Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend Salvaged

As my last self-centered post explained, the smoke from the So. Cal fires had my training weekend in serious jeopardy. I had trained outside all week (except for a few indoor trainer sessions) and by Friday, despite my denial, I could feel the effects in my throat and chest. With the weekend's training plan calling for big miles, and needing to incorporate one solid sustained climbing session, I was looking towards the Santa Monica mountains. However, the AQMD website and the fact that I couldn't even see the mountains from my office on Friday had me very concerned, especially given the aforementioned throat & lung symptoms. "What to do?" was how I left it last time. And after severely testing the patience of a fellow athlete and friend, Quinn Borchard, I was still undecided. I knew the weekend was going to have its fair share of pain, but I didn't need any added bonus from the smoke.

In steps Coach:
I had sent a "HELP" e-mail on Friday asking how I could vary the weekend plan if the smoke was too bad, and got a vicious trainer-run-trainer workout for Saturday. However, given Sunday had an even longer ride, I was too scared to even ask about the "plan B" for that one. Then, in an "above and beyond the call of duty" gesture, Coach said "screw it!" (He didn't want to be responsible for my almost certain Marlboro Man lungs if I stayed up here and trained, and also didn't want me missing a key training weekend). So he and his fantastic wife extended invitation to me to spend the weekend with them and their family in San Diego, ride the prescribed routes, run the prescribed run, and do it all breathing clean air. Reluctant as I was to impose upon him and his family, his wonderful wife was very persuasive and come Saturday morning I was on my way.

The weekend exceeded all expectations. I was welcomed into an AWESOME home, guided around SD on my run, and kept full to the brim with some incredible food. It was HOT as HELL out in eastern SD, and Palomar and Henshaw did not disappoint in providing the pain (although I guess I can't really complain after hearing a friend, a-la Conrad Stoltz, raced an entire sprint tri with a gash in her foot that would later require 6 stitches to close).

Plain and simple, I couldn't have even hoped for anything more. Getting in my training in a safe environment was one thing, having a house and awesome family to come home to and unwind with was truly icing on the cake. Having a coach who is so invested in my success that he will invite me into his home, inconvenience his family and sacrifice his weekend so as to allow me to "stay with the plan" is proving to be an extremely valuable asset. And one I am value highly.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Ok, so not to be a total self-absorbed ass (my home, my family, nor that of anyone I know of is in any danger of being lost), but fires can really blow a hole in a triathlete's weekend training plans. This weekend is a big and IMPORTANT one in my schedule as it is one of the last BIG volume weekends I have on tap before Kona. However, as LA is literally surrounded by fires right now (one less than 5 miles, as the crow flies, from my house) 14 hours of outdoor training is not looking like the best idea. I had planned to ride up in the Santa Monica Mtns. but that is in severe danger of being scrapped due to the poor air quality.

What to do?!?!?!?!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

SB RR & Cheaters

I got smacked around a bit this weekend. The Santa Barbara Long Course tri is a fun race consisting of a slightly odd distance (1mi, 34mi, 10mi). Like I mentioned in my previous post, some fast guys were on the dance card so I knew it was going to make for an interesting race.

In previous years, I was pretty sure that they had started the Pro & elite racers with my age group, but when we arrived Friday night, I found this wasn't the case, and that I would be starting 25min behind the Pro/Elite wave. I was hoping to get to start with those guys just to see where I would be, and after receiving some (cough, cough) "coaching" from my friend and training partner, Kevin, I decided the 25min gap (and the traffic it would leave) would be too much, so I requested to switch up to race elite and said request was expediently obliged (Thanks Ron).

Race morning was a little rushed, but I got myself to the line with a few warm up strokes, and readied for the onslaught.

Swim: 24:01 (No Bueno)
The swim was a beach start, and as I tend to fair better in water starts, I wasn't too stoked on that. As soon as the horn sounded I took off in a painful sprint to the water. My legs just weren't ready for that (a sign of things to come). I was quickly gapped by John Dahlz who, quite frankly "gapped" (if you can even call it that) everyone. My swim felt just kind of whatever. I was never too tired or spent, and felt pretty good, just not "fast." After my races this season it is clear that my swim has fallen off somehow (strange given the BIG increase in pool time I have put in this year).

Bike: 1:31:45
Right when I got on the bike I knew I was in for a long day. My legs were screaming about 1/4mi into the ride. I knew I had to go hard to keep up with the guys in my wave, so I pushed the entire way and just tried to "embrace the pain." About 10 or 12 miles in Mac Brown caught me on a slight uphill and there was no staying with him. I was sure the train of riders would soon follow, but to my surprise only one sole rider came. After trading passes for a while, I was finally able to drop him when we hit a flat section, and just tried to hammer the rest of the way home. In the last couple miles I caught my friend Mike Sevier and knew I had to get as much distance as possible in those closing miles. Mike runs with our club sometimes and the guy Hauls Ass so I knew with him on my heels I was going to have my work cut out for me.

Run: 1:00:55
Out onto the run and all I was thinking about was Mike bearing down on me. It served as good motivation. About 2mi in I heard footsteps and was surprised to see it was not Mike, but Patrick Baldwin. I was surprised because I was sure Patrick was ahead of me at that point, which he would have been if he hadn't missed the last buoy on the swim and been forced to swim back out and round it before getting on the bike. I tried to stay on his heels, but that thought (er...dream) quickly faded as he pulled away to run the fastest run split of the day. Dude was blazing! Just before the turn I was caught by the same guy I traded passes with on the bike. At the turn I was able to see the whole field and saw I was in 6th and I would remain there the rest of the race (the guy I traded passes with was assessed a drafting penalty (deservedly so) & therefore ended up placing behind me and moved me up to 5th). The run was sort of a strange feeling. I ran hard and gave it all I had, but I just never felt like I could kick it up into that "high gear" that I needed for that distance. My legs and breathing felt good, and I was pretty comfortable, but I just couldn't pick it up. I wasn't having any problems, and I raced in my new Zoot Ultra 2.0 which felt AWESOME! (first time wearing them and not one blister or "rubbing" issue).

Plain and simple, the guys ahead of me were faster and stronger. No excuses. This week it is back on the horse to try and rectify that, and continue the build for Kona. Time is ticking away rapidly and I got some big work ahead of me.

T3 was well represented this weekend and we had a solid crew for a post race Sharkeez trip with the brothers Pearson, Brynn, Christina, Sean, Trish and the super fan parental units where we all toasted the only Podium Finisher of the day.

On a last note, the race this weekend was marred (at least temporarily) by one racer who chose to cut the course and blatantly CHEAT HIS ASS OFF!! Apparently this guy is rather notorious for pulling such antics. It was easily the clearest case of cheating I've seen or heard of. Patrick had seen him on the course squatting behind his bike, and thought he recognized him from previous races and had just said that to us while we talked after the finish. About a minute later, we hear his name announced and he comes across the line. The guy was in his 40's and thus started significantly behind our wave. Yet no more than 10mins after we had finished, he comes across the line? Patrick knew what was up and I gotta hand it to him and commend him for confronting the guy right as he came out of the chutes. The guy couldn't have acted more guilty and made his weak denials and "take a picture next time" defenses as he scurried away from the finishing area. Sure enough, after a quick check, his time would have made him the overall winner by a "significant margin". The race director's made a quick and correct decision to DQ him without batting an eye. Is there any excuse for this? I love this sport for the challenge it presents. Personally, the satisfaction I derive from knowing that I worked my ass off in training and put it to the test on race day comprises that certain intangible and priceless value of this great sport. The personal satisfaction gained from knowing we worked hard to achieve a goal (whatever it may be) and the sense of accomplishment that comes therewith is what, I would think the overwhelming majority of us, pay our entry fees and toe the line in search of. The fact that someone would blatantly cheat, on repeat occasions, boggles my mind. What could you possibly gain from such an act? To think that this guy has knocked numerous people off podiums on days when he wasn't caught, when he timed it a little better and when race directors were faced with the tough call but gave him the benefit of the doubt, is, to say the least, upsetting. The vast majority of people this sport can claim within its contingent are amazingly kind, generous, honest and outgoing people. Bad apples can be found in even the best of bunches, and I guess the astonishing "good crop" I continually see, only serves to highlight the "bad." Hopefully this guy has pulled his last stunt, or will hang up the tri kit out of embarrassment. Or maybe the USAT will do us all a favor and pull his card?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tune Ups??

