Xterra Rockhopper and Beyond

Post World Championships slog fest has been much more successful than that debacle. Earlier in the year I had planned to try my first Xterra figuring my cyclocross skills would translate well to the off road biking portion and I used to run trails all the time. I couldn't be that hard, right? Right...? Wrong. Xterra is brutal. 

Not knowing the looming pain that was soon to manifest itself I eagerly prepared for the race after Cozumel. I rode trails almost exclusively and outfitted my mountain bike, Dreadnought, with a dropper seat post and new grips to help with the rocky course.  We were ready and I was stoked to go shred some off-road action! 

Race morning was gorgeous. Arizona can certainly due sunrises. Going into transition to rack Dreadnought I noticed something amiss. 

 NO AEROBARS!!!!

NO AEROBARS!!!!

Despite the lack of pointy handlebars there was still a swim before the mountain bike. I elected to not wear a wetsuit after my recent fiascoes with over heating.  I was literally the only one not wearing one but I didn't care, 74 degree water is freaking hot to me. Hey, this body was staying cool. 

As the gun went off for the 1000M swim I took off hard and grabbed the lead. I was sure there would be some quick riders so I wanted to put some space between me and the rest of the field. That worked well, besides one guy. Ryan Pretry, pro off-road triathlete and also pro mountain biker. He let me lead the swim with no attempts to take the lead. Smart move as I wasn't aware of his presence until l he trotted past me into transition. 

It wouldn't matter. Within a mile onto the mountain bike I had messed up some of the technical parts of the course. i took some poor lines as I was still feeling the effects of the swim hitting my body, The bike was surprisingly tricky to handle with my exhaustion. Petry pulled ahead and by the time I had gotten space out of the technical section and we were out along the canal, he was putting a gap into me hard. 

 Oh well, it was close for a little bit... sorta

Oh well, it was close for a little bit... sorta

Covering the last bit of technical traffic at the end of the first lap better I was pretty happy but then of course... we had to do it all again. The second lap was better and I lost less time to Ryan than on the first lap but it was not the smoothest still and this is an area of improvement for me still. As I came into transition I was about 8 minutes or so up on the 3rd place athlete and a solid 6 behind Ryan. Everyone keeps telling me that it was still good for my first race but...

The run was WAY more technical than I was expecting. After a trot down a gravel road the run turned up. Rocks and loose ground all the way along the side of a path up the side of one of the hills in Papago Park. It was steep. It was hot. And it was very very uneven. My road running shoes were woefully inadequate  for this and I was suffering by slipping about in them. The downhills were particularly brutal as I found myself having next to no traction. I was surprisingly just trying to stay upright a lot of the time. Oops again

I saw no one close to me behind and Ryan was very smoothly running way off in the distance. I knew all I should do was keep a steady pace and enjoy the last triathlon of the year. Which I did. I cruised in well behind Ryan but also 10 minutes up on the rest of the field. 

My first foray into Xterra had been eye opening and a blast. I intend to focus on the discipline more this coming year and have already been doing plenty of mountain bike races to help prepare even more for the event. 

The weeks since Xterra have been a whirlwind of racing every Tuesday in cyclocross, weekend cyclocross in Globe, mountain bike racing in San Tan Vallley and a ton of music. I will do a collective off season cycling race report later but so far it has gone well and I am pleased with my performances. Next year is going to be much better of a triathlon year than the last half of this one turned out to be. 

World Championships Cozumel. Hell in Paradise.

First off. HUGE Thank you to my sponsors, CBT Nuggets for without their support this race of discovery wouldn't have been possible. 

"It's all a terrible tragedy. And yet, in its details, it's great fun. And - apart from the tragedy - I've never felt happier or better in my life than in those days in Belgium. "

 -  Rupert Brooke. British Expeditionary Forces. 1914

First off, let me say that I know sports are not war. War is terrible. War is awful. War rips the civilized world apart. Sports brings all of us together which is the antithesis of war. I chose this quote as, perhaps, my result and finish at Worlds was a personal tragedy in its outcome, but in the details of the event, it was a good experience. 

