My 2019 Mindset
I’m up here in Crested Butte. I just had an awesome day skiing big pow, jumping off cliffs and being totally engrossed in the moment. The 20 days on the chair lift since November have given me ample time to think. I believe the most important thing about all the skiing this off season is that it has reignited a sense of gratitude and passion to be doing what I am: Professional sport. Towards the end of 2018, I started to think about triathlon almost purely from a monetary standpoint—and at that, I of course, saw the time I was putting into it as a failure (despite it being a fact that in most fields it takes a few years). My hourly wage if computed would be far less then the minimum, and I’m still living in my parent’s basement. However, after taking a step back I have realized it has not been a failure--for one, I improved drastically in 2018. While is no guarantee that I will one day be able to make decent money in triathlon, it is worth a shot. What do I have to lose? And even if it hasn’t been financially lucrative, I can honestly say that if I had a choice to do whatever I could with my time, that the last year would have looked exactly the way it did. That’s living (to me) and means its worth pursuing.
I want to talk a bit more about making decisions rationally or based on feeling. I think it would be hard for anyone to go into professional triathlon if thinking purely from a rational standpoint (especially when you have a college degree). The way I try to look at it rationally is that it’s an incredibly high reward if you can make a full career out of it. That is if you like being 100% focused on bettering yourself in a sport, love long grueling days, travel, and living like a monk. All of which I do. In terms of risk you could say it is high risk as in the chances of making it big time are incredibly low. However, after further inspection the risk seems relatively low. My life is not at stake, I’m not putting anyone else in danger, I’m not accumulating massive amounts of debt and I’m not unhappy. The only risk is that in a few years I will have to acknowledge that its not gonna happen and start at the beginning in another career.
While deciding to pursue triathlon from the heart is obvious. Let me put it this way, if I were not to give it my all I would be sitting around for the rest of my life wondering if I had what it took. I would far rather put it all on the line and fail then not put it on the line at all and never know (and perhaps tell myself I could have done it but that it’s too risky). Plus, I have loved every day of the journey. I believe it has made me a better, stronger man, it has taught me what real work and commitment is. And it has led to me meeting amazing people including my girlfriend.
Much of this might seem obvious, however being a young man I have felt pressure from society to get a move on with my life. To do something substantial and to set myself up for the future. I also got led astray a bit in the off season. All year people my age wondered when I would go out and party and just let loose. I told them the off season and believed that the off season--when I didn’t have structure and have to train 6 hours a day--would be the best time of the year. It was the worst—by far. When committed to my own path I always felt every minute was spent well, was always fulfilled, and never felt lonely. In the off season I felt lonely, unworthy, and found myself wondering what to do with myself. Following your own path is the only real way to live life.
It took me a bit to come around but going into 2019 I am trying to find more of a balance between judging triathlon from a financial standpoint and from an emotional standpoint. I realize I am on the verge of becoming good enough to at least move out of my parent’s basement 😊! So that’s the goal; to continue to be process oriented and enjoy every step (if I don’t enjoy it then I ought to do something else) and at the same time give it my absolute all and go as fast as I can!
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!
I wanted to touch base briefly to explain what my training has looked like with the 3 short weeks between IM Whistler and Mt. Tremblant. This is the first time I have ever attempted to race 2 IM’s in 3 weeks, and thus it has been an experiment. As everyone can imagine it is a balancing act between recovery and not losing fitness with a situation like this.
Frankly, my intention was to focus much more on the recovery. I found I recovered extremely well after Whistler. I went from the day after waking up not being able to walk and by the end of the day had a good spring in my step. Day 2 after the race I spent the day at the spa and had energy for a 2 hour ride that evening. No pain or even hardly any fatigue whatsoever. Day 3 I woke up feeling great and did a 16-mile trail run. I will say that my feet were a bit sore after this—but all in all it was the best I had ever come around from an IM.
After this, I drove across to Kelowna to partake in my “Kelowna Training Camp😊”. The rest of the week I found myself sleeping like crazy. I slept till 10:45 in the morning one day!! Frankly, the purpose of the whole week was to give my mind a complete mental release. I find it is far more important to have this mental release than the physical release; and that the body follows how the brain feels. I couldn’t have spent the week in a better area and in better company. I found myself feeling energetic and completely motivated and stoked for another IM. The Monday through Sunday after the race saw me riding 6/7 days, swimming every day, and doing 2 runs (for 23 miles). I trained a total of 24 hours in this period. But the best part it was that it felt like I hadn’t trained at all. Most of my swims were in beautiful fresh water lakes. Many of the bike rides were done on a mountain bike and when they weren’t I rode with other people at a comfortable pace taking in new scenery and stopping for poutine whenever it called. In other words, nothing was forced, and it just flowed.
