Spring Into Racing, Volume: 2

Alright STOP, collaborate and listen, MANDJE's back w/ a brand new edition! Yuuuuup, THAT just happened, a "Vanilla Ice" reference. Anyways, you're not here for an early's 1990s hip hop lessons. It has been about 4 months(!) since my last entry and I'm on the verge of kicking off another racing season. It's technically spring, but that doesn't mean too much in Colorado, where in a 24 hour span it's not uncommon to have temps dip from mid 60s to...SNOW (as has recently been the case). So, like Spring's sluggish awakening, I too must commence the long road/trail back to the start and finish lines that I've neglected over the past few months. Much like last year's entry: "Spring Into Racing", I'll recap the past few months, bring you up to speed and talk about what's coming up next.

My last entry closed off w/ me on the beach in Hawaii. Once I returned to Boulder, I faced a bit of a dilemma. My physical body was still good to go and eager to carry on training and exploring new frontiers, while on the other hand, my mind was absolutely drained! Weeks and months of a singular drive and focus, workout after workout and finally having the day come and go had left me a bit burnt. I decided to take the remainder of the year (basically ALL of December) to just "run". Why do I put it in quotes? Well, by "run", I simply decided to go off the clock for the rest of the year and run as often, far (or short) and as slow (or fast) as I pleased. Basically I wanted to still enjoy running, I wasn't ready for a full stop and I wanted to avoid losing too much fitness. 

I gradually tapered off as the month progressed. One week I might run 5 times and the following week maybe only 4 days or so. These runs allowed my mind to wonder stress free and somewhat recharged the batteries. My runs ranged from 30 to 120 minutes, basically whatever I felt like doing. During this time I also re-entered the weight room and pool. I have always enjoyed swimming and decided to start incorporating swimming (+ biking/spinning) and a radically new weight routine into my 2014 campaign. I consulted with my good mate and knowledgeable Rally Sport trainer: Scott Novickis about my running goals for 2014 and how he could help me achieve them by trying a different approach in the weight room. Basically I wanted to be stronger than ever but without adding any physical mass. The goal was to remain around my 145-148lbs frame but be way more powerful. 

Split Leg Squat

Split Leg Squat

December came and went, I'd managed to keep most of my fitness and I was now ready to take an official break. I purposely picked the last few days of December and the first few days of January as my time off. Overall, I took 7 days off and felt more than ready, eager and recharged. Unfortunately January turned out to be a lackluster month, as I battled a bit of a virus and some niggles. I managed to make it though January and February, but that month wasn't that much better either. Things finally started clicking by the mid-end of February. I knew that if I could get a solid month of training in March, I'd be ready to race by April. Throughout all the mid-winter viruses and niggles, I managed to train virtually everyday while keeping up with the swimming/cycling and weight work. This also meant some ridiculously LONG days at Rally. There were many days that between two runs (on the treadmill due to weather), weight work and either a swim or bike, I'd spent 4-6 hours there!

        Yup, "Spring" is here. 

        Yup, "Spring" is here. 

Alas, March came and with it, my most consistent month of training. Apart from the cross training/weight work, I started experimenting with different workout structures and also faced one of my nemesis, famed Magnolia Road from the book, "Running with the Buffaloes". I've always had a love/hate relationship with that long strip of hilly dirt road that relentlessly climbs to nearly 9,000 feet. In the past I've either smashed it or it has smashed and humbled me. So this winter, after being called out several times by long time friend and sometimes training mate: Spencer Casey, I decided to start making the 20 min trip up there. I'm happy to say that so far so good, I've had a several easy runs up there to test the waters as well as a couple really solid workouts. 

So now you're up to speed, it's SPRING and April's here! I'm a few days away from my 2014 debut and I've decided to follow the same formula from last year. This coming Sunday, I'll race the XTERRA Cheyenne Mountain 12K and six days later head back to Lake Las Vegas for the XTERRA West Championships. As I mentioned, I did both last year and I'm quite eager to do both again. Times generally don't matter in trail running, which I like, as it's more about the head to head competition. What does excite me about these first two races though, is the fact that -weather permitting- I'll get a fairly accurate gauge and comparison to the Roberto Mandje of 2013. So in essence, I'll be racing not just the clock, the competition and the course, but also the 2013 version of myself. 

Also just like last year, I have decided to train somewhat through this weekend's race. In doing so, I have already completed two grueling days filled with running workouts + lifting and cross training from Monday - Thursday. My legs and body are a bit worn from it but also stronger for the efforts. I'm mentally prepared for the rebirth and shock to the system that I'll receive in Cheyenne this weekend. I'm hoping Cheyenne can kickstart what I trust to be an even better year of racing than 2013 was. I'm excited about Lake Las Vegas, but I must get through this weekend's test/race first. 

Time to let the legs do the talking...

Time to let the legs do the talking...

Cheers for reading and checking in. Now that my season is opening up, you can expect more blogs, race recaps and hopefully workout videos (both running and in the gym). I hope to give both the casual readers and super fans an even more intimate look into my year of training, traveling, racing and everything in between. I'm excited and I hope you are too! This winter I teamed up with outstanding local photographer: Dane Cronin to brainstorm as well as work on some projects that we hope to feature later this season. Aside from some studio and trail shoots we did, we also experimented with a video that can be found in the media section of my site or simply click HERE. Anyways, that's just a hint of some of the projects in the works as well as a few of the -away from the training- activities that have kept me busy this winter. Stay tuned...

Lastly, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my new footwear and apparel sponsor: PUMA for stepping in this past winter and giving me a chance to join their team. As always, I'm thankful to ALL of my sponsors and I look forward to representing them with continued success both on and off the field in 2014! 

Hasta la proxima....