Smoothie Bowl Recipe

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Smoothie:

1 cup frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, pineapple, papaya, blackberries, etc)
The bowl pictured is a mixture of blueberries, pineapple, and papaya
2 scoops of Hammer Whey Chocolate Protein
1 banana
Almond milk, just enough for desired consistency
1 spoonful of peanut butter (or use as a topping)
Blend and put in a big bowl

Toppings:

Pictured is hemp seed, cacao nibs, peanut butter, and coconut flakes. Others:
Granola
Fresh fruit
Crushed macadamia nuts or pecans
Chia seeds

To make these smoothies, I cut up two pineapples, a papaya, and mangos beforehand and freeze them. To keep the fruit from freezing into a solid clump, periodically break it up 3 times within the six hours after putting it in the freezer.

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Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

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This post is dedicated to Krista.

The week leading up to an event, my hypochondria tendencies become drastically intensified. I don’t touch door handles with my bare skin, if I hear someone coughing in the grocery store I’ll exit the area immediately, and I wash my hands every time after having human contact (meaning every time I venture outside the house). At the airport, traveling to a race, I wash my hands constantly, use hand sanitizer, and refuse to touch anything that I don’t have to. I’ll risk falling over on the DIA terminal train before even thinking about reaching out to steady myself with a railing. After the race is over, all of this changes. For example:

On the flight home from Oceanside, I put a chocolate bar (still wrapped) in my shoe to keep it off the ground after taking my shoes off on the plane. I took a piece out of the wrapper, still placed carefully in my shoe, every now and then. By the end of the flight I’d eaten the whole thing and threw out the wrapper. I went to put my shoe on when the plane landed and realized there was something loose in there. I shook out a loose piece of chocolate, which landed on the ground at my feet. I picked it up, and quickly contemplated the following:

  1. I distinctly remember standing in a puddle of urine in the airport bathroom, which my shoes had undoubtedly tracked into the plane and onto the very carpet that this chocolate had fallen;
  2. These were shoes that I had previously peed in during races. However, they had been retired some months ago and were now just my walking around shoes;
  3. I had a horrible blister on the ball of my left foot, which happened to be the shoe I’d put the chocolate bar in, and the festering blister, combined with general foot sweat, stank something fierce at this point;
  4. Chocolate tastes good.

I ate it after a two-second pause of contemplation. The build up to a race, especially the first of the year, takes a considerable mental stress toll, and getting everything right (or as much as you can) during that period is wearing. Once the race is over, a weight is lifted and being a normal(ish) person for a few days feels right.

Now onto the race.

The swim was the most chaotic I’ve experienced, which doesn’t say a lot since this was my 11th race (excluding two small local sprints). My level of inexperience constantly shows, as witnessed later in the bike leg, but back to the swim. The first 500 meters was just madness. I took a few blows to the head, gave out some of my own, swam over the backs of people, and had the same dished out to myself. At one point I had to stop for a second to put my goggles back on. Usually the madness like this only lasts for 200 meters. After 500 meters it let up and I found myself on the feet of a guy who seemed to be going hard at a pace I could follow, so I stayed on him for the rest of the swim. I came out in 26:46 and 28th out of the water, which, for me, was a decent time considering I was only a minute down on a big group and four minutes on the leader.

I went pretty hard for the first 12 miles of the bike, averaging 346, and found myself catching up to Justin Rossi, another ex-bike racer who I knew would be a good ally. He quickly bridged the gap to one more in front, Ronnie Shildknecht, and put in a very long, extended effort that almost dropped me. I struggled staying seven lengths back, constantly finding myself drifting back to 15 seconds behind the two. At one point I lost Shildknecht while eating. Focusing on maintaining that 7-8 bike length sweet spot was definitely a mental struggle throughout the bike for some reason.

Justin (with the two of us in tow) caught and passed more guys until there were about six of us, still just Justin working, by the time we came to the first of the hills. By this time I was finally feeling okay, and began taking some pulls. I was hesitant to go off on my own because I wanted Justin’s help on the flats and was worried that I’d get a lung cramp on the run if I dug too deep. I sat up a few times on the rollers throughout this middle section of the race to ensure that Justin, who had done a ton of work at this point, and the others weren’t dropped. I wondered at this point why my right hand was sore, and realized it was from smacking someone’s head during the swim.

By the last 20 miles it was just Justin, myself, and Shildknecht, who never took a single pull the entire time. Justin was rolling along pretty fast in the last 10 miles of the flat run in to T2, and I felt good about the progress we’d made until I looked at the results after the race. In hindsight, I wish I’d been less conservative on the bike and taken more pulls or as least attempted to go off on my own right as the hills started to bridge the gap to the main group up ahead, which at that point was only about two minutes.

