and grandparents are helping me out quite a bit to get over there and race, so I have a lot of drive. It'll also be fun to watch the Elite race right after mine. A lot of the best Pros in the world will be competing for quite a bit of cash, so that'll be fun to watch. This will be a fun experience and I'm excited about it. I have no doubt in my mind that these 4 Olympic distance races will get my running legs up to decent speed before the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater this November.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hawaii blog part II

Huge difference of this year’s race from last year’s. I went from 136th place overall and 8th on my division to 34th overall and 2nd in my division (by 33 seconds). My main focus wasn’t really to do well in my division, but overall. I’ve already qualified for Clearwater, and I’m not taking the slot for the full Ironman in Kona this year, so doing well in my division is kind of pointless.

The Race:

Swim:The start of the Hawaii 70.3 is stupid. It’s a mass in-water start where everyone battles for position, lined up between two buoys while the current keeps pushing people out to sea. Basically, you’re tired before the race even starts. When the cannon goes off, you bolt 300-400 meters to the first buoy, then everyone makes a hard rightto the second buoy to complete a clockwise circle back around to the beach. This start is a problem, because there are 1,600 athletes that don’t have much separation in 300-400 meters and all collide at the first buoy at once. Chaos. I’m really upset at the swim that I had for two reasons. One, I pride myself on being a decent swimmer, and two, I’ve been working really hard this past month on my

swim and actually made some decent progress. Anyways, I got stuck in a fat pack at the first buoy and got the usual kicks to the head and nose as well as taking in unwanted water. I tried to get around the slow moving pack which I realized was a mistake because as I moved outside I just ended up swimming in chop (it was quite windy as well). I later came to the realization that I hardly sighted the course buoys at all, which might have been part of the problem. When I did look up I was around 50-100 meters out to sea of the buoys paralleling the beach.

When I got out of this dumb swim, I

looked at my watch and saw 30 minutes had gone by. Good heavens! A 30 minute 2k swim??? Wow, it was choppy and there were currents but I’m not that bad. Frustrating to look at the people coming out of the water with you and see overweight ladies. I was so angry I bolted thru the first transition (probably knocking a few people over

that were struggling to run up the hill to T1) and hopped on my bike with serious frustration. I noticed Marc’s bike had already gone and that made me even more upset because I’m always around, if not a little ahead of Marc’s swim times and he can freaking kill it on the bike course so I knew I had some serious work to do.


I believe I was in the top 100 out of the swim and within the first 4.2 miles I had made up more than 40 places. I cooled it a bit, relaxed and found a good pace after the first 10 miles. Battled through some wind and hills and passed even more people on the climb up to Hawi. At the turnaround in Hawi, I saw Marc about a minute or two a head of me, and I had actually gained some time in the first 30 miles. I was happy about that and the fact that we had 5-6 miles of downhill with a tailwind coming up too. As I tucked into the most aero position I could get, flooring it for 6 miles, the lower back cramps came on pretty strong. My speed dropped way

down and I just tried to take salts and water. I had to get out of the aero position for a wile and this probably cost me a few minutes, at least. The cramps went away on the last 6 or 7 miles in to T2. I passed a good sized group of around 10 people, all drafting off each other like d-bags, and flew into T2 feeling pretty good (and hydrated).


Came out of a 1 minute transition dreading the next 13.1 miles. It beat me up so bad last year that I was determined to beat it up this year. This course consists of grass, hills, cart paths, asphalt, more grass, and a 3 mile road going thru a lava field that leaves you mentally and physically drained. I really regret starting off so dang slow on the first 5k. I wanted to make sure I didn’t bonk (like I always do) after 5k, so I played it really conservative and paced easy 7 minute miles. I saw marc a bit after the 5k turnaround and knew he had some serious time on me, maybe 4+ minutes. He didn’t look too hot though (or just the opposite, looked like the heat was getting to him). I know Marc and he’ll push through it though. So I kept my head

