Since writing last I’ve gone through week 3 of my training schedule and consequently week 4 (recovery week) with a new 200-800 swim test. So a little and lots to talk about at the same time.

Although it was my second brick of the season, technically speaking this past Sunday was the first full (2+ hour) brick session I’ve done this season. Doing a bike/run workout always leaves me energized. No matter what the difficulty of it is I seem to be thriving by the end of the set with faster and faster reps. Maybe I’m unconsciously sandbagging myself, but I certainly don’t think so.

This particular brick was one in which the majority of the up time on the bike and run was spent at race pace and faster. As you can imagine there’s an incredible amount of burn associated with maintaining a faster than race pace tempo over time, but man is it great. For whatever masochistic reason is going on inside my little brain this situation of being able to push myself physically and mentally is why I love this sport.

On a similar note I thankfully had what I would call a successful 200-800 swim test. It’s a test I’ve done every couple months this year to benchmark my progress and although that 200 has been improving my 800 time had remained virtually unchanged since last year (improving only by 1 second/100). The test consists of a 200 all out rep, 60 seconds rest then 800 all out. Admittedly I think I half-consciously sandbagged my 200 all out by a couple seconds, but I have been so apprehensive about that 800 as of late and certainly going into it that I didn’t want any excuses.

I started my 200 off strong and then got into a faster groove, something I certainly couldn’t hold for an 800, but realistically I think I could have held that pace for a full 300 which doesn’t really make the 2 an “all out” effort. Time on the 200 was a 2:44, another 2 second improvement from last time despite not pushing the arms to their utmost limit. Such a small improvement without a huge mental effort I knew I needed to get pumped for the 800. I’ve been so disappointed at my previous times and have this inner need for my coaches to know I’m putting the work in so I knew nothing besides trying to make it hurt like hell was going to satisfy me. There’s no proper way to describe in words the moments I went through in that 800, but for a few minutes of my life I was completely absorbed and wanted nothing so badly ever before as to have a decent PR on that 8.

A slight burning in my arms, chest, lats, and lower abs developed slowly and as I passed the 400 mark began to really simmer. My attention kept wanting to drift off, to think of different things (what I’m doing later, how nationals is going to be, etc.) but I couldn’t let myself slide by coasting any of it. I pulled my wandering mind back to the task at hand and really focused on the forward drive and keeping my body straight in the water. The burn continued to build in my extremities and my abs until I was on the edge of wanting to vomit. Then at 200 meters to go my burning stopped mattering. Yes, it was there; yes it hurt more than before, but for a few brief minutes I was the pain and it was me. There was no distinction between good or bad anymore, simply a matter of being and the drive forward to finish my set.

I hit lap 16 on the wall and looked at the clock, 12:04, a 42 second improvement from 2 months ago. I couldn’t believe it, awash in emotions all I had wanted was 1:33/100 or maybe 1:32 if I was having a good day. 1:30.5/100m, finally. Now I know I’m not a Michael Phelps or ever will be by any stretch of the imagination or even as good as some of the green triathlon pros yet, but it was such an elation to make that time that I just about began to cry.

For a runner turned triathlete without a coach on hand day in day out like I’ve grown up with its sometimes difficult to push forward through tough days or periods of time where you can’t see improvement. All I have are sound bytes of coaches in my head (Jesse, put in the work and you’ll see the reward, don’t worry about the small stuff). Or maybe that’s not any coach in particular any more. Maybe it is simply what I would tell my athletes if they were going through days, weeks, or months where a time trial or race didn’t show improvement.

What I do know for sure is that I have waited 2 months for this vindication and I couldn’t let it pass  me by. Now, it’s time to keep improving. Little by little as I inch towards that professional qualification.

Who I was yesterday is not who I am today and certainly not who I’ll be tomorrow.

It’s been a dreary series of days with what seems like Jack Frost holding on for dear life around Kansas City in an attempt to make the denizens of this town a depressed wreck. Enough of the melodrama, however it has been hard to actually still get outside to get any work done. Luckily last Saturday I was able to run the 5,000 at the Jewell home open invitational. As planned I set out at PR pace at 15:50, but training doesn’t indicate I’d be able to keep that. Made it through the first mile and had to slow down  a bit. Still pulled off a 16:38, not bad, but I probably could have gone down to 16:25 if I wanted to race properly. I figured what the heck it’s not like I’m racing all track season so I might as well give it a go. PR at the home meet next year I imagine if I can keep up training. Regardless it is my fastest 5k since Junior year so I know I have to be doing something right.

 

On another note lately I’ve been attempting to reconcile this kind of anxiety I get when heading to the pool. As I’m fairly familiar with dealing with breaking down emotions it has been a puzzle to figure out where this one is coming from. Anxiety in its derived state is simply a matter of fear, but I couldn’t figure out what I am afraid of. I’m in the pool 3 days a week now, doing the full 5,000 meter sets that Barb sends out and they are getting progressively faster as I grow stronger and tweak my form. After a short discussion with one of my high school coaches (who also coaches swim) he suggested it is coming from my inexperience and lack of confidence in the pool. Additionally that even though he has swam at least once a week for years now he never quite gets comfortable (he is a successful distance runner turned swim coach).

So I think that breaks it down nicely. It’s not a matter of performance anxiety entirely. Sure I need to be faster to get that pro card and slowly, but surely, I’m making it there. The fact remains that I don’t yet feel like the pool is my domain. There’s a certain confidence associated in my own mind with running and even cycling to some degree since it relies heavily on the legs that I can own this sports and they are mine. Swimming, despite all my progress in the last few years still doesn’t feel like my sport. I think only time and determination to own it will be able to rid me of the anxiety I get heading to the pool. Our own minds can sometimes be the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced so we best be prepared to break down our fear and foibles to continue on our given paths in life.

 

A month to go before the first Tri of the season. This weekend heralds my first Brick session. It’s about time to get outdoors so Jack Frost, go hibernate for a while.

Monday, the first day of the week (at least of training, sorry Sunday!) and I’m back in the pool. Today marks a shift in the training schedule from Barb to more speed in the pool, let’s boogie. Today’s workout is aptly labeled “speed endurance” and is made up of varying lengths of repeats as absolutely fast as you can do each one not pacing for the entire set, but simply that one little interval (the longest of which was 100m today). Although in the past I have felt obliterated by these kinds of workouts this year has been a little different. With a bigger base in the pool (I’ll finally hit my first full 5000 meter set on Wednesday) as opposed to previous years I am enjoying the speed repeats.

In other news it was good to see some updates on the ‘ol Facebook from fellow collegiate recruit David Demres after the first few elite development races took place the last couple weeks. Although he earned his pro card during this last year of racing he’s elected to go another year in the age group category to get some more race experience under his belt. Despite a time penalty needing to be served on the run he finished 7th at Sarasota so my hat goes off to him. Now all I need is to kick my own butt enough to be able to race anywhere near as fast as him and maybe that pro card will inch just a little closer to me. You can follow David and his exploits on twitter @daviddemres.

 

That’s it for today, happy training to everyone.

 

Well the snow outside has left me stuck high and dry for getting to the pool the past couple days (not to mention the gym being closed even if I could get there). Driving a rear wheel drive vehicle with low ground clearance with 12 inches of snow ends in frustration and abandonment of vehicle in whatever pile of snow you get stuck in. Here’s a little shot of the ‘stang sitting in the driveway before I cleared her off. Even after it got cleaned off the snow began again and covered the car in another inch of powder to be removed this morning.

IMG_8962

Yesterday was the usual Thursday of a recovery ride on the trainer and a 40 minute (6 mile) long run on the treadmill despite my yearning desire to tromp through the snow. Today I had intended on doing 3 20-minute tubing workouts, but with the added exercise of bringing deliverance to the pavement trapped and suffocating under all that fluffy white powder I’ve backed down to two sessions. Two sweat filled sessions of staring at the basement floor and walls while listening to the jams on Pandora radio, but only two sessions at that. For those unfamiliar with tubing workouts, it is a workout using elastic (surgical) tubing to offer resistance while going through various arm exercises and movements simulating swim strokes. Although these have definitely increased my arm strength and power so far this season; with my impending self imposed swim test looming in 2 weeks I hate missing out on my 2 hour pool sessions for any reason as I feel like it’s going to negatively impact me.

Not much else to say for today aside from it’s time to go hit that second tubing session (and possibly third scooping session).

J Funk

So it’s been 3 weeks since USAT Nationals and I have yet to write an update about my experience and life in general. If you aren’t aware, this year’s USAT Age Group National Championship was held in Burlington Vermont and plays host to 2500 of the nation’s top age groupers (top 10% essentially). Going into the race I had a lot of expectations about how I wanted to perform and set my goal at breaking into the top 100 overall this year. If I had the perfect race, which I always anticipate having (funny I know) then I could make it.

