Dead Deer

An animal movement, sudden, jolting, and brown caught my eye on the side of the road. A deer, with great effort, pushed itself up with its front legs as I approached, now slowing my cadence. Its wide black eyes were full of fear and agony and made my heart suddenly sink as I realized that its rear legs were both broken. I stopped six or seven bike lengths away for a moment, piecing together its demise: Up above, maybe 25 feet, was highway 7, which paralleled the road I was riding up–the “business” route that goes through Allenspark–a tiny community of a few dozen homes at 8,400 feet in between Estes Park and Ward. The deer had been hit by a car up on the highway, tumbled or crawled down the steep embankment and landed in the culvert next to where I was currently track standing. I decided to get going again quickly so that the deer wasn’t put under any extra duress from my presence.

I rode up a quarter of a mile to get water at the natural spring and think about what I was going to do. My plan became to notify Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services somehow. I tried calling Adelaide but didn’t have cell service. Next, I went across the street to what looked like a bed and breakfast, but no one was home. I rode down the hill 50 feet and knocked on a cabin door. An old man came out and I explained what I needed him to do, but he admitted that he was too confused about using the internet to find a phone number.

Across the street was a cafe that was miraculously open, so I went in and told the owner/waitress. I gave her the deer’s location, that it looked like it could be saved and just had some broken legs, and that she should look up Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services and let them know. I assumed they’d come pick the deer up, take it back to wherever they’re located, put it in some casts, let it recover for a month, and send it on its way.

The phone was currently being used by another employee to do an order, but she let me know that they’d call right away after the phone was free.

At this point in my ride I had another 30+ miles to home and I’d covered around 60, riding from north Boulder down towards Golden, up Coal Creek, north on Peak to Peak highway through Nederland, then up highway 7 to get water at the springs. It was a warm day even up high, perfect for a big mountain ride. I had spent most of it daydreaming about racing and had stayed focused on my power goal for the day. Plus I it was my first big ride on the Speed Phreak, and I was jotting down things in my mind to write about it later for a review. All of day’s thoughts had been positive. This all changed when I encountered the deer, which I was now passing on my way back down.

Again, it struggled to its front feet, both rear legs laying crumpled at the ground as it half-laid there helplessly. I took a picture of the surrounding area with the intention of sending it to a ranger or person with wildlife rescue so they knew where the deer was. A pickup truck pulled into view. I flagged it down and explained to the driver, pointing to the deer, that once he was home he should call Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services. He promised he would.

I rode down the mountain with tears growing in my eyes, interspersed with a clenched jaw and grinding teeth. My rage against cars and grievance for the deer combined for a strange emotional cocktail–one that reminded me of the feeling I had when I rode to the hospital after seeing Adelaide’s crash scene in 2014, and I knew that what I was experiencing was the lingering PTSD from that day, not necessarily the deer.

However, that did not keep me from letting up about the poor creature stuck in that culvert on a hot day, most likely severely dehydrated and in an equal state of shock and defeat–just ready for life to be over. Who knows how many hours, or even days, it had already been stuck there. I continued on towards Lyons, where I’d make another call.

After figuring out where the Sheriff’s office was, I knocked on the door. No one was there. I called a number that someone else gave me and got a hold of the non emergency dispatcher. I told them about the deer, they said they’d recieved two calls about it already, I said great and—-“Sorry hold please.”

I was put on hold because there was an actual emergency.

I was reconnected and told them about Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services, letting them know that that’s who they should call. “Sorry hold please.”

I was put on hold again. A few minutes later I was transferred to another dispatcher. I explained my story to him over again. He informed me that the sheriff had been informed and would be heading up there as soon as he was able to. I told the dispatcher about Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services.

“Yeah, we don’t do any sort of rehabilitation. . . We put the animal out of its misery.”

“Oh, okay. Uhh, is it possible to hold off then? I’m going to see if–”

“Hold please.”

I was put on hold again. This time I was on hold for over five minutes, so hung up and started riding home. I called Adelaide from highway 36 and told her about the deer, to look up the rescue services and text me their number.

A few minutes later I pulled over to the side of the road again after she had texted back, called the number, and got a voicemail. I rode home.

At the computer, I finally came to terms that there was no Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services. I had made that up apparently. I searched for other organizations that helped injured animals in the area and none took in deer, specifically stating that they did not treat deer, elk, moose, or other large mammals. Earlier I thought about calling Chris, a friend with a pickup truck, and going back up there to load the deer into the back, drive it to a vet, and pay for the vet to fix its legs. I hadn’t thought so far ahead as to what I’d do with the deer once it was in its half body cast.

By now, though, well over an hour since I had last scene the deer, I imagined a police officer in beige with a cowboy hat pulling up to the scene, slowly getting out, walking over to the deer, and looking at if for a second, before walking back to the car and grabbing a rifle. The deer, of course, wouldn’t anticipate being helped by a human, so it would experience no sense of relief once the rescue mission arrived, only to have its spirits shattered as it realized that the rescuer was an executioner.

I thought of the person who hit the deer and didn’t go for help. Just drove on. I know that it’s not expected that a person would be concerned with helping an animal that was just going to die anyways, but why not? Why isn’t it expected or normal to stop everything that you’re doing to help save a life, regardless of its species?

I thought of all the people I called and talked to who had other things to do that prevented them from taking immediate action: the old guy didn’t want to have to get on the internet, the cafe owner was in the middle of doing an order, the pickup truck driver was on his way home, the dispatchers had real emergencies to attend to. If it was a human child stuck in the culvert with two broken legs or possibly a severed spinal cord, everyone would have stopped what they were doing immediately and rushed to help.

I’m guilty of the same thing. I’ve run over small animals on my bike, smashed rabbits into cow-patties while driving, and even been in a car that struck a deer, at slow speed, that ran off into the woods. Moreover, I eat meat. This lack of concern is just normal human behavior I guessed.

But why is any of it normal? I couldn’t get passed the strangeness of our society, and the bizarre uncaring nature of humanity, both for other animals and for humans alike. We have the ability to care about, to feel for, and to empathize with others, including animals, yet we choose not to most of the time. Humanity’s tribalism–the fear and hatred of others who are not like you–is still incredibly strong, as seen in the past election. 63 million people voted in hatred and fear of Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, African Americans, gay people, feminists, and others who don’t look like or act like traditional white people. We send missiles to Syria, not aide or open arms.

Of course no one cares about a crippled dear.

I’m reading a book, Sapiens, that discusses the illogic of The All Powerful yet Benevolent God and free will. These three factors make up the Christian god. The facts:

  1. An all powerful (monotheistic) god has total control over everything;
  2. If an all powerful god has complete control over the universe, he/she would know the future ‘free will’ choices that a person, who he created, would make;
  3. ‘Testing’ this person’s moral character by allowing them to make bad choices would be an evil thing for an all powerful god to do because the god has knowledge that this person, we’ll call him Bob, will turn out to be an axe murderer or work for ICE. Bob’s immoral free will choices, which God knew Bob would make all along, will lead to other’s misery and death, and Bob will be sent to hell to be tortured for eternity.

Because bad things happen in the world, the only explanation for a free will system that is controlled by an all powerful god is that the all powerful god is malicious, not benevolent. What’s my point with all of this? Well, maybe we deserve an evil god.

Cost of an Injury

Thursday May 25th. 8:30am-1:00pm=Injury ground zero. Location: soccer fields in south Boulder and Colorado Athletic Club (CAC). Activities: 9.4 mile run with shit ton of sprints, followed by 3K swim, followed by 50 minutes in the gym. Maximum weight lifted: squatting 40 pound kettlebell. Diagnosis: fucked my back right the fuck up.

  • 4:00pm later that day, notice a pain in my lower back near my sacrum. Assume it will go away with some good sleep.

Friday May 26th. Three hours of intervals and 4K hard masters swim. Notice afterwards that back is much worse than previous afternoon. Assume pain will go away with another night of sleep.

Saturday May 27th. Cut ride short because of back pain. Schedule PT appointment. PM: drink copious amounts of Moscow mules at high altitude.

Sunday to Monday. Back pain mysteriously vanishes.

Tuesday May 30th. 6:40pm. Go in for physical therapy even though back pain has completely disappeared since Sunday. Get acupuncture, even though I don’t think it does anything, to be polite. Also have therapist dry needle the shit out of my hips. Limp for 24 hours afterwards=good needling sesh. Cost: $65 including very generous discount.

Thursday June 1st: Travel to Raleigh. Back pain starts up again immediately. Fuck me.

Friday June 2nd: 11:47am. Get emergency 85 min massage for back. Cost: $80. Feels slightly better.

Sunday June 3rd. Race Raleigh, finish 4th at 11:01am (ish). Nearly one quarter of prize money will go to back injury. 11:04: Realize that back is crippled. Can barely walk. Take 8 minutes to walk 100 feet to massage tent. Cost: $20. Problem: I don’t have any money. Take 5 minutes to walk 90 feet, lay down on pavement to rest. Get helped up by good Samaritan and get massage that he pays for. Cost: one huge pay it forward favor, yet to be paid.

