Routine vs Regiment: Pre St George

I often wonder if from an outside perspective my life seems boring.  Do the staff at my gym who see me there morning, afternoon and night think “wow, he’s dedicated??” or “someone needs to get a life!”  I can’t argue so far this year that I’ve fallen victim to the same routine week-in and week-out.  Same workouts, same sleep patterns, same meals, same weekend activities…  But I also can’t lie that I LOVE IT!  It is what I enjoy most in the world to do and my diligence has made me stronger than I can remember in recent years.  I have no excuses now and despite all the ‘stuff’ I am very happy and satisfied.

 

Looking forward to St George this weekend I have nothing but excitement in me.  A Worlds spot is out of the way, podium or PR no longer seem to matter.  What so strongly entices is the rare promise of racing all out without any apprehension, and in peak form.  I still have two wolfs contending on each shoulder.  One says “pace yourself” the other “go harder!” and both are my friend because either way I have my perfect day or learn something new.

When it comes to what’s truly boring my greatest enemy is what’s familiar.  1:20/100y, 260 watts and 6:20 pace are all achievable but perhaps I’m capable of more.  The risk of blowing up seems less when you’ve got nothing to lose.  I’m reminded of my favorite race quote back from my collegiate Cross Country days ““The only pace is a suicide pace and today’s a good day to die” – Prefontaine.  This weekend I give I all I’ve got, we shall see what happens…


 

Bike

My pain cave – 5-6 days a week on the trainer (3 brick minimum)

Weekly Routine

My weekly Workout Routine – building intensity and duration week by week

Run Course

My weekly run course – mostly all soft surface

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My go-to weekend meal – salmon and broccoli all day!

2017 Oceanside Race Report: LOW lows and HIGH Highs

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I remember a younger Welby when I first got serious in the sport of Triathlon, experienced in the pain of competitive running and somewhat lingering on the fumes of my collegiate career believing that the 95% of time spent training was the suffering we owed to achieve the fruits of our labor, savoring in the 5% of competitive achievement on race day.  I thought that the work was simply an unwanted but necessary means for success.  That was before I got hurt back in 2015 and realized how much I missed simply training – the endorphin kick, feeling of accomplishment and appreciation for results.  So far in 2017 I have loved every cold, wet, painful second spent in this sport, thankful to be healthy and happy with my small but steady improvements in run pacing, bike power, swim comfort and weight management.  I’m a man of numbers and the way everything was adding up left me entering my first 70.3 of 2017 with 0% fear and 100% excitement.   All I wanted so desperately to do was get out there and show everyone what I knew I was capable of, and despite the competitiveness Oceanside always brings knew that if all went according to plan that my season goal of a Worlds spot was fully achievable.  The day was one of high highs and low lows, racing my heart out, believing it was all for nothing and then a surprise victory at roll-downs, finally securing that spot for 2017.

Swim (30:03)

Oceanside Swim

In the weeks leading up to race day I got very excited about the idea of utilizing the first time streaming swim start to pace line with my Tower26 lane-mates.  We even practiced the Thursday before the race alternating each 100 strokes for an effortless 1:15 paced swim.  The idea was sound and I’d try it again if I could but the unfortunate reality was that it was not meant to be.  I lost my buddies John and George within the first 100 yards or so then was surprised to find us at the turnaround all within reach of each other yet working individually.  I tapped John on his side a few times and yelled “George” to try to get us back together.  Ironically we entered the chute within a few seconds of each, all on our own.  Still a good start!

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Oceanside Swim Data

Bike (2:27:50)

Oceanside Bike

Talk about a let down but an unintended benefit.  We began the bike very clustered.  I passed Sebastian heading out of T1 and found myself still next to John and another friend Dusty.  I was unhappy about the proximity because it made it very difficult to ride my race, instead of keeping at my target of 260 watts having to jump up to 330 watts to pass a string of 2 or 3 riders at a time so that I wouldn’t get penalized for drafting.  I spent the first half of the race very nervous about a penalty that never came.  Then as the group began to open up, around two thirds in, while climbing a slight up hill at 18mph I heard a motorcycle as I was moving up on a rider to pass.  I didn’t want there to be any doubt that I was following the rules so I got out of aero and moved completely over to continue passing.  I assume the official saw this as an admission of guilt rather than a protective gesture because she pulled up and gave me a blue card.  Following her instructions I asked how long I would have to serve to which she said “5 minutes”.

5 GOD DAMN MF MINUTES!!!  In a race of seconds this was a death penalty.  My immediate thought was “Which race can I reasonably afford to fly to in June to try this again??”, but then thought of that YouTube clip of that girl who tripped and got up to end up winning the 800.  I thought ‘maybe if I race out of my mind’, save a minute here, 2 more on the run there’s still a chance.  I immediately forgot my pace plan and preceded to do the next 5 miles at 280 watts.  I figured I’d go above my means until the penalty tent then recover, but I was surprised to find out there wasn’t a tent until Transition.

Oceanside Bike Data

Drafting Penalty (0:05:00)

I grabbed all of my run equipment and sprinted with it in hand to the penalty tent I hadn’t seen coming into transition, but caught on the way out.  I yelled “604, 5 minute drafting”!  Once a stopwatch was placed around my neck I began slamming nutrition, pouring water on myself and going #1, which might be illegal, I don’t know, but I was so soaked it was unrecognizable.  I looked down and told the official “Time isn’t moving!!”, to which she responded “It feels that way doesn’t it”, to which I responded “NO, LOOK!!”.  The 1980’s style stop watch she had handed me was dead, frozen on 1:30.  I told her “this is killing me, what do we do?” to which she made up the number “3 more minutes”.  Part of me wanted to run, refusing to suffer from their mistake, but I stood there anxiously and waited.

Run (1:23:57)

Oceanside Run

Oceanside Run Pic

As soon as she said “Go” I was out sprinting.  I’ve never taken a down minute (or 5) so the contrast left me running out well above my intended goal of 6:40 to start.  When mile 1 clicked off at 5:55 I decided I’d slow down a bit but throw my plan out the window and just go for it by feel.  I kept the pace consistent in the 6:teens, taking the up and down-hills easy knowing I may have shredded my legs a bit more than intended on the bike.  I was passed by two EMJ athletes I had friend-ed earlier, both great athletes who ran by me like I wasn’t moving, but later joined up with due to intestinal issues, etc.  Despite the pace I had this surreal confidence that I could maintain and even pick it up, which I did in the last stretch at 6:08 pace.  I was pleading from friends supporting along the route to let me know my place and felt every second was the potential to make or break my day, if I could only chase down enough guys.  I entered that final shoot seeing red, having given it everything I had.

Oceanside Run Data

Turns out in a field of 197 athletes (30-34) I was 19th out of the water, 9th at the start of the run and despite my 5 minute penalty lost no places finishing 8th in AG.  If it was not for those 5 minutes I suppose I may have been 7th amateur and podium-ed 4th in AG (there being 4 slots for Worlds).  This thought crushed me at first!  But you can’t always control the outcome, only the effort you put in and I had given it my best. I went to awards/roll-downs with zero hope but a strange thing happened.  Unlike at Vineman where there was not a slot passed on in this race it rolled, quite a bit in every age group.  Enough for me to get that spot to the big show I had desperately wanted, not because of the prestige or accomplishment, but because now I will be happy to share this special experience with a number of good friends who have qualified come September.   I am truly looking forward to it!!

Worlds

1:21/100 yards, 265 watts NP and 6:22 min/mile.  I’m happy with those today but know I can do better.  Easily under 30 minutes in the swim, 270 NP and 6:15 min/mile before the year is over.  Looking forward to getting back to it right away with St George up next on the radar.

Congrats to everyone who raced.  I look forward to this one again year after year.

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Obsessed is Just a Word

“3 more medals” a runner yells to a volunteer, “a husband, a wife and one other”…

Obsessed

It’s 5pm, just about 10 hours since the start of the 32nd LA marathon and in that time I’ve cheered on racers and friends along the course, gone home to eat and take a nap, and am now out on a 45 minute run to finish off a quality 4 hour brick.  Only the skeleton of metal barricades stand naked on Ocean Ave where hours earlier thousands of people congregated, cheering on runners. I notice a few bibs as I run past walkers, marching like ghosts, one asking me “is the finish line still there??”  but it’s empty, quiet and desolate, except for the music and cheers of those celebrating at the Bungalow next door.

I’ve been doing some soul searching recently, in discussion with family and friends Friday who used words like “obsessed, crazy and intense” to describe my relationship with training.  Then on Saturday, quite serendipitously while out on my long run I happened upon 3 total strangers who helped refresh my perspective.  Heading up San Vicente for the start of my typical golf course loop, I came upon a runner in an Every Man Jack hat also named David.  Keeping low 6 minute pace after a couple exchanges I asked him if he was doing Oceanside (yes) followed quickly by how old are you (36), excellent!  We ran side by side for a few until a runner behind us, Christine, snuck up on the group offering “don’t be alarmed but you’re keeping good pace”.  Asking about the marathon Sunday Christine explained she was an elite runner coming back from injury, which clarified her being unfazed by the strong pace.

David had 10k on the schedule, Christine 10 or so and me 80 minutes but we ran together from 26th down San Vicente and onto Ocean until California, the last 3 miles of the marathon together trading information.  We were complete strangers to each other yet connected in that all 3 of us were ex-collegiate runners, all 3 overcoming similar recent injuries and all 3 exceptional athletes (if I may) excited to share where we are at with our training, looking forward to the season ahead.  Turning around after we parted ways I spotted a familiar face, who was a real struggle to catch, clipping away sub 6min miles.  Mike is another Every Man Jack athlete I share an age group with who I’ve met at previous 70.3’s and as it happens on this day shared a lane with in the morning for his first of 2 Tower26 sessions (8k swim workout).  I could only keep up with him for a few minutes of his 2×30 at race pace efforts before breaking off to head home but wished him luck in his training for Oceanside.

I don’t know much about Mike and Dave other than that they both race for Every Man Jack and unsurprisingly so are a couple of bad ass Ironman 70.3 triathletes.  Last year Dave was 2 minutes ahead of me at Vineman and Mike 15 minutes more, winning the AG.  These two, along with countless other friends, teammates and FB acquaintances are the caliber of athlete I aspire to race against toward an Age Group podium in this sport of triathlon.  When it was announced that 70.3 Worlds would be back in the US in 2017 I was excited but also knew it would be a very difficult objective to realize with so many skilled athletes racing toward the same goal.   This in mind I wrote out a plan that I felt would make me competitive come Oceanside and St George, not knowing what the competition would bring but understanding it would likely require another low to sub 4:20’s (missing my chance at Vineman last July by 30 seconds with a 4:25).  Since then I have stuck to that plan, held consistent day in and day out and as a result I am now feeling ready and in the best shape of my life to give it a go in the next 6 weeks.

Many people set goals without any clear understanding of what it will take to accomplish them, or start on a path but fall off once they realize how difficult it will be to achieve.  Then there are those with the capacity to realize their goals through an understanding of hard work and dedication.  I am reminded of a quote Meredith Kessler shared at a speech I attended last year that goes “obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”.  These people may grasp the concept of a goal but cannot connect the dots between action and outcome.  They are the ones who might be quick to call someone who performs well talented vs driven.  In their minds “obsessed, crazy and intense” are a foreign interpretation to what I would call “committed, goal oriented and consistent”.  Goals can be outlandish or unreasonable but the path should always be true.  Don’t question the path, question the goal.

Watching those participants march toward the finish of a 10 hour marathon I couldn’t help but be effected by the statement.  A 3 hour marathon may be clearly more difficult than a 4 hour, but the line begins to blur after 6, 7, 8 hours+.  It’s a long time to be on your feet!  Did something go wrong, is there some ailment or handicap holding them back, or did they just not prepare adequately?? The takeaway I have today, and to draw some sort of connection to this piece, is there will always be competitors at each end of the spectrum and everywhere in-between, and it’s no one’s place to judge what they aim to achieve if it’s what makes them happy.  When it comes to myself the words I would choose to describe my current state of mind are ‘happy, satisfied and most of all excited!  I feel like I am in an all-around good place and look forward to what the future brings.  I accept the outcome good or bad knowing I put in the work to position myself for the optimum outcome.

Good luck to everyone racing Oceanside.  Looking forward to seeing everybody out on the course in one week!!

2017 Desert Triathlon

Desert Backdrop

I’d like to consider myself a Designer by profession but my roots still lie in Engineering, math and science, and as such I’ve always been one for stats (HR, pace, watts) because I speak numbers but more importantly in a sport fed by suffering in the name of grandeur, often to the regard of seconds, it’s important for me to believe that NUMBERS MATTER.

Perhaps I take it too far, sharing figures at the pool or off a trainer session, commonly to my expense, proud not necessarily of the magnitude but of the execution.  It’s a characteristic I’ve had two coaches ingrain in my head, from my early days at QT2 where with Vinny it was never enough to complete a workout if I wasn’t in Zone, or at the pool where recently Gerry has been emphasizing perhaps the most quintessential Tower26 lesson which is it doesn’t matter where you start if you can’t bring it together in the end.

What I’ve put together this year beginning in January is a hodgepodge of components built up over the last 5 years of coaching through different programs which share a common thread of finding familiarity in 70% and 85% (Ironman and 70.3 effort).  With Desert Tri coming up I’ve stretched it to 70/90% and strung the last 4 weekends together with particular workouts to gauge my susceptibility to certain efforts in the hope to target these in my race.  Here is the outcome in the first of many bland charts (at this point I’d advise for the 90% that don’t care about the numbers much and would just like to hear a happy story to skip to the end (Summary), but for the few (Sebastian, Maxon, etc) enjoy!) –

Desert Results

I am very happy with my performance, proud of my results, and although placing 2nd in AG with 1st-3rd separated by only 2 minutes I have absolutely no reservations.  My targets and execution show I am on point and my trajectory is sound for a great day at Oceanside.

Race Report –

Swim 

After 10 years you’d think I’d get over my frustration with the swim start, WRONG.  The most unsettling thing about this race start was a 90 degree turn at the first buoy 50 yards out.  It caused my wave to go out like mad men and die in the opening minutes of a 2 hour race.  Alternately, had a buddy of mine who entered and exited the water at the same time simply walked into the water at the end of our wave and pace-line traded places every 100 yards, we likely could have taken another minute off our total time at the same effort.

Desert Tri Swim Image

Desert Tri Swim

2016 Desert Tri Swim

Having no visual feedback in the swim I was super excited to see 1:21/100y on my watch following the race.  Our Garmin’s aren’t 100% accurate in open water, though much better now than years ago, and it doesn’t matter how fast you swim if it’s not in a straight line, but I think this is good news.  Olympic is a strange distance for me but the goal of sub 30min at Oceanside is real and seems within reach.

Bike

That buddy I mentioned was Logan Franks, a former New Yorker and pro triathlete turned recent dad.  He exited the water seconds behind me and got on the bike seconds in front.  Our proximity turned out to be significant as my power target had us playing leapfrog, but instead of sitting at 270 watts I found myself bouncing back and forth from 250-300 watts, to get ahead and while dropping off.  It stayed like this until the halfway where I was able to create some space.

Desert Tri Bike Image

Desert Tri Bike

2016 Desert Tri Bike

With about 5 miles to go an athlete in a white Ride kit passed me hard as I noticed a 33 on his calf.  I decided to keep at my target rather than make a move with him.  This particular competitor maintained his 1 minute spread to ultimately take 1st in AG.

Run

I didn’t know how this was going to go.  I was afraid having not raced hard in the run since Santa Cruz that my target of 6:20/mile would be unachievable.  I decided to go out on effort and was super happy to see a 6:22 opening split when I was expecting more like 8 minutes.  Better the pace didn’t feel too bad.  I was nervous about my calves but somehow remained confident, even happy throughout.  The only moment of panic occurred when I spotted Logan on the first turnaround, about a minute behind me.  Toward the secound turn around I noticed #1 about a minute ahead.  I reassured myself once again to continue running my race, knowing that my chance to chase will come back in one month where the stakes are higher at Oceanside.

Desert Tri Run Image

Desert Tri Run

2016 Desert Tri Run

Summary –

Putting all this race performance nonsense aside for a second my weekend experience was outstanding.  I had a partner in crime through my girlfriend Morgan who had a great showing on Sunday as well.  I finally got it right, passing on camping to stay with a good friend at the Team Endurancehouse House.  Adding to that getting to see so many familiar faces perform at their best was a cherry on the cake.  The support and joy of sharing the weekend with someone combined with the comfort of housing amenities and friends was what made an already great race into a perfect all around weekend.

 

Desert Photo

Morgan Desert

Bike Sunset

2017 Mission Statement

Inspiration

Looking forward to 2017 I thought it fitting to start with some of the my greatest motivational influences from this past year –

I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by so many high functioning accomplished individuals.  The bar has been raised high!!

Balance

Perhaps my greatest challenge in athletics as well as in life.  With a continued desire to emphasize strengthening relationships over training I’ll look to reevaluate my prioritization of time and finances so that everyone can be happy.  This includes – separating races and family time so that I can be fully present and available, budgeting visits, non-racing trips ahead of time, limiting triathlon related expenses (coaching, nutrition/fueling and races), being ok with sleeping in once and a while (we’ll see about this one!), ensuring I can be my best at work each day and taking the most out of each opportunity.

Goals and Objectives

Tough act to follow Balance but my major focus for 2017 will be the 70.3 distance with a desire to qualify for 70.3 Worlds, find new PR’s and improve my USAT AG ranking.  Since these objectives are based on variable factors outside of my control my main goal will be to improve upon my performance indicators collectively in each discipline and on race day (sub 30 min swim, 260+ watt NP average and sub 1:25 run).  Targeting these goals with continuous and intelligent use of Tower26 sessions, strength focused trainer sessions to build FTP (330+ watts) and a return to steady, strong and uninjured running volume.  I truly feel that I can be knocking on the door without drastic changes, I’m already so close to the 4:teens where magic begins happening for male Age Grouper’s.

I intend to do Arizona as a late season Full however my goals will be low for this race, looking only to have a solid experience to build upon setting up a Full focus in 2018.

Season Complexion

season-planning

Core Sessions

Looking to preserve the same training week composition that was established 5 years back when I started with QT2.  I have switched to a 2 week up (Build) 1 week back (Recovery) pattern vs the 3 up 1 back I have done in the past, once I get into the meat of the season.  “Sleep in” is code for “down time” and may fill either mornings or evenings, as long as I can make myself available.

weekly-complexion-2

Treatment

In order to have success in training I want to feel confident again in my body’s capabilities which requires a complete look into my weaknesses, including preexisting calf, back and piraformus issues, however open to anything new.  As athletes there’s an emphasis to build the engine however without a strong foundation to keep things moving forward your days will ultimately be numbered no matter how fast you are.  I have already seen a Physical Medicine Dr who authorized an MRI which has shown no evidence of an existing tear.  In addition she has recommended an in-network Sports PT (which I can reasonably afford) who I intend to help with fixing my diagnosed issues and strengthening my weak links so that I can run strong and confident again.

In addition I will look to continue doing the things that have already worked for me including strength in the gym, routine weekly Yoga, rolling with the Vyper, icing post runs and adding an adjustable standing desk for posture at work.

Run Strategy

As it pertains to returning to a faster runner off the bike as I was in 2014, while carefully monitoring and limiting intensity, I built a run program that is designed to gradually increase volume and intensity while maintaining a ceiling at <6min/mile.  The plan carries much of what I did with QT2 emphasizing runs off the bike, consistent volume, easy recovery and lots of Z1/Z2 running.

weekly-run-breakdown

Swim and Bike

Worth briefly mentioning I intend to stick with Tower26, a program that has not only made me faster, enjoy the sport of swimming (separate from triathlon swimming), but has exposed me to a community that is supportive, encouraging and gets each other. A group with a sense of comradery I haven’t felt a sense of since my college days of running Cross Country 10 years ago.

Tower26 logo

As the bike is concerned I hope to keep doing what I’m doing with consistent trainer workouts and outdoor weekend sessions however I look to team up with buddies for my Interval workout (Tuesday) and Long ride (Sunday) to maintain accountability and make training a little more fun.  I also look forward to continuing to rep Hot Wheels in my Cycling Team kit –

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Strength/Core/PT Exercises

I will continue with my current Strength and Yoga routine during lunch at work which is convenient and quick.  I’d like to dial down the days doing strength yet monitor to ensure my strength doesn’t fall off as it has in the past.  I remember squating 185 comfortably in the off season (November-December) then suddenly struggling at half that weight during the regular season without careful attention.  I have my base weight/reps I want to ensure I can do throughout as I’ve learned consistent strength training is vital to staying healthy and uninjured.