I raced this race like Prefontaine would have liked. I went hard from the get go and didn't let up until I blew up. Which of course I did: in spectacular fashion. 

 

I arrived in Cozumel to a warm hug from Andrew Weinstein as I stepped off the ferry. It had been a long day of travel from Phoenix to Houston to Cancun then bus to Playa del Carmen and finally a ferry across the ocean to Cozumel. After arriving at out condo for the weekend and grabbing a quick bite to eat, I was ready to hit the hay. But... It was Mexican Independence Day! So instead, I wandered the local fair, betting on some games, checking out the crafts and eating fried plantains. The fireworks went off at 11 and the music continued until 4:30 am. However, by then I was long in bed. 

The next two days would be prep for the race and a bit of relaxation as Andrew and I swam among the gorgeous tropical fishes in the afternoon and wandered into town later. I was nervous for the race, but not overly panicked. I felt ready. I wasn't. 

 No? Yes? Maybe in November when it's cold? 

No? Yes? Maybe in November when it's cold? 

When race morning came we woke at 4:30 to head out to the venue. I raced at 6:45 and Andrew, 10 minutes after. Transition was understandably busy and I looked at all the different countries in my race. It truly is an amazing event to see so many come together in such a friendly event. My wave was first and as we waited, I was my usual pre-race self. Cracking jokes like usual ("the sharks can't get us at least, too damn thin") and hassling some Brits who were from Birmingham for no reason other than they were willing to fling it back at me. 

We went down the pier and hit the warm, crystal clear water. It was absolutely gorgeous, but of course the nerves were really the highest concern at this point. We were waiting with one hand on the pier and suddenly the gun went off! Not any prep at all!

 ....What....?

....What....?

The swim starts in these affairs are always brutal. Immediately I found myself in the thick of it. I was fighting like a madman to keep my head protected and moving forward. I did a good job of this for the first maybe 300 meters. Then the first turn came.

 About how my attempts to gain position went

About how my attempts to gain position went

I got boxed out hard in the first turn. Then, as I dropped position, I found myself in a weird spot. I was faster than a lot of the swimmers in front of me and I wanted to pass them and get some space. I could see the lead group flying away from us. 

 Kudos if you know the movie

Kudos if you know the movie

Eventually I passed the mess in front of me and moved up a bit. The current was no longer in our faces and we had it at our back for the final stretch. I pushed hard and followed the feet of another American, but alas, it would seem I was relatively far back. 

I sped through transition and headed out onto the bike, quickly catching some of the athletes dragging behind. However, this is where it all gets terribly interesting. 

The bike saw me move up through the field quickly, but then, at about 5Km down, I noticed I wasn't alone. A relatively large pack of athletes was assembling behind me. Great. A bloody draft fest. In case you're not aware, drafting is illegal in the type of racing I compete in. Now. You can draft legally if you stay three bike lengths behind the person in front of you, so packs can form and work together. This started as a group of five athletes and was certainly legal in its beginning. 

 Yeah... sure....

Yeah... sure....

Well, I hate drafting. It's illegal, and whether or not this group was trying to act legally, it inevitably never works out that smoothly. I knew this was a downward spiral and I immediately moved my way toward the back. The group then became 15 by 10km in. The drafting was insane. I was disenfranchised beyond belief. The blatant cheating was astonishing. An ITU official was watching all of this happen too and issuing no penalties. When we neared the turn around, I saw the leader of the race come by... also in a draft pack of about seven. After the turn around, at 20km, I tried to drop the pack and it succeeded in breaking down the group from 15 to a mere five: this would remain for the rest of the rest. The drafting was less, but still there. I spent most of the time sitting off the back, staying out of the main bulk of the drafting issue. 

Now. Here is where this story starts to slip. I am very used to only having one bottle of liquid, usually an extra salty Gatorade. The heat meant i should have drank more. I simply did not. I drank maybe 3/4 of my bottle. My stomach was upset; the heat was making it difficult to drink and I thought I was drinking all of it, but I really wasn't. In Oregon, I barely drink half a bottle of fluids on the bike and am totally fine. This is, of course, not Oregon. 