Monday June 4th. Get massage on back. Feels slightly better. Cost: $70. Travel home to Boulder afterwards. Assume back will be better in two days, max. Start using heating pad on back every night before bed. Plan for surprise attack at Boulder Ironman.

Wednesday June 6th. Massage. Cost $72. Realize back is pretty fucked up at this point. Still limping. One night of sleep should fix it.

Friday June 9th. Skip most of Boulder Ironman pro meeting to get prolotherapy on back. Cost: ?? Billed to insurance so I don’t know yet. Probably $80 or more.

Saturday June 10th. Decide not to put shoes in T2 because it still hurts to walk at a slow pace. Cost of not finishing the race the next day: possibly four digits.

Sunday June 11th. Pull out of Ironman Boulder after one lap of bike due to back pain. Cost: pride.

Monday June 12th. Massage. Cost: $72. Realization: back will be fucked forever. Or maybe one night of sleep will fix it. Not sure.

Wednesday June 14th. AM. Back still hurts. Start to really worry about CDA 70.3 in 11 days time. Walk to chiropractor office 8:00am. Cost: $55.

  • Later that day at 3:30pm: physical therapy with dry needling. Cost: $70. Schedule three more appointments in following three weeks, just in case.
  • Later that day at 5:00pm: realize back is significantly better after needling. Assume back will be 100% better in 24 more hours, especially with a night of good sleep.

Total cost: $564+

Moral of story: 40 pound squats=too heavy and will cost you.

Disclaimer: two of the massages were scheduled for normal recovery reasons before the onset of the injury.

 

 

 

 

Raleigh 70.3

I’m not 100 percent sure what a water moccasin looks like, but I’m fairly confident I saw one as we stepped into the lake for the swim warm up. It swam off hurriedly, a few inches below the surface. I decided to move a few paces away before plunging into the 82 degree lake, which was well above the temperature that allows wetsuits. I made an attempt to warn two others who were near by, but not that hard of an effort. Less competition is always a good thing.

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The water felt like stepping into a bath that you’d been sitting in for half an hour–body temperature and full of pubic hair. Minus one of those things. While the water was perfect, my stroke was shit. I drag my feet way too much without a wetsuit and I could tell that I was already lagging in the first few hundred meters. I lost contact with two others whom I’d been trying to follow and stupidly decided to not make the effort to get back up to them. I was worried that an all-out, two-minute sprint, on top of the effort that I was already doing, would cause me to blow up and get passed by the next group. It ended up being the wrong decision. I should have gone for it because the large group I ended up swimming with was more concerned about throwing bows than going fast.

I came out at a disappointing 28:22 in a group that contained 11th through 23rd. I fumbled around in transition with my helmet strap for a few seconds and made my way onto the bike, remembering to first take off my swim skin all by myself, unlike the last time. I’m a big boy now!

I haven’t been feeling strong on the bike since the end of March and had been feeling increasingly weak throughout April and May. Three weeks ago I did an all out 20 minute power test and averaged 335, which was more than 30 watts less than what I did last year in May. Adelaide says that I spent the rest of that week moping about the kitchen, foraging for chips and salsa in which to drown my sorrows. Luckily my legs finally started coming around about a week after that, and I actually had some good intervals Tuesday of race week.

I put in a good effort right away to minimize the gap up to the 10 leaders, who, at the time, were all within three and a half to one minute of me. This was still the first few miles of the bike leg, which, unlike a bike race, are the most important, to a degree.

Matt Russell, the only guy who’d been able to stick with me, came around at mile 10 and began taking long, hard pulls. The first half of the course is flat to gently rolling, while the second half has some decent rollers. This meant that it was easy for guys who we picked off to latch onto our wheels in the first half. Drafting, which is still a big factor even at 7-9 bike lengths, was made even easier by the fact that there were virtually no motor referees at all. It was honor system, and you can always bank on someone who’s suffering to be dishonorable.

By mile 18ish I finally turned around and lost my shit all over the guy behind me, who had consistently been just 4-5 lengths back for the previous eight miles. My cursing storm worked and he dropped back. Russell decided to hit it hard for the next few minutes and we dropped the drafting guy plus a few others who we had recently picked up along the way, including James Hadley who I knew I should not come off the bike with due to his run strength.

We came off our bikes in 4th and 5th, me forgetting to take one of my shoes off before the dismount, meaning that I had to run in one shoe through transition. I’ve done this many times actually.

