Dog Days of Summer

The sultry month of July, slowly sweating by. Too much time to reflect on past mistakes and future turmoil. The momentum of the early year lost to endless obstacles and upheavals.

Just so, a serious injury seemingly stops time. As you stand still, the competition flies forward. And each day lasts two, three times as long, piling up time for you to ponder whatever the hell cursed your season this time.

This period follows those first agonizing weeks of wondering: “This has to be just a muscle strain.” “A day off and I’ll be fine.” “It’s not my turn. Surely somebody else deserves an injury more than I do.”

Then the inevitable misdiagnoses: “Ah, yes. That’s just your quad not firing correctly.” “Just walk normally. It’ll be fine with a couple days off – just probably a strain”

The eventual MRI almost inevitably shows something which, according to everyone “Could be worse.” Well, you know what? It could always be worse. It’s the fact that we’re unsatisfied with our current predicament that we’re driven to succeed, and this predicament is only worsened with injury.

But the nagging self-doubt! That is only redoubled with each new serious injury, each time you must go through the same process to return to full health. Each time, you are that much more acutely aware of just how difficult it will be to stay focused on the slow rehab, the months of exercises that can’t even be called training. You know how miserable each workout will feel, how badly it will hurt just to finish mile repeats slower than what used to be tempo pace.

But it’s not just the rehab that’s fearsome, it’s the sudden stab of fear during a hard workout once you’re supposedly “healthy”. The knowledge that it could happen all over again. The over analysis of past mistakes – “Where the hell had I really gone wrong? I improved my nutrition, was more cautious in training, always changed shoes on time. Will I be able to fix it this time around? What if I haven’t fixed things and I’m making a new mistake?”

That’s the problem with injuries. It’s not just one cause. Everything is associated with a myriad of mistakes that can seem so stupid in hindsight. “This time I was injured because of a bad shoe choice.” “This time I increased mileage too quickly” “Oh, I just fell off my bike” “I added too much intensity too quickly”

But worst are the injuries that seemingly have no cause, because those are unpreventable. Obviously we cannot cope with these unfathomable injuries, so we begin to over-analyze and attempt to sort through the mess of data accumulated prior to the injury.

But each injury and each rehab bring with them a more intense realization of just how badly you want success. How deeply you appreciate the races when the ground floats by and you know that you’re fulfilling your potential. Because for those of us who crave challenge and competition, nothing else captures that intense satisfaction of those moments of complete exhaustion and exaltation.

I’m finally in the process of finishing my rehab for a stress fracture in the neck of my femur. There’s still a ways to go, but over the course of this injury I’ve spent enough time over-thinking to make progress in areas that will improve my chances for consistency and, ultimately, success.

How it began: In late March, almost directly before my first scheduled race in South Africa, I was training surprisingly well. I was coming off a hill block and finished my first tempo thusly:

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It was about a week after this that, while descending on highland valley road, my rear tire exploded around this corner:
Normally this an awesome descent. That day, not so much.
After taking a few days off running and gradually returning to training, the next week I ended up having a severe pain in my left hip. I had to stop in the middle of a run and walk home. After a long period of medical trial and error, I ended up with an MRI which diagnosed a stress fracture in the femoral neck.
During the first stage of my injury, when I was on crutches, I was extremely limited and had a million too many free hours in the day. I picked up some GMAT books and began studying, primarily so I wouldn’t wake up one morning and do this:
While I may not want to go down the business route in the next 5 years, studying kept my mind off the frustration of this injury. I ended up scoring a 780, which, at the very least, won’t keep me out of the top tier MBA programs. Like the one this guy went to:
 Since I performed well, I feel I’m obliged to offer some free business ideas: A fold away toilet desk, an alarm that sounds when you’ve left something on top of your car, an always negative pregnancy test, and a ‘slow-leaking’ bicycle tire. You’re welcome.
As part of my recovery, I’ve been working with the great nutritionist, Liz Broad, who is helping me develop a better eating plan going forward. On top of dietary changes, I found some pretty excellent calcium supplements which helped me heal quickly and will hopefully help maintain my bone health in the future.
I’m also speaking with Lindsay Thornton, who, after measuring my brain waves, is going to help me develop psycho-kinetic powers. That’s what a psychophysiologist does, right?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uZK6Kcrjko
Bobby McGee also looked over some videos of my running and pointed out some functional issues which I’m addressing during my rehab. I’ll be working with as many biomechanists as are willing to put their hands on me once I’m healthy. I’m trusting that Paulo and I will work through the data to determine what are the best improvements for me to make.
Kevin Pierce has been extremely active in helping me develop a rehab plan. My return to running has been very smooth and I am focused on making sure that it remains so.
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Rocking out with the Red Fox Edge on the ever indispensable Alter-G
Finally, Paulo and I are making precise changes to my training program. Some things will stay the same, but many things will change. My running will be designed to limit the impact on my body. Everything, however, will still be designed to make me a bad ass.
I wish the best to those of you suffering through injuries.
And now, for your inspirational quote of the day:
“Defeat is a state of mind, no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.  To me, defeat in anything is merely temporary, and its punishment is but an urge for me to exert greater effort to achieve my goal.  Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing; it is a path leading to success and truth.” Bruce Lee

