Triathlon is a team sport

July 2nd, 2010

Standing with the Army Triathlon Team which competed in the Armed Forces Triathlon.

When racing for a team, it is always important to remember that although you are racing individually and for self improvement, you are also racing for others and a collective desire to win as a group.  This means that when faced with the mental and physical pain and fatigue that follows intense exertion to cross the finish line first, you must sometimes put your ambitions aside for the good of the group. Don’t get me wrong, when I race on a team, my main objectives are those that I have made myself for myself and by doing my best and by obtaining my individuals objectives, I will at the same time obtain the goals of the team.  However at times, athletes, when at that tipping point from pushing themselves to their limits, must remember that their decision and actions may have consequences that affect others.  For instance, when that voice inside your head tells you that you must slow down, you must have that extra mental fortitude that may not be there if you are racing for yourself. You continue your pace and do it for others who are counting on you.

Triathlon is a team sport.

The reason I am passing my thoughts on about this particular subject is that I recently competed for the All Army team at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, in the 2010 Armed Forces National Triathlon Championship. It’s a clash between Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy.  Saturday morning, 5 June, 10:30 PT, defenders of freedoms and the American Dream from around the World, toed the line at the water’s edge looking out to the Pacific Ocean ready to swim, bike, and run, instead of their usual responsibilities that the United States armed forces call them to do.  This was my second year competing for the Army team, having competed in 2009 and finishing 4th overall with a time of 1:52.50.  This year I had a similar finish with a time of 1:49.20, possibly missing a podium finish because of a few tactical mistakes on the race course.  The men’s team barely missed a top team finish, placing 2nd only 3 places behind Air Force.  When people say: “Every place counts,” they are totally right.  This means that only two people from Army had to pass one more person, since every person passed makes up for 2 places.  Scoring is as simple as the first person gets one point, 2nd person gets two, and so on until the last place finisher getting whatever points for placing overall.  Team scores are then decided by totaling the top 7 people’s points.

As for myself, I was a little upset, since it was possible for a top finish, but that day I was not the best on the race course.  Overall winner, James Bale, who also raced at the 27th Annual Capitol of Texas Triathlon 5 days before with me, had a stellar bike, having to time trial on the bike (the race was ITU format – Draft legal) coming out a couple minutes behind in the swim and then running away from teammate 2nd LT Nick Vandam. Darin Shearer placed 3rd, and Navy’s Kyle Hooker, only 3 seconds ahead of me placed 4th.  With a decent swim and bike, but terrible T2, I ran a 32:10 10k just passing Navy’s Thomas Brown a quarter mile from the finish and almost running down Kyle to finish 5th overall.  With a great run and a chance to race with other brothers and sisters in arms, all in all, that day was a success.

Thanks to all those who serve their country, especially those who make the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives.  Please make sure to support our troops and remember those in a foreign country.  Thanks to the Army’s MWR program which sponsored this program and covered our expenses.  Next on the Agenda is the Coteau-du-Lac Pan American ITU Continental Cup in Canada on 26th June.

As always, thanks to all my sponsors — Total Immersion Swimming, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Serotta, and Sable Water Optics.