Clermont ITU Pan Am Cup Sprint Triathlon – It can only go up from here.

March 3rd, 2014


Waiting to be called for swim start


I’m always trying to look at the positive. I always remember to have fun and take away areas where I can improve. That is my foundation when setting goals, no matter how big or small. As an athlete, a military officer and a nature-loving, recycling, plant-based diet eating, board shorts wearing, Heather & Rex loving average Joe, I have come to appreciate my health, happiness and wellbeing above all else. When a race doesn’t go well, or a military training exercise doesn’t go as planned, it’s easy to start thinking negatively and develop a bad mood. But why, what good does that do? It’s only a race. It’s only one event. I learn from my mistakes, focus on the positives, and move on. I appreciate where I am in life and the opportunities that I have been given: I have the ability to race for fun and personal growth. I consider myself very lucky, even if I’m not on the podium at every race.


Swim Exit

The Clermont ITU sprint this weekend didn’t go as planned. As with any draft-legal race, you cannot win the race in the swim, but you sure can lose it. Not that I was planning on winning, but I did want to be in the top 20 this year and improve upon my 24th place from last year.The water level in the lake was a little higher than last year, but still not high enough to keep us from having a long run through knee high water on a sandy shore. It wasn’t that deep for everyone but with my short legs it was. From the sound of the horn, I fought to find some feet to hang on to. But I failed to position myself properly and I found myself in the middle of two packs, one to my left and one to the right. Before the first buoy, about 300 meters out, I chose a pack and just tried to keep up. After the first and second turn and now swimming back to the shore, I was having trouble staying with the pack. By the 550 meter mark, I fell off and tried my best to not let them get too far away for fear of a solo bike ride. Aside from my improper position, my lack of open water swimming recently kept me from swimming as well as I would have liked. No matter how much you swim in the pool, open water practice is essential if you race in open water. I would have done more practice in open water, but my favorite open water swimming hole at Barton Springs in Austin, TX has been closed for renovations.

Bike out - Do or Die!

When I finally reached a place where I could dolphin dive and start hoping/running/trudging through the water, I was only about 30 seconds back from the pack. It was do-or-die time and the sand didn’t help. Once I reached transition, I could see the last guy from the swim pack running out to hop on his bike. I didn’t panic; I had a smooth transition, and hammered from the beginning. I didn’t even waste my time putting my feet into my shoes. By the turn around point, I had made up 10 seconds, but from the looks of it, 3 bike groups had formed and they were already working together. I figured I may have another half a lap to catch up, so I just kept going hard. By the end of my first lap, the bike groups were picking up their speed while I was keeping mine the same. My bike position was just enough that I did not have anyone in front or behind me to work with; solo ride, no problem, just keep going. There is always room to make up time on the run. By the end of the last lap (there were 4 laps total, 5k each) two guys who finished the swim after I did caught up with me and another rider and we all headed into transition together.

The first runner was already almost to the turn-around point when we entered transition. I took off at a good pace and held that through my second lap until I reached the finish chute in 39th place. I caught almost 3 guys by the end, but one wouldn’t let me and he had another gear to hold me off. My second lap was faster than my first and my run was in the top half of all the competitors even with a solo ride. I’m racing next weekend in Sarasota, FL in the same format and distance. This race was a perfect chance to make some mistakes so I can hopefully not make them next week. No need to even talk about the negatives, I know what I need to work on. The swim will be critical, of course, and I need to be a little more aggressive in the water. If I can stay on some feet in the water, I can make it in to a bike group to have a good overall finish, and not waste so much energy riding hard in no man’s land.

I have some catching up to do.

My teammate, Nicholas Chase, also raced his first professional and his first draft-legal triathlon this weekend in the same race. It was a great experience for him, even though he had similar results I did. You have to start somewhere and it’s only up from here. I am fortunate and honored to race for the US Military Elite Triathlon Team, part of US Military Endurance Sports. Racing and training is effortless and made possible by the following USMES sponsors: Boeing, Snapple, Scott, SRAM, Primal, American Classic, Osmo Nutrition, Honey Stinger, Headsweats, Rudy Projects, Xterra Wetsuits and Schwalbe. I’m thankful to be serviced by and involved with my local bike shop, Jack and Adams Bikes. Team Sterghos also includes Vasa, Sable Water Optics, Total Immersion. I’m Coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching. Finally, at the end of the day my heart belongs to Heather.