American Triple T was everything I thought it would be plus a few more.
I knew of this extreme grassroots race from Cindi, my friends Justin, Ken, and Tim and always wanted to attempt it but the timing was always difficult. When Cindi gave me the green light I was pumped but immediately fearful. The right kind of stress. New race, new format, big early season fitness. Would I be ready?
140.3 miles of racing over 3 days/4 triathlons. Over 10,000ft of elevation gain.
Day 1: Super Sprint. The theme for me was to keep it under control and i did just that.
Day 2: AM Olympic distance. Friday we discovered that Michael’s di2 rear derailur motor was broken and there was no way to fix it before the race. He was going into Saturday’s race with 2 gears. When we left the cabin in the morning i discovered that my di2 was completely dead. I had 15’ before transition closed to charge it. That 15 minutes was dreadful. I sat on the couch with my head in my hands. I was able to get some energy into it but as i mounted my bike after the swim portion… the battery was dead. 2500ft of climbing in my 53/19, not ideal. I made it to mile 6 before i said “(explicit) it” and turned around. It took me 2 minutes before i turned back around and reminded myself that i was here to challenge myself, not to give up. In these tough moments I often think of Cindi and Lucy. The time i’m away from them to DNF? How could I explain that, you can’t. If you can finish, you finish. I owed it to them as much as myself. I knew i could finish the bike, so i did. I never got too upset. I took it for what it was, a poor mistake. Because some of the hills were so steep I had to walk my bike 3 times while having over 200 people ask me “are you ok?”. As I walked some of the hills I would just laugh to myself and think “I’m now that person who forgot to charge their di2”. I was certain my legs would be toast after riding 25 miles with an average cadence of 50 but they felt good for the run! After the race, i didn’t fret. I was having fun. A shitty day is better than a DNF. Then sense of overcoming a mistake is better than the feeling of quitting. Go Steve Go.
Race 3: Olympic (bike, swim, run)... my di2 was recharged and so was my motivation. I had frustration to burn so I went full gas the whole second race. I was in the hurt box by mile 2 of the bike and loving it. With the swim happening after the bike i chose to wear my Blueseventy Core Shorts. The air temperature was in the 80s so the swim felt refreshing. I loved the swim coming 2nd as it was different and fun. As Michael and I sat in the tent post race, there wasn’t alot of talking. We were both just staring and the occasional chuckle. A chuckle that meant, “What did we sign up for? How are we going to do a half ironman tomorrow?” Our legs were shaking and mentally there wasn’t much left. We just sat there in silence. A solid second day.
Race 4: Half Ironman. I woke up with two feelings, excited and scared to death. I was ready for the challenge of this half distance course, i’ve been thinking about it for months. 4000ft of climbing for 56 miles and 1000ft on the run. We were given all of that elevation gain. At mile 17 I felt the dreaded THUMP… THUMP… THUMP. My second ever flat tire in a race. From what happened with my Di2, a flat tire was nothing. I was in a good mindset that i just got off and fixed it. No frustration, no swearing. I didn’t give up, make excuses or “mail it in”. I got back on my bike and found my rhythm again. I kept telling myself, “let’s keep this challenge going”. The run was hard, that’s when the accumulative fatigue hit me the hardest. The run course was absolutely brutal with the constant hills and sun exposure. I didn’t mind running the exact same route every race, the better I know a route the faster it seems to happen. The 1st loop i was in a mental and physical rut but something clicked the 2nd loop and i was moving. My mindset the first loop was “Oh (Explicit) this is so hard” “My back is killing me” to “I can (explicit) do this” “I feel amazing” “Lets go!”. I ran 3’ faster the 2nd half and it was effortless. When you think negative thoughts, negative things happen. When you refocus to the process the pain can disappear.
It’s amazing what you can put your body through in 3 days. Looking back on the entire weekend I’ve come to the conclusion that I wasn’t physically prepared enough to meet my goals going in. I was too inexperienced. I mainly lacked the strong bike miles to run well off it. My ambitions didn’t match my fitness. I was out performed in every aspect, every day and i knew it during the races i was going strong. I wasn’t even close to where I thought i would be. Days later as i sit and reflect I get more moments of frustration than pride. My thoughts continually switch from “you should be proud of yourself” to “Is what your trying to do even worth it? What’s the point.”
However, this is why we race. This is why we train. This is why we step outside the uncomfortable zone. When you try and take the first step its scary to where you are dangling that leg out thinking “no no no I can’t do it”, but once you center your mind and take that step it’s incredibly freeing. We expose ourselves to reality of success, disappointment, failure, humiliation, criticism which all can turn to growth if you treat it right. This race was outside my comfort level. It was amazing. It was special. It was hard. It was rewarding. It was exactly what I needed.