After moving out of the OTC and spending a week in Highlands Ranch with my coach Trista getting back on the iTz plan, I drove
back to New Mexico and moved myself back into my house by the University. While in Colorado Springs under USAT coaching we pulled back on my bike and run training in hopes of
accelerating my development in the swim. After a few months of this, my swim
was still not progressing well. And now the season was mostly over and I lost some
fine tuning on the bike and run. So Trista and I agreed to get the bike and run
sharpened up for the rest of the season, and start strength training the swim for 2014. I
was only in Albuquerque for three days, and then I flew to race and train in
New England for a month.
REV 3 MAINE
The first stop on this trip to the northeast started with an Olympic distance triathlon in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I heard good things about the Revolution 3 race series, so I really looked forward to this race. My mother decided to fly out for this race. We spent a few summers in Maine when I was a preteen, so we both cashed in on the opportunity to return to the Pine Tree State. After meeting at the Portland airport we drove straight to Old Orchard Beach and checked into our hotel, which couldn’t have been in a better place. We were between transition and the beach start. And after previewing the course I got really excited to race.
The morning of the race was probably the least stressful of the season thus far. No commuting and the start time wasn’t that early. After a solid run and swim warm up I was ready. The men sprinted down the beach and into the ocean. I was one of the first guys in the water and did my best to latch on to the faster swimmers as the leaders moved past me. The swim was a point to point course which paralleled the shore. Around the first buoy, a competitor unzipped my wetsuit, and cold 60 degree water quickly flushed through my suit. Fortunately the Velcro on the back of me neck held, and kept my suit on for the rest of the swm. So I was not as debilitated as I could have been. Despite the extra drag I still had a strong swim and was about 20th out of the water with the case pack. The 400 meters up the beach and into transition was a dead out sprint, and I worked to pass a few racers. Good thing my wetsuit was already partially off…
I was ecstatic with how my race started, so I was ready to get on the bike. The course was deceptively more uphill on the way out than I thought, and I didn’t quite get my legs under me until the turn around. I came back into transition in about the same position and started out on the run with my training buddy Justin Roeder. I still had a decent run with a time in the mid 32s but Justin split from me and finished about 30 seconds ahead of me. I was super happy with the day and my swim, but I fell short of my goals of top 10 and earning the run preme. I placed a respectable 15th of 37. Apparently, everyone thought the tough competition was going to be at Life Time Chicago that weekend, but the Rev 3 Maine race ended up being deeper.
From here I would be spending the next three weeks in rural Massachusetts to get a taste of sea level training.
TEAM PSYCHO AND LINCOLN
Back in July, the Collegiate Recruit Program partnered with a triathlon team from New England. Team Psycho has assembled funding for an elite development program. This network has helped professionals like Alicia Kay, Jarod Shoemaker, and Ethan Brown make ends meet at they started their careers.
I felt immensely lucky to have this network of people extended to support me. But also, I felt kind of distant from the connection and wanted a chance to meet some of the team members and founders. I had to be in Massachussets to race the Duxbury Beach Triathlon for Team Psycho. And Rev3 Maine was three weeks before this event. I saw this as an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone. I’d get a chance to meet some of the Team Psycho members, train at sea level for the first time ever and save money on two flights to and from the east coast.
I knew proposing such a long home stay was asking a lot, but I had to pitch it and see what happened. In the end, Karen Smyers and Michael King welcomed me into their home. I am still super new to triathlon, and didn’t quite know how much Karen had accomplished and is still accomplishing in her career when I arrived. But I figured it out before long.
It was almost silly how much extra oxygen made a difference in training. I am serious when I say that this was my first time training at sea level. I spent the first 18 years of my life above 10,000 feet in Leadville, and then the next 7 above 5,000 feet in Albuquerque. And during college I struggled to race at sea level. I know this sounds backwards, but not so illogical when you look at where I have lived and trained my whole life. For instance, at Boulder Peak this year, I ran a 32:30ish and had the fastest run, and then at Rev3 Maine, I ran a 32:30ish and was a minute off the fastest run time. It would make sense that I could run proportionately faster at sea level. But it has never been the case.
I would probably describe my experience in these new training conditions at sea level as predictably the opposite as someone moving from sea level to altitude. All of my bio meters were off. I was running faster paces and found it harder to keep tempo paces consistent, as it felt different. HR zone on the bike and run were off. I had to work so much harder to get to the same fatigue level. Also, I felt like a rocket in the water with awesome lung capacity.
I had a great time training under the twisting rural roads under the New England jungle canopy. Cycling was so much fun on the old roads passing history on every corner. And there were tons of forest trails all over for running. Oh, and there was Walden Pond. The best open water swimming I have ever experienced to date (sorry Trista, nudged out Chatfield for a #1 so far). I will say that I found myself turned around quite a bit. I always rely on my good sense of direction. But let’s just say I was glad to have Google maps on my phone while out riding. I am used to the American west with big mountains and sweeping vistas. I always know my directions. Mountains are east, river flows south, and this street remains at a north/south heading. None of that was true in the New England countryside. And that kept me on my toes while out running and riding.
I witnessed a lot at the Smyers/King home during my stay. Casey their son finished off summer vacation with a few sleepovers with friends, and then started school and soccer. Jenna their daughter tried out and made the varsity soccer team and then sprained her ankle badly in the first game. I hear she is already back on the field tearing it up. And I’ll look back at these few weeks as a time of rebuilding and refocusing on what I want and need in triathlon and training. Thanks for all the bagels, coffee, and good times guys!
Oh and I almost forgot to mention that I was visited by three friends while out Massachusetts. Some friends from Albuquerque and a high school teammate were going to school in the area and made time to swing out and visit. I am so lucky to run into such good friends across the nation.
DUXBURY BEACH TRIATHLON
The big Team Psycho race at Duxbury Beach ended my time back east. I was great to see some of my OTC peeps out there. Katie Hursey and John O’neill had killer seasons and it was fun to catch up a bit. My mother decided to come out to watch the race too. Any excuse for this woman to get to a beach.
Race morning was early and short, and I found myself rushing and not getting a full warm up in. I definitely felt the consequences of this during the race. The swim went okay. But I never felt super powerful on the bike, and my run was average. I ended up second to John, and earned my first prize money.
After the race, there was a team party and we all mingled for a bit. Then my mother and I toured the cape the next day before parting ways to Colorado and New Mexico respectively.
Again, I was back in Albuquerque for about 5 days and then took off in a caravan of local triathletes to race LifeTime Tempe (Lauren Thompson, Randy Ariola, and Alex Kaufman to be exact). We left at 7 am on Saturday, drove 7 hours, checked in, went to bed, raced in the morning, had lunch, and drove back to New Mexico. And yes the trip did feel just that fast.
But, backing up a bit. I clocked my best swim at this race ever. On long hot swim, I stayed closer to the leaders than any other pro race this year. I even lead my pack into transition. This was huge. But I never found my legs for the bike and drifted back. This was followed up with a slower than normal 10k. I didn’t get to preview the course as much as I liked. And that put me at a disadvantage. Still I feel that as I learn to race harder in the water, my bike and run will be affected for a while.
Since Tempe, I have been preparing for the San Diego Double Super Spring on October 26th. Oh, and also starting work at Sport Systems, Albuquerque’s premier swim, bike, run, ski, snowboard shop.