2016 here I go

It’s already April and my triathlon racing is finally going to start next weekend. I have been training with very little rest since November of last year and I am hungry to race.

Ironman_703Florida

 

A lot has happened after my Boulder race, I have a new coach, a new way of training, lived in NY, then back to Colombia, then back home and finally  I have settled in my student/triathlete life now and made it manageable.

My main focus for this year is to participate (and do well) in any, or both, world championships. I have big goals in the sport and I know that this year is the start of it. For the past few weeks I was lucky enough to go to Boulder, CO and train with my coach, Rebekah Keat which has been the most amazing experience to be under her guidance.

IMG_1162 (1)

My year will start on Florida 70.3 in Haines City, a non-pro race. Right now my feeling is just to race, have fun and absolutely give it my best. Being the first of five races of the year it’s not an A race for sure but I am looking for a positive result, as always.

Physically I feel well, I have improved a lot since I started with Rebekah and I know that this race will show my hard work until now. As in every race I have 5 goals to achieve, which I will keep to myself for now, I will comment on them AFTER the race, but what I cna say is that they’re tough, I am setting a high bar that I know I can get to it if I have the performance I know I am capable of.

That’s all for now, post-race thoughts and goal achieving to come next week.

The Swim (Part 2)

Swim 1:05:26 / 12th in AG / 73 overall

Race day came along and the same ritual that has worked for me in the past was all set. Wake up @ 4:00 am and get a shower, eat breakfast that consists of 2 bananas, 2 ensure bottles, 2 loafs of bread with almond butter, and grab a perform bottle for the hours to come.

 

My dad and I went to the Boulder High School in the car, since I always try to walk as little as possible before a race. We found a parking spot and went to T2 to organize my run gear. Which always is a Headsweats visor, a pair of oakley sunglasses, a pair of black socks, ON running shoes, race number and belt and the nutrition. My nutrition plan for this race was BASE salt, along with 4 power gels, 2 Honey stinger waffles and the rest would come from the aid stations.

Once all this was done it was time to grab the bus that would take us from T2 to the swim start, which was the only way to get there. There were so many buses to take athletes and families to the reservoir that it was literally no wait line at all.

 

I got to the reservoir at around 5:30am ready to set up my cycling bag and my bike prior than focusing on the race. When I arrived there the announcer was saying that the water temperature was 78 degrees, which meant no wetsuit for those hoping to qualify for awards and kona slots. I honestly didn’t care, I was just prepared for anything. After setting up my cycling bag (helmet, shoes, BASE salt, 4 waffles and 2 gels) I went to set up my bike. One thing I like to do a couple days before a race, is to write on a piece of paper everything I need to do and have on each bag, on my bike, on the swim, etc. Because with the anxiety of race day we often forget little things, like for example leaving the chain on the big ring, turning on the garmin, taking body glide to the swim, etc. After fighting with my garmin to make it find my power meter for quite a while, I had to take my bike to a corner so the watch was able to find my pedals and not the other 2000 that were around, I was ready to focus and throw on my Roka Viper Pro Swimskin.

 

IMG_0254
before the start

I went to the swim start and position my self at the front of the race, where I can catch some faster swimmers and be able to swim behind them the whole way, not totally at the front but between the “under 60” and 1:00-1:10 people. The cannon went off and instead of everybody running like crazy to the water we were encouraged to walk and everybody did which made the start much smoother and a lot less kicking at the start.

Swim start

I was using Roka F1 goggles, the best I’ve had so far and thanks to them I was able to spot everything quite easy, both with the sun in my face and against it. The start of the swim was nice and we got to see part of the sunrise which is always beautiful and it meant it was going to be a hot race (which I always enjoy). The swim was quite simple, a huge triangle so it made every turn about the same distance from the next which made it easy to break the swim in three parts.

Unfortunately I never found people to swim behind them and pretty much it was me all the way with some guys right behind me the whole time. I was feeling smooth and great and was really concentrating on maintaining a good effort throughout the whole swim. My main goal was to be consistent and not burn nor go too slow.

Boulder Resevoir

The swim was calm and beautiful and I felt really good. My goal was to be as close as possible to 1:00 and there was a time were I thought I was going to be able to swim under an hour but I guess I burned up a little and ended up with a 1:05 swim, which for me wasn’t bad at all and put me in a good place to start catching people on the bike, which is my stronger discipline. I was 12th out of the water in my AG so to get to the top spots wasn’t going to take a crazy effort on the bike.

