Sunday, March 9, 2014

Welcome Back to the Program

You're probably wondering what I've been up to these past few months (or not, it's ok, you can tell me), and why I was absent from Azalea Fest Worlds yesterday. Long story short, it's been a rough winter. I don't really feel like getting into all of it, so I'll give you the bullet points.

-Calf injury caps off the end of last season
-Calf heals with rest, but mysterious patellar tendonitis pops up in other knee with no activity
-Both clear up (for the most part), and I'm back to training
-Super cold morning run, calf flares up again
-1 week off, no good; 2 weeks off, still no good
-Possible tear, 6 more weeks off
Damn you Phil
To cap it all off, I recently missed a full week of training due to the flu/bronchitis/some gnarly s#!@, that lingered for another week or so. I figure if I go Bill Murray style from Groundhog Day, and take out Punxsutawney Phil, I should clear right up. What's the worst that could happen.
Don't drive angry
Alright, enough Debbie Downer crap. On the bright side, not being able to run has it's perks. Today, I competed in the Tom Dula's Revenge gravel road race up near Wilkesboro. This is a really fun 50 mile road race that includes about 15 miles of dirt and gravel roads. It was a very challenging course, and my form was a bit lacking, but I had fun with it.
A couple of these stream crossings spiced things up on the final 11% gravel climb.
credit: Andrew Stackhouse 
If I go too long without some sort of race stimuli, I get a little crazy. The race was just the kind of ass whopping I needed to get me fired up for the rest of the season. Had I raced Azalea Fest yesterday, I would have never had a chance to do this race. I am already planning on doing Boone-Roubaix (same style race, but with bigger climbs) at the end of the month to keep things rolling and race myself into some good form.

Still reading? I admire your tolerance to pain.

Oh, and one final note. In case this blog just isn't fulfilling your Matthew Wisthoff needs (let's be honest, can you ever be fully satisfied?), you can check the Star News sports section, where 4 local triathletes and I are being featured in a year long story about triathlons and junk. Here is a link to the first article, and here is a link to the blog.

Thanks for reading. As a parting gift, here's a super throwback/OG pic from one of my first races. Enjoy.
Azalea Fest, circa 2005 I think. It was a bit wet that day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

For Grey

I've been trying to write this for a while, and it's been tough. Today seemed like a good day.

On July 20, 2013, one of my best friends in the world passed away. Grey Liston was on his latest of many adventures, climbing Mount Olympus, when he fell and lost his life. I've known Grey since we were freshman in college swimming for UNCW. Grey was my roommate, teammate, fellow WB lifeguard, but most importantly, a loyal friend. Truly great friends are hard to come by these days, and I'm just glad to have known Grey while he was on this earth.

One of the great things that Grey and I shared was our love of open water swimming. Whether it was a pier to pier swim with the team or a horizon swim with the lifeguard squad, we both craved the challenge and adventure. Last weekend, I competed in the Pier2Pier race at Wrightsville Beach. This is an event Grey dominated on numerous occasions. While I didn't have the greatest result, getting the chance to honor Grey's memory (as well as another former Seahawk, Ryan Young) was comforting. Seeing former teammates and lifeguards who knew Grey was a great experience.

Today, I competed in another race that Grey enjoyed, the Wilmington YMCA Triathlon at Wrightsville Beach. True to form, Grey would absolutely annihilate the swim portion of this race, swimming so fast that one year he finished the swim before they even had the timing matts out. It was a bit nasty today, as it rained all morning long. I was feeling a bit sluggish warming up, and started to doubt my form a bit. I thought about what Grey would do. He'd charge the swim so hard that no one would have a chance to stay with him. He wouldn't think about how tired he felt or bonking later on; just start hammering right out of the gates. So that's what I did. I went out hard and didn't look back. When I thought about backing off, I could here Grey telling me to quit being a bitch and go! Even when victory was all but certain, I continued to drive on, turning myself inside out. That's what Grey would have done. No mercy, just charge it. Crossing the line, I knew I had done Grey proud.

Grey meant so much to so many people. Those of you who knew him can surely attest to his fun loving attitude and genuine nature. His passing came too soon, but his legacy will continue to inspire friends and family to never take one day for granted. There's so much more that I can't even put into words. In the end, I miss my friend, but we'll meet again some time.

I've been combing through old photos, trying to pick a good one. I think this sums it up well. Love ya Greyman.
Full tilt at Park Ave, keep charging Grey

Saturday, September 7, 2013

White Lake International Triathlon (no, it's not the one with Al Trautwig in Hawaii, it's different, you see there are many different screw it, who cares)

It seems like only yesterday that I was racing the quintessential spring classic that is White Lake Sprint. Fast forward to today, and were back at White Lake for the fall'ish international distance race. I have a history with this course of going very hard on the bike and subsequently imploding on the run. However, today I am happy to say that I was able to contain my excitement, and take the victory with a very well balanced and dosed effort. I biked almost a minute slower than last year, but ran just about 4 minutes faster. I'd say thats a fair trade. It was still a hard fought win, with James Haycraft breathing down my neck as he laid down an impressive bike run combo. And the reward for such a demanding effort? Well, as we all know, rural Bladen County is steeped in a rich Japanese heritage. So it was only fitting that the winners today received traditional miso soup bowls and spoons.
Miso happy I won
Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo, I had an accident. While the bowl managed to avoid certain peril when I drove away with it on top of my car, it was not so lucky when I got home. As any true man would, I was attempting to carry every single triathlon play thingy in my car all at once, when I dropped the bowl, breaking one of the handles off. While I am deeply saddened by that my actions resulted in this unfortunate accident, I have no regrets, and will continue to refuse to take more than one trip to carry in my belongings. yolo

In other news, for those of you that don't know, I have been training under the guidance of Tom Clifford (Without Limits Coaching) for the past 6-7 weeks. Tom is big on the use of Compu-Trainers (computer controlled resistance bike trainer) for very focused and effective bike workouts. Shameless plug: the damn thing works. I've been doing all of my quality work on the Compu-Trainer at the Without Limits Compu-Trainer Studio over the past month and a half, and I am amazed how fast I was able to regain my fitness after being in an overtraining slump for most of the year.
Lot's of ride options, including multi-rider so you can train side-by-side with friends, regardless of ability 
Analyze your pedaling efficiency in real time

As you can see from the photos above, there's a lot more going on with than just riding your bike without going anywhere. Coming from a guy who typically hates riding the trainer (I think I rode indoors three times this winter), the constant stream of data keeps you engaged, and makes workouts go by fast.

Currently, I'm training at the lowest volume I have in years, but I'm performing at or above previous results. Take today for instance. I'm probably no fitter than I was last year at this time, but I was able to settle into my threshold pace and stay there for the whole race. Last year, I was spiking my power all over the place, and struggled to find a rhythm, which resulted in a sub-par run. Being able to set the trainer right at your calculated threshold in a way "programs" your body so that when you race, you're able to maintain a high and consistent output without even thinking about it. Click here, or just ask me if you want to learn more about this highly effective training tool. Whether your time crunched, or just want to get faster in less time, you need to check this out.

So what's next you ask? Only the single most important race on the international calendar. Of course I am referring to the Wrightsville Beach World Championships (aka Wilmington YMCA Triathlon). This is not to be confused with the Azalea Festival World Championships held earlier this year. Every year, over 1000 athletes put it on the line in hopes of winning the coveted...well, you never quite know what there gonna hand out, but chances are it might get "lost" in all the excitement.
Circa 2007 throwback victory, rockin the jammer, what a kook

Monday, August 26, 2013

On the mend again...

So I'm about half way back from Maine (Rev3 Old Orchard Beach), and I know one thing for certain. If you see the following sign, you might want to consider turning around.
Just shoot me now
It's funny how soon you forget just how awful it is to travel north. Between the endless toll roads and mind numbing traffic, it's no wonder why everyone is heavily self medicated these days. But once you get to Maine, it's pretty cool. You just have to negotiate your way through the sea of human detritus in between.

Ok, that brings me to my bitching quota for the month.

In other news, I'm happy to say that after a successful round of treatments on my leg, I am back on track with my training. As mentioned above, I raced the Rev3 triathlon in Old Orchard Beach, ME yesterday. Rev3 puts on a great race, and the location in Old Orchard Beach was perfect. While it was not my best result (14th Pro), it was the first race in a long time that I didn't have any nagging pains before, during, or after. After some navigational errors made by the lead swimmer, the swim broke up a bit coming into the last turn buoy. I came out of the water in 9th place, but lost a couple spots in the long run to T1. Out on the bike, I decided to take a more conservative approach. It was an out and back course that was net uphill until the turnaround. It was a good strategy, as I was able to finish the bike strong and get on the to run with legs that weren't to burned up. The run course was a similar affair, so I took the same approach  and was pleased to negative split the run by a few seconds. While I didn't run super fast, it was a decent time, and I was able to hold my form together from start to finish.

So, I mentioned above that I had some treatment done (Graston) to my leg. If your not aware of this treatment, it basically involves scraping across your muscles and fascia with some specially designed metals tools (picture the handle of an eating utensil) and lubricant. It's about as pleasant as it sounds, but I swear it works. I had it done years ago on an adhesion that was giving me issues, and it worked like a charm. However, I knew that with the problems I was having, it was going to take following up with a strict regimen of exercises and stretching to prevent recurrence. In addition to the usual preventative measures (foam roller, balance exercises, etc...) I decided to incorporate ice baths into my routine. Ice baths a great at flushing all of the crap in your legs after a hard training session as well as prevent delayed muscle soreness. However, ice baths can be a pain in the ass, especially in the summer. You usually need 3 bags of ice to get it remotely cold enough. Thankfully, Jon Duplessis over at Accent Physical Therapy has just installed an ice therapy bath that is kept between 45-48 degrees.
Jus' chillin'
  Being able to have everything ready when you get there is crucial. Get done with a super intense brick or track session, rinse off, and hop in. It's amazing how much better I feel at work having soaked for 15 minutes after a tough morning workout. The ease of which I can get in and out means that I do it more often. It's easy to just say screw it when you have to lug around a bunch of 5 pound ice bags, only to have them half melted by the time you get home.

Ok, so what else is new. I did move into a sick new pad. It's a really old house back on Bradley Creek.
Charming, isn't it
Great front porch to post up on and pick off squirrels and other intruders.
Our dock on the creek
We have a shared dock out on Bradley Creek. Great spot to launch a paddle board or surf ski. And if you don't mind dysentery, we've got all the oysters you can eat. 
Sun room/Dance hall
The sun room is no doubt the coolest part of the house. We will be renting it out for corporate events and school dances.

On a final note, the Mf'ing CEO himself, Kenny Powers, made an appearance at Bike Cycles to film the a scene for the final season of East Bound and Down. Kenny Powers is the reason I keep pushing every day to be the best at working out.
Creepin' a photo op during make-up 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

We was robbed

So, you might have already seen this floating around if you've been in any athletic stores the last few days. Apparently someone thought it would be funny to put Willem Dafoe on the cover of Endurance Magazine.
Sneaky basterd
Dafoe's career has been going downhill ever since Platoon, and this is clearly a last chance stab at glory. Unfortunately, it was my glory he tried to steal. Lets just say I took care of it.
Those were crazy times
War is hell, but triathlon, now that's some serious s!@#.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Columbia Triathlon Report

Seems like the rain is following me everywhere I go this year. I suffered through another wet and soggy one today at the Columbia Triathlon in Columbia, MD today. One of the great things about this race though is the fact that I grew up in near by Catonsville, and know the lay of the land.
"Well, at least your not in Arbutus"
Unfortunately, that was not much help today. After a mediocre swim and poor bike, I was to far back to have any impact on the race when it came to the run. I decided to back off a bit on the run to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the hilly and technical run course. At Knoxville two weeks ago, I ran lights out (which is a little depressing when I saw my split) and my calves were so sore it took the whole week to feel remotely recovered. I still have some slight nagging pains in my left calf, so pushing hard when I was well out of the money would have been foolish.

Looking forward, I am excited to announce that I will be working with Coach Brooks Doughtie of All Out Multisport based in Raleigh. Brooks has built a great group of athletes, specifically youth, junior, and elite squads targeting draft legal as well as non-draft legal formats. Clubs like these are the future of the sport in the US, developing younger athletes for the highly competitive international junior and senior elite ranks.

I have been primarily self coached over the past several years with varied success. Being objective with yourself can be a tricky thing. I have found that I am pretty good with reading my body (its a quick read, short chapters make you feel smart), but inevitably find myself making poor decisions that stifle growth. It is my assertion that the past two performances are symptomatic of these poor decisions. The fitness is sufficient, but a few missteps have lead to sub-par results.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Save UNCW Swimming and Diving

To the 10's of fans of my blog, you may or may not know that I am an alumni of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. During my four years at UNCW, I competed on the division 1 swimming and diving team. Just this past season, the men's swimming and diving team captured there 12th straight Colonial Athletic Association Championship, cementing there legacy as one of the most dominant programs in the conference across all sports. Both the men's and women's team's have also sent student-athletes to the NCAA championships, showing influence on a national stage that is uncommon for similar mid-major programs. However, a recent report released by the Intercollegiate Athletics Review Committee has recommended cutting the men's and women's swimming and diving programs along with three others (Softball, Men's Indoor Track, and Men's Cross Country) due to budget concerns. The university wishes to divert the money saved to help make "revenue" sports like Basketball more competitive. I put revenue in quotes because the Basketball team had the largest deficit last year ($1.1 million) of any sports team. Seeing as the Basketball team has failed on the court and in the classroom (ineligible due to grades last year for post-season play) with a budget of $1.6 million, lack of money doesn't seem to be there problem. The swimming and diving programs at UNCW have the smallest budgets of any other swimming and diving teams in the conference. Yet, year after year, the team gets the job done with high average GPA's and graduation rates,  and an unprecedented string of confernece titles. Clearly we have some amazingly talented people working with the swim and dive team that would be lost if these cuts go through.

Collegiate athletics programs should be valued by more than just dollars and cents. These are university programs that help produce some of the most influential and successful members of our community. Lessons learned on the field of play are invaluable supplements to those learned in the classroom. As an alumni of the program, I can say that it has been one of the greatest influencing factors on my life thus far. I urge you all to please help raise awareness anyway you can to help save not just the swim team's, but also the other team's on the chopping block. The athletics program at UNCW is one big family, and if you take away even just one, the family is at risk of falling apart. Whose to say that any of the other programs are safe if this precedent is made. One way to show your support is by clicking on the following link to sign a petition stating that you support the UNCW Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving programs.

Thanks for your time, and as Coach Allen always says, "it's a great day to be a Seahawk".