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!!!!!