I went into week 2 (of 3 total weeks) of this training block with a high confidence level that things were progressing better than I had ever imagined. With this week I decided I would do my usual Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, training block. Tuesday, I did a local 10 mile TT at best effort. I did this because it tells me if I am in fact recovered and feeling as good as I think. I hit my peak 20-minute power of all time; providing me with more confidence I had come around well.
Wednesday was my only key run session of this training block. I did a 31K run with 20K moderate, 10K maximal, and a 1k warm down. Just 14 hours after finishing my all out 20-minute TT, I closed the final 10k in 33:33. My best time ever for a 10K. I finished the day with an open water 3.8K swim done in 56 minutes. Thursday was a slightly easier day with another good ride with a 30’ TT at 340 watts. I then just did an easy recovery swim, confident that I am fit enough to race.
That brings me to today (Friday 8/10) which is the start of my taper. I will do my general taper however I am modifying two things. I am going to do a 2.5-hour ride on the Wednesday of race week but very very easy (175 watts). The idea is to keep my engine running and the body moving. I will also do a hard swim Tuesday of race week (20x100). Other than that, everything will done as per normal with a decent run this Saturday and some VO2 intervals done on the bike Monday. Everything else is short, easy and has an occasional pickup. There is not doubt race day will approach quickly!
I am very excited for what the race will bring. I am going in with confidence. This doesn’t necessarily mean I will not explode—only race day will tell. But I’m excited for the unknown and look forward to the challenge. This block as also grounded my belief that the mental approach and mindset, does, in fact, outweigh physiology (or at least manipulate physiology). I never could have done the same training I did one week out if I had written a training plan, had looked at it as “training” and had been forcing it by doing my usual routes, roads, routine, etc. Finally, training, racing, and getting fit is best done when you feel you are living your fullest life and are very happy. I am currently in a very god state of being and I believe this is shaping me as an athlete.
Thanks for the read,
IM Canada 2018
Hmm, not sure where to start. The first thing I will say is this was a very tough day. The course and the conditions made it so that any weakness anywhere would be exposed. Anyone who was there will know this was true. Congrats to everyone who raced!
The short details:
Swim: 57:49 (non wetsuit)
Bike: 4:44:05 (4th fastest split)
Overall: 4th in 8:48:05
But the devil is in the details! The race really started for me as soon as I crossed the finish line at Beaver Creek 8 days before. I made sure to do my best to recover by warming down and eating properly that day. The week then was mostly rest; however I worked a 11-hour catering job on Sunday, and then had to drive 22 hours up to Canada. I didn't leave till Tuesday because I was unable to pack until Monday. In retrospect these decisions might have cost me the mere 3 minutes to 3rd place. But you live, and you learn.
With this being said I woke up on race day feeling good and stoked to race. I was hungry to push myself in another IM. The morning went the smoothest any of my race mornings have ever gone and I found myself with 10 minutes to do some mediation before the swim started.
Once the swim started I found myself in a good group. I felt great on the swim. I felt as if I was hardly working. So, this was good, although a very strange situation for me. The final 1000 got a bit hard but that happens. From here it was onto the bike.
Frankly, the bike was miserable. My glutes were shut down from the very first mile. This caused my low back to seize up within 5 miles. I felt as if I wasn’t producing any power. Oh, and my bike computer decided not to work on this morning. So pretty much everything was going wrong. Truthfully, I thought about dropping out the whole first lap. But then I remembered my DNF as Cozumel and realized no matter how much this day would suck (regardless of how I’d finish) not finishing would haunt me and cause much more long term mental suffering and disappointment.
So, I found the silver lining and went back to my positive self! I just kept telling myself if the bike sucks this much then the run won’t be as bad. And I just took it minute by minute. I really didn’t make any moves and am surprised I had the 4th fastest split. The nice thing is when you feel like dog shit you are forced to race smart. So I think I raced a very smart bike that allowed me to conserve energy—while usually I am so strong on the bike I may burn too many matches. I rode with groups virtually the entire bike and this helped to at least keep my mind occupied.
Finally, the bike came to an end and me and Justin Metlzer came into transition (with Tripp Hipple and Matt Russel just a few minutes behind). I managed to pull a fast one on him and beat him out of T2. Now the real race started. And as I predicted the run felt much better than the bike! It felt so good just to stand tall and use the posterior chain.