As I came off the bike my quads already felt crampy. I got through transition and headed out on course, not feeling well, but with a ton of adrenaline, so it was hard to gauge really how I felt. I would make it through about 2 miles until the train completely crashed. 

The feeling was horrid. I would demand my legs to run and they would, but only for a few strides, then my breath would run out. It was like I was jogging in mud up to my knees all the time. Every time I would pass an aid station, I drank as much water as possible and poured ice all over my body, but nothing happened. My core temperature was soaring and even walking was exhausting. 

 My body, revolting

My body, revolting

I spent the second lap of the run mostly walking. The best part was so many athletes from all over the world encouraging me just to finish and I was determined to at least do that. At mile four, roughly, an ITU official pulled me over and made me sit. He wanted me to stop and pull out. This would have been the logical thing to do. My race was over really. I had lost a billion positions and instead of risking injury and the like, the logical thing would have been to just pull out while I could. But this was World Championships. I needed to get across that line, at the very least. I pleaded with him to let me go on. He did, but he was gonna ride his bike right next to me and give me ice and water constantly. Under his guidance, I got through the last kilometers, even though it was almost a crawl. 

Stumbling forward and half dazed, I finally crossed the line and collapsed into the arms of some poor Mexican doctor.

Suffice it to say, I spent a good long time in that medical tent. When I finally came out, Andrew and a Canadian chap helped me get back out and eventually, after the brutal cramps stopped in their intensity, I was back somewhat on my feet.

 

 Didn't die. Always a cause for celebration

Didn't die. Always a cause for celebration

It has since taken days to fully recover from the race and the pain. It's Thursday today and my legs still ache everywhere, as well as just feel quite weak in general. I went for a blood test Tuesday to make sure my liver and kidneys were ok and passed out during that. It's still a slow process.


Despite all this, and how terrible the race really was, it was still worth it. I race to see how far I can push myself and to challenge myself. It may turn out a tragedy, but pushing the limits is the true fun of it all, even when you get burned. Besides, to compete in the event in and of itself is really a gift for which I am very thankful. The people, the atmosphere, the challenge, it makes it all worth while.

Hagg Lake, A nice, quiet day to myself

"I have seen some very beautiful things through my anger, and what consoles me a little, is that through my anger I do not stop looking..." - Degas

 

 That face when everything works out pretty well but you wanted more (aka go faster!!)

That face when everything works out pretty well but you wanted more (aka go faster!!)

 

So. I had written this entire post. However, in my infinite wisdom I closed my browser before any sort of saving was done and lost the entire thing. Moron. Thats what I am. My technocrat father would be disappointed.  

Hagg Lake 2015 was my first race back from living in England and I was understandable in my large amount of nerves before that sortie. It panned out well and this year's end result would be no different. A win by a solid margin, this time almost 8 minutes and the fastest time on the course in many, many years. 

Right off the bat, the swim would be a bit of an interesting ordeal. I stormed out of the gate and took the lead by the first buoy. I would never lose it. I pushed hard and my arms felt surprisingly dead. Probably due to the warm water and the large amount of chop being generated by passing boats and wind. Then the interesting bit. The waves of the older folks were allowed to start the course just as I was beginning my second lap of the swim. It was a scrum as I frantically tried to keep speed up and also avoid the bodies around me. 

However despite the crowd, I made in out of the water in about 19 minutes flat and booked it through transition to really capitalize on my lead. 

 And getting OUT of transition fast is one of them. And how to delete a blog post...

And getting OUT of transition fast is one of them. And how to delete a blog post...

Hagg Lake is hilly. Not brutal just moderate but they never end. The course is the epitome of rolling hills. I focused on steady power and working the hills up and maintaining speed down. Although I was going quick I didn't feel great. Mostly the hills I think. I just kept pushing hard keeping my head down. 

 Trying to speed

Trying to speed

 Oh yeah, great face

Oh yeah, great face

Then, disaster struck. With 1 meager mile to go... B A N G. I looked down in total dismay to see my rear tubular had blown up. 

 :(

:(

But in these moments I have learned to stay calm. If this had been my first rodeo I likely would have gotten very upset, but I didn't. I looked down, swore to myself and just rode on, bouncing and trying not to crash. I quite literally slid around the last corner, briefly hopping off the bike to run around the bend and then rolling into transition. I figured the flat would only cost me about 30 seconds and I remembered checking the gap to 2nd place about 8 miles back on the bike and counted the lead to be around 5 minutes. I figured I was safe but I don't believe in sandbagging especially on the run.

 What I was afraid would happen

What I was afraid would happen

I took it easy into the first mile of the run and started picking up pace. I felt surprisingly well! Everything was operating at proper levels and despite the hills, I was really rolling through the course. The sprint race was happening as well on the same course and I tried to mutter a few words of encouragement and acknowledge the kind words I was getting back. 

I rolled through the halfway mark in 18:10 and looked back and saw emptiness. Always a good sight. 

All the way back to the start I focused on steady pace to keep up the good form I was showing already. Indeed I would cross the line with a very solid 36:30 split for the hilly run leg. And with that run split I would seal my victory from wire to wire. Fastest split in every discipline including transitions.




So despite a potential catastrophe on the bike, my obvious anger, I managed to just look through it. It wasn't a moment of amazing self strength or self discovery, but rather just a moment of grit, putting my head down, just looking forward. There was nothing I could do
once it had already happened. Degas was right, it is always a consolation to never stop looking. Keep looking for something in those crappy moments, you just may have a solid day anyhow. 

High Desert Duel 2016

This one coming in a little late, sorry about that. Busy week recovering and working on a new project with my new sponsor which should be announced in the next coming weeks. Very exciting stuff. 

Onto the report though!

Spoilers. It hurt. A lot. 

It has taken me days to recover but I am finally able to get back out there without soreness. So yay for small victories.  Overall though, it was a good day at Why Racing's Pac Crest sprint tri but my body certainly took a toll.

 Me. After these races

Me. After these races

After my big day at Duathlon Nationals and award ceremony, I hit the hay early after a margarita, or two. However it would not be a long slumber as I had to wake up early to drive out to the race in Sunriver.  This was a split transition race and I wasn't exactly the most organized person ever. I forgot the bag to bring my gear from T1 back to the race start and after sorting this out I barely made the start of the race from the elite wave. I literally was getting into my wetsuit after running out of the bathroom with 2 minutes until the start. I literally ran to the start line.  This wasn't how I wanted any of this to happen!

 Yep. Didn't want any of that stupidity

Yep. Didn't want any of that stupidity

As I got into the water and briefly met the other few chaps in the elite wave, on fellow stuck out. 

 Noooooo. He was a nice guy.

Noooooo. He was a nice guy.

Jon was a cyclist and mentioned he was a Cat 1. Oh boy. My legs were shot and this was a cyclist's race. The swim and run were short compared to the hilly hilly hilly 29 mile bike leg. Oh boy. Well luckily, I took off like a man possessed in the swim. the course was long but that helped me as I pushed hard to get a sizeable lead on the rest of the small field. 

 Yay. But my legs were shot and this show was just getting started.

Yay. But my legs were shot and this show was just getting started.

Well I may have had a 90 second lead on the field over the longish swim of about 1000 yards, but the pain in my legs was really just getting going. I hopped onto my bike and took off down the first stretch. My legs protesting the whole way. 

 I. DONT. CARE. WE. ARE. RACING

I. DONT. CARE. WE. ARE. RACING

I really focused on steady cadence and staying within myself. This was afterall a long bike ride with a very sizeable climb in the middle. But damn. This was a gorgeous race course. Just stunning. I was really taking in the views until at mile 13 when Jon passed me. Now. I could be sensible and just fall back a bit. But no. I fought back. During the large sustained climb we traded blows. I came over the top ahead of him but as we descended he got the better of me and slowly pulled ahead. I would spend the better part of the last 13 miles watching his black silhouette fade further into the distance. A humbling picture to say the least 

As I rounded onto the last straight patch of road at around mile 27 I caught a glimpse of Jon slipping away in the distance. After looking at my watch I calculated I was about 2 minutes behind. No way I was gonna catch that. Im not a defeatist, I am a realist. A 2 minute deficit over a 5K is a ton of time. I eased off the pace as my tired legs argued for it all to end. Why did I do this...?

