Saturday, July 18, 2015

Healing and Training

It's been a while since I've posted, mainly because I've had my head down putting in the work to get back to the starting line.  The weeks after Knoxville were trying times and I questioned my season more than once.  My first attempt at any sort of spinning resulted in a bit of swelling that reminded me pretty strongly to take it easy.   The rational side of me knew that a short down time wasn't going to kill me  (and may even have been good for me), but the crazy athlete in me rebelled at the forced rest.  I worked with Rob at Active Chiropractic to take care of any lingering issues and simply waited for the gash in the leg to heal.  In the early weeks, I gained weight, lost motivation, and watched the race weekends go by from the sideline.  It wasn't a great period for me, but I'm lucky to have great friends and family to keep me grounded and focused on what is important!

Fit Bike Training
Since my Dimond took most of the impact and will never see the road again, I spent some time with Dave Luscan on the fit bike to put in some work while in my TT position.  We've used the time to fine tune some of the nuances of my fit and make sure that I come out of this down time ready to roll.   Being able to make small adjustments while under load and dealing with fatigue was a pretty valuable tool and made the mandatory indoor riding a bit more bearable.  We adjusted a few of my fit coordinates and those tweaks have resulted in a noticeable bump in power.

6 weeks later!
I was able to ride easy and even run for short periods within a week of the wreck, but it took a few weeks before I could do any serious training.  The pool was off-limits until the leg wound healed a bit more and open water swimming was completely out of the question.  It seemed like forever, but by the middle of June, I was back to training with a fire in my belly.  The first few weeks were pretty ugly, but there was progress.  My first time back in the water made me realize just how much I enjoy the pool.  Sometimes having something taken away from you reinforces just how important it is.  By the start of July, I was in full-tilt training and starting to feel like an athlete again.  The leg was closed 'enough' to be problem free even though the scar will be a nasty reminder of my mailbox mishap.

 As my body got closer to being in race shape, the racing 'accessories' started coming in and created the 'itch' to get back to work.  A big boost to morale came in the form of my new Dimond and the first ride with full race spec was just plain fun.  Having the bike ready to go was a visual reminder that the starting line was getting closer.  I love the feeling of flying out on the open road at full speed.  The matching Wattie Ink kit and new BlueSeventy PZ4 completed the racing package so I pulled the trigger on a local Sprint/Olympic double in Colonial Beach.  Getting back to racing, even at the local level, was just awesome.  I was able to interact with a bunch of fantastic age group athletes and pass out a bunch of First Endurance samples.  Even though I'm still not quite to the race-winning shape I need to be for IM Mont Tremblant, I was able to put together two solid efforts and enjoy a great weekend with some pretty awesome people (and one tag along that probably invited himself...)

I'm now in the midst of a big training build for Mont Tremblant and the body is performing well.  The run mileage is creeping up and the bike numbers look good.  Of the three ironman distance races I've completed, I've soloed the bike off the front for 112 miles only to be caught on the run.  I plan to change that in 4 weeks in Canada.  I'm not sure if I'll be changing the solo bike ride (I hope so... it's lonely) or being caught on the run (definitely!), but I've built up the ability to give me a decent shot of coming away with a successful race.  After the speed bumps from the first half of the season, I have a new appreciation for the opportunity I have to race and chase my big goals once again.  Thank you to anyone reading this and to those who have been in my corner this year despite the setback.  I'll send an update after my second attempt to conquer Mont Tremblant!

Obligatory Sidney Picture for Web Traffic.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When it Rains, It Pours!

This season has been a rough one to date.  In my first 3 races, I've had a penalty, a blow up, and now a crash.  If you count the next scheduled race, you can add a DNS for Raleigh 70.3.  Four races and nothing to show except a lot of travel costs and a broken bike.  Add in the recent cancellation of the Challenge Family prize purses and it would be hard to argue that my situation could be much worse!  Coming off of the past few solid years of racing, I admit I was not quite prepared to be heading into June without winning a cent or having a decent race.  Like the weather in Knoxville this weekend; when it rains, it pours!

