California Dream’n LA Triathlon

Los Angeles is a wonderful place when the city sets the stage for a few thousand athletes to swim, bike, and run all over its landscape.  It becomes a celebration of human movement for all ages.  Joy permeates, asphalt cracks, the human spirit lives large.

Venice beach is on fine display when Mauro Cavanha and I roll up on our speed bikes sometime past 5am.  The air is fresh and clear with a full moon enchanting the land and sea boundary. My attention during the minutes before the race is on the heavens.  The shadow fall creates hues of purple and blue and pink just above the horizon where the endless sky meets with the vast Pacific.  Amazingly, in this band of colors is the full moon.  I stand, gazing out at nothing and everything, letting the calm envelope my spirit.  I let the image tattoo itself in my cortex and begin to let go.  The moment lasts forever and I am in awe of it all.  I feel something deep from within whisper but firmly state, ‘Thank You’.

A few times earlier this week I pondered to the mighty Pacific about where ‘my’ wave might be at this moment?  I visualized catching a wave at just the right instant and riding its energy to shore.  I asked the sea for this small pleasure during my race.  Upon first glance of the ocean that morning I am a bit disappointed to see calm waters.

I begin heading into the calm ocean to warm up when a silent but powerful surge goes through me, a big smile lights up my face. It felt like entering the water triggered the surf to rumble up.  The waves are getting huge!  My warm up becomes a body surfing session!  Yippeeeee!  Some of the waves are scary big.  Smash you to pieces big.  Whoa, maybe I asked for a bit too much.  I catch a few waves but it seems impossible that I might catch one in the event, having to be in exactly the right place for the right wave.  I certainly, don’t have the patience during a race to stop and time things precisely.  The waves energy become hypnotic and I linger in the feeling of swimming in the largest body of water on the planet.

I spend the rest of my warm up figuring out how to get out with incoming monster waves hurling you back to shore.  I use a technique that one implies while surfing and put my nose on the bottom while digging my hands into the sand to anchor my body.  Then, you have to wait.  When you are racing, it feels like you wait, and wait, and wait…OK, now go.  My patience pays off after the gun goes off and I make it to the first buoy with the leaders and a gap behind us.

Once we’re out in the deeper water; the ocean is calm and I do little more than focus on the feet in front of me while swimming in 3rd or 4th position.  The swim is awesome, just fun.  It’s so cool to have a race like this where an event places importance on ocean swimming and people from all over the globe come to test it.  When you are fortunate to be at the front and thriving in these conditions, the challenge puts a huge smile in your soul.

Feeling great nearing the last buoy I consider going for the $1000 swim prime.  We turn the last buoy and the 5 of us (Hunter Kemper, Cam Dye, Ben Collins, and Jimmy Seaar) pick up the pace.  It seems that I’m just off the pace for winning the prime and settle in to conserve energy for the bike and run.  Then, thrilling happens.  It is, without a doubt, the best wave of my life.  It picks me up like some sort of intelligence giving me a hug.  I can hardly believe my fortune and an ear to ear smile sums up my feelings.  I’m riding high above Ben and Jimmy and enjoying some sweet surf.  The wave thrusts me to the front of the race and I ride it thinking the swim prime is going to be a steal.  Alas, although I caught the wave the best, the others also gained some free speed from the wave.  Closing in on the beach, I swam longer than I should have while Jimmy stood up and ran to the beach to win himself a grand.

Standing and running up the beach after the swim proved to be the hardest part of the entire day.  The HR spikes and you could hear each athlete trying to suck in copious amounts of oxygen.  Here, I make a big mistake and forget to get my wetsuit down around my waste.  Cam got to his bike just after me and was gone while I fumbled getting my wetsuit off.  I never saw him again until the out back on the run with a huge lead.  Ben had a poor T1 as well and we mounted the bike together but he was quicker getting his shoes on.  This gap remained for the next 10 to 15 miles while growing slightly.  Eventually, he pulled away.  I caught Jimmy and then Hunter caught us.  Jimmy then, got sent to the sin bin with a penalty while Hunter and I vied for pace setter.  I tried to drop him but couldn’t shake him.  With 5 miles to go Chris foster seemingly came out of nowhere and up’s the pace.  I lingered a bit too far back but came in just seconds behind them in T2.

Now, began my main objective for this whole race, to set a PR in the run (currently 33:30).  Hunter and Chris began pulling away while I run my pace and feel good.  Let’s ease into this and finish strong.  Ben did not get too far ahead on the bike and at the first turn around I was close with 2nd thru 4th with a pretty big gap to 6th.  Awesome!  It is a pleasant surprise to see some of the space created by having one of the faster bike splits on the day.  Andrew Russell, though, is a fast runner and too close to be comfortable with my position.

