Sunday, June 19, 2016

Grand Rapids 70.3 2016: You get out what you put in.

           There are many things that draw me to triathlon but I think what I like most about it is simple: “you get out what you put in.” To me, this is the great appeal of all endurance sports. There is no hiding behind others and no blame to be cast on anyone else. It is you, against you. You against a 2-hour interval session on the trainer, and in the end, the numbers don’t lie. I think the chorus in this song nails it:
“This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!”
In fact, triathlon training is probably a lot more than fifty percent pain, but you get the picture. I am fortunate that both my greatest strength and biggest weakness is my ability to go “all-in.” In February I made a decision to go “all-in” on triathlon. Ok, that may be a little heavy, I am still writing a dissertation, trying to be a husband, and caring for a puppy, but you get the picture. What happened at Grand Rapids last weekend validated this decision.

            Last year Grand Rapids did not disappoint. The course was absolute fantastic, and the race seems to bring out some of the fastest racers not only in the Midwest, but in the country. While I was able to squeeze out a pretty solid swim/bike last year, I fell apart pretty bad in the run. As Bri and I made our way north on Saturday morning, flashbacks to those last few miles set-in. Dear god, not again. We arrived early afternoon on Saturday, perfect time to pick up our packet and make a trip to Vivant brewery before grabbing dinner with some teammates. A day before the race beer seems to be customary with me, but they always say not to do make any drastic changes the night of the race.... At dinner teammates Ryan Linden, Zachary Carr and I discussed all-things triathlon. The highlight of the conversation was probably our appreciation for our new ENVE 7.8 wheels, and about how our arms are too small to get the tires on them without throwing them in the dryer first.

Brews at Vivant. I drove Bri to dinner.
            Race morning wake-up was 4am. Of course Ellie being the anxious dog she is, refused to take a poop the entirety of the trip, which meant she spent a good portion of the night wandering around the room crying, not the best night of sleep. We were lucky to score a mini-kitchenette where I prepared my standard bialetti (stove top espresso) and put it in a mason jar to be consumed 1 hour before the race. Arriving to the course well before the start I was able to get set up in transition without stress which was very nice! As we waited for the swim start I followed my nose to the scent of monster energy, being consumed by coach Zach Ruble. We chatted a bit and all of a sudden I realized I still had my wedding ring on (it certainly would have gone flying off first couple of strokes). Fortunately I was able to pass it off to teammate Mark Beckwith’s father who was standing nearby. Crisis averted, it would not have been the best to lose it after less than a year!

My blood type = caffeine.

            The swim start was sort of sudden, which kind of lowered the stress. I put myself at the front of the group and immediately began swimming HARD towards the first buoy. Looking around I immediately realized this field was much stronger than the one at Terre Haute, as there were still at least 10 other swimmers around me. I decided to kick it up another gear until I reached the next buoy, in an attempt to create some separation. It worked! By the next buoy I could see two swimmers a good 20m in front of me (this is what I refer to in my head during the race as “the guys who swam in college”) and one swimmer to my right. Deciding to dial it back, I followed his feet until the turn-around at which point I figured I would do my share of leading. Interestingly, he wanted no part of this. As he saw me coming up he put in a few hard kicks, surging in front of me again. “Whatever” I thought to myself, Ill just ride him all the way-in and save my legs. The sun was totally blinding on our return trip but my Roka R1 goggles gave me just enough tint to see the shore! We both got out of the water just over 27 minutes (1.5 minutes faster than last year), with a solid gap on everyone else.
Swim time: 27:17
Roka = speed.
            Transition at Grand Rapids is LONG. The street is narrow and there are racks of 8 bikes on either side in a big race (~2000 people). Getting to my bike I threw on my new Rudy Project Wing 57 aero helmet and headed out with my Felt IA4, leaving two of the people who beat me in the swim behind. Thanks to my cylcocross skills my mount was a total success and I began hunting the rider in front of me who was in hot pursuit of the lead moto. The first few miles he seemed to maintain a good gap but his cadence was really high. When he glanced back I knew it was over, putting in a solid 5’ at 280-90 I made the pass and gave him little hope of coming with. The rest of the bike I really focused on staying as low as possible and riding smooth. At the turn around I was starting to hurt a bit, but my power had been high and I knew the way back I would have a tailwind. I was ecstatic to see I had an estimated 2-3’ gap on the next rider. This motivated me and forgetting about the pain I dug deeper. The last few miles I found my mind drifting to the run. Would my training this winter and spring pay off? Or had I overcooked it on the bike and was about to repeat 2015? Here is the strava file, Im ecstatic I was able to push 20 more watts than last year.
Bike time: 2:12:13 (fastest of the day)

