Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Training in Bryce

For the last week I've been in an awesome getaway house near Bryce Resort with family for a long belated reunion. Its good to see everyone back together, especially in a place like this.

The house sits at around 2,000 ft. elevation surrounded by endless hills and beautiful gravel roads, its an ideal place for training, both on and off the bike. However, this being my cross-training portion of the year, I've been using the extra time here to run.

I'll usually get up around 6 or 7 when the air is still moist and its in the low 50's which, in my opinion, is pretty much perfect running weather. The miles haven't been tumbling quite as easily as I wanted them to, but I guess I'm still kinda used to getting back from 40 or 80 or 100 mile days on the bike rather than 4 or 6 miles from running.  Its funny how big of a difference there is in that, yet I feel so much more hurt after a 6 mile run than I do after a 60 mile ride.

The gravel roads and soft dirt trails have been keeping me away from possible injuries, especially shin splints, which is a major danger when transitioning from cycling to pounding up and down roads when running.

I've also had to take stretching a lot more serious now due to the fact that most mornings I wake up not being able to take my first few steps without holding onto the wall. And forget about walking down stairs, its impossible. But, each day the mornings get less and less painful, and the endurance gets more and more enhanced. So, although its a long process, I at least know that its paying off.

Today I'll be heading back home to get unpacked, clean, and re-packed again to catch a 6am flight to San Antonio tomorrow morning for my good friend Robbie Wade's wedding. It'll also be a good chance for me to kind of scope the place out, seeing as how I'll be living there and all over the rest of TX for a good 3 or 4 months.

It's going to be nice to get some more running in down there as well, although I'm not quite sure that I'm in the best shape yet to run with a professional triathlete. In fact, I'm positive I'm not in that kind of shape . . . Go easy on me Robbie.

: )

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Good Morning

The last 2 weeks have been filled with...well, pretty much nothing. I've been resting up as much as possible. Relaxing, playing video games, sleeping in past noon, enjoying time with family, things that most teenagers do.

Today, however, was different. The alarm went off at 7am and I awoke to a dewy, 63 degree morning, got in my car and headed over to Roosevelt Island. After 7 months of cycling, I've been looking forward to getting back to my roots, running. Its that time of year to do some cross-training, and I plan on taking full advantage.

The trails were littered with puddles of water that I didn't hesitate to step in. It was wet and muddy out, but I didn't care at all how dirty I got. I was too caught up in the feeling I get from running, that rare sense of solitude. It was really cool to experience that again.

I finished up, hurting and dirty. I could really feel the affect that the lack of exercise over the last 2 weeks has had on my body. But it was a good hurt, like accomplishing a century ride kinda hurt, or beating someone out in a sprint on a training ride kinda hurt.

Regardless of how good it felt mentally though, the need for stretch and recovery is constant. So I headed home, and jumped in the hot tub for a half hour to warm myself up and let the muscles loosen up before the next part of the process.

Finally, I finished up with a nice 20 minutes of easy stretching, accompanied by 'The Stick.' It was really nice to be active again, to get out there on the trails and get dirty. It was a 'Good Morning' and I'm smiling at the thought that this is going to be my life for the next year, and hopefully beyond that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 Season Wrap-Up

Words can't really describe the experiences I've had, the people I've met, and the things I've accomplished this season. Its been an epic blur of memories these last 7 months. I kicked off the season in North Carolina on February 12 with the Wolfpack Classic. A third place finish their had me excited and eager for a lot more races. However, I don't think I ever really realized how many "a lot more" was.

After 51 races started, 32 races finished, 3 crashes, 4,500+ miles, 8 wins, 4 seconds, 3 thirds, and 7 other top 10 finishes, I can finally say I'm done, and this is my reflection on it all.

Having never raced before, the learning process was long and tedious. It was really hard for me to accept the fact that the strongest guy simply does not always win, thats the plain truth of the sport. I made plenty of mistakes and bad choices along the way but I also did a lot of things right and proved a lot of people wrong. The crashing, and the losing, and the failing really, really hurt but the feeling you get from winning and reaching your goals makes it all so worth it.

Photo Credit: Tim Kelley

I went into the season as a Cat5 with the goal of coming out as a Cat2. I've never been more happy to say that I reached my goal. I doubt I'll ever forget that experience, seeing that email from USA Cycling in my inbox, opening it, seeing the word "approved" and then just sitting there in disbelief. It was a really awesome feeling, to reflect on everything I've been through these last 7 months and knowing that it was all worth it, that it all paid off.

It hasn't been easy, in any sense of the word. Its been the hardest thing I've ever put my body through. The amount of mental torture you have to deal with in this sport is just insane, but that part of it is what makes me love it so much. Theres no one to blame but yourself if you don't succeed. The more you can suffer the better you are than the next guy, I love that.

To wrap this up, here are a few of my favorite pictures from the season. Enjoy.

Photo Credit: Joe Dombrowski

Photo Credit: Anthony Skorochod

Photo Credit: Bruce Fleming AKA "Pops"