down and just focused on my pacing. I went down a big slopping hill and had a little laugh, because this was the place where I threw in the towel last year and started walking. I felt great actually. I got to the bottom and as I turned to head up the hill, picked up the pace greatly. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ran up this .5 mile hill faster than I ran down it. I found my rhythm and passed a guy in my age division that bolted past me just before the 5k marker like he was running a 5k. I hit the zone and started running low 6 minute miles, concentrating only on my stride (and stuffing as much ice into my shirt as possible). As I ran onto the asphalt road splitting a lava field, that for whatever reason was pure humidity and heat, I saw Marc again, looking like he was about to pass out. He was still a good minute or two ahead of me, with 5k to go. I knew I probably wasn’t going to catch him but there were a ton of dudes that I knew I could. So I booked it, and took out everything left in the tank on the last 5k. I passed three guys at the next aid station, then two guys on the golf course on the last mile. When I saw I couldn’t catch the next 4 guys running a head of me I slowed down and soaked in my finish. I realized that Marc had just finished 30 seconds before me in that group of guys. Bummer ;) 3 more miles and I’d have passed 15 more people at least, I felt so good.

All in all it was an awesome race and an always amazing time in Hawaii. Marc and I went out the next day motoscootering around. Definitely a highlight. Can’t wait to go back again. I’m looking forward to racing Vineman 70.3 next month. It should be fun… and word on the street is that a few of the west coast collegiate guys are competing. Gonna be a fun time for sure! Back to training.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hawaii Part I

Well, I finally made it back to Hawaii.. So happy right now. This has basically been the gold at the end of the rainbow (really gay analogy, but it's the best I can do right now). The last 4 months has been the semester from Hell, and I don't feel one bit of guilt not thinking about school right now. Thankfully, I've been able to do a couple of little local sprint races this last month, which basically just served as good brick sessions. I got 1st in my division in the Encinitas Sprint and 14th overall, only a few min back from Macca and Luke Bell. I also won my first race, which was cool. I did a San Diego Tri Club race on fiesta island a week ago or so ago and came out 40+ seconds ahead of my buddy Michael Clinch, (which I was stoked about, because that guy can fly on the run). Very cool to finally win a race and I thank God for the ability to do so.

After a slight scramble at the airport on Sunday, I made it here in one piece (with the exception of my bike, which was in many pieces, but has since then been reassembled). I'm pretty excited about the bike leg of this race.. B&L Bikes (which I recently started working at) was kind enough to lend me a pair of Zipp race wheels. Man, they are fast. Also, having knowledge of the bike course this year is paying off. Getting here a week early and riding the course is quite nice, so I know when and where to push it and where to take it easy so I don't blow up.

I have such a love-hate relationship with the Big Island. Probably one of the nicest places on earth. I swam for an hour yesterday, admiring all of the sea life swimming under me in crystal clear water. The bike course is amazing, as it parallels the coast the entire way and has semi-truck sized bike lanes to ride in. However, this is Hawaii, where great feelings of confidence and energy can be wiped away with a searing heat wave or a relentless head wind.

I had a pretty ridiculous ride yesterday. Nothing is more frustrating/depressing than biking 30 miles into a head wind averaging 18-20 mph on a full out effort, then upon turning around you find the winds have changed and you get a headwind on the way back as well. This was just my luck yesterday. You know it's bad when you're watching the plants on the side of the road to see where the wind will be gusting so you can brace yourself, rather than watching the road itself. I found out it was 20-30 mph gusts. Super sketchy. What was really awesome was, when leaving my place yesterday, I rode down a 5 mile 1000ft decent to the Queen K, into a headwind (which was frustrating, but not the end of the world). It was only fitting that after these painful 55 miles to Hawi and back, I head up this again... into a headwind. Talk about torture. That's Hawaii for you.

I don't even want to talk about running over here. I take that back, I do. Hills, heat, & humidity. That about sums up the run this Saturday. All you can think about is stopping during the 13.1 miles of Hell. I've been doing course specific training for this run in the last few months so I'm feeling pretty confident about it. I'm not going to let it beat me this year, that's all I can say.

I'll have another update closer to race day this week. Just trying my best to enjoy Hawaii and stay focused over here. My parents come in late Wednesday so I'm basically doing a lot of sleeping on the beach right now;)
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go throw popcorn at the turkeys chillin on the golf course before going for a run.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Serious Ups and Downs In the Last 3 (Wildflower Pics Coming Soon)

I apologize for the lack of updates in the last month or so. Taking 5 upper division classes this semester has finally brought me down.

