Monday, September 29, 2008

South Carolina Half RR

I mixed things up a bit and started the day with a chocolate peanut butter and banana bagel rather than the usual peanut butter and banana bagel with honey mainly because well, I was in a hurry while packing and the chocolate peanut butter was the first thing I saw. This stuff, BTW, is delicious and it got the day started off right. It also goes very well with coffee.

I arrived at the race site without any hassle and after parking the car I started getting my bike ready. I then headed over to transition and went through the usual prerace nonsense. In transition I got to meet Jeremy Sipos, a fellow member of the Posse who lives in the ATL. Soon enough it was off to the swim start, which was about a quarter mile from transition.

After pulling on the wetsuit I only got to warmup for about 5 minutes in the water before we were called out. While I would’ve liked to have loosened up a bit more I wasn’t too worried because we were allowed to wear wetsuits even though the water was reported to be a cozy 73 degrees. Regardless, after a prayer and the national anthem, the largest open field in the (short) history of the race was back into the water for an air horn start.

The lake was nice and calm and after a few minutes I settled into a group with two other guys. There was another guy out front so we were 2-3-4. I was sitting in third (2nd in our group) and about a quarter of the way through the swim the guy in front of me started veering off course a bit so I cut back to the inside. He mustve realized his error because soon enough he came back towards me and I ended up pulling my two swimming partners the rest of the way. Fine by me as I was in a good rhythm; just trying to go as fast as possible without overheating in the wetsuit. Finishing up the swim I could tell the first place guy wasn’t too far ahead so I was hoping he’d come back during the run, if not on the bike.

I jumped onto the bike and I was ready to rock and roll. In order to not have a repeat of Almere, I was determined to not to go out too hard and I also wanted to make sure to eat enough. Not going out too hard was simply solved by trying for the same power as Almere as I was fine through 56 miles there (just couldnt quite make it 75...). So once I settled into my targeted power range I braced myself for what was sure to be a number of people coming past me on the bike because, well, that’s what usually happens to me in races.

However, a funny thing happened… no one was coming. On the other hand, I was actually catching the guy ahead of me… what a concept! About 12 or so miles in I caught him and was feeling good so proceeded to go right by him into the lead. “He must be a swimmer,” I thought and after passing him I was still ready for others to start coming by. I continued to lead up until the aid station at mile 30 when while I was grabbing a bottle of Gatorade, former #1 passed me to retake the lead. I let him lead for about 5 minutes then repassed him on a downhill as I was determined to keep the speed up and we just weren’t going fast enough with him in front.

So the miles ticked by and I kept riding my race, waiting for the others to come. 30, 35, 40 miles down. At this point, I was still feeling great. Additionally, I knew that time was running out on the cyclists. If someone else wanted to win the race, he’d have to catch me pretty soon or be ready to run really fast. 45, 50 miles down. By now I was pretty excited and I start kicking it in, just so I could win ST’s all important “race to T2.” The best part was that the power was still there and I finished strong.

Heading out on the run I saw my pursuers and realized they weren’t far behind. However, I also knew that as long as I didn't totally blow up, I should have be able to hold everyone off. I felt good and came through the first mile in 5:42. The run course is two loops and I just told myself to just take it nice and easy on the first, then if I needed to I could always pick it up on the second. The miles started slowly clicking away (2= 5:48, 3 = 5:40) and I just sang along to the song(s) in my head and tried to stay relaxed. Finishing up the first loop, I got a huge boost from the crowd and headed out onto the second. There were some hilly parts around the turnaround with uneven footing but other than that I was feeling fine. It was nice to see the other competitors out on the course as well. Soon I arrived at mile 11 (11 = 5:52) which sat near the top of a hill and was a place that I told myself I just needed to get to as it would me mostly downhill from there. Still feeling good, I started to open it up a bit. I turned back into the park for the last time and it was a thrill running through the crowd again.

