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Family Fun at the Bucyrus Y Tri

Posted by [email protected] on June 14, 2017 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (2)

This was the day of firsts. This was the first time I've ever competed in a relay with my family. This was the first time I've done a relay in the Y Tri series. This was the first time my sister has swam competitively in a couple years. This was my dad's first 5K race ever. This was my first race onboard my new TitanFlex bike. Lastly, this is the day where Team Gribble took first in the coed relay competition!


After a night and morning full of rain, conditions cleared up minutes before the race. Being late entries into the event, my sister was forced to swim in one of the last the heats. Fortunately for us, she was put in the lane with another relay swimmer from the all-male team, who happened to be a college swimmer from Ohio Weslyan University. Her competitive nature drove her to match pace with him for much of the race and their are times were only a minute apart. She was expecting to swim an 8:20/100yd pace, but averaged 7:21! They went one and two overall for the swim. After the exit from the water and running around the building we exchanged at the team transition zone and off I went.


Heading into this race I've not spent much time in the saddle with all of my preparation focus being on the run for my PT test. I really wasn't sure what to expect from this 10 mile bike ride and just wanted to get out there have a fun time and not let the team down. Due to the wet roads I really was not planning on riding with reckless abandon, but wanted to see what QuickSilver(my bike) was capable of. I averaged around 300 watts of power for the ride and finished the day with the fastest bike split. Once back to the team transition zone, Dad and I exchanged and he took off.



Prior to the race we weren't really sure what Dad's speed would look like. He said he was expecting 12 minute miles, but I knew he'd be faster than that based off of our New Year's Day fun run. This guy does cardio-work 45 to 160 minutes a day and was well prepared. He ended up popping off at 9:46 pace which surprised us all and he finished very strong…strong enough to run another race if he wanted. Not bad for his first 5K!


The combination of our time put us in 1st overall for the coed division with nearly 4 minutes over the next team. More importantly though, we all had fun and nobody got hurt in the wet conditions. Next up we will compete in the Galion Y Tri as a team and see what happens there. A big thank to Mom and Linds for their support there, both cheering and watching the kids.

The Path Ahead

Posted by [email protected] on May 11, 2017 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)



After another lengthy hiatus, it's time to start writing again. 2017 started off with a lot of questions… mostly due to how 2016 ended. A very lengthy work commitment this year will shorten the length of the competitive season and spending time with my family before that is my top priority. So to quench my thirst for competition, yet still spend time with the family, we have decided to do a couple of YMCA sprint triathlons together. The first will be with my Dad (& maybe a sister) and the second will be with my Wife and Dad. While those two will be my only triathlons of the season, I do have a couple of other goals in mind.


In June I'll have my annual PT test and I'm gunning for a perfect score. Yep, it's official now that I've put it out in the public forum, I am trying hard to get that 100%. What used to be easy (as in 5 times perfect score easy) has been made very difficult due to my on going back issues and focus on distance running. Fortunately I've been working with a very good team on getting that remedied and have retooled my training away from distance running back to short course running. Getting the mile and a half under 9:12 will be the key to a perfect score. Despite the fact I used to run it in 7:45, 9:12 will be a challenge, but one I'm looking forward to conquering.


Other than those three events, Kate and I may pick up a couple of 5K’s together but if not that's OK too. My focus this year is on strengthening the family bonds, not racing hard. I've come to accept and appreciate that I will not turn pro with triathlon and realistically, will not become a national champion either. What I can be is the best husband to my wife, father to my kids, son to my parents and brother to my siblings. Success there is way more important than any award, ranking, or classification.


All that being said, I will clearly not be doing much “Post Race Reporting” this year. I will however keep blogging and am looking forward to writing about the pending topics. . A big thanks to everybody who has encouraged me to begin writing again, to keep my head up and train hard, and for the support as life changes.


