The last few months have been a whirlwind! That is really the best description I can give when thinking about traveling to Norway and Iceland, going to Chelsea's(& baby Asher's) doctors appointments to seeing patients at my practice in between.
The race season for me started out later than expected due to injury (see previous post here) but I am still trying to make the most of the 2016 season!
After not really competing since the Philly Marathon in November, I ditched the swim goggles and running shoes and hopped on my road bike to race my first cycling race in 7 years - The Jefferson Cup Road Race in my back yard on the beautiful roads of Charlottesville, VA. I was excited and eager to get the competitive juices flowing as it had been 5 months since I had last raced. Since I was not yet running I figured I would join my Charlottesville Racing Club (CRC) & Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing p/b Reynolds GM/Subaru teammates in this long standing race with a lot of tradition. As with Cat 5 races there can be a wide range of abilities in the race and without question I wanted to do everything I could not to crash out. After the race got started, I went to the front and worked with a few guys on the first climb. After the most technical portion of the course with a sweeping downhill section I hit the uphill section hard and found that I had gaped the field by 75 meters already within the first 5 miles of the race. From there I made the commitment to just hammer home (and being only a 20 mile race) the last 15 miles. I knew this would be the most painful way of going but was confident in my abilities to TT the rest of the way. After getting time checks that kept growing as the miles went on I was happy to cross the finish line in first 1:15 ahead of the rest of the field. It was GREAT to be out competing again! I even got a cool Jefferson Cup for the win!
Next up was the Monticello Man Triathlon 3 weeks later where I would be adding in the wetsuit to the mix and doing the Olympic Aqua bike - my 2nd year in a row having to do the aqua bike due to injuries. This was an especially fun event as my long time college buddy and elite triathlete as well - Ross Hartley, drove in from Columbus, OH to compete in the sprint triathlon. Additionally, my good buddy - UVA swim coach/super swimmer- fish/new triathlete that I have been coaching Cory Chitwood would be making his debut at the Olympic distance. Race day ended up being wet and cold! However, it was nice to be at a triathlon and I was excited to be able to try out my new swim stroke and fitness that Cory and I have been working on all winter. I knew Cory would take off on the swim but the question was - where would I catch Cory on the bike? When the gun went off, I tried to hop on Cory's feet but that lasted all of about 15 seconds. As I hit the first buoy I felt strong and smooth - surprisingly that continued for the rest of the swim and I would say that is the best I have ever felt in an open water swim! I came out of the water 2:15 down from Cory and the chase was on! Being a smaller event it is a nice way to get ready for the big Pro events coming up - making sure the race bike is dialed in, the transitions are going smoothly and just getting your mindset switched from training mode to racing season. After about 8 miles of hammering on the bike I caught Cory - he was looking great and I was excited to see how he was going to perform today. He had been putting in some amazing workouts and I knew he was ready! I kept pushing and before I knew it the 40k bike leg was done....sadly though I would have to stop there and not complete the run as I didn't want to push my achilles too much at this point.
A couple minutes after I entered T2 Cory came flying in and he took off in the lead. I realized he had about a 5 min. lead on the next guy and would be running solo. Out on the run he continued to power through staying smooth the entire time. He ended up taking the win by over 6 mins and making me a proud coach! Not only did Cory do amazingly but my buddy Ross ended up taking the W in the sprint race as well! Overall a GREAT weekend!
A week after MonticelloMan Triathlon, I went back to the bike to race the Virginia State Hill Climb Championships at Wintergreen Mt. A 6.75 mile long climb ascending 2500 feet that gets steeper the higher up the mountain you go! I had climbed this 2 times before but never actually raced it - I knew it would be painful yet fun at the same time! I actually ended up getting my new road bike the day before so the maiden voyage actually was going to be the race! Normally I say never try anything new on race day but it was either my new Trek Emonda climbing road bike or my Trek Speed Concept TT bike- the choice was clear to me! The field had a mix from juniors all the way up to a few Cat 1s. I knew that I could do well with keeping the power up the entire time but I knew my weight of being 182 pounds would hurt me when climbing against those that weigh 130! As I started the event I was catching others within minutes. I was feeling good but trying to save some reserves for the later stages of the race where the road really steepened. The new bike was working beautifully and I was LOVING the compact crank that came on the bike. Normally I would go with a mid-compact as I love it for the climbing that I have in the Blue Ridge Mountains but for this event to be able to spin at 90 RPMs made a huge difference. I heard that anything under 40 mins would be good for this race and as I was approaching the finish I saw I would be way under that time. The winner the previous year(who is a buddy of mine and Cat 1 rider for the Kelly Benefit team-- Chris Jones) went mid 33 minutes so I was trying to get as close to that as possible. After pushing hard to the finish I ended up going 36:09 which was good enough for 4th overall in the race and winning the Cat 4 division. Crazy to think though that I still ended up losing by over 3 mins to the overall winner, Sean Gardner. Shows how fast the Cat 1 riders are at climbing!!
