Apr 20, 2011

The Big not so Easy

The season has officially started…

I was lucky enough to fall asleep before taking off and actually wake up back on the ground. The last 48 hours have been a bit tiresome, and I am looking forward to some regularity. I’m landing in Tucson in a couple hours and I’ll have less than 10 hours before I need to be back at the airport. However, this time I’ll be dropping off Kulbis. It has been a long but amazing training winter in Tucson. I know he is sad to go back home, but a few weeks of steady training will bring his winter fitness to light, and he’ll be winning all the local races in no time. After a quick trip home to pack the rest of my belongings, I’ll make the 4 hour drive to Las Cruces. At this point, I can barely fill a car with what I own. Kulbis sold the rest of our knick-knacks over the weekend, so I’ll literally be leaving with my clothes, a couple bikes, or more pairs of shoes than I’d like to admit to owning. I’ll be settling in Las Cruces for a few weeks before I road trip to Houston where I’ll be reuniting with good friend, DJ Snyder. There, I’ll also be meeting up with Portuguese rockstar/triathlete, Pedro Gomes. It’ll be a great environment as long as Pedro doesn’t force me to eat Dairy Queen twice a day. I need to lean down a bit now that the racing has started, and I can’t be sandwiching a DQ run between Chipotle visits anymore. Once back in Cruces, I’ll have a chance to really pick apart my race in New Orleans. I definitely have mixed feelings about the race, and I can’t say that I am very satisfied.

As many people have heard, the swim leg was cancelled due to a little chop, and the race was turned into a bike-run. Even though swimming is not a great strength of mine, I’ve spent the last 4 months swimming 30km a week, and I believe I’ve pushed my 1.2 mile split (with a wetsuit) down to around 25min. Mildly annoyed that the swim was cancelled, I tried to re-center myself and think about the new race. Everyone had to deal with the same situation and it was up to me to adapt. Regardless, starting an hour later and the new time trial start made it difficult to truly warm up. Starting a bit “cold” had me working a bit too hard from the gun. I was overeager and too aggressive in the opening miles. I believe riding through the first 5 miles in 11 minutes illustrates this perfectly. Regardless, after the shock of the first few miles, I felt as if I settled in nicely. I rode hard the entire 56 miles, but I never felt as if I was out of my comfort zone. I just locked in and rode the miles. My biggest task was making sure that other age groupers didn’t get in my way and cause me to crash. Instead of getting mixed in with those people, I spent the whole bike leg riding near the center line. A nice tail wind on the way home put the exclamation point on a solid ride. However, it may have been a bit too “solid.” I rode 2:11:18, which is 25.6mph. My split was faster than some of the pros and about 90sec off the average pro bike split. I may have overexerted myself, but at the time, I felt like I was riding exactly where I needed to be. Onto the run course, I felt pretty strong as I came through the first mile in just under 6:00. Unfortunately, I quickly found myself settling for 6:15s. The first 6 miles were certainly the worst miles for me. I had a bad stomach ache, and it was starting to affect my ability to run anywhere faster than 6:30s. At the halfway point, I finally caved and took care of that issue. That mile was 7:45, so I figured that I lost about 60-75 sec in the bathroom. That is part of racing though. After my setback, I found myself back in a rhythm. After a 6:20 7th mile, I was back down to just over 6:00 pace. At mile 9, I was passed by the one and only person to do so all day. It only took a few seconds to realize that he was the person I needed to be running with. I dropped the pace and started to come back to him. We ran the 9th mile in 5:45 into a light, but noticeable headwind. In the moment, it felt like the right move, but it was too fast and had me absolutely popped. Looking back now, I probably should have continued building slowly and finish the last few miles around 6:00-6:15, but I took a chance. After a mini melt down, I ran a super slow 6:40 11th and 6:45 12th mile. I was never ever able to come back from that harder 9th mile. I ended up running 1:25 half marathon (6:30 pace). I consider this very slow and need to make some changes in order for this to not happen again. Overall, I finished 6th in the amateur race, and 29th overall (including 35-40 pros). I was about 80 seconds out of 3rd place and a little over 3 minutes out of 1st. I am definitely not happy about this result, because I came to win. However, I have a few areas where I need to improve and I am eager to get back to the drawing board. Although I kept this mostly to myself during the last few months, I had an injury that kept me from running for 3 weeks. It took another 3 weeks to get back to a normal stride. With this setback, I know I still have a lot of fitness to gain in the next couple of months. Training Camp with the Triathlon Squad has already started in Las Cruces, and I am looking forward to joining them. I need a few solid weeks with Coach Paulo Sousa and the crew. Training solo in Tucson was starting getting old and I am more than excited to see my squad mates. It will definitely be a busy few weeks in Cruces. On a side note, New Orleans never ceases to shock me. I saw things on Bourbon St. that will haunt me for long time. It is amazing what people can get away with down there.


  1. I'll tell you what haunted me in NOLA: watching your brother thrusting on stage at Cat's Meow with a bunch of older ladies until they asked him to step outside and cool off.

  2. HAHAHAH... you shoulda been there when we went. think i went to about 5 of those establishments.

  3. Great race, AJ... even if it wasn't "perfect". Those are rare, and when they happen, embrace them! I'm no where near the athlete you are, but I push myself to my own limits as well. Most of the race days aren't "perfect" and a lot aren't even right... but those build the lessons and character needed to go big and accomplish what you are capable - 1st overall. You'll get there soon, AJ!
    All the best!
    - Hagan