 Why? Because you are an idiot Evan.

Why? Because you are an idiot Evan.

After an interesting transition. I was off onto the run. Feeling miserable. I tried to perk myself up...

Wasn't quite that smooth. I really just still felt like. 

 Sleepy Iceman. ALSO AMFOR ISLAND!!! I CALLED THEM 3 WEEKS BEFORE TO DO IT. ICELAND = LEICESTER CITY

Sleepy Iceman. ALSO AMFOR ISLAND!!! I CALLED THEM 3 WEEKS BEFORE TO DO IT. ICELAND = LEICESTER CITY

I just focused on smooth, smooth, smooth. After a mile I was doing ok. After 10 minutes I was speeding up and then it happened. I saw him.  I knew I could catch him. After a slightly longer than anticipated climb I started really reeling him back. With little more than half a mile left I flew past Jon sprinting already for the finish line. I couldn't believe I had willed my aching body past him. I pumped my fist many a time across that finish line. I had robbed a victory for myself. 

 

But man did it hurt. 


Thanks to all my friends and family for supporting me this weekend and beyond! Also big thanks to CBT Nuggets, Ninkasi Brewing, Death Row Velo, and Fast Carbon Wheels! Just 1 more week until the next WHY Racing production at Hagg Lake. 

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I have ended up where I intended to be

Well. Its been an interesting last few days and before I go any further with my ramblings,  I do need to have a bit of a serious moment. I never thought I would be able to compete in any sport anywhere close to the level I achieved this past weekend. Six years ago to this very week I laid in a bed hating the very nature of my existence. I hated my physical self. I couldn't do a very basic human task, feed myself.  It took every ounce of support from my family and doctors to help me out of that. As I went to bed every night, cold under blankets despite the scorching Alabama summer, I could only hope one day that I would maybe cross any finish line again. First, second, twentieth, thousandth, or last, it did not matter. It has been a long, windy, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad road but I am glad to come to this particular junction. My win at duathlon nationals for my AG and 3rd place overall. It is of course just one intersection in a long road still to come, but with this win, I really have so much to be grateful for overcoming. 

 

Thank you for letting me say that. And now onto the silly, not-so-serious race report.

 It was quite BENDing of fates this weekend. Get it, Bend, where the race was? And look, Bender. I tried ok?

It was quite BENDing of fates this weekend. Get it, Bend, where the race was? And look, Bender. I tried ok?

Bend. You cruel city. Baking hot in the day and freezing in the night. I do love your scenery though. However Bend's majestic scenery would be juxtaposed by the back to back days of pain I would experience. However, they were to be good days with a win in my AG at USAT Duathlon Nationals and 3rd overall and a win the following day at Pacific Crest Sprint Triathlon. 

I rolled into Bend friday afternoon and immediately ran into my beloved friend, Jeevan from Washington at packet pickup and we immediately started up our usual clowning around ways. Deep down, I was a tad worried, Jeevan is a formidable opponent and despite how much I love him, he's still someone who I have to race against. But trust me, he's great. I was ecstatic to see him  

After a restless night of sleep, I was greeted by a beautiful race morning full of sun.  I was very nervous, despite being well rested, I know how painful duathlon is. Run-bike-run is torture to the legs. it just never stops. 

 Yep, this painful.... but with all legs.... so not like The Revenant at all... oh well, you get the idea

Yep, this painful.... but with all legs.... so not like The Revenant at all... oh well, you get the idea

After a nervous watching of the pro race start and a quick jog to warm up, I joined the front of the main field for our run start. Of course it would be nice and orderly and we would all have plenty of room to get to the path in our own space right? Yeah. Right. Its a bunch of dudes at a start of a race. Its slightly controlled cacophony. 

 About as organized as this

About as organized as this

 Ladies and Gentlemen, your class of 2016!

Ladies and Gentlemen, your class of 2016!

My nerves carried into the first few miles of the run but I literally kept talking myself down. One guy was flying and quickly after 2 miles was out of reach, Mr. Dunn would go on to win. The next guy to drop me was a kid from  Reno who tried to get us to work together. It was a nice thought and I liked it but wasn't going to work on this very hilly course. Two lap run with hills, just brutal. 

 Thanks for the pain. Ouch

Thanks for the pain. Ouch

I felt good after the first lap and was in 3rd, Jeevan was still a few seconds arrears of me. I worked hard the next mile and put some more space between us and slowly started reeling in the quick moving Nevadan. I caught him up the large hill right before the turn around and never looked back as I flew down the hill back towards transition. I felt smooth. I kept thinking of Formula 1 qualifying when i was running It all just felt like we were trading blows in the opening qualifying before the real brutal race began. 

I rolled into transition feeling good, but extremely anxious. This was just the first 10k! How the hell am I gonna ride up into the hills, back, into the hills, and back again? How am I gonna keep my pace steady and high? Did I go too conservative in the first run and lost too much time?

As usual, my fears were over played. I was passed by Matt Payne of Minnesota after a mere 4 miles of the bike but wasn't surprised. The guy is a monster and last year's national AG champion. I just kept my head down and rolled on. The bike was essentially either up steady or down fast. 6 miles up, 6 down. I tried to maintain power on the climb and not overdo it. By the time I had reached the turn around for my second lap, I had put a massive hole in the field to my rear, gapping my good mate Jeevan by about 5 minutes. Still, feeling ok and the legs were only fighting me some

 Yay. 

Yay. 

As I ascended the final climb and looked down I couldn't see Payne at all and the gap behind was holding steady. I decided the best course of action was patience. I rolled back down conservatively and transitioned at a leisurely pace. After about a mile and a half I could look back and see no one. Payne was around the bend ahead of me and Jeevan was around the same bend but behind. The course was empty

Here is where I eased off. I had a race the next day and I was sitting pretty. I didn't exactly walk or anything but I for sure didn't speed up. I came back down the final hill and jogged back into transition. A smile on my face and plenty of promised pain in my legs. In the end I would snag 3rd overall despite technically finishing 4th. The 2nd place finisher was a 40 year old, absolute speed demon and world duathlon champion but this is America and this chap, despite his kindness, was a Brit and as such, was excluded from awards. 

 Got off on a technicality 

Got off on a technicality 

It overall was a great race. I am pleased with my performance I think it is all a good indicator for World Championships in Cozumel. Stay tuned, I was a fool and raced Sunday too, that race report is coming too. 

What makes the desert so beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best I think. Blue Lake Triathlon for me was a desert. Physically it was hotter than Mordor in July but mentally especially because nothing went my way. However, there always is a well, there is always some solace, something to be learned. 

 Yeah, too bad Omar can't come and teach race lessons. Also camels would be nice change instead of bikes in triathlon....

Yeah, too bad Omar can't come and teach race lessons. Also camels would be nice change instead of bikes in triathlon....

These last two weeks have held a lot of things for me. Mainly I have played in 4 concerts and one of them was my final senior recital which for those who may not be up on classical music practices is essentially an entire concert performance of solo music for my instrument. Its terrifying but once done, you are finished with everything and get your degree. To be honest I hadn't been thinking much about triathlon recently. I had mostly been focusing on my music making and finishing my undergraduate work. I had been training steady but the stressors of working in my professional symphony job, practicing a ton for my recital, and also doing my actual coursework were really taking an unknowingly strong toll on me. This would all become very apparent within the first few meters of the swim
 

 Sighting to the next buoy is hard sometimes. 

Sighting to the next buoy is hard sometimes. 

After a hasty warm up I lined up in the elite wave. This was an interesting group of competitors, some I knew were IRONMAN guys, others seemed a bit out of place for this Olympic distance speed show, and others, like Matt, Keet, Shea, I knew should be there. The stand around in the water waiting for the race felt a little familiar.... 

After the awkward standing in tepid lake water we heard the gun and were off. After the first 500 meters I started losing contact with the top 3 swimmers and started feeling off. My arms were aching more than normal. My stomach started to feel queasy and the sweat was accumulating in my wetsuit. After about 1000 meters Keet dropped me and I slowed pace even more on the way back. I  was already baking alive in my wetsuit it felt like. Compared to the cold, fast swim I had weeks earlier this was a crawl for life. 

 Oh well I have had crappy swims many times before, I can deal with it

Oh well I have had crappy swims many times before, I can deal with it

Well... The swim was crummy. I'll rock the bike right? Right? 

Nope. I put my shoes on the bike backwards!!! What amateur hour stuff. 

So I had to stop. Beside the road about a mile into the course and put my shoes on for real and keep going. In this I estimate I lost a about 45 seconds and contact with those ahead of me. As I pedaled back to speed and started trying to get going I noticed I just felt very sluggish. I tried standing up and push and moving about but to absolutely no avail. The sluggishness only intensified. I drank all my fluid. No luck. I just kept grinding and watching the dots on bikes ahead of me fade off while those behind grow closer. I pleaded with my legs to go and give me more! 

 Response from my legs

Response from my legs

The miles dragged on and one. I was passed by one rider. Then two. Then three. Finally I fell all the way down to 10th, beaten, frustrated, and hot. As I entered transition again I saw way too many bikes already on racks. As soon as my feet hit the ground my muscles made me feel their toil. I literally staggered off onto the run, stopping and guzzling water from a terrified high school girl aid station volunteer. Her white eyes and shaky exchange of cups of ice water served as a stark contrast to the sluggish reach of my hand and downward dejected look in my eyes. I almost walked over the course then. But I didn't. I don't believe in DNFs unless something is broken.

 It was a bummer.

It was a bummer.

My luck did turn around here, despite my own personal agony. Everyone for the most part who passed me on the bike obviously went too hard. Shuffling out of transition I was running a meager 7:40 pace but moved right by into top 8, then into 6th, then 5th and then 4th! I was picking it up slowly. I soon started running side by side with a kid named Shea, I asked him to work together to stay ahead. He obliged. 

 Yay team. 

Yay team. 

Our alliance proved to be strong until almost the very end and I ultimately would lose contact with him at the final aid station. Before this came to pass the OSU guy came and scorched by us. I tried to rally but the legs were flatter than pancakes. I couldn't do anything but swear under my breath and wonder why he had to wear such a preposterous beaver tail race belt. 

I blew up the last few miles. Don't look at my splits, lets just not talk about it. 

I would cross the line, many minutes back from where I should have been in, 4th place overall. But ultimately, two days removed from this race I think it was a blessing. I learned  the be wary of over heating in my wetsuit in the warm water. I learned to put my shoes in the correct way on the bike. I learned the full effects of mental stress accumulating for weeks before a race is real. And most important of all, the true well in this desert, even if it all goes to hell in a handbasket, just keep going forward one step at a time, it's better than just walking off and quitting. 

Thanks to Ninkasi Brewing, Death Row Velo, Fast Carbon Wheels, and Sweat X for their support in speedy races and death marches alike. I appreciate it a ton. Stay tuned, 3 weeks is Duathlon National Champs!

Oregon Dunes Triathlon: Sand is always fun right? ... right?

And so it begins. The offseason for me was filled with changes that were unforeseeable but certainly not terrible! 

                                              Ch Ch Ch Changes

                                             Ch Ch Ch Changes

On the life side I am officially attending Arizona State University in the fall and will be moving down to Phoenix (never fear, I will be racing all summer long in Oregon still!). I am extremely excited to be studying with the legendary double bass player Catalin Rotaru as well. The whole musical experience will be great I am sure. On the sponsorship side I am no longer with Planet X but I thank them for their support over the last three years. I also heartily welcome the truly awesome support from Simply Cycle  and Mark Lipchick at Fast Carbon Wheels for hooking me up for this season as well. I am continuing on with a rad new kit from John Landino at Death Row Velo and keeping it clean with help from Sweat X. And I am beyond stoked with the awesome support and beer Ninkasi Brewing is doing for me. They are truly one of the best companies in the Pacific Northwest.

The Oregon Dunes Triathlon is the first open water swim race of Oregon and thus making it the first race of my season.  

 This is how I feel with a pool swim race. 

This is how I feel with a pool swim race. 

My training has been solid over the offseason  but with some significant breaks due to some annoying bouts of illness and of course my over two week trip to audition for graduate schools. I felt confident at the start of this first race but very very nervous still. I was however glad my training partner Garrett and friend Thomas were going to be staying the evening before in Yachats with me before the race as they to were racing! But as race morning came and my number had mysteriously not been printed or shown up... I was a bit on edge. 

 Yeah.... Not sure about this...

Yeah.... Not sure about this...

I met a few other sprint racers and one intrigued me, a tall, lanky kid from Utah named Ty who judging by his equipment and other races he told me he was racing, he was gonna be a fast one. After cheering Garrett and Thomas on in their earlier standard distance race I warmed up and hit the water to wait out the last few seconds before the 2016 season got under way, nervous to say the least. The only thing keeping my mind off it all was the water. 

Luckily within a few the gun was off and we were on our way. I as always took an outside line through the first turn and found myself in the lead. I assumed I would not be making time on anyone but to my surprise I was. At about the halfway mark I knew I was moving well, however I didn't feel it. Swimming still sucks for me, I just have gotten better at dealing with the suckage and now go a bit quicker. But today I was much quicker, exiting the 750meter swim in a mere 8 minutes 45 seconds. I had a lead out of the water! Still a confusing feeling for me. 

 Still Getting used to this swimming ok thing...

Still Getting used to this swimming ok thing...

I flew though transition and mounted my new bike and took off. I worked hard over the first few hills and when I turned my head to see if anyone was behind me, there was empty road. Capitalizing on this, I worked harder. The bike was a blur and I remember very little other than really pushing the pace up every climb and carrying my momentum to the next. This 10.5 mile course feels like 20 since the longest flat part is maybe 30 feet. It is a tough one. I came through a little over 26 minutes crushing the former bike course record.  knew I rode fast but still, since this was the first race, pace is still something I am getting a feeling for.  But hey, I'll take a fast bike split any day I can get it

 Why not bike?

Why not bike?

 Shoes are for chumps.

Shoes are for chumps.

I overcooked transition. Lets just leave it at that. 

 A little too much gas. 

A little too much gas. 

Oh the run. The true test. I went a bit quick through T2 and behold of course I was stitching. I made it through 2 miles before they were bad, This run is an absolute killer though. The trail is a real single track affair. As I wound my way through the first mile i felt strong still but as the 2nd mile is all up hill I was starting to feel my stitching tighten and I focused on relaxing, which sort of worked. The stitches were never crippling but slowed me down for sure. As I wound my way through the final mile of single track every bump was not helping me relax at all, neither was my speedy, non relaxed transition. Honestly as I started to slow I thought my attempt at a course record was gonna go the way of the Betamax player.

As I struggled through the final mile I finally saw myself in front of the giant dune that was the finish. I knew I had it in the bag but worked my ass off to the top anyways still hoping for a course record.  

 No. Not that Dune. 

No. Not that Dune. 

 This Dune. 

This Dune. 

After I crossed and greeted my amazing support crew of my girlfriend, Sarah, and my parents I was told I had broken the previous record of 57;26 by a solid two minutes to make it 55:21! Yay!! I was also stoked.  I am also very proud of Garrett for his 3rd place finish overall in the Olympic and Thomas for a nice 3rd in his AG! 

Thank you to Best in the West for a  great race and a wonderful day out on the coast. For now I'll be focusing on a more fluid run, drinking some needed Ninkasi and getting ready to graduate with my Bachelors in Music Performance soon! I'll look for everyone out there at the Blue Lake Tri on June 4!