2016 in Review – Sports & Whatever Else: Part 1

January 10th, 2017
Post Race Refuel

A taste of 2016 – Korean Style

Hello and Happy New Year! Are you ready to be blown away by a fantastic summary, that is my one and only blog of 2016?  Hang onto your seats, because here we go…

While living in Seoul, South Korea for the U.S. Army, I was still at it, swimming, biking and running. During February, I participated in a 10k road race to break up training and assess my running fitness.  I ran 31:51, my fastest time to date.  My first multisport race was a duathlon where I took overall for the non-drafting Olympic distance event.

Why can’t they just give me the money they paid for the trophy.

A few weeks later I was down south participating in a massive military exercise.  I was able to sneak away during breakfast and lunch to do some sports training although it was hard with the minimal sleep we got.  I even tried to maximize my sleep by paying for a room in a love motel for the entire exercise. Otherwise, I’d have been stuck on bunk beds with fifty other people in wall-less building.


Seoul Triathlon Team. Can you find the white Waldos?

And yes, I said love motel.  Inexpensive, really clean and the vending machines had other items besides drinks or snacks. I’ll leave that to your imagination. In most cities, the entire Korean family lives together, which means no privacy. So adults need a place to play and be intimate. You also can just pay by the hour, or minute for some guys.


Shout out to Sable Water Optics Goggles. Using them since 2007.

Halfway through the exercise we had a pause and so we drove back to Seoul for the night.  I got up early and went with a local triathlon team, Seoul Triathlon, to a swim meet in Cheneon. I participated in the 1500 meter. Sharing the lane with 10 other people and no flip turns allowed, I swam a 19:30 and won the event. An hour later I was running to the highway to catch the rest of the guys driving back down south to start up the second half of the exercise.


Keeping this train going!

Following a good month of training, I was invited to be part of a cycling team time trial with other foreign white dudes. This competition took place on an F1 track at the tip of the peninsula. I’d never done this kind of bike race and it was fun. We placed eleventh overall, with thirty seconds separating us and top five.  Following the competition, I was on a bullet train to Seoul to catch a ride for my next competition.


F1 Track – Yeongam, South Jeolla, South Korea, 400 kilometres south of Seoul

This competition was unique because it was my first military competition, this one called the Best Warrior Competition. It consisted of day and night land navigation, different weapon qualifications, media  interviews, professional writings and athletic challenges including a 12 mile, 45lb ruck march. If I could reverse time, I would have not volunteered to participate. My knee is still hurting from the event.


Sporting the Mustachio. And it doesn’t take 30 seconds off your time, trust me.

The first triathlon of the year for me was in Yangsan, located in southern Korea. My back was still bruised and sore from the military competition, eventually leading to my back seizing up a few times throughout the bike section of the triathlon. My swim was also weak since I had no time to swim during the competition.


5th win of the year!

For the seventh time, I was selected to represent the Army in the Armed Forces Triathlon Championships. Even though it was first time dealing with a bad case of jet lag, I placed well enough to help secure our first men’s team championship since I first started eight years ago.


Looking good on the bike at least…

Individually, my bike fitness wasn’t strong and I was dropped from three different bike groups, only able to place in the top ten. Barret LeHardy and Marcus Farris lead the Army men’s team with a 2nd and 3rd place finish. Kyle Hooker of Navy won overall.


Team Champions, go Army!

Before I left Korea for Colorado Springs, I traveled to Osaka, Japan for an ITU sprint triathlon.  With a good swim I foundmyself in the second bike pack; however, I was eventually dropped from the pack half way through the race and was left having to run my way back to a top 30.


ITU Osaka, Japan

After a couple of months in Colorado, I traveled to my favorite race of the year, The Army 10 Miler, in Washington D.C. Not only did I run my fastest 10 mile run of 52:32, I also got to catch up with my swim coach Louis Tharp.  It had been over three years since we had seen each other. It did not take us too long to be laughing and picking up where we left off, like there had been no time between us. This year I raced on the Fort Carson team.  Although the men were three years defending champs, we ended up placing fifth overall.


Before I put on the afterburners

I rounded the year in my third Ironman 70.3 Austin, only this time it was just a bike and run. The swim was cancelled due to heavy fog limiting lifeguard visibility.  We waited for an hour and half until the race director called it. My biking was still weak and the heat made it tough to go fast on the run. I was not prepared for the 56 mile bike and my energy and speed slowed after 30 miles.

Working hard for now - Finisherpix

Working hard for now – photo by Finisherpix

Because of the time delay for the race start, we started later and the Texas heat took its toll. You better believe I was grabbing fluids and ice at every aid station. I did not get “chicked” but I did beat by two age-group athletes, a good indication that I need a lot of work on the bike to be successful at the 70.3 distance.

Trying to beat the heat - Photo by Finisherpix

Trying to beat the heat – Photo by Finisherpix

I am fortunate to have my health and honored to be able to represent the US Army, Armed Forces Sports and race for the US Military Elite Team, part of US Military Endurance Sports this year. Racing and training was made effortless and possible because of the following 2016 USMES sponsors: Boeing, Snapple, Scott, PrimalU-Haul, SRAMRudy ProjectsBlueseventy, Knight Composites, Schwalbe, TriSports.com, Black Diamond, Sea Sucker, Klean AthleteHeadsweats, Mad Alchemy, ProGold Lubricants, Orange Seal Cycling, Clever Training, Recofit, Triggerpoint Performance, Zealios, and Zwift. Team Sterghos also includes VasaSable Water Optics and Total Immersion. I’m coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching.  I would not be as smart as I think I am without my parents and friends, and my greatest mentor and swim coach Louis Tharp.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to contact me if you have any gripes, queries or comments. To be continued…