At this point I was still feeling great, but was ready to be done. However, the finish for this race is a bit evil. After running by the lake, participants had to trek up an ~13% grade hill. It was only about 20m long, but that’s an eternity at the end of the race. As I begin the ascent, the announcer starts screaming, “Come on, if you sprint you can break 4 hours!”

Do I want to sprint? Hell no. But he totally just called me out so I oblige, huff up the hill, and finish in 3:59:53. I’m told that it is a course record, so that was pretty cool.

The post race spread was included a nice meal of hamburger, grilled chicken, pasta salad, and a brownie in addition to Coca Cola and lemonade. There was also Bruster’s Ice Cream which, unfortunately, was not free. However, I had no problem forking over $5 for a double scoop waffle cone of sheer goodness.

All in all I was really pleased with the race. It certainly helps get over the poor performance in Almere and gives me confidence for Clearwater. For now though, its back to work!


S: 17,600 yds
B: 8h 54min
R: 3h 55min

Total: 17h 13min

It was a decent week of training which culminated in a pretty good workout on Sunday. And by workout I mean a half IM race, the South Carolina Half.

Results are up here but the short story is that it went really well as I felt in total control throughout the day. Most importantly though I was very happy with my ride so that was encouraging given the new position and extra time I've spent on the bike the last few months. Additionally, the weather was picturesque and the course was a lot of fun. Anyway, I didnt get home until early this morning so I dont have time for a full RR now but I'll hopefully have one up tomorrow, so check back for that!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Sunday is the South Carolina Half and while I'm looking foward to racing, I'm not exactly looking forward to the seven hour drive ahead of me tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be too bad but you just never know when you're going through Atlanta, the epitome of vast, messy, suburban sprawl. Making matters worse is the supposed gas crises which may just preven me from getting there altogether. Of course the other downside about being stuck in the car all day is that I wont get to watch any CFB! Maybe I can pick the Gators up on the radio but that is doubtful... or I could just kill two birds with one stone by stopping in Atlanta to watch the game with my college roomate, Jimmy, and eschewing the race altogether. Save gas money and watch the Gators... I like it!

On the bright side at least I dont have to pack my bike! I'll gladly take a long drive over a short flight when it comes to traveling to a race simply due to the fact that packing the bike is such a hassle. And that was my feeling before the recent absurd increase in the cost of traveling with a a bike. Although considering none of the airlines have any money I cant really blame them. I just they put weight limits on you + your baggage. That way me + my bike + my carryon would still be less than the 200 lb guy sitting next to me.

Well, time to pack. At least I should arrive to my hotel in time to watch the Georgia-Alabama showdown tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Midweek run

I had a slightly less than comfortable run with David this evening. Not hard, but not exactly easy, either. The pace, coupled with what seemed to be a higher than normal level of fatigue in the legs, made for a long workout. My plan was for 1h30 with some accelerations while David was just doing an easy run. The problem is that David is training for the marathon (so he is coming into some really nice form) and is a sub 31 and change 10k runner so his easy pace is a bit faster than mine. This is fine on shorter runs but for longer ones he tends to push the pace a bit (of course its all his fault) and we end up moving along pretty well by the end. This was especially true when we started talking about how Auburn blew the game last weekend...

Anyway, at least the weather was nice. It is officially fall here in the Valley as the weather has been spectacular for running. The high temps have been in the low 80s with overnight lows in the high 50s with low humidity. The problem, of course, is that the days are getting shorter and shorter which is quite depressing. Pretty soon daylight savings will come to an end and all of my workouts will go back to being in the dark which is just straight up depressing. Until then, though, I'll be squeezing out all the daylight workout opportunities I can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


S: 22,900 yds
B: 12h 7min (TSS = 774)
R: 5h 10min

Total: 23h 1min

It ended up being a pretty nice week although the bike hours and overall hours are a little padded due to the AYCE Century on Saturday. It was fun though and a nice change of pace. Other than that, I started to get nice and fatigued towards the end of the week as I'm starting to feel the effects of the new training block. Perfect timing with the South Carolina Half coming up this Sunday.

No rest for the weary though as the focus is now on Clearwater. I may not be the freshest for the race this weekend but it should be fun regardless. The venue sounds picturesque and I'm looking foward to not having to pack my bike in the bike box as this race is (barely) within driving distance.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A day in the life...

I had a pretty nice little Saturday planned so I figured I'd take the camera along for a little documentation....

4:30 AM- Wake up

4:40 AM- Breakfast time. Maple Brown Sugar Simple Harvest Oatmeal with a cup of coffee. A nice start to what is looking to be a long day. After breakfast #1, I make breakfast #2 for after the swim.

5:10 AM- Arrive at the pool, the Brahan Spring Natatorium, for a nice 4600 yd swim. I'm in the water by 5:20 and most of the other Masters swimmers are in the pool by 5:30. The Zn4, Zn3 main set goes well. As I start the second part of the workout, the kids start showing up around as the sun begins to rise.

6:30 AM- Workout #1 is history! I'm taking off just in time as the kids, having finished up their dryland exercises, are hopping in the pool.

6:58 AM- A little stop off at the 'bucks for breakfast #2, peanut butter and banana on a bagel with honey and a triple-grande-no whip-mocha. Yummy.

7:33 AM- Arrive at Madison County High School, the start of the SCCC's (Spring City Cycling Club) AYCE Century. Registration is seemless as I pick my registration and get changed into my cycling clothes. Its raining a bit, so no pictures of the start. Hopefully things will warm up because 5h in the saddle will be a lot less fun if its cold and raining.

8:01 AM- And we're off!

8:52 AM- At this point I'm just sitting in the pack and finally getting my legs under me after the swim. Its still overcast but at least there isn't any precipitation. Also, the temperature isnt too bad, probably high 60s or low 70s, but I'm glad I went with the vest.

10:10 AM- There are a few short hills and then one longer one which finally create some separation. Four of us get off the front and ride together until...

10:23 AM- Rest stop #2. After rolling through the first stop, we decide to take a break here to grab some food and drink and use the facilities. I snag an Oatmeal Cream Pie, refill the water bottles, and am ready to go. The front group (about 15-20 riders) had regrouped at the stop and we all depart together.

10:39 AM- After getting back up to speed I'm feeling pretty good. We hit some rollers then a couple short, steep hills, then finally a solid ~3-4min long climb during which I'm wishing I had a smaller gear. It appears others do, but I'm stuck in the 39x25. After cresting the hill, the group is now down to four.

11:43 AM- The four of us work together, winding our way through the southern Tennessee/northern Alabama countryside. We dodge dogs, cruise by cotton fields, and focus on getting to the finish.

I figure I'm the second strongest guy in the group, but each uphill begins to become more and more painful. I'm just thinking about getting this nonsense over with so that I can start watching football.

12:31 AM- We take another quick stop. At this point we have only about 13 miles to go but one guy is running low on fluids and no one protests the stop. I wouldve been fine to keep going but also didnt want to lose the company (and draft) of the other guys.

12:47 AM- I take what I think will be one of my last pulls on what I expect to be a flat, straight shot home.

12:47:30 AM- To my surpise, there is a sharp right turn and a short but very steep uphill. Apparently a couple of the guys knew this was coming as they were in their small rings and were ready to sprint up the hill after the turn. I, OTOH, was not. Two of the guys got away while I just tried to finish stong with the forth guy on my wheel.

12:50 AM- After 4h45 in the saddle and 102 miles traversed, I roll across the line.

1:06 PM- I head to my car to pull off the bibs and put up the bike. Then its over to the school's cafeteria for lunch #1. The century was sponsored by Nothing But Noodles, so we were treated to two pasta choices and a salad in addition to drinks and some Purity ice cream.

1:30 PM- Done with lunch, time to get going!

