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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Muncie 70.3 Race Report

Thursday morning my good buddy Will Combs and I loaded up my trusty Mazda 3 and drove to my future home of Muncie, Indiana. This was the third time in the past 6 months the car would make this drive, it will do so again in 3 weeks for the last time in a while. One thing you can always count on during this drive is a lack of traffic, as you take back roads through the hills of West Virginia until you make it to never ending state of Ohio and finally to the fly-over state of Indiana. We arrived at our host's and my future class-mate, Ryans', just before dinner. That night we went to Scotty's Brewhouse. Foolishly I ordered a a 32 oz Alpha King (32 oz beer for 5 bucks, how could I resist!) and a Southwest burger with the local beef (a 50 cent upcharge). That night at about 2am I woke up with the worst case of heartburn known to man.

I quickly decided there was no chance of me getting back to sleep until I was able to rid myself of my fire-breathing ways, so I made a trip to the gas station down the road where I purchased some Zantac (official sponsor of triathlete Greg Grosicki?). Thankfully it provided me with swift relief and I fell back to sleep on what was now a very deflated air mattress. Nothing like a good night's sleep two nights before the race to ensure success!

I woke up the next morning feeling far better than I had expected and after Ryan fixed Will and I up a delicious pancake and egg breakfast Will and I made our way over to the house that Bri and I will be moving in August to meet with the landlord and get some room measurements. We then proceeded to packet pick-up and the race briefing before heading out to the course to do a little pre-race shake-out. Will went on a reconnaissance ride, scouting out the run and bike course, while I went for a swim both with and without my wet-suit followed by a short bike-run. At the water I met another athlete from NC, who had competed in Raleigh 70.3 in June who informed me that the race officials will probably try their best to make sure the swim is wetsuit legal for safety purposes. Fortunately I had been given a wetsuit by a very kind and generous donor at Belew's Lake in April. Unfortunately, I had never worn it. It ended fitting pretty snuggly and kind of restricting my shoulder movement. I decided that if it was legal, I would wear it anyway for buoyancy purposes. Will and I chatted race-strategy on the way back to Ryan's and he was able to give some useful insights as to the conditions of the rolling run-course. For dinner we decided to avoid the local beef and instead stopped at Marsh (for those of you who don't know this is the name of my Master's advisor so now the joke can be thrown that I will never truly escape him), the local grocery store for some pasta and bread.
After playing with Ryan's black lab puppy, Maddie, we began fixing up some dinner. To make room Will began losing last night's dinner (never again will we opt for the local beef and IF you do I recommend getting it well done.....). Incredibly, I was able to fall asleep pretty easily, maybe because of the lack of sleep the previous night, but Ill take it!

Race morning came early as we set the alarm for 4am so that i could eat breakfast and we could be sure to make it to the transition area without worrying about being late. As soon as we pulled in the race directors announced the race would be wetsuit legal, as I had expected. After preparing my transition area I put on my wetsuit and got in a little warm-up. My wave would leave 15 minutes after the pro's at 7:15. As we waded out into the water I found a kid with a tall swimmer build and decided I would try to stay on his feet for as long as I could. As the horn went off I realized that would not be very long as he pulled away to have a 26 minute swim. As always, the beginning of the swim was chaotic. By the first buoy I had lost contact with the lead pack and found myself towards the front of a second group of swimmers. I decided I would stay with this group and focus on keeping good trunk rotation and not over-kicking to save my legs for later in the day. All-in-all the swim was pretty uneventful. Having to weave through so many of the 50-59 age groupers was rather frustrating though. Arising from the water I looked down to see my watch, just a hair over 30 minutes. Not as fast as I would have liked, but not terrible, and there was still alot of racing ahead of me.
Swim time: 30:33/1:34/100m

T1 (2:29) consisted of a long run to the transition area. It went pretty well, although getting the wetsuit over my feet was more of a challenge than I would have liked. I had been practicing a fast T1 by using a flying mount/putting my shoes on while riding the bike. I am still unsure as to its benefits as it really only takes seconds to put the shoes on in transition. My flying mount went well, although I had a good deal of problems getting my feet into my bike shoes, and I believe I lost probably 30 seconds of time trying to do so..... The majority of the course was flat and fast. I passed all of the 50-59 Age groupers, a couple of the female pro's and all but 1 of the 18-29'ers that I started with. A big thanks to Charlie of Ken's Bike Shop for allowing me to borrow his disc wheel with ANT+ which allowed me to carefully monitor my intensity. My goal was to hold between 225-235 watts (75% FTP). Here is my powerfile from the race. As you can see I spent a good 40 seconds messing around with getting my feet into my shoes...My power was right where I wanted it at 230 watts, although my cadence was low (80rpm) so hopefully by doing some drills to get this higher (90pm) I can save my legs a little more for the run. 
Bike time: 2:19.05/24.16mph

In past races I have always been frustrated with my transitions. Finally however I think I am making headway. Coming off the bike with a flawless dismount I headed into T2 (1:27) where I racked my bike, slipped on my shoes, and grabbed some nutrition before heading out on the run. I also snagged a water bottle to drink/poor on myself during the first mile or two of the run. Unfortunately, I neglected to get my first mile split. By the first mile though I could see the only other age grouper up the road from me and I was reeling him in quickly. I told myself to relax and settle into a pace, the race was mine to lose now. My second mile split was a brisk 5:51. I felt good but I was uncertain about the sustainability of such a pace. I began snacking and catching women's pros, my splits right around 6 flat. 
At mile 5 I saw the first male pro, Andrew Starykowicz, go by me as he headed into the finish with no competitors in sight. At mile 6, I was sustaining my pace but felt the unfortunate and dreaded side-stitch coming on in my right side. I jogged for another 800 meters trying to rid myself of the stitch to no avail. I opted to walk for 15 or 20 seconds before resuming a jog and made sure to drink more at the aid-station instead of trying to slog through the remainder of the race at 8-minute pace with this debilitating stitch. I knew I had a good lead on my competitors, but this stitch could certainly un-rail my chances at victory. At mile 7 (6:55) I stopped and chugged 2 waters and sipped on a coke). To my delight I felt the stitch going away! Knowing I had a big lead, I decided I would be sure to get down more water at every remaining add station by briefly stopping and chugging water and sipping coke in an effort to fend off the cramp. With a mile to go,  and no one in sight, I breathed a sigh of relief as I kicked it in for the finish as best I could. Going out I averaged a 6:04 pace, back 6:39 for an average of 6:22/minutes per mile and a run split of 1:23.28. Not as fast as I would have liked, but I certainly know what I need to do to improve. First I need to start off my first couple of miles SLOWER. Next I need to find a way to get more water in during the run. Although I grabbed water cups at the first 5 aid stations, a very small amount of it actually made it down my throat, most of it ended on my face or worse, choking me.

I was the first age-grouper to cross the finish line in a time of 4:17.02. The second amateur (I was beaten by 30 seconds by someone in the 30-34 age group), and the 13th overall finisher. All-in-all, I am very pleased with my first HIM performance. All of my training and dedication for the past couple of months paid off as I earned a spot at the 70.3 World Championship in Vegas on September 8th! Time to rest up, recover, and begin preparing for a move to Muncie in the beginning of August with my lovely fiancee Briana! This will be my last week working at Mellow Mushroom and next week I will be back in the 703, catching up with my family, getting beat by my 7-year old sister at backstroke and running some loops around good ol' Burke Lake! A huge thanks to Will and Ryan for being my race crew, Enfinity fitness, Ken's Bike Shop, Blue Competition Cycles, my loving family, and all of my other fantastic supporters!