Shildknecht came by Justin and I right as we entered T2, which felt like a big Fuck You, and it was. He took off on the run, fresh as a Swiss daisy from lack of working on the bike, and ran though most of the field to take 3rd. Justin and I exchanged a few disgruntled complaints running our bikes to the rack about that, then set to work on the most miserable part of triathlon. Peeing in your running shoes.

At least, that’s what I did, I won’t speak for Justin. After a quick pee, I got some trotting farts out of my gut. I was demo-ing a new Cuore of Switzerland race kit, which was super comfy and fast, but I’m not sure they’re going to want it back. With my intestines and bladder cleared out, I set to work. I kept my pace consistent and controlled throughout the whole run, never putting myself in the red until the last kilometer. At the turns I could see who was up the road in front of me, and knew that a big risky effort wouldn’t do much good. The gap was too big and most were only gaining time. I was also worried that if I dug super deep early on, I’d get a lung cramp or my hip would go out, two issues I dealt with in most of my races last year. Instead, I played it safe.

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Adelaide and Krista found a painted rock by the race course.

I picked off a few guys as they blew up, moving to 9th by the second lap. Adelaide and her friend Krista (and Maybellene) were out there cheering, which helped me remember to keep perfect Craig Curly form, or do my best impersonation. PS if you don’t know who Craig Curly is, then shame on you.

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I came in at 4:01 something with a 1:16:33 run, 9th place, and about a minute behind 8th, which was the final place that got paid. 2nd place isn’t the first loser, 9th is. Speaking of 2nd, Chris Leiferman took 2nd, which was a huge result considering the size and depth of the field. Let it be known that I knew Chris back before he was a big deal. It’s sort of like seeing a band before they blow up. “Yeah, I used to hang out with the Pearl Jam crew back in 84.” That sort of thing.

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Left to right: Shildknecht, Lionel Sanders, Chris.

Afterthoughts:

I wish I’d attempted a bigger effort on the bike to put myself within shooting range of the group up ahead. I had the 4th fastest bike, but it didn’t feel like my best effort. It was the first time I’ve really played it safe, and although 9th in this field was a good result, it left me wanting quite a bit. Next up is St. George. Thank you to my sponsors Cuore of Switzerland and Hammer for providing awesome support!

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Ingredients for an awesome smoothie bowl.

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Click here for the recipe.

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It was a long weekend of travel for some.

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Krista, Adelaide, and Kristen.

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Everything is Fucked

It’s just one of those days where you don’t wanna wake up. Everything is Fucked. Everybody sucks. Yes, I’m quoting Limp Bizkit’s, Break Stuff, which as lame as that is, seems appropriate. In fact, I have it on repeat right now as I write this. In my last post I wrote about wanting to keep more up to date on the news. Turns out that may have been a mistake, because when absolutely 100% of the news you read is totally fucked, it starts to get to you. No matter what source I turn to (Mother Jones, Wired, Economist, Slate, NYT, ProPublica, CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, or even Fox News), it all paints a disgusting picture of American greed, lies, and contented ignorance. What happened to us that we let made this happen?

Some much more disturbing reading I’ve done brings me to realize that nothing has changed over the decades or centuries, but that we’ve always been this way: destructive, uncaring, small-minded, and short-sighted. Even tens of thousands of years ago.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert is a deeply troubling, nightmarish novel that kept me awake at night for two weeks as I slowly and cringingly made my way through it. And by novel I mean non-fiction. Over the course of five or six years, the author followed various groups of scientists as they investigated dwindling numbers of frogs, bats, insects, coral reef, forests, etc. The gist of it is that we’re sending huge numbers of species into extinction every year through deforestation, climate change, overpopulation, introduction of invasive species, overfishing, and other human-caused problems. But we haven’t even glimpsed the devastation to come.

By the end of my life, assuming I don’t prematurely get run over by a car on my bike next week, I will witness the extinction of elephants and most other large land animals, all large cats, almost all amphibians, coral reef and god know’s the number of aquatic life that depends on them, huge numbers of the bird population, and untold quantities of insect and plant life. The total populations for a lot of these animals are currently at a fraction of what they were just 25, or even 10, short years ago.

75 percent of all current species will be extinct in a little over 150 years, if not sooner. But cheer up! Some of the larger animals’ existence will be “saved” by zoos, while the DNA of others will be kept in lab freezers across the globe for that nonexistent time when we are able to fix the world.

