Thanksgiving Week

What a week to be thankful for. I was able to get in a lot of family time, training time, pick up a few more sponsors and even race a 5k Thanksgiving morning. It was really nice to have the four days off and get in quality time with the things I love to do! Let's start with the race. James set my schedule up for the week to have a big cycling weekend block and pretty much chill prior which means I was actually going to have some fresh legs going into Thursdays race which I was excited for. My last 5k was the Carlsbad 5000 back in March and with the vast improvements I had been seeing in my running lately, I was shooting for a sub 16. Well Thanksgiving morning I woke up sick. Amy and Scarlett both have this nasty sore throat/cough and as much as I tried to wash my hands and stay clear of germs - I got sick alongside with them. Even though I felt like crap, I just decided to do it anyway. It's not like I was doing a 1/2 or anything.

Since Amy and Scarlett were sick, I just took off solo and arrived down in Oceanside about an hour before the start. After checking in, I headed out for my 2.5 mile warm up and felt just OK. My legs felt great but the junk in my lungs kinda gave me some issues. The race was out of control, there were 5000 people in my race! I barely made it to the start in time and  met up with some other BSK teammates and before I knew it the gun went off. My goal was to go out in 5:10 and just get a feel for the pacing since I haven't been training at this intensity. I came through in 5:12 and felt pretty good. I couldn't believe how far back I was from the lead pack, a lot of fast guys came down for this one. Mile two I kind of fell asleep a bit and lost focus and once I looked at my watch and it read 5:17 for mile 2, it woke me back up and I realized there was only a mile to go! I picked up the pace and started reeling in some guys and then with 800 to go, I really changed gears and charged in for a 16:16 finish.
My splits:
I placed 4th in my AG and 16th overall, you can check out results here.

I had a big training weekend lined up, here's how it went down:

Friday's ride: 3 hours, lots of climbing

Saturday: Put in 2500 meters at the pool then a 4hr ride up Palomar, again- lots of climbing

Friday and Saturday I rode while sick - but it wasn't enough to take me out of commision. I thought I could defeat it even with the load of work I was putting in, but Sunday morning when I woke up, I felt like hell. I had a 3 hr ride/30 min run scheduled but with me sweating with feverish conditions - any exercise was going to do more harm than good. Either way I was pleased with the work I put in and the monster ride on Sunday gave me a lot of huge mental/physical breakthroughs. With over 10k of climbing in two days, I still had decent legs on Sunday morning...starting to get fit.

My sponsorships for 2012 are really starting to take shape and I'm really excited to add Xterra Wetsuits, SportMulti, and FLEXR to the mix. Check out my Support page to learn a little more about them. I have a few more that I am trying to line up and I'm excited to see that all of the hard work I've put in is starting to bear a little fruit. Alongside my coach, I think 2012 is going to be a huge breakthrough year for me and I'm pumped to go out and compete and bring my best.

One more thing, check out this video that a buddy of mine from San Francisco sent me. He helped put this race together, it's the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. They definitely put some twists in the race as opposed to your typical Cyclocross race. Man, I hope Santa puts a Cyclocross bike in my stocking this year, it looks like a lot of fun, we need more races like this in SoCal!

And of course, some additional photos for your viewing pleasure..ha. Thanks for reading!

In route, start of mile 3 I think
Here's a pic w/the fam and the in-law's

A little Mountain Bike action last week. Fun to get on the trails!

Scarlett and I braved "Black Friday" together
On top of Palomar mtn with Amy's homemade Carmel swirled pancakes and some much needed Coke!
Post ride beer....It say Palomar (check) by the way...
Can't get enough of this lately...

Training and some gear

Well the volume continues to creep up and I just continue to feel better and better each day. I thought at first the new workload would really hammer me, but as I said before-having structure in my workouts has really taken a burden off of me and now I feel like I can really train. After three weeks of solid training, this week I am recovering and getting ready to throw down 10 hours on the bike Fri-Sun. I've never put in that much saddle time before over a three day period so it will be interesting to see how my body handles it. Before it begins, I'm going to jump into the Oceanside Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I've always wanted to do this race and I'll actually have some legs for it, so I'm going to let it rip and try and break 16:00. I ran 16:28 back in March at the Carlsbad 5000, so I don't see why I won't. It's just going to be fun to go fast! Here's my volume from last week:

Swim: 2hrs 45 mins (7,700 yards)
Bike: 9hr 47 mins (166 miles) w/9k ft of climbing
Run: 3hr 7 mins (23 miles)
Total: 15hr 40 mins

I used to think 20 hrs was completely ridiculous, but now I'm seeing that it IS possible, even with my tight schedule. The only way I make this work is by planning/executing my weekly schedule with family, work and training without a hitch. I pretty much can't cheat even a 1/2 hour of sleep or take a long lunch or forgetting to pack my bag the next day. I have to be on top of it to make it work. I've always thought I've been very disciplined with my time, but now even more and I honestly believe that I'm becoming a better husband, father, employee and athlete because of it. Good stuff.