 

 

What happened in Boulder (Part 1)

Ironman Boulder was supposed to be a breakthrough race for me, the spot where I would finally get my slot to Kona and be able to race among the best in the world, plus some other people that go there by other accomplishments; racing a lot or paying a lot, anyway, still almost all of who go to Hawaii are the best in the world and I wanted to take a shot against all of them.

I went to Boulder with such great expectations, a race in altitude and with a hilly bike leg, Just like where I grew up and where I train every day, sounds like a good match. Boulder, as we all know, happens to be the home for many top triathletes and that had me excited too, to meet some of them and to see the place they all go to become the best in the world, and since in the future I want to be one of them it was exciting to see where they lived.

I arrived there with my dad and we were automatically blown away by the beauty of this place, it was just simply amazing, the city, the landscape, everything. Plus, you saw people cycling, running, walking or just doing some kind of activity wherever you looked.

Boulder

After building up my bike, which is always uncomfortable on a hotel room I was ready to hit the roads for my first training day in the course. I had to bike 1:30 with some short efforts, just a little above race pace. Once I started my ride I felt it was meant for me, the course had these false flats, some downhill and the screaming fast flats, broken up by more hills. I felt great, my power was great and I just thought to myself that I was going to nail this race.

The next few days were all about training, swimming, running and some more biking. The swim had to be in a pool since the reservoir was only opening on certain days at a certain hour, so I went to a local pool. Every day throughout the week was the discussion about the water temperature, some people said there was no way it wasn’t going to be without a wetsuit, other said it was already too hot to be wetsuit legal, and it just went back and forth, bets came in place, pros were saying one thing, other were saying other, it was just funny to hear all of this. I was just mentally prepared for anything, Personally I couldn’t care less how the swim was going to be, I had swam a lot for this race and knew I could have a good swim that was going to set me up for a killer bike leg.

As for the run, one image says more than a 1000 words…I had the honor to run in this kind of scenery

Boulder Run

The day before the race I was very lucky to meet Ben Hoffman and Tim Don, two guys that were incredibly kind a we had a really good conversation about a lot of stuff. I also got some good advice on the course, gear, goals, it was a just a really cool conversation. It was just so much fun to have met those two guys the day before. Oh and The Hoff speaks fluent Spanish!

Tim Don

It just made me even more prepared to what I came for…to win.

Little that I knew, Boulder had a little surprise for me.

part 2 shortly…

Ironman Texas

(This is a post written shortly after Texas that I hadn’t published)

I haven’t written in a while and that was because I was too focused on training for Ironman Texas and keeping up with my duties in my job and at graduate school. The past few weeks had been crazy and therefore it put me a lot of anxiety in my mind.

So the Ironman Texas story didn’t start on race day for me, it started before and it couldn’t have a worse ending…I had a difficult decision to make which was to pull out from the race.

I wasn’t well, my knee was getting into  a bad shape, I had bad nutrition issues and on top of that my race was over, I wasn’t going to finish in the top spots.

So after 22Km of trying to run, but mostly walking. I gave it a lot of thought and if I was going to qualify for Kona, it wasn’t obviously going to happen that day but I have another shot two months from now and for that I needed to be fulley recovered. So at around the 21km mark I saw my Dad looking for me and worried, So that was it, time to take the chip off my ankle and call it a day.

In conclusion I know I did the right thing by pulling out but that was by far THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE, it was a really sad moment, all the sacrifices done by me and my loved ones, all the time put into it, the money, the effort…all for nothing.

I am feeling better now physically, although my knee is taking a lot of time to go back to normal. Mentally I am not that great, trying to get through it and convince myself that as an athlete these things happen, and you just have to move on and look forward. So for now it is recovery time for me.

Next Up…Ironman Boulder, where I will leave my skin in the course, I don’t know how its going to turn out but this awful experience just gave me more hunger for success and to finally grab what I have been chasing.

Top 1%

3ydzb8b1
2014 was an extremely positive year, an I’ve written about it in my previous posts. Another result, that I am really happy with, is that I was able to finish within the top 1% in my Age Group (25-29) in the IRONMAN ranking. It is just another token that tells me that I am on the right path to the top but still a long way to go. Anyway, its a pretty good result, out of 10,917 that raced in my age group in 2014, not only was I in the top 1%. I ended up on 59th place, with a year best of 11. (yes, there was a time of the year were I was on 11th place), still to end up in the top 60 is a really good accomplishment.

To me, all these little things help me get through the harsh times, there are days when you don’t want to do anything, don’t even want to look at your bike, but is all these accomplishments, and the future goals that make me get up, do what needs to be done, enjoy it, and at the end of the day be glad that I overcame whatever mental lockdown was holding me.

To some people this might not mean anything, to me it means that all of the training that I put in, the racing, the money, my family’s sacrifice, etc. Paid off, that I can accomplish whatever I set myself into, the only secret to it is discipline and hard work, and that applies to anything, whatever floats your boat in life…be disciplined, work hard!

2015…looking ahead

Its that time of year where we can dream about the new season to come, and with that new challenges, new goals, and an unstoppable desire for success. For me the goal is one…make it Kona. It is indeed a hard goal to reach, but I believe in myself, If I don’t nobody else will. So in order to race in October I have to set up my 2015 plan which also sounds simple: Two Ironman races, one in may and one in August. The reason for them being two is to have a back up plan in case something goes wrong on the first one. But my determination and my training plan is set to get my ticket in May. My two races are going to be Texas and Boulder; I chose these races first because of their dates and second because of my skills. \ Ironman_Texas1

Texas is very hot and humid and where I come from is also really hot and where I live right now the humidity is twice what it is over there. It is a warm race and until today my other Ironman racing has been done in cool weather so it would be nice to change. Other things are that I will be racing with some friends from back home and that is always good, the goal os for all of us to qualify in this race.

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I actually chose Boulder before Texas because this town is the mecca for triathlon and how nice would it be to get to know the place!, but my reasons for this race were because of the altitude, I’m used to it, where I’ve lived all my life is about 5,000ft (1,600m) above sea level so that would definitely be an advantage. Also because of the course, is also really similar to what I’m used to. The other reason is that an August race would most definitely have a roll down so that would mean that if I don’t have my expected race I still have a chance of getting my spot in the roll down. My third piece of the puzzle for this year is to find sponsorship, This is a highly expensive sport and I am finding it very hard to combine it with being a student and having almost no income. I will be part of my coaching Age Group Elite team in QT2 systems, so that is a starting point. But I will be knocking on doors and setting up a plan to find people, brands, companies that believe in what I do and want to partner up in order for me to chase this dream.

I can feel that 2015 is going to be my year, I WILL QUALIFY TO KONA. I am going to do whatever it takes to make my dream come true of being among the best in the sport.
this finish line, I will cross it on 2015.
this finish line, I will cross it on 2015.

oh, and by the way, my 2015 already started a month ago, so training is under way! I hope that all of you who are reading this reaches their goals for the season to come in whatever is that you do!

If you have any questions, comments, sponsorhip offers, or just want to know more feel free to contact me at any time!

Ironman Maryland

As posted before Ironman Maryland turned out to be the best race I have ever had. Although a lot of external things played against me weeks before the race.

IM-Maryland

Getting There
Since I am already living in the U.S getting to Cambridge, MD wasn’t the normal hustle or long trip from home. It was a one hour flight from Savannah to Washington D.C and then about 2 hours in the car. The hotel I was staying at was not in Cambridge because that is a very small town and everything was booked. My hotel was about 30min away in Seaford, DE. A good hotel and a reasonable price, definitely recommended to anyone who wants to go and race there. (Comfort inn Seaford). The race was scheduled for Saturday September 20th. I got there on the night of the wednesday before, just enough to swim bike and run a little on thursday and then rest up on friday.

Race morning
The only change in m schedule for race morning was that I had to wake up half hour earlier given that I was half hour away from the race, the rest was pretty much the same ritual. Wake up, have my choice of breakfast which is bananas, bread with a lot of Nutella (secret ingredient right there!!) and something to drink. Take a shower, get ready and off to Cambridge. We got there and it was still dark but the town was already awake, lots of people around.
Made it into transition and packed my run and bike bags, if you read my previous lake placid post you know that I don’t pack my bags the day before, I just hand them in with something in them, but all my stuff is put in race morning. That way you ensure everything is organised and more importantly NOT WET from the morning breeze.
Organised my bike with the bottles, air pressure on tires, dryer the saddle and handlebars and it was go time.

The swim (1:09)
By far the hardest swim out of every Ironman course I’ve been in. The first loop was a bigger loop than the second one so it was hard to know how far I was into the swim. Anyway, once I finished the first loop I knew that it was going to be a slow time but I just figured that the conditions were the same for everybody, so if I was a having a slow swim so as my other competitors.
The water condition was good anyway, a legal wetsuit swim and the water wasn’t cold. It is a little salty though. Definitely this was the hardest leg of the day. I never found a group to swim with, I was alone for the most part of the swim but I had fun, I never felt in a hurry or desperate, I just knew that when I got out of the water it was game on for me, and do what I can do best…the bike.

that was a hard swim
that was a hard swim

The bike (4:48)
Four hours and Forty eight minutes…need I say more? that is a fast bike split! (for me).
the bike course was the same as the swim…one loop the cut it short for the 2nd time around. The course was set to be fast anyway…flat and very little wind. Flat doesn’t mean easy anyway, for the most part I was riding alone until two or three guys passed me and I was able to ride with them, legally of course, It was cool because we all rode by the rules and kept the distance and took turns at the front. It was like this until they burned down and it was just another guy and me until I burned down and he got away from me. The last part was kind of weird because since I was 20th off the bike (overall) there were very few riders and this part of the course I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me and the road had cars so I really thought I got lost for a moment there, but turned out I didn’t. I guess this is a part on where the organisation can do better and close that road for traffic! It felt like a training ride. o made my way back into town and spotted my girlfriend just before T2 and she was happy to see me that I was going fast! she told me I was fourth!

more aero, badass pic
more aero, badass pic

The Run (3:43)
This marathon was a three loop run. I really liked it like this, you get to see your opponents a lot and measure how far behind or up ahead you are. Besides that you get to see whoever is following you 6 times! The marathon started and I was 20th overall, which was already pretty impressive and my goal was to run a 3:30, that meant 8:00min/mile pace. What happens in this part of the race is that people go crazy and start running so fast so a lot of people passes me at the end of the first loop, and that kind of plays with you mentally but I knew I had to be patient and pass most of them again at the end if I was able to hold to my pace. In my age group I got passed as well I think at mile 5 or 6, so I was now 5th. The course was again very flat and hot! very few shadow parts.
I was able to hold my 8:00 min/mile pace for a little over the half marathon mark and from there it was slower, but never walked or felt burned it was just the pace I was able to hold on to. At the ends of the 2nd loop I was passed by another person from my age group and I wasn’t able to hold on to his pace, which I din’t like it because I was now 6th and I had to finish 5th for a podium finish. The person behind me was very far from me so I knew that as worse as it could get I was going to finish 6th. In the last lap I had an unfortunate call of nature and was obligated to do a bathroom stop and that made me lost like 4 minutes, but it was a situation where I couldn’t run well anymore. After this “break” I had about 12k (7.5mi) to go and was able to pick up the pace a little bit. Right at the end of the marathon when pain goes away due to the excitement of finishing another ironman I saw a guy in front of me and I wanted to pass him so I had to sprint for about 1/4 mile and was able to catch him just meters, or feet, from the finish line.

Finished with a 9:46:57 time, my sprint helped me to go down to 9:46! and this was my PR by 45 minutes!!! An awesome race, awesome day. (6th overall and 38th overall)

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Thoughts on the race and conclusion on my next post (So this one doesn’t become too long!)

Change of mentality

As posted before I have been dealing with injury for quite some time now and the race is getting closer and closer every time. So by seeing my current situation and having to take so much time off from running I have to say that I have to change my expectations for Ironman Lake Placid and just go into it with no pressure and enjoy it! WHICH IS ALWAYS THE NUMBER ONE GOAL…ENJOY AND EMBRACE RACING. After all it’s what we all want!

Now that I am a month away I have been running again for about two weeks and no pain has showed up in my hip, it has taken a lot a of sacrifice though by massaging it a lot and going to therapy a few times a week. That takes money and time, but I’d do anything to keep myself in health. Slowly and with a lot of patience I have been running well again, covering good distances and not as slow as expected. So far, since the injury, my longest run has been 16K @ 4:50/km which is my marathon goal to run at that speed.
But as said before I have already taken the pressure of my mind by knowing that I won’t be 100% prepared for the race so I’m just going to enjoy it and most importantly finish it and add another medal to my collection!

Some of my finisher medals, missing IM Puerto Rico...next is IM Lake Placid!
Some of my finisher medals, missing IM Puerto Rico…next is IM Lake Placid!

Last week, this week and the next one are my last block of high volume training so I’m trying to nail them as good as I can because since San Juan 70.3 I haven’t been able to complete a week of training as prescribed. It means that I need to stay focused, get the workouts in and hope it will help get back the fitness that I have lost due to the injury. (which I think it will!)

one last thing that I learned the hard way…stretch ALWAYS after training!

Weird face on a stretching session after a long run
Weird face on a stretching session after a long run