Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Decision

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference - Rober Frost

So it took me a while to make this decision. It has been weighing on my mind since last fall and then when I hurt my foot I kind of let it go. After my foot healed I made, and posted, my "tentative" 2009 race schedule. Well I have been doing a lot of training and thinking in the first couple months of the year. While in New Jersey last week I made my decision final and can't tell how good it felt... like a huge weight off my shoulders.

I had already decided to take a year off from racing Xterra seriously. The reasons were the uncertainty of the new format, the cost of travel, and lack of desire. So I decided to race a couple of Xterra's this year and do some other fun events. Beth is also progressing quickly on the mountain bike and we are planning to charge the Xterra circuit in 2010. Anybody who knows me knows that I don't do ANYTHING half-assesd. Nothing. It's not in me.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been putting in the miles on the bike and run, feeling great and loving every minute. Every session in the pool has been a struggle and not the actual workouts. I have actual been swimming pretty well considering the lack of volume but all the workouts have seemed like work. I have not enjoyed them and all I was thinking about was running.

So I have made a huge decision... for me at least. I have been going over it for weeks and I am sure Beth is sick of me talking about it. I also consulted with a lot of friends and talented athletes (you know who you are and I can't thank you enough) to make sure I was doing the right thing. So....If I am really going to take a year away from Xterra... I really need to do it and really go after some other goals.

Most triathlete's have come from a single sport background and reached their potential, plateaued, or just got burned out and then turned to tri. Not all... but a lot. I did not. I just jumped into triathlon in 2006 without any real training in any of the 3 sports. I surfed, "jogged", and rode my beach cruiser to the beach and bars. When I started training it was obvious that my strength was running and over the course of the last couple of years my run has continued to get stronger as well as my riding. My swimming progressed quickly and then I have kind of plateaued over the last year. I am fast enough to compete and that's fine with me. I don't really like it enough to give up time on the trails to spend the required time in the pool to gain a minute or two. I'd rather run and ride.

So since I had already decided to take a year a way from racing Xterra seriously I am going to take it another step further. I am not going to race any Xterra races or triathlons in 2009 (maybe some club race if I feel like it). I definitely still plan on jumping in the TCSD aquathlons this summer just because there are so much fun.

So the new plan.

I am going to see what I can really do with my running and race mountain bikes for fun. The focus of my training will be running. I want to run trails and mountains... both long and fast and really see what I am capable of. I will still ride my bikes because I love it and race XC mountain bike races because I feel like it's great cross training and so much fun. I have been doing the same kind of training for 3 years and I am ready to change it up and try new things.

What will happen if I focus on my strength and on what I really WANT to do?

We'll find out!

Some people I'm sure will be shocked with my decision and think I am foolish for walking away right now after the year I had last year... but it's not for good. I will be back in 2010 with a lot of running and riding under my belt and I am pretty confident that I will be faster than ever. I'm just going to do what makes me happy.

Another factor in my decision was that I want to be able to support Beth and her racing goals this year. She has some pretty lofty goals that I know are totally attainable and I want to be there to help and be her sherpa at as many of her races that I can. I love watching her race and want to do everything I can to help her go fast and have stress free races.

So that's it. Here's the new tentative race schedule.

3/1 - US MTB Cup #1 Bonelli Park - C (completed)

3/7 - Counting coup mtb race (44 mile mtb) - C (this weekend)

3/14 - St. Patty's day 10k - C

3/29 - Superfrog Triathlon - Relay/Run 13.2 miles - C

4/5 - US MTB Cup #3- B

4/19 - Trail of Torment 10k - C

4/25 - 8 hour mtb race, 2-man - B

5/2 - Idyllwild Spring Challenge - A
5/9 - Xterra Malibu creek 14 miler - A

5/23 - Mount Wilson Trail Race - C

6/7 - Santa Barbara Bike Festival XC MTB - C

6/14 - Holcomb Valley 15 Trail Race - B

7/4 - Scripps Old Pros 10k - C

7/11 - XTERRA Sugarbush Xduro- 20km - B

8/16 - Pikes Peak Ascent - A

Aug-Nov - Dirt Dog XC Series - B

9/13 - Xterra Trail running Nats - A

9/27 - US MTB Cup Finals - Las Vegas - B

12/6 - NorthFace 50 (50k) - A

Other possiblities depending on how are season's (me and beth) going and scheduling.

June-August - Rim Nordic MTB Series

10/11 - Chicago Marathon
11/15 - Catalina Eco Marathon

I definitely won't do all of these but it's an outline. The first races I want to peak/taper for will be on back to back weekends. They will be the Idyllwild Spring Challenge XC MTB race and the Xterra Malibu Creek 14 Miler (trail running). I want to see what happens if I go into a mountain bike race actually rested and ready to go as opposed to just training through it. The weekend after is another Xterra trail race. Can I peak and perform well at both? I'll find out.

The other A races will be the Pike Peak Ascent, Xterra Trail running Nationals, and the NorthFace 50k in December in San Francisco. I will also be charging the Dirt Dog XC season from August-November with the BSK team (schedule is not posted yet).

So My training for the next couple of months will be focused on building up my running volume and picking up the intensity on the bike. After the races in early may I will likely take a short break and then start my Pikes specific training block... well that's the plan for now.

If anybody knows of any other gnarly trail running our mountain bike races send them my way. I'd love to see what's out there.


SanDiegoPJ said...

That is awesome! Congrats on finalizing the decision and going after what you WANT to do and not what others think you SHOULD do. It's gonna be sweet to see what you can do with your run, i can't wait.

If you ever need a MUCH slower trail running partner let me know haha.

Zach said...

Good luck! Based on your half marathon in Vegas I think you are going to have an awesome year. And really, all that matters is that you are having fun and doing what you want to do.

runninggunner said...

Dude. That looks like a killer race season. I'm looking forward to your results. Staying away from the pool for awhile will be healthy.

Toby Guillette said...

Way to listen your heart on this one. Here's a local trail race series to consider: http://www.sunstrides.com/

MJ said...

That schedule ought to keep you out of trouble!

The feeling of "weight" coming off your shoulders is a pretty good sign that this is a great plan.


FatDad said...

If you are at peace with the decision, then it's the right one. No wonder you weren't feeling it in the pool with all that weight on your shoulders! Git it.

GZ said...


Shan said...

It's totally the right decision, because YOU made it, and it's what YOU want. That's all that matters! I also agree that it's very refreshing to change things up and focus on one thing rather than the S-B-R. It's easy to do the same thing year after year, but why not change it up and keep things interesting? Totally with you on that.

And lastly, I think it's totally awesome (high-five!) that you want to support Beth this year. I have a feeling that she's going to explode this year (in a GOOD way) and really take names at the races she does. I'm sure she'll totally appreciate it.

Alright, enough with this novel of a comment - see ya at the potluck on Sat!

Ryan Denner said...

"I'm just going to do what makes me happy."

... and that's all that matters.

Congrats on the decision bro.

stronger said...

Beaver Creek Vertical Ascent is a fun one that you could do the weekend after Pikes: you run up 3mi (2,100ft climb), ride the chairlift down, and repeat as many times as you can in 6hrs. Low-key, low-entry...but really fun.

Pedal Circles said...

Looks pretty killer. Gotta enjoy the racing and training, otherwise it makes it tough (I would think).

Idyllwild is bitching. If you guys want to preride let me know. We love those trails (as does Luke).

Justin said...

Looking forward to seeing what we can both do at ISC. Might be cool to work together if I can hang. I should be in peak form at that time as well!

Here's to a killer year!

Luke said...

not shocked and you're not a fool! coming from someone who jumped into tri head first as well i think this is definitely the time to try some other avenues. dude...we will be doing this for years and years...might as well test the waters. you're gonna crush xc mountain biking and podium a ton of running races...watch out!!

Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...

DUDE! Big decisions!

However seem like totally right ones as they seem to come from the heart itself!

I'm totally behind it and support you however I can!

(word verification says "forpadre", hmmm...)

Slater Fletcher said...

Fun = Speed ;-)

Maybe I can ride my bike while you do some training runs...then I would be able to keep up! I am sure you are going to crush it and that ultra is going to be the icing on the cake.

Cliff said...


Going on trails gonna make u a killer runner...and triathletes hate runners b/c they always rip the course up at the end :)

Sounds like you have a good plan ahead of you...

If..and if... u want to come back into tri, all the time spent on running will pay off in the last leg..


Zippy said...

Can't say I blame you. The Bonelli race was a blast and MTB racing will always be my "first love". I'm coming after you at the St. Pattys 10K. Seriously...

Justin Poland said...

Here's the motto I live by:

I never want to look back on life and say, "I wish I would have...."

I think you would have did that, had you not made this decision. Looking forward to reading about some legs gettin' ripped off. Run Forest!

Andy Brazelton said...

I raced a few of these races last year, http://www.pctrailruns.com. Fun vibe and the ultra dudes are a kick to be around. Very hard core folk. Also one day this race will take place, http://www.twinpeaks5050.com.

Drew Holmes said...

still a big schedule and good to mix it up.....good call, I get it!

Chris Manfredi said...

I think you are making a great call. Gotta hav esome fun, and from what I have seen from following your blog, I think that you will kill it focusing on the running. I actually live in Bend, where the Xterra Nat. Trial Running Championship is. I'll probably be eating your dust in that race. Anyway, good luck.

- Chris

Sarah said...

I don't think you're crazy. I think you're smart. Because you're doing what YOU want to do and what you FEEL like doing. The best race results, no matter what sport, come from doing with with all your heart and soul.

I'm with Shan on this one...why do the same old thing year after year? It's so much more fun to change it up and challenge our minds and our bodies and I believe we are all the better for it.

Congrats on figuring it all out and GOOOOO JAMES!