Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A shawn carter retirement from triathlon...

Yeah so I think I am going to take a hiatus from triathlon for a while.  Ok ok, so I am not going to sit around and get fat.  I am still planning on running and biking and swimming because I enjoy it; I just dont think I need to fly around the country to do it anymore.  

Its a weird place to be honestly.  Personally, I never thought I would ever race as a pro triathlete.  I had a good year in 2011 and was contacted by now good friend Stephen Wright who was thinking of starting a pro development team, Off The Front Multisport, and putting me on it.  Seemed like a fun thing to do so I got my pro card and have had 3 fun years racing.  I've had the opportunity to travel around the country, make friends with homestays, and race against some really fast broskies.  

The big change was that last week I defended my PhD in chemical engineering.  Honestly, the last 8 years of my life has had a very simple foundation--studying chemical engineering.  It was the main focus in my life and triathlon training fit nicely on top of everything by providing structure and escape from study.  Now that this portion of my life, this foundation, is in transition, my overbearing external hobby, triathlon, has come to seem superfluous.  

Don't be fooled, I am not giving up who I am.  I've always enjoyed being active, being outside, and pushing myself.  Triathlon is a well designed outlet for these personality traits but ultimately it is only a vessel.  I will keep these traits consistent with who I am.

This summer I am hoping to spend more time in the mountains of Colorado, to take a long trip to Montana, and to go on a bike trip with my Dad.  All things that under the harsh constraints of training and racing, I have not had the opportunity to get out and do.  

Moving forward?  Since high school I have wanted to be a scientist, motivated to work on some of the tough problems facing humanity, things like energy resources, climate change, and the policy that drives them.  Now that I have finished school, I am closer than ever to getting to work in the career I've sought from day one.  

"Dreams are the touchstones of our character" -Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 19, 2014



REV3 Knoxville.  Last weekend.  Perhaps my last triathlon as a pro.  I will get to that in the next post coming soon...

Ok so first of all, last weekend.  Its been a busy few weeks, but I was glad to get out to Knoxville to see my good friend Scott--a fellow UVA tri team alum and his family.  

The last time I did REV3 Knoxville in 2011, I drove out with former CU tri team president Corey in his beater chevy cavalier.  22hrs each way.  Talk about a bonding experience.  After that trip, I vowed to fly to all future races...

The race weekend was cool for this time of year.  Looked like it might even rain but fortunately it held off.  Some highlights from the weekend are the books I am working on right now.  Some classics.  I recommend both:

The race was meh.  Wetsuit legal.  I started out well.  I went out hard and was even leading the race with Starkowitzky on my right and cam dye on the other side of him until the first turn buoy (about 500m?). (I think I was super peppy from all that coffee I had before the race).  When we went around the first buoy I drank some water when someone dunked me and I just backed off.  Its like my mind was just like "no thanks"  I let up for a sec and they just slowly pulled away.  Fail = me.  After that I was just in no mans land by myself and I was breathing less and thinking about the interesting architecture of the bridge we were swimming under.  I just totally zoned out.  It was especially bad because when I got out I was thinking about just stopping and going back to bed.  I literally have never thought about doing that in a race before. 

So, I thought after the swim that I was just kinda gone from the race and the first 5 miles I was just floating along.  Then Leon and David Thompson came up behind me and passed me and I was like oh.  So I started riding hard and went to the front and led the rest of the ride.  We caught James Hadley, Matty reed, and two other dudes I didnt recognize.  I ended up riding hard and pulling them along.  I didnt really mind because it felt comfortable to me and I like those guys so I was hoping they would do well.  //  Really pretty bike course btw I would HIGHLY recommend it to any athletes.  Just a really beautiful part of America in my opinion.  The Smoky Mountains are super elegant. The course was windy and hilly and interesting.  Too bad REV3 is stopping the pro series...

So we hit the run and I still felt fine but I was last out of T2 because I put on socks.  The guys I was riding with all pulled away and I was left again feeling just like I had been on the start of the bike thinking I was in no-mans land by myself like whatever.  I didn’t feel bad but I wasn’t moving that fast.  Actually I had to pee really really bad and I was considering stopping the whole time.  I didnt really expect to catch those guys and never did.  But then at like mile 7 I was like dang, I feel pretty good and I started running a lot faster.  Like a lot faster.  I was practically sprinting and it was comfortable.  Super negative split.  Weird.  Maybe it was that blueberry gel I took--Ive never had that flavor before but it was pretty darn tasty.  

