Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Detroit U25 Elite: End of the Season

For the last race of the season I decided to race the Detroit USAT U25 Elite Development race. I did the same race last year and after a performance that almost made me quit the sport I was pretty eager for some revenge (Last year's post here).

I drove down to Detroit on Friday with my cousin. Traffic was good and we had no trouble at the border so we got there with plenty of time before the pre-race briefing. I did my prep workouts before leaving London so I didn't have to worry about the storm that was in the forecast. Otherwise a pretty relaxed night; we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, hung out in the hotel hot tub and got some sleep.

Race Day:
The goal was to get there about 75-90 minutes before the race and I think we got there around 7:30 which is right about the 75 minute mark (race start at 8:45). I guess the race officials just walked around the transition and checked the gear because we weren't required to wait in line or anything. We also didn't have any proof we'd been to the pre-race briefing now that I think about it so maybe they were just more relaxed overall since the Saturday races were only the F1 youth and EDR races (Paralympic and Age group races were Sunday). I struggled calibrating my power meter which is always annoying so I just hoped it would work before the race so I can get some data to look at afterwards. After a short bike warm up I realized I was going to be short on time again so I rushed around getting my race markings and chip, and set up my transition. I got in the water in time for a very short warm up, but luckily I was feeling good and I don't think I needed much more of a warm up anyway.

Swim (10:27 - 14th)
They changed the swim to a loop course this year with an in water start (about waist high) which I think I prefer over a point to point because it doesn't feel as long. The water was also incredibly calm compared to last year where the chop and current were huge factors. Once the race got going, fists were flying! Definitely the roughest swim start I've ever had. I've gotten a few hits in the first 50m or so in previous races, but I was taking fists to the face for at least 150m with these guys. Not to mention the non-stop feet slapping. Once I got to the first turn it seemed to spread out a bit more, I was able to pass a few guys taking the fastest line into the first turn and I got on local athlete Andrew Taylor's feet for the rest of the swim. It felt hard, but very relaxed. I fell off just slightly coming out of the water though, but I was relaxed so I was ready for the sprint through transition.

Swim Start

T1 (0:23 - 9th)
Like I said, hard run through transition, but I had no issues, no wetsuit to worry about and although I still came out of transition a few seconds back there were only 4 guys ahead and they hadn't had time to get organized so I got one foot in and pulled them back before the first turn.

Bike (~26:50 , Note:18km)
My bike and T2 split got messed up, but my pack was about 26:50 so that's where that number is from. We started off with a group of 5 and although Andrew did a good job of organizing a paceline a couple stronger guys pulled the chase pack up, which was about 20 seconds down, halfway through the 2nd lap (of 3). The pace slowed a little after this and all organization fell apart. I definitely didn't have the strongest pulls but I felt like I pulled pretty frequently and covered more moves than some of the others who I think were just saving energy for the run. My plan was just to come off the bike with these guys though so I didn't mind. Hopefully I will be fit enough to put in some attacks of my own next time.

I think this was the whole group coming out of the transition area
on lap 2. I'm in the blue on the far left

T2 (~30+)
Coming into transition the majority of the group fell back taking their feet out of their shoes so I was positioned well, in the front of the pack, coming into T2. Unfortunately I had some major struggles with my left shoe and came out of T2 last.

Trouble in T2

Run (19:27 - 21st)
For a small fraction of time I was ready to put in a hard start to try and catch the group but when I realized how hard I was going and they were still getting away I just settled into my own pace. There were still guys coming in who-knows-how far behind us and there was 5km to run. There were a couple guys up the road who seemed to be running a similar pace so I just tried to hold the gap. I was slowly closing on a fellow Canadian when he got a 10 second penalty so I put it a surge in and didn't look back. After that, I could see the youngest guy in the field (16 years old) walking up ahead with his hand on his stomach, but he started running again so I knew I had to gap him before he could get rid of his cramp because he was running faster than I was. I was able to execute this as well and I got passed by one guy who ran a 16:10, but I was able to run into the finish clear of anyone which is always nice.

Coming into the finish

Overall (57:38 - 14th out of 27)
Last year I came 26 of 28, with the two behind me being DQ's. I was also over 2 minutes behind the 25th finisher. This year I accomplished more than I could have hoped for. I made a bike pack, I stayed in the pack, I didn't blow up, I even passed  some guys on the run and ran a Tri 5k PB. The entire race I felt alert and ready to respond to whatever was thrown at me. A great way to end the season and put some positive reinforcement the past year of hard work.

