Heading South

My annual pilgrimage South to Tucson, Arizona has been routine for the past 6 years.  Every year I head down South for a season of work as the camp director at The Cycling House.  After a summer of travel, racing and adventures the Southern migration was a warm welcome; literally.  The cool temperatures in Montana quickly remind me that it is indeed time to head south. 

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We hosted 3 weeks of mountain bikes camp this fall, two weeks in Crested Butte, Colorado and one week in Missoula, Montana.  The trails were a much needed change after pounding the pavement all summer racing triathlons.  I had few weeks of true fall in Montana and was able to get out on some epic adventures before I pointed Crusher South.  One of the highlights was an all day hike in the Swan range with my high school buddies.  We headed out with full intention of slaying an elk although only one of us had a gun but I think we would all agree we were there to catch up with each other and get epic in the mountains before real winter conditions set in.  The adventure was the perfect fix and I think we all received some level of discomfort as we scaled a nearly vertical chute full of snow and ice to the knife edge ridge below Holland Peak.  To final icing on the cake was watching two wolves traverse a ridge after we startled them in the hanging valley below Holland Peak.

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I started my annual pilgrimage in Crusher and made what has become a normal stop in Moab, Utah for the trail 1/2 marathon USATF national championships.  I was able to get in some good training leading up to this race although I did have a scare with my back after it seized up while mountain biking in Durango, Colorado.  My back was near 100% for the race and I was ready to give it my all as I toed the starting line.  I had a good position leading into the first big uphill and a group of runners quickly established a bit of a gap. Their pace was a little to hot for me and I eased into a pace that seemed manageable.  I finally crested the top of the climb after nearly 3 miles of uphill and was hanging around top 10 when a few runners passed me.  They blew by me and I fell like I was running in quicksand, well I was running in sand but the pace they were holding seemed very hot!  I stayed positive and focused on my race.  I hit the first big downhill and was cruising on the technical section when all of a sudden I caught 4 runners and passed them on a hairy technical section.  Moab had received a good amount of rain and the last section of the race followed an old riverbed.  At times the water was waist deep and I embraced the conditions and passed a few more guys and advanced to 5th place.  I exited the water and pushed my pace up a steep climb towards the road.  The road was slight downhill and I could see 4th place off in the distance.  I buried myself on this downhill, digging deep and embracing the lactic acid that had built up in my legs.  I nearly caught 4th place but the final technical water section left me with no place to make my move.  I settled for 5th place and was satisfied after giving it all that I had!  I hung at the awards briefly after the race and drove the remainder of the way down to Tucson to start the move in process at The Cycling House.

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The move in process to a new house is always an interesting process, the 6 days I spent moving were a bit of a time warp. I was ready for a break and the USATF trail 50k national championships was just the fix I needed.  I knew I was a little ambitious racing back to back weekends, but the lack of long runs and quick turnaround was not going to hold me back.  Fortunately I had found a cheap ticket to Las Vegas so that Crusher could get some rest after our cross country voyage.  I flew in the evening before the race and camped at the race venue.  I had been to the venue several years ago while working the outdoor demo at Interbike with Hammer Nutrition.  The trails were dry, technical and had some very good varying terrain.  My lack of running mileage would be the limiting factor so a let a group of 15 get a lead on me in the early miles of the race.  I settled into a manageable pace and knew that if I was going to finish well in this race I would need to be smart with nutrition.  I carried a handheld water bottle with Hammer Fizz in it and 5 Hammer Gels, I was also happy to know that Hammer Nutrition would be out on course as a nutritional sponsor.  I chugged along and caught a few guys as they began to fade and I continued to maintain my pace.  I was happy to refill with Hammer Heed as the temperatures crept up and my body craved more electrolytes.  I ended up finishing 10th place,  satisfied with the result I had completed my 2013 season.  I flew back down to Tucson to begin the season with our 2nd annual El Tour De Tucson training camp.  The camp was a huge success and the 2014 season at The Cycling has begun, up next we have our 2nd annual Moots bicycle company training camp.

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I have quickly embraced the Sonoran desert and my sunset runs quickly reminded me exactly why I love this place.  Up next will be the Rock & Roll Phoenix marathon in January.  Below are my results from the season.  A huge thanks to all of my sponsors; Hammer Nutrition (Title Sponsor), The Cycling House, Zoot Sports, Nashville Hip & Fracture, GoWestyMountain Khakis, Kali Protectives.

2013 Season Results

  • Coldwater Rumble 50k; 1st place
  • Grizzly Triathlon; 4th place
  • Lifetime Fitness Leadman; 12th place (got lost!)
  • Wildflower Triathlon; 23rd professional
  • White Mountains Half Ironman; 1st place
  • New England Tri-Fest; 1st place
  • Newtown Triathlon; 2nd place
  • US Mountain Running Championships; 24th place
  • Ironman Lake Placid; 61st place (sick)
  • Cigna 5k; 16:29
  • Xterra Stoaked; 1st place
  • Timberman 70.3; 11th place
  • Rev3 Maine; 34th place
  • Whitefish Legacy 20k; 1st place
  • Mount Sentinel Hill Climb; 5th place
  • USATF Trail 1/2 Marathon National Championships; 5th place
  • USATF Trail 50k National Championships; 10th place

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Fall in the Mountains

Nearly two months have flown by since I departed the east coast bound for Montana so it must be time for an update.  Crusher killed the drive from New Hampshire back to Montana.  A huge thanks to GoWesty for helping get Crusher even more road worthy! A few other essentials for a drive of this magnitude was my Zoot compression socks and REM caps (natural sleep remedy) so that I was able to get good sleep on the road.  I was lucky enough to have Bri join me for the drive and a few days in Missoula before she had to get back to school.  It was great to be back in the center of the universe (Missoula, Montana) for a few days before I departed for a few weeks in Colorado.

 

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Crusher cruising the USA!

The Cycling House had two mountain bikes on the calendar in Crested Butte, Colorado.  I have done a ton of traveling but Crested Butte ranks amongst the top for mountain towns.  The small town in nestled off the beaten path and is touted as, “the last great colorado ski town.”  The town sits at 9,000 feet and Mount Crested Butte (ski area) extends to just over 12,000 feet.  The area is surrounded by beautiful mountains extending to nearly 14,000 feet and it has been deemed the Colorado capital of wildflowers.  The town has just under 1,500 residents and is 30 minutes North of Gunnison which is home to Western Colorado College.  The area surrounding Crested Butte offers some of the best high alpine mountain biking in the country.  The area has many miles of beautiful single-track trails with breathtaking views.

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Crested Butte, Colorado

We hosted two one week mountain bike camps and had an excellent home base on Mount Crested Butte with amazing views!  In just over two weeks of cycling we rode the majority of the premiere trails in Gunnison county.   After a summer spent almost entirely on a road bike it was nice to be in the mountains ripping trail on the old mountain bike.  The campers all made major improvements and by the end of the week everyone was riding the trails with confidence.  I highly recommend Crested Butte as travel destination for anyone interested in epic high mountain single-track adventures.  After just over two weeks of camps it was time for our next adventure in Colorado.

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Chef Drew drove Owen, myself and another friend South of Crested Butte to Lake City, Colorado.  We had planned a two day bike tour to Durango, Colorado for a friends wedding.  The two days of mountain bike touring were amazing!  We topped out on Cinnamon Pass at just over 12,500 feet and had some amazing desolate dirt roads.  Our first day went from Lake City to Silverton covering 40 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing.  The second day went from Silverton to Durango covering 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.  We had a few good days in Durango and I got in a few good rides and runs.  Unfortunately on the wedding day I strained my back pretty bad and was a little laid up.  The wedding was a beautiful fall wedding and I found a temporary remedy for my back but that is a whole other story:)  Congrats to two great friends; Andy & Allison Schultz!  After a great 3 weeks in Colorado it was time to head back to the center of the universe for our first ever Missoula, Montana mountain bike camp.

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Lake City to Silverton

The inaugural Sam Schultz Montana mountain bike camp was a huge success.  We were able to share our favorite Missoula rides with our campers. We lucked out with weather and had 4 amazing blue bird days.  A highlight of the camp was riding Snowbowl Overlook to Stuart Peak.  At the wilderness boundary to Stuart Peak we ditched our bikes and hiked to the top of the snow covered peak.  The camp ended with some Moscow Mules in TCH branded copper cups (Thanks guys) and everyone departed tired, content and with smiles on their faces.  

