Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The dark side of the "comeback"

This post is probably going to be a real downer, so if that's not your thing, feel free to skip it! See you next week :)

I've been cleared to go back to training and racing without restriction (aside from better common sense) for a couple of months now. It's something I had dedicated myself to (becoming healthy again) and something I recovered from much faster than most, and for that I am quite thankful. The care of Provision Sports Medicine and Dr. Kevin Sprouse , along with a healthy dose of lifestyle changes and better monitoring of my recover are what I attribute that speedy recovery to.

The physical toll taken was severe, and there is much I'm unsure if I'll ever be able to return to with the same tenacity that was once seemingly so easy for me. However, I'm healthy once more, and that is a trade I am willing to make. I will continue to push my body, but under much more careful guidance.

But this post isn't about the physical comeback that I may or may not ever orchestrate, (You can read/refresh on my story of dealing with OTS here) this is about the mental battle being fought, which I am now fully confident will be the key piece of the puzzle determining how this story eventually unfolds. I have spoken with (a very good) sports psychologist, and while he certainly empathized with me, I just never felt we were talking about the same thing. Perhaps it was my failing in being able to convey what it was like.

Nobody writes blogs (or at least none that I've read, and I've looked) about how much trying to return to form in an athletic endeavor sucks. It's a very personal struggle, one that is, pretty much, a downer. Certainly there are many success stories out there, but most gloss over the actual "return" and focus on the high points.

I'm out of Egypt... but I'm still in the desert spending my proverbial 40 years trying to find my way back on track. So, let's dive into what I am thinking and feeling... painful truth and all.

First, the hardest part. Letting go of what you were. I have tried, trust me on that. Unfortunately, it's much more difficult than deleting a few previous personal bests.  The easy solution is not to compare, I know... but putting that into practice is no simple task. I remember doing this and it feeling easy, I remember being "good" (big fish small pond syndrome but whatever) at this. I remember having the confidence that when I showed up there were, at most, a handful of people who I was competing with.  Without sugar coating it too much, it's sort of "has been" syndrome. I did an open water swim last week just to see how I could do (I was toying with doing the aquabike at Rev3) and it was something akin to pouring lemon juice in an open wound.

For the first minute it was like a fairy tale. I hit the water and started swimming. My breathing was fine, my stroke felt good... it was like everything had clicked and I'd never been away. A minute later reality crashed down with all of it's merciless truth. My back was on fire, and my stroke was ending somewhere around my naval. I just didn't have the strength and endurance to do it. I stopped, doggy paddled for a minute, and started again, albeit at a much easier pace. Rinse and repeat that until I made my way back to shore and nearly collapsed from fatigue.  Sure, the astute among you would probably think that your first swim in two years (not technically correct... I swam 200y at the West Side Y tri last year) probably couldn't have went much better. You're probably right. I should have probably been excited I didn't drown... but if I'm being honest... I was upset. The frustration of knowing HOW to execute something and having no way to actually force the muscles to respond is somewhat infuriating,

Change is hard. The one side of me wants to do nothing this minute more than go bust out a 10 mile run just to prove to myself that I can, consequences be damned. When I have a tough day on the bike where I barely hit my wattage goals and just feel beat up, my first thought isn't "probably should get some rest," it's "tomorrow I'm going to re-do this set! Plus 5 watts!" The difference is I'm smarter (hopefully) now and don't do that session the next day... but I still think like that.

Support from friends and family is hard as well. "You'll get it back" "You're best stuff is still ahead of you" "You're doing great" etc etc... it's just tough to swallow, smile and half heartedly agree. The closest thing I can compare it to is when you're at about mile 17 of your Ironman Marathon and a volunteer says "You're looking good!"
No. We both know I look like hammered hell.
You can't say that, but we are both thinking it.

See, just compared myself to somebody who knows what mile 17 of that marathon feels like! Hard to escape!!

There is also the deep seeded necessity I feel to be valuable to my sponsors. It's a pressure I have solely put on myself (at no point have any of my sponsors ever put pressure on me to perform, or even to toe the starting line, and for that I am grateful beyond words) but it is a pressure that I keenly feel. I am a competitor at heart, and it stings me deeply to feel like I am riding on the coat tails of my own previous efforts.

Then comes the self sabotage. Not truly wanting to compare yourself any more. Because, let's face it, in my own little reality I can find fanciful ways to excuse myself into doing better than I actually did. It's important to be honest with myself, and that's one reason I went and swam last week... to draw a hard line and stop thinking "maybe I'm still good (let's be honest, I was never "good" but adequate) at this. At my first race this year I got a flat. Now, I'll grant you that kind of thing happens... but I haven't gotten a flat in a LONG time. Why did I get a flat at that race? I didn't check my front tire for wear... something I always used to do. Did I purposefully get a flat at that race? No, but I was lax in my preparation and that opened the door for it.

At our local TT, I raced my Cervelo with a small gear and my "lesser" equipment... why? I told myself because I didn't want to get the Trek off the trainer (laziness) and I wanted to "test out" the Cervelo... but honestly I didn't want to stack myself up against others "at my best..." so that I would have a buffer when I got beat.

Then, there was the debacle at the last TT. I brought my A-game... but couldn't be bothered with making sure I was on time. I have a good idea how I did compared to the competition, but a good idea and exact data are worlds apart. Nonetheless, my ego made it through unscathed.

Self Sabotage, whether self aware or not, is a very real issue.

The answer perhaps is to just take everything and especially myself just a bit less seriously. But... Know Thyself... I like to nerd out on things, focus on them, probably/possibly even stress out over them... it's what I am.

This was all over the place, incomplete and full of half thoughts. Sorry for that. Hopefully some day down the road somebody will find some help from it though, if all that is is to say "man somebody else had to deal with this crap." It's real, it stinks at times... cruise on friends. After all... "The best races are still ahead!" right?

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

No Show Jones

There are certain qualities you can admire about people, and other's you should likely shy away from. In my own case, not showing up for the start of my performance is a quality I should NOT try to emulate from Mr. Jones. Nonetheless, at the Three Rivers Rumble TT last Saturday, as my start time came and went, I was not there to witness it. I was instead sprinting up a hill through the crowded parking lot trying to make it in time, which I failed to do.

Perhaps it is internal self sabotage, perhaps it was not syncing my Timex with my smartphone's time, or perhaps it was just an oversight... but regardless, it shouldn't have happened, and I am kicking myself still for such a bungle.

Nonetheless, there is good stuff to be learned from even the most foolish races. So let's go through the race.

My warmup was spot on. I brought my road bike and trainer so I could get my warmup in without having to mess with my View Speed skewers removal and re-installation. (along with not shredding my paper thin tire) I got a solid 40 minutes in of varying intensities, along with a few short high watt efforts to open up the legs. Then I jumped off the trainer and took my final pee break.  Unfortunately, this is where I severely misjudged how much time I had before the start. I leisurely walked back to the car and started changing from my warmup shorts to my Nopinz skinsuit. As I'm trying to get it on the wife says "I think it's your time to start." Oh... woops. I fumble getting into my skintight suit and my aero gloves, totally skip my overshoes and grab a final drink of water as I'm getting on my Speed Concept. I head up through the parking lot attempting to re-set my Powertap (it was paired with my trainer bike) when I start hearing people yelling my name. I realize it's my time to go and put down a solid sprint up the hill and through the parking lot. As I come toward the line Jerome is yelling at me "shop, put your foot down and GO!"


I guess I missed my start by a bit then.

Fortunately year's of triathlete habit kick in and I'm unclipped and re-clipped without fumbling around too much, then it's a solid sprint from the start line. I had planned to get up to speed faster than usual for this race due to it's shortness, but I hadn't really planned on a full out of the saddle sprint. Part of my matchbook just got burned up in the first 10 seconds. I settle in and attempt to do damage control. The course starts with a short incline, then tapers off into a long gradual decline to the first turn. With my overly large gearing I'm able to continue applying steady cadence and power the entirety of the decline and hit the turn about as hot as I could without crossing the yellow line. At the turn the road kicks up just slightly again all the way up to the next 180° turn. I take it at an almost perfect apex and then it's the long final drag to the finish line. Head down I dig into the hurt locker... my legs and filled with lactic acid at this point and I'm very lucky that there was absolutely nothing but straight road in front of me because I didn't have the mental faculties left to do anything but point forward and push. I hit the line and very nearly vomit on my fancy skinsuit. I was pretty happy that I had given it the best I had under the circumstances.

Disappointed face
I got back and sucked down what must have been a gallon of water. Jimmy pretty handily slayed the CAT4 group, as he is wont to do in a 4:52.  I checked my time and saw I had laid down a 5:15, which obviously was not terribly impressive (landing me in 8th I believe) but was not giving up and insane amount of time to the stronger riders out there (whom a shorter course should favor in my opinion) so although disappointed I was not heartbroken.

All the Water!
I'm not sure how much time I gave up from my start. My 30" man started very close behind me, so I can speculate, but that isn't worth much. I also obviously gave up some time by doing a foot down start as opposed to a hold, so I figure I was fighting with the top guys had I been on time.

So the lesson for everyone out there is... BE ON TIME TO YOUR RACE! Especially in races that are decided by seconds! (which is all of them!)

I apologize to my family who came to see me, my sponsors who got me there, and to you guys for having to read through what seems like one more of an endless report of excuses. I have to get my game tight once again, and I have failed so far as to do so, and I'm sorry.

Thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it!

Next week, fun at Rev3 Knoxville (although unless I find a relay team it looks like I'll be sitting this one out... I have no business swimming in my current shape.)

Thanks so much for reading!

Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A very short TT

Hey hey, the first race (if you want to call it that) I've actually completed this year! Despite a Thunderstorm threatening to ruin all of our fun, a couple of us braved the elements and put in a solid 8 mile TT. Traffic was fortunately (or unfortunately if you believe the draft is a real bonus) very calm, at least for me. I chose to ride in my triathlete getup (P3sl, Castelli Stealth top w/shorts, Kask helmet) instead of my TT setup mainly because I had thrown on a single ring 44t in preparation for Rev3 Knoxville (if I end up doing it) and wanted to have a ride or two in on it.

Fireworks, Olbas oil and the crappy Kask visors.. what more could you want

The last time I rode this course was all the way back in 2013, a much simpler time. Looking at my old logs, I ran a 19:28 (243w/261np) on Jun5,  19:22 (244w, 267np) on the 12th, and 19:57 (230w/242np) in reverse (and I have a note that I blew up) on my Planet X.  Last Wednesday I managed an 18:56 (don't laugh... 217w/240np) on my P3sl. What does that tell us... well for one thing, that a 44t single front chainring equaled me spinning out a little more on the rollers than I had expected. Of course it also unfortunately tells us that I'm still not in the kind of shape I was in a few years ago. (although if you look at the gap between watts and normalized I think a little of that at least was the 0's taken into account from not having a downhill gear.)

On the bright side it also confirms that the changes I've been making for aerodynamic gains have been powerful.

Tri Setup with a possibly too small gear

It's ugly to say the absolute least. It definitely wouldn't make it through any respectable fitter's shop without some serious scrutiny, but I'm past the point of caring what the majority thinks is correct. I only want what will make me go faster.

So how did the actual race go. I got pretty handily crushed by the studs, but that was to be expected. I was more interested in seeing how all the gear worked in preparation for some Aquabikes. This coming weekend I'll get a chance to test out the TT equipment in an even shorter TT (2.2 Miles... holy crap that's going to be miserable from start to finish...) where hopefully I can close that gap with some of the strong dudes. I'll report back on how that turned out ;)

As a total unrelated aside... I have a little rant.

So, a lot of us (myself included) have been interested by Giro's new TT helmet that we spotted last year around the TdF. For a while it seemed in question as to whether this thing would actually be available for purchase or not (Pro riders had access to the snub tailed Giro Selector for years and it never made an appearance to us... although you could argue it is modified by the team mechanics I suppose) well... the other day Giro finally updated their website, and...

It was finally announced that it would be available to the general public... for $550!!!

Look... I think this is a cool helmet, and I'm a gear nerd (as you already know) but really? $550??!?
That is insane, and I say that as someone who has bought a couple of $300 helmets. I'm not saying Giro won't sell (quite a few most likely, but I doubt they care... I'm sure this is mainly to appease the rulings on no equipment not available to consumers) of these helmets, but good lord. When Specialized "S works" helmet is the bargain buy by $250 you know you're marketing toward the upper upper echelon. If things like the S-works TT and Poc Cerebel are "superhelmets" than does that mean we're entering the world of "hyperhelmets" now?  I don't know, but hopefully the next generation of aero lids doesn't follow Giro's lead in the pricing.


Well, thanks so much for reading! Next week, maybe a little more racing!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Zipp 2001 Owners Guide to an updated seat binder.

This is a pretty niche post admittedly. However, it came up not a week or so ago by a friend, and I know the market is still pretty warm on 2001/3001's, so perhaps someone will be saved a good deal of hassle and worry by stumbling onto it.

When I see posts on different forums about owning a Zipp 2001 (or 3001, but I'm just going to use 2001 from now on, but assume I am referring to both) I think to myself "you don't know what you're getting yourself into." It's a beautiful, ahead of it's time bike frame. Of course, that was closing in on 30 years ago. Now, owning (to say nothing of riding regularly) a Zipp 2001 is akin to buying an old Porsche or other niche collectible sports car... a beautiful, fast, attention grabbing machine that gets stares and questions at every turn... but can often swamp it's owner with maintenance. The parts, if you can find them (which is getting harder to do) are often priced at an almost laughably high price. A current check of ebay reveals
Small Beam (black) - $2500 obo (with 137 watchers)
Zipp Carbon crank - $579 obo (27 watching)
Track Dropouts - $550 (14 watching)
Center Pull Brake (w/carbon cover) - $500
Beam attachment bolt - $50
(other Beams at a more..."reasonable" ~$1200)

So yeah, parts ain't cheap or readily available.  For the brakes, buy some Tririgs. For the dropouts, have a machine shop make you some. For the crank... use whatever crank you want (that one isn't "really" for a 2001, although it's period correct) Now the beams... you're kinda at the mercy of ebay/forums unless you can hunt down Dave Hill somehow (and if he still has any, which he may not)

Fortunately for those of us who own one of the later generation Zipps (1st gen had a softride beam, which means a good amount more options for replacement) the beam itself is not a common weak spot in the bike. The seat binder however... wasn't great when it was new... and not many of them qualify anywhere near "new" any more. For reference, I mean this piece.

Not the strongest link in the chain

So, you've found this page because you need a solution. Let's dive right in.

First, you're going to need to measure out how tall your binder was with the saddle attached (that way you can have the piece made to allow for similar height.)

Now you're going to need to get friendly with your local machine shop. These guys can easily get you what you need, you're just going to need to make sure you give them exact instructions as to what you need. Check these pictures out, and I'll type up what it says in the pictures so it's easy to read.

To oversimplify things, you are basically going to want your machine shop to make you an aluminum "T" to slide into the top of the beam. Here are the instructions I typed out for a friend who ran into this problem.

20mm on top. This will allow the "T" to sit on top of where it slides into the beam, hopefully giving you a little more stability and keeping it from putting too much pressure on anything

18mm Total height (total for my personal bike) 15mm height is what you will need it to be to sit into the beam from where it flares out. To add stack height to your seatpost, you will need to figure out how tall you need the flared part to be. (This is why you measured your old one) At this point you'll need to figure out what seat binder you are going to use as well. (I use a 1st Gen Speed concept one, but you can make about anything work.) 

10mm Base will fit snug into the opening of the beam. This gives you 5mm flared out on each side, so that the "T" will fit nicely into the opening on the beam.

The length of the aluminum piece is 110mm. That's for a Large Zipp beam, I am not sure if it is the same for all of them. Measure yourself! If you wanted to get fancy you can cut the ends at an angle and make it flush with the beam.

Measure, Drill and Tap 3 holes as large as will fit into the holes in the beam (M5/M6) You can see in the above picture where I have gone back to re-do it in another position, IGNORE the extra holes. Also, you will notice the bolt running through the mast is down into one of my holes. This isn't ideal, I have just been too lazy to cut the bolt to length. Make sure you drill AND tap the holes. Don't use a nut.

Add caption
Again, take whatever top post you are going to use, mark the holes and drill / tap them through the top.

Once you put this together you should have a much stronger, stable, non-squeaking seat beam binder.

Here you can see it installed. 

So, there you go. A little ingenuity and a friendly relationship with the local machine shop and your time machine will be better than the day it came off of Zipp's showroom.  Hopefully this post is found by someone in need of assistance!

*I should add credit where it is due. Chicanery (on Slowtwitch & other forums) is actually the person who created (to my knowledge) this hack. I merely inherited it (when I bought his frame) and am now sharing it with those who it might help!

Thanks for checking out the blog! I'll be racing this evening in a short TT!

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Paddleboard Review! Aqua Marine SPK-1 and SPK-2

For those of you who just stumbled on this looking for the board review, here's your disclaimer. I'm not much of a paddleboarder, novice at the best. So if you are looking for a die hard's review, this isn't it. If you're like I(we) were and looking to get your feet wet (literally) without taking a huge plunge (you see how cheesy this blog is already, right?) then you've come to the right place.

Well ladies and gentlemen, every now and then it's time to branch out and try something new. In my case, I had the wife's help in picking my new interest... ever since she worked at our local bike/outdoors shop she has wanted to do some paddleboarding. Now I've done a very limited amount in the past, and it struck me as a good activity we could enjoy together, as well as a welcome "active" break from training.  All that was left was to buy an entry level and enjoy it!

Then I started pricing boards.

Now I think it's fair to say I'm not exactly a cheapskate, but let's be real... like most beginner cyclists / triathletes I had a fairly serious case of sticker shock when I realized exactly how much an entry level board was going to be, to say nothing of the required accessories (have to get it there somehow) that have to be tacked on. A "real" board is going to set you back around a grand, give or take. On vacation a few years ago I saw someone with an inflatable who seemed to be paddling just fine and, due to my Xterra Westuit emails, knew that they made an inflatable board that was considerably cheaper, so I started looking for the reviews.

Unfortunately, the reviews I found were not of high praise. "Cheaply made" and "Terrible Customer Service" are not phrases I like to see in my reviews. I also saw more than one site mention that many of the 4-5 star ratings on sites were "bot" reviews to pad the numbers. I don't know if that's true or not, but it seemed odd to see it mentioned multiple times.  All in all, at $600 I felt like I would rather just pony up and spend a little extra on a beachboy or a holo which get solid reviews. Still, I really wanted to try to get two boards for around that price, as the idea was to do this together with the wife.

Enter the Aqua Marine SPK-1. I found this thing wandering through Amazon reviews and...well... it had the best (albeit not a lot) of all of them. Also, since I started my hunt for Black Friday (it was going to be my Christmas gift to the missus.) it was cut down at a pretty hefty discount. I also saw the SPK-2 (which is a little bigger) and, unable to determine the advantages of one over the other, decided to buy one of each. My total from Amazon was $592.90, less than a single Xterra board. Now while that was a special deal, I have looked around and still see these boards selling regularly in the mid $300s, I'd think finding them cheaper again would take a little work but would certainly be possible.

SPK-1 ready for action

So, after it finally warming up and us having had some time to use them, it's time for a (fairly initial) review.

What you get
To start with, your package comes with the board itself, a bag to lug it around, a pump to inflate it, bungees, a paddle, and a "flat kit" of sorts. (and the fins of course) That's a pretty decent haul for the money. The bag is not overly rugged looking (or feeling) but should certainly do the job so long as you aren't taking into "the bush" regularly. The pump is serviceable, although I'll go into detail about it further down. The paddle is also acceptable for a beginner, although you will want to avoid trying a "real" paddle until you are ready to buy one, as going back will emphasize it's weakness. The fins, despite being seen as the problem area in the reviews, have so far held up surprisingly well in my opinion. (although I pay a little extra attention to them after seeing it was a possible issue) Fortunately I've not had to use the repair kit, (fingers crossed) but it looks like pretty standard fare, and more than I expected. The package also has instructions included, which I suggest at least glancing at (fins in before you inflate is important) although the pictures in the pamphlet are useless.

The Good
Lets start with the very good. The board itself. Once inflated, this thing is rock solid. Even in the ocean with fairly rough waters both boards were confidence inspiring in the construction. At no point in using the SPK boards has "cheap" entered my mind as a way to describe them. Even inflated, the board is pretty light as well, light enough for my wife to lug it around (although she had...well, we both had... some trouble carrying it when it was windy at the ocean and keeping it under control) but heavy enough that it certainly isn't going anywhere without you noticing. Another great thing about this setup is how little room it takes up. The bag with everything in it is roughly the size of a medium/large suitcase. We were able to get both in a new Ford Explorer with 4 peoples week long luggage. (and we didn't skimp on the packing in my opinion) That's pretty compact for a 10ft and 11 ft board. Another thing that should definitely be praised is the ease of getting the thing deflated and packed back up. I admit, when I saw it I thought to myself "no way that thing will fold back up after it's been aired up." Well, I was happily wrong about that. It takes me about 3-5 minutes to get all the air out of the board and it folded back up compactly enough to go in the bag. (the way it's supposed to) That was a very welcome surprise as I've had a few inflatable products that just never seem to fit back in their box/bag again after being used.

SPK 1&2 bagged and ready to go (all extras inside as well)

The SPK-2 rolled up in the bag

The Bad
Unfortunately it's not all sunshine and roses, there are some negatives. First, the most glaring one... the pump. Now it certainly doesn't take a genius to know that in a budget anything there are going to be corners cut somewhere. The Aqua Marine's are no exception and it's quite easy to see where the cuts were made. It isn't that the pump is bad... it actually does a fair job of inflating up to it's limit. Unfortunately, it maxes out at around 14psi, which is a problem because the boards recommend 15psi. You WILL NOT be able to get it pumped up to 15psi with the supplied pump. I've tried multiple times, you will break the pump before you manage it. Getting from 0 to about 13psi takes a couple of minutes and was actually considerably easier than I imagined it would be, but around 13psi you hit a wall. Each pump thereafter requires some serious leverage (standing the pump on a step and pumping from below it helped a little) and after 14psi I was unable to inflate it any further, nor was my wife, both of us together, or my friend Wes who is a beast when it comes to that kind of stuff. Any further attempts and I could feel the pump bending. Now, we've used it multiple times at 14psi with absolutely no issues... but everyone who has been on it has been 150lbs or less. I'm not sure if it is more noticeable at higher loads or not. The simple solution is to buy a more capable pump (or an electric one, although you'd need to make sure to monitor it very carefully then) which sell on Amazon for around $50. Or, you can just live with it being below the recommended psi. Either way, it's a pretty glaring flaw in an otherwise fairly competent package.

The pump in all of it's glory. It tries... it really does.

The gauge shows 20psi possible, but if you hit 15, send me a picture because you deserve a prize!

The other negative is the paddle. The SPK's come with a collapsing 3 piece paddle, which to it's credit is quite portable and therefore handy when space is key. However, if you ever actually use a "real" paddle, you'll quickly see that this one pales in comparison. It's perfectly serviceable for a beginner though (which I assume you are) and albeit a weak part of the kit, it won't be holding you back for quite some time. Even after upgrading paddles (if you decide to) I'd still keep these around simply because it's handy to have a easy to break down paddle when space is limited.

paddle broken down (and bagged) is about 3ft at the longest. One of it's strong upsides.

It's also worth noting that a few reviews mark the fins as being weak. Mine have so far stood up to some abuse, but as I mentioned, I don't drag the board around out of the water on them.

The Ugly
The air release from the boards needs to be done in a fairly controlled manner, otherwise you run the risk of blowing the o-ring that keeps everything nice and sealed. It's not a disaster if that happens (the manual even has detailed instructions on replacing it) but it's a good way to spend your afternoon if you do blow one.

Replacement parts are also fairly hard to come by, although a quick google did bring up replacement fins at ~$25 The hope is that you never need anything, but it's nice to have the piece of mind that if you did you would at least have a shot of finding some.

Final Thoughts
For somebody who wants to test the water (zing!) you can't really go wrong at around $350. There is (in my opinion) some room to upgrade (the pump and paddle specifically) but (so long as you can live with slightly below recommended spec psi) it's not essential to live with the boards straight out of the box. If space is an issue, I don't think you'll find a smaller total package for a 10+ ft board. I came in with fairly low expectations and was pleasantly surprised, and I think so long as you don't buy them thinking you are getting a top of the line board you will be satisfied. If I were to compare them to a bicycle I'd place it in the Sora-equipped aluminum bikes you can buy. It's not a race machine, mountain goat climber or super stiff aero frame, but if you need a bike (or in this case board) to put miles into, it's a solid work horse that will give you a feel for paddleboarding. In the event that you decide to buy a "real" board, the SPKs don't lose all of their value, as I could see them still being ideal for traveling when you don't want to strap a board to the top of your car. So, in my opinion they get a thumbs up for a cheap, enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!

Don't hate, it's a cool picture... I'll reuse it all I want...

Thanks so much for reading and checking out the blog! I really appreciate it! Next week, maybe back to racing!

- Christopher Morelock

Monday, April 18, 2016

Back to the real world (vacations for athletes?)

One of the things that make vacations special is that they are short respites from normality. In my case, for a week I live a different life... I don't train, I don't work, I don't worry about eating healthy, I have Bloody Mary's and Irish coffee instead of smoothies and regular Joe... pretty much everything I don't do in my normal life.

This is a hard change from the way I previously spent my vacations, at least since I've classified myself as an "athlete." (It's also a hard change from before then, when I spent Spring Break's & vacations doing...something... I can't remember what though.)

