Thursday, October 9, 2008

Winding it Down

I have two races remaining this year: the ITU Huatulco World Cup on Oct 26 and the ITU San Francisco Continental Cup on Nov 8. Since I just finished a 4-week racing block, over the first half of this week I simply focused on recovering and getting my body back to a point where I could train hard again. It hasn't been easy - my plantar fasciitis is acting up and I'm still feeling sore from Tinley's this past Saturday. Nevertheless, with 4 weeks left in the season I'm going to train hard and try to make the best of these two remaining races. I've already had an awesome season, and another 1 or 2 good races would just be icing on the cake.

Earlier in the year I had a 3-week racing block with the first 2 races in Europe. Racing 3 weeks in a row took it out of me and I returned home burnt out and injured (with the PF). I ended up taking a little over a week off. I took this experienced and learned from it. During this past racing block I actually felt stronger each week. The main changes I made were maintaining weight room strength and dialing in a good general nutrition/recovery plan. I was sure to get in the weight room and workout with TC at least a couple times during my racing block, and I also started working with Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 Systems to nail out a nutrition plan that would keep me at optimal energy levels. I have to say this combination worked great. Although I'm still fatigued from racing, I'm able to get through my workouts and I don't have that "burnt out" feeling I had during my summer racing block. All that's left to do now is to maintain some fitness, bang out some speed work, and let it rip in Huatulco!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scott Tinely's Race Reporto

I flew out to San Luis Obispo to compete in Tinley’s non-drafting international race which was the final competition of my four-week racing block. I was hoping to end this little block on a good note. The bike course was gradually rolling with some sharp hills right before and after transition, and the run course was very hilly and technical. The morning of the race it became apparent that the weather would not be cooperating, and it began to rain.

After a short run warm up and a decent swim warmup I headed over to the starting area. The swim would be two laps. I thought that the course looked obvious at first glance and really didn’t put much thought into it – I doubted that I’d be leading on the swim… So the starting horn blasts and off we go. I started right next to Brian Fleischman, the heavy race favorite. I was able to get out a bit quicker than Brian, who was on my right. To the left, there were one or two guys about even with me. Feeling surprisingly good, I lifted the pace and clearly moved into the lead. It was completely unexpected but also a rush. I was about a body length ahead with Fleischman right on my feet. I make the turn at the first buoy and continue to hammer. The second buoy is approaching. I didn’t know whether I was supposed to continue straight or bang a left. I went left. It was wrong. A few strokes later I looked back to see that no one had followed me, and the people in the lead boat were screaming at me. I quickly corrected my mistake and got back on course in about 5th or 6th position. Fleischman had capitalized on my mistake and had opened up a little lead. I bridged back up to 2nd place and led the chase group out of the water just over 20 seconds behind Fleischman. Kevin Collington and Victor Plata were right on my heels.

There is a steep hill coming right out of t1. It feels awful to start off a 40k tt with your legs burning. After I descended the hill I began to put my feet in my shoes. Plata passed me as I was doing this. After getting my feet fastened I began to go to work and passed Plata back. I worked on getting into a nice, high-cadence rhythm. A few miles later, Kevin Everett passed me and we rode together (staggered of course). We traded off 2nd place for most of the 40k. It began to rain harder and about halfway into the bike it was pouring. Absolutely miserable conditions! At the bike turnaround it was clear that Fleischman had about a minute on us. Also, to my surprise, Everett and I hadn’t dropped Plata, and he was hanging out a couple hundred meters behind us. It made me nervous that the 2004 Olympian and strong runner was so close nearing the end of the bike course. Because of this I rode conservatively, trying to save a little something in my legs for the treacherous run course. With a couple miles to go I tried to pick up the pace a little bit to see what would happen. I began to put some distance on Everett and Plata, however, they both caught me right before going into t2.

I had a fast transition and headed out in 3rd place behind Everett but in front of Plata. The 2-loop run course had a turnaround at 1.5 miles, so I was able to see Fleischman and timed how much he was ahead: about 58 seconds. Also, Plata caught me at this turnaround. I expected the two of us to battle it out and hopefully push each other hard enough to catch Fleischman, however, Plata began to fade and I eventually put about 3 minutes on him. (He later told me that he had totally spent it trying to hang with me on the bike…) The run course was tough, but I was concentrating hard on working the hills and maintaining a fast rhythm. At the run turnaround on the 2nd lap Fleischman had 44 seconds on me, and I doubted that I would catch him as I had only gained about 15 seconds. When I saw Plata at that turnaround he started screaming at me to go after Fleischman. It was intense, but it was the motivation I needed. With 1.5 miles to go I gave it everything I had. I could see Fleischman up ahead and was closing on him. There was a giant hill with a steep decent just before the finish. Since it was wet out and you couldn’t hammer the downhills, I knew if I was going to catch him it would have to be before the top of the hill. I totally spent everything I had but came up just short. I made up 30 seconds on him in that last 1.5 miles, but Fleischman held on for the win with me 14 seconds back. I had the day’s fastest run split.

