An Unfortunate Mishap

Want to hear a funny story about my last tri as an amateur? It's kind of exclusive...I've only told one or two people...

It was race day morning at the South Beach Triathlon. I just finished setting up in transition and was about to walk the long walk out of the transition area, then jog the .9 miles up the beach to the swim start. The thing about this particular transition area was that it was long, quite narrow, and, as always, crowded with thousands of frantic triathletes trying to get their gear in order. The pro's and elites were at the north end of the transition area and had to walk through the crowds to the the south end, then, finally, backtrack north towards the beach start once we exited transition.  

As I start making my way through the crowds, I see Leanda Cave. For those who don't know, Leanda Cave is an accomplished triathlete with an Ironman World Title to her name. In other words, I trust that she knows what she's doing. Cave tells another female pro that it's ridiculous to walk all the way out of transition and then backtrack towards the swim start. Transition is surrounded by one of those plasticy weaved fences that isn't great at keeping people from going under it. Cave pulls up the fence, slips under, and holds it up for the other pro.
Now you know why I'm wearing tri shorts over my Trisuit. 

The other pro looks at me and says 'if it's good enough for Leanda, it's good enough for me.' She slips under and holds up the fence for me. I think to myself, 'if it's good enough for these two, then it's definitively good enough for me.' So, I crouch down and start to go under the fence. It was at that moment that I heard something rip. It was my trisuit. I look down to see everything just hanging out--yes, everything was just hanging there.... The pro holding the fence was oblivious to what just went down; so, I thanked her and told her I forgot something in transition. 

Luckily, my parents were on the other side of transition.  I walked gingerly, but not without celerity, over to them and told them I needed the extra pair of tri bottoms in my tri bag--Thank God I packed an extra pair! When they asked why, I told them the story. As I told them, there was a lady standing next to them, listening in. Her eyes bulged wider and wider as she realized that I was barely covered.

I was reminded of two things from this experience... 

1.) Things don't always go as planned and I always need to have an extra pair of tri-shorts on hand. 

2.) Don't always do what Leanda Cave does (even though she's a World Champion).       

First Pro Race!

The Timeline

Eleven years ago, I raced my first triathlon. Eight years ago, I made the commitment to myself that I would be a professional triathlete someday. One year ago, I finished up my masters, started supporting myself through coaching, and went all in. And finally, I reached my goal. This year, at St. Anthony’s, I became a professional triathlete!   
The Race
I chose to make my debut as a Pro at St. Anthony’s for three reasons. The first is that I love the race’s history. The race has been going on for over 30 years and was once a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Second, the race always has a stacked field. This year, the race had big names such as Timothy O’Donnell, Matt Reed, Greg Bennett and Cam Dye. I’ve looked up to these guys for years and have been eager to toe the line with them.  Third, my Olympic distance 10k run PR was set on this course. I have been looking forward for the chance to break it.    
Race morning beated to its normal rhythm—I stick to the same race day morning routine so I don’t have to think about anything if I don’t want to. 4:15 wake up, breakfast, drive to the race start, set up transition, warm up jog to the beach start, warm up swim with a few pickups, get to the line. It’s quick, fast, and mindless.
The race began with a bang and we went out faster than I’ve ever started a race before. I chose to line up on Tim O’Donnell’s feet to ensure that I got a great, fast draft. That first surge was manageable and I was glad to see a few guys pop off the back. Around 400 meters, the pack relaxed for about a minute. Not realizing that they eased off of the pace, I swam right into O’Donnell’s legs. I relaxed my effort just a little to readjust my position. In hindsight, this was a huge mistake. At that moment, there was another surge from the front and I lost contact with O’Donnell’s draft. Knowing that losing the draft for only a second could end my chance at staying with the group. I surged. The burning in my lungs started to build and my form started to break. I didn’t catch the draft in those crucial moments and never made contact again.

In Olympic distance (.9 mile swim, 40k bike, 10k run) racing, it’s crucial to stay with the main pack through the swim and the bike if you want any chance at placing. A swim pack almost always moves faster than an individual. The bike pack, even though this was a non-draft legal race, works in a similar way. And, the race is won within seconds, so every bit of energy you save when your in the pack counts. Prior to the race, I had mentally prepared for the possibility of losing the pack. I knew that I had to readjust my mindset to plan B and continue to make the most of the day.
I regained control over my breath, evened out my stroke, and swam through the course. I quickly transitioned and jumped on my bike. I road with a controlled effort, picking off a few male pro’s who got dropped by the bike pack later on in the race. I transitioned and then started to chase my run PR. By the first 2 miles, I knew it wasn’t coming. I stuck with the same effort and finished out my day as the 26th male Pro.
The Reflection
I think that when we break through an invisible boundary and find ourselves in a new world, whether it is our first days of college, a job promotion, or moving up a level in competition, there are new rules and new skills to be learned. Once those rules are understood, and skills mastered, the possibility of success is unlocked and we go on to do extraordinary things.
Although I’m a highly skilled athlete, right now I feel like I'm a freshman just learning how to function in his first semesters of college. There are rules and skills I need to learn--especially in regards to moving in and around the pack-- in order to get myself up to speed with some of the fastest triathletes in the world. It's going to take time, but I’m confident that I will eventually be able to stