Thursday, May 26, 2011

4 weeks of travel and 3 big races....

My big 4 weeks of travel and racing has come to an end and I am honestly very happy to be home! I had an amazing time and I will never forget all of the adventures. With this said I am beaten and broken physically and mentally. The travel and racing took a major toll on the body and the effects were seen this past weekend in Alabama at the 4th stop on the Xterra Tour.

I love the Xterra Southeast course and I would love nothing more then to have a solid race out there but it was pretty obvious during my swim warm up that things were going to be rough. I tried as hard as I could out there but I had nothing...the tank was empty. The swim was a fight for me. This year my swimming has improved and I am normally quite comfortable but Sunday just hanging on to the back of the usual group felt so hard. Then on the bike I had no strength. I honestly felt like I was out there forever! It felt like I was doing another Ironman =)And the run, well, can't quite call that a run...a jog lets say. So, far short of a good result but we (me and coach) kind of knew this would happen. Bummed yes but a big surprise no.
--evening run at the lake

The second week post ironman has been the toughest. I have been exhausted. The fatigue is so deep in the body...can't quite explain it in words but simple walks with the dog can sometimes feel tiring. My mind is a bit cloudy still too...seems like life is in slow motion at the moment. All to be expected but I wouldn't mind feeling fresh again =)
I also knocked my knee cap on the top tube of my bike while preriding the course last week. Didn't really feel it at the time but I am pretty sure I have a bruised knee cap. Seeing Bryan at Rehab United today so he can give me his thoughts but after talking with him yesterday he thinks this is the issue. Bottom line is it hurts to ride and run. So hoping it is just a bruise and it will clear up shortly so I can get back to enjoying the sunny san diego weather. At least it forces me to get some extra rest which I need.
That's it from here...think I am going back to bed =)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Xterra Pacific Champs--Santa Cruz

The week after Ironman was filled with mega easy workouts and sitting on my butt. The first couple of days were pretty rough b/c the pounding my quads took on the St George run was beyond anything they have ever experienced. Walking was a chore for sure but my legs/body seemed to get better everyday. I followed all the usual recovery protocal...ez exercise, massage, ice, lots of antioxidents, vitamin C, iron, etc. and I think it worked well for me.
By Thursday when I prerode the Xterra Santa Cruz course my legs were feeling much better. Not snappy or fresh but the soreness had pretty much cleared up. I swam everyday and I was actually feeling pretty good in the water...amazing how much better I felt after some easy time in the pool. I ended up riding the course again friday and took it really easy again but, like I said, the legs were feeling better everyday and I felt like I could actually put some pressure on the pedals. My first run after IM didn't come until Saturday...just 15 min ez minutes after a 45 min ride. My legs felt a bit sluggish on the first run back but no soreness, which I was happy about.
--One of many coffees...this one especially good in Monterey!

Sunday came up pretty quickly but, honestly, we had such a good crew staying at my grandmothers house that prior to late Saturday night I didn't even really think about the race. Lesley, Jessica and Dan kept the mood light, we watched a lot of movies, cooked up some good grub, and just had an overall great time. So, when race morning came it was obviously time to shift gears a little bit to get the game face on but the pouring rain had me a bit bummed out. I was already questioning how my body would hold up and then when I saw the weather my first reaction was "am I really going to do this in this horrible weather...I just raced an ironman last weekend."
We rolled up to Santa Cruz and the weather actually cleared up a bit and the rain held off for the whole race. I got in an ez warmup spin and then jumped into the FREEZING cold ocean (52-53 degrees). I took maybe 50 strokes and realized the water was too cold to stay in for very long. So, I went back to shore and got in a warmup out of the water. Of course, once the gun went off the water temp wasn't an issue and I had a fairly good swim for me. Then once on the bike I tucked in behind Josiah for as long as the body would allow. Eventually he left me behind and I ended up catching Craig. Craig and I ended up riding the second half of the course together and I had a great time racing with him. Up until the run my body felt great. I really had no thoughts of Ironman and the fatigue I was carrying. However, the run was a different story...the Ironman effort creeped into the body after the first 10 steps. Honestly, it felt like a tempo run. I tried to run hard initially but I had no punch and the legs were a bit heavy. So, I settled in and just hoped the legs would come around. I was hurting but it wasn't from the speed I was running...for the first time I just felt spent. I was tired and I really couldn't wait for it to be over...the run felt like it went on forever!
I did manage to hold on for 6th, which is my best Xterra pro finish to date. This result moved me into 5th in the National Series. Not going to lie, this was a big surprise. Ironman is no joke and the St. George course is punishing (plus the 92 degree temps). So, I thought there would be no way that I could recover in time for Santa Cruz. I am certainly still recovering from the effort in Utah but the body has come around much sooner then I expected.
--Some celebrating (for a lot of reasons) was certainly done!

Right now I am in Alabama for the 4th stop on the Xterra Tour. I love this course out here...the trails are awesome!  Honestly, I still have some questions in my mind as to how I will perform. I have good days and bad days. I am still on the "easy train" doing only short accelerations throughout mellows sessions to try and get back some of the "snap" but there is still some heaviness in the legs. The last few weeks have been hyper focused on resting and racing so I am actually really excited to get back to actual structured training! One more hit out on Sunday and then I will go home for a couple weeks to try and build back up for the 5th stop on the Tour in Richmond.
--Perfect way to wrap up the travel day to on Oak Mtn trails at sunset
-Swim venue...guess what, the water isn't HOT for once!