All in all I was extremely happy with the race. I had some good speed in the water and was able to ride hard but still run well off the bike. It was a great way to end my 4-week-in-a-row racing block.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2nd at Scott Tinley's!!

Great race overall. I was only 14 seconds behind Brian Fleischman and over 3 minutes ahead of 3rd place (Victor Plata). Tough course... Race Report to come.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Duxbury Race Report

The weather had been pretty terrible all weekend leading up to Duxbury. The day before the race we got an e-mail saying that the swim was cancelled due to choppy waters, then later that day another e-mail was sent out saying the swim was tentative and a decision would be made on race morning. The race started at 10:30 AM. At 9:45, it looked like it would be too foggy to hold the swim (safety issues). But as luck would have it, the fog lifted at 10 AM and the rain let up, and it was go time.

When the starting horn blasted for the half mile swim I got off to a strong start. I looked over and Tony Delogne (former IM Lake Placid winner) was right next to me as was some dude not wearing a wetsuit (water was like sub-60!). By the time we got to the first buoy no-wetsuit-dude was half a body length in front of me! I began to suspect this was some ringer collegiate swimmer who decided to do a triathlon. I started to veer over towards him and was planning on getting in the draft behind his feet. As I was doing this he started fading... hard. I stopped drifting towards him and increased my kick. I dropped him easily and began to rapidly pull away. Turns out he just sprinted out waaaay too hard. So I continued my fast rhythm and exited the water 1st with Tony about 25 seconds behind.

I crushed the run from the swim exit to t1, going as hard as I could. I hopped on my bike, hammered over the 1/2 mile wooden bridge, let up for a few seconds to get my feet in my shoes, and then I went back to work. I put my head down and went for it on the bike. I knew Tony was a strong cyclist, so I kept checking behind me every few miles, but I never saw him. I pushed it hard on the bike and stayed as aero as possible. When I came back towards transition I again hammered over the wooden bridge - I thought I could gain time on people here as others might be cautious going over this.

I didn't have as quick a t2 as I did t1, but nevertheless I had a sizable lead and took off on the run course. I took it out hard, but my legs were definitely feeling the effort I put into the bike. I had to ease up on the pace a tiny bit but still was maintaining a strong tempo. The run course went by quickly, and before I knew it I had the wooden bridge back in site - just over a half mile left. When I got to the bridge I picked up the pace. It was easy with the crowds cheering for me. I got off the bridge and took the hard left and sprinted towards the finish. All in all, I felt strong the whole time.

A few minutes after I finished a little boy came up to me and gave me an award that he had made for the first place finisher. His dad was behind him and reminded him that he was supposed to shake someone's hand when giving them an award - so he stuck out his little hand. It was so cute! The best was the first line of the award he gave me - "Dear 1'th Place...". It was awesome. After the awards ceremony my dad and I headed over to a Team Psycho gathering that was in Duxbury. It was really fun - the food was great and there was all the Harpoon you could ever want. Later that evening I went for a 30 minute spin on the trainer to loosen up my legs. And then I slept for almost 11 hours!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

3 down, 1 to go

Just finished my third race in as many weeks: the Duxbury Triathlon.

1 more to go in my 4 week racing block (the longest ever for me). On Thursday morning I depart from Providence for California to race Scott Tinley's. Dux race report to come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What a weekend!

I'm still on top of the world after having one of my best races ever this past Saturday

Me and Sarah Groff shared 3rd place honors
Me, Matty Reed, and Ol' Umpenour sporting the American flag

The race started with a swim in Lake Hagg, which was just barely over the wetsuit cutoff temp. So the water was cold! The horn blasted and we all dove off the pontoon into the freezing water. I immediately started getting sandwiched and bumped from both sides, so I was forced to drop back a little and slide over onto someone's feet. After rounding the second buoy I saw that I was at the back of the lead pack, just a few seconds down from the leaders. It was a great position to be in. I held my place to the swim exit, ran to my bike, and easily got into that lead bike group -- not counting the breakaway that Matt Reed and Matt Chrabot had started. While my pack was losing time to the 2 Matt's, I was still very content with our position, which was over a minute ahead of the pack behind us. Looking around I saw that I would most likely be battling it out with Mark Fretta, Joe Umpenour, Brian Fleischman, and Tim O'Donnel. All of a sudden I heard this screeching noise of metal on pavement. I looked over to see Fretta fly into a ditch on the side of the road. The tubular tire had somehow come off his rim, and he had gone careening off the road. We entered t2, and I was the 4th person from my pack out on the run. I immediately moved into 4th place overall behind Reed, Chrabot, and Umpenour. I held a constant distance behind Umpenour until the 3rd lap, when he began to pull away. I thought I was a lock for 4th, but Chrabot started struggling hard on the last lap, and I passed him with 1k to go, securing my podium finish. The adrenaline was pumping. This was one of my most memorable races in the sport.