On Saturday I will be racing the Santa Barbara Long Course Tri as one of the final "tune up" races before Kona. I have a little bit of a problem with the whole "tune up" thing as I really enjoy racing (don't you kinda have to in order to be in this sport?) and have had a hard time looking at any race being just a "tune up" or "training race." I mean, I fully understand that some races are more important than others (October 10th sticks in my head for some reason...) and I completely agree with prioritizing races as "A, B, or C" races. However, I just find it hard not to look at each race as an opportunity to test myself (and lets be honest, beat some of my competitors). Plus, I really like the Santa Barbara race, due to the location, the course and the distances. Santa Barbara is awesome and I spent a good deal of time there through my college years, so it is fun to go back. The swim is 1mile and is an open ocean swim which I like (I am hoping for some waves). The bike course is 34miles and winds through the foothills of SB and Montecieto and past some pretty stellar scenery. Finally, the run is 10miles with most of that along the coast. The little portion that you aren't on the coast, you are running through a cool neighborhood with lots of spectator support and through this rad little nature preserve and over this awesome little foot bridge. Also, its somewhat of a "local race", but some fast guys are toeing the line this year including, but not limited to, Patrick Baldwin, Mike Sevier, Mac Brown and John Dahlz. Not exactly your typical "local" crowd. So much for the "tune up".

The Brothers Pearson, Sean, Tawnee & Brynn are all racing as well. So its shaping up to be a fun weekend with some fast racing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

IMC Defectors

With Ironman Canada just 2 weeks away, our training group was slimmed down a bit last weekend down in Carlsbad. We lost Kevin and Allan to taper and a few others to various excuses.

Saturday began with Mt. Palomar and Brian decided last minute to join us for the ride. Thankfully he did as he serves the dual role of team bike mech as well as the un-catchable rabbit when we put on the running shoes. Charisa's other half, Steven, returned for some more after his Palomar debut 2 weeks ago. So we ended up with a pretty solid group. Of course it wouldn't be a Saturday ride if I didn't forget something, this time it was my neatly packaged bag of nutrition for the ride which I had been so careful to properly calculate all my calories. Luckily Steven was willing to part with some chews and that held me over till the Taco shop where I grabbed some of their old and stale powerbars.

The climb itself wasn't that notable. We did the same heart rate pyramid workout with the only adjustments being longer holds at certain rates. Steven took home the MVP award for not only serving as the "PB pretzel sherpa" but also dominating the climb. Back to the car with 5hrs and 80mi in the bank. After the "trouble" I had on the run a couple weeks ago after climbing Palomar and then not eating til we got back to Casa de Wernick, we opted to bring along an Igloo and have ourselves a little picnic in the park (I love being a 3rd wheel on a romantic picnic with a married couple). This gave us a solid 2.5hrs to digest prior to heading out on the run.

To be completely honest, if I had to pick out one thing on my schedule that I was harboring serious doubts about my ability to complete, it would have been this run. After 3 hard weeks, and a morning of Palomar, a 2.5hr run was not looking too easy. But at 4pm we hit the road, both a little weary of what lay in front of us. Surprisingly I felt pretty good and my legs were respondinfg. I was able to keep the heart rate in check and was happy for most of the run. On the final hill back to the casa, I spotted Charisa in the depths of a serious BONK. I could tell from about 200yrds behind her, that she was just barely hanging on. Thankfully I had resisted temptation and hadn't taken the gels that I brought. I offered her one from across the street and just getting to me took what I am sure was her last expendable calorie. Thankfully we were only about 10mins from done. Back to the house, with 21 miles in the legs, I felt nearly dead! And the idea of being fully dead didn't sound too bad. FOOD was all either of us could think about and a whole bunch of it was consumed.

