October 30, 2014

2014 Season Wrap Up

This tri season saw a lot of interesting action this year, and was definitely a roller coaster of sorts. I’m so thankful for everyone who has been there for me and made my season the most successful season of my career!

The beginning of the season started with a very poor race in Christchurch, New Zealand; a crash in Mooloolaba, Australia; an “okay” race in New Plymouth, New Zealand; and a terrible DNF race in Auckland, New Zealand that included diarrhea.

I came home, reorganized my entire race schedule, moved to Clermont, Florida with Jarrod Shoemaker and Alicia Kaye, and “started my season over”. I had amazing hot weather training with Alicia for a couple months and started my season back with a 2nd place finish at ITU Bridgetown, Barbados. I then had the most “memorable” situation of the year by having a heatstroke and two seizures at our Pan American Championships in Dallas, Texas.

At this point, Katie had an injured Achilles, I was recovering from my time in the hospital, and so it worked out quite well that we were able to take it easy back in Santa Cruz, CA. Once we were both able to start getting back into things, Katie had the opportunity to work with Bobby McGee in Boulder, CO. So Katie and I moved there and were living with a guy named Craig Sweeny. Craig is freaking awesome, let that be known. He made our experience in Boulder a seriously incredible one!
Once I had gotten some solid base hours under my belt, my coach Joel Filliol spent quite a bit of time making sure all my workouts were specific towards getting me back in shape easily and safely. I came back to Santa Cruz in August for my first race back after my hospital hiccup, and ended up having an awesome race and winning. The next weekend I won my first ever ITU race in Kelowna, Canada and best of all, I got to share the top of the podium with Katie!

After that race, I drove Paula Findlay’s car to Edmonton, Canada to race Aquathlon World Champs, and watch Katie race the Grand finale. I ended up getting extremely sick the night before the race but still raced and finished 4th.

After Edmonton, Katie and I flew back to Boulder, drove to Phoenix, flew to Las Vegas and raced the Las Vegas Super Sprint, where I finished 3rd overall (2nd American for USAT Sprint National Champs) and then flew back to Santa Cruz.

Two days later we raced the Triathlon at Pacific Grove (which is just a quick 40min drive from my house) where I finished 2nd to my good friend Joe Maloy. After that I had a few days to recover which I took the opportunity to fly back to Clermont and pick up all my stuff that had been left there (because after Dallas I ended up having to fly back to Santa Cruz instead of back to Florida where I had moved).

Once I had all my stuff in one place, Katie and I moved into a trailer that is parked on my sister and brother in-law’s property, while my parents (who had just sold their house of 30 years) were living in a room in their house to help take care of my two nephews because my Brother in law is in fire academy and my sister is coaching swimming. My parents have bought a new house and will move in around Jan 1st, but until then, the entire family is all together on one property!

During this time, I finally had the perfect moment and I asked Katie to marry me! Fortunately she said yes, and we set the wedding date for January 17th, 2015!

For the end of the season push towards Tongyeong, I was training in Santa Cruz, went to Kona, Hawaii for a week with Katie and her sponsor Coeur Sports, and then flew to Tongyeong, South Korea where I was 3rd , my first ever World Cup podium – All this while planning a wedding!
After Tongyeong I flew back to San Diego where I finished off my season with a 5th place at Lifetime Tri Oceanside. Katie and I drove back up to Santa Cruz, settled in for a bit, and two days later we are off to spend our off season back in Hampstead, Maryland where her family is.

Overall this season was full of adventure with some heavy lows, but also, some extreme highs. I’m looking forward to starting next season ranked 65th in the world in the ITU points ranking, and continuing to contribute to the positive growth that the USA men’s program has been showing, and ideally be an important part in helping the US men qualify 3 spots for the Rio Olympic Games!

Lifetime Tri Oceanside

After ITU Tongyeong, I flew back to San Diego to meet up with Katie and to prepare for my final race of the season - Lifetime Fitness Tri Series Finale in Oceanside. Breaking away from my norm, I was excited to race a high level Non-Draft race just to test those waters. I didn’t have my TT bike, but luckily my parents wanted to make the 8hr drive from Santa Cruz to San Diego and they were able to bring me my TT bike the day before the race!

Since I never race this style of triathlon, I wasn’t really sure what to expect and I ended up making a few errors that I won’t make again in the future. Luckily this race was just for fun, and so learning from my mistakes here was a bigger benefit than loss.

Since this was a non-draft race I came in prepared to take advantage of my strength and swim very hard. I didn’t really know what to expect on the bike as I don’t have a power meter and I’ve only ridden my TT bike a handful of times. My goal was to swim off the front, and then ride off the front as long as possible and try to go with Cameron Dye and Ben Collins when they came past. I estimated I would need about a minute gap ahead of Joe Maloy and Hunter Kemper as well as keeping Cameron and Ben within about a minute at T2. My strategy played out perfectly until Cameron actually came past me at about 20 minutes into the bike and I was only able to ride with him for about 12 seconds. After about another 10min of riding solo Ben Collins came past me and I tried to go with him – same thing, about 30 seconds trying to ride with him I already knew I wouldn’t be able to walk off the bike if I continued at that pace. Luckily there was a group of David Giaradini, Eric Lagerstrom, Javier Gomes, Hunter Kemper, and Joe Maloy who swallowed me up soon after and once I was in that group it was unbelievably easy to ride. The stagger rule, and the mental break from solo pacing was a huge advantage and riding with that group was a piece of cake! Once I was in that group I was immediately upset at myself for having swam so hard and put so much effort in on the bike at the beginning of the race.

I had good positioning heading into T2 and had a good transition and started off the run right on pace. I felt awesome and was having a fantastic run pacing with Hunter Kemper and holding off Joe Maloy. I ended up dropping Hunter and at 6k Joe Maloy came past me. I went with Joe and felt good until about 7k when all the sudden, like hitting a wall, my body started shutting down. It was exactly the same thing that happened in Tongyeong the week before, but at least this time I made it another kilometer further! My training has been awesome, but I haven’t quite got the fitness for completing a full 10k at the pace I would like. I ended up getting dropped by Joe and at this point I was about 10 seconds back of Ben Collins. I slowed the pace a bit just to hang on and knew that when Hunter was coming around me I would try and go with him. It didn’t work. When Hunter came around I had nothing and couldn’t go with him, and once he caught Ben they both worked off each other and started pulling further away. With one k to go Joe had about a 15 second gap to Hunter, Ben and now Cameron Dye. I tried pretty hard to catch that group, but at that point they had ramped up the pace quite a bit in a mad dash for the podium, series win, and triple crown victory, so with no one in sight behind me I lost a lot of motivation to try and murder myself to join that finishing party. I ended up running quite a bit slower the last section and finishing a solid 5th place (and just behind the women’s winner, my squad mate and good friend, Alicia Kaye. After the 10:13 women’s equalizer).

Overall I’m pretty darn happy with this result, and even more stoked for my good friend Joe Maloy who came away with the biggest win of his career! I can’t wait to race this style more in the future, and really hone my TT skills, tactical skills, and finish off that darn 10k all the way to the line!

ITU Tongyeong World Cup

The week before this race I had an amazing opportunity to go with my fiancé (thanks to one of her awesome sponsors, Coeur Sports) to Kona for the Ironman World Champs! It was an amazing experience and I was able to get some good training in leading up to the race. Another benefit, besides just being in Hawaii with amazing people, is that Hawaii is on the way to South Korea! This made travel extremely easy, and I was well prepared for the final ITU World Cup of the season.

The weather could not have been better when I got in to the little fishing village of Tongyeong, it was perfect conditions and team USA had strong contingent of athletes that were racing so the energy was positive everywhere. Before the race I had a quick chat with a few guys about a breakaway and basically said we had a few Americans who were on board and committed to a breakaway out of the water. I had imagined a few more guys being there, but the way it worked out the group that got together on the bike was able to get the job done on the day.

I swam pretty hard the first 250m, made sure the main swimmers were all around and then set a fairly high tempo for the first lap. In the second lap Anthony Pujades from France, and Henri Schoeman from South Africa came around and started setting the pace. It was perfect. I got to relax back in the group with the pace staying high in the water. When we exited the water we had a group of five and we charged through T1 and smashed the first 2ks on the bike. We discussed waiting for two men coming up behind us but then realized they weren’t making too much progress so we ended up just starting our “team time trial” there and never looked back.

On the first lap there were multiple groups out on the road with various gaps, but by the start of the second lap there was only a couple groups and the gap was already over a minute. We were all encouraging each other and I was giving the group splits and we all kept pushing. As the bike leg went on the chase groups became the “chase group”. Basically the rest of the athletes were in that second group on the road and they obviously weren’t getting organized. By the end of the ride, our group of 5 athletes had about 2.5 minutes on the chase group. It was the perfect situation as my country mate Ben Kanute helped keep the pace high and would yell “2min? I want more, let’s keep going!” and the pace would stay up.

I had a good position in the front leading into T2 and was the first one out on the run. At about the 2k mark I was joined by Kanute and Schoeman. The three of us ran together for another 2.5k and Kanute ended up falling off the pace a bit. I stayed with Henri for another lap, and felt good, but then around 6-7k I completely blew up. I was thinking “oh no, I just need to keep it together for 4k and I’ll be good for the podium”. I ran by myself, watching Schoeman slowly get further and further in front, and watching the fast runners behind start closing the gap extremely quickly. I got splits from coaches at 4k that said “David Hauss is 80 seconds back” then at 2k the split was “Hauss is 40sec back!” which meant he took 40 seconds out of me in 2k and was 40 seconds back and I only had 2k to go. I dug as deep as I could and when I was at about 500m to go, Kanute had caught back up to me and was running just behind. When we came around the corner to the finish chute, he started his sprint and I tried as hard as I could to go with him but I had zero energy left. I ended up crossing the line in 3rd, still good enough for my first ever World Cup podium!

I’m extremely happy with this result as it is a glimpse of what I am capable of. I’m still not back to full condition after my accident in May, but with the way the end of the season has panned out I couldn’t be happier. Another positive is that the ride was the highest average wattage I’ve ever had in an Olympic distance race, which means I’m still progressing, and getting stronger.

Thanks to Joel Filliol my coach for believing in me through all the ups and downs this season, I could not have gotten to where I am right now without his support. My sponsors, ROKA, NYAC, Brooks, PowerBar, Family Cycling Center, and Santa Cruz Running Company have all been an extremely intricate part of my success this year. Please support them as they have helped me!

September 16, 2014

Three Races, Three Places

After Kelowna I wanted to stay in Canada to be able to watch Katie (and my squad) race the Grand Final in Edmonton. I ended up driving Paula Findlay’s car the 10hrs from Kelowna to Edmonton and had an amazing homestay with her family. I figured since I was going to be in Edmonton, I might as well race Aquathlon Worlds before the “real” races started. Unfortunately I ended up getting a virus the night before the race and spent the majority of my race preparation in the bathroom. Since there were only a few men on the start list, and money went five deep, I decided to start the race anyway. It was pretty terrible. I lead out of the water, but after 200m in the swim I was already destroyed. I got passed by three others on the run (and ran what would be equivalent to about a 17:30 5k) and finished 4th. Good enough to make $750 for 20min of effort. I would have liked to have a world title, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

Post Edmonton, Katie and I flew back to Boulder where we spent another week of training, and then packed up all our stuff and drove to Phoenix. From there we left her car (because that’s where we need it to be in about a month, and where she has the majority of her stuff) and flew to Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Super Sprint was an awesome race. We had 200m swim, 3k bike, and a 1k run X2 for prelims, and then a 300m swim, 5k bike, and a 2k run X2 at 9:00pm (on a Thursday) for finals. In prelims I ended up flying solo the whole way and qualified in second place leading into finals. In finals Aaron Royle, and Ben Kanute (who also won their heats in the morning by flying solo) and I, ended up getting away out of the first swim and that was the podium. After the first round we had about a 50sec lead on the rest of the field, so then it became a tactical game. I was kinda bummed about that because my run fitness is only at about 80-85%, but I played the game with them. I attacked about 400m out of the second T2 and had a very small lead into final 2k run, but Royle and Kanute were too fast for me and left me in the dust. I ended up finishing 3rd overall and was the 2nd American in the Elite Sprint National Championships.

After that race I didn’t get to sleep until 1:30am and Katie and my airport shuttle was at 5:15am! We got back to Santa Cruz fairly early and were able to settle in a bit before we had to race again the next day in Pacific Grove.

On Saturday Katie and I drove down to Pacific Grove (which is about a 40 minute drive from where we are living) and got all checked in and rode the course. In warm up I was absolutely destroyed from the previous week of travel and the two races I did just two days prior. I felt alright on the bike, but I knew the run was going to be a struggle for me as I am still building a solid base after my accident.

I lead the swim out and had about a 10 second gap out of the water on my good friends Joe Maloy and Eric Lagerstrom. I was so stoked to have them (and Katie) racing my favorite race of the year, and it made the day an even better experience! When I got on the bike, I wanted them to bridge up to me and so we could hammer and have a good hard team time trial on the bike, but after 20k the gap was staying exactly the same to them. I ended up sitting up and waiting for them and when they caught up to me the race dynamics changed. I was kinda bummed, but once we were together no one wanted to ride harder than the others so we slowed down dramatically. In retrospect I should have just kept riding solo, but during the race you second guess yourself. Since I wasn’t feeling great on the run, I was bummed that this just became a run race, but this race was more about seeing where my fitness is at, and just having a fun experience (while making a few bucks in the process). I ended up attacking the other two guys heading into T2 and had a sizeable lead on the run. Maloy didn’t catch me until the first of three laps. Once he caught me we ran together for another 1.5k and then I was toast. Aerobically I was feeling alright, but my legs were like two stiff logs. Joe had an amazing run, a very impressive 31:03, and took the first win of his career. I ran about 30 seconds faster than last year (but after having ridden two minutes slower than last year), but finished over a minute behind Joe for second place, while Eric rounded out the top three.

I am stoked out of my mind to be racing again, and I’ve been having a blast traveling with Katie. Next up is a solid block of training in Santa Cruz, a small trip to Kona with Katie and Coeur Sports, then on to my personal grand final, ITU World Cup Tongyeong, South Korea!

August 19, 2014

ITU Kelowna

After a solid performance at Tri Santa Cruz I was feeling very confident leading into my first ITU race “back from the dead”. It was a small field, but there were some talented runners lined up so it was definitely going to be a tough race.

I came into this race with one goal in mind – to win. Anything less than that I would not have been satisfied. Even though it was just a Pan American Cup, there were still very important ITU points on the line.

Before the race I had a chat with Andrew McCartney and Eric Lagerstrom about having a committed breakaway out of the water because we all knew we needed to ride hard to keep the super star runners at bay.

I had a great start and within the first 20 strokes already had a body-length on the field. From then I put it in cruise control and made sure McCartney and Eric were on my feet. After the first turn buoy we already had a gap, so I just kept the pace nice and smooth to make sure we stayed together. After the third turn buoy I looked back and saw McCartney was coming around me and that there was a gap to Eric. I slowed down and made sure Eric was on my feet and then swam back up to McCartney as we exited the water.

We all had solid transitions and were in a group about 1k into the ride. We worked somewhat well together on the first 10k lap, but on the second lap things started to deteriorate. The work load wasn't being shared evenly between the three of us and about 5k into the second lap I decided to go it alone. I put in a small surge and got a gap and ended up riding solo for about 3k. The gap wasn't getting any bigger and slowly they were reeling me back, so I sat up and we "regrouped".

We came flying into T2 and started the run within a few seconds of each other. The first 100m McCartney passed me and was flying! I just ran on his shoulder and was thinking to myself “man, I’m just gonna have to hang on for dear life!” But after about 800m I noticed he was slowing a bit so I decided to pick up my cadence and keep it rolling. From then it was just maintain my cadence and form to the line. I was pretty happy to run hard the entire time even with a substantial gap to the next athlete, but the main goal was “maintain my form”.

I was extremely stoked when I was coming down the finish chute for my first ever ITU victory (which I got to share with my girlfriend!) especially after just two months ago no one thought I would be racing again this season!

Thanks so much for everyone who has supported me through this whole process! Joel Filliol; Katie Hursey; my family; Craig our freaking awesome homestay in Boulder; and my awesome sponsors ROKA, NYAC, Brooks, Family Cycling Center, PowerBar, and Santa Cruz Running Company!

Next up, Aquathon Worlds in Edmonton!

August 14, 2014

Tri Santa Cruz: First Race Back

After my ordeal at the Dallas PanAm Champs, I was taken back to Santa Cruz for some recovery time. It was awesome spending time with my family and recovering with my girlfriend Katie Hursey as she was dealing with an Achilles injury. We ended up getting an opportunity to live and train in Boulder, CO until we were both back on track, and it has been amazing! We are both back to full health and training full time and ready to finish off the season strong.

My coach Joel Filliol and I decided it would be beneficial to race the Tri SC because it was a low key, non draft, hometown race that had a nice little Elite prize purse. Since this was going to be my first race back after my seizures, it was a great way to kick things off to prove to my parents, my girlfriend, my coach, USA Triathlon, and myself that everything was truly back to normal. I didn’t have too high of expectations leading into this race, but what I really wanted to do was run a legit 31:40 off the bike.

This was an easy trip to make with a direct flight and my TT bike already being in Santa Cruz at Family Cycling Center. Thanks to all the guys at the shop (and a front wheel from Bevan Docherty) my race machine was already dialed in when I got home.

The Race:
The swim was actually pretty warm for the pacific ocean, but it didn’t matter too much as the buoys were set much to close. I wore my garmin the whole race so I could have some numbers to show afterward, and wasn’t surprised when my watch said 12:53 after exiting the two-lap “1500m” swim.

The run to transition is a significant barefoot barge, and so after T1 when I got on the bike I had about 1:20 gap to the next athletes. Once on the bike I just went for it. I tried to hold my cadence about 98-100 the whole time and had a goal time in mind (since I didn’t have power). The bike was 37k, a little short, but I finished in 52:06 which was just under three minutes faster than my previous best on this exact course!

Once I hit the run it was truly game time. I had my goal in mind (3:10k pace) and did my best to stick to it. The course has a sharp 100m hill just out of transition, and dodging other athletes and casual cruisers along the open path made it a bit harder to keep on pace, but I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the 5k turn around (also exactly 5k on my garmin)  at 15:50. It’s slightly uphill going out, so I knew after the turn around it would be a bit easier to even split the last 5k and I would be able to nail my goal time. I brought it home nice and strong and crossed the line in total time of 1:39.16 and when I looked at my garmin was stoked to see 31:41!

Not only was it an awesome first race back, but my parents, my friend Jason, and my sister (among others) all came out to watch! Even though this is my 5th year as a professional, this was the first race my sister has ever seen me compete in.

Next up is Kelowna PanAM cup in Canada, time to start racking up those ITU points again!

June 14, 2014

ITU Dallas Pan American Championships

After ITU Barbados I had an amazing block of training in Clermont, Florida with Alicia Kaye and Helle Frederiksen. I had never been training so well and so consistent in my entire career and I was feeling extremely confident leading into Dallas. The heat had been between 95-100F (33-35c) degrees in Clermont and I was waiting to do my workouts until it was midday to practice hard efforts in the heat. When I showed up to Dallas and it was only 87 degrees it felt almost cool and I knew I was well prepared.

I had an amazing homestay with fellow USA triathlete, William Huffman, and his family took care of me like I was one of their own. Thanks to the Huffman’s hospitality the pre-race preparation could not have been more perfect! The day of the race I went about my normal routine and I was feeling ready for a good performance. As soon as the horn blew and I had clear water in the swim, I knew this race was going to be a good one.

The Race:
I had a great start and was first to the buoy. I took a quick look to see where others were and noticed I had about a 5m gap on everyone. I slowed the pace a bit to make sure I could get some people on my feet to ideally have a breakaway out of the water. The swim was extremely easy, but after the second lap there were only two people who were on my feet and one of them decided to swim around me which gapped the third swimmer. We exited the water with a small gap to various other athletes, which was kind of frustrating, but I was prepared for any situation.

I had a good transition and was on the bike by myself with no one else around. I finally got caught just after the turn around by a group of five athletes and we had a gap to the first chase of about 15-20sec. Here is where it gets interesting – I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember who was in our group, I don’t remember how long we were away for, I don’t remember if we were working together, I don’t remember ANYTHING. The only things I can remember are things that people have told me about the race.

The Hero:
From what I’m told, I was onto the run course first and then I was running in second place for a while and then on the final turn around I was in third (running with the second place guy). The last 1.25k I started falling apart majorly, and I don’t know what happened, but about 200m from the finish line, the hero of the race, another competitor named Felipe Barraza, sacrificed his own race to help me stay upright and get to the finish line. In the video and in pictures and from what people told me, he helped guide me until the final straight away and let me finish in front of him in 7th place. This was a HUGE gesture in sportsmanship as this race had extremely important Olympic Qualification points on the line. I don’t think I would have made it across the line had he not been there to guide me.


The Seizure:
Once I crossed the line I immediately flopped on the floor and started seizing. Personnel came over and moved me out of the way like a limp bag of rice and got me to the paramedics. I apparently had a heatstroke and then a seizure (which the doctors say can cause death, brain damage, and major organ failure). They airlifted me to a hospital and called my parents right away to fly out from California. I ended up being intubated and on a ventilator for 19hrs before they moved me to another hospital. I had major short term memory loss and had no idea what was going on. I don’t remember, but I need to thank Courtney Kulick from USAT, Rob Canalas from ROKA, the Huffmans,(and anyone else I don’t remember) for being there for me until my parents, and girlfriend (who flew from London!), came. The support I received was amazing!

After four days in the hospital the doctors finally released me and I spent one more night in Dallas with another amazing family, the Gilberts, before my parents, Katie, and I headed back to Santa Cruz, California for some recovery time.

The plan now is to relax and just “exercise” for about a month. After I get my follow ups with the doctors here in Santa Cruz I’ll be able to make some more decisions about what the next steps are. I’m definitely going to continue to train and race this year, but it’s going to be a slow process.

Bonus Material:
The doctors said that all my sodium levels were normal (if I wasn’t hydrated or if I didn’t have enough electrolytes these should have been completely depleted) so they think that I had a small virus which wasn’t showing any symptoms leading into the race and that the race conditions and effort put me over the top and caused the heatstroke and seizure. Having a heatstroke in these conditions isn’t that uncommon, but having a seizure is what caused all the panic.

My body temperature was 103 at the hospital.

No, I didn’t poop myself… I did throw up though.