I'll break down the highlights of the week:

Months ago we signed up Scarlett for her first "Princess Ballet" class. She barely made the age cutoff (3), and after weeks of classes, the parents got to watch the "final performance" and talk about a proud dad. She fit right in with those girls and I was sooo proud to say the least. Gymnastics might be up next...of course I'll keep the nightly running races through the house in gear. Start em early!

I also obtained a sponsor, H2O Audio for the 2012 season. You should check out their website, a lot of good deals. I'm really excited to try their products and it looks like that's going to happen sooner than I thought, this was waiting at my doorstep last night...gear! Stoked. I've never had a pair of $150 waterproof headphones before, it's definitely going to beat the "stock" headphones I've been battling with for years!
I have a few other opportunities in the works right now too and I'm really excited to partner up with other companies to represent their brand while I train and race in 2012.

I guess the other highlight of the week was my ride on Saturday. It was a beautiful morning and I headed out early with Mike Hebebrand and we went up Cole Grade. He split off and went home while I climbed Lake Wolford again along with Valley Center road, Couzer and Rice Canyon. Lot's of climbing! With about a mile to go to my house I obtained a huge gash in my tire. I looked everywhere to try and find what caused that big of a puncture, but couldn't find anything. I tried to patch it with a cliff bar, but after putting in a tube and heading out it only last about 2 minutes and another puncture. That gash was just too big. I had to call Amy to rescue me and by the time she picked me up I had to bag the 30 minute run I was supposed to do cause there where things to do! At least I got in the ride before all of that happened.

On the swimming front I'm starting to see some good improvements. I definitely wasn't pushing myself enough in workouts before. It is very common for me to have some lactate acid build up in my arms in some of these workouts I'm doing now, which never occurred prior to being coached. I know I still have a lot of work to do on my form, but the swim is improving. I'm learning how to hurt in the pool just like I do on the bike and run. I'm completely switching my mindset when it comes to swimming. I don't want to just be an average swimmer, I want to be a great swimmer. I know this is going to take time, but I need to make it happen.

A few more pics from the weekend:

My only pic from last weekend's Mission Inn 10k...Last mile, in a world of hurt!
Hit up Stone Brewery for a "recovery drink" with an old friend.
Taylor and I bummed watching the Chargers
Yes, more good beer.

Press On

After putting in my highest volume week, I backed it up with another solid week of training that included a 4 hr hilly/rainy bike ride w/a 4 mile brick run Saturday and then a 10k race up at Mission Inn in Riverside Sunday. Running on tired legs was the death of me at Soma weeks ago so I really need to learn how to run fast on tired legs so I can use my biggest weapon (the run) in races next year without cramping up.

I really didn't want to cheat myself this weekend so I tried to pick the hilliest route I could find to do on Saturday. This included a trip up Couzer Canyon, Lake Wolford and Pala, totaling over 5,000 ft of climbing. The forecast called for rain but after waking up, eating and going outside for a bit it really wasn't that cold and it seemed like the rain had surpassed. Little did I know that the 1 minute I stepped outside would set me up for a very rough day both mentally and physically. For those of you that have ridden with me, I'm almost always under dressed on rides. I actually like the cold and I usually warm up quickly and would rather not haul extra clothing around for the whole ride or be too hot. So for my 4 hour ride I decided to just wear what I did the week before. Cycling shorts, dri fit shirt underneath a cycling shirt, arm warmers, toe warmers and gloves. The week before it was actually colder and I was very comfortable the whole ride. So I set out with a powerbar, pack of shot bloks, 2 caffeinated gels, 2 bottles of EFS and a small snickers bar.

