My Craft Beer Obsession

Those that have followed me over the years know as much as I love triathlon, I have a tremendous passion for beer. It all started in 2005 when I moved to Boulder, CO which many of you know is a huge beer town and home of the American Homebrewers Association. Like most, I drank BMC beers (Bud, Miller, Coors) with an occasional Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (when I felt crazy). When we moved there I noticed there were a lot of breweries in town. So I started visiting them and tasting and going to festivals and sharing with friends. I remember going to a the main liquor store there every week with my buddy Jayson and each getting a mixed 6 pack of different beers, come home all giddy with excitement. We'd carefully taste them and rate them on Beer Advocate. I'd read every book and magazine I could get my hands on. I wasn't training, so BEER was my passion (hence the 45 pound weight gain..haha). By the time we moved back to San Diego I felt like I had a degree in craft beer. I started home brewing obsessively and become really good at it. I got to the point of building a business plan to open my own brewery in 2007 called Four Corners Brewing Co. With my dads help I put together a business plan, logo, artwork, had a line up of beers and started going after funding for it. Then in October of 2007 plans changed drastically. Our place burned down in the Cedar Creek Fires. All of my equipment and work became ash. We were devastated. Starting from scratch again was not my idea of a good time so I turned back to endurance sports to "start over." To this day, I still feel like I made the right decision and haven't looked back.   Over the past few years in triathlon I've come to find out that the two actually go together pretty well and just as you assume a triathlete owns a bike;  they love beer the same.

san-diego-beer-glassThe United States craft beer industry is booming. The recession actually fueled the boom as history shows when the economy takes a downturn tobacco and alcohol sales take an upturn. This time it was different though. Craft Beer pioneers such as Anchor Brewing Co (one of very few breweries to survive prohibition by brewing sodas and selling black market beer on the side), Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada helped bring craft beer to the masses years ago. Then over the past several years breweries such as Stone Brewing (west coast) and Dogfish Head (east coast)  put out "extreme" beers, which in my opinion started the mass exodus of breweries that has put US on the map as having the best beer in the world (one of the few things we are the best at these days). Sure, I may be a little biased since I grew up in San Diego, live nearby and work down there which is considered the "Beer Capital of the US" and some would argue the world. It's an exciting time to be a beer enthusiast. There are breweries, gastro-pubs, and bars opening up every single week around here and makes for some fun experimentation, social interaction and every single dollar is well spent in helping a long-standing tradition of craft beer boom again.

beer1One of my favorite things to do after a race or long/hard workout is to sit down with a beer. For some reason I love taking pictures of that first one poured, almost like it's a work of art. I'll pour it carefully, make sure the lighting is just right - adjust it accordingly and snap the photo while my mouth is drooling. Sometimes my wife will catch me in the act and just snicker although she's used to it now. Then as I would a glass of fine wine, I'll study the color, head, aroma, retention and take that first sip, taking in all the flavors in complete satisfaction of another successful workout completed. That first taste seems to ease the tension in my muscles, release the mental strain of the workout and with each swallow, my mind replays the workout and overwhelming motivation takes over me. Usually the beers stop at two, especially with the "extreme beers" as they fry your palate and hit you harder and I have a family to run! The days I drink with friends or do yard work around the house I like to stick with the "session beers" which are basically beers with lower alcohol content so you can consume more without getting wasted but still deliver that great quality craft beer taste and have a refreshing quality to them.

1So this is why I drink craft beer and make such a fuss about it. If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon or you prefer wine, I suggest you give it a try. If you don't like beer, you haven't tried the right one yet. I am convinced anyone and everyone can find a beer they like. Unlike wine, beer actually holds the ingredients that you smell and taste. You know those vanilla and caramel notes you smell in your wine? Ya, those are not actually in the wine - what you smell and taste are just grapes. Beer? Yup, those coffee notes, those tart cherries, that chocolate taste or those hops? Those are the actual real ingredients! Having a hard time justifying buying a $14.99 four pack? Compare it to your wine purchases and it makes it easier to pull the trigger.