Offseason

Almost a year is spent obsessively exercising, calorically counting, and actively recovering, but what does a professional athlete do with those few glorious weeks of off-season? Travel? Go home? Build backyard suspension bridges?

The options, while seemingly diverse, are deceptively limited. The precise date to end a season is difficult to predict, the amount of time off is limited, and a triathlete’s assets are often rather… viscous. On account of those factors, planning an off-season with organized activities or multiple other people is quite difficult. As ludibund and limacine as my company most obviously is, it is infrequent that friends and family can plan in advance a two week vacation at some point in October, November or December that is cheap for me and might possibly be coordinated with a race that might be in New Zealand, Colombia or Cozumel. Not that this is a problem, it’s just that options are limited.

Fortunately, despite these general limitations, I had a kick-ass November and December this year because eBay generously gave me a 7 week internship. Some eBay executives had visited the Colorado Springs Olympic training center in early May. Later in the year, they invited few athletes out to San Jose for internships with various parts of the company. I was really lucky to have met Paul Todd, the eBay VP of Strategy, at the May dinner and he somehow finagled me my dream internship in the Strategy division of eBay Global Marketplaces.

I started the internship as soon as my ITU season ended with a 4th place finish at the Guatape World Cup:

It seems one guy had forgotten to dismount his bicycle
It seems one guy had forgotten to dismount his bicycle

I had definitely been hoping to end my season on a slightly higher note, but I missed a 3 man bike breakaway that ended up being the podium. Back to work.

I hadn’t known quite what to expect when I started with eBay. I knew the department, but right until the day I started the only suggestions I’d been given were to read classic literature, sell something on eBay, and research “Innovation.” Considering the last job I’d held was washing bouncy castles in the 10th grade, I realized I was going into this pretty raw.

The place that puts whatever can be bought up for sale

I’d graduated Summa Cum Laude with a double major from Wake Forest, was valedictorian of my high school with near perfect SAT, ACT scores, and met with then President Bush for my academic prowess, but I felt generally like a dunce compared to the people I was working with at eBay. The employees my age at eBay all seemed to have just graduated with Harvard or Stanford MBAs. The more elderly statesmen in Strategy could have all taught at Harvard. The person I worked most closely with, Peter Coles, had been the Harvard MBA professor until working at eBay. Everyone else seemed to have been consultants for McKinsey for at least 10 years, before taking the more relaxing route of Corporate Strategy. I was slightly intimidated.

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Where the magic… ummm, Where things happened.

Despite my obvious lack of training, everyone at eBay was incredibly helpful. THey taught me the lingo (guess what BFA stands for), how to do financial research, and, most importantly, how to create the very specific smoke blue powerpoints.

Before arriving, I had assumed that I would mainly be delivering coffee or some other such menial task, but I was blown away with how important they at least made my work feel. In the strategy department, essentially all of the possible new developments for eBay are analyzed and then presented to management. Each project is digested in the form of powerpoints, which are created by groups of around 3 or so people. This was the place where the pretty epic “eBay Now” program was launched. eBay Now is a service that, in specific cities, delivers any item to your door in under an hour by way of courier driving a Mini. Why a Mini, you ask? Probably because of this:

Anyway, I was at eBay over a couple winter months, so there were essentially no other interns around. This was awesome, because it meant I was just thrown into whatever the strategy department was working on at the time. I jumped around between a few different projects and gradually become more adept at the work. This is not to say that they gained much from my presence, but I felt like I knew what was going on and could make marginally better than meaningless contributions.

In my final project, I worked with Galina Vlaeva and Subryaman Sankar, who were incredible. Peter Coles, who had guided me through my first few weeks, was working at another of eBay’s holdings during my final weeks. Galina and Sankar had to deal with me making horrible powerpoints and trying to contribute ‘invaluable’ insights. They were incredibly patient and I learned a bunch about the international side of eBay.

By the end, I was blown away by how big eBay is, how complicated it is to run, and how different it is from Amazon. eBay has a huge international presence and can connect sellers from places like Russia or South Korea to America. This is just one aspect which adds to administrative difficulty, because they have to control listings dependent upon import/export laws without being able to control the behaviors of sellers and buyers. eBay also doesn’t hold inventory, while Amazon does, which allows Amazon to have greater control over shipping times and prices (hence the possibility of Prime, etc). eBay also has sells brand new items (figured I’d make this known, considering that very few people I’ve talked to know this) and they have to figure out how to allow individual sellers to compete with the big corporations who are starting to sell through eBay.

That got too detailed, but I just thought eBay was cool. The strategy department was constantly thinking about ways to improve the company, both for sellers and buyers. That’s pretty hard to do, because sellers want high profits while buyers want low prices and eBay succeeds most when both are happy. It was cool to see, and I think eBay is ending up with a site which can provide the best selection online as well as the opportunity to find products being auctioned for significantly less than market price.

What I was most happy about was that this internship let me figure out what I want to do after triathlon. I know for the next few years I won’t do anything except focus on training, but I’ve developed a decent resume and know that once I’m done I could focus on consulting or corporate strategy and find a career that I enjoy.

One great decision I made during the internship was to (re) join Paulo Sousa’s triathlon squad. I was very sad to leave Mike Doane because I’ve had some of my best results with him, but I needed to surround myself with a team of dedicated athletes and Powadise seemed like a great place to do it. I’m really happy to be training with Joe Maloy, Eric Lagerstrom, Jason Pedersen, Heather and Trevor Wurtele, Jen Spieldenner, Derek Garcia and Kevin Ryan.

Some photos:

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The big Macy’s in San Francisco.

 

 

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eBay now! Ebay products delivered within an hour for 5 dollars. Someone will literally go into a store for you, buy something, and bring it to you within an hour in a mini. Awesome.

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There was a Christmas party! I received an Ironman bobblehead. A very humorous pun on triathlons.

 

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The breakroom. The vending machines were free!

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It’s been a couple months since my last update. Long enough for me to learn a few things (outer-space smells of raspberries – the ozone layer? geraniums); to grow a little bit (actually, still 5’9”…on a good day); experience new things (Like riding this bike, which is pretty sweet, dude);

Kestrel Legend

See new places (Stockholm, Sweden makes me think that socialism can’t be all bad);

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and give everything at some races (so many watts! so many strokes! so much pain!)

LondonBike

Since my last blog, I’ve raced in: Palamos, Spain; Hamburg, Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; London, England; and Las Vegas, Baby!!!

After coming off a bunch of races in May-June, the latter part of my season I wanted to be able to focus my training on a few races and have some great performances. I went into Palamos and Hamburg with the goal of setting myself up to have a start and race well in London. Based on recent performances, that should have been simple goal. But at some point I apparently decided that I should make that goal more challenging; enter, terrible swims.

Training was still going well in the pool. With a stronger ride and a solid run, life should be simple. But no… I was somehow was in the last, last pack out of the water in Palamos. I smashed myself to catch the front group and then was left a tiredish run where I finished 15th. No biggie – I’ll salvage that with a solid race in Hamburg:

Boom – great start, I’m in a solid position around the first buoy. Obviously some violence, but hey – I’ll make it through. But I’m out of the water maybe 15 seconds away from the main group and stuck with the second chase pack. That’s too far in a WTS and I couldn’t make up time on the ride. So I’m off to the run with not enough to finish with a good race.

I’ve qualified for London, though, so mission accomplished. I have 5 weeks to prep for Stockholm, and I nail it. Back in Colorado Springs, I start running times I’d be pleased with at sea level, and my riding is awesome. There are moments of excellence in the pool, so I entered Stockholm ready to rock and roll.

On top of all that, I was going to be racing in this beautiful set of leather and laces:

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Well, maybe less leather and laces so much as rubber and elastic.

Anyway, Stockholm is awesome; beautiful people, bikes everywhere, clean streets, fancy shops. There’s even a bmx competition right next to our hotel. Clearly, the Swedes have something figured out.

WTS Stockholm starts and I’m balls to wall from the gun in some of the choppiest bay water I’ve ever encountered. I’m out of the water in a strong place and find myself with the first chase pack of riders. Considering the front pack is made up of 8 guys who are all Brownlee-esque in the water, I take that as a good step forward.

Everything goes well as we blast past this awesome palace on every lap of the bike:

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Things get a little worrisome when my front skewer comes completely loose. I’d given my bike to some mechanics right before the race start so they could switch the brake pads. Apparently they’d forgotten to tighten my front skewer.

I thought to myself “Next time you ride on cobbles, don’t implicitly trust that mechanics will know how to tighten your front skewer.”

With a loose wheel, the cobbled sections were, to say the least, gut wrenchingly mortifying with a side dish of terror and a pinch of my petrified mind. Having a front wheel rattling dangerously around, just waiting to throw me directly on my money maker (my face, if that wasn’t completely clear), was not a good sensation.

But my handling skills are far improved this year and I stayed pretty calm. I jumped onto to the run fresh for having completed the tough Stockholm course.

Maybe a little too fresh, because I smashed the first lap and a half. I felt awesome. I was floating. Richard Murray was a little up the road and I started thinking to myself “I’ll pick it up next lap and just jump onto the back of those guys.”

Then the world came crashing down. First, a stitch. No problem. Then my back cramped. No problem. Then I couldn’t really breathe. That was kind of an issue. I slowed down to a jog. I let a bunch of guys blow past me and watched my hopes for a top ten fade away. It took about a lap for things to marginally clear up and I started to claw my way back into things. I caught a few guys, passed a pissed off Sven Riederer (who dropped out shortly thereafter) and finished 17th.

It wasn’t ideal, but I was stoked. No one really lines up to finish 17th, but I had all the pieces and the next couple weeks would just be me putting things together for London.

And the next few weeks went well. I went into London backed by solid workouts in the swim, bike, and run.

But fitness often doesn’t translate perfectly in ITU racing. London was not I what I’d planned. I had a terrible first 300 meters in the water, and the effort I gave from then till the end of the ride trashed my legs. I couldn’t run like I’d practiced and ended up with a result unreflective of my preparation.

I did things in London that I could never have done before. I made up for a terrible swim start to finish in an acceptable pack. And I drove that bike pack so that we rode faster than Brownlees/Gomez in order to catch the first chase.

But it wasn’t enough. My coach, Mike Doane, had prepared me to have an awesome race. I was running great, riding awesome, and swimming better than ever. But come race day, I had nothing left to deliver on the run. I was exhausted after my efforts on the ride and was crushed to find that I had absolutely no running legs.

After an eventful Bus ride with Nirvana transportation which saw that my bike didn’t make it to the airport (I still don’t have my bike), I was home. Home for 20hrs, and then on a flight to Vegas.

I met my parents in Vegas, which was awesome. After such a disappointing race in London, I was really happy to see some family. The race in Vegas was fun. My bike was still in England, so I was really lucky to be able to borrow a Kestrel Legend. It handled incredibly well through the corners, despite it having not been fitted for me. The fast corners were easy to maneuver.

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It was super sprint race, but for a few rather mundane reasons I was off my game. After a pretty poor prelims, I ended up in the relay format B-final with Teammate Joel Tobin-White. I won my leg by about 15 seconds and he sealed the deal, so we crushed it and I felt like I had my normal stride back on the run. That was a relief.

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I got to hang out at Interbike with the James Lock from Zone 3 after the race. I had a good time, highlighted by selling a wetsuit to a guy who only spoke Spanish. I did my best and for future reference a wetsuit is: ‘traje isotermico’

Now, I’m happy to be back in the Springs. I have one race left this year and it’s in Guatape, Colombia. The course suits me perfectly and I have about 5 weeks to prepare. I’m really excited to end the season with a bang. Already this has been a successful year, but I want to have an awesome WC result. Guatape is the place to do that.

Now, for your inspirational picture of the month:

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If you work really hard, maybe someday you can ride this bike.

Here’s another inspirational picture:

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Spirited St Louis – Victorious

Chexmix, Jerky, Jock Jams 1000, gas stations, road side attractions; who doesn’t get thrilled thinking about road tripping across the US?

The prospect certainly thrilled me! A broken radio, Kansas flatlands, and the thought of a race the upcoming day couldn’t diminish my expectations for the high octane drive from Colorado Springs to St Louis, MO. After all, the fly vs drive score on travelmath.com pretty convincingly suggested that I drive.