By the end of this century, climate change will also wreak havoc on humankind as well, and I find it hard to believe that society will continue to exist as we know it. Sea level rise of up to two meters is predicted by 2100, the acidification of the oceans will wipe out most sea life, crops will fail from drought, forest fires and tropical storms will worsen. War, disease, forced relocation, and famine will wipe out hundreds of millions of people and today’s chaos of the Trump administration will, in comparison, seem like a time of easy peace and prosperity. 

I have little hope that things will change, for one because of America’s ignorance and shortsightedness (not to mention Europe’s), as seen in this past election. We have to take action now, and we’re not doing that. We’re taking measures to make things even worse. More so, I think it would be against our human nature to change for the good. Ever since humans have existed, we have invaded other lands and, in so doing, wiped out other hominoid species and most large megafauna. Mammoths, giant armadillos, moas, aurochs, megatheriums, smilodons, giant beavers, giant rabbits, giant elk, woolly rhinos, and hundreds more large to small animals were wiped out by tiny, pitiful numbers of humans. We’re only talking about tens of thousands of Homo Sapiens in an entire continent wiping out animals 50 times their size over the span of a few thousand years. These people were living as “green” as you possibly could. Virtually no carbon emissions, no agriculture, no pollution, no hunting to excess by wasting meat. But even their seemingly small presence and the slow process of each clan taking a few big animals a year was enough to force most of the earth’s large animals into extinction over a relatively short time frame.

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All the cool animals are dead. Stupid cave men.

So what hope do we have now, with soon to be eight billion people crowding the world, all farming, polluting waterways, driving cars, dumping plastic in the ocean, eating meat, using coal-powered electronics and HVAC systems, flying to bike races, etc? In the last 50,000 years, humans have caused extinction rates to rise, aside from other mass extinction periods, to unnatural levels. In the past few hundred years, that rate has multiplied by hundreds of times. Now, species are going extinct 1,000 times faster than they should. That extinction rate will continue to increase to 10,000 times faster than normal in the coming years. There have only been five other mass extinctions since multi-cellular life formed on earth 600 million years ago, so this is rare, to put it lightly. Assuming that humans wipe themselves out in the next thousand years, it will then take millions of years for the planet to heal from the greenhouse effect if carbon dioxide levels come anywhere near the worst mass extinction of the end Permian, and tens of millions more for life to fully return. 

Apparently 70 percent of Americans have never talked to their friends or family about climate change. This doesn’t make sense to me, because one would assume that the 50 percent of Americans that doesn’t believe* in anthropomorphic climate change would discuss it with their fellow bible thumpers, arguing why they believe it’s a hoax or a conspiracy theory perpetuated by Google and Apple.

*I hate the word “belief” when discussing science. If you’re not a scientist you should have no belief or opinion on the matter other than what you’re told by the scientific consensus, if there is one. Why? Because the general public does not participate in research. The general public doesn’t even have an understanding of what science is or how it’s done.

Even if we were to somehow get everyone on board with the fact that climate change is the single greatest threat to our existence, and we began making drastic changes immediately, most animals would go extinct over the next few hundred years anyways. Maybe not 75 percent, but given that so many animals were wiped out by tiny bands of hunter gatherers, there is virtually no hope that a planet full of billions of us can have less or equal impact as them. But maybe we can work to make the wold at least habitable for most animals, as well as ourselves.

This would require a monumental shift in power away from industry and to the people/environment. Our carbon emissions would have to be cut to a fraction of what they are, we’d have to stop eating animal products or at least create them from yeast or other less environmentally taxing sources, and we’d have to stop reproducing at the rate we’ve been going at. Population control in China was seen as a horrible human rights violation by some, but it worked (though many aspects of it were certainly horrible). Some animals have a way of keeping their population in check so that their resources don’t become depleted. Humans apparently do not have this ability. We consume until everything is depleted, then move on.

None of these environmental issues can be tackled without first addressing and fixing income and other inequalities among races, genders, religions, and nations. People in this country will not agree to fix something they can barely comprehend when they can’t afford healthcare or college, and don’t have a chance at a decent future. Poor people in Africa or the Middle East will never care about animals in a rainforest they’ve never been to when they don’t have clean drinking water or are living in a refugee camp. We will never work together when the majority of the world’s wealth is held by a handful of old white men.

Disaster pulls people together. The most recent example in my mind was the huge success of Women’s Marches world-wide. I have to say that partaking in the Denver march was the first time I’ve viewed humanity in a good light for some time. But will the neccessary social and political changes happen before it’s too late? I truly doubt it.

However, futility should never be an excuse for not trying. The Polynesians wouldn’t have been populated by insane people on balsa would rafts from South America with that kind of rational defeatist thinking. Giving up before trying to address climate change, the environment, and inequality would be selfish.

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“I have a good idea. Let’s leave this perfectly good, safe tropical beach, hop on a raft, and head randomly out into the ocean with zero control of where we’re going! What have we got to lose?”

