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Time Warp: Just What the Heck Have I Been Up To?

Yes, I know it has been a while since I have caught everyone up on my racing and life in general. That is just how hectic the past 7 months have been. I have been busy to brim. So I’ll start from this very moment and work backwards. And hopefully the story unfolds coherently. 

CLERMONT DRAFT LEGAL CHALLENGE     03.05.16

I am sitting on a stand by flight from Orlando to Denver this fine Sunday March, 6th, with the hopes of making a seat on the earlier of two flights back to Albuquerque from there. I flew down to Florida on Friday and negotiated my way to a friends house for the weekend. I took last year off from this draft legal sprint, and thought that I would test my luck at Lake Louisa State Park again to start the 2016 season. 

I was excited to see where I would shake out in the mix, because believe it or not, I have been making some progress in the pool. To my surprise and delight, the swim was going to be wetsuit legal. I was calm and prepared the morning of the race and felt great on all of my warm ups. But right away my swim was a disaster after the starting horn sounded. It almost felt like all sixty-five men false started. I did my best to sprint from the shore and dolphin dive my way to the deeper water with the crowd. But man, it was a washing machine of arms and legs. And honestly, I am too just too nice to pull a man under and punch and tug my way to the front. So, I struggled on without a breath for about ten strokes. Then, the unexpected happened. I started panicking in my wetsuit. It had never happened before. I could feel everything compressing my chest, wetsuit, racing suit, and heart rate monitor. I couldn’t expand my chest to get a deep enough breath and my heart rate was pinned. I eventually had to roll over, adjust my goggles and started again by concentrating on my exhale. This did get be back on track quickly, but in an ITU pro sprint, this was a damaging amount of time lost. Instantly I was the last swimmer. I wasn’t loosing any more ground, but the gap was made. From there I biked alone and was lapped out just before the run course. 

Needless to say, I need to take my own advice I give to people at the store, which is;  “get in your wetsuit, even if it is in a pool a few times before you first race. It just isn’t wise to think you are always wetsuit ready.” I looked back I am not sure I raced in my wet suit once last year. It certainly makes sense why I was shocked. So now my attention is focused on St. Anthony’s at the end of April. The non draft legal olympic scene has provided much more success for me than the ITU scene…

The success story from Team iTz this weekend belonged to Amber Zimmerman who crushed the women’s EDR race by 90 seconds and earned her professional license. Also, thanks to Chris Lutz for hosting me. I couldn’t have put together a smoother trip with out his hospitality. 

MOUNT TAYLOR QUAD                 02.13.16

About an hour west of Albuquerque is the town of Grants. Every year the city hosts a famous race call the Mount Taylor Quadrathalon. It consists of a 13 mile climb from down town towards and up Mount Taylor. Then a five mile run on a dirt service road until the surface transitions to snow. The next leg is a three mile Cross Country Ski into a final mile snow shoe climb to the 11,300ft summit of Mount Taylor. At that point you reverse and transition through the same events back to the start, which is also the finish. 

I had raced this event and places 6th before triathlon was on the radar for me, and I wanted to drop in and make top three, as there was a prize money pay out that deep. Josiah Middaugh routinely wins every year and I was hoping to hang with him. Sierra also decided to race with Tove Shere as a team. 

The sad part is, is that we both caught a cold the week before and decided to race anyway. I managed all right through the first run and maintained second place. After that the cold caught up and my breathing was limited. I cut the engines and trotted down the mountain. I still managed 8th. But earned no early season money. Keep your day job, Alex.

Sierra and I then spent the next week in a deep sick funk and couldn’t train. So the entire month of February was basically a wash for training. Which did not set me up for the Clermont Draft Legal Challenge at all. 

TEAM ITZ WINTER TRAINING CAMP        01.25.16

Sierra, Trista and I journeyed to Sanibel Island, Florida during the last week of January for our annual training escape from work and winter. My Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to welcomed us into their home on the island for this week. The riding and running are great on the island, And there is an outdoor pool down the road from my family’s house. Unfortunately it rained most of the week. But we made the most of the trip. We were there for work, not for sunshine. Plus, it was nice to catch up more in person with Coach Trista. 

THE RUNNING EVENT                 12.04.15

The fall was a frantic time as I started the buying position at Sport Systems. Pretty much October through January was off the hook busy. The awesome El Niño winter dumped tons of snow at all the resorts in southern Colorado and New Mexico. We couldn’t order and get winter product to the customers fast enough. And personally I was called upon to help in every department while putting all of the ordering and reporting for my departments on the back burner. I did find time to slip out to Austin for three quick days to participate in The Running Event. It is a large running speciality trade show. This was an opportunity to see all the fall 2016 lines and catch up on the newest and greatest in the industry. 

