Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 10 of 2010. The Images. The Daze.

Like any good year 2010 was chalk full of the essentials; good memories, solid results and great pictures to capture it all. These are a few of my favorite shots from the year that was.

December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve at the Kurilko's (friend and teammate). Christian is
registering for The Mountaineer Half after a few beers. His concentration and liquid courage sure helped him click the submit button. A great night and perfect way to break in the
2010 campaign.

January 17, 2010

A few weeks later we set the season off in style with The Buckeye Trail 50k. Coach Scot and Corey let me take their lead as we approached the finish to a very demanding day. One of my favorite shots of the year is fitting for one of the toughest events of the year.

March 7, 2010

I took a short break from multisport training in March to revisit my original love; skiing! This shot was taken at a local skier cross competition at my home hill Brandywine. We were coming off the first big right-hand bank, I was in the lead in the green jersey! I placed in the first few heats and made it through the semi-finals but miFont sizessed the podium on the day. Skiing will always be my first love and where I learned to compete, succeed, and face opposition.

April 18, 2010

In an effort to expand my horizons and build some early season bike strength I hopped on my road bike and started pounding the miles. As a result my cycling improved big time and I began to feel more comfortable on my road bike. This shot is from a very small, local, spring training, bike race series I participated in. The shot is really nothing special, but more importantly it made the list as proof. Not only did I race my bike in a non-multisport event but I stayed upright, won a preem, and actually liked it...a lot. Probably more to come in '11.

June 20, 2010

Maumee Bay Olympic Triathlon. This shot was taken less than a minute before the gun went off. How do I know that? You can spot me (bottom left) kneeling down saying a few words to the Man upstairs. I do this every race just seconds before the start. Along with a few deep breaths, it helps to calm my HR and puts me at ease. I love how this picture captured that moment.

July 31, 2010

We sat around for two hours before my wave went off at Steelhead 70.3 this year. For me it wasn't all that bad. I was just a bit anxious. Hat's off to Pops for not only sticking out the wait with me, but watching me race all day. This shot was taken after we had already been hanging around a while, sufficiently drenched, cold and pretty tired. Dad is my ultimate super fan!

September 12, 2010

Relax! That's exactly what we did after Rev 3 Half back at the Kaiser Motorhome at Cedar Point. It was perfect. We raced hard all day then came back to these awesome accommodations complete with food, beer, and great hospitality. You can tell in this shot that Jody, Corey and Aaron were taking life easy after jobs well done.

October 2, 2010

By October, the race season was wrapping up, but Ironman was looming. Having Lived in Nashville for a few months at this point my training was focused and unhindered by the Cleveland fall weather. However, I was super excited to take a short weekend break from training and fly back north to be in one of my best friend's wedding. This is Stacey and I at Jeremy and Sarah's wedding. It's also my favorite picture of her and I in 2010.

November 6, 2010

Needless to say tons of pictures were taken the week of Ironman and most of them were awesome and probably deserving of this list. From action shots to post-race celebration, the lenses captured most of the week's events. But none compare to this gem. Just after we had walked down to the beach the five of us took our last group shot before the gun. We were cold, scared and nervous. But then again, I probably don't need to explain that we were scared or nervous...just look at our faces. Five best training friends, right before the big day, totally prepared and nervous as hell. The perfect racing daze.

December 11, 2010

I topped off 2010 with the Huntsville Marathon with one of my best Nashville friends Drew. Read more about my time at Huntsville here. This is my favorite shot of the day. Drew and I all smiles at the finish line ready for some hard core R&R! It was the perfect way to top off the race season and year! I couldn't be happier with the day or this picture! Lovin the Fleet Feet Mylar too!

2010 was a total success in my book and I can not wait to see what the new year will bring. What ever it is, one thing is for sure. The racing daze will be out there and I am sure to find it. Happy 2011 peeps!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recovered, Lost, and Found. A Rocket City Celebration

It's been five weeks since the Ironman finish line. For most of that time I let the workouts take a back seat to living real life. The first few weeks were nothing but that good old R&R. I slept a lot, ate more and did all the things I don't normally do fifty some weeks of the year. It was a well deserved and nice break. But soon enough I had the itch to move again. My body was feeling more and more normal each day. This was a good thing because I was to toe the line to the Rocket City Marathon down in Huntsville, Alabama in just a few short weeks. A decision I made a few months before Ironman.

Slowly, I eased back into running and swimming mainly trying to loosen up and get a feel back. The first few workouts were awkward and stiff...what I expected. With time they got better and I found a groove. Some days were worse than others, but ultimately things got better.

For the most part my running was very easy paced and short. I was technically training for the marathon but wasn't really gaining any fitness. In fact, what I learned was that I wasn't training for anything at all. All my short runs, easy swims and recovery spins were just that. Recovery. For the first time in my life, I was "training" for an event by coming down instead of building up. A new approach for sure. But it made sense. There was no way I would gain any real fitness between the Ironman finish line and Huntsville's start, and if I did, it was minimal. My best case scenario was to minimize the damage done in Florida and start the 26.2 as close to pre-Ironman freshness as possible. As the marathon got close, I felt my recovery coming along, I was on track. That's not to say I didn't do a few longer runs and short track sessions but once again, the intentions of those weren't to sharpen the knife but to buff off the rust.

As I sit now, less than a day from the marathon I find myself anxious for the racing daze. I am curious to find out what's left in my legs and how much of a fight they will put up to the inevitable pain. (it's still a marathon) But again, tomorrow's test is different. Most races I want to know the levels of my fitness, tomorrow I will ask my body how well rested it is. Unfortunately, I don't think it will let me know until somewhere between miles twenty-one and twenty-six.

The other unique aspects to tomorrow's run are my strategy, mental approach and expectations. As for strategy, I don't really have one (other than to stay patient and not push), and my mentality is more about enjoyment and less about focus. My goal tomorrow is not a time or a qualification. It is simply to have fun and enjoy the day with some good friends. My expectations have less do to with paces and splits and more with happiness and celebration. I plan to hold back if/when it starts to really hurt (it's still a marathon) and pace myself comfortably the entire run, never pushing the limits...a very atypical race approach for me. It might be tough at times, but I will resist because it's not the purpose of the day nor am I fit enough for the test.

For me, 2010 was a successful race year with several major accomplishments and milestones. I ran my first winter trail 50k in January, earned a spring half marathon PR, I PR'ed in all three distances of triathlon I raced (Olympic, 70.3, Ironman) and won my AG in one of my biggest triathlons of the season, while also making significant bike and swim fitness gains throughout the season.

I intend on reflecting on all of this during my run tomorrow. I will give thanks for my health and celebrate my hard work and discipline. I will think about the sacrifices I made to accomplish these goals and what the accomplishments themselves mean to me. I will think about next season too. What are my new goals and what sacrifices and I willing to make to reach them? It's pretty easy to be dead honest with yourself two and a half hours into a run.

I'm going to think about the low points I went through this season too; and give thanks for the ability to persevere. I will think about how I overcame adversity this season and learned to stick up for myself, be proud of who I am, and be accountable for my actions. I will give thanks for the friendships this sport has afforded me. I will reflect on the people in my life that help me reach my goals and support my racing daze. I will thank every single volunteer I see and cheer on other runners. I will run with my head up for a change; out of "the zone". I will pray as I run tomorrow. This marathon, when it comes down to it, is less of a race for me, and more of a time to celebrate, give thanks, and reflect. A time to consider how fortunate I really am. A victory lap.