Well, It happened again! Another exciting year of racing and living flew by in the blink of an eye. The demand my job as a Buyer and Sales manager increased a bit this year and I spend 40-45 hours a week spinning around in circles at Sport Systems trying to keep my departments in order. I also do my best to listen and help every customer that comes in with a need to be met. When I am not at work, I am waking up as early as 4:30am to train with Amber Zimmerman and Sierra Smith, Or maybe I sleep in a bit and catch a frantic work out on my lunch break or after I get off at 7:00pm. My weekends are spent zooming off to races (local and national) or catching up on laundry and home maintenance in between training sessions in Albuquerque. And sometimes, if my mother is lucky, I put the pedal to the metal and drive home to Leadville for a quick weekend. Somehow, I do manage to improve and climb the professional rankings in this crazy three-in-one sport with the aid of Coach T (Trista Francis). Pardon the delay as always, but here is the cliff notes version of my 2016 racing season.
Spring Fling (April 10)
After having a pretty bummer time in Clermont, I really needed some redemption to feel better about this 2016 season I laid out for myself. There is this really great local triathlon that happens about 3 blocks from my house. The University of New Mexico hosts a small reverse sprint triathlon (again for those not in New Mexico, this is a run, bike, then swim sprint triathlon). Chances were good that I would win, though I admit that I was worried about Marcos Serna. He is moving up the U23 draft legal pathway very well! But winning was not my goal in this race, my goal was to show an improvement over last year’s race to prove that my offseason training was worth a damn. The training log showed improvement, but I needed to see it on a result.
On race morning Marcos took the run out really quick; like 4:20 pace quick. I ended up shaking him on the run and then posted a really strong bike and a good swim for something like a 2:30 minute improvement over the 2015 race. So, with this reminder that all of the offseason work did pay off, I felt ready to go to St. Petersburg for the next event.
St Anthony's Triathlon and a Marriage Proposal (April 24)
Last year Sierra and I traveled to Florida to race the St. Anthony’s triathlon. This year we returned, only this time Sierra was racing as a professional, and we pulled along our team mate to race her first pro race as well. Sierra and I stayed with the Fradley family again. They are so great! It was so nice to know the course, and know the routine of the weekend this year. We were something like a 7 minute bike ride from the start of the race. I shaved off about 2 minutes over last year, but the field had improved a ton, and I actually slid three places. It just goes to show that you never know who will toe the line. Also, later on in the year, I heard that Ivan Tutukin of Russia, who took 2nd, tested positive for using the banned substance Meldonium. This was the first time I have personally had a competitor in my field test positive and affect my outcome.
Despite the excitement for the race, this weekend was special for another reason. I surprised Sierra with a wedding proposal. After the race we lounged around down town St. Pete with my mom. It was such a pleasant day. I think we all fell asleep in rocking chairs at some point. We have set the date for September 4th, 2017.
Rev3 Quassy (June 4)
I didn’t really understand why this race was referred to as the “Beast of the Northeast” until drove the run and bike course. There was something like 2000ft of gain on the Bike and 600ft gain on the run. This race should really be an Xterra, except that the course is paved… Since I live out west, I always forget that the east coast can in fact be hilly… I took confidence in my training knew I could post a good race. Fog delayed the start, but before long the professional men took to the water. I came out farther behind than I should have. I caught one or two people on the bike, and a few more on the run. I still didn’t crack top ten but I am placing higher up in the field. I went home again knowing that I put together a good race and that I am actually creeping closer to the top spots. I will have to revisit this wicked hard course again!
Break the Silence Duathlon (June 12), City of Lakes Tri (June 25), & a 4th of July 5k
Demands on my time and money kept my season trim. So to keep training interesting and the race game sharp, I toed the line at a few local events. I race a local duathlon at the end of May and then Sierra, Amber and I race as a team at the City of Lakes triathlon in June. I also put down a fast local 5k, but took second and missed some $$ by a few seconds. Honestly, sometimes these local races are truly the most fun.
Lifetime NYC (July 24)
The trick to this race is traveling to Manhattan on the cheep. Somehow we pulled together a really low dollar trip. Sierra tagged along to experience the city and the race this year, but did not compete. We took a plane to Newark from Albuquerque. Then a bus from New Jersey to the NYC Port Authority. From there we caught a subway ride to Columbus Circle. The final step was trudging a few blocks with our bike bags to the YMCA. We stayed in a very affordable dorm style room with questionable carpet stains in this historical building. We were also positioned between the start line and the finish line for the weekend’s race. So location and price were perfect
Not very many Professionals raced this year. Prize money only goes down to top 3, and the expense for the race is high. I am sure that keeps some people away. I did manage to place 5th over all at this event and earned the fastest run and walked away with the run premium. I stumbled over myself a little when I went up to the stage to join Cam Dye, Sarah Haskins and Helle Federikson for the premium announcements. I am aware that this was a small award earned from a small field. But the quality of competition was high, and I hope that this will be the beginning of many more podium spots.
Glorieta Xterra (August 6)
I really wanted to get out to the Professional Rev3 Poconos race the weekend of the Glorietta Xterra, but the thought of travel after the NYC trip really did not appeal. Instead I decided on a whim to race my first Xterra about an hour away from Albuquerque. I pulled out the Demo Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon from Sport Systems and toed the line. I grew up trail running and mountain biking during the short Leadville summers. I am totally at home on the trail. Though, maneuvering the equipment was new. This was only my second day on the bike, and maybe my second day on a mountain bike in about 10 years. I had a really rough swim! Maybe it was the altitude. All of my other wet suit swims have been at sea level. This race was at about 6,000ft. Also, I think I have accumulated some more upper body mass since I acquired the suit. Anyway, I could hardly breathe. I had to back off my effort to below tempo in order not to panic. I’ll be investing in a new wet suit for 2017, but enough of that rant. I came out of T1 in first place and maintained my lead. I had one or two clumsy falls on the bike, but nothing major. I killed the run, only to be directed the wrongway near the finish. The race director came after me in a golf cart and lead me back to the right track. I still won by about 5 mins. I am clueless to how good my performance really was in the scheme of professional Xterras, so I have no bearings. That is not to say that the field wasn’t talented.
I do think I have more off road triathlons in my future. So stay tuned!
Des Moines Triathlon (September 4)
The prize purse was cut a bit more this year for this event. Top 5 were going to walk a way with some cash as opposed to top 7 last year. Bill Burke the race director really loves this event and is truly pushing to maintain a future for the discipline on Olympic and Spring Non Draft Legal events in the States. This was hands down my best race of the season. The swim started off a little nutty. A few top guys accidentally began to skip the second turn buoy. I think it was Colin Riley and I that stood up to run through a shallow spot and noticed them in the distance. We looked at each other in bewilderment for a second while running through shin deep water. Apparently, the officials in the water redirected them. They caught up to me and Riley by that second buoy by the way. The swim was indeed longer this year, by about 100m. The extra time in the water made my final time look 10 second slower that last year. But if you take into account the near 1:30 minute extra swim time, I actually had a baller performance. I finished about 1:55:30 and in 10th place. I wasn’t too upset about my placement since the first man was only 5 minutes ahead of me. Usually 1st to 10th is about an 8-10 minute spread. Overall I ended my season on a good note. I was lucky enough to have my mother along this trip as well. She always gets to all the good spots to cheer and she keeps it real with some perceptions that are not sugar coated. A family friend by the name of Bobby that lives in the area popped over for lunch after the event as well. I am always amazed at how acquaintances emerge from the wood work when I race around the USA.
Again, I am happy with my progress, but I am not done improving. I have so much more room to grow and I am not done chasing the limits of my body. I did spend a lot of time in August thinking about if I am ready to start working my way into long course triathlons (half and full Ironman distances). After a lot of wrestling with myself and re-evaluating what my goals are, I came up with a plan for 2017. I have decided to revisit the track this spring and try to lower my 3k Steeple Chase time. I will see if I can get close to breaking 8:40, which would qualify me for the USATF National Championships. I won’t be quitting triathlon though. I do plan on applying to race with Major League triathlon in addition to racing some of the Rev3 events. Well, I will try and post more frequent updates in the future, but as it is I had to stay up past my bed time to compose this mega recap.
Thanks for the support this year: Sport Systems, Elevate PHW, Red Rock Roasters, and Newton Running