10/14 - 10/20/2013

After a good long break, I got back to the business of training this week. I had a lot of good results this year but all at shorter distances and with less training than I need to be strong over the longer races. Next year I am looking at some longer events and I want to be fit enough to be confident racing for 4+ hours. I went into the week ambitions and I did get a lot of good work in but I took it easy when I needed to. 

I am planning on including functional strength training and mobility sessions in my plan in the next year so I will be including those here as well. We have been having beautiful weather the last couple of weeks and it makes training very enjoyable...I hope it keeps up long enough to get into decent shape before real winter arrives. 

Swim  16,500 yds
Bike   10.75 hrs
Run    31.25 mi
F/M   3/2

Santa Cruz Triathlon

Ahhh the good old Sentinel Triathlon, I volunteered at this race in college and that experience was my original inspiration to get into the sport. Every year I look forward to racing it, the whole town comes out and I know so many volunteers, participants and spectators that the feeling of community is almost surreal. We ended up with beautiful weather this year and many of my friends and teammates were getting excited for it all week.

If you don't already know, this race and I have a little history. This was my seventh year racing it and I had finished second overall the past four years, the Sentinel even ran an article leading up to the race about this fact because it has kind of become a running joke around town. In 2009 I was runner up to Sami Inkanen, one of the best 'amateurs' on the planet, the next year it was James Duff who is a long time fixture in the NorCal triathlon world, 2011 I was runner-up to Brian Lavelle who is a seasoned professional and last year Jack Calhoun, a collegiate swimmer, had a stellar day and ran away with the race. I have been racing well all year and even tough I am a little worn out from the long season, I felt good about this year and hoped to do well. 

Race morning went well with lots of handshakes and hugs from friends and family, it looked like it would be a beautiful day. There were some fast faces I recognized and some jazzed up collegiate athletes in transition so I knew it would be fast but I was feeling good. It is so nice to be able to race in your own town, sleep in your own bed and warm up on roads you know. I went for a jog up on West Cliff to stretch and get warmed up...the view overlooking the bay and the sun rising over the mountains was spectacular. There could not be a better way to start the day. 

Down on the beach the excitement and energy in the air was so much fun and I was excited to get out there on my favorite course. I lined up next to my good friend Yuta who is a stellar swimmer hoping to follow him for a fast trip around the wharf. At the gun everybody took off and it was a chaotic entry. A few waves were coming in and people were sprinting into the water so we were all crashing into and over each other. After a couple of hundred yards it calmed down and there was already one guy pulling away. I was swimming just behind Yuta which was a great position for me and we started setting a good tempo out to the turn-around. By the time we got to the end of the wharf Yuta had gained about twenty seconds on me but for me that is great as he is incredibly strong. On the way back in I could not see anyone else but I just picked a line I liked and tried to keep my pace up. 

Photo Credit: Martin Spierings

I felt good coming out of the water and I quickly run up to T1 in hopes of closing down any gaps from the swim as soon as possible. I got into transition and Yuta was getting ready to head out, we exchanged encouragement and as we were heading out someone yelled that the gap was a minute and twenty seconds to the leader. I could not believe it...that would be an incredibly fast swim and I jumped on my bike, making quick work of getting up to speed. There is a short out and back about three miles into the bike course and I got to get a look at the leader. I did not recognize him but he was tall and built like a swimmer so the gap was less of a surprise. I hoped to catch him before the bike was over and I felt good so I set to work. The long section of the course up Highway 1 is beautiful and lends itself to fast sustained riding. This is my favorite way to time trial because there is something about the rhythm of the wheels churning at high speed and the feeling of pumping out a quick tempo that is so satisfying. The air was fairly calm and I was moving along at a good pace so when I got to the turn around and saw that the gap had actually extended I couldn't believe it. I swooped through Davenport and got back on the highway for the fast trip back to town, keeping my head down the whole way and pushing over the hardest gear I could without my legs falling apart. 

I made a quick trip through the second transition and got a lot of conflicting information. Someone said the gap was forty seconds and then someone said it was a minute and twenty. I tried to see if anyone yelling numbers actually had a watch and one guy was actually looking at one as I was coming by, 'A minute and twenty!' he yelled. After the race I checked and the gap was actually about one minute and forty seconds. There is a short hill at the beginning of the run with a big crowd of people at the top and as I came to the top I pushed my legs and brought them up to speed amongst the encouragement of family and friends. 

Once I got out onto West Cliff I could see the leader off in the distance and I hoped that the run was his weakness and/or he had worn himself out with such a strong swim and bike. I felt like I was running really well and many people I knew were out along the run cheering and giving me encouragement. I must have been running well because I started to cut into the gap pretty quickly and at a mile and a half in the gap was down to forty five seconds. I was feeling hot and tired though and the first aid station didn't come until almost two miles in so the speed started to take a toll on me. As we neared the turn around the gap had shrunk to less than twenty seconds. I was really starting to hurt but I figured that at the rate I was gaining and still having three miles to go, I could get him. 

Seeing so close behind gave him some motivation and he picked up the pace just as I was fading a little...the gap came to a standstill around at around ten seconds. He was just ahead of me, close enough that I could hear his footsteps but not quite close enough to hear his breathing. I was baffled that I was no longer gaining on him and somehow that short distance seemed like a brick wall. I would push hard up the little hills but I just was not able to gain any ground. The effort of chasing for such a long way was taking it's toll and I couldn't get that extra speed that I needed. With a mile to go my mind started to get heavy with the realization that another year was going to pass without a win and I just could not believe it. Inside the last half mile I put every last ounce of effort into trying to catch up but it was just too much. The final straight away was a torturous slow drudge, with my head sagging further and further, my body felt like quick dry cement and I walked in the last bit. 

I slunk down in the finishing area in disbelief. Again? How? It was so close and I couldn't get it...no way.

Looking back at the numbers, I had a great race. The time was great and I raced really well for this late in the season. It is really hard to reconcile coming that close to a goal, especially one you care about so much, and having it slip away. This is especially so when I did well and still missed out, where the difference could have been a couple of sips of water or a better set of waves during the swim exit. I am glad that I put up such a strong performance but I am really disappointed to have once again missed out on winning my hometown event. 

Thanks to Martin Spierings for the Sentinel coverage and photo!

This marked the las race of the season for me and I will be taking some time off while I plan my schedule for next year and focus on lining up sponsorships. Thanks for reading!

Pacific Grove Triathlon 2013

If you were looking for a destination race in a sleepy beautiful costal town, Pacific Grove is that race. Even though it is close by, I don't make it down there very often and every year when I travel there for TriCalifornia's event I am always enchanted by the location. This year we had particularly nice weather which, coupled with the natural beauty of the bay and the cozy character of the town, made for a wonderful day. With the race being relatively local my family, friends, and teammates were all in attendance which always makes for a great day of catching up, laughs and great spirits.

This late in the year I always feel pretty tired so I have been doing my best to balance training and rest to make it to race day somewhat fresh without loosing too much fitness. It is always a challenge but I felt ok the day before and my pre-race routine went smoothly so I was feeling confident. I knew a lot of guys in the field and it looked like it was going to be fast and competitive.

I got down to the swim area early to get in and recon the course and sight lines. Being a draft-legal event, your position coming out of the swim makes a huge difference so I was going to need every advantage I could get. The kelp was not as bad as past years which was a relief and with the warm weather, the sometimes chilly water of Lovers Cove felt almost refreshing! I got out and gave a hug and kiss to my family before the start, then got into position early to guarantee a good entry at the start. When the gun went off I got a good jump on the beach and a good entry. The start is always chaotic and fast and I made it to the first buoy with the front of the group which may have been too fast and when we hit the first bit of kelp I felt pretty tired. The leaders pulled away just like I knew they would...Tommy, Dustin, John and another guy started to build a gap together but we all know we cant keep up with them in the water. Half way through the first lap a group of three guys came by me and I was glad to have a group to work with.

I think the exertion of the first few hundred meters caught up with me and as we were finishing the first lap I had let a little space open up between myself and the three guys I was with. I was hurting and swimming hard so on the second lap I just tried to avoid as much kelp as I could and get back up to them. I put a huge dig in for the last stretch and once I got into transition I was just behind them. I got out of transition less than twenty seconds behind them and hit the gas as hard as possible to try and close the gap quickly. Even with my best effort the gap had grown to thirty seconds by the first turn around. I was really frustrated because I knew my best chance of getting back to the leaders was to be in that group and there was no way I was going to pull them back alone. After the turn around I saw that Nicholas Thompson and another strong guy were less than half a minute behind me and I knew that they would eventually catch me so I sat up. The three of us got together before the end of the first lap and started working hard to make up some time. We set a strong tempo and kept it fairly steady, those two are strong on the bike and we made up a ton of time on the second group. Up the road John had lost touch with the leaders and by the end of the third lap our group had almost caught the group of four.

On the fourth lap our group of three caught the four chasers and at that point there were only three up the road. The leaders had a substantial gap so the rest of us were racing for fourth place so the pace on the last lap eased up substantially. I was relieved about that because my legs and lungs needed a break. We flew into the second transition with a strong tailwind and I had one of my fastest transitions ever! I left T2 in the lead from my group but my stomach felt a little heavy and it took me a little time to get going. Two guys passed me and slowly started pulling away in the first mile and one passed me in the second mile. By then I finally felt like I was getting into a rhythm and knowing how fast the guys up the road were I was just trying to hang on. I knew I was in seventh and I was happy with that so I just tried to keep my turnover up and my breathing under control. Everyone's positions held from there on out and I enjoyed the two loops back through the crowd with cheers from my family and high-fives from my teammates.

I finished as strong as I could although I was really worked by the finish and I know I slowed down pretty significantly in the last few miles. It was a tough race but it was fun to actually be racing with and against people instead of out on my own like most events. By the numbers it wasn't a great performance for me but it was a fun competition and I enjoyed the challenge. In the future I would love to get into one of the lead groups and actually be able to race for the podium but I am going to have to do some serious swimming to make that happen.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day and Pacific Grove is such a special place. The physical challenge definitely feels secondary on a day like that and that is why I love this event so much.

8/19 - 8/25/2013

It was a beautiful week on the coast. The awesome late summer weather we get in Santa Cruz is starting to roll in and it was so nice to be out and about. I took a moderate week this week...pushing hard when I felt good and taking it easy when I needed to. Nothing too crazy but some good efforts and some great views.

Pleasure Point looking east toward Rio Del Mar

The view from San Andreas with Monterey in the distance.

Swim 12,200 yds
Bike   8.75 hrs
Run    24 mi

Santa Cruz International

This was a tough week. I had to work more than usual and was tired from the previous weeks training so I felt pretty run down all week. I forced myself to stick to the plan though and I am glad I did because my body finally came around by race day on sunday. If I am not feeling well the week prior to a race I always try to tell myself that another nights sleep might be all I need and not to worry and if I am not feeling good during a race I always remind myself that things might come around later on and to not let up. This race was a good example of why that is a good piece of positive self talk to have in my repertoire.

I felt good race morning and with warm coffee in my belly I headed off in the fog to ride down to transition. I was the first one there which was nice because I know so man people at this event that it is nice to have time to chat with everyone and catch up. There were a lot of people coming into town for the race and a strong field had been assembled including two strong veterans of the sport, both with Ironman victories under their belts and I knew it would be a battle. Spirits were high in transition and I was glad to be enjoying the day after a couple of weeks of uncertainty.

I lined up for the start next to John Dahlz who is a long time figure on the NorCal triathlon circuit and a beast of a swimmer...if one thing was certain we would all be chasing him once the swim was over. My goal for the swim was to be aggressive and minimize the damage John could do and gain time on some of the other guys in the field that I knew were Monsters on the bike. I got a good start and great angle into the water, after a strong entry and aggressive first couple of minutes I actually reached the first turn buoy with John which was a huge boost in confidence. I knew it would not last and slowly but surely he started building a gap on me as we went through the first lap. I saw him exit to run up for the second lap and I figured the gap to be inside thirty seconds which I was really happy with. I was not feeling great but sometimes you can perform well anyway so I just told myself to keep it up. The second lap was tough but I didn't loose much more time and exiting the water it looked like the gap was inside of a minute. I ran up the beach and slowly accelerated as I caught my breath.

I transitioned smoothly and headed out with my bike. The mount line is on a slight slope and I didn't get a good foot hold on the first go so I jumped off and ran up the hill remounting at the top. I gave myself a couple of miles to get into my shoes, catch my breath and get up to speed. There is a 180 degree turn on each lap so after a couple of minutes I got a good look at the gaps. John was about a minute up and the guy chasing me was about a minute behind. I put my head down and kept on top of my gears pushing as much pain into my pedals as my lungs could manage. On the second lap I saw that I had made up time on John and put time into the guy chasing me which is always a big boost and kept me very motivated. On lap three I saw that Matt Russell had made up a lot of time and was within two minutes which I expected but I couldn't believe now that I was watching it happen. I kept the pace up and by the fourth lap I could see John disappearing around turns up the road which helped me stay focused and helped me push myself.

I came into the second transition just as John was leaving and I knew that if I had a good run that was a gap I could get back. I fumbled with my shoes some because my hands were cold and I knew those seconds counted so when I got my feet into them and they were not quite straight I just let it be and took off.

There is a short hill right at the start of the run and John was at the top as I hit the bottom. Up the hill and onto the flats I eased my way up to the lung searing maximum effort I knew it was going to take to reel him in and just held on for dear life. I could see the gap and for the first two miles I thought it might be shrinking but very slowly and at the turn around we exchanged encouragement to each other with a gap of close to 45 seconds. I made the turn and on the way back saw that I had a good gap on the two closest chasers, I thought that would hold so I pushed on in the hopes that John might fade in the closing miles. With around two miles to go I saw that the gap had come down significantly and was shrinking noticeably. With each stride I pushed harder and got back a little time and just held on to the hope that I would not run out of road. With a mile to go the gap was fifteen seconds and I could see John looking over his shoulder. I was so close but already running at my absolute maximum there was nothing I could do about closing the gap. It kept coming down slowly and with a half mile to go it was within ten seconds. In the home stretch it was so close and we both kicked hard, absolutely exhausted, and my best effort fell just a bit short as I came in just behind him.

I was so worked and John turned around at the finish line to welcome me in. It was a great battle and I am so thankful to have had him out there pushing me to do well. It was a good race and I am glad to have done well. The home town races are the best and every year this event reminds me why I love triathlon and all the things that are great about our sport's community.

Swim 14000 yds
Bike   6.75 hrs
Run    20 mi

7/29 - 8/4/2012

After some time off I got back into some training this week but kept it under control. I was just trying to get back into the swing of things. Some sessions came easy and some sessions were a struggle but the week was pretty good overall. I am trying to decide what to do with the rest of the season at this point. There are a couple of fun local events in the next two months, I don't have another big event planned but some friends are talking about Austin 70.3 or Rev3 SC so I may get on board with one of those to take the season out a little longer. I am feeling good and I would like to get one or two more good results in this year.

Swim 16,500 yds
Bike   8 hrs
Run    27 mi


I probably will not do a race report for Vineman 70.3 and there was not much training to speak of this week as I was resting, and I had planned on taking a break at this point in the year anyway so I will probably be away from the blog for a while.

It is hard to express what I am feeling right now but I should say that I will be re-evaluating some things in the coming weeks as the way things have panned out are not how I had hoped.

Thank you for all you support and encouragement...it has meant more than you will ever know.

7/1 - 7/7/2013

This was a very melo week having just raced last Sunday and with Vineman 70.3 only another week away my only focus this week was to be rested and recovered. These weeks are always hard for me because I have to constantly remind myself that it is ok to take it easy. My brain always wants to train harder and when I am tired I always forget that I fell sluggish because I am recovering and not because I am out of shape. I felt really run down for most of the week but by the weekend I started feeling better and more rested.

I got to do another fun photo-shoot with Maximum Impact Design for ETON at some beautiful locations, with delicious food from The Picnic Basket! It was a beautiful day and even though I am still  kind of embarrassed doing it they always make sure it is a fun time :)

I also got to spend some time with good friends, have some barbecue, sip some wine and play with some really cute pets!

It was a good week :)

Swim 10,000 yds
Bike   4 hrs
Run    12 mi

California International Triathlon 2013

This was another race that I was doing for the first time this year, I was excited because it is on my old home turf and I would be able to spend the weekend with my family close to the event. Being able to stay in a comfortable place, have home cooked meals and sleep comfortably makes all the difference when being rested and fresh is key for racing well. This was especially important for me because I have had a really rough couple of weeks and I have not been feeling all that well. I got a good nights sleep the night before the race and was feeling refreshed and charged up in the morning.

I made it to the event fairly early and got a good spot to set up. The weather had let up some from the day before which was a relief because the heat had been unbearable for a couple of days. I had consumed close to 10 quarts of water the day before to combat the heat and be fully hydrated race morning. There were lots of people from my team and old friends around so I spent a lot of time chatting and catching up before heading out for a little warm up jog. I got in some stretching, accelerations and recon on the back section of the course which I was excited to find was all on soft surfaces. The water was warm from the past weeks weather and I opted for a very thin speedsuit instead of a wetsuit because I have had problems in the past overheating durring the swim. I jumped in the water with enough time to check out the finish approach and the course's sighting lines before the start. The water was the perfect temperature for a speedsuit swim and I was glad I chose it.

We lined up for the swim wit a big group and I was expecting there to be some really strong swimmers in the group as the east bay is an aquatics hotbed. I started to the far left of the chute so I could see the whole spread of the group at the start and after 100 meters there was no one that was pulling away from the rest of the group so I turned away and set my own pace. I felt good in the water and with my arms free of the wetsuit I felt like I was swimming well so I actually picked it up to a stronger pace than usual in hopes that I might put some time into the faster guys that I knew were in the field. I spent the whole swim out front on my own but there was at least one swimmer just touching my toes from time to time. The finish gets shallow a little early so I put in a couple of good dolphin dives and gapped the few people I knew were close behind.

I didn't have that great of position in the transition area so two or three guys came into transition with me but I got out just ahead of them. The moment I got on my bike and made my first pedal stroke my chain came off, I tried to pedal it back on but it jammed and I came to a stop. I jumped off with one cycling shoe half on and tried to spin it on manually but it jammed again. I set the bike down and tried to figure out what the hell was going on. The chain had gotten sucked up between the frame and the rings but the space between was so small that it would not slide back out easily. I tried setting it on the rail and using the cranks to pull it free but it would not budge. I was starting to panic because minutes were passing and more people were leaving transition to start the bike. Eventually I just grabbed the chain and rings and started yanking on it until I forced it out of the space it was caught in. I got it back on the gears and spun it around to set it and finally got on my bike. In my head I knew that at least two minutes had passed and looking at the times it turned out to be more than THREE! I was livid and as soon as I got onto flat roads I put the bike into my biggest gear and just started pounding on the pedals as hard as I could. My approach this year has been to stay within myself and control my efforts but at this point I was so far back that I knew that I had to go as deep as I was capable and hold nothing back if I was going to claw my way back to the front of the race.

The first six miles of the course has several out and back sections which worked really well for me because I got a good look at how many people had passed me and how far ahead the leaders were. I had lost about 15 places and the leaders were three minutes up but at this point that all became irrelevant because I was so angry I had the throttle all the way open and that was all I could do. I was so far back that even my best might not have gotten them back so it didn't matter if I over did it. By mile eight I had caught all but three of the guys up the road and I had one guy in sight. I caught him a few miles later and then it was just two up the road. There was one more out and back about two thirds of the way through and I was disappointed to see that I had barely taken any time out of them. My hope was that they were putting out so much effort that they might crack on the run and I could real them in there. I hit every turn as hot as I could and kept my effort at my max the whole way back to transition so as not to give up any time.

I got through T2 quickly and left shaking my head knowing that it was still around two minutes to the leaders and it was going to take a great run by me in addition to poor runs by them for that gap to close down. I went hard from the beginning and brought myself up to my absolute limit. The run course is absolutely perfect for me, two loops with lots of twisty up and down sections and all on soft pack trails, a fair amount of which are shaded! I like a course that changes regularly because it keeps my mind occupied and the time passes faster. At the first out and back I figured it was just shy of three minutes to the leader and the guy in second place was less than a minute back from him. They both looked tired and a lot can happen in ten kilometers so I was motivated to chase. I took the short lines through all the turns and pushed all the hills imagining the seconds I was gaining with each passing mile. When I got close to the end of the first lap I could see the guy in second and that gave me an extra boost but when I passed him at the beginning of the second lap I could see that he was fading pretty badly and that meant that there was probably still a long way to go to the leader. At the second out and back section I realized that I had put time into the leader but that he was not fading badly and was still over a minute and a half ahead of me. With less than two miles to go I knew that this was an insurmountable gap so I backed off a bit and ran steady to the finish to consolidate the work I had already done.

I finished second on the day and although it is disappointing to lose so much time because of a mechanical, the time that I spent moving was very strong and the numbers I put up were great for me. I loved the course and I am already looking forward to taking an honest crack at it next year to see what I can do there. It was great to hang with my family and see all my teammates racing well! 

This was my last hard effort before Vineman 70.3, which is my big focus this year. I am very happy with where my fitness is at and I am looking forward to putting it to the test against the best in the world!

6/14 - 6/23/2013 Vineman 70.3 Training Camp

The past ten days were one of the few periods in the middle of this season when I will have freedom to train as much and as hard as I want. I have had this marked off on the calendar for a while and had planned a schedule of solid training out. I gathered all of my favorite rides, runs and workouts and planned them into this period in a way that I knew I could get the most out of this period of training. It was a really tough regimen and there were times where I was cracking multiple times in a day but I could feel my fitness really responding. Obviously it is hard to be objective but I feel fitter than I have ever been and I am excited to get some rest in and test the limits of my ability.

Swim 24,050 yards
Bike   17 hours
Run    52 miles

Folsom International Race Report

This was my first time racing Folsom International but I have raced many events with USA Productions and I went over all the info they provide on the event several times to be prepared. They put on great events and the courses are always marked and marshaled well. The one bummer about this race was that I had a lot of other stuff planed for the weekend and the amount of travel, with summer traffic, and other stuff I had to do it ended up being a really long and exhausting ordeal. I should have planned ahead to not have so many other things to do on a race weekend but there is much more to life than just triathlon.

Despite all of the stuff going on aside from the race I made it to the event with enough time to get in a jog and some easy swimming to warm up and recon the course. The park where the event is staged is a beautiful area just above a huge dam and along the american river...there are lots of trees and the water is cool and clean. We lucked out and the weather had cooled down as the day before it had been 107 degrees in Folsom. The sun was rising directly above the far end of the swim course which made seeing the far turn buoy a little tough so I floated around a bit and strategised some cues to get a good line. I had been talking with Joel Wilson, one of the foremost experts in the world on open water swimming, earlier in the week about moderating my effort in the swim portion as I have been feeling like my heart and lungs are always so strained after exiting the water and my plan was to set more of a controlled pace throughout the swim regardless of what everyone else was doing.

At the start everyone was spread really wide so I got to get up to speed in open water which was really nice and there were some underwater lines that ran paralel to the course so for a little while sighting wasn't really necessary. There was a group of people that were staying much closer to shore than I but I kept faith in my strategy and line, which ended up being a good plan because those people ended up swinging really wide to the first turn and lost a good amount of time in the extra distance. I spent the entire swim alone and out front which is always a good feeling and even though I was tired it is always a boost to be leading an event. The water was the perfect temperature and the swim was fairly long which made for a great test of my pacing and it was nice to be alone.

I exited the water and peeked back to see if anyone was right on my heals but it looked like I had a good gap. Through transition smoothly and with a bit of a lead I kept myself calm and allowed myself to build into a rhythm on the bike; I have a tendency to really hit the gas hard right away and since I was feeling tired I wanted to make sure I was keep my energy expenditure steady. The roads used for the course were in great condition and I set my mind to using the first few miles to build up to a strong  but smooth pace. The first third of the bike course has a rolling uphill tendency so the speed was not all that high but I let things play out and got my effort up to what felt like a good solid pace. The wind was beginning to pick up and as we got out to the moe exposed and remote roads there was a steady head and cross wind for much of the middle section of the bike course. Around mile eight or so an unfamiliar figure passed me who I later found out was local athlete and coach Mike White of Folsom Lake Multisport. At the time I was blown away because I knew that he had already put at least a minute if not two into me and I thought I might not be riding all that well. It turns out Mike is a beast on the bike and crushed everyone.

Sometimes it is really nice to have someone ahead of you on the bike, especially if that person is faster than you are, because you can keep an eye on them and you know if you are holding pace with them then you are doing well. This was my strategy for the rest of the bike to just keep Mike from pulling away and it was a challenge to say the least...at times I was grinding my hardest gear and at others spinning it out just to keep pace with him. No one else caught us but on the out-and-back section of the course there were plenty of strong guys within a few minutes of us so there was no letting up. Mike kept the pace high all the way back to transition and we went through together...I told him that he had put in a great ride and he said something to the effect of not being able to hang for the run. This was a bit of a relief but you never really know what people are capable of and there were fast runners back in the field so I did not hesitate to punch it from the start.

I had a great run several weeks ago and I tried to channel the feeling I experienced that day as I accelerated up to pace. The American River Trail on which the run was held is beautiful and snakes along the shoreline through trees and bushes remaining well sheltered from the sun and the cool breeze of the day made for perfect running conditions.The course undulated more than I had expected with a few rises in the road along the way. I backed way off on the hills to ensure I did not pop myself and then let my legs accelerate down the other side. I felt like I was running well and after the turn around it was more than a minute to the first chaser. It is always a good feeling to have a cushion and for some reason it makes it easier for me to perform my best when there is less pressure.

I kept as hard and steady a pace as I possibly could going and just kept counting down distane and time as I went to keep myself motivated. I was really wrecked when I finished and thankfully there was a nice resting area just past the finish with cold towels and lounge-chairs to flop on. Many of my teammates finished in the top ten and came in not long after me. It was great to see them all performing so well, especially since I get so few opportunities to race or train with them.

It was a good, tough race and I was glad to do so well under less than optimal conditions. It was great to have all the super strong guys out there on course keeping me motivated. As always USA Productions put on a great event and even though the travel was such a nightmare I am glad I made the trip. I am pumped that the venue was so nice and I definitely plan on returning here for races in the future. Thanks to all the volunteers and other athletes for being a part of such a fun and inspiring community!

5/27 - 6/2/2013

This was one of the few weeks in the middle of the season that I had to train freely and as much as I wanted. I told myself that it was a 'no excuses' week and although I was not feeling all that well I pushed through it day after day and put in some great training. I will only get one more week like this before Vineman 70.3 and my training this week was a really good indication of fitness and progress. I got in some really had sessions and I am looking forward to racing again.

I also got in some relaxation with my girlfriend and family in the last week which was really nice and helped rejuvenate my energy and spirits.

ApĂ©ritif and Appetizer @ Claremont Resort and Spa

Swim 17,500 yds
Bike   10.5 hrs
Run    40 mi

Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon 2013

This race is one of my favorites because the venu is so nice. The whole thing is centered around Uvas Reservoir in Morgan Hill, I get to race a couple of times a year and I love it. Not only is the water clean and warm, the roads are in great condition...but best of all is that it is close by so I get to sleep in my own bed the night before! I say sleep because that is what one should do the night before a race but I have not been sleeping all that well so I really didn't get much sleep at all. My body had been feeling good for a couple of days though so I just stuck to my routine and told myself I could catch up on sleep after.

