Monday, February 25, 2013

Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race

16-17 February 2013- Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race (formally known as Mineral Wells Stage Race)

After coming off a big training week at camp it was a few "easy" days back in Texas and then off to a Stage Race for the weekend.  I was interested to see how the body was going to respond after the big week at camp and I quickly got my answer during the Crit.  The race was 3 stages, points based, and team based.  Unfortunately you had to have 3 people for the team category, and unfortunately we only had two.  The race schedule was a 60 minute crit in the AM and 7 mile TT mid day on Saturday and then a 72 mile road race on Sunday.

The Crit-

Since the main focus of this year is triathlon the cycling races are just serving as good solid hard training days on the bike.  Going into these races I know what courses are going to take a beating on me, and the crit course was going to definitely do just that.  Since I have not been training like a cyclist I have noticed all of my power for 2 minutes and under is suffering, but my endurance state efforts are doing alright, not as high as last year mid summer but still respectable.  I have basically lost my "snap" and "jump", or whatever little bit of that I had ;)

The crit was a 6 turn technical bumpy crit with a 1/2 block section that hit 10+%.  Not to mention it was right after a rough 90 degree turn.  I knew this was going to be tough for me but thought I would at least be able to hang on for dear life.  Well the whistle blew and I didn't get clipped in right away, and after messing with my pedal for 5 seconds I was already hanging onto the back of the pack.  About 10 minutes later I was off the back of the pack, and then 10 minutes later I was pulled from the race.  Of the 60 minute crit I lasted a whopping 20 minutes and started of the Stage Race with NEGATIVE 5 points.  If you made it past the half way you lost 1 point, and within 5 laps no points were lost.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: Pulled/DNF out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

The TT -

Now here is something that I felt comfortable with a 7 mile TT, but the problem was it wasn't flat.  No worries a few rolling hills and a little bit of wind.  I just put my head down and went hard, since I had some ground to make up from the crit, figured I had nothing to lose, other than my 30 minute run off the bike might hurt a little more than normal.  More on that crazy running stuff later on.

I put down what I considered a solid effort and felt good about the power output.  I wasn't all that happy with my placing, but according to some of the "local" Texas guys we had a stacked field of TT'ers.  I ended up 10th and made my way from dead last to 24th in the GC Standings.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: 10th out of 40 (
GC Standings after Stage 2: 24th out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

The RR-

I knew I had some ground to make up in the GC but wasn't really worried about my finishing position overall since I was pulled from the crit.  I also knew that I wouldn't be marked since I wasn't a threat to the GC finish so I figured getting into a break would be my best bet.  The race was pretty calm the first lap, other than one solo getting up the road.  The course was 3 laps and at the finish line on every lap there was bonus points for the first 3 across the line.  I was sitting up in the top 10 coming in for the first lap and a handful of guys sprinted for the points and the solo was up the road sitting up at this point.  We went through the feed zone a few hundred meters down the road and right as we brought back the guys that sprinted for the bonus points I attacked.  I got away from the group and had one guy with me.  I kept drilling it and once we caught the solo guy he didn't want to come with so I kept pushing it.  The other guy did not want to work at all, so I looked back and we had a chase group coming.  I set into tempo and then finally just sat up and waited for the chase group.  The chase group brought 6 guys, so we had a total of 8 guys and 48 miles to go.

I thought if we worked together well we might stand a chance as the break was well represented by the big teams with Garmin Devo Kids from Austin and DNA from Oklahoma having 3 guys total in the break.  There was a short climb on the backside of the loop about 10 miles from the finish, it was the "KOM" on the second lap.  Prior to getting to the hill we sorted out who was going for the bonus points and agreed to re group at the top.  Only 2 of the guys actually wanted the points so we just rode tempo up the hill and started pushing again at the top.

We stayed away for the whole second lap and a few of the guys sprinted for the bonus points at the finish line again.  With 24 miles to go we had about a 2 minute gap.  We were still working well together and kept pushing through.  5 miles from the "climb" the race referee told us we had 2'30".  Right before the climb he came back and said "You aren't going to believe this, you have 4 minutes".  So once again we just set tempo up the climb re grouped at the top and pushed on, minus one guy dropped off the back and we waited for a bit but he never re joined so we had to push on.