Got in some good recon on  the course today, tomorrow is a mellow, relaxing day, Saturday is the usual race prep workouts, and the race is Sunday. Looking forward to another hard race with the Xterra crew on what is arguably the best set of trails we race on all year!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ironman St. George Race Report

Well, the big day has come and gone and my first Ironman race is in the bag. Quite amazing really...time just flew by heading into this race.
I got into St. George Monday before the race and really had the chance to relax and settle in. I had a pretty hectic few weeks prior so it was nice to take some time to rest up.
Before I knew it it was Friday. It turned into quite a busy pre-race day. Ironman has so many logistics to work out especially when there are two transition areas. It was actually a little stressful, which I wasn't used to. It was a new experience for me so looking at 5 different race bags, having to drop my bike, bike bag and run bag the day before actually made me feel overwhelmed. Funny thing was I wasn't at all nervous about the actual fact, I was excited and really relaxed about the task at hand but all the logistics just made my head hurt =) I finally got to sit down and chill out around 4 or so and had the usual dinner of chicken, sweet potatoes, vegis/salad. We watch a good movie and I hit the sack. Didn't get much sleep, which was to be expected and the 3:30 alarm rang in my ears way too soon!
Got up, put down some breakfast, and then Tom and I head down to drop our special needs bags and jump the bus to the start. We got to the reservoir with plenty of time to just relax. At 6:45 we all lined up and started to get into the water. Got in a bit of a warmup and the the gun went off.

I started at the far left buoy. The first 400 meters or so was pretty aggressive. It mellowed out after though and I settled into a group. After 10 min or so the group was a little slow so I bridged to the next group. I actually continued this trend the entire swim. Honestly, the swim was easy and I felt good. I could bridge to groups in front without much trouble and I felt relaxed. Actually had a smile on my face the whole time and really enjoyed it. Yeah should have been hurting more but I figured why...the course is tough and the race wasn't going be decided in the swim. I just used it as a warmup and swam 55 min.
I was blown away by the volunteers...ALL DAY they were amazing and it was apparent how amazing they were as I transitioned from the swim to bike. They did everything for us!

Once on the bike I got into my rhythm pretty quickly and it felt so sureal! I just kept thinking to, I'm doing an Ironman. So much prep went into this day but to actually be racing just felt wild. I was happy and just rolling along, enjoying the whole experience. I found a good group and we rode well together. There was so much unknown out there for me so I just stay conservative and kind of followed the guys in my group b/c they all seemed to be experienced and riding steady. At the half way point Slater caught me and I rode with him for the next 40 miles until he decided to drop me! Thanks man ;) Ended up riding 5:16 and I felt good coming off the bike.

Again, the volunteers were amazing and sent me out on the run with everything I needed. The first couple miles didn't feel great (plus it's uphill) but the legs came around after the first steep climb. I was amazed how easy it felt on the first lap. I ran 1:32 for the first 13.1 miles and honestly thought I could hold the pace. I was so relaxed and kept cool with all the sponges, cold towels, water, etc (temps were in the 90's!).

Then I hit mile 20 and my quads really started to feel the pounding. I knew this would come but they were wrecked and getting more so as every mile went by. I knew once I got to mile 23 it was all down hill so I just kept pushing to that point but at mile 22 I had my only "breakdown." I just had to walk for a minute. I felt pretty dizzy and my quads were screaming at me. I didn't want to walk but I did so I could refuel through one of the last aid stations. It proved a good move b/c I got my blood sugar back up and fell back into my pace managing to close with 7 min miles. Ran 3:17.

Finish time was 9:34, I was 19th overall, 2nd in AG, Kona bound. On this course I am happy with that time. I had split times in mind when I started the day (but on such a tough course times were really hard to predict and it was my first ironman so who really knew how I would hold up)...I thought if I had a good day I could swim 55 min, ride 5:15, and run 3:15. I wasn't far off from my predictions. Just goes to show you how prepared I was b/c I knew I could do these times based on my training results. Overall, I really enjoyed this race. It actually left me excited to go fast at this distance. Not sure it is something I will pursue after Kona b/c it is so time consuming and demanding but who knows. I still think Xterra is more my speed =) I guess I just have to go sub 9 hrs in kona so I can end my Ironman stint on a good note ;)

I really have to thank Adam Zucco and Trainingbible Coaching for all the help. I couldn't have done any of this without the guidance of Adam. He is an AMAZING coach and a great friend. Thanks man...I owe you big time!!
Also, thanks to Jim Vance...your always there to give advice and support...It means a lot!
James Walsh, what else can I say but thank you for ALL of your help! Dude, I owe you more then you know. You are always there to keep me honest and you inspire me to work hard. I think you believe in my abilities even more then I do sometimes and it really means a lot to have you in my corner. Seriously, you make me a much better, stronger, smarter athlete and I can never repay you for this. Beers on me (for a long time hombre!)!!!
HUGE thanks to my ENTIRE family for all the support. Specifically, my parents...I couldn't do what I do without your support and guys are awesome and I love you very much.
Jess, your the best wife anyone can ask for. I could write all day about what you have given me over the years but the support you provided when I said I wanted to chase my dreams pursuing triathlon and Skinfit and quit the safety of corporate america is something I will never forget and always respect. You inspire me everyday to be a better person and I can't thank you enough for this. Having you there in St George was so special...I so wish you could be at all of the races! You always bring out the best in me!

So, that's the scoop from my first Ironman. I am excited for Kona but first I have some Xterra races to knock out. I am REALLY enjoying racing this year so I am fired up to get back into the dirt. The next stop on the Xterra Tour is this weekend in Santa Cruz...obviously, bad timing for me b/c my legs are crushed but I will be there to have some fun. SLight chance I won't race but as of now I will toe the line. Then on to Alabama the following weekend for the 4th stop on the tour. Giddy up!!