Here we are at the end of December. I have been taking some serious time off from training, but itâ€™s time to start up again. This post is going to read a little scattered, which is a reflection of my mental status after a week of enthusiastic winter training.
I went home to Seattle after my last final. Every year I find myself out of shape at my parentâ€™s house, trying to train, see friends that I only see once a year anymore and visit with my sisterâ€™s little munchkins who look way bigger in real life than over Skype. [above: story time with (grand)ma and the boys]
As part of the process of kicking my butt into shape, I like to do the Rocket Ride, which is an open group ride run by Herriott Sports Performance every Saturday from Logboom Park in Kenmore. My goal in this first ride of the season is always just to hang on as long as possible before I get dropped. And I will get dropped, this is a pretty serious group ride. No regroups, no chatty roll out. It just goes. To make life more exciting I always try to make it to the ride from swim practice that gets out at 8:30, half an hour before the ride start. That means 10 minute drive home, 15 minutes to change and eat, then out the door in time to catch the start.
Today I started off with a flat tire, missed the start, but caught the group by riding backwards on their loop of Norway Hill. I figured I could stay with the group until Duvall, but today I was dropped on the first climb, up Hollywood. It made for a long, wet, cold ride, and I was really happy an hour later when a chase group caught me so I had something to focus on other than the snow and wet fingers. I have a long way to go in the next 14 weeks before race season starts up, but the most important thing right now is that Iâ€™m excited to train. December hurts, and the cold weather can be miserable, but I know my off-season has done itâ€™s job when I can finish a ride ten minutes behind the leaders with numb fingers, wet feet, jello legs and a smile. My job is amazing!
[click on the image below to see the ride on Garmin Connect, along with all my Garmin Vector power data]
Yesterday I had lunch with Vision Tech, which is based just north of Seattle. I saw some of the new gear they have, like the Metron 81 wheels Iâ€™ll be racing on in 2014 (carbon clinchers!), and the in-house mechanic taught me how to service my ceramic bottom bracket to make sure my P5 doesnâ€™t lose any watts during the season. Iâ€™m really excited to work with Vision again this year. Itâ€™s really cool to partner with companies that take such good care of their athletes.
[if youâ€™re interested in buying a set of wheels or something else from Vision, send me an email and Iâ€™ll let you know how to get the â€œBen Collins Discountâ€.
Blue Seventy is also based in Seattle, and they welcomed me home with a pair of neoprene toe warmers and a new set of Element goggles. My toes stayed warm on the Rocket Ride thanks to the toe covers. Iâ€™m hoping they come out with a swim skin that matches my loop dots briefs â€“ then you could definitely spot me in the swim!
2013 was a great year, but Iâ€™m really excited for 2014. Now that Iâ€™ve figured out the lung issues I was having at the beginning of the year (swimming induced pulmonary edema) I want to prove that I can ride like I did at the beginning of the season and finish off a 70.3 with a fast run. Iâ€™m stoked to train with some of the triathlon groups around Chicago, like Bishop Racing and Vision Quest, and to keep doing more and bigger events at the Garmin store on Michigan Avenue. Itâ€™s going to be a good year.