Sunday came WAY TOO EARLY, and we were back in the saddles about 7:15 heading to meet up with Kevin and Mike for the Henshaw loop. They stayed with us for the climb up to Ramona, but from there on out, it was Charisa, myself, and our thoughts. I took this as a good opportunity to focus on my aerobar climbing and tried to stay in on as many climbs as I could. It got hot, and we fought a pretty good headwind most of the day. At the Julian stop, we felt a little out of place in our spandex amongst the mini cooper club and the Corvette club, so the fuel was consumed and restocked rather quickly (always time for a photo op, but notice I couldn't stop eating for the pic, I'm a multi-tasker).
A couple hours later, and at yet another convenience store, I decided we both deserved a treat. A Popsicle never tasted so good.

6:15 & 111mi later we were back at Casa De Wernick where Steven had really taken to making the name apt and cooked up a little Mexican fiesta. Salty tortilla chips and salsa = VERY Happy riders.

Yet another great weekend. I was totally worked yesterday. The walk from the courtroom to my car had me hoping there was an aid station along the way. THANK GOD this is a recovery week!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

2nd Home

No I didn't buy a 2nd home. (I would have to own a "1st home" first). This title is my cheap attempt at foreshadowing. If you know me, or have found yourself bored enough on a relatively frequent basis to read through this blog, you will know that I have been spending A WHOLE BUNCH of time down in San Diego of late. This weekend, after a one weekend respite, the wonderful Wernick Manor Resort and Day Spa will yet again be burdened with my presence. (If I paid in money instead of Gels and random beers, I am sure its owners would be much happier to honor my too-frequent reservations).

This stay will be a two night stay complete with two "fun"-filled days of riding and running through, in and around the beaches, hills, Mountains and Taco shops of Northern San Diego. BIG miles, BIG gears, BIG climbs, BIG pain, BIG eats, and BIG fun.

Monday, August 10, 2009

LA is no SD

Casa de Mikelson served well as the training headquarters this weekend, but the SD locals were less than thrilled with some of the LA riding.

Friday night Kevin and Brian showed up just after Tawnee & I had polished off our post swim Chinese food (lots of it). Saturday's call to duty had the gents in the saddle for 5hrs and the lady for 2. So about 7am we mounted the steeds and met up with BT for some PV riding. Palos Verdes has some great riding, but if your looking for big miles, and trying to avoid too much climbing, its not so great. I had initially planned to do a loop of PV, head to the LAX area through the beach, spin a loop down there and back up to PV for a reverse loop. However, the Hermosa Beach AVP was going on this weekend, so that plan got scrapped as traffic (cars & intoxicated pedestrians) would have made that difficult. Instead, I opted to "treat" my guests to 4 loops of PV trying to vary the route as much as possible. 95miles and 5hrs later it was done. The guests' consensus, was: "Some good, some not so good, but better than expected."

Back at team headquarters we found Tawnee had survived all on her own, and gotten in a good ride. Then it was smoothie & grub time, with some feet up relaxation before the afternoon run. I decided all the troops needed to see all the beach has to offer, so we ran 19mi from Redondo to LAX and back and through the Hermosa AVP (eye candy always helps on the long runs).

Brynn & Ryan showed up on Saturday night just in time for the feast. The menu consisted of BBQ Salmon, Terriyaki chicken, pizza, grilled corn on the cobb, grapes and applesauce and cereal (for some, uh... one of us) and whatever else people could lay their hands on.
Sunday was the long day, and that meant NORTH. After 2 mechanical issues, we were finally off, joined, and then pulled, by Sean before he had to turn back. 3.5hrs, and just shy of 70mi of PCH later, we were in Oxnard. Refueled and ready we started the road back and were greeted by an "awesome" headwind. Kevin earned MVP honors by sucking it up and taking a much needed and appreciated pull at the front to power us back to the coast. From there it was smooth sailing along the beautiful Pacific until we hit Santa Monica and Venice. At that point in time I am sure all were cursing my name as we wound and fought our way through traffic back to the headquarters. In the end, 7hrs and 137mi, left us hungry and happy to be off the bikes.

Cleaned and fed, the crew departed. I am pretty sure none will be too excited for a return visit, as SD has much more to offer, but in a pinch, it worked out well. I think it is safe to say though, that my standing reservation at the Wernick Manor Resort and Day Spa, is going to remain just that; standing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Triathlete Hostel

That is what Casa De Mikelson is turning into this weekend.

6 athletes = too many miles, minutes, and calories to count.

Should be good times!!

All we're missing is a certain Carlsbadian, last name: Wernick.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

F Cancer!

