Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone

Ok, it’s more like since I’ve been gone. For those of you that have lived vicariously through my blog and couldn’t wait for the next entry to be published (there might be two of you), I sincerely apologize for this extended absence. For the rest of you, you probably didn’t even notice that it’s been three months since my last post and even longer since I actually posted regularly. Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, I thought I would provide a brief synopsis of what has been occurring in the Tri and Achieve camp that has inexcusably taken my attention away from blogging. I had great intentions of turning this into multiple, lengthy, novel-esk posts, but then I came back to reality that that was too much to ask of myself. So here’s the appreviated version:

Move to Madison

Our own way back from Madison after racing Ironman Wisconsin last September, Hillary almost made me crash the car by suggesting that we look into what opportunities may exist for us to relocate to the state of cheese and beer. I’d had the vision of moving for many years, but she always brought me back to reality that our family and lives were centered in Des Moines. But something about the water in Wisconsin made her think we could survive outside of Iowa. So I reached out to a contact that I had made in the months leading up the race and started looking for employment options. Nothing materialized for a while, but in December that all changed. In a whirlwind two weeks, I flew up, interviewed with seven people, negotiated, and accepted an offer the week after Christmas. We were moving to Wisconsin!

I started the job on January 18th and commuted back and forth to Des Moines every week while we sold and packed up our house. We closed on the house at the beginning of March and moved all of our stuff into a storage unit. The apartment complex that we wanted to be in was brand-new construction that wasn’t going to be completed until May 1st. After two months of commuting, I was really getting sick of the drive. So I found a temporary, two-month lease that allowed me to start settling in a little more while Hillary stayed in Des Moines until the apartment was ready. May 1st came very quickly, and we became official residents of Madison.

We continue to be very excited about this opportunity and time in our lives, and the adventure of establishing ourselves in a new environment provides new excitement every day.

Team HPB Training Camp

With the move and job transition, I wasn’t sure if this camp was going to be able to work into the schedule. But as things started to shake out and timing became more solidified, camp became a reality. Oddly enough, because the whole point of camp is to completely smash yourself with four days of training, I was looking forward to the time as a way to recover for the craziness of moving.

I came into camp fairly undertrained, and that definitely impacted the first couple days of training. Fortunately, after almost dying in the dessert on the first ride (120 miles including Madera Canyon and Gates Pass), my body started remembering how to perform. As Alyssa said, I got fit in four days. Other than getting hooked up to the jumper cables in Tucson, this time also re-invigorated the drive and desire to train and compete. This has turned out to be crucial as, at the time of writing this, I’m 13 weeks out from Kona.

Half Marathons

Mad. Half 2My racing season started off with two half marathons. The first was the Parkinson’s Half Marathon on April 16th, where I placed 2nd overall with a new PR of 1:15:44. Although super happy with the PR, I battled stomach pain for the last 8 miles, so that was definitely something I wanted to figure out and improve for the next go-around.

The second race was the Madison Half Marathon on May 29th. I had completely forgotten about this race until I looked at my training plan for the week. It looked pretty light, and I was confused until I saw a race on Sunday. That really played a tole of getting mentally prepared, and I felt every bit of that lack of readiness on race day. Even with a hard course, I ran 4-5 minutes slower than I was hoping to. I still managed to finish in 5th, but I did nothing but lose time throughout the 13.1 miles.

Tri Season Kick-off

Scheduling this year’s races, leading up to Kona, ended up being more difficult than I wanted it to be. My goal of getting in three half iron-distance races before October ended up not being a reality, so I decided to throw in a couple of Olympic races in the early season. The benefit of this was that there are a lot of races in the Madison area, so travel time and expenses were nothing.

Capital ViewThe first race, Capital View, ended up getting shortened to the sprint distance, after the swim, due to a storm that was harassing the back half of the bike course. Even at the Olympic distance I knew this was going to be a balls-out, red line for as long as possible effort. So when I heard about the shorter distance, that just meant to effort level went up that much more. I managed to come away with the overall win, but I still struggled with stomach issues on the run that prevented me from going as hard as I knew I could. This was definitely frustrating, as I wasn’t sure what the underlying cause was, but I was hopeful that another shot in a few weeks would turn out better.

Second up was the Triterium Triathlon. This one was what I would consider a break-through race. After a solid swim, coming out of the water somewhere in the top-10, I biked hard to get up to 3rd. I was able to see 1st and 2nd up ahead but was never able to close the gap. Coming off the bike, a spectator said that I was 45 seconds down from 2nd and 2 minutes down from 1st. The major breakthrough at this race came in the mental game. I had to battle the desire to settle with 3rd and cruise into the finish. TriteriumAfter the first 5k lap, I didn’t think I was making up much ground. But when I saw that I was only seconds away from 2nd, that was enough to re-energize the mind and push hard. I made that pass around mile 4 and was told I was 45 seconds down from 1st. I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to regret not putting in the work and fighting for the win. So, I put my head down and went to work chasing down the lead. I slowly started seeing him come closer, but the miles were dwindling down. At the top of a significant hill, I got a great reminder from one of the aid station volunteers to open up my stride. This really helped me push for the final few minutes, and I managed to catch the guy at mile 6. It was tempting to just pull up behind and let him take me into the finish but that would have been another concession that I didn’t want to live with. Not knowing if he was going to have a finishing kick, I again put my head down and pushed as hard as I could for the remaining 0.2 miles. Hearing the announcer call my name out as the 1st-place finisher for the Olympic distance was such a rewarding thing to hear! I can’t think of any other race where I felt as good about my execution as I did here. To experience the progress that occurred from April to June has re-ignited so much within myself and I can’t wait to experience more and push through the next three months to Kona.

 

Well, there you have it…a not-as-short-as-I-was-thinking summary of the last six months. From here on out, I’ll do a much better job of staying up-to-date, especially as Hawaii comes even closer. Here’s to long days, sleep-filled nights, and personal food consumption that equals that of small towns!

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