I just want to start by thanking all my family and friends, everyone who accommodated me at races or who provided transportation, and of course my coach Alex VanderLinden who's helped me through a tough year and worked with my difficult schedule.

I was initially hoping to race at either Multisport Canada Wasaga or Lakeside, but after struggling with some motivation in training over the past month I decided to take some time off, enjoy the rest of the summer, get ready for school and rejuvenate myself for a good fall of base-building. There are a lot of things that I think weren't ideal last season and it'll be important to address them right off the get go to give myself as much time as possible to get it right.
I typically don't post on this blog during the off-season, but if I hear otherwise from anyone who reads this I would consider doing a monthly (or even bi-weekly by popular demand) updates. If that sounds interesting leave a comment or message me on Facebook!

Thanks for following and
Until next time,
Matt Mahaffy

Monday, 27 July 2015

Bluewater Triathlon

For my first Olympic of the season I decided to race the Bluewater Triathlon. I had heard good things from some friends who have raced it in the past and the course is a little short so I thought it would be a good way to get some longer racing in. Unfortunately I kind of messed up the timing of my warmup which started the day off kind of rough. We drove up on race morning which wasn’t too bad, but they had a race briefing at around 7:45 (during which time I was setting up my transition) which I suppose I didn’t absolutely have to stay for, but at 8 they already started sending all the Olympic athletes over to the swim start since it was about 1km down the road. The problem is the race didn’t start until 8:30, and the men not until 8:46 so I didn’t join them. Long story short, my warm up was running to the start in my wetsuit (which I almost forgot my cap and goggles) followed by about 3-4 minutes of swimming.

Swim (17:38 – 1st OA, ~1100m?)
They have the swim marked as 1500m, but I’ve been told it is about 1100m which actually makes me kind of disappointed in my swim time. It was a beach start and they had like a flag or something I think we were supposed to start at but not everyone was near it so I figured we could just keep going down the beach. I kept walking to get the shortest line to the first turn and although nobody followed quite as far nobody stopped me so I started with a clear conscience, some clear water, and less meters to swim. I got out to the front immediately and just kind of swam alone the whole way. It was weird leading a race in the water as I felt like I might not have been pushing my hardest, but the view was absolutely gorgeous. The water was extremely calm, the sun just high enough not to blind me in my tinted goggles and the swim was point to point so I just got to swim in one straight line admiring the boats, canoes, the shore, just taking everything in. Coming out of the water I didn’t really know where the exit was, but I managed to get one of the volunteers in a boat to point me in the right direction by staring him down as I swam. There was also a run up the beach, up some stairs (which I also turned the wrong direction when I got to the top), and down the run path a little bit before getting to transition.

T1 (0:43 – 4th OA)
Once again, not a great transition. I think that’s 0/4. I went to go pull my suit off and ended up catching my chip so I got stuck and confused for a second before I realized what happened. At that point I think two relays got out ahead of me and I was kind of frustrated so I hurried out and to try and catch them quickly.

Bike (1:07:58 – ~13th OA)
Right from the start I could tell my legs were a little rough from not tapering at all for the first time this season, as well as from not warming up at all. I heard the course was flat and easy though so I just kept my head down, stayed in the drops for as long as possible and did my best to stay around my goal power. It’s always fun having other groups start ahead. Although I got passed by a few men a little earlier than I’d hoped I was still really motivated since I was passing so many women. I also got to see and cheer some friends out on the course which is cool too. I came a few watts short of my goal, but I can’t really complain about the time and it was a full 40k as well which I hadn’t really given Alex too much heads up so we probably didn’t do much Olympic distance training.

I started noticing how big of a difference being aero is last year when I did the MSC Lakeside Olympic distance with clip on aero bars, and in this race I did really well to stay in the drops nearly the entire ride. I still have a ways to go in terms of fitness, but I feel like I’m finally starting to close the gap on the bike.

T2 (NT)
I guess my chip stopped working during T2 because I didn’t get a time for T2 or the run, but I got one for the bike. T2 went pretty well other than having to slow down a lot waiting for an athlete from the women’s race to dismount (speed bumps and such scare people). Safety first!

Run (~44:15 - ~5th OA)
I came out of transition just behind another male triathlete so my first goal was to stay relaxed and chase him down. There was a short section before the long out and back and I caught him just before the turn for that section, which was about 1km I think. For the first time in a race I felt like I might potentially have a shot for the win or top 3 if the other guys didn’t get too much of a gap on the bike and didn’t have anything special on the run. I didn’t realize this until after I died, but I wasn’t racing my own “comfortable” race for once. I was racing to win and although it backfired I am really proud of what I attempted to do and the mentality I had until my blow up. 

