Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life as a pro triathlete and medical student- thank goodness for a great coach and some amazing sponsors!!

Life as a pro triathlete and medical student- thank goodness for a great coach and some amazing sponsors!!

I finally just started my second break from medical school for the year and I will get the next month off while I finish my triathlon racing season!  I am excited and back to rest and recovery as a major factor in my training. The key elements to my ability to be able to race as this level and be in medical school at the same time have definitely been both a superb coach and fantastic sponsors. Greg’s approach to rest, recovery and not overtraining has really kept me healthy and not burnt out through a very difficult stretch of full time pro training and full time medical school clinical rotations.  Sometimes less is so much more and with the stress and decreased sleep of medical school we have come through the other side injury free, fresh and ready to rock the end of the season! I was even able to pick up a win at REV3 Wisconsin during my med school stent and a 3rd place at REV3 Maine, so Greg definitely had me doing something right! The right coach makes all the difference- couldn’t be more true in my situation.

The other folks I would like to thank are our sponsors. Profile Design has supported us with absolutely everything we could possibly need and at any moment in time. They have never said no, they always make it happen and they are a true support to professionals in this sport.  There is absolutely zero possibility that any of us could race professionally without sponsors like Profile Design.  Their wheels, wetsuits, stems, bottles…the list goes one….have kept us going all season and we are thrilled to be with them because they have, hands down, the best products. Rudy Project is another sponsor that has always shone a deep commitment to the pro triathlon community. If you ever see a pro race, you will see that almost every pro in the field is racing with a Rudy Project Wingspan helmet.  This is simply because it is the fastest helmet on the market (tunnel tested by John Cobb) and your helmet matters, a lot. Quintana Roo has helped me with the fastest bike I could ever dream up, the CD0.1. I just received my Computrainer, which will be an absolutely essential piece to being able to train full time and pursue a medical career at that same time (I would said this is a “must have” training tool for anyone who works full time and has a little cash to spend on getting faster).  Thanks also to Hammer for the best nutrition products in the world and Champion System racing gear that stands in a class alone.  It would be impossible for me to do triathlon and med school without this help from these amazing companies and the people behind them. Thank you so much for everything.

Friday, September 21, 2012

USAT Nationals

Last year I happened to be the runner-up at USAT Nationals and 3rd overall at the race.  This year I wanted to do well, but with it being my 3rd race in 4 weeks, I was not sure how it was going to go.  Going into the race I was battling some fatigue but once the horn sounded I felt surprisingly well.

Swim - It was not a wetsuit swim, but the water and the air were chilly so I decided to warm-up in my wetsuit.  In the first 200m I was repeatedly smashed into and took another "punch" to the eye.  The physicality of the swims seems to happen to me a lot, so I am starting to wonder if all swims are like this or if I just happen to be the one that swerves all over and causes the contact.  But at any rate I was tired of it so I did what I normally do in this situation: I grabbed the hip of the person to my right and pushed him under me to the left so I could be on the outside.  I felt good in the water and I knew I was swimming well, because I was with William at the first buoy. I maintained contact with the people around me and for the first time in as long as I can remember I got out of the water in a good position and I still had some energy.

Bike - Once on the bike there were single people strewn out on the road and I could see a pack about 15 seconds ahead.  I rode as hard as I could to catch William, he got on the bike about 5 seconds before me.  I knew if I caught him, we could catch the pack within sight.  Once we caught that pack I realized there was another pack about 50 seconds up the road.  Darn it!!  I had a good swim but I was afraid this was going to happen...Ben Kanute is a great swimmer and a very strong cyclist. If he had a pack with him, I knew it was going to be a long day.  There were only about 4 guys in my pack that wanted to/could do any work.  I spent a lot of time pushing hard at the front and after 3 laps of maintaining or losing 5 seconds I had to start thinking about the run.  Not what I wanted to do but with minimal help and a strong cyclist at the head of the front pack I had to cut my loses, keep it close, and wait for the run.  I still spent a lot of time at the front of the bike pack, but it was more to keep my pack going than to catch up.  I also spent some time drifting back to yell "words of encouragement" at the rest of the guys with me.  At the end of the 40k we were 2 min down.  I had a lot of ground to make up on the run.

Run - My transition was a lot better this year!  Although, I still struggle to get my feet in my shoes occasionally. I was off and running with a lot of lonely ground to make up.  Finally after 2 laps I caught someone.  Then I caught Ben Kanute.  It was frustrating to lose time on the bike, but after seeing him death march the run, I knew I made the right decision to not go all in and try to catch the front pack.  On the last lap I could see 3 guys 25 seconds up.  I tried all I could to go faster and run them down, but I ran out of road.  I finished in 7th.  Not a stellar place, but I was happy with how I raced and how I felt during the race.  It just wasn't in the cards to have a repeat of last year.

Thanks to my mom for driving me to and from Buffalo, NY and for getting me where I needed to go.  And thank you to my amazing fiancee!!  Melissa, her mother, and her sister, Kristyn, made the 7 hour trip Saturday morning.  It was great to have them there for the race.  It was also nice to have Greg and William's family there to cheer on Team IE!!  And thanks again to all my sponsors.  This life would not be possible without them!

Never complain and never explain.  ~Benjamin Disraeli


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back-to-Back with BH

For the second time this season and the second time in my life I raced on back-to-back weekends.  What I learned, the second time around is not any easier.  I raced at Rev3 Maine on August 26 and then Hy-Vee US Championship this past weekend.  I debuted my new BH bike at Rev3 Maine and I couldn't be happier.
It is not only the lightest bike I have ever rode, it is very aerodynamic and incredibly rigid.  All the power I put into the pedals goes straight to the rear wheel.  Thank you BH!!

Rev3 Maine -  Another incredible race put on by Rev3! I like doing their races, but they become more fun each time out. I truly feel they are the best race series in the country.  The swim was in the ocean and although I felt like I was swimming well, I found out when I exited the water that I lost a lot of time.  Not sure what went wrong, but sometimes I seem to lose loads of time in the water.  Once on the bike, I felt good and was moving well.  The age group half distance athletes went off first so it was a little crazy riding through them for the first 6 miles.  At the halfway point I was in about 6th and felt like I could make up a spot or two before getting off the bike.  On the way back I was feeling the hard pace and slowed down a little bit.  I was able to catch one more person and get off the bike in 5th.  I felt good starting out on the run and could see 3rd and 4th place.  I caught Dave Thompson at around 2 miles and had my sights set on Richie Cunningham up the road.  He won the previous 3 races, so I knew I was having a pretty good race to see him on the run.  I kept up an honest pace, but wanted to shut it down a little bit with Hy-Vee coming up the next weekend.  With a mile to go I could see Conrad Stoltz up the road but had no idea how far ahead he was.  I was torn on what to do, do I throw it down with all I have to try and catch him or do I keep the current pace and live to race hard the next week?  I could not make up my mind and before I knew it I was half a mile from the finish with no chance of catching Conrad.  I finally shut it down and cruised into the line in 3rd.  It was a good result and got me into 4th in the season series, 10 points out of 3rd.

I made the trip to Old Orchard Beach, Maine with my sister who was 32 weeks pregnant.  It was a great trip and race, but I discovered I live my life eerily similar to a pregnant lady.  My sister and I had similar schedules when it came to eating, napping, going to bed, and having to pee.  Thanks to her for coming with me and being a trooper all weekend. 

Hy-Vee US Championship - With it being the largest prize purse in the sport everyone wants to get in, and do well once they get there.  It is the most fun race of the season too, having such a strong field doing laps around large crowds in Des Moine, IA.  Although I achieved a good result for me, I did not have a particularly great race.  I had a good swim, but my race went down hill on the bike.  Greg and I have lengthy discussions all the time on what happens in races.  Some people blame bad results on random things or terrible excuses instead of their poor decisions made during the race, whether it's riding too hard and having a poor run or choosing to drink a certain "sports" drink.  Post race I always try to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.  This one was a head scratcher though.  There were to many factors to determine what exactly went wrong; back-to-back weekends, heat (average temp of 92 during the race), or swimming too hard.  It seems that I always struggle on the bike when I lay it all out in the swim.  It is something I wanted to do in this race though, I wanted a good swim to set up a great race.  I felt good for about two laps on the bike, but struggled to find my legs the final two laps.  Macca and I had a little chat in the last 2 miles of the bike about how we both did not have the legs on the bike.  Once the run started I wanted to make up some ground but the struggles on the bike leaked their way into my run.  I did what I could to move through the field, but I was not passing many people.  It was a death march on the road and one guy actually started walking. The crowds were amazing and I kept pushing until I crossed the finish line.  I finished in 13th place, one spot better than last year.  I will take it, at the beginning of the season I did not think I would even make it into the race!

Thanks to my beautiful fiancee (Melissa), my mom, my grandparents, Greg, Lisa, the Deckards (John and Robbie), the Bachmans (Aaron and Lindsey), and Jake Rhyner for their words of encouragement on the bike and run.  It was a hot, hard day and you all got me across the finish line.  Thanks to Greg for getting me ready for the race.  Thanks to my mom for driving the group to the race.  And thank you to all my sponsors (Team IE, N.B. Properties, Bralin Laser, Champion System, Profile Design, Scott Shoes, Cobb Cycling, Rudy Project, Computrainer, Express Press, Enzyme Research Laboratories, Pro-Form Bike Shop, Hofferth Chiropractic and now BH Bikes) for helping me compete at the highest level.

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: NOW.   ~ Denis Waitley

Kaleb (@VanOrt_Tri)