Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Maui, Xterra World Championships 2013

Xterra World Championships
10th amateur 25-29
Off Road Triathlon
Maui, Hawaii
The Red Dust Settles
Stand up paddle board and active recovery session.

had a different demeanor, this year, walking into this prestigious event. I knew that with my struggle just several weeks prior, I compromised on fitness to be healthy coming into the event and rightfully, it was the correct decision. I had to assess my goals, and, naturally, set new ones. To be healthy was the priority goal and focus for this race. Anything else was a bonus. I had some long travels to Maui, splitting it into a two day travel session, but would eventually arrive in Maui on Sunday evening a week before the race. Psychologically that was enough time, almost an instant reset for the mind. This race is always one of my best experiences for the season. Hawaii is a magical place and whatever woes one has are soon a thing of the past with this majestic calming island life.

Surprisingly I was enjoying the suffering up the climb

The following day set as an easy day after some long travels, and set up the week for good vibrations. Pre-riding the course on Tuesday with Ben Allen & Jaqui Slack, an Australian and British duo, along with several other athletes, gave me an indication of what to expect on race day. At this point in the game, a few days out from the main event, balancing fatigue and form was the primary focus for me.
Post race ride with my favourite bird. Hi-ilani.

Race morning was like many previous. The conditions were hot with the air standing still, as the trade winds had decided to rest for the day which made for some extreme humidity levels and a greater emphasis on hydration/nutrition for the day. During the race I consumed four 16oz bottles on the bike and one 12oz for the run. I had also frozen 3 zip lock bags with water and cut the tips off so as .they melted it would sprinkle across the body keeping my core temperature low and delay fatigue levels. It worked like a charm. I would use the other two for the run when the sun would be at its highest in the day. A great tip to use for future races and one that is used by 4x Xterra World Champ, Conrad Stoltz, is to simply hold the ice bags in hand while running and allow your body to do the rest.

I had a respectable swim staying toward the front of the 500 other male athletes. I came out the water in good time, losing less than a minute to one of my key rivals and possibly a top amateur swimmer in the field. I knew I could out bike him and upon arriving in T1, I managed a quick bike count noticing only 4 were missing, I eventually would catch him around mile 3 which allowed me to put time between him and I, leaving me scrambling on the run to maintain position. I arrived in T2 in 5th. The sun showed its ferocity during the run and my lack in concentration had me sprawled out on the trail unexpectedly. I had tripped on a tree root and took a tumble in some branches. Let me tell you, it hurt! The run quickly went from a smooth trot to a messy final two miles, as fatigue levels started to rise and hot conditions weathered the body. The 250 yard beach run to the finish line seems to sap any energy you have left and for the second year in a row this course proved its worthy of much respect. I would eventually slip to 10th on the day.

GoPro camera action and hypoxic breathing drills Napili Bay

With a training/racing season that turned slightly pear shaped toward the end stages, I was happy to walk away from Xterra World Championships with this result. Finishing 10th in category, even with the showing of a stacked field, top 50 overall amateur was a satisfactory result and consistent with last year (also considering I had lost a lot of fitness as explained here.)

Congratulations to all 803 athletes that made it. Special mention to Ken, my fellow friend and athlete I coach, on finishing his first Xterra Worlds. Tick that one off your bucket list and welcome to “G-ville”. Also to the Kapuna, inspirational to see a 76 year old man, Ron Hill, who came back from a broken pelvis weeks prior and finished this event. Ahead of the game for sure!

Now that the season has come to an end, I can look back taking many positives away. A big lesson on being patient, controlling the competitive monster within, correct periodization, balancing rest vs. training and note I am moving forward with a clearer picture for the 2014 season, I anticipate higher levels of focus on the details. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me in some way or form this season. There have been many people and I am humbled and grateful for your support.

To my sponsors at Elite PerformanceChiropractors I am thankful for all that you do for me during my training and racing season. I cannot imagine a training schedule without the support and advice you give me to keep my body in check.

To the guys at Cadence Cyclery of McKinney, thank you for the continued service on my equipment, Giant Bicycles and providing a solid foundation to fuel my training and racing regime. You are a key part of my young career in this endurance game of cycling and triathlon.

Post race get together and a spill in the red Maui 

CycleOps For your consideration to have me on your grassroots campaign and support I receive on discounted products is appreciated.
Managed to find energy for one last run with Ken, an athlete I coach, as we finished the last beach run.

It was a good day for my SkinStrong products from anti-chafe to sunscreen I stayed protected all day from the harsh conditions, beach sand in places it shouldn't be and the relentless sun beaming down on me all day a great product and worth a mention for sure.

Orange Seal Cycling thank you for keeping me rolling and my tires inflated, an innovative and continuously evolving product, never a problem with new tire setups.
Also, a big thanks to the many individuals in my life that make an impact to me daily and have supported my racing in more ways than I can count. Thank you.

Cheers till next time.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Training Endurance - Multi sport Balance

Training Balance

"About time," some may say. I've been somewhat of a ghost with my last posting to this page back in May of this year. I told myself I had writers block but that was an addition to some other aspects of denial. To get you up to speed, it has been a hard season. With at least 30 races in a 7 month block, too much in fact, but I can admit to that and if admission is guilt, well then I'm guilty. I've had some highs and some very low points since May. On the go all the time, and while trying to balance training, working, relationships, coaching and writing programs for 12 athletes I sacrificed on my own recovery in a big way, and now I've paid the price.

As a self coached athlete I've got to rely on my ability of forethought to predict my mishaps, but not all stand tall and clear in broad daylight. I reached some peak fitness in May and won some creditable races, the competitive mind within pushed on when the body lagged behind in pieces, awaiting some much needed rest. I should have backed off the training when I was in Richmond, VA for East Coast Championships. Instead, I put the lethargic state of being down to long travels and stress from having my bike show up the night before the race. The inevitable was still hiding in the wing and ultimately the outcome was over training and disastrous repercussions to show up in late August. My mind and body were somewhat disconnected, like an apple split in two halves and lacking its better side. Catastrophe was imminent. I still took some time to realize what was happening and as any athlete can tell you, excuses are backed up by a valid reason for the lethargic state of being. A cat and mouse game of denial is formed in mind which proved more detrimental. I could feel myself starting to drift off course. I should have started speaking to fellow athletes sooner to seek advice, but my pride got in the way of that. I often made myself feel guilty for taking afternoon naps, but still it got worse. The lethargic state of being was bending towards Zombie like characteristics and i felt like i was in a deep hole. Over the past two months it has been easy to sleep for 12-14 hours a night and wake up feeling like I am running on a 2 hour sleep cycle.

Regardless, I pressed on with training. Paying no attention to the writing that was on the wall. I like to go on according to how I feel and clearly this time listening to the signs wasn't working either. I messed this one up pretty bad. Perhaps my passion for the sport got a bit too much and proved my demon. I need to learn lessons like this one because this sure wont happen again. I have managed to pick up the pieces and find my mojo again, in time too; I'm at the airport now waiting for a connecting flight to Xterra World Championships in Maui. I'm amazed at how well the body reacts when you give it the right doses of lifestyle balance. For now all I have are these words, but ill be more prominent on here with postings.

Cheers for now

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Un-expected weekend of Criteriums

This weekend passed by just like the haze of colors seen when driving down an interstate. I had Bike the Bricks penciled in on my calendar which happened to fall on the Friday before Memorial weekend. I hadnt done much riding since returning home for Xterra Alabama, so I had decided to race two categories to get some ride time in. Needless to say these happen to be back to back races. I managed a 2nd overall in the first race and a comfortable pack finish on the second race. For the two races at a combined 1h30min ride time I believe my avg speed was around 27mph. Hot out of the gates and the racing took off at a blistering pace. 

I took Saturday as a normal training day, producing a 6 mile run and a swim. I had heard about other Criterium racing happening over the rest of the weekend. One which really sparked an interest was the "Skilz" based Texas State Championships. On the Sunday there would also be a race about 3 miles from my back door so it seemed wrong of me not to pedal over and support the local race. I managed to get into a breakaway with another rider from San Antonio and once we had peeled back a gap on the chasing bunch, I relied on what little memories I had of my race tactics from my Track Velodrome days back in South Africa. On the final stretch before making a right hand turn onto the straight finish I forced him to the front and sat his wheel. When he started to wind up his sprint, his legs showed fatigue and I knew then that I had the race in the bag. 

On Monday morning I made my way to the priority race for the weekend. Texas State Champs. I must have missed the memo because when I rolled up to the start line with 10 mins till the gun I found myself sitting on the back of the pack. Aggression must have been the subject for the day, with a 1 mile circuit hosting 10 ninety degree turns it seemed the race would come down to good positioning in the bunch. With an attempt or two I tried to get away but much like Friday I soon realized I was a marked man. With RBM Team, Sun and Ski and a few other strong contenders showing up with more team numbers I decided to change my tactics mid way through the race. I played the waiting game and took the opportunist approach. Working on my positioning in the bunch almost every lap, making sure I was near the front which in the end paid dividends. I came around the final corner in first place and glanced back to see a major crash.(click below)

Winning Texas State Champs

Friday, May 24, 2013

Xterra Alabama South East Championships

Xterra Bama
1st 25-29 
4th Amateur Overall.

Happy to type the details above. With race memories subsiding in mind, having taken the last few days to regenerate I can now build on the confidence that has come from Bama. I arrived on Tuesday evening before the race, having road tripped with a fellow Texan some 12 hours east from Dallas. We made a brief stop in Mississippi to stretch the legs with a casual 3 mile jog. Since my last blog/vlog I shifted the focus greatly onto my run and I am starting to reap some benefit. 

The rest of the week I was told by Boo that making sure I hit my run volume for the week was priority .So with no real taper for this race I tried to stay off my feet whenever I could to ensure some kind of worthy performance but made sure I hit my target run volume for the week. 

Dan Hugo and I in transition pre race.

Race morning was calmer than usual for me. No real nerves but rather out for a day of business. I did my usual routines, checking and re-checking equipment. I had earphones plugged in while enjoying some upbeat tones when Dan approached me with a look of dismay on his face. With the question to rent my wetsuit as the Pros had been given the nod on a wetsuit legal swim. I knew I had my speed suit in my bag so with no hesitation I prompted him to take the suit. I lost a about a minute 10 seconds on my swim but it was ok, it forced some more focus on form and technique. 

The morning was slick as rain sucomed to gravity and steadily fell on us. I knew the bike course would be a challenge for most on the day and I also knew that I had the wrong tire setup. It was too late to change Orange Seal and setup new tires so I stuck with it and dropped my tire pressures lower than usual. My plan was to conserve on the technical sections and drive hard on the sections I could. I came into transition as 2nd amateur overall and in about 15th place overall ahead of several Pros and began opening up my stride on the flat road section before entering into the thick canopy of trees. Somewhere around mile 4 the stride changed to the "Kansas city shuffle" and I fell to 4th Amateur and 19th overall. With two weeks focused on running I have definitely found some improvements. Im moments away from having that ideal race where everything aligns like Orion or better known as the 3 sisters.

Because thats how we roll in Xterra.

So for now I continue to increase the volume and focus on the bigger picture. I want to thank everyone for all the race morning messages and support. It fuels the performance more than you know. To my Sponsors thank you.

Next Race Xterra Richmond, East Coast Champs 8th of June.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vblog April- Mid May

Here with my first Vblog. Not exactly your best reporter but a better way to get you up to speed on my past month of racing. Thanks again for showing support and following my season. Hopefully my next Vblog will be of better standards and highlight some details

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ouachita Challenge

Ouachita Challenge
Day 1 Tour  Finished 3rd  -5:h05m
Day 2 Race Finished 25th - 5:h20m
Total Time: 10h25m

Sitting second from left to right in picture (Purple and Green)

If ever my physical limits were tested it happened this past weekend in Arkansas. Day 1 of Ouachita challenge started out as a training day where I had set a 3hour ride time but that clearly never happened once pedaling. The tour is just that, a tour to enjoy the experience of the new surroundings and opportunity to ride terrain that may not be available to some of us everyday. I wanted to get the training volume in and this provided the perfect back drop. As we rolled down the road at the start I was committed to the day, 3hours, in my mind anyway. It was only once we passed the first checkpoint I knew then I was all in for the day. The trail went something like this....

Tar Road, Gravel Road, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Single track, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Single track, Rocks Rocks Rocks, Fire Road, Rocks Rocks Rocks, Creek Crossing, Rocks Rocks, Single Track, Gravel Road, Rocks Rocks, Creek Crossing Single Track, Creek Crossing, Gravel Road,Tar Road.

I had a comfortable ride until 4hours and then the fatigue started, I lost energy levels but I knew this would happen at some point during the ride. I had been managing intake of fuels consistently and perhaps had neglected it ever so slightly in the 3rd hour. I popped two gels and found my legs again. It was a great adventure and some of the best mountain biking Ive done in a long time.

Sample Footage April 2013 - Arkansas from Aerial Vid on Vimeo.

Footage by Craig Roberson

Day 2 was really the final nail in the coffin, the course had been change slightly with an added section of single track called Blowout Mountain. It  added only about 2miles onto the total distance but they were a hard 2miles of rock gardens. I had recovered well from the previous day but battled to find my rhythm early on . I hung with the lead pack until we entered the first section of single track and then decided to sit up, back off a little until I found my lungs. I lost several positions but on a long day in the saddle so much can change. In the 3rd hour of racing I got my anticipated second wind and started to turn the tempo up. When I hit the tar road at mile 26ish I put my time trial face on and pulled back at least a dozen places. I rode home to finish 25th overall and felt content with my consistency from back to back days. One in the bank and to be drawn from later in the season.

A big thank you to my sponsors - Skin Strong kept me from burning up with over 10hours in the sun, Cadence Cyclery had my bike dialed, Orange Seal kept my tires firm and Elite Performance Chiropractors keep me moving and injury free.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Xterra Camp Eagle

Xterra Camp Eagle, Rocksprings Texas
Regionals 24th March 2013
1st overall 1:48:39

A weekend of back to back racing or maybe NOT. Saturday morning in Dallas had me set for a hard weekend of efforts but the weather had its timing down to a T. With the arrival of 5:30am, I pealed off the warmth that is my duvet and started scrounging to get my gear on, sink down a quick breakfast and bike over to Cooper Fitness Center as my warm up before a transition setup for the days racing. Winter taking its last grasp at straws providing us with a brisk morning, I reminded myself it could be worse (after watching Milan-San Remo 2013). I sucked it up and focused on the work ahead. I got 250m into the swim when I heard some strange shouting and yelling. Looking up I was told to exit the water, my immediate thought  was that I was disqualified but shortly after leaving the water I was informed there had been a lightning strike not too far away. The race was delayed and I made the decision to pack up my gear and make my way to race number 2.

My song choice for the weekend.

Now in Rocksprings TX for the second race and we would be treated to some terrific weather again.  The race day temps in the low 40F with wind chills at 38F and wind gust of 20MPH made for some consideration of clothing choice for the bike and run portion. By the time I made it into T1 my face was numb and I had lost feeling in my feet and hands. I had opted for full fingered gloves and a long sleeve jacket for the bike portion, I slipped out of the wetsuit scrambled to put my jacket on and now with frozen hands i could not zip the jacket. I decided to take off with the jacket open appeal to a batman look a like and find opportunity on the course to close it up. I spent the first 2 miles on the bike spinning at a rapid cadence to get the legs warm. Had lost a glove off the end of my handle bars in the transition so instead of turning to get it I dropped the other one and rode without. My legs came around sooner than I anticipated and with a quick glance through the trees I noticed 2nd place on the switch backs several seconds back.

 I put my head down and cranked out a solid effort to put enough time between him and I. I would not see him until we crossed the finish line. T2 was a messy transition but with the first actual race of the season I never set high expectations. I managed to shed the jacket, rack the bike, slip on shoes, take off my helmet in a decent time and head out onto the run. Leaving the transition without a time split I ran the first mile at a comfortable effort and started to crank up the intensity for the middle section. I managed to roll my ankle on what im told are called "baby skull rocks", need no explanation there. I slowed my pace on the 3rd mile to prevent further injury but when I got a sniff of the finish I turned the pace back on to take the victory. Some reassurance that im on the right path with my training and should see more results this season.

Official Results

Big thanks to Joel Grimmett at Race Revolutions for providing a great race. I will unfortunately be missing the next regional Xterra to try my hand at Xterra West Coast Championships in mid April and the following week ITU San Diego Championships.

Xterra Press and Media Center wrote an article and recap

John Chung Photography

Orange Seal crew and their results.

The suspension bridge about 200m from T2 gives you those jelly legs.