The beginning of an IM in the pro field is very dynamic. Position matters a lot for the mental edge it can give you. This is why you often see pro races with terribly split marathon times. I knew holding Justin off would be important in this sense. We both were running hard and before I knew it I found myself in 3rd—passed 4 people in 5k.
I settled into this and just focused on getting 300+ calories in per hour (a very difficult feat in a marathon in 100-degree temps). And then. I managed the pain. The first 12 miles cruised by but then it was about mind over matter. (I stopped to pee at 12 miles--the first pee in 7 hours, god that felt good!!) Telling my legs to go when I wanted to walk. I didn’t walk.
Every aid station the cold water on my head would bring me to reality and I would surge but then in the time in between I would get delusional and start telling myself “I can slow down, I'll still do well, a top ten would be great”. The other competitors would nearly pass me in between aid stations. But then boom, I’d put the cold water on my head and keep going. They probably thought something was wrong with me!
Yet I still got passed. By Matt Russel—one of the best athletes in the sport. He passed me with around 2 miles left. That sucked! But I kept going and finished 4th. My best IM result yet. Stoked with my finish on a day that wasn’t my best. But that's the thing about IM; something will always go wrong and you learn that you can deal with it. You learn that you can tolerate pain and that you are stronger than you think. That's why I like to do them--they teach you how to be a better human. That's why I'll be doing IM Mont. Treblant in 3 weeks.
Training Since IM Boulder (2018)
Being a professional athlete is often about doing the things that you should do but don’t want to (Resting, not going out, eating very well, etc.). But being 22 is about doing the things you want to do even when you shouldn’t. This is essentially the balancing act of my life right now. In this post I discuss why I have decided to do the races I am and my training since IM Boulder.
First my race schedule has been rather intense. Since IM Boulder I have already done 2 races one of which was a 3-day stage race. Both were cycling races. However, the real racing starts this weekend with Xterra Beaver Creek (7/21), then Ironman Whistler the week after (7/29), and Ironman Mont. Tremblant 3 weeks after (8/19).
I know virtually everyone will be saying why race so much? I love to race and for me that is the reason of training, and I have done so much training this year that I believe I can perform well at all three races. Isn’t it too much and aren’t you worried about burning out? While burning out is something to be conscious of avoiding, I simply don’t think it will be an issue here. My plan is to race these three races and then to take some time off.
Ultimately, I’m doing these three races because I’m stoked about every race. Xterra Beaver Creek is one of my favorite races; high altitude, great mountain bike course, and a hard-hilly run. I love it. IM Whistler excites me because I have never been to that area—I hear it is beautiful. The bike course is very hilly and will reward someone who is strong on the bike and the run has lots of dirt on it. Mont. T. I am doing because it is also in a great area, I get poutine after the race, and I’m going to the race with someone I’m stoked about (Amy!). The thing I have learned about IM racing is that the most important thing is being hungry (to do well, you will always be hungry nutritionally speaking!) and being very excited about the race itself—these two things far outweigh fitness. I have seen people far stronger than me do much worse because they lacked these required elements. So that’s the schedule and life is short so why not do it!
After I decided this was gonna be the schedule the question turned to execution. How was I going to complete this task to the best degree possible? To answer this question, I had a nice long chat with Eric Kenney as well as doing some deep thinking on my own. What I realized at IM Boulder is that my fitness level was very high (there are 3 things I will be doing at the next two IM’s completely unrelated to fitness that should allow me to go 10+ minutes faster). I have done a massive amount of training this year. What this means is that the risk—reward relationship gets skewed. Let me explain.
When you are not very fit. The reward of training is massive. You will get more fit almost regardless of what you do. The risk is also relatively low, you are unlikely to get over trained or injured; unless you train too much. The mistake a lot of beginning athletes make is they want to improve too rapidly. They then do too much and instead of just getting steady gains from fitness they get injured. However, when you get very fit and have been putting lots of work in for a long duration the relationship gets inverted. More work will not get you very much reward. And the risk can become somewhat high. This is especially true when you are trying to race multiple IM’s in a short period.
Thus, I realized I didn’t need to do the same type of training I did to get ready for IM Boulder (I had 4 weeks of 35 hours or more of training leading into IM Boulder). In fact, what I needed was to make sure I controlled the amount of work I did. This was one of the main reasons I decided to do the Colorado State TT champs and the Boulder Stage Race. They would force me to rest! This is exactly what they did. I rested a little bit going into each race. I raced well at both race--giving me even more confidence on the bike, I got great power data, and it helped raise my top end. All in all, it was a great decision to race these.
If I boil it down by week since IM Boulder.
