Monday, May 30, 2016

Four Days in the Life

Its easily the question I get asked most when I tell people I am a professional triathlete:


Yes, to be quite concise, most people have no idea what a triathlon is... let alone that you can be a professional at it, or what all that would entail. Up until I qualified for my elite license, I didn't know professionalism was an option either, and I am still learning what all it does entail. Long story short, we all need some answers.

To be honest I am a bit leery of writing this... I don't like posting details to my workouts for various reasons. On one hand I don't want to brag, and on the other hand I know there's guys who will read this and laugh at the numbers I put up. But, as I stated above, answers are necessary so I'll give away my secrets here.

This post was in part inspired by some coworkers. They mostly all know that I race triathlons at an elite level, so naturally they like to ask how things are going/what kind of training I'd done that day, etc. One day my training had sounded particularly gnarly to everyone at work, so they were giving me shit at every little mistake I'd make saying I was "too tired from training." I was like, "guys, this was a pretty routine day for me..." To be honest I found their lack of understanding more insulting than their insults, so I decided it was time to pull back the doors and let everyone into a few days of my life.

I wanted to paint the best picture possible, so I figured a Thursday-Sunday segment was the best cross-section of my life. For no reason in particular I chose May 5-8th. It was about four weeks from my last race, and about two more till the next, so right in the thick of things, and a rather busy weekend at work which made things interesting.

There are two quotes I live by that I want you to keep in mind as you read about what my days entail. The first is from legendary triathlete Tim Don; "Its not just what you can do in a day, its also what you've done the day before and what you'll do the next day." This theme of consistency is big for me, and it gets overlooked WAY too often.

The next is from an anonymous Navy SEAL; "Under pressure, you do not rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of our training, and that is why we train so hard." This quote is like a mantra to me when training gets hot and heavy. I ask myself, what level do I want to sink to under pressure? I find that level and I hang on to it like I am too stupid to let go... which I am...

Without further ado, here is the brutally honest, slightly abridged version of my Mother's Day Weekend:

Thursday, May 5th
168 lbs, 7 hrs sleep

  • 5:30 AM: Wake up, coach Master's Swimming at the Y Downtown Omaha. Brief nap after coaching before bike ride. 
  • 9:00 AM: 3 hr ride w/ steady state intervals. "steady state" is what I would loosely define as half-ironman race pace. For me, this is about 290-325 watts. I did this on a trainer due to some questionable weather, and there were 6x15 mins at this pace with 5' recovery between. The last one was rough, but I had no problem staying within the parameters. 
  • 2:00 PM: Mid-long run with hills. 1 hour & 20 mins of steady, aerobic pace with some good punchy hills. Those of you familiar with Omaha know that's about everywhere around here, so I took my usual route through Dundee... After the week I'd had prior (track workouts, threshold swims, peak intervals on the bike) and the morning on the bike, I was moving pretty slowly! There's this house that I often run by off California street, and they have this huge German Shepherd fenced in their back yard. This dog barks like a frickin' hellhound, and on tired runs like this, it occurs to me all too uncomfortably that if Cujo were to jump that fence, he would dine on some stringy, free-range white boy. 
  • 4:00 PM: Work (Restaurant). I wait tables and tend bar at a Northern Italian restaurant in Dundee. The food is delicious, the money is good, the rhythm agrees with me, and I don't have to be there till 4PM. Say what you will about working at a restaurant, but I enjoy it and it works great with my schedule. 
  • 11:00 PM: Bed time! I think I may have had a little tequila and a taco or two for Cinco de Mayo... OK OK fine it was maybe like midnight and there were a few Coronas with lime as well...
Friday, May 6th
166 lbs, 8.5 hrs sleep... Usually a lighter training day due to heavy work load. 

  • 8:00 AM: Wake up, breakfast, and a yoga class. I find yoga really helps my mobility and its basically the only sort of strength training I do. The body awareness and mindfulness are hugely beneficial for me as a triathlete (or anyone, for that matter)... And besides, the last time I was the only dude in a room full of this many babes was.... well... never mind... 
  • 10:00 AM-2 PM: Work (PT Clinic). I run the Wellness Program at an outpatient Physical Therapy clinic in West Omaha. This is a hugely rewarding experience for me and it solidifies my career path as a future PT. The environment and the people I work with here are so positive and even I know that is all too rare. 
  • 2:30 PM: Speed endurance swim... This is my least favorite pool workout, since the thoroughbred swimmer in me says "speed" and "endurance" are not used in the same sentence. The main set was 5x200s broken. The first one was my fastest, 10" rest at each 50. Added up it would've been a 1:47, which is irrelevant since I don't race a 200 and if I did I wouldn't get 10 seconds of rest at every 50... but that's neither here nor there... 
  • 4:15 PM-11 PM: Work (Restaurant) I was behind bar tonight, and as I recall it was neither particularly crazy nor was it boring for a Friday. 
  • 12:00 AM: Bed time! I knew I had a big day coming on Saturday so I got to sleep as quickly as I could. 
Saturday, May 7th
168 lbs, 8.5 hrs sleep... long ride day!

  • 8:30 AM: Got up and went downtown for breakfast at Culprit Cafe, one of my favorite spots to be a basic white bro. Using proper hipster vernacular I got a doppio con panna and I even pronounced "croissant" as though pretending like I didn't grow up in the middle of cornfields and feedlots.  I was in the water by...........
  • 9:30 AM: Race simulation swim. I usually enjoy these workouts even though it goes against my nature as a swimmer to take it out faster than I finish. To give you an idea of this type of set, it starts out usually with some shorter, faster intervals, and then some longer, steadier swims. Today was 50s and 100s fast (around 26-27 for 50s and 55-57 for the 100s) and then a 100-200-300-200-100 steady state pyramid for which I held around 1:02-1:04 pace for the 100s. After a couple rounds of this I was already tired and hungry, but I was just getting started!
  • 11:00 AM: On the bike for a long ride! Pretty much this whole day was a race simulation, so I went straight home and was pedaling within 20 minutes of getting out of the water. Now, I'll avoid getting overly technical here, but generally in a race the first 30 minutes on the bike are a dick-measuring contest, for various reasons other than chauvinistic over-compensation. Everybody is vying for position and trying to out-gun everyone else, so we tried to simulate that today with a 30min TT straight out of the gate. I averaged 320 watts for this portion, 331 normalized... For those of you who don't know, that's quite a lot... for those of you who do know, that's about ~4.25 w/kg, a bit below FTP. After this I had 30 mins easy, and then 4x20 minutes at sweet spot. I'd define this as roughly half-ironman pace, right around 300 watts for me today. The remainder of the ride was just aerobic endurance. 3250 kJ total energy output!
  • 3:00 PM: Quick 20 minute transition run off the bike. The purpose of this was to make sure I'd fueled properly on the bike and to get my legs used to running when they are tired... Quite frankly, I am glad I do this all the time so my legs already knew what to do... I was pretty tired! I had time for little more than eating and showering before work. 
  • 4:00 PM-11:00 PM: Work (restaurant) This was a very busy night, but other than getting very hungry as the night wore on, I'd say I crushed it. Can you make a recommendation for a Northern-Italian wine that will pair with grilled octopus, spaghettini carbonara, and steak? Because I can. 
  • 12:30 AM: Bed time. I needed a beer or two after work, and it was a friend's birthday. Also very much in mind was the opportunity to sleep in tomorrow!
Sunday, May 8th
167 lbs, 9 hours sleep. Long run day. 
  • 10:00 AM: Wake up, breakfast of an egg sandwich and coffee. I drove to the Wabash-Trace trail over in Council Bluffs. 
  • 11:00 AM: 2hrs long run. This spring has been a bit of a roller coaster in my personal life, and I wanted some solitude today, which I why I chose the Wabash trail. Its an old railroad bed with crushed gravel, and there are plenty of fun little off-shoots that the local mountain bikers have made. I saw maybe a dozen other people in the whole two hours, and the canopy of trees really helped me quiet my mind. This is my church. I feel closer to God at mile 15 than anywhere else. I like to think He understands. The last 30 minutes were tempo, and as much as I'd love to say I crushed 5:30 pace, it was really about 6 flat, so right at 5 miles. After a brief cool down, I bought myself a protein shake and a slice of gas-station pizza and rolled home. 
  • 3:00 PM: Call mama! My biggest fan and the reason I am who I am. Love you, mama!
  • 4:00 PM-10:00 PM: Work (restaurant) Behind the bar on Sunday nights has a much different rhythm. It's a lot of service industry people and regulars, so it almost feels like I'm just hosting a cocktail party for some friends. 
  • 12:00 AM: Bed time! I had to watch the new Game of Thrones and hang out with Champ for a bit to wind down after the weekend. Tomorrow its back to work at 9 AM though, so no Sunday Fun-Day for me.
It is a busy life I lead, but I can't imagine doing things any differently. I love training and racing, and I still feel like I've got something to prove in this sport. The work I do gives me balance and pays the bills. What little social interaction I get is priceless to me, and I would never give that up. In other words, for the time being, this is a typical weekend for me. So next time you feel like telling me I'm crazy for riding 4 hours on a Saturday, at least act like I've heard it before! Until next time, FOLLOW THE PACE RABBIT!!!

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