The Off-Season and Beyond

Posted by [email protected] on November 23, 2016 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, it’s Thanksgiving and most of us endurance athletes are deeply entrenched in the Off-Season. This is that time of the year when we eat a little more, workout a little (or a LOT ) less and evaluate the year that was and the upcoming year we hope to have. As I’ve written about before, 2016 was not the TRI season I had hoped it would be. It’s now a distant memory and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.


As always, there will be a strong emphasis on functional strength training and a renewed focus on functional mobility and balance. Training aside, I have some big projects in the pipeline to be completed over the next few months.


1st- I’m pumped to be doing my first Product review for publication! I am in the process of testing the new Rudy Project Boost 01 aero road helmet and stacking it up against their more traditional aero helmet, the Wing57. This is HUGE because I was the first person in the US to wear this helmet outside of Kona, HI!


2nd – I’ve been selected as a test athlete for the Pre Season Project (PSP) which is being conducted by the world-wide coaching service TriDot. This program is fully measurable and my information will be stored in a data bank used to assess the importance of specific triathlon training during the offseason, or preseason as they call it.


3rd- I’m conducting an extended trial of the TitanFlex boom-bike, the TF-20. This is a semi-customized bike, built exclusively for me to address the issues with my back. I will be conducting a series of tests and will objectively evaluate the companies guarantee to reduce back pain from riding.



Each of these three projects will get individual blogs, but I wanted to share the announcement of them all here first. Stay tuned as this will prove to be the most exciting offseason yet!

 

2016-The Season that Could Have Been...but WASN'T

Posted by [email protected] on October 29, 2016 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)




As I sit here trying to put my thoughts on this past season to paper, I’m hit with how bad it really was. The goals for the season were as follows:


-Defend the Mid-Ohio YMCA Tri series crown

-PR at the New Moon Half Marathon

-Nail my pacing and nutrition strategies at the inaugural IM70.3 Ohio race

-Get my Westernport Wall Brick at SAVAGEMAN

 

Of those four goals, only one was accomplished and that was the strategy work at IM70.3 Ohio. The back injury prevented me from participating the Y series and the New Moon half. Later in the season, the combination of getting rear-ended (& the subsequent back spasms) two weeks before and a death in the family prevented us from traveling to Maryland for SavageMan. Back in January I really thought this was going to be a nearly perfect season. Obviously that wasn’t to be the case. Looking back on things, where did it all go awry and was there anything that could have been done before or while the “wheels were coming off” to salvage the season?

 

As I’ve written about before, I got started three months late with my tri specific training. I always get back to it in January, but this year I held off until March. The reason being, I wanted to spend more time with my wife and baby. Training for Beach2Battlship took a lot of time in 2015 and I was trying to make up for the missed time. Another factor involving the baby most likely contributed to the reoccurrence and severity. Prior to Henry’s birth I participated in four to five yoga/Pilates classes per week. After his birth…ZERO. That massive drop-off in participation led to a decrease in both functional flexibility and core strength.

 

The late start pushed me to train too hard, too quickly, which pushed me right into overtraining. The lack of strength and accumulated fatigued opened the door for the back to re-flair, which caused more missed time. In the end, I think July10-Sept 1 was the only timeframe where my training was on track. Meeting with Lauren Vallee and Jimmy Fryer (check my previous posts) helped, but by then it was just damage control. After Rev3CP we found out about the dying family member and decided it was time to pull the plug on this season. Prior to that news I was still determined to fight through the back spasms and become a SAVAGEMAN.

 

It was a tough year-physically, emotionally and psychologically. I’ve been very fortunate to have a strong family support network and we got through it together. A huge thanks goes out to Kate, Henry, my Sisters, Parents, and Grandparents for getting through this season with me. Stay tuned for the next post as things are looking up for both this off-season and next season.

 

Rev3 Relay Action @ America's Roller Coast (PRR-Rev3 CP)

Posted by [email protected] on October 5, 2016 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a relay for the first time at one of my bucket list races. The race was Rev3 Cedar point and it was great.


