Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Here We Come

New Year's Day is traditionally a time where many people choose to make resolutions in their lives. It make sense. A new start. Clean, unweighted by the past. Leave the past behind and move into the new you. Whether its to be faster, thinner, stronger, more patient or happier, this is the time we choose to make it happen.

The problem however, is never choosing what we want to change or when. The problem is how. Most of the time, the things we want to change are intertwined into the fabric of our daily routine and have created little relationships of their own in our lives. Its not a simple switch. There is an old adage that says, "people don't change". I could not disagree with this more. I am a firm beliver that it should be "people don't LIKE to change". Even when it is something we want to do or know we could do, our brains don't like change. It has spent years wiring itself to be good at what we do, rewiring is hard, so it doesn't "like" it.

So how do we give ourselves the best shot at a resolution? Here are a couple things that work.

1. Make sure the change you are trying to make is the change you want to make.
Any major change in your life has to be about you. It cannot be a coach or a spouse or parent telling you what you should do. (I hate that word should. It drips of failure and guilt.) You have to be trying to make changes purely because you see the benefit to them. Others can help you see it, but you have to believe it.

2. Make sure the change you are making is a change you can make.
Your resolution has to be achievable and realistic.  I'm not going to go from a mid level masters cyclist to a Tour De France winner, but I can win some local races. Look for something that will be a challenge, but if all goes right, you can reach.

3. Find those people in your life that are going to support you. 
"tell the wold your goals and you will find people that want to help"
I don't mean Facebook and Twitter either. It takes no risk to throw things up there and it will only help to fuel your guilt if you don't follow through. Tell a couple people who are close to you and let them know how you feel. Are you scared, excited, angry, what is the motivation? Having a couple confidants and supporters can keep you on task and keep you happy.

4. Be patient, but be honest.
It will take time and not everyday will be perfect. You will have bad days and you will "cheat", but get back on the path as soon as possible. Also, don't settle. This is the be honest part. Don't talk about what you have done and how that is enough or that is why you can relax. We are looking for lifestyle changes. Make the change and strive to that goal.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Call it a Comeback...please.

It has been over a decade since the last time I lined up to start an Xterra triathlon. My last time was 2002 in Maui for worlds. Back then I was a bottom level professional. My main income regarding racing was teaching Xterra University for the swim portion and maybe scraping a buck or two out of the series as a whole. I left the sport because of this coaching thing I do and moved into racing bikes, where I could train a little less and race a little more.

Fast forward to 2013. I turned 40 this year, one month after my friend and founder of APEX Coaching, Neal Henderson. Somewhere during the year, he decided we were going back to Maui this year. As many of you know, I have traveled a ton this year with the US National team to Open Water races and even to worlds. Training for a triathlon was hardly my goal. However, come September, it was obvious Neal was going, which meant I had no choice.

http://303triathlon.com/Henderson-and-Holicky-take-on-Maui

Race Day
We were lucky enough to be staying at an athlete's house that Neal coaches named Ellen Hart. Ellen is a multi-time age champion in Kona and an all around stud woman. The house was pretty sweet and it made our prep great. Let's see for prep we...drank some beer, rode around on scooters, snorkeled, cliff jumped, body surfed and drank a little more beer. I did ride the course, well half of it, a couple times and when race day rolled around with Neal and I ready to go.

I stood on the start line trying to remember how I ever did this as a "pro" the gun went off and we were in the water. Now, I hate the swims in triathlon. Most people are going way too fast at the start for their ability and fitness and it is a shit show of pulling, scratching, fighting, and spastisity. I was not going to be one of these people. I went out pretty conservatively and went far right to get away and take a line to the buoy that made some sense. I came out after lap one alright and picked it up a bit on the short second lap. I came out of the water and ran up to transition and checked quickly to see if Neal's bike was still there, it was. Now, I would not have been shocked if Neal beat me out, but it was probably good for my professional reputation that he did not.

On to the bike. Quite simply, the bike was hard, very hard. 20% grades and fast dirt descents marked the first 15 miles. Many many people went by me.  I had a simple goal here, stay on my bike. I firmly believe that the huge battle in racing on the dirt is your brain. Your brain screams that you are going too slow or that no one else is crashing or that you have to make up time and it leads to panic. When you panic, you make mistakes. In the words of Allen Krughoff, "crashing is slower than not crashing." So I kept moving patiently. When I got to the last 4 miles, where the course gets techy and hard, I was feeling pretty good. I passed some guys in that last bit and felt like I could push it and cruised into T2 feeling pretty good.

Out onto the run with one plan and only one plan, DON'T WALK. Easier said than done, with 20% grades here too there were parts that were a death march. I am not a fast runner, but I am a strong one. On the flats, I got passed by guys that can still rattle off 6 min miles. I cannot anymore, so I kept it moving there and ran every hill. I passed a lot of guys that way, many of them more than once. We'd get to the top and they would come cruising back by and on the next hill they would crack and the tortoise passed em back. It was a fun run course. Hard and hot, but very true to Xterra form. I hit the beach with 200 meters to go, grabbed a beer from my wife and ran through the line feeling pretty darn good. Especially after 3 hours and 24 minutes of racing.

I wasn't exactly racing "off the couch", but for a guy who has ridden his MTB twice this year and has been swimming about 1k a month for a couple years, I will take it. I have to admit that part of me thought, " If I train, I can do really well" and although it may be true, I am not interested in it. At least not right now. Maybe when I am 50.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Revival

I think it may be time to bring this blog back.

Its been nearly 18 months since I have published with any frequency. However, I was talking to an athlete today and expressing how helpful it is to share with the world and it got me thinking. I do feel like this medium has helped me get my thoughts into the world and that in turn has helped me be (I hope) a present, happy force in this world.

Its been a crazy ride this past year. Ups have been way up and there have been some tough downs. That being said, I am pretty blessed to be in this life I lead and in these communities in which I am a part.

I will probably spend some time talking about FINA World Championships this summer or racing or RallySport Aquatics in time. However, today is a thank you. We need to spend more time acknowledging and thanking the people in our lives.

Thank you to all of you.

To my wife, Breeze who always puts up with me and rides the storms with me. Who deals with weeks apart and still supports my dreams. You are the best, plain and simple.

To my family. Mom and Dad and Bill who always push, challenge and support me and my endeavors. Also to my niece and nephew, who remind me without fail, that life is a joy. make it a joy.

To my in-laws. The Brown family who has taken me in as their own and to Kelley for being a great  supporter.

To RACE (RallySport Aquatics) and all of my APEX athletes. I just love watching you guys race.

To my competitors, for challenging me and showing me how to do it right...and frankly, for reminding me at times what doing it wrong looks like. 

To so many more that influence my life on a daily basis. Whether the influence is positive or negative, it shapes who I have become and how I function in this world.

Its a great, crazy ride we are on. Whatever, you believe comes next, you only get one shot at this. Make it worth every second. 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

We will miss you Amy.

I haven't posted here in a long time for a variety of reasons. However, today's events make me want to write and share my feelings.

I'm sitting in a hotel in Hong Kong, staring out the window at the harbour and preparing to head out on the water to coach. I woke up this morning to the gut wrenching news of Amy Dombroski's passing. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I haven't yet been able to start my day. I did not know Amy long, nor incredibly well, but I was lucky enough to call her a friend.

The cyclocross community in Boulder, CO is the truest incarnation of a word that gets used a little too much in our world. Cross in Colorado is a community. People watching out for, supporting, loving and propping up those in it. The entire goal of our group is to not only bring more people to cross, but to create a supportive environment within it.

I as much as anyone have enjoyed that support. I stopped racing triathlon in 2003 as work got busy and I felt like I needed to "grow up" to be successful as a coach. For a few years I toiled away at the job and maybe jumped into an occasional race. Something was missing and as 2008 rolled around, I realized I missed racing. I started with a couple cross races and discovered something special was going there. I was out of shape, large, and probably didn't belong in the open field, but I was greeted with smiles, encouragement and support from the very people I was racing. I fell in love and have never looked back. I am by no means the fastest and frankly, there are many days where I still don't belong in the open field, but I never feel like I don't belong in this community.

Amy was the personification of our community. She was fast...man was she fast. A joy to watch on the bike, whether in person or streaming in fits and starts on www.cyclingfans.com. She was the kind of racer that you just wanted to scream for and god knows many a "C'mon Amy" came belting through my house at 5:30 am on random fall weekend mornings. There was not an indifferent comment when we all heard she signed with Telenet-Fidea. We could not be happier. One of our own, in Europe with a European team. Not only that, it was the right one of us. The one that would put the best foot forward for American cross. A smiling, humble, vibrant little badger of a racer. Our badger, from our community.

It hurts that she is gone. A lot. What hurts even more is to be away from the community during this time. Frisco, Providence and cross races all across the countries should be celebrations this weekend. Celebrations of Amy, her life and her love for this sport of ours. I'm sad to be away. When I get home, I'm gonna glue up those Challenge tires in my garage that say A. Dombroski on the side walls and go ride them one more time.

We love you Amy. You will be missed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Superior Morgul Road Race

The alarms went off on Sunday at 5:45 am. Brutal. A TT and a Crit in the bag and the Morgul was left. I didn't race until 12:30, but the expo needed to be set up by 7, so we packed up the car and headed over to the finish line. While Breeze warmed up for her 8:30 start, I got the tent set up and prepped samples for the day. Breeze had a great race and took 7th and 5th in the Omnium. She got back to the tent around 11:30 and it was my turn to warmup and prep for the day.

As I climbed on the bike, I knew I was tired. Two races, two days of the expo, no where near enough sleep and some time on deck had me gassed. I was wondering if I could get up that thing once, let alone 5 times. All was well on the start and thankfully there was a good bit of looking at each other. My job was to look after Gibson and I made sure I was on the front up the first 3 times of the wall. I set a solid tempo so no one did anything crazy and with 2 laps to go, all was well.


The only issue was that Boups was chasing everything. We wanted to let some things go, but he was across every gap. It was incredibly impressive, but it was making the race easy for Gates. Mike Gibson and I went to the front on the descent of 93 and tucked it, hitting 55 mph and coasting right off the front. By Marshall road we were 20 sec off the front and we rode some tempo together, but again Boups rode the group right to our wheel. The 4th time up the wall, the race livened up. A couple of accelerations and the group was split with me and teammates Bob Dahl and Mike Sutter in the back group with Boups. Again, he went to the front and dragged us to the pack. After 60 miles and 3 days, we came to the base of the Hump together. It was very twitchy up that climb and I went to the front after it to keep the pace high and safe through the round about. I pulled up to the feed when Bob Dahl took over and then I sat up, opened the jersey and settled in. In retrospect, it was a cop out. I could have hopped back in the group, but I was beat and in the fog of fatigue, the places didn't matter. Ken went off the front early and nearly survived, but Gates was strong and he and Mike Gibson fought it out to the line. Gates took the win, Gibson second and Ken 3rd. Sadly, this put Mike and Gates on equal points and the road race was the tiebreaker so the Omnium went the same way.

I rolled in for 26th on the day and 14th for the Omnium. I must admit, I was a bit frustrated with myself.  I used the excuse that I had done my work to sit up. I had more. I could have gotten back on to the tail end of that group and maybe picked off a couple of riders on the climb and then moved up in the Omnium. Those Omnium points are also team points in the Rocky Mountain Road Cup. I won't do that again. Gut it out and race to the line no matter what Grant.

Oh yeah, then we packed up the expo site. What a weekend. I am still tired.

Superior Morgul Classic (TT and Crit)

Not a race for me I was told over and over again. You gotta go up that wall 5 times in the race and once in the Time Trial. I have to admit, when you weigh 184, it feels like "they" are right. However, to be honest, I'm a masters cyclist. It's not like this race is life and death. I'm not quite ready to give up M and M's and beer to go up this hill 10 seconds faster. So, my heavy, non-climber butt toed the line on that Friday night ready to get at the first stage.

I did have an advantage. Neal was out of town so I was riding his Shiv and I chalk my success up to that. That way I can chalk the fact that he has beaten me in two TT's this year by 2 sec up to the bike as well. I hit the wall well and despite a chain problem that cost me a couple of seconds at the top, I rode the back half of the course very well and took 9th in the TT, 3o sec down on Boups. It was a good ride for me and I headed home ready for day 2.

Here is the part for me that is why I can never take racing too seriously. We got back to the house at about 7 that night. The next 2 hours was taken up by prepping for the expo the net day. Breeze Bars had a tent at the Crit and the Road Race and we had to be prepared for it. We packed the car, got the tent ready and got all of our clothes laid out, had a quick dinner and went to bed by 11. The next morning 5:25 came pretty quick. Breeze was off to the expo and I was off to coach RACE. The kids had a great workout and then I hustled over to the course give Breeze a break at the table so she could warmup and race. She did race, and raced very well, taking 9th in the crit for the Cat 4 women. My race was at 3:40 and I spent another 2 hours at the table while I sent her home to shower and warm up from the frigid rain they raced in. I was watching the pro 1,2 women when I got a call from Len Pettyjohn. He wanted to go over the crit and overall omnium tactics. I have to admit I chuckled a bit when he asked what I thought regarding the road race on Sunday. I knew I was the highest team finisher in that TT, but I wasn't confident in finishing in the top 3 in the road race and told Len as much. I felt more comfortable as a worker bee and thought that Ken and Mike had better shots at the overall. We formed a plan for the crit.

We started the crit with the 35 3's and there were several of them at the front early. There were bells ringing everywhere and one of the Mix1 guys jumped to the line thinking there was a preme. There wasn't, but it woke me up. As did the  48 degree rain, which was now coming down pretty good. The first point preme came up and I drilled it up the hill and through the backside of the lap. I stayed on the front until the sweeping left 200m from the line and the boys opened it up. Ken took it. Perfect. We settled back into a tough pace. I was on or near the front a lot with Carlos. We were a good pairing as the rain did not bother us and we kept the pace high. The second preme was announced and again I was on the front for the lead out. This time Mike took it and Ken was second. Back to the front. The middle 20 min of crits go like a blur to me and as we came through the final preme, Gibson launched off the front. It was a good move and in the rain, the group was not motivated to work. Carlos and I worked the front and with two to go the gap was 25 sec. I hit the front to wind up the lead out for Ken, but by the time we came through the finish line and up the hill on the final lap, the gap was 8 sec. Oops. I really backed off into the top corners amid the protest of the other rides, but I needed to give Mike more room. It worked and he survived. Ken took 3rd and Carlos 7th and I was 9th. Not bad.

We packed up the tent and Breeze Bars stuff as quickly as we could and cranked the heaters. By 6 we were home, but then the prep began again. Dry off the expo gear. Shower, ice bath, repack for Sunday, etc. We crawled into bed at 10:30 and set the alarms for Sunday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Koppenburg

Masters cycling is all about managing your time and your life and your racing. It isn't always easy and it doesn't always work. This week I got a little lucky and it all fell together.

The conversation all week amongst the team was about seeing if we could get Bob Dahl the triple...Boulder-Roubaix, Mead-Roubaix and the Koppenburg. We were all for it and the way the Boulder Orthopedics guys have been riding, we looked like we had a good shot. My week was pretty stressful and very busy. As usual, Friday night was busy with practice until 6 and then off to a meet and greet for the BCSM Multisport Conference I was speaking at. Saturday morning was a blur. I coached workout at RACE from 6-7:30 and then rushed over to Boulder Center for Sports Medicine to give my talk and contribute to Alison Friday's. I was there until about 10:30 and then headed home to change and eat. Breeze let me know she got 2nd, so despite my work load, my spirits were very high. After a short time at home, I hopped on my bike and rode to the race.

At the race all went well and frankly I thought I was feeling pretty good. I changed to the race wheels and rode to the start line. Now, I fancy myself a cyclocross racer and we pride ourselves on bike handling and grace. I showed very little of it on Saturday. As we rolled away I was struggling to get my foot in my pedal. Boups gave me some hell for it and I found myself working a bit to get to the front of the field. We came into the base of the Koppenburg climb at a good clip with the Boulder Ortho guys at the front. Carlos and Ken hit the climb on the front and I was in a great spot in the second row. However, right as we started the incline, I pulled my left foot out of my pedal. I stayed up and took 2 hard pedal strokes with my right foot and was lucky to get my left back in. I didn't loose that much time and as we crested the hill it was already a little strung out. My teammate Ken decided to see if we could stress the group so he hammered the dirt at the top. 2 riders joined him about 30 yards off the front. I was sat on the front with Gibson when Boups went to bridge the gap. In my head I heard my team's words of "two in every break" so i went off the front and bridged to Boups and Ken. We were now 6.

We found ourselves with a small gap. It was a worthwhile move. We had Jimmy Thies from Mix1, Danny Sullivan from Scion, Boups and a Alpha guy. I was thinking to myself that it was a lot of work and that I wasn't feeling great in the end, so I could do some good team work by getting in the early break. The pressure would be off the team in the back. We seemed to be a good working group and by the second time up the Kopp, we had a solid gap. Turning onto Marshall I looked back and couldn't see the peleton. Ken turned to me and asked what I thought. I figured we had a gap and let's drive it. Drive it we did. Without a doubt, Boups, Danny and Ken were strongest. They drove up the dirt to the bridge each lap and by the 4th lap, Jimmy Thies was dropped. Now our situation was even better. Mix1 would have to do the work int he main bunch. As we crested the hill the Alpha man, I think it was Brian Krombein flatted and was out. Halfway through the race and we were now 4.

Boups was driving hard as was Danny as we went into the 5th climb of the Kopp, but it was Ken who rode off the front. We hit the climb and he had a 5 sec gap. I was ready to go and join him, but as I got ready to jump, Danny stood and I overlapped his wheel and went down holding up Boups. We were off and running. Lucky for us our cross skills haven't left us yet and as we mounted we were only 20 yards from Danny. Boups was right when he said I owed him, so I pulled us back to Danny. Phew. Danny and Boups rode back Ken and we were 4 again. I think the running loosened me up because suddenly I felt good. Unfortunately, it was not long lasting and as we started the 7th lap I was cramping.

Ken and I hit the 7th time up hard and my legs were seizing. In fact, they didn't let go until the road portion downhill to Marshall. I pulled up to Ken and told him I was pretty cooked and the race was for him. He didn't seem to hear me as he look at me later and asked, "you and me go on the final climb?" I shook my head no as we hit the dirt for the final lap. Danny and Ken were feeling each other out on the dirt, but as we came to the bridge the speed was off. I knew Ken wanted to go so I went to the front and drove the pace. It was my death throes, but mercifully Ken attacked. Danny was on him pretty quick. I stayed at the pace I was riding because I didn't have anymore to give. Ken went again on the climb and Danny couldn't match it.

I was very worried for the final time up the Kopp. I was cramping very badly and I was honestly not sure I could make it. Two years ago in the Centurian, I fell off my bike with cramps and lost 5-10 minutes. It was a real possibility now. I managed to get up to the top, but both quads were cramped. It hurt so so badly, but I knew if I stopped pedaling; A. it would hurt more and B. the race would be over, so I kept moving. Again they didn't let go until the road and as I turned on to Marshall, Danny had caught Ken. I went back on the gas. If I sat up, Danny could force Ken to the front, but with me coming back, he had to drive the pace and he did. Ken tucked in behind. They turned off Marshall and Ken was in the perfect position. 200 meters from the line he opened it up and took the win and I rolled in for 3rd. Bob Dahl led the peleton across in 5th and Gibson was 9th and Sutter 10th. Not a bad day out for the team.

For me it was a good day and the strongest man in the race on Saturday, Ken O'Donnell took the win.