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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Season Review - Of Sorts

I thought long and hard about what was the best way to recap my 2011 racing season, and finally I realized that I could not narrate you a good story and get all the juicy details of my season out. So what better way to recap my season then to have a great sit-down interview with...myself!

BC: Thanks for donating some of your time here today with us.

Ben: Thanks guys for having me! It's not slowtwitch, but I feel that I am getting some recognition finally.

BC: How has the beginning of the off-season been treating you?

Ben: In one word, hectic. I have returned to school and so my days are log-jammed mostly between school and work, with some triathlon on the side. The beauty with school though is that I am doing an emphasis in fitness so all of my coursework can almost directly relate in some shape or form to my training. In fact, I have helped two graduate students with their research this semester by providing my body as their own personal Guinea Pig. So I spend time on campus outside of class mostly on treadmills and cycling ergometers powering out the biggest numbers I can in hopes to really throw all of their research off!

BC: Back in school? What is your area of study?

Ben: I am in the exercise and sport science program at UW-L with an emphasis on fitness and I just picked up a minor in nutrition.

BC: What were you goals for 2011?

Ben: From a racing standpoint I wanted to go sub-5 in the 70.3 distance. I failed to reach that goal after melting in Racine, and not being able to race in Pigman due to some other commitments. I decided to race Lake Geneva just for fun, and actually had to pull out in T2 for medical reasons, and that ended my season.

BC: Medical reasons? Sounds serious, what is going on?

Ben: To save you some time type in Supraventricular Tachycardia into google and you will get the answer. Long story short I had minor episodes for the past year and did not do much about it. After Lake Geneva I knew I needed to get a specific diagnosis. I still have some more testing to go through, but it looks like I will have an ablation done on my heart sometime this winter. A full recovery is expected and I am told it should not interfere too much with my training in 2012.

BC: If you could use one word to describe your season what would it be?

Ben: Eh....

BC: Would you care to elaborate on that?

Ben: YES! I took my focus away from the IM distance this year and really wanted to submerse myself into the sport of triathlon without all of that pressure of prepping for an IM. I sought out one single race for my goals, but also looked more towards my training with a big focus on learning as much as I could about the sport and myself. The result was that I learned everything not to do! I did a big build for Racine 70.3 and had a great swim, and overheated on the bike. I still came into T2 in good position, and just melted on the run, apparently I don’t do well in heat. I need to fix this since I only race during the summer months. It was a lesson in mental toughness of epic proportions and I just simply was not ready to deal with the heat.

Once I got home I took off a few days to relax then decided to sign up for the Pigman half-ironman in Iowa and use the fitness I had left over from Racine. Unfortunately some work complications came in the way and I couldn’t race, so I traveled to Minnesota that following weekend for the inaugural TriStar 111 on U.S. soil. I ended up being one of the first out of the water and was putting in a solid ride until I veered off course by about 10 miles or so. Frustrated and annoyed at my own mistake of not pre-riding the course I was clearly out of the race, and so I turned it into a long training day. Then on the run cresting a hill I pulled my hamstring just enough to know it wasn’t my day so I walked it in, but I still beat Macca…technically.

BC: Beat Macca? Congrats

Ben: Yeah apparently he had a “bike malfunction” but I think he just felt me breathing down his neck after my awesome swim. He ended up racing the local sprint on his “malfunctioned bike”, but let’s be honest.

BC: Did your employer supplement the race fee you lost for work?

Ben: Nope!

BC: You need a new job!

BC: You took more than four minutes off your swim time at the 70.3 distance this year, what did you do in the off-season for that to happen?

Ben: Masters! I may as well just plug every master’s program around the nation right now. This stuff works great! I did masters every Tuesday and Thursday from January through until the end of May. It was great driving to the pool showing up with someone that already had a workout planned out to the T for you, and some friends to swim along with as well always makes it more fun. This forced me into the pool 4x a week at least with my own sessions added in as well, so my volume was much higher this year. I was also wise enough not to go snowboarding down mountains in Colorado and break my arm, which was a great choice on my behalf.

BC: What was the highlight of your season?

Ben: This one is easy. Last year at Racine 70.3 I was kind enough to give Crowie a 10 minute head start. Well it turned out he was a lot faster than me and as he was finishing his race, I was just passing the first mile of the run. However, this year I was confident in my abilities and once again allotted him those same 10 minutes. The result was me being about 2 miles closer to him this year, so I am starting to catch up. I would also like to point out that I switched to Specialized before he did...your welcome mate!

BC: What is your biggest obstacle going into 2012?

Ben: Well my very selfish sister decided that she needs to get married 3 weeks to the day before IMWI, incidentally right on the run course. This means that I have to plan around her schedule, as well as two other close friends of mine weddings in August. Just kidding! I really can’t wait for her wedding, but really my big obstacle and focus for 2012 is my run. It is no secret that I struggle mightily with my run in triathlons, but this off-season I am looking to do something about it for once. I have reached out for expert advice and I am currently training with the BarryP method in hopes to get my body used to the frequency and miles that will lie ahead of me next summer. My goal is to make the run my secret weapon. Expect some big things come 2012!

BC: What races do you have planned for 2012?

Ben: I am still planning my season but I have committed to Ironman Wisconsin. I also am using the new Rev 3 race in the Wisconsin Dells as prep for IMWI. Early in June I am planning on pulling a weekend double by racing two local Olympic races in Wisconsin. Outside of this I do not think I will race too much, maybe Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis, or the Door County half-ironman, but all eyes are on September 9th, 2012.

BC: Why do you love Ironman Wisconsin so much?

Ben: Is this really a question? I try not to be biased in my answer here, but really how can you say no to this race? The town of Madison and the county as a whole really come out for the race, some of the best spectators you will see are out on that course, I know because I have done the spectating side a couple times. It has a great swim downtown, with, what I believe to be one of the most honest bike courses on the IM circuit, I dare you to stay in the same gear for more than 5 minutes! Plus once you are done and ready to celebrate you can walk a single block from the finish and get some of the best Mac n Cheese in the world at the Old Fashioned and then find a spot, put your feet up and have a tasty brew around any of the several bars located on the run course and cheer on the final finishers. With all that said, something about sleeping in your own bed the night before an Ironman that just makes life so much easier too.

BC: Anything else you would like to add?

Ben: Well I do have a blog that I update as much as I can, but I guess if you are reading this then you are on the blog already. But if anyone is ever keen for a ride in the Madison or La Crosse area I am always up for some punishment! Oh and I challenge everyone to dress up and act like crazies out on Timber Lane next year for IM, I did the spectating side this year and feel like I helped raise the standard of what is expected of a "normal" spectator. I also want to thank my two biggest supports my wonderful girlfriend kate, and my mother.

BC: Great chatting with you Ben, thanks for the interview.

Ben: You’re welcome, anytime!