24 hours of driving after we left Kansas City we arrived in Burlington and more technically Richmond. We were staying in a B&B in Richmond called the Richmond Victorian Inn. If you like every style of pancake you could ever imagine and real vermont maple syrup then I recommend staying with Frank and his family, but that’s a whole other story.

Friday I met up with the rest of the Collegiate Recruits and for the first time I actually met Barb Lindquist in person. Despite having spoken to her on the phone and having been corresponding by e-mail and having her workouts kick my butt for over a year I hadn’t yet met her. It certainly was a funny beginning as my girlfriend almost ran over her pulling into the parking lot, but Barb was in no way phased. The recruits rode 20k of the course, did a little run on the course and then followed it up with some open water swimming (which I ended up being the slowest at, dangit). Despite this I had felt pretty good on the run and the bike for the day and was really relaxed for my first nationals race.

Race morning arrives and as Barb has suggested I stick in the back of the pack for the swim, it was a wading start. I anticipated hitting around 22:30 or 23 for my swim portion since I had been swimming that pace in the previous two races of the season and consistenly in the pool. The race starts and the white water churns with a tumultuous kicking and splashing of the last wave to go off at this year’s AGN. I get to sit on legs of some of my comeptitors for the majority of the swim which is unusual for me. Coming around the last turn and trying to get onto land I got trapped behind some people with no option. I knew once I was out of the water it wasn’t a great time since my girlfriend was just cheering me on without telling me my time. It turns out I found out afterwards that my swim was really terrible at 27.5. I simply wasn’t aggressive enough with my swim. However, there was no time to worry about what couldn’t be changed and on to the bike I went.

A slightly rolling course with comparatively pristine roads was fairly enjoyable. I’m still working on my bike cadence and tempo constantly and started to feel a little more comfortable in a higher cadence than usual. There’s not too much to remember about the bike course aside from feeling great, like I was finally going to make my 23mph goal. I wouldn’t know until afterwards I only hit 21.8 since my watch stopped when I hit a bump coming in. Regardless it was probably the best bike leg I’d raced all summer even though it only matched my real speed from the very first race of the season.

Finally into and out of T2 with only my strongest leg to go, the run. Straight out of transition into a hefty hill I catch up with a guy in my age group and match him stride from stride up the hill just taking it easy at this point so as not to “blow my load” (quote courtesy of barb) on the hill and be wasted. We get to the top, the age grouper in my category I had been running with had some supporters at the top and he started to move forward before I decided to go with him. Then all of the sudden I felt a good amount of freshness in my legs coming off the hill and left him behind. About 3/4 of a mile into the run I caught up with fellow recruit Bryan (who’s a terrific swimmer) and told him to come with me. I’m uncertain whether my encouragement pulled him a little faster or not, but I was definitely on my own.

It’s a great feeling to be passing hoardes of people during a race and to feel like you’re on the top of your game. I came away posting my best run at approximately 37:30, 2 minutes faster than my best of the season.

Overall the race was a bit disappointing with my swim split putting me back a ways. If I had made my swim split then I would have been near that top 100 I had set out as a goal. As it stands I was 288th overall and 44th in my age group, beaten by some of our fantastically quick female collegiate recruits. The swim split is going to serve as a sore spot for me this entire training year since I never want that to happen again.

Sunday brought a clinic with Barb and a current male pro who also coaches. I learned some great technique related stuff both swimming and running related that I’ve already begun incorporating into my training regimine. Part of the clinic was simply cool sitting back and realizing that arguably one of the greatest female triathletes of all time was teaching me and a dozen other athletes about triathlon, good techniques, race strategies and so forth. This coming year I only hope I can finally move my training schedule up and muster up the fitness needed to find some success at the 2013 AGN and other races. This year, I hope to finally be invited to some of the elite development races and see how draft-legal racing suits me.

It’s been a long road to this point and I can only pray that I have a long athletic road ahead of me. We’ll see where this next year takes me, my business ventures, my training and my life.

 

It’s now approximately 3 hours after finishing the Elkhart Lake Midwest Regional Triathlon. It was hot, windy, hilly and at times downright brutal out there. Apparently a slow swim today although I haven’t checked out to see if it was the course or simply me being a dufus. Bike course was long at around 28 miles. Simply starting off the bike I could feel cramping issues going on with my left leg. Hip flexor, then quad, then hamstring. Fortunately it didn’t bother me in the least on the run. As is the case most of the time I had multiple guys fly past me on the bike only to be caught on the run (In 4  years I’ve only been caught on the run twice, but then again I’m not racing the big boys yet). The run went about as well as could be expected with the heat and the hills. I had a distinct anticipation of Wisconsin being gently rolling hills based on the area I’m staying in, but the bike course proved me wrong with a 14+mph wind to boot. All-in-all an okay day, 16th overall missing first place by 13 minutes. Didn’t feel particularly great, but that’s what happens when you train through a race. Training continues to ramp up as I head towards Nationals in August. Hoping to see the fastest race of my life here in 2 months.

Not often it seems do I get around to updating the site here with a positive entry. Most of the time I apparently only feel the need to update when I want to complain about something, but today is certainly not that case.

Yesterday was the Darrel Gourley Open at Jewell and I decided to pass on running the 5k although it was originally my intention to run. Mainly it was a decision based on focusing on my current race and distance without worrying about getting back to sub-16 5k times just yet. That decision paid off well with the brick workout that I completed this evening. After the half-hour warmup it was 5 rounds of 6 minute bike 4 minute run at Olympic distance race pace, negative splits on rounds 2 and 4 with 3 minutes rest. Not only did I negative split 2 and 4, I also negative split 3 and 5 while grabbing an extra 5-10 meters every run rep than I had previously. This was a workout that I felt absolutely phenomenal during and hadn’t anticipated feeling so good. Today’s diet consisted of mostly junk in the morning (powdered donuts and pb captain crunch) with a little good stuff ( a banana and a pb quest bar) before my piece of pizza after work and the two packets of tri-berry GU I had during the workout. As a side note this was only the second flavor of GU that didn’t make me want to gag, the other being the vanilla orange Roctane. Regardless of the flavor of GU you use I can’t complain about the efficacy of the stuff, it’s worth enough that I’ll be getting another box here soon to actually begin using on my harder swim days and brick workout days.

Aside from my crap diet today, most days are better however I am contemplating a vegetarian diet much like Ironman athlete David Brazer suggests in his book Thrive. The idea here being maximum nutrients for minimum calories to allow me to get super lean and train at maximum capacity without breakdown. Realistically it won’t happen until I find a stable job outside of the “fresh equilibrium” store; something that pays enough to live on my own. Regardless of my lack of ability to control the entirety of my diet I’ll be trying to work more vegetarian meals into my daily routine to help recovery. This is on top of my recent purchase of a now integral part of my training gear, Smartwool PhD Graduated Compression Socks.

I have been skeptical about compression socks in the past and the efficacy of them to actually help you recover, but I am certainly a believer now. After reading a review about Smartwool having one of the better pairs for recovery I decided to order a set since I have a discount at work for them. Putting them on as close to finishing a workout as possible has resulted in me being sore only 1/6 hard workouts and it was barely sore on the one workout which consisted of a set of all out 200’s. An all out 200 day would normally have me hobbling around the next day so I would say the socks did their job. At a retail price of $38 a pair there is certainly some heft to the price tag, but considering my racing smartwool socks have lasted 4+ years I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these to anyone.

On a more personal note my workouts often keep me thinking about why it is I do what I do and what I’m willing to go through to accomplish that goal. Being at Jewell yesterday and seeing guy’s like Etz (the new assistant coach) as in shape as he is popping off an easy 4:20 mile frankly makes me envious. But that envy is part of the arsenal I’ve always used to push myself farther because I don’t like being left behind. It reminded me how desperately I want to get back to the Jewell campus so Coach Gole (Jewell’s swim coach) can kick my butt into the most incredible swim shape of my life and get me into the kind of speed I need to get that pro card I want so badly. During workouts like today all of those thoughts run through my head and others like previous coaches words. My signing ceremony for Jewell the coach at the time made an errant comment that maybe some day my classmates would see me in the Olympics. This is always paired with the conversation I had with the current coach, Tom, about the previous coach’s eery ability to know the potential an athlete possesses (not to mention the previous coach having actually taken people to the Olympics). Only time will tell whether my underdog story will end in a fit of glory or I will simply reach a peak I cannot overcome, but these errant conversations I’m sure many of the friends and coaches don’t even remember having with me run through my head  give me glimmers of hope. Tiny specks of light in the dark that keep me aching to reach the seemingly impossible. I see guys like Lukas Verzbicas training for the same goal I am and think there’s no way to overcome a guy who was already running sub-4 minute miles in high school, but I’ve never been one to say never even in the face of the impossible.

Frankly, I can’t logically tell you I’m anything but an idiot for trying, but I’m a happy idiot all the same.

The entirety of this blog is to capture a candid recording of my adventure towards my dream of turning professional in triathlon and competing against the world’s best. That dream, however, is in constant danger of  being thrown overboard especially as of late.

No doubt, my resolve remains fixed on wanting to make this happen, however my training has not been going according to plan. I’ve remained stagnant in the pool for several months now because of tiring out and having to “start over” in terms of building up my swim workouts again. Still looking at a 2:53, 12:11 type 200, 800. Now this is a major improvement over my times last year, but not where I need to be to make my goal of top 20 at Age Group Nationals this year.

The biggest challenge to my training schedule isn’t one thing in particular, but the culmination of things. A work situation that tires me out, but doesn’t pay enough for me to move out from my parent’s abode. Thus resulting in less than desirable eating (meaning I typically can’t feed myself enough during the day, dinner at home is usually sufficient), a lack of getting to bed at a desirable time, leading to a tired body that can’t get into the groove on workouts and focus like you need to be a top age group athlete, let alone turn professional. The other factor being, at the end of the day of work and coming home I’m not prepared to get another workout out which is essentially necessary.

In short, this all leads to frustration at my inability to conceive a conducive environment to my own dreams. Perhaps it was silly of me to ever think this was going to be easy like raining was during school. Where every day I had other things to do beside train, but I could always focus enough time to continue progressing. Now I find myself in either a state of stagnation or to a degree it is retrograde. The only thing that keeps me going at times is knowing how disappointed I will be in myself if I give up. Even if it means trudging through workouts to keep some semblance of fitness despite my frustration.

All of this of course is somewhat melodramatic, but it is the result of a less than grandiose swim workout this morning and a not stellar run workout earlier this week. In short, I need to figure out how to eat more and better, sleep more and better, run bike and swim more and better, all while trying to start a business and find a different job to sustain and suit my chosen lifestyle. I can now understand why so many people looked at me like I was an idiot when I mentioned this before graduation last May. Here’s to hoping I get something together here soon before I lose all momentum for this coming season.

 

Well I’ve kicked off my new training season (aka time for speed) with the 6th Annual Buffalo run in Parkville. It was a heck of a race, mostly by myself. Taking off from the starting line, around 400 runners and walkers alike headed forward into the twists and bends of the Parkville nature sanctuary, what was eventually to become a muddy mess. A couple guys took out ahead of me and based on their pace I knew that either there was no way I was going to keep up with them and they were going to put a solid 8k time ahead of me or they were doing the 5k and I’d be out on my own. Turns out only 1 of the 3 did so I ended up 3rd overall. Lost quite a bit of time the second loop around trying to get around all the walkers meandering about the course. As you can imagine, tight quarters and muddy terrain combined with unsure slightly rocky footing and half inch spikes is a possible recipe for disaster.

Either way, it was a good little kickoff to a faster section of training coming up and I’m surely sore from it. Unfortunately there’s no reliable time from the course since it was 1. difficult and 2. covered in people, but I got what I wanted out of it in terms of some lactic threshold training.

Site updates still to come… who knows when I’ll get around to actually updating the visuals.

 

*Edit* Fun to note but obviously useless, I beat “Matt Reed” at this race. Results found here. Now only if it was the “real” Matt Reed.

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but we’re getting closer to Triathlon season and I am thinking more about my race schedule this year.

After discussing it with Barb, we’ve decided to make my A priority race this year Age Group Nationals. My personal goal is to be within the top-20 overall so I’m going to have to put together a stellar performance by race-time in August.

My swim has been coming along to the point where I was swimming 1:27/100 for smaller threshold sets pretty well until I started getting stressed out between workouts, work, and home. All of which culminated somehow in being revved up to go for a swim at 2 in the morning last night when I was apparently not being given the option to sleep so headed to the gym. As nobody really reads my blog, this post serves as a re-commitment  to myself and my goal to turn professional in triathlon. I now believe this goal will take another year of development and I won’t have the opportunity until 2013 so I hope to continue to write here in part to keep me motivated to continue forward.

On the running and cycling side, I haven’t really been on the bike much at all as of the last few weeks. A couple semi-long rides when the weather has permitted me to get outside, but I’ve mostly been hoofing it around on long runs with the occasional fartlek thrown in as I’m starting to turn up the speed ever so slightly this time of year.

I’m looking forward to getting over the next month weather wise and heading into more confidently solid 50+ degrees in march and onward. We’ve had a beautiful winter, but the occasional dips downward and my need to work out at 6-7 in the morning don’t cooperate with the nice weather well.

Enough rambling and nonsensical banter from me, more sporadic posts and hopefully a visual update in the near future.