Thursday, July 30, 2009

Times have changed!

4 Years ago I moved into an apartment in Manhattan Beach with one of my best friends, PC. The first weekend we were there it was the AVP Manhattan Beach Open. The second weekend was infamous "6 Man". Our apartment was 2 short blocks from the beach and 2 from the pier. We could crawl home. It was PERFECT!!

The annual 6 Man is one of the GREATEST weekends ever!! In fact, it may just be one of the best experiences life has to offer. Words are WHOLLY incapable of accurately conveying the enormity of the event and exactly how awesome it is. But just understand, its a beach volleyball tournament with around 400 teams with anywhere from 6-20members per team. Each team and most of its fans are all dressed in costumes. Add in all the fans, and the number of people packing the roughly 1/2mi by 300yd section of sand reaches into the stratosphere. On Friday night last year our apartment looked like we looted a liquor store with ~300 jello shots in the fridge, countless 30 packs and about 10gals. of Margarita and plenty of Faderade crammed into the kitchen and living room. Here is a pic of our "Team Riviera Mexican Grill" from last year.
To give you a better idea, and for mainly the male audience viewing pleasure, please click on the link & sit back and absorb the following video presentation.

Alas, my life has changed now days. Triathlon has provided me with some of the best and most gratifying experiences of my life and allowed me to form some priceless friendships. But a weekend like 6 Man really tests my dedication to this sport. On tap for this weekend is not the marathon sun, bikini, drinking, fun session that 6 man offers, but rather, a big training weekend down in San Diego in the luxurious accommodations of the Wernick Manor that includes a Mt. Palomar climb in the roughly 14hrs of fun that is scheduled. Who'd have thunk in one year I would be trading the Bud Lights and Jello Shots, for Gatorades and Gels, the board shorts for spandex, and the view of drunk bikini clad girls engaging in all sorts of debauchery, for that of Kevin or Alan's back & calves as we struggle up Palomar? Not me, I tell you that!! But here I am. Kona is less than 3 months away, and I just don't think a weekend like 6 Man is what the Dr. prescribes for the best possible finish on the Big Island. This weekend is going to hurt in more ways than one. Hopefully Charisa will be able to convince me not to ride my bike off the Mtn. to put an end to my misery!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big Ones:

Last weekend, the waves, the results, the decisions, the trips & the miles.... all were Big Ones.

On Thursday, after whopping 2 days home from Vineman, I flew back up to Sonoma to be a groomsman in my friend Ben & Darcy's wedding. It went off without a hitch and was a beautiful ceremony followed by an awesome reception. I am very happy for the new Mr. & Mrs. Flint!! A big weekend indeed.

Saturday was a 6am flight back to LA. Once home it was time for the as instructed, "easy" 5 hour ride up the Pacific Coast to Malibu. It was a great day for it, but since I am an idiot, I forgot to bring my camera. After throwing some food down my gullet I was back on the road down to the OC. Several friends were racing the Pacific Coast Sprint Tri down in Newport and I wanted to watch, support, sherpa, etc... This race was the US qualifier for the Sprint World Championships in Australia in September. T3's sprint distance specialist, Brian Tasker, had given this race priority due to that fact and thus, Sean, Trish and I were there to bring the T3 support. Tawnee, Brynn and Chris who all raced Vineman with me, made me feel a little light in my loafers, as one week out they were ready to call on the speed. I, was not.

The surf, as I am sure many of you have read, heard, seen, or experienced, was pretty big down here this weekend especially at the south facing beaches. Crystal Cove is South facing and thus some pretty big sets were rolling in. This beach doesn't handle big swells and it was just dumping big barreling shorepound walls. About 30mins before race start, the swim was called and it was now a Du. So Brynn and Tawnee looked a little dry at the swim exit
Brynn had a good race despite the burn in her legs left over from Vineman got herself a OZ slot. Big decisions ahead.
Brian did not disappoint and took 5th in his age group and also secured a slot to OZ!! Nice work BT!!
Not to be outdone, Tawnee (since she has failed to do her own bragging on her blog, I will do it for her) took 3rd in her AG but turned down the OZ slot as she has a steely-eyed focus on Clearwater in November!!
Chris had a solid outing but the lack of a swim stole some of his advantage and motivation and he looked at it as just a fun speed work day.
I finished off the weekend with my prescribed 1:40 "easy" run and not knowing the area, Tawnee was kind enough to direct me out and around El Toro Marine Base (not exactly the most temperate place to run on a hot day) but she was woman enough to join me for the last 30mins.