The end.

PS I have been reading Fox News, and I could see how if you only read (or even worse, watched it), you’d have absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on.

PPS I did not write this with the intention of offending anyone, even though I’m sure it is not what many of you would like to hear. This topic is important enough that it needs to be discussed by everyone, regardless of personal political opinion. Because unlike politics, the facts about climate change and the destruction of the natural world should no longer be debatable. There is only time for action, not thought. Wait, that doesn’t sound right…you know what I mean. And my next blog post will be about something positive!

Rage for Change

Over the years I’ve come to believe that anger is one of the most crucial emotions to harness for energy. It has helped drive my will to train in the snow, rain, and shitty conditions that would have turned me back if everything in life had been just fine and dandy back at home on the dry, warm couch. Getting comfortable is dangerous. While you sit on the couch, others are out there murdering themselves in the cold to get that extra few percentages on their FTP. Come spring, they’re going to fuck you over.

During the Bush administration, eight years of varying levels of personal furry, I read massive quantities of news. I vowed to never own a car (climate change and the Iraq war). Even after college I lived an incredibly utilitarian life in order to do more than my fair share in conservation. I did these things, in part, out of anger and frustration with the US and the way our country raped the world and its people of resources. When that era came to an end, I got too comfortable. I certainly didn’t agree with everything the Obama administration did, but it contrast to the previous president, it was pretty damn nice.

I stopped following the news as vigorously, got a vehicle two years ago (only because Adelaide got hit by one), and own way more possessions than can fit in two large duffle bags. Part of that is growing up and settling down I guess. But if I really think about it, I feel like I’ve settled in other ways as well. I let the fire go out. Sure, my temper is worse than ever when it comes to confrontations with drivers, but I just realized a few days ago that I haven’t felt truly ashamed to be an American in years. One should always feel some shame in their country, otherwise there’s no need for growth. And there is always need for growth.

Sometimes it takes a certain amount of rage to light that fire again. I don’t know what I’m going to do to help make this country and world a less shitty place, but I guess I should start by improving on what I’m already doing. I want to continue getting more involved with Boulder school district’s BLAST program, for starters. BLAST goes into elementary and middle schools in the district to teach kids bike safety and riding skills. I started volunteering with them a month ago and need to continue, for my own riding sanity in particular. Every time I get buzzed by some fuck hole in a pickup it calms me (a tiny bit at least) to think that maybe in the future there will be one or two less people like that because I encouraged them to ride a bike as a kid. Adelaide and I, though mainly Adelaide, are pursuing bike advocacy in other ways as well.

We do a lot of the small stuff like recycle, compost, stay away from plastic bags, do 80% of our errands and commutes by bike, and live in an energy-efficient 700 square foot apartment. There is room for improvement though. There’s always room for improvement. I make an effort environmentally but I don’t know if I’m doing enough, or anything, to create the social change I want to see take place. Sometimes I try to trick myself into believing that as an elite athlete I have a positive impact on other people by helping them live a more healthy, and therefore happier, lifestyle. I don’t think I have a big enough following for that to be as true as I hope. Sometimes I like to think that my ranting blogs will help create change as well. Most likely not.

Like I said earlier, I’m not sure what my next steps will be politically or socially, but I need to find some productive outlet for the immense amount of anger and frustration that I’m bound to have during this republican senate, republican house, and psycho presidency. For starters, I need to really follow the news again, because somewhere deep down I feel responsible for letting this catastrophe take place. Maybe I could have done my tiny part to help it from happening. I just wasn’t self-informed enough to see it coming. Did any of us realize just how racist and hateful our country is? I didn’t, and that was a fatal mistake.

I’ll leave you with the wise words if Katy Perry, “After a hurricane comes a rainbow. Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed. So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.”

Whoa…….Blows my mind every fuckin’ time.

2016 Season Review

I came into the year with expectations that, deep down, I knew I could not meet. I think I wrote down that my goals for the season were to 1) to not get injured, 2) to win a race, and 3) to get on the podium. I did not accomplish any of those goals. Not by a long shot. However, if I’d written “have a good learning experience!” like every glass-half-full newby pro, I’d have had to slap myself in the face. I’ve yet to meet a major goal in sports, so the day it comes, it will be all the sweeter. If it doesn’t come, well then I guess I’ll be bitter.

Training started much later than ever this season. At the end of 2015 I took a full month off after Los Cabos (and a month before actually). After that I took an additional two months training very, very easily. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s early that fall, I wanted to make sure that my thyroid medication had time to take hold before I dug deep. That huge quarter year of rest took me to the end of January, when I was lucky enough to be partake in a trip down to the Tucson Cycling House for a five day block of big rides in the sun. I got back and immediately began training with Michael Lovato and his group of triathletes, including Adelaide. We both benefited greatly from having someone to wake up with at 5:30 for morning masters workouts, wolfing down second breakfast, kitting up for rides afterwards, and getting to bed early so we could do it all over again the next day. Somewhere in there was work. For the time being, we’re both lucky to be able to work part time, otherwise this training load lifestyle would not be at all sustainable.

It took a while to get used to those early mornings and the all too common three-a-day workouts, but I could tell it was paying off a few months in. Unfortunately I got sick forever in March/April and missed my first planned race in Texas. Then I injured my back from swimming and missed another race in Utah. Despite seeing some decent swim and run gains, I was not off to the stellar start I was hoping for by May.

I won a few local sprint races and a bike race in mid May and early June, before completely flopping at my first half-distance pro race of the year, Boulder 70.3. Last year I was 9th without nearly as much training, so I was confident that I’d be able to pull off a top five this year. Ha. The field was super stacked, and on top of that I wasn’t able to run faster than a jog due to the first of the year’s crippling lung cramps, a feeling I’ll describe as hyperventilation, constriction by a 30-foot boa, and being repeatedly stabbed in the chest with a jagged spoon shank in the prison cafeteria.

That takes us to late June, where I came in 6th at Coeur d’Alene and earned my first paycheck in triathlon (still haven’t received it though). Any profit I came away with was spent on physical therapy for the hip injury that resulted from that race. The hip was my second injury of the year and took over two months to heal, causing me to miss two more races. I rode and swam throughout the summer, and even did some easy running in the later weeks, but the lack of competition got to me by late August and I had a few moments of lost passion.

Thankfully Santa Cruz was just around the bend and my hip made the last of its recovery in the week leading up to the race. I came in 10th in another stacked field, out of the money but the best I could realistically hope for. I had a solid swim and an even better run, and the race left me with confidence leading into Cozumel, which was three weeks later.

 

I sucked at Cozumel. I had a bad swim, my glutes cramped on the bike, and I had to jog the first seven miles of the run. My last hope of the year was Los Cabos, four weeks after.

Going into detail about Los Cabos isn’t necessary since I just wrote about it. I had a good swim, great bike, and horrible run due to the dreaded lung cramp.

Training with Michael has been better than I could have expected. I thoroughly enjoyed his humor and the energy that he brings to every workout. It rubs off on the rest of us, and at 6am it’s a necessity. Another thing that I didn’t expect was the intensity of the workouts and the lack of recovery days/weeks. It was game on from day one to day 287. During that time period (just over nine months), and including all those sick and injured weeks, I averaged 19.2 hours a week (788 hours). The entire year will be 900 counting all the easy months last winter before I officially started training. This apparently isn’t very much for a triathlete because 1) I only spent nine and a half months training instead of 11, and 2) I skipped or shortened multiple workouts pretty much every single week this year due to physical or mental fatigue. It will take time to build the stamina needed to do 25+ hour weeks, week after week with only race weeks in between as “rest” to break them up. I wouldn’t have thought that this quantity and intensity of training would be beneficial, but the proof is there if you look at the huge progress I made and the quality of Michael’s other athletes.

Triathlon is all about having the patience and mental fortitude to put in the time, and to make that time high quality by achieving pain…without overdoing it and cooking yourself for the next training session. I struggled with that balance, as well as adapting to the new strains caused by running and swimming. One hour on the bike does not equal one hour in the pool or one hour slamming the pavement with your feet, especially if your body is not accustomed to anything but hunching over a set of handlebars. I was not very consistent this year, in racing or in training, and I was constantly plagued with injuries, which killed my morale at times. I’ve finally come to realize that next year I need to focus on stretching, a lot of gym work, and regular massage or at least foam rolling.

I guess this year was about learning. Damn it.

Something I like about triathlon is its simplicity. It’s a sport for dumb missiles. Compared to bike racing there is almost no strategy, there’s no teamwork, there is no conniving within a peloton, and there is no peloton to hide within. If you do well or if you do poorly, there’s only yourself to blame or congratulate. The same cannot quite be said for the training involved, and for that I have my coach Michael, Adelaide, Chris, and all my other training partners to thank. Thank you for helping me permanently deform my toenails.