Running onto the podium.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

3rd at Elite Nationals!

So pumped! Won U23 National Title by about 5 mins! Stay tuned, more to come.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gearing up for Portland

Elite Nationals are 2 days away. I'll be looking to defend my U23 triathlon title and should be in the mix for a top-10 finish overall if things go well. Sexton drove me to the airport yesterday morning and I caught a flight up to Portland. Getting to the Embassy Suites in Tigrad, OR was an adventure. I was originally told it would be a $60 cab ride to the hotel, but I was later informed that I could catch a train for $2.30 and it would take me to Beaverton, where a hotel shuttle would pick me up.

I bought a train ticket, which ended up only being $1.50 (because I said I was a student). I take the hour train ride to Beaverton and then call the hotel to come pick me up. No answer. I call again, and again, and again... I'm getting frustrated. My phone runs out of battery. None of the 3 pay phones at the train station work. I'm stranded. Suddenly I notice some thuggish looking teenagers following me. "Are they going to try to rob me in broad daylight?" I wondered. They didn't look particularly threatening but I could tell they were up to something. Finally one of them approaches me - he then tries to sell me some marijuana! I politely declined, and they went on looking for their next potential customer. It got me thinking - do I look like the kind of person who does that stuff?! I hope not... maybe it's time for a haircut. How can this day get any worse? I finally ask a local maintenance man how to get to my hotel. He points me in the direction of a crowded city bus. So I lug my 60 pound bike box and 2 big bags on board. The bus is pretty full and everybody is staring at me wondering "What's in the box". After another half hour ride the Embassy Suites finally comes into view. I was so relieved to finally get there. I guess for $1.50 I got my money's worth. However, my bad luck wasn't over.

I get into my hotel room (which I'll be splitting with Jarrod). It's quite pleasant. I open my bike box and am not happy to see that my whole canister of protein powder exploded. It's everywhere! In every crevice, in my bike chain, and in my rear derailleur. I was so frustrated at that point I just closed it back up, pretended it never happened, and decided to deal with it tomorrow... At least my applesauce was still intact.

Today wasn't nearly as bad. The hotel had a good complimentary breakfast (I got an omelet). I cleaned up my bike and bike box (but now the whole room smells like nasty protein powder). I found a pool about 4 miles away and rode my bike there, hopped in for a quick 2500 yards, and then did some efforts on the bike on the way back. So hopefully all this bad luck is out of my system.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pacific Grove Race Report: Caught in the Kelp

I pretty much had a disaster of a race, although I did win the u23 division. (Disregard the fact that I was the only u23...)

This was me giving my "victory speech" on the podium, all by myself.
This is what the podium is supposed to look like...

Now onto the race: So the swim at Pacific Grove is known as the "Kelp Krawl". The massive amounts of kelp in the ocean make swimming nearly impossible at some points and you find yourself simply grabbing on to slimy patches of kelp and pulling your whole body along. The danger is that it is easy to get caught and tangled in this kelp. Due to this factor, everybody tends to stay in one giant pack on the swim, which leads to a giant pack on the bike, and finally it turns into a runners race. That sounded just fine with me. But Pac Grove 2008 went a bit differently...

So the gun goes off and I have a fast, clean start. I'm sprinting out near the front and feeling pretty good. Then we hit the first kelp patch. I was caught a little off guard and decided I needed to settle in on somebody's feet and hope that they clear out a path for me. I wasn't great at navigating myself through these giant kelp patches, and it's tough to pull yourself through with very tired arms. I wound up at the tail end of the 2nd pack, which wasn't too far behind the first. The swim was 2 laps. About 2/3 through the 2nd lap, as I went around a buoy my timing chip got caught on a piece of kelp, and it was strong enough that it was just holding me in place. I had to stop, turn around, and pull it off myself. In the process I lost contact with my pack. I panicked. I started sprinting. Slowly but surely I began making up ground. I got closer and closer and could finally feel the draft returning. I settled back in. "Phew, that was a close one" I thought to myself. With about 25 meters left I was feeling okay. We hit the last patch of kelp. My timing chip got caught again, not once, but twice. I lost a lot of time untangling myself. I exited the water in no man's land.

I got out on the bike and could see the packs forming up the road. I was going as hard as I could. I looked behind me: nobody. Up ahead I was too far away to catch anyone. This was disastrous. Finally, I noticed a couple guys pretty far behind me. I sat up and got my feet into my shoes and just hoped there'd be some strong cyclists to work with. Ultimately I started working with 2 others. We were the 3rd pack. We were losing massive amounts of time to the 2 6-man packs ahead. I went as hard on the bike as I could, but it was really just damage control. I was hoping that if we minimized our losses I could run some people down. We got off the bike many minutes back and I went to work. I hammered the first lap of the run, but even if I had run a 30 minute 10k I wouldn't have made up any places. After about 5k I began to shut it down and save my effort for Portland this weekend. I still split 32:25, but the run course was pretty short. I believe I took 12th place.

Needless to say I was very disappointed, but it seems like every race this year has been an adventure and I learn something new. I should have tucked my timing chips under my wetsuit. Lesson learned. I'm staying in Davis, CA for a few days with Steve Sexton and Kevin Collington. We all had some good laughs about the race and how it played out in the exact opposite way that we all expected.

During the awards ceremony I was unexpectedly called up to the podium for winning the Under-23 division. I had no idea that there was even going to be U23 awards. It's the tradition for all the winners to make a speech. So I had to wing it. I was the only person standing up there, and my speech went something like: "Yeah I knew that the U23's were going to be really competitive this year, but I came out here and did what I had to do to win it..." It got a little laugh.

Wish me luck in Portland!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

1620: The Pilgrims -------- 2008: Ethan Brown (!!!)

I survived Plymouth!
Well my experience at Plymouth was much better than the one at Cranberry, but it was not without incident. Overall, the race went well, I won by 8 minutes - 2nd place was Cait Snow, reigning Ironman Lake Placid Champ. She was shortly followed by her husband, Tim, who normally finishes ahead of her, but he got a little lost on both the run and bike courses - Can't say I blame him...

As usual, when the gun went off I hammered the swim. We started swimming next to a giant levy, but once we got out past it into unguarded waters it became very choppy. I was expecting that and it didn't phase me. I exited the water with about a 1:45 lead and hammered the quarter mile run to t1. There was an iron-distance race going on at the same time as ours - so all those people were already out doing loops on the bike course. This was nice because I always had someone to follow and felt confident that I would not veer off course. Anyway, the bike course was extremely rolling. I could not get into a rhythm no matter how hard I tried. I had my SRM on my TT bike, and I was not pleased with the numbers. My cadence was never consistent and I had to sit up and shift a ton. If I do this race next year I think it makes a lot more sense to do it on a road bike with clip-on aerobars. After finishing the loop I came back into t2 with a several minute lead.

I took the run out hard and headed out of downtown Plymouth towards the high school. I began to settle in after about 3/4 of a mile. Right after the first aid station the Plymouth high school drumline was all set up. They started playing some inspiring precussion as I went by, and I have to say it did motivate me! That was really cool. The run course was just as hilly as the bike, and it was really taking a toll on my legs. Also, I was apparently ahead of the van that was putting out the directional signs for the run, so it was pretty sketchy at a few places. Coming back into downtown there were no markers whatsoever. A cop yelled at me to continue down the road I was on and then take a left - those were my instructions. However, what he should've said was veer right and then take a left, so I found that out through trial and error as I ran down the wrong street. Luckily I don't think I lost more than a minute, and when you have an 8 minute lead that's not really a big deal. So I'm running in downtown Plymouth through extremely busy streets (not shut down to traffic), I'm wearing a unitard, there's tourists everywhere giving me strange looks, and I'm not sure where I'm going. I was getting very nervous, but then finally I saw some bright orange cones and my day was saved. I made it to the finish line and was just relieved it was all over. I hate having to think while racing, especially about the course, but I guess sometimes it's necessary. My legs were cramping up bad towards the end - the hills killed me.

So it wasn't 100% smooth, but nevertheless at least I got to the finish line this week :)
Post-race Ice Cream Sundae from the Friendlys! So good!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Plymouth Eve

Feeling good and excited to go. My training has been great this week, foot's feeling okay, and I can't wait to race. There will be an iron-distance race going on at the same time as mine. It starts 3 hours earlier and we have the same bike loop - the ironmen just do it 4 times. This is a good thing. I'll always have people to follow, and as long as I don't accidentally do an extra loop I don't think there's any way that I can get lost. Since the bike is 30 miles, longer than I am used to, I am planning on hitting up the aid station at mile 17. It's going to be sweet. The finish line at this race will be at historic Plymouth Rock. That will also be sweet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Next Up: Plymouth Rock

This weekend I'm heading to historical Plymouth, MA to race the Mayflower International Triathlon. Distances are a 1 mile swim, 30 mile bike, and 6.5 mile run, so this will actually be the longest triathlon I've ever done (Could I slowly be creeping up to 70.3?). There will also be an iron-distance race going on at the same time as mine, it is the only ironman race in MA - goodluck to my friend Abby who will be racing that. Anyway, I have already started studying the course...

And Training

Because of my fiasco at Cranberry I didn't really need any recovery on Monday, so I am in the midst of a hard 5-day block. It basically kicked off with a short brick workout Sunday afternoon. Monday I had a 2-hour ride on my TT bike with power intervals and a 20 min TT, and then a solid 4500 meters at Minuteman. Yesterday I had a tough track workout (800s), easy ride, and then a tough weight room session with TC. Today I just completed a 9 mile run with a few miles "steady", and I'll shortly head out for a 90 minute ride followed by swim practice. Tomorrow holds another hard TT bike workout with a brick run and most likely a weight room session. While it sucked to DNF on Sunday, it has turned out to be a positive in the sense that it set me up for some good training these past few days. Friday and Saturday I'll begin to rest up for my Plymouth debut!

Monday, August 25, 2008

"You're Going the Wrong Way Bro!": My Cranberry Tri Race Report

Yesterday I arose at 4:15 AM so that my mom could drive me down to Lakeville, MA for the Cranberry Triathlon - it's about an 80 minute drive. After a light breakfast and a giant mug of coffee we took off.

It was extremely foggy that morning, but luckily it began to lift as the start time neared, and the temperature warmed up as well. The distances were a .9 mile swim in Long Pond, 24.8 mile bike, and 6.2 run, however, I didn't quite make it that far...

So the horn blasts and I'm off to a fast start. I am clearly in the lead by the first buoy and continue to pull away. At some points the pond got so shallow that I actually stood up and ran a few steps. Overall, I felt very strong. I exited that water with over an 80 second lead, and extended that to well over 90 seconds after a quick t1.

Next, I got out on my BMC TT bike and continued to hammer. I start to find my rhythm. There is a lead motorcycle that I am following. A little over 2 miles into the bike course we approach a set of lights and the motorcycle turns right. I follow. This road is flat and I'm flying down it. I continue for another couple of miles. All of a sudden the lead motorcycle guy in front of me starts making these hand signals. He pulls over to the side and lets me go by. Some cars pass me, and I assume that he was just motioning for the cars to go by. But then he speeds back up next to me and yells "You're going in the wrong direction!" "Are you serious?" I shout back. But he was. This dude had led me like 2.5-3 miles down the wrong road.

Complete demoralization set in. I was so pissed. After I turned around and slowly started going back he pulled up next to me again. "You just lost me 250 bucks!" I shouted at him. And then he sped off and I never saw him again. Given my plantar fasciitis it wasn't worth getting back on course and running a hard 6 miles in racing flats to come in the top-5. So I just called it a day. I went back to transition and spoke to the race organizers and went for a training run. [Then later that day I went for another 60 minute bike with a 4 mile brick run.]

The race directors were extremely apologetic, everybody was. But it didn't make me feel much better. I mean this was a club championship race, it was competitive - you can't have people that don't know what they're doing out on the course directing the racers, especially elites. I do this for a living, I'm losing out on a whole bunch of bonus money for DNF'ing! It's inexcusable. I made all these points to the RD, and he completely understood. He even gave me some prize money anyway as a gesture of goodwill. I really appreciate this, but I just hope he takes all the necessary steps to make sure something like this never happens again.

As long as it fits into my racing schedule, I will be back next year to finally get across that finish line, except this time I'll have a course map inked onto my hand...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ITU Kelowna Continental Cup/Canadian Nationals

I had a hectic weekend that included 7 flights, an unexpected overnight in Montreal, and my best ever finish in a pro race! I headed to Kelowna, BC to race the ITU points race/Canadian Nationals. With the top Canadians at the Olympics, I knew it would be a good chance for guys like me to do well. Matt Seymour and I got the same homestay, which was another adventure in itself...