If you noticed, both my workouts this weekend were not self generated. That is the other Big One, I realized it was time and got myself a coach. Given his other athletes' success, I think I am in good hands. With Kona on the horizon, it is time to get serious!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Loser

Well it appears my tempting of the triathlon fates in trying all the "new" things this weekend didn't work out so bad in the end. I went into Vineman 70.3 a bit uncertain. How much have I really "recovered" from IM CDA, how much will I have in the tank when I go digging deep, will everything hold up, was I "pushing it"... all these things had crossed my mind. The fact that almost everyone I talked to about it would say something like "so soon" or "you gotta be careful" only served to reinforce the doubts I had. But, there was only one way to tell.

I got to Wine country on Thursday and was pleasantly surprised by the house we had rented. Myself, my parents, the brothers Pearson, Brynn and Sean & Trish had all rented a house together that was about a mile from the swim start. The brothers parents and Sean's also made the trip and were staying nearby. Add to that mix that Charisa & Steven, Kevin, Jeff & Becky and Tawnee and we had quite the race crew.

The night before the race we had a ~15 person feast put on by my AWESOME MOM!! She put in an INSANE amount of effort this weekend to fuel the athletes, serve as photographer and cheer us all on. Saying she was a superb spectathlete would be a drastic understatement. A HUGE thank you goes out to Moms. She takes the MVP award for the weekend hands down.

I mentioned the wagering that was going on before. Basically, there is a group of us going to Kona to either race or watch, so each of us had to pick a goal time. Whoever didn't make their goal time owed a round of drinks or ice cream for the others in Kona. My time goal: 4:12

However, at dinner, some side betting went down. I, stupidly, threw myself into 3 side bets:
1. With Charisa to mile 19 of the bike. Whoever made it there first gets to pick a 70.3 to race next year in the US.
2. With Sean to mile 45 of the bike. Whoever made it there first got a Sushi dinner.
3. With Kevin to the finish line. Loser buys lunch after next Henshaw ride.

Swim + T1= 27:55 (my watch said 26:19 out of the water)
The swim started out faster than ANY other swim I have ever been in. My wave was nuts! 350yds in and I was still going full out and smashed in with a group of others. One dude (pretty sure it was a guy named Brian Lamar) had gapped us early and went on to an insane swim and T1 of 25:22. After about 500yds I was finally able to settle down and was battling another guy for the remainder of the swim. I swam faster last year so that bummed me out, but you never know with swim courses.

Bike = 2:19:57
I had a good T1, got on the bike felt pretty good. About 10min in I see a guy walking back towards the start with his bike. Sure enough its Sean. His rear derailleur broke. Bummer. About a mile later I passed the a guy in my age group. he said he thought there might be only one guy ahead of us. A minute or 2 later and we come upon a freaking tree laying across the entire road. A F-ING tree broke and fell, hitting a rider and downing another. The guy it hit was pretty mangled but EMS was already there so we uncliped crawled under the tree and took off. A minute later, and the rough roads send my gel flask packing. So I am about 15min into the ride and all I have left is an aerodrink full of Gatorade. This was NOT looking good. I knew the first aid station was just about 18mi into the ride, and I had catching Charisa on my mind. I tried to ride a little conservatively to give myself a shot at catching her, but not digging too deep of a nutritional hole that I couldn't get out of.
At the first aide station I slowed way down to grab a bottle, and 3 Powerbars. I had less than a mile to catch Charisa. It soon became apparent that I wouldn't do it. In fact it took til about mile 24. One bet lost. Where we are racing next year is now up to her discretion. A couple miles later I caught the leader of my age group. I was able to put in some good riding from that point on and just tried no to go too hard as I was unsure what my legs would have left for the run. Some strange feelings cam about, but all passed fairly quickly, and I made it into T2 with a good shot at making my goal.

Run: 1:23
Plain and simple, I am not happy with my run. It is clear I have lost some major run fitness due to all the bike training, injury, & laziness. So I know where my focus needs to be for the next couple months. Looking back I think I kinda took the run too easy.
I was hesitant to go out too hard due to the uncertainty I had about my legs. So I planned to go for a solid negative split. I know I accomplished that, but I think I was just too conservative. I saw Kevin at the lake at La Crema (he had already circled it) and thought I might have a chance. After I exited La Crema however, I was pretty certain that it was a lost cause. He looked too good and I knew he wouldn't fade. Bet #2 lost. Thank God he is a vegetarian, at least I won't be footing a surf & turf bill.

Total: 4:12:43, 1st in 25-29, 2nd Overall AGer.
I made my goal time. Thank GOD!!
On my run in I was about a mile out and I see this guy running towards me in the inbound lane with his arms in the air. I get closer and its Sean. he sat on the side of the road for an hour and a half until someone could fix his bike, got back on and hammered the rest of the race. A SOLID performance and definite winner of the "never say Die" award for the weekend.

After awards it was back to the house for the post-race party. Unfortunately Charisa & Steven, Kevin, Jeff & Becky couldn't make it, but we added Tawnee (3rd in her AG and CLEARWATER SLOT!!!) and her parent's to the post party crew. Catered Mexican food, beers, wine, ice cream and some awesome conversation topped off a great day.

My only complaint about Vineman is the condition of the roads. Other than that, this is an awesome race. This trip was made al the better by the radical group of family and friends we had. It literally "made the trip" to stay, eat, race and relax with such great people. I would gladly lose bets at every race if each one would turn out to be this much fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Racing New at Vineman

All of us that race triathlon have heard the maxim repeated over and over from all kinds of sources, its almost like a triathlon mantra: "Nothing new on race day!" Well, in CDA, I broke that rule, I raced in a new kit, I tried pedialyte for the first time and took a veritable pharmacy's worth of OTC drugs at special needs, none of which I had ever trained with and some of which I had never even taken before). Notwithstanding these ill-advised moves, CDA turned out ok, and while the new kit turned out to be a bad idea, the other decisions may have just saved my race!

With all that in mind, I am yet again throwing caution to the wind (I REALLY hope its not windy... you will see why below), and going against what "they all" say, and implementing some new, er... strike that, a great deal of "new" into my race at Vineman 70.3 this weekend. Here is the list:
1. New kit (trained in once) - the other one left me with some gnarly scars on my chest, and while it is undoubtedly true that "chicks dig scars", Gatorade and Coke in open wounds just doesn't feel too nice.
2. New Cycling shoes (ridden in about 7x, ~ 400mi) - Old ones were too big, I am comfortable in these.
3. New Running Shoes (run in about 30mi) - some issues with the sockless fit of my old shoes spurred a switch.
4. New Disc Wheel (ridden about 3 minutes) - I got some wicked peer pressure and an even better opportunity to acquire one, so I did. (Hence the reason I hope its not windy).
5. New 54 tooth Big Chainring (about 30mi on it) - I pedal with a slow cadence and generally push a big gear. I just don't have the high cadence capability. Good news is all that grinding doesn't seem to have a big impact on my run. So 54-11 could be a nice flat/downhill gear!!

So there you have it. Call me an idiot, call me brash, call me ignorant... whatever, I'm just a rebel! hahaha

We shall see. Hopefully none of this comes back to bite me in the ass on Sunday. We have a BIG crew racing up in wine country this weekend, and some wagering has already been set with much more certain to come. Thus, my "new" decisions could turn into expensive ones!! Crossing my fingers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Active Recovery??

So another AWESOME weekend was enjoyed down in Carlsbad thanks to the Hosts with the Mosts, Charisa and Steven.

I am not exactly sure all we did was a "good idea" given the fact that I was (as of yesterday) 2 weeks removed from Ironman CDA and not yet fully recovered. But I did it anyway cause I am just not too smart, cautious, or peer pressure resistant.

After a quick 2500yds in the pool Friday morning I departed for Carlsbad and arrived weary of what the day had in store. It turned out to be a rather hilly 3.5hr ride being toured around Eastern SD trying to keep Kevin in sight. It was a fruitless attempt at most times. After the ride, some food, and some rest. Charisa took me on a nice 50min "recovery run" through the trails around her house. It was anything but what I would classify as a "recovery run". The topographical map, were I so technologically advanced to know how to post it, would look some thing similar to this __/~//~\_\__. (hope you can decipher that). I felt like hell the entire ride and not so great on the run so I was really beginning to question the Saturday schedule.

That schedule brought a 3hr ride/1.5hr run brick. Much to my surprise, and joy, I felt much better on Saturday and was able to actually stay near Kevin for most of the ride. The run was fun for about 15 mins, BAD for about 10, fun again for 50, and pretty rough for the last 15. It was HOT, I had no water till mile 11 and only one gel. Back and the Wernick Manor, recovery smoothies were prepared and imbibed with incredible speed and satisfaction. Then it was time to watch the Tour, head out for more food, and watch some fireworks. given it was the 4th, Steven & I fulfilled our ethical and moral obligation as red blooded American and enjoyed a few cold beers.

Sunday morning was not a good one. You know its bad when you get a quarter mile from the house and all you find yourself talking about how nice it would be to turn around and go BBQ. This is especially bad when its 6:45am. But this is EXACTLY what Charisa and I found ourselves doing. Knowing we had people to meet however, we trudged on. Soon enough we were climbing to Ramona and things began to feel better. About mile 70, my legs were threatening not to just to throw in the towel, but launch a full scale mutiny. Somehow I convinced them not too and just tried to keep Brian and Kevin in sight. A couple of bonks, some interesting introspective moments and 123 miles later, and we were back at the Wernick Manor. Turns out 7hrs is a long time to spend on the bike and I wasn't looking forward to the drive home. But I made it, had a bomb dinner, and hit the sack thoroughly wiped but stoked on another awesome weekend of solid training and great times with AWESOME people.