Emotionally Rich Victory at Quest For The Capitol Triathlon

Emotionally Rich Victory at Quest For The Capitol Triathlon

This race is just days from the 4th of July due date we have with our second child.  Having the start and finish less than 2 miles from our house and the hospital allows me to have one of the faster races of my life.  I’m sure not going to miss anything!

Flying down the first long descent into Hidden Springs at top speeds I feel a sting in my abdomen.  I just nailed a bee going 50+ mph and he managed to retaliate with a prick.  This barely registered in my mind as anything but a nuisance while I navigate the roads with an intense focus and effort.  For the next couple miles I hit the gas on the flats enjoying the speed my body is able to produce.  Then, I get stung again in the same spot.  This is too much of a coincidence and now the nuisance has registered as a minor problem.  I adjust my suit and immediately get stung twice in quick succession down around the groin area!  Alarms are now sounding through out my body.  Everything in my being centers a laser focus on the terrifying beast in my suit.  Images of giant spiders, scorpions, and snakes race through my mind.  Creepy crawlers are not supposed to have free reign around this part of your body. 

How this animal got in my suit and what it was, occupied the majority of my brain power with the rest trying to do something to stop the aggressive attack now happening with little defense.  I’m getting stings in the worst of areas.  My eyes are coming out of their sockets while this terror moves, scratches, bites, and stings me INSIDE MY SUIT! 

This goes on for a few seconds but in my head the unabated onslaught is eternity.  I violently start pinching and striking myself.  I’m half scared to pinch the beast for fear of losing a finger but if I don’t…well, I let that thought drift away.  The sensitive area makes it hard for me to retaliate with a full attack and at the moment look like a nut case having spasms and hitting himself while riding a bike in a swimsuit.  I get the terror between my fingers without the courage to squish.  I get stung again for my cowardice.  Angry, I find the little terror again and squeeze it to death.  I haven’t been breathing and take in a large amount of air in relief and exhale.  Then, the beast comes back to life and stings me again!  The horror!  I pinch him to a liquid with the strength of a vice for far too long.  I’m traumatized, but find solace in knowing the war is over.

The blur of being in a race comes back to my attention.  I feel weird, not bad or great but maybe good?  My adrenalin is sky high.  The near extreme pain (death) experience survival gives me a second wind and I use it to climb steep hills with reckless abandon.  I wonder when the preceding crash is going to happen from too much excitement?  Hopefully, after the race….


TriIdaho has a special race in a special city.  The Quest for the Capitol Triathlon is one of those races that get you excited before, during and after the race.  We Boisians affectionately call the bike course the dump loop.  It’s anything but.  This scenic, hilly (almost mountainy) loop with next to no traffic is a bike riders dream.  Anyone who lives in Boise and loves cycling has done the loop.  Few of us get to race it.  The Exergy Tour used this loop as the grand finale for it’s tour with great success.  Top that off with a downtown run with a T2 and finish in front of the State Capitol building.  Finish this race and you’ll be buzzing through the weekend.  This makes the Quest Tri one of those races you love to compete in.

The day started with a lovely swim at Boise Cascade Lake, also know as Veterans Lake by those of us that like to swim there regularly.  TriIdaho offered up a Sprint and Olympic race.  The sprint racers did one loop of the swim while the Olympic racers did two.  I loved doing the two lap swim course and it also made for better viewing for the spectators.  The lake was glassy and the Aqua Sphere Phantom wetsuit helped make this a fast swim.  It’s always fun to do a race in familiar settings; it makes the course unfamiliar in an exciting way.

Once out of the water I did not let my lead soften the pace.  I enjoyed the quarter mile(ish) run on mostly carpet, into T1.  Just over two minutes later I was tearing up the streets of Boise on a super sweet SCOTT Plasma on a super sweet course.  I’ll admit, I was a little nervous for the aggressive climbs and descents coming my way.