During the Tour I was watching an interview with Lance Armstrong and he said that by a certain year (I can't remember which) every person on the globe will have their life touched by cancer (i.e.- every human being or one they know or love, will be diagnosed with some form of cancer). For a second I thought, "Wow, that's an mind boggling statistic!" But when I thought more about it, I came to the realization that is wasn't nearly as remarkable as I initially thought. My junior year of high school I had my own cancer scare. A couple years back one of my friends, Darren, was diagnosed with Lymphoma and died 3 months later at the age of 24. Just 2 months ago, a lawyer who worked in our office, a great man and friend, Ron Pass, ended his long, fiercely fought battle with cancer. About 3 weeks ago, my grandfather, "Poppa Bill", was diagnosed with an aggressive metastasised cancer and is fighting hard as I write this post. I am 100% positive everyone reading this could rattle off similar stories.

Recently I have begun reading "Fat Cyclist's" blog. While originally this blog was clearly dedicated to all things humorous about cycling, it transformed when his wife Susan was diagnosed with cancer. Susan fought long and hard, and her battle ended yesterday. Fat Cyclist has done a SIMPLY AMAZING job fundraising for the fight for a cure and his team has raised over $500,000.00 in the fight against this unrelenting disease. Please take a moment to stop by his blog and check out the new contest he has started wherein the "winner" will receive a beautiful new Orbea Orca. A spectacular machine no doubt, but not nearly as valuable as the feeling you will get from making a donation and helping wage the war against this despicable enemy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tour of Southern California

Or at least that's what it felt like. This last weekend was my first on the new coach's plan. And what a plan it was. Thank God it called for all the work to be done with some great training partners. So on Friday afternoon I was headed south on the old familiar 405 for another weekend of pain and relaxation at Charisa and Stven's Bed & Breakfast. Luckily this time I was cutting the drive a little short for a dinner cooked by an awesomely talented chef. Being fully fueled on some insane grub, made the tasks that lay ahead of me on Saturday seem a bit more manageable... at least looking forward. The plan set forth a Mt. Palomar climb and we had a solid crew there for the outing. After some warm up, we hit the hill and the pack spread out. While our schedules all read "Palomar", we each had a little different variation. After some HARD work, we all made it and Steven enjoyed his first view from the top-o-Palomar.
After some down, followed by some up, some down, some more UP and some down (and a little detour Kevin and I took) we made it back to the car with 80mi & 5hrs in the bank. Back at the Wernick Resort, we proceeded to mow through the pantry and fridge, then flop on the floor in fear of the 2hr run that was fast approaching. The run was about what was to be expected. I made Kevin stop quite a few times (I disguised them as bathroom breaks but really I just wanted to stop). 2hrs and 16mi later it was time to eat again, watch Phelps put the suit debate to bed, and then put myself in the same place.

Sunday morning and the foam roller came to soon. The man behind the madness joined us for a portion of our ride. Lucky for us, we were supposed to "stay flat" but no matter how you looked at it, it was going to be a rough day. We had another solid crew joining in for the fun and set off about 6:15am heading north. Up to Laguna, back to Oceanside, and then we were left for the dogs. Those with some brain cells quickly decided that the Kevin, Charisa and Ian threesome needed some time to further bond. Only Dan decided that he wanted to see what the river trial looked like. An hour or so later he too came to his senses and realized he had seen enough. 6:20, 120mi, one SLASHED to hell tire, and about $15 at various refueling stops due to the heat, and we were back in Carlsbad. We fell a little short of the prescribed 7hrs, but we collectively agreed our shortcomings could be attacked another day.

All in all it was another great weekend. I missed the 6-man. I have seen the pictures and can tell some insane fun was had. I'm not gonna lie. I had a moment about 3hrs into the Sunday ride (when I realized 4 more lay ahead) where I had to contemplate why I was not sipping a mimosa in Manhattan Beach at that very moment. But my cooler head prevailed, and I got back on it. Without the group and the support of the awesome training partners I have, I would not have had such willpower. Bud Light and the Beach would have prevailed without a doubt.

After a restful day yesterday, it was back on the road this morning, in the company of another great friend and training partner. This week is big. I am holding out hope.