Week after: rest and active recovery. Also, some major going out with friends and camoing to get rejuvenated. Doing some training by end of week.
Two weeks after: Colorado State TT Champs, and some other very high end work on the bike (two Bustop rides, and a vo2 session). Also, some solid swimming and building back onto running.
Three weeks after. Boulder Stage Race from Friday-Sunday. Early in the week saw me doing my first long day since IM Boulder (7+ hours), again more good swimming, and some solid run workouts.
Four weeks after: going up to CB. This was a strength base phase. I ran and road a lot of hills. Had lots of longer days to work on my metabolic efficiency and get mentally prepared for an IM. Not much swimming was done. Finally, working on the MTB skills to do well at Beaver Creek.
Five weeks after (the week we just finished): This was the peak week of training. The first half was done at CB and included my most important IM session; a 7 hour ride with efforts, and a 10 mile run with efforts, with a second recovery ride in the evening. Then the end of the week included key swims, runs and another long ride.
That’s it! That is the entire training block going into these races. I started my taper today. (one day early in fact, I had a long run planned but decided it was too high risk). The next week will see me doing some higher end work to stay tuned for Beaver Creek and then the week after will be very minimal going into Whistler.
I can’t be more excited going into this racing block. If I’m honest part of me was very worried about losing fitness since IM Boulder. However, after these past two weeks of training I am hitting better numbers than I ever had and my body is holding up extraordinarily well. It took courage to commit to the plan I wrote out and its looking like it will pay out. I know the final question people will have is Kona…And my answer is I am not doing this for Kona, I am doing it for each and every race as its self and because I believe it will make me a stronger athlete in the months and years to come. I will very likely qualify with two more IM’s—however my plan is to skip Kona. I see that being more of a long-term goal (that doesn’t mean I wont necessarily go!)
Thanks for reading. I apologize for this being a bit dense but please let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions.
IM Boulder Race Recap 2018
There’s a lot to cover here. I haven’t put out a blog post since before I left for Australia, so I have bountiful information to provide. My intent here is to give a brief low down of the race at IM Boulder and then to spend time looking into the process of why I was able to achieve what I did—and how I have managed to improve substantially this year.
IM Boulder was terrific. I never imagined the race would have progressed the way it did. I made a massive swim group and swam relatively easy while using little effort. The group unfortunately sped up at the end and I was on someone’s feet who didn’t stick with them. Nevertheless, we only lost 45 seconds to them. I made this up in transition and quickly found myself in the mix of things.
Once on the bike I could see that Kennet Peterson, Paul Ambrose and Chris Lieferman were riding together. I know this would be where the race was, so I told myself I was gonna ride hard until I caught them. It took about 20 minutes riding closer to 70.3 pace. But once I caught up—oh man it was glorious. People to work with and more importantly to share the mental burden of 112 miles. We worked well together and were told we were gaining on the leaders Joe Gambles and Kevin Portman who swam well ahead of us.
Upon finishing the first lap we went through one of the turnarounds and I could see that Joe and Kevin were no longer working together. At this point I knew we would catch them. We did. The group started to change with Jonathon Shearon making a strong pull for a good part of the second loop and me Joe, and Chris sitting in. Then at around mile 80 Lieferman made a surge and dropped us. We split up with me chasing Lieferman. After his initial surge he stopped gaining ground on me and I figured F**k it I might as well go for the fastest bike split. I knew I just had to stay within about a minute of Chris to have the fastest bike split. This I did. The bike was rather enjoyable and for the most part didn’t feel too hard.
Once into transition (of which I had the fastest T2 as well) and out onto the run it quickly became a death march. I was not tolerating the heat well and therefore was on damage control for virtually the entire run. Yet, I knew if I managed to keep moving forward I would finish well because of the time I put into people. The run included a stop in the creek to cool off and grabbing lots of water at aid stations. I ended up in 5th.
I must say the run was both glorious and terrible at the same time. It was awesome being in the front of the race and I had hordes of people cheering me on. That was cool and something I had never been a part of before. It was terrible because I really didn’t feel good for even one step of the marathon. But that’s what I have learned to do—it doesn’t really matter how I feel. All that matters is how you perform.
All in all, I was very pleased with my race. Yes, I had a few hard surges on the bike. Most notably I burned matches at the very beginning when I surged to catch up to the group. This very likely took something out of my run legs. But it was worth it. For the first time in an IM I felt I was making an impact on the race and I was in the race. That is experience that is invaluable. And now that I have tasted what it feels like to be in 3rd place (or 1st) you better believe I’m hungry for more. Congrats to everyone who raced and the guys who taught me and inspire me to be better.