Russell fell back quickly on the run since he must have been feeling off, and I charged ahead holding back just enough to keep my lung cramp from becoming debilitating and my chest from closing down. The run course was a 3.5 mile out and back with a box at the start/finish, and mostly uphill on the way out. By mile three the cramping was mostly gone and the normal pain of running had taken its place. The course felt extremely hilly despite only 600 feet of elevation gain. It was hot, exposed, and I used every inch of shade and welcomed every whisper of a breeze, of which there were few. The dead, humid air rose into the upper 80s. The only sound, other than my wheezing, was the chirping of crosswalks, all of which were signaling white stick figures since the traffic lights were turned to red. Only fear kept me going.

With Tyler Butterfield, Andrew Yoder, and Jackson Laundry long gone, my focus was to stay away from Russell and Hadley. I was gaining on Russell but Hadley was approaching fast. I knew that he was dangerous even at four or five minutes back.

The ‘descent’ into downtown wasn’t much easier than the rolling climb out, and I began to feel the slightest pinching pain in my lower back. About 12 days ago I did a hard run followed by lifting (30 heavy ass pound squats mind you), which threw out my low back/right glute for a couple days. The pain went away but came back the day that Adelaide and I traveled to Raleigh. I’d gotten a massage and taping two days before the race, but the pain was still there. Currently, I needed it to hold out for another eight miles. No biggie. The last eight miles of a triathlon are always the easiest. That is a joke by the way.

My feet were on fire from the molten pavement, my lungs and stomach were suffering, my back and legs were crying, and I felt my slow slogging would surely cause me to be swept up by a hard-charging Hadley, or a senior jogger pushing a baby stroller. “Why do I even do this horrible sport?” is always a thought that comes up during the run.

At the final turnaround with 3.5 to go I saw that I still had over a minute. Endurance sports are all about who can suffer the most, and I told myself to stop being such a damn wimp and get on with it. I held the gap until a half mile to go, at which point I knew I had secured 4th place and let myself slow down and bask in the cheers of literally dozens of spectators who were wondering what was going on and why their city’s roads were all blocked off. It’s only when I slowed that I started feeling the real pain in my back. I crossed the finish line and quickly dropped to my hands and knees, then laid down on my back, enveloped in pain and joy for being done. By the time I caught my breath and let someone help me to my feet I could barely walk. My back was completely cramped and each limp was a stabbing shot of agony. So, pretty much a normal race for me.

It felt terrific to finally have a high placing, to see decent power numbers, and to earn enough prize money to pay for the next two months of my physical therapy. Soon after finishing, though, I felt a bit let down since I wasn’t part of the champaign-spraying podium celebration. Always be left wanting. It’s the human condition that has turned our planet into a clear-cut, overpopulated, polluted mining pit filled with Wal-Marts and parking lots.

The best part of my day was watching Adelaide come storming down the finish shoot, taking names and blowing by everyone else like they were using walkers. I could practically hear her thinking to herself, “You’re going down, bitches!” as she came past. She finished with a time of 4:44 and we found out that she won her age group shortly after. It took a while to confirm that she had won the female amateur division outright, which qualified her for her professional license. It was a good trip, to say the least.

I’d like to thank our hosts Brian and Michelle Kennedy for taking such great care of us throughout the week. Brian, who also raced, had a bad stomach from being sick earlier in the week, but managed to finish. We all went out for burgers and fro-yo afterwards.

Additionally, Kwami Imani, a nurse at the medical tent, went well beyond his duties. I had come limping into the medical/massage tent assuming that the post-race massage was free, because they almost always are, only to see that it was $20. I obviously didn’t have that on me. I limped dejectedly away across the street to lay down on the sidewalk and Kwami came out searching for me, helped me get up and walk back to the tent, and wouldn’t accept my offer that I’d repay him. That’s the southern hospitality that you always hear about when talking about the South. I didn’t realize that it was so literal (nurses work in hospitals…hospitality..get it?)

Finally, thank you to my terrific sponsors for making it all possible: A2 Bikes, Cuore of Swiss, Vision, and Hammer Nutrition.

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St. George 70.3

I’ll preface this for my grandmothers since Adelaide told me that this post comes off as depressing. Let it be known that it was actually a great trip.

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Getting good and pissed off a few days from the start. I didn’t ride the Speed Phreak at St. George since my bike is still being built, up but it will be ready for Raleigh.

The Drive

The drive out to Utah started with a painful moment of panic as Adelaide accidentally slammed Maybellene’s tail in the car door. Maybellene yelped and frantically lurched away from the source of her agony, her claws nearly scratching my eye out in the process. With Maybellene’s tail a little crooked and a bloody scratch mimicking a teardrop tattoo under my right eye, the 10-hour car trip officially began.

We left late in the day because Adelaide had an appointment at 1PM, which put us just east of the Wasatch Range at dusk. In the fading light with peaceful rolling desert terrain passing by, I watched a rabbit bolt from the right side of the road out towards the center. I quickly took my foot off the gas and kept the car in a straight line, hoping that the little bunny would reverse its direction mid-stride like prey animals will do when confronted with uncertainty in the direction that they are currently headed. The rabbit kept running straight and our car passed over it, me now willing it to miss the wheels. I looked in the side view mirror a half second later and saw it summersaulting in the road behind us as we sped off at 80 miles per hour, my spirits instantly and temporarily plummeting, the rabbit’s life instantly and permanently over. Another innocent creature killed by a fucking car, driven by a person too uncaring to stop and help, or at least remove it from the middle of the road where its gut-filled carcass would inevitably be flattened to an unrecognizable sheet of sticky fur.

I see nothing good in humanity or myself, no way out of our current and certain path of total self- and planetary-destruction. Most of Earth’s animals are doomed. The environment is plummeting towards mass extinction and it won’t be set straight for millions of years. In the short term, maybe as soon as a hundred years, future human generations will engage in pathetic squabbles over crumbs because we couldn’t stop breeding like rabbits and spreading the disease of man-kind to every square centimeter of this abused planet. I hate people. I hate cars. I hate everything.

Then I got a milk shake.

And I was alright again.

At the Host House

Our host house was sick, to put it bluntly. We arrived just before 1AM to find a large atrium in which speckled colored lights shown from a small box, covering the walls, furniture, and ceiling of the entire house with a neon Milky Way. In the back yard there was also a rope swing, hammock, and a gazebo built out of an old Army plane.

We spent Thursday riding, picking up packets, and hanging out with AJ and his dad at the A2 Bikes tent. The temperature pushed into the upper 90s, perfect weather for a Kennett. I hoped it would stay like that for the race, though in the end it would cool down a good 10 degrees.

The day before the race I noticed that the hallway toilet of our host house was flooding all over the floor, and that there was also a deep puddle spanning the entire laundry room as well. The previous night the same mysterious flooding had happened and Adelaide and I had to wake up our hosts, John and Shalena, to let them know what was going on. But neither of them were home on Friday morning, and certain bowels had to be emptied.

I plunged the toilet until the water level was a few inches lower than the rim, though I suspected that most of the water had just ended up on the floor from all the sloshing around I was causing. I did my business and didn’t flush, since that would only make matters worse (as I found out the previous night). I told Adelaide not to use that toilet so she tried the other bathroom in the laundry room area.

Now there were two toilets filled to the rim with shit, a flooded bathroom floor, and a flooded laundry room. We needed to head out to train and go to the pre-race meeting. I didn’t want to leave things in that bad of a state for our hosts to come home to, so I attempted to plunge my toilet. The water quickly churned into an angry dark brown and the plunging was having no affect on the water level. Due to the violence of my thrusting, I was splashed in the face and mouth twice by the vile liquid. I decided to call it good at that point, still having made no progress on the water level, and left the plunger sitting in the putrid-smelling mess since there was no way to clean it off without causing more flooding. Adelaide, now onto poop number two of the day, took a dump in the back yard. She cleaned it up with a doggy bag.

A plumber came by later and removed a napkin from an outside pipe, which had been causing the blockage. But enough prelude. Onto the race.

The Swim

The gun cracked and we set off at a pace that I couldn’t hold for more than 15 meters. I quickly fell behind a pair of feet to my left, got dropped from that pair of feet and moved right. My goal for the swim was to leave no doubt of whether or not I could have gone faster. A lot of my swims have felt like I could have held onto the group up ahead if only my start was better and I’d pushed it harder in the opening 400 meters. I didn’t make that mistake this time, and eventually found someone to draft off of that was the perfect speed: faster than me but not so fast that I couldn’t hang on. We swam through a small group about half way through, and I let myself believe (for a few seconds anyways) that we’d just passed the lead pack. I continued sitting on the guy’s feet as another guy tried to push me off. He wouldn’t let up and continued slamming me with his arm, pushing me down and back. Reaching out awkwardly with my left leg, I kicked him a few times in the side when he refused to give up the fight. I hoped it wasn’t someone I knew. Me and the original guy broke off from that pack and pushed on towards land, coming in just under 26 minutes, my best swim yet.

The Bike

I knew coming into T1 that I had just had the best swim I’d ever had and that I could probably make it into a good group if I pushed super hard for the first 20 to 30 minutes. Unfortunately, my legs failed me. The past month of training has been very sub-par, as I’ve been dealing with a lack of motivation and depression. I put forth as good of an effort as my body could muster on the bike, making my way through a few groups as I held onto Ben Hoffman, Cameron Wurf, Brent McMahon, Josiah Middaugh, and Trevor Wurtel’s wheels. Wurf got away from our group mid-way into the ride and I still hadn’t taken a pull. I felt that by the time I got up to the front I’d be blown and actually slow us down, plus I was still holding out hope that there were only 10 guys up the road and that I should save what little I had in my legs for the run.

At the turn around with 15 miles to go, and after we’d ridden through a group of four, I saw that there were still 11 guys up the road, with varying leads on us of two to eight minutes. At that point, Brownlee, Sanders, and Kienle were so far gone that they were essentially in a race of their own. My legs were pretty much shattered at that point, but I decided that if I could, I would try something on the climb up Snow Canyon, despite feeling like a prick for doing so since I hadn’t been helping with the pace-making.

I put in a big effort, triathlon-wise (mind you there was still a 13 mile run to consider), up the second half of the climb, hoping that I could at least make up a little more ground towards 10th place, the last place that paid and the last place that I would be somewhat satisfied with. McMahon stayed with me, and on the headwind descent we caught Matt Charbot to come into T2 in 11th and 12th. There was still hope.

My bike time was 2:07:49 thanks to a cross tailwind for most of the day, and my average power was 290 (NP 309), which showed how shitty my legs were. That was the same exact power that I did two years ago here on this course as my first ever triathlon…in the midst of some severe Hashimoto’s symptoms. So yeah, I was not at the top of my game today.

The Run

Further proof of my shit legs, and self-doubting mind, was evidenced in the first few miles of the run, which were uphill. I lost sight of McMahon instantly. My legs were bricks. I tried mustering up a few more seconds per mile, looked at my watch, and saw that I was almost at a fast jog. I was passed by three more guys in the next few miles and I had little desire to attempt holding on as they came by. I was mentally defeated, and decided that there was no point in destroying my legs if I wasn’t going to be in the money.

At mile eight or nine into the run, which had somewhere around 1,200 painful feet of elevation gain, I decided that I’d at least not get passed by anyone else and hold onto…”16th?” I thought. I kept a pace that I assumed would satisfy that low goal for the next four miles. On the descent back into town I picked up speed…because it was downhill. I passed two guys in the last mile, blowing by at a pace that I shouldn’t have been able to do if I’d put forth my best effort earlier on, further proving to myself how weak and cowardly I’d been. I came in 14th with a 1:26 run, three minutes slower than the run I’d done here two years ago as an amateur when running 30 minutes a week was high mileage.

I went to the food tent.

And suddenly, all was right with the world once again.

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That time is not accurate.

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Adelaide had a fantastic race, finishing in 5:02 and 5th amateur woman overall. She’s on the verge of qualifying as a pro and with some serious training before Raleigh, will have a good shot there or at Coeur d’Alene.

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Ben had a great race also and came in at 4:48.

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There was unlimited Mexican food just behind me, by the way. Also behind me is Mormon Space X.

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Maybellene on her way up to the stage during the awards presentation.

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Sniffing around for her prize.

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It must be up here.

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“Whose dog is that?” There were a couple hundred people watching, so this was slightly embarrassing. Not for me though.

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Mid sneeze.

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Hot hound.

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Partnership with A-Squared Bikes for 2017

I’m super pumped to announce a partnership between myself and A2 bikes (pronounced A-Squared). They’re a brand new company out of Oregon that has a goal of giving triathletes a solid deal on a super fast bike without causing them to get a night job, take out a second mortgage on the house, go into bankruptcy, lose the house, get divorced, spend three weeks on a friend’s couch trying to sort out life, lose both jobs, move into their car full time, get addicted to crack, sell their car for crack, sell their overpriced triathlon bike for crack, start turning tricks for crack, and die on the streets with no teeth, no friends, and most importantly, no bike. Yeah, it’s a slippery slope, paying too much for a triathlon bike. Luckily, the guys at A2 are here to help make sure that doesn’t happen. Thanks A2!

About the Speed Phreak

A2 has one bike: the Speed Phreak. After looking at it in person, I was pretty shocked to discover how well it’s priced. $1,899 for a full bike with a set of training wheels and $2,899 with an extra set of race wheels thrown in. It’s sleek, it’s slippery, it handles as well as a road bike, it’s everything you could want and for literally less than half the price of a comparable frame and groupset combo (my guess is that the company is a laundering front). Anyways, that’s enough selling on my end through words. The rest will be done with results.

Check it:

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AJ, the owner, trapped inside a blank white room.

How the Sponsorship Happened: Thank You Adelaide

The last thing on my mind after crossing the finish line at Oceanside 70.3 a few weeks ago was walking up to an expo booth and chatting about bikes with a stranger. Things that would have come more naturally to me in that depleted state include eating the free post-race food, getting a free massage, and sitting down and not moving because I had a blister that took up one entire quarter of my foot. I did all of those things. After I got back from the massage, Adelaide excitedly talked me into going over to a black tent of a bike company. She had struck up a conversation with who she believed to be the owner, and talked me up apparently. “They’re a new company and I just told them how well you did! You should go over and introduce yourself,” she said, similarly to how a mom might entice their small child to go introduce themselves to another little boy at a playground.

It turned out to be a good thing that Adelaide came to the race, because I ended up getting a bike sponsorship out of it. AJ Alley, the owner of A2 Bikes, was just in the beginning stages of having their first batch of bikes produced, and had linked up with Ironman to be the official bike partner for the race. He didn’t know it before he talked to Adelaide, but he was looking for additional marketing, which is where I came in. A week later, after a few more conversations over the phone, we’d come to an agreement. From the beginning, it was clear that AJ was just as enthusiastic about this partnership as I. He has been dead set on hooking me up with the best components and gear to make the bike as fast as any other fully decked-out pro’s bike, and it has been incredibly encouraging to feel that sort of support from a sponsor. I’m excited to pay A2 back 10 times over in the races to come this season. Check out their Facebook page and website. I think there are a few bikes left to reserve for this first order, and the next shipment should be available soon.

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AJ and I discussing important aerodynamic shit.

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The first batch hot off the press! Get em while they’re hot.

Smoothie Bowl Recipe

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Smoothie:

1 cup frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, pineapple, papaya, blackberries, etc)
The bowl pictured is a mixture of blueberries, pineapple, and papaya
2 scoops of Hammer Whey Chocolate Protein
1 banana
Almond milk, just enough for desired consistency
1 spoonful of peanut butter (or use as a topping)
Blend and put in a big bowl

Toppings:

Pictured is hemp seed, cacao nibs, peanut butter, and coconut flakes. Others:
Granola
Fresh fruit
Crushed macadamia nuts or pecans
Chia seeds

To make these smoothies, I cut up two pineapples, a papaya, and mangos beforehand and freeze them. To keep the fruit from freezing into a solid clump, periodically break it up 3 times within the six hours after putting it in the freezer.

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Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

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This post is dedicated to Krista.

The week leading up to an event, my hypochondria tendencies become drastically intensified. I don’t touch door handles with my bare skin, if I hear someone coughing in the grocery store I’ll exit the area immediately, and I wash my hands every time after having human contact (meaning every time I venture outside the house). At the airport, traveling to a race, I wash my hands constantly, use hand sanitizer, and refuse to touch anything that I don’t have to. I’ll risk falling over on the DIA terminal train before even thinking about reaching out to steady myself with a railing. After the race is over, all of this changes. For example:

On the flight home from Oceanside, I put a chocolate bar (still wrapped) in my shoe to keep it off the ground after taking my shoes off on the plane. I took a piece out of the wrapper, still placed carefully in my shoe, every now and then. By the end of the flight I’d eaten the whole thing and threw out the wrapper. I went to put my shoe on when the plane landed and realized there was something loose in there. I shook out a loose piece of chocolate, which landed on the ground at my feet. I picked it up, and quickly contemplated the following:

  1. I distinctly remember standing in a puddle of urine in the airport bathroom, which my shoes had undoubtedly tracked into the plane and onto the very carpet that this chocolate had fallen;
  2. These were shoes that I had previously peed in during races. However, they had been retired some months ago and were now just my walking around shoes;
  3. I had a horrible blister on the ball of my left foot, which happened to be the shoe I’d put the chocolate bar in, and the festering blister, combined with general foot sweat, stank something fierce at this point;
  4. Chocolate tastes good.

I ate it after a two-second pause of contemplation. The build up to a race, especially the first of the year, takes a considerable mental stress toll, and getting everything right (or as much as you can) during that period is wearing. Once the race is over, a weight is lifted and being a normal(ish) person for a few days feels right.

Now onto the race.

