Monday, May 26, 2008

Hay In The Barn

I celebrated the beginning of my Eagelman taper with an open water group swim (the usual crew: Julie, Beth and Mari) and some much needed R&R today.

Sometimes you just have to get away from it all, especially when your town is suddenly overrun by beach-going tourists!

Fortunately, I know of one of Cape Ann's best kept secrets: A tiny park, perched high above the sprawling Atlantic. Best of all, this pristine locale is almost completely obscured by lush vegetation and is so far off the beaten path that hardly anyone knows of it or ventures there. Today was no exception. I'll give you a hint on it's where-abouts: look past the peninsula and note the "twin" lights...

Anyway, what better way to relax than to leave the phone and laptop behind, grab a large Italian sub (with everything on it), a bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips, a root beer, (Amanda Russell is cringing right now) and, last but not least, Michelle, and head for the hills (hint #2).

After finishing off my meal, and half of Michelle's, we both enjoyed a mid afternoon nap in the shade and awoke to take stock in the fact that this was a taste of what's to come in just 4 week's time. I can't wait for summer!!!

Well, it's back to the grind tomorrow, but at least the training will be a bit easier for the next couple of weeks. Seems like just about 50% of my crew is hitting a half Ironman/70.3 event on June 8th, so we're all in this together; everyone is ready for taper time, and I'm no exception.

Hay is in the barn as they say, so nothing left to do now but rest up, sharpen up and get ready to roll. I can't wait for 6/8!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Columbia Triathlon

Since I received so many email based inquires as to how my first pro race went, I'm going to post a quick race recap right here on my blog.

The Bottom line: First race of the year. First race as a pro. Olympic distance course (doesn't favor me thanks to my current swim handicap). No real taper to speak of. And oh yeah... the competition: Chris McCormack (reining IronMan World Champ), Chris Lieto (top 5 Hawaii guy and super cyclist), Australian Richie Cunninham (top international 70.3/Olympic distance athlete), Greg Ramaly (top US pro), Eric Limkemenn (super swimmer, US pro rookie of the year), Paul Fritzsche (2nd place at 2007 IM Wisconsin) and the young, super talented Andrew Yoder - Just to name a few.

Let's just say that I was wondering what the hell I was doing in the same room with these guys at the pro meeting on Saturday. I felt like I was in WAY over my head.

The Short of It: Once the dust had settled on Sunday, I had finished 6th place overall, laying down the 4th fastest bike split and 2nd fastest run split of the day.
I'm extremely happy with my performance yesterday. I haven't raced in over 6 months and was only using this race as a tune up for Eagleman, so what transpired was a bit of a surprise - but a pleasant one for sure! I felt tremendous the entire day and finished the race feeling as though I could have kept running for another 10k at 5:30/mile pace - a very, very good sign for what's to come on the 70.3 circuit this year.

My only regret from this past weekend: Not starting my kick earlier. After passing a few other athletes out on the run course (one of whom I coach - up and comer Nick Dufresne who is fast on his way to becoming a top pro), I had reeled Limkemann in to within just 20 yards with a 1/4 mile to go. I decided to wait until we hit the final rise about 200 meters from the finish line before launching an all out assault and trying to kick by him. He must have sensed my strategy however, because he attacked that final rise and drove hard to the finish line. By the time I responded, his gap was too much to bridge and he ended up beating me by 3 seconds.

Although I had accomplished everything (and more) that I had hoped to at this race, I'll be the first to admit that it really stung to watch him standing up there on the podium with Lieto, Yoder, McCormack and Cunningham. Standing next to those guys would have been a dream come true. No matter, Eric beat me fair and square, so that's the way it goes.

Anyway, it was a GREAT weekend and a huge confidence builder. I actually feel as though I belong in the Pro field now and can't wait to mix it up with the top athletes again in 3 weeks time. Rest assured that the med team will be carrying me off on a stretcher post race though, as I am going to make sure that I've squeezed every drop of effort out of my body by the time I cross the finish line. Eagleman will serve as the US Pro Long Course Championship - top 4 Americans will receive a stipend/all expense paid trip to Holland for the ITU Long Course World Championship.

Lastly, after talking with a lot of the pros, I'm realizing how much work I still have left in front of me. The only way that I'll be able to make that final jump from good domestic pro to world class pro is by leaving school and concentrating full time on prepping to race. I need to free up a lot more time and energy for my swimming in particular (see you soon John Ogden!).

Fortunately for me though, I'm swimming in the new blueseventy Helix with TST. I set a 2 min. 1500 meter swim PR yesterday and owe much of this fact to the Helix. This was my first open water swim of the year and I could not get over how flexible the new suit was! With the new Helix, there is zero, and I mean ZERO restriction in the shoulder/lat region. I almost felt as though I was cheating by wearing that suit!!!

Oh yeah... speaking of blueseventy, check out their new BLOG

I still can't believe that blueseventy is my wetsuit/speedsuit/goggle sponsor! It's very flattering to have the best wetsuit manufacturer in the world standing behind you. Their support means the world to me and I plan on returning the favor by working my ass off this year and really improving my swim. Knocking a couple more minutes off my swim times = podium and paychecks.

Final props go out to sponsors Craft-USA for their incredible Elite Tri kit (the most comfortable I've ever worn) and PowerBar for their nutritional products which keep me going strong on race day.

Thanks everyone!


Monday, May 12, 2008

JRM on Slowtwitch

Pretty cool to be interviewed by Slowtwitch

I just hope that I can hold my own out there on the Pro Circuit this year...

Things will get A LOT easier once I'm done with teaching. <6 weeks to go.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Out of the "Blue"

So today was a normal day: Get up and work. Head out before classes and train (hard) for a couple of hours. School. More work/try to stay awake. Drive to Beverly at 6:40 p.m. Masters swim (try to stay awake). Get home by 9:15 and eat (thank you Michelle). Back to the CPU to respond to dozens of emails, one of which really catches my eye: "blueseventy contract"

Must have something to do with the new Craft Cervelo Karhu Multisport Team that I'm racing for this year I figure (blueseventy is providing wetsuits for the team). But then I remember: I did send blueseventy a proposal back in November or December of 2007...

So I open the email up and at first glance it looks like yet another rejection notification:

"Dear Janda,

Thanks for your sponsorship application.

We receive an extremely high volume and quality of applicants every day, and while we’d love to say yes to every request, this is simply not possible..."

Initial reaction: No worries, I'm used to it. I'm still swimming in the Helix this year anyway!

But I read on...

"However I am happy to say you’ve been selected for full sponsorship by blueseventy."

Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. The new blueseventy Helix with torsional stretch technology is, by far, the fastest, most flexible, best fitting suit on the market (and we all know that I can use all the help I can get in the water!!!). When I tried one on last week, I couldn't believe the degree of shoulder flexibility/range of motion it allows. I can honestly say that it felt as though I wasn't even wearing a wetsuit as I stretched my arms over my head!

In addition to the Helix, I'll be sporting the full line of blueseventy products this year, from the incredibly fast pointzero3 speedsuit to their goggles to the various blueseventy accessories I'll be putting to good use on both dry land and in the frigid North Atlantic this summer.

This very lucrative offer (I'll refrain from going into detail on the specifics of the contract) was a complete surprise and I am SO excited to call bluseventy my wetsuit/swim wear sponsor!

I'll have to celebrate with another good day of training tomorrow. I might be tired, but I'll be able to count on a little extra motivation when I wake up at least!

Happy Day! :)