The last month has been a whirlwind of athletic adventures! To say I can’t believe my season is over, is a major understatement. It seems like just yesterday, I was kicking off my season at the Stanford Treeathlon with my mom in cold and rainy conditions. These last two races have been the complete opposite of that first race of the year. Triathlon Nationals in Omaha, Nebraska and Duathlon World Championships in Penticton, British Columbia were just about everything I could have asked for in the final two races of the season! I came away with a Top-10 Age Group position and a World-Qualifying spot at Triathlon Nationals, and a Top-10 Overall Finish and Age-Group Podium at Duathlon Worlds!
As these races came closer and closer, I became more worried about the turn around between events; there was only 9 days between Triathlon Nationals and Duathlon Worlds, including over 4,500 miles of travel! But I slowly quelled those fears by telling myself that I had done all the work and deserved to be at both. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Triathlon Nationals, because of last year’s weather conditions. It was 85* and 80% humidity at the finish line last year. This year ended up being SO MUCH better! Arriving in Omaha, the sun was shining and the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Race day came and it was only 78* and 50% humidity. The water was calm and the morning was slightly chilly, the perfect feeling on race day! My “transition” was set up (both literally and my bike) and I was ready to go!
The water was calm and probably colder than the 81* temperature they said it was, but it was pleasant to swim in without a wetsuit and almost had a cooling effect to it even though it was green and murky!
The horn sounded for my wave, the last one on the day, and I shot away from the in-water dock start and started to push towards the front! The buoys weren’t aligned, and I was very pleased with my sighting and my overall swim performance, even though my time was about a minute slower than last year. I later found out that one of the buoys had been blown from it’s mark making the 1500M course, nearly 1650M! My transitions felt much stronger than last year and I was out onto the bike in no time. The way out was wicked fast, as there was a slight tail wind and my adrenaline was pumping! I was passing tons of people, both a benefit and a curse of being in the last wave of the day. But the way back was really tough as the once helpful tail wind was now an unforgiving head wind. My speed dropped and the effort started to weigh on me.
Knowing my run has been very strong off of the bike this year was a comforting thought as my legs screamed at me to slow down. After pulling into transition, again I was delightfully pleased with my quick turn-over and peeled out for the 10K run. Again, I was catching people left and right as my legs finally started to get underneath me. I clicked off my first mile at around 6:00. This was a pace I knew I could hold and would put me much faster than last year. The 2 lap course was also a saving grace, being able to see the crowd as I circled for lap 2 and also seeing the aid stations a total of 8 times over the 10K run. Last year we only got to see 4 aid stations and that was just brutal in the heat. When I hit the final turn around at 7.5K, I knew I had just enough in my legs to make one last grueling push home.
Pushing onto the red carpet I could hear the announcer call my name saying I was Top 10 in my age group! I couldn’t believe it, considering my slow swim and tough bike. Throughout the whole course, I felt as though I was playing a game of catch-up and my results showed that as I made up spots on the field in each discipline as I went. I finished with a time of 2:06:36, nearly 2 minutes faster than the year prior, with a longer swim this year! Not only that, I earned another spot on the World Championship team headed to the Gold Coast, Australia next year!
Triathlon Nationals was on Saturday, 8/12/17, and Duathlon Worlds was on Monday, 8/21/17. I flew back into Reno on Sunday, and was driving out to Penticton, British Columbia on Thursday. I was sore from Nationals and my training seemed short as I just wanted to maintain what I had built. The drive was uneventful, but this was my first time leaving the country. The border was intimidating, but crossing over was instantly worth it, as the scenery changed from yellow grass covered hills, to winery covered hills as soon as we crossed. When we arrived at the expo, Team USA was taking pictures and we were prepping for the Parade of Nations. Over 50 countries were represented and The International Triathlon Union, ITU, really put together an amazing event. Throughout the weekend, I got to watch the pros race and experience some of the beautiful Canadian countryside.
Heading into the race Monday, I wasn’t feeling 100%, as my hip had started to act up the day before, but after I had set up transition, my nerves were starting to take over and I could no longer feel my hip. The weather was perfect and the early start time also helped keep us out of the heat. Being a duathlon, I was getting ready to head over to the 1st run start line, when I went to zip up my tri-suit and proceeded to break the zipper. This was completely my fault and I had no time to fix it. Lucky for me, my suit was very compressive and didn’t bother me too much to have the back zip down.
Seeing the other nations line up in their Federation kits was one of the coolest moments of the entire trip and race experience. To see individuals from the other side of the world made my excited to get my legs moving. I felt like a caged bull before a rodeo. The horn sounded and our wave bolted under the starting arch. Knowing some of the American runners and how talented they were, I was content to sit in and around the Top-5, but not take the lead. Jeevan Philip was aggressive in the first lap of the 4 lap 10K run as well as Jesse Dunn and an athlete from New Zealand. We were clipping off a good pace and the course was fairly fast with a slight climb and a couple sharp turns on each loop.
After the first lap, another American, who I didn’t know, took the lead as a group of 4 Americans started to pull away from the group. Eventual winner, Albert Harrison was in this quartet and we pressed forward at a steady clip. After 5K, I decided to take my share of the lead; I was feeling so good and runners that had outran me by about 1 minute at Duathlon Nationals were right by my side. I could see another strong American competitor in my age group, Evan Pardi, each lap and knew I needed to put some distance between myself and him because of his great bike leg. Albert, Jesse, myself, and a Columbian athlete came in well ahead of the next group around 33:30 for the first 10K.
I was very pleased with this and knew the next leg, the bike, is where I needed to spend some dollars to be near the podium. Similar to Triathlon Nationals, the bike was gruelingly tough, with a slight head wind on the way out, and the course being pancake flat, giving no area for any relief to burning legs. Probably the only saving grace of the bike course was riding next to Lake Okanagan, which was absolutely picturesque! After completing the 2 lap bike course, and being passed by Evan and another strong American cyclist, Keith Jackson, I knew I had a lot of work to do through the last 5K!
My legs felt like they weren’t going anywhere throughout this entire run, yet my pace was actually very strong. I caught Keith before the end of the first lap and knew I was closing in slowly but surely on Evan. With only 2.5K left, I put everything I had into the climb, knowing I had the downhill to save my beaten and battered legs. I could see Evan in the distance and knew I wasn’t going to be able to catch him, but with 200M left in the run, Director, Tim Yount passed me a small American Flag telling me to push for the finish and to focus on the best time I could get! Carrying the Stars and Stripes, I started to pump my arms furiously, just begging to go a little faster! I crossed the finish line, in what was 5th place at the time in a time of 1:55:18! I was eventually bumped down to 10th overall, because of later waves, but a top-10 at the World Championships was absolutely surreal! My last 5K was the 5th fastest on the day and allowed me to hold on to 3rd place in my Age-Group! I had just won a World Championship Bronze Medal!
If the result the week before had blown my mind, this result killed me! My body sure felt that way after the race as the pain in my gut made me feel as though I was about to throw up, pass out, and do other unpicturesque things. But it was totally worth it to stand up on that podium and hold my country’s flag outstretched! I even got to celebrate with a tasty dessert from the famous Peach Ice Cream Stand with the best travel buddy a guy could ask for!
These races have me stoked for next year already. I know I have what it takes to compete with some of the best guys in the world and I’m ready to prove it next season. For now, it is time to rest and recover and try to not let myself go too much!