What ended up happening is I went through the first km in about 4 minutes which was kind of the goal, but I knew it was hot out (took at least 2 cups per aid station) so I was just trying to stay in control of my breathing. I ended up just crushing the first 5km like I couldn’t believe, coming through somewhere around 19:50-20:00 which is as fast as I have ever ran off the bike (albeit on slightly harder courses with better weather). I lost mentally at some point before the 5km mark though. The heat, lack of specific run training, and the ambitious pace caught up to me. I couldn’t control my effort anymore, around 4km, and with the largest gap between aid stations being from the 3km mark to the 6km mark (and back to the 8km) all I could think about was hold my pace until the next aid station. I came pretty close, coming into the aid station around 23:xx (not quite the 6km mark), but I stopped dead in my tracks. I drank a cup and a half, stood under the hose that was at this particular aid station, and shoved some ice down my suit, spending about a full 30 seconds at the aid station (yes I timed it). The next station was the same. They didn’t have 2 cups ready so I even stopped and waited for them. I ended up bombing the last 2km so badly I wanted to walk hence the 24 minute second 5km split.

Overall (2:11:11 – 5th OA/2nd M20-29)
At the end of the day though it was nice seeing so many familiar faces on the bike and run course, high fiving everyone and enjoying the food and the sunshine after the race. Shout out to Jaime who had to tough the drive home while everyone else complained. This race is definitely one of my favourites to date and hopefully one day I’ll come back and win overall.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. Even if I had taken some I left my phone at the race so I’m s*&^ out of luck.

Until next time,

Matt M

Monday, 20 July 2015

First Overall Win!! - Timmins Heart of Gold Triathlon

I took a trip home to spend some time with family and friends, and to race in our local Heart of Gold triathlon. I had originally planned on going up on race weekend and staying for the week following to visit, but I'd been getting pretty lonely working in London and I had the opportunity to go up early so I took it. On to the race report!

Swim (Including T1 - 10:37)

I knew that I would be one of the faster swimmers in this race. In the past I've only gotten beat by the local swimmers who usually do the relays but I never did the race in very good shape. It was a running start, I got out front fast and I got some good dolphin dives in but I couldn't quite hold onto the feet of the top swimmer. I ended up swimming pulling a relay swimmer along and I came out in second, only about 30 seconds down.

Swim Start - Can you guess who the swimmers are?
(Hint: It's the ones in the race suits)

I had a pretty bad T1. I ran pretty slow up to transition and I once again struggled to get my wetsuit off. I also chickened out on the flying mount again so I really need to start practicing both those things.

T1 - Might have been a bad transition, but look at that form

Before the bike I decided to try out since I knew this wasn't an easy course and I figured I would need a good bike to have a good chance for the overall win. I don't like using watches or power meters in races because I believe in learning to race by feel but I definitely think it helped put together a solid bike. I knew what effort I should go on the tough hills so I didn't overdo it and I made sure to keep pushing power on most of the downhills. For the first time in the bike portion of the race I passed the guys in front of me, and within about 5 minutes too (one was the top swimmer, the other was a relay biker). I never got passed after that. I actually ended up having the second fastest non-relay bike split of the day by only 5 seconds (3rd fastest including relays).

I had a great T2. Zero mistakes and I got my shoes on properly this time. I still got blisters though.

T2 - Heading out for 2 laps of heat and suffering

Run (Including T2 - 21:05)
Knowing how poorly I ran at this race in the past, I knew this is where I could lose it. In the past I'd ran the course in 26+ minutes. It's pretty notorious for being hot on race day and there is very little shade. That being said there are still 3 aid stations per lap and one even had a volunteer with a hose. With all that being said, I came off the bike feeling as good as I have all season and when I found out I had about 4 minutes on the guy who thought might run me down I knew something crazy would have to happen for me to lose. However, I was still ahead of the first place relay team and I wanted some personal revenge on this course for having such terrible runs in the past so I kept the pace going and I got beat by the first place relay's runner about 400-500m from the line. Considering he runs in the NCAA I had no intention of trying to outrun him.

Run Lap 2 - "Both feet off the ground!!! There's proof you were if you needed any."
Great comment Diane!

Overall - 1st Overall - 1:05:37
In the end I had the second fastest swim split, second fastest bike split, and fastest run of the day allowing me to take home my first Overall win by a margin of about 5.5 minutes. I had a huge support team of family and friends come to watch the race since they were all in town for my dad's 50th birthday, and I couldn't be happier to have had my first win back home.
All photo creds to my mom's cousin Diane. Thanks for the great pictures!

Podium - It's 1-1 now Dan.
Work on that swim and we'll have a final showdown sometime in the future!

Next up I will be racing the slightly short olympic distance Bluewater triathlon. I was initially planning on racing the Subaru Niagara race, but plans got changed and I think it was for the best. I was feeling slightly fatigued, but I feel like had I raced all 3 weekends I would've been totally burnt out.

Until Next Time,
Matt M

Bonus pic:

I'm not sure if I made a creepy face or not, but my grandpa was killing me with that intense gaze.
I just had to look away

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Toronto Triathlon Festival

About a week and a half ago I did a sprint race in Toronto, and since I'm just getting around to it now I've got a few additional updates.

Toronto Triathlon Festival

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it to this race since about a week before the race I still didn't have a ride or a place to stay. I also didn't have my draft legal card which I needed if I was planning on racing draft legal. I was able to get both a ride and a place to stay from a friend though so I figured even if I didn't get my drafting certification on time I could at least race age group. I did manage to get certified in time though so here's the race report.

Swim (10:13)
We were only 16 male junior/u23/elites combined so we all started at the same time. Some pretty big local names were there including the Forbes twins, Johnny Rasmussen, Miles Zagar, and there was also Gaspar Riveros who races on the pro international circuit for Chile. I thought I started out pretty well, staying on feet until about the 300m or 400m mark, but eventually I fell off the back and was about 30seconds from swimmers in either direction. I felt like I had a good swim, but it's unfortunate that I didn't make any packs on the bike.

T1 (1:23)
Not the fastest of transitions. I got caught with my suit around my ankles again, but I saved a bit of time by getting my helmet on before the suit was off. I also wasn't particularly rushed as I didn't see anyone in transition and the guy behind me wasn't very close.

Bike (31:23)
Like I said, unfortunately I didn't make any packs and I wasn't closing any gaps to the guys up ahead so I basically had to TT it. Since the goal going in was to forget about the run and just try to hang on for dear life on the bike I put all my effort into going for a solid bike split. It isn't quite the same when you are riding solo though. For the last about 5km Itamar Zilberman managed to catch up from his deficit on the swim so we tried to work together, which I think was good because it allowed me to recover, if only slightly, enough to go into the run feeling good.

T2 (1:05)
No need to mess around with a wetsuit now, but my shoes were trouble this time around. Coming into transition I noticed I had a little gap on Itamar, which I assume formed when he took his feet out of his shoes or something, so I took advantage to try and get out of T2 first. I wasn't sure what his run was like but I thought we were of similar abilities so I wanted a headstart on him.

Run (19:52)
I tried to put out a hard first km or so to discourage Itamar from latching on, but turns out he was actually quite a bit better on the run than I thought and he went by before I settled into my actual pace. I put out a solid effort. I knew the lead girl was coming up and I didn't want them to catch me (or beat me on time for that matter) so I still had motivation even though I was running solo. I was kind of hoping for a slightly faster run considering this is only about 20 seconds faster than Woodstock and this is a much easier course, but I'll take what I can get.

Overall (1:03:54 - 11th male/12th overall)
In the end I didn't place horribly. Only Dominika Jamnicky beat me for girls and a few guys DNF'd with flats and injuries and stuff and I beat a few juniors as well. I'm disappointed I didn't get to test out some drafting on the bike, but I still think that considering I've still only been back from Europe for 3 weeks I had a really good race so I'm happy with the result.

Then and Now
For anyone still reading this is just an overview of the race lead up and the past week or so of training. Ever since I've come back from Europe I've had a nagging in my foot so I didn't actually do anything more than easy runs leading into the race. I also wiped out for the first time this year on my bike on my way to school the Wednesday before the race so I went in with a bit of road rash (not that I feel it had any effect during the race).
As usual I didn't really ease off coming back from the race. I've gotten back into the pool more often and with more mileage than perhaps I was doing in April, and I did my first road race and crit with some local cyclists. I'm 2 for 2 in getting dropped so far, but hopefully as I learn some race tactics and gain experience I'll be able to stay with the rest of them until the end. I also finally got the parts for my powertap so I'm back to training with power and can finally use my race wheels. Things are still coming along slower than I'd like in the pool, but I've only been back for a month now and I've already put in my biggest training week of 2015 so hopefully I don't over exert myself and can put together a couple solid race in the later portion of the season. My next race will be a quieter race up in Timmins which I think I have a shot at winning so I'm really looking forward to it.

Until Next Time,
Matt M

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Rust-Buster: Multisport Canada Woodstock

Yesterday I started off the season with a sprint tri in Woodstock, just like last year. This year however the race date got pushed back and so the water was much warmer. As usual, a decent amount of speedsters showed up to start off the season. My attitude going into this race reflected pretty well in my results as you'll see later. I knew I wasn't going to be physically ready for some tough racing even though technically my body was very well tapered, and there was definitely a mental effect from not having done any hard training (or any training at all really) in over a month. During the week my workouts were a little slow to start although I could tell I hadn't lost too much fitness.


There were a lot of familiar faces at the race so I spent a little time chatting, but I made sure to remember my chip this time! I went for a short bike for the warm-up and was planning on doing a longer swim warm-up but I took longer than I anticipated getting my transition ready. I still managed to get a decent enough swim warm-up though and was glad to find out how warm the water really was.


Swim (11:11 - 1:29/100m):
As I mentioned before I hadn't put to much into this race mentally and it was pretty obvious at the start since the gun went off while Alex and I were basically in mid-conversation. I tried jumping on his feet as usual and maybe made it about 100m before the choppy waves stole my breath and he got away a few seconds earlier than he would have in calm waters. I tried bridging over to the larger pack to our left and they dropped me before getting to the first turn as well. So, as usual, I ended up swimming solo and with about <200m left to go Kristen Marchant passed me and put about 10 seconds into me before transition.

T1 (46 seconds):
I was a little inefficient and I certainly wasn't sprinting out of the water, but it wasn't terrible. Took my cap and goggles off before I should have, and I struggled a little with the wetsuit around my ankles (during which time I should've put my helmet on). No trouble getting the shoes on though.

Bike out - Basically the only picture I wasn't making a face in

Bike (36:58 - 32.46km/h):
Seeing the splits of my competitors it is easy to say my bike was underwhelming, but I'm neither happy nor mad about this split. I felt something was off before I even got my feet in my shoes so I certainly don't think this was my best possible split for the day, but I also don't have a split from last year to compare to and considering a lot of people said it was windy out, and I'm still out there hammering a road bike without aerobars, I really don't have much to say on the matter. I tried hopping on some wheels (legal distance of course) a few times, but couldn't manage. All I can hope is that the split was sub-par for what is to come in the rest of the season.

T2 (41 seconds):
Definitely some room for improvement here as well. I noticed when I went to get ready for a flying dismount that I had zero confidence since I'm still getting used to my new bike and haven't practiced it once yet. Regardless, I slowed down quite a lot but still managed what I will call a "crawling dismount" since I had the courage from never having trouble with flying dismounts before. Again, some small mistakes cost me some time (ie. fiddling with my race bib), but overall not terribly slow.

Bike In - See what I'm sayin'??

Run (20:17 - 4:03/km):
I came out of transition with another athlete and I tried to hold a steady pace for at least the first km hoping he would drop back, but he managed to inch ahead before the 1km marker. I kept him in my sights the whole time, but it was disappointing to find out later that the fight for 3rd male 20-24 was between him and I. The run is where the lack of mental preparation I mentioned came in. I held a pace I knew would get me to the line without blowing up, but not at a pace that was pushing my limits and that's likely what lost me a medal (although no one was in front of my fellow M20-24 either so maybe he was on cruise as well). I felt like had I needed to I could've kept the pace up for another 5km. This time however I am pleased with the split because although I don't have a split to compare from last year, I remember feeling like absolute s**t. At the same time, being able to run near sub 20 at the effort I gave and given the course tells me my run legs are still there and just need to be woken up.

Run - How about another one. Just for yolks.

Overall (1:09:53 - 30th OA, 4th M20-24):
All in all a pretty mediocre race, as was my attitude going in. I didn't expect anything special, and nothing special happened. I'm happy to walk away with a PB of over a minute though and having lost to some individuals who I would've liked to beat has got me motivated to get back into training full gear.

Finish - I thought looking at the camera would make for a better picture.
 I didn't hurt anyone. I swear!

