Let the Season Begin!

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. Finally, the season is here!
2. Holy Crap, already??

My days before triathlon were like any other "normal" person. The months didn't really have any specific meaning. Sure there where holidays and birthdays to celebrate but other than that, work is work regardless of the month of the year. Triathlon has brought back that exciting "expectation" for me; something I haven't felt in a long time. Now each month is broken down for the "triathlon season" and every time I turn the page on the calendar it has a purpose now. Putting in the work, Staying healthy, Peaking for my "A" races, Qualifying for Ironman 70.3 Championships and representing my Sponsors and the Wattie Ink Elite Team. During the 7 years I took off when I wasn't training and competing I was happy but I was missing something and I could never really figure it out. Once I started back up again, I found out what I was missing. Passion. Sure I have my faith, family, friends and career - but I think everybody still needs that passion in their life for something to be fulfilled. I have re-discovered it again and with my first race of the season lined up for this weekend at the Desert International Triathlon, let the fun begin!

Since November I have put in some pretty solid training weeks (95% aerobic) and was able to knock off a 1:14 1/2 marathon, stay healthy (for the most part) and really build my engine for the season. James and I have been working well with each other and as far as March seemed in November, I can't believe it's already here. I was telling James that every triathlon I did last year I was uncertain of my fitness. It was so inconsistent last year (especially the swim) that every time I got on the starting line it felt like I was just rolling the dice and "hoping" for a good day. This year and even this weekend is a different story. I've put in the work, I'm confident and excited to get on the line to race. I know I still have A LOT of work to do to be where I want to be, but I am content with my fitness to this point. I guess the only question mark will be my rib. I swear this thing will not heal and I long for the day where I'll be able to sleep on my left side again! I'll back up a bit to last weekend...

Introducing the Slice to IMCA course
 Saturday morning I had the opportunity to go to the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside course and ride/run over it with a friend of mine, Mike Hebebrand who had qualified for Kona a few years ago on the course. He knew the course well and I learned a lot. The bike course was definitely not what I was expecting. Although I didn't get to go over the whole thing I was able to see the first 30 miles of the course which is typically the fast part, depending on the wind and boy was it windy that day. There were times I was pressing really hard on race pace efforts and barely topping 20mph and then others where I was riding at 75% and going 30. There were a lot of terrain changes, rollers, and even narrow spots which might get tricky since I'm the 3rd to last wave to go off. I guess that's what I'm most concerned about. With my late wave start I'm going to have A LOT of traffic to weave in and out of. The course already makes it difficult to get in any type of rhythm on the bike and added traffic will make this even more challenging. The good news about all of this? Everyone in my age group has to go through the same thing! Once we got back from a solid 52 mile ride, Mike took off to the store and I laced up to go over the run course. It's basically an out and back loop that you do two times. Even with the wind, it was a super fast course. Just a few tiny rollers, but overall -flat and fast giving me no doubt that I should be able to roll on that course. I punched out a solid 1 hour, 8 mile run and called it a day. The only bad thing was my rib was hurting quite a bit on the run, which I thought was going away. I wore my heart rate monitor on the bike, so I think that had something to do with it, since it rests pretty close to it. Hopefully it won't give me any issues this weekend and more importantly for IMCA.

Ready to Rock the W tattoos this weekend
I'm starting to get really excited about racing and completing my first 1/2 Ironman and this weekend's race is going to be a great tune-up for it.The Desert Triathlon is an International distance, which usually means the swim is shorter than your typical Olympic distance (in this case 3/4 mile) which will play to my strengths since I still get the 24 mile bike and 6 mile run. It's all about practice for IMCA this week. Getting my nutrition spot on leading up to the race, getting in the cold open water and testing my swim fitness, practicing transitions and ride/run hard. I really want to put a world of hurt on myself this weekend. It's going to be great just to compete and be pressed and make any necessary adjustments. Other than that, I topped off the weekend Sunday with a 15 mile run which put me at 45 miles for the week. Something I haven't done in a LONG time. It capped off a good week of training that put me right around 15 hours for the week. It would have been a bigger week but I actually missed two swims. One of them I had no choice because of work obligations but the second one I had no excuse. I just didn't plan properly and fit it into my schedule. I definitely want to communicate on this blog that I don't have it all figured out and that I do miss training from time to time. It doesn't happen often, but when it does - I usually learn from it and try and prevent it from happening again. Trust me, I paid the price on Saturday. I felt like crap! Whenever I take a day off, I always come back the next day feeling out of shape and flat. More motivation to not let it happen to often!