I’ve received specific PT exercises focusing on my weak areas.  I intend to do these 2-3x a week no matter what and continue to modify, build and test to ensure I am headed in the right direction.  I can not run/train at my best without full confidence and I look forward to receiving that feeling again this year.

Nutrition/Supplements

Not too much of a change here, just need to focus on a continuation to eat cleaner and adapt to training volume for weight management.

https://david-welby.com/2014/11/21/nutrition-take-3/

Race weight (162.5lbs)

Uggh, never in my life have I been 170+ lbs until this year.  In college I was <155lbs at my lowest (that’s at 6′-1″!).  My body is still changing…

10-years-apart

I hope to be 162lbs by St George in May (currently 174lbs).

In Summary…

By adhering to everything I’ve mentioned, staying consistent yet also reasonable and enjoying the process I am hopeful that I can make some good things happen in 2017.  I do this stuff because I love it and it’s fun to do.  Being sidelined in the past has only served to show me how important racing is. Bring on 2017!!

 

My 2016 Halloween Movie List

Halloween is my #1 holiday of the year, and a tradition that was established about 5 years ago with Buffalo Roommates who shared my sentiment was to celebrate the month through gruesome movies/shows, one after another, shared together.  This list celebrates the sentiment as the tradition wasn’t about just watching the best, scariest most horrific movies as it was about the process of picking to see who could raise the bar the highest.

The below list is in no way representative of my favorite Halloween movies, though that might be another good list to come, rather it is a simple selection of what has been presented to me by friends this year to which I have answered with a brief one sentence classification (also attaching a link to Rotten Tomatoes to better determine their worth).  Today marks roughly the first half of the way through October and I hope to expand this list by double before it’s over so please offer any suggestions, new or old to keep the tradition running, and always watch in a group for maximum effect.

1

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https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_invitation/

Psychological thriller with slow build to intense climax.  A good movie to talk about after, particularly for those living in LA.

Fun and worth the wait.  Available on Netflix.

2

it-follows

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/it_follows

Fun, simple premise.  High critic reviews with a questionable ending.  Low budget and recent with an 80-90’s vibe.

Must watch!

3

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https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/green_room_2016

Gore, gore, gore!!  You will not feel good about this during and particularly after but it does it’s job well.  Bitter sweet staring Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart.

Good luck getting to sleep after.

4

the-babadook

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_babadook

Critically acclaimed, multi layered, demonic possession thriller.   I didn’t realize the totality of this film until it was explained to me after.

Worth a try.  Available on Netflix.

5

the-green-inferno

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_green_inferno

Intrigued to see this for it’s shock value.  The premise is great but character development poor and forced.  Poor reviews and not recommended unless for the middle 10 minutes or so of in your face horror.

Don’t watch this.

6

devil

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/771203480

The kind of movie you can have on in the background while answering work emails.  I watched it on a long plain ride and don’t feel bad about it however low on the totem pole of better options.

If stuck on the bait, better and slightly less horrific than the presidential debates.  Available on Netflix.

7

stranger-things-title-card

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/stranger_things

Awesome Netflix series to watch one at a time or all at once, taking the place of what American Horror Story might have filled in the past.  Awesome 80’s vibe.  Lots of Halloween costumes projected from this one.

Great to watch.  Available on Netflix.

A note to all the Trolls

I am neither  a professional athlete nor distinguished writer.  My business card says Toy Designer, though I have no formal education in design.  You might say I’m an Engineer if you’re talking about my BS in Mechanical Enigneering, which I utilize less each day.  I’m just a regular guy with modest aspirations trying to stay active and ahead of the curve in a world full of imaginary standards and diminished expectations.

A few months ago I found myself in the intriguing position to post something I had written about in the LA times.  I didn’t think about the mere $300 bucks or how far my little post might extend itself.  I simply saw it as an intriguing, perhaps achievable objective that I could post on Facebook and make my parents feel proud about.  I never anticipated it would receive hundreds of comments, grow to the “the number one story on the site”, make the Spotlight Section on Google news, or that I would receive 50,000 hits on my blog page in the next week because of it.  Furthermore, I never contemplated that all that exposure might end up as a detriment.

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and my personal favorite –

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I don’t write for quantity (hits), I write for quality, because I enjoy it, find the process therapeutic, and because it helps me reach out to others who can relate on some level.  The topic of dating seemed like an obvious grab because we’ve all been there and unlucky to me yet fortunate for the world due to some impeccable arrangement of personality characteristics and geographic destiny (now living in LA) I’ve found myself with enough amazing stories to go on for hours, and that’s at the ripe age of 32.

Up until two months ago I had read each comment from every post and replied, because only sharing from Facebook the majority came from friends and would be purposeful or positive and in nature.  Then one morning I woke up at 3am to an email notification reading “You have a new comment on your post…” with a short yet to the point – “YOU FUCKING IDIOT”.  I’ve had trolls search through dozens of blog posts and race reports going back years, creating WordPress ID’s and taking the time to write comments such as –

 

bad-blog-comment

Despite my drive I try not to take myself too seriously and enjoy poking fun at my misfortune with others if it’ll get a laugh.  I am resilient as hell when it comes to adversity.  So today (tomorrow) I am opening up the floodgates.  To all the trolls do your worst, I implore you!!  But for everyone else, even just a handful, if you’ve shared in one of my experiences, felt bad but learned, or are going through something right now, please feel free to comment as well, post a note and I will reply.  Who knows, after this next go around I may be out for the count, but I’m still open to grow this thing and share my experiences, if I can believe it’s for a good purpose.

– David Welby

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2016 Santa Cruz 70.3 Race Report

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Two months ago I raced what I thought would be my last HIM of 2016 at Vineman 70.3.  For that race I took the pressure off and went in with no expectations other than have fun and leave all I had out on the course.  The result being my first sub 30min swim, a strong bike and a respectable run for a 4th in AG, an unfortunate 30 seconds out of a 70.3 World Championship spot for 2017 in Chattanooga.  I returned to LA feeling dejected, despite my solid performance, and found myself within hours signing up for one more shot at Worlds via 70.3 Santa Cruz.

My thought for Santa Cruz after Vineman was that it wouldn’t necessarily take much to secure a spot, just a solid swim, bike and run strung together at a less renown race.  I didn’t plan to take it easy by any regards however the length of the season was starting to get to me physically and mentally.  I would make every workout but sit longer in the car mustering the energy to get started and when I would I was often getting my butt kicked on sets that I would have crushed in the Spring.   Despite the resistance everything was going fine enough until a run 3 weeks out left lingering soreness in the same calf that I had injured back in 2015, which had kept me sidelined for most of the year.  Not having a coach I was in a position to freak out however I instead decided I would take a more methodical approach before simply throwing money at it like I had done in the past.  I spoke to some friends, laid out a plan and decided once it was in writing I would go into it with confidence and not second guess myself.

PREFACE

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The result was a healthy 1:28 with no resulting pain.  A modest but happy end to my season and confidence builder in my ability to make an objective solution to a highly emotional problem.

PRE-RACE

Camping is my favorite way to experience a race but it takes A LOT of consideration to detail.  Any 1 missing component out of 100 can lead to a wrecked weekend.  Excluding one heart rate monitor I did pretty good.

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Race morning despite a tone of complication everything came into play.  I forgot BOTH Garmin’s yet a good friend and Sherpa was able to get them to me on time.  The run from swim to T1 was on a half mile of concrete after 30 minutes in cold water, but I was one of the few that had a second pair of shoes waiting to take the pounding off.  The porta-poties ran out of TP but I had extra in my pocket just in case.  I found stretch bands in my kit while waiting an hour for my swim wave, and nutrition went to perfection despite dropping a gel on the bike.  Some race mornings are a disaster but this one felt totally in my favor.

SWIM

An ocean swim almost straight out and back should have catered to my Tower26 Wednesday morning beach training.  My wave ended up being over an hour back of the start (second to last wave) so I had to wait around an uncomfortable amount for this one then swim through a literal sea of stragglers.  I don’t know if it was my attitude or fitness but my performance was very underwhelming at 33:00, 3 minutes behind my lane mates from the pool.

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Swim – 33:00 (45th in AG)

BIKE

After a half mile run on concrete to T1 I was anxious to make up some ground on the bike, settling into my 260 watt target and holding very consistent throughout, despite rolling terrain.  For the first time since 2014 my heart rate found itself at my goal 160bpm.  This was a huge confidence builder.

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Bike – 2:31:18 (21st in AG) 162 bpm – 254 watts NP

RUN

Heading out on the run I was terrified.  I didn’t know what I would have from a fitness perspective but more so I didn’t know if my calf was going to stay attached or not.  My goal was to go out overly conservative but still sub 7:00, run based on comfort then drop the hammer in the second half.  Again my HR played out perfectly!  I was able to turn it up a notch with a mid run split of 6:09 and suffered through the end but still kept it sub 6:40.

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Run – 1:28:27 (17th in AG) 172bpm

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Passing through the finish after an abrupt turn onto the beach (I was told it would be 0.3 miles on sand but it ended up being only 100 yards or less) I was heart broken to hear 17th in AG.  Not even close!!  The leaders had all been in the 4:10’s-4:20’s.

SUMMARY

I had thought Santa Cruz might be the answer to 2017 Worlds with a modest effort.  Some days you’re competition shows and others might be a freebie, but the way this sport has gotten those days have become way to seldom to ever count on.  Heading into 2017 I don’t want to do another race to place (though that is the goal), I want to go into it to CRUSH, healthy and motivated.  The competition is to stiff to show weakness and I owe it to myself to go in full hearted or not at all.  That’s how you race and that’s how good things happen.

Added motivation was seeing my buddy and teammate John Mulchany get in for next year.  An awesome show of gratitude which reminded me of why we do this.

Overall a great weekend with an awesome group of friends.

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2016 Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Vineman Banner

Vineman 2014 was an unexpected 70.3 PR, still to this day, with a 4:25 overall time and 1:21 run split, one of the fastest amateur runs on a hilly course.

Vineman 2014 Race Report – https://david-welby.com/2014/07/16/vineman-70-3-race-report/

Against my better judgement I looked at this prior achievement as a gauge of past and present, old and new, good and bad leading up to race day with plenty of training analysis and race simulation.  I wanted my results on race day to signify progress from where I was in my peak of 2014 to after my calf injury and training re-calibration.  Then this morning at Tower 26 Ocean swim practice my swim coach Gerry Rodrigues framed up a profound and contrary sentiment, one that I have tried desperately to adhere to over my last year of relatively poor performances – we as athletes aren’t our race outcome (as in swim, bike, run results), ‘we are the process’, and not always, but eventually when we show up day in and day out to do the work good things will happen.

I did a lot of things uncharacteristically for myself in the week leading up to Vineman.  Enjoying the 4th of July holiday for many days and nights in a row, going out, having fun, living life and not concerning myself too much about the sport of triathlon.  Getting in the workouts but not staying true to my rest and nutrition.  I justified my actions with the thought that in my peak I was still off the podium there so why sacrifice my fun and social life for a few meaningless minutes, after all I’m not a pro and the sport clearly isn’t paying any bills.  This kind of thought has been churning in my mind a lot lately, and I’ve discussed it with close friends and training buddies much over the last month.  As a result I may or may not have approached race day a little less than my best however what I did gain was less pressure than I ever remember feeling going into a 70.3 or any other distance triathlon for that matter.  Many have suggested that difference alone was what helped make the day.

The result of my disposition, spectacularly ironic.  Not only did I podium with 4th place in AG, I found out at awards with 3 spots allotted and a difference of only 50 seconds between 3rd and 5th I missed a Worlds Qualifying finish by just 30 seconds!  A similar result in the past would have haunted me for the entire 8 solo hour drive home but somehow I wasn’t upset (or truthfully at least much less upset).  Finally after 18 months of underwhelming performances I was reminded of why I love this sport, why the sacrifice is worth it.  Because of how rewarding it is to aspire to be your best, come into T2 with a small handful of bikes and go after the leaders.  Because hard work pays off and minutes, although more difficult to come by these days are worth the struggle.

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4th in Age Group, 1st in most ridiculous Podium outfit

2016 Vineman Race Report

Swim – 29:44 (PR)

Excluding Wildflower (27:XX) and Tahoe (0:59:XX) I have been going after my first sub 30 minute 70.3 swim for a while now, coming very close at Vineman 2014 and Oceanside 2015.  Since I wanted to race fast I wanted to start with a faster than normal swim, which meant catching and maintaining behind the sub 30 group.  I envisioned in my mind the red line they have been showing in Olympic swim trials that represents the World Record.  My red line was a group of 4 guys just ahead of me that I fought to catch but were just out of reach.  At the turn around we were forced to stand up and race walk through the sharp pebbles.  I was within a few feet at the start but couldn’t keep them with me, losing about 10 meters in the process.  I swam the whole way back to T1 upset about my race being over because I couldn’t push a little bit harder.

When I hit the shore I paused my watch but couldn’t see the time until removing my arms from the wetsuit.  When I finally saw 29:35 (watch time) I was beyond ecstatic.  It has been a rough last few weeks with many poor performances in the pool but my coach kept his cool, let me continue trusting in the process, and the result was realized on race day.  Now that I’m here I hope to stay under the mark as best as I can.

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Bike – 2:26:49 (slight course PR)

Despite the course PR not all went well here.  I had hoped for a 260 watt average target but managed closer to 255 watts, not wanting to push it any harder than that, listening to my body.  About 15 miles into the ride my aero bar snapped off at the arm rest.  Fortunately my Torpedo Cage kept the unit together however it made it very risky getting into full aero, instead I was forced to place the majority of my weight on the left side, or stay on the side bars (as observed in the photo below).

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Bike Data

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Why does this sort of thing only happen in races?!?

Run – 1:28:13 (vs 1:21:38 2014)

I purposely made the call to ignore my Garmin heading out on the run.  I wanted to go entirely by feel since I knew heart rate and pace would be discouraging.  The course was hillier than I remember and I was joined by another 30-34 AG’er almost the entire way, hunting our group down one-by-one.  I had planned to run, not race or jog, the first 8 miles until increasing the effort to strong 8-10 and fast 10-13.  Unfortunately it was all in my head since I, and many others ended up suffering in the heat.  I ended up running only two 7+ minute miles, a 7:15 and a 7:19, regrettably those 30 seconds ended up making the difference between 3rd and 4th place.  Since the AG was split into 2 waves I didn’t have the chance to see 3rd (he had finished 5 minutes before me).

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Vineman Run Data

Take Away

A spark has been litten.  My Fall race schedule was uncertain up until this point but I have already signed up for Santa Cruz 70.3 since returning home in hopes of earning my spot to the 2017 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga.  So few races to choose from with so many people fighting should make things interesting but nothing would make me happier then a triathlon reunion with friends from around the country with this race back in the US again.

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My race crew, Mark the Shark and Julia, both with impressive performances on the day

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Three-peat victory for fellow Tower26er Holly Lawrence with an incredible 8 min separation!

Vineman Simulation

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a friend of mine “why do you spend so much time training and money on coaches just to do so terrible in all your races??”  The question may have been considerably off base however it did lead me to contemplate the fact that I have been spending a disproportionate amount of time on training for my results as of yet this year in comparison to years prior.  This realization urged a deeper look at training/racing data to see how I have been performing, whether I have been hitting my potential and if so why might my fitness be less than what it was in comparison to the past.

To understand further I decided at the end of a recovery week to throw in a race simulation to determine with certainty if my uncharacteristically high HR in races thus far in 2016 has been a fluke or more indicative of something greater, after all once may be a fluke, twice a coincidence but three times is the start of a clear pattern.  The simulation was performed at Santa Monica College and replicated race conditions as closely as could be imagined with a 1.2 mile long course wetsuit swim followed by a quick transition to the trainer for 60 minutes and then right onto the track for 3 miles, all targeting 70.3 race effort.  My hope was that this experience would show that my high HR so far could be due to the stress of racing, heat/humidity or something else tied to race day.  The unfortunate truth however was consistent with what I have experienced at Desert Tri, Oceanside and Texas, shown below using Vineman 2014 as a gauge with Vineman 2016 being the goal approaching in 3 weeks.

Simulation Pool Swim

The purpose of the swim was nothing at all about speed or performance rather laying down a strong effort before jumping on the bike to help elevate my HR and simulate race day.   Swimming in a pool removed the need of sighting however the lane was jam packed so swimming around others felt at least a little like the real thing.  The result was very similar to what I would expect for a decent 70.3 swim (30:12).

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Swim Data

2014 Vineman Swim 30:47

Simulation Trainer Ride

At the end of my swim I quickly jumped out, stripped off my suit and ran with gear in hand about the quarter mile to where I had set up my trainer on the track.  I even sprinted 100 yards up and down on the football field so that I would feel just as I might mounting my bike in a 70.3.  The plan was very basic and simple, 5 minutes at 240 watts, prepping for the next 15 minutes at 260 watts (race effort), 25 minutes back down at 200 watts to recover and the last 15 minutes at race effort again to tire the legs before jumping off for the run.  I had hoped that my HR would come down by the end of the first 20 minutes however I completely expected it to adjust for the last 15 minutes after 25 minutes of recovery.  The unfortunate result was a consistent 170-173bpm, compared to my previous target of 159bpm at similar power back in 2014.  This is 100% consistent with my HR/Power at Oceanside which was 171bpm at 260 watts averaging over the 56 miles.

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Bike Heart Rate

Bike Data

2014 Vineman Bike

(Average Power 251 watts – Average HR 162bpm)

Middle 3rd 260 watts at 161 bpm

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Simulation Track Run

Having paced and fueled on the bike just as I would on race day, and already noting my unfortunate result, all that was left was to jump off and run 3 miles at race pace to see how my body would respond, hoping that it would recover.  On the positive side my pacing ability is still just as spot on as in college, splitting each lap to the second, targeting 6:13/mile.  On the negative however despite a strong but manageable effort I checked my watch afterward to see I was in the low to mid 180’s for the majority of the less than 20 minutes, a completely unsustainable effort for what would have been 13.1 miles on race day.

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Run Heart Rate

Run Data

2014 Vineman Run

(Average Pace 6:13/mile – Avg HR 171bpm)

Run

Brief Synopsis

To break down the days workout into two components, perceived effort and performance, the perceived effort, even going completely solo, was not very difficult or more than what I would have anticipated for a Half Ironman HOWEVER performance as represented by HR was way beyond what my body could be expected to handle for 5 hours of exercise.  My old program preached familiarity with race day fueling to maximize efficiency through the body’s ability to absorb nutrients at a sustained effort.  I may be able to handle 56 miles on the bike at 170bpm however when it came time for the run I would inevitably bonk from lack of fuel, this is exactly what happened at Oceanside and Texas where my bike HR was consistently 170bpm or above.

So what does this mean??  One of 3 possibilities –

  1. Lack of Fitness
  2. Equipment Failure
  3. Health Concern

It’s easy to eliminate Equipment Failure by checking past data or swapping devices.  Is it possible my Kicker is reading low? HR monitor reading high, maybe, if it wasn’t for such consistent results.  I also checked my HR by pulse a few times on the bike to confirm, it was screaming.  Health concern??  I don’t know.  I brought this up to my Doctor who knows very little about athletes.  I once told a Doctor after an 8k post college that my average HR had been 201bpm to which he said “we need to get you to a hospital right away!!”.  General physicians, in my experience, just don’t understand how an athlete’s body performs compared to the vast general public.  Lack of Fitness, I’m thinking BINGO however it’s a hard solution to accept considering my bike and swim numbers have been just as good as ever in this years Time Trials and Power Tests.  I have stuck to the plan prescribed as best as one can for the better part of 6 months.

The reason I use 2014 for comparison is not just because it was one of my latest and best performing years, it’s also because my race calendar and periodized scheme matches that of my current 2016 plan exactly.   April 70.3, May Ironman, Vineman 70.3, with Vineman being my current PR, despite racing through 3 Mega weeks including 25, 26, and 27 hours of strong work back-to-back.  The point being if I’m tired now because of my race plan I was definitely more tired then, still kicking ass despite my body hating me.

Running may be the most significant variable in this equation.  In 2014, off of very little running volume I was able to throw down a 1:15 open to start the season.  I remember cruising 6:36 pace comfortably on long runs and even hitting a 6:00 Z1 mile at one point.  Then in 2015 I hurt my calf and was forced to take time off.  Since I have not been able to push much of a fast pace without fear of re-injury.  The sad result I believe is that I am not as fast as I used to be when it comes to running.

The purpose of this post was simply to recognize a concern, look at it objectively to decide how to respond.  I realize I am not in the same place I was in the past and should consider adjusting my expectations accordingly as I move toward my next Half Ironman or else suffer an inevitable fate.  I don’t see racing for 5 hours over 170bpm average as a relistic option.  I appreciate any input that can be provided!!