All of the pre-race routine stuff went well and I started with warmup early knowing that, having worked hard this week and not gotten a lot of rest, my body would need a long time to get going. I jogged a few miles and did some drills/accelerations to make sure my legs were fully warm and loose. With twenty minutes to start I went down to the water and got in to swim out and recon the course and get my shoulders stretched out. I swam out to the far turn buoy and just checked out where the course was going to go and some sight lines and then swam back in to the start.

There were only two other elites racing, both about my speed and both very fit, Andrew Bauer and Brice Winkler. The three of us race together a bunch so we had a little chat before the start and caught up. With just three guys it was nice to get a clean start and I kicked hard from the start to make sure I got clean water to the first turn. I went around the far two turns alone and was swimming hard so I didn't check to see if I had a gap or anything but I knew I was at least in front which is always a mental boost. Something I struggle with is that I am always redlined in the swim and I can hold on to that effort but I really feel like my lungs get worked because of it and I always feel like I have an elephant standing on my back. I was glad to be leading out the swim though and it went by pretty quickly.

Out of the water I felt a little disoriented and I fumbled in transition trying to find my rack and getting my wetsuit off. Once I got situated though I realized I was leaving transition and neither Brice nor Andrew had entered yet. When racing, there is a big advantage to being out of sight; it is way easier to pull someone back if you can see them and work on the visual distance. With this in mind I pushed hard from the start. I should spend more time finding objective measures of my percentage of maximal effort because, as with the swim, I think that with my initial surge on the bike I put myself over the limit. The first 4 miles roll up some small hills and I definitely think I could have backed off a little and been faster and more consistent but there are some downhill sections that I knew I could catch my breath on. As planned, I pushed one gear harder than I usually would because I wanted to test some ratios I had been playing with this week. I stayed on top of a solid effort, pushing the flats and hills then recovering on the descents.

Coming into the second transition i definitely felt like I had given my body a good thrashing but my energy was still good and I had planned on just racing as hard as I could for as long as I could. Through the second transition smoothly I got up to speed as fast as I could and focused on keeping my tempo high and my foot-strikes short. I felt like I was running really well...it really hurt but I was able to keep my speed and turnover up which was great as I have not felt like that in a long time. I still had not been caught by the guys behind me but I was on the limit as it was so I didn't bother looking back...if they caught me at this point then they would just be outrunning me and there was nothing I could do about that. I checked in with the lead cyclist around mile two to see if there was any chance that I was on pace to try for the record and I was a couple of minutes off so I gust kept my head down and held on. After the turn-around I saw Andrew coming the other way but I was so deep in the pain cave that I had forgotten to check how far back he was. I guessed a minute or two but knowing how strong he is I just kept trying to keep my effort as high as possible and chew up the last of the real estate.

With a mile to go I looked back and no one was within sight which is always a relief and keeping yourself going becomes a lot easier. The last mile felt smooth and I came in feeling very pleased with the effort and the day. After the race the three of us went for a cool down jog. It is nice, because I train alone all the time, to be able to hang out with guys doing the same thing I am and commiserating about the odd life of the recreationally elite triathlete. As always, it was a great event and I am already looking forward to doing it again next year.

200th POST! 5/13 - 5/19/2012

Early this week I finally felt like I had shaken the last of the wreckage from Wildflower out of my legs and lungs so I have been getting back to building some training up again. The next big event is Vineman 70.3 in July and I have several train-through and prep races between now and then. This weeks training was focused on incorporating race effort into the schedule. This Sunday I was back at Uvas Reservoir (:my favorite venue:) racing the USA Productions 'Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon.' I restructured much of the weeks training so that I could get in some solid work and race hard too, as I am planning on training through this particular race. It was a good week and I was glad to be doing some solid efforts again...my brain does not do well when I am resting too much.

Swim 18,750 yds
Bike   8 hrs
Run    35 mi

5/6 - 5/12/2013

This was a very difficult week for several reasons. First off, walking the thin line of doing enough to stimulate recovery while not doing too much is always less than enjoyable. Secondly, after a couple of days the disappointment of another big race come and gone with out a decent result set in.

This is a common slump for me the week after a race. When so much has gone into an event and nothing comes out of it that is tangible, but then I have to go back to reality where I am too wrecked to function properly. So it ends up being a week of questioning why I am sacrificing so much for something that is going no where, that takes all my time/money/energy and will never be regarded as my profession.

I think the toughest part is that in my heart of hearts I still don't believe what I am doing, as far as being a profession, is a respectable pursuit. Even at times when I am most proud of what I am doing, if I am talking to someone about it I feel like I have to qualify it as something that I am doing 'right now' or 'while I can.' The hard part durring weeks like this is that with each big race I hope I will have that one great result that is indicative of how much work I have put into this and what I am capable of doing. I feel like I need validation of that sort because up until now triathlon has just been a really expensive hobby. When it doesn't come I feel more and more so as if it never will. The more time goes by, the more I worry that I will find myself on the other side of this thing having to start from scratch with nothing to show for it.

My fear shows me this person that is almost forty, broke and still working part-time jobs, unable to afford health insurance or a car, whose spirit is completely broken by years of chasing a dream that was always one step out of reach. I see myself as too old to start fresh and there being nothing left im my future but desperate subsistance never having achieved that which I sought...forever unfulfilled.

So yeah it was a tough week, but life waits for no man and you can either do something or do nothing so I did what I could.

Swim 12,500 yds
Bike  9 hrs
Run  13 mi

The Beast that is WILDFLOWER & What Triathlon is All About

I had not been feeling all that great coming into Wildflower this year. I have not been sleeping well and life has been pretty busy, so the week of the race I was trying to get as much rest as possible, eat as healthy as I could and do everything I could to help my body get to a good place. Sometimes, however, there is nothing you can do and things are just not going to work out...this was just one of those times.

Perhaps I rested too much, or perhaps I just had too much on my mind but I did not sleep the night before the race. Everything went according to plan however on race morning, my speed-suit that I had forgotten back home even made it to transition before the race via a friend of a friend's wife who left late the day before. I was feeling good race morning and with the big field we had I was looking forward to getting in and racing amongst the group.

The start was chaos as always and I picked a wide line to avoid the fray. After the first turn buoy I was still on the outside and the group was moving by me which wasn't good and I had to wait to slide into a spot. I had not swum in the speed-suit before and I felt a little sluggish but the group I was with was moving along well so I just tried to hang in behind them and save energy. I lost track of them near the turn-around point and ended up swimming back on my own. That group actually had a lot of strong guys in it and they were out of the water less than a minute ahead of me. I was glad to have a big group up the road to chase though and I was still feeling good so things were off to a good start.

I had a quick transition and got onto the bike smoothly, happy that my legs felt good and excited that I had people up the road to chase. I got right into setting a smooth pace and after cresting each hill I felt like I was getting up to speed really well which was really exciting. There were guys all strung out up the road so I had plenty of little goals to chase and I set my mind to that...just slowly reeling in whoever was next up the road. I felt my mouth getting dry really quickly, which didn't surprise me for how dry and hot the air was out there but I just kept the fluids going in and the legs spinnig the best I could. Around mile 20 my legs started to get a little sluggish from the effort and looking back I definitely think that I went much too hard for the first 40 minutes or so in my excitement. It is hard to hold your effort back when you are feeling fresh and this is something I am going to have to work on. Miles 20 to 40 I was trading places with a lot of guys...I would pass one or two and then one or two would pass me.

Around 45 miles there is a long climb called 'Nasty Grade' where the air stands still, the sun feels like it is sitting in your back pocket and the grade is unrelenting. Parts of the grade are long and straight so the one saving grace is that you can see a lot of other people up the road and they are all suffering just as hard. Some of the guys looked downright ghastly. After 'Nasty Grade' there is an unending series of huge rolling hills back towards transition that solidify the exhaustion from the previous 45 miles and my efforts up until that point had definitely been to great. With every hill, my legs felt more sluggish and swollen than before. A feeling that I had not experienced in a long time started to creep in, the feeling that my body was not going to be able to make it through what was left to come. I tried to ease off some for the last five miles of the bike and shake my legs out on the descents, hoping that I could catch a second wind once I got into the run.

My second transition was smooth enough, I got started running and did not feel all that bad physically but every little rise in the road sent my respiration through the roof and my lungs were feeling totally burned out. There were still a good number of guys around me and having them to chase was keeping me motivated despite how wiped out my body felt and how hard it was to keep my body moving. The middle section of the run course from mile five to seven is the most difficult with some big steep hills and little to no breeze to keep you cool. As always I tried to keep up a trot going up the hills so as not to loose my momentum but my heart rate and respiration would just skyrocket so I resigned myself to walking the steep hills to save my self from utter implosion. Miles seven to nine are much flatter and pass through the main camping area so there are a lot of people around cheering you on, giving you encouragement and spraying you down to keep you cool. Through this section I actually felt ok and with most of the day done I was starting to resign myself to being happy that I was going to finish, regardless of my overall time.

At mile nine you leave the dirt and crowds of the campground and are back on the pavement for a hot and brutal out-and-back. The moment my feet hit the road surface my body shut off. I stopped running and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't get a full breath of air as my lungs just felt like they had been burned out and my body was now dictating that the best I was going to get was a slow walk. There was an aid station up ahead and all the volunteers were cheering on encouragement and came down to me to check with me and make sure I was ok. They walked with me and brought me water and food and told me I was doing great and to keep going. I got as much water as I could and continued on walking as steadily as possible and just focused on keeping myself moving. I knew that I could walk four miles if I just kept hydrated and kept moving and I was still hopeful that I might be able to get jogging again at some point. I walked all the way from mile nine to mile ten and in that time the women's leaders passed me and the age group leaders started to catch me as well.

I stopped at the aid station at mile ten and stood at the water table drinking and wetting myself down. I took in some food and Gatorade and again the volunteers checked in with me and made sure that I was ok and then walked with me as I got going again. All their encouragement totally kept me going and prevented me from getting too discouraged...I owe all the volunteers a huge thank you for keeping me upright and moving because by that point all I wanted to do was make it to the finish line. I walked the next mile too and some of my teammates passed me and checked in, making sure I was ok...I waved them on and told them they were doing great. I stopped for a while again at mile eleven, got more water and started to feel much better so I trotted for a while and walked when I needed to.

The last mile is all down hill and some of it is fairly steep so I trotted when I could but had to stop a lot and pick my way down some of it because I was too wrecked. The road flattens out with about a quarter mile to go and no one ever wants to walk across the finish line so when I heard the announcer and the crowd I started jogging. This has been a long and tough year for me in a lot of ways and the closer I got to the finish I began to get very emotional thinking about all of the support my family and friends have given me. The support and camaraderie of the racers and volunteers that had kept me going for the past hour was overwhelming and I think for me that moment solidified what triathlon is all about.

Many people come to big events like Wildflower hoping that all the work they have put in with their friends and teammates is going to get them to the finish line but until that moment it had never been about that for me. The vulnerability, and subsequent gratitude I felt for the people around me and my greater community was overwhelming because despite all the work I had put in, on that day it was on their shoulders that I was carried across the finish line. I collapsed in the finishing area, sobbing from how drained and overwhelmed I was. The volunteers surrounded me to make sure I was ok and having finished the day I most definitely was.

Once I had caught my breath, one of the race directors stood with me and walked me to a shade-tent to sit together and chat. We talked about how tough the past year had been for both of us...she had lost her brother, who had been a member of the Wildflower CEO's family, not that long ago. It was an immense moment for me, and it was the most I have ever understood and been in touch with what makes the triathlon community so special.

After getting cleaned up and getting some food, hearing about how tough everyone's day had been and checking in with many, many friends it was time to head back to reality. The road out of the park passes through several parts of the course and for me this was the most humbling part of the day. Even though I had never fallen appart so bad, or had such a tough race, nothing I had to pushed through even came close to what some of the people still out on the course were enduring. As we were hitting the road to head back home there were still several people coming in off the bike, still having that incredibly difficult run ahead of them. They were two thirds of the way into what for some of them would be a nine hour event and in my heart I knew that would require a determination that I most certainly do not possess.

Late in the day, the volunteers were cheering loudly and people were offering encouragement to keep the athletes determined and motivated to reach their goal. For many of them, as it was for me that day, the goal was just to get to the finish line and even though I often forget how big of a deal that is, on that day...it meant the world.

Thank you to all of you...for everything :)

4/29 - 5/5/2013

This week I was just doing maintenance and trying to continue with active recovery in preparation for Wildflower on Saturday. The long course race there is one of the toughest and I wanted to make sure I was totally rested for it.

One of the hardest parts about race preparation for me is that when I rest or cut the workloads down significantly I really start to feel like crap. All this week I felt really lethargic and run down which totally tanks my my confidence and optimism. It was a big challenge to constantly be reminding myself that my fitness would be there on race morning. I tried to keep my head out of it as best I could and stick to my plan...but it was a tough week.

Swim 14,500yds
Bike   7.25hrs
Run    23mi

4/21 - 4/28/2013

This week was all about active recovery from the race on sunday. I was just trying to keep a good amount of volume while making sure I was recovering from day to day. It ended up being a lot busier week than I had anticipated and I was pretty wiped out mid week so I took it easier than I had planned, but with Wildflower less than a week away the last thing I want to do is push it and not be rested enough. Although it is really hard for me to accept the low workloads I am trying to keep the faith and remain hopeful that being fully recovered before a big event like that is more important than satisfying my mental need to work hard.

Swim 12,000 yds
Bike   6.25 hrs
Run   14 mi

USA Productions Silicon Valley International

Even if I were not improving at all...even if I never did well, what I am most happy about is that my enjoyment of the sport of triathlon has improved dramatically over the past year or so and that has meant more to me than anything. This weekends event highlighted many of the reasons why that is and it was such an awesome experience. On sunday I raced the Silicon Valley International Triathlon put on by USA Productions, which takes place at one of my favorite venues Uvas Reservoir. The lake is tucked up in the foothills west of Morgan Hill and it is a beautiful area. The lake is clean and warm and the surrounding area is beautiful with windy scenic roads.

I rode over with some friends in the morning and we got there earlier than expected which is always a relief to me because I always seem to run out of time on race morning. The air was a bit chilly pre-dawn but I had gotten so much prep stuff done the night before that I was set up and ready to go warm up pretty quickly. I went out and jogged a couple of miles with some buddies of mine and did some drills to loosen up my legs and warm up my lungs. This is a relatively local event for me, coming from Santa Cruz, so it was fun to trot around and see a bunch of familiar faces and catch up with people. I got my wetsuit on early and went down to the water to get in at least fifteen minutes of swimming prior to the start as I take a long time to feel warmed up for swimming.

The water was perfect temperature, not too hot for a wetsuit and not cold enough to be at all uncomfortable. I swam out to the first turn buoy to get a look at the course and conditions and then swam back to the start. They had the Elites starting with the first age group wave, which was fun because I got to start with a bunch of guys I knew and we all had a couple of minutes to joke around before the start. 

At the gun we all jumped on the gas pretty hard and there were six or eight guys charging all spread out to the first turn, there was a little bumping and nudging but nothing too bad. At the first turn I was third around behind Yuta Sano who was smashing everybody then Brian Anderson was swimming just ahead of Yoni and I. The group stayed like that for the rest of the way and we all came out within fifteen seconds. 

Yoni flew through transition and was out first, I was about twenty seconds behind him and could see him a little ways up the road. He is on really good form and had stellar performances at collegiate nationals the previous weekend so I was stoked to have him in sight. He started off fast from beginning and I followed the pace all through the rollers that follow the lakes edge. We traded off setting the pace on different sections of the course which was awesome because we kept the pace high and pushed each other. Yoni definitely spent more time setting the pace and at times I was just trying to hold on and keep him in sight. There were some changes to the bike course this year and I loved the new route, the roads were all in good condition and there are some great sections where you can really work and keep the speed high. 

We came into the second transition together and I had a really quick switch into my running shoes and got out onto the run course with a little bit of a lead. I started out trying to keep my feet light on the ground and keep my tempo high and figured I would kind of wait and see what Yoni was feeling like and if he would catch me. I knew there were some strong runners back in the field but figured we might have a good gap on them because of how hard we rode on the bike. Yoni passed me about half a mile into the run and went by moving another fifty meters up the road but after that the gap stopped growing. He was just inside of ten seconds ahead of me but was running strong and I just tried to keep pace with him. In the third mile he looked like he was dropping his tempo a little and I tried to push the hills a little to bring some of the gap back. After the turn around it was clear that we had a big gap on the rest of the guys and so I focused on trying to slowly bring him back. Every time I picked it up a little though and got some time back I had to ease off and recover some and the gap would go back out. 

Inside the last mile I realized that there was nothing I could do to bring him back and I just tried to stay smooth into the finish. 

It was a great battle and I loved being able to actually battle the whole way. It was a ton of fun to race and also to get to hang out with a group of such awesome people for the day. Everyone raced well and I am stoked to be a part of such an enthusiastic and fun community of people.

4/15 - 4/21/2013

This week was all about maintenance, eating healthy, getting enough sleep and just touching some fast efforts to keep the body awake but fully recovered. With Wildflower being two weeks from this saturday everything is focused on being fresh and fast for that.

This weekend was perfect timing for a tune-up race and the Silicon Valley International happened to fall on this Sunday which worked out really well. This race is held at UVAS Reservoir in the foothills just west of Morgan Hill and is one of my favorite venues. The lake is excellent and comfortable to swim in and the course is beautiful. This race is also part of the USA Productions series that my team works with throughout the year...they put on a super fun series of events in the greater Bay Area which always have great food and music afterwards (doubly awesome after a hard race).

Should have a race report to follow soon.

Swim 15,650 yds
Bike   7 hrs
Run    21 mi

4/8 - 4/14/2013

After a couple of hard weeks I held on as long as I could and then shifted into some active recovery work. The next couple of weeks leading into wildflower will be all about ensuring that I am fresh and recovered from what I am doing and maintaining the feeling of speed in all the disciplines. Not much to report but I will try to get some fun pictures or video to keep things interesting.


Swim 12,500 yds
Bike   7.75 hrs
Run    14 mi

4/1 - 4/7/2013

This week was hit and miss. We had a lot going on so I knew that I would miss a few sessions and was prepared for that. I did miss a few but I was also feeling really run down this and my best guess that the disgusting volume of crazy rich food I ate at easter brunch totally screwed my system up. The sessions I did get in though were really good and I put up some surprisingly strong numbers. Finished the week off with a beautiful ride and amazing run and was reminded of how grateful I am to be able to live and train in such an amazing place.

Swim 14,000 yds
Bike    8 hrs
Run    30.5 mi

3/25 - 3/31/2013 Birthday Week!!

This was a great week. My birthday was on tuesday and it was awesome. I have to say...one of the best birthdays I have every had! I got to go do my favorite group ride and get in a great run. After that we just tooled around town and visited friends and my old work. We had a couple of cocktails and a couple of appetizers, went for a walk on West Cliff, and then got to finish it off with take out and a movie in our comfy home. I could not have asked for more. My girlfriend got me a GoPro camera too so maybe some time soon I will be able to add some awesome videos to this blogg adventure.

I got some killer sessions in this week too and I am totally worked. I nailed some of the focus sessions I had planned and I am really happy about that. In the coming weeks I need to spend a little more time on the bike but right now it looks like everything is coming around nicely.

Swim 17,100 yds
Bike   7.75 hrs
Run    34.5

3/18 - 3/24/2013

In my excitement I definitely overdid it last week. I got in a few good sessions at the beginning of this week but by wednesday was so wiped out that I couldn't manage much at all and I had to lay low for a few days. While this is not the end of the world I definitely need to do a better job of regulating my effort and setting myself up to be able to reamin consistent when I have time to train. There is a good possibility I was fighting off a bug that has been going around as well, which would explain some of how wrecked I have felt this week.

It was beautiful out this week so I tried to enjoy the fresh spring air and keep my spirits up while waiting for my body to recover.

Swim 16,500 yds
Bike   6.5 hrs
Run   13 mi

3/11 - 3/17/2012

This was a good solid week with some hard and fast sessions. This weeks schedule was close to the format that I am looking to for this years optimal training and even though I am worked and some of the sessions were super tough my brain still freaks out from time to time that the total weekly volume is not totally maxed out. I think it is a good exercise for me to trust in the plan and have faith in my fitness.

I got to spend a couple of days back in my hometown of Walnut Creek with my family which I always enjoy so much. Where they live is really beautiful and peaceful. This time of year there are birds and wildlife everywhere, and the air is filled with all the smells of spring. I also had the opportunity to go out on some of my favorite training grounds and gulp the dry inland air which my body seems to thrive on. The vast open areas in the east bay are so beautiful this time of year and when I can train hard in such scenic conditions that makes the experience that much more awesome.

I finished the week off with one of the most incredible runs I have ever done in my life...I wish I had a camera with me because I don't poses the descriptive powers to explain how beautiful the foothills are this time of year.


Mt. Diablo Junction - Overlooking the area I grew up

Mt. Diablo Summit - Looking south toward Patterson

Mt Diablo Summit - Looking west where you can see SF and the GOlden Gate in the Distance

Swim 16,250 yds
Bike   9 hrs
Run    37.5 mi

3/4 - 3/10/2013

In keeping with my new approach and attitude, this week was very easy. I wanted to ensure full recovery and integration of last weekends effort so that next week I can move forward with strong training for Wildflower in a little less than two months.

I did lots of stretching and roller work included slow builds and easy aerobic work in my sessions and just tried to keep my mind and body relaxed and enjoy some rich food. The last of my gear is starting to come in and that is always a great motivator.

Not much else to report but I am feeling really good about the work to be done to prepare for the season.

Swim 9,000 yds
Bike   8.25 hrs
Run    17 mi

ESCAPE from Alcatraz 2013

The ESCAPE from Alcatraz is one of my favorite courses to race. It is very challenging from beginning to end and San Francisco is so beautiful that it really is incredible to race there. I think I also like this one so much because the chalenges are constantly changing; with hills and windy roads, an extra transition and awesome views, there is no monotony involved and that is the part of the sport I struggle with the most. When you are suffering alone with no one around and there is nothing but straight, empty road ahead of you that is very tough for me.

My pre-race routine went absolutely flawlessly and I jumped on an early bus and had a great chat about the experience of completing a full Ironman with my bench-mate. I got onto the ferry and found a warm spot to sit and rest and bumped into another guy that I had a good swim battle with at the Sentinel the year before last. We chatted about celebrity and ferry dust, chuckling about the fact that the guy who won the bronze medal in London was sitting right next to us.

When it came time to prep for the start we all got zipped up and out to the landing on the ferry landing to get a look at what we were in for. There was a strong chilly breeze and the chop on the bay looked menacing. We had been told that the water was 50-51 degrees which is uncomfortable to say the least but spirits were high. I caught up with Lauren Brandon who I have raced with several times, she had crashed the day before and had some road rash on her cheek, what a badass! I also got to meet Sara Groff who is one of the best triathletes in the world and was fourth at the London Olympics! I was a little starstruck but I think I played it pretty cool...I hope :) We all shimmied up to the ledge and tried to keep the shivers at bay while we waited for the horn.

SF Chronicle

The Hornblower sounded and we all made a rush for it...I jumped a little to the side to avoid landing on John Dahlz, whom I inadvertently gave a little push to at the sound of the horn, and when I hit the water it was like having a bunch of tiny needles stabbed into my face, hands, and feet. I began swimming frantically just flailing my arms and kicking as hard as I could just to keep my body from going into shock. I got sight of the lead boat and took aim at that. The chop was as bad as I expected and quite often I would turn to breath and suck in the whitewash of a wave or go to pull and nothing would be there at all. I kept sight of the lead boat for about half of the swim and then had a good sight on the Palace of Fine Arts so my course was set. I really should wear a watch for one of these swims though and get an honest look at my swim path because when I am swimming it always feels like I am zig-zagging all over the place. By the time I was three quarters of the way through I had swallowed a lot of water and I barfed a couple of times which actually felt kind of good because it warmed my neck up.

I got in near the tip of the beach which is good and popped up feeling surprisingly steady and clearheaded. I got up into the first transition and got my wetsuit off quickly putting on shoes for the run back to T1. My hands were not as cold as I had thought they would be so the shoes went on fairly smoothly. I turned and took off feeling very quick and not heavy like I usually do which was exciting as I have been working on running well after the swim. Through T1 quickly I was out on my bike and headed out to the bridge.

I took the first mile a little easier than in past years because I had always felt too worked on the first hill and I wanted to build into my pace. I felt good on the bike and the winds were cold and steady but not too strong. I worked a steady tempo on the climbs and tried not to use he breaks too much on the descents. Once I got out into Golden Gate Park I finally caught sight of the lead women who are an insanely talented bunch. Sara McLarty and Sarah Groff had been flying, what badasses! I continued to push a steady, controlled pace back to the highway and up the hill to Battery Park where several guys, who I was glad to find out later were relay team members, passed me up. After the decent I kept a controled spin back to transition and got my mind ready to run hard.

David Condon

In T2 my hands were a little cold so getting my running shoes on was a bit of a struggle. I grabbed my gear and headed out for the run feeling springy. I had to feather my speed a little again, as with the bike, to make sure I didn't slam myself into the ceiling to quickly as I have done in the past. And settled into what felt like a good pace. There was a head wind for the first flat section and when Henry Hagenbuch came by me I jumped in behind him and felt like I was coasting! I followed him to the base of the steps and got a good two step shuffle going. One guy passed us on the way up and when the hill crested and the speed picked up I retook a lead on Henry. I let my legs loosen up on the descent and tried to use as much gravity as possible on the way down to Baker Beach which hurts my toes but feels awesome because you are going so fast. I hit the beach and was headed out to the turn around on the soft sand, there were a couple of guys running on the hard pack down by the water that passed me at this point but the course is marked to run in the soft stuff and I would rather have an honest result than anything else so I did not.

Ken Rakestraw
After the turn around and hard pack run it came to the Sand Ladder which absolutely crushed me last year so I decided to take two steps at a time and stride them to make sure I didn't pop myself. The Sand Ladder is hard one way or another, like the swim you just get through it and accept that you are going to suffer. The good part is that once it is over regular running feels pretty easy so I was ably to whip the pace back up and I felt good through the bluffs, though one or two guys passed me there as well. The steps back down to The Presidio are always tricky, especially with a lot of people coming up the other way who are all hanging their heads, so you just try and keep your feet on the ground and pick your way down safely. Once I hit the flat section that is the last two miles I got that feeling like someone had poured concrete into the bottom of my lungs my hear was exhausted so the last few miles were not great. I had a better run time than the previous year and that was really good for me! Jesse Thomas absolutely slew the run course and if you want to see some impressive statistics check out his run data, what a badass!

With about two miles to go I passed a guy going the other way who only had one arm and I thought to myself 'There is no way I could have finished the swim with only one arm.' It was incredibly humbling and the strength that I see in many people at events like this is one of my favorite parts of participating in triathlon. 

It was so awesome to catch up with my teammates after the race and see how well they all did as I do not get to spend time with them often enough. I saw many friends there and my family came as well so it was an awesome day and to to be able to spend it in a place as beautiful and amazing as San Francisco is the reason why this is one of my absolute favorite events. I had brunch with my parents at an incredible little restaurant in the Marina District called Baker Street Bistro. Probably one of my favorite things to do is sit outside and sip coffee with good company, and when you can enjoy perfectly prepared tomato/basil soup, florentine benedict and croque-madame life couldn't be better.