I took a big risk when I planned out my winter running racing calendar and had the Bandit 50k Ultra Trail Race culminate an 8 week period with a 50 Miler, a road marathon and a trail marathon. I took two weeks off after Ironman Lake Tahoe and then got ready for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in 8 weeks. I expected to have a strong base to run Carlsbad Marathon on January 19th and then two weeks later the Sean O'Brien Trail Marathon.
From October 1st until February 1st I ran just under 700 miles. 80% was on trails. I ran a very fast trail half marathon 2 weeks before my 50 miler and I felt some of the fatigue from that race. Then I ran Carlsbad Marathon on January 19th and was confident I could qualify for Boston by running 3:24 or better. Three of my previous four marathons were Boston-qualifying and the only race that wasn’t came down to the brutal heatwave that hit Boston for only the 2nd time in its 117 year history. I ran a 3:14 and ran a solid race, steady at my expected pace for the first 23 miles and slowed down the last 2 miles before I found a little extra speed to finish within a minute of a personal best. Nutrition was a factor that I needed to address in the next two races.
On February 1st, I ran the Sean O’Brien Trail Marathon at Malibu Creek State Park. I knew most of the course pretty well and all I wanted to do was run a solid long run to get me ready for Bandit. When I found out I was in the lead at mile seven that idea dissipated and I went for the win. I pushed the first 20 miles and limped the last 7 miles to finish in first place by 2 minutes. After that race I had already made up my my mind that I would skip Bandit since I had achieved my goal of winning SOB26 and felt like I had had enough of running. My foot was in more pain at the end of the race. After two days of doing as much as I could to recover quickly, including a massage, I was still riding the high of the win at SOB and I decided to run Bandit after all.
As a coach, I know that there is no way I can go into these events and perform at my best. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and I didn't want easy. I needed a challenge that I could learn from. My goal was to see how far I could push my body and mind with limited running. My last 3 seasons have been mostly injury free and I have increased my mileage dramatically in that time running over 1000 miles each of the last 2 full year. I have been doing the bulk of my base training in the fall and winter running mostly trails and during the triathlon year, just maintaining for endurance and race efforts for half and full ironman races.
For the first two years of my triathlon “career,” I toiled on my own. I had no idea what I was doing. No coach equaled no clue. I trained for an hour every other day, thinking I needed a full day to recover for every workout I finished. If you had asked me to complete a brick workout, I probably would have drowned after tying a string and a piece of cinder block to my leg and attempting to swim for 500 yards.
I joined Fortius Coaching after a series of back-of-the-pack finishes in the sprint and Olympic triathlon distance. If improved performance is the goal, I was failing. I needed guidance to understand how to improve. I almost dismissed joining Fortius in favor of a more famous online coaching program. The allure of purchasing a power meter and getting a series of DVDs almost was too much to resist. However, I knew that my issue wasn’t with training, buying the right equipment or hard work. No, I needed a group of people to train with, learn from, be inspired by, and compete with. Completing an online training program in isolation doesn’t compare to training and racing with a group of people who become more than competitors or training partners, but real friends. Some of my teammates even attended my wedding in 2011.
I never expected that when I first considered joining a triathlon team.
But that is what I found by joining Fortius. The best part of joining a triathlon team has been the friendships that have formed. If I had to break it down further, I think there are four primary benefits to joining a team:
Coaching: This may seem obvious at first, but coaching itself can’t be underestimated. I’ve personally seen large improvements over the past few seasons from consistent coaching with Fortius. I’m confident I wouldn’t have seen those gains by training myself. I’ve been with the team since late 2009, and Richard Nguyen and his wife, Ann, have been Fortius Coaching clients for even longer. Richard said despite living on the Westside (in close proximity to several local triathlon clubs), he prefers driving the extra miles to the San Fernando Valley to train with a group that’s fun, responsible and driven. He also appreciates how Coach Gerardo Barrios stays abreast of all the latest triathlon trends and certifications to help clients reach their goals. “(Gerardo) actually trains and races with us, plus he’s fast so you have a leader who can walk the walk,” Nguyen said.
In 2013, Fortius Racing Team had 15 athletes racing at the Great Race of Agoura. This is a typical scene at local races. The team also travels to events and last year made St. George 70.3, June Lake Triathlon, and Ironman Arizona as team events. You can never underestimate the feeling you get when seeing your teammates on the race course. This year, look for a big number of Fortius athletes at Bandit Trail Race, Oceanside 70.3, Great Race of Agoura, St. George 70.3, Vineman 70.3, Ironman Canada, Silverman 70. 3 and Ironman Arizona.
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more about Gerardo
January 26, 2014 Fortius/SMMC Bike Maintenance Clinic
February 1, 2014 Sean O'Brien Trail Race Fortius Coaching Aid StationFebruary 16, 2014 Bandit Ultra Trail Races
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