Before explaining a few things I'm looking forward to the new year, I want to review of some of my favorite experiences from this past year.
Vegas Training Trip
Before the CSU Tri Team's annual Lake Havasu race over spring break , a couple teammates and I spent a week training in Las Vegas and Havasu. The goal was to do one last big-volume week before Nationals. I had never been to Vegas before...it was an interesting experience. I tried to explore the first night but realized pounding music and headaches aren't really my thing.
|Checking out Vegas|
But the training was great. One of our rides took us out to Hoover Dam via the 70.3 course. It was great to feel the warm sun for a couple days even if we got a little burned.
|Saw some cool cars on a ride|
After a couple days in Vegas, we headed to Havasu to camp and train more on the course. The best meal was "hobo pockets" in tinfoil over a fire.
Because of the amount of training we had done the week leading up to the race, I wasn't expecting to feel great for the race. Nonetheless, our coach insisted we would be surprised and that the main goal was still a couple weeks away - it was all part of the plan. Once the rest of the team arrived, we went through our pre-race routines. It was a great experience teaching a lot of new teammates the little details for race prep. Turns out our coach was right and despite some tough winds, the Vegas Training trip crew did well.
Since the previous year, my first year racing triathlons, I had been looking forward to Collegiate Nationals again. I wouldn't be surprised if I thought about the race every single day of the year. The team experience at this race was exceptional. Traveling with 20+ other Rams was awesome! Flying to a destination made it unique. I was also excited to see my family.
My brother had narrowed down his college choices, one of which included ASU. My family had timed a tour of the school to be at the race. This was their first chance to actually see me race in person, instead of following splits on-line. Having them there as supporters, and willing to buy me copious amounts of bananas and nuts, was awesome. One thing I remember about the race was my brother yelling at me as I headed out on the run. He was yelling something about me needing to sprint. I remember thinking, "there's a lot of running left to go, man, and I suck at sprinting". That first mile or so to me feels like I'm sprinting anyways.
|Cheering on our team at the draft-legal race|
|Still feeling okay here on the run|
|Thankful for the family support|
Obviously the outcome of that race was a highlight for my year. Being able to share it with my family and teammates was a great bonus. Because of them I was able to leave everything out on the course. After about 2.5 miles into the run, the rest is a blur. Also, the post-race Mexican food dinner was delicious!
Summer in Fort Collins
Between races, living in Fort Collins this past summer was awesome. One of my highlights every Wednesday was the Horsetooth Tri Training series put on by Green Events. They offered an awesome deal for our team where we could volunteer for one week and race free the next week. The post-race watermelon was a big hit. One great thing about Green Events is they strive to make their events environmentally friendly, trying to recycle or compost all "waste".
This summer, I was lucky enough to live at the Olympic Training Center for a couple days as part of the Collegiate Recruitment Program. You can read the blog I wrote for MP Multisport here.
Bonking at 70.3 Boulder
Ok, maybe not a highlight but...Once again, I raced the Boulder Tri Series this summer. The series consisted of three different distance races; a sprint, olympic, and half-iron. Since my experience the past summer, I had been looking forward to racing the half-iron again. I had a lot more specific training for this year's race and knew what to expect. Everything felt great until the second lap (of two) during the run portion. I started hurting pretty bad and it felt like I was crawling to the finish. Looking back, I realize that I didn't eat or drink anywhere near enough. I learned from this experience that I can finish a training day or a race without taking in much (half a bottle of water on the bike and a couple gels) but it won't feel good or be very fast.
|Losing it on the run|
|One of the perks of staying later after a race...extra bananas!|
Age Group Nationals
The weekend after 70.3 Boulder, six days I think, was Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, WI. I was interested to see how quickly I could recover. After 2-3 days of easy training, my body started feeling fit again. This was my first race traveling with a bike box. I lucked out and was able to travel to the race with Tess, our team's swim coach, who was also racing.
|Got to borrow some sweet wheels for the race!|
Long story short, I ended up winning my age group and came in second overall.
Towards the end of my season, it felt like I had major races every weekend. My parents were able to drive down to watch me race in Des Moines. Even though I tried my best to relax and focus only on the things that I could control throughout the weekend, there were a couple frustrating aspects. We ended up getting lost on our way to dinner the night before and when I mounted my bike, my seat post dropped about an inch. My back hurt really bad after that run.
|Post race at Hyvee|
Lesson learned I bought a torque key. On a positive note...after the race, we were able to find an awesome local market with tons of fresh food.
Vegas, 70.3 World Championships
I didn't have very long to dwell on my Hyvee experience because the next weekend was another championship race. Last year I qualified for Vegas but didn't know anything about World Championships and ultimately the price tag and travel requirements scared me away. After hearing about a friend's experience, I knew I wanted to do it this year if I was able to qualify.
I was able to convince my Dad to come out to Vegas as my support crew. Missing school was a pain but the entire weekend was a blast. I had been working on forcing myself to eat and drink on longer rides in preparation for Vegas. I knew the course was tough, not to mention the climate.
|Making sure all systems are good the day before|
Instead of blazing heat however, race-day brought some rain. It was raining for me until about 15 miles left in the bike portion. I stayed on my nutrition and hydration and paced myself off some people during the run for the first lap and enjoyed every second of the race.
|Awards ceremony. I'm the short one.|
I need to give a huge thank-you to a couple people for the result from that day. First our coach for CSU Triathlon, Jon Mason at MP Multisport. I had a pretty negative mindset coming off of Hyvee the previous weekend. His pep-talk early in the week made me realize that I couldn't dwell on what had already happened and I needed trust myself when things got tough in Vegas. The a course that was known to have a significant amount of "casualties". Also, my parents tag-teemed to give me info on where I was in my age group. Ironman.com has an athlete tracker app. However, because our family doesn't have smartphones, my Dad would receive text updates from my Mom who was following on the internet. Each lap of the run, he would shout out what place I was. Good team work.
|Grateful for the support|
Team Trip to Fruita, Colorado
Once again, my final race of the season was in Fruita, Colorado with the CSU Triathlon Team. Once again, we had tons of teammates who would be racing for the first time. The highlights of this trip were the campfire the night before, sleeping in tents, and complaining about how cold it was and how we didn't want to race.
Team Every Man Jack
I am happy to announce that in 2014, I will be racing as part of Team Every Man Jack. Every Man Jack is a men's personal grooming brand that makes all-natural products for every-day guys. I'm very excited to be a part of this team with some fast guys and to support of a great product. More updates to come on this...for now, check out their website everymanjack.com.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!