Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#TriathlonTuesday: Clermont Race Recap

I raced the ITU Clermont CAMTRI Continental Cup last weekend in sunny Clermont, Florida. Luckily for me, it wasn't all that sunny and the weather was agreeable for a northman like myself...

For some reason (probably because I hadn't raced ITU for 8 months... and even then not that well) I was stuck seeded dead last... 57 of 57. That meant I got to pick out my starting spot on the beach last, which is almost always a big disadvantage at a race. Basically, I got the worst line available as a result. Also, the water was choppy and we swam in wetsuits...

Now, I am a huge fan of the show "Bar Rescue." Jon Taffer is the man, and as a long-time service-industry guy I love his insights. One of his sayings is "I don't embrace excuses... I embrace solutions..."

The fact that I had a bad line is an excuse. Wetsuits and choppy water are excuses. A solution would've been to B-Line it to the buoy and just be the swimmer that I am. It just wasn't in the cards today, so I wound up farther back than a 4th year pro should have.

The bike was decent, I found my way into a pack and we worked pretty well together. I tried to be vocal and get the guys moving, which worked. At one point, I'd finished yelling at a Mexican athlete in Spanish, yelling at a French athlete in broken French, when a Canadian athlete was up. For some reason I continued yelling in French (I assumed he was French-Canadian, I guess?) to which I got a blank stare and a "Dude, seriously??"

We got off the bike all bunched up, and it felt good to show off the legs a bit and dust up some of the younger kids... I haven't done a ton of speed work this year, so I felt super-strong but not very snappy... I ran decent, but it felt like I ran a lot faster. That will come though with some sharpening up!

This race was mostly over-shadowed by some glaring negatives. A bad swim, atrocious transitions, and rusty bike handling are all some things I need to dial in before next weekend. That's right, I race again in 5 short days at the ITU Sarasota Continental Championships on Saturday! Hopefully a week of training with the boys will get me sharpened up!

Until then, wish me luck and FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Season

Well, here I am, 3 months later, staring down the barrel of what could be my last season racing elite for a while. If you haven't heard, I was recently accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Marymount University. This is both very exciting and very terrifying for me... hopefully they have a station that plays country music in DC...

Anyway, in the mean time I wanna throw down at some races!! I kick the season off this weekend in Florida at the Clermont CAMTRI Continental cup, and continue the following weekend in Sarasota. I am really looking forward to hanging out with the boys and seeing what my winter training has been worth this year. 

After that, the plan is still to continue more along the non-draft path. These are easier to get to, and lets face it, I'm just better at them. It looks like my season will probably be cut short as I start classes in August. I'd like to continue racing, however on a smaller level, all through school... but we will have to find out how realistic that is I guess. 

In the mean-time, I'd like to do something a little different with my blog. Since I'm not really trying to look for sponsors or necessarily please anyone, I want to give people a more candid glimpse into my life. I realize not all professional triathletes are the same, but I hope those who are reading will be able to relate, and I hope my readers who aren't elite triathletes will be able to understand us more. Anyway, look for more of that to come in the coming months. My plan is to write more regular, shorter posts... let's see how long I can keep it up!

In the mean time, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!! That's gonna be Dr. Rabbit to you someday... 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Top-12 Moments of the 2014 Season

Well, the 2014 season happened in spite of several big life changes and a few important decisions. I had a lot fun, I learned a little, and I spent way too much money... kinda like college! I broke into the top-5 a few times, I changed jobs a few times, and I cried myself to sleep a few times.

I could write a really long-winded post about everything that happened, but I wouldn't even want to read that. In lieu of boring you all to tears, I'm going to steal a page out of my boy John's blog and do a top-12 list for the 2014 season. John is a solid writer and an even better triathlete, even though he went to CSU. So, after you're done reading this go check out his blog! John, its OK if you look...

Anyway, here are my top-12 moments from the 2014 season in somewhat-chronological order. I hope you enjoy reading about them half as much as I enjoyed being in them.