2:41 PM- After rushing home to get cleaned up, I arrive at Indigo Joe's to watch the Gator's kick some Volunteer butt with Rusty, Jenn, and Daniel. The game has just started but already the Gators are up 7-0!

2:43 PM- I quickly order a Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale and debate what to get for lunch #2...

3:55 PM- With the Gators comfortably in control, I go with the ahi tuna sandwanch, cooked rare, and another brew. It's quite tasty.

6:12 PM- SEC showdown #2. Arrive at David's place to watch the ESPN Saturday night game of the week, Auburn-LSU. Game #2 calls for beer #2, this time its Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blonde.

8:18 PM- At half time David fires up the grill and I get caught up on the TIVoedGeorgia-ASU game. Soon we're enjoying grilled ground beef although Senor Riddle is still worried about the game.

9:49 PM- After being in the lead for the better part of the second half, Auburn plays to conservatively on offense in the 4th quarter and LSU gets the ball back with a little over 4 minutes to play. In addition to having plenty of time on the clock, LSU has good field position (due to a bad Auburn punt) and only needs a field goal for the go-ahead score.

10:13 PM- LSU gets the touchdown and Auburn's fate is all but sealed. I am disappointed, but everyone else at the party is downright dejected as they, being Auburn fans, had a little more emotionally invested than I did.

10:25 PM- Home again. After departing at just before 5AM, I'm back to the apt. I read the recap of the Gator game and call it a day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Its about time...

Awesome news this morning coming out of yes... Alabama. The state attorney general here in the country's second most overweight state wants to charge state employees who are overweight extra for health insurance. Brilliant!! Check out the full report below:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Eats!

Dinner was so delicious last night that I had to make it again tonight. This time, however, I figured I'd take a picture because it was just that good. So... the recipe. Start with a four or five cups of arugula and romaine lettuce. Then top with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, seedless red grapes, almonds, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, and of course STEAK. The steak, BTW, is a strip steak which was marinated in olive oil and steak seasoning then grilled on the Foreman. Granted, charcoal (or even propane) wouldve been better, but I live in an apartment and that is about as good as it gets. For cooking I recommend letting the steak come to room temp and then putting it on the Forman and leaving the lid up. For a nice medium steak, you'll only need 3-4 minutes per side, so watch it carefully. Nothing worse than an overcooked steak :)

Finally, for the dressing you need:
3 tbls red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp stone ground mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

As with most vinegarettes, mix everything expect the oil then gradually add the oil while whisking. Finally, dress the salad, toss gently and dig in!! The peppery flavor of the arugula and steak seasoning contrast the sweet dressing and fruit while the cheese provides a nice sharp bite. Additionally, the plethora of textures only enhances the experience.

Finish the meal off with a nice bowl of ice cream (and cereal and mixed nuts...) and you have some truly.... Good Eats!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New shoes

I picked up some new shoes about a week ago, a pair of Nike Air Zoom Elite 4s, and so far, so good. I had previously been wearing a pair of the Nike Air Structure Triax but they were just a bit too heavy and stiff. Basically they were too much shoe for me. The Zoom Elites, on the other hand, are quite comfortable and considerably more flexible in the forefoot than the Structures. They are really more like some Structures I had circa 2004 which I was very fond of. Additionally, the shoes fit well with a snug heel and slightly wider forefoot.

They are not, however, as light or responsive as DS-Trainers but this is compensated for with a better ride. Because of this they do become a bit bulky for fast stuff and therefore I'll likely just use them for easy runs and long tempos and throw on the racing flats for any fast stuff. Overall, though, I'd recommend giving them a shot if you are looking for a shoe which provides a great ride with some support while not being too heavy.

Monday, September 15, 2008


S: 21,700
B: 9h 55min
R: 5h 40min

Total: 21h 1min

Back to the grind. It was a pretty good week back as it was nice to have some fresh legs for (most) workouts. I didnt have anything too long but got in some good quality on the swim and bike. Friday and Saturday were especially good days in the pool as Friday I swam with the kids and Saturday I lured my buddy Greg, a former collegiate swimmer, to the pool in the morning.

This week will likely be more of the same although on Saturday I'm riding the SCCC All You Can Eat Century so that should be a nice change to the routine. The only downside is that it, well, 102 miles on the bicycle so hopefully I'll be able to make it the whole way...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

CNN love

"This is where we wrap the entire vehicle together to say we have a sound design from stem to stern," [Steve] Cook said in a Wednesday evening teleconference. "It's really a big step in our journey to launch."

While I also have some Shuttle support duties, Ares I development takes up the majority of my time so it is cool too see it in the news. We have been having component level PDRs (Program Design Review) for the last few months so the vehicle level PDR is a pretty big deal.

Steve Cook, the Ares I Program Manager, actually works here in Huntsville and we a having an Ares I PDR celebration on Friday. Hooray for free BBQ!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday Night World Championships

Went on the local group ride last night which is always a nice break from the standard solitary sessions. Last night's crowd was a little smaller than usual, only 11 people, but most of the riders were pretty strong so it still ended up being a solid, fast-paced ride. In fact, due to the quality of the riders everyone in the group was working so we had a nice rotation going for the majority of the ride. This makes for a much more enjoyable ride (and better workout) than the sprint-and-stop action which occurs when there is a big group containing lots of riders who are just "trying to hold on."

Despite the fact that most of the ride was a nice, steady pace, there were still a couple of breakaway attempts when the pace slowed a bit. I didnt try any but I did chase a couple of the more serious ones down and was hoping to get some nice short duration power numbers in the process. Looking back at the file, however, is pretty depressing. According to CyclingPeaks, my peak 5s power was only 515W while my peak 1min was a measly 380W. Pretty pathetic, especially when some of the guys I race against have FTPs in that range. But hey, if nothing else this just give me more of an excuse to keep hitting the group rides.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weekend fun

With last week being a free week I knew I'd have a little extra time over the weekend so my mom and sister, Katie, came up to visit. While it was great to see them, I had an ulterior motive: to recruit Katie to Huntsville as she is having trouble finding a teaching gig in Florida. (As it turns out, the state and local governments in FL are all massively overbudget and therefore not hiring teachers.) However, I think she is a bit reluctant to move here as she is quite a bit cooler than me...

Anyway, the weekend started out with me getting some belated birthday presents. Here is my sister's present for me:

Not too bad, eh?

Friday night we had a good-but-not-great dinner at Ketchup, a "hip" new restaurant in town and then Saturday morning we headed up to Scottsboro to do some shopping. On the way home, we discovered a quaint little lunch place, The Blue Willow Restaurant. On top of a great atmosphere, the food was delicious, especially the biscuits/rolls and bourbon butter which was rushed to our table immediately upon arrival.

That evening we watched the Gators toy with Hurricanes for three quarters before dominating the 4th. Then on Sunday morning we headed up to Monte Sano before having lunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe, a breakfast/lunch place which boasts a wide selection of omelets, poached egg items, sandwiches, salads, and burgers. To top it all off the weather was picturesque all weekend which certainly contributed to a everyone having a great time.

Monday, September 8, 2008


S: 22,700yds
B: 4h 47min
R: 2h 22min

Total: 12h 50min

After returning from the Netherlands I got a "free week" which meant working out was optional. It was nice just doing what I wanted without having to worry about hitting times or power values.

While most workouts were pretty mild, I did decide to join David for the beginning of his long run on Sunday. He is training for the Rocket City Marathon in December so he was planning on 22. I on the other hand have no such plans so I figured 1.5h would be fine with me. The only problem is that David is fast and he likes to run up to the top of Monte Sano for his long run. Unfortunately, this meant we had about 20 minutes of warm up then a nice 25 minute steady climb to the top of the mountain. So much for an easy run... Luckily though it was a nice morning and really wasnt too bad of a workout.

As for this week, its back to the grind. Looks like I have some band swimming in the pool and big gear work on the bike in store. Fun times ahead...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ITU LD World Championship Race Report

After a quick breakfast, Kevin, Chris, and I were off to catch the USAT arranged shuttle from our condo to the race site. It departed at 6AM and after a 40 minute ride and short walk we were at transition at around 6:45 with the race scheduled to start at 8:30. It was a beautiful morning and we were all ready to get the race underway.

Here we are lined up and ready to rock and roll...

After getting my transition area in order I headed for the beach where I proceeded to pull on the wetsuit before heading to the lake for a quick warm up. At about 8:15 the 50 or so male elites were corralled to the starting area where the top 10 were introduced. At this point I was getting a bit nervous but at the same time I was excited and ready to attack the race. The horn sounded, indicating the start and the typical madness ensued. After the usually rough first 5 minutes, things appeared to be settling down. But in fact they were not. Heading into the first buoy there was still a huge group and I was just trying to get some position and keep my head above water. After the turn we immediately were greeted with a nice current/chop which we were now swimming into. This bunched things up even more and the waves only exacerbated the bludgeoning I was already taking from other competitors.

Swim Course

The swim course, shown above, consisted of one small loop and another big loop with the small loop supposedly about 1200m and the big one about 2800m for a total of 4km. So after the first turn we were on the second leg of the first loop and it seemed to take forever... much longer than it took the day before. Once we got through that turn I decided I needed to somehow get out of the group and figure out where I was in the context of the race. About half way to shore I noticed another group a bit further up ahead and decided I’d try to finish the first loop strong and bridge the gap on the run on the beach before the start of the second loop. I put in a nice surge and did just that, catching the 4 guys ahead of me.

At this point I was excited I had caught this pack and hoped the race would now string out but I still wasn’t sure if I was now in the front of the race or just the front of the chase pack. After catching them I felt like our pace slowed considerably but I knew we still had a long way to go and was worried about pushing too hard. Additionally, I tried to look up ahead and could not see anyone else so I figured I was in the front pack and that even if there were guys up ahead then it was only a handful of people.

Unfortunately our little group soon grew and heading into the first left turn on the second lap there was again a huge pack. Just like on the first loop I was getting shoved all over the place so I went to the front and tried to get things strung out a bit. Unfortunately due to the choppy weather this was a futile effort as much like riding into a headwind, it was much easier to swim in the group and take a beating than to swim out front into the waves and current. We finally made the last turn for home and I cruised in towards the front of what turned out to be the second pack. Looking back at the results, it appeared there was a group of 5 or 6 up the water but I couldn’t see them at all during the race. I came out in 1:05 for a long and tiring swim. I was more than happy to be done with it as my shoulders started tightening up with about 10 minutes to go. As it turned out, the leaders took about an hour so the swim was most likely 10-12 minutes long.

Because I came out of the water in a pack I headed out on the bike with some company. However the others immediately took off and it took me a while to get up to power. The swim had been rough and longer than I’m used to (1h05 compared to 0h25 for a 70.3) so I had to let them go. Once I settled in though I was feeling good and was determined to ride aggressively the rest of the way.

I was holding good wattage and feeling good through 40k when a few guys came up on me slowly. I decided to try to hang with them a while even though it meant pushing the envelope a bit. Paulo and I had discussed this before the race and I thought I had an outside shot of sneaking into the top ten with a solid ride and relatively normal run. Basically I was going for broke.

I'm the second guy in this picture and we're starting the second lap of the bike.

This worked great up until about 90 km when I lost contact with the group through a technical section of the course. Then at around 100 km the wheels started to come off and it was a real struggle to keep the pedals turning over. I made it back into transition and as usual was more than happy to be off my bike.

Finally done with the bike ride. Oh so sore and I have 30km to run. Not good.

Heading out on the run...

Starting the run however, I felt significantly less than stellar. I had done hard rides in races in the past, most recently Florida 70.3, but this was worse. Nevertheless I jogged out of transition and just tried to get into a rhythm as quickly as possible. The first few kms were painful but eventually I started clicking off some 3:40 kms and I was looking forward to a solid run. Unfortunately though this was not to be the case. Very shortly thereafter things went south in a hurry and by 10k the wheels were falling off. I was running 4+ min kms and was ready to call it a day and pack it in. It was then that I told myself there was no way I was going to fly over to Europe and not finish so I decided to start walking through the aid stations and running in between. While this was certainly a blow to the ego, it was necessary at the time and really helped me get in some fluid and calories. I slogged through the rest of the run and finally crossed the finish line.

Struggling across the finish line.

And a nice butt shot. I'm just glad I'm dont and still walking. A couple of moments later, I was laying down in the med tent.

While the result was not spectacular, it was a thrill to finish and I was of course extremely glad that I did stick it out rather than pack it in after the first lap. I headed straight for the med tent where I got to lay down and take some fluids. After 15-20 minutes of sipping a coke and some soup my lightheadedness began to subside and I was able walk and talk coherently. The post race spread was excellent and included (among other things) watermelon, pastries, and coffee.

After recovering, eating some food, and showering, we enjoyed the weather and atmosphere a bit in Almere.

All in all while I wasnt particularly pleased with the result, I wasnt totally disappointed either. First of all I finished 24th in my first World Championship as an elite... not to shabby. Second, in retrospect, I realized that I hadnt had enough to eat or drink on the bike which was just stupid. The sports drink they provided was just awful so after I finished my 20 oz bottle of Powerbar Endurance I didnt have any more sports drink the rest of the day. That coupled with only about 40 oz of water and 5 Powerbar Gels simply wasnt enough. Luckily though I wont be racing in Europe again any time soon so I'll be glad to be back to good old Gatorade in the States.

Finally and more importantly though I knew I was taking a risk by pushing the envelope on the bike but I felt like I had to in order to give myself a chance at finishing in the top 10. In retrospect I likely couldve raced more conservatively and finished somewhere around 15th rather than 24th but I set out wanting to finish in the top 10 knowing very well that I was taking a risk and that there was a distinct possibility I would blow up. However, even though it didnt work out I learned where my limit was. And lets face it, if you never go over the edge, how do you know where the edge is? Now, do I think this is a smart way to race? No. In fact I would recommend against it for most people in most cases. However, sometimes you have to weigh the risk/reward and take some chances, especially when racing as a pro. This time it just didnt work out but I'm hoping the lessons learned here will pay off in Clearwater.

For the ITU summary of the race with results and pictures, go here.

For complete results from the race website, go here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back in the US of A

Its been a while since I’ve been able to update as internet access in the Netherlands was limited. Overall the trip was definitely a learning experience and while there were certainly some parts that could’ve gone better, I’m glad I went.

The voyage started last Tuesday when I flew from Huntsville to Atlanta then Atlanta to Amsterdam, landing in Amsterdam Wednesday morning. I was excited to arrive in Europe and after retrieving my luggage I was off to find train to get to Almere, the site of the race. I navigated the ticket buying process and after a bit of sign deciphering I thought I had figured out which train I needed to board. According to my ticket, the train ride was supposed to take about 40 minutes. About 20 minutes, the train made a stop and I expected it would continue on to the stop I needed, Almere Centraal. Unfortunately however, the train went back the other way, to the airport. I ended up switching trains a couple of times and finally after about 3 hours after buying my train ticket, I was in Almere Centraal. I still had to get to my condo, so I took a cab which ended up being 45 euros (~$67!) for about a 20 minute drive. Ouch.After a long day of travel I was happy to get to my room, get in a run, get some dinner, and get to bed. Aside from arriving later than expected, the only problem was that my bike hadn’t arrived. Without a working phone or internet, I wasn’t ready to try to track it down Wednesday night so I went to bed hoping it would be there Thursday morning.

Here is a nice pic of the condo where we were staying. The resort was huge and climate and vegetation reminded me of North Carolina but without the mountains.

I was staying with Kevin Lisska, his girlfriend Linden, and his mom, Pat, and I met the latter two Thursday morning as they had headed to Amsterdam on Wednesday and arrived home after I had retired. Thursday was cloudy, cool, and dreary, and after a swim at the swim course I spent the rest of the day trying to track down my bike. I finally figured out the problem: it was held up in customs. Apparently when I sent it with FedEx, it was stopped in customs because somewhere along the line it was marked as a new bike and therefore subject to duties. A FedEx representative had been calling me but it was a futile effort with my cell phone not operational. So finally I explained the bike was used and after faxing a copy of my passport and boarding pass, the bike was released. Thursday night we went into Almere for dinner with the other elites on Team USA and it was a great to meet and get to know the fellow team members. The dinner wasn’t great, but then we had some excellent gelato.

Here is lunch after the swim. A panini, cappuccino, and cookie from a cafe in Almere Stad.

That night we had dinner with the Elite Team USA members.

We had talked about going into Amsterdam on Friday but with my bike still en route, I wanted to hang out at the condo. So that’s what I did. I waited and read some and waited some more. Finally at 4:45 it was time to go to the pre race athletes’ dinner and the bike still wasn’t there. I was pretty pissed. Upon arriving at the dinner it was cool to see all of the other national teams but the “opening ceremonies” were admittedly a bit lame. However, we did see a pretty cool/hilarious MJ impersonator while strolling around Almere Centraal after dinner. When we got back to the condo, my bike had finally arrived. Relieved, I immediately got to work putting it together and was glad to find it in working order once assembled.

Kevin, myself, Coach Lindsay, and Chris before the meet and great athletes' dinner on Friday night.
Window shopping in Almere Centraal after dinner. Check out the weave on those Nikes. Also check the price tag and remember those are Euros, people...

Its MJ! Apparently the Europeans still love him.

Saturday was then a fairly typical pre-race day. We (Kevin, Chris Bagg who is the other guy staying with us, and I) rode our bikes over to the race site where we had to rack them. One nice benefit of this race was that everyone got his/her own large blue plastic box to put things in. I’m not sure if this was just because this was the World Championships or if the local race directors always provided them but they were really nice. Additionally, there was plenty of room in transition which always makes things easier on race morning. The coolest part of the transition though had to be the personalized signs for the elites. After racking the bikes we got in a short swim and were ready to hop on the shuttle bus and head back to the condo to chill out. Unlike Wednesday through Friday, Saturday was sunny and much warmer, making it a very nice day. The weather was supposed to hold up through Sunday, causing us to look forward to a great day of racing.

My sign in transition. Cool stuff.

Sunday was the race. It will be covered in a later blog entry. Sunday night Kevin, Linden, Pat, Team USA Elite Head Coach Lindsay Hyman, and I headed into Amsterdam. Although Kevin and I were moving like 93 year old grandmothers, I was determined to see the city. After a brief car tour we found a parking spot somewhere near the infamous Red Light District. We walked through, saw some sights, and eventually found a café/bar for a round of drinks. I still had to pack my bike that night, so Kevin and I went with some Irish coffee. Luckily for us, the Dutch know their coffee and the drinks were great.

While I didn’t get to sight see as much as I would’ve liked, I did learn a few things about the Dutch culture.

  1. Heineken is very popular.
  2. If you ask for water with a meal, expect to pay for it.
  3. The Dutch like their espresso, pastries, and French fries (with mayonnaise), but aren’t so keen on the veggies.
  4. Everyone speaks English. While I initially felt like a total jerk for not being able to speak Dutch, I eventually realized everyone could (and would) speak English.
  5. Expect poor service at restaurants but other than that expect people to be generally friendly.