Race Week

Not much to say other than it's race week!
I've been fighting this nasty viral bronchitis the past few weeks. Last week I pretty much took the entire week off on trying to get rid of it. The fever is gone but I keep coughing up stuff which is never good when you S,B,R. Not too worried about it though - I know I've worked hard this off season and even if I'm not at 100% I think I'm primed for a good race.
Race strategy? Thanks to my new relationship with Shane and e21 (more on this product in a future post) I was cramp free for the first time in a tri a few weeks ago at the desert tri. This is a game changer for me. In the past, I've always raced just to the limit (or over) where I go hard enough not to cramp. I've always let THAT dictate how fast I go. I'm hoping it's a none issue again at Oceanside and if it isn't I'm just going to race hard from start to finish. Simple - let it rip!
Amy is going to be tweeting out updates throughout my race so if you don't follow me on twitter - jump on board! If you don't have a twitter handle, you can always just see my feed over there
Cheers to a great race!!!

Phoenix Get-away

We caught this right as Jamie broke her arm
After last week's race, Amy and I planned a trip out to Phoenix with some friends for some World Baseball Classic and Spring Training games sans kids. It's rare that we leave for the weekend without the kids so this was a much needed get-away for us (and probably them! ha). For those of you that are parents, you'll understand when I say that it was super weird. We had long, un-interrupted conversations and kind of lost track of time while we were out there. The funny thing is, we talked about our kids a lot and by the time it was time to go, we missed them to death. 2-3 days is probably the max for us. I got in some decent training but it was definitely more of a mental-refreshing, fun vacation where training was at the bottom of the list of my priorities which it rarely is. We drank well, ate well, danced (kinda well) and lived like college students for a few days and it ended up being a great time. Thanks Eric, Kim, Irving, Jamie!!!
Now it's all about Oceanside build-up. Even though my entire off season training plan has been geared towards St. George which is my "A race" I still want to do really well for Oceanside. Although I will be kinda training through it, I won't lie when I say I dug a little extra deep these past few weeks to reap some benefits for Oceanside. Last year I went into this race as my only second HIM. I was very inexperienced (still am) and had high expectations. Dangerous for the mind. My ridiculous decision of rubber banding my spare tube to my saddle instead of using a saddle bag cost me a lot of time and the fact I couldn't pee off of the bike cost me a ton of time You can read all about it HERE. When I look back on this race I was more prepared to go fast more than any other race last year - I just made so many rookie mistakes - which everyone makes so I'm OK and glad most of the big mistakes are behind me (hopefully).

I forget what blog it was that I was reading but it was talking about how each year as you get more miles and time in all three sports your body starts adapting. Those 4 hour rides that used to crush you, leave you on the couch, taking naps and worthless for the day are now no big deal. Those big training days that took a toll both mentally and physically are no longer an issue. Last year it seemed like I was always TIRED and so far this year I always want to just SMASH! So I definitely validate what I wrote about months ago about how you should respect the process cause it's not gonna happen overnight. I still feel like I have a long ways to go but at least I realize that where last year I did not.

Here's a bunch of pictures from the fun weekend-

Embracing the crazy hail storm we got
Jumbo-tron Photo-bomb!
About to board the trolley in our really hot "coffee"
World Baseball Classic USA vs. Mexico - crazy sold out!
Later that night...
So proud my friend Irving became a USA citizen. His English
is still poor but he loves this country! Kidding, his
sweet new pad before we headed out to the game
Next day, first spring training game! Very intimate setting
enjoyed watching all the players close up (and heckling).
Another tender shot with baseball field in the background
Craft beer is-a-growing in AZ
Later that night, Greasewood Flats in Scottsdale - such a cool place!
Serious about tossing shoes
More tenderness. In all seriousness though, I had sooo much
fun with Amy this weekend.
And of course drinking great beer with great friends!

2013 Desert International Triathlon Race Report

First race of the year is in the books and it couldn't have gone better. I have no idea why every triathlete in soCal doesn't do this race. Palm Springs (La Quinta) is so beautiful this time of year and the field is always ultra competitive. This is the second year in a row I've done this race and the conditions are absolutely perfect. Perfect weather, flat/fast course and very little wind. Ideal to give you some good early season confidence; which is exactly what it did for me. The weekend prior both or our kids were throwing up, two days later Amy was. I was just patiently waiting my turn. Although I managed to dodge throwing up I came down with what seems like everyone has-this nasty congested cough. Every morning and evening for the past week or so I've been wheezing and coughing up crap - which was not ideal going into this race. If this was a 70.3, there's no doubt I would have skipped the race - but since it was just short of an Olympic race, I took my chances and our sick family made our way out to the desert Saturday to check in, get in a little pre race ride/run and then back to the hotel to rest up for Sunday's race.

We arrived to the course with this sunrise. No filter, no man -made creation could match what we saw. It was jaw-dropping. I took some time to take in the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen. It would have been worth it just to drive out there to see that. Over the past year or so I've really grown to love the desert and it's beauty. Amazing. I racked my bike, chatted with some friends, went on a little run warm up. I can always tell with just a mile run whether or not I had my running legs for the day - they were very bouncy, I knew I was in for a good day. I also felt extremely relaxed - the race just has that vibe. Everyone is just in high spirits, friendly and smiles everywhere you look - the pre race atmosphere of a triathlon is so unique like that. The positive energy that floats around from person to person is incredible and just writing about it makes me smile. Love this sport.
Swim (1360 yds): 20:09 (1:29 pace) -15th out of the water in AG

Of all the three sports, I was most curious to see how I'd swim. As I've mentioned all winter in this blog, it's the sport I've dumped a lot time, energy and focus into. It's my limiter. I know I can ride and run but it doesn't matter if I'm out of the race come T1. I started in the 2nd row behind the fish, got knocked around a bit after the first sprint to the buoy then found some feet all the way to the turn around. This is where I am still questioning my decision making. My plan was to just hug the buoys both out and back but for some reason when we made the turn around everyone started swimming wide right of the buoys. I just stuck to my plan but ended up swimming completely solo all the way home. Not sure if that hurt me because I wasn't drafting or if it helped me because it seemed like I took the shortest way home. It was the first time in a wetsuit since last year so after about 800 meters my shoulders were screaming, but as far as swimming straight and sighting- I did really well, which has always been an issue for me in the past. I guess all that work has paid off. I finally swam decent for the first time. I told my swim coach that I owe her a bottle of vino. Since I didn't wear my Garmin I had no idea where I stood when I got out of the water but after seeing a lot of bikes still racked around me for the first time - I actually thought I did well.

T1: 2:02
I was definitely slow here. Usually I keep my shoes on my pedals but in the past I've had cramping issues putting my shoes on while riding - which brings another point I'd like to mention - in T1 I also slammed two Recovery e21's - also took two before the swim. And bingo. FINALLY zero cramping issues in this race!I'll blog more about this product in another post, great stuff....Back to T1, tack on fondling with my Garmin and you now have a 2 minute transition on your hands. Just rusty and needs some work.

Bike (40k): 58:24 (24.6 mph)

Thanks Dusty for loaning me these sick
wheels and sorry about the photo lol.
I have been cycling well lately. I haven't put in a TON of mileage but have just found the right balance of volume vs. intensity. Really listening to my body and climbing...A lot. This course was flat and fast - basically zero reason to get out of the aero bars - something I'm not used to. My strength on the bike is climbing so I felt pretty uncomfortable the entire ride. My sore hip flexors, psoas and butt was a reminder the next day on how rare it is for me to be hammering in the aero bars that long with that much intensity. My plan was to really just ride hard from the get-go. No pacing or holding back, just let it rip. After the first lap we ran into the later waves of traffic which became quite sketchy at times. Lots of wobbly riders blocking which made me serve and get our of the bars often. About half way through the second lap I decided to just go "all out." I just wanted to see how my body would respond for the run. I was in heaven because I wasn't cramping. For the first time the only thing that was holding me back was the pain, no stinking cramps! So I made some good ground coming home and rode hard all the way to T2. My garmin read 57:5x which I was pleased with (no idea how I was 30 seconds off). Either way it was over a minute improvement over last years bike split. I'll take it!

T2: 1:17
As I was rolling in, I saw fellow buddy/Wattie teammate Dusty Nabor rolling out (he had a killer race-first tri back, placing 2nd in his AG). He started three minutes behind me and passed me on the swim. I was a bit shocked to see him - the pic kinda captures it because I just then started to think that maybe my swim wasn't as bad as I thought.

Run (10k): 32:10  (5:21 pace)

Credit: Tyler Olson
The run course is simple, 2 loops around the lake. It ended up being a little short but I feel like the fact that it's an 80% dirt course that it makes up for it pretty close. I can't stress enough how free it felt to start this run without any cramping issues. I took advantage of it and literally hit the ground running HARD. As I mentioned last week, I've been really neglecting the run to focus on the swim so I wasn't quite sure where my running fitness was. After a 5:25 first mile I knew I was going to have a good day. My heart rate (although I didn't wear a heart rate monitor) was sky high. I was breathing really hard and loud. It kills me when I'm running and people I pass say with a clear voice, "good job" or I over hear them having conversations with whoever they are running against. This is a race, race! In my opinion for a 10k and under you should be in the hurt box the entire time. HR sky - high, unable to talk or barely think. Hammer! That's what I did and I ended up passing a ton of people. Just worked on perfect form, mentally overcoming the pain and a seek and destroy attitude. With about a mile to go I thought I had my AG win in the bag. I hadn't passed anyone from my AG in a long time and then with about a 1/2 mile to go I pass a guy that seemed to be going pretty slow (sorry if you're reading this Daniel!) from my AG so I figured he was on his first lap. Then as soon as I passed him, he came right up on me and we started running stride for stride. Holy crap! This has got to be for the win! I instantly went into full on competitive track mode like my glory days in running. There's no way this dude is going to out sprint a miler. I calmed my face (which relaxes the whole body), controlled my breathing and started getting ready to pounce just like the last 200 of a mile.  I planned to make my move with about 200 to go but we never got to 200. He fell off after about a minute lol. Oh well - I still went with 200 to go and as I was sprinting past another guy, he started sprinting too - damn - is this guy in my AG too! I barely held him off, found out he was 25-29 and we joked afterwards - "Why did we just do that!"

No place I'd rather be to start the year!
1st AG, 11th? 14th? Overall: 1:54:02
Needless to say, I was pleased to open up with such a good day. I wasn't expecting a whole lot since I haven't touched racing since last October. It felt sooo good to race and I'm now chomping at the bit to race Oceanside. With the cramping issues solved (hopefully) I feel like I can actually RACE all three sports instead of worrying about pacing and cramping up like I have in the past.

I want to thank Wattie Ink for making me look good and giving me great sponsors like, Powerbar; Perform was my only fuel on the day (1 bottle) and it settled great. Dusty Nabor for loaning me some fast wheels. KASK helmets for my fast aero Krono helmet-FREE SPEED! ISM saddles for keeping me numb free the entire ride, my Blueseventy Element goggles - white, and I love them. KSWISS Kwicky's - my favorite all time racing flat and of course. Fuelbelt for my sweet tri belt and bottles. The Bike Shop for dialing in my bike, Sportmulti for keeping me healthy and X-1 Audio for pumping me my tunes rain or shine. And a big shout out to Recovery e21 for proving me for the first time cramp-free racing!

Time to take a mini vacation to the World Baseball Classic and Spring training games this weekend with the wife and friends before I put in another few solid weeks of training leading up to Oceanside. BRING IT!

Thanks for reading - here's a few more pics from the weekend.

All of the race day essentials
 Perfect pre-race water conditions

Kids were loving the water too!

Another sweet sunrise shot before the race
Pre-race vibe always makes me happy
Sprinting it in
Close finish
My lil fans. Love.
My #1 supporter/fan. Love! Thank you for all you
do so that I can do this :)

Podium shot
And of course, post race beer line-up: Pliney
Firestone - Scuba. 12.5%. This took all the pain away. Cheers!!!