Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chattanooga Part 2: The First Ride

Waking up Friday morning wasn't too bad, my time zones were nonexistent because of the redeye flight, short naps here and there, and a full belly of lucky charms beer.  I slept very well and was ready to take on the day.  First up on the schedule we had a team run.  We decided to head out on the road that went by our house and just do a nice 30 min out and back.  You couldn't have painted a more perfect picture of what we were running through, minor fog hovering over the glassy smooth river, sunrise starting to take shape over the mountains, and nothing could beat the “wild” animals we encountered throughout the run.

(Group run as Team Evotri trots along the backroads that wind alongside the Tennessee River)

People did their things to get ready to head into town because up next was the Q-Roo meet & greet as well as the tour of their facility.  I was pretty amped for this, intitally when I entered the sport I was anti bikes, I thought that people who had sweet bikes with race wheels were just bad swim runners that had to raise their stock with super nice bikes.  Well over time I quickly jumped ships on that train of thought.  I have been a bike junkie for a couple years now, and always love to see new models, and crazy designs. The Factory tour was unbelievable, we got to see every single stage the bike goes through throughout the process.  It is insane how much of a perfectionist these guys are.  Precision angles and cuts, if tolerances are off recycle that part and start over again.  They do not accept anything less than perfection.  My favorite part was when we were shown the prototypes of past bikes as well as what could be surfacing up in the future.  Some dirty dirty designs my friends.  These guys have some beautiful minds behind the scenes here.

After the tour we had a quick bite to eat, then off to the roads to get the first ride on my brand new CD.01!  I had been waiting for this moment for quite some time now and it was finally time to saddle up and take her out for a ride.  The gorgeous frame, sleek and sexy Zipp Firecrest 808s, the flawless Sram components, and the unmatched Cycleops  PowerTap & Joule Power Meter.  I had officially been hooked up!  The ride was better than you could have imagined it, that baby cut through the win like nobody’s business, just felt like gold beneath my gooch.  A very successful trip to the Q-Roo Factory followed up by a ride on a dream bike, come on, I could have died a happy man right there!

We headed back to the cabin to change and shower quick before we had another event with one of our other local sponsors.  HUB Endurance was throwing a kegger at their shop tonight and was inviting any and everyone to come out and check out the shop, meet their cycling team as well as team Evotri, and at the very least just come get a nice cold one.  A few guys from Sram and Zipp (kick A$$ sponsors) were there as well, showing their new line of baller components, but they were there for a more serious reason, raising money for their charity, the World Bicycle Relief.  Its great to see a company that is so successful in the sport making time to have an impact for those less fortunate.  Throughout all the fundraising that night, we were able to help donate 3 full bikes to those much less fortunate than us.  Way to go!

The night ended shortly after that and we all headed home, exhausted and ready for bed, knowing that tomorrow had a very nice ride waiting for us bright and early, 3 hrs of mountain climbs of epic proportions, swim relay race across the river, and best of all, Moonshine and Bigfoot hunting!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chattanooga Part 1: INCH! LIGHTS!

WOW, what an unbelievable weekend!  Right away I want to give mad props to Chris Sweet for finding a picture perfect crib for the weekend right on the Tennessee River.  The only thing that would have enhanced our stay there would have been a Bigfoot sighting.  Also want to give a serious shout out to Andy Sweet, the HUB gang, as well as Q-Roo for all the preparation and hospitality, you guys really took that trip to the next level!

So the weekend started with a very tiring Redeye flight from Seattle --> Chicago --> Chattanooga.  Boy do those flights really take it out of you, luckily i was able to sprawl out at O'Hare for a nice 2 hr nap because i had a 3 hr layover.  That was just what i needed to recharge my batteries and prepare for what laid ahead.  Luckily for me, I had no idea what I was up against, and I was about to have my mind blown!

(Can you Dig it?)

Got into Chattanooga a hair before noon, and Andy was there to pick me up and take me back to the shop to hang out till the rest of the Evotri gang arrived.  When we got to the shop, Andy showed me around the place, and introduced me to 2 of the greatest things ever to reside in the HUB Endurance Shot... a kegerator and BOOM MY NEW BIKE!!!  Un frickin believable!  That was love at first sight.  Unbelievable!  I was not prepared for that at all.  That baby was decked out, baller new Zipp Firecrest 808s, New and improved cyclops powertap, full set of Sram Force components, and lastly the sexiest frame you have ever seen, the QuintanaRoo CD.01 Evotri Edition!  Sick half matte half shiny finish, perfect integration of Evotri red within a flawless aerodynamic design.  My heart stopped when Andy told me that was mine!  I had to sit down and have a nice cold beer from the kegerator to bring me back to reality.  WOW I am a lucky man.  Thank you Zipp/Sram/HUB/QRoo/Cyclops/

After a couple brews, I decided I still had a little bit of time before the team got in, so i was going to go for a run along the river trail and enjoy the picture perfect day.  75 and sunny, not a cloud in the sky!  Andys high school buddy Anthony tagged along on the run, and he showed me the ropes, telling me stories of the triathlon that starts in the local park, and any other exciting newsworthy local events that had taken place.  Anthony is what every active triathlete aspires to be, A stay at home dad! :)

After getting in 6miles and change we got back to HUB and got in our kegerator recovery drinks, changed and loaded up in the cars to go meet up with the rest of the gang at the crib.  At this point i was starting to get a little nervous.  JP had been a very close friend all throughout college, so I knew him, but outside of that I didn't know how the team would respond to me.  I felt like I was off to the first day of high school after moving school districts.

As the first 24 hours passed and I got to know and see what each team member was like, I realized, Hey, there is no point in being nervous around a team of people who are all kids at heart!  The conversations were amazing, right up my alley, the humor was perfect, the team camaraderie was off the charts.  You couldn't have hand selected a more well rounded group of people and have it be as ideal as this team is! 

After everyone had a few Reeces Candy Easter Eggs, Sour Patch Kids, and Lucky Charms Beer it was time for bed.  everyone was doing their own thing, brushing their teeth, watching tv, reading a kindle etc, and all of a sudden I heard: "INCH! LIGHTS!"  'INCH! LIGHTS"  After the 3rd heckle I realized that it wasnt going to stop unless I turned out the lights...Now I really feel like the "new kid" So i got up and turned off all the lights and got some shut eye.  Tomorrow is going to be a fun and exciting day, tour of the Q-Roo "Fantasy" Factory!


New Threads, a PR, and a W

Hearing your alarm go off at 6:15 on a Sunday morning is never the first thing you want to wake up to, but on race mornings its just something you have to deal with.  I rolled out of bed and went to put in my contacts.  “Man I feel like a retired senior citizen this morning!” hobbling to the bathroom  like a penguin, body aching from the culmination of the workouts throughout the week.  Do I really have to race today?

Typically on race day I am giddy with excitement, really chomping at the bit to get things started, but this morning was different.  I had a 10k road race in beautiful Alki Beach in Seattle.  It was a crystal clear day, and in the middle of April in Seattle that is a rarity, so I started to feel like the stars were aligning for me.  The course was a pancake flat bike trail that runs right along the Puget sound, and on a clear day (which it was) you could see the Olympic mountain range nearly 100 miles away.  It was a picture perfect day for a race.

I decided to get in an extra long warm up in, nearly 5k, because I was so tight and sore from everything I had done throughout the week.  Boy did that make me nervous.  Shuffling along the outskirts of the course I thought to myself “I am in for a real treat here!”  I felt as terrible as I did when I crawled out of bed.  Near the end of the warm up things started to loosen up for me and I slowly became a little more optimistic with how things were going to play out.  Got in a nice solid stretch session and put on my flats, and pulled out my brand new coveted Evotri jersey!  I was so excited to put that thing on and get the first race in.  My semi optimistic outlook on the race quickly skyrocketed off the charts when I pulled that thing out of my bag and put it on!

The starter ushered us into the starting chute and we were underway. 

The last 10k I ran a month and change back didn't go so hot, I went in with the mentality that I was going to break everyone early and run away with the race.  I went out in 5:10, cracked hard, and finished in a 36:35.  I was disappointed, but for my first 10k ever it was a good starting benchmark.  I came into today’s race with the mentality that I am going to take the first mile out very controlled, looking at about a 5:40 first mile and see how things go from there.

I came through the first mile in 5:36 feeling unbelievable.  1 mile down 5 and change to go, and I don't even feel like the race has started yet!  I kept pressing on, trying to focus on keeping my form together and the cadence up, maintaining that pace as long as I could.  I came through mile 2 in 11:06…BAM!!!  I was feeling great and couldn't believe it!  I was starting to breath heavier now, but didn't feel that the pace was too taxing, so I kept on ticking along.

(Grinding out the last mile and a half en route to a new PR in one BA jersey)
The course was set up for a 5k, but the 10k runners were asked to do 2 loops of the course.  So when I hit the turnaround I was sitting at 17:27, still feeling unbelievable.  There were a couple 8 year old kids at the turnaround ushering me to the cones, and I gave them a few high 5s and a smile as I passed by…they loved it. 

At this point in the race I was all alone, and had at least a 90 second to 2 min lead.  I kept my eyes on the road in front of me and told myself, maintain this pace till the turnaround, and at that point give it everything you got!  I came through mile 4 starting to feel heavy, but mentally strong, knowing I had a great race going.  All of my miles up to this point had been between 5:35 and 5:50, a very consistent and well executed race.  I couldn't let this one slip away!

When I hit that turnaround, I knew it was now or never.  I made a quick glance at my watch and saw that breaking 35 was not out of the question, but it was going to take some serious work.  I started to lengthen the stride a little bit, really using my upper body to pull me through this final stretch.  Gutting out every stride, every deep breath, every pounding beat of my heart I made one last charge, with less than 400 meters to go I could see the finish line and knew that sub 35 was mine! 

I crossed the line and immediately was congratulated by spectators and volunteers, as well as other athletes who had run the 5k.  I walked around for a couple minutes to recover and get my hr back to normal, then changed out of my jersey and put on some dry clothes.  At that point it started to hit me…I had snatched a convincing W in my first time racing in the Evotri jersey, and man was that satisfying!  Not only was it a convincing W, but I set a new PR (34:47).  An unbelievable beginning to my journey with Evotri, and I am stoked to see where it takes me next :)

(Conversing with the Volunteers post race)

As I was changing a few other racers came up to me congratulating me, and I shared the love back with them, asking them how their day went and if they were happy with it.  Its humbling when you go to a local race like that, less than 100 people racing, and you are looked up to as a hero for being fast.  It is very cool to see how excited they are to come up and talk to you and just have a normal conversation.  Quite honestly though, at the end of the day, we are all the same.  We all put in hours on top of hours of hard training, there is no external incentive for us.  We do it because we love to.  It is our passion.  We share the same love for endurance sports.  99 times out of 100 the person who wins the race is going to be just like I am.  An everyday individual just doing what he loves, and he would love to meet new people, hear exciting stories, peoples backgrounds etc.  I challenge you to do that next time you are at a race.  Whether you are in my shoes, or the person who wants to chat with the winner post-race.  It's a very small world out there and you may just meet someone very interesting.

One of the athletes that came up to me after the race was a younger guy, 20 I think, and his parents came up with him.  His mom started to talk to me at first and then I realized that he was deaf.  His name was Taylor, and we chatted for awhile and I found out that he was an avid xterra triathlete and wanted to get into road triathlons and half irons.  We chatted for well over a half hour about past races we had done, how we got into the sport.  A very interesting and intriguing conversation that honestly could have gone on for days.  Near the end of the conversation he thanked me repeatedly for talking to him and giving him some of my time to just chat.  Again, I was truly humbled.  This kid is over the moon excited to talk with me (an average every day guy, who works 45 hrs a week and fits in training in the small cracks of free time) when in all reality he is the one who is the true hero.  As most of you know I have a blind friend, Aaron Scheidies, that I have been training and racing with for the past 4 years, who has really taught me a lot about life lessons and how to hold yourself in society.  I have been very blessed with the relationships I have formed in my life and I am very excited to continue to get to know  Taylor over the next couple months I am here in Seattle, and continue to stay in touch over the years.  When I found out that Taylor moved to the town next door to where I live I asked him if he would be interested in training with me, and the look on his face was priceless.  He had one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my life. 

That to me is far more rewarding than any trophy or medal I won at a race.  To make a difference in a person’s life, and to show interest when the majority of others do not.  To see the joy brought to their faces just from a short conversation.  If I never won another race, but instead had the reputation of being the most friendly, motivating, inspirational athlete, local or nationwide, I would be a happy man!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The OLD and the 'NEW's

I have been off the radar again lately and I apologize.  I have been crazy busy at work.  Had to travel to Southaven, MS for 2 weeks, where I got to experience what 80 deg and sunny feels like every day.  Quite a shock to the system when you are used to 40 and misty.  It was a nice change though nonetheless.  The 2 week business trip was very jam packed with work as well as extra curricular activities:
  • Trip to the casino where I won $300 on craps, and became a local hero at the table where I rolled the dice consecutively for 45 minutes without "crapping out"  It was a once in a lifetime experience.  I won this 95 year old man next to me over $3000.  I thought he was going to have a heart attack.
  • Trip to Beal street in Memphis.  For those who don't know what Beal street is, well its similar but smaller in scale to Bourbon street in New Orleans.  It is about 3 blocks of streets which are roadblocked off to cars, and you can walk up and down the street with drinks and basically do whatever you want.  They even had a bar that sold alcoholic Slurpees!!  I literally felt like a kid in a candy store.  But this story doesn't end with a happy ending like the casino trip, too many Slurpees = misplacement of personal items.  I ended up losing my phone and never finding it :(  What can you do, you live and you learn.
  • Trip to Fed Ex Forum.  Got to hit up a Memphis grizzlies game where they took down Ricky Rubi, Kevin Love, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Very nice venue and glad I got the opportunity to go.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings!  There isn't a buffalo wild wings within 200 miles of me out here in Seattle, so I was stoked to drive by a "B-Dubs" and eventually stuff myself full of blazin' wings!  
  • Bike & Run outside in weather where i don't have to dress up like I'm going skiing!!  This was like paradise.  The area wasn't the prettiest, lots of farm lands as i got out of the "Hotel District"  Totally took advantage of the nice weather getting a run and or bike in nearly every day of the trip
  • Greyhound Dog Racing Track.  Finally on the last night there we decided to hit up the Dog track and bet on some greyhounds.  You cant even imagine how entertaining this is until you get there.  For $1 each race you can pick a/a few dogs and heckle your heart out in the stands.  One race i cashed in for $74 on picking the first 2 dogs to come in 1st and 2nd.  And i was a dogs booger away from hitting a superfecta, which would have netted me a grand!  but fun was had and i cant complain :)
Within hours of getting back to the Seattle area my girlfriend was boarding a plane on her way to hang out with me for the week because her school was on spring break.  We went to the zoo, had some nice dinners, got lots of Slurpees from 7-Eleven, and even went golfing.  I was very inconsistent across the board on the course that day, but iris managed to capture an action shot of me taking off my shoes and crawling in the muck to save myself a penalty stroke, and eventually win the hole.

I sprayed my drive left into the trees, not knowing it was a swampy mess over there, and sure enough it was either take a penalty and a drop, or take off the shoes and crawl in with the swam animals.  Naturally i chose the latter, and managed to hit the green from 105 yrds out bending it around the trees, and nearly sink my birdie putt!  I escaped with par and was more than pleased with the result.

But the most exciting thing we did together was create one of the coolest shirt designs of all time, and I am in the process of getting them made.

As most of you already know I love Bigfoot.  I watch Finding Bigfoot on animal planet every week!  One day last week I got the idea to make my own shirt, and I was thinking what design can i create and more or less claim it as mine.  I got to thinking and naturally a Bigfoot was the first thing that I had to include.  As i was brainstorming, i got to thinking..."I don't really have any sweet shirts for races, and more importantly post race podium shirts"  Nothing would send a better message at awards than someone with a huge Bigfoot walking a bike into transition :)  So my Iris and I got to work.  Before long she had this huge grin on her face and turned her computer to me and said what do you think??  I was speechless!  She had created a masterpiece!!   Minor additions have been made, and the final product will be on display shortly :)

Its tough to top that, but lastly, and most exciting...I LEAVE FOR CHATTANOOGA WEDNESDAY!!! :)  I am so stoked to head out east and finally meet up with my new team members from EVOTRI.  It is going to be an amazing long weekend of fun times/stories/training/as well as tours of some of the stellar sponsors we have.  Mad props to Sweet for finding such a ballin' location for base camp as well.  CANT WAIT!