While I still have lots of improvement to make; the progress I have made this year is undeniable. How did it happen? I believe it all started with my trip to Australia. This got the ball rolling. For the 3 months I was there I was 100% committed to triathlon. Every action I did was about improving myself as an athlete. The culture their helped transform my ideas of what was possible in training and racing. Most impressionable on me was the training and time I got to spend with Melissa Hauschildt—a 70.3 world champion and most recently the winner of IM Texas and the 70.3 European championships. The workload she put in was undeniable and completely inspirational.
In Australia, I basically learned that I had put pre-imposed limits on myself of what was possible. I should clarify this; other people in the US had gotten into my head by telling me if I had trained as hard as I intended to that I would get sick, burned out, injured, not race well, and cut my career short. But then I went to Australia and saw most people training at a very hard level.
I reached a crossroads and decided I wasn’t going to let other people weigh too much into what I believed was the right training. I must note that in my time in Australia I was self-coached and still am. I stopped caring what other people were doing so much and decided that I was going to make decisions only on me.
So for example a few things I have done are:
Since being back I have continued to push the limits of what is possible and to be focused on the process of what can make me the best triathlete I can become. And while I’m self-coached I must add that I have an amazing team that is paramount to my success. My old coach Eric Kenney is still a mentor to me and helps to make sure I don’t make any major mistakes and to challenge my thought processes. My parents are a huge support system for me—I still live in their basement. But we have a system that is hard to beat. I also have a great massage therapist (Erik Cumming’s), a movement specialist (Lawerance van Lingen) and countless of other people in my life who enable me to pursue my goals in triathlon.
If there is something you can get out of my transformative process it is this; commit 100% to what you are passionate about, embrace all the details, work your ass off, and have the courage to create a plan for you and to commit to it when other people question you (they always will!). I promise you will achieve success if you do this.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my upcoming race schedule—It’s gonna be off the charts!
I know many of you are wondering how my time down under has been. I figured I would take the time to share my thoughts publicly. I have my own personal journal that I write in every day. However, I believe it is beneficial to write a more critical and overlooking piece of writing every now and then to make your thoughts clear. In general, I would urge anyone who travels to write their thoughts down.
I would call my time here adventurous routine. After landing, I came straight to my home base for the remainder of my stay and have since been trying to make Noosa a second home. It has been a very fun and rewarding few weeks. I have figured out when the group rides are and am getting to know the local crew. I have also explored the roads on my own, gotten terrifically lost—but now after a mere ten days I feel I know the area quite well. I always feel connected to an area from the hard work I put into its roads, trails, oceans, etc. It’s amazing to have a mental map of an area and have that mental map connected with hundreds of exhaustive workouts. It’s also adventure because I came into town not knowing a single person and am getting to meet new people and make new connections.
I say its adventurous routine because the adventure has been figuring out where to train, how to live here, and what to do every day but the goal is to find a routine. I have decided to do IM New Zealand in 6 short weeks so am needing to train quite hard. I am loving the process. I did my first IM as a journey to explore myself, push my limits, and hopefully become a better person in the end. I am finding myself stoked to do IM NZ for similar reasons (Although the journey is very different). I also love it because it feels like im taking a risk. Its early and I’m having to push myself to get in shape. I love to live my life with a bit of risk and this is filling me with excitement.
I am loving the routine I have found here. For the first time ever, I am feeling like a true professional triathlete. Every day I set my day up to make me better—whether that’s a 6-hour ride, a swim, and a run or if it’s a rest day putting my feet up and reading all day. One nice thing about coming some place new is there are very few distractions I have been able to be incredibly focused. This has been great for triathlon.
The focus has also been good for introspection. I haven’t had a time where I have had the freedom to choose the books I read and the ways I want to challenge my mind since the start of college (since I took summer classes). This has been beneficial. I am hatching future plans and figuring out how to become the man I want to be. As the Greeks said, “sound body, sound mind”. The pursuit of both I believe is one of the great benefits of being a professional athlete.
I am loving the life here. Waking up early, training, cooking, eating very healthy, reading, and chilling on the beach. The vibes here are incredibly laid back. I came here wondering if I would feel I was doing enough with my life as a triathlete. I love the lifestyle. I have found a simplicity in my life here that is completely fulfilling and rewarding. It makes me want to succeed at a level greater than before. It remains to be seen if I can make triathlon financially sustainable! With all this said, the extra time has made me realize that when I come back I will, in fact, have excess time to devout to other pursuits. I am stoked about this because I have been wanting to get onto coaching and personal training for several years. I am confident I will have enough time to pursue these and provide my clients with complete dedication and excellence (because why do anything at all if you’re not going to do it well?). if you’re interested let me know. The spots will be very limited.
The trip has already given me much in the way of knowledge and enjoyment. I am stoked to spend more time here. Noosa has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and one can’t help but be happy in a spot like this. All is well.
Ironman Cozumel Thoughts.
I believe my decision to not finish IM Cozumel was merited. The day had been going well before I decided to quit. I had a good swim, for me. 46 minutes with a current. But of course, that means nothing when the front pack swims 40 minutes! I had a taste of what it was like to be in the front group. I found myself with them at 300 meters but gradually lost feet until 500 meters. They then pulled away at which point I swam on my own for about 1000 yards until a group behind me caught up.
I then had a pretty good bike ride as well. I rode consistently and averaged 274 watts for the entire bike leg and stayed aero for over 95% of the time. I still lost time. I believe because I was solo and fighting the win all on my own while the top racers were for the most part together.
I came off on the run in 14th and tried to make a push for the top ten. This is where the money was and where Kona points were. Everyone else was too fast to be caught on the run. I lost my mental motivation and had no urge to continue the last 8 miles. I simply did not want it. Thus, I quit at mile 18. Ii could come up with many excuses for why I didn’t finish such as a minor sore throat, a long season of racing, the hot conditions, being in Mexico, etc. But it boils down to my mental urge to push through. I wanted to be done and kick the off season into gear. I believe if I was feeling this pushing through would have only drained my mental motivation tank for months to come. I want to have a short but proper off season and then build a correct build for 2018. I hope everyone can understand my decision.
Despite not finishing IM Cozumel. I learned some valuable lessons about ironman preparation and what it takes to succeed.
First off, the Europeans brought another level of competition to the race that I was not prepared for. I need to step up and have that as my comparison. I thought I could be in the top ten and believe if the race had been either Wisconsin or Boulder my effort would have had me in the top ten.
How do I get to where I need to be?
A couple things I have thought about that are pertinent to improved performance.
This is bigger picture than just one race. This applies to your season and your whole life. Our mentality is controlled by our current mental well-being. In relation to IM Cozumel I had some rough relationship things happen one week out. This made me struggle to have the right race mentality leading into the race. Honestly, I was more distracted by this stuff and thus did not devote the mental energy to the race I needed to. To race well and train well I think we generally to be content with where we are in life and feel good about ourselves. I think this is what makes being a professional athlete so hard is we are expected to perform all the time, but of course things come up that affect us. We all know this in relation to performance in our chosen field of expertise. So, going forward I will continue to try to improve my life and be happy, fulfilled, and content. After all, this is the main goal in life.
Thanks for the read! Please share your thoughts.
Plans for next year:
Well shit, there’s no other way to say it. Real life (whatever that is?) is about to hit me. I graduate in December and then am going to be forced with making some big decisions about my life. I want to outline my thought process with some of those decisions. Feel free to share your opinion.
For me, very little has changed in terms of what I want to do. I still dream of being a professional triathlete. I dream of being able to support myself from triathlon. I am not doing that yet but I believe it is within reach. My plan is to fully commit to triathlon in 2018.
I am entertaining a couple different ideas as how to become the best triathlete I can. The first idea is to do a training trip down to Australia. I love this idea for the sense of adventure it brings as well as the fact that I would be training in good weather year-round. I think it would be excellent for me to have a swim focused block down there. I believe it would set me up for a great 2018. Of course, the trip would be expensive and it would entail getting to know a new area. I believe for it to work I would want to train with a solid group of athletes to push me and show me the area (anyone know anyone down there?). I would then race near Australia. Australia would however put off beginning some other career aspirations I have.
The second option is to stay at home so that I can control the environment I know while saving money and starting long term aspirations. I would very likely do training camps around the US when the weather gets poor in Boulder for long periods of time. I would also then have a larger budget for things such as massage, coaching, strength training, food, traveling to races, etc.
If in Boulder I could immediately start my other career aspirations which include being a personal trainer and coach. I am getting certified as a personal trainer this fall so could begin working with clients if I stayed through winter. Coaching could likely happen either way, although it would be better if I was in Boulder. Things are already in motion with coaching! (Let me know if you are interested in either PT or coaching and spread the word!) I am excited for both and I acknowledge that they will take time to gain momentum; which may be all the better reason to start early
These are the two geographic locations I am considering.
