Monday, July 18, 2011

Chattanooga Waterfront Tri 2011

July 10th marked the long awaited race on home turf. My last race before leaving for SEAL training. I was very anxious to see how much progress I had made in a years time. Competing with my buddies Dan and Cardon held the excitement high also. My goal for the race was to cross the finish line with the tank totally empty, and smash my time from last year. From my experience a lot of the intimidation of triathlon stems from the unknown of the course. Having never run a certain course or climbed a certain hill on your bike leaves a lot of questions about how the legs will feel afterward. Just how hard should I push it on the bike in order to have a good run? What mile should I hit the gas on the run and give it all you have? Having done this race before, running this course on a weekly basis and doing the swim 15+ times I had most of those questions answered.Overall this was my favorite race this season. I learned how much better I could be on the bike leg, its pretty humbling when people twice your age blow by you on the bike, and your only hope is that you're going to catch him on the run.  My only regret from this race was not putting socks on. My feet were completely blistered and I ended up changing the way my feet planted on the run in order to reduce friction. I placed 7th in the 19-25 age group which qualifies for the age group national championship and beat my time from last year by more than 20 minutes!
Dan Waddell bringing it home.

Tsali Xterra 2011

Dan Waddell and I competed in the Tsali Xterra June 4th, 2011. Ive always enjoyed spending time around the Nantahala. Although the race was a blast and the weather was great, this was not my best race. My nutrition was a long way from optimal. The run was very challenging and my stomach was knotted the entire time. Getting a podium spot was awesome but a little bitter sweet, I think Dan and I could have 1-2 finished the race on a better day. We left in high spirits, I guess you cant feel your best every race!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half Marathon

Photo by Jeff Bartlett, Rights reserved Rock/Creek
Saturday I raced in Rock/Creek's scenic city trail half marathon at Racoon mountain. Overall I had a great time and was once again humbled by the amount of agility and endurance required for a trail race. I was really happy about my decision to do the 13.1 mile distance since the 26.2 was just another lap around the course. It was great fun racing with Mike and David, my trainers at GetBuilt Chattanooga Crossfit, and ended up with a time of 1:34 on my watch which was 13th of 288.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rev3 Knoxville.

The Rev3 Knoxville marked the first olympic distance race of the year. In the weeks leading up to the race I really looked forward to racing the shorter course but as the race neared and training increased I remembered the intensity of a 2+ hour effort at near red line effort. The 1500m/26.2/6.2 mile course creates the every minute matters feel, and no time for mechanical errors, long water/food breaks, or pacing that you might want in a half or full ironman race. On the other hand a shorter course means less fatigue and a shorter recovery. The Rev series race was a great experience and was probably the toughest competition field yet. We found it hard to find anyone without a european accent at the expo and the pro field was stacked with 2008 olympian Matty Reed, and 70.3 world champ Julie Dibbens.

Race day brought overcast skies and about 10 degrees cooler than average which was great other than catching a mild chill the first few minutes out of the water. The swim was upstream for 500m and down stream 1000m. I felt strong but tried not to push it over the top, its hard to remember the swim is never won or lost in the swim. Coming into T1 I focused on keeping my heart in my chest and figured I was in decent position as about 2/3 of the bikes were still in the rack. The hilly bike course meant time out of the saddle and a lot of time trying to keep some power in the legs and not ruin myself on the greater Knoxville hills.  This is where I need the most improvement, it was humbling seeing how high of a pace some guys can hold for the entire 26.2 miles. I knew going into the race that the run was where I could best put a gap on the competition. I saw my buddy Dan Waddell coming out of T2, looked at my watch, put my head down and went. Dan and I had had some good training runs in the past few weeks and I was happy to have him keep the pressure on. The plan was to keep a steady pace on the way out to the turn around(5k) and then empty the tank on the way back, sub 40min was the goal. I suffered a bit through miles 1-2 and really found comfort in the short course. Between 4-5 I spotted a guy in my age group who had passed me on the bike and started kicking. I think overall I was able to reel in 3-4 age groupers on the run(40:54). Overall time of 2:24

Heres the race recap video.

Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Country Music Marathon

Raced in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville on Saturday. Overall very humbling. I posted my best time thus far and finished 29th out of 195 (18-24 year olds). Marathon is definitely not my favorite distance to race but overall I had a great time and will say it was my best 26.2 yet. I learned a great deal about pacing, preservation, eating, and warming up. I ran through 13.1 with less the 7 minute miles and then really struggled after the 20 mile mark. It only takes a couple bad miles to ruin a whole day of fast splits. Looking forward to training for Rev3 Knoxville, Scenic City Trail Half Marathon, Waterfront Tri, and Tsali Xterra.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ironman New Orleans 70.3

April 17th I competed in the New Orleans Ironman 70.3, however 70.3 miles were never covered. Ironman 69.1 would be a more appropriate title given the canceled swim leg. The 56 bike,13.1 mile race was heavily dictated by weather. I knew wind would be a major player after seeing the out and back bike course, primarily east to west meaning there would be a brutal headwind going one way and equally helpful tailwind going the opposite. Additionally I had heard waves get pretty large on the swim with any wind at all. I had no idea the swim was cancelled until I was putting on my wetsuit.

The morning of the race I woke up about 430 feeling really good and really rested. Andrea Newhouse sewed a VT onto the back of my shirt for the race in honor of the students who passed on April 16, 2007. Elimination of the swim meant a big change in strategy. Usually after a 1.2 mile swim, having been horizontal for over 30 minutes, the back is tight and it's hard to find that initial power for the first 3-5 miles of the bike. Plus the addition of a roller and being able to warm up on the bike increases bike splits rather than coming straight out of the lake. I realized this would be a great time to in case my calories and i didn't have a roller so I went for a run to warm up my legs. The time trial start gave me a chance go watch some of the top pros in the sport, like Julie Dibbens(former 70.3 world champion).

The race started by age groups, going off 2 by 2 with a 5 second gap between pairs. For some reason I started with the 40-45 age group, but it's all by computer chip so it doesn't matter that much. The bike leg was extremely difficult for the first 27 miles. I've never felt wind coming at me like that before. Mentally it's draining because you feel like you're not getting a good distance for the amount of effort you're putting into the ride. I found myself visualizing the turn around as the end of the race, because I knew that at that point the wind would work in my favor. I came in on the bike at 2:44 minutes at 43rd out of 121 in pretty high spirits, I was still in good enough position to where i thought i could reel in a lot of the 24 and unders that i couldn't match pace with on the bike.

After falling right on my ass with one foot still clipped to my pedal, i had a great transition. I already had socks on since there was no swim. I tied my shoes, and grabbed a muffin, Snickers marathon, and a powerade zero and hobbled out on the half marathon course for what is always the worst 20 minutes in triathlon. Carrying all that food made my arms tired so I just threw it on the ground and relied on aid stations for the rest of the the race. Those first two miles are indescribable. In all the sports of tired brick legs is the most uncomfortable feeling I've experienced. Fortunately They went away after about 20 minutes and was able to lay down the 13.1 in 1:39 averaging about 7:47 per mile and pulling up to 23rd of 121. Crossing the finish line was a lot of fun, the final turn was right in the heart of the French quarter and gave you the boost to run the last 1.5 miles hard. Overall this race was awesome and I plan to do it again. Next up Country Music Marathon.

Finish Line
Julie Dibbens
VT Patch

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Directions:

Hard to believe it's been a whole year since my last post. I actually came across this blog on accident when I clicked the wrong button on my bookmarks bar. I suppose its all symbolic of the lack of epic kayaking trips i've taken in the last year. Since blogging is no longer something that's asked of me and the fact that I think its pretty silly, I had half a mind to get rid of Good Lines. But, Ive already written this much I might as well keep it going. As many of you who will read this know, Ive decided to pursue my dream of becoming a Navy SEAL after college. The more and more I read and train about SEALs and the accompanying lifestyle the deeper parallels I find between the two. Preparing for SEAL training on top of being in my last year of college has led to a lot less kayaking. There's 1000 things i miss about it, but mostly the friends that I dont see as often and missing out on the spontaneous get up and go lifestyle.

Last spring I decided to register for a couple of triathlons(Chattanooga Waterfront, Country Music). I had done a few in high school including one at the half iron distance and figured it would be a good way to ramp up my cardio endurance, a major tool in SEAL training. Those two races alone were enough to hook me in, I couldnt wait till the 2011 season to race again, faster and longer. Ive started training alot with GetBuiltChattanooga Crossfit and working out at the pool with an Naval Air Rescue Swimmer. The direct relationship between the work you put in and the results you see in triathlon is what keeps me so interested. I was also very humbled by the size of the sport and the high quality of athlete it requires to even be an average triathlete.

Anticipating the start of my Naval training in early summer, I began training hard shortly after the Christmas break. I was inspired by the crossfit community to try the paleo diet for one month which meant strict eating habits and NO BEER.  Although I will say it was pretty terrible and socially awkward when Friday night came around, I dont regret it at all. I felt fit to train seven days a week and my recovery period after a hard workout was cut in half. The month ended by competeing in the UTC rowing championship, where we took first place. Another source of inspiration came from the deployment of a close friend John Bailey who deployed to Afghanistan in mid January. Hes working with a embeded training team getting the Afghan National Army ready to maintain security with less and less US pressence. Hes be a huge inspiration in what can become the mundayne routine of early morning swims and a more disciplined lifestyle. Not to mention he's the one who introduced me to the type of things Navy SEALs do back when I was paddling constantly.

So far my racing schedule consist of the Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, Rev3 Knoxville, and Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic Distance. Based on when I leave for training, ill be looking to add more races in the summer months. Additionally ive had alot of fun training for the Country Music Marathon, and the Racoon Mountain Trail Marathon, with my girlfriend.

Kayaking will always be a part of who I am and where I come from. Ive learned so much about life through experiences on the river and the people that I met. Theres no doubt in my mind that rivers will be part of my lifestyle in the future. However, for me this transition is the best preperation for the years to come. Im excited to serve my country. All the best.

John with Mark Cornachio

 UTC Rowing Championship
Daytona 500
Heading towards T1 at Chattanooga Waterfront 2010