Six Lessons Learned From My First Pro Season

Six Lessons Learned From My First Pro Season

I had six races and six struggles this year.  I was dished up some ass-whopping from fellow competitors and my body. All. Year. Long. From starting off at St. Anthony’s triathlon and coming out of the water in 2nd to last, to dealing with ongoing back issues that steadily got worse, to unexplainably having both of my quads cramp during mile 11 of Marine Corp Marathon, it was a humbling season. Sport can be incredibly uplifting at times but equally challenging. And a relentless challenge it was. I did my homework before electing to get my pro-license and knew that it would be an uphill battle, but to have it coincide with some unexpected challenges certainly was not part of my plan. It hurt.  And even one month removed from my last race, it still stings a bit.  But rehashing the details of this season’s struggle won’t be of any value for me, or anyone who happens to read this.  So, instead, I’d like to focus on my top six lessons learned in my first pro season. 1. Numbers do not equal fitness “More work equals bigger numbers, which must mean I am getting more fit.”  “If I take a short rest before the race, watch my recovery numbers rebound, I must be ready.” “All TSS is created equal.” No, no, and no. It took me a good 4 years, but I finally have learned that this is dangerous and it is wrong. As my wife – someone who has never used Training Peaks and logs her workouts in a paper journal succinctly stated one day: CTL is simply...
A blog post after some not-so-good performances.  So why do you race?

A blog post after some not-so-good performances. So why do you race?

So why do you race?   This is something I’ve been asking myself quite a bit the last two weeks.   Before my last race at Chattanooga 70.3 – and even still a bit now – my answer would have been probably similar to what many would say:   I race because I love competition and it provides me an opportunity to test myself. But what if those opportunities have not proven to be a good means to test?  In other words, does racing lose its value if does not present an opportunity to get the most out of oneself? Let me step back a little.  I absolutely love training.  I love the challenge of writing a workout and executing it to the best of my ability. I love the juggling act of fitting in workouts around my responsibilities of being a father, an attorney, and a husband.  I love the sense of fulfillment that grinding out a hard session – all by myself with no one watching. And this season, my training has been going really well.  I’m swimming faster than I have since college, my bike power is as good, if not better than I’ve had before, and my run endurance and durability is about as solid as I can recall.    Problem is, my performances in my two races this year have been far from what I have been doing in training.  St. Anthony’s – my first race as a pro – was decent for me.  I went 2 hours for an Olympic race and I certainly wouldn’t consider it a bad race.  But my swim, bike, and run numbers were not...
I just dropped 6 minutes off my Ironman bike split – Thanks Ventum!

I just dropped 6 minutes off my Ironman bike split – Thanks Ventum!

This post has been a fairly long time coming – I’ve actually been thinking about it for several months.  Consider it a bit of a intro to my new Ventum One and my first stab at writing something that discusses aerodynamics.    I’ll start off with a disclaimer – everything I say about how fast this bike is applies to me and my setup.  While I can say with confidence that the bike will make most people faster, aerodynamics is very individual and extremely nuanced.  Furthermore, getting a bike fit is absolutely critical.  If you aren’t going to dial in your fit, don’t bother with a new bike.  I am not an engineer, and I have not (yet) taken this to the wind tunnel so my conclusions are close to accurate, but still not perfect.    But before I get too deep in the weeds, I want to first talk about my experience with Ventum and how honored I am to be working with this company.Ventum first reached out to me after my IM Maryland win, asking if I’d be interested in riding one of their bikes in 2019.  At first, I was extremely hesitant.  Buying a new bike – especially a triathlon bike with all the gadgets and gizmos (power meter, hydration, aerobars etc..) – is a fairly involved process.   Although my Felt frame was from 2013, I had upgraded almost all of the components in the past year so I was hard pressed to go with an entirely new setup.  After doing quite a bit of research, inclduing talking to several existing Ventum owners, reading through all the critical...
Ironman Maryland Recap; No on Kona?! and What’s in store for 2019…

Ironman Maryland Recap; No on Kona?! and What’s in store for 2019…

It’s close to three weeks post Ironman Maryland and a big smile still comes across my face when I think back to the race.   I certainly felt like I had the potential to pull together a good result, but to come away as the winner of an Ironman race, was something that I really didn’t think was in my cards.   Looking back on the race, my data, and my training leading up to it, I really did not do anything that was overly exceptional. Instead, I did exactly what I had read about and what had been suggested to me by much more experienced coaches and athletes – I put together a solid training day up until mile 20 of the run, and then started to race for the last 6 miles. My swim time was a bit slower than I had planned but it turns out that the course was probably 200 yards or so long. So, my swim was as predicted.   The bike course was lengthened 2 miles the day before the race so it was exactly 112, and like the swim, my power/pace was just as I had predicted. In fact, my average wattage of 216 was probably 5-10 watts lower than I had planned but I wanted to make sure to be a bit conservative on race day.   For the run, the first 20 miles were also as I had planned – other than 2 quick stops at the porto-potty (thankfully I had changed into a run outfit – it made it so much quicker than trying to get in and out of a...
Getting Honest about the Full Distance – A Pre-Race Race Report

Getting Honest about the Full Distance – A Pre-Race Race Report

So I’m doing an Ironman in less than a week.  I honestly feel a little hypocritical in writing that.  For the past 3 ½ years, ever since finishing Kona in 2014, I’ve said to myself and others that there is no way I’m doing another Ironman…I have ZERO interest.  While I was honored to have qualified to race in Kona, my race experience was fairly miserable.  I didn’t come anywhere near what I thought I was capable, suffered from pretty bad dehydration on the run, and just did not have any fun.   And so here I am, just a few training sessions away from toeing the line at Ironman Maryland.  So what gives?  I digress: After Ironman Eagleman in June, my race plan for the year was to take a week or so off (which I did), and then re-focus for my second big race of the year, which was Steelhead 70.3 in early August.   I got back into training, and on a whim, decided to race Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3.  Previously, that was my best 70.3 to date –and perhaps the only time in my career I will go under 4 hours.   So I headed down to Williamsburg, and had a really solid performance, coming in 2nd overall with a time of 4:03.  However, I felt that something was just “missing” from the race.  Being that I hadn’t planned on it and had almost no rest, I chalked it up to the fact that it just wasn’t a goal race and that perhaps the “blah” feeling a should be somewhat expected. After Rev 3 Williamsburg, I got right back...