               As I ran through transition, my legs didn’t feel too bad, but I had no idea how fast I was running. Grabbing my BOCO hat and race belt I set out on the two-loop run course. Glancing down at my watch I saw 6:25 for mile 1 and I felt totally in-control. Trying to keep myself calm I hit the next miles in nearly the exact same time. At mile 4 I saw second place (Ryan Guliano), who I knew is a heck of a runner and was just coming off a huge OA amateur win at Texas. At the turn-around I was joined for a minute by Bri and Ellie who ran next to me. Unfortunately Ellie didn’t attack Ryan who by now was in hot pursuit, and he caught me not long after, immediately putting a sizeable gap in me. Trying to not let this phase me I proceeded onward to a 607 mile, at which point he already had 30 seconds on me. At mile 10 I estimated I had 3ish minutes on the next guy, Guliano’s teammate. Just keep your shit together and you can beat him I told myself. By the last couple of miles I was hurting bad. My legs were not used to the relative hilliness of the GR run course. With a mile to go the emotions were flowing: pleasure, pain, excitement, fatigue. As I rounded the corner I saw the race clock: 4:04:XX. Giving it everything I had I crossed the finish line in 4:04:50.
Run time: 1:22:03

Happy Greg, Happy Ellie.
            While I knew I had finished second in the under 40 age group, I still had to wait for the 40+ guys to come in, which meant waiting on first American at Kona, Dan Stubleski. Sure enough, Dan was able to pull off a blazing fast run and beat me by a minute and a half for second overall. It didn’t matter, I was still absolutely stoked with my third OA. This had been something I had been dreaming about since February, although didn’t even think it was realistic. Teammates Zachary Carry, Ryan Linden, and Mark Beckwith were close on my heels brining home two first place age group finishes. After the race we got to make a number of new friends, many of which were familiar with the team! On the way home I reflected on my race, truly everything went as planned. I could not have asked for a better day. I am so lucky to have a team of such motivated and like-minded individuals. Huge thanks to Bri and Ellie for accompanying me and being my crew, I wouldn’t be able to do it without you two!!!!

Left to right: Carr, Beckwith, Linden, Grosicki

Three weeks from now I will travel to California for Vineman 70.3. Cant wait to meet some of the west coast team and smash some California climbs!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Like a kid on Christmas: Thunder in the Valley.

The first race of a new triathlon season is kind of like opening a present as a little kid on Christmas day. You spend all year trying to be good, with the hope that Father Christmas will deliver. 2015 was a big year for me, as it was my first year getting to race for Team Every Man Jack, and although I set a new PR at the 70.3 distance, between overcoming an injury, taking comprehensive exams, and getting married, I wasn’t able to train as much as I’d have liked. 2016, however, has been a different story. This winter I hired a coach, Zach Ruble, and have been consistently nailing 12-15h training weeks, featuring workouts I could have never dreamed of completing. This year, I have been extra good, and I couldn’t wait to see what my season opener, Thunder in the Valley Olympic in Terre Haute had in store for me.

Friday afternoon myself, two of my fellow graduate students (Adam and Kevin), and my advisor, Scott, loaded up the car and drove down south to Terre Haute. The sun was shining and the weather was a warm 70 degrees, perfect for a race. Unfortunately, Saturday the weather had different plans, with a high of 54, 25mph winds, and to put the icing on the cake, a chance of rain. Race morning it was 44 degrees. With the recent memories of my teamates freezing the week before at St George, I immediately began strategizing how to stay warm. My strategy was 2 fold: to wear as many clothes as possible, for as long as possible before the start, and to slip on a long sleeve tight-fitting shirt on the bike. While this may compromise my goal of going sub-2 (PR 2:01), better to finish on foot than in an ambulance.

After slipping on my Roka wetsuit and new never before worn R1 goggles (yes, it may be stupid to race in goggles you have never worn before, unless they happen to be Roka R1’s, then you are stupid not to race in them) I headed down to the water. I saw people warming-up, but decided against putting my head in the cool 60 degree water to avoid getting cold before the race. At the sound of the gun we began our two-loop 750m swim. Starting at the front, I could see swimmers on either side of me pulling away when something Adam said went through my head “you have to swim hard the first 200m to avoid the congestion.” With a few hard strokes I found myself on the feet of the swimmer that had been to the right of me, and had mentioned something before the race about just having finished collegiate swimming. “Perfect,” I thought to myself “he has been partying his b***s off the past couple of weeks, and I have been swimming more than I ever have in my life, maybe I can hold his feet.” Surprisingly towards the end of the first lap he began to fade and I made the pass into second. The next lap proceeded uneventfully, and I focused on keeping my stroke “long and strong,” pretending to be John Savage, swim god. Exiting the water, I could not believe what I heard, 18 minutes? Are you kidding me?!? Maybe all those damn 5000y swims I have spent cursing Zach really are paying off!
Swim: 18:55

Making my way into transition I decided that with a swim like that, this was as good a chance as any to break 2. Throwing caution to the wind (no pun intended) I grabbed my new Rudy Project helmet and my Felt bicycles IA4 with new ENVEwheels and headed for the bike course. The lead vehicle in sight reminded me that this was my race to lose. The way out, tailwinds were STRONG but a gusty crosswind (up to 35mph) made the aero bars dangerous. I did my best to stay aero while focusing on keeping my power as steady as possible. At the 180-turnaround I got my first chance to assess the competition. With no one in sight I tried to accelerate back up to speed, when I saw 15mph and 300 W I knew the ride back would be challenging. By now the winds had increased even more. Abandoning the aero bars, I focused on my power and holding steady. Soon two riders came into view, and I estimated them to be 2-3 minutes back. Fortunately, on the way back my legs seemed to come alive as I battled the fierce headwind to T2.

Dismounting my bike, I paid the price for no socks in such cold weather. My feet were totally numb. I did my best to jam them in my shoes, snagged my BocoGear race belt and was off on the run. Doing the math, I estimated myself to be about 1:20 into my race, all I had to do now was run a 40min 10k, and after 8 years of triathlon, I would cross the finish line for my first time under 2h! Half a mile in I glanced down at my watch to see 6:45. “Was this some kind of cruel joke?!? I run 620 for a marathon and cant even run a single mile at 620 in this dire time of need?!?!” The first mile passed and my watch beeps, I glance down in fear to read 628. Ok, time to pick up the pace. As I warmed up I saw my pace slowly descend, THANK GOD, my effort remaining constant, 610, 605, 600, 555. With 2 miles to go I saw second place, nearly a mile behind me. Settling in I focused on keeping the effort hard but manageable. Don’t blow up now I thought to myself. Approaching the finish line I saw the clock “1:56:XX”. I had done it. This offseason I have been extra good, and it’s now time to reap the rewards of my labor.
Run: 37:09, 5:58 min/mile

Overall: 1:57:01, 1st OA (PR by 4+ min)

I couldn't have asked for a better start to the season. This week I look to rest up and recover before joining a few EMJ team members in Michigan for a training weekend in preparation for Grand Rapids 70.3, followed by a trip to California to do battle with the swim god himself! Can't wait for the rest of the season. Big shout out to Team EMJ for their support and all of our sponsors. Most importantly, thanks to my beautiful wife for putting up with my ridiculous hobby, and not being too grouchy when I wake her up at 4am to ride the trainer! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Muncie 70.3 2015: swim, bike, and try to run

