21 May 2009

Memphis in May Triathlon

1.5k swim/ 40k bike/ 10k run
Millington, TN
17 May, 2009
th Pro

300 miles into the drive from Chattanooga to Jackson, TN I realize I had not forgotten anything, yet somehow I was uneasy. Maybe being slightly absent-minded bodes well for racing fast? At any rate, I had everything I needed with me and was ready to race and eat BBQ in west Tennessee. My dad and I have a standing deal that he drives to the race and I drive home; my dad's career as a baseball player has done nothing but set this torch of
superstition a blaze. We stayed with my uncle and his family in Jackson, TN, and the commute to the race site was rather refreshing as we passed the mostly unchanged with time countryside.

Everything this weekend was a first for me: the mandatory Pro meeting the day before the race, the Pro start time of 10:30am (what was I going to do with a full night's sleep?), racing in the Pro wave as opposed to hours later, and a few other odds and ends. I got to see some old buddies, which was awesome, and meet a couple new ones in the same weekend. By nature, human beings are social creatures, and somehow a healthy social interaction lends itself nicely to this sport of individuality. I am race number 16. A good number. A certain Joe Montana wore this number. I don't have a laser-rocket arm with pinpoint accuracy. Sorry to disappoint.

Having a later start time meant we had many fans and fellow athletes alike watching us swim, bike, run and transition between the former. This race was in time trial format, meaning the athletes ran into the water one at a time with ten seconds of separation between us. I start the swim and drink an unhealthy amount of the pond/lake. I swam a decent time for me,
especially since I didn't have a wetsuit (they're worth about a minute and a half over a mile swim). Onto the bike, I am quickly surrounded by the ubiquity of nature. No cyclists, no motorcycles, no noise. Well, I must preface that statement with the information that I had caught Andrew Starycowicz in the water, who started about 30 seconds ahead of me, but as soon as we began the bike he took off. Within a couple miles he was out of sight and I was alone. I stuck to my nutrition plan and got back to T2 as best as I knew how. The progressively harder blowing wind took its toll on me on the bike, as I'm sure it did on most everyone. I started the run and felt pretty good. This isn't exactly an easy run course, and I was already a little broken down from the previous weeks of hard training. To quote an iconic movie, "Certainly it hurts...The trick...is not minding that it hurts." So I put my head down and ran. I ended up running my second 5k about 30 seconds faster than my first 5k, so I was happy. I ended up 7th Pro in my first race as a Professional.

I can't give enough thanks to my family, friends and coaches who help me more than words can describe. East Ridge Bicycles,
Zoot Sports, Powerbar, ISM Saddles, Kestrel Bikes, PEDRO'S, Fast Break Athletics, Smith Optics and many others: you all have helped me achieve my dream of becoming a professional triathlete. One race down, many years to come.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
T.E. Lawrence: Certainly it hurts. (After extinguishing a match between his thumb and forefinger)
Officer William Potter: What's the trick then?
T.E. Lawrence: The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.

04 May 2009

St Anthony's Triathlon Race Report

1.5k swim (cancelled)/ 40k bike/ 10k run
St Petersburg, FL
26 April, 2009
3rd overall amateur

As my car door closes following a pit stop in Calhoun, GA, I realize I had left my wallet on my parents' coffee table in Chattanooga, TN. The race weekend started off with a slight detour of 84 miles. My dad says, "It's a good omen." I was furious at myself.

Friday afternoon I join a buddy, Lee Zohlman, for a little swim on the race course. The water was nothing shy of beautiful, and I had a great loosen up from the car ride down to Florida. I then proceeded to the race expo where I met David Bunce with
ISM Saddles. A few weeks prior to the race I started riding this prostate-saving seat, and I wanted to meet the man who helped me...and the soft tissue of my under carriage. I look forward to riding ISM saddles for a long time. I feel fairly strong heading into the race on Sunday, so now there was nothing to do but wait.

Following a restless Saturday evening, my dad and I soldier down to the race course and walk to the transition area. After a few minutes of emceeing, we hear the swim had been cancelled due to rough current and dangerous chop on Tampa Bay. Being a self-proclaimed amphibian, I was less than thrilled about the news. Have swimmers at a triathlon ever caught a break? I'm sure the biker/runners out there were a little happier than I was, but that is pure speculation. Time to play the hand of cards I was dealt.

The bike was a mess, and everyone in our elite amateur wave knows it. We were staggered with a time trial format (sending one athlete directly after another) every two to three seconds, which only added gasoline to the ensuing fire of pack cycling. I rode as hard as I could. I have put in some serious training sessions on the bike, and I knew I could ride. In the heat of the news about the cancelled swim, I somehow forgot to remove my running race number from my gear bag. When I arrived at T2, I had to rack my bike, remove my helmet, unzip my backpack, dig through the mess to find the number, neatly stow the pack to avoid a penalty for a messy transition area (this is a rule by the way), throw on my running shoes and head off for the run.

I've been working hard on all three disciplines, so I was excited to see what my running legs had in them. Before the race I decided to run in my
Zoot compression running shorts. I figured for a 40k bike and 10k run, I wouldn't need a chamois...and I lucked out. The compression felt awesome on my quads, glutes and hamstrings as I was running hard. I took the first 5k out somewhat conservatively, and then proceeded to run as hard as I could during the last three miles. I saw my coach with about two miles remaining, and he had some encouraging words to say. With one mile to go, he had more encouraging words, which helped me to run my second 5k in about 30 seconds faster than my first 5k.

My efforts on today were good enough for third overall amateur. USA Triathlon has a list of criteria for earning your elite (professional) triathlon license. One criteria outlines a list of special qualifying events, where if you achieve third overall amateur or better you will qualify for this elite status. I have now met the criteria and will begin racing as a professional as soon as my license arrives. My next race will be the Memphis in May triathlon on Sunday, May 17th. Hopefully I will have my elite license by then!