Hmm.  Well, the biggest thing to report is that everything is mental.  Surprise!  So is everything in life.  I feel like I have been super negative on here lately.  I actually really enjoy working out, exercising, racing even.  The thing about racing well, especially against these top guys is that you just have to be 100% on it to compete.  I really didn’t race that poorly honestly but I just wasnt pushing myself when I needed to (ie on the swim) and didnt have the ability to flatten myself on the run.  Not to mention, lets be honest, these guys are really freaking fast; way faster than me even on a good day!

For example, the winner and consummate champ, Tim Don.

James Hadley, me, and Tim, some of the large Boulder contingent that ventured out for the race.

In all it was a nice weekend seeing Scott and the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Every time I go back to the east coast I am reminded of the stunning green, lush, verdant, whatever you want to call it, landscape.  The humidity (my favorite :) is no doubt deserving of credit.


Monday, April 28, 2014

St Anfernee's

Back for more.

Things have been heating up here in Boulder.  I submitted my thesis to my committee last Tuesday and now am preparing my PhD defense presentation. Superficially, I dont think I am stressed, but Ive noticed that my glucocorticoids must be spiking because I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking about ways to improve my presentation.  I can feel the synapses flicking around up there--its running a few degrees hot I think.

So, with the pressure building, I went down to St Anthony's Tri.  I figured, since I am retiring this year from triathlon, I might as well try to hit the big races. Plus, I got to see my boy CHRIS B REAL, and my new coach Jen Hutchison.

Walking to the bus stop on Friday I was joking with a friend that it would be better if it were snowing and gale force winds just to make it tougher for me.  After all, adversity is the flame which sharpens a blade.

Well, be careful what you wish for kids.  As soon as I got to the airport, the hits started coming.  A delayed flight out set things back.  Finally got to FL, met Jen's husband David at the airport and got to bed.

The next day, Chris, David and I went out for a ride and had one of those moments where they knew where to turn and I didnt--we were talking and David turned in to me while I was going straight--we went down hard.  I shredded my left side, had a welt on my shin, smashed a rib, tore up my jersey and thought I broke my wrist--David separated his shoulder, tore up some skin, and just smashed his handlebars to pieces...well maybe it was me that did that with my ribs...

Anyway, we were in pieces.  I thought I would be ok, did an easy jog and a swim at the race site which felt ok, but the wrist was in bad shape.  Still it was a nice day and it was fun hanging out with Chris.

Pro Meeting:


And of course IronClad Coaching as well (Jen's coaching business)


I wrapped the wrist really well and decided to go for it on Sunday.

Chris and I on race morning (photo credit to coach Jen)

And a pretty cool snap of me by one of the photographers at the race start (Nils Nilsen):

As it turns out, swimming wasnt as easy as I had planned.  The wrap job made it tough to feel the water and when I hit people it hurt like crazy so I tried to get out of the middle of things.

I came out a little bit behind the lead group of a zillion guys with the usual fellows Kaleb VanOrt, Chris Foster, David Thompson.  All the usuals.

We were riding well together when my inability to grip anything led me to drop my waterbottle...  At first I was like, "oh dang it, whatever" but then a official bike pulled up next to me.  "Do I have to go get that?" --"Your decision"  --(in my mind) "thanks jerk."  So, I started to slow down, but so did he, I guess to go back and make sure I picked it up, but he cut me off the road, I hit the curb and went down again.

It wasnt a hard fall this time, it was just the absurdity.  I lay there for a second or two and just laughed quietly to myself at how amazingly disastrous this all was.  Then I got back on, went back to the bottle, and rode the rest of the way by myself.  Yay.

I ran pretty well (the only thing I didnt need a wrist for), but who cares.  I havent seen results but I assume I was about 20th or so.

My BOY chris had a fine race and was 11th and Rudy VonBerg, another CU guy was 4th overall which is a very impressive result!

Anyway, after another delay on the way home due to tornados I was just fried. Now I am totally exhausted after working all day and am writing a race report to placate my mom.

My first practice defense is tomorrow morning.  We are in the snap count.  Defense in 1 week.

REV3 Knoxville next.  See you then.


Throwback video of the week:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Back on the wagon: New Orleans 5150

Greetings.  Just got back from the first race of the year down in nawlens.  Boy do I sleep well at low altitude.  Its like being put into a coma. Slept for 10hrs in one position Friday night.  Scrumptious.  

Fun weekend too.  Got to stay with my homestay of the last 3 years, Brian Baum.  Thanks again Brian for hosting us.  Plus, this year I brought some friends, Davide and Brooks.  

