Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arizona Weekend/Offseason cont'd

Fresh back from a weekend in Arizona, riding bikes, soaking up sun, playing golf with my dad, visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, and watching and supporting athletes during Ironman Arizona. It was a good time to get out of the first real cold temperatures in Durango and enjoy some ideal weather further south.

The trip started out with a stopover in Flagstaff, and it might be the first time I slept without hearing the roar of wind or trains outside. My friend Kris provided the accommodations, and we treated her to breakfast at Martanne's (very good New Mexican fare with generous green chile on every dish). We dropped down the basalt cliffs into Oak Creek on our way to Sedona, watching the landscape evolve from thick Ponderosa forests to sandstone spires and buttes dotted with pinon pine and juniper. We parked the car and went for a short ride in perfect weather, exploring the northwest area of Sedona before heading south to Phoenix.

We were fortunate to have a good friend with a nice condo in Scottsdale, so we set up shop about 15 minutes from the Ironman race site, and played a round of golf at the ASU Karsten course on Friday afternoon. It's been ages since I golfed seriously, but I had some good holes and really enjoyed the perfect weather. Saturday morning we went for another short ride east of town, and then went down to Tempe Beach Park for our volunteer duties. My dad and I were assigned to afternoon bike check-in, so we helped people rack bikes and drop off their gear bags. It was nice to be on the other side of the event, helping others feel ready to take on Ironman, and with my dad volunteering, his entry was assured for the 2010 event.

Race morning was chilly, and I was happy to not be facing the 63 degree waters. Instead, I watched the swim start from the bridge and then rode along the pathway to follow the lead groups. I knew several people racing, so it was an exciting day despite not being part of the battle for top spots and requalification for Kona. The conditions were more agreeable than last year's, and that was reflected in some killer bike splits in the pro field. Another graduate of the Montana school of triathlon, friend Linsey Corbin battled her way into second place with a ridiculous 3:04 marathon, and all other friends finished the event with very respectable times. Congratulations to all competitors and finishers.

Now I'm back in Grand Junction for the Thanksgiving holiday, getting ready to enter a food coma and watch football. The extra calories I pack on should be a good buffer as I get back into training starting tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


After a long year of racing hard, I've finally arrived at the brief window of time known as the offseason. It's been a whirlwind year with a lot of racing, traveling, and meeting new friends. I decided to pull the plug on my plans to race Ironman Arizona, as it seemed a little hasty to try and rebuild and really focus on the race after traveling to Australia for ITU Long Course Worlds in Perth. My energy was high after a disappointing race in Hawaii, but after coming back to the states, flying to Australia via Asia, racing poorly in Australia, and then coming back on another epic series of flights, I was cooked.

The race in Australia was supposed to be in celebration of a good year-end effort in Kona, so it was somewhat anticlimactic. Still, I had the majority of my flight paid for by USA Triathlon, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring and see what the legs had left two weeks post-Ironman. After arriving about 3 days before the race, I settled into some nice spring weather in Western Australia and tried to reset the sleep pattern. Perth is a nice, clean, modern city, close to the ocean and right on the Swan river. It was my first time to the world's biggest island, so everything had the appeal of a novelty. I did some short workouts, and went into race day feeling pretty relaxed.

The swim start came without much warning, and I immediately missed the group. Big swells kicked up by high winds in the river channel made navigation difficult, and I struggled through the swim alone. Onto the bike, I pushed as hard as the legs would allow, but they were still heavy with Kona and travel, and I felt sluggish. Finally, I arrived at the run, and already well out of contention, I pushed as hard as I could to maintain my position, and ended up picking off a couple runners when my laps got faster near the end. It wasn't anything special, but I came 22nd, and was glad I had completed another race against some of the fastest distance guys in the sport.

Afterwards, I spent a little time with some new friends in the Margaret River area, tasting some wines, spotting Kangaroos, and enjoying a sunset on the spectacular coastline near Yallingup. All said, the Australian trip was a great experience, and I look forward to my next visit...

I'm back in Durango now, getting settled in the new place and enjoying some incredible fall temps in the southwest. I have opted out of IMAZ, but plan to attend the race to support friends and volunteer for the athletes who will undertake the considerable challenge of Ironman. More to come from my offseason soon.