Sunday, December 13, 2015

IMAZ, Thanksgiving and 2016 Plans

 Over two months have gone by since I competed at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii...lot of fun things have happened since then.

Recovery after an Ironman sucks. I usually tell people it takes three days before I (kinda) walk normally again, two weeks before training feels OK, three weeks before training is good...but sometimes up to eight weeks before my head and emotions feel normal. Whatever, we're passed that now but just wanted to give you a head's up if you're thinking of racing one.

Since Kona
A few weeks post Kona, I jumped into the CSU Tri Team's halloween 5k. I love participating because there are great costumes and many local businesses support the team by providing fantastic prizes.

Going from a marathon to a 5k = ouch. Running hard hurts.
A couple weekends later, I made a spontaneous midweek decision to travel to Tempe, AZ to spectate and volunteer at Ironman Arizona.  After Kona, I had been in contact with BASE Performance who played a big role in me making it through the brutal Kona run!  I rarely make any last minute decisions involving > $100. My BASE that I believe in them and commit to them for a bit and who knows what could happen, one day I might like to race IMAZ so this would be a good time to check out the race, and my brother lives in Tempe and we could train together for a few days. Flights were cheap so I said yes.

Ticket booked, I traveled to Arizona. 
"When Steve calls you up at 5 am saying that he's getting on a plane to AZ, you don't ask questions" Basically how it worked. 
The day before the race, I got to meet up with the BASE crew who would be volunteering. Ironman legend Chris Lieto started the company after having a lot of success racing with the products during the last few years of his career.
Chris Lieto said his blood sugar was low...good thing I was carrying a snack :)
Race day was incredible. After watching the professionals and age groupers start their day, my brother and I headed back to his apartment to get in a few workouts.  Around mid-day, I headed back to the run course to get things ready for Starky (and 30 minutes later it seemed) everyone else.

We set up two tents on the run course providing salt and rocket fuel (a drink mix) for everyone racing.  When some one offers you "rocket fuel" at the midway point of an Ironman marathon...don't ask, just drink.  We'd run alongside the athletes and ask them if they needed salt or "rocket fuel".
Our set-up as the racers went by
Lots of things happen during heat-of-the-moment racing.  One middle-of-the-pack athlete stopped and asked me for my shoes. He had on a brand new pair of Newton running shoes for the marathon and, no surprise, they weren't broken in enough and his feet were killing him. I had the same size feet so I gave him my perfectly broken in (month old) Saucony Kinvaras while I took his Newtons.

Demonstrating how to use BASE salt, in my swapped Newtons!
When it was all said and done, we were out on the run course from a little after noon to 11:30 pm. As the sun went down and athletes went from charging (pros) to running (fast AGers) to jogging to walking to napping (seriously), our roles as volunteers changed.  The later it got, the more of a mental boost the athletes needed. Many were doing the race just to finish and needed some encouragement. At this point we turned up the speakers and became a dancing aid station...playing the same songs over and over again.

Giving "high fives" till 11:30, much past bed time but worth it!!
The next few days were drawn out a bit as Frontier cancelled my flight back to Denver in anticipation of a large winter storm which dropped a whopping 1" of snow.  The ASU triathlon team had a swim and run that I was able to attend which was convenient.  Eventually, I was able to find a flight back in the afternoon and made it back to Colorado.

Thanksgiving Work
A few weeks later, I headed back to Minnesota for Thanksgiving.  After 10 months, going home was nice.  I met up with friends from the glory days (high school) and saw my soccer coach and teacher.

With Ernie and Alison at Thanksgiving, always appreciate seeing them.
Though it was supposed to be fall break, it did not feel like a "break".  In anticipation of a deadline for a research paper I'm working on and finishing grad school this spring, I was working a lot.  Since Kona, school has taken up a lot more time for me than it has the past few years.  Though I'm only taking three credits, my day is built around spending time cursing Excel and writing engineering.   Most nights after dinner I usually head back to campus to keep working for another few hours before calling it a night. Whenever this happens I get that one Eminem line in my head...

"...that's when it's back to the lab again, yo..."
 It's been frustrating working on a project this large where I don't have a "finish line" in sight because at this stage it's hard to know how much more work is needed.  But all I can control is how hard I work in order to get the job done well.

Training has been going well as I really try to maximize my efficiency.  In terms of swimming, the CSU tri practices have been great.  Mace also has me doing at least three strength workouts a week right now. I've enjoyed this as it gets me back to the days of being a gym rat.

Me back in high school. Training for hockey. We got points for working out...I had a lot of points :)  Some of the comments on this old profile picture were pretty good.
 For biking, I've been riding inside a lot at the NoCo Endurance Center which has a great set-up for indoor riding.  I've also been running a lot with a new device that's essentially a power meter for running, made by Stryd. I worked with Stryd for a bit leading up to Kona.  Stryd clips onto your heart rate strap and gives you a measurement of watts while you run. However, unlike biking, less watts = more efficient.  See below for a file example! A lot will be happening with Stryd over the next few weeks/months so stay tuned... If you would like to try out a device, let me know!

The week after Kona, coach Mace and I sat down to discuss plans for 2016.  Some people close to me have known for a few weeks already but our plan for next year is to race in the pro/elite wave.

If I had a dollar for every time over the past three years people asked me "so when are you going pro" or "are you going to take your pro card" I could buy a car.  OK, probably not a car, but a new pair of shoes
While I could write a much longer explanation as to why I have decided to take time and develop rather than take my pro license, there are a few main reasons.  First and foremost, I do this sport for fun.  In this sense, fun takes on many different meanings.  Even though it hurts like crazy, the last eight minutes of a 2x20 min FTP test (that's right, 2x20 minutes for MP athletes) are something I've learned to try and enjoy. For non-triathletes, that's two 20 minute "best effort" intervals or "all out".  Over the last three years I've spoken to many different coaches, athletes, training partners, friends and family alike that have all recommended taking my time.  Many lessons can be learned from racing as an age grouper. I truly appreciate my coach, family and closest friends standing by me and encouraging me to develop and think longer term.

While many would already consider my dedication to training pretty high, by taking my pro card, I will do my best to treat training, recovery and fitness like my job. For one, sleep (now 7-8 hrs/night) needs to become a higher priority.  Alicia Kaye recently wrote a blog providing some insight on how seriously pros need to take all aspects (food, sleep, relationships, recovery) of their life, not just training, in order to be successful.
Not a pro race, but Sweaty Sweater 4 mile race by Green Events this past weekend. Post race hot chocolate, boom.  Stryd file here
Stepping up to race with the pros, I know I'm going to get crushed.  As long as we see some development and trends towards competitiveness, that's good.  But if you know me, you know that getting crushed is good for me. It's been a long time since I've raced with some (controlled) desperation and I'm looking forward to getting back to that. I know I will likely never be THE fastest but I love pushing myself and just thinking about "racing" again makes me excited. I wouldn't say I haven't "raced" this year but it was much more of a controlled effort and everything was in preparation for Kona.

So what does that mean?  A few things...for the next few years, I'm more than likely going to be broke, working part time and training a lot.

But hey, I'll have a Lululemon discount for being a "pro" athlete!
 I'll be traveling a lot, racing a lot and just trying to appreciate and make the most of this opportunity I have.  I'm going to try and commit to this lifestyle for a few years as I know my engineering degree(s, hopefully plural) will always be there. While many people say "I want to win a world championship" my goal in triathlon will always be to enjoy the sport by working hard and learning but also helping others find something they too enjoy.  Over the next few weeks I'll be figuring out details with some of the companies and people I'll be working with in the future and will try and keep you updated.

For me: "back to the lab again, yo"
For you: Thanks for reading and have a great day!


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