Brooks and I go back to collegiate triathlon days when he raced for Miami of Ohio, though he now trains in Detroit.  Davide, "the italian" is another of the Boulder CO crew.  We put him in the back seat (ie no seat)

Race Recap:
Swim was long and choppy but also wetsuit legal.  Very windy and cold conditions--unseasonably cold.  I hammered out of the gate into some free water, then backed off and chilled in the front group.  It wasn’t a very hard swim, Brooks and Brian F. were leading and I was right in behind them.  Unfortunately we didn’t drop anyone since it was wetsuit legal and no one was really trying to get away.


Bike.  Drew S. just hammered from the first mile and I went for it after him, knowing he was going to throw down on the bike.  Michael P. got on my wheel and we were the three that took off and outbiked everyone else by like 3min.  That was the story of the race.  The three of us split up by about 30s over the rest of the course.  Me in third, Drew in the lead.

CRUSHED T2.  I usually am not so hot at transitions, but I actually have started doing them pretty well.  Took what, like 7 years, or however long Ive been doing this silly sport.

The three of us ran about the same and finished in that order.  I ran very consistently but wasn’t supper zippy. I think all three of us had really solid races coming off of lots of base training and not yet much speed work.  Good news for all of us heading into the season!  Brooks ended up 5th and Davide 6th.

 Afterwards we headed down to the French Quarter to do some tourism on Bourbon Street aka, the dirtiest street in America.  All I did was walk down it, but after taking 3x showers in purell I still feel dirty.

Definitely plenty of culture and art around there.  Depending on what you like...

The classiest strip club I could find...

Brooks even got his picture with the guy that was trying to get us to go inside.  The guy at lipstixxx was making a strong counter offer.

Got some local fare.  Every type of seafood, though you cant tell the difference since it is all fried, plus gumbo.

Even tried a sip of a "Hurricane" which is basically a mixture of every type of liquor, some kind of fruit juice and about a cup of sugar.  It was horrible.

In all, it was a great weekend with the boys.  Looking forward to St Anthony's Triathlon in Clearwater FL up next!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Springtime 2014.

Howdy ya'll.  Back for the 2014 edition.

Ok well the main reason for this report is that I finally got a coach.  Fitting considering the last post I left on this here blog!  Her name is Jennifer Hutchison and she is kicking my bootay.  Ugh intervals everywhere.  Makes me realize how slack I was getting last year.

Got the first race coming up in 2 weeks in New Orleans.  Should be interesting, eh?  How will the training pay off?  I am swimming less than last year (but still hard); am biking like a mofo.  I dont really remember but I think I blacked out last time I ran.  Oxygen deficit is the norm.

Hmm, things to report here.  Been listening to lots of Chvrches, Phantogram, and Lorde lately.  ALSO, I've been writing my PhD thesis.  Just passed 100 pages today and still rollin!  The plan right now is to defend some time in May.  Should be an exciting year.  Stay tuned for some bumpin race reports.


Featured chill out music of the week:

Hut trip this winter up on vail pass!

Time to get a haircut and shave my legs...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What a weak (end)

Well, Hy-Vee happened this last weekend.  Spoiler alert.  It was one of my worst races in...ever?

I was pretty down after the race on Sunday, but after thinking about how the last month has gone, it all makes sense really.  The last time I blew it this badly was 4 years ago as an undergrad 4th year at UVA (thats a senior to the rest of you non-wahoos out there).

Coming into August I had a few motivations:
1) I was kinda sick of getting 4th
2) My advisors were gone, things at school were in their pre-fall semester lull
3) Research was going well
4) Plenty of time, nice weather

Ok, so I trained a LOT.  More than a lot, I trained hard, a lot.  For about 2 weeks I was just crushing it.  I even had probably one of my best track workouts ever holding 5:30 pace or below for 7miles on the track. But, then the third week was just too much.  I should have backed off but instead I stuck to my plan and really dug myself in a hole.  I rested for Maine thinking I would have plenty of time to get it together, but I was not rested for Maine.  I was sleeping a lot and the night before ate way too much pizza to be even mildly considered recovered.  The race in Maine was weak--the real trouble was that I couldnt get my heart rate up on the bike and especially the run--I think thats just a sign of fatigue.  Ok, so I thought I would just drop it hard and rest all week for Hy-Vee.  I did 20min swims on MWF (thats it) and only a little more on TR.  I felt rested, but flat.  And then the race.