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Los Cabos 70.3 Race Report

The oversize luggage corner of the airport is a place of sweaty-palmed dread. It’s the last crucial piece of the travel-day puzzle…like an outside border piece. Without it, the whole thing is wobbly and you spend your whole time trying to find that last border piece while everything else gets ignored (we do a lot of puzzles). Once you get to your flight destination, even if it’s not the city you race in, and you have all your luggage and your bike in hand, things can go wrong without panic setting in. Forgetting the name of your car rental company, getting lost on an unknown interstate at midnight and driving the wrong direction for an hour, and other shit like that is aggravating, but you still have control of the situation. When your bike doesn’t show up in the oversize luggage area, you have no control. And for the second race in the last four weeks, my bike didn’t show up.

During the stress of the missing bikes (Adelaide’s didn’t show up either) my worries about all the other nagging aches and pains I had magically developed in the previous six days were forgotten, such as my injured hip, sore shins, aching ankle, fucked up back, and bloody stool. All quickly forgotten in lieu of the bikes.

Luckily they showed up the night before the race, my back and ankle ended up being fine, and a little bloody shit never hurt anyone. It was the hip that got me in the end.

Swim (15th out of the water at 28:54)

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This was the first time I haven’t been dropped in the swim. The front few groups may have gotten away from me, but it was them going faster, not me going slower.Or so I like to tell myself. Mid way into the swim I’d even let myself half believe that I was in the lead group since during my three total sightings (I don’t like looking up) I couldn’t see anyone up ahead of our group. I swam a fine 28:54 (six minutes faster than last year) and came out of the water in 15th place, just 3:30 down on the lead group.

Bike (race best 2:09:23)

I thought I had been super crafty by not pre-clipping in my shoes before the race started due to the steep hill the course started out on. My plan went perfectly as I cruised by others in the first hundred meters as they struggled to get their feet in their shoes. But then something didn’t feel right. “Man, I’m fat,” I thought to myself. “This number belt sure got tight.” I tried loosening it only to find that it was already pretty lose. I thought maybe my shorts were just snugger than I remembered, then I realized that I’d forgotten to take my swim skin off. I’d gotten it down to my waist during the transition run but hadn’t followed through due to my excitement about my secret aforementioned plan to save six seconds. I pulled to the side of the road, stripped the swim skin off, and threw it to some volunteer kids and yelled my race number, “Dieciséis! Dieciséis Gracias!!! with little hope that I’d ever see the swim skin, which I’d borrowed from Kenney, ever again.

I rode the first hour of the bike solo, averaging 332 watts down to Cabo San Lucas, up the hill, and back down the hill, before catching the first cohesive group of riders that I’d come across, which included fifth through ninth place. I sat in for a few minutes, telling myself that there was no reason to take even one single measly pull, that I’d made a huge effort to get up to them by myself, that I’d already used plenty of matches, and that half of them were much better runners than I and all I really cared about was getting at least 8th place and in the money and it was their responsibility to pull since they were the established guys with something on the line. I took a pull about five minutes later. I was content to sit in after that, because I finally realized my legs were fried.

First to go from that group was Gonzalez, then Hadley, and then finally Paul Ambrose a long while later, who had been doing a lot of the work with Cody Beals. Those two quietly did all the work, with no complaining, shouting, or threats like in a bike race. Strange. And I felt lazy. Even stranger.

We went through town, did a U turn, went up another highway grade climb for a few miles, then flipped it back into town. By then it was just myself, Beals, and Cunningham. There were just four guys up the road since the lead swim group’s fifth man, Andy Potts, had broken a chain 15 miles earlier. Drew Scott, Matt Charbot, Maricio Mendez-Cruz, and Allan Carillo had just a 1:40 lead on us thanks to all the hard work done by Beals and Ambrose. I ended up with the fastest bike split of they day by almost a minute, which was a tiny consolation for not finishing the run.

Run (first to quit!)

I took the lead out of T2 for some ridiculous reason at 5:45 pace in the 90 degree heat. My legs felt good and for a fleeting moment my lungs felt okay too. Then all of a sudden they didn’t and the feared chest cramp came swooping in to fuck everything up. I’m really looking forward to the day when I get this issue fixed, because 90% of my runs off the bike begin with a debilitating lung cramp that lasts anywhere from two to 13.1 miles, and it doesn’t matter how slow or fast I start out. Beals came around me a few minutes into the run, then Richie Cunningham came around by mile one. I put my hands up on top of my head and slowed things way down for the next five or six minutes, willing the lung tightness away with mind power alone…and fingers fiercely digging up into my chest cavity. By mile two the cramp was just about gone and I began picking the pace back up. I had about five minutes of okay running before the next, and unsolvable, problem came about: my hip. For those who don’t remember, I raced Coeur d’Alene with an injured TFL. Before the race it was just a nagging pain. After the race it was so bad that I was on crutches for the rest of the day and the next morning, couldn’t run for six weeks, and it didn’t fully stop hurting for two and a half months.

