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The meaning of life

Karen sent me this little message today. Hard to believe these little miracles turned 3 on Sunday.

Forced offseason

I’ve been under the weather for nearly 4 solid weeks now. I’m afraid “under the weather” is a gross understatement though. About a month ago I came down with what initially felt like the flu (body aches, alternating chilling and sweating, etc). One day off of work turned into 5 solid days off of work and subsequently 2 1/2 additional weeks of violent coughing, ear infections, and dizziness. Now I’m finally ever so gradually regaining my health and strength. At the end of this week I’ll be 4 solid weeks with no exercise.

In my world though that’s actually a good thing. I trained for an competed in 3 Ironman 70.3 events, in addition to some smaller events in the last 10 months. My fitness level was pretty high and for the first time in many years I was enjoying training again. My last race was August 7th in Boulder, but I kept training at a high volume – even taking off from work on my birthday and going for an easy 50 mile ride. The last weekend of September I went for a 10 mile run with my buddy Chris Blaylock. Something didn’t feel right though. I kept asking him to slow down. I just didn’t have my usual energy (although we eventually ran a pretty fast 10 mile time). The next day the bug hit me. I was going to get the rest I needed whether I liked it or not.

Enter the forced offseason: I coach endurance athletes on the importance of a solid offseason: just good old fashioned laziness for a few weeks to let your body and mind recuperate before the rigors of next season’s training and racing. It’s imporant to let your legs and lungs recover. I think it’s just as imporant for your mind. Sometimes its just not fun getting up at 4:45am to go swim in the middle of the winter or bundling up in 14 layers to go for a 3 hour ride in the sleet. Your mind has to rest from those demands. I didn’t do a good job of shutting myself down after my last races of 2011 and I paid for it. Your body will shut you down eventually and mine did.

The first week I was sick I didn’t think about triahtlon or training at all. I just laid in bed and watched baseball (an entire playoff triple header one day!). By week three I was reading training plans and articles, mapping out possible racing schedules for 2012, planning my restrengtheing regime, setting goals, etc. My mind was healing. Now, I’m dieing to train. I can’t wait to get back out there! I did my first workout in several weeks today during lunch – I made it through half of my lunch time yoga class. It’s a start. One more week off from swimming, biking, and running and hopefully I’ll be ready to go again physically. November holds lots of easy trail running and lifting. By December…it’s time for a 20 week half-ironman plan. First race? Tentatively Rev 3 Knoxville HalfIronman May 6.

Bonus! New pic of the kiddos:

Boulder 70.3 trip

Sunrise on race day

View from atop Flagstaff Mtn.

Our crew (Me, Karen Nikazy, Bill Hampton, Emily Tardy, Amanda Hampton – Daniel taking the picture) in front of the Village (the best breakfast in Boulder)

The South Boulder river – hidden deep within Walker’s Ranch at 8000ft.

Walkers Ranch trail head. This was a long day.

Yours truly trying to smile before the race with a sprained shoulder

Me and Daniel Tardy prerace

Descending Flagstaff the afternoon before Boulder 70.3. Crazy.

Flagstaff Mountain


Daniel Tardy, Bill Hampton, and I with our age group awards after Boulder Sunrise Tri in June. Check out my face!!! I promise I was happy.

Here we are after Boulder 70.3 looking pretty sunburnt. We’ve taken to calling Daniel “Photo Shop Daniel”, because he generally looks like he’s been photoshopped into pictures. Whats with that creepy grin?

Old Hickory Lake triathlon 2011

I’ve now raced the Old Hickory Lake triathlon in 8 of the 10 years its been run. Year in and year out it’s my personal “super bowl”. Racing in my home town, my dad riding with me to the race before the sun rises, and my mom, Karen and the kids all being at the finish line have always made this race special to me.

This year I woke up early – 5:00am. I expected to be awake before dad for once, but when I walked into the living room there he was, fully dressed, drinking coffee, and watching TV already.

We got to the race site early. That allowed me to take the very first spot on the bike racks – right next to the bike in and bike out. Bill Hampton and I went for a short warm-up ride before walking down to the swim start. We were numbers 2 and 3, so we’d be starting at the very front end of the race.

A 20 year old kid hit the water #1, followed by Bill, and then me, and then a swarm of guys with good swim speed. We rounded the dock after the start with Bill still a few feet in front of me. Within 25 yards I came around Bill and set my sights on #1. As we got to the first left turn at the big yellow bouy I caught him, swam a few strokes in his wake, and then passed him. I swam alone for the next 200-250 yards in the very front. In the final stretch towards the ramp I was caught by a single swimmer. I noticed he was #10, so this guy was flying to have started that far back and still caught me.

Bill in front with me following in 2nd and 3rd position.coming around Bill and setting my sites on #1

I exited the water satisfied with my swim, quickly pulled my shoes on and started the one mile run to the bike transition. There were now two guys in front of me. I ran calmy up a long hill not wanting to blow up too early in the race. Once the course leveled off I caught them and ran just off their shoulders. One of the guys faded as we picked up the pace, so #1 and I ran into the transition area still the virtual leaders on the road.

Once on the bikes I followed him for the first mile, easing into my pace. We climbed an on-ramp onto Vietnam Veterans parkway. I’m usually strong going uphill so I seized the opportunity to pass him and take the lead spot on the road again. What an awesome feeling! I was the first person out there…just the lead motorcycle in front of me. I stayed in the lead until I was finally caught by the eventual overall winner at about 5.5 miles. He was going so fast that I didn’t even try to go with him. I stayed calm. I was riding fast at 22.5 mph, so he was flying. I saw Bill at the turnaround, so I rode hard up the long climb back up Vietnam Veterans.

We came into the transition area again in that same order. Sean Torr leading the race wearing #19 and then me.  I was still 2nd on the road – hoping I had distanced some of my old rivals a bit. The first mile of the run felt like 3 miles. I kept waiting to see Torr heading back, but it took forever. He eventually crested a hill in front of me heading the opposite direction. There was no hope of catching him. About a 1/4 mile after I made the turnaround I saw Bill again – running strong. Shortly after I saw my old friends Javier Rodriguez and Brian Waller both running smooth. I felt better headed back towards the finish line and eased into a 6:50 pace…not hurting, but not quite loafing either. With about a 1/4 mile to go I ran past Karen, my mom, and the kids.

I crossed the finish line 2nd, but ultimately was 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. Not bad out of 400 racers. It was a new PR time for me by 5 minutes at Old Hickory Lake. It wasn’t my best overall finish there (12th in 2008), but 13th against a stacked field was still great.

Read about my special day in 2008 here

2011 Race Results round up (so far):

Hell of the South bike race – 17th overall

Country Music Half Marathon – 1:39

Florida 70.3 – 5:33

Boulder Sunrise Triathlon – 6th overall / 1st Age Group

Old Hickory Lake Triathlon – 13th overall / 3rd Age Group

Boulder 70.3 – ? Still to come

Izzy’s first triathlon

Izzy started swimming 3 summers ago and has really started to show a talent for it. Here she is at her very first triathlon.

Exiting the swim on her way to T1. Check out that face! And those muscles! Go Izzy!

Rocky Mountain High

on our way up Flagstaff Mtn. near Boulder, CO