Commanding 24/7 and Training/Racing in Between – 2014 Armed Forces Triathlon National Championships

June 5th, 2014

Your All Army Team


Your Armed Forces Teams

Since I took command in April, my life has been going non-stop.  As commander of the rear detachment, I have the pleasure of supporting the rest of my unit overseas and ensuring that the Soldiers who stayed behind and everyone’s families are taken care of.  Luckily, I have a great First Sergeant and a handful of competent NCO’s to help me out and together we ensure mission success. Being in command means that I am on call 24/7. It also means that I am responsible for over 150 personnel. This has affected the scheduling of my training and racing. Sometimes I have to adjust my workouts, or miss them altogether.  I’m not complaining about it though, because my job is very satisfying. It allows me to use my talents and wisdom to mentor my soldiers and affect positive change in my organization.  Even though my responsibility as commander causes me to miss out on some races, there is one race that I would never pass up the opportunity to attend: The Armed Forces Triathlon National Championships in Pt. Mugu, CA.

Hurry up...get that wet suit on and your warm up in!


Let's get this show on the road

It has been a while since I have been truly nervous before a race.  I don’t have a problem dealing with the pressure or high expectations that comes along with being the 2013 defending champion but there was a lack of calmness I just could not get over. The 2012 Champion, Nick Vandam, was back from his hiatus, having spent a year in Afghanistan in 2013 and I was glad to have him back.  The Army has not won a team title since 2005 and this was the year we were going to win, so I thought.

On your mark...Go


Mad Dash

Both Nick and I lined up together.  Whether he knew it or not, I was going to stay on him in the water, like red on beets.  The swim was a two loop course in the Pacific Ocean and the water temperature was frigid.  Nevertheless, a good warm up provided just that and prevented any brain freeze when we dove in the water.  When the gun went off, I went charging for the water.  Nick and I quickly sprinted toward the front and I dropped back to his feet.  After the first turn buoy, I was still on his feet and feeling good.  At the second turn buoy, nothing had changed. 

Right on Nick's more loop to go


Sand running is no fun

After exiting the water to run around the marker and back into the water for our second loop, Nick was first and I was right on his heels.  However, something changed when we dove back in and headed out again. I lost the energy to keep the high tempo and stay on his feet.  I figure it was the run out of the water which always takes a lot out of me. I was soon passed by Kyle Hooker, Navy’s top contender and then eventually by another Navy and Air Force. I was able to stay with the other two, but Nick and Kyle quickly started to make a gap. 


T1 - Click to see my video - Thanks Mike Spears

Out of the water, Nick and Kyle were a little less than a minute ahead but at least I had two others I could work with on the bike and I knew we could catch them.  Little did I know the bike was going to be my downfall.  From the start of the bike, Max Bierman of Air Force and I went hard charging, but something was wrong.  My legs just did not respond like they usually do.  For most of the first lap (four total), Air Force did most of the work and I did what I could. We were eventually caught by Tommy Brown, who had a little slower transition but pedaled fast.  Almost too fast for me. Halfway through the second lap, I almost cracked and dropped off the back.   Max and Tom put a good 50 meters on me, but I took a few breaths, relaxed and closed the gap.  The third lap was similar to the previous; Air Force and Tommy did most of the work while I tried my best to just hang on.  

Hanging on for dear life

On the final lap, Brad Williams from Air Force caught us and pushed the pace even more.  I knew they would eventually try and drop me, since Brad is a little less compassionate than they are when it comes to biking. Soon enough, I was dropped 2 minutes later.  I was left to battle the wind alone and my pace drastically slowed.  By the end of the lap, I was passed by a group of 15 individuals and I did not have the motivation to jump on.  As I rolled into transition, I lost even more time when I missed my transition position. Transition was changed while we were on the bike course and my landmark that signaled where my bike was supposed to be was missing. 

T2 - Click to see my video - Thanks Mike Spears

I am fortunate and honored to represent the US Army and 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 , Orange Seal Cycling, Klean Athlete 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, and Total Immersion. I’m coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching. Finally and most importantly, at the end of the day my heart belongs to Heather.