Aside from getting a lot of previewing and planning for the Sport Systems fall selection done, there was an opportunity to race a 5k associated with the event. I was in a swim and bike focus, but Trista sprinkled in a few speed workouts for me to toe the line. I ended up placing second to a professional running for Sketchers. David Fuentes was surprised to be followed in by a triathlete. Unfortunately, the run was cut about .2 miles short due to an error made by the bike lead. I clocked a 13:36 2.9k over rolling hills. It really left me curious to see what I might be able to do on a track 5k this year. At the very least I started to get jazzed about racing in 2016. 

DES MOINES TRI                     09.4.15

Some how I kept it all together after starting my new position and upping my hours at work and ended my season phenomenally at the Des Moines Tri. The Swim was boiling hot, Somewhere in the mid to low 80s. The bike was hilly and windy. And oh man that run was hot, muggy and unprotected. And to boot there is an uphill sprint to the finish. I came off the bike somewhere around 15th. I was just about ready to give up and jog in to the finish. I was so over placing in the teens. I just felt heart broken to be at the back again. But, the first mile of this run was an out and back and then the course took us toward the capitol building to finish. I saw a line of 5-7 men just ahead of me on this little out and back. Everyone (probably including me) looked awful. I told myself to “just go for it!” I plucked off people I have never beat. Right and left. Just before the finish I saw one more guy I could pass. I had miscounted and thought I was running into 9th. I told myself, “just get into the single digits today!” Little did I know that I actually ran myself into 7th. And into the last spot for a cash payout. In the end, I felt that I really had improved this season. I am not “winning” the swim or bike. But that gap before the run is decreasing. And success is on the horizon.

AGN DOUBLE SUPER SPRINT             08.06.15

I love the Double Super Sprint Format. But, this event was a comedy of errors for me. The water was surprisingly cold for such a hot summer weekend in Milwaukee. I didn’t even think about a wetsuit. So that put me behind right away for swim number one. And on the 4th transition I pulled my bike off the rack to find my rear wheel falling off… I don’t think it was sabotage, but perhaps some one else caught my skewer lever as the pull their bike off? ANYway after several seconds of bewilderment of “what is that noise and clunk?” I figured it out, secured the lever and jumped on the bike and off I went. I guess in the that moment of confusion and pause, I forgot to keep running my bike to the mount line… So on the final run I had a :10 time penalty to serve on the run. Phew. I still finished somewhere around 13th. But man, it was a weird race. 

THE BAVARIAN EXPERIENCE             07.29.15

I caught word of this little triathlon in northern Michigan called The Bavarian Experience. It is an olympic distance non draft race that posted a small professional prize purse. The pay out was only three deep. I kept this race a secret with the hope of landing in the prize money. However, Ben Collins, Chris Lutz, and a few other big names arrived. which totally speaks to the climate of the short course non draft legal racing climate of 2015. I ended up 5th. Sierra won a cool beer stein though. That was worth it! Frankenmuth, Michigan is worth a look though. The country side is actually pretty and the town is quite kitsch and cool at the same time. The city is known for a perpetual Christmas mega store and Bavarian heritage. 

THE PROMOTION                     07.01.15

Just Before taking off on my 10 racing trip through the midwest in July, the footwear buyer at Sport Systems put in her two weeks. She was offered a position at a local hospital. This left a gap wide open as a buyer at this awesome multi-sport store. Right away the upper management offered me the position to me. They were happy to work around my racing, and actually would prefer if I did continue my racing. It took me a day to think about it, and then I took the job.

For the 18 months after returning from the Olympic Training Center, I worked as a sales associate on the floor all departments. I am right at home in the culture at Sport Systems. Swim, Bike, Run, Ski, Snowboard, Yoga, Hike are what we do and what I do. This offer could not have come at a better time. I was just starting to question my life goals. Sure Pro racing was building really well for me during the 2015 season, but I was getting antsy about letting my career goals wither. I have been thinking a lot about Product Design and Development in the sports industry. The more I researched some desired positions I repeatedly saw “must have buyer experience.” This job literal fell in my lap at the most serendipitous moment. Sure, my time commitment increased, but with Trista at my side, we could adapt training. Plus, I’am earning better insurance, another form of retirement and some paid time off (to race).

POST SCRIPT

I made the 3:20 flight from Denver to Albuquerque (Back to day, March 6th). The over booked flight had enough passengers and standby folks prioritized ahead of me not show. I literally got the last seat. If only my ITU swimming luck was as good as my standby flight luck Which is actually really good.

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