  1. Key West training camp; Everything from motorpacing off of Zane on a moped to swimming 6000+ a day to partying with the coaches after camp was awesome! I can't wait to do it again.
  2. Chasing KOMs with Team Daugherty in Florida; When my rental mid-sized car reservation was lost - and exchanged for an F-150 - I knew this was gonna be a great week. I didn't race all that well, but I had a ton of fun with the boys and I am eternally grateful to the Daugherty family for hosting us all! 
  3. YOU BOYS LIKE MEXICOOO???!!!; Yes, we do. I can unofficially say that driving a shitty rental van across the Baja peninsula with a bunch of gringos is not even the sketchiest thing I've done in Mexico. A tiny hotel room, some super hot racing, the Mexican fans, a jaw-dropping villa in Cabo and getting twerked on in the biggest club I've ever seen are a few things I will always remember.
  4. Omaha Duathlon; Actually it turned into a muddy, rainy, and very expensive 5k. Sometimes, you've gotta show up to the local race and show the townies what's up. I got soaked, covered in mud, and I only won a bottle opener, but getting brunch with Mom and Rachel afterwards made it all worth it. 
  5. CapTex; It was at this race that I realized my own relevancy in triathlon. It was my highest finish ever, and it was just the motivation I needed early in the season! To top it off, I got cheered on by some fellow Moxies in jorts and mullets. 
  6. Will Huffman's Dallas After-Party; North America Vs. South America flip-cup, teaching Dominican's how to swing dance, and dirty dancing with.... well... nevermind... Awesome time!
  7. Tempo Runs in Memorial Park with TNT; Throwing down with Ben and the other guys from Team Nebraska Triathlon in the July heat taught me how to run tough and set me up for some great PRs.
  8. The Break; Yes, it was ugly. Yes, I did more drinking than I should have during this time, but I found an edge that I'd lost and I re-learned how to stand on my own two feet. 
  9. Kicking Down 5th Place in Kansas; At the time I was running I thought I was running into the money. Only after I'd finished did I find out that they'd cut the prize purse to 3-deep. I'm glad I didn't know while I was hunting down that poor kid, though. The run was my shiny new weapon and I showed it off. 
  10. Going all-in in Bentonville; This was an awesome race all around. I led through the whole first round, and the second swim and second bike. I'd felt second place stalking me the whole time, so I fixed bayonets and hit it as hard as I could on the second loop, but it wasn't enough. Still, I was happy with second place and a big check! 
  11. Surviving off my Starbucks Card in Oceanside; It was a great few days in California to end the season. I raced tough in a tough field, enjoyed the beach, and partied with the tri-squad. Coming home from the airport though I had no money left in my checking account and I was starving. Reserving myself to a long, hungry drive home, I remembered my Starbucks Card with $20 on it! You bet your ass I enjoyed that mocha and that scone. 
  12. The Off-Season; I've done some running races, slept in a lot, partied too much, and applied for PT school. If that goes well, this next season could be my last, so lets make it count! Here's to a great year in 2014 and to being excited for what 2015 has to offer! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Pile of Stones

Sorry its been a while, friends! We're gonna get deep today... I apologize in advance.

Beneath a tree near the top of a particularly large hill on California street in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha, there is a pile of stones. Its nothing remarkable, about two feet in diameter and maybe a foot tall, and the stones are all about the size of a golf ball. It will more than likely be removed at some point by the property owner. Why am I writing about this pile of stones, you ask? Because I put it there, and each stone means something to me.

I got the idea from one of those inspirational YouTube videos. Basically, in the video, you see this guy get up one morning, grab a small rock from his driveway, and start running. Finally, after the voice-over says a bunch of inspirational stuff about never giving up, the guy tosses the rock on this huge pile of similar rocks at the top of a hill. He looks out over the city, and it flashes back to his former self putting the first rock on the hill, and all the changes he's gone through since.

"That's a neat idea!" I thought. On my next run, a cold day this last spring, I grabbed a small stone from my apartment's parking lot, and took off. I went on my favorite-least-favorite hilly route, and put the rock under a tree, and that was how it all began. The other night I was tossing yet another rock on the pile, and I noticed how big it had gotten, almost without me realizing it. I couldn't help but feel proud of myself. I was building a mountain.

There's rocks in there that are probably still cold from some of our late spring snowstorms. There are rocks that probably still have some of my sweat on them from some of our scorchers this summer. There's rocks that smell more like Coors Light than sweat from those Sunday mornings after nights out with the boys. There's rocks put there when I should've been at work, or hanging out with my girlfriend, or applying for grad school, or doing anything but running but I just couldn't do anything else but run. Yes, there's all sorts of my blood, sweat, and tears from hard times and heartbreaks that hold that pile of rocks together like mortar.

How much have I changed since that first day this spring? Well, I've PR'ed in my 10k off the bike, for one. I'm swimming and riding better all across the board than I have since, well, ever. On a deeper level, I've grown so much stronger, and grittier, and hungrier. I'm sure I've grown up a ton, given all the life changes I've had since then. The funny thing about consistency is it breeds more consistency. Suddenly, your consistent effort is your habit, a part of who you are.

People always want quick results and quicker answers, but that's not how all things work. How did I cut a minute off my 10k off the bike? By running almost every damn day. Rain, shine, tidal wave, hangover, whatever, I ran.

I've seen so much frustration with my clients at the gym. They don't get quick results, and so they give up. On the other hand, I've seen too many people disappoint themselves by comparing themselves to others who have been doing it way longer than they have. You just can't carry all those stones up that hill on California street at once, trust me, its too steep.

I'm not done building my pile of stones. Maybe it'll be a mountain someday, or maybe it'll get scooped up by some annoyed property owner. All I can do is keep building it, one rock at a time.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is, be patient. The next time you are wondering why you haven't seen success in whatever you do, ask yourself, have you given it a consistent effort? How big is your pile of stones?

Hope this helps, y'all! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Friday, July 18, 2014

To Draft or Not to Draft?

What's up guys? Its been a busy season and an interesting past month for me. A couple races and a couple big life changes later, and I've decided to focus on non-draft racing for a while.

This does mean setting aside the Olympic dream. However, I don't know how realistic that ever was for me, which is why I never really marketed it like some people we all know (YOU know who you are!) And, with non-draft triathlon being such an amateur-focused sport, there are ever fewer opportunities to make a living in it. However, I don't have to travel as much to chase points, and I get to ride my bike a lot more!

I've always compared draft-legal racing to a bar fight: You will probably get punched in the balls and get a bottle smashed over your head, you might throw up at some point, and you'll wake up the next morning feeling like hell. The guy who wins is usually the guy who knows the exact right moment to throw a punch and is a really fast runner.

Non-draft racing, however, is much more like Civil-war style warfare. We will line up in neat lines, exchange southern-gentlemenly pleasantries, and take turns shooting at each other until one side runs away or drives a bayonet into your spleen. No touching of the hair or face. The guy who wins is either from south of the Mason-Dixon line or has the most expensive equipment.

I like that draft-legal racing is less of a gamble, and focuses better on my strengths. Also, I'm not a confederate, I'm not racist, I'm not even a Republican (ha!) but I do consider Robert E. Lee to be one of my heroes. One of the best battle tacticians ever, and his men would've followed him into the gates of Hell.

I've even had the results to back it up. In Austin over Memorial Day, I raced CapTex and came in 6th. All of the work and none of the prize-purse. A week later I raced the PATCO Championships in Dallas, which was draft-legal. There, I found that, like most American elite males, I'm not that well-suited for draft-legal racing on an international scale. And, like most American elite males, I have a huge junior-high crush on Taylor Spivey... After this I decided to take my talents to South Beach like Lebron James and chase either a championship or the money or whatever and focus on non-draft.

Since then, I've raced a couple local races to throw down a tomahawk style dunk and let the local boys know whats up, and I raced Minneapolis last weekend. I did not execute on the swim, but the rest of the race was decent. I wound up a disappointing 11th. This weekend I will race the Kansas 5150, which was not on my schedule until about Monday, but hey, life happens and sometimes you wanna race instead of going to a wedding! I'll let y'all know how it goes! Until then, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!! But you better be 5 bike lengths behind and staggered or that's drafting, which is like a 2 minute penalty...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Top-10 Things I've Learned From My Dad

What's up guys? Well, today is Father's Day, and I wanted to give a huge shoutout to my Dad. Dad is one of the funniest, gentlest, and hardest working people I know. He is the one person I always look to for an example, and he has guided me my whole life. As such, I thought I'd share some of my favorite bits of wisdom from him that we could all learn from. As you can imagine, not all of it has completely stuck with me yet, but here we go in no particular order.

  1. If you're going to be particular about how something gets done, do it yourself. This applies to everything from hiring a landscaper to dining out to asking your significant other to help with chores. Simply put, either do it yourself or don't micro-manage!
  2. Know how to drive a stick-shift and operate some power tools. You're an adult. Odds are, there's going to come a time when you'll need to know how to drive your drunk friend's truck home, or drive in a screw to fix that cabinet.
  3. Be a Gentleman. Or a lady, for that matter. Dress nicely, stand up when you meet someone, be on time, always say yes to a dance, even if its an ugly girl! (He literally said that verbatim before my first 6th grade dance at Kearney Catholic.)
  4. Most of the time, its best to stick to beer. You won't get a beer gut if you ride your bike enough, and you never hear about someone dying of alcohol poisoning after too many Budweisers... you might still puke though...
  5. A hangover is not an excuse. Pops will pound IPAs with me all night... until about 10:30 PM... at which point he pulls an Irish Goodbye and sneaks off to bed. Why? Because his mornings matter. 
  6. Don't take yourself too seriously, no one else does.  Dad used to joke with us kids in such a solid deadpan that we didn't know if he was kidding or not. When asked, "DAD!! Are you serious??" He would calmly reply, "I'm as serious as a heart attack." 
  7. You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running. At 60, my dad is "younger" than some of my clients half his age. Why? Because he gets up every day and moves his ass. 
  8. At the end of the day, you're going to do what she wants anyway. My dad has set for us kids the best example of how to love, and I am eternally grateful for that. He knows that ultimately, its not up to him, but to Mom how the yard looks/where we are going to eat/what to wear/who to invite. He taught me to do the same thing with Rachel, and its worked out pretty well so far. 
  9. Take pride in what you do. How can you expect someone else to pay you for your services, whatever they are, if you don't have some pride in them? I remember Dad coming home from work, and bragging about how nicely he'd put a crown on some poor bastard in his dental chair. The layperson wouldn't even know good work from bad probably, but Dad was pumped about it. For some reason, this always stuck with me, and I think that's how everyone should approach their workday. 
  10. I'd rather be out on my bike thinking about God than in church thinking about my bike. Dad was quoted as saying this to the priest in Rolfe, Iowa, who one day asked about his spotty Mass attendance. I don't know if this is true or not, but Dad did teach me to love my bike. He taught me the best water I'll ever have will be 96 degrees, taste like plastic, and be in a corridor of corn on a July day in Nebraska, 40 miles from home, with saddle sores, numb hands, and fire in my legs. 
Colorado's mountains are beautiful. The ocean in Mexico is awesome. But, my favorite bike rides will always be through that pancake-flat corn field they call Kearney with Dad. Hope y'all enjoyed this as much as I did! Happy Father's Day, pops! FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#TriathlonTuesday: Cat-Calling

What's up guys? Well, given that its a Tuesday and I was struck by inspiration, here I am! Today I want to talk about cat-calling. Now, for those of you who don't know, by "Cat-Calling," I mean any random yelling at a passerby.

Generally this is done by a yeller (who may or may not be physically attracted to a yellee) as the yeller passes the yellee. It is my personal belief that the yeller feels some sort of anonymity, since the yelling is often done from a car or at the very least from a significant distance. I'd even go further to say that most yellers, when face to face with a yellee, would remain mysteriously silent. That's right, whatever the yeller had to say is not so important that he/she would say it "in person." In other words, most yellers are just casual people who are struck by the need to yell, and not necessarily knowledge-filled gurus.

This is a practice I have never fully understood in any form, although I've rarely had to worry about it since I'm generally not on the receiving end.

Now for some reason as a triathlete I have encountered this problem a lot more frequently. That's right, I get yelled at. On the pool deck, on the bike, or while running, people seem to think its ok to yell at me. Sure, I understand speedos, cycling kits, and split shorts are not your typical attire, and a yeller might feel the need to make me a yellee and inform me that he/she thinks I look weird. The fact is, I'm just doing my job... leave me the F@*# alone!

Ok, ok, sure. I hear your argument; "Sam, you're running shirtless along a busy street, and you happen to have about 6% body fat." I realize that this makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Let me address these "offenses" one at a time.

Sure, I'm pretty lean. As it happens, I train my ass off (literally) to be the the best athlete I can be. I don't do this for looks, although its a nice bonus... just ask Rachel! The fact is I wasn't always this way. Buried deeply in me is the fat middle schooler who got bullied, and I still have to remind myself sometimes that I am not him anymore. So, I'm sorry if my tall, thin frame bothers your insecurities, but I'm still working on my own, so please don't yell at me.

Second of all, I live near Midtown Omaha. All the streets within a 10 mile radius are reasonably well-trafficked, and I'm not going to drive in my car 20 minutes just so I can run on a quiet road by myself and thus not offend your fear of skinny shirtless white guys. Its not like I'm running on Dodge street here... Besides, none of you people said anything all winter when I was stomping up this neighborhood in 3 layers, so just continue to leave me alone now as the weather warms up!

Finally, I could leave my shirt on to make you feel better about your beer gut. I could swim in trunks to not offend your pasty praying-mantis legs. But what is this, Saudi Arabia? No! And quite frankly, I don't care how it makes you feel when you see me training. I'm not any more worried about you than you should be worried about me, I'm focused on what I'm doing. Speedos allow me to swim faster! Split shorts allow me to run faster! And the no-shirt, well, its hot out and I don't want tan lines... there ya go, a little vanity on my part...

Since I generally can't understand what you say while blowing past me in your Dodge Ram with dual rear tires, mud flaps, and 6 inch muffler tips (all of which you totally need in downtown Omaha), and since you never stop to allow me to respond, here are my canned responses to your cat-calls. Please read and pass along to other yellers.

  1. "Nice body/You're hot/I want you in some form": Since most yellers are either dudes or underage girls, I'm flattered but I'm REALLY not interested. Plus, I like my girlfriend a lot.
  2. "Nice shorts/tights/speedo" : This is pretty much my work uniform. Do you want me to come into your place of work and make fun of your ugly-ass polo shirt with the Applebee's logo on the chest?? No. Good job on the employment though, I hear they have great benefits... #RubyTuesday4Life
  3. "Get off the road!": Actually, its illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in most metropolitan areas. Just think of me as a smaller piece of farm equipment. I'm much easier to pass!
  4. "Insert derogatory phrase": GET BACK HERE AND SAY THAT TO MY FACE YOU SORRY-@$$-CHICKEN-$#!+-MOTHER#@*&#%!!!!!! 
...Sorry about that. Generally speaking, if you yell at me from your car window halfway through my threshold hill rep, you will be met with hostility on my part. That is because your fellow motorists and yellers have conditioned me to believe your yelling at me is an act of hostility. If you are a friend, maybe just wave... let's be honest I'm not going to know who you are anyway...

The only form of cat-calling I will acknowledge as dignified is clanging a cowbell out your window as you pass. Other than that, please refrain. I'm not asking you to go out of your way for me, in fact I'm asking you to not go out of your way to yell at me! By all means, follow the pace rabbit, just don't yell at him!