Perhaps this rough start is the fuel I need to keep my competitive fire burning or perhaps it's a reminder that nothing in sport is a given.  General Patton once said "Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory" and that's the line I'm sticking to as I move forward in the year.  I have a finite amount of time to race at the highest level and I am as determined as ever to make the most of it.  Before looking forward, here's a quick rundown of the past weekend:

I was looking forward to getting back to Knoxville after winning the Rev3 Series here last year.  I love the challenging bike course and having experience on the twists and turns really works to my benefit (well, I thought...)  I arrived in town and spent Saturday taking care of last minute preparations, leading a swim clinic, and participating on the Pro Panel.  With the question of Professionals' worth heavy on my mind, I did my best to be visible and helpful to the race organization.  Thank you to everyone who listened to me talk and congratulations to everyone who took my advice and ended up the day ahead of me!

Swim Clinic!
Up Close at the Pro Panel
Supporting the IMTX athletes!
I ended my day glued to the Ironman tracking for IM Texas where I watched an epic event unfold in the 90 degree heat.  There was a strong contingent of RVA athletes racing and I was pretty inspired by their gutsy performances.  By the time I hit the sack, I was motivated and ready to race the next day.

The race morning weather looked perfect with zero percent chance of rain until 11am and relatively cool conditions.  Of course, weathermen have a tendency to be wrong and as I warmed up the rain started to fall.  Lightly at first, but by the time the race was in full swing, it was a downpour!  The non-wetsuit swim went smoothly with no real effort expended to sit in the front group and bide my time.  I wore my Wattie Ink sleeved speed suit folded under my BlueSeventy PZ3TX for the first time and really liked the way my bare shoulders felt.  With only a few seconds of work to pull up the sleeves after the swim, I will be doing this again in the future.

I hit the bike with Cam in my sights and settled in to a conservative pace knowing that if was going to catch him it would be on the run.  By the first turn around, I was 2 minutes down but felt well within myself and ready to make a push the back half of the course.  I stayed on top of my nutrition with the incredible EFS Pro and stayed comfortable on the trusty ISM attack.  I marked the chase group at roughly 3 minutes so I was confident my position was secure going into the last 1/3 of the bike.  On the final climb, I turned the screws and started to wind up my effort for the last 15 miles.  I wanted to limit my losses to Cam and get my legs ready to run for the win.

At the top of the final hill, everything was going to plan, but with the rain really coming down, I was cautious as I started my descent... or so I thought.  Going into a left-hand turn, my rear wheel skidded out and I lost control.  I managed to put my foot down and did my best Fred Flintstone braking job as I tried to stay upright.  I drifted down into the turn and thought I was going to be able to make it.  A mailbox had other ideas and I hit it hard at 30 mph.  My poor Dimond took the burnt of the force, demolishing the head tube.  My left shin also tried to take a chunk out of the post, but unfortunately lost the battle.  I knew my day was done and I laid on the ground wondering what exactly was going to happen next!

Luckily, I had a great group stop and help me along the side of the road.  After a long ordeal with Firemen and Ambulance personnel (THANK YOU), I was finally able to get back to transition and eventually to UT Med Center for a dozen stitches.  It was definitely not the way I was planning to end my day, but looking back I am very lucky it was not worse.  I'm now out of training for a bit while the stitches heal and my body recovers.  I will be a regular with Active Chiropratic as I deal with a bit of whiplash and back soreness, but I plan to come back stronger than ever!  This rough patch can't last forever and I have plans to make it as short as possible.  With any luck I will be back on the start line to defend my title in Williamsburg in 4 weeks.
My "Brakes"

The "cleaned up" version
Thank you to everyone who followed along this weekend and showed your support with the crash. I am truly lucky to have such great people surrounding me.  The most asked question is if the bike is ok and I am sad to report that it will never ride again.  The group at Dimond as been incredible in their support and I will be back in the saddle on the fastest bike on the planet very shortly.  Here is a quick video of the head tube damage... not for the faint of heart for bike lovers!:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Back to Back Racing

The last two weekends I've toed the start line for my first races of the season in New Orleans and Galveston.  I've never raced back to back 70.3 races this early in the year, so I knew I was in for a bit of a challenge.  Both races promised to be flat and fast with a  solid pro field, which would be a perfect fitness test moving into the bulk of the season.  Heading into the New Orleans race I knew I was fit, if not a bit under-rested.  I was confident I could make some noise at the front of the race and start the season with a bang.  This feeling was re-affirmed when I read a preview of the race from the Canadian Triathlete Magazine...ARTICLE HERE  Of course, it was a bit surprising to learn I was actually Canadian, but to be mentioned as a contender was encouraging!

In New Orleans, we had a wetsuit swim where Andy Potts, Matt Chrabot, and myself made an early break.  The new BlueSeventy Helix is pretty incredible and I was surprised just how much the flexibility has improved on the old suit (which was awesome to start!).  On the bike, the three of us kept the foot on the gas and ended up covering the first 30 miles in just over an hour with a nice tailwind.  Unfortunately,  early on while making a pass to take the lead I got too close to Matt before moving over and was called for a 5 minute slipstreaming penalty.  This meant that I had to sit in the penalty tent midway through the bike while the rest of the race passed me by!  I moved from 1st to 14th during that time and am slightly ashamed to admit it mentally ended my day.  Once back on the bike, I couldn't muster the energy or focus needed to gain ground on the group and ended up coming into transition with the mindset of running the half marathon as a solid training day.  With Texas on my mind, I ran a steady pace to finish 11th and immediately started the recovery process with a massage, ice bath, and First Endurance Ultragen.  

Thank you to TriBike Transport for taking care of my bike between the races.  As easy as it was to travel down to New Orleans with my new Armored Hen House, not having to break down and build up the bike between the two events was incredible.  I spent the next week training very lightly and trying to rest as much as possible.  The week went by very quickly and I found myself back on a plane heading to Texas just four days after arriving back in VA.  

In Galveston, I met up with my fantastic hosts Dave and Maria in their beautiful guesthouse.  I was relaxed and confident that the training day in New Orleans would pay dividends with a strong showing in another strong field.  I picked up my bike from TriBike Transport, hung out at the Dimond tent, and took care of registration in the 100% humidity and thunderstorm-filled Texas weather.  I checked in right behind eventual winner Lionel Sanders, who has joined Andy Potts and others as triathletes that my wife cheers for other than (and instead of) myself...

Race day brought a non-wetsuit swim and another small swim break away.  This time, Davide Giardini took off like lightning and left us in the dust.  I pushed the bike pace early and by the 30 minute mark I passed Andy for 2nd place.  I made sure to be very cautious about my passing and avoided any penalties this time!  Everything was set for a serious attack and hopefully a gap on the field heading into the run.  The humidity wasn't a problem with the new EFS Pro and the Wattie Ink kit kept my comfortable as I kept the power up.  Unfortunately, my legs did not have the strength to keep up the pace and I started to fall back.  Slowly at first, but after about 90 minutes of riding I was in serious trouble.  I simply did not have it as the chase group caught and passed me with ease.  By the time I hit the run, I was just plain out of gas.  I had no reason not to test the run pace and had only over-amitious self to blame, so I took off out of transition with the goal of salvaging my day.  

Luckily, the blow up on the bike kept my HR low and I actually felt pretty good once I got my running legs underneath me.  I was able to reel in a few of the athletes from the chase group and saw a group of athletes standing on the side of the road who were sent off course. Despite never wanting to improve my place due to others misfortune and feeling bad for the guys affected, I was suddenly close to running my way into a payday!  The 3 loop run course provided plenty of spectator support and many opportunities to see my competitors so I knew I was close heading into the last few miles.  Unfortunately, I came up just a few seconds short of passing Greg Bennet for a money position and had to settle for a 7th place finish after a rollercoaster day of racing.

After the race, Chris from Ruster Sports helped me pack up the bike and I got to hang out with the famous Dimond Van.  I then spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the company of my fellow racers at the Lost Bayou Guesthouse and telling war stories. It was a nice end to a long two weeks of racing.  

I enjoyed the experiences from the past two weeks, but am hungry to get back into training for Challenge Knoxville! Thank you to all of my family, sponsors, and supporters who are reading this.  The season is young and I have plenty more racing to come! For now, I've got my training plan full of recovery stroller walks.  Next stop Knoxville.