Nov 29, 2009

Long Road Ahead

It's hard not to think about the road ahead of me. Some days it is the only thing I think about. It is what keeps me up at night and what gets me going every morning. There is a huge amount of uncertainty that surrounds the next few years of my life. Tomorrow begins my last week as an undergraduate. Today, I was running a few miles at Cleveland State and couldn't help but think about everything I had been through since I transferred a few years ago. I am a different person with different goals, but I still can't predict where I am going to be in a year or two. It is hard to transition into a new era without knowing exactly what is going to happen. But, I guess this is what everyone goes through a few times in their life. I am about to take a chance on myself. I don't know how it will work out, but it is just something that I have to do for myself.

I don't know if I have a future in triathlon. I don't know if I can get any faster. But I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't really try. A lot of people may think I'm nuts for pursuing triathlon like I intend to... I may be. I realize the road ahead of me is a very long one... in fact, it may be a never ending.. I don't know where it is going to take me and I don't care.

I grew up always thinking that there were two types of people in the world. The people that settled for what they were given, and the people who decided to fight for what they didn't have. I guess I know where I belong... The future is uncertain, but when everything is over, I am certain I will have a few stories to tell.

Here's to living, cheers.

Nov 21, 2009

Wrapping Up The 2009 Season

This post recognizes several Cleveland area triathletes that stepped it up this year and raced hard. As the 2009 season comes to an end, I’ve started to think about all of the area triathletes who put in so much time and saw great results. Obviously, I can’t recognize everyone, but these few individuals deserve some credit. Congratulations to everyone who trained hard, made sacrifices, put themselves to the test, and came out on top.

Jim LaMastra – This is one of the hardest working triathletes in Ohio and quite possible the whole country. Besides training and racing ridiculously hard, Jim still finds plenty time to spend with his family, coach local triathletes, and build his career. If there is one athlete, or person in all of Ohio, to model yourself after, it is Jim LaMastra. Jim’s 2009 racing season was impression to say the least. After winning the first two triathlons he entered, he went on to finish 4th at Rhode Island 70.3, securing his 2nd Kona slot. Jim went on to race super fast on the big island finishing towards the top of his age group. Congrats to Jim for everything he accomplished this season.

Rob “Aussie” Thompson – Anyone who knows Aussie, knows he will own you on two wheels. Besides riding way too fast, Aussie spends his time with his family over in Lakewood. Anyone lucky enough to hold onto Aussie for an entire ride, knows how it feels to work hard. Aussie also had a super impressive season, culminating in a great performance at IM Louisville. I watched this kid push himself through the last few miles of that race, and have never seen someone dig that deep. Aussie knows how to suffer, and we are all waiting to see more big things from him.

Christian Kurilko – Let’s talk about some work ethic. This guy works harder and races farther than anyone I know. I’d love to spend one minute inside this guy’s head. Christian started off the season with the Cleveland Marathon, and then backs it up with a 7.5 mile swim in the Potomac River. If that wasn’t enough, throw in a half Ironman and then IM Louisville. In Louisville, Christian had the best performance of any of the Cleveland triathletes. He blew away all expectations, and had the race of his life. I watched him come through the finishing shoot in a little over 10 hours, I truly respectable IM time. Congrats to Christian for stepping up to the Ironman distance and doing it the right way!

Brian Stern – I was lucky enough to race along with Stern several times this year. We had some good times… but we also raced ridiculously hard.  After a super fast time at the Kansas 70.3, Stern was already qualified for Clearwater. But, for him, that wasn’t enough. A couple months later, he blew the field away at the Steelhead 70.3. Stern is notorious for laying down super fast run splits at every race he does. A month later, Stern and I raced Long Course Nationals. Stern finished top – 20 overall and 3rd in his age group. Besides those races, Stern also managed to pick up a variety of overall wins through out the season. Stern is one of the best Masters runners in Ohio right now. Thanks for pushing me to my limits all season, and congrats for all your accomplishments.

Aaron Emig – I just met Aaron this season and he quickly proved to be one of the fastest athletes on the BAFF triathlon team and in the Cleveland area. Aaron had a huge break through race at Augusta 70.3 a few months ago. He finished at the top of his age group, and qualified for the Ironman World Championship 70.3. Besides Stern, Aaron was one of the only people from Cleveland to qualify for this race. Not only did Aaron go fast at worlds, he did it without drafting on the bike. Clearwater is notorious for drafting, and Aaron decided that he wanted to fair race for himself. This shows a great deal about his personality. He is willing and able to race with the best, but he will always do so in a way that honest and fair. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next season, and am sure that he will again be one of the fastest athletes in the area.

Again, congrats to everyone who raced hard and accomplished what they didn't think was possible. Special thanks to all of my sponsors this season, and any company who supported local triathlons. My main sponsor this season, Fleet Feet Sports, always went above and beyond their responsiblities to local racing and is one of the most dedicated running stores in all of Ohio. Thanks to Jody and Heather for everything they have done. Without Fleet Feet Sports, the Cleveland racing scene would not be the same.

Nov 15, 2009

Moving to The Sunshine Factory

In an effort to spend the winter on two wheels, I'll be moving out west to Tucson, AZ. Moving away from Cleveland for a winter has been on my mind for the last few years, and with graduation 3 weeks away, it is about time for a change! I have set some big goals for myself for the 2010 triathlon season, and I am hoping that spending a winter putting in base miles will help me reach my goals. For those Clevelanders who tough out the winter riding the trainer and running the icy roads, I have a great deal of admiration. But, I know my time would be better spent training in a warmer climate. I'll be back to Cleveland in late June to race the remainder of the season. So far, my schedule includes the ITU Long Course World Championships in Germany, Rev 3 Cedar Point Half Ironman, and The Lonestar 70.3. I expect to add another 7-10 races to the 2010 scehdule. Because I am moving back to Cleveland for the majority of the season, I plan to continue race locally and nationally for Fleet Feet Sports and Flexus Fitness Group; however, I am currently working on picking up a few more sponsors.

While I am out training in Tucson, AZ all winter, I want to keep in touch with everyone back in Cleveland. I plan to update this blog pretty regularly to keep in contact with everyone. Plus, if anyone wants to spend spring break riding under the sun, all it takes is a plane ticket to Tucson. It is going to be pretty busy before I set out to the desert, but I am always willing to grab a beer with anyone. Even though I am headed out of town, I hope to come back and see that the winter treated everyone well and everyone is super fit and healthy. Here's to a break through 2010 season for everyone.


Nov 5, 2009

Spend the winter doing what you suck at!

For me, it’s officially been the off season for more than 6 weeks. Like most over achieving triathletes, I am starting to feel a little bored. I really want to get back into those miles, but I know that my mind needs several more weeks of unstructured training. So what to do?
 With another winter approaching in Cleveland, it is the perfect time to do something you suck at!
Although I didn’t grow up running or cycling, those sports were much more natural to me. When I started racing triathlons, I was no different than most people. The swim was purely survival. I’m still not the greatest swimmer, but I have come a long, long way. And, I owe it all to Cleveland’s nasty winters.
 Two years ago, I decided that I was going to spend the bulk of the winter trying to get better at swimming. I decided that I wasn’t going to keep swimming like a triathlete. I was going to swim like a swimmer. This meant going to masters swim practice, learning to read the clock, flipping at each wall, and swimming EVERY stroke. I’ve met a countless number of triathletes that don’t flip turn, only breathe to one side, and can only swim freestyle. Triathletes that don’t embrace the swimming lifestyle will never swim fast times. Becoming a 3 sport athlete instead of a triathlete is the philosophy I adopted a few years ago. Many triathletes think that it is okay to be triathletes. Trust me, it isn’t. When I first started running seriously, I started working at a specialty running store. I could have worked anywhere, but I wanted to learn to run from runners. By adopting the running mentality, I was able to progress much faster. Triathletes have used this strategy since the beginning of the sport. The Big Four, Tinely, Scott, Allen, and Molena, started this sport based on this strategy. They swam like collegiate swimmers, cycled liked roadies, and ran like marathoners. This was the only way they knew how to train, and it worked.
So, this winter don’t train like a triathlete. Train like a swimmer, a cyclist, or a runner. Do something you suck at, and do a lot of it. I decided to swim 6 days per week until I move to Tucson in January. My goal is swim masters 25-30k per week. I’ve done this kind of focus for 3 winters straight and it always helps my summer swimming. The winter is the perfect time to get good at your weakness. So, when it’s cold and shitty out, head out to the pool, or hop on the trainer. Next summer, you’ll thank yourself for it.