Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Season Kick Off!

Saying I had some uncertainty going into my first races of 2014 is a bit of an understatement.  Let me set the stage....
We moved to Dubuque in August of 2013 and I finished my first Ironman (IM Lake Tahoe) in September.  After this race I took a lot of time off and came back to training pretty unfit at the end of January.  It has been 5 years since I last trained in an Iowa winter and the first time as a Professional Triathlete.  I decided it would be smart to turn to the experts at QT2 and Coach John Spinney to take care of my training plan this year.  I also partnered with Free Flight Bikes in Dubuque,and they set me up on a new bike, a Trek Speed Concept.   So if I was to sum my offseason up as a math equation it might look something like this: 
Extended offseason + new coach + different training + new nutrition plan + new bike + Iowa winter = I’ve got no idea what the results of my first race of the season will be!  To further complicate things I chose to do back to back 70.3 races to open the season.  Here is a quick recap of those races.

Ironman Texas 70.3:  

On the run!
I’ve raced in Galveston two previous times and had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. Last year I had a good result recording a personal best up to that point with a time of 4:06.  A good friend and fellow Pro Triathlete Mark Saroni was nice enough to pick me up from the Houston airport and haul me around for the weekend, this made life easy. Thanks Mark!  The race plan going in was to swim like hell to stay in a pack, bike a steady power wattage and run a consistent pace all while nailing my nutrition plan. In the swim I settled into a pace that was probably too comfortable but I was in a large pack of guys and would have done more damage than good trying to swim up to the next pack.  Once out of the water and on the bike things went well. This was just my 4th ride outside this year, so I didn’t know what to expect. I ended with my fastest bike split of ever for a 70.3, averaging around 25.6 mph with a 2:10:50 bike split (Thanks Free Flight!) all while executing my pacing and nutrition plan.  The run was my big question mark last year, I never felt like I ran well off the bike and was excited to see if all those treadmill miles would pay off.  Well they did!  I never faded and clicked off 5:50 miles without a problem.  At the end of the day I broke 4 hours for the first time in a half ironman and finished as the 18th pro in a deep field.  I was hoping for a higher finish but I can’t control who and how many guys show up at a particular race so I’m happy with the result.  Big Congrats to Richie Cunningham on the men’s win and Sofie Goos for the women’s win.

Ironman New Orleans 70.3:

Carlos, Rachel, and I on our way to the Big Easy!
 After racing Texas I had a quick 7 day turn around before New Orleans 70.3, the biggest question would be whether or not I had enough time to recover before the race.  I had a great week in between the two races visiting friends in San Antonio and was excited to see many of them racing with me in New Orleans.  After racing well at Texas I had
more confidence going into this race and was excited to give it a go.  I had a poor swim start not ready for the start and missed the pack I was hoping to swim in.  I settled into a pack of about 8 swimmers again feeling I was going just a little too easy but not wanting to risk swimming overly hard to make it to the next pack.  I came out of the water in 14th place.  Once on the bike I initially had to jockey for position but by mile 5 I felt strong and settled into a good rhythm.  Around 28 miles into the bike we had our  first turnaround and I could see I was about 45 seconds down of the pack I wanted to be in that included 6-12th places, I was 13th.  I remained patient and just focused on reeling guys in.  Around mile 40 I reached the back of that pack which had now blown up to move into 12th place.I spent the remainder of the bike picking up guys, and excited that I was feeling really strong on the bike. By the end of the bike I came into T2 in 7th place, the highest place I’ve ever been in coming off the bike in a large Pro race.  Unfortunately, it became pretty apparent that this was going to be a rough run.  I took my first mile out at a 5:45 pace but could tell the legs were tight with cramps threatening and backed it off a touch.  Shortly after my right hamstring completely locked up in a cramp and I was at a complete stop trying to get the cramp to release so I could bend my leg.  I lost a good minute until I could get the cramp to release and get moving again.  Shortly after two guys came by bumping me back to 9th place, right there I set a goal to finish top 10 and just try to make each mile slightly faster than the previous.  Around mile 7 good friend Robbie “Irish Flash” Wade came by to bump me into 10th but also encouraging me to pick it up.  I did manage to pick it up a bit and reel in one more guy to move back into 9th before the finish.  Reflecting back on the race I’m pretty happy. It was my highest Ironman 70.3 Pro finish to date and was a good result coming off a hard race the week prior.  It leaves me hungry as I was in a position off the bike to finish higher and that in itself gives me more confidence as I prep for my next race. Congrats to Andy Potts and Lauren Barnett for their overall wins in New Orleans.

If interested in a good read I was one of several Pros and Coaches featured in a recently released book called, "FROM THE MOUTH OF THE PROS – The best advice from pro triathletes & elite coaches".  The book is a collection of advice and tips from a large number of professional triathletes and elite coaches with some of the biggest names in the sport including current and past world champions, Olympians, Ironman, ITU champions and many more.   It is currently available as an ebook on kindle, here is the link:

As always, I can’t thank my Sponsors enough for helping me get to this point in training and racing.  Please consider supporting these sponsors as they have been incredibly great to me and are outstanding ambassadors for the sport.




Thanks for reading, next up, Pigman Sprint June 1st.

Nothing beats a post race hotdog and beer!

Shenanigans with friends on Bourbon Street!