Just so you know, I am still here – ITU Sarasota Sprint Tri Pan Am Cup

March 18th, 2015

Hello? Are you there? Just making sure, since I know it’s been a while since my last blog post.  Shame on me for not writing sooner, not that I have not been writing.  Since the start of the New Year, there have been many changes—good and bad.

You may kiss the bride

Photo Booth fun!

For the past few months since I came out unit command at Fort Hood, I had a wedding with the love of my life (Heather “Bear” Sterghos) moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma alone (sad face), and have been attending the Army’s Air Defense Captain Career Course (teaches me how to be a staff officer, aka a manager and analyzer of military information, people and situations).  I say alone, because I left my bride in Austin, TX, which was probably the biggest mistake of my life.  I miss her deeply and it’s hard to stay focused while I try to maintain motivation and composure to do just about anything. That includes studies for military classes, sports training and even the basics on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Not to mention, I am also undertaking an online Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies through the University of Texas in El Paso.  Remember where I said I have been writing, well that’s it. My saving grace, I wish could be Heather, but it has been an old friend, Mathew Hickey, who is also attending the Army’s Captain Career Course but for Field Artillery.  You may remember him from one of my initial posts, Sprinting ahead, when I first stood up this website back in 2009. Interesting enough, he too is struggling for different but similar reason, yet we keep each other from going six feet under.

St. Pete Pier

I wasn’t sure how this race was going to unfold and to tell you the truth I thought I’d be crush by the competition. I’m not saying that I was not going to give my best, whatever that was on that day, but I was being realistic with my expectations.  I have not gotten the quantity, nor quality of sleep, I’ve experienced multiple, uncharted stressors and my training has plainly put, felt sub pair–not my coaches fault but mine.

This use to just be a field - now it is a race course.

Swim and run course

The course at Sarasota ITU Sprint Triathlon was a bit different this year, but I liked the new set up.  Since inception, the course located at Nathan Benderson Park has continue to improve every year, especially when the race site use to just be active shell excavation pit for road construction fill.  It was an afternoon start, in the heat of the day.  I actually like it because I get to sleep in and have a big breakfast.  This year I got to stay at my friends Karen Anthony and Nick “race” Chase’s condo in St. Petersburg, FL.  Last year I had the place to myself but this time I was lucky to be in the company of Karen and Rudy the dog, while Nick was training in Tucson, AZ at the USMES Spring training Camp.  She was awesome and made me that big breakfast – pancakes!  We also had donuts the night before.  Shooo!, it’s a prerace secret. Last year, Heather starting making me gluten free pancakes or should I say a super pancake, before my races and it stuck.

Karen gluten free pancakes

donuts - secret pre race meal

Rudy "the dog"

Anyway, when it was finally time to go to the race site, we jumped in the car and set off, not knowing this weekend was the weekend of the car crash.  Needless to say, I got to the race site 35 mins before the start. I only had five minutes to check in with the race officials and the rest of the time to get my bike into transition, talk to my coach and get a swim warm up in–all was accomplished.

Race course and I

The swim pontoon was located in the middle of the swim course and swim direction was counter clockwise. There were 47 people racing and my race number was 34th, which meant I got to choose my swim position 34th after those before me.  There was not much to choose from so I decided to take a open spot located in the very middle instead of to the far left.  At first, I did not notice but I had lined up in a spot that had small buoys every 25 meters for the next 200 meter, since the race site is also used for rowing competitions.  I briefly told the people to the right and left of me that I was going to try and swim just shy of the buoys and asked them if they could give me a little room. I only got grunts which basically meant that I had to fight for the position during the initial sprint.  Once the gun went off, I did just that and did not have to swim through buoys.  I have not been doing much fast stuff in the pool so I started to slow about 100 meter in, mainly because it is almost impossible at Ft. Sill pool that is between 84-86 degrees.  No matter, I just tried to stay with the main pack as long as I could.  I was hit in the face probably three times, but at least this time I kept calm, even when one of my goggle pieces filled with water making it hard to see for the rest of the race. At around 250 meters, I found myself about 20 meters from the main swim pack with a few other stragglers. Only thing I could do is try and kept from losing any more time.

Swim exit into T1 - 40 seconds behind main pack

By the time I exited the water, the swim pack was 40 seconds ahead and I was 41st.  On the bike course, I took charge of the few individuals that were in our small bike pack and tried to coordinate a pace line for the 3 loop bike course. We did okay but there were a few weaker cyclist who kept messing up our rotation.  By the time I entered T2 we had only lost about one to two minutes on the main pack and I had made up about ten places on the bike.

Cornering on the bike through transition

Biking through transiton on the last lap


I did what I do best and ran!  I started off a little slower this time because I wasn’t sure how I was going to fair in the heat and this being my first transition run since racing last year.  I focused on turnover and picking one person off at a time.  I soon noticed that I was moving up on the field.  By the time I was out on the second loop of the run I had pick off another five people and I was continuing to moving up through the field.  With the heat, it wasn’t so much about going faster, but a matter of not slowing down the fastest.  By the time I was about 400 meters from the finish, I was in striking of just one more individual.  I slowly closed the distance and ended up having to sprint past him down the final stretch into the finish shoot for 20th place—the last place to get points!

Do what I do best...run!

Sprint Finish for 20th!

After the race, Tim took Karen and me out to lunch to catch up.  I had an evening flight so we had to rush the rest of the evening to make my flight.  Not so much that we did not have plenty of time, but there were so many wrecks on the road. I actually almost missed my flight since American Airlines would not let me check my bike because of a new 45 min bag check cut off, which they did not tell anyone.  I ended up having to call Karen to come back and give her my bag to FedEx. I then had to race agan to make it to the gate, which I made. Again, Biggest thanks to Karen and Nick for their hospitality.

I am fortunate and honored to represent the US Army and race again 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: BoeingSnappleScottSRAMPrimalOsmo NutritionHoney StingerZippHeadsweatsRudy ProjectsXterra Wetsuits ProGold BikingKlean AthleteClever Training, and Schwalbe. I’m thankful to be serviced by and involved with my local bike shop, Jack and Adams Bikes. Team Sterghos also includes VasaSable Water Optics and Total Immersion. I’m coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching. I eat and promote a plant-based diet for maximum nutrition, performance and recovery. I also promote the pursuit of living and relationships—be true to yourself and live life with others. Finally and most importantly, at the end of the day my heart, mind, body and soul belongs to my wife Heather.

What am I passionate and care about? Its on my finger!