After the hill climb race it was time to kick the season off with Powerman Duathlon in Morgantown, WV. I had not done a duathlon since 2009 where I finished 3rd in the 20-24 AG at Duathlon World Championships so I was excited to get back out there ! After only running for about 6 weeks before this race I honestly had no idea how I was going to do. I am fortunate in that I have been running for years but unfortunately was not in that good of shape. I decided to try and be as smooth and chill as possible in the first run as this was a 10k run/60kbike/10k run. I knew I could throw down on the bike but told myself to stay around 5:40 per mile pace the first run. This race ended up having 4 pros racing so it was going to be a very intimate affair. As the gun went off I got that feeling of running again that only comes with competition - the feeling that paces naturally that are harder in practice are much easier to hit in races - its such a great feeling! As I hit the 5k I was still feeling good and holding upper 530s. The other 3 guys started to pull away but I was content and staying right where I was. I was hoping the legs would continue to feel this good! Fortunately, I made it back to T1 and ended up averaging 538s for the first 10k! I was pretty stoked to see this even though I was in 4th at the time and what was even better is that my legs felt fresh! The bike was an out and back rolling course that took us into Pennsylvania. I started cranking the bike and actually enjoyed the hills - they were pretty relentless. Even though I was pushing hard I didn't catch Ryan Rau who was in 3rd until the 40k mark. Once I caught him on the bike I knew that I had to keep the gas on full throttle as he is a faster runner right now and I did not want the gap to be too small coming off the bike. When I got to T2 I had about a 1 min lead on Ryan and I was about 2 min down on the other 2 racing - Jake Rhyner and Chris Leigh. I started the 1st mile running a 533 and kept trying to push. When I saw the two leaders at the turn around I was about 1:30 down on them but they seemed to be content and not really working that hard. I knew with only 3 miles left that meant I had to run 30 seconds per mile faster than them to catch them and that was not going to happen. I just needed to make sure I was safe from Ryan coming behind. Fortunately the gap stayed the same 1 min at the turn around and I was just able to maintain. I ended up finishing 3rd overall and had fun in the process - it was GREAT to be back racing(running) again!
Next up was Ironman 70.3 Norway in Haugesund, Norway. It is located about 3 hours south of Bergen right on the west coast and known to be the birthplace of Vikings as well as voted the top ranked 70.3 in the world! I was super excited to get out to Norway as Chelsea and I were able to take one last babymoon before Asher changes our lives forever! I wanted to find a race in the summer that I could count on not being hot, it was around July 4th weekend and would be an amazing place to visit. Norway hit the nail on the head!
We ended up flying from BWI to London Heathrow to Stavanger. The race crew was awesome and even picked us up at the airport. We ended up driving in with Peter Kerr, a former Australian ITU guy and multiple Ironman champ Filip Osplay. It was a 90 min ride as we got to see the beautiful countryside with amazing fjords and even had a ferry ride!
Once getting to Haugesund we found ourselves along the water, with cobblestone streets and friendly people all around. We had the amazing opportunity to stay at a Clarion Collection Hotel that had a great breakfast spread every morning and even dinner each night! Norway is definitely a more expensive country to visit than most so having a great hotel with meals provided was an extra bonus!
Once settling in and getting a great pre-race swim and ride in I met the race director - Ivar Jacobsen at the Pro meeting. He was telling us that in his small town of 35,000 people the triathlon club had over 500 members! That is truly amazing considering it is a new sport to the country. This small town truly loves the sport of triathlon and it shows!
The race start ended up being a little busier than normal as not only did the male pros start in the first wave but so did the top 15 men in the age group race who were fighting for the Norwegian championship. With all the fast swimmers in the race, the pack spread out quickly. With the water being about 54 degrees they shortened the swim to 1700m instead of the 1900m. This swim is unique in that it you basically are swimming in a lane the entire time - very easy to sight and as calm of water as you can get! Swim time of 24:06.
After a decent swim it was time to hop on the bike and catch up to those faster swimmers. After years of doing flying mounts and getting into my bike shoes this time I struggled with my left shoe and ended up causing the flap to come un-buckled in the process. I tried to get the strap back through the loop for about 10 mins but to no avail. I ended up having to ride the remainder of the bike leg with the shoe unstrapped - my Pioneer dual leg power meter even showed a 45% R/55% L leg imbalance due to my shoe. This shoe issue combined with pouring rain and not knowing every turn on this portion of the bike course slowed my bike time more than I would have liked. I ended up biking 2:19:14. I was staying positive though as I had caught a number of guys on the bike and it was now time to run!
After transitioning to the run I was unsure where my run legs would be. I unfortunately have not done that many bricks this season and felt that in the beginning of the run. However, as my legs and back loosened up, I started to roll. Pretty soon my 620s pace started dropping to low 6:00s. The rain was stopping and I was feeling good! This run course was 2 out and back loops with the center of town in the middle of each loop so it was very spectator friendly. It was great as I got to see Chelsea a number of times! After a tough start to the run I ended up finishing strongly in 1:22:16 even with a bathroom stop!
I would highly recommend this race to anyone - it is well worth the trip!
After the race Chelsea and I spent the next 4 days exploring the region and seeing some amazing scenery from mountains, to glaciers to fjords to some of the best waterfalls I have ever seen! We even did some hiking with Chels doing a great job!
After spending 7 days in Norway we flew back to BWI. Instead of heading back to Charlottesville we drove north to northern New Jersey to attend my Lehigh Track teammate Victor's wedding. I was excited as I had the honor of being in his wedding party as well! After a great weekend with old friends we drove the 6 plus hours back to Charlottesville Sunday just in time for both of us to get to work on Monday. A long, exhausting break had to come to an end at some point!
After surviving Monday and Tuesday with work, I crashed hard Tuesday night and slept for 14 hours! Much needed!
10 days after getting back I was headed back up to BWI where I was flying out non-stop to Iceland for the Northern most Triathlon in the world to Challenge Iceland!
This was an inaugural race that brought some big name pros to the Land of Fire and Ice! I fortunate to get a great home-stay with Friðrik Guðmundsson who is a member of the local tri club and was racing Challenge Iceland himself. After getting in a great swim at one of the numerous local pools of Reykjavik, I put the bike together and did a great pre-race ride along the ocean leading to downtown Reykjavik. After the swim and ride it was time to check out the course and explore a little!
After driving to the race sight it was truly amazing to see how beautiful the area was with the rolling snow topped mountains and numerous fjords. Once getting to the lake that we would be swimming (it was a glacier lake that was freshwater, unlike all the fjords which were salt water from the ocean), checking out the very hilly bike course with almost 4k of climbing and rolling run, I was really able to take in all the surroundings.
After a great night sleep trying to adjust to the time zone difference and a nice pre-race run exploring the city it was time to go to the race expo for registration, pre-race briefing and pre-race meal. The meal actually had fresh caught salmon that had been brought off the boat that morning! How delicious it was!
When race day came it was nice to sleep in as the race didn't start until 10 am! It ended up being a typical Icelandic morning with a cool breeze and a rainy mist. When getting to the race site and setting up transition there was talk amongst us pros about what to wear on the bike - whether to put on arm warmers, toe warmers, hats gloves, etc. as the water was about 52 degrees and the air temp was not much warmer! I was fortunate enough to have done Norway a few weeks before where the weather was similar and knew I could wear just my normal kit here in Iceland too.
When the gun went off for the swim it was a fast pace right from the start with some swim studs of Tim Don, Brad Kahlefeldt and Giulio Molinari in the race. With only 13 pros in the race there weren't that many feet to stick on but I did my best as I was able to stay on a couple others for the first 1400m. After getting out of the water in a slower than hopeful swim of 28:54 I got onto the bike and knew it was going to be a tough ride with the rain, wind, cold and elevation gain. It was an out and back ride so as I approached the turn around I was able to see where I stood in the race. My power was holding steady and after the half way mark I was actually starting to increase my average power. I was actually feeling pretty good and my power was about 15 watts higher than where I was at Norway. However, with about 6 miles to go all I wanted was to get off my bike and start the run. My power was dropping a little but I was also trying to increase my cadence to loosen up the legs for the run. With a bike of 2:25 with almost 4k of climbing and seeing the watts be 5% higher than last race I was happy overall with the ride.
When I got out on the run I realized my lower back was really tight and the cold weather probably didn't help it. I was trying to loosen it up over the first few miles but it was not really helping. I even stopped at about 5k to try to quickly "pop" it. However, to no avail. I kept on plugging away but was not catching up to anyone. I realized at about 9 miles this run was not going to be my best but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and try to salvage what was left. I only ended up running a 1:25 for the half marathon at the end but considering how tight my back was I couldn't complain. After finishing this tough race in 4:22:59 for 9th overall I was a bit disappointed but it will keep me hungry for more.
I have to remember that I have only been training for the last few months as my achilles didn't allow any running or much biking. I didn't have the base that I normally have . When I think about it, I just have to be appreciative of being able to race and go to these amazing places.
I was supposed to be racing Pittsburgh Olympic Triathlon this past weekend and Luray Triathlon Olympic and Sprint race this weekend but God and Asher had other plans. My wife ended up going into labor on August 10th and at 9:00pm Asher George Rosinski was born... Stay tuned for more adventures ahead!
With so many memories made over the last couple months I feel thankful and blessed for the opportunities I have had.
I want to say thank you for reading, I know it was long but a lot has happened over the last few months! Thanks to my wife, family, friends and sponsors for the support over the years!