(Pre-race group shot)

 

After a revolving door of personnel, we were able to score our swimmer a week before the race. Jason jumped at the opportunity and this was his first relay as well. I had no doubt his fitness level would carry us through the first leg of the event. Due to rough water, the swim was moved from the bay to the marina and subsequently called for wave starts. The swimmers jumped in pairs of two with a two second gap between each. Jason jumped in and swim well producing a great time.  Not only was his time solid, but this run to transition was a quarter of a mile or so and he gained a lot of ground on the competition across that span. At transition he had to physically put the chip on me before I was allowed to exit.


(Jason running to T1)

 

My plan for this ride was similar to my pacing strategy for IM 70.3 Ohio. I was going to ride at 130 bpm for the first half of the ride and then the second half increase it every 15 or 20 miles. This course is an out and back lollipop and I really enjoyed it. There was one section of hills and turns which was great because it was preparing me for SavageMan. The roads were smooth and well-maintained, the police support was phenomenal and the aid stations were manned by enthusiastic volunteers. Overall I would give this bike course an A+ rating. By the end of my leg, the pacing strategy worked and I averaged just over 20 mph across the 112 miles.


(Me rolling into T2)

 

For our last leg Matt was going to be our runner. This was his first marathon and we were all nervously excited for him. Coming into the race he had 2 1/2 marathons and a bunch of 5 and 10K under his belt. This run was also an out and back lollipop but it was a double out and back lollipop for the full runners which meant the lollipop was actually four loops in town. His split at the 13 mile mark was right around two hours and 20 minutes which was right on with his pacing plan. Per usual during a marathon, the second-half slowed down but he was still rockin a great pace… Especially for his first marathon and not being able to start the run until just after 2 PM.

(Matt starting the marathon)


 

Rev3 offered a great tracking device for all full participants and it made the race extra fun. There were six relay teams and we thought we were in second place the whole time. That being said, two of the teams were untracked and just happen to be in front of us! Oh well, we were here for the fun anyway. All-in-all, it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to wrapping up the 2016 season at SavageMan next week!

PACE Makes the RACE--(PRR-IM70.3 Ohio)

Posted by [email protected] on September 7, 2016 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

 

The wind was howling, it was raining buckets, sticks and leaves were flying everywhere, bikes were jumping off the racks and the water looked like an oceanic storm had just swept across it. That was the environment I dropped my bike off in the evening before the race. It was kind of unnerving putting my bike on the rack and watching the wind carry it down to the end. I was hoping the people whose bikes were to be lined up next to mine would hurry up and get theirs in place to help secure mine. As the night wore on the thunder and lightning came and a tornado, yes a stinking tornado, actually touched down in the state park! I kept checking the Facebook group to see if there were any reports of bikes that had been sucked up or destroy or if the race is even still happening. Sometime around 8 PM it was declared that all the bikes were OK and the race to be happening as scheduled… What a relief.

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I woke up at 4:30 to get the last of my goods into the car, grab some food and then meet my dad who took me into the state park. Rather than dealing with the shuttles or trying to park across the street or coordinate otherwise, we figured it be just as easy if my dad went into the state park with me and while waiting for the park to reopen he would walk around, ride his bike and do things like that. I was shocked by how clean and put together the park actually was. Not a stick was on the ground in transition or on the road way out of the park. After the normal hustle and bustle of checking the tires, taping nutrition down and slapping hands with friends I went back to the car and waited until 0810.

 

My time finally rolled around I was ready to go. My plan for this race, as the title indicates, was just to nail my pacing for my "A" race which is SavageMan. That lack of pressure allowed me to go into this fully relaxed and ready to enjoy the day. Not wanting to get the scrum which tends to happen during swim starts like this, I started towards the back of my heat. As always there was a mad dash at the front, but the line started to thin out and by the time I rounded the first buoy I had passed three quarters of my heat...but was then greeted by a face full of sun. I opted to go with my clear goggles because of how overcast it was…big mistake! The sun decided to come out and it was so bright I couldn't see a thing, so I came to a dead stop and tried to get my bearings. I decided it was best if I just kind-of stuck to a guy who was beside me, but had tented googles on and I was hoping that he could see where he was going. After a couple minutes I realize he was watching me and we both swam way off course! After a kayaker got us to turned back around, we managed to hustle to the second turn and then got straightened out from there. On my way in to the exit, a swimmer from the heat after me came barreling in elbowed me square in the face and swam over top like I wasn't even there… Got a love health physical aspect of these non-contact sports Upon reaching the swim exit I did a light jog up the grass and through the mud but did a slow walk once I got onto the pavement over to my bike.


