The Fantastic 3 heads to the Sarasota ITU Pan Am Cup

May 10th, 2013

The Bears!

After ensuring that I had all my race essentials, she said “okay, let’s go, you’re ready. You’re going to do so well today!” As she was saying this, Rex, the scruffy and expressive Yorkie-Schnauzer mix was trying to climb up my leg with excitement, his tail shaking faster than the eye could see. These two entered my life back in July of last year – A fantastic duo, who let me become part of their new trio.

Before, during, and after the race, Heather made sure that I had everything I needed to have a solid race. Not an added stressor but a stress reliever. When we arrived at the race, the age-group relays were finishing up; this gave us plenty of time to check in, relax, and show off Rex, not that we need to do that, he is cute enough to attract his own attention. There were 44 people racing and I was sporting number 43. There were originally only 43 but someone snuck in to take “last-to-line-up” honors.

Pontoon Start!

The swim was a two lap swim with a pontoon start. This is how most of the ITU races are typically set up, but some are beach or deep water starts depending on the terrain. The water was calm which helped me out because I am more of a pool swimmer. When it gets choppy, it is harder for me to get a good catch, but I can usually adapt. It just goes to show that I need to do more open water swimming as part of my training. Open water swimming is important for triathlon training, because you have to train for the particulars of race.

Four hundred meters after the gun went off, I found myself still with the pack, something that usually does not happen. I decided to swim a little harder from the start as compared to my last race in Clermont to ensure a better placement in the swim pack.

Rex checking out my Sable goggles


After the first lap, I exited the water and got back on to the pontoon, I dove quickly back in to keep my position on the feet of the guy in front of me. Unfortunately, after a few hundred meters I lost his feet and the pack had moved ahead without me. From reviewing some race video, my coach (Tim Crowley) and I had found that the guy in front of me had fallen off the pack by only a few seconds and then accelerated to catch back up. He made it but I did not have the same ability to do the same. After the pack pulled away, I was no longer in the draft zone. But I did not let up; I continued to make my way around the buoys and out of the water.

Swim exit

When I got on the bike, I just hammered. I was not the only one who missed the pack or fell off like I did. I came out of the water around the same time as Kaleb VanOrt and Michael Poole who are both strong cyclists and runners. We found ourselves working together and moving up at a good pace. My Serotta Meivici felt smooth, light, and solid. Once we started a pace line, and the tempo became faster, the ride felt effortless. We eventually joined up with several guys who swam faster than us. Our group of three became a group of ten plus. Our group was efficient, mainly due to Kaleb’s pace-line coordination. His leadership helped the group work together well, and I am thankful for that. Although we were moving really fast, our speed started to slow as the weaker cyclists started getting tired. I decided to pull away from my bike pack by about 15 seconds to give a wake-up call to our pack. Doing this encouraged the stronger cyclists to catch up with me. Dropping the guys who were slowing us down made our pack smaller, but we were able to pick up our speed. I did another surge on the last lap to get a lead in to transition, this gave me a little more time to get out on the run and settle into a good rhythm.

Bike Getaway


Out on the run, VanOrt and I quickly distanced ourselves from our group. About a mile later, VanOrt, who is a fantastic runner, pulled away from me. It was On like Donkey Kong. With only 4 laps, I was able to run myself into 16th place and earned my first top 20 in over 3 years since my first ITU triathlon in Mazatlan in 2010 where I placed 18th. Each lap felt better than the last. I’m sure this was due to proper nutrition before and during the race. I personally like to eat Amrita bars; the coconut mango is my favorite flavor. During the race I like to take Honey Stinger gels, which are a great alternative to the typical maltodextrin ingredients in most gels.

On like Donkey Kong

With this placement, I earn 62 ITU points which ranks me 454th in world for ITU athletes as of April 11th. First I have to thank my Sherpa plus one, Heather and Rex, for a great weekend and endless support. Thanks to my coach for waking up at 4 am to drive to half way across the state to provide live updates during the race to make sure I raced strategically. Thanks to Serotta Cycles for a phenomenal bike that proved unmatchable. Thanks to Jack and Adam’s bikes shop for last minute bike parts and Amrita Health foods for superb nutrition. I dedicated this race to Team Red, White, and Blue — a great organization that I was lucky enough to become a part of just a few days prior. With a good start to the draft-legal season, I will be trying my luck at a few non-drafting races in the next few months to including South Beach, St. Anthony’s and Ironman 70.3 Florida.

Greatest bike on Earth.