There should be a button for - Triathlon on Saturday

There should be a button for – ‘Triathlon on Saturday’

This race was the week after my 6th place finish at Edmonton WC, so I’d neglected any kind of planning. I have a general policy to not think about any race but the one coming up, but I probably should have spared some thought for St Louis 5150.

Inviting someone else to drive along might have been a good idea. Planning for massive amounts of construction might also have been beneficial. But really, why think ahead when it’s so much simpler to just grab a Diet Dew and your TT bike and start a 12 hr drive across the country?

The best of the best gas station food. How many cars smell like pickled eggs, I wonder?

Thanks to my awesome new Smart Phone, I was able to bypass the broken radio and listen to “The Science of Getting Rich” by W D Wattles. Apparently, all you need to do to get rich, is think really, really hard. Then, all the thinking, living original matter that makes up the universe will organize itself into whatever it is you desire. Sounds like I have a solution to the National Debt.

Race Day

A tough week of training post Edmonton WC meant I was coming into this race hot. That suggested I’d either have a great day, or something of a shocker (I don’t do a ton of average workouts – they’re either awesome, or I end up on the side of the road cursing my coach).

All doubts were cast aside, however, when This Song started playing as we lined up for the swim. Clearly it was mandated that part of my pre-race routine be the ‘horse trot’ dance. Fortunately, I have yet to see pictures of this.

I had one of my better swims, mainly due to the warm water temperature. I sprinted up the hill directly out of the water and then exited T1 with about a 15 second lead.

I promptly commenced my general pacing strategy of blasting my legs until people caught up. Unfortunately, that didn’t work quite as well as last time because I led for about 32k and my legs were pretty cooked after the rolling hills. I was lucky to be able to settle comfortably into a group of four guys through the last technical section. I was even luckier that David Thompson was in this pack because he’s fairly incredible at technical riding and I could mimic the lines he took through the corners.

Aside from one incident where I almost crashed while trying to drink from my awesome homemade water bottle, the ride was uneventful:

The bendy straw will not be seen at my next race... or will it?

The bendy straw will not be seen at my next race… or will it?

I’d briefly jogged the run course before the race and then driven parts of it, but that gave me no inkling as to the rough road ahead. It would smash me.

There were about three flat sections and a bunch of steep downhills, which started roasting my legs right out of transition. As soon we’d racked our bikes and started running, we immediately began screaming down a hill (figuratively speaking. Maybe literally). That set the tone for the rest of the race and I just tried to pick a pace I could hold for 10 brutal kilometers.

I finished strong and was stoked to see a crowd had hung around to see the race winners.

High...

High…

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…five

Yeah! One of the toughest courses I’ve ever done.

It was also great to see a bunch of guys I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Chris Foster solidified my grillington nickname, and I enjoyed catching up with him. Jen Spieldenner, Jill Peterson, Lauren Goss, Sarah Haskins and Nate Kortuen were there and I was really happy to be able to see them again. Spieldenner had an awesome race and won her first non-draft event.

I have Edmonton World Cup on the 14th and I’m excited to see how I race against some great European guys.

Hamburg WTS is the weekend after. With WTS races, it’s generally pointless to look at the startlist because every single person is awesome. You can:

A. Have a great race and challenge the best in the world, or

B. Be 1% or more off your game and get trounced.

I’m looking forward to racing!

And now, for your inspirational picture of the week:

LombardiWantIt

Dallas CC – Victory!

It felt so good to be back racing ITU! The high stress, intense competition, polluted bodies of water, dangerous pack riding, briefings with info I already know; I was gradually cocooned by the blanket of nervy race prep that I’d missed all too much.

After an awesome race in New Orleans, I was confident that I was fit, much fitter than I’d expected. Great training, however, doesn’t always translate into a high caliber ITU performance. I was nervous that the swim would be too fast and I’d miss the bike pack, or after a high intensity ride I’d be trashed and unable to run a time reflective of my training.

But I nailed it! My confidence wavered a couple days before the race, but I donned a Hawaiian shirt, focused on a solid race prep, and with the help of some Guns and Roses I started feeling pretty good.

"Should I have cake or ice cream post race?"

“Should I have cake or ice cream post race?”

It had also been my birthday a couple days prior to the race. Thanks to Luke Farkas’ persistence, I received a free piece of Tiramisu from a very grumpy Italian waiter at Thursday night’s dinner. Score!