Learn to appreciate beer, some of my best conversations came over a glass of craft beer. It tends to cut through the small talk that unfortunately consumes so many adult conversations. Yes, I know work is busy, the kids are growing up fast and training is hard. Share a few good beers and you'll make real friends that open up to you. Beer becomes a truth serum in a way - it gets rid of the insecurities we all have and breaks down that wall we put up in conversations. It can deepen a friendship or make a new one. If you consume responsibly it can effect your life in a very positive way. Of course with beer comes those times where we aren't so responsible and we make an ass of ourselves (me included) ha! Comes with the territory and I'm OK with that.

So cheers to a good beer! I leave you with a few tips, a few pet peeves and some of my favorite brews! I would love your comments!

  • Proper glassware is very important in beer consumption. The reason why you don't drink wine out of the bottle is the same reason why you shouldn't drink beer out of the bottle! Your cheating yourself out of all the delicious flavors and aromas! Serving different style beers in the right glassware is key. Use this page as a great guide. **Side note, drinking a session beer out of the bottle while you are working around the house, on a boat, plane...etc is acceptable haha!

  • Never freeze your glassware! Unfortunately the trick bar tenders and restaurants use to mask the flavorless BMC beers have transferred over to homes! You don't want your craft beer ice cold! It masks all those beautiful flavors and aromas, the whole point of spending that $14.99 for a four pack!

  • Try to buy your beer from local breweries or liquor stores. Support local! It's what will keep great beer in the fridge. Buy a growler, fill it up at your local brewery or find a liquor store in town that carries a great variety. Develop a relationship with the owner and they'll bend over backwards in trying to get your requests in the store.

  • New to craft beer? There are a ton of beer rating websites. I again, prefer Experiment with different varieties, there are a ton of them and ask your craft beer friends for advice.

  • Don't drink and drive. This is an obvious, but all those years you drank two beers and felt fine to drive can be different if your putting away two beers with 10% ABV content.

  • IBU's. International bittering units. You see this on beers more often these days. The more the units, the more bitter and likely it has more hops in it.

  • Don't ever buy Mr. Beer. If you want to home brew, do it right. Go to your local home brew supply shop. If you don't have one nearby, you can buy from dozens of online shops.

  • Try pairing beers with food just like you would with wine. We host beer tasting/pairing parties which is always a really good time.

  • Cook with beer. You can create great food with beer because beer is food! Right now we are marinating some pork with for a Stone Smoked Imperial Porter chili!

  • Don't be an ale snob. Craft breweries are putting lagers back on the map. They can be extremely refreshing and not leave you with that fogginess that often times comes with a lot of ale the night before!

Some of my favorite beers:

DIPA's (Double IPA's): Russian River Pliny the Elder (very hard to find in bottles now), Bear Republic Cafe Racer 15

IPA's: Ballast Point Sculpin, Green Flash West Coast IPA 

Pale Ales: Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale, Stone Brewing Pale Ale

Pilsner: Lightning Brewery Elemental Pilsner

Lager: Maui Brewing Bikini Blonde, Sam Adams Boston Lager (one of the few mass market craft beers I enjoy!).

Brown: Dogfish head Palo Santo Marron, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Stout: Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout, Alesmith Speedway Stout

Porter: Stone Brewing Smoked Porter, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

Winter Warmers: Deschutes Brewing Jubelale, Sierra Nevada Celebration

Barley wine: Avery Brewing Hog Heaven, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

Belgium: Lost Abbey Ten Commandments

Sour: Russian River Supplication

2013 Soma 70.3 Race Report

SomaSoma marked my last race of the year and also last as a 30-34 AG'er. Next year I'm moving up to the hardest age group (in my opinion). Every year it seems the fastest guys are 35-39 which tells you how different our sport is to other ones. It takes years to get that swim technique down, years to get the power on the bike and finesse on the run. I'm looking forward to being the "young" guy now in my age group.