Coming off Grand Rapids 70.3, my legs and particularly lower back were quite sore. After taking a few days off I started up an easy week of training before traveling to Boulder, CO for what was an epic bachelor party with my best friends. As an added benefit, John Savage and I were able to get in some runs at altitude, in hopes of enhancing our oxygen carrying capacity for our upcoming races (Muncie & Vineman 70.3). The next week I ramped up my training and even did a track workout (8x800, my first in a year, sure enough, I still hate the track) in an attempt to improve my run split at Muncie. After a week of some solid efforts, I began a two week taper and focused on chowing down on some carbohydrates 2-3 days before the race (10-12 g/kg of body weight). To do so, I ate 2 loaves of french bread in a little over 48 hours. Only time would tell if such a nutritional strategy would bring success.

The day before the race, Team Every Man Jack teammate Mike Vulanich and I met up for a short bike-course preview and shake-out jog. We rode pretty easy except for one short interval to escape a large and fast on-coming pitbull, and chatted about racing/training/etc. Mike also did a fantastic job of making me super jealous of his ENVE wheels! Now I know what to do with any wedding cash Bri and I may receive ;). Unfortunately Mike was having some trouble with his rear derailleur, and being typical triathletes we could not fix it, so I sent him to Mike at the Greenway 500 for some last minute adjustments. I headed back to work for a few more hours and that evening went out to prairie creek to pick up my race packet.

Race morning I set the alarm for 4:30 (it's so nice having the race in your backyard) early enough to wake up and get some food in (a blueberry bagel, banana) and sip on GU Roctane Tropical Punch while I loaded up the car. We ended up leaving the house just before 5:15, and I'm glad we did because there was a fair amount of traffic. Muncie streets werent designed to accomodate such a mass of people. In transition, I ran into teammate Mark Graham, who had traveled from Las Vegas to race and we talked race strategy and goals!

Amazingly, before the race I managed to stay pretty calm. This is atypical for me and perhaps a result of this being the 4th triathlon I have done this year (I think the most I had done until this season was 3 in a year). After slipping on my Roka wetsuit, Mike and I made our way down to the water to warm-up. Unfortunately our wave would be the last to go off. At the start I positioned myself in the second row, right behind the tallest/longest arm guy I could find. By the time we hit the first buoy, myself and two other athletes in my age group had already put a pretty gap on the rest of the age-group and already caught the group who left four minutes before us. The rest of the swim I spent weaving in and out of the age-groups who went before us, sticking with one other athlete in my age-group. I got out of the water and took a glance down at my watch to see 28:XX. I really can't express how happy I am to be swimming at the front of the pack this year. No doubt a product of my efforts in the water this winter and the assistance of my Roka suit!

Swim time: 28:29

T1 was long and uphill. I ran uphill and into transition to my Felt IA4 bicycle and Rudy Project helmet. The bike has been my strength now for the past two years, and I was excited to see what I could do on this notoriously fast course. The first 6 miles were laden with potholes. Fortunately for me, these are streets I ride daily, and could ride them with my eyes shut. Weaving in and out of athletes in front of me, I made it to route 35 (where we would do 2 loops) a wide and open course. By the time I made it to 35, my heart rate and steadied and I was ready to lay it down. The first loop was pretty uneventful. My watts began to climb and my heart rate appeared to stay steady. After the first loop I checked my garmin: 255 watts and 25.4 mph. The bike course was quite crowded but fortunately I didn't appear to pick up any wheel suckers along the way. With about 10 miles to go I began feeling a bit tired, so I decided to back off the workload and try to get a couple of gu's in before the run. Here is the strava file from my ride. Watts were high, but I felt pretty good and decided to go by feel.