Whole patio to ourselves!
After the run and church we headed down to Stone Brewery to celebrate our birthdays with friends and family. News Flash, YES, it's ok to go to church and drink beer! That's a whole other story...It was great to see everyone. Since we moved up to Temecula from San Diego, we don't get to see our San Diego friends (and family for that matter) often but when we do, it's as if we didn't skip a beat. Beautiful weather and we had the whole upper patio to ourselves. My beer lineup that night:

1. Stone Levitation
2. Pliney the Elder
3. Stone Ruination
4. Stone Old Guardian Barelywine
and a 1/2 glass of my bro's Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale...tasty

A few more pics from the weekend:

Hanging w/the kiddos

Good times with my Brothers and Brothas
Son staying busy
My sis and I enjoying a beer earlier in the week
Birthday night, Scarlett dressed up and wanted to dance w/me :)
Opened up their gift
Swimming towels! She wanted us to wear them
She was warning mom that she needs a towel to enter the pool area.
Til next week, see you later!

Week in Pictures

Well, the rib continued to give me issues last week so it was all about recovering and doing as much as possible without aggravating it even more. This meant a lot of slow swimming, riding and running! So I definitely took it easy with the intensity because every time I'd start breathing heavy, it would hurt pretty bad and I want this thing to heal soon since I'm racing next weekend and IMCA is just around the corner.

I don't have much time this week to blog, so I'll just leave you a week in pictures:

Part of Saturdays long training day which included a 3000yd swim, 4hr/70 mile bike ride and a 6 mile run 
What fueled me during the long day. Amy's homemade "LARA" bar and granola bar

What awaited me after the workout
My beautiful kids just before the "injury"
Kids after injury awaiting urgent care for my sons busted up head...
2 staples later, he's good to go
One of my top 5 favs...has been a long time, never gets old!
Been experimenting w/Kale. Amy dehydrated it w/a little bit of lemon and agave.
So so good
 Happy Training!

Thorn in my side

A lot of this during the week
So about a week and a half ago after a long day at work, I rushed over to Masters practice (swimming), jumped in the water and found out we were starting off the day with a "500 meter mass start." In other words simulating the start of a race by everyone lining up in one lane, sprinting for the first 200 meters and then just settling in at pace. I was a little confused why we didn't even get in a warm up in first. I had just finished up a huge weekend of training and was not ready to go full blast as soon as I jumped in the water...Oh well. So we lined up and took off and immediately I got kicked right in the ribs. I tried to shake it off for 100 meters but kinda yelled at the coach out of frustration and just swapped into another lane to do my warm up. I understood the idea of getting used to bumping and starting fast, but normally you'd have a wetsuit on which definitely would have lessened the impact to my ribs and not to mention getting in some type of warm up would have helped too. I was pretty pissed, but more out of frustration (not with the coach) so I just dealt with the pain and finished up the workout and iced it up when I got home.

For the rest of the week, I stuck with the workout schedule but the rib just seemed like it was slowly getting worse. I figured it was just bruised and to just train through it. Saturday was a big day for me which started with 10x100 hard with 10 seconds rest. Despite the rib pain I was still able to average 1:30's. I got in a long cool down and then it was time to suit up for three back to back brick sessions. I won't go into detail about the workout but I basically hit a hard bike/run 3 times in a row. It helped me lock in that 70.3 half marathon race pace which came very easy and also gave me a chance to work on quick transitions. It was SUPER windy that day and with each brick, my rib started to hurt more and more. By the time I finished up my last run the pain was almost unbearable and I had to cut out the cool down. I was pretty torn up for the rest of the day and Sunday I just got on the trainer instead of my scheduled long run. Every sneeze, hiccup, cough, laughing or bump on the road really irritated it and that's when I knew it was time to go see the doc.

Waiting on X-Ray results...
Well I ended up getting xrays yesterday and they came back negative! I was very happy. He said it was a deep contusion (bruise) on lower/inside rib and all of the muscle/cartilage that's in that area. So although I can resume training, I just have to let it heal or it can linger. Either way I am very relieved that it wasn't broken. All I could think about was all of the hard work I've been putting in over the winter to get ready for IMCA - so I just have to be patient this next week and let it heal. A part of this was taking Monday off. I haven't taken a scheduled day off since like November, so it was really hard to wrap my mind around it. So I thought to myself, "How can I get better during a day off?" A massage and adjustment! The Temecula Valley TRI club has a really cool hook up for massage and adjustments. His name is Dr. Bret McLaws and you can find him over at the Tri Valley Chiropractic. He's worked with a ton of triathletes and professional athletes in all sports and he really knows his stuff. If you live in the Temecula/Murrieta area, I highly recommend going to see him. After he put me through some serious pain with some active release therapy - he told me my IT band and glutes are a disaster and that after some continued treatment I could see some free speed. I'm down for that!

Love wine country
As for the rest of the weekend, it was Amy's birthday and one of the huge benefits of living in Temecula is the wine country. As much as I love my beer, I definitely have a soft spot for good wine. We've wine tasted in pretty much every major valley in CA (except Napa) and the fact that Temecula has over 100 wineries definitely helped us in making the decision to move up here from San Diego. Our house is about a 5 minute drive to the nearest winery and not to mention miles and miles of stop free riding. I never realized how beautiful it is out here and I definitely don't take it for granted when I'm riding where you can take it all in. We also live near where they launch all of the hot air balloons so the kids always get excited to see them take off. We have still yet to hit every winery up here, so I took Amy to two wineries I always see out riding where people are outside, laughing having a glass of vino and I'm flying by on a bike in a world of hurt and very jealous of them! I joked with Amy that someday I'll be that guy laughing...and finally I was, we had a blast. We topped it off with a nice dinner at PF Changs.

Other than that, here's a few pics from the weekend:

Strong coffee to start the day Saturday...in remembrance of the
Desert Classic Duathlon...gonna miss racing that this year!
1st Stop, Robert Renzoni where he had a custom bike on
display as you walk in
2nd stop, Danza del Sol with the bday girl and some live music
Last stop, PF Changs...yes, time for an IPA


Weeks until Desert Tri: 4 1/2

Weeks until IMCA 70.3: 7 1/2

It's amazing how fast this "off season" has gone by. The weeks seem to fly by when you literally have every hour accounted for day in and day out. The only time I have to sit back and think about everything is during my long training sessions. I know everybody is busy (although I don't consider you busy if you devote 2+ hrs to television each day) - but juggling a family, a busy career and devoting 14-20 hrs/week is NO JOKE. The thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way. The coolest thing about endurance sports is; it can be considered a hobby AND exercise. I've heard the term "Lifestyle sport" which is so true because everything revolves around it. Your diet, your bedtime/wake up time, your vacations, your free time?, and even your clothing...oh yea and sometimes even your sanity! I am so blessed to have a wife that supports what I do and even she has been bit by the workout bug. She easily puts in 7-10 hrs/week herself of running, spin class, circuit training, Pilate's, Mombo ---or whatever the hell the name of that crazy dance class is, she's a machine! It's kind of a serious addiction around here and even the kids are catching on. They get pumped up to go on bike rides or runs in the jogging stroller or bike trailer. They even have nightly "races" where they race each other up and down the hall and then get a medal for finishing. Can't tell yet who's gonna be the next triathlete, but I know my daughter Scarlett has that eye of the tiger look going on at the start line. Check out this video we took after she ran up and down the hall, tired out her brother and kept pressing on for like a 1/2 hour (ignore my silly dad voice -she always wants me to be the starting guy voice from Cars the movie), she is hilarious:

People wonder how I fit in all of the training, especially on the weekends and really its not me - it's my wife that makes it possible. Some days I'm gone for 6 hours! But we get creative and sometime like last weekend after my 4 hour ride / suffer fest up Mt. Palomar I came home and they rode alongside me on my run. Or when I hit up Masters on Monday nights, they'll come and Amy will workout at the gym. It's all about incorporating them into this lifestyle and Amy is 100% on board and knows my goals/dreams and I couldn't do it without her. This weekend is her birthday and even though I'll probably be dragging on our date Saturday night, she'll understand - and I love her for that. Happy Birthday!

As far as training goes, I have been on fire. And I'm not talking about like I'm in peak form or anything. When I started with James there was this HUGE gap on my fitness level vs. my potential - I just wasn't putting in the work last year. He has still kept me in check with intensity and to knock off a 1:14 1/2 marathon without even getting into the hard stuff yet gets me pretty excited as this season is about to kick off. Not to mention my bike fitness has jumped leaps and bounds just within the last 4 weeks - and again, nothing intense, just a TON of climbing, check out my monster brick from Sunday:

The Ride

The Brick run
 Riding from Temecula, up Palomar, then back home up Pala under 4 hours is no joke. My previous best was 4:15. I also had a personal best up Palomar which was 1:12 --I was trying to keep the mph in double digits the whole way up and came up a bit short with 9.4mph. As soon as I got back I jumped right into a 10k hilly (about 500ft of climbing) run. I couldn't believe how effortless the run felt. The last 30 mins on the bike were pretty rough and I was a little concerned how I would feel on the run, but after the first mile of getting my running legs under me, I felt like I could just play with the pacing. So I did. It was very easy to switch gears and this big day gave me confidence that I'll be able to run really well off of the bike in Oceanside. As far as the swimming goes - I finally feel like I have made a major leap this past month. Part of that was joining a Masters group at the YMCA and fixing a few flaws in my form that the coaches saw. I'm getting in the pool 4-6 times a week and the work is starting to pay off.

Oh yea, I changed up my Race Schedule a bit by taking out the San Diego ITU race and I signed up for Wildflower Long Course this past weekend. From what I hear it's a very difficult hilly course, so it should play to my advantage. I'm not specifically training for the short course stuff, so I figured getting in another 70.3 will help get me what I'm lacking...Experience! Pumped to join other "Watties" and race hard up there in May.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Birthday to my son, thanks to Amy for the awesome collage
My recovery drinks, including Dogfish Head "Oak-Aged" Imperial IPA 10%
...does the body good

Putting on the Armor

Years ago I remember watching a National Geographic program and the topic was on mixed martial arts. It was talking about how you can train your body to withstand forceful impacts with years of proper training and tolerance. Your body naturally forms a protective tissue around areas that routinely get punished. Using mixed martial arts as a key example they talked about how a well-trained veteran would take an open kick to the rib cage and deflect the kick causing little pain. Where as, say I was to take that kick, my ribs would be shattered! I couldn't help but relate that to endurance athletes. But to take it a step further, also throwing in the mental aspect of it. Learning how to cope with pain, taking the abuse and pushing your body further than you thought possible takes years to accumulate -and although the "seasoned veterans" of triathlon can still get injured, they most definitely can take more abuse than your average triathlete.

Lake Wolford about 3 hours into my monster 6 hr
training day last weekend.
After running competitively for 10 years and then taking 7 years off and discovering triathlon in my 30's -I'm starting to realize that those 7 years off helped me in the long run. I'm not gonna say that it was "meant to be" or "everything happens for a reason" because I hate those sayings and don't believe in them. I just know that if I wouldn't have taken that time off I'd still be burnt out. It's recharged me and has motivated me more than I have ever been in ANY sport. The coolest thing about it is -I have those 10 years of running in my armor. I know how to take the abuse. My body is handling the workload and if I had more time, I'd ask for more! I was kind of curious how my body would handle big workloads again. When I was putting in 100 miles per week -I was toast. Everyday was a struggle to get out of bed and I was ALWAYS sore. I wasn't recovering and the more I look back on it, I wasn't doing all of the right things. The biggest thing; being diet. I didn't really have a choice though, I was poor but I also wasn't jumping in ice baths as much as I could have and definitely wasn't taking any type of supplements to help aid in recovery. Now, I feel like I just need one day here and there to recover and I feel ready to roll. It's a good thing cause this was how last week rolled down:

Swim: 4hrs 45 mins (13,800 yards)
Bike: 8hr 15 mins (142 miles) w/10,283ft of climbing
Run: 5hr 15 mins (40 miles)
Total: 18hrs 15 mins

It was a pretty big week for being a family and career man. A lot of the work was done on the weekend which included an hour swim, 4 hr ride with 5,500ft of climbing and then a fairly hard run off the bike. Then Sunday I backed it up with a 15 mile run. It was also the first time I have hit 40 miles in a week for the run in a looong time. Just slowly putting on that armor so that I'll be tough to beat come race day. Speaking of Armor, check out my early birthday present:

Custom Wattie Ink Aero helmet from one of our sponsors Kask. Check them out!
Wattie Ink is definitely coming out with a bang this year and the sponsor support is no exception. Pumped to be part of it.

So I totally lagged on getting this post up earlier this week. I've been so busy this week and didn't get around to it. Usually I post on Tuesday or Wednesday so I'm pretty much geared up already for the weekend. I'll just leave you with a few pics from that weekend and I should be back on track early next week.Thanks for reading!

One thing some of the guys on the team did was post their January totals....I like the idea
so I'm gonna start posting mine so it will be easy reference for me on this blog as a training diary.

The Kiddos enjoying this harsh SoCal weather
Some homemade pizza...sooo good
I didn't have my token beer shot, but fell in love with this bike (and the 6-pack carrier)
that Amy sent me....I told her I want that for my b-day too!