Post-Kona and 2017 race schedule update

It’s been a while since my last update, part out of laziness and part because I’ve been busy with work (reorg’s are never fun for someone who does analysis and reporting). So I thought I’d provide a post-Kona update and what my upcoming racing season looks like.

Post-Kona vacation and biking up Haleakala

After racing the Ironman World Championships, my family and I enjoyed a nice vacation in Hawaii. While in Maui, I thought biking up Haleakala would be a good idea; and boy was I correct! An epic climb and one of my favorite memories I’ve ever had on a bike. 35 mile climb, nearly all uphill (there’s one small downhill section) climbing from sea level to 10,023 feet. It’s the second longest paved climb in the US and it was incredible. I could write an entire blog post on it alone. In fact, I did write one, I just never posted it. It took me 3:30:21 to complete the climb. I loved every minute of it. The views are incredible, biking through clouds is unique, and the looks from drivers going down the mountain are funny. I’ve never done anything remotely close to this before. I don’t have mountains to climb back home. If I get 3k feet of climbing over 60-80 miles back home then I’m doing well. So, 10k feet in 35 miles is insanely awesome. If you have questions about it or think you’ll do it, reach out and I can give more details.

Every Man Jack training camp 2017 edition

Again, I could (and did) write an entire blog post on camp, but I’ll condense it. Camp this year was without a doubt the best EMJ camp I’ve done (this is my 4th year). We had around 67 of the 70 team members attend camp. A ton of new faces meant a lot of learning about people and trying to remember their bike because we all look the same in our Louis Garneau kits and helmets or Roka swim gear and caps. As you can imagine, there was a lot of swimming, biking, and running. The Henderson pool is heated and awesome. Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead are painful but fun to bike around/through. Running on 6 Tunnels trail to Hoover Dam is always a highlight, too. Talbot Cox taking pictures and video every day was incredible (videos: Day 1. Day 2. Day 3). Donna Trauger is fantastic and cooked an amazing dinner for all of us each night. Also a big shout out to Ritch Viola for organizing and putting on the camp each year. I say it every year, but camp is always the highlight of my entire year. I have no EMJ teammates living near me, thus I never get to train with any of them.  So going to camp and forming a personal bond with them makes all the race results, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts more meaningful to me than just a teammate posting something or racing. It’s more fun to track and follow them through the year.  And best of all, for the first time in 4 years, I actually handled the training well. For starters, I didn’t crash! I not only got to Sunday feeling good, but made it through Sunday’s swim and run without feeling fatigued or sluggish! This has never happened before. Typically, I’m wiped by Sunday and struggle to even finish the training.

Two road races

I raced in two local road races put on by KC Running Company; Great Plains 10k and Rock the Parkway half marathon. Both of these races were very good early season indicators of where my run fitness is at.

I took out hard in the 10k and went through the 5k in 15:57 (8-10 mph tailwind most of the way helped). I knew the second half would be tough but decided to go for broke. The last two miles (headwind and tired)  were a struggle. I also had my good friend and former college teammate, Cameron, charging hard to catch me. I managed to sneak under 33 minutes in 32:53 and take the win by 6 seconds. I never broke 33 minutes in college for a 10k (I never ran one on the track, only cross country) so I’m definitely happy to break 33 without any real run specific training outside of my off the bike runs and tempos.

The lead up to Rock the Parkway was interesting, to say the least. During the race at Great Plains 10k, I started having some ankle/Achilles pain. At times, it was quite severe and sharp and I could hardly walk after the race. I started doing strength exercises as well as improving my bike fit (what I suspect to be the main culprit). Fortunately, by race week I was running pain free. However, I had convinced myself not to race, but then a few days before I ultimately decided I would race but stop if I experienced any pain at all. It certainly wasn’t worth risking my triathlon season for a half marathon.

This was my first ever half marathon without a swim or bike before it. I knew it would be a tough race because it’s more or less an out and back and there was a strong wind out of the south which meant the first half of the race would be wind aided and the second half I’d have to battle 15 mph winds with gusts easily 25+. Not ideal for trying to run fast, but a fun challenge nonetheless. The first 5k felt comfortably hard. By mile 4.5, I was already struggling and we had the wind at our back the entire time. 10k split was in 34:09, which is right on my goal pace (5:30 average), but I knew holding that wouldn’t be possible with the last 5 miles into a headwind and no protection. Around 7.5 miles into the race, I finally caught 4th place, who was pretty much less than 10 seconds in front of me from mile 1 on. I drafted off him for a half mile and we talked about working together into the wind to try and keep a strong pace going. I took over the pacing just after mile 8, which was just over 6:00 due to hills and wind, and was only able to hold low 5:50’s. Unfortunately, this dropped the guy I was running with and I now had the remaining 4-5 miles all into a headwind. I was able to pretty much hold mid 5:50’s the rest of the way besides the last mile, which is all downhill , where I ran 5:28 finishing in 1:14:25 and 4th overall.

Overall, I’m definitely happy with my “debut” half marathon of 1:14:25. It was a tough day with the winds, but most importantly, I was able to walk away (no pun intended) with zero pain in my ankle or Achilles.  It definitely has me excited for the upcoming triathlon season.

2017 Racing Schedule:

My racing schedule (found here) is going to be a lot different this year. The first part of my season will be 4 races in 5 weeks starting May 7th. In order, it will be a: sprint, Olympic, 70.3, weekend off, sprint. I rarely race back-to-back weekends, so 3 straight weekends of racing and 4 in 5 weeks is going to be fun and interesting. The second half of my season, as of now, will be racing both races at Age Group Nationals and finishing at 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga on September 10th.