Monday, April 29, 2013

St Anthony's Race Report

28 April 2013-

Seemed like it was just the other day that I was in Florida.  3 weeks flew by really fast and next thing you know I am back in FL to race St Anthony;s Triathlon.  Part of the plan for this season was to race some of the biggest short course races in the nation and then finish off the year with some long course racing.  So race #2 on the tri schedule was St Anthony's.

I arrived into Tampa mid day Friday and my AF Tri Teammate and roomate from last year at Armed Forces, Mr. Boobs (Nick Chase) picked me up at the airport.  He is by far the best homestay I have had to date.  Took great care of me, kept me fed and had a great location within 2 miles of the race.  I was able to get a nice swim in on Friday and then build the bike up.  We had quite a few AF members and Team RWB members in town for the race so it made for a fun weekend.  Friday night myself, Nick, John, Ryan, Amanda, Nicholas, Heather and Hila all met up for dinner at an amazing place called California Ciccios.  It was AMAZING!

Saturday was the typical pre-race day.  Got up early went and got an easy spin and easy run in and then headed down to the transition area to drop off the bike.  I met up with a new sponsor, the guys from Clever Training, Matt and Andrew.  We had lunch at another great place Tryst, about 1/2 mile from the race expo.  Great lunch and great meeting!  I then headed back down to the expo area and met up with Dave from ISM Saddles and got educated on their saddles.  I have been riding ISM Saddles for over 4 years now and have always been extremely happy with them but wanted to know more so I can help other people when they ask about the great saddles.  After that I headed back to transition area and went out for a short swim.

Saturday night was another great dinner with Team RWB this time and some great people.  John, Nick, Hila were all there again and then my teammate from Kona, Jolene showed up and the Team RWB awesome Kona Sherpa Donna joined as well.  Some other Team RWB people were there as well and it made for a great night.  Thanks to Kelly Williamson for recognizing the eagle and stopping by to take a picture of our group (which is below) and for supporting Team RWB.  Her husband Derrick runs the Team RWB Tri camp down in Austin (which I still owe a blog about) and they are great people!

Then came race morning and another typical race morning.  Honey Stinger protein bar, can of FRS Healthy Energy and the typical bowl of Oatmeal and then a banana.  Seems to do the trick so I keep things consistent.  The rest of the morning was uneventful until we got to the swim start.

Swim- 10:42

Yeah that is a super quick swim for an Olympic distance race, I told everyone I was going to work on that swim and boom mission accomplished!  Well actually here is where the eventful part started.  The pro men and women went off and then the race director got on the PA system and started talking to everyone.  He informed us the swim was being cut short to 750m due to the choppy and rough conditions.  I was completely fine with this because 2304 pissed off triathletes is better than 2303 "happy" triathletes and 1 dead triathlete.  I am sure there were only a few hundred pissed off "swimmers" about it being cut short.  At first I was happy it was cut short, but more on why it may not have been the greatest thing later on.  So for safety reasons the swim was cut short for the amateurs but the transition run was extended from about 50m to 600m.  I had a decent swim in my opinion and lost 1:23 to the leader and only 46 seconds to Jake Rhyner, who had put 3 minutes into me at SoBe in 1500m 3 weeks ago.

Bike- 57:27

I got on the bike and knew I had some work to do as quite a few athletes were ahead of me.  I got into a groove and just keep pushing hard.  There was a few "groups" of athletes out ahead of me and I slowly started making my way up.  Around mile 15-18 I made a pass and moved up 13 spots.  That is how big the "group" was.  I will not comment on the "groups" because for the most part I didn't see any blatant drafting, however I was on the move the whole time and was never in a "group".  From what I heard by some other guys on the move they saw some pretty close wheels.

Overall I was happy with how the ride went and how the new "David Wenger" fit is working out.  I will write up a review off that whole process and some comparison data in the coming weeks.

Run- 36:27

I started the run in 3rd/4th with Nat Glackin.  He slowly pulled away from me and just kept increasing his lead over the run course.  Shortly after leaving transition area Randy Arriola went flying by me and ended up with an amazing 34 minute run and finished third.  I would then get passed by a few more guys and ended up finishing 8th.  I was not happy with how my run went, not sure exactly what happened but felt like I should have been down in the 35's, but you can't have great days everyday.

Total- 1:49:25

Overall I was happy with how the day went.  I went into the race wanting top 10 and would have been really happy with a top 5.  This is one of the biggest amateur races in the nation and draws one of the best fields for an early season race.  Being down in Florida to race twice this early in the season at top notch events was a great way to start the season.  I have never been able to race these type of quality fields this early in the season before, one of the reasons I am glad to be stationed back in the states!

Swim (750m) - 10:42 / 25th Elite Male / 55th Amateur 
T1- 4:01
Bike (40K) - 57:27 / 4th Elite Male / 4th Amateur (
T2- 0:49
Run (10K) - 36:27 / 12th Elite Male / 15th Amateur (
Total- 1:49:25 / 8th out of 54 Elite Male / 8th out of 2404 Amateurs

Lastly, I just want to once again say thank you to everyone for all of there support.  Also, a huge congrats to Jake Rhyner on leaving the amateur ranks of triathlon with 2 back to back wins in 2013 and I wish him all the best in the pro ranks.  A great athlete and humble dude, looking forward to racing against him again in the future.  Thanks to Clever Training for a great lunch and meeting on Saturday and too Dave from ISM for educating me on the product line and for some sweet socks.  Then of course FRS Healthy Energy, Honey Stinger, Kiwami, HED Cycling, Zoot, teamTBB, Fort Worth Cycling and Team RWB for all of the support!

Here are some pictures for everyone to enjoy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How I Qualified for my Pro Card & Why I Will Still Race as an AG'er

17 April 2013-

10 days ago I raced the Nautica South Beach Triathlon in Miami Florida.  I qualified for my pro card there and mentioned I would elaborate on why I will continue to race as an Age Grouper.  In my race report which can be found HERE I mentioned I would talk about why I am not going to turn pro.  Going to try and keep this short but it might end up being a little lengthy.

I got into triathlon in 2008 and did my own thing for the first 3 years.  I raced quite a bit but had no structured training or coaching.  December of 2010 I signed up for my first IRONMAN and got a coach and power meter.  Scott Defilippis has been coaching me since then and we have seen steady improvements over the last 2 seasons.  I moved back to the US at the end of September 2012 and was excited to be able to put together a solid schedule for 2013 in the US.  I sat down and put together a schedule with some of the bigger short course races in the US on the calendar and started prepping for the 2013 after a short break after Austin 70.3 last October.

I showed up to the start line in Miami feeling really good and that the winter training had went well, minus a few hiccups of illness and a little bit of travel.  I ended up finishing as the 2nd Amateur behind Jake Rhyner, which qualified me for my pro card.  USAT Pro Qualification Standards are listed HERE, and with South Beach having a $40,000 pro prize purse that meant I qualified under Criteria F.

Even though I qualified for my pro card I still feel I am not ready and below are the reasons why I am going to continue to race amateur.

(These are compared to Nautica South Beach)

- My Swim- I was 4:56 down on the lead pro swimmer and 3:00 down on the top amateur swimmer.  I have known from the beginning that the swim is my weakness and I have not fully committed to fixing that.  I have sought out instruction from some top swimmers and they think my swim stroke/technique is not bad, although we are adjusting a few things.  The biggest thing is I need to swim more, so that is an area of focus in the future and something that is being addressed.  I need to start swimming with fast people and swimming with a group, however with my work schedule it does not line up.  I am going to try and figure something out to make that work.

- My Bike- The one area I am not as concerned about.  I had the 8th fastest bike split at South Beach and was 4:25 down on the top bike split and 1:47 down on the 2nd place bike split.  For Olympic Distance I feel confident I can bike with the pros, but for HIM/IM I feel I am still quite a ways off and over time that gap will close.

- My Run- I was 4:52 down in terms of the top run split.  My run is progressing quite a bit and I am happy where it is headed, but 4:52 is a lot of time over 10K.  I PR'd the 10K run by over 30 seconds compared to past open 10K, so things are looking good here but still a lot of work to do.

- Overall- I lost to Jake, the top amateur by 5:41 and to the top pro by 12:49.  The USAT Criteria talks about 8% within the winning time at 3 events with over $5,000 in prize money to meet criteria A.  8% would be approximately 8mins30secs, so as you can see I am a little ways from that as well.

(Other reasons)

- The Pro Women / Amateurs- I have used the pro women's times as a gauge of knowing when I am getting in good race shape.  Kind of a crazy way to judge things, but usually when I am finishing right up with the top pro women I am finishing towards the top of the amateur ranks as well.  I know there is a decent amount of pro men that get chicked now and again but that is good indicator in my opinion that if it is consistently happening it is a good sign you should be staying in the amateur ranks.  Helle Fredericksen won the race and beat me by 2 minutes.  I also don't want to be the guy that is always getting beat by amateurs.  I think that is also a good sign that you are not ready to be a pro or that you should consider going back to the amateur ranks.

- Timing- I am still serving my country in the US Air Force on Active Duty and am committed to that for another 16 months.  I plan to apply to OTS in December and that is the main priority right now.  I would rather serve my country in the capacity of a leader and officer for the next 10 years rather than turn pro in triathlon.  However, if that falls through I plan to get out and pursue a masters degree and/or turn pro in triathlon.

- Listening to Mentors- I still feel like I am new to the sport and have a lot to learn.  I am surrounded by some amazing people and have some great mentors in the sport and outside of the sport.  I have spoken to all of them about the decision to turn pro and they all agree with my decision and think it is best to continue racing as an amateur and focus on the areas that need improvement.  All of them believe in me and know that I have the ability to turn pro, it is just a matter of time.

- The Big Picture- Obviously being a professional triathlete sounds like an amazing job looking in from the outside.  However, there is a lot that the outsiders do not understand.  The money is not great in the sport and that is not a reason to make the jump to the pro ranks.  It would take a lot of sacrifice for me to make this jump, but I believe following a dream and going for it is something that I would never regret.  When I decide to make the jump I want to go into it 100% and make it my focus.  I want to walk away from this journey one day knowing that I gave everything I had to being the best that I could and not questioning the decisions or ways I went about it.  I want go all in and see what can happen and where I can go with giving it everything I have.  Right now I am not ready to do that while holding down a full time job and full time student status.

Above are the main reasons on why I am making the decision to continue racing as an amateur.  I was talking with Jake when we were down at South Beach and we both agree that everyone turns pro for different reasons.  I have heard a few of those reasons from others such as: "Free" race entries, home stays, getting to start at the front of the race, the chance to compete for money, etc etc.  Everyone does it for their own reasons and I don't knock them for that.  When I make the jump, I want to do it because I am ready to compete at that level and want to be competitive not just another pro in the field.

I can't thank everyone enough that has continued to support me through this journey.  There have been some key people along the way that have helped pave this road.  There are some that have believed in me from the beginning and there are some that are probably in a little bit of shock that I have progressed the way I have.  The support that I have received this year has been amazing.  Special Thanks to: Honey Stinger, FRS, Ft Worth Cycling, Zoot Sports, HED Cycling, ISM Saddles, and Clever Training.  And as always my family and friends have been a huge part of this journey and their continued support is amazing.  I was talking with my Dad the other day after South Beach and asked him "Did you ever think you would have a son that could be a "professional" athlete? " He just laughed and said "I have told you and your brother from day 1 that you can do whatever you put your mind to."  So with that being said I have focused on triathlon and continued to work hard, so we will see how far that hard work and dedication can take me.

Going back to my "Post Race Kona Thoughts" from 2011 I mention not rushing things and looking at the pro thing come 2014.  Well things sped up a little bit in terms of results and here I am making the decision now.  But I would have to say that October of 2014 will probably be a good time frame to re evaluate this decision.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nautica South Beach Tri 2013

7 April 2013-

Finally the 2013 Tri season is here and getting started.  I was really looking forward to the start of the season as I had been getting in some pretty solid training and consistent workouts.  Due to some scheduling conflicts with work I had to make it a pretty short trip to the race.  Not ideal, but I figured it would be alright as my flights were not all that bad.

I flew out of DFW on Saturday morning around 6am, which meant a 3am wake up to make it to the airport on time.  I arrived into Miami around 10am and Nicholas Sterghos and his girlfriend and amazing sherpa Heather picked me up at the airport.  I had another friend from Clermont put me in contact with someone looking for someone to split a place with and next thing you know we have 2 bedroom penthouse suite.  I ended up staying with Jake Rhyner, who is that ended up beating me and then Sarah Haskins and her husband Nate.  Jake is coached by Nate so that is how all of that worked out.  Pretty crazy to be staying with a prior and hopefully future US Olympian, but the amazing thing about pro triathletes, they are always awesome people.  Sarah and Nate were awesome to hang out with!  Jake was cool as well and had previously been in the AF for a short while before getting out and his brother is currently in the AF, so small world to say the least.

Saturday was pretty low key.  Was able to get the bike together and headed out for a short spin with Nicholas and Heather and then a short run.  Picked up the race packet and then headed back to the place to relax.  Ended up ordering in some amazing pizza and then went out and grabbed some gelato.  Then just hung out and watched the college basketball game.

Race morning was a pretty early one with a 0430 wakeup.  I had the typical instant oatmeal, banana and then a Honey Stinger Protein Bar and washed it all down with an FRS concentrate shot.  Then headed down to transition area as all of the party people were headed back home at 530 in the morning.