The other decision I need to make is the proportion of races I want to be on road vs Xterra’s. Right now, I am strongly considering committing to the (Xterra) Pan American series which would entail traveling to south America and Canada for races. This would be best done from Boulder and would allow me to satisfy my adventurous side. I would then transition more into IM racing as the summer came along. The big question is can I do both? If in Australia I could do the south-east Asia tour. The big question is can I do both?
Xterra and IM are very different events. My training would still look more like IM training but I think with some MTB specific work I could be ready to race Xterra’s. I have already done well while focusing on IM.
These are the decisions I am trying to make. My long-term goal is to succeed in IM but would it hurt to succeed in Xterra first? I also am excited for the adventure next year brings and the inevitable choices I will have to make. Right now, I am leaning more heavily towards going to Austrailia. Life is a journey and I am excited for it.
I know I have been a bit under the radar recently, choosing to just put the work in with my head down. I figured it would be a good time to fill you in on what I have been doing and on my plans for next year.
Recently, I underwent a big race block with IM Wisconsin and the PAM-American Xterra championships only six days apart. Wisconsin, was first, where I had a pretty solid day. I had my best IM swim in terms of management of effort, time, and being ready for the bike. I unfortunately suffered on the bike and had a hard time maintaining power. It was honestly the first time, I have ever not had a good bike split for myself. I am personally blaming it on my poor decision (not my coach’s) to ride 200 miles two weeks before at a solid intensity. My hip flexors and glutes were unable to fire for the duration of the ride. Thankfully, I felt quite good on the run and ran 3:04 for my best marathon time yet. When the hell will I break the 3-hour mark??!! The day truly was a great celebration of hard training and perseverance. I was happy to end up 8th in a very competitive field.
After the race, I did my best to recover and get ready for my next race in just six days. I essentially did active recovery the whole week with my longest “workout” being 50 minutes. I mostly swam and did yoga. I then flew to Ogden on Friday. My pre-race ride was a complete disaster with a flat tire and two wipeouts—the second of which was somewhat serious. I banged my hip up bad and experienced substantial swelling. At this point I really questioned my decision to race and went to bed that night thinking I wouldn’t race.
After waking up and still feeling sore in my hip, I decided I would go through the morning routine and at least start. I figured the swim would be good experience for me and that I could at least race that part. I then figured I could start the bike and see how it went. If I felt bad I could at least just enjoy the bike ride and call it a day in T2.
Of course, I ended up doing the whole thing. I had a decent swim and I think would have swam with the second group had I not gotten pummeled and had my goggles fill with water 100 meters in. I had to stop to fix them and then found myself in the third group. O well. My bike was strong. I felt better than I had the week before. I came into T2 in 6th and figured I would start the run. Knowing my hip would seize up from my fall a couple miles in I pushed the first part hard. The investable then happened and my hip started seized up. I finished with only losing one position on the run. I wonder what I would have done had I not fallen the day before?
It’s funny, racing Ogden almost made the IM disappear in terms of fatigue. My mind was so determined to get strong again that I think it played a beneficial role in my recovery. This last week, I did very little training-- taking time to rest from both races. It was quite nice to live a normal college life for the first week in a long time.
I am now gearing up for my final push of the season. I am feeling strong, sturdy, healthy, and motivated. All great signs for this late in the season. It’s nice and it’s because I eased into things in the spring and took time to build the proper foundation. Up next for me is 70.3 New Orleans, 70.3 Austin, and then IM Cozumel (I may only do one of those 70.3’s). I am excited for the rest of the season and to continue making my progress through the ranks.
I will release the second part to this in the next few days which will cover my plans for next year.
70.3 Santa Rosa race recap.
I believe Santa Rosa was one of my better performances--despite the swim. Here is the breakdown.
I swam 27:48. Quite a slow swim for me. I started off well but was unable to make the selection in the first or second groups. I think this had more to do with who showed up. The first group swam 23:30 and the second group swam 25:40 or so. Both of which would have been a PR swim for me.
I had a strong start and was with them at first but couldn’t quite hang on at 350 meters or so. This was rather frustrating as I saw them slowly move away. I unfortunately then had to swim the rest on my own. This is what made it a bit slower than my traditional 26 something swim. Despite, it being slow, I believe I paced it right and didn’t over exert myself. I didn’t dwell on the slow swim for the race though and moved right onto the bike.