In our break was a friend of a friend who was looking for upgrade points.  I knew he needed them and he knew I would help him but we didn't talk much in the break, it was just an understanding I think.  Coming into the final stretch we were still away and there was a strong cross wind on the finishing stretch.  The whole race was a rolling enclosure convoy, which meant we had the whole road, which was amazing.  The lady that made that happen was Iris Stagner, who the race was named after.  She was recently killed in a cycling accident.  I can't thank her enough for how amazing it was to be able to have the whole road to race on.  Only thing was the finishing 1K was yellow line rule due to congestion of traffic in that area.  No big deal.  I was sitting first wheel at 1K to go, not ideal at all.  I figured people would start playing games but it didn't happen and next thing I know we were at 500m.  I had the friend of the friend on my wheel and that is when I put the hammer down.  I drilled it to the left side of the road, one bike length from the yellow line, leaving him room to catch a break from the cross wind.  We opened up about a car length of a gap and I dropped him off around 200m.  I tried to hop back on his wheel but he was in a full sprint and I couldn't hang on.  Off he went and 2 more guys came around and I was able to hold on to 4th place and he took the win by half a wheel.

The great thing about bike racing is strategy and team work and if need be you can help someone else win, preferably your teammate but not having one and knowing this guy needed the upgrade points it felt like the right thing to do, and being a friend of Andy Chocha and his buddy needing the points, figured it was the least I could do.

Category: Elite CAT2-
Results: 4th out of 40 (
GC Standings after Stage 2: 15th out of 41 (
Link to ride on Strava:

Overall it was a solid weekend of racing and got in some great training.  Now back to my comment about running off the bike after the TT.  I have a great relationship with my coach and although he doesn't not like me racing the bike, I like it and we make it work.  By that I mean I sometimes have to run after the race and I am never really rested for the race like most people "rest" before a bike race.  I then will normally get hammered with a big run set on Monday after the race as my "punishment", but honestly it is just our way of doing things.

Last year at the Tour de Korea I had the chance to talk to Brad Huff and Jeremy Powers a few times throughout the week.  I was talking to Brad about the differences in triathlon and cycling and how at that point I really didn't know what I wanted to focus on and I enjoyed both sports.  He looked at me and told me "If you really want to be good at one of them you are going to have to forget about the other one", those words stuck with me and at the end of last year I made the decision that Triathlon would be the focus.  That didn't mean I was going to drop bike racing though, it just meant it wasn't "THE" focus.  I still see bike racing beneficial to my training and I really enjoy it.  I have come to realize though that racing in the CAT2 field or P/1/2 field I will not see great results nor do I expect great results.  When I toe the start line of bike races now I am looking to A) help teammates succeed and B) Get a solid workout in with the best cyclist in the area.  It is hard to find great and talented riders to train with, especially in big groups, so lining up on a P/1/2 start line gives me that opportunity.

Overall it was a great weekend and a great race.  I can't thank the crew that put on the race enough, Andy and the whole crew did an amazing job.  Great race and venue and look forward to racing the race next year as well as all of their future events.

Below are some great photos from Lee McDaniel, A.Stevens, and Biff Stephens, thanks for the amazing photos!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

US Military Cycling Camp / Race for Humanity RR

2 - 9 February 2013-

Our team had cycling camp in Lutz, Florida for the second straight year.  Rather than coming from Korea this year I decided to drive from my new location of Fort Worth, Texas.  It took 16 hours, but luckily I stopped in Louisiana and picked up one of my teammates and a great mentor, Andy Chocha.  We arrived to Lutz late afternoon Saturday and the rest of the team wasn't coming to town till the following day.  Chocha headed out for a ride, since it was cycling camp and all, and I headed out for a long run.  Nice way to shake the legs out after a long drive.  After that we got settled into the hotel and tried to get some sleep as Sunday we were heading to the local San Antonio group ride.

The Elite Team Director Sean Coleman is a local to the area so we showed up for the second year to the San Antonio Group Ride.  It is a great group of local guys and a pretty fast ride. It was a solid 55 miles of some intense work.  A few of us got up the road and just hammered away from the group for the first 30 miles.  Then the last 25 was just a decent workout and that was that

Sunday afternoon everyone had arrived to camp and we had a quick meeting.  We then headed over to the local bar and got some dinner and watched the superbowl, other than that uneventful evening.

The next 5 days were pretty much all the same: Wake up, eat breakfast, go ride, eat dinner, team meeting, sleep, REPEAT X5.  Well other than Thursday we did an Eddy Mercx TT, which I did horrible in compared to last year, but I had ridden and ran a lot more up to that point then the previous year.  We also had various people come in and talk about products, coaching and training.  Bill Shook from American Classics came in, Geni Bean from FRS, Jeb Stewart and Roy Foley from EnduroFit and then the one and only AF Nutritionist Jim Weinstein.  Lots of good topics were covered by all of them and as a group everyone learned a lot.

Saturday was race day, which would be my first Pro / CAT1 / CAT2 race.  It was a 17 mile loop that we did 4 times.  I knew it was going to be tough, there were some short punchy "climbs" and since I hadn't been training like a cyclist I knew those were going to kill me.  I hung on through it all, but then came the last 3 short punchy "climbs", I say climbs because in FL if it gains any elevation it is a climb there ;)  I tried to hang on but the field exploded and off they went.  I ended up rolling in off the back with a few other guys and overall it was just a solid day of training.  I ended up 56th out of 90, so not horrible.  After the race a few of us decided to ride back to the hotel, which was great until it got dark on us and well yeah that made for a fun trip down the Sun Coast Trail.

And that was the brief details about camp.  In summary, it made me realize what life can be like training full time and not having anything else to worry about.  It is something to dream about and something that will keep me getting out of bed every morning, so one day that dream can become a reality.  Until then I will continue to serve my country, be a full time student, and train as much as I can.

Stats from camp:

8 Days of Camp, 35h43m, 656.5 total miles.

Bike (7 days): 628.4 miles / 30h43m / 1310 TSS / 19,579 Kj's. 

Run (5 days): 38.1 miles / 5hours / rTSS 356.
Combined CTL from 81 to 103 

Pictures from Camp and Race for Humanity:

 A bad wreck halted the field for 10 minutes so here we are relaxing, that is Chocha to my right.
 All of our Military riders got call ups to the front of the start line.
 The "Elite" Team, a few guys weren't at camp and this was basically all of our CAT 1/2 guys that were there.
 My office for the week.  Thanks ISM for the awesome Bar Tape!
 3 hours into a 5 hour ride downing a can of FRS, healthy FUEL!
 All about keeping the sponsors happy, but the stuff is damn good!
Working in our 4 man "break" with a chase group behind.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Juggling Life: Work, Training, and School

7 Feb 2013-

Last week I received a friend request via Facebook from a fellow Team RWB member and member of the US Air Force.  I have never met the guy but he messaged me and asked a question that I commonly get asked, " I am curious if you don't mind how you fit professional Tri racing and your service together?".  I thought about it for a bit and instead of typing up a single message I figured it would make a good blog topic.  I told him I would post it this week and here I am in sunny FL and have an hour or so to finish this up.

First off, to make things clear and I already told him this, I am not a "professional triathlete".  That is the carrot that I am chasing, more less a dream that is out there.  I think the word professional and triathlon can be quite confusing, when I think of professional I think of someone that does that profession and only that.  Unfortunately in the triathlon world that is not possible for all of the pros.  Many hold part time jobs and some even hold full time jobs.  There are very few pros out there that can get by on just doing triathlon.  When I get the chance to make the jump to that level I want to make sure I can go into it full blown and not have regrets in the back of my mind wondering what would of happened if I could of just trained and didn't have to work.  So if the opportunity comes for me to turn pro that is my thought on it, I want to give 100% to that dream and not have any questions or doubts.  Only time will tell if that all plays out.

Back to the original question, how do I do it?  Well first off it comes from a huge network of support.  If I was not surrounded by all of the great people in my life I would not be where I am today nor would I have the opportunities that I have or continue to have.  Right now I am down at cycling camp in Florida for 8 days.  I have a great chain of command at work that supports my passion for the sport and understands what I am doing brings a good image to the Air Force and US Military.  With that they want to support that and help me succeed in my "hobby".  I was brought up and told by my Dad that the worst someone can tell you is NO, so ask for everything and accept whatever they can give you.  That is how I approach work with the amount of time I want off to go race and attend training camp.  I lay out a schedule and I ask, with complete understanding that the MISSION comes first.  Going into it with that mindset they have always been really supportive, not just where I work today but at the last two duty stations as well.  I have also realized that the harder you work and the more you can do for your organization the more they are willing to do and the more they are willing to support you.

I will be out of the office at least once a month from June through October, anywhere from 4-8 days at a time.  Some of the time is my own vacation as where others will be "Permissive TDY", which means that I will not be charged leave, but I will be paying for the trip and races out of my own pocket.  Without the support of my chain of command the extent of this racing season would not be possible.

Then outside of work the amount of support that I receive is more than I would ever of expected as an amateur.  I reached out for sponsorship last year for the first time.  Honey Stinger had applications up on their website and I frequented the website quite often and put in an application.  The interesting thing was it said for "US athletes only", unfortunately I was stationed in Korea at the time.  It ended up working out because I had a US address and they were able to make it work.  Before that happened I sent them an email asking about the "US athletes only" portion and asked if they had military discount.  They said they did but it was not well known to military members, so I offered to help and spread the word about the discount through everyone that I knew.  Secondly, I helped join Team RWB and Honey Stinger in a partnership to support the veterans and members of Team RWB.  I only mention this because this is how I formed a relationship with the company, it was not all about asking for free stuff, it was asking and then being able to help them in ways that benefit their company.  It is not always about you as an athlete and them helping you, it is about what you can bring to the table and how you can help the company as well.

This year I took a more aggressive approach to the sponsorship side of things and had success with receiving support from the local bike shop in Fort Worth, Fort Worth Cycling and Fitness.  I also teamed up with FRS Healthy Performance and Kiwami Tri Suits.  I then reached out to ISM Saddles, HED Cycling, and Zoot.  Although they were not able to provide full sponsorship they are able to provide incredible discounts, which is huge in terms of the amount of money saved.  Without the support of these companies it would mean more money being spent out of my pocket which would limit the amount that I have to spend on traveling and racing.

The third and most important part to this whole equation is my family and friends.  I started this journey a little over 4 years ago.  I started all of this and I know they thought I was crazy.  I don't think there was anyone in our family that had done a marathon, well maybe my uncle that had done triathlon back in the day but I am not sure what the longest distance he had done was.  Anyways, endurance sports are not common in our family, I am the "weird" one that took up all of this craziness.  But the amount of support that I receive from my family is incredible.  Both of my parents and step parents have been at Kona the last 2 years, and whenever I am racing close to home it is a priority for them to be there.  They have been by my side and completely supported me throughout this journey and it has actually become a family thing.  I enjoy racing and making my parents proud.  At times it is hard to be around my dad when we meet new people because of how proud he is and how he likes to brag about my accomplishments in triathlon.  I don't really enjoy talking about it to complete strangers that don't know about the sport, but luckily he has a huge smile on his face every time and makes sure they know all about triathlon and how crazy I am.

Now back to the juggling part, well it becomes quite easy when you have the three above pieces on your side.  All you have to do is manage your time and get the "job" done, meaning all three things, Work, Training, and School.  Unfortunately it is in that order, Work is #1, Training #2, and School #3.  I am fortunate enough to have once again the support of work in the school section of this.  I am able to do class work while at work and once a week I get out of work early to attend class.  I am 7 classes away from my degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle, so I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I work from 1430 to 2300, so that allows me to get up in the morning get some training in and then get to work.  If need be I can come home and still get a bike or run in before heading to bed.  While at work I am sitting at a desk which provides plenty of recovery time as I am off my feet for the duration of the shift.

Life outside of work is quite simple, I train and I do a little bit of school work that I can not complete while at work.  That is about it, I don't have a wife or kids to attend to and no special someone living with me to take care of.  It makes the daily routine quite easy.

The training is "easy" in the sense that I have a coach that manages my plan, all I have to do is get out of bed, look at the plan and execute.  I have been with Scott for close to 2 years.  He understands the military life style and is great at adjusting my schedule when things get crazy at work.  This is one thing that I highly recommend for someone on a tight schedule wanting to get better at endurance sports.  Find a coach that can help you manage your time by laying out a schedule that is effective with the amount of time you have to contribute to the sport(s).

In the end it comes down to having a great support network, and I am fortunate enough to have that.  I couldn't ask for anything more, the amount of support I receive as an amateur is amazing.  The amount of friends that I have made along the way are amazing and they are truly a part of the whole support network.  It is amazing to be surrounded by such great and inspirational people.  With all of the support it really makes juggling life "easy".

Well this got a little long winded and I hope I covered and answered more or less what the person was wanting to know.  But if not feel free to send me a message and hopefully I can answer your questions.