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Whitefish Legacy Run

Unfortunately our 3 weeks of mountain bike camps came to an end but it gave me some free time for adventure before I head down to Tucson for our November camps.  We still have a few spots in our El Tour camp so click on the link if you are looking for a November vacation.  After nearly two months without racing I toed the line at The Whitefish Legacy 20k.  I was all ready to go for the Grizzly Ultramarathon 50k but my back was not quite ready for the strains a 50k would place on it so I settled for 30k less.  I ran the Whitefish Legacy 20k last year and absolutely loved the trail race and the cause that it goes towards. The Whitefish Legacy Partners has already built nearly 40 miles of beautiful single-track just West of downtown Whitefish.  The non-profit has plans for many more miles of single-track trails and is quickly becoming a destination for mountain biking.  I had a great race and my back held up and I was able to get the win.  Up next is Rolling Thunder cyclocross race, The Mount Sentinel Hill Climb, Half Marathon trail running nationals in Moab, Utah and the 50k trail national championships in Henderson, Nevada.  I hope everyone is enjoying fall!

A few days at the races…

The last month has been a bit of a blur with a bit of racing, travel, lounging and living it up in my final month on the east coast.  Ironman Lake Placid, my big race of the summer has come and gone.  Unfortunately it did not go as quickly as I anticipated but then again every Ironman is a long endeavor.  After the Tour De Montana I was primed and ready to jump back into life on the east coast and I tested my feet in the mountain running scene.  In hindsight racing the US mountain running championships one week prior to Ironman Lake Placid was a dumb idea.  Sometimes I do dumb things and I figure what does not kill me will make me stronger.  Post US mountain running championships in North Conway I hoped somebody would put me out of my misery.  My legs felt as if someone had attempted to pull my muscles off of the bone.  The 3 loop down/up course was brutal and left me hobbling for nearly a week which led me right to the start of Ironman Lake Placid.

Looking good at Placid :)

Looking good at Placid :)

Lake Placid, New York is a special place for many reasons but the area & terrain provide an excellent venue for Ironman.  After hosting two Olympic games, Lake Placid, knows how to host a big event.  Unfortunately I was not really feeling up to the event after getting knocked down by a cold a few days before the race.  I’m a pretty stubborn person but after 2 sleepless coughing nights I was questioning my ability to race.  I attempted to remain positive but come race morning I think I hit the peak of my cold and my head felt like it was in the clouds.  I ran through all of my pre-race routines; eat 3 hours prior, lots of 53×11 coffee, Hammer Gel 15 minutes before the start of the race.  The air temperature was cool and it looked like the clouds could open up at any moment as we entered the waters of Mirror Lake.  The lake is beautiful and a perfect venue for swimming especially because it has underwater cables running the length of the entire swim.  As someone belted out the star-spangled banner I attempted to hold in my coughs.

Thanks for the support; Hammer Nutrition, The Cycling House, Zoot, GoWesty, Nashville Hip & Fracture, Mountain Khakis

Thanks for the support; Hammer Nutrition, The Cycling House, Zoot, GoWesty, Nashville Hip & Fracture, Mountain Khakis

The cannon sounded and we were off although I felt like I was still standing on shore.  My lungs were filled with junk and my head felt like a balloon making it difficult to get a full breath.  I was a little nervous because even more than normal I felt like a guppie amongst great white sharks as the other professional triathletes quickly sped away.  Eventually I exited the swim in 1:05; not the time I was looking for but I kept plugging away.  I kept my thoughts positive, knowing that Ironman is a long day and I could come around.  Once on the bike I felt pretty decent and and after about 15 minutes those clouds did open up.  I actually felt pretty decent on the bike until the last few miles and my head started to get cloudy once again.  When I hit T2 it had been about 5 hours and 10 minutes and I had moved my way through a few of the professionals.  My progress was quickly halted after about 5 miles on the run when my head really became troublesome.  I had a pounding headache and the rest of the run was a true race of attrition.  Once again my stubbornness would not let me quit even though I had long bouts of walking.  Eventually I made it to the finish line in 10 hours.  I was disappointed, exhausted, and felt like crap.  I sat down with my head between my legs and attempted to wrap my head around what had just happened.  Ironman is a crazy journey and I felt like all my hard work had been wiped away and I was left treading water like a novice, cycling on a tricycle and running backwards.  In my post race Ironman stupor it took me awhile to accept that I had a bad race because of the cold not because I could not perform anymore.  The race was a big mental blow and it took me quite awhile to get back into the swing of training.  I took a week to recover and get healthy.  Eventually the cough left my lungs and I started to ease back into training.  One and half weeks after Ironman Lake Placid there was a 5k in Manchester, New Hampshire.  The Cigna 5k draws over 6,000 runners and some very fast elite level runners always dominate the race.  The winner posted a time of 14:03 and I crossed the line in 16:30.  Running that quickly was a huge shock to the system but it kind of turned my competitive nature back on and I felt ready to train and race a few more times on the east coast.  The 5k was on Thursday and I raced Xterra Stoaked on Sunday.

Xterra Stoaked

Xterra Stoaked

I had not raced an Xterra race since 2009 so I was excited to have the opportunity to test the waters once again.  New Hampshire has some very technical mountain bike trails and I was happen to discover that the course had a fair bit of climbing mixed in with a few sections of technical trails.  I had a good swim exiting the water in the top 10 and as the course headed upward I found myself passing the majority of the athletes.  By the top of the climb I was in first or second place and after the technical section I went through the first lap in third place completely out of control.  The start of the second lap preceded a very steep downhill with a sharp left at the bottom.  I knew the descent was steep but I had no idea that it was very wet and slippery.  I engaged my brakes a little late and came down sideways nearly taking out a line of spectators at the bottom.  I barely made the turn and left for the second lap with the applause of the crowd at my back.  I figured they must have been happy I spared their lives and I continued my charge.  I entered T2 in second place and headed out on the run.  I felt fairly good although a little more lactic acid had entered my legs then I had anticipated.  I pushed through the pain and caught first place at the start of the second loop of the two loop run.  I crossed the line in first place and was happy with the day.  The race left a craving for more Xterrra racing so I really want to jump in a few more of these this year.  I had one more week of training before Timberman 70.3.

Timberman 70.3 was a race I had heard about for several years and few Montana athletes had raced it in the past.  The race stared in 2000 and Ironman bought it a few years ago.  I loaded up my VW Vanagon for a weekend of camping and racing.  I was feeling good and the race venue was beautiful.  I had a decent swim exiting the water in just over 30 minutes, I still should be 2-3 minutes faster.  I hit the bike and felt prepared for a challenging course of New Hampshire hills.  I pushed the pace and passed a few athletes but then I found myself in no mans land.  The last 10 miles of the course was mentally challenging and I found myself starting to fade a little.  I hit the run and started out at a brisk pace.  Unfortunately my brisk pace was not enough and I finished 11th about 2 minutes out of 10th place. I was happy with the result and it was a fun weekend of racing.

Good home-stay... #VW

Good home-stay… #VW

My final race of my east coast campaign was at Old Orchard Beach in Maine with the Rev 3 series.  I really do not enjoy doing back to back races but every race on the east coast is relatively close, another benefit was that it was an olympic distance, or at least I thought that was a benefit.  I cruised Crusher up to the race after cheering on Bri and another MT Alpha rider and friend; Katie, at The White Mountains Gran Fondo.  The race venue for Old Orchard is great if you have kids, otherwise it is a bit of a cluster because of the carnival and pier.  Parking can be difficult and after the pro meeting and packet pickup I found a good place to park the van and camp.  The race itself was fun, although my result probably does not make it look that fun.  Racing olympic distance triathlons is no joke and the youngsters have some serious speed.  I really did not set myself up for a good race especially after the frigid ocean swim.  I was unprepared for the swim and at times I felt like I was swimming off the the horizon with the currents turning me around a bit.  Once on the bike I began to charge and attempt to make up ground.  I had a decent bike although the legs were not yet 100% from Timberman.  I cranked out a decent run and logged the last race of my East Coast season.  The real race began after Rev3 because I still had to park and then start the 2600 mile cross country drive.  Lets hope the drive has a few less adventures then it did earlier this summer….

Crusher is ready to roll cross country! Thanks for the support GoWesty!

Crusher is ready to roll cross country! Thanks for the support GoWesty!