The swim, as all ITU swims are, was rough. Not often, however, have I been actually grabbed and forcibly dunked  when I wasn’t going around a turn buoy. Usually it’s just a “By your leave, good sir, may I grab your ankle while another gentleman unobtrusively swims on your back?”  Over-all it was a nice reminder that triathlon is a contact sport.

The ride was remarkable in that our group worked together well. I was glad to feel comfortable, but that ended up with me pulling through substantially too often. Since I’m still not running at 100%, I really wanted to put a gap between me and the second group. We ended the ride with about 2 minutes on the chase pack, so mission accomplished! I executed well at the very finish, and entered T2 first out of our pack.

I looked surprisingly less aero than I feel.

I look surprisingly less aero than I felt.

The only really scary part of the ride was when the wind would occasionally stop blowing – at those times, I’d momentarily cop a feel of the awesome heat and humidity. Like most feels I cop, this left me shaky, sweaty, and anxious about the impending punishment.

The anxiety was well-warranted. There ended up being two hydration stops per lap of the 5 lap run. Situated so that you could grab them each twice per lap, I grabbed something 16 times through 4 laps. That’s sixteen drinks and splashes of water, and I could have used more. I was roasting, my head hurt, and I felt dizzy. Fortunately, what mattered was that my legs felt fine.

I’d run the first couple laps with Huffman and Kanute to make sure I didn’t couple my usual terrible pacing with the overbearing heat. Hearing from Huerta (who’d had a bike issue) that I had a 15 second penalty, I gapped Will a bit during the 3rd lap so I could stop on the 4th lap and not be behind.

A 15 second penalty feels long, but not so long that you recover. As soon as I stopped, my legs stiffened. The Huffman caught up as I took my penalty and I ran out to meet him when my time expired. Having him next to me sparked some aggression and I threw in a strong surge that lasted the entire last lap. I finished about 40 seconds up, but with the heat my normal feelings of fatigue were switched – my legs felt awesome, but my head was screaming “NO! NO! I hurt, please, please, let me be.”

That voice was silenced till the finish, but this photo sequence captured my finish line exhaustion:

Tired

 

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Yeah, it was hot. I didn’t feel super.

This photo showed up on usatriathlon.org, and I was stoked to make the homepage for the first time.

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And now, a complimentary aerohelmet picture from New Orleans. So aero:

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About to dismount, I think – “why didn’t more people pass me?”

But I won twice in a row! That’s awesome! To go from 4 months of injury to two wins in 7 days felt incredible. I have to step up my game for the World Cups and WTS’s to come, but I’m excited to know that I’m doing good work.

Now for my inspirational picture of the week:

Voight

Can I make it three in a row at Edmonton?

New Orleans 5150 Champ!

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Boo Yah! I can ride a bicycle! 54:58 40k! In my debut non draft race, I was first out of the water, first out of T2 and won by over 2 minutes with the fastest run split of the day!

I’d delayed my entrance into the non-draft circuit until two things happened:

1. I owned an awesome TT bike

2. I could put out the power that would make me worthy of an awesome TT bike.

While 1 was technically never more than a credit card bill away, a truly fast TT bike had to wait until Kestrel kindly decided that I would be a recipient of their innovation and largess. I was gifted with the smooth ride and aerodynamics of this baby, the Kestrel 4000 LTD:

 

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Indispensable things

The more difficult part, however, was the power worthy of an awesome TT bike, which was accomplished due to the coaching of Mike Doane. Last year I spent a bunch of time riding with Ben Collins, master of non-draft cycling, which helped remind me on a daily basis that I still had a long way to go before I could compete with great guys. I improved a lot, but was humbled regularly.

This year I’ve been able to do a bunch of riding with the ETA (or, more recently, the Colorado Triathlon Academy), and Luke Farkas more specifically. Despite being only 19, Luke is frequently king of the Saturday Colorado Springs World Championships (known more informally as the group ride). Even if he can’t remember to bring a flat kit, he’s been winning his races with some powerful bike breakaways and solid running to back that up. Riding in the DoaneZone with him definitely pushed my power threshold way up.

One more thing that helped was having a couple stupid injuries this year that kept me out of running. With the extra free time, I’ve been able to put in a lot of hours on the bike and I was relieved to see those hours show up on race day.