Bike time: 2:13, 254 watts

Dismount went flawlessly and I found my bike spot quickly. Throwing my bike on the rack I quickly slipped on some socks (learning a lesson from GR 70.3) and my adidas adi0s shoes. Setting out on the run I could feel the bike in my quads but my engine felt good. I decided to make sure to keep the first mile smooth and under control. Crossing the first mile in 6:15 I felt pretty solid. The second mile I kept the effort constant and ran a 6:30. Alright I told myself, keep this up and I'll be under 4:15 overall. Unfortunately the third mile did not go as smoothly. I kept the effort constant, but the time was not. I ran a 6:50 and most of it was downhill. Miles 4 & 5 were around 7 minutes. It was somewhere in mile 5 that I passed friend and Muncie resident Mark Stagge! Mark and I shared our grievances with one another "its hot and hilly, what is this?" By the turn around I had slowed down to over 7 minute miles and nearly tripped Mike as he came flying by me. The last 6.6 miles I redefined riding the struggle bus and seriously began wondering if I was going to be able to cross the finish line. Stopping at the mile 7 aid station, I attempted to drink 2 gatorades, water, and a some red bull. It was shortly after this that I developed a wicked cramp in my right hamstring, the rest of the run I would spend trying to fend-off hamstring seizures. Mile times were slowing to 8 minute miles, and every time I tried to run faster my heart rate sky rocketed. Around mile 9, a bee decided my gatorade-filled socks seemed tasty, flying into my shoe and stinging me, rubbing salt in the wounds. At this point I just decided to make the best of what I had left. I started encouraging the athletes around me as they flew by me doing 8 minute miles. Their supportive words encouraged me and at last the finish line was in sight. My last mile was something close to a 9 minute mile. Crossing the finish line I stumbled around, congratulating teammates Mike and Mark. Mike handed me some pretzels which I began to try to consume while I sipped on a sprite. Ouch.

Run time: 1:36

Race time: 4:22, 4th AG and 14th OA

I have spent this past week reflecting back on my race. Although my run time was disappointing, the 2015 triathlon season has been good to me. I have raced more already this season than I ever have in my life. I have also now completed two 70.3 events in one season, something I had never done before. I had a fantastic swim and bike, both of which I am very happy about. As for my run? the wheels came off, what more can be said. Unfortunately I wasn't even able to start running this season until April due to a plantar fasciitis flare-up. Furthermore, I have only done two runs in 2015 over 10 miles (a hard 12 miler and my run at Grand Rapids 70.3). Once a runner (this book is fantastic, and anyone who hasnt read it needs to), always a runner. While my running might be my biggest weakness now, it will come back.

This Saturday I am excited to get married to the love of my life, Briana Paxton. After our wedding we will be going to the Dominican Republic for a week-long honeymoon before returning to Muncie for 2 more years of school. As far as my racing goes for the rest of the season. I will probably race Tri Indy when we get back and try to go under the 2-hour mark for the first time in an olympic distance triathlon. I am also toying with the idea of racing Chellenge Cedar Point in September, but we'll see how my body feels.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grand Rapids Half-Iron Race Report

Summer of 2015, one that will not be forgotten. Last week began a 6 week whirlwind that will include: taking of my written comprehensive exams, 2 half-ironmans, a bachelor party in Boulder, a trip to North Carolina, and finally getting married followed by a honeymoon in Punta Cana. My life is busy, and I couldn’t be happier.

After completing and hopefully passing (fingers crossed) my comprehensive exams (a 4-day block spent answering essay questions pertaining to everything you have ever learned, or haven’t learned, to this point in your educational career) on Thursday of last week the idea of racing for 4+ hours 3 days later sounded nearly suicidal. After indulging in a few adult beverages Thursday evening, I awoke Friday feeling fairly refreshed, enjoying the shift of attention from epigenetic modification to the simplicity of racing.

Saturday morning Briana and I packed up the car and headed to Grand Rapids, MI, just a little under a 4-hour drive from Muncie. We arrived just as packet pick-up began and after obtaining race numbers and directions, headed to the course for a light shake-out. The race was held in Ada, a small suburb just outside of Grand Rapids. Ada was a welcome change from Muncie, with lots of small coffee shops and a fantastic bike shop. The temperature was in the low 60’s, a bit cooler than I had anticipated. After kitting up I headed out on the bike for a preview of the run course. The streets were well paved with wide shoulders and it wasn’t long before I started to contemplate how I was going to land a job in a place like this. Looking down at my garmin I realized I was doing 35 mph at < 200 W, dreams do come true, there are hills here (in Muncie we have 1 hill, the overpass)! After a short ~30min ride with some 1min up-tempo intervals I laced up the shoes and headed out for a 10 min jog. The legs felt good and I was ready to race. I was slightly concerned however about my lack of hill training.

After dropping our stuff off at an AirBnB found by my soon to be wife (she is awesome and planned almost the entire trip), Bri and I headed out to see what Grand Rapids had to offer. Not being able to pass up a visit to Founders, we sat outside on the patio drinking a beer before venturing to a small Italian restaurant for dinner. That night we watched “Clean Spirit,” a documentary about the shimano-airgas cycling team before passing out.

The next morning we arose at 4:30. As we prepared to load up the car it became quickly apparent that it was raining, HARD. Not exactly ideal, but at this point I was committed. Arriving at the race site I racked my bike, put on my Roka wetsuit, which kept me warm on a chilly, rainy morning, and headed down to the swim start. In the water I positioned myself just behind the first row, not sure about the quality of swimmers in the race. When the gun went off I put in a good 30 second effort before dialing it back and letting myself follow someone’s feet. My stroke felt strong and smooth, but I was a bit concerned by the number of people who appeared to be in front of me. The foggy and rainy conditions made visibility less than ideal so I made a point of siting the buoys instead of the swimmers ahead of me. As the swim went on I slided by another 10-15 guys, getting stronger as the race progressed. Coming out of the water after what felt like an eternity I glanced at my watch to see just over 28 minutes (15th swim split). I am ecstatic with the improvements I have made in the water this past year and happy to be wearing a Roka wetsuit, which is without a doubt the fastest in the game.

Swim: 28:28 (2 minute PR)

T1 went extremely well for me and setting out on the bike I was unknowingly in 4th place. I settled into my pace on my new Felt IA4 TT rig and passed 2 people within the first 5 miles. Before long I could see the rider currently in 1st place and the motorcycle/pace truck in front of him. Suddenly, out of nowhere came the speedy Mark Beckwith (EMJ team member).  After allowing him to pass me, I decided I would stay with him for as long as I could. Unfortunately to do so I would have to increase my power from 245 to 265-280 W. Although my legs felt good, at about mile 30 I made the decision to let Mark go, and settle back into a pace that I felt more comfortable with. The rest of the bike transpired pretty uneventfully and in the last couple miles I got caught by age-group world champion and previous year Grand Rapids Half champion, Daniel Stubleski. Coming into T2 with Stubleski, I was feeling pretty good.

Bike: 2:15 (5 minute PR @ 245 Watts)

Coming off the bike my legs felt pretty heavy. I was most concerned about the run because of the lack of running I have been doing as I am still in recovery from what has been a wicked battle with plantar fasciitis! As I set out on the run course I was looking for Stubleski and race leader Beckwith but neither one was in sight. As I hit the first mile I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a 6:07. It felt like I was crawling! Before mile 2, Stubleski came by me. I gave some thought about trying to go with him but decided to pace myself. The next couple of miles clicked by 6:13, 6:17, 6:20. Feeling pretty good I continued on my first loop of the two-loop run course. Slowly I began to feel myself fatigue. As I headed out on the second loop, I felt my blood sugar falling. 2 years before at Muncie 70.3 I had stopped and walked at this point due to a side stitch. I promised myself that no matter what, I would not walk! The remainder of the run turned into a game. Calculate my finishing time assuming 8 minute miles for the rest of the run (thankfully, they were all faster than this, although my last mile, a 7:38 was one of the most painful of my life). At every aid station I took in either Gatorade or coke. Leaving the aid station I felt slightly refreshed, but the feeling would not last. With 2 miles to go I calculated that 8 minute miles (16 minutes of running) would allow me to tie my previous 70.3 PR (4:17). With a mile left, I put all my focus into maintaining a straight line and putting one foot in front of the other. Finally, the finish line came into view. Crossing in 4 hours 15 minutes, I bonged a mountain dew and plopped myself in a chair.

Run: 1:29

Race time: 4:15 (6th place overall, 2nd AG)

Exhausted and happy I conversed with my new teammates, Mark Beckwith (5th), Ryan Linden (8th), and Zachary Carr (flatted and still finished < 4:20!). Three days later and my legs still ache, but nothing feels injured and my desire to resume training is returning again. I have done some reading on carbohydrate consumption pre-race (recommended 10-12g/kg, or 2400 calories of carbohydrate!) and I am pretty certain that inadequate carbohydrate loading and subsequently lower than idea pre-race glyocen stores are largely to blame for my slow death march of a run. Next time I race this distance, I will be sure to remedy this issue. This weekend will involve a bachelor party in Boulder, followed by a week of ramping up training for Muncie 70.3.

Huge thanks to my new team Every Man Jack and our fantastic sponsors Felt, Roka, Rudy Project, Sports Basement, Louis Garneau, GU energy, Boco Gear, and Normatec recovery!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A solid start to the year: Masters swimming and the Bop to the Top Stair Climb

Moving to Muncie I knew it was going to be cold and snowy. This winter however, has been particularly cold and snowy. The unfortunate thing about all of this is that as the temperature drops, as does my motivation and desire to train. In science we call this a negative correlation. 
Fortunately I have found a fantastic group of training comrades to help make the winter weather a little more bearable. After going nearly a month without touching water, except for the occasional shower, I decided a Masters meet would be a good way to motivate me to get swimming again. Leading up to the meet I swam 3 days, one of which I struggled through a 5x500 (4000y total) swim workout with an ex-collegiate swimmer. This idiotic example of what not to do before a race would surely set me up for success. Fortunately, the regularity with which I got in the water (1-2x a week) during the fall semester seemed to come to my aid and I swam multiple PR's and even got some W's in the free and mixed relay events! Below you can see a picture of me taken by Briana before the 500 free. 
For those interested my times were as follows:
50 free: 28.12
50 fly: 35.5
100 free: 1:03.4
100 IM: 1:16
500 free: 6:17

This past weekend I decided to stick to dry land and give the Bop to the Top stair climb (36 floors) a try. For those of you who have not heard of the odd masochistic practice of the stair climb, the race is as it sounds, a run up a flight of stairs. This was the 31st annual Bop to the Top race which raises money for Riley's children's hospital. There are a surprisingly large field over a thousand people for the past couple of years. Competitors are runners, cyclists, swimmers, weight-lifters, and cross-fitters. I decided to participate in the triple step (you race up not once but three times, and your times are added together for a total time).
 Unsure of a true strategy, my first time up I decided I would run up the steps, skipping every other step. By floor 15 I realized the flaw in my plan. My head was spinning, my throat burned, and my legs felt like lead. From here I used another technique I found on youtube where one pulls themselves along the inside rail, skipping every step. My time for the first time up was 4:14. Feeling pretty good about myself I took the elevator down to the bottom where I relaxed until my next attempt. After talking with another competitor I was informed that the ladder pull/double-step technique was the best way to ascend. Heading into my second attempt I decided I would nix the running strategy and give the seemingly better technique a try. To my great pleasure the second time I ascended the stairs in a 4:04 and it felt SO much easier than the first time. After the first two attempts it became pretty apparent that I had second place on lock with little chance of catching Eric Lenginger, the athlete in first. I had a brief encounter with Eric as we scanned over the results and he mentioned that although he used to race events such as these frequently, he had been out of it for a while. While that might be the case, he is without a doubt, an extremely elite tower runner (yes as nerdy as it sounds they have a legit website: and was the champion of the 2011 Willis Tower stair climb. In my final ascent I turned in another 4:04, solidifying a second place finish for the day. As a side note, a 4:04 would have put me in second place in the single climb as well, only losing to Eric's 3:45. For those interested, here are the results. A special thanks this weekend to my beautiful fiance who loves me so much to drive down to Indy with me and wait around for 4 hours while I run up a flight of stairs. If that isnt true love, I dont know what is.
So I guess winter training isnt going so badly after all. My ankle/foot seem to be on the mend, I am improving my fitness in the water, and I have found a bunch of people to push me and keep me honest in my training. Speaking of which, its time to head out for a run with Sophia, who is hoping to go sub-3 at Boston this year! Thanks for reading.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Wanna get high?

Please excuse my inner scientist.

The other day my good friend from undergrad, John Savage, flew in to D.C. on a red-eye for a New Years Reunion (for those interested, John blogs at: The series of texts exchanged by John and I went as follows:

John: "In dc"
Me: "Awesome, headed to hotel?"
John: "Ya, caught the super shuttle."
John: "Checked in. Aim for run at 2?"
Me: "Sounds good, Ill pick you up at the metro."

Now, John and I don't claim to be a shining example of healthy living. We both enjoy the more than occasional, big mexican burrito and too many beers. Heck, I eat ice cream almost nightly. But let's say instead of a triathlete, John was a pothead. If John were a smoker, the first thing he would have done when he got off the plane was to light up. The difference? Endorphins over THC, instead of hitting up a dealer, he hits me up for a run. While I don't want to spark a big debate about whether or not weed is as "bad" for you as people make it out to be, I think we can all agree that going for a run is a healthier option.

Before writing this I wasn't really sure what the numbers were for people who smoke weed, compared to people who run. I have to say, I am shocked. 
In 2011, 12x more people regularly smoked marijuana than completed a half-marathon!!!!!! I don't hold it against people that they smoke. In fact I know a number of very fit athletes that have. To each their own. That said, here are some more facts:
  • The average smoker spends more than $1,000 on weed yearly.
  • The average price of a running shoe= 100 bucks, replaced 3-4x, $400/yearly
The choice is yours. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eyes on the prize, 2014!

My 2013 racing season came to an unfortunate end after being plagued by a chronic foot injury that held me out of 70.3 World Championships. I am delighted to say that I have finally found a fantastic physical therapist in Muncie that is using ASTYM, a progressive treatment modality intended to promote soft tissue growth, that seems to be getting me and my foot back on track!

I am excited to announce that in 2014 I will be racing for Big Sexy Racing! The team is an elite/amateur triathlon team, run by 6x Ironman Champion Chris McDonald. I look forward to partnering with some new great sponsors including, Cobb Cycling, Bonk Breaker, Precision Bikes, Toro nutrition, Blue seventy, PowerTap, Newton Running, Ogio, SL3S, Biofuse, and Rubys Lube. For the past month I have been in contact with a number of my new teammates via social media and it seems to be an energetic and enthusiastic group of fitness fiends!

In preparation for the season I have been riding the trainer as much as I can mentally stand when its dark and the cyclocross bike when its not, going for freezing cold runs, and drinking lots of beer while looking at races for the 2014 schedule. Below is a tentative race schedule for the 2014 season:

4.19.14  BSU Sprint Sprint Triathlon

5.10.14  Muncie May Olympic Triathlon**

5.31.14 AutoCar Richmond Toughman Half-Ironman

6.29.14 Ironman Couer d’Alene*

7.12.14 Muncie 70.3

08.09.14 Muncie Man

9.16.14 Muncie September Triathlon (Olympic)

10.4.14 Prairie Creek Reservoir Triathlon Championship (Olympic)

*Race tentative on my foot being back to full health by the end of January, giving me sufficient time to train for these longer distance races
**Will not be racing if I race the Marathon the week before