It is for this very reason that my 60 year old father choose to do the Sprint Triathlon and it’s flat bike course.  He doesn’t mind the climbing but racing descents scares him.  It scares me too, your imagination runs wild sometimes.  Then, in the excitement of racing, the thrills are fun but they never seem as bad as you think they might be.

After the first long climb with legs ready for more, I encounter my stinging friend.  That ordeal works itself out before I start the next and worst climb of the day.  The pain of pushing myself is less than the terror I just went through.  I find power to climb harder.

After a quick descent I find myself climbing again on a hill that often gets me on training rides.  Today, I power up and over the top with some speed.  Then, start a white knuckle descent that worries me every time I imagine speeding down it.  But it’s fun and feels safe.  Silly imagination.

I hit the last tough climb of the day and my legs are giving me the feedback that the fun won’t last much longer if I keep this up.  The dichotomy of powerful thigh bursting climbing and it’s slow cadence with the 100+ cadence of the bullet train descents has worked over the legs.

Riding back into downtown makes the whole journey feel like more of an adventure, like I just scouted the wild frontier and am returning to camp.  It’s very cool to be taking over downtown Boise with a few hundred friends all expressing their vitality.

I’m leading the race but there is one other athlete in T2.  My dad!  He is leading the Sprint Tri.  He gets out on the run before me and provides an awesome carrot.  I have to work for it.  It’s extremely gratifying to have the family out feeling healthy.  In 23 years I’ll be 60 and I know what’s possible at that age.  Everything I’m doing as a healthy 37 year old!

My dad and I exchange encouragements and it’s thrilling to know that we are both winning our respective races.  My dad is in great shape but you don’t expect your 60 year old dad to win the race overall!  It’s a special moment to have us both charging down Capitol Boulevard alone on a giant road in the middle of our city.

Running over the Capitol Bridge and then heading east on the south side of the greenbelt provides us with a fast and scenic run course.  Although, the legs would disagree with the ‘fast’ part after the difficult bike.  There is something magical about the Boise River and I find endless joy running along it.  Maybe it’s where the water comes from?  Snowmelt from some of the most majestic mountains in the world.  The water is pristine.

The run is an out and back course and seeing no one immediately behind me allows me to stay present in the endless moment enjoying the movement.  My family is dancing around in my consciousness while I feel the love of having another child any moment!

Many of the athletes I have the pleasure of coaching in the Y TriClub are racing.  It provides me with many smiles and more energy to see them running on the course as we exchange support.  Giving support is a wonderful way to focus on the big picture and lessen your own suffering.  It’s immensely gratifying to see so many athletes celebrating their fitness and being apart of that.

Coming across the finish line and having my dad waiting there is the climax to a rewarding day.  It’s a father and son victory!  A special moment for both of us.

Now that the race is done my curiosity comes back.  What attacked me on the bike course?  I pull down my suit and find the distinct remains of a yellow jacket head.  He must have flew down my suit and gotten very angry.  I feel of tinge of pain for the warrior and then start feeling woozy from the whole ordeal.

TriIdaho Quest for the Capitol Triathlon 2012 Results

I’ve been fortunate to do well over 100 triathlons all over the world.  The Quest for the Capitol Triathlon is one of the best courses out there.  Put this race on your to do list, you’ll be amazed with the fun filled adventure you’ll have.

Satisfying Pacific Crest Triathlon Adventure


Amazing!  Three races in a row with close to freezing rain in the Pacific Northwest’s late spring.


Waking up to 39 degree temperatures with the kind of rain coming down that soaks you just walking to the car forces you to find the joy in racing a triathlon.  You remind yourself that you love challenges! 


This is one of the best triathlons in the world and being a short 5 hours drive from Boise makes it a regular on my schedule.  This year with my wife being almost at full term and unable to travel I asked my mom if she wanted to go.  It was rewarding to spend some 1 on 1 time with mom as we don’t get to do that much anymore.  She is awesome with her support!