Where to even begin? In the last month I've had some serious highs and lows racing. I'll start
off with the 2010 Superseal. A week before Collegiate Nationals, I decided that I wanted to do a warm up race. Since I hadn't done an olympic distance race this year, I wanted to get my pacing right. So I raced in the pro division in the Superseal in Coronado. It was fun because I did this course last year as my second race ever. Funny to look back at how much improvement happened. Nearly 15 minutes faster. Pretty serious time difference in a race that takes around 2 hours to complete. Anyways, this was a really fast bike course, I believe I had a 40k bike split in an hour. Tough run, the 1st 5k
was in sand and the 2nd 5k was into a head wind.. 37 minutes if I remember correctly. I was pleased with my final result, considering I didn't put in too much effort, wanting to stay fresh for Nationals in 6 days.

2010 Collegiate Nationals
This was probably a disaster waiting to happen before I even left San Diego. Because of school, I hadn't had much time to get any workouts in. Probably swam once and went for a bike ride
with little runs sprinkled in. From the second we (my mom accompanied me, thank God, or I'd have killed someone) stepped off the plane it was hell. Wind like a hurricane cruisin thru, rain that literally didn't stop until the day after the race, and cold, really cold temps (like low 50s).

Race day: woke up rethinking whether I should even race or not. Arrived at the race site to slight rain, freezing air, and the heaviest wind of the 4 days I was in Texas. Perfect. "Everyone has to go through this" is what I kept telling myself. I set my stuff up and just watched as people huddled together with their teams, trying to put on their wetsuits by exposing as little flesh as possible to the air (I cannot stress how bad this wind sucked). I had tried to warm up, but it just wasn't happening. I hate going into a race cold. The horn went off and I had a great
jump on everyone, despite the water being 53ish. I was alone with one or two guys at the first buoy but then waves started hitting me on my breathing side and I took in way too much water.
I came to a stop and breathed. The rest of the field caught up to me and trounced over me. Luckily they shortened the swim from a 1500m to a 500. I went into survival mode and just finished as fast as possible. Got out in the top 1/3 and ran into transition freezing my ass off. Getting on my bike was really funny now that I can laugh about it. I was so cold, I couldn't swing my leg over the seat post, and struggled with this for way too long. Finally got on and caught up to a
familiar pack of guys I can typically stick with. However, about 3 miles in, the wind was so out of control it started to make me really shaky and nauseous. I ended up getting sick around mile 7 and then again after some hills on mile 16. Luckily I didn't get blown over while distributing part lake water and part breakfast onto the road. When I reached T2 I felt so crappy I contemplated ending my day then and there. But I started to jog, felt I could finish, and thought that was the right thing to do. After all, my mom and I just took serious time and money to come here for this one race. I couldn't feel my feet the entire run, they were so cold. I was running slow anyways but the run course was like a 1/2+ mile long. I believe it was a 41 minute "11.5k" run. I ended the day in 55th place overall. I thank God I had the opportunity to finish this race and didn't get seriously hurt out there. The next day I woke up so angry, I went for a 40 minute tempo run through texas tech at what felt like a 5 minute pace. Still felt kinda sick though.
I never shook that race off in the next two weeks. I was so upset because I know how much better I am than that, uncontrollable conditions or not. It's the competitiveness in me.

Thank the Lord for this last weekend. As it seemed my life was just going nowhere but downhill with school and other things in the past month, this weekend came along. Because of school I've probably worked out a total of 4 times since Nationals. Not ideal. I just thought of myself as being super fresh for this race. It was the best mentality, I found out. For those of you that aren't familiar with this event, it's basically the Woodstock of triathlon. An upwards of 30,000 people go camping for the weekend at Lake San Antonio west of Paso Robles for the Wildflower races. There is a half iron distance (70.3) race and mountain bike triathlon on Saturday. And Sunday is the olympic distance race, which no pros are allowed into. Instead it's the Collegiate athletes that get the spotlight. Kinda like Collegiate Nationals Part II.
It was fun to get away for the weekend and leave school, cell phones and all media behind, and just relax... for Saturday at least.

Race Day:
I was really relaxed going into this race. I just had a positive feeling and no sense of nervousness about the day. Had a lovely transition spot right at the entrance of the swim exit/Run out, which made it great to leave T2 really fast. The swim was the only concerning thing to me. I knew I was going to have a good day in the water.. I just didn't need the claustrophobia of the awkward swim chute, which was kinda small to have 250+ college males bolting out into the water at the same time. Anyways, I had a great jump/sprint and was third or fourth out to the 1st buoy. I heard that just behind me was mass chaos where a lot of guys got tangled up for a while. The swim was extremely choppy and hard to keep momentum going. I really had a lax swim and didn't push myself much, just hanging with second pack of guys. I think I exited around the top 10 somewhere. As usual, I took my sweet ass time in T1 and left way late which was a big mistake, everyone I exited with on the swim took off 40+ seconds faster than I. Luckily they didn't get too far, as we hit lynch hill, it had a massive grade. I'm used to starting off my rides cranking up a steep hill (I can thank Friars Village for that). The bike ride was hilly but I paced behind a pretty good cyclist, Henry Szeto of UCLA, so I knew I was in ok shape. I got into a rhythm on the back 20k home and passed a few guys on some hills.

The Run: As I made up for my crappy T1 by flying thru T2, I past 1 or 2 guys leaving transition. I started the run by quickly passing a buddy from UCSD who didn't look like he was doing to hot. I was trying to keep pace with Henry, but I knew he could run well so it was rough staying 100-200 feet behind him for the 1st 5k. As we ran up some pretty gnarly hills I wasn't feeling it. I couldn't find any kind of rhythm and was hurting. BUT, just as we hit a downhill right before 5k, I found it. I started flying and this is where the race happened for me. A guy rode up along side to me on his mountain bike and said "hey look man, you're running way faster than these two guys ahead of you. You have a gradual hill coming up about a mile long. You're going to pass them really quickly but, you have to start using your arms dude!" All of a sudden I started pumping my arms (as if I forgot I had them while running). I quickly caught up to a dude from Stanford and passed him with ease. Henry was going to be the battle. On the next uphill I caught him, ran with him for a second or two, we exchanged encouragements and I pushed on. I was amazed he wasn't sticking with me. He's a good runner so I figured he'd try and stick it out, but to my amazement, my legs were just flying. I hit a flat dirt road at the top and opened up a massive gap, just hauling ass effortlessly it seemed. The last mile was all downhill and I knew I had 5th place all to myself now. No one was close to catching me and I didn't see anyone in front of me worth pursuing, so I casually cruised into the finish with a 37 min run. I really felt like I owed God the praise for giving me the strength to have a race like this with such little preparation. It was really cool running to the finish line in front of grandstands filled with hundreds of cheering people. I knelt down and said a quick prayer after I crossed the line because I felt it was totally God working in me that afternoon. I was really happy with how the run went and the day overall. It was a fun experience and I'll definitely be going back next year. Again, I praise God for giving me the gift and the opportunity to compete. More fun to come soon from HAWAII!!!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 California Ironman 70.3

Exciting day yesterday! First big race of the season and I picked up right where I left off in Florida last November. I ended the day in 3rd in the 20-24 division and 65th overall out of 2,300+. Right from the start I knew I was going to be "on". I felt fresh but not overly rested & sluggish. I tapered really well this week and all of the glory goes to God for any accomplishments in this race. I qualified for the 2010 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida again and I cannot stress how stoked I am that I qualified in my first race this year.. takes the pressure off for the rest of the season in that regard.

The Race:
For some reason the organizers decided to put my start wave LAST in the men's division. Yeah.. this means the faster swimmers are swimming through packs upon packs of slower age groupers. I don't see this as fair, because the younger guys generally swim much faster than the older age groupers. I knew it was a disadvantage but everyone in my division would have to deal with it too. Luckily, it was an in-water start and I LOVE in-water starts because you don't have to battle others running & diving into the water for position. Also, I have a fairly good sprint to get away from the group, and move out in front early without having to battle the others. So when the horn went off, I bolted, actually led the swim for around the first 200+ meters before another guy caught up to me and eventually passed me (which would be the guy who took first in the division). Just as promised, the swim was chaotic, having to work through the cluster-you-know-what's of slow swimmers. I actually came to a dead stop to look around and find a clear path 3 times. Still managed to have a great swim with a time of 26:04.

Getting on to the bike I was happy that my bike legs finally decided to show up at a race this year. I played it pretty conservative for the first 40k (in just under an hour). Keep in mind we had a slight tail wind and I knew the road back starting around mile 30 would be windy and hilly so I didn't push the pace much early on. It was also hard to gauge my speed/effort because I was still weaving through packs of slower age groupers (and would do so the entire ride), so I didn't have any strong cyclists to pace with. I had a pretty decent bike split at around 2:30.. with a few lower back cramps from being in the aero position the entire time. Around the last 10k a guy in my division passed me (who was actually the only person to pass me) at a pretty good speed and got to T2 around 30+ seconds faster than I.

As I started the 13.1 mile run, my legs felt decent but I couldn't utilize the faster muscles that I normally run with, as I had been using them pretty heavily on the bike. So I had to improvise and switch up my running style a bit to focus on leg pull. I caught up to the guy who passed me on the bike, pretty quickly around the first mile. The mistake was passing him right before a hill. As we hit the hill together, he saw I was in the same division and he turned on the "overdrive" just as I turned on the "survival mode- just get me up this hill, Lord" button. My run belt broke which didn't make things any better and he passed me once we reached the top. I slowed down to fashion it back together by tying it around my waist (which hurt) and he passed me. I trailed him by 5 - 10 seconds for the next 3 miles and then my engine died (you like these car analogies?). My legs felt dead and I realized there was no way I could keep this pace for the remaining 9 miles. As the pros ran in the opposite direction, it was comforting to see that they looked about as tired as I felt. I kind of went into auto pilot to regain some energy until I reached the turn around back at the harbor. It was nice to see my family and friends there waiting for me, but they all caught a glimpse of just how fatigued I was. As I passed my Dad, he yelled to me that I was in third. This was the first time I had any idea of my placement and it gave me a huge mental boost. I was not going to loose that podium spot. At this point the muscles turned back on and I started pushing the pace again. I ran through mile 9 in just under an hour (averaging 6:40ish) and saw the guy in front of me at the turnaround. He probably had 1-2 minutes on me at this point and I knew I couldn't catch him but I had no idea who was behind me or how close. The last 3 miles were disgraceful to say the least. I hadn't even ran a consecutive 13.1 miles since last November so my legs were really tired. At 10 miles I was at 1:07. Pshh.. I couldn't even run an easy 21 min 5k to finish off. A little disappointed at that, non-the-less, ran a 1:30 on the dot 13.1, on not the easiest of run courses.

Finished with a 4:30 total time, so I was pretty happy, but don't feel like I've even come close to my potential.. Plenty of room to improve, but it's nice to see that I'm making significant progress with each race, especially in cycling (which was by far my weakest sport last year).

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Post

(Picture links in blue)
Since this is my first post, it's only necessary I start off by saying that I am truly blessed by God to have the opportunity to race and compete in the sport of Triathlon. My background in athletics is virtually none. I celebrated in high school when I broke a 10 minute mile. The first twinge of any "strenuous" activity came a few years ago when I picked up a surfboard and fell in love with the ocean. Shortly after I started surfing, I noticed that I'd beat a lot of people to waves and a competitiveness that had never been apparent started to emerge.

I don't really know where the passion for Triathlon first came from (probably because I wasn't sober, to be honest, when I decided to do one). At a party, some friends and I were joking around about doing a triathlon and I was the only one that actually followed through. After my first race, having only a month or two to prepare, I found out that I had some hidden athleticism that I never realized before. I finished pretty well in my division (Men's Collegiate). At this point I thought I'd actually try a little harder for my next race. I was improving at all three sports so rapidly I couldn't help but be overly excited. With the support of my parents, I was encouraged to keep pursuing Triathlon and pushing myself further. I'm extremely grateful for their (as well as my whole family and friends) support and encouragement. I ended up qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater Florida last November and had the best race of my life to date. Last season was a great eye opener for me in endurance sports. I'm learning more with every passing day and excited about the upcoming season because I'm injury free at the moment. At almost every race last year I had some knee/leg problem, so I'm excited to see how far I can push myself on healthy legs.

This season so far...
No thanks (or thanks) to sickness, I was forced to take a month or so off from training completely after Clearwater. It was kind of nice to take a little break but I've been back at it since mid January. So far this season I've done 3 smaller Collegiate sprint races to get my racing legs back and finished decently but nothing impressive (12th overall, 5th overall, & 12th overall). The problem with these shorter sprints is that I'm not really a sprinter.  The California Ironman 70.3 is less than 2 weeks away and I'm pretty stoked to do a 70.3 so close to home (Oceanside). Every Ironman 70.3 I've done has been in another state... so hopefully I can have a decent race without injuries holding me back. I have some really cool races lined up for this season... including: Collegiate Nationals, Wildflower, Ironman Hawaii 70.3, Vineman 70.3 (with a few smaller ones sprinkled around). So it should be a fun year! I'll try and update the blog before/after major races and keep it up to date.