Now onto the race...
A not so great swim still enabled me to exit the water in the main pack. Several guys had broken away on the swim, but luckily I exited the water around plenty of people to work with on the bike. The bike course was 6 laps with one steep, long hill per lap. It was a leg-burner. Anyway, I got out onto the bike with 2 breakaway groups up the road. We quickly caught the first one at the start of the 2nd lap - this group included Matt Seymour, John Dahlz, and another Canadian. Our group worked together alright, not great, but finally on the 5th of 6 laps we were able to catch the lead breakaway group, which included the heavy race favorite Brent McMahon. There were several attacks during the last lap, but nothing came to fruition. I tried to attack once to bridge up to Dave Messenheimer, who had attacked a few seconds earlier, but as soon as I did McMahon was on my wheel, and I knew he wasn't going to give me an inch, so I sat up. Nearing t2 I unfortunately got caught in the back of our group. I hate it when that happens.

I had a decent t2 and headed out on the run in about 11th place. I quickly moved up into 3rd place within the first few hundred meters. It took me until about the end of the 1st (of 4) laps to catch 2nd-place AP B-Smith. McMahon was already 30 seconds up the road at the end of the 1st lap, and I knew he was not only going to win, but he was going to make a statement (perhaps about not being in Beijing...). Nevertheless, I pushed on and began to pull away from AP. On the 3rd lap I began to relax a little, and I did the same on the 4th knowing that I was comfortably in 2nd place. I picked it up some in the last K for good measure. My 32:40 run split was a solid one for me, especially given how comfortable I felt on the run. So 2nd place! My best pro finish to date! I'm pumped, and I won $1,060.90 Canadian dollars (Is that less or more in USD???).

For now it's kind of a lazy week before I race the Cranberry Olympic distance triathlon this Sunday. I can't wait for Jarrod and Alicia to get back from Beijing so I can hear all about it.

Look at those high knees. Now that's an exit!
Out of t2
Brent dominating
Me in 2nd

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Racing News, Olympic News, Bad News, Good News

Hello all! Forgive me for not updating lately - it has been a very hectic past week. I should be in bed right now - I have to get up at 7 AM in order to catch 3 flights to Kelowna, Canada for the ITU Continental Cup this Sunday. But instead I've decided to blog to my loyal fans :) Training has been okay lately. I've encountered a bit of a roadblock but more on that soon. The bottom line is I'm feeling good and excited to race this weekend. Although I'm not looking forward to racing in the 96 degree heat which is in the forecast for Sunday.

Jarrod's Olympic prep in South Korea has been going great from what I hear. He's ready to have a big race! I'm so excited to watch the Olympic triathlon. The swimming has certainly been exciting lately, too. But anyway, here's photo of Jarrod in between two basketball players you may know ;)

Next, I received some bad news last week. I have a pretty bad case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I've been suffering with foot pain ever since my race in Turkey on June 29th, when I rode the whole bike leg with only one shoe strap tightened down. This caused an incredible strain on my arch. Racing on it the next 2 weekends in a row did not allow it anytime to heal, so it became increasingly unhappy. Even taking a week off after those races did not help it get better. I thought it was just chronic soreness in my arch, but I saw the podiatrist last week and he was positive I had aggravated my plantar fasca, a ligament that runs across the bottom of my foot. So that sucks. The thing about plantar fasciitis is that unless you spend a ton of time actively rehabbing it, it will not get better. Rest alone is not enough. Luckily I've been working with a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, and podiatrist to come up with a multi-factorial plan to get this to heal fast.
The Cure

Soooooo here's what I'm doing. I frequently get ultrasound, massage, and my arch taped in a favorable position at PT. I was also forced to purchase a pair of crocs that I am supposed to walk around in instead of going barefoot, so I wear them around the house all the time. I use a few implements to roll out the bottom of my foot hence loosening up my plantar fasca. And finally, I have a boot (look familiar Mikey O?) that I wear at night. Out of everything, the boot is working the best. I wore it all night for the first time last night and when I woke up my foot felt very happy. So I'm taking the boot with me to Canada. I hope boots are allowed there.

Here are some nice views I found while riding out in Harvard, MA. The weather has been so crazy here that it seems I'm racing to get back home due to unexpected thunderstorms everyday.

Can you see the rainbow?

I was riding 65 mph on my bike!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Athlete & Coach go 1-2 at Lowell Tri

This past Sunday I raced the Lowell YMCA Triathlon. The distances were a 1 mile swim, 22 mile bike, and 6 mile run. I finished first in 1:45, "only" 10 minutes in front of my coach, Tim Crowley. All in all it was a fun day and a good workout. I felt very strong on the swim, rode hard on the bike, and eased up a bit on the run but still maintained a tempo pace. It was a fun event to cap off two weeks of solid training.

Next to me in transition was Jarrod's little brother (and upcoming triathlete) Jake Shoemaker. He had kind of a bad day in Lowell - he cut his foot on a piece of glass after the swim and had to go to the hospital. Luckily he is okay and it wasn't as bad as originally thought, but nevertheless it was a scary experience.