Those injuries, however, also meant that I’d raced only once since last October, so I was getting very anxious to be out on the race course. Couple that with having never done a non-draft race before, and during the week leading up to the race I was doing my best to not start running around in screaming circles. Hawaiian shirts were a necessity. Sometimes more than one per day, just to make sure I had a constant source of relaxation on hand.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would be ready for this race, so I made sure to prep pretty much everything so I could be as aero as possible. I researched the most aerodynamic water bottle positions and shapes. I ended up with TorHans on the downtube and a homemade bottle between my aerobars.

This is the definition of DIY sexiness:

“Wow, Greg! We love your water bottle. What bendy straw!”

 

The race played out perfectly. I still can’t believe how good I felt. The swim was fun, and I was part of a group of 5 guys that broke away from the rest of the pros. Unlike an ITU event, there were no moments where I feared for my life nor when I was close to having my race end before I hit dry land. I sprinted around Jimmy Seear at the end of the swim to take an imaginary swim prime which paid out in pride and a fall onto the slippery carpet. I still made it through T1 in first and was out into uncharted territory quicker than anyone else. After this fast swim, I’m stoked to have a partnership with Zone3 wetsuits. Started by former pro James Lock, its owners are great guys with an awesome philosophy that produces great swim gear and wetsuits.

So golden

Click for a video of an impressively quick wetsuit removal

Once onto my bike I decided to pace it like I do when I just barely miss the pack in an ITU race – all out, all the time, all aero. Oh man. I even had an aero helmet. God I was aero. I was even on 650s, so I would have been considered ridiculously aero back in the 90′s.

Fortunately, I revamped that pacing decision and was relieved to see Tom Davison come past at around 12k so I could judge my effort on his significantly more experienced cycling. I found I was able to comfortably track him while maintaining a slightly greater than 10 meter long, 2 meter wide gap. He did keep on switching sides of the rode, so I was very conscientious to maintain the stagger. I was terrified of a drafting penalty, mainly because I didn’t really know how long 10 meters look on the bike.

After a couple laps drinking out of my awesome homemade bottle, I got off the bike right after him with about a minute or so lead on the next pro.

Such an awesome helmet.

Such an awesome helmet.

I never thought I’d be writing that sentence. Me? A lead off a TT bike race? Whoa. My mind is still boggled. Also bottled, as some would say, but mainly boggled. Definitely lucky to have a fast Kestrel bike.

What could possibly fuel that performance, you might ask. Well, the answer was formulated as part of a private game of caffeinated one-upmanship. While Cameron Dye may have the patented Hulk Juice, here is a visual recipe for Thor’s Hammer Sauce:

Too much caffeine you might say? My answer is - do you know how much I consume before a race?

Too much caffeine you might say? My answer is – do you know how much I consume before the race even starts?

Anyway, Tom Davison got unlucky in T2 with a feisty bicycle that wouldn’t rack, so I made it out of T2 first.

I was out of T2 first.

Still blown away by that. From there, I hammered the first half of the run, but it was getting pretty hot and humid. Thinking back to Ben Collins’ epic explosions in his last couple races, I backed off over the second half of the race. This fortunately left energy for some finish chute celebrations. Probably a little too much energy, but I haven’t seen pictures yet. Once I have some pictures, I’ll update the site. And despite what slowtwitch says, I still ended up with the fastest run split by about 45 seconds.

Also, I should give a shout out to ON-Running. Very happy to know I can put on shoes in T2 that will bring me home fast and smooth.

Fastest swim and run split with a bike split only 19 seconds away from being the race best. Clearly I should try this non-draft stuff again!

So, I won by a little over 2 minutes. It felt great, but was mainly a huge relief after being injured for so long. There are always doubts if things will come back after an injury. I’m really glad to be back racing and it was fun to talk to some other pros again. Jordan Jones, whom I haven’t seen for a long time, is a very cool dude.

And here’s your inspirational picture of the week. Yet another reason Winston Churchill is a badass:

No man can rock a top hat like Churchill.

No man can rock a bowler hat like Churchill.

In other milestone events, the swagger wagon is a quarter of the way to a million miles!

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Onto Dallas next week! Can I make it two in a row?

Awesome Things at the OTC

When I’m not training, generally I’m lying around in an exhausted, semi-conscious state, waiting for the precious few moments when I have useful brain function. It is during those instants that I try to perform such mentally demanding tasks as – reserve plane flights, plan races, read marginally edifying books, or speak. It took much trial and error before I realized that speaking should be done rarely and only in times of great intellectual capability. While I might think I am always a funny, charming individual, I’ve realized that the less awake I am, the more likely it is my sense of humor will cross the line from slightly off-putting to either non-sensical or straight up insulting.