We almost missed the race though.  Using a GPS for directions we traveled on dirt roads to the wrong side of the lake.  My poor mom is driving way faster than her comfort level; for a bit I thought we might totally miss the start of the race because we were pretty lost.  We finally arrive at T2 at 8:55am for the 9am start.  Then, find out the start has been delayed until 10am due to the weather.  The bike course had up to four inches of snow on it!  They were forced to change the most beautiful course to the Olympic 28 mile route.  Still a wonderful course, but it’s hard to compete with the 58 mile route that circumnavigates the volcano with a snow packed summit and several mountain lakes.


After just doing the Ironman Boise 70.3 in similar conditions, we seriously talked about wearing a wetsuit on the bike.  Then, the rain stopped!  Still close to freezing a little bit of sun made all the difference.  The swim started and I enjoyed the scenery (fresh snow in the mountains) while keeping warm with a solid effort.  With the sun beaming down on my black wetsuit you could almost be tricked into thinking it was hot outside.  Running into T2 I almost thought that I would not need the thermal vest and gloves that were draped over my bike.  Then, I though better of it.  Thank goodness!  All though I was able to stay out of the rain while on the bike, my feet and hands were pretty numb.  The thermal vest certainly helped maintain my core temperature and allow me to enjoy the bike course for the beautiful ride that it is.  My hands started getting too cold after a few miles on the bike and pulling out the gloves was a remedy that put the smile back on my face.


Once off the bike and onto the run the cool temperatures felt perfect.  The kind of running weather you love to just go and go and go in.  That is, until about mile 8 when a squall blew in with winds that had me running in place and hail that chilled my hands.  You almost had to laugh, my feet had just warmed up and now my hands were freezing.  The storm was short and the blue skies that immerged made the green landscape even more stunning.  Running next to the Deschutes River I couldn’t help but appreciate the green scene with the sun soaking up all the rain drops.  A bald eagle perched high in a tree seemed to be marveling at the beauty as well.  I found new speed and ran with the flow we all seek.  The finish came too soon?  I never say that, but this race and its nature has a strong allure, I didn’t want it to stop.  Not to say my legs would agree…they were spent.  Stopping allowed me to enjoy the victory and repeating as the Pacific Crest 2012 Champion!

2012 Pacific Crest Long Course Results

Ironman 70.3 Boise 2012

Ironman 70.3 Boise 2012

June in the Pacific Northwest can be volatile.  Thriving in such conditions is tricky.

June 9th, Boise, Idaho; low 40’s with heavy rain and fresh snow above 5,000ft and areas where the storm’s energy centered, like on the bike course, a combination of rain and sleet.  Being exposed in weather like this makes one vulnerable.  Up at Lucky Peak Reservoir there is a sold out Ironman with spectators freezing while athletes contemplate swimming, biking, and running (essentially in their bathing suit is the ‘normal’ protocol.)  Many of the athletes had stoic looks of despair, some were crying, some expressed their panic angrily (all appropriate responses to unfamiliar and unexpected extreme weather) Then, some gals from the Boise Y Triclub came over and it was like a breath of fresh air; all smiles, with encouragement and support being their foundation allowing them to have fun.  They were thriving on the challenge and reveling in the extraordinary elements.   After all, these events are little more than a celebration of our vitality.

June 9th 7:15am

Jumping on my beat-up-commuter-bike to go the Y I can’t help but flash back to the Camel’s Back Duathlon exactly 2 weeks prior.  An unusual sustained and heavy rain with temps hovering in the low 40’s makes this race tough to enjoy.  The runs were fine, but my attire was not appropriate for the bike and I froze!  The energy to stay warm equaled that of the race effort and my performance suffered.  Conditions this morning are almost identical and even though I’m riding in full on winter gear for my short commute to the Y; I get a little cold.

I get to the Y’s morning Swimfit session a little late and jump into a slightly aggressive workout.  I finish up about 2000 yards with some fast 100’s before donning the winter attire for the ride home to have a big breakfast.

Then, a special time with the family occupies some quiet moments in the morning.  I’m not overly excited or anxious because I’m present in the moment with my family with my senses and body functioning at close to full capacities.  These little moments between the ‘big’ moments are sometimes the sweetest of all.


Arriving late, I get there just in time to hear the announcement that they are changing the bike to a 15mile route.  OK.  There’s no use getting upset, sure there was a tinge of disappointment.  I was one of the few ready and willing to thrive on a 56 mile cold a$$ bike ride.  You have to accept it and adapt to the game change.  I thought seriously about wearing my wetsuit on the bike, but in the end didn’t feel comfortable trying something new on race day and I did have a thermal jacket and gloves with hand warmers to dissuade me from trying it.  Matty Reed jokes with my wife and me about wearing one; he was one of the athletes reveling in the conditions too.

A little past high noon.

I’ve been in the 59 degree water for a good 20 minutes before the gun goes off.  Nick Thompson and I were the only guys to get in when we were allowed.  I kept pestering Heather to let us get in, “can we get in the water now?”  Doing the math, low 40’s ambient temp and high 50’s water temp; I was ready and willing to get in the water.

It is thrilling to be starting the race on so many levels.  I yell, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” into the dark water abyss.  My goal is to go hard and get warm.  I pull into the lead immediately and feel limitless in my power output.  It is still raining sideways and the water is choppy but for the first of 3 legs to this swim we have the current with us.  You can feel a surge as wave after wave rolls through you.   I utilize my preferred hip drive to sustain my flow and find the best rhythm.  I love it.  Being a swimmer you always yearn for a little more weight in the swim.  It’s already the least important element to a successful Ironman race, having the chop made for a more eventful swim.  Starting the 2nd leg after making a hard right in the triangle swim we now have the chop coming at us from the side.  I play with my stroke, breathing and cadence to find the best rhythm.  I fall into a hybrid freestyle doing hip drive while breathing and shoulder drive with the head down.  I motor through the current and hold a good line with my body at the surface even though the conditions tried to make my core soft.  Aqua Sphere’s Core Power System plays a roll with this!

I love it.

I love it because at my core I’m thriving in conditions others might find atrocious; my heart warms up the water.

The real toughness of this swim starts on the last leg when we take another hard right turn straight into the current.  Again, I take a few moments to feel out the conditions and make adjustments to my stroke.  This is not a thought process.  It’s more of an automatic re-adjust.  I’m flowing with the conditions taping into a source of boundless energy.  This time my stroke settles on yet another distinct style; a fast turnover shoulder drive propels me best through the oncoming wind and waves impeding my progress.

Only a month before at the iconic St. Anthony’s Triathlon 3 swimmers in this race had put 10 to 20 seconds on me.  Since, I’ve adjusted with more lake swimming as opposed to 100% swimming in a 25 yard pool.  The difference is telling.  I string out a field with exceptional swimmers with only Tim O’Donnell enjoying my draft.

Leading out the swim on this day means a lot to me.  I knew that many of the athletes I coach at the Y are on the side freezing, waiting for their wave.  I want to motivate them; I want them to see their coach, friend, neighbor, flourishing and light a fire under their butt so that they can do the same.  My smile is huge coming out of the water.  You may never have another race like this, ever!

The swim was one of the most satisfying in my experience with 28 years of competitive swimming.


It feels comfortable, running to the bikes, and for a moment, think I won’t need the extra gear to stay warm as I strip the wetsuit to my waist.  But I know this is adrenalin and think better of it.  I get to my bike and do something I try never to do when racing other pro athletes.  I donate time.  A calculated risk to stay warm; I put on a thermal vest.  Being wet, this simple task takes much longer than it should.  Both O’Donnel and Millward pass me while I’m standing next to the bike.  I haven’t finished with my warming gear once I mount the bike.  It takes me even longer, while narrowly avoiding a crash, to get my wet hands into the gloves (with hand warmers!).  Both riders are now quite a ways up the road as finally, my focus narrows to riding strong and fast.  My legs are freezing.

