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.

Before...
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.



After...
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.


Before
After
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.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time to Race!


The off-season is finally over and it's race week!  I'm in New Orleans getting ready for my first 70.3 of the year.  I'm starting a busy first half of the season with six races between now and the end of June.  While most of my time has been occupied with fooling around with Sidney, I have had enough time to put in some solid preparation for the season.  I'm looking forward to getting back to the start line and testing my fitness.  Here are a few shots of my typical strength session:



I'm heading into the season with a bunch of great support from family, friends, and sponsors.  As I enter my 8th season as a professional, I have been lucky to have long time sponsors First Endurance, BlueSeventy, ISM Saddles, and Utopian Coffee on board.  Richmond-based Peluso Open Water and Carytown Bikes have been fantastic the past few years and I'm happy to welcome Wattie Ink and Dimond Bikes to the fold. Racing at this level can be tough and unpredictable, so having great people in my corner makes all the difference as I tough out the hard training sessions and lay it on the line race day.   More than the logos on my fancy new kit, the support of everyone behind the scenes means the world to me.  My family and friends (even my wife who won't read this) share every success that I have.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me make a go of this crazy endeavor.


Assuming this season goes well and I am able to come away with a bit of prize money, I will again be supporting the Blazeman Foundation.  The story of Jon Blais inspired me early in my career and continues to do so today.  If you don't know why I roll across the line at some races, you can read about it HERE.  New for this year, I will also be supporting the Cameron K Gallagher Foundation.  I have been lucky to get to know the Gallaghers in the past year and have been blown away by their incredibly positive drive to honor their daughter's legacy.  You can read Cameron's story HERE.  As I continue to pursue the ultimately selfish goal of professional racing, I want to make sure I'm helping support something bigger than myself and remind the people I meet of what is truly important.


I'll be updating the site after 70.3 Galveston next weekend, but you can follow me in the coming weeks at www.ironman.com and through social media.  Thanks for reading!