Not me, but about as lonely/cold it really was out there!
I set out solo and naive. The first 10 minutes of the ride were fine, then the rain started dumping on me. It was COLD rain along with cold wind. It instantly drenched me from head to toe. I had on wool cycling socks that were now frozen. This was the first time I thought about turning back and doing this on the trainer but the rain subsided for a bit so I pressed on. As I was making my way down Rice Canyon I started getting really cold. My clothes didn't seem to be drying because the roads where wet and I was kicking up water all over me. I pulled over to pee and started shivering a bit. I started to worry a little and even thought about having Amy come pick me up. I pressed on. When I got to the bottom of Couzer (before the climb) my legs and feet were numb, my heart rate was low and I was already hating this ride. I decided at this point that I would get to the top of Couzer and see if I'd warm up by then. Of course, the rain starts dumping again....then I see from the side of the road a pit bull comes charging at me. Are you kidding me? Seriously? I had to gas it and let's say my heart rate was no longer low. I kept getting those stupid things get in my head that people always say "It's a sign" or "everything happens for a reason" maybe I should probably bag the workout today because it "wasn't meant to be." I really don't believe in that kind of thing and at this point I just started laughing..."This sport wasn't meant to be easy" I do believe in that. Press on.

At the top of Lake Wolford
After I sped past the dog I started hitting the climb pretty hard and the sun actually started peaking through the clouds and I finally started warming up. I was no where near hypothermia or anything...just miserably cold. And I just started being realistic. If I did become dangerously cold, there are houses and cars everywhere. I wasn't going to die for crying out loud! By the time I got to the top, I felt like I pressed through a lot of mental demons and learned a big rookie lesson. Better to be overdressed than under dressed! My legs for the first few hours of the ride where just numb with no pop in them. As I was climbing Lake Wolford, they started warming up and I couldn't believe how easy the ride started to feel. With each climb, with each mile and each obstacle I became stronger mentally and physically. I think these long solo rides really make you into a beast. I love riding with others, but I think balancing it out with solo rides gives you the chance to chill when you want to chill and hammer when you want to hammer.

After climbing Pala and making my way back into town, the mental demons came back. I was pretty much frozen from head to toe and all I wanted was a hot shower and some hot coffee. A 4 mile brick run was pretty much the opposite of that. As soon as I got in the door Amy made some homemade cinnamon rolls and the house smelled amazing but I forced myself out the door before I consumed any. I couldn't believe how strong my legs felt after that ride. After the first mile, I was finally warm and I was kicking off 7 min miles with ease. With just a short 3 weeks I've been working with my coach James, I've lost a much needed 5-7 pounds and I've seen big gains in all 3 sports and I'm excited to see where my fitness takes me next year.

The next morning I woke up and actually felt OK. It was really cold and with our son Taylor being sick, Amy and the kids decided to stay home. I headed up to the Mission Inn 10k solo and met up with some old friends I had run with back in college. After getting checked in and standing in a 20 min bathroom line, I headed out for my warm up and I'm not going to lie, my legs were trashed! I was crawling along at about 9 minute pace the first mile and then I started "picking it up" the 2nd mile and I look down and I'm only hitting 8 minute pace and I was breathing pretty heavy! Great, this is going to be rough. Even in national championships in college when we'd race 3 times two days in a row -my legs had never felt this heavy before. I went back to the car, put my racing flats, powered down a caffeine gel and once I heard the announcer yell 10 minutes til start the race day adrenaline started taking over my battered legs. After doing a few strides I saw an old teammate of mine I hadn't seen since college who was also racing and a few other guys I had raced against at the AFC 1/2 marathon. I was now ready to race!

I lined up front and the gun went off. Instantly a pack of 4 guys took off ~5:15 pace. I settled in the 2nd pack with another fellow Running Center teammate (from Riverside) and we were going 5:30 pace. He started chatting it up with another guy - like literal conversation - "So, you from Riverside? What do you do for work?" I didn't want any part of the conversation, but I did just sit right on those guys. The course was a little hillier than I had expected. A guy at the start was saying miles 2 and 4 have good size hills in them. So we hit the mile marker and I look down at my watch said 4:25...we all laughed how off the marker was. When my Garmin actually hit the mile marker we nailed 5:30 on the dot. Mile 2 came and so did the hill. We powered up together and their conversation finally stopped. We passed one guy from the lead pack and now there where only 3 to catch. Mile 2 hit in 5:43 and I noticed the 3rd place guy (my former teammate) dropped off the lead pack as well. My legs felt surprisingly good at this point so this is where I made the decision to go for it. It was only a 4 mile race from this point so I made my move to get to the lead pack where stud runner Christian Hesch was leading the way. I went to the lead of our pack and they sat my my heels. We went through mile 3 in 5:19 and 3 mile mark in 16:30. We made up a lot of ground on 3rd place at this point, but the 2 leaders where gone by chance. We slowed down a bit because of a hill and went through mile four in 5:30, but this is right about where the wheels started to come off for me. I tried to just focus on my cadence and stick with the pack of three I was in, but they slowly started to pull away from me. Mile 5 was 5:44 and I noticed I started gaining on the two that left me. The next mile was all uphill and at some point I passed my teammate. The last mile was chaos as we hit 1/2 marathon traffic and at this point my heart rate was at a high 187 and with a 1/2 mile to go, I pushed even more elevating my HR to 191 (with my max at 193). I split a 5:51 and then sprinted in to catch 4th place with literally 5 meters to go to finish in 34:57 (5:37 pace). I couldn't believe how strong I felt at the end of the race. Over the past year I've been so used to just dying mid way through a race, but Sunday my legs had some fight in them, something I haven't felt in many many years.

I was pretty pumped to break 35 on that course and to do it with such tired legs. The results showed me at 5th place overall (out of 700) and 2nd place in my AG, which come to find out - the guy that I beat at the end started 1 second behind me (chip timing) which is why they gave me 5th.

You can check out results here.

Sorry for lack of pics, I didn't have my photographer at the race!!

And for those of you that love a good winter warmer to compliment the cold weather and the holidays, you need to try these!

Deschutes Jubelale and Anchor Brewing's Merry Christmas Ale.

Week 1 in the books

So I wrapped up my first week of training last week with a coach and an actual plan. James has my plan dialed in and even after only one week I can't believe how much LESS stress/anxiety I have towards training. I didn't realize how much pressure I put on myself on planning and executing workouts on my own along with all of other life's stresses. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and questioning my decisions along the way with my training plan. I'm finding out quickly that I really do need structure and balance in my life for me to be successful. All I have to do now is put all my trust in the plan he's laid out for me and just put in the work (which to me is the easy part). It's weird and hard to explain, but over the past year I've almost had this cloud of guilt over my head when it came to training. I always felt like I was either doing to much or too little. Taking that guilt away is like a huge monkey off my back and I'm excited to see what my body can do now that my head is right.

Right out of the gate I had my biggest volume week ever and my body feels like it had a rest week. It feels like my legs are responding better to the extra work load (with the right amount of effort) than it was before where I'd hammer hard then take like 1 or 2 days off during the week, feel flat, hammer and so on. I think the biggest thing is where my head is right now. I think the combination of getting humbled at Soma, taking a week off and now starting/executing the plan with a coach has me more motivated than I have ever been in my life for a sport. I know that sounds pretty intense, but I've never been so focused, patient and committed to a sport than I am right now. I'm a big believer in attitude with endurance sports. Put a thick shield around your goal and don't let anything penetrate it. If your mind believes, your body will follow and for 2012 I am "all in" and it will be exciting to see what I can do.

Here's my volume for the week:

Swim: 2hrs 22 mins (7,200 yards)
Bike: 8hr 30 mins (147 miles)
Run: 3hr 22 mins (26 miles)
Total: 14hr 15 mins

Sierra Nevada's "Celebration" providing
some motivation!
During this off season, I'm really trying to focus on my swim form. This was obviously my limiter this past year and kept me out of contention for most the races I did. James has me doing a lot of pulling and different drills and I'm checking out every youtube / book that I can get my hands on so I can fix the issue. I think it also starts with how you see yourself as a swimmer. Again, your attitude and feelings about how you swim can make a big difference in your performance. I'm starting to believe I'm a "swimmer" because I know it starts there and the body will follow. As far as the bike goes, I'm back to doing isolated leg drills. I did some of these last year, but nothing to the extent I'm doing now. I'm working on the dead spots in my stroke on and off the trainer. My running just needed some attention. I've gotten away with running 2-3 times a week with little structure, but upping the mileage and number of days I get out and run is really going to help raise my running fitness back to my true running potential. I'm really going to take my running serious again. Enough of this "over 30 PR" bullsh$t - that I've talked myself into. I truely believe you can be in your prime in your 30's. Although I won't be attacking the mile or 5k on the track, I will be shooting for PR's 10k - Half Marathon next year.

Actually, I will be racing a 10k this weekend. Since we ran 8k's in college, I never really was able to jump in a 10k and get a quality PR. Right now it stands at 33:13 which I did years ago. In 2010 I ran 35:50 at the Scripps Ranch 4th of July 10k and this year I didn't get a chance to race one. Well this weekend I'm going to jump in the Mission Inn 10k and although I probably won't crack 33, I'm excited to race. Since I went to school up there, I've always heard about this one - which apparently is huge now. This race is going to hurt though. The day before I'm scheduled to ride for 4 hours on a hilly course and then finish off with a 30 min run. So I'll have 4.5 hours of fatigue in my legs come Sunday morning, but regardless - I'm pumped to go out and compete. Ice bath!

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week, I need to get back on the ball!

Mental & Physical Break + Coaching/Schedule for 2012

The next morning after Soma I woke up and actually felt great. I wasn't limping around like I usually do after a hard race. It just felt like I rode hard the day before and nothing else. I was pretty surprised because of all of the intense cramping I had. We packed up and headed for the long ride home. Three hours later we made a stop and as soon as I got out of the car it felt like someone took a bat to the back of my knees/lower hamstrings. Every hour from there on out it got worse. The next day I was having a hard time walking. I had a serious case of DOMS and I was miserable for a few days. I probably should have gone for a little spin on the bike as soon as I woke up to get the blood flow going....Oh well, lesson learned.

Beautiful/chill ride with Scott
After Soma, I had already planned on taking a week off of training. I told Amy that not only will I take the week off from training, but also take a mental break from it to. As in no triathlon magazines, TV, online, talking about it...etc. I just wanted to get away from it for a week and clear my mind and allow my body to heal a bit before I start base building for 2012. Let me tell you, it was hard! But it was a very nice week to relax, eat a little more than usual, drink a little more beer than usual, go to bed late, sleep in...I think I gained 5 pounds in those short 5 days. OK, maybe it wasn't a whole week off, but I'm glad I put in some low-key workouts over the weekend to prime me for this week.

Now, for some exciting news...

A few months ago I had started looking for a coach. I got some referrals from some friends, but some of the coaches weren't local or too much $$, so I just kind of put it on the back burner. Then a few weeks ago, James Walsh posted on his blog that he is teaming up with Trainingbible coaching and will be taking on some athletes for the 2012 season. I met James last year at an Xterra trail race in Santee. I went up and introduced myself to him at the start because he had a BSK/Running Center singlet on. I had just started training with BSK and after he won the race I found his blog on the BSK website. Since then I've kinda just followed him and his wife Beth crush it in the triathlon and he's even given me some tips/encouragement on my blog. A big selling point to me was that he uses Joel Friel's system, which I'm familiar with. I've been self coaching myself over the past year and I've incorporated everything I've learned from his two triathlon books; "Triathlete's bible" and "Advanced Triathlon" so I know the strategy and purpose of most of the workouts. I also know that using just one formula won't get me to my best, so with his added knowledge I think I'll make big breakthroughs in 2012.

I'm just pumped to have a coach again. I haven't had one since US 5000 meter Olympic Gold Medalist Bob Schul coached me back in 2002-3. The biggest reason why I need one is to have someone push me and hold me accountable (on both slacking and going too hard) at all times. I contribute all of my past running success to my coaches. I honestly believe you just can't be at your best on your own. So this week I officially started the plan and mapped out my tentative schedule for 2012 which includes the following:

Jan 15 - Rock & Roll ½ Marathon, AZ
March 3 – Desert International Triathlon, CA
March 31 - Ironman 70.3 CA
April 20-21 – Ragnar Relay 
May 12 – San Diego ITU Age Group
June – San Diego International
July 15 – Ironman 70.3 Vineman
September 9 – Ironman 70.3 World Championships, NV (if/when I qualify)

I might do the Desert Classic Duathlon again, but I'd like to get in an Olympic distance triathlon before I jump into Ironman 70.3 CA so we'll see. Cheers to 2012!

A few more pics from the weekend:

A Knight....and Snow White for Halloween!

Teaching the knight Roman numerals

Lots of these during my week off...just ask Amy

Stone's Black Imperial IPA...not my fav, but a nice kick!