Across the Country and then Across the World

October 3rd, 2015

Great running trails in the park

It was my first time visiting Minnesota and a perfect time to do so.  One local told me I was visiting during the best part of the year.  Although, there is a joke that there are only two seasons—winter and construction season.  I was there to take part in the Lifetime Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon. One more race before I head off to my next Army assignment. The hotel I stayed at was so convenient for my travels. It was close to the Airport, a walk away from a national park and the subway and only a ride away from where the race would start. I found myself running in the park when I could and on the rail to grab some food at Whole Foods in the city. Besides it being very beautiful and scenic in and around the cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul, the trip actually did not end so well.

I've always wanted to try backstroke in a race

I’m not going to lie…I did terrible in the race. My mind and heart just was not in it to win it.  After about 500 meters into the swim and touching the feet of the lead swimmer, I just started doing back stroke.  I had so much stuff going on through my head, not about racing, that I was overcome with a feeling of extreme fatigue and I started hyperventilating.  By the end of the swim, I lost about two minutes on the leader. I thought I could just make that up on the bike and run, as if everything was going to come back together. Ha, not happening.  The bike went a little like this:  only able to bike in the small chain ring, get passed by plenty of amateur athletes who started way behind me, overcame a panic attack, and finally pass someone back—who just crashed.  I’m a runner, but I was a jogger today.  Tried to pick up the speed but ended up finding myself only able to do intervals as a run, walk, jog, run, jog…you get the picture. Oh, and I had to fight off two more panic attacks.

Bike and Run

This was probably the slowest triathlon of my life, even slower than my first triathlon or 2008 Collegiate Nationals race when I had to ride a flat tire for 10 miles. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer but everyone has these days.  No one is perfect. Everyone gets knocked down. If I have not told you, I’ve moved to South Korea or The Republic of Korea. Not my choice but that of the Army. Also, I’m going through relationship problems. Not the way I want to tell some people but it is not possible to tell everyone in person.  I don’t want you feel sorry for me, I just want you to know what else is going on in my life.  It’s not until you experience these kinds of things for yourself, will you truly know how it feels and affects you.  I’m learning as we speak. But I always keep this phrase in my mind: How quick are you going to get up?


Glade to be done.

This quote sums up my race (pretend it is on an old answering machine – if you still know what those sound like):

This is [Nicholas]…hhhhaa…Whatever.

-The Wedding Crashers


Big trophy for a little race

I was glad to get back to Austin.  I like traveling to new places and doing different races but I wish I had never gone to that one. I had a little better luck a few weeks later when I participated in The Driveway Series in which I raced for 30 mins, cycling on a motor GP track. Did not place on the podium but won two premiums.  In early August, I was finally off to Korea. Life is very different there.  People work hard, drive crazy and you don’t see too many fat people. About a month in, I participated in a local triathlon on Camp Humphreys, called the Army in Korea Reverse Triathlon.  I placed first and enjoyed doing my first run, bike and swim.  Also had an opportunity to meet some other endurance athletes and make some training contacts.

Wonderful day to fish

As the racing year comes to a close, I am getting ready for my biggest race of the year.  Only a week away, the 6th CISM Military World Games will be conducted in and around South Korea. I guess one positive to moving to South Korea is I already have the jet leg out of the way. In addition, I will have an opportunity to visit other countries in this part of the world. Speaking of which, I recently traveled to Japan to compete in the Murakami ITU Triathlon Asian Cup.   The trip was a blast.  I meet some other international athletes and we stuck together throughout the trip.  I was also fortunate to be introduced to two Japanese families who I  later spent some time with after the race.

International athletes having fun

The starting list was very large for a continental cup and consisted mostly of Japanese with a few internationals including some Koreans, a Greek, an American, a Taipan and some Australians. On the morning of the race, I woke up early to find it pouring rain. It had also been raining the past two days.  After a morning jot and some breakfast, the rain finally stopped. I don’t mind the rain but it may have been a little dangerous on a few parts of the bike course.  Nevertheless, the race started on time in the sunshine.

Ocean swim. Scott likes the beach too!

The swim was two laps in the ocean with an exit  on the beach and reentry for the second lap. In short, the swim was tough. Not so much the chop but because we all had to deal with limited swimming space. The swim course put us between the shore and cement barriers that ran along the shore, 100 meters out in the water. Good for protecting the beach and preventing big waves, but it made for a tight swim. I was with the main swim pack after the first lap, but lost it as soon as I exited the water to go around the buoy and dive back in for the second lap. I just have not gotten use to the energy it takes to do that.  Plus I had to deal with people grabbing my legs and arms to propel themselves forward.

Great views during the bike

The bike was a one loop, out-and-back. I was the fifth bike pack after transition. We caught the fourth and the third caught the second during the bike’s entirety.  By the end, there was three main packs. Coming off the bike we were about 90 seconds off the second pack with the first way ahead.

Good finish with good support

The run was a point-to-point with two smaller loops at the end in the town square.  I did not feel the best coming off the bike and felt a cramp come on every time I tried to put on each shoe. I just took it easy out of transition and built into my run.  A Japanese competitor and I slowly started to move through the competitors. By 6k we had caught most of everyone in the second pack. By 7k I could no longer hold his pace and he went on to run a full minute faster.  I crossed the line and my calves immediately seized up.  I had placed 16th but I was 41 seconds off of grabbing some ITU points for future races.

Donuts were not that good

With the race over, I could enjoy the rest of my trip as a tourist. That night I visited a Japanese spa and had pizza with all the international athletes. The next day, I spent the day with the two Japanese families.  After a morning donut run, I was off to lunch with the Nakamura family.  We partook in a special Japanese meal that only occurs once a year…fish on a stick.  These particular fish migrate from the ocean up the connecting rivers to lay their eggs. They only live for a year and on their way back to the sea they are caught and cooked in big fire pits.

The Nakamura Family


Fish on a stick. Finger licking good!


Do not go beyond this point!

After lunch, I met up with the Katou family. We hiked up a hilltop to the Murakami Castle Ruin that overlooked the city.  Next we went to a tea ceremony, visited a family friend who presented me with gifts and finally we went out to dinner at a restaurant along the coast to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, the place was closed because it was a Japanese holiday called Keirō no Hi? (Respect for the Aged Day). Instead we went to an affordable and delicious Tai restaurant that we had eaten at when I first got there.  I am very thankful for both families kindness and appreciate them helping make my trip fun and exciting. Next up, the Military World Championships.

The Katou Family


Murakami Castle Ruin hilltop


Tea Ceremony


Very green tea and a flower pastry

I am fortunate to have my health 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:  Boeing,  Snapple,  Scott,  SRAMPrimalOsmo NutritionHoney StingerZipp,HeadsweatsRudy 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.