Saturday, September 29, 2007

Xterra National Championshps: Playing in the Snow!

Xterra is gnarly. From scorching heat and choking humidity in summer championships races and now to snow and freezing temps for Nationals.... gotta love it!


Last night from the front deck of the condo:


this morning from the front deck of the condo:


Well it's the day before the race and as you can probably guess from the title it snowed last night. It was just a dusting, but c'mon, snow. I am not a cold weather triathlete. I love the snow and the cold when I am going snowboarding or staying inside having some drinks by the fire, but not when I have to swim, bike, and run.

I am not stressing out about it. It is what it is. I am still going to go out, go hard, and see what happens... just with a little more gear on than usual. I am contemplating what I am going to wear tomorrow morning. The air temperature at the start should be just below 40 and the water temp is a steamy 58. So gear choice will be very important.

as if there was any doubt...


This morning was a couple race prep workouts. I was planning on a swim but bagged that idea when I checked the temp and it was only 28 degrees. So instead at about 830 I rolled out on my bike and watched the start of the Xterra Sport race and then got in a 40 min ride with a couple of race pace efforts then just some easy spinning. After the ride I changed into some warm run clothes and headed out with Tom and Cody for a quick 15 minute run with some accelerations to race pace on the way back to the condo. Feeling good.

post bike... still some snow on the deck:


post run:


Here's some more photos and video. My next post will be a full race report and I probably won't get that up until sometime Monday or Tuesday...

post ride/run breakkie:


yeah... that's snow:
video

From the start of the sport race. You can see the snow up on the mountain. I'll be up there tomorrow:


Cody and Tom headed up on the trail this morning to find this:


and this:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reporting from Tahoe: Xterra National Championsip weekend



Lake Tahoe from the climb up Tunnel Creek road. EPIC!

I am in Tahoe living it up and hoping the speed of my condo mates (cody waite, trevor glavin, and tom o'brien) rubs off on me!

Things have been going great so far. The weather has been killer. Definitely a little colder than I like, but not too bad... but the temps are supposed to drop a bit come race day. Right now we are looking at a high of 60 on Sunday with a low of 37. Right now the hour by hour is showing temps in the mid 30's for the race start 9am on Sunday... nice and warm!

Yesterday was pretty much a perfect day. I got into to the condo just after 10pm on Wednesday night, and after "fixing" the internet I did some unpacking and hit the sack. I woke up around 7am had some strong coffee, oatmeal (that i pre-mixed and brought from home), and then built my bike. Then around 9am Cody and I headed to pre-ride the epic bike course in killer conditions. I was about 50 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

Here's a video and some photos from the ride:

I don't recommend trying ride the flume trail with one hand on the bars and the other holding the camera... but the video came out killer:

From the Flume looking down on the beach we swam at later on in the day. Beautiful!


The flume, you can see cody on the far left and the consequences on the right:


cody and I on the flume:


The ride was rad, but I did have some problems with my brakes... they really weren't working! I pretty much had to ride the entire descent pumping my brakes the whole time just so I could keep some pressure and slow down. Right after the ride I took my bike to the shop, which is just around the corner from the condo and they bled the brakes and replaced the pads. That did the trick and I'm all set for race day.

After slamming a recovery shake we all headed down to a secluded beach with crystal clear water for some open water swimming. The water was defintely cold but I was prepared with a neoprene skull cap and some blue seventy swim socks. After the swim it was off to the grocery store to pick some grub for dinner and then it was back to the condo.

another video of the lake where we swam and some more photos:

the calm waters of lake tahoe, prior to swim session:

Just before dinner I went a quick run of the run course. Just one loop and then called it a day. For dinner I grilled up a steak, some multigrain bread, and made a big salad. It hit the spot for sure. We ended the night watching the season premier of "The Office" with a glass of wine. I can't think of a better way to end a day.

Cooking dinner, top sirloin and some bread:


the boys in rest, recover, relax mode:

Today is a total day off and tomorrow I will do some short race prep stuff and then it will time to throw down...

Here's a recap from the rest of the week and some more photos. I meant to post it sooner but never got around to it.

Tuesday:

AM: Masters swim - 4000 yards
PM: 45 min trail run with race pace intervals

Both workouts on Tuesday were solid. I felt really good in the pool and the mainset was pretty challenging. I think I have timed the build up in my swimming pretty well. After cutting back on the swim volume and focusing on the bike over the summer I finally feel some the speed I had at the end of last year is back... and I will hopefully be taking that up another gear before Maui. The run was solid as well. I ran in San Elijo lagood because the trails back there remind me a lot of of the course here in Tahoe.

Wednesday:

AM: 90 min road ride with some short race pace efforts and quick climbs

I felt really good on the bike yesterday morning. At the last minute I decided to work from home on Wednesday in order to finish packing and get some extra sleep without having to rush. My flight didn't leave San Diego until 6:55pm. I slept in a bit, took care of some work, and then hit the roads and the legs were feeling really good... alot of snap, but I knew I could go too hard. I am still in training mode as this is still the last week in my "build" phase and the rest will really start on friday and continue through the first half of next week. I got home from my ride, made and epic breakkie, knocked out some more work, and finished packing.

the killer breakkie: whole grain waffles (made with Kodiak mix, protein powder, and ground flax seeds) topped with Fage (greek yogurt) that I mixed with cinnamon and a banana.... chronic!


Beard update:
Tuesday:


Thursday:


traveling gear:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Race Week: Xterra Nationals



I can't believe Nationals is already here. The season has flown by. Not to say that it has not been a long, tough season, but it's hard to believe the end is near. I am really looking to getting to Tahoe and racing. Nationals is just a "B" race for me as I plan on peaking for Worlds at the end if October, but I definitely plan on giving it everything I have on race day. The race will be tough. The course is very challenging, it's going to be cold, and the competition is as good as it gets. I am also really looking forward to just hanging out with friends and enjoying the time away from work and home.

The weather in Tahoe has been nuts with snow and rain over the weekend, but Trevor reported that this has left the trail in good condition. It's supposed to warm up a bit by Sunday and I hope that's the case it because first thing this morning it was damn cold up there. In preparation for the cold I am growing a beard. I figure I might as well look like mountain man for a race in the mountains and it may help keep my face warmer in the swim. I know it works for surfing in the winter.

first thing this morning


weekend forecast.


working on the beard.

I had really good weekend of training and am feeling satisfied about where I am at with my fitness. Saturday was really mellow and a day off the legs with just a 60 min swim in the morning. Yesterday was a race simulation workout. This workout will be repeated often and is going to be key over the next couple of weeks. It's basically just a race pace brick with a ton of climbing both on the bike and run and felt great throughout. Here's some of the data:

bike: 1:53, 18 miles, 3300ft of climbing:


T-run: ~35min, ~5 miles


On Saturday I had the chance to attend a clinic with Joe Friel and Jim speaking about peaking. It was killer and I got some good information that I will definitely be applying to my training as I work towards a peak for worlds. There were only about ~20 in attendance and that kind of shocked me, but it gave me a chance to ask some training questions and get some good responses from Friel, which is pretty nuts in my opinion. I mean the man is a genius when it comes to triathlon/cycling training and methods. I am hoping he comes back to SD to give more clinics on training and his philosophies. Jim spoke about the mental aspect of peaking and racing... more good info.

That's it. I leave on Wednesday evening for Tahoe and will check in before hand. I'll leave you with a photo of Beth's epic, homemade power peanut butter pretzel granola. Check out her blog for the recipe. I can't stop eating this stuff!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

some more training and an aquathlon RR...(mega photo edition)

You gotta love San Diego in September. Empty beaches and killer weather.


Well it's the final week leading up to Xterra nationals and things are a little hectic. On the training side things are going really well. I am feeling really good in the water, on the bike, and my run is feeling very solid. I got some strange news on Tuesday and I'll get to that in another post.

Taking sunday off was defintely the right call. I have been feeling very fresh and strong throughout my workouts this week, and they've definitely been tough.

Monday:
AM: Bike - road ride
Lunch: stretching/core

Tuesday:AM: Masters
PM: trail run with race pace intervals

Wednesday:
AM: MTB with race pace/LT intervals on the climbs
Lunch: Stretching/core

Thursday:
AM: Masters
PM: Aquathlon (1000m swim/3 mile run)


an incredible day for a race... good 'ol SD.

The race last night was a good time. My plan was to use it as my last hard run workout in my last build week before Tahoe before I back it off a bit. I really wanted to have a good/smart swim and run very hard. Mission accomplished. I got down to La Jolla around 5pm and just sat around and made the usual rounds of friends and conversations. It seems most people have already started their offseasons, are getting ready for last one big blow out, and then there's me. My two big races of the season take place in the next 5 weeks. Jim was out there to race as he gets ready for Kona as well as some other fast dudes.


pre-race photo... what am I scowling at???

I warmed up with a trot down to the pier and back (1.5 miles) and just swam about 100 yards. My arms were definitely feeling the 4000 yard masters workout from the morning.

Swim - 1000m:

the start. I am in the middle of the pack in the green cap.

The beach start was pretty typical and I chose a pretty good line and had a straight shot to the first buoy. I was a little inside of it and had to back track a bit as I made the first turn, no worries. At this point I was swimming sided by side, stroke for stroke with 4 guys. I got hit in the face pretty hard and also dunked one time. Good times. We stayed side by side for a minute and I decided to pick up the pace a bit to see what would happen. They all stuck with me so then I knew what to do. I dropped back and then latched on to some feet. No use in wasting all my energy if they would pull... and they did. We got to the last buoy and they were fading and I was feeling good so I picked up my pace and headed into the shore.

Run - 3 miles:

It seems like our pack got gapped quite a bit by the leaders and there were quite a few (7-10) guys out on the run ahead of me. Time to "do work". I worked my way into 6th at the first turn around (.75 mile) and was shadowing the 5th place guy who didn't want me to pass him and I could see all the guys ahead of me including Jim, leading the race, and Emilio DeSoto in 2nd. I pulled up side by side with the 5th place guy and he didn't want to back off, I put in a surge, he hung, so I put in another one and he backed off. I decided at that point that I needed to be in 3rd by that next turn around (1.5 miles). I ran hard and was able to run into 3rd with each guy giving me a challenge. It was rad. I love it when people make me work harder than I want to. So I was in third as I headed back down to the pier but Emilio, 2nd place, was still had quite a lead on me. I passed Paul (he was out the just doing the run) and he cheered me on to go get Emilio and get 2nd. I lock in on Emilio in the distance and just started to close the gap. I was working very hard. When I got to the final turn around (2.25 miles) I was only 20 yards behind him. I caught him quick on the final lap and just tried to blow by him. He responded to my pass and surged to catch me. We were running shoulder to shoulder. So there was only one thing to do... lay it down. I made another move, got 10 yards ahead, and then he tried to respond and as soon as he almost got back up to me I picked it up another notch and then just kept running harder and harder all the way to the finish to build a pretty good gap and take 2nd place.

Results:
1st - Jim Vance
2nd - Me!
3rd - Emilio DeSoto


(L to R) Emilio, Me, & Jim with our rice crispy treat medals.

It was definitely one of the harder 3 mile runs I have done and it felt great. I love running that hard. Not necessarily when I am going that hard and it feels like I am going to puke, but afterwards it's very satisfying knowing you pretty much went as hard as you could have.

After the race I hung out for a bit, had some pizza, and then called it day and headed back up to north county. The Triathlon Club of San Diego is rad and I am very fortunate to have it a training resource. I have met a lot of killer people and got in some killer training with the group. I mean where else can you blast yourself in the Thursday night aquathlon, chat with Bob Babbit, Jim Vance, Emilio DeSoto, and loads of other awesome people, and then chow down on killer food?

This morning I woke up early to get in a ride because the forecast was calling for rain and I wanted to get it in before it started. When I headed out just after 6am there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was just coming out. It was perfect out, a little cold, but it felt great. It's now 2pm and the sun is still blazing. What happened to the rain?

Below are some more photos from the aquathlon, food, and other random stuff from the week. there is also a little video of me from the race from Brian's (our new club president) blog.

Sequence from the race. I think it's at the 2nd turn around (1.5 miles in)







here's a little video from Brian's blog. I am the one running from left to right as I head out for my second lap. here's the quote from Brian's page:
"James Walsh, the second place mens finisher is seen here running down Amanda Felder who won for the womens. Time to work on that swim James!!"


new breakfast concoction (thanks beth): Cheerios, Kashi Shredded wheat, puffed corn & wheat, granola, bluberries, a banana, protein powder, and chocolate almond milk.


another killer burger: lean hamburger patty, whole grain bread, grilled peppers & onions, cheddar cheese, roasted tomato salsa, and a chipotle ranch sauce


getting it done!


it's getting to be that time of year. In order get out of the door before 6am I had to break out the lights.


making sure they still work.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

not according to plan...

It's getting close...

Wow... the past week has totally kicked my ass. The race intensity workouts and final prep for Tahoe are taking their toll. I think I really put myself on the fence between overreaching and overtraining. The problem was that I look at the overalls hours and they are down, but that's really not indicative of what's really going on. The intesity is way up as I have been including race pace/intesity workouts more regularly to get dialed in and used to the "hurt". Luckily I believe I caught it just in time as to prevent and real damage.

I rearranged my schedule a bit when they decided to change the TCSD club race on Saturday from the "founders" format to a sprint out on Coronado. This race was originally in my plan, but I took it out when I found out that this was going to the be the funky founders race. So I was definitely stoked when I it got changed to a sprint. I always find that club races make for some of the best training. The club is filled with fast and fit athletes and as hard as I push myself in my solo workouts nothing can bring out the intensity like chasing some one down on the run. As much as I would like to duplicate the speed and effort in training I just can't seem to do it.

Before I go over the race and my current state I will recap the week.

Wednesday: AM - 2 hr MTB - hill/LT interval workout



Thursday: AM - Masters swim/Lunch - 1hr Run - Hill repeats + Lt intervals (f'ing hard)



Friday: AM - 90min Road ride - Endurance ride, some climbing/Lunch - strength/core/stretching

*I blew off an afternoon swim because the pool was crowded and I was tired.

Saturday: TCSD Club Race (1000m swim, 15 mile bike, 3.2 mile run)

the race:
Like I said before the race was in my original plan so I was stoked when they changed to the sprint. I got to the race around 6am for the 7am start (ended up being 715) and got my transition area ready to go. I talked with a lot of the tri clubs folks and was just taking my time. I was feeling pretty tired from all the training and even had a hard time getting up in the morning which is very rare for me. I just did a 10 minute warm-up and my stomach was off a bit and I actually felt pretty nauseous. I blew it off and headed down to swim.

swim - 1000m:
solid effort. That's all I have to say about that. Nothing special. I got on some feet, had people on my feet, passed some people and just really played around with my pacing throughout the swim. I would see a pack ahead of me and just close the gap to them and then cruise. I came out just behind the lead group and was happy with that.

bike - 15 miles:
I chose to ride my orbea again with clip-ons which I knew would defintely be a huge disadvantage on the super flat, usually windy, course up and down the strand. But I wanted to get some more power data (info posted below). The ride was good, but my stomach was giving me some issues. I "vurped" (burp + vomit) 3 times which wasn't fun. The cookies & cream powerbar didn't taste nearly as good coming back up. I was caught and passed by 5 guys total. The first was Matt Dixon and that dude is getting fast. He was laying it down. Then I was passed by a pack of 3 guys... a full-on pace line. It was just club race on a tight course so it didn't bother me, but there was no way I could stay with them and I wanted to work solo. I was passed one more time right before the finish. At this point Paul and Matt were #1 and #2 and there were about 5 to 6 guys between them and me so I was in 8th or 9th off the bike.

run - 3.2 miles:

I felt good coming off the bike and was right next to a guy I didn't recognize wearing a DC tri club kit. I had no idea if this guy could run or not so I just went after the guys ahead of me. I was able quickly run my way into third place and then started to work on reeling in the leaders. When all was said and done I closed the gap considerably but there was not enough course to get to the front. Both Paul (1st) and Matt (2nd) put together good races.


They don't have the splits posted yet but I will post them later. I am curious to see what I ran. Right after the race I met they guy in the Dc tri kit, Mathias Palavecino. He was just out here visiting from DC and came out to race and finished just behind me. He qualified for Kona a couple of weeks a go at IMKY and is one fast dude. He ran a 1:13 half marathon off the bike at Eagleman. I can't wait to see what he can do in Kona.


another killer thing about the race was that Beth was racing in her first triathlon. She has been training her butt off and was finally cleared to run after a hip stress fracture. She ended up winning... and by a good margin. I am stoked for her... she's going to be fast!

After the race I got in a 50 minute run and then called it a day. Later on it was off to a tri club BBQ which was right around the corner from house. Good times, good people, good beer, and good food.


Here's where it gets interesting... Saturday night when I got home my stomach still felt kind of of off and I was mega tired. I ended up falling asleep before 10 and not waking up until after 7am. Very unusual for me and I felt like I could just keep sleeping. I got up had some breakkie, coffee and relaxed a bit. I had planned for a 3 hour mtb in PQ canyon but decided to stay local in case I wanted to pull the plug. I headed out for the trails at 9am and was back at home by 930am. I wasn't feeling it. I was tired... actually exhausted.


It hit me full-on while I was making the first climb. There was no way I could get through the ride I realized that I would be doing more damage than good if I gutted my way through it, which is what I would normally have done. When I got home I laid on the couch and watched football and looked over my training logs. It's no suprise I was shelled. I had just done two sprint races in 7 days along with 2 other very hard bike and run workouts. I needed the day off... so I took it. After taking the day off, eating good food, and just straight up relaxing I feel very refreshed today. My morning ride was incredible.


ok... now for some very bad news. I was sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon relaxing when I got a phone call from Beth. She had crashed on ride out in Ramona and was on her way to the ER. She was descending going 30+ mph when a motorcycle almost clipped her and her friend and she went down... hard. the bad news... she broke her arm, the good news... aside from some pretty minor road rash that's it. She's pretty bummed but it could have been way worse. So I spent the rest of my sunday after noon hanging out in the ER watching the Chargers get embarrassed by New England!


It's nuts because this kind of stuff can happen to anyone at anytime... more later....

some random photos...

don... the man. he hosted the club BBQ. Good times.

Two new staples in my diet:

Fage Greek yogurt


Almond milk. Awesome in cereal and oats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bread & Butter... and some photos.


Me at the last club aquathlon. photo by Jon Putek.

Since Xterra Nationals is getting closer I am going to try and post more often. I am going to shoot for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday... but I am making no promises.

Monday was the beginning of my final training cycle before Nationals in Tahoe. This phase is going to be a tough one and will hopefully have me prepared to give it a good go. I really want to have a good race in Tahoe but I am more focused on Worlds in Maui. There is no possible way I can peak for Nationals and Worlds considering they are a month apart. So I had to pick one of them to go "all in" for and Maui fits my strengths. Maui will be hot, humid, at sea level, and the run is a beast and Tahoe is cold, at 6500 ft., and the run is pretty mellow. So obviously I chose Maui.

Today was one of my key (bread & butter) bike workouts and it was a good one. I got in about 2 hours with about half of that spent climbing.

2 hrs, 17 miles, 3385 ft. of climbing... and all before work.


I have masters in the morning so I need to crash. Below are some photos from the Pacific Coast Triathlon. I ended up running a 15:55 for the 3 mile run which comes out to 5:18/mile. Considering the course was hilly and had a .5 mile stretch in the sand on the beach I am pretty stoked.... and the best part is I feel like my run is just coming around!