Hey everyone, thank you so much for following my career and travels thus far on this blog. Hopefully you will continue to follow me as I take on new challenges, win race, and slowly conquer the world of triathlon.
I guess in the scheme of things that is the best you can hope for going into a training camp. No major mechanicals, injuries, illnesses, or mental breakdowns. As I am sitting in the Tucson airport waiting to get home to the lil man and my beautiful wife I keep thinking about what would have made the camp better or worse, and frankly for a first go I would say we hit it out of the park.
We came to a location that we didn't know super well but we knew people there that could guide us. We paid a bit of a premium on our lodging but having a hot tub, weight room, nice treadmills, and a 25yd pool at your crash pad was pretty money. Having a place with a kitchen so you can eat out some big meals but save some money and time on breakfast and in between workouts just eating in the room. Those are all the little things that matter in the end, but looking back I think the biggest thing about a training camp of any kind is who you do it with.
I met my boy Justin Park in Tucson for this little adventure and it turned out just as we hoped, a great set of workouts and some fun in the sun. A big part of picking who you train with is what do they train for, and how do they approach it. In our case, even though Justin is more of a 70.3 guy, his coach Cliff English and mine, Neal Henderson have a lot in common in their approach to training. This made combining and swapping our workouts easy and productive.
You also have to train with someone you actually like. Training is great but 5 hr rides are pretty awful if you are riding with someone but have nothing to talk about. For that matter you have a lot of time eating and chilling too, so you better have stuff in common. Lastly, and this may actually have been the best part was that our strengths compliment each other. Justin is a super talented runner, a really solid rider and an improving swimmer. I am a solid swimmer/biker and an improving runner. We are able to ride together no problem and then push each other on our strongest/weakest disciplines, in the end making us both better for it.
Moral of the story if you are gonna set up a training camp, make your decisions carefully because each one can have a big impact on the camp's success or failure.
2012 is gonna be a big year. With Lance Armstrong back in the mix bringing the sport more to the limelight hopefully all the pro's can capitalize on it and improve our situations. I personally am getting excited to get racing again in about a month at Rev3 Costa Rica, and watch out for Justin in 2012. I'm calling it now, the guy has been super sick the last couple years, but is back in health and will be doing some damage this year.
We have now been in the desert training like its our job for 9 days. Things have been going great, and things have been going not so great. From a training stand point things have been off the hook. Putting in huge hours on the bike, and some quality mileage on the run. Not so much in the pool, but I can swim in the snow at home.
The not so good has been my gut, which has been rebelling against me for the better part of the week. The cause is totally unknown, well at least with any certainty. Could have been any of the numerous buffet's we have indulged while here, or the most likely culprit is a 1/2 gallon of milk that was not past its date yet never quite tasted right. But like any good swimmer I just keep eating it. Needless to say there was some super uncomfortable training, way to many trips to the john, and a bottle of Pepto, but in the end all seems to be well once again. Which came at the perfect time as our 5 hour ride would have been pretty miserable with tons of stops.
Since there were no stops, and the climb up Mt Lemmon was great with Cliff English and some of his crew, Justin and I had probably our best training day of the camp. We put in a solid 35 hrs this past week and then took it easier yesterday, and today the legs were back in business. Which again reminds me that triathletes that never take easy days are nuts. This sport is just too hard to never ease up a bit.
Post ride we hoped the treadmills for a controlled interval session and then the pool for an easy back and forth. Tomorrow is a long run and ride and will be a great way to finish off this camp.
As for now The Hangover is on TV and my ability to focus on this had dwindled mightily so till next time...
Today is the fourth day that I have been in Tucson, AZ at The Lodge in Ventana Canyon with my man Justin Park. We came down here to do some big miles and make sure we were getting good sleep and recovery in between. Now Justin does NOT have a baby and therefore the sleep thing isn't that big, but having my own lil 4 month old trouble maker who has decided life is too cool to sleep through, it is a big thing for me.
First day here we got in a solid run and swim and then had Cliff English, Justin's coach, give us a two wheel tour of the Tucson. The following day we did our first ascent up Mt Lemmon, getting up to the mile 14 marker with some good interval work. Then we headed down and out into the desert for some flat riding. Followed that with a good quick brick run and a short swim and called it a day. The third day was a big long run down on the river trail, which is actually a pretty awesome flat paved trail with a nice gravel shoulder most of the way. Got in my longest run ever and felt good until the last couple of miles. We finished off the day with a couple hours on the bike before sitting down to watch the Super Bowl.
That first 3 days was the biggest 2 days I have ever put in, as we trained almost 16 hrs. Then for some reason I woke up the next day a bit under the weather. Not sure exactly what was the cause, whether it was something I ate during the game or simply my body saying slow down. Yesterday was a much easier day with what just turned out to be a swim and some core work, and today may be similarly easy. Just want to make sure that whatever it is, I get over it quickly and can get back to hammering out some good training down here.
The place we are staying is nice, but the best part of where we are is that Natalie has family down in Tucson so she and Liam came down for a few days to see her family. It has been awesome to live the spartan training life but at the same time get to see my family a little bit each day.
Now its time to go for a run and see who the body responds, fingers crossed the worst is behind me...
This year the off season came a little earlier than usual with the arrival of my son Liam. After finishing off the season well at Dallas things around the Dye household have been crazy to say the least.
It started off pretty innocently the first couple weeks after Dallas with me taking my two weeks of absolutely no training and trying to just enjoy the new little man and some much needed down time. After those two weeks completely off, starts the next two weeks of what coach calls "transition" time. Not as in changing shoes, but as in slowly getting back into the water and on the bike and out for a run here and there. Nothing hard, no more than a couple workouts a day. Also getting to add in lifting again which I love from my days as a swimmer. I feel like for me lifting adds just enough of a strength element that I see big gains on the run and bike every year and it also keeps me injury free over the winter when I am putting in long base miles.
Unfortunatley, my transition training was interrupted but an extremely 4 day stay at Children's Hospital in Denver. What started as a couple of worried parents taking a son with a distended belly to the ER, turned into a helicopter ride for the lil man to Children's and a subsequent 4 day stay. During that time there was a surgery that went from "absolutely necessary" to "nothing was wrong with him". There was a round of antibiotics that were started for an infection that didn't exist, and finally a diagnosis of a virus that Liam just had to fight off on his own.
Now that probably sounds like the Dr's were crazy and did a poor job, but quite the contrary they were wonderful. Apparently Liam just displayed this virus very differently than most, and produced some alarming X-rays that turned out to be just fine. The Doc's and nurses at Children's were amazing, and my wife and I owe them the biggest thanks for taking such good care of us in such a scary time! In the end Liam is perfectly healthy and now I guess has a stronger immune system for his trouble.
Training has been going just fine. Still haven't done anything hard but have gotten in some good longer rides and some good runs. Just built up a new cycle-cross bike which after watching last weeks Boulder Cup I am extremely excited to get out on. Not sure if I will do any races, but should be a great extra bike to spend some time on this winter.
Other than that it has been the off season as normal so far. Eating some unhealthy food, drinking a few more beers, and enjoying some college football.
Check out the Q&A fellow pro Andrew Starykowicz and I had on his blog about past success' and next year's plan for more - http://astarykowicz.blogspot.com/2011/11/cameron-dye.html
I will try and add three tips for off season success at the end of each of these, here are the first:
1. Let yourself get out of shape. Being too fit for too long is hard on the body. You need to rebuild at some point so you can make gains on all your hard work.
2. Spoil yourself. If you want an extra scoop of ice cream or an extra beer have it, you hold yourself back enough during the season.
3. Cross train. We swim, bike, and run all season find something else to help with the boredom of the same ol same ol. XC ski, hike, cycle-cross, just something a little different.
This past weekend was the last race in the Chase for the Toyota Cup at the US Open in Dallas, TX. Going into the race I was coming off the emotional highs of winning the LA Triathlon as well as the birth of my first son a couple days later. That said I have to say a huge thanks to my family, in particular my wife Natalie for letting me get some sleep over the days leading up to the race as well as her mother Cindy who stayed with her at night in the hospital.
Going into the race much had been made about the tight battle for the series crown between myself, Andy Potts, and Greg Bennett who were all separated by only a couple of points. I tried to minimize my thinking on that and just concentrate on going out and tearing up the race. You win the race and the rest will take care of itself. Also, my parents came down to watch me race and although they were at HyVee earlier in the year it was great to have their support at the race.
Friday and Saturday were standard pre race. Normal meals, meetings and workouts and a great stay at the race hotel. If there is one thing that the Lifetime Fitness Series does really well it is take care of the athletes! Race time was set for 7:20 Sunday morning so it was Hawaiian pizza for dinner Saturday night with Mom and Dad and then early to bed.
4:45 wake up call came early but I never seem to have any trouble waking up for race morning. Instant adrenaline combined with a nice hot shower gets the body going. Lemon Lime EFS with a little pre-race and a couple packs of instant oatmeal and then it was time to get to transition. After a solid bike/run warm up I grabbed a towel and jacket and headed down to the water. It was surprisingly chilly race morning and although I thought twice about it I decided to get in for a swim warm up. The water was great, however, after getting out I was freezing even in my clothes and did my best to stay warm for the 15 or so minutes until the gun. Unfortunately, due to the lack of rain in Texas this summer the water was really low so instead of the normal dock start that all us swimmers love so much, we were in the water for a deep water send off.
The horn went off and I got a good start, getting into some open water and then slowly working my way over to Andy's feet. Gomez was blazing up the inside line and it looked as though we would come together right at the first turn buoy. The good news was that we did, however, the bad news was that right about then was when I got dropped. It doesn't happen very often but sometimes you just lose the feet in front of you and then no matter what you do you just can't get back on. At that point I just tried to stay calm, keep rolling and stay positive. I just tried to keep in mind that I have never won the swim in a race that I eventually won, so it was certainly not the end of the world. By the time we hit T1 I was 15-20 sec back which wasn't too bad, but the fact that even I had 30 seconds on the rest of the field was definitely a positive heading out on the bike.
As we rolled up the hill and off on the bikes I tried to mash the pedals and reel in Gomez and Potts as fast as I could. I caught and passed Andy at about mile 3 but it wasn't until almost mile 6 that I caught Gomez. I know he is a great athlete and rider, but the ITU guys get a bad rap as not being able to ride hard on their own. In some respects it was nice to see someone proving them wrong, although with him the bigger the head start on the run the better. As we rolled through the first turn around I was really hurting. Legs didn't feel that good and I was laboring pretty good just to keep my pace. Luckily u-turns give you a read on the field and as I headed back around I could see I had a decent lead and I needed to dig deep to build it over the last 7 miles or so. Before the race I had taped the hospital bracelet for my son to my bike and as I hammered home I just kept looking at it and thinking about him for a little extra motivation!
I came into T2 1min up on Gomez and about 1:10 on Bennett and I did my best to imitate LA and throw down a good run. The effort was there but on a really tough run course against two of the best in the world it just wasn't meant to be that day. At the turn around I was in third but by a good margin over Andy in 4th and I knew to stay in 2nd in the series I had to finish ahead of Andy if I was behind Greg. In the back of my mind I also knew that if Filip or someone could sneak by Andy I would move into first overall in the series, so there was plenty of reason to power home.
Coming to the line I was in 3rd, and although the margin had dwindled it was enough. By beating Andy and staying one behind Greg I had secured 2nd in the Chase for the Toyota Cup! Of course winning would have been better but considering the middle of my season and the two major problems I had during the season I was extremely excited about the result. Not only had I established myself as a real player in the world of the non-draft olympic distance I had finally finished a season as strong as I started it.
After the amazing week I had already had, finishing on the podium at US Open and getting 2nd in the Chase was the perfect end to the season. Great results, plenty of room for improvement and a great time for a little rest!
On Sunday I got home from the LA triathlon at about 12am and Natalie was having some stomach pain. We tried to get some sleep but she woke me at 6am and we decided to head to the hospital. She wasn't due for another 3+ weeks but we just wanted to make sure everything was ok. Good thing we did too because once we got there and they lessened her pain some they did some blood work and found out the baby was ok but needed to come out. Luckily our OB decided that it would be worth trying a natural delivery before doing doing surgery so they induced her at about 10am.
Sparing you the details, my wife is my hero! She had the baby with 3 epidurals that all wore off and at 2:51 Liam Robert Dye came into the world at 6lbs, 18.75in. Not too bad for a 36 and 5 baby. The doctors say that he is in perfect health and that mom is doing just great, especially considering that the way she gave birth was probably the worst way possible. I am so proud of my baby and so happy for my new baby. I will post a pic as soon as I have one on the computer, but for now I gotta figure out how to get focused on tearing up the race in Dallas on Sunday! Thank you for all kind words of support and congratulations!
In more than one way this past weekend was the third of something. It was the third race since my crash in Minnesota in July, and it was also the third time that I have done the LA Triathlon. Since anyone reading this probably knows the outcome of the race they know that the third time was a charm!
LA was exactly what I needed. It was the confidence booster I was in need of as well as the proof that my training was working and that everything I had put into the last three months had not been for nothing.
The weekend started out great as my friend Allen and I were lucky enough to be hooked up with an awesome homestay in LA. Our host for the weekend Greg was great and he made the weekend super easy. His family are the proud owners of the last single family home left on Ocean Ave at Santa Monica beach. It is the bright yellow one story with a little yard out front and a nice porch where I spent a good deal of time enjoying the ocean and the Cali weather. We were about a two mile ride from the race start so it was a great base camp for the weekend.
Race morning we got up about 2.5 hours before race start and I jumped in a hot shower as has become my routine. Followed that up with a big bottle of EFS and some maple-brown sugar instant oatmeal and then it was time to head down to the race start. We rode to transition, set up our spots a little bit and then I headed back out for some more warm up on the bike. I have noticed lately that I seem to do better with a little bit more warm up so adding in a bit extra has become a part of my pre race.
After the ride and a quick jog to shake out the legs it was in to the Blue Seventy Helix and out to the beach. The waves were not too bad and the water was brisk but not too cold. After a little swim warm up we headed back up the beach for the start. One of my favorite parts of the race in LA is the swim because you have to run in about 100m and then dolphin dive your way out until you can swim. Once we were out and swimming I took control of the pace and lead the boys around the L shaped swim course. Unfortunatley, the swim at LA is also one of my least favorite parts because you have to surf the waves back in and if you miss, you will definitely not win the swim and as I watched Greg go sailing by me I was kicking myself for not spending more time in the ocean.
It was still a good run up the beach and I came out of transition in first and began to hammer out a good tempo. Bennett stayed with me for about 3 miles but then started to fade backwards and I tried to put in a little extra effort. The bike course is a false flat uphill which is great for my style and by the first turn around I realized I had a big gap over Greg and then another good gap to the next chasers. I tried to pound some First Endurance Hulk Juice (EFS/pre-race/EFS gel) and keep the legs moving. Nothing is more motivating than a big gap and once I saw that I tried to find just a little bit more to make this as big as possible heading into T2. I had a good transition and was off and running and feeling really good.
As I headed out I felt better than I usually do and was confident in the way I had been running during training. After hitting the big hill on Grand St. the first time and getting to the top with a substantial lead I tried to not relax keep hammering out a good pace. By the time the second lap began I knew my lead was starting to slip. Greg is a fantastic runner and after watching him run down Waldo so many times over the years I knew I really needed to hoof it back to the top of the hill. Hills are hard because they obviously take a lot out of you, but when you get the chance to go up AND down, you have to take advantage. When you are in the lead if you can hit the downhill before the chaser does it is an easy way to squeak out a bit more, or in this case hold on for dear life. Rounding the final corner I took a peek over my shoulder and knew I had done it! The feeling of knowing you have won a race without sprinting to the line is amazing and I tried to soak in the crowd and enjoy the chute on the way to my second Toyota Cup win of the year.
Once it was all done I looked back and realized that for the first time in my career I was able to break the 33 min mark in a legit 10k as I had run 32:45. Now that is not the 31:04 that Filip ran, but it is a significant improvement over the past and a big move in the right direction. At the time I was excited about the race and excited to get home to my pregnant wife, but little did I know the excitement I was in for...
Luckily for me Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines exactly one week ago was not my last race of the season. It was by far the biggest focus of the year, and probably the biggest race of my life thus far but at least not the last.
Anyone who knows me or knows how my racing has gone knows that the season started great and was going along perfectly until my untimely incident in MN in July. After a couple weeks off and a couple weeks back on track the focus remained to tear it up at Hy-Vee. Going into the race I felt good physically, but mentally was a bit frazzled after my less than amazing performance in Chicago the week prior. I knew my numbers were where they should be in training but the lack of a solid ride in Chicago, the one thing I always do, had been a bit of a mental set back.
Now when you have a bad race there are plenty of reasons. You can be unfit. You can be tired or sick. You could be injured. You could just have a bad day. Or you could absolutely fry yourself with nerves in the days leading up to the race, which is more of less the diagnosis my coach and I have come to. I always put huge expectations on myself, and for the most part it is a good thing. But there are times where the weight of the world does nothing but break your back, and in this case that seems to be the outcome.
The race itself started well with a good start and a solid swim leaving me in 2nd heading out of T1. It is exactly where I wanted and expected to be and as I rode away thought it was gonna be a good day. However, as soon as I started riding I felt like I had no pop in my legs. Almost as though I was stuck in 2nd gear, and when guys started passing me and my best effort did little to stay with them I realized it was gonna be a long day instead. Despite my best efforts to chase on the bike and then run hard throughout the 10k my best was simply not good enough. In a field of 30 of the worlds best, racing for huge money, if you are just a little off you are out of the game, and I was at best just a little off.
This blog is a full week post race and to be honest it is simply that I spent the first half of the week in a depressed funk about the race, and the second half actively trying to determine where it went wrong. Gotta say a huge thanks to my wife and family for supporting me, and to all my friends that came to the race to cheer me on.
I love Iowa. The fact that the biggest, richest, most well run professional non-drafting race is in Des Moines doesn't shock me a bit. Iowa knows what's what, and they showed it again last Sunday. The fans were amazing, the course was great, and the athlete support was second to none. At this point I am chomping at the bit for next years race already, but in the mean time have to get in some good training and try and race myself into better position in the Toyota Cup. I am still in 2nd with 2 races to go including the double points finale in Dallas. Catching Andy is not likely, but it is possible, so for now its back to the grind. Like Jay-z says, "It's on to the next one..."
This past weekend was the Chicago Triathlon. To be honest when I think of the race I always think of good things and how much I love the city of Chicago, but in reality my experiences there never seem to go quite as planned. This last year I led the whole race until mile 2 of the run and simply bonked, didn't eat enough, and crashed. This year was supposed to be a sort of redemption, both for last year and for the wreck I was in 6 weeks ago in MN.
After the accident I took some time off of training to repair the body and had put in a good block of work leading into Chi-Town. My expectations were high as I felt like my cycling was at an all time high and my swimming and running had returned most of the way to the pre-wreck form. But in all honesty I knew in the back of my mind that I wasn't resting much for this race and that it was really a dry run for this coming weeks big money show down at Hy-Vee.
That said, I came to race. I felt a bit sluggish the couple days before and the morning of but did my best to get in a good warm up. The temperatures were much better this year and I just excited to be back racing. Unfortunately, about 200m into the swim I knew something wasn't quite right. I consider myself a top level swimmer, and even amongst other good swimmers I think I have a lot of speed. So at 200m in when I realized I was still in the front row moving down the harbor wall not getting any separation I had a bit of a sinking feeling. The water was super choppy, which is never really great for a long swim stroke and in this case I felt like I was getting beat around in a washing machine. I did my best to keep my head in the game, focus on the feet in front of me and try and work forward in the group. Although it felt like I was losing minutes to the lead and must be in 30th place I came out around 7th only about 15 sec down, and after the long run to T1 I was right in the mix.
Then it happened again. About 2 mi into the bike I just had the feeling that my legs weren't gonna have it today. I was putting in the normal effort but wasn't gaining any ground and in fact was slowly being dropped by the leaders. Now its not like I was getting dropped by scrubs, guys like Charbot, Bennett, Starky, and Matthews can definitely ride, but so can I and this was not how this was supposed to be playing out. Again I tried to keep my head in it, get in my fluids and plug away but with the big wind it was really shortening the bike and cutting my time to make up ground. With a big head/tail wind the problem is that you can really only make up ground in the head wind, because the other way everyone is spinning their biggest gear and going roughly the same speed. By the time we got back to T2 I felt like I was miles behind and doing my best to remain in 6th.
Threw on the shoes and away we went, at first feeling solid but slowly realizing I was way behind the guys in front, solidly ahead of most of the guys behind, and already starting to think about the next race. Now...that is unacceptable! I know that. This is my job, every race needs to be my absolute best and up until that point I had given it. In some races in the past I have sort of cashed it in and settled for where I was in the race. It is something I desperately need to work on, and something that I have been working on. However, on this day my inner demons got the better of me and all I could think about on the run was the hot spots on my feet, and the next race. I finished 9th. It's not awful, but its certainly not good, and its not what I expect from myself. When I toe the line I am there to win, and Chicago was no different, but I let my mind get the better of my body and my effort just wasn't good enough.
In racing as in life you get better by realizing your mistakes, learning from them, and moving forward. At Chicago I wasn't very rested, coming off and injury, having an off day and I let my mind sabotage what was left of the race. I know that was not the best I can do, and heading into Hy-Vee I am all the more fired up to get it right. I am excited to be going back to Iowa where I spent some of the best years of my life and see some of the people that were there for them. I am excited to be racing in the best non-drafting olympic men's field the world has ever seen, and I am excited about my abilities to throw down a big race. There are 30 guys racing, and 15 at least have a legit chance to win this race. I am one of those 30, and plan on making damn sure my mind does not get in the way of my body making that happen.