[caption id="attachment_2399" align="alignleft" width="300"]IMG_2708 Love AZ sunrise & sunsets[/caption]

This is the 3rd year in a row that I've done Soma. It's in Tempe, AZ - Amy and I have friends there that are so gracious to put us up in a 2nd home to stay and it really does feel like a vacation and Arizona is so pretty this time of year. We rolled out on Friday with the kids in tow and I ran an easy 30 mins with Eric in the foothill trails to shake the long drive out and after some stretching/strides and my legs felt good.
I probably didn't have any business doing this race. With all of my energy and focus devoted to the 70.3 World Championships, my LACK of focus for this race really showed its colors. I ran into a soleus injury a few weeks ago, then hurt my wrist/arm which really set me back in preparing for this race. However, I signed up for it and the chance to hang out with friends became more appetizing than ripping a PR on a deceivingly hard course. However, when race day came I was ready to bury myself and see what happened. The biggest reason why I did this race was to get another 70.3 under my belt and once again, I learned a lot and am glad I did it. Here's how it went down...

IMG_2707First of all, The Bike Shop hooked me up with some race wheels and I am so grateful for how much they supported me the past few years. Without any race wheels I've been bumming off of friends (again, thanks so much everyone) and when The Bike Shop had some, they loaned them to me with no questions asked. Needless to say, race wheels can have a huge impact on your bike split and your overall time and I can't thanks them enough for loaning me these sweet Normatec wheels which rolled me to a 2 minute PR bike split.

Swim: 1.2M 36:46 (AVG 1:44/100) -25th in AG

So before you think how slow of a swimmer I am, there were only 2 AG'ers that broke 30 in the swim so it was obviously long. Then when you get out of the water and go up the stairs you have wetsuit strippers then a 100 meter run to T1 where your timing chip finally goes off - so needless to say there were a lot of slow times. As I've mentioned before in triathlon - times are not the important factor, placing is. To much emphasis is put on time and often times it can let you down. In this case, I was 25th out of the water where normally I am in the 30's-50's so I was pleased enough with my swim.

Soma3The start was pretty calm when comparing it to worlds. Thank goodness it was a wetsuit legal swim so I was rocking my custom Blueseventy Helix along with my Blueseventy Element tinted goggles. I got on some feet all the way to the turn around, I peaked at my watch at 1000 yds and I was 15:xx so right on pace for a 31-32ish swim which is where I thought I'd be with the lack of swimming I've been doing lately. Well I lost the feet and swam most of the 2nd half solo and I was really fatigued by the time I got to the finish. I had issues getting up the stairs and just felt like I was in slow motion in T1, totally out of it and expended waay too much energy to start a 70.3.

T1: 1:27

Bike: 56 miles 2:28:45 *bike split PR (AVG 22.6mph) 4th fastest AG

This bike course is slower then you think it is. There's only 1500ft of climbing but the difficult part is there are 30 U-Turns and a ton of dangerous/slow turns. So you are constantly breaking rhythm and burning matches each time you get back up to speed. It's a 3 loop course and my plan was simple - 3 even splits. I didn't quite know what those splits would be so I just rode hard on my ism TT saddle out of the gate to see what that first lap split would be and it ended up being 49 mins. So for the next 2 laps my goals was to just match or beat that. I ended up going 49, 49, 50.

[caption id="attachment_2402" align="alignright" width="199"]232323232fp543_5_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;773232_nu0mrj Rolling in with my sweet Kask helmet[/caption]

My biggest problem of the whole race came on the first lap of the bike course. There are some huge bumps on the course and one of them ended up knocking my Speedfil R4 (which I love) rear mount bike cage right off. I heard it fly off with my water and realized getting water for the rest of the ride was going to be difficult as all my calories were in my concentrated bottle below me. I ended up having to grab water at the aid stations and holding it/drinking it for a bit and having to ditch it which really set me back on water and eventually sent me into dreaded cramps when the run came.

The biggest take away from this race was from the ride. Flanny decided to put me on 800 liquid calories on the bike which I'd never done before, I've always done food. It was a mix of Powerbar Perform, CarboPro and more electrolytes from my Recovery e21 tabs. Even with the lack of water to wash down that concentrated bottle, my gut handled it fine and my energy levels where a lot higher then they've ever been in a long course race. BINGO! By the time I was finishing up the 3rd lap my legs started seizing up a bit but not too bad. I kind of took 5 mins to gather myself and get ready for the run (hence the 50 min lap) and was trying to get as much water into me as possible as I knew I was dehydrated which was causing the cramps.

T2: 1:12

Run: 13.1 miles - 1:32 (AVG: 7:03 pace) #1 Run split in AG

IMG_2710Usually you can tell what kind of run you're going to have within the first mile. Leaving transition in my FuelBelt and KSWISS Kwicky Blade Lights, my energy levels were up and my legs felt pretty good. My first mile was 6:34 and it felt very easy. In my head I was thinking "Dang, this might be my day where I finally break 1:20 - I'm feeling good and..." Ahhhh CRAMP. Literally as I was thinking those thoughts in my head I cramped up real bad. Quads and Hamstrings locked up. I stopped and stretched them out as best as I could. I was carrying some Perform in my FuelBelt bottle and I had a salt tab in there which I started sucking down quickly. The cramps finally released but as I tried to get back up to speed it felt a lot more labored and every time I'd get my pace below 7 minutes the cramps would come on again.

So I basically went into survival mode and drank as much Gatorade and water as I could at the aid stations. Run hard, cramp, stretch - repeat. This went on and on. It's a flat 2 loop course and as I fought my way through the first lap and I didn't see too many runners. My AG started 4 mins after the pros so it was pretty lonely out there. Just me and my cramps :) I finished the first lap in 44:30 and and still had the goal of breaking 1:30 at this point. After all, the first step in breaking a 4:30 HIM is a sub 2:30/sub 1:30 which I had never done before. I also think its a good gauge as to whether you over-biked.

[caption id="attachment_2404" align="alignright" width="204"]IMG956286 Running scared![/caption]

Well the cramps got worse and my sub 7 min miles turned in 7:15's, 7:45's - total survival mode. Then (of course) with about 1.5 miles to go I pass a guy in my AG. I hadn't passed too many throughout the race and I had no idea where I stood. I did the math in my head and thought I'd be right around 4:37-4:40 so I thought this might be a battle for the podium. I'm not going to lie, I hate it when I pass someone from my AG late in a race when you are freaking HURTING. It really does make your willingness/ability to handle pain come into play. How bad do you want it? It was pretty hard to dig deep - especially for how much of a dark place I went into for worlds. I did my best to pass him with authority and after a few turns I could tell I wasn't really shaking him. Each time I'd try and pick up the pace I'd start to seize up so I did my best to not stop and stretch them out. That last mile seemed sooo long and I was very happy to say the least when I made the final turn towards the finish.

232323232fp54349_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;776932_nu0mrjAs I rolled in I kept looking back to see if I shook him and he was no where in sight. That last final push got me on my first 70.3 podium and although I didn't PR and am not happy with the time, this goes full circle about what I talked about earlier. Time doesn't matter, the podium does! With a 1:32 being the #1 split in my AG, I realized how hard that run really was, doesn't look good on paper but I'll take it.

Total: 4:40:39, 3rd in AG, 23rd Overall, 19th Amateur

[caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="199"]232323232fp54375_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;778432_nu0mrj Out of it[/caption]

So that's a wrap on the 2013 season. I can't thank Wattie Ink enough, my team mates, sponsors, friends and most importantly Amy and the kids for supporting me throughout the year. It was definitely a success and a break through from last year. Time for some R&R to recover the beaten up body and mind.

Cheers to another break out season next year! Here's a few more pics from the weekend:

[caption id="attachment_2407" align="aligncenter" width="300"]232323232fp543_9_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;774632_nu0mrj Kids having fun with Trenton![/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_2719 My biggest fan :)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2409" align="aligncenter" width="300"]232323232fp54357_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;497832_nu0mrj He took a photo of the podium[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2411" align="aligncenter" width="225"]IMG_2712 2 Green Flash West Coast IPA's will get rid of any post race discomfort![/caption]

232323232fp734_4_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;778732_nu0mrj 232323232fp54384_nu=3269_29;_375_WSNRCG=39649;773_32_nu0mrj   IMG_2724




Here's a sweet little clip that EZIA put together that has some footage of me from a past triathlon/functional strength training video I did over a year ago. I'll post that later, just want to see if this posts correctly as an experiment!

More importantly, go follow EZIA on Facebook and Twitter and if you live in the San Diego area go see Rob or Isaiah. The facility and programs they have there are second to none for any sport you're in. They're revolutionizing the way personal training is done, good stuff.

Soma 70.3 Race Report up tomorrow, lots of thoughts on this one!

Kona Inspiration

Last week I was glued to Kona coverage leading up to the race and finally all day on Saturday watching the race unfold. I think social media has done so much for the sport of triathlon. It's allowed us to kind of live all of these pros and age groupers experiences on the big island and provide countless inspiration for those that weren't there. By the time the race came I was so pumped to watch it after following all the coverage all week, I was telling Amy that this is better than the Superbowl!

van-lierde-win-610x3701310_JDB_Kona_11565Needless to say I was even more intrigued this year. I want to get there next year and I'm going to be making huge sacrifices to do whatever it takes to qualify in 2014. For the most part each athlete that qualified  paid their dues to get there. For most qualifiers, triathlon isn't just a hobby they do for fun. It is taken very serious and they breathe and live triathlon every single day of the year for the ultimate experience. A ticket to Kona. You could almost see it in everyone's eyes there. The energy, excitement and pride of making it there and racing. It truly is an incredible accomplishment and I thank everyone that shared their experiences (especially teammates) with us that didn't race because you created new dreams and goals and inspiration that will fuel us for 2014!

[caption id="attachment_2375" align="alignright" width="225"]photo 4 Swam a few times in my custom Wattie Ink Blueseventy Helix to get back used to swimming in a wetsuit![/caption]

The World Championships aside, I've been trying to get ready for my last race of the season. Soma 70.3 is this Sunday in Tempe, AZ. After a week off of unstructured training from Worlds I ran into some calf issues a few weeks later that left me without running for a week and then recently some wrist pain (self-inflicted ha) that kept me from swimming and riding outside. Needless to say, my focus was Worlds and even though I'm excited to race this weekend, the focus hasn't been where it should've been when I'm trying to race well and PR. Who knows - going into this race with zero expectations and well rested may leave me with a great race?

I am going to approach this race (and future races) differently though. Vegas was the first race I've actually "raced" a 70.3. I've always been so concerned with pacing in the past and a lot of that was from fear of cramping (and for good reason). Now that I've got my cramping and nutrition nailed for the most part, I'm just going to hit it hard for the entire 4.5 hours like I did in Vegas. No gradual builds or specific pacing - just race hard the entire time staying as taut (swim) as possible, aero (bike) as possible and holding form (run) until I cross that finish line. Flanny and I are also going to experiment with taking down more liquid calories. In the past I've always taken in most of my calories via solids and although they settle fine, they definitely make things more difficult to take in enough calories (especially on the run). Wish me luck, Amy should be tweeting out updates as usual throughout the race.

Here's pictures of some fun over the past few weeks. Bare with me on the formatting, still trying to work out all of the bugs on this site before January, thanks for reading!

[gallery columns="2" ids="2382,2383,2384,2385"]


Thank You

So I've had tremendous feedback from the new website/blog and I appreciate all of your kind words and support. You never know what kind of response you may get when your audience is a bunch of Type A triathletes. There are a few things I want everyone to know. First is, I am not getting paid from Lava Magazine. Why would I spend so much time and not get paid? Well a few things...I've chosen not to "monetize" this site and have a bunch of Google ad's plastered everywhere. Instead I set up a donate page if you so desire to help me alongside my journey. And I'm also going to open up the site to sponsors that want to get in front of the Lava audience (only sponsors that don't conflict with Wattie's). I'm being realistic when I say I may need more than just Coeur d'Alene for a shot at Kona next year. There are some 70.3's out there that give Kona slots too but I can't get to them without any type of support system.

However, the real core reason why I am doing this is - I want to give back to the sport in some way and I'm hoping that I can open the eyes of some people (including myself...ha) of what it takes to get to Kona if you don't have the 20+ hours/week to train. My coach really has the answers, I'm just here to tell the world what I'm doing in every single training session, diet, recovery, how I'm feeling and be REAL about other life stressors that everyone has and how I balance them alongside family and career. I'm going to blog each week and then at the end of each month I'll do a recap from which Lava Magazine will publish on their site starting in January of 2014. Until then, I plan on blogging every Tuesday leading up about my "off season" plans, my final race of the season (more on that in a bit) and all the fun family activities, craft beer and events that go along with the holiday season.

SOMA_LOGO2About four hours after crossing the line at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships I had a beer in hand and was discussing with my coach that I think I wanted to race another 70.3 to end the season. Maybe it was the one beer; the alcohol quickly working through my system after a race that made me forget how much I just suffered - but I still had a bit of hunger to race fast. Vegas by no means was a course to PR on. I haven't gone faster than I did after IM Oceanside in March all year and even though I always harp about how times don't matter in long course, no matter how hard us triathletes try - chasing times is fun. So I'm about 1.5 weeks from packing my bags to head out to Soma 70.3 in Tempe, AZ for the third year in a row. I don't know what it is about this course but I struggle with it. This year I plan on conquering it and stealing a PR from it. Then I'll have something to chew on all winter. Whether it be bitter or sweet - the race will give me a reason to wake up early, run or ride an extra mile or swim 500 more yards. I left WC's still hungry and I'm hoping this satisfies me for the long lonely winter that awaits me where I set the foundation for my 2014 season, My Kona Journey.

Thanks again for reading and I love all of your feedback/comments and questions! Feel free to "share" "like" "thumbs up" etc below. Trying to get this site exposed as much as possible leading up to January!

If you're at Kona right now, don't miss this party! Even more reason to qualify next year!

Blog has moved indefinitely

This blog has moved to it's new home at
Thanks for following my journey! 

First Post

So it begins...I'll start with my "About this Blog" post in case you missed it. I will not be sharing my workouts until January until it starts getting published at Lava. I will also have some guest blog posts from my wife and others so stay tuned! Until then, I'll just keep posting weekly about my happenings like I did at Adams Racing. Check out the site, I did it myself and worked really hard in creating a website/blog that is very user friendly and visually stimulating while incorporating some of my last blogs color schemes. I'm really looking forward to sharing my journey with you all!

Kona Journey was inspired from an idea that woke me up at 2am one night. After blogging over the past several years at “Adams Racing” about my triathlon adventures – I felt like the blog was a little too self-serving which is hard to escape when you’re blogging about yourself every week. I felt like the direction of the blog started morphing into just the “thoughts inside my head” and I really wanted to make a change.

As I lay wide awake I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. The biggest leaps and bounds I made both physically and mentally in triathlon racing were from reading other triathletes blogs. It was never the ads, articles or forums that taught me what it takes to be great at triathlon. It was the handful of athletes that gave descriptive details about their training and what was going on inside their head. It was the honest ones; the ones that didn’t have anything to hide.

I thought to myself – what could I do to show serious triathletes the day-to-day sacrifice it might take to qualify for Kona aka. The Ironman World Championships? What about on your first try? Qualifying for Kona is the golden ticket of triathlon. Everyone wants to qualify but very few do.  How does a mid-30 year old that has a full time job/career, support a stay-at-home mom, two kids and lives on a tight budget qualify for Kona? How does he do it without having the 25+ hours/week to train?

Well, what DOES it take? I hope to show you. I’m registered for my first Ironman - Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29, 2014. The plan is to qualify for Kona on my first try and I’m going to reveal every single workout that I do leading up to it. All of the numbers, the emotions, the struggles, the time management and the races leading up – everything will be exposed. I hope to show serious triathletes what it takes to get to that level to qualify so that maybe one day you can do the same thing. If you think qualifying on my first go is impossible, many told me that losing 45 pounds, learning how to swim and bike and qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships would be impossible to do in two short years but I did it....Qualify or not, I’m hoping between me and my coach that we'll open some eyes on what it REALLY takes to race on the big island.


Who better to reach out to about “Serious Triathlon” then LAVA Magazine? At 2am that night I wrote to LAVA and pitched my idea. They picked it up and starting in January of 2014, you’ll see this blog published on their site. 

The goal of this site is to inspire. I would love your feedback – please feel free to comment and thank you for reading!