Saturday, November 6, 2010

Looking Forward to 2011

My 2010 season is in the books, and the training build toward 2011 has begun. I'll summarize my 2010 experience as follows:
  • I learned more than I ever thought possible in my first season as a pro
  • I earned my pro license in May, which was the main season goal
  • I learned valuable lessons about choosing race formats that play to my strengths, and races that make sense financially
  • I came out of 2010 more motivated than ever
  • I earned my first prize money as a professional (not much, but it's a start)
My 2011 season will look a bit different than my 2010 season. 2010 had some highs and some lows, as far as training and racing. However, I learned more the past 12 months about the sport than I thought possible. I am learning what it takes to be a top US triathlete, establishing a plan to get there, and learning how race selection is very important. For 2011, I only plan to race events where I have a shot at prize money, those that offer free home-stays for pros, and those that are relatively inexpensive to travel to.
The past few months I've had to make some tough decisions about 2011, decisions that make sense practically and financially. I will not be a member of the Riptide Multisports Elite Team for 2011. The Riptide team has become like family to me, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the team for 2010, and for coach Sean Wendt and teammate Josh Merrick for helping me with a training program. I love the team, and enjoyed being part of something greater than just myself. Racing alongside and representing others as well as yourself takes meaning to the next level. I look forward to keeping relationships strong with the team, and hopefully will still be able to meet up for a workout here and there with the group. After struggling with the decision for a few months, I had to detach the emotional & relational side of the decision from the practical. I chose not to be a member for 2011 for a few main reasons: I could not commit to the swim practices anymore, as I would drive an average of 80 minutes per day round trip to join the team swims in Arvada. Due to the gas money spent, the need for 2-3 workouts a day, and opportunities for side jobs in Denver & Littleton, the inefficiency simply didn't make sense nor work out with my daily schedule and need to make money. I need the valuable time for training and working. Secondly, I have had groups & individuals offer to sponsor races. This sport is very expensive and difficult to make money in as a new pro, and sponsorship opportunities allow athletes to continue to race. It is important to be able to solicit and accept valuable sponsorships. To make it as a pro triathlete, part of it is being business-minded and finding sponsors to help make it possible. In the past 2 months, I have written over 60 letters and emails, and made numerous phone calls, in attempt to secure sponsorships of all kinds: financial (for race entry fees & travel), bike company, shoe company, gear companies, etc. I also sold my Toyota Tacoma, which was necessary to fund the season. The cubicle world will always be there, but I won't always be able to compete as a pro athlete. I am currently seeking sponsors for the 2011 season, and will gladly display company logos on my race uniform, website, and fulfill any other request one may have.

In 2011, I am looking to grow my coaching services and add athletes. I have taken on a few individual athletes recently, and have started using TrainingPeaks.com training software for my athletes. I will also be one of several coaches for a local women's triathlon club called CWW. I have learned a ton about the coaching side of the sport, and look forward to helping athletes succeed. In January of 2011, I will become a USAT level 1 certified coach as well.

This past year my life was filled with a lot of distractions. I moved from California to Colorado, and to 3 different houses here in Denver. I was busy working home remodel jobs and other work, adjusting to life here in Denver, and struggled with a true plan of action with triathlon. I lacked a bit of direction. I have decided to dedicate one year to nearly full-time training. The phrase 'Go Big or Go Home' is a good one, and that's what I am doing. This pursuit is multi-dimensional, and will be focused on all aspects of the sport: coaching, training, racing, nutrition, sleep, recovery, strength training, etc.

I will be working with coach Melissa Mantak for the 2011 season, who is the best triathlon coach in the sport, in my opinion. I am very excited to work with her. Melissa is a renown coach, a USAT level 3 triathlon coach, and a USA Cycling level 1 coach, and is local. She just earned the 2011 USA Triathlon Coach of the Year award, which for those who don't know, is a huge accomplishment. Melissa is also the head coach for a women's club team and head coach for Tri For The Cure. She coaches top pros Matt Charbot, currently ranked #1 in the US on the ITU ponts list and 12th in the world, I believe, and Jillian Petersen, who I believe is ranked 4th in the US for women. I got connected to Melissa and will be coaching alongside her with the CWW women's club team, and hopefully helping out with a few races and other local events. The partnership made perfect sense and was a great fit. After talking with her, I knew our goals aligned, and I knew she was the one who could help me progress, simply because she wants to see me succeed nearly as much as I do. She is local, a coach I am a firm believer in, and has helped me find opportunities for part-time coaching work. In my week with Melissa, I've had a one on one swim technique analysis session, which was the first time in my life I'd had a true swim instruction/technique session from a coach. I am starting a strength program this week with her as well. I will be swimming 6 days a week, and running and cycling 5-6 days as well, a necessary increase from my marginal 3-4 run sessions and 3 bike sessions per week this past year. I've told Melissa, I have one shot here. Let's give it a chance. I am a person who responds best to structure and accountability, and she is exactly the person I need for this. I have 2 years of experience now, and my body has adapted well and is ready to handle the volume. When I say that I can promise big things for 2011, I do not mean to boast, but say it in all seriousness, because I'm confident the results will come. The plan will consist of at least 2 and usually 3 workouts per day, a strength program, proper nutrition, and learning to get my body ready to race. I am 100% confident in the plan.

I have decided not to race ITU draft-legal triathlons in 2011, other than possibly US Elite Nationals and maybe one other US race. Most ITU races cost 2 to 3 times the price to travel to, and unless you're a front pack swimmer, it is nearly impossible to earn prize money. My swim is not to the ITU front-pack level yet, so it doesn't make sense. My cycling has advanced a lot this year, and I'm suited best for non-drafting races where I can use my bike strength to my advantage. Why do so many athletes race ITU? 1 word: Olympics. It's the one and only route to the Olympics. It's a long shot for many, but it's still a shot. The other reason is that USA Triathlon funds about 24 athletes for ITU racing, since it is really an Olympic development program. In 2011, my focus will be non-drafting Olympic distance race. WTC, who owns Ironman, recently announced the 5150 race series, which I'm very excited about. Visit www.5150.com for more info. This will help athletes like me have more opportunities to succeed in non-draft short course racing. I also plan on debuting in 1 or 2 Ironman 70.3 races this next season, and test my body in long course racing. I can't tell you how excited about this next season I am. I am focused, motivated, and having fun. Thanks for the support.
Ryan

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