My cold muscles, like everyone else in this race, don’t want to go fast.  They are tight and cold and I’m asking them to move violently.  I catch and pass Tim after he nicks a red cone, zipping up a vest and goes down on slippery roads.  It is a ‘gentle’ crash and he’s back on his bike right away.

I settle in behind Miilward, who I’m sure is going to freeze as he is racing only in his bathing suit!  This is a mistake.  Settling in might be the right thing if the bike is still 56 miles, it’s only 15 though.  Getting comfortable is not the goal when trying to do well racing professional athletes.  Like that, Millward pulls away and just out of sight.  He warmed up!?  With only a few miles left in the bike I try to close the gap and in the process create a 30 to 40 sec gap on 3rd place O’Donnell.


After less than an hour of racing we’re already heading into downtown Boise.  Many of the spectators are not aware of the shortened course and therefore the huge number of people you would expect, have not arrived yet.  Bummer.  One thing Boise excels at for this race is the large number of spectators.  It is awesome to come into T2 in second place with so many talented athletes racing.  Taking off my jacket and gloves completes my time donation to the other pros.  Seconds that always matter.


I focus on catching Millward and at times catch glimpses of him just up the Greenbelt.  The weather has now completely shifted like it only does in Boise.  The rain seems a distant memory?  The sun is out the paths are drying and the temperature shoots up 10 degrees.  Leery of attacking a 13 mile run I clip off at a pace that feels right.  The comfortably fast pace from moment to moment.

At around the 4 mile mark there is an out and back turnaround and I’m able to get a sense of the gaps.  Millward is lingering about a minute ahead.  Behind me are three of the better runners on the planet.  And they are way too close for comfort.  O’Donnell less than a minute back with two Kiwi’s (not related) Matty Reed, then Tim Reed.

The first to catch me is Matty Reed and he is moving.  I up my pace a little to about 5:20 per mile to try and stick with him but he is relentless.  Matty’s pace is probably just under 5min miles at this point.  Stunning how fast he is running and dangerous for me to even attempt to match.  Matty will go on to a world class 1:10 half marathon run while catching Millward and actually tie for first place!

Now running in 3rd place , O’Donnell catches and quickly surges away, then Tim Reed does the same and I’m running in a solid 5th position well into the 2nd lap.  I’m running well and feeling good and confident about holding my position.  But as I’m running past mile 10 I hear some fast foot steps closing in.  Trevor Wuertel (running a 1:11 of his own) makes a dominant pass.  Arrgh.!  Now I’m in 6th position, the final money spot.

I pass mile 11 and Kirk Nelson has made up a lot of ground.  He’s going to catch me but I brace for a battle.  I turn myself inside out trying to stay with him.  Going from 1st to 7th makes a really sweet race from my performance standpoint, a little less so.  I’m determined to make Kirk work for it and maybe I can put some kind of surge on him?  I hang close, but the ex-college runner closes well and holds me off by 17 seconds.  Tim Reed finished in 4th only a minute ahead.  It was a close hard fought race with a lot of talented runners stealing the show.

My race is excellent and I’m thrilled when I cross the finish line.  For a race that was 65% running and stacked with some run specialists I hung right in there.  Taking 5min off my best half marathon at 37 years old is fantastic!  I’ve been working on my run, chipping away at year after year.  It’s fun to see continued progress after about 9 years of running.

The conditions in that race ranging from 37 degrees and rainy to 65 and sunny by the finish made this one of the harder 70.3 (29.3) you’ll ever do.  It took a lot of energy to fight the elements, which always requires respect from the athlete.  It’s worth noting that a 2pm start (3yrs ago start time) would have missed almost all the bad weather and that the entire week before and after the event the weather was close to perfect for racing.

I need to thank my family for all their support.  Hortense, you are an amazing wife and mom!

Thanks for the support from SCOTT, Aqua Sphere, CEP, Bandanna, ASEA, Restwise, The Swim and Run Shop, Idaho Mountain Touring, and the Y!


2012 Ironman Boise 70.3 Results: