2014 St. Anthony’s Triathlon
In 2006 this was my second race as a professional. It is stunning to reflect on the past nine year journey. It goes much deeper than being more effective and efficient at the three basic movements of man. The challenge to have a stronger mind and body for training and racing flows into every aspect of life. It keeps me present, with every breath comes much joy.
Racing forces us to become deeply aware of the present moment…well, it you are racing well. This lesson brings much joy when you apply it to everyday life; it is simple yet something you will never truly master. Being a father and a husband and a coach are amazing things to be present for. Digging deep into these moments is the essence of a life fulfilled.
For over the last decade the St. Anthony triathlon has laid claim as a Spring Classic for our sport and brings out an international field of some of the best talent the world has to offer.
The local community and the Mad Dogs Triathlon Club, in particular, really get behind the event and play wonderful hosts. Thank you for the hospitality and the enriching experience.
It is thrilling to race with athletes from around the world that are the best at what they do. You know the level and focus of the race will be high and you can feel the body and mind having more energy. Channeling this energy into appropriate paths is empowering.
Nine years ago when I did this race there would be a handful of good swimmers, today there is a small army. The challenge to stay in contact will be awesome.
When the horn sounds the marine life gets a jolt from the collective heart beats of some of the strongest people on the planet as they begin pumping blood forcefully to every muscle cell in the body. Graceful yet fierce movement ensues. Years of refined stroke work looks like helicopter arms flying this way and that kicking up the Tampa surf. The effort is incredible.
It takes hours upon hours and days upon days added to years upon years to keep calm and let go while the body produces such energies. Occasionally, it feels like being a spectator; marveling at what the body is sustaining with moments of supreme ease. I am surrounded by whitewater on all sides from other swimmers all aggressively trying to get from point A to point B faster than all the rest. Haven’t we been playing this game for eons?
The chop in the bay proves to be the challenge I’m seeking to make progress on the ‘hack a chop’ stroke needed to excel in such conditions. My adjustments over the last several weeks are helpful as I move towards the front of the pack during the roughest sections, mostly by increasing my cadence.
Importantly, the whole experience is mostly fun…difficult, but thriving under tough circumstances is the joy we often seek. I’m aware of being in the flow. The same zone the adrenaline junkies are seeking when they find an act that forces them to be formless and completely in the moment. For them they die with a blink of an eye mistake, for us, we just lose ground.
It is often that the ability is there, capable of much more than mind believes possible. Much of what we do in training is not the physical act of being stronger but more about believing and knowing deep down in the heart. Once the belief mirrors up with the ability, you’ve set the stage for powerful experiences.
One of the harder parts of racing triathlons is T1. Standing up and running with guys that routinely throw down sub 5 min miles is challenging. Two swimmers were off the front but I jumped on the bike near the front of the group and quickly pushed the pace. Cam Dye took off at another level and rode away from everyone.
The rest of us either did not have the strength or the courage to pull away from the group. I made a few attempts but my accelerations are not dramatic enough and are easy to chase down. The bike is flat and fast and we flew over those 25 miles holding close to 30mph for the duration. It’s fun to be on speed bikes and sustaining these efforts.
The next hardest part of the race is usually getting off the bike and going straight into a crazy fast mile. I went to the front for the end of the bike and a quick transition had me starting the run in 4th position…with 10+ running stud seconds behind me. Several of the competitors were heading out in the 4:30 mile pace range, making my low 5min pace feel inadequate. I keep a cool and positive head about it and focus on what my abilities allow for at the moment.
I am not used to the heat of Florida coming from an Idaho spring so this effect is ever present in my mind keeping some gentle flex on my reigns. I feel solid throughout the run and close about as strong as I started with a 13th place finish. The racing experience was awesome. I started the run in front of the eventual top 5 finishers and it’s very insightful to see firsthand how they race.
The 5 minutes after a race paint a descriptive picture of the state of your health based on the conditions, effort, nutrition, and fitness of your body. I masked the heat and pain better than I realized until finishing because although I didn’t quite warrant an IV, I needed fluids and sugars to come around. I drank 4 or 5 6oz smoothies that were provided at the finish to assist the body and feel recovered.
The race was empowering. The races are a challenge that will take most to the limit of what they are capable of. You find out a lot about who you are if you are paying attention. Then, you find an aspect that needs further training and you dig in. Always, a lesson.
These days I spend a lot of time training to play better. I have the perfect mentors, we all do…our children are very good at play. Set the stage, just like racing for it to happen. You can’t force it but by setting the stage for play to happen you are half way there.
Here’s to empowering yourself and the ones you love to play…