Friday, December 21, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Very Good Problem

The past 2 weeks have been pretty exciting as far as the "business" side of my athletic career is concerned. I've been engaged in an ongoing discussion with the manager of a new professional triathlon team that will most likely make it's debut in 2008. The team will boast an elite crew of no more than 8 long course athletes and is currently in the process of securing a handful of co-sponsors, all of whom are industry leaders.

The problem: This past Thursday I got a call from the manager of yet another team; the (arguably) biggest/most recognized elite tri team in the world. He offered me a spot on their pro squad. The deal includes every piece of gear that you could imagine (free!) + monetary incentive for top performances at the 70.3 and I.M. distances. I'm flattered by the offer and humbled by the caliber of athletes that I'd call my "teammates." The squad is nothing short of world class: Multiple time IronMan champions, national champions, course record holders...

To be honest, I'm still in a state of disbelief. I know that I'm closing in on, and almost ready to start beating, some of the biggest names in the sport, but I don't view myself as anything "special." I know, and am very open about the fact, that I'm not blessed with an extraordinary amount of natural ability. Most of the top Pros out there are genetically gifted and could most likely bounce between running, cycling or any other endurance related sport and experience a high degree of professional athletic success. For me, I have to work my ass off day in, day out and maintain a laser focus in order to compete with these guys. I also have to dig a lot deeper during races, hence my slow recovery times (I'm beat up, mentally and physically, for at least a week after a half IronMan). There's no way in hell that I could ever successfully hit 2 half IronMan races in 2 consecutive weekends the way that someone like Craig Alexander or Chris McCormack can. Bottom line is that I have to pick and choose when I'm going to race, train specifically for the event and then unleash hell on race day in order to have a chance at "pulling it off."

However... it's a great thrill to feel as though all of my hard work and results are finally being recognized by members of the triathlon industry. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the offers that are being extended my way. What a thrill!

So, I have decided to make my decision by this Friday and will announce which team I am signing with at that time. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, we're enjoying yet another snow storm here in Gloucester, MA. No matter, there is work to be done, so looks like I'll be running in a Nor' Easter today.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Right back at it

This'll be week 3 of my first cycle of 2008 base training. Two more weeks of "work" and then I'll back off and unwind the week of Christmas.

It's been cold and icy here in Gloucester so far this December. We've been spoiled the last couple of winters weather wise, so it seems more like January everytime I step out the door.

However... I've been pleasantly surprised by the current level of fitness that I'm bringing into the start of my '08 progression. Although I'm a good 6 - 7 pounds over my in-season race weight, and despite the fact that I took a couple of weeks completely off right after Clearwater, the body is feeling really strong. I'm running a good 10 sec. per mile faster during my 6 mile training runs than I was while in-season, I'm feeling pretty good in the water, and solid on the bike as well. Yes, I'm fresh and well recovered, but what I'm experiencing right now bodes well for next year.

I'm also becoming a little more optimistic about my sciatica. I've been training and racing in pain since the day after the Nutmeg State Half Iron Triathlon back on 9/23. I'm convinced that all of the climbing on that brutal bike course coupled with the fact that I didn't stretch enough post race before driving home for nearly 4 hours led to the flare up that I'm still dealing with nearly 3 months later. I figured that 2 weeks of complete rest would have done the trick, but to be honest, things got MUCH worse during and after the time off. My first run, a short 4 miler 2 weeks ago, had me almost limping and the pain was worse than ever. However, the more I trained (and stretched!) the better things got. The core training that I've been laying down seems to be helping out as well.

Looking ahead, I know that I need to up my game in the water if I want to be competitive as a Pro in 2008. Yes, I can get by on my bike and run and probably still place top 5 overall in most of the 70.3 events that I enter next year, but if I want to find myself on the podium, I need to find another 3+ min. in the water. The bottom line is that a 29 minute 1.2 mile swim means that you're out of contention these days. Swimming has been at the very bottom of my priority list as far as training is concerned, and the fact of the matter is that 6,000 - 10,000 yards (max) of half-assed swimming just ain't going to cut it. I suppose that if you come from a swimming background you can probably get by on this type of volume/frequency(I only swim 3 x per week)but for me, I know that I need to consistently lay down 4 - 5 swim sessions/15,000 - 20,000 yards per week. I hit the pool 4 x last week and already noticed a change. I started holding 15 strokes per link, and my feel for the water was definitely enhanced. I still have A LONG way to go, but I know what I have to do. I would never dream of trying to get by on just 3 run or 3 bike sessions per week, so I'm going to have to suck it up and get my ass to the pool no mater what this winter.

So that's that. A good start. I'm going to send in my application for my Pro Card this week. Thankfully, USAT has increased its standards, big time, for Pro/Elite licensure, but I met all of the new qualifying criteria easily. There's no way in hell that I want to be one of those "Pros" who many of the elite amateurs beat on race day, so you can bet that that little piece of plastic will go a long way in keeping me highly motivated through 2008 and beyond. I just figure that if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right, so I'm going to take this all of the way. No turning back now.