That was my right hip. Strangely, the issue I’d developed in the past week was now in my left hip. Both times the injuries came on in the same fashion: about a week before the race and just barely noticeable at first. Both were so minor that I wasn’t able to upgrade it from “tightness” to “pain” until four or five days out from the race.

I had it dry needled the day before we left for Cabo, but it was too little too late. By mile four I knew that my race was over. I was not going to inflict serious, long-lasting damage to myself again, especially for 15th or whatever place. Even though I was still currently in 7th, and a few miles earlier I had held onto delusional aspirations of catching up to Cunningham and contending for fifth or sixth place, I knew that the hip would slow me down to a jog by the end of 13 miles. I was already limping on it with 10 miles to go. I slowed down to a jog prematurely and let four or five guys pass me before I walked it in towards the finish without starting the second lap. It was a quick fall from actually being in the race (not just being filler) to wandering past the crowd of people near the finish line, avoiding eye contact because I was mad enough to slap the next person in the face who tried to encourage me by saying “Come on, don’t give up you can do it!”

End of Season 

This weekend left me with something to look forward to during training this winter. My swim has improved a lot and I was even able to eek out of good performance in a non-wetsuit race, something that I had previously thought would elude me for years to come. My riding strength (in the time trial position anyways) has gone up a bit this season as well, and it won’t be too long before it can actually be put to use bridging to the lead group instead of the chase group. The run here was a complete flop of course. It really sucked. I mean I really sucked. It’s my least consistent of the three sports. I can either run fairly decently or not at all. The first problem is that I’m constantly plagued by serious chest cramps when I run off the bike. They got less severe and lasted for shorter durations as the season went on, so there’s that at least. Secondly, to actually get faster and to have more constant performances, I need to run more, but I don’t want the hips to become a constant injury, or develop other long-lasting injuries. To build the muscular endurance for the run I need to be doing more than 25 miles a week, which is the max I’ve been able to consistently do this year without injuries popping up. Well, they pop up anyways. I think I just need more time and the larger volume will become easier to maintain. That, and more stretching, massage, and gym work. Or, I’ll just start tracking run distance in kilometers and/or get a pair of those kids’ shoes with the built-in wheels.

PS the swim skin magically appeared in my gear bag when I went to retrieve it. Thank you volunteers!

PPS Adelaide won her age group and placed 4th in the amateur field.

PPPS Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be going to the doctor about the bloody bowel movements.

Cozumel 70.3

Four minutes before the race started, and two minutes before we walked off the pier into the water, I was asked “What type of suit is that?”At first I thought the question from a fellow racer was one of admiration for using a cool/retro swim skin.

“That’s an illegal suit.”Are you racing for money?”
I replied, “Yeah, of course.”
My friend responded, “If you don’t take that off I’m reporting you to the officials after the race.”

Unlike many at this race, I don’t cheat the rules by blatantly violating the 12 meter draft zone. Hell, I don’t even take advantage, for financial reasons, of new gear to gain an extra watt or two. I mean, just look at my worn-out, UCI-legal bike. I’d gotten the swim skin for free. It had been sitting in the back closet of the swim shop for four years and Adelaide’s boss gave it to her to give to me. The issue with the suit was that it had a layer of neoprene and Ironman had banned that material a few years ago, which is probably why mine hadn’t ever sold. The way this guy came at me and immediately threatened to tattle, all in the span of about 18 seconds, was what pissed me off. Later he openly taunted me on the run with mock cheering every time we passed one another going the opposite direction. I’m not making that up. After the race we got in an argument, during which he said, “You just wait till I post this all over Slow Twitch. I’ll make sure no sponsor ever touches you!” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh at that or not, since this is the guy who once notoriously sprinted ahead in a feed zone to knock bottles down so that the guy behind couldn’t get any. My issue was the way he went about the entire process. Why not just say, “Hey just so you know, that swim skin isn’t legal because it has a neoprene coating.” I would have come to the same decision as the one that I did, to take the suit off, and the nastiness, aside from the taunts during the run, could have been avoided. It’s one thing, and an admirable thing at that, to stand up to someone who’s cheating by drafting, taking drugs, or breaking the rules by some other purposeful means. It’s another to threaten a fellow competitor, who obviously didn’t know what they were doing, with the sole intent of cutting them down to feel powerful. However, it was my fault for not knowing the rules, in the end it had no effect on my race, and I’ll leave it at that.

Anyways, after I asked around to make sure that this guy was correct, I frantically pulled the suit and my jersey off to swim bare chested. I’d used the suit once before to earn the second slowest swim time at Boulder 70.3 in June. Today I swam without it to get the second slowest swim time as well. Science, therefore, proves that this illegal swim skin, that was later stolen after I left it on the pier, is actually no faster than using no suit at all.

On to the race report once and for all. The swim was amazing. The water at Cozumel is immaculate. It’s crystal clear, warm, and coral-bottomed. The whole island is coral. There were even black and yellow fish swimming about at one point during the one minute warm up. The gun went off. I was dropped from the front of the group a little later than I normally am, at about 150 meters, though I was slowly passed by just about everyone a short while later. I managed to almost get on the feet of one guy, then got dropped from him as we rounded the first turn buoy. Trying to get back on his feet, I went full bore into the now head-on, yet very small, waves. The next turn buoy came into view and as I blindly followed the guy in front of me, still just a body length off his feet, a wave pushed the buoy by a meter, or maybe I just swam into it, and I ended up fully underneath the damn thing. My left ankle got snagged by the line and for a second I imagined all those movie scenes were the victim gets held under by a lose sweater thread and drowns.

I kicked free, or just sort of got free without any real effort, and continued on. A huge gulp of salt water washed down my gullet, invoking a gag reflex only stymied by what must have been a previous life spent as a deep throating man of the night. Just trying to get through grad school. Finally, I got back onto the guy’s feet and stayed there for the last six minutes of the swim.

Due to the favorable current on the way back, everyone’s time was ridiculously fast, including my own time of 23:18. I grabbed my jersey on the pier, its pockets stuffed full of food, and ran hard to my bike, knowing that I needed to have a fast 100 meter dash through transition in order to make up for the time it would take to get my jersey on. It took a solid minute since I put my head through an arm hole first, retried, then spilled my food all over the ground, the whole time cursing like a mad man.

The bike was hot, wet, flat, windless, and boring. And flat. And hot. And flat. I made it a goal to pass 10 guys on the bike, and was off to a decent start over the first 20 minutes. My power was okay. Nothing spectacular but I wasn’t having to destroy myself to keep it high so that made me happy. An hour in and it had dropped to 310. I saw Chris’ bike abandoned on the ground, water dripping from a bottle. I assumed he’d crashed out but he’d just had an unfixable flat, DNFing all the same. That made me sad.

I began digging a bit too much. I unwisely forced the power to stay high, though it did drop down to 307 by the turn around with 11 miles to go. All of a sudden, as I stood up out of the turn around, both glutes and my right quad seized up. I wouldn’t call it a cramp because there was no stabbing sensation, but more like a sudden and painful locking up of the muscles. The power dropped by a huge margin on the half hour ride back into town and T2. I stood, pedaled, coasted, sat down, pedaled medium hard for a few seconds in the bull horns, got back in the aero bars and pedaled easy, got out, stood, coasted, repeated…going slower and slower. I’d timed when the front group came by and estimated that I’d been 5 or so minutes back at the turn around. I came in nine minutes down on the leaders by the time I got off the bike.

Coming into T2 I was in 12th position, but was immediately passed for 13th as I drug my feet getting my shoes on. I ran-walked/limped out of the transition area and stopped at a porta-pottie a little less than a mile into the run to take a quick shit. My legs were completely destroyed. To the point that I was struggling to run 8:00 pace. I took full advantage of every aid station, getting multiple bags of water, ice in my hat, ice in my jersey, and more water. I continued getting passed by people throughout the full first lap, then suddenly something snapped back into place. My glutes released and my right quad quit is groaning, or something. I did the next 6.5 miles running a minute faster per mile, breathing like a demon and passing back a few of the guys who’d gone by on lap one. It was still way too slow and way too late to do anything about placing (I was 14th), but it felt good to be able to finish hard and not simply stagger in at a painful jog.

My error for the race was not getting out of the aerobars enough. My body still isn’t used to being on the TT bike and assuming the position uninterrupted for so long, and since this course was so flat, with barely any turns, I’d been tightly tucked throughout. In order to do well in a race like this I have to A) come out of the swim in some sort of decent group and B) get a lot better at being comfortable in the aero bars. Also C), just be faster at everything and suck 78% less than I do.

The lead up to the race was stressful due to some personal life issues and then my bike not making it to the Cancun airport with me (I got it the night before the race). And the race was pretty shitty too of course. However, in the grand scheme of things it was Mexico and it was awesome. We rode scooters, the weather was hot and perfect, the water was orgasmic to swim in, and we stayed at the nicest resort, the only resort actually, that I’ve every been in. It was all inclusive with food and drinks and after the race, Chris, Christen, Palmera, and I lived it up like there was no tomorrow. Our appetites for ceviche and gluten were limitless and the tequila flowed like an Oregon gutter in March. We took an evening swim and drifted half a mile south along the coast, diving down to look at fish, eels, and sea urchins. It was a grand old time.

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