Once there I grabbed my bike helmet, and race belt then briskly walked out. With my new rear hydration system I was a little nervous about my flying mount which I had only practiced a few times the day before but decided to go forward anyway. I did it and it worked out just fine. I decided to wait until I was out of the park to slide my feet into my shoes and fasten them. Once on route 23, I decided to open up and try to put as much distance between myself and everyone else there as quickly as possible. My goal was to ride with my heart rate at 130 bpm for the duration of the ride. During the early miles of the ride I allowed it to spike just over that to clear the early traffic. All was going well until around mile 21. The road started to turn rough and then all at once at mile 22 I heard the sound of something breaking. Due to a stiff neck I was unable to actually turn my head around so I decided to feel around as best as possible. At mile 22 all of my flat replacement stuff fell out of my water bottle cage. My tube, two CO2's, the inflator, the tire irons -EVERYTHING- and I wasn't even halfway through the ride! Because of the storms and having previously ridden this course I was worried about what the road head would be like. Fortunately there were no incidents and I didn't need any of that stuff anyway. The rest of the ride went pretty well and I was amazed by how much fan support there was out on the course. The aid stations were great but just random individuals up-to large groups at every corner; it was really cool to see.

 

There were a couple of times when a breeze picked up but otherwise riding conditions were ideal it was cool, the sun was shining and there was no humidity. It made a really enjoyable ride. There were a few flat sections where I was just clipping along and I happened to glance at my heart rate monitor and realized my heart rate had dropped down to 120, which was well below where I wanted to be. Looking back on it, I definitely could've ridden way harder, for way longer and probably still would have hit my target average goal of 130bpm. My only complaint with the bike course was right at the end when we got off the road and onto the bike path. It was less than a mile and probably should have been neutralized. There was barely enough room for two bikes to be side-by-side and yet they were people still trying to make passes just prior to the dismount line. ..



 

Running into T2 I was feeling good. my conservative riding left me feeling incredibly fresh and I speed-walked my bike to the spot quickly, put on my socks and shoes and was ready to go on the run. This course is an out and back lollipop with the pop being the loop and the stick being the out and back. My heart rate goal for this was to run the outer portion and the first loop at 150 bpm, regardless of how I felt. For part of the second loop I was going to increase my heart rate but keep it below 160. In doing so that would leave me approximately 3 miles to finish out, at which point I would take it up to about 170. Just like with the ride it was tough watching people blow past me knowing that I could go faster. That being said I kept telling myself "there is still a lot of race ahead and I'll probably pass most of them." The run itself was great and fairly uneventful. Every other mile I would take a lick of my salt and just a little hit of water and or Gatorade at the aid stations. The first loop went by and I was averaging right around 8:36 miles and then for the second loop that dropped down to about 8:15-8:20. I was feeling so fresh and so strong by mile 10 and my confidence was growing as I was passing several people who passed me on both the bike and the early miles of the run. With 3 miles to go I let loose and took off on all out sprint averaging 6:30 miles... it was awesome! There's a lot to be said about having a pace plan and sticking to it.



 

I'm really glad I was able to do this race in it's initial offering and to see the town of Delaware and the surrounding counties rise to the occasion. The environment was electric, the course was solid and all-in-all, I think everybody had a great experience. Without the ongoing support of my family, especially Kate and Henry for dealing with my training time and my dad for driving me there and wasting most of his day waiting for the park to reopen this day could not have been a success. Also a big thanks to Jimmy Fryer of the Human Form Fitness and Lauren Valley of Base Tri Fitness for getting my body back up and running after my early-season injury and illness situations. Building from the success here, I am totally stoked for Rev3 Cedar point and then SavageMan the weekend after!

Tri-Tech and the YMCA (Part 4)

Posted by [email protected] on August 14, 2016 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The third installment of this miniseries is not about people but about places…although the people make that places what they are…

 

Every athlete has their home-base to operate out of. Professional golfers have their pro shop, NASCAR drivers have their preferred pit-stops and I have TriTech Multi-Sport and the YMCA.

 

I have written about TriTech quite a few times as the source for all things triathlon in the state of Ohio. Being conveniently located off I-71, I can get to their shop in less than an hour from home or work and they are easy to access from any part of the state. As an age grouper or professional it’s critical to have a place to go for quality work and trusted advice. As my fitness and riding styles change they are always there to key in my riding position to make me as aero, powerful and comfortable as possible.



 

Beyond the great service I’ve received over the years Christ and Leanne have introduced me to product distributors, inside representatives, other athletes and industry technology leaders. All of those relationships in one way or another could lead to sponsorships or endorsements which are a necessity for professionals.

 

The other key partnership for me would be (is) with the YMCA's of the USA. ***Full disclosure I am very biased towards the YMCAs. *** Aside from my personal feelings, the Y has everything a triathlete needs. Nearly all of them have pools, indoor tracks and/or treadmills, spin studios and/or riding groups. In addition they have weight rooms and fitness machines that are necessary for developing that functional strength which is critical for long-term success. One huge program that I'm a fan of is their “YMCA Away Program”.

 

This program allows anyone who is a member of one Y to work out at another in a different location at no additional cost. Back in May, I was in three different states and utilized this program so I would not miss any training...SCORE! Not only does the program give you access to a gym in general, it gives you a diverse environment which provide different training stimulus… which are always helpful during a long training season.



 

Those of you who have visited my sponsors and supporters page may have noticed both Tri-Tech and the Y are listed. Good job for paying attention and thanks for checking out my other pages. If I was fortunate enough to make the jump from the age group to professional these are two relationships that I would absolutely take with me.

 

Regaining Shape with The Human Form (Part 3)

Posted by [email protected] on June 27, 2016 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As we continue in the series of being a professional, I'm going to stick with the theme of strategic partnerships. This week I had the opportunity to team up with James Fryer of The Human Form Fitness (http://humanformfitness.com/). This place is more than just a gym or somewhere for personal training. This is a holistic studio where biomechanical imbalances and issues of all types are corrected. Athletes are always looking for ways to train harder, go longer and get stronger, but few of them truly take a look at what's going on inside the body. Fortunately the staff at THF does that for us.


 

 

I went to THF for two purposes: first to figure out a way to fix my ongoing back issues without surgery and secondly to correct muscular imbalances. Going in to the appointment I was an open slate. Leaving, I was chock-full of knowledge both about my strengths and more importantly my weaknesses. As with everything else; knowledge is power!


 

 

Over the course of our two hour appointment Jimmy put me through a complete battery of tests. Looking at everything from balance and strength to postural alignment and lateral stability, nothing went untested. I thought that I was solid in all of those areas and the back injury was my only weakness. I was dead wrong! As it turns out, my only strength was balance! I failed or only marginally passed all the other assessments. The big shocker was that I have next to no lateral stability and very poor core strength. As James put it “from the outside you look like a Porsche, but on the inside you’re a Prius.” He was saying esthetically I look solid and strong, but with the “inside core” I was very weak. I was reeling, but the tests were hands-on and sure enough, my core was failing. This was the kind of wake-up call I needed.


 

Over the next couple of months I’ll be specifically strength training using the protocols prescribed by Jimmy. He is very confident that the back will be fixed by strengthening my internal core, including my diaphragm and increasing my back and hip flexibility. Another goal we have is to balance my muscles. My quads are fiercely strong, but the hamstrings are wildly underdeveloped. By correcting all these issues I’ll be primed for my late season goals and be in a much better position for long term success.


 

A long term relationship with The Human Form Fitness will take any athlete from GOOD to GREAT and that is why this strategic partnership is vital for continued success.

 

Partnering with Coach LU and Base Tri Fitness (Part 2)

Posted by [email protected] on June 18, 2016 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (1)

To kick this series off, I’m going to talk about a few strategic partnerships that would be necessary in my quest for the podium on the grandest scale. Whoa, wait, what? Are we talking about triathlon or writing a paper on military foreign policy? There are several lengthy and complicated definitions of strategic partnerships, but I’ll break it down in its simplest form: A partnership with great possibilities for mutual gain without being legally bound by contracts. That being said, we will dive into the first one and you’ll quickly understand why these partnerships are needed for any endeavor, but especially in striving for professional results.



 

I’ve written before about Lauren Updyke (pictured below) and her coaching business, Base Tri Fitness (http://basetrifitness.com/). Until recently we’ve never worked together in the paid professional sense. I’ve bounced questions off of her and she has graciously provided answers worth their weight in gold. As this season has been slowed by injury and illness I knew it was time to get help from her again. In addition to her one-on-one coaching, Lauren offers a great hourly consulting service. The latter is what I used because I already had a plan in place… it just required A LOT of tweaking. Having not had a face-to-face conversation since our days of swimming with COTT, I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I sat down she put me at ease and we were chatting like old friends.



 

Right away Lauren asked me what my ultimate pie-in-the-sky goal was. To which I replied, “going pro in triathlon.” She quickly followed up with, “to win races or just to say you’re a pro?” That question was exactly what I needed to hear because it should me two things. First; that I needed to not only have a surface goal, but also a well-thought out goal. The second thing this showed me was that Lauren actually cared enough to make me think and to challenge me.


 

As we talked she dove into my racing and more importantly injury history to paint a picture of recovery and one that will result in a strong finish at SavageMan in September. After looking at my existing plan we decided it was most important to put an increased focus on my swim and decrease my weekly runs, both in the number of runs and duration to protect the back. Next she gave me some resources to increase my flexibility and to strengthen the injured area. Additionally we talked about the need to stretch after fire runs at work, lactate threshold testing, race courses that would most suit my style and many other things.


 

In parting,Lauren put things back in perspective by reminding me that all athletes get hurt and experience downtimes and that this injury may have prevented me from causing permanent damage had I continued training without the break. This session was absolutely worth the money and as I continue to grow in the sport and in pursuit of my TRI goals Lauren and Base Tri Fitness will be with me every step of the way.



 

If I were a professional??? (Part 1)

Posted by [email protected] on June 12, 2016 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

When I first got in the endurance world, I had visions of grandeur. Seeing professional cyclists and triathletes conquering some of the toughest courses in the world seemed like the ultimate profession to me. Listening to these athletes during interviews talk about how hard work got them to where they are got me thinking about where I could be with that same amount of hard work. Many of them mentioned that they were never the fastest, strongest or most genetically gifted, but years of consistent training with the right support network molded them into the champions they are now. Fast forward six years and I've realized that despite the hard work you do still need a little bit of genetic blessing, good luck, and ideal circumstances to break into a professional ranks.

 

All of that being said, I have not PUT in the amount of training work needed to reach that level nor am I willing to sacrifice my family or careers to attain that level of success. In my heart of hearts however, I still fantasize about what life would be like as a professional endurance athlete. Over the next few weeks I'm going to put out a miniseries about how I envision life as a professional. Topics will include things like my ideal race season, sponsorships, and hopefully I'll be able to score a couple of interviews with professionals and coaches. Stay tuned and we’ll make it happen.


*This is being written as though I would be a pro triathlete in addition to being a firefighter and a member of the Air National Guard.

**The photo is 6x Wildflower Champios Jesse Thomas...not me (rokasports.com)



 


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