Swim- 23:31

The water was pretty choppy and the water temp was "cold" enough to still be wetsuit legal for the amateurs.  I was racing in the Male "Elite" wave, so we were the third group off, 3 minutes behind the pro men and 2 minutes behind the pro women.  The first buoy was only 150-200m out and then you took a right turn and went from 14th Street all the way to 5th Street where T1/2 was.  I stayed with the group for about 50m and then we were all scattered out.  There was only about 30 people in the wave including the elite females as well.  I ended up swimming the long stretch side by side with another athlete but then lost contact with about 400m to go.  The run from the beach to T1 was quite long and they had the timing mat toward the entrance to transition, so the actual swim time was probably more around 23 flat, still not great but I wasn't worried about it.  I just knew I had my work cut out for me.

Bike- 56:19

I got on the bike and knew I had my work cut out for me.  Come to find out I was all the way back in 11th in our wave.  I just put my head down and started riding hard.  I kept the wattage a little lower in the tail wind sections and a little higher in the head wind section.  Over the Florida Hills (bridges) I went a little harder.  I slowly started picking off people and at one point I was able to take a split off of Jake and was 2min30secs down on him and he was the leader at the time.  I then started biking through the women's field and right before entering T2 passed Matty Reed who was having mechanical issues / tire problems on the side of the road.

Run- 36:14

I came off the bike and Lauren Goss and the 2nd place AG'er were about 400m up the run course on me.  I kept them in sight on most of the run and slowly started bringing them back as the run went on.  The run course was pretty congested with tourist and beach goers so at times it was hard to see how far up the path they were.  At the turn around they still had a pretty big gap on me but I had closed it a little bit.  I was starting to get worried that I wasn't going to catch them, but as we got around mile 4.5 they really started coming back.  A little after mile 5 I was about 50m back from the guy and then I started contemplating how I was going to make the pass or if I was just going to run on his heels or right beside him.  As i got a little closer I decided I would put in a hard surge and make sure I passed him strong hoping that would take any hope he had of going with me.  Well  I went by him and he didn't respond so I made sure I got a big enough gap and then backed down to the pace I had been running.  I passed Lauren in the process and tried to get her to run with so I would have someone to run the last portion hard with, but she didn't follow and in all honesty she didn't need to as she had 3rd place locked up.

Swim- 23:44 / 11th Elite Male / 44th OA (
T1- 1:57 / 15th Elite Male / 65th OA
Bike- 56:19 / 1st Amateur / Elite Male / 8th OA (
T2- 1:27 / 4th Elite Male / 25th OA
Run- 36:14 / 4th Elite Male / 22nd OA (
Total- 1:59:43 / 2nd Elite Male / 20th OA

Overall I was really happy with how the race went.  I knew Jake was going to be really tough to beat and it was going to take something going wrong for me to beat him.  I didn't know about anyone else but I had heard another athlete telling one of the pros he was there to qualify for his pro card, so figured he would be fast as well.  The race was an "Elite Qualifying" race under the USAT Elite/Pro qualification process as it had over $20K in prize money, so the top 3 amateur athletes qualified for their pro cards.  I planned out the race schedule this year with that in mind and almost all of the races meet that standard, which means it should be a big race with some top amateur athletes at the race.  I went into the race with that being a goal to finish in the top 3 and have the fastest amateur bike split, so I was happy to achieve those goals.  Although I qualified for my pro card I will not be turning pro anytime in the "near" future.  I will write up a blog about that in the coming days.

Thanks again to everyone for all of the support.  I am still in disbelief at how many companies have stepped up to support me this year and I am thankful for that.  I would not be able to race the schedule and amount of races this year without all of their help.  Every little bit helps and I am thankful for that.  A huge thanks to my coach for getting me in some great shape this early in the season and for believing in me and telling me a few days before the race that I might surprise myself and be one of the "big dogs" down there.  It was during a conversation when I was telling him about some of the other athletes that were going to be there and how I was pretty sure it was going to be a tough race.

Lastly, I just want to thank everyone that has been along for this journey and that has believed in me and supported me throughout.  Since arriving in Texas I have met some amazing people in the local community that have started following and supporting my racing.  It is really great to be the "new" guy in town and already have so many great friend and supporters.  Also a big thanks to Barrett for actually putting up with me and training with me a few times a week, makes those hard sessions quite enjoyable and it is always nice to beat up on each other at times during training.  Special thanks for the great company this weekend Sarah, Nate, Jake, Nicholas, and Heather!

                                  Myself and Sterghos before the race (Photo Courtesy of Heater Cox)
                                                                        The long run to T1
                                                                              Out on the bike
                                                                     Up the Florida Hills!
                                     Coming down the finishing chute (Photo Courtesy of Rich Cruse)

Jake, Nicholas, and myself.  Heather wanted to ensure that mine and Jakes heads didn't get cut off in the picture ;) (Photo Courtesy of Heather Cox)