Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arizona Camp 2012

I spent a significant portion of last year in Arizona. Primarily in Tucson, but a few weeks in Scottsdale as well.

While I had no plans to spend such a long time in the A. Z. this year, I knew I wanted to get out there for some time.  Last week was my first chance. Given that Charisa and I were hosting a clinic/training camp weekend with our new sponsor TRIBE Multisport in Scottsdale, I took the opportunity to head out to Tucson a week early and get in a little mini-camp. Thanks to good friends Hillary and Maiki, who graciously opened their home to me, I got what I was looking for and then some. It was fantastic to be back in Tucson and hanging out with my Tucson friends.

I took the week as an opportunity to get in some solid hours on the bike. And I did. With visits and summits of Gates Pass, Mt. Lemmon and Madera Canyon combining for over 15hrs in the saddle over 4 days.
Mt. Lemmon never gets old
Madera Canyon. Tough ride.
Of course I also got in some running and no trip to the Biscay-Twelsiek Desert Oasis would be complete without some insane post run waffles from the GCM himself.
The man has SKILLS!!
Tucson has some great coffee shops. Not surprisingly, Maiki's favorite is a little German place called Cafe Passe which served up one of these little delights after a hard swim.
This is a little "hobbit house" near the top of Madera Canyon.
 It was with a bit of sadness that I had to pack up the car and head North after such a short trip. But I was excited to head up to Scottsdale and get the weekend clinic/training camp rolling. Again due to the hospitality of some awesome friends, the Dunns, the weekend was spent in the lap of luxury.

We kicked things off on Friday afternoon with a nice 10K run and a little talk giving some background information on ourselves. Where we came from and how we got to the pro level. Thankfully the audience quickly bored of hearing about us, and we moved on to a Q & A session covering a wide array of topics.
 Saturday began with a swim and was followed with a great catered lunch, and fittingly enough, a discussion re training and race nutrition.

I think I have a cookie in my hand.

In what could only be described as "when the going gets tough, the tough get 'rolling'" fashion, after the nutrition discussion, and once peak heat had arrived, we rolled out for a long ride in the comfortable 105 degree temps. A beautiful day ;-)
Staying in the shade as long as possible
We capped off the weekend with a Sunday morning run, breakfast burrito feast, and some friendly chat. 

All in all it was a fantastic week in Arizona. I have some great friends in Maiki & HB and Brian & Jamie to thank for their overwhelming generosity, and a great sponsor in TRIBE Multisport to thank for providing us such a cool platform to share the sport I love.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Moving On

Last year I essentially roamed around the country, playing the part of the "nomad triathlete." Moving from place to place every 4-6 weeks. It was great. I saw some new places, trained in some cool locations, and experienced life and my country in a way I never had before. I am sure when I am old and grey I will look back on 2011 with a fond appreciation of the experience.

This is not to say however, that the travel did not have its downsides. As anyone who has done it (particularly on a rather modest budget) will tell you, living out of a suit case (or a suitcase, duffel bag and bike box in my case) gets old. Pretty fast. Being away from family and friends, in foreign locales also begins to wear on one quite a bit.

Given the foregoing, I was excited to start the 2012 season with the Squad as the first two camps I would attend were set to take place just inland of San Diego. San Diego had served, up until last year, as my home away from home and secondary training grounds essentially since I began serious training. I have a great group of friends there, and it is not too far from home and my family and friends in LA. It sounded great.

Once the first camp began however, I quickly realized something was missing. I didn't have the same fire and excitement about training with the Squad as I had in the past. In short, I wasn't enjoying the work.

I have been asked by many how long I plan to do this. My answer has always been "as long as it stays fun." Please understand what I mean by "fun." I do not mean that I want to be giggling like a school girl all day. I don't find hard intervals on the bike, track workouts, or the cold pool deck at "O' dark :30" to be "fun" as the word is typically understood in modern parlance. So hindsight being 20/20, I guess I should rephrase my stock answer to, "as long as I enjoy it." I enjoyed the hard efforts. I enjoy the long rides. I enjoy the work. Or at least I had.

During the first camp I found that I was not enjoying the work. I left a career as an attorney to pursue professional racing. I can tell you there are much easier ways, to make a much more stout living than professional racing. If I am not enjoying it there simply is no reason, in my mind, to continue.

It was this realization that lead me to consider all aspects of my then current circumstance. When I evaluated my position, I knew it was not triathlon or the work that I was not enjoying. It was simply the format under which I was pursuing my racing career. My interest in the sport, in the training, and my enjoyment thereof remained, it was simply the environment I was operating in that was running interference. I knew I still loved the sport and I didn't doubt my desire to continue racing but I also felt something needed to change. I knew I needed to leave the Squad.

I have had some great times with the Squad. I got the opportunity to do some great training, with great athletes, and create some wonderful memories. I learned volumes from my experience. I am grateful for the opportunity and value the experience. It was just my time to move on.

As for the immediate future, I will continue to prepare for upcoming races while writing my own training plans. I do not want to make a coaching decision in haste and thus will spend some time doing my research and seeking the opinions and advice of some close friends who I trust an respect.

On to Wildflower.


Monday, April 2, 2012

LeadmanTri EPIC 125 Vegas

I like to think I have raced some challenging race courses in my short triathlon career. My first half iron distance was Wildflower. I've raced Ironman Lake Placid, Wisconsin and Kona. All these courses can undoubtedly claim a spot on almost anyone's "Tough Courses" list. On my own personal list, the Leadman Tri EPIC 125, definitely claims one of the top slots.

Had the race taken place on Friday it would have been a tough day even with temps in the 70s and little to no wind. With Saturday and a 10a.m. start however, came some high temps and some fierce winds. When I first learned of the 10a.m. start time I was stoked to enjoy a much more relaxed race morning. Come Friday however, I was really wishing we could get going early to beat the expected winds. As it turned out, even an 7a.m. start would have made for a hard day. The winds kicked up early and never let up, only strengthening throughout the day. Serious winds, those of the sustained 20-30mph type, with gusts into the 50s. In fact the evening new reported the highest gust recorded at 67mph.

Onto the race: 
The water was hovering around 60f in the days leading up to the race but I think the winds stirred it up a bit and left it in the high 50s making my "warm up" short and sweet. Soon after the gun it was clear that the chop in the water was going to make it a "swim for the hearty." Fortunately I was able to stick close to Maik Twelsiek and keep the stand up paddler in sight. I came out in 2nd a few meters behind Maiki.

Bike: 109.5K
Out of T1 Maiki immediately dropped me in rapid fashion. I knew I needed to maintain a high but manageable pace, and things began well.  My BH GC Aero was set up well and rolling flawlessly. I had planed on running a Reynolds Element Disc and RZR 92 up front, but in a game time decision , I opted for an Assault (46mm) front due to the wind.
Photo credit: Leadman & Slowtwitch
It was a good decision with the fierce cross winds. After 25miles however, I began to struggle mightily. I will not make excuses, it was solely due to my poor planning and lack of fitness. I opted to use a Torhans Aero 30 which was a great call, and a single downtube bottle with my PowerBar gels mixed with water. This was a MAJOR oversight on my part as I ran out of fluids early and often. Poor planning and lack of foresight is tough to overcome. Even more so, is a lack of fitness. I simply did not have it and on a course like Leadman, in those brutal conditions, there is no place to hide, you can't "fake it." I was utterly drained by the time I hit T2, well off the pace of my competition.
Apparently my brother and I both suffer from "High Arm Run" syndrome
The run course at Leadman is all uphill. Its also all on a walking/bike path. With these factors in mind, I knew there was little chance of making a wrong turn, and that I would have to ride the course the day before if I was to see it. So I opted not to do so. On race day, I was very happy I made that decision. Had I known what lay before me, I am not sure I would have had the gumption to make it out of T2. I was cooked dry and had very little left in the tank. Fueled predominantly by ignorance, I began the run, er... uphill slog to Boulder City. Cramping in my quads (again due to poor hydration and lack of fitness) began early and stayed with me for the duration of the run. My saving grace came in the form of a relay team member who caught me around the 5mile mark and set the pace to cling to for the remainder of the slog.
All the finish chute railings had been blown over at this late stage in the race.
Finish 4:59; 4th
It was great to have my brother there to see me race for the 1st time. 

All of us reveling in the pain

All in all it was truly one of the more testing and trying days in my sporting career. I knew coming off a long off season due to my injury I was not going to be in the best shape, but I was hoping some consistent training and a month back with the Squad would work me back into some reasonable degree of fitness. Clearly, my hopes were not confirmed and I have LOADS of work to do before Wildflower. Time to batten down the hatches and get to work.

I want to send a sincere "Thank You" to all the Life Time Fitness /Leadman Tri crew for putting on a spectacular race, serving up an incredible challenge, and doing it all with class, & top notch customer service. If you want a BIG challenge... There's a couple waiting for you in Vegas and Bend.

I would also like to thank my great support network of sponsors:
Zoot: The Prophet wetsuit battled the cold temps and kept me comfortable and riding high on the choppy waters of Lake Mead. The new TT is an awesome shoe! (even when you're worked!)

BH Bikes: My first race on the GC Aero left me only wishing I had more to give as the bike worked beautifully and was only slowed by the engine!

Reynolds Wheels: The Assault & Element was the right choice in those windy conditions and I was confident even racing the wheel I typically train on (Assault). Again, only the engine slowed the roll.

TRIBE: A big help is having a competently staffed and fully stocked Triathlon shop a phone call away. Thank you guys for all you do.

SPY Optics: The harsh desert sun and gale force winds were no match for the Screw. Comfortable, clear and good looking eyewear is HUGE! Not to mention the fact that they are so light I barely know they are there.

PowerBar: Had I been smart, my only change in nutrition plan would have been to bring more PowerBar Perform!

PVBC: Knowing my bike is tuned and ready is a big help.