After finishing the 1st 5k lap and feeling strong I did my best to negative split the last lap.  Andrew had closed the gap and I braced for an effort that might hold him and his 31 minute 10k speed off.  The second time running up Grand Ave put the effort of the race in perspective.  My body had been going flat out and running up this incline made it wince a bit.  With a little over a mile to go Andrew was close, and it looked like he would catch me.  I braced again for a strong finish, he was going to have to earn it.

He attacked going into the steep downhill of Grand Ave and then held a small gap.  Once we leveled out again he held good form and kept me out of striking distance.  I actually, wanted a sprint to the finish for a change, but Andrew held strong so I finished comfortably with nobody in view behind me.

In 2008 at 33 years old I finished the same race in 1:58; today I finished in 1:51!  It feels good to be getting fitter at my age.  I think I’ll keep doing it for a while.  Live, learn, adapt.

A few hours after the race I was back on a plane to Boise, 30hours in LA with a little under 2 of it being flat out racing.  It is surreal to be home that night with my family in Boise after taking to the streets of LA  just a few hours ago.  I love it.  The race feels like a dream, it is a dream.  It feels so good to be home with the family, celebrating our health.  ‘Thank You’, comes a strong whisper from somewhere deep within.

LA Triathlon Results 2012 6th place

G Racing

A few days after Guillaume was born I flew to Portland for the Rev3 Triathlon knowing the race would probably be really good or really bad.  The excitement of the birth and having a healthy son had Hortense and I bursting with joy and emotionally high.  It seems my race started out on par with this high but it proved unsustainable for the duration of the event.  The swim and the hard part of the bike were exhilarating as I hung around the front of the race.  Coming out of the hills and back to the flats, the pin came out and I blew up.  This made for a long half marathon in the heat and forced me to a walk at a few of the last aid stations.  Grabbing loads of ice and putting it down my suit helped me to the finish line.  Note to self for this race next year, the 11-23 cassette makes for tough climbing.Portland is an awesome city (Bike Town USA puts it high on my list for livable places) and staying with friends made this a memorable trip.  Thanks Jeff and Brooke!

 

 

My body and mind told me in the race that is was time for a break.  I obliged with copious amounts of family time and taking in the new household of four.

 

A couple weeks into the break from training came an opportunity to race in a local Offroad Trithlon, the Les Bois Triathlon.  I love mountain biking but haven’t had a proper bike for several years now, not for lack of want.  Idaho Mountain Touring allowed me access to a  great bike for a week so that I could participate in the race.  This put me in singletrack bliss.  Few things excite me as much as getting outside and exploring.  We are so fortunate to have this outlet in Idaho.

 

With a few rides in and skills that were quite suspect my goal for the Les Bois race was to simply stay on the bike.  The course put this to the test with some rocky singletrack that some glide through effortlessly while I white knuckle and grit my teeth.

 

The race had 4 other pro triathletes from the area in it, Adam Wirth, Chris Ganter, Guy Crawford, and Matt Lieto.  After leading out the swim with Guy it didn’t take long before these guys made me feel like the novice rider that I am on the trails.  Importantly, I smiled a lot and avoided any kisses with the rocks.  It also proved to be a fun way to start training again.

 

With the triathlon season in limbo I enjoyed another soft week or two of training while doing my best to find balance with family and work.  Lola is growing up too fast, Guillaume changes every day and being with their beautiful mom who is evolving to meet the needs of two little ones makes for enriching change on the home front.  Embracing it and appreciating the little moments humbles me daily, if not hourly.  Life is brimming with wondrous moments.  There are always new levels of compassion to be found.  Gratitude is a focus.

About 6 weeks out from the LA Triathlon I decide it’s now or never if I want to get back in top from and set this as my goal.  In my first big week back to training I do the Y Not Triathlon on a fun Thursday night in Boise.  It takes me about 30minutes and it hurts a lot.  There is nothing like a fast race to make you feel the pain of sustained redline efforts.  In the second big week of training I race in the Emmett Triathlon.  Using this as a springboard to better fitness is not only fun but rewarding.  Ken and the Boise Aeros have a fine race established here and the prize money is icing on the cake!  Thanks guys.

 

This olympic distance race has a scenic swim at Black Canyon Reservoir with a fast and flat bike course and 2 loop run.  The race is a window into the state of my fitness and exposes some problem areas.  This allows for a few focused weeks to strengthen them before being exposed against some of the best athletes in the world at the LA Triathlon.

Next up for the Idaho tour of racing is the VikingMan Triathlon along the Snake River.  It is a down river swim in this very wide and very tame stretch of the mighty Snake.  Many people camp out at a local park next to the river and venue.  The staff and volunteers roll out the red carpet for this event and feel that most everyone comes away from this event satisfied.

Rev3 Portland Half Results 13th

Les Bois Offroad Tri Results 4th

Y-Not Triathlon Results 1st

Emmett Triathlon Results 1st

VikingMan Triathlon 1st