Next up:

I'm hoping to race at the Toronto Triathlon Festival (TTF) again in 2 weeks. It's a nice fast course and although getting around the race site and Toronto itself is a little troublesome I usually don't regret going. I'm trying to figure out the details of how I am getting there and whether or not I can get into the U23 draft legal race so I can get my a** handed to me like in Detroit. If I manage to get in I'll probably post a quick update.

Until next time,
Matt M

Friday, 29 May 2015

Graduation and 2015 Race Season

Seeing as it's been a while since my last post and my memory is probably equivalent to that of a smart goldfish at best I'll try my best to recap the semester and then jump right into what's going on now.
Things were pretty hectic with my thesis and final design project for my 4th and final year of undergraduate engineering. I also had slightly more class than first semester so training ended up being quite irregular. All that said, I managed to get through. I've officially got my iron ring and will be doing my convocation in a little over a week. I've also confirmed that I'll be returning to the University of Western Ontario for a graduate degree in biomedical engineering with a biomechanics specialization, and I managed to get a job as a research assistant in London which means I'll be closer to all the racing action this summer.
Training had been going pretty well coming out of exams. Although I was in sort of a slump in the pool, I had a huge 5k pb on the road, and bike numbers were promising. Unfortunately, in terms of training, I'm just coming back from a 25 day trip around Europe during which I only ran about 4 times and went on one leisurely bike tour, so it will be interesting to see how quickly I can get back into shape without getting injured.
Did I mention I'm racing Woodstock a week from now? Yup. Couldn't help myself. It just worked out for travel and since it's a rust buster anyway performance isn't priority. As for the rest of the season, the only race I have planned is the Timmins Heart of Gold Triathlon, which is exciting since I didn't do it last year. I'd like to do TTF, maybe Guelph Lake, and the Detroit draft legal I did last year, but it will all depend on my financial state (I'm broke after that trip), and travel and accommodations as the summer progresses.
Regardless, I'm excited to see what this summer has in store and to move onto the next stage in my life.

Until next time,
Matt M

Saturday, 24 January 2015

And so begins the new year

Hey all. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been somewhat busy with school and training, but the only reason I haven’t posted is because I haven’t felt the need or want to write about anything. Something happened during my ride today that made me want to write so I decided I would fill in the timeline between my last post and this one.

After my last race, which was Lakeside in September, we started my off-season pretty much immediately. Alex forced me to take 2 weeks completely off, which of course I only lasted about a week and a half before he gave in and let me start with some short easy workouts. The weather was still tolerable so I tried to get out and ride as much as possible since I knew the focus going into the next season had to be the bike. With a generous early graduation gift from my grandparents, I struck a deal with friend and fellow triathlete Chris Balestrini and bought a brand new road bike and my first set of race wheels. Having the least amount of class hours since I started University and having less training hours than I’d had during the summer, I had a lot of free time and I allowed myself to fall into a rut that I’m often a victim of, which is laziness in its most devastating form. I was falling behind in my school work (which really was only my thesis research), I was sitting around watching a lot of YouTube and in general I just let a lot of things slip through the cracks.

Moving into November and December, school deadlines were fast approaching, I’d started to think about my future after graduation (Masters, work, etc.), I had scholarship deadlines, my emotions were all over the place, and in the end I just couldn’t handle it all. I basically stopped doing any spin workouts in December, I stopped making it to morning swims, and felt like I was just hanging on by a thread. Only two months earlier I woke up every day happy and very grateful for the life I had and now I found myself feeling depressed whenever I was by myself. It took a lot to get through, but having a good support group around me (friends, family) and knowing that I could start fresh once Christmas vacation came around helped me. I know myself as someone who doesn’t give up easily so I knew it was just something I had to wait out and fight through.

Coming back from vacation (which I enjoyably spent with family in the Dominican Republic), I felt mentally refreshed. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do since I only got small amounts of running done over the vacation and I had mentally written off any training I did in December, even though I actually still got in all my run and swim training. The first week was a bit of a struggle. I would die after the swim warm ups and I only made it to 45 minutes in my first ride, but it is starting to come together again. Other than a cold that I’m dealing with right now I’m more consistent. Last week was my biggest week since last February and most importantly I’m enjoying it all. Bringing this post around full circle, the reason I decided to write this blog today was because of my bike workout today. It was fairly tough and being sick didn’t make it any easier, but during the cool down I found myself smiling uncontrollably. I had a moment of clarity where I realized how much my perspective on life had turned around in such a short time, and I was really appreciative of the simple fact that I can enjoy the sport. I can only hope that everyone in the sport has similar moments of clarity, because there is simply nothing like it.

Until next time,
Matt Mahaffy