Well Jarrod and Alicia are off to the Olympics leaving me all alone at the house. It feels a bit weird not being able to go over to Beijing. I've trained alongside Jarrod since this past winter and watched him deal with everything that goes into preparing for the Olympics (interviews, hectic schedules, etc.). And now I only get to watch the race on TV! I wanna be there! No matter what happens it's going to be epic. I wish him all the best luck and I'm confident that he is well prepared.

Lowell Tri - 1st Place

Saturday, August 2, 2008

TC on! More training & prep for the Lowell Tri.

TC got some love from a few days ago. You can check out the article here. It's really well written and I think it accurately shows Tim's passion for the sport and his genuine desire to help athletes of all ability levels reach their full potential. Heath Gollnick's Ironman success really shows his versatility as his coach. He has certainly helped Jarrod and me perform at a top level in ITU racing, and Alicia is completely cleaning up on the non-drafting circuit this year. Tim is constantly self-experimenting with new ways to get faster by training smarter, not necessarily harder, and I think I'm a testament to this. So check out the article!

Today was my first truly easy day since Monday of last week. My base phase is going well and I can feel myself adjusting to the longer, more strength oriented training. I put in a 22 hour week last week and am on the same pace this week. I've been eating a ton and find myself hungry practically all the time - I'm sure I'm burning some mega calories. I've oddly had a lot of trouble sleeping this week. It's been tough for me to fall asleep, and I'm barely averaging 7.5 hours per night. Hopfeully that will pass. I need recovery!

Tomorrow is the Lowell YMCA triathlon. I know the course like the back of my hand and I can't wait to race. The gun will go off at 8 AM and the distances are 1500m/22 miles/6 miles. It should be fun. My dad is racing the sprint which starts an hour later at 9 AM. We're going to have a race to see who crosses the line first :) Also racing the sprint will be Brian Hughes from Fastsplits and Pat Wheeler, who is fresh off a 10:02 Ironman debut in Placid a couple weeks ago. Who knew the Lowell triathlon would get so popular!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Week 1 down

Feeling tired but holding together well. It feels good to resume tough training. Although going from peak form to rebuilding means that I'm frustratingly slower on the track and am not flying in the pool. Details to come.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Aaaand more training...

I had a 3 hour ride planned for Thursday but got a text that morning from TC telling me to just ride on the trainer for 75 minutes because it was supposed to rain all day. I was ecstatic that I didn't have to will myself out of bed at 7AM, so I slept in until late. Jarrod and I monitored the weather radar all morning, trying to see if there was a block of time where the rain would let up. Mainly, I was procrastinating getting on the trainer. Alicia did her ride, then Jarrod got started on his workout, and I sat around for a while pretending to pay attention to the weather. I finally decided to go get my bike from the basement and start setting it up. As I was doing so, I noticed that the rain stopped. I looked at the radar and it seemed that the rain might hold off for a couple hours. I debated for a while what to do (more procrastinating) and finally decided to take the risk and go outside. I ended up riding for 2.5 hours with not a drop of rain (except for dripping trees). After that I headed out for a short brick run and as I was finishing up it started to pour again. So it actually worked out pretty well. I hit the one block of time where training outside was doable. The message here: procrastination = better training :)

Friday's training went down like this: 9 mile run through the neighborhoods with middle 3 miles tempo, 30 minute core routine, and 5k at swimming with some mega-fast all-out balls-to-the-wall 50s. Friday was the first day all week where I didn't feel terrible. I'm still sore and tired - but on a more moderate level. We got in a good 4k at swimming this morning, and later today I have some hill repeats on the bike followed by some fast running. I also have to write an 8 page paper for this online class I'm taking, so I'll get started on that tonight as well; that'll be workout #4. So that's what I've been up to: training, watching the tour, eating and sleeping. I apologize for being so boring lately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 3: Already Sore & Tired

It's only the first week of my mid-year base phase, but I'm already feeling pretty fatigued after a couple hard days. Yesterday I had a tough track workout that included 200's, K's, and then more 200's with not a whole lot of rest. After that I went for a 2 hour endurance ride and did a core workout in the evening. Today started with some TT interval work on my BMC TT bike. I had a massage in Concord and then went straight into a 10 mile run, and it absolutely poured for the last 5 miles. I hit some puddles that were ankle-deep and it was totally miserable! Finally, we had a tough swim practice tonight. Main set was a "T-30" (swim as hard as you can for 30 minutes with the goal of amassing as many meters as possible). Now I'm completely beat. We had Chinese food for dinner. It was money.

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain all day, which does not bode well for the 3-hour ride I have planned. I have plans to do it with TC and Alicia at 8AM, but it will most likely be dependent on the weather.

Jarrod on the 6 O'Clock news!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coach Rich's craziness

Q. What do the terms 'fast', 'comfortable fast', 'work', 'race', 'race-pace', 'hammer', 'charge', 'sprint', 'strong', and 'hard' all have in common?

A. They all mean the same thing!

They're just different ways of saying that the next interval is going to hurt, and Rich loves to utilize all these terms, which are only a small portion of "hurt" words in Rich's vast swimming vocabulary. Today was my first long swim practice in operation "Get fit again" and I was victim to several of the aforementioned phrases. Grand total was 5k meters and our last set was 4x200 swimming the first 100 "strong" and then "dropping the hammer" on the final 100. Unfortunately my hammer was not very heavy, but I gave it everything I had. I have over a month to rebuild my aerobic base, so I'm not too worried about not being on my A-game tonight. Now I need to go get some sleep so I can get dominated on the track tomorrow at 9 AM...

Getting back at it

I've had a boring past couple days at home. I kind of feel like I'm getting sick but I'm not really sure, and I don't want to go back to Maynard and hang around Jarrod if I am, in fact, sick. Getting an Olympian ill less than a month before the Olympics is not something I want to be responsible for. So I've slowly started getting back into training. Yesterday I did a 2+ hour ride and went for a 7.5 mile run @ 6:30 pace. Tonight I have a hard swim planned assuming I feel up to it. And tomorrow TC has a hard day planned with an endurance ride and a long track workout.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Last Few Days of Laziness

After taking three days off of doing absolutely nothing, I resumed training this past Wednesday. I'm not really doing anything intense or high in volume, just active recovery for the rest of the week, then it's back to work on Monday. It's been so hot and humid here that even doing an easy run or bike can turn strenuous. Today I rode for 90 mins on a heavily shaded route through Chelmsford, Westford, and Groton. I hammered the downhills just to get the nice breeze. Later on I'll probably go for an easy swim at Minuteman before I partake in some "off-training" activities this evening with some friends...

A huge thanks to Team Psycho for hooking me up with 6 free cases of Harpoon! You know you've made it when you're getting paid in beer!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some Pics

We were drenched in champagne after the podium ceremony... Warm champagne has never tasted so good.

On the podium in Geneva. Our coaches were thrilled as their athletes had taken half of the 6 available podium spots (Jarrod 2nd, Me 3rd, Alicia 3rd) (July 12)

As a Team we won the Silver Medal at the World University Games in Erdeck, Turkey (June 29)

Collington, Sexton, and me with the USAT coaches in Hamburg after we all just nailed top-20 finishes (July 6)

The unofficial medal ceremony: At the world university games awards ceremony, the USA men were originally given the GOLD medals for team finish. We stood atop the podium while our flag was raised and got a giant trophy, flowers, and gold medals. However, the Swiss later pointed out to us that the Turkish officials had not added the scores correctly, and they should be the winners. We added the scores ourselves and could tell that they were right, so at dinner we went over and exchanaged our gold medals for the silvers that were rightfully ours. It was all in good spirits and the Swiss were much appreciative. A bunch of us traded our USAT polos for Swiss Team shirts (which were way cooler).

I'm Back!

I apologize to my loyal blog readers for not updating my web site. My laptop needed a new hard drive and I lost all my data and programs, and without Dreamweaver I am currently unable to update. I will be keeping this blog temporarily until I can find a solution to my problems.

To quickly summarize the past month and a half:

June 08: U23 Worlds - DNF Hypothermia
June 29: World University Games - 28th
July 06: Hamburg World Cup - 15th
July 12: Geneva Continental Cup - 3rd

I finally seemed to have found my groove after a couple poor performances. I was thrilled with my performance in Hamburg. I had a fast run (32:09 10k), and my 15th place finish was the best ever American debut in a World Cup (Potts was 19th in 2003). Next, this past weekend I had another good race in Geneva, taking a personal-best 3rd place finish. The race was a sufferfest with high heat (90 degrees) and humidity. Lots of guys dropped out during the run, and I also lapped many people (run course was 6 laps). Geneva was my 3rd race in 3 weeks, and I'm pretty wiped out from all the racing and traveling. This was the first time I ever raced 3 weekends in a row, and my feet are covered in blisters and I have some extreme soreness in my right calf. I am currently taking a few days off from training and then will go back into a base phase for about a month as I begin to focus on big races in September-November. Through some of Team Psycho's hook-ups I've been allocated 6 cases of Harpoon beer, and I will be sure to take full advantage of this in my down time.