Monday, January 28, 2013

Back from a Winter Slumber!!

Well, the sun is starting to come out and the temperatures are just about perfect for the 2013 training/race season to begin. It has been several months since my last post, but I didn’t want to put you to sleep with my tales of indoor trainer sessions or lack of time put into the pool. So without further ado here is what is on tap this season.

First and foremost I want to thank for allowing me once again to represent their company as a “ Champion”. I know what you are thinking and you are saying to yourself “Brooks is sponsored by TriSports? He sucks! I can race circles around him!” You are probably right and that is why sponsors me as an ambassador of the sport and not a competitive athlete. One day I hope to make their competitive team, but it will take several years of hard work and big finishes at big races. If you haven’t checked out all that has to offer, make sure you head over to their website and see what they have. If you find something just use my discount code at the top of this blog and receive 10% off, also remember if you are a member of the El Paso Tri Club you get 15% your orders.

Over the winter I managed to put in a good number of run miles and worked out on the bike trainer pretty well. My swimming has been non-existent, but that has changed over the past couple weeks, so I hope to get my fitness up in a couple months. This race season will be light until the end of July. I plan on doing a few local sprints and then tackle Buffalo Springs 70.3 once again. I have redemption on my mind and will bust my tail to see it happen. After Buffalo Springs 70.3, the rest of the season is up in the air. I would like to do SOMA and possibly REDMAN, but need to see what kind of time constraints I will have as far as work and family.

Let me know what you have planned. I would love to see comments regarding races in Arizona, New Mexico, and other western states, but I’m open to travel anywhere for a quality race.

Remember to help the sport grow in El Paso, it is important to have a strong club. If you have not signed up to be a member of the El Paso Tri Club, go to this link and make it happen! It only cost $40 a year and the discounts it provides easily cover the cost.

One last thing, I would like to congratulate Gretchen McElroy for being selected to represent our area on the Rocky Mountain Region USAT board of directors. Her experience and work ethic will be a great benefit to all.

Remember to follow me on twitter @tribrooks

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mid/Late Season Thoughts

So is everyone ready for Eagle in the Sun? Have you already had your “A” race for the year and begun to slow down on the racing? Or are you putting in those last few months of grueling workouts to end the season with a 70.3 or 140.6? Regardless of where you are in your season, it’s always a great day when you can wake up and push your body to the limits.

It has been two months since my last blog entry and I can’t really pinpoint why it has taken so long for me to put another one out. After the Buffalo Springs 70.3 I was a little over half-way through my race season. For the entire month of July and most of August I had been getting ready for the Redman 70.3 in Oklahoma City at the end of September, but because of dog emergencies (haven’t we all been there) I will not be able to attend. In addition to taking care of my dog, I also missed a huge chunk of training (8-10 days) because of work obligations. So what’s my point?

Not sure I have a point to make, but given where we are in the Tri season, I have a couple reflections on the season so far that might be of help to a few of you.

What do you train or race for?

Last year I raced to race. I loved the feeling of competition and the drive that came with it. I didn’t always do well, but I couldn’t help feeling butterflies at the beginning of each race. This season I was looking forward to racing, but was much more interested in how much I could improve my overall abilities in each discipline. I began working with a coach (Francois Modave) and cut my race schedule from ten races to five. I found that I didn’t want to even do a race just for fun, because I would miss a long workout that I had planned that day. Training became just as gratifying as racing. I’m completely content with not racing again until February and training hard for the next five months. Find your reason for training/racing and it will help clarify your goals.

 Being an Endurance Athlete is a life style not a hobby.

The happiest endurance athletes that I have met are the ones that can incorporate their family, work, and down time into the sport. I know some workouts just have to be done by yourself and take a significant amount of time from your day, but others can be done that incorporate the many other pieces of your life. Have your wife, husband, children, or dog participate. Plan mini-vacations around your races and incorporate your healthy eating habits into the family’s diet as well. Pretty soon they won’t call it “Dad’s healthy stuff”, but instead “dinner”, “lunch”, or “snack”. Incorporating work can be a little harder, but not impossible. I like to swim during my lunch break or even get a run in at a local park. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but by breaking up the day with a workout, I find that I can be much more focused at work and not constantly thinking about how many hours of planned workouts I have when I get home. This also allows you to spend more of your free time with your family.

Find your ceiling and then SMASH IT!

Thanks to a focused workout plan and the help of several friends that are incredible triathletes, I have been able to far exceed many of my expectations. You can do the same, but be willing to put in the effort. I know I’m simplifying a statement from both Bobby Gonzalez and Francois Modave but, “If you want to be a better runner, run more. If you want to be a better biker, bike more. And if you want to be a better swimmer, swim more”. The point being that hard work has its rewards. Improving your swim stroke and swimming 1000 meters a week won’t make you any more ready for a 1.2 mile swim then if your stroke was garbage and you swam 1000 meters a week. Those new running shoes are not going to shave three minutes off your 5k time and your sleek new bike helmet won’t help you average 26 mph. What will help you accomplish those things is a ton of hard work and a strong desire to improve.

I hope everyone has a great time this weekend and I look forward to seeing many of you out there!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buffalo Springs 70.3 Race Report

Well, I’m finally back from the Buffalo Springs 70.3 and I’ll do my best to put the experience into words. Before I get to the race report I just want to thank Claudia, my brother and his wife and my Dad for making the 12 hour drive from Missouri to come watch me race. Living so far apart we don’t get to see each other much, so I was happy they were there.

The morning of the race was gorgeous. I arrived at transition around 4:45 in the morning and started to set up my bike and layout the rest of my race gear. Water temperature was a warm 75.6 degrees and my new sleeveless wetsuit was the right choice. For those of you that follow this blog, you know that swimming is difficult for me. Not so much proper stroke and technique (even though I can always get better on my technique), but the anxiety and lack of comfortableness (is that a word?)in open water swims. I have certainly put in plenty of pool time, but once the race horn goes off and the hundreds of swimmers start thrashing around, all bets are off. I was in wave six and we began the swim a little after 6:30. I stayed near the back and off to one side at the start just to avoid as many swimmers as possible, but the way the course was laid out made that plan a little difficult. The swim course at Buffalo Springs is basically a rectangle that you swim counter-clockwise. From what I heard they were having trouble with people cutting a portion of the beginning cove so the set up a buoy at about 100 meters that we all had to swim to and then we took a 90 degree turn and started the rectangle. This led to a huge traffic jam, but I am proud to say that I didn’t freak out and even though I had more hands slapping and grabbing my legs then I would have liked I stayed focused and kept swimming. The rest of the swim was pretty tame and I didn’t have any major problems. I was hoping to finish the swim as near 40 minutes as I could and was very pleased to get out of the water in 35 minutes. 
And there we go!

Transition was smooth and with the help of a wetsuit stripper (not what you think ;0) I got to my bike and was ready to go. Unfortunately, they had a single lane exist for the bike out and I literally waited in a line for 45 seconds to get out of transition because of all the people trying to get out at the same time. The bike course at Buffalo Springs is pretty tough. Challenging hills, head wind, and rough roads made it an adventure. I started out and after two initial hills out of the lake I settled in and tried to focus on the task at hand. I started to have a sick feeling though when I began to get passed by dozens of people. My speed was slow and the more effort I gave it seemed the more people passed me. I smelt rubber burning a little bit and looked down to make sure my tires weren’t flat and they seemed to be alright. My initial thought was that all these racers that were passing me would gas out later on and I would pull them back in. My bike has been real strong lately and I had confidence that whatever was going on would correct itself later in the race. I was very wrong. I kept getting passed and even when someone would pass me and I tried to draft for a couple seconds to get my speed up, I couldn’t maintain it and was dropped within a couple seconds. After a good swim I felt that I could have finished the bike in the 2:40-2:45 range. Instead I finished the bike in 3:12. I averaged about 17 mph. To put it into perspective, when I started doing triathlons a year and a half ago, I was averaging about 18 mph and that was on an aluminum road bike without aero wheels, aero bars, clip peddles, and aero helmet. To say I was a little dejected would be an understatement.

So now what? I entered Buffalo Springs 70.3 to evaluate all the hard training that I have put in and finish in a strong 5:10-5:30. The bike portion of the race had not only killed my time, but my hamstrings and quads felt like I had been doing squats for three hours. This is where the mental aspects of the sport kick in and it can be hard to get a hold of yourself. I decided to make the best of the race and vowed to have a strong run and just chalk-up the bad bike portion to a fluke. I put on my shoes and hat and began the 13.1 mile run. 

Gretchen McElroy had told me the run was tough and that the hills during the course are not to be taken lightly, but honestly how bad could they be? Very bad. I began the run and was able to average about 7:55 miles for the first three miles and then the wheels fell off. At the beginning of mile four is the first big hill. It is very steep and goes on for days! I would say 75% of the people going up the hill were walking, but I wanted to keep my pace going and decided that I would keep jogging, even if it was at a crawl. That lasted about 100 yards and then my walking began. I know everyone is different, but for me walking is the surest way to a downward spiral during a race. My legs get really stiff and it is a struggle to get them running again. For the rest of the course I ran and walked off and on. Not very proud of the effort, but I can honestly say that until I started doing triathlons I had never experienced my body just shutting down. You can talk about heart, courage, determination and all the other aspects of racing, but when your body says “NO” it means it. I finished the race in 6:26 and was glad to see the smiling faces of my family and girlfriend. I really didn’t have many words to say to them and was glad that I had sun glasses on, because self-confidence and pride were running a little low. 

I managed to sit in the lake for a little bit and cool off and then talked with everyone about the race. My family was amazed at how great the race was and thought that I did fantastic, but I explained to them my goals and how bad my bike was and that it really wasn’t a very good race at all. My brother took a look at my bike and sure enough we found out the problem. My front brake was rubbing the entire bike portion of the race. Imagine driving your car with the emergency brake engaged. While it was nice to know that my training hadn’t failed me, it was heart breaking to come to the realization that all the preparation for this race went out the window, because I didn’t have my bike set-up probably. Francois, my coach, said these things happen and we will move on and get ready for the next race and not to dwell on it too much.  

On a side note, many times (myself included) athletes have a “poor me” mind set. We say things like “my front brake was rubbing”, “my goggles fogged up”, “I have blisters”, “my nutrition was off”, any number of phrases come from our mouths. In conjunction with the Ironman race at Buffalo Springs, they also had the Handcycle 70.3 Championships. The men and women who participate do not have use of their legs and complete the entire course with only their arms. I can’t begin to tell you the physical and mental toughness of these men and women. No matter had bad my race was I’m very thankful to be out there competing and have the utmost admiration for all those pushing their selves to the limits.