I’ve absolutely never had so much fun getting my butt whooped before. I got it handed to me this morning at the Patriots Sprint Triathlon in Williamsburg. It was my first time finishing out of the top 3 in a local race since I can remember much less out of the top 10. I got 11th overall and 9th collegiate. But I’m am absolutely stoked. It was Eastern Virginia Medical School Triathlon Club’s first race in the MACTC and I’d say we had a not bad showing for being a new program. Continue reading Patriots sprint triathlon race report
I am very excited to announce my partnership with 3Sports triathlon store in Richmond, Virginia for my upcoming Appalachian Trail self-supported thru-hike record attempt. They will be outfitting me with shoes and nutrition for the trip. I really couldn’t do it without their support and expertise so major thanks to all the amazing staff at 3Sports! Check them out at their store off River Rd. in Richmond and online here: http://www.threesports.com/
This is a post I wrote back in August after a miserable trip up North to race a triathlon. I went to the race for the wrong reasons and that became very apparent during the race. While I was reluctant to post this at the time, I now can reflect with satisfaction, knowing that it was simply another hurdle to overcome.
I remember when I used to pretend I knew the answers to things. It was comfortable. It made me feel like I had place and purpose and helped dissipate the loneliness. I knew the questions needed answers otherwise they would drive me mad. But what I did not understand is that I could have the same result from simply not asking the questions. Continue reading Missing answers
Triathlon, just like distance running, cycling, or swimming is not just one sport. Within triathlon we have subdivisions of distances for example. Just like track has the 100 meter dash up to the 10,000 meter run, triathlon spans from a race lasting around an hour to a race lasting over eight hours. This is essentially equivalent to comparing a 5k to a marathon or comparing the 1500 meter swim to a 10 kilometer swim. These are drastic differences and about as far as any distance sport will span without the exceptions of the ‘ultra’ endurance athletes.
However, just like in road cycling or running, triathlon has different styles of racing. Continue reading Drafting versus non-drafting triathlon
I played it safe. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital. And in my defense, it was pretty damn hot. But this was a race and the only one for over a month on either side. It was what I train for and commit myself to for hours each day. It was money spent on travel. It was the emotional investment. It was my parents, friends, and coach’s support. And I had wasted it all by playing it safe.
High school cross country and track athletes run themselves into the ground because all they see is the end to their career in four years. Beyond that, most of them will never race again. I did the same. I ran until I could not physically run anymore but my perspective was even more stunted. I would look season to season. So I had three months to get into great shape and attempt to become one of the fastest runners on my team.
I would either lose motivation or get injured and sometimes both. At least when I became injured I was not able or allowed to run. And after maybe a week my interest and excitement would return with full vigor for the sport that I dreaded shortly before. I raced my best my sophomore year. I ran all my personal records of high school my sophomore year. I became accustomed to those speeds, times, and placings. I enjoyed the thrill and racing as one of the top.
Of course I got injured though. First it was iliotibial band tendonitis. My junior year the same injury plagued me on the opposite leg. And my senior year I topped it off with a completely torn ligament in my ankle and a stress fracture. Post injury I would come back with a burning desire to run my hardest and race those splits I could once reach. I didn’t want to accept the injury as an excuse to take it easy. So I ran even harder than I did before and the result was still the same. With the training load I took on, I was bound to get injured every time.
Between years I raced triathlon and cycling under my coach Michael’s leadership, coaching, and rules. I have yet to get injured over his guidance. He knows what he’s doing and better yet, my eye is on a long term goal rather than seeing the end of my career approaching way to quickly.
Fact is, I was never one of those high school prodigies. I showed up and ran 25 minutes for my first 5k. And yes, breaking one hour in a 10k was once a goal of mine. Beyond that I was never the guy that could train hard every day and expect results. I tried but I failed. I have always needed to train, back off, train, and back off again.
I suffer from a torn ankle ligament that I did not have enough patience to let heal. I still have regrets about running myself into the ground through high school. When I see most of my old teammates, they are busy running themselves into the ground in the other direction. Meanwhile I am a freshman in college, in the best shape of my life, have not had a drop of alcohol in my body since, well I forget, and I am running, cycling and swimming faster every year. And my goal is long term. And of course the goal of health and relationships is there, but I swear I can make it big. I sure want to and it seems my body is complying with this challenge.
This morning I ran a 10:59 2-mile. It was the first time I had run that race at that speed since my sophomore year. Yet now I am not lying to myself and I am not hiding inevitable injury. Now I am recovered and on a steady path to improvement. Fact is, high school distance running destroyed me for years. It broke my body, it shook tears out of me, and it turned all of burning desire to hatred of a sport that I claimed I loved.
My senior year, having been plagued with a stress fracture and a sprained ankle simultaneously, I did not return to the sport with burning desire. I remember walking into my much respected coach’s office and handing my jersey to him a folded paper grocery bag. I prayed he wouldn’t be in his office so I could just drop it off and walk away quietly from a four year career. But I had to walk in with my head held high and tell him how I could not do it anymore. Before, I wore those colors with pride and enthusiasm. Now, I turned in as a sad, confused cripple.
That season they didn’t have enough uniforms to give to all the athletes. So the next day, another runner wore my singlet and shorts. Just like that, I was replaced. A spot opened up for another excited kid.
I pray that kid doesn’t have to go through what I did. I pray for the guys who I once ran beside and I especially pray for the guys who are still there. I pray for the high school guys on my triathlon team to keep patient and avoid injury. And I pray that no one is ever as impatient as I was.