In many ways I think endurance athletes are the worst at vacationing, maybe even worse than college kids on spring break. I see it in my Facebook feed, questions posted on forums, and most of all in person going down the roads and beaches in Florida where I normally stay. For many of us (myself included for a very long time) a vacation is nothing more than a change of scenery for our training. Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of my recent history knows I was forced to take a long look at how I handled training and life.

When I was healthy enough to return to training and racing I made it a goal to look at all the aspects of my life that were contributors to my overload. One of the big ones... I took fewer vacations as a whole (instead going on more 2-4 day race weekends) and during my vacations I generally dropped very little volume. In fact, in 2013 I had one of my biggest swim and bike weeks of the year while I was on vacation. Think about that. On my "vacation" I trained more than I did at home. Sure, having no work commitments, miles of paved trails and a giant body of water out the back door go a long way but nonetheless... it's not the best way to get R&R.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I am not active on vacation these days. Despite our terrible bit of weather this time (no sun...sigh) we managed to do some paddle boarding, swimming and a great deal of walking. No, it's not a 2x20 FTP bike ride followed by a Tempo run... but it's not supposed to be. I think one of the great "flaws" we endurance athletes have is a deep rooted (incorrect) fear that fitness is gained and lost in short periods of time. Certainly a week is starting to enter into the de-training zone (once you pass the full recovery phase the first 3-5 day "taper" period grants) but at that point it is still very minimal, possibly (probably) overcompensated for by the rest you gained, especially if you weren't a total couch potato during your trip. The bonus however (at least for me) is that you get a week to unplug from the rigors (mentally and physically) of training. Usually that means that the first day back home I am excited and ready to get back at it! That just doesn't happen when you "train through" your vacation.

Another important thing to consider for the vacationing athlete is nutritional (and just general) health. Traveling is TOUGH on you, whether by sitting in a car for hours or the rigors of air travel. Another harsh change for most (athletes and non-athletes alike) is the dietary change that takes place. Usually vacation means trying new places to eat, often allowing indulgences (appetizers and deserts) that we normally skimp on. It's also usually a good excuse to have a few more drinks than usual (hey, no work tomorrow!) and even sometimes in excess. And all the while, water is generally more essential than ever, and is the thing we drink the least of. I actively make a mental note to drink more water on vacation nowadays and I still very rarely end up with clear pee... something to consider next time you are on the sand.  To try to keep some semblance of health in tact I always travel with my day/night multivitamins (I use Exos, but there are other good choices) and a probiotic. Personally I also take my iron and ZMA's, but those are a little more personal. Regardless, don't be the guy/gal that goes on vacation only to get sick and sit in the hotel all week.

There, that's my little rant about actually "taking a break" when you take a break.

So, I'm back, possibly a little too early for my liking, but excited to get some work done and get back to racing!

Until next time, thanks for checking in! Check out a few pictures of the trip!

- Christopher Morelock

No sun, no sunset... but we still had a good time!
Generally the truth... I'm kind of the PBR of husbandry

I really have no idea why these guys were dressed as sumo's... but they got free drinks so kudos.

The cool shot right before multiple face plants in the ocean.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Being sick sucks

And man have I been sick.

Earlier last week I started coming down with a cold/flu that I picked up from work... it was mainly in my head though so I planned to work through it. I will be on vacation next week so I had hoped to do a little "crash" training leading up to this Saturday, pushing myself into the red with a week of rest and relaxation to cash in on. Friday evening I was feeling pretty far in the dumps, so I had a meal a bit unhealthier than normal followed by some candy.

Enter Saturday morning. I wake up around 4a.m. and my face is on fire. As it turns out I managed to have an allergic reaction to something I had on Friday evening... a very painful one. By Saturday night I was in agony.

Fortunately I've improved daily... I'm hoping that I'm totally back to normal by Friday or Saturday. Unfortunately it threw an unexpected wrench into my training...sigh.

I would like to give a huge shoutout to Provision and Dr. Sprouse, who helped me figure out the problem and get me taken care of from the back of the Cannondale Garmin team bus in Europe! That's service.

I've just got to survive two more days... then it's fun and sun! (Need I mention we decided to postpone our honeymoon/vacation until it warmed up... the time is nigh!)

I may throw down a quick update from the beach... but if not, back to the normal schedule the following week!

Thanks for checking in on me, I appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock