A long time ago, somewhere on this wondrous planet lived a man full of joy. A portal opened up to let me observe this tested soul thriving in his element.
He moved over land and sea with powerful grace and in this time of little leisure, he expended copious amounts of precious energy. He was not hunting or fleeing just walking, running, and swimming to feel the earth move around him. There was no pondering, no escaping, just being. He flowed from moment to moment moving. His long hair wild in the wind, his naked body sweating on this chilly day; he traversed a glorious amount of land. Crossing lakes and rivers, climbing hills and mountains, running through fields of wildflowers; the perfumes intoxicating his olfactory nerves, the wildflowers blurring colors of purple and yellow and red fluttered his vision.
He moved all day without a thought, thriving on the nature surrounding him. The day alive with weather sometimes cold sometimes hot, sometimes wet sometimes dry he reveled in each instant and flourished. His body was strong and capable and this was its reward. His soul brimming with the stuff of life, he returned home rejuvenated.
Wildflower Triathlon May Day 2010
Before the race the joy can be overwhelming in its bliss, its calm, its powerful feeling of being alive, and its being right with your place in the universe. No thoughts, just pureness.
An excerpt from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’:
“The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing
of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising
from bed and meeting the sun.”
Getting into this zone is what life’s all about, doing it in my training and racing is a source of limitless energy. Knowing that the meditation in movement is about to go extreme forces one to look inward. It’s time to forget the world and get real with who you are.
Excerpt from Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’:
“Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.”
In this day and age it can be nearly impossible but letting the ‘world’ melt away is critical for inner peace. For me a quiet mind equates to a powerful performance when racing. It’s about reaching your potential and testing the human spirit.
Looking over Lake San Antonio, wading ankle deep in the brisk water wearing my F2R wetsuit made me feel impenetrable to the cold. I could feel my heart beating forcefully in quiet, waiting for the test it was going to endure. Several of the world’s greatest athletes stood by, their hearts beating to a rhythm now, seconds away from the ultimate test in the meditation of movement, Wildflower’s Long Course Triathlon.
I have no recollection of what initiated the start, a gun, a cannon, a horn? My test began, charging through the water I swam without a thought. After a while my mind intruded on the ultimate bliss. “Hey, you’re leading the race!” Nearing the first buoy I was surprisingly leading the race; stunning because my sprinting ability is subpar, especially this early in the season. However, being on the far left was not the best position for the 90 degree turn fast approaching. A couple guys made the turn just before me and my effort eased while drafting. Here, a little bit of reason creeps into my brain…something about pacing…it’s going to be a long day. This decision was made much easier when looking back I noticed we had already broken away from the main pack. My goal was now to see how easy could I go while staying right where I was at the front of the race.
Much of the rest of the swim was not easy but let’s say effortless. Then, my mind blurted in on the scene screaming something about going for the swim prime. Yeah, it was true the leaders were just in front of me. I went after it for about 100 meters out of the last 300 before deciding someone else’s brain was screaming at them much louder to win that prime than mine. Staying comfortable finishing the swim allowed me to rip my T1. I passed everyone except for Michael Raelert.
I felt strong in the cockpit of the SCOTT Plasma and rode near the front of the race. Raelert would linger in front of me for the next 10 miles, slowly pulling away from not just me, but the entire field. When Joe Gambles took over 2nd place Raelert was just visible on the rolling terrain of Wildflower’s bike course. That was as close as anyone got all day. Leading to some talk around the water cooler that Raelert may be one of the best triathletes to come along in a while. It’s true; the guy seemingly has no weakness and is firing on all cylinders at the moment.
The next guys to join me on this lovely bike course were Phillip Graves and Bjorn Anderssen. What surprised me was that I was strong enough to repass them going up some of the hills. Keeping them nearby for several miles amounted to an eagle feather in my Indian head dress. Next to join the party was Martin Jensen, Rasmus Henning and Eneko Llanos. We rode just off the pace of the leaders who were tantalizing close up the road. It wasn’t long before these guys made a move to bridge up to them. I passed Rasmus, trying to go with them. Immediately after this I heard Rasmus being yelled at by a motorcycle referee. Sure enough, moments later he was nowhere to be seen…stuck serving his penalty for failing to stagger after I passed him. It shouldn’t have affected me in the slightest but it seemed to take some wind out of my sail. For the next 20 miles I rode solo in no-mans-land. Two more riders went by during this time Maik Twelsiek from Germany and Conrad Stoltz from South Africa. Stoltz flew by like he had just stolen something. He would go on to catch the leaders and post the 2nd fastest bike split of the day to….you guessed it…Raelert.
At mile 40 begins the ‘Nasty Grade’ climb. I had strategically planned finishing my nutrition at this point only to find that it was no longer on my bike. Oops. Big oops. This could have psyched me out for the rest of the race but I let it float away on the next breeze and charged up nasty grade. Rasmus caught back up at this point and it was nice to share some suffering. I picked up my pace keeping Rasmus at bay and even putting a little time into him by the end of the bike. It seemed I got a second wind on the bike even without my nutrition.
Just as we crested the final big climbs shortly past Nasty Grade, Maik, finished serving a penalty of his own. It helped for two reasons…knowing that he must have bridged up to the leaders to obtain his penalty and for having another strong rider to pace off of. With renewed energy I was able to pass Maik in the final miles of the bike and finish stronger than I would have had he not been there to challenge me.
T2 went fast; gracefully slipping on my SCOTT T2’s helped the situation. In fact, it was fast enough to keep Rasmus from catching me on the run for almost 2 miles! I ran with him for the next few miles and kept him on the horizon until mile 9 where he sped up and I slowed down a bit. For 80% of the run I ran stride for stride with Maik. Running on rough hilly trails with big stones slowed the progress. A patch of vibrant yellow wildflowers radiated an image in my brain and their energy gave me strength.
Coming down the long descent of the ‘pit’ to mile 10, knowing you have to climb right back up it can be mentally draining. A lot of action took place at the U-turn at the bottom of this hill. Joe Umphenour ran us down just as we closed in and passed the ‘caveman’ Conrad. A few minutes later I started to feel the day’s effort and was thankful the race finish was near. I let any thoughts of running down Joe and Maik go and focused on staying strong to the finish. The last mile forced one to endure a steep descent down Lynch Hill. An effort that had my hips and shins shrieking for mercy. I ‘heard’ footsteps coming all the way down the hill…but when I got to the bottom nobody was there.
Elation takes over as one nears the finish to a successful test of the heart. Years of experience moved my body over land and sea today with some of the better athletes on the planet and again the joy set in. I am thrilled with a ninth place finish while being the 2nd American, qualifying me for the the 2010 ITU Long Course World Championship U.S.A Team.
Inside Triathlon Magazine Article: