Running down the middle of the streets of downtown LA my mind is free of thought and my spirit is soaring. I am the essence of the runner. I feel it, I do not think it. My body active, yet relaxed. My emotions open and free while completely engaged in the movement. I feel the runner’s breath and heartbeat. My feet strike the ground with speed and force while the rhythm of my body aligns with this simple yet vigorous action. At this moment the crowd cheers as the first runner approaches the long finishing chute. The hair on the back of my neck stands up and an ear to ear smile takes over my face. Am I really going to win the Los Angeles Triathlon?
Seconds later my adrenalin is pumping through my veins and I crack a few high fives. I become grateful and immediately center my feelings with my family and friends. Crossing the finish line carrying all the love and support from friends and family is the real victory. It’s a shared victory.
Finding the flow for life means striking a chord with your balance. Tune it just right and the music rings true. Pay attention to the ebb and flow and adjust your strings.
You can’t make life flow but you can set the stage for it to happen. Racing has taught me this. Being mindful of the present allows a focus to achieve your truest self.
Powerful moments are everywhere and they manifest in daily doses of joy. Losing yourself in the ever present moment and being grateful creates an overwhelming sense of being right with the world. My kids teach me this daily if not hourly.
Tuning into the harmony of your surroundings while engaged in movement enriches the soul. One of the more memorable feelings of my life happened last year while racing in the LA Triathlon. The night before the race in quiet meditation I asked the Pacific for a friendly wave. The waves were small at dawn; however, as I entered the water to start warming up colossal waves approached me. By the time the race started they were scary big but I doubted the timing would be right to catch one in the race. To my amazement swimming back into shore to complete the 1500m swim a wave picked me up like it was giving me a hug. The free speed was exhilarating and it thrust me into the lead of the race adding to the fun. I’ve been getting picked up by rogue waves ever since and enjoying their free speed.
I am an endurance athlete which really boils down to recognizing the joy of movement. Seeking out this experience of satori, where the mind is free of thought and one experiences pure awareness, is a daily endeavor. Any sustained movement will do and there are plenty to be passionate about but I love the big three; the simplest ones; swim-bike-run.
I am grateful to be living in a space that accommodates these movements so well. I’m not free to be me without the ability to move this way. Boise makes life’s access more enriching. Having this open space and making it available to everyone is something we should all cherish.
The airy existence we live in Boise keeps us healthy with youthful vitality. It’s the best way I can explain being so much stronger at 38 as a professional athlete than I was at any time in the past 10 years. Experience and coaching plays a large role as well as being consistent over 10 years to accumulate positive stimulus and absorb them fully.
September 29, 2013 Sunrise;
This year’s surf off Venice Beach is tame, almost flat save for the occasional one footer. I’ve come to enjoy the morning light show for this race with the stars and the moon fading with the shadow fall and the rising sun. The ambience looking out over the vast Pacific is supreme calm. The different hues of purple, blue, and red drawing the eye’s into a trance. Warming up for this race can be real fun when the waves are big, I will just do some body surfing to get the blood pumping. This year’s gentle ocean had its own appeal. The LA Triathlon swim is one of the best in our sport. A beach run in, charging the ocean, high stepping, dive under a wave, dolphin diving, swimming against crashing waves then cresting waves to reach the deep blue waters off the California coast and find your rhythm.
By the time we got to the first turn buoy about 300 meters off the coast Dustin McLarty and Bill Jones had created a solid gap. It was a complete solo swim effort and I enjoyed dictating my own fast pace with no one near me. The swim never lasts long enough so focusing on it and appreciating the Pacific Ocean swim keeps my effort honest.
No free wave at the end of this swim but I was riding my own wave of good health and fitness. Running up out of the beach and in deep sand makes this a tough transition. It’s best to concentrate on light quick feet and be OK not running fast. Trying to run fast in deep sand will send your HR to the max.
Bill was in my crosshairs starting the bike with Dustin just out of sight. All 3 of us being ex collegiate swimmers. I caught Bill in the first few miles but couldn’t shake him until the last few miles of the bike. It took a good 10 miles to catch Dustin. This was the second time I had lead the LA Triathlon, the first being the sweet wave I caught last year.
Determined to hold and maximize my advantage I rode with all the gusto I could muster. I used several techniques with my position, style and pedal stroke to make ground. Every hill was a chance to power up it and get away from my competitors. It’s always exhilarating to be breaking trail in a triathlon. It’s especially fun when a city like Los Angeles lets us storm its streets. LA comes alive with all those cars out of sight and mind and it is an awesome terrain to race bikes on. The downtown core of the city essentially shuts out most vehicle traffic to allow for some swimsuit wearing race celebrating.
The ‘commute’ from Venice Beach to downtown LA is quick when you can charge through intersections and you are apt at powering the engineering marvel that is the Scott Plasma. Sometimes it is best to forget about the race and just appreciate the speed at which your body can move you. Play time.
I felt especially strong for the last 10 miles of the bike and put forth a concentrated effort to maximize my abilities.
I got in and out of T2 in a flash and took over Grand Avenue with a couple police escorts and a lead bike escort. It felt grand, like the secret service was protecting some important dignitary. Centering my balance and firing my legs became my new medium of movement. I love running. I became aware of the fact that it’s not every day that you have a police escort running through downtown Los Angeles. Let’s soak it up and fly.
One of my goals for this race was to PR my 10k run from last year which was 33:01, for obvious reasons. However, they altered the course and had us do a little ‘T’ at the top of the hill on Grand Ave. When I got there for the first time and ran the ‘T’, I thought, “Well, there goes my PR”. The new course was much slower with 2 new 180 turns and a steep descent followed by climbing right back up it. Then, you went down the very steep quad demanding Grand Ave. hill.
I was nervous and hopeful heading back on the ‘out-and-back’ section for the first time in this 2 loop run. Would I be able to hold off the fast charging very good runners? Seeing Bill hold onto 2nd with Chris Foster and Sean Jefferson charging with their collegiate running prowess left me hopeful.
Again and again I simply enjoyed the race for what it is. Being healthy enough to race and race well is a fleeting experience that no one gets to keep. I felt the cusp of a really good wave and carved out some harmonic moves.
Running up Grand Avenue the second time is always a quick tell into the days effort. I felt better than I ever had. I stayed at the Millennium Biltmore on the same floor with Bryan Vera who was fighting Julio Cesar Chavez Jr who was also staying in the hotel. The hotel was right at the base of the hill. This gave me some depth and fortitude to climb the hill stronger. I guess sleeping above it the night before made it less of an unknown.
Upon finishing the up and down sections of the ‘T’ and now running down Grand Avenue I felt strongly about my chance of finishing this race in the lead. The other 2,500 racers started pouring into the streets of LA sharing the roads with me. If you want to see downtown Los Angeles at its best, come check out the celebration of swimsuit wearing racers thriving to be their best. LA truly comes alive on a day like today. The finish chute is a Race Rocking good time; fitting that my running flats are Scott’s Race Rocker, the shoe was destined to win a race like the LA TRI. I also ran very well still obtaining a PR with an important 2 second drop; 32:59!
Having done this race several times and knowing the past hall of fame champions of the LA Triathlon I am humbled to be a winner of this famed race. A few years ago I would not have thought it to be possible. If you asked me in my early 30’s or before if I would be stronger at 38 I would have probably doubted that too.
After the race I rode my speed bike back to the hotel and got in the elevator still in my race gear. Bryan Vera and his wife got in the elevator with me. He looked pretty good but I could tell he was just in a boxing match assuming he was the guy who fought Chavez Jr; we struck up a conversation about the fight and the triathlon. He was a genuine guy and humble about the controversial loss. His payday had a few more zeros behind it. My triathlon weight would put me in the Super Welterweight class, but as a boxer I think I’d be in the middleweight class. Sizing up Bryan in the elevator I like my chances if we can do the fight in 10ft of water. Maybe I can step into the ring for the senior tour in my late 40’s?
I dropped off my bike and bag in the hotel and then ran/walked back to the celebration at L.A. Live. Having the finish at LA Live makes this race one of the sweeter events you’ll experience. Every year I have raced the Southern California weather is on fine display and thousands of racers and spectators will linger in the sunshine while recounting their assault on the city.
Going up for the winner’s check will be memorable and gratifying for all my days. A sign post on life’s journey that says, ‘I was here and I breathed deep’.
I am grateful for the love and support of my family and friends! We did this together and you teach me so much. The win is nice but having you in my life is way sweeter. Let’s remember to celebrate life just because…
Thank you sponsors! Racing around the country and world against these endurance monsters takes the best. I feel so fortunate to have that relationship with you: Thank you sponsors!
Kevin Everett – 2013 Los Angeles Triathlon Champion!