In relation to my swim training, I believe I have been doing everything right. My Coach, Eric Kenney, has helped me shift focus from trying to get really fit in the pool to focusing on getting better technique. As many of you know, I used to expend a huge amount of energy swimming. I have been becoming more efficient and I am proud of this. The swim is a progression and I know that to get better I must start with establishing good technique. I am willing to put this work in and then build the fitness from there, Recently, I have only been swimming with good form. Once it falls off, I slow down, do some drills, go at it again, or call it a day if I can’t “find” the form again. I also would like to mention, that Amy Webb has been helping me with my stroke. She and Eric have been “’working together” to help me. This combined with the help and support of Eney Jones will lead to me eventually being a front pack swimmer. It will take time, but it will happen
Since I came out of the swim alone. I decided to surge to catch a group. This worked well has there was a large descent—of which I believe I did faster than a group—and then some rolling hills. After this descent, I put in a surge at over 400 watts for about 8 minutes. This was hard but lead to me getting on the back of a group.
From here, I sat at the back and recovered from the effort. The effort had caused my back and hips to become seized up and I had to find a way to loosen them. I had a hard time doing this and was in discomfort but also knew I was riding at a manageable and sustainable level.
The pain slowly subsided. The pace was solid and we were a group of 4. As time progressed, two of the guys feel off and I was following one other guy. At mile 45, he started slowing down. I thus took the lead and to my amazement, he didn’t stay on my wheel. I rode the rest alone.
I believed I had an excellent ride in terms of execution. Riding in a group saves significant energy and although it was costly for me, I believe it set me up better in the end. I had prepared in training to make a surge like this and thus had the mental and physical strength to do it. As a pro, the ride can be more like a cycling race, with surges and times when you are riding easier than expected. The body had to be prepared for this. The other option would have been to hold my power steady throughout. I think I would have ridden slightly slower and as a whole, the ride actually would have been harder in terms of average power. The bike is a weapon for me. Once, my swim comes along, I will be able to use it to its full extent. I am only getting stronger on the bike. I have noticed my endurance and top end speed improving dramatically. I am excited for where it will go.
I came into the run alone, unsure of what place I was in. regardless, I knew I had paced the bike in a smart way and was determined to have a good run. I started off relaxed and realized my legs were good to go. I started off at what felt like a relaxed pace (I wore a simple Timex stopwatch at opposed to a GPS device, I wanted to keep it simple). I took a quick pee at mile 1 or so and then continued. There was no one around me and it was calm and serene. The run was on dirt at times following a shady trail. I was in a Zen mode, felt calm, and was just me.
I had a steady and consistent run. I was focused on running with good form and making it quick not hard. I passed two other pros during the run and had little idea what place I was in for the run. I didn’t know I was 10th till I crossed the finish line. Honestly, it didn’t matter to me this time. I was running for myself and I was determined to have my best run yet. I did, with close to a minute PR. It felt so good to finish strong! I have always fallen apart at the end of the race but this time, my fastest running came in the last two miles.
The run has been becoming a point of pride for me. People have been thinking of me as a strong cyclist and not a strong runner. I want to prove those people wrong. But I also want to prove to myself that I can run. I have always believed that I can be a great runner. Things are slowly starting to come together. My training is consistent and has all the elements such as easy days, a speed day, and generally two long runs a week. My running has been held back in the past by a lack of consistency.I have finally found that consistency thanks to Eric Kenney. I also have been paying a great deal of attention to technique. Thanks, to Lawrence Van Lingen (Look him up if you don’t know who he is) I have been starting to get the feel for what running should be. Running is meant to be natural and I had been fighting it for too long. I am only just starting to connect the dots of what the running biomechanics should look like. I have been loving my running recently. It has been my space to figure things out.
In four weeks, I will race Ironman Boulder. I am stoked to do this race again. It was my first Ironman and I remember watching the pros race and wishing I could be them. Now I am. Goes to show how far one can come in less than four years. It’s also my home race and a transformative process. That first Boulder Ironman in 2014, changed the course of my life. It’s what got me to commit to triathlon. Going into that race was a time of change.
I am in a similar time of change, negotiating what my life will look like after college, how I am going to make triathlon financially possible, and the people I want to spend time with. My training is moving back to something that centers me--I am not as fixated on results. I care about the process. Every ride, run, and swim, are meant for me to learn a little more about myself. These activities have moved back to an expression of who I am. Triathlon has helped me embrace this change.
I plan on devoting myself to the sport. I want to improve every aspect of it and by doing so improve who I am. I am hungrier than ever. I want to see just what I can do. I want it now, but, it takes time. Triathlon has taught me--or is teaching me patience. I can’t make the first swim group today or tomorrow. But with solid and consistent effort I can. This patience and the climbing the ladder--The Progression--is something I am learning. Everything good in life takes time to get there. Enjoy the process of it.