I started out the swim hard, on Hunter Kempers feet until the first buoy.  I crushed myself to stay on him, and it worked, he put a gap; it was open water, and it was nice.  BUT, then we cut in, I got pummeled by a few guys, drank some water, and just blew up.  That was it.  I came way down in pace for the rest of the swim and for the rest of the day I dont think I got my heart rate above 140.  It was honestly sad.  I rode at a pace I felt I could have held for about 100miles on an average saturday.  And I ran a 36min 10k, yikes.  I just couldnt get my pace up because I couldnt get my heart rate up.  I was hardly breathing hard on the run, which is a bad sign.  My best 10ks are the ones where I nearly pass out from breathing so hard.

Summary: Overtrained, didnt recover like usual for Maine, tired and flat there, rested too much, body shut down for Hy-Vee, even worse than Maine, re-think my life.

I suppose I learned something from the past month, but I sorta feel like I am just reinventing the wheel.  Fortunately, I rarely mess it up so badly, but yes I am sure I would benefit greatly from a coach, or someone who would prevent me from blowing it like this.

My parents came out to watch:

And I suppose the weekend wasnt a total bust; I got some pictures with some of the youngsters from the kids race including Megan here who crushed it on Saturday.  (I need a haricut!)

Honestly, I am pretty lucky that all I had was a horrible race; it could have been a much worse day for example if I were living in Syria.  At the end of the day, life goes on, I dont need this to pay my rent; I will get it right next time.  I know I improved this year, and I know my swimming is there.  I wanted so badly to make the front group on the swim and if I hadnt blown my training, I think I might have been able to.  One of these times I will get it right...

In the mean time, cheers to chocolate milk.


Song of the week (updating Sept 5):

mini cooper

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Team Lobster Boil in Maine

Last weekend was REV3 Maine held at Old Orchard Beach ME.  I was pretty pumped to get out to the east coast (always, for the humidity and oxygen) and Maine in August would offer both AND with reasonable temperatures.  Sure enough, it didnt disappoint.

I flew in to Boston and drove up with teammate Chris Braden aka Chris B Real, team captain Stephen and weekend honorary team member Lindsey Jerdonek.  We tried like 8x times to get lobster that night, but eventually settled for calzones, still yummy!

The cool thing about this race was that we were able to cram about 90% of our OTFM team into Stephen's grandparent's beach house (plus 2x sets of parents).  In sum we had 4x pros in the mens race, 2x pros in the womens race (plus honarary member Lindsey +1) and 3x guys in the amateur race.  Of course having a full house of triathletes was a blast; bikes everywhere, and plenty of peanut butter!  The night before the race we ate 8 large pizzas.

Yeah, so the race itself was kinda weird.  I felt ok going into it, having put in a lot of big miles in the last month.  One of my goals this season is to consistently make the front group on the swim and this being a wetsuit legal swim, I had no trouble staying with the lead guys--the pace felt comfortable enough and no one was pulling away--its the kind of feeling I have been seeking, and I know all the big swim miles have been paying off.

So, we came out of the water and my boy Chris B Real sprinted for the swim prime and "had a heart attack"in the process.  Its why I love that guy, hes a goof with a big heart.  Anyway, as I was running up the beach trying to keep my HR in check, a couple guys sprinted past me as I was slogging up the sand.  Yikes.  I plodded into T1, and was gapped by about 20 seconds from the guys who cranked it out.  The rest of this story is just sad, because I am clearly an idiot for not killing myself to get up there (exactly the same scenario as my last race in Columbus).  The first 4x guys formed a nice little group and stayed just in my sight as I caught Chris.  I rode hard but to no avail; the 4 that got away again stayed in sight until about the halfway point where they really put time on me.  Sigh.  Another race hanging out in no mans land, behind the front group I should have gotten with and in front of a huge group of guys about a minute back.  Fortunately, Chris stayed with me, so at least he was set up for a good race.

The run hit and I was feeling pretty tired.  Chris passed me at about mile 2 and at about mile 4, 3 guys from the chase group passed me.  I wasnt doing my usual death breathing which was weird, mostly I think because I was just kinda tired.  I had nothing to push it to the next level.  Sad day.  I finished the race and wasnt my usual destroyed self.  Instead I was just tired.  Meh.

Here is teammate Katie Hursey on top of the women's podium and giving her victory speech.  Just a boss.  REV3 by the way put on a fantastic race.

I think I realize now that I might have been a bit too gung ho in the past month and dug myself into a bit of a hole. Next weekend is Hy-Vee, the race of the year, so now I am doing nothing but thinking about recovering.  My friends at the pool have told me to do basically nothing this week.  Welp, if thats what it takes.

Look at that sunset.  I couldnt believe it was real.  Ahh, the east coast.

Next stop, Des Moines!


Song of the week: