Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In the Zone

I arrived to Texas ashamed of how I had let myself slip in terms of "professionalism" toward my sport. How could I ever expect to be "pro", lacking the natural talent of countless competitors, without doing EVERYTHING under my control as PERFECT as possible? It was the start of a downward spiral to a plateau of performance and a pool of negative emtions.

So, since I stepped foot off the airplane I've been committed to going at this full throttle. We're nearing the end of April, and it's been almost a month, with one more to go before Honu. How's it goin'? Amaaazzziiinnnngggg!

Cliche as it sounds, I've "found myself". That inner tiger, the instinctive voice that brought me home, has been unleashed and it feels great. To wake up every morning with fiery motivation is priceless. Aiding that is my brother's inspiring drive to kick some ass at the State track meet in Austin mid May. Over the years we've gone back and forth motivating each other athletically- he did the first triathlon, Teen to Tot in 2002, then I picked it up in 2006, and reeled him back. He went to watch me race Hawaii in 2007, and then I've seen him progress in swimming, tri's, and especially running (xc & track) to the point that it's contagious to want to get fast. Watching a meet the other day it hit me. We're blood. I have speed. I should be fast, I will be fast.

Helping each other out with nutrition, ways to recover, ways to approach workouts, etc has been awesome. We've made a pact. We will see him top 3 at State and win Nationals in triathlon this year. We also will see me win my AG at every REMAINING race this year- including Worlds 70.3 Vegas and defending my IM Hawaii title, as well as get amateur at Honu & Vineman.

I make bold statements like this because I fully believe that if you cannot see and feel yourself winning then how the hell are you going to win?!

When I first started racing this is the kind of attitude that I had and it's what got me to Kona right away. My first half in Honu 2007, I had zero doubt that I would qualify for the World Champs. I got in the water that morning already a champion inside; and when I went on to train for October, I was training to win not to participate.

One of my favorite quotes is "what would you do if you knew you would not fail?"

To that dreaded word "balance"- I appologize. I have found a new meaning for it. It is not anything that counters an OCD approach to triathlon. Rather it is attaining a level of satisfaction in other things in life which ALLOW you to have that very anal approach to sport. In other words, being home and able to be with my family and physically go into an office for work (work which I cannot be handed when I am out of state), makes me not feel like I am a waste in the "real world".

Believe it or not, one of the most irritating things to me is the bashing I receive for "not working". I am tired of explaining myself. My immigration issues are not a joke. But in short, the part time job that I have when in CA takes me minutes a day. Thus other work that I could be doing, such as helping the HR department as I am now, is only possible when I'm physically present. It is a gutting void that makes me feel useless. All of my life I took pride in excelling academically and had aspirations of holding a respectable and challenging career (not sport!).

Anyway, having that void filled right now, however so small the drippings, is immensely satisfying.


Onto the training here in TX. My plan is to get to Hawaii and be cold. As it is, I will be. Getting on the trainer when it's humid beyond words under 90 degree sun for anything more than 30min does wonders.

Certain runs I've been doing in the heat of the day as well. I had never really monitored my sweat loss (weighing before and after) but it has proved very useful.

My biggest obstacle is having my stomach cooperate at the intensity I need to race at if I plan to achieve my goals (I am still kicking myself about Galveston!!). So knowing exactly how much salt, calories, and water I need to take at certain HRs and legs of the race is crucial.

I've also acclimated quite well to swimming in warm pool water. It dehydrates you more than you think. I am now very thankful to aquajoggers and old ladies that vote for those temps at my gym. For Hawaii, this matters.

That awesome 2000m swim race in Austin this Sunday will have to be scratched off my calendar :( I didn't see the crazy $115 entry fee!! But I love an excuse to go to Austin so I figured I might as well run around Town Lake and swim on my own at the Quarry to get some more open water. I love Boerne Lake because it's 20min from home but it's quite big and though they removed the gator last year, it's still very eery.

Plans to go watch IMTX have also been slashed. My mom and stepdad will be out of the country so I'm my brother's driver that weekend and I've decided to race a sprint in New Braunfels. It'll be cool as the swim is in the Guadalupe River and I haven't been there since my dad and I used to go Kayaking nearly every weekend up until I was in high school :)

** a little side note...I caved and went into Slowtwitch yesterday and read some thread on IMTX. Some dude had said that it will likely be a little cooler and less humid than Hawaii and that you don't ever see a bitching thread on Hawaii's conditions because likely its participants are more hardcore. My take: I've raced Hawaii 3 times, Honu 3 times, that makes six plus 2 training camps. 2009 Honu was the hottest I've experienced it and that's because we're running in the heat of the day in the part of the island that never gets rain/shade. The Texas 90-100F and the wretched humidity of Houston make Kona absolutely mild. To all those that think Kona is a hot race: No. The bike is hot I'll give you that. The humidity is mediocre and by the time the bulk of the age groupers are running on the Queen K the cloud cover has already cooled it down dramatically.

Just sayin'...I think anyone that does well in this inaugural event deserves some major kudos and their worries about the weather are understandable.***

Anywhoooo.....We're roughly 6 weeks out of my favorite race on planet Earth and I'm reaching the first peak of 2011 that I knew was possible.

I look fowrard to having an absolute blast the rest of the season.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Galveston 70.3

The trip to Galveston was one of the most enjoyable weekend "vacations" I've had in a while. When I was little(8-14yo), my mom and I used to drive all over Texas practically every weekend for my tennis tournaments. My mind is full of great memories from those short trips. Therefore, I very much looked forward to a long time on the road with her and my brother for this race.

We got there midday Friday, and checked into the Moody Gardens Hotel. This race venue is one of the most convenient for those who stay at the host hotel. The only other one I can think of that beats it purely due to its magestic scenery/environment is Honu. My mom was able to sleep in both race days while Daniel and I, repsectively, walked over to set up our transition well before the start time. Not only that, but if we forgot something all we had to do was take the elevator back up to the room and settle the panic in minutes.

After unpacking and getting athlete check-in over with, we showered and headed to dinner on the east side of the Island (what I gathered to be downtown/historical district). Both Friday and Saturday night we ate dinner at Willie G's. The water view was great and the seafood was super fresh.

After dinner, we were off to bed early for Daniel's sprint Saturday.

I walked down with Daniel at 5:30am the next morning so he could set up transition and his warm up jog worked perfect as my 20min run so, as is extremely rare, I got to run alongside him :)

Once he had to walk over to the swim start I went to look for my mom but she was already at the swim exit, camera in hand, waiting. Hehe

But I ran into Lisa Preeg (40ish yo superstar) whom I was surprised and delighted to see the day before (I trained with Lisa a couple years ago in SD and Austin, and we both raced Kona and Arizona the same year), and we watched the swim and then walked over to where my mom was.

Despite not having swum except a handful of times since last tri-season (August 2010), Daniel held his own in the water and came out 3rd in his wave. As well, on the bike he only came back down 1-2 min (I think 3 tops from the fastest dudes) even though he has ridden his bike on the trainer a few times a max of 45min! Looks like so much run training has more than kept him in shape.

Since he was the 3rd wave of men, when he came into transition it was hard to see where he would place overall, there were some men from the previous waves blasting out into the run course.

However, I knew that it would be extremely rare that someone could match this kid's step. He blew by us and ran up to all but two of the guys from the other waves.

In the end he finished 1st Overall with a 15:04 run split! He said his Garmin proved the run to be a tad short, but nevertheless- damn!

After awards, where he ran into some friends that also race Juniors, including Breanna Hemming, who's also his age and took female overall (stud!), we cleaned up and went to lunch.

I found an awesome place called the Lunchbox Cafe that uses local and, whenever possible, organic produce and meats and we had some awesome sandwiches. I can't remember the last time I had a sandwich haha. It had roasted turkey, hummus, olive spread, cucumber, tomato, and mixed greens :P

Anyway, after lunch it was my turn to put on the race wheels and check in my bike.

Now I'll fast forward to my race:

Let me preface by saying that I came into this race tapered- and I mean TAPERED. The longest ride I have done in the previous two weeks was 2.5hrs last Friday. Since getting home to San Antonio I've shifted my focus to spending lots of time in the office and gearing my training to short FAST stuff. It's been in the back of my head that so much long course (70.3 & IM) training and racing has begunt to settle me into a "steady pace" of racing; this is primarily highlighted in my running. So I've vowed to start training like an ITU athlete and racing long course, in the hopes of getting my fast twitch fibers to work again and preserve my body for the many years I plan on being in the sport.

My body felt great going into this 70.3 and my mind has(d) done a 180 since I left California. I'm motivated and confident as ever and I'm doing EVERYTHING as perfect as possible. Never, even when I started this sport and was a geek to the max, have I zoned into my training, nutrition, and recovery as narrowly as now.

Anyway, suffice to say race morning I was worried exclusively about my own day. 5:30am I set up my transition and then went back to the room to roll on the foam roller and stretch a bit while Daniel & my mom sloooowwwlllyyy woke up.

My start was 8:20 (2nd women's wave to the 45+W)- the pros took off at 7am, followed by ALL the AG men. There were some pros and cons to this delay. It was good in the sense that the air would be a bit warmer both for the start and for the remainder of the race (careful what you wish for though!), and there would be no issues with women drafting men.
The bad I only came to realize as the race played out: we were greeted with choppy water vs the calm bay of the early morning (due not only to mother nature but the dozen waves of men mixing up the water), the tight quarters on the 4loop run course on a golf cart-width path, as the fleet of women poured into the various men remaining on the course for their 2nd,3rd, & 4th loops, and lastly, the age group women got the HEAT of the day. Galveston worked like this: cloud cover until 10/11amish, and then clear and blazing sun/humidity till 2ish. So in my particular case, I finally enjoyed some clouds my final two loops of the run. The first two were cookin'.

Ok so the swim- perfect. I lined up front and center and hammered to the first turn boey about 600-700m out. I found the perfect draft of a girl that I knew was a swimmer. We only had some tightness at that turn boey and coming into the finish from having to weave through slower swimmers from the men's waves. I was at a comfortable but solid pace behind this girl and came out 3rd in my wave. I would've normally been very disappointed with a 31min swim, as my swim is doing great right now, but relative to the AG women's field I exited in good standing (the only real point of comparison, not the pros or AG men, as they got the similar conditions I refered to earlier).

Onto the bike it took me about 30min to get into a very enjoyable rythm and I was pushing as hard as I could. At around mile 15 a 23yo girl came by me and I kept her in sight until about mile 20. I just kept hammering away hoping I wouldnt hit the run with that big a deficit and that she may not be a runner. I had no intention of running over 1:35.

The bike was big crosswind and headwind to the turnaround at mile 28, and then fun as hell tailwind from 28-about mile 40, then some cross/tiny headwind again to the Moody grounds.

Into T2 I felt great as I had made sure to really hit my calories on the bike with my EFS pre mixed gel flask that I later topped with a double latte Power gel, and I had hydrated really well with 2.5 full aero drink thingy of water plus 1/2 bottle of Powerbar Perform.

My signature porta potty stop to pee was in order (I've come to terms with this). My legs felt great but "oh shit!" the same exact stomach issue that nailed me in Honu last year for the first 5k was back to squash my dreams of pulling out the run I knew I was ready for.

There's a good and bad to this. The bad is that I lost my AG win by <40sec and severall amateur spots by a couple of minutes, as well the pure frusteration of your legs & mind feeling amazing and limited to what your stomach dictates. The good- this had happened before and I knew it was due to not having adjusted my body to caloric intake at this intensity under this heat. After Honu last year, Vineman, that Oly in Austin, and Kona presented no stomach cramping at all.

The pain is a double side stitch with extreme tightness across the bottom of my rib cage to the point that I stopped at mile 2 to bend over and try to dig/ART my way out of this.

It took the first two loops of the run at a miserable jog pace to settle the cramping down. The last two loops I felt great and was able to pick it up to what I would've like the rest of my run to look like. I had taken plenty of salt so that was not the issue either. It's purely that eating/hammering in the heat thing. So hopefully now with that behind me and some more intense workouts in the 95F temps will yield a flawless race in Honu :)!!

I crossed the finish quite thrilled with where my fitness and overall preparation is at this time, and all but that cramping issue made for a fantastic race for me.

You can't win them all and though I really dislike second places, the girl who won was the best on the day.

I would've like to have known that someone was that close to me the 3rd or 4th loops of the run, as I thought she was more like 10min ahead, but oh well.

Well, after the race we showered, grabbed lunch, and came back to awards. This RD is no joke he starts everything on the dot so it was 4:08 and I had missed my name so i just picked up my award and we hit the road home!

I want to thank all our awesome sponsors for Team Nytro- my Zoot Prophet is the bomb and my Colnago is a helluva ride!!

This week holds a few recovery days and then a fun 80miler in Austin this wknd. But the true excitement is Daniel distrcit track meet Tues & Wed- 2mi, then 1mi the next day!!

Back to fine tune before Honu ;) Cannot wait to step on that Island!