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.

2016-mileage

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.   

2016-race-expenses

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!

results-wordmark2016-results

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.

accolades-wordmark2016-accolades

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! 

thank-you-wordmark

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.

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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

 

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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!

OCTOBER:

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)

NOVEMBER:

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 |

DECEMBER:

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 |

JANUARY

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

FEBRUARY

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 |

MARCH

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

APRIL

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

MAY

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

Checking in: Austria!

  

A wise man once said that in Austria “the beer flows like wine and the women instictively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” Or maybe he was talking about Aspen. In any case, I am in Zell Am See/Kaprun, Austria for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and it’s  definitely beautiful:  

Trying to fiind some boring roads with Jesse and Kevin. Not working.

A lot has happened between the Muncie race and Europe. Some great, some not so great. And I get ready for Worlds by playing triathlon in this gorgeous place, it’s as good a time as any for a check in.

The year of gimp continues:

– In my Muncie race report, I mentioned hurting a rib in a bouncy house at the family reunion. Well, that bouncy house forced me to sleep upright for a week and not swim for two. You win bouncy house.

– The thing about injuries is sometimes you can over compenstate. Since I couldn’t swim, I overdid it on the bike and run and messed up my left knee, which scaled back running for a few weeks. Le sigh. 

– Just when things started to come together, I had a freak crash four days before leaving for Austria. I was well taken care of during and after the crash and because Sports Basement and Felt keep Team EMJ’s bikes running fast, they overnighted parts and fixed my bike just before I took off. So race is on!

One of many ouchies. Roads are hard…

Making it work. Perspective heading into Worlds:

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s bike wreck #1, bronchitis from hell, rib, knee, bike wreck #2 in 2015. All you can do is understand that things happen, to everyone, and the most you can do is work with what you have on any given day to get better. Just make it work. In that light, I’m feeling good about Worlds on Sunday, because I know I’ve given it everything I’ve had this season.

On top of any of that, riding bikes in Europe is always something I’ve wanted to do and the rides I’ve done so far are incredible. I’m like a kid in Disney world (Epcot, obviously).

The main event(s):

I’ve been racing since April, but this is the meat and potatoes of the season. I like both meat and potatoes. So I’m pretty excited.

– Aug 30: Ironman 70.3 World Championship – Zell Am See, Austria

– Sep 19: ITU World Championship (Olymic) – Chicago

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

It’s been a crazy year since qualifying for Worlds last year at Silverman in Vegas. I’m really excited and super fortunate to be racing such high profile races over the next six weeks! Stay tuned for updates.

Signing off from Austria. Wait for it, wait for it…