Have been silent for quite some time and frustration will do that. After a less than desirable race at USA Champs last year and a horrific performance at XTERRA World champs it took some time to come back around. There was a lot of self reflection and over analyzing trying to figure out what was going on and why I was not connecting some great training to my racing. Derick and I decided that we needed to change things up a bit and took a bit longer break over the winter before heading in to any structured training and focused on more mental training for the first part.
What I wouldn't miss is heading back down to Tucson to train over the winter and just after the New Year I headed down to start getting back into some solid training. Tucson is an excellent place to come in the winter for training, it doesn't take long to learn some basic training routes and then you can branch off from those and explore more of the area. There is a great masters swim group at the University of Arizona that offers 3 practices a day Monday through Friday and one on Saturday. There are a few group rides the most notorious being the "Shootout" on Tuesday and Saturday. It is a hotbed for cycling and there are many national and world class mountain and road pro cyclists on US Continental to UCI World Pro Tour teams that come down and train and the group ride on Saturday grows from about 50 during the summer months to over 200 in the winter as guys and gals are down putting in the miles. So it isn never hard to find some one faster than you that will help you push your limits. Tucson has been improving its network of mountain bike trails over the years and there is and increasing number of options each year, the only downside is that they are a bit more spread out than the trail options in the Springs, but there are a great network of bike paths and bike lanes to get around easily. Those paths have been great for running as well, with the Santa Cruz and Rillito River Paths for some great flat open paths for pace work or up in the rolling hills of on the west side roads in to Tucson Mountain park for close trail running. I have also been playing a bigger focus to some strength training over the winter as well.
I have been steadily building over the past couple months and doing a few random races here and there as well. Started out with the Sun Run 5k to get an idea of where my run fitness and speed was at in early January and over all the run went well. Only issue is that about 2.5 miles in the course crosses and intersection and the police were there doing their job but a guy riding was on the wrong side of the crosswalk right as I was turing to cross the intersection and our shoulders collided and I went spinning through the air something like this:
Took about 30 sec to gather myself grab my Rudy Project Agon glasses that went flying, check to make sure the rider was okay and then continued on to the finish. With that taken into account I was pretty happy with my overall time and how it ended up. We kept the training rolling and kept racing as well. Part of the mental aspect that I have needed to work on has been in races and makings sure I don't give in and to stay with guys when they pass me and after working on some goal setting and some of the mental pieces in training I applied it to racing.
|In the fight for 2nd less than a mile in.|
The next race was the Sunrise at Old Pueblo 4 Mile, it was a race I won last year and was hoping to keep that rolling. One guy was too quick and there wasn't a chance of staying with him but I had a great battle for 2nd with another guy. He really forced the pace for the first 2 + miles and made things uncomfortable for sure but I knew that I couldn't let him go I would give it everything to stay with him. He cracked slightly at about 2.5 miles and I was able to get a small gap on him but he was holding very strong and I had to keep pushing. I managed to hold him off and took 2nd.
|Just past 3 miles in 2nd but 3rd is just lurking, can see him just off my hip.|
|Off on the 2nd run (PC: Deb McMullen)|
Next up was another race that was advertised as an 8k, once it was all said and done it was more about 5.5k. I guess that is what you get when a fraternity act as the race organizers and they are just trying to copy maps off of mapmyrun.com. Around this same time I had been working on getting all the pieces of my new mountain bike together to build it up and it was almost 100% complete. I can't thank Logan enough for loaning me his drive train since the parts I ordered were held up at a shipping yard in San Diego while the workers were on strike. With the bike up and running I headed up to Scottsdale for the Desert Classic Duathlon, it is a great race that has been held for quite a while and Angie and her crew at Chasing 3 did a fantastic job putting it on. They offer two events, a standard road duathlon and an off-road version, they both used the same trail run at the beginning and the end with the chosen road or mountain bike leg between. I elected for the off road even though I had only been on the mountain bike 3 or 4 times to test things out. There were some quick runners which gave a great opportunity to really work on chasing and staying with other athletes.
|Feels good to be on the top step.|
On the mountain bike I had a good lead and really tried to focus on really pushing the pace since I didn't know who was behind me. About half was through the bike a local mountain biker caught me and it really made me have to push and attack the course more to stay on his wheel and not let him get away. I stayed with him all the way back to transition and then took off on the run. There were other road duathletes out on the run as well and I was able to use them to focus on and try to catch. I was slowly reeling in 3 guys ahead and was going to make a big push in the last 3/4 of a mile to catch them when boom I hit the ground. I had tripped over a rock, after a sec gathering myself I took off to the finish but lost the opportunity to try to catch the guys ahead. It was still very nice to take the win and start to get the flow of going through transitioning between the sports again.
|Sampling 1st Endurance & Enduro Bites|
After a few more weeks of solid training I headed back up to Scottsdale for the Fat Tire 40 Mountain bike race. At packet pick up I got to meet a lot of the racers some very experienced and some that were just entering the sport as I did a sampling and demo of the First Endurance and Enduro Bites. It was a great time getting to listen to some of the other products that athletes were using and any issues they had with them and letting them try the new EFS Pro hydration sports drink and take samples of EFS Liquid Shot and Ultragen Recovery Drink. They could also try the Dark Chocolate and Espresso and Fig and Dark Chocolate energy bars from Enduro Bites. The race overall went well, I mainly need to work on my hole-shot sprint at the start so I don't get trapped to far back. I was in the lead group but the 3 strongest guys got away out front and I had to battle my way past a few guys to try to catch up but it took too long to get around and they opened up a gap that I couldn't close down and they were working together and going well. It was a good hard effort unfortunately I rode all alone but I was getting more and more comfortable technically on the bike.
|TriZona Sprint Triathlon, T1 on the rough of the golf course.|
I was continuing to string together some great training and the new 10 day/3 day plan Derick had adjusted my training to was really going well. After the struggles last year we needed to at least try a new approach in my training and after a bit of an adjustment period I really began to understand the process. I have always been able to string together some great volume for weeks on end then take a rest week then do it all over again but we both felt that I was slowly digging myself into a hole. So we made the change and I am working really hard over a 10 day period and then taking 3 days of rest/light movement and the results are showing. The first triathlon of the year was at the TriZona at Starr Pass two weeks ago, it is a unique event that is a must do. Barry and Jodee Siff of 5430 Sports put it on and it is a great low key event. It starts like no other triathlon out there, down the waterside at the JW Marriott Resort at Starr Pass then two laps AGAINST the current in the lazy river, it was and absolute blast. I headed out on the bike and had my work cut out for me as Olympic Mountain Biker Todd Wells was doing his first triathlon so I knew his bike would be very strong and I really had to swim and run well. The three lap bike is very challenging rolling hilly course, I felt good as it was the first really big effort on my TT bike this year. Just at the end of the bike Todd went by, after a bit of a smoother transition I headed out on the run just ahead of him. Because of the time trial start I needed to finish 40 seconds ahead of Todd to take the win, let it be known that Todd can run as I was only able to just barely out run him. I was first across the line but Todd kept me close enough to take the win.
The winter has been great being down in Tucson and I have been staying down here a bit longer than normal as I am house and dog sitting for some friends that are over in Italy, one is a lecturer for the University of Arizona and had the opportunity to go over and it couldn't be missed. It has worked out as a great trade that I get to be down here and train while they get to go on a grand adventure and work a little on the side too. The only negative is that I am in Arizona for 4 months and it takes me away from Bri. She makes some adjustments at work and comes down every few weeks for a long weekend and we get to have some fun. She joined me in racing at the Sunrise at Old Pueblo 4 miler, took on a 6 winery (out of 11) tour around Sonoita, went on a mountain bike ride together for the first time and had a blast using Hunter and Aimee's cruiser bikes riding around town to get to dinners and events during the year. By far the best weekends are always these ones.
Only have two more weeks down in Tucson before a start the journey back to Colorado. I am doing one more tune up race at the Lifetime Fitness Marquee Triathlon in Tempe this weekend before the big events start. I will head up for the first XTERRA of the year for the West Championship on April 25th in Las Vegas and then head to St. George for the Ironman North America 70.3 Championship the following weekend. It has been a great few months and I always enjoy my time in Tucson but I will enjoy being back home in Colorado.