June 15, 2004

Another email from my old triathlon team

This from our Olympic hopeful - total stud on the team, turned professional maybe two and a half years ago, guy about my age, and our team has sponsored him through various fund raisers so he's been able to travel all around the world for various events.

We call him "The Terminator". Total.fucking.animal.
+++++++++++

first, i'd like to send out a hearty thanks to all who have taken an interest and supported me this year in my build up to olympic trials. it was an honor to race at an event of such magnitude and i'm thrilled i was able to represent team psycho this weekend.

in the two weeks leading up to the race, and in the race itself, things went either very well, or very badly. i capped an intense training build up the week prior to the race with a PR at the Harpoon 5 miler (good), only to suffer a recurrance the next day of the lung inflammation i've been dealing with (bad). i felt that a week of recovery would be enough to overcome this setback but found that on race morning i was still having lung troubles.

it was difficult to dwell on the negative though b/c i had made it despite all of the setbacks i've been dealt this year. only 15 men started, and of those there were 10 americans, 4 kiwis, and 1 brazilian. each of us were individually introduced and called out onto the pontoon through a narrow gateway. the race coverage was intense, with a helicopter above us for the entire race, and underwater divers fliming us during the swim.

a minute of so into the swim my lungs started to tighten up. i couldn't find my top end, had to settle for a choppy tempo, and i exited the water almost two minutes down on the rest of the field. (results are at triathlon.org) the first two laps of the bike were also a struggle, but i started to find a rhythm about 20 minutes in. the crowd on the one huge climb of the day (a 3 min. climb were i used my 28 rear cog each time up) was in my face the whole time, and i couldn't help but think that this was the closest thing to riding up a col in the tour de france that i would ever experience.

on lap five i finally closed the gap to the chase group up the road. this is where my race suddenly went from very bad to very good. riding solo is not a good use of energy in a draft legal race so i made good use of the draft for the final lap and came into transition slightly recovered. i ran as hard as i could knowing that i had crawled my way back into the race, and i finished 8th overall, 5th american.

i don't generally spend too much time digesting my races philosophically. but this race has so far resonated with me like no other. i've had, by most accounts, a disasterous early 2004 season. i missed two early season races, olympic trials in honolulu, and countless training sessions dealing with health issues. i mananged to requalify for trials, and i finally put together two weeks of consistent training, only to suffer yet another setback the week leading up to the race in bellingham. and in ITU races when you're almost two minutes back exiting the water, your race almost always over.

but i did not give up earlier this year, and i did not give up on sunday. i'd like to take the credit for doing all the work on race day, but the truth is that racing for a team that has so graciously supported me these past two years really does put wind in your sails when it seems all is lost. and when you represent a group of people dedicated to getting the most out of triathlon, quitting is just not option. the reservoir of psycho karma has grown larger each year, and i'd like to think that i tapped into that source on a day when the tank was empty.