Monday, December 30, 2013

Inside Look of Training While Deployed

27 December-

A few people have asked what my training would consist of while I was on this deployment.  I have nick named it "Deployment Elevation Camp", since we are sitting around 4,800ft at Bagram Air Base.  I am sitting in a "valley" surrounded by mountains with the highest peaks at 16,000ft.  I am out here on what would be considered very short by 99% of the military, only 6 weeks.  I will add to this blog as the trip goes on and hopefully be able to tell an interesting story of what life is like out here.  Although it seems to be pretty repetitive and very much of the same routine from day to day.

Throughout this blog there may be times where it sounds like I am complaining, but trust me I know it could be a lot worse.  I know many of my brothers and sisters in other locations do not have near as good as I do.  When people from other branches try to rag on us Air Force people for having life so good, I always remind them that we all volunteered our service to our country and we decided what dotted line to sign on.  But I do respect each person's decision and understand that it takes all of our branches to create the worlds most powerful military, our US Military.


 Click Pictures to Enlarge
I typically work 72 hours a week with one off day.  Work is only 1/2 mile away from my dorm room, so not bad at all.  I typically get 6-9 hours of sleep depending how long my evening workout is.  My coach and I have come up with some standard "rules" for what I can do while here.  I give him about 1-1h30m to work with in the morning and about the same after work.  Occasionally I can workout while on shift, but that is for only 1 hour max.

Laundry is on a 72 hour turn around, but normally comes back in 48 hours.  You have to turn it in, no more than 25 items at once, they haul it off base, do your laundry, sometimes fold it, sometimes you get it all back, sometimes you get other people's random stuff, but most of the time you get all of your stuff back.  I have access to a hot shower and running water (which is not potable) everyday and usually shower two times a day.

For those of you that have been following along on FB and Twitter you noticed some of the early photos from the trip.  The photo below is the sarcastic photo after I was informed that I could not ride in just bibs and an undershirt.  You have to workout in Physical Training Uniform when working out, and if you are not working out you must be in uniform.  The PT uniform was not made for endurance athletes.  After only 2 days of running in it I was chaffed pretty bad.  Luckily I brought a few pairs of regular running shorts and decided to wear those underneath.  For cycling I have been wearing Bibs and an undershirt and then my PT gear over that.

This is how I ride, minus the helmet and flak vest, that was the sarcastic part.

I have access to the chow hall and they serve 4 meals a day, although I typically only make 2 trips up there.  It is located close to my dorm room which is nice, but still a mile round trip to get lunch during work. I typically stop there for breakfast on the way to work and then at lunch I get two meals.  I have laid out a typical meal below for each meal.

Nutrition has always been one area that I have not put 100% focus into.  I don't count calories and I don't watch my weight until March or April.  Since it is off season I haven't stepped on a scale since I have been over here and don't plan on stepping on one till I get back.  I left weighing 168lbs.  I weighed 166lbs for Kona and IMFL, but most of the year I was down around 160-162lbs.  After IMFL I was up to as high as 174lbs and then once I started training again the weight came of fairly fast.

Meal 1- Eggs, bacon, fruit, juice and sometimes yogurt. (After morning workouts I ensure I get a hot meal)
Meal 2- Cereal, fruit, juice. (if I get up late I have some extra items stored at work).

I will typically get food off of the hotline.  It typically consist of some sort of meat, vegetables, some sort of small side salad, fruit, electrolyte drink or juice.  I will occasionally have a soda and/or cake :)

I will normally get this meal at lunch and eat it after my workout or 2 hours before my evening workout.  I get a salad with chicken or just plain salad with all different vegetables.  I will also get some fruit and try to get chocolate milk.

If I do not have an evening workout I will go and get a hot meal which is similar to the lunch selection.

Training Environment / Equipment-
I was able to travel over here with my Cervelo P3 and my CycleOps Magneto Trainer.  I had my bike in the Vaughn Hockey Goal Keepers Bag and my trainer was in my "C-Bag" (green duffel bag) with all of my clothing.  I also had clothing, shoes, nutrition items in the hockey bag with the bike.  The only damage the bike received due to the trip was a broken spoke on the front wheel, luckily the bike is only on the trainer so no problem.  I would like to think the bag was not handled as nicely as it would have been on a typical flight and that was the reason for the damage.

I do not plan to ride outside, although if I had a cross bike or MTB it would be possible.  I have my trainer setup downstairs of work with a nice big fan and I set my laptop up beside me and watch movies.  Not all that bad.  Beside that is a treadmill that I tend to use if I do not feel comfortable running outside due to the random "fire works" that we get here.  When I feel comfortable running outside I stick to two "loops" that are next to my dorm.  One of the loops is .8mi and the second loop includes part of that loop and is 1.2 miles.

All in all I am happy with the setup I have here and it will suffice for the short time that I am here.

Trainer Setup

Living Quarters-
I have a room that I share with 4 other people.  I have 2 wall lockers to store my items in, but most of my workout stuff stays here at work in the hockey bag.  I use the comforter that my bike was wrapped in to block out the light and keep the bunk a little easier to sleep in.  It tends to get a little cold at night so I have an electric blanket that I usually turn on half way through the night.

I am still working on my degree while I am deployed.  I am enrolled in two online classes through Embry Riddle, Aviation Safety Program Management and Aircraft Accident Investigation.  Their courses are 9 weeks long and I have about 4 weeks left.  Once these two are completed I will have four more classes left until I finish my degree in Aeronautics through Embry Riddle. 

Week 1-
I started the trip across the pond on Tuesday evening from Ft Worth.  We were suppose to leave a few days earlier but the "2013 DFW Ice Storm" postponed the trip.  It took 68 hours from start to finish, with quite the layover in Kyrgyzstan.  Due to the travel I had a few off days, but was still happy with the amount of training I got in.  I was able to run in 3 different countries and felt pretty good the first few days at 4.8K feet.  The only effects of the elevation that I felt was when I would run around threshold, other than that everything was fine.

Training Totals-
Bike- ZERO
Run- 42 miles / 5h20m
Total- 5h20m / 415TSS
Training Off Days- 3

 A little Xmas Spirit in Kyrgyzstan
 Military Transport, looks great from here.....
Not so much from here.....Think twice before you complain about leg room again :)

Week 2-
After getting settled in here in Afghanistan I started to get into a good routine.  I was able to get the bike setup.  I was able to get away by doing my first ride in just bibs and an undershirt, but by the time I was done I was informed I needed to have PT gear on over my cycling gear.  Towards the end of the week I was unfortunate enough to experience my first "fireworks" show, not first hand but none the less fireworks went off.  I decided to skip my evening run and just went to bed.

Training Totals-
Bike- 83 miles / 4h37m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 50 miles / 6h7m
Total- 10h45m / 677TSS
Training Off Days- ZERO

View from my new "home", if only we could ride the roads in these great mountains.
Week 3-
A week that included Christmas, but honestly it just felt like another week.  A friend from the US Military Cycling Team came over from the other side of base and we enjoyed a 2 hour trainer ride on Christmas Eve.  There was suppose to be a 5K on Christmas day but it was moved to Saturday.  I was looking forward to running a 5K to see how I was coming along in terms of fitness.  Unfortunately it ended up not being a "real" 5K and it included eating 2 HOHO's during the run.  The course was a bow tie, run out one way, eat a HOHO, turn around run past the start down to the other end and eat another HOHO, then run back to the start to finish the 5K.  I still ended up running a decent time, 18:20, so wasn't to disappointed.  Hoping there is another 5K before I leave here that is just a normal race so I can see how my running is coming along.

Sunday we had the first snow of the winter and it brought a few inches.  And I missed a day of training due to "fireworks", no worries Week 4 has plenty of running on the schedule :)  I haven't started counting down the days yet, as I think it will just make the days drag on.  I am much just taking it day by day and trying to continue on with the training.  Luckily Slowtwitch has a training challenge going on right, 100 runs in 100 days, so that is keeping me motivated.  I am also looking at racing the Cowtown Half Marathon when I return so that is motivation as well.

Training Totals-
Bike- 81 miles / 4h30m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 33.5 miles / 4h57m
Total- 9h27m / 574 TSS
Training Off Days-1 (Due to "Fireworks")

 Not a bad view to wake up to in the morning
First Snow and of course a snowman was made, US Flag and all!
Trainer session with Trevor, and yes the deployment 'staches are in full swing

Week 4-

Well week 4 has come and gone and I got a little behind on the blog.  I had two big papers for school this week so in my "spare" time I was working on those and couldn't get to the blog.  Looking back at week 4 it was just another week here in Afghanistan.  Got in a decent amount of training and was happy with how the week went till Sunday night.  I got home and wasn't quite motivated to run.

I ended up getting dressed and heading outside and turned on the Garmin.  I had what I consider a complicated interval set, it is a set I see every 10-12 days on the schedule so I have the workout programmed in the watch.  It has so many "steps" it is broken into 2 different workouts on the Garmin, and for some reason only part 1 was on the Garmin.  I was frustrated with that and then thought I would just go ahead and run it and just do the intervals manually.  Then I got frustrated and started playing mind games with myself.

We are out here getting hit with "fireworks" periodically, and you start playing mind games with yourself.  Maybe it was a sign I didn't need to run? Screw I went inside and figured I would catch up on sleep and get ready for Week 5 which was going to include a big run week.  I go inside and go to get my iPhone out of my pants pocket and end up dropping it and cracking the screen.  Back to the mind games, now I am pissed because if I would have run I wouldn't have dropped the phone.  Uhhh......Just couldn't win on Sunday night.

Not quite to the point of counting down the days yet, but they are ticking away.  I am starting to feel pretty fit.  Getting pretty lean and both my wife and coach have commented about how "skinny" my face is getting and they were telling me I need to eat more.  So, that only means one thing, I still need to loose about 5 pounds till I am at race weight ;)

Training Totals-
Bike- 72 miles / 4h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 49 miles / 6h15m
Total- 10h14m / 639 TSS
Training Off Days- 1

Week 5-

Got a little behind on this, so figured I should get caught back up.  Work is still work, so nothing new on that front.  Just counting down the days till back to the good ol US of A and getting a good amount of training in.  I ended up missing two bike workouts this week, but was able to get all of my run sets in which has been the main focus. Other than that life is as good as it can be for being in the middle of Afghanistan.

Training Totals-
Bike- 18 miles / 1h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 75 miles / 9h33m
Total- 10h33m / 794 TSS
Training Off Days-0

Week 6-

Coming off of last weeks miles I was a bit tired.  I currently have Tuesdays off and use that to sleep in a bit.  I was excited for this week looking at the schedule knowing it would be another big week.  Last week 75 miles was an all time high for me in terms of mileage in a single week.  We have really been working my run since the lack of pool out here and ability to ride outside is non existent.  Surprisingly the numbers on the bike are not all that bad and I am happy with how those are holding up.  I am feeling really good running, considering I am at altitude.  I had a big mile repeat set this week and didn't hit the exact splits I wanted but still felt pretty strong.

I am looking forward to getting back to DFW and seeing where my fitness is.  I am targeting a half marathon, but that plan may get disrupted by a trip to Japan.  There is also the possibility of doing a 5K the day I get back, so we will see what happens.

Training Totals-
Bike- 66 miles / 3h40m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 80 miles / 10h11m
Total- 13h51m / 956 TSS
Training Off Days-0

 "Flying" the RWB Eagle all the way over in Afghanistan.
 Got the most out of this tire on the trainer.
 The full moon from behind the wire......
Week 7:

Seems like consistency is what people want out here and that is the one thing that we lack.  Everyday it is something new at work, no we aren't doing it that way anymore we are doing it this way.  Trying to get into a rhythm at work is next near to impossible because our fearless leader can't figure out which way is up and which way is down.  He can't remember how he wants things done so one day is one way and the next is another.  If I was just out here for a training camp, life wouldn't be all that bad, but that thing called work keeps getting in the way.

I had a pretty nice training area setup and this week leadership decided they needed an area all to themselves to "wind down" so no one is allowed in there anymore, besides leadership.  Mind you there are 2 working treadmills, an elliptical, spin bike, and a TV setup right infront of all of those machines.  I also had my bike setup here with a big fan.  It was great, right downstairs from work, nice and convenient.  Well throw all that out the window for roughly ~8 people to have a "wind down" area while 20+ others now have to go elsewhere.

That elsewhere includes 1 treadmill that only works up to 7mph and then the belt starts to slip under your feet.  The other place has 3 treadmills, 2 of which are broken, and that area is accessible to 400+ people.  Needless to say this week was a bit frustrating.  I was able to move my bike to a new location, but a treadmill does not exist here.  Luckily I am still able to ride without to much hassle.  Other than all of that the week wasn't too bad.  Got in a good amount of training and still feeling pretty good of where my fitness is.

Training Totals-
Bike- 54 miles / 3h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 53.8 miles / 6h41m
Total- 9h41m / 665 TSS
Training Off Days-1

The new "dungeon"
Week 8:

The time is getting short here and I am excited to be heading back home soon.  Just taking it one day at a time and focusing on the tasks at hand.  I am actually pretty happy with how this week went, we adjusted the schedule towards the end of the week due to some "free time" this weekend.  I actually was able to venture out off the normal loop as I found some other runners out for a long run on Sunday.  It broke up the monotony of running in circles, but honestly there were too many vehicles and puddles in the road due to the non stop rain the last 2 days.

I had a solid trainer set mid week and was happy with the last 10mins where I did 20secs out of saddle and then 40secs in the saddle, ended up with an average of 295 watts for those 10mins and the HR was nice and low.  Interested to see where the power is when I get back to the states.  This was by far this biggest week I have had out here and am really happy with how the body is holding up after these big running weeks.

Training Totals-
Bike- 91.5 miles / 5h5m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 83.8 miles / 10h35m
Total- 15h40m / 1050 TSS
Training Off Days-0

Week 9-

Well the final days have finally come to an end out here in Afghanistan.  We got pushed backed  a day which meant one more day in Afghanistan rather than in Qatar.  We ended up departing a day late and then were in Qatar for a few days.  We ended up getting pushed back another day while in Qatar which did delay our final arrival home.

The weather in Qatar was great, clear skies, a slight wind and temps from the mid 70’s to high 80’s.  Couldn’t complain for just spending some time in Afghanistan and finally leaving that place.  Qatar even had an outdoor pool, unfortunately I didn’t have my swim stuff, but luckily I was able to borrow some goggles and get a few laps in.

I was able to get some solid running in while in Qatar and really enjoyed running outside in normal clothes and not the Air Force issued PT gear.  The food was open 24/7 here so that made it nice as well.  I really had nothing to complain about in Qatar other than being in a 40 man open bay barracks which started to stink by day 2 out of 6.  Not having to do anything other than drink the 3 beer a day limit and run made for a nice few days of relaxation.

The trip back home was pretty long with a few short stops.  I had a middle seat between two bigger guys, so that made it hard to sleep and not all that enjoyable.   Once arriving back home it was two quick days of in-processing and then I departed for Japan.

Training Totals-
Swim- 1000m / 25mins
Bike- 18 miles / 1h0m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 69.7 miles / 8h43m
Total- 10h5m / 728 TSS
Training Off Days-2

Overall I would say the deployment wasn’t all that bad.  The random “fireworks” and the political BS from our “leaders” made times frustrating.  But overall it wasn’t bad for the training and I left feeling like I had gained some fitness and being close to altitude would benefit later on down the road.  Of all the times to be deployed throughout the year I would say the timing of this trip worked out perfectly

Total Training While Deployed-
Swim- 1000m / 25mins
Bike- 568 miles / 31h22m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 575 miles / 73h45m
Total- 105h30m / 7824 TSS

Total Training Days Off- 8
Total Deployment from door to door: 63 days

 Weekly Run Miles
 Training Breakdown
 PMC Chart
CTL Start= 85
CTL Finish= 112

Monday, December 23, 2013

Better Late than Never: Getting Hitched and Athlete of the Year

22 December-

Better late than never, so figured I should share some exciting news.  I got married on September 25th in Ft Worth, Texas in the local court house to the love of my life, Hila.  We will be having a small family ceremony in the fall of 2014 if all goes as planned with my departure from the Air Force and with her upcoming move from Japan.  Only time will tell where life will take us, but we are both excited for the journey ahead of us :)

 At the Court House after our ceremony.

 In Vegas post 70.3 World Champs

In other news, not as exciting, but pretty exciting, AF Sports just announced the 2012, yes 2012, Male and Female Athlete of the Year.  A good friend and former training partner of mine, Elissa Ballas was announced as the Female Athlete of the Year and I was selected as the Male Athlete of the Year.  I had slowly been climbing the ladder towards this award and still thought I wasn't quite there for 2012.  The selection board thought otherwise and I am humbled to be selected for this award.  I had previously been selected at the base level in 2009-2010 and in 2011 I was selected for Pacific Air Force.

I was notified about the award from Elissa, who I had just spoke with about 8 hours prior.  We were catching up on life and were both confused about some emails we received from AF Sports the week prior. Neither of us thought we were going to be selected for athlete of the year, but earlier that morning she was calling me to tell me the news.  I was pretty out of it and didn't know it was her at first and then when she said "Brad we both won Athlete of the Year", I realized who it was.  I am proud of the accomplishment, but even better is to be selected with a great friend and training partner as the female winner.

Here is the link to the page on AF Sports:

Back at Incirlik in 2010.  Elissa and the "guys"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IMFL- The Triple is Complete

2 Nov-

6 days ago I was struggling on the run at Austin 70.3, thinking to myself "how am I going to get IMFL".  I honestly didn't know, if I felt like crap 7 miles into a 70.3 run, how was I going to do with a marathon.  All I knew is only time would tell.  I came back to Ft Worth on Sunday night after the race.  I worked on Monday and then packed up and headed to Florida.  I didn't train at all on Monday or Tuesday (I drove the whole day).

I got to Florida with no incidents and arrived to the condo where I would stay for the week.  Shortly after getting their the "Animals" showed up (my coach Scott DeFilippis and his girlfriend Carrie Lester).  It was just the three of us at the condo till Friday, then Scotts family would arrive.  Wednesday morning we woke up and headed out for a short brick and then to the pool in the afternoon.  Thursday I put in a solid run set with some intensity and the legs started to loosen up and felt quite good.  Friday was the typical pre race day with an easy bike and easy run.  I was going to do a short ocean swim but the ocean was a bit crazy so just skipped it.

Friday afternoon Scotts family arrived; Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother in-law, and two nephews   Needless to say the condo got a little crowded, but a great family to hang out with.  They showed up and then started making dinner right away.  We had a great pasta dinner and then sat around and talked a bit before calling it a night.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early at 0350 and had my typical pre race morning meal.  Oatmeal, Banana, OSMO Pre Hydration, and then regular OSMO Active Hydration.  I then headed down to drop off special needs bags and setup up my bike.  I had brought my MTB with me since I had driven and it made it quite nice to be able to ride down race morning instead of walking.  I then left the MTB for John and Nick (AF Tri Teammates and good friends) to use during the race.

Now onto the race.........

Swim 2.4 miles (1:00:59)-

I am sure some of you have seen the pictures out there from the swim.  There is one that is photo shopped quite well and it makes the swim look a lot worse than it actually is.  I didn't think it was all that bad.  The start was something new WTC was trying, a "corral" start.  Except instead of it being a corral that feeds through the start line like running races it was a corral down the beach line.  With blocks for different expected swim times.  I started with the "60 minutes and under", but right next to the "60 minute to 70 minute" guys.  I made it through the waves pretty quickly and didn't get beat up by the waves or people.  I was really happy with how my swim went, considering the conditions and in comparison to how I swam at Austin I thought it was a bit better.

Bike 112 miles (4:38:06)-

I felt pretty good early on in the bike.  I knew I would have some ground to make up and quite a few people to pass so I slowly started working my way through the field.  Around mile 35 a small group of 5 formed and I rode legally with them for about 15 miles.  For those of you that have done IMFL, right before the rough section (I think it is around mile 50) I went to the front of the group and started to ride away from them.  From there till about mile 70 I rode solo, and at mile 70 caught a group of female pros.  I went to pass them and a few minutes later looked back and they were sitting legally behind me.

I hate having an influence on the women's race.  I rode at the front a bit longer then went to the back where one other guy was 7 meters off the back.  I sat 7 meters off the back for a few more miles and then went around them again.  Same thing, couldn't "drop" them.  It took till mile 80 to get rid of them, but then around mile 88 I caught 2 more girls.  Same thing, but by mile 95 I had "dropped" them. 

At the last out and back section I could see the "big" group that had formed behind me and was a little frustrated.  I believe that initial group of guys I had ridden with were all in that group and they ended up only pulling in less than 2 minutes behind me into T2.  A little frustrating but it is what it is, I was still feeling pretty good.

Run 26.2 miles (3:11:50)-

The first few miles of the run course are nice because there are a lot of fans.  Makes it hard to slow down and run under control, and I ran a 6:43 first mile and then got under control for the second mile and backed off to 7:11.  I was aiming to a 3:15 and thought the conditions were ideal.  In the first 2 miles, Tim Hola and eventual 2nd place female pro Ashely Clifford went storming by me.  I just watched them run away, impressive runs by both of them.  Around mile 3 I caught a Wattie Inc guy named Drew.  We ran together all the way till special needs.  It was great having someone that wanted to run the same pace and we had a great conversation the whole time.  Drew decided to stop and change shoes at special needs, I thought we were running well together so I waited for him.

We then started running again and about a half mile later he told me to go.  So off I went, and lone and behold another runner came up to me pretty quickly, Anton.  Anton was content with running 7:20 pace.  We ended up running together till about mile 20 when he told me he was going to speed up.  Nick and John had been out on the course giving me splits and I knew I had a pretty big cushion, at mile 10 it was 8mins.  Then the tracker crashed, but they did some visual recon and didn't see anyone close, so I knew I was in good shape.  I thought to myself and talked to Anton about it when he decided to push the pace and I decided to hold back.  I didn't need to push the pace, and he had a few guys breathing down his neck so he needed to.  I kept trying to hit 7:20 miles and felt like it was going well.

Around mile 23 a younger looking runner came up to me and was running pretty well but breathing really hard.  I asked him his age since he had compression socks on and he said "I don't speak English".  This frustrated me, I said some choice words to him.  25-29? 30-34? He first said he was 28, which worried me.  He then said he was 34, so I didn't know what to believe.  I had to run with him, I couldn't just let someone run away from me in the closing miles.  A guy on a bike rode by and I asked him if he had a cell phone.  Luckily he did, I asked him to check the guys number and find out what AG he was in.  He did in fact end up being 30-34, so I ended up letting him go.

I came around the final corner to Team RWB cheering like crazy and the FW crowd was there cheering as well.  It was a great feeling to come down the finish chute and know I was going to break 9 hours.  It was a crazy dream to even think I would break 9 at Florida, just 21 days after Kona and 6 days after Austin, but once again it was one of those days where the stars aligned.

Swim (2.4 miles)- 1:00:59 / 9th out of 102 in AG / 153rd out of 2,802 Amateurs

Bike (112 miles)- 4:38:06 / 1st out of 102 in AG / 4th out of 2,802 Amateurs
For the power gurus, Training Peaks file:

Run (26.2 miles)- 3:11:50 / 2nd out of 102 in AG / 15th out of 2,802 Amateurs

Total- 8:58:21 / 36th out of 2,891 Overall / 6th out of 2,802 Amateurs / 1st out of 102 in AG


It has been a crazy 3 weeks of racing.  I know there were some people out there doubting the decision I made to race these last 3 weeks.  I knew everything was going to be fine when my coach said from the beginning that "I know exactly what we will do", well I think he worked things out just fine and it all worked out. Now if you asked me to try and duplicate these 3 weeks of racing next year, I am not sure if it could go as well as it did.  Thanks for everyone that believed in me and supported me along this journey.

It has been one heck of a year, I did not think at the beginning of the year that I would be sitting here in November with a 70.3 Worlds and IM Kona Top 10 and then already have slots to 70.3 Worlds and Kona for next year.  It still hasn't set in, honestly I mean that, I was looking at races for next year and I didn't even have 70.3 Worlds on there till about half way through the planning phase.

I can't thank Scott and teamTBB online coaching enough for how much they have helped me.  It is a rough time for their team right now, and I am glad on Saturday I was able to go out their and show that they do amazing things by giving people hope and opportunity through sport.

Lastly, I can't thank my sponsors/supporters enough: FRS Healthy Energy, Honey Stinger, Kiwami, HED Cycling, Zoot, teamTBB, Fort Worth Cycling, Arundel Bike Products, Clever Training, ISM Saddles, and Team RWB for all of the support!

Here are some pictures from the race:

 The swim start

 Out early on during the bike
 Running out of T2

Coming down the finish

 Myself and Kelly, both members of Team RWB, won our age groups and qualified for Kona.

 25-29 Podium

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Austin 70.3=Mission Accomplished

27 Oct-

14 short days after Kona I entered the water at Decker Lake in Austin.  I showed up to the race with one goal and one goal only, that was to qualify for the 70.3 Worlds.  After just having a great race at Kona (read here) I was still riding the "fitness wave".  I hadn't done much training the week after Kona and then had a few short sessions the week of this race.  My legs were feeling pretty good, the mind was pretty "worn" out, and overall my body was "ok".  I have struggled in the past with what I call "post race depression", it normally hits after a great results or accomplishing a big goal for the year.  I experienced this very mildly after Vegas this year, but was able to bounce back quite quickly.

I have found the best way to deal with this is to surround myself with other athletes that are training.  I try and set my workouts up with others so that I am forced to go train.  It holds me accountable and doesn't give me an excuse to just lay in bed all day or just sit around and do nothing.  I know my body, and I know I should have been out training and just moving, not necessarily putting in a huge week or high intensity, but just out and about.  The morning after Kona I went out for a ride, a friend wanted to so I did it.  Felt fine, felt great, was great to be out on the Queen K on a beautiful Sunday morning.  Then I get back to TX and Barrett and Lauren were out of town and I didn't have anyone to train with in the middle of the day.  So I sat around for a week, did very little and tried to comprehend what had happened at Kona.  Still hasn't set in actually, but needless to say I found a few people to train with the 2nd week and things were fine.

I talk about this post race depression because I believe a lot of athletes deal with it.  It is not the typical depression that one would think of, I mean most of us have just accomplished our biggest goals when this happens, yet we go into a state of "confusion" and being lost.  I think I have found my way to work around it, and that is to ensure I have workouts set up with others.  It doesn't effect my day to day mood, it doesn't effect anything other that the lack of motivation to go train, but if I know someone else will be there I will show up.

Enough about all that craziness, lets get to the race, going to try and keep it short as I don't think it is all that interesting of a race.

Swim (1.2 miles)- 30:36

Our Age Group had 233 individuals in it, so instead of one wave they split into 2 waves.  I was in the second wave and had a decent start.  We hit traffic pretty early on and then it just kept getting more and more congested.  I tried to swim an inside line and avoid as many swimmers as possible, but if left me swimming alone.  I was fine with that and took the risk.  I was not happy with my swim time, but I ended up 6th in my Age Group, so was fine with that.  I had friends on the course telling me where I was as this day was all about placing and had nothing to do with time.  They told me I was out of the water in 5th (so they were close) and 3 minutes down, which was about right.

Bike (56 miles)- 2:13:30

Once on the bike I pretty much had to remain on the left side of the road due to the amount of athletes on the course.  I got into a good rhythm and just settled in.  It was a little sketchy on some parts of the course with riders everywhere, but I just remained patient and ensured I didn't take any risk.  I felt like I was riding pretty good and I was happy with where my power was.  I was told to hold back on the bike a little bit in an effort to save the legs a bit for the upcoming IMFL.  I passed Joe Thorne, the eventual age group winner around mile 35-40.  I had looked at the start list but he was not on it, I think he signed up late like me, because I was not on the start list that was posted online either.  I recognized the Durata Training Kit and asked him his name, he said Joe and I immediately knew it was him.  He ran a 2:43 marathon at Kona in 2011 (See here), and had just recently beat me in Vegas.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to put enough time into him in 20 miles so just kept pushing along at the same effort as before.  The roads cleared up around mile 45 and I had very little traffic to navigate around which was nice because between mile 45-50 gets really tight on the course.

I pulled into T2 and was feeling pretty good.  Just as I was getting my shoes on and starting to run out, Joe was racking his bike.  I knew there was no shot that I could run with him, even if I wasn't 2 weeks off of Kona and fully tapered.

Run (13.1 miles)- 1:28:23

I was surprised that Joe didn't come storming by me within the first 1/2 mile, that is what I expected.  Then came mile 1.5 and he came flying by.  I told him congrats and off he went to run 12 minutes faster than me.  Yes, he ran a 1:16 on a course that most would define as a tough run course.  I came around to start my second loop and got a split that 3rd was 5 minutes back.  Half way through the second lap I got another split that he was 3:30 back around mile 8.  Having this information during the race was really helpful as I was able to hold back a bit and not have to go too far into the hurt locker.  Don't let me fool you though, I was not doing great by any means from about mile 7 on.and was just trying to get through the day.  I ended up finishing 2:08 ahead of 3rd.

Swim (1.2 miles)- 30:36 / 6th out of 233 in AG /

Bike (56 miles)- 2:13:30 / 1st out of 233 (2nd Amateur) in AG /
For the power gurus:

Run (13.1 miles)- 1:28:23 / 10th out of 233 in AG /

Total- 4:16:36 / 33rd out of 2219 Overall / 7th out of 2,070 Amateurs / 2nd out of 233 in AG

Overall I was happy with how the day went, like I said I didn't come to Austin with a time goal in mind.  I came to get a 70.3 Worlds slot and that was accomplished so overall it was a good weekend.  It was great having all of the Team RWB Members out there flying the Eagle and volunteering.  It was also great to see so many familiar faces from Fort Worth out racing and volunteering.

Thanks again to everyone for all of the support.  These past few weeks have been amazing and it would not have been possible without all of the amazing support.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

 Pushing it on the bike

 Out on the run
Caroline Gaynor the "other" Co-Director for Team RWB Triathlon and myself at the RWB Dinner.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kona '13: 3rd Time's a Charm!

12 Oct-

If you missed the last blog it is the preview to Kona.  It can be found here:

This was my third year coming to the big island, and I believed that this was the year that I could make my biggest gains on this race.  It is a race like no other, not because the course is "tough", but because the environment is like no other.  I landed on the big island with some confidence after 70.3 World Champs and felt like I had more experience this year since it was my third year on the island.

I got in mid morning Saturday and quickly put my bike together to head out for a quick ride and run.  I headed out Sunday morning for a longish run and then just relaxed.  I had what I thought was allergies flare up on Thursday prior to leaving and they just kept getting worse.  I was constantly draining my nose of snot which then turned into mucus, which then people labeled me as "sick" and I just kept telling myself it was "allergies".

Monday was a good long ride out on the Queen-K and just cruised along at a very conversational pace.  Chris Avery, an AF Academy graduate was out on the island spectating the race and he joined me for the ride.  We had a great time out there just enjoying Hawaii and talking about triathlon and the Air Force.  I woke up Tuesday in the middle of the night with a sore throat and even more congestion.  At this point I realized I was "sick" and it wasn't allergies but I just kept telling myself I would get better.  I medicated with Nyquil, Dayquil, Sudafed for the next 3 days but still no luck, other than the sore throat was gone.

Moving on through the week I had an awesome opportunity to stop by the IM Expo stage on Wednesday and talk on stage for a few minutes about World Bicycle Relief.  They were attempting to raise 100 bikes in 30 minutes, so $13,400.  Specialized, SRAM, and IM Foundation were matching the first 10 bikes that were donated and then SRAM would continue to match the whole week of Kona.  In the 30 minutes the 100 bikes were met and it was an amazing event to be a part of.  Pro Triathlete Jordan Rapp does an Annual Charity Challenge, and this is the 5th year.  You can find out more about it here, and although it is already over you can keep an eye out for it next year or just go to the above link to contribute to WBR.

Wednesday night was the Slowtwitch Gathering and I had a great time there with friends and family.  They always have a great event with many giveaways and free beer and food, only problem no beer for me :( I actually didn't drink for the 5 weeks leading into the race.  It is the quickest way for me to get down to race weight, cutting alcohol out of the "diet".

Thursday we had the underpants run followed by a quick military athletes gathering at Lava Java.  Always great to get together with everyone as we have a great community of triathletes.  That evening was the Welcome Banquet where once again all of the military athletes sit together and enjoy the show.

Friday I had a few short workouts and then bike check in mid day.  Then that evening we did our potluck dinner, which is now an annual "event", we have decided next year we will have a give away ;)  My little sister is quite the swag monster and she decided to donate items accquired throughout the week to the "give away".

Saturday morning came bright and early with a 0400 wake up.  I guess I can start the actual "race report" now.

Swim (2.4 miles)- 1:01:40

Probably my favorite swim course of all time.  I love being able to see the bottom of the ocean the whole time.  I didn't see any photographers, turtles, or dolphins this year like years past, but still it is an amazing view for the swim.  I started right in the center, there was a big orange triangle buoy out there.  I swam out to it, went to grab on to it and lo and behold Hines Ward is out there next to it.  Talked to him for a few minutes and then with about 5 minutes to go I made my way around the buoy and about 3 rows back from the start "line".  The swim was pretty crazy like always but eventually things calmed down for a bit and then at the turnaround got a little crazy again.  The swim back was not bad, I swam on some feet, then some open water then back onto some feet.  I looked at the clock as I exited the water and was really happy with how I swam.  I wanted to swim 1:02, which would have been a minute faster than last year, so I was right on target.

T1- 3:13

Got into T1, got out of my Kiwami Amphibian quickly, which I wore over my Kiwami Konami.  I then had a helper assist with getting my new Castelli T1 Stealth top on over the Konami one piece.  It is quite a struggle when you are wet but we eventually got it on.  I then ran to my bike and out of transition I went.

Bike (112 miles)- 4:41:43

I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me on the bike as I come out of the water a bit behind my age group leaders.  I took it pretty easy the first 10 miles through town, then once on the Queen K, I put my head down and got to work.  I knew it was going to be a long day with the tailwind going out and the headwind on the way back so I rode pretty hard the first hour then backed off and tried to remind myself to save it for the head wind coming back.  The "packs" were not that bad the first part of the ride for me as I was constantly on the left passing people.

I encountered the first group right before making the left off the Queen-K and headed up towards Hawi.  I ended up getting swallowed up by them and just sat 7 meters off the back.  Once we got going up Hawi, I put my head down and passed a majority of those guys that were in the pack.  Special needs was a little hectic as the lady with my bag was distracted talking to someone and completely missed me so I had to come to a complete stop.  She ran to me and I got my bottle and headed down from Hawi.

On the way down I wasn't really passing people just kept the legs moving and once it started to flatten out, I ended up with 2 guys behind me and I sat up front pushing about 260 watts.  A few minutes later I looked back and a group of about 30 guys came right by me like it was a Sunday group ride.  I went to the back and once again sat 7 meters off the back.  This was at mile 67, at mile 77, Ken Glah joined the party and the group swallowed him up and out the back he came to join me.  We chatted for a bit and saw a ref standing on the side of the road with NO moto.  We looked at him in confusion and pointed at the group and he just gave us the UHHHHHHH..... "Sorry I can't doing anything."  Finally at mile 82, 2 motos showed up and started handing out penalties, then 3 miles later, side of the road ref showed up and started giving out penalties.  Shortly after that, the penalty booth came up and off went about 10 guys to serve their time.  At that point the "group" was shattered and I started passing guys again.  Then we hit a pretty solid head wind and I started passing a few more guys.  The last 20 miles were pretty lonely into town and I had very few people to pass or be passed by.

I came off the bike feeling really good and knowing that I had a really solid ride.

T2- 2:39

I made it quickly into the changing tent and then came the assistance of a volunteer to get my Castelli T1 Stealth top off.  It was a lot easier coming off then geting on, other than I forgot to unzip it a little bit and that caused it to get stuck for a few seconds.  I grabbed my gel flask and salt tabs and out onto the run I went.

Run (26.2 miles)- 3:14:26

As I started the run I ran past the timing clock and it read "5:49", and it sunk in that I was really having a great race and if I ran like I knew I could, I had a chance at sub 9.  I thought to myself about 2 years ago when I ran 3:11 and I knew I was in better shape.  I had to really try and throttle back the first few miles, but then just kept running how I felt.  Coach said just run by feel.  The first few miles were clicking off around 6:50's, then I got realistic and throttled back.  I hit my first "rough" patch up Palani.  I walked for about 30 seconds half way up and then hit the aid station at the top and walked again.  I felt better once out on the Queen-K, I had just seen Jason Patrick Lester going up Palani.  Last year he saw me about mile 22 and I was in rough shape then.  I remember what he told me about holding ice and remembered that it worked to cool me down.

From there on out I got mutliple cups of ice at each aid station, a few went down my back and a few pieces into my hands and mouth.  Around mile 13 I caught Natascha Badmann and started running with her for a bit.  She was pretty fast through the aid stations where I took more time and loaded up on calories and ice.

I had been wanting the military title pretty bad over the past 2 years.  Rob Hilton, a Marine had one the title the past 2 years and I knew it was going to be a tough battle this year.  Luckily as I was leaving the energy lab he was entering, we smacked hands through there and said good luck to each other.  I had seen everyone else on the course except him up to that point.

I had a few rough last miles, but once I could see the downhill on Palani the legs just opened up.  I ran hard down the hill made the left and kept my momentum up.  I saw my mom with about a mile to go and asked her to find a US Flag to cross with.  At this point I knew I had won the military division and I wanted to keep my tradition of crossing the Kona finish line with a US Flag going.  I was looking for a flag the last mile as I was running and did not see a single one.  I saw plenty of British and Aussie flags but no US.  I got to the finishing chute and my step dad had a US flag waiting for me, luckily a local shop had one hanging from their roof.  I took old glory and had a pretty emotional run down the finishing chute.

After seeing the results later in the day I missed out on 5th place in my Age Group by 5 seconds, I had no clue there was someone in my Age Group that close up the road.  Ali'i gets really crowded with fans and has a few curves to it, but like I told a few people I would rather finish 6th flying Old Glory across the line then finish 5th empty handed across the line.  I don't get called up on stage, I don't get an umeke for my Age Group, but I do get the honor of representing my country, the US Air Force, and Team Red, White, and Blue by crossing with Old Glory, and that means more to me than 5th place in my Age Group.

Swim (2.4 miles)- 1:01:40 / 34th out of 97 in AG /

Bike (112 miles)- 4:41:43 / 5th out of 97 in AG /
For the power gurus:

Run (26.2 miles)- 3:14:26 / 9th out of 97 in AG / Garmin got screwed up and lost file.  After talking with someone from Training Peaks it seems my watch had too much data on it and could not hold everything.

Total- 9:03:41 / 67th out of 2,134 Overall / 34th out of 2,049 Amateurs / 6th out of 97 in AG / 12th American / 6th American Amateur


People have asked what my clothing selection and nutrition was so here it is:

-2 Instant Packs of Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
-2 Bananas
-1 OSMO Pre Load Drink (300mg Sodium)
Pre Race-
-1 OSMO Active Hydration Drink
- Forgot to take a Gel
-1 OSMO Active Hydration Drink
-5 Hammer Fizz Tabs w/ water in A2 Speedfil bottle
-2 Insulated bottles filled with 1000 calories (started with one, one at special needs)
--4 scoops of Perpetum (first bottle Orange Vanilla / second bottle Cafe Late)
--2 Hammer Gels (Orange and then Cappuccino)
--4oz EFS Liquid Shot (Vanilla and then Kona Mocha)
--2 Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffles
-- 6-10 Honey Stinger Chews
-6 Hammer Salt Tabs
-2 6oz gel flask (1 at special needs)
--4oz Vanilla EFS Liquid Shot, 2oz Hammer Cappucino
-12 Hammer Salt Tabs
- 8-12 cups of coke
- 100? cups of ice
- 5-8 cups of water
- 1 handful of pretzels
 Post Race-
-1 IV bag :)

Gear Selection-
Swim- Kiwami Amphibian as outter layer and Kiwami Konami underneath
Watch- Garmin 910XT

Frame- 2008 Cervelo P3C
Gruppo- DuraAce 7800
Bike Computer- Garmin Edge 800
Cockpit- 3T
Bottle Cages- Arundel Mandible
Pedals- TimeiClic
Shoes- Specialized S-Works Road Shoes w/ no socks
Suit- Kiwami Konami One Piece w/ Castelli T1 Stealth Top
Helmet- Rudy Project Wing57
Glasses- Infite Hero Oakley Radar Paths

Suit- Kiwami Konami One Piece
Shoes- Ali'i 6.0's
Glasses- Infite Hero Oakely Jawbones
Watch- Garmin 910XT

Special thanks to my mom, step dad, and sister who made the trip out to Kona for the third year in a row.  Then everyone that could not attend but was following the race all day long, I can't thank you enough for all of the emails, text messages, FB messages over the past few days.  It is amazing the amount of support and people I have in my corner, and like I always say, I would not be here with out all of you!!

Lastly, I can't thank my sponsors/supporters enough: FRS Healthy Energy, Honey Stinger, Kiwami, HED Cycling, Zoot, teamTBB, Fort Worth Cycling, Arundel Bike Products, Clever Training, ISM Saddles, and Team RWB for all of the support! 

Some more photos from throughout the week:

 Out at the parade of nations on Tuesday
Clay Emge, the winner of our Age Group at the Slowtwitch party

Military Athlete Gathering on Thursday. 5 other guys were all under 10 hours!
Team AF! Scott, Hila, Sam, myself, and Randy

Best shaved ice ever!  O and photo bombing my little sisters face!

 Running down Ali'i
 At the finish area
 Up on stage getting our umeke's!
 My Rockstar Teammate Sam Morrison!  This is the first time the Air Force has swept female, male, and team for the military division.  We both also set the fastest times ever posted in the military division.  Sam also WON her Age Group, was the 3rd Overall Amateur Female!  Watch out for her, she will WIN an IM one day!!

 Out on the Queen-K Sunday after the race with Cam Loos.  Our buddy Eric was driving by and got this great shot.

If you made it all the way down to this point thanks for reading the whole thing.  Or thanks for skipping through it and looking at the pictures ;)