Sunday, January 4, 2009

So this is the new year...

So, I read somewhere (I think on a Slowtwitch forum? If someone has the quote please let me know!) that you can only really commit to two components of your life and do them well, with the normal triathlete having three to juggle--work, family, and triathlon. So, what happens when you add grad school into the mix? Well let's just say that it makes for a challenge.

My wife was a distance runner in high school, and decided to run a marathon our senior year of college (December 2001). I surprised her by signing up as well. We trained and raced together, and she was kind enough to drag my butt across the last few miles. Did I mention that was my first running race? Yeah, I'm kind of nuts like that. After that I was hooked on running. BUT I had the habit of overtraining and burning out. We both ran the Tucson Marathon again in 2004, and I actually trained pretty well that time. Did several local road races leading up to it, and the experience was a good one. After that, we got married and had our first daughter, and I was well on my way to becoming the typical overweight American. I needed a change, and triathlon was the next challenge. So without hesitation, I bought my first road bike and started triathlon training in July 2007 (at the young age of 26) with NO cycling experience, a little bit of swimming background (pool lifeguarding for one summer), and some recreational distance running. As a continuing grad student at the University of Arizona, TriCats was the perfect fit for me. Started training with the team, and did my first sprint tri, the Tinfoilman, and was hooked!

A condensed recap of 2008:

Spring, busted my tail to get my work done (with extensive fieldwork out of town). First duathlon (Desert Classic), first and second olympic distance (Havasu and Saguaroman). I had decent results considering that I spent January and February trying to get rid of hamstring tendonitis. During May, wrapped up my field work in preparation for our second daughter to be born (June 3).

June through August, I rode a LOT and spent as much time with the family as possible. Most rides were in the afternoon--in Tucson. Hey, that's when our older daugter (now two) naps, so that was my window. I did get dragged into more fieldwork on several occasions. The upsides to that were that (1) there are lots of running trails in the area, (2) there is a nice cove along the Colorado River for open water swimming (complete with a "no wake" buoy for sighting and turning practice all for a charge of $0), and (3) I brought my bike along on most trips. The cycling highlight of the summer was undoubtedly my two 115-degree plus four-hour rides in July, the first from Lake Havasu to Ehrenberg, the second from Ehrenberg to Havasu the next day. Insanity...I'll post a ride report about it later. No racing over the summer; family was first. My big goal was to increase my cycling fitness because that's where I figured I could make the biggest improvement.

Fall was spent cramming for my written and oral exams for my PhD "advancement to candidacy". I also ramped up my training for a few races (combine these to explain why I regularly trained for more hours per day than I slept), the Tinfoilman (again--a four-minute improvement!), the Nathan Tempe Triathlon, and, finally, the Soma Half! I had a great experience there despite my mangled hand from a cycling "incident" (that's another story...), and started to realize I might actually be able to compete in this crazy sport.

Now, back to this work-family-school-triathlon business. One of these things gets sacrificed to some extent on a daily basis; there is simply no way around it. Lately, school has been the easy one to cut out. I have had no "real classes" for the last two semesters. This fall I finally took (and passed!) my comprehensive exams. So what's left? Two classes, one independent study, and that little dissertation thing--the small project I was supposed to be working on while not taking any classes. Oops...

So, what's on tap this year? Something like last year, I guess. Commit to family, commit to school, throw myself into triathlon to see what I've got, and excel at my job; and then I hope I come out the other end in one piece. Specifics? Something like:
  1. Absolutely destroy my time for the Havasu tri last year.
  2. Hopefully (this will be another story...) compete at collegiate nationals in April. This is my last chance--my last year in college, and my last year with age eligibility.
  3. Finish class in May, defend in June or July.
  4. Get more involved in the triathlon community.
  5. Cut 3 to 4 minutes off my Tucson Triathlon sprint distance.
  6. REALLY crank it up for the Vineman 70.3 to see what I've got!
I am new to this sport, but already have tons of people to thank. Of course, my wife! She has been ridiculously supportive of my craziness and I could not do half of what I do without her support. TriCats has been awesome, especially the guidance and brutal training camps of Brian Grasky. I can't wait to see where it goes from here. My boss has also been understanding, although I doubt he fully comprehends how seriously I take my "hobbies". Thankfully he is an avid cyclist and father of two girls as well. My hours are not exactly traditional.

Some pictures from last year:

Spring 2008 TriCats Training Camp:

The team getting posing before Havasu:

Kitt Peak time! Boy, that is a long 12 miles...

Ready for Nathan Tempe:

Yeah, my wife rocks! So much support through all of my craziness over this sport:

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