2016: Year in Review

Some would say 2016 was…rough. I mean, for all intents and purposes, it could legitimately be the script of a compelling horror flick. This conflicts me. Because my year was prettay…prettay…prettay good. And I’m not just talking about race results (though those never hurt). I grew this year as an athlete, as a person and as a frequent flyer. The Cavs broke Cleveland’s 52yr drought in the best Game 7 of all time — and I was THERE. I drove Porsches in Atlanta, rode bikes in Taiwan and jumped off cliffs with the girl I love in Hawaii. I was on the cover of a fricking magazine with my teammates! What world is this!?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still swimming 31min in a Half Ironman, the Cleveland Indians lost a Game 7 — and I was THERE, and I learned that I am allergic to my beloved sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes gif.gif

Yes, there is plenty to improve upon in 2017. And as they say, if you measure it, you can improve it. So in the spirit of my race reporting this year – which featured super scientific charts – I’ve charted out the year in review. Read along for perspective of how it all came together and perhaps take tip/trick/or both with you to go.


At face value, annual distances are pretty impressive. But compared to most competitive athletes, this weekly breakdown is pretty light. This is a product of fitting in what I can before and after long work days. Thankfully purplepatch’s philosophy is centered around building training into the available weekly hours of your life, not the other way around. This chart is a true example of quality, not quantity. Still, the swimming needs to be more, and will be in 2017.

Fun Fact – 10,312: miles traveled domestically for races this year, which is the equivalent to going to Tokyo and back.  

2016 Hours_ww.png

If the mileage above was the result of fitting what I can into a busy work week, here’s how the rest of a week shook out this year. One of my main goals was to sleep more and as you can see, a third of my year was spent in a dream (*tips hat to Westworld*). Sleeping is critical to recovery and in 2015 I was sick before almost every race — big training load, long work hours, personal life, no sleep. This year if I felt my 7.5-8 hours were in jeopardy, I’d scratch a session. By and large I’d say it worked. In 2017 I’ll continue to find sensible ways to optimize, growing that yellow 9% without throwing off the balance.

Fun Fact – 11: seasons of shows I completed this year with Dani and/or with my Normatec boots/lacrosse ball.   


I raced six times this year across the country and it cost me about $4,000. No one said this sport is cheap. Could I have raced less or more locally? Yes. But my goal was to race regularly, at bigger races that pulled strong talent and this is how it shook out.

Fun Fact – $85: how much I spent total on lodging thanks to arranging homestays. Thank you Gina, Albrights, mom and dad and Sunns!


All of it added up to my first amateur win at a 70.3 event, a 2nd, two 3rds and a 5th. I won my age group at every race except for the final race of the year, Santa Cruz. I established a bike PR of 2:12 with strong bike run/combos putting me in the hunt of each race. Most importantly, I had a ton of fun seeing the country, being with teammates and pushing myself past my comfort zone.

Fun fact – learning from failure: my most viewed post of the year was: The Anatomy of a DNF, my recap of learning my limits after going hypothermic and dropping out of St. George. It’s not always about the end result, but the journey.


For my efforts, I ranked #1 in the world Ironman’s 70.3 age group point system. Pretty cool! So why the asterisk? Because no ranking system is perfect. Where you race, how big the race is, who is there, margin of victory, etc. all make up a complex system. And in the USAT rankings (i.e. all distances, all brands) I am 16th in the nation, let alone the world. In those rankings I’m 3/100s of a point ahead of teammate Julian Sun and 3/1000 of a point behind teammate Reid Foster. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??? That I can be generally happy about trending higher year-over-year, while always trying to race the best guys in the world head to head. Hey, it’s actually pretty simple!

Fun fact – 7: of the 15 ranked ahead of me in USAT are on my team, Every Man Jack. 10 of the top 20 are ours. I don’t need to look past my own Strava feed for motivation! 


A successful year like this isn’t possible without a sturdy, well-developed support system. I am so grateful to the following folks for the guidance, support and in some cases sacrifice to help make this a reality:

Dani: You believe in me even when I have a hard time doing so myself. Your excitement and support mean everything.

Family & Friends: Since my first triathlon, my parents have traveled to at least a race a year. Nick, Nate, Joe, Kyleen, Joanne, Gina, Joey, Kerry – thanks for supporting this year. The Kesslers – the 614 connection is strong, thanks for the guidance and friendship. Everyone else who posts/texts/well-wishes – thank you!

Team Every Man Jack: The rankings above only tell half the story. I’ve developed lifetime friendships with these guys. Here’s to another fun and fast year, fellas.

Sponsors: It starts with being able to #cleanupnice after every workout with the awesome Every Man Jack products. EMJ and all of our sponsors support us with amazing products and opportunity that legitimately help us train better and race faster. See them all here.


And with that, goodbye 2016! Next up, some how, some way, improving in 2017. And I already have ideas of how to make it happened. So stay tuned!


Views From the (201)6: Looking Back Before I Look Ahead



Cliff diving might take as much guts as racing Kona

Friends, family, generous patronizers! It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in. A lot has happened. And unlike this time last year, most of it includes rainbows and awesomeness instead of bike crashes and sadness.

I’ve put together a timeline below; a “greatest hits” of sorts highlighting all the cool things that have gone down since Silverman 70.3. And as we’re five days until my first big race of the year at Ironman 70.3 St. George, it all culminates to my thoughts on where things are at today. Read on!


One day after ending my season in Las Vegas, I packed up my bike for a week in Kona, Hawaii at the Team Every Man Jack house. While most guys were there to race the Ironman World Championship, a small, but crucial group of us were there to support the guys, spend time with sponsors and test all of the booze on the island. Good news: booze was just fine and we had a lot of fun while the dudes crushed.

Strava: Kona Underpants Run | Hill Climbing and Cliff Diving (each w/ pics!)

Instagram: Team dinner & epic Kona sunset | Wheels for the week: Felt F3 (non-insta) | Thank God I’m Not Racing party with the crew (non-insta)


Lots of fun, very little triathlon. Just the way November should be. I celebrated my brother from another mother, Randolph’s bachelor party in New Orleans and hosted my family for Thanksgiving – the first time we’ve all been in SF together!

Strava: NOLA Detox | Turkey Trot 5K Win, ‘cuz Nick said I couldn’t come to Turkey dinner otherwise |

Instagram: Beautiful street music on Nola run | The boys | Family 5KFamily Hike |


There was definitely a big race in December – Dani did her first marathon (!) and finished like a boss. Of course it was all smiles and donuts at the end. Otherwise December was quality, needed family/friends time in Ohio, as Christmas and Nick/Jess’ New Years wedding brought the festive cheer in spades.

Strava: Run cheering Dani  | Pre-wedding dance warm up |

Instagram: Dani and a Donut at CIM Finish (non-insta) | Christmas ride w/ Mom |


The dopest three days you can spend on a bike, The Coast Ride. San Francisco to Santa Barbara, 375 miles, Saturday to Sunday, with 300 of your closest friends. And this year, El Niño was ready for us, making the whole thing a slog – one that The Kaiser and I relished.

Strava: Day 1: SF>Monterey | Day 2: Morro Bay via Big Sur | Day 3: SB or Bust |

Instagram: This face, for 3 days


This year’s Team Every Man Jack camp took place in what I consider to be one of the most underrated endurance training grounds, Las Vegas. Four days of solid work in the desert to spark plug the season, sure – but with a team like this, you can be sure there was plenty of tomfoolery and face stuffing with copious amounts of food (thanks, Donna!).

Strava: Training log for wk Feb 22: Sick, better, team camp

Instagram: COPS: Team EMJ EditionLulu session, butts in the air |


Team Every Man Jack was on the cover of Triathlete Magazine! You may have seen one or two posts on social… But it was a really fun photo shoot and very cool to be a part of it. Cross that one off the list, I guess!

Instagram: Team party for mag release

Twitter: Triathlete Magazine announcing cover


And all the while, I was spending most non-working hours training my face off. The HITS Olympic Triathlon in Napa was a 2016 debut for Team EMJ as we had 15 in the top 20. I biked and ran my way to a 3rd overall, missing teammate Mark Kolding by 10 seconds at the finish line. Very happy with the early season progress!

Strava: HITS Bike Leg | HITS Run Leg |

Instagram: Team doin’ work at HITS | Hanging out with Felt at Sports Basement


Just like that, it’s May and t-minus 5 days until Ironman 70.3 St. George. I’m encouraged with the progress I’ve seen in following purplepatch‘s plan and the key sessions I’ve had with the team and with Meredith. My obsession this year needs to be the bike, per Matt – so I’m going to obsess all over the roads of St. George and see where that gets me. Very happy to be healthy this year – last year I showed up in St. George with a bum wing from a bike wreck and bronchitis. Come Saturday, I’ll be at peace knowing I raced my best.

Strava: Repeats with Mer & Ritch | 1200s…in trainers |

Instagram: I always think of E. Honda from Street Fighter. Old La Honda crushin.

So much stuff! I’ll be checking in with a race recap after St. George and shedding some light on the rest of the year. Thanks to all of Team EMJ’s sponsors, listed below – seriously, this sport is so much easier with your support and it’s a pleasure to train and race with the stuff you guys make.

Peace! -MV

Race Report: ITU Standard World Championship (Chicago, IL)

Playing Captain America for a day in the Windy City

Playing Captain America for a day in the Windy City (Felt IA, Enve 8.9s, Rudy Project Wing 57, Louis Garneau shoes, GU Brew onboard)


“Wait didn’t you race in the World Championship a few weeks ago? And wasn’t it in Austria?”

The majority people don’t spend most of their weekends in spandex talking about aerodynamics, so I got this question a lot before leaving for Chicago. The answer: Yes. But I also raced in the ITU Standard Triathlon World Championship this past weekend in Chicago. So read along to see how it went and check out the pictures at the end.

For starters, here is how the two Championship races are different:

The pain face is the same regardless of the race

The pain face is the same regardless of the race

The ITU Grand Final weekend has an “Olympic” feel to it. In part because there are, in fact, athletes vying for Olympic spots. But the whole city is abuzz with folks from different places and team sweats qualify as legitimate evening wear. Additionally, the type of racing is very different from Ironman racing. If Ironman and 70.3 racing is about grinding it out, Olympic style racing is redlining for two hours thinking about nothing except the word, “GO!”

The Setup

Like Austria, the race started at a civil 10:45 a.m. I could get used to this! I traveled with my close bud Vince D’Onofrio and come race morning, we were amped and ready for one of our epic throwdowns in what has been a back-and-forth history racing against one another. My parents were in town for the race as well, which makes consecutive ITU Worlds cheering on the Stars and Stripes! Sadly, I picked up the cold that was going around SF a few days before the race, so I pumped myself full of caffeine, Ibuprofen and electrolytes and reminded myself that I only had to feel like sh!t for 2 hours.

Lots of loops, lots of speed on this fast, flat course

Lots of loops, lots of speed on this fast, flat course

The Swim – 0.9mi (00:24:37)

This swim went almost exactly the way that each fast and furious Olympic distance swim has gone for me:

  • In the cold waters looking at the Chicago skyline, pumping myself up before the gun
  • Gun goes off, and I commit to swimming hard to stay with the pack
  • Settle into rhythm, find myself falling off main group into second group
  • Half way through, second group looking thinner…
  • Begin hating my lack of swim skills and asking myself why I do Olympic races
  • Have a HTFU moment, fight the chop of Lake Michigan alone and bring it in for a strong bike and run

One day I’ll write a different race report, but with the setbacks I’ve had this year, I don’t believe that will be in 2015. I didn’t give it a second thought and focused on sprinting the quarter-mile to my bike.

The Bike – 24.9mi (00:55:17)

 The crowds were great and as I got on my bike I immediately went to business in the midst of USA chants. Per usual, the legs were a little heavy to start, but I pushed as damn hard as I could until they woke up. The course was crazy as two-thirds of it was in a tunnel. So while that was very fast (sadly not fast enough as discs were not allowed allowed at the last-minute, preventing me from putting my aero jacket back on), it was actually a bit sketchy because bumps and holes in the road were tough to see in the dark on the windy road.

Vince had swum almost two minutes into me, and I used him as my benchmark on the out and back. On the second loop, I had put no time into him – crap, he was riding hard! I kicked it into my highest gear and passed EMJ teammate Kyle Fox as he yelled at me to go get ’em. I knew Kyle was a strong rider, and that this meant he was coming with me. I went through the many turns like a crit racer and brought it home.

The run – 6.7mi (00:36:21 – 10K route was 1/2mi long)

Not having caught Vince on the bike, I knew I was in trouble and had to run hard. Though I thought I was transitioning well, Kyle ran by me and put about ten seconds into me as we headed out. Like the other two legs of this race, the only thought in your head is “go as hard as you can.”

Unfortunately for me, my hardest on Saturday was good, but not great, compared to runs I’ve done in the past. I knew this meant keeping a steady, controlled burn instead of going through matches with gutsy moves. In addition to going back and forth with Kyle, I saw teammate Sean Cooley and his girlfriend Hanna cheering at the perfect spot to keep me pumped up.

I looked down at my watch and saw 6.2mi (10K), but knew we had a good deal of running left. This course was officially marked long! But I used it to my advantage and turned up the heat passing a bunch of folks on the way in.

As I circled around Buckingham Fountain (which was pretty rad, by the way), I was going deep for sure, as my “pain face” finisher photos confirm. I was up on the toes, going down the blue carpet, knowing my parents were in the stands and that I’d done the best I could. All you can ever ask for!

Result – 2:01:56; Division 20th OA, 8th American

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, this is a really fun way to race on one of triathlon’s biggest stages while representing your country. I’m honored to have been there again and so fortunate to have had my folks and buddies there to share this (and the deep dish pizza) with. For the record, Vince took this round by 48sec – the saga continues!


Thanks as always to my friends and family for supporting – to those of you who send kind notes, to the ones who help me pack my bike up before I leave, I’m so very grateful! To the Team USA staff who did an awesome job organizing the team, information and accommodations like mechanics, masseuses, chiropractors, etc. Thanks to the Team Every Man Jack guys at the race and sending support over the interwebs, and all of the sponsors that legitimately make me go faster – special shout out to ROKA Sports who hooked me up with an insane Maverick Pro wetsuit as mine was full of holes!

Next Up

– Oct 4: Ironman 70.3 Silverman – Las Vegas/Henderson

Final race of the year in less than two weeks and I can’t wait to get back to Henderson and throw down!


T-minus 15 minutes, time to suit up!

T-minus 15 minutes, time to suit up!

Imagine how slow it would have been without the Roka...

Imagine how slow it would have been without the Roka…

Oh hey, Sears Tower

Oh hey, Sears Tower

If skinny dudes in onesies were allowed on Baywatch...

If skinny dudes in onesies were allowed on Baywatch…

Scrambling for spots...!

Scrambling for spots…!

On the toes, pain face intact...the blue carpet is always a welcome sight

On the toes in my trusty Saucony Type A5s, pain face intact…the blue carpet is always a welcome sight

Not a bad place to finish a race

Not a bad place to finish a race

The crew watching the pros go at it. Incredible race to watch!

The crew watching the pros go at it. Incredible race to watch!

If you didn't finish your day with Chicago deep dish, you were doing it wrong

If you didn’t finish your day with Chicago deep dish, you were doing it wrong