The swim was the most chaotic I’ve experienced, which doesn’t say a lot since this was my 11th race (excluding two small local sprints). My level of inexperience constantly shows, as witnessed later in the bike leg, but back to the swim. The first 500 meters was just madness. I took a few blows to the head, gave out some of my own, swam over the backs of people, and had the same dished out to myself. At one point I had to stop for a second to put my goggles back on. Usually the madness like this only lasts for 200 meters. After 500 meters it let up and I found myself on the feet of a guy who seemed to be going hard at a pace I could follow, so I stayed on him for the rest of the swim. I came out in 26:46 and 28th out of the water, which, for me, was a decent time considering I was only a minute down on a big group and four minutes on the leader.

I went pretty hard for the first 12 miles of the bike, averaging 346, and found myself catching up to Justin Rossi, another ex-bike racer who I knew would be a good ally. He quickly bridged the gap to one more in front, Ronnie Shildknecht, and put in a very long, extended effort that almost dropped me. I struggled staying seven lengths back, constantly finding myself drifting back to 15 seconds behind the two. At one point I lost Shildknecht while eating. Focusing on maintaining that 7-8 bike length sweet spot was definitely a mental struggle throughout the bike for some reason.

Justin (with the two of us in tow) caught and passed more guys until there were about six of us, still just Justin working, by the time we came to the first of the hills. By this time I was finally feeling okay, and began taking some pulls. I was hesitant to go off on my own because I wanted Justin’s help on the flats and was worried that I’d get a lung cramp on the run if I dug too deep. I sat up a few times on the rollers throughout this middle section of the race to ensure that Justin, who had done a ton of work at this point, and the others weren’t dropped. I wondered at this point why my right hand was sore, and realized it was from smacking someone’s head during the swim.

By the last 20 miles it was just Justin, myself, and Shildknecht, who never took a single pull the entire time. Justin was rolling along pretty fast in the last 10 miles of the flat run in to T2, and I felt good about the progress we’d made until I looked at the results after the race. In hindsight, I wish I’d been less conservative on the bike and taken more pulls or as least attempted to go off on my own right as the hills started to bridge the gap to the main group up ahead, which at that point was only about two minutes.

Shildknecht came by Justin and I right as we entered T2, which felt like a big Fuck You, and it was. He took off on the run, fresh as a Swiss daisy from lack of working on the bike, and ran though most of the field to take 3rd. Justin and I exchanged a few disgruntled complaints running our bikes to the rack about that, then set to work on the most miserable part of triathlon. Peeing in your running shoes.

At least, that’s what I did, I won’t speak for Justin. After a quick pee, I got some trotting farts out of my gut. I was demo-ing a new Cuore of Switzerland race kit, which was super comfy and fast, but I’m not sure they’re going to want it back. With my intestines and bladder cleared out, I set to work. I kept my pace consistent and controlled throughout the whole run, never putting myself in the red until the last kilometer. At the turns I could see who was up the road in front of me, and knew that a big risky effort wouldn’t do much good. The gap was too big and most were only gaining time. I was also worried that if I dug super deep early on, I’d get a lung cramp or my hip would go out, two issues I dealt with in most of my races last year. Instead, I played it safe.

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Adelaide and Krista found a painted rock by the race course.

I picked off a few guys as they blew up, moving to 9th by the second lap. Adelaide and her friend Krista (and Maybellene) were out there cheering, which helped me remember to keep perfect Craig Curly form, or do my best impersonation. PS if you don’t know who Craig Curly is, then shame on you.

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I came in at 4:01 something with a 1:16:33 run, 9th place, and about a minute behind 8th, which was the final place that got paid. 2nd place isn’t the first loser, 9th is. Speaking of 2nd, Chris Leiferman took 2nd, which was a huge result considering the size and depth of the field. Let it be known that I knew Chris back before he was a big deal. It’s sort of like seeing a band before they blow up. “Yeah, I used to hang out with the Pearl Jam crew back in 84.” That sort of thing.

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Left to right: Shildknecht, Lionel Sanders, Chris.

Afterthoughts:

I wish I’d attempted a bigger effort on the bike to put myself within shooting range of the group up ahead. I had the 4th fastest bike, but it didn’t feel like my best effort. It was the first time I’ve really played it safe, and although 9th in this field was a good result, it left me wanting quite a bit. Next up is St. George. Thank you to my sponsors Cuore of Switzerland and Hammer for providing awesome support!

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Ingredients for an awesome smoothie bowl.

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Click here for the recipe.

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It was a long weekend of travel for some.

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Krista, Adelaide, and Kristen.

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