No one but me is at fault for these sufferings and I do believe those injuries happened to help me grow. And I do think that the rush to get fast in four years is shared by most high school runners. But now, that troubled past is gone, my heart is bigger than ever and my peak lies a long way from now.
A half mile from the finish I passed a guy who barely mustered the question, “What age group are you in?” and upon my short breath response he exclaimed “Good!” and relaxed into his own pace again.
I spent the whole morning yesterday on the chase. And although I recently had a breakthrough at Power sprint triathlon, yesterday was not my day under the spotlight. A guy from Freeman High School gained almost two minutes on me on each leg of the race. Sadly my chase was fruitless and I never saw him.
I had a highly unusual swim in which I lost minimal time to my competitors. However, the bike leg unveiled my rusty mountain bike handling skills. My body hit the ground four times throughout the ride but with no major injuries. They simply were reminders of the fact that I had not ridden this course in this direction since last year. To add to my difficulty I had a rubbing front brake that in addition to slowing me down, squealed at me the entire ride.
With that said, Xterra is a race of problems. Nothing seems to go perfect and the person who does well is typically the one who handles those challenges the best. In road triathlons, preparation in the months and weeks and night before the race can almost always prepare a racer for the day to come. However, in Xterra, no quantity of training or preparation can completely prepare an athlete for the challenges to come during the race. Those preparations can only give the racer a false sense of readiness. Experience, patience, confidence, and perseverance outweigh the fitness which solely propels on-road triathletes to victory.
In Xterra my four years of training are useless. My only foundation is the two Xterra triathlons I have done before. The challenge, although frustrating at first, is in essence what entices me to the hellish race.
Conrad Stoltz, the winner of the Pro division this past weekend raced with a three inch open gash on his foot. He wasn’t making excuses so what is my rubbing front brake compared to that. I was almost happy that the brake rub was the worst thing that day.
My run went smooth. I made sure to pace and yet I still cramped. My kick was late though. I prefer to feel like death at the finish and with this race I simply had to much left in the tank in the last mile. I finished second in my age group but still my competitor and I both beat everyone in the 20-24 age group.
I guess after going two years straight without being beat in my age group it serves me right to be humbled this year. I’m excited for the competition. If I am in the best shape of my life and so are they, I won’t mind losing. Endorphin fitness is home growing some of the fastest juniors I have ever seen. I hope the guys share the same dream as I do and maybe one day we’ll all race alongside each other wearing red, white, and blue.
This past weekend I attended a training camp with Endorphin Fitness coached by Sally Fraser and Michael Harlow. Michael and I set off to Wintergreen, Virginia on Friday morning. After driving the next day’s bike course, we met the rest of the camp participants at a lake at the bottom of the mountain for an afternoon swim.
My first excitement was with a floating trampoline near the shore of the lake. I asked Michael “How many minutes did you have on my training plan for jumping on the trampoline today?” After entertaining myself for a few minutes I got to the real reason I came here and began swimming. The water was glass smooth and REALLY cold. And I got a wicked wetsuit hickey.
A post swim ten mile run took it out of me. The guys kept making me laugh when I was running. Michael’s shorts were falling down, I had wicked gas, and the guys seemed to make everything funny. Running and laughing is not a good combination for me. So it was either run with them, laugh, and get dropped, or set the pace and either make it so they cannot talk or they’re too far behind to hear them. Dropping the pace down to 6:40 pace killed their motivation to crack jokes.
All the ten mile runners gathered for a post run ice bath in the lake. I have never seen such a vast body of water so glass smooth. I poked my finger in the water and watched the ripples ride along the surface for several meters. For the first time in the day, the sun shone out of a corner of a cloud just over a mountaintop, providing me with a little warmth. I felt at absolute peace standing in this lake at the bottom of the mountain with no stranger in sight and the sun breaking the bleakness that had preceded.
This feeling was soon destroyed by my hatred for the law of gravity. The waterfall I had admired while driving the bike course the day before turned from being amazingly beautiful to amazingly aggravating. My admiration for the winding falls beside me quickly turned into a plain focus on reaching the top of a mountain during the long bike the next day. I would watch every drop of the water ahead of me and realize that was how much farther I had to climb. The water seemed to fall forever and I seemed to be climbing forever.
Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway the sun shone, the climbs were short, and the view seemed infinite. A massive group of touring cyclists aggravated the crap out of us for mile upon mile up on the highway. They made for good jokes and good confidence boosters. Towards the end of the loop we rode down wintergreen mountain. I reached a personal speed record on a bike at 58 mph.
Michael had told me I was supposed to cut off at fifty miles, one loop, and jump into the sag but that fifty soon turned to 3.5 hours turned to seventy-five miles. I was cool with that. My body wasn’t too happy with having run out of water and nutrition ten miles ago but seeing the sag truck for the first time in hours was a pleasant enough sight to dampen the pain in my legs and the aching in my stomach. I almost destroyed an entire pan of cookie brownie sparking questions later in the evening about how that night’s desert disappeared. Whoops.
The next day’s lineup consisted of a thirty mile mountainous fast ride ending with a three mile run up wintergreen mountain to finish the weekend off. I felt good so I hammered the bike with no regard for the other guys and the run to follow. Tyler, one of the guys at the camp had his revenge on the run. He caught me before the top after starting minutes behind me. Oh yeah and he had to run twice the distance as me. And he had run twenty miles on Friday when I had only run ten.
The slowest three miles for me for four years. After a quick clean up we headed home. A solid weekend of training to solid week of recovery before the Xterra off-road triathlon. Looking at my calendar for this coming week is kind of daunting. Eight races in two weeks. Two tri’s and six cycling races. We’ll see how it goes.