Fortunately, however, the Olympic Training Center provides us with awesomeness that doesn’t require much intelligence to appreciate. This past weekend, Prince Harry dropped by, along with Senator Mark Udall and a few other important dudes. After growing up in England, it was very cool to see some royalty in my own backyard.

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A terrible photo, but Prince Harry is on stage. Unfortunately he was quite responsible and there were no tabloid-worthy shenanigans.

Also, occasionally we come back to our rooms to find surprises left by the staff. A little while ago, we had Candy Apples left in our rooms. Since everything served at the OTC is undeniably healthy, I had no qualms about eating this apple.

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In non OTC news, I will be traveling to Europe for a few weeks this summer for some exciting racing. Last year I spent time in Vitoria as well as a few weeks at a camp in the boondocks of Spain. There was some awesome riding and I’m excited to go back.

 

 

Sundial

Cool house. Apparently if you want to check the time, you just have to lean your head out the window, and hope the sky isn’t too cloudy for the sun dial to work.

So, that’s about it. Tune in next week for more awesome things that happen at the OTC

Back at it!

I’m free! Out of alter g and running on the ground. I can’t run a ton right now (45-50 miles last week), so I’m still riding everyday.

When your ride workouts are created by the genius of Mike Doane, things like this tend to happen:

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On the way back from a ride, I noticed that my bike had grown a pair.

I’m too tired to write a great update. Here, however, was a welcome package that came from Powerbar a couple weeks ago:

 

 

 

 

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The computer was not included, but I received a bunch of the new Energy Blends. These are essentially gels made from blended fruit. They tasted like there was actual fruit inside and the consistency was similar to a very light smoothie. They were awesome!

Signing off. Greg

So, all you do is Exercise?

Yes.

Essentially. In this first of a presumably three part series, I will be kindly elucidating the activities which somehow take up all of my every waking moments.

Most recently, I’ve been injured. This may sound like a circumstance which would leave me with lots of time to ponder the nature of the universe, build suspension bridges, and become the next Iron Chef America. As it turns out, I’ve had to put my engineering efforts on hold as training and rehab generally take up more time than usual, in order to reap a smaller reward than usual.

Part of what takes up additional time is this piece of awesome machinery:

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This piece of equipment supports a certain percentage of my body weight as I return to real running after a femoral stress reaction. It also makes my legs disappear.

So, for the past 6-7 weeks, I’ve been running twice a day, 5 days per week on this thing. Which has been awesome. How often can you do 30 minute runs at a 14% grade at around 5 minute miles?

I also get plenty of time to bond with this gorgeous inflatable treadmill – cleaning, calibrating, stuffing myself into this thing every time I use it turns even 20 or 30 minute runs into hour long adventures with lysol and zippers.

I get to start running again this week – I will now see how effectively I was able to destroy myself on that tready and if I’m still in even remotely passable shape.

During this time off, I’ve also spent a lot of time getting affectionate with my bicycle. Just like any long term relationship, there are up, downs, heart break, and (occasionally) terribly painful sores. Lubrication is necessary.

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I am going to be so aero later this summer.
That’s Rakita fixing some brake issues on a beautiful bike I happen to own.

Among other things, there is also time for arts and crafts. I created an awesomely inspirational collage.

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I collage of inspirational things. I purposely made it fuzzy so you’ll never be as inspired as I am. #TerribleCamera

Occasionally, when I get pissed that I can’t race, I remember that Colorado is great. And I repeat my mantra – “Triathlon is the greatest sport in the world, and I’m luck to be part of it.”

Sunset

An average sunrise.

 

 

Congressional Action! – The Incline

Though many have noted that the last Congress passed the fewest number of new laws since the 1940s, it did pass the indispensable legislation which made the Manitou Incline open for legal hiking.

Surrounded by people intimately involved in the process of legalization, I was very lucky to be present at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Incline

The Incline is around a 2740 step journey to a decent view of the bustling Colorado Springs Metropolis, yet its completion remains one of the three questions I am asked on a regular basis (the others being whether or not I compete in Ironmans and, consequently, when I will actually do my first real triathlon).

Fortunately, I am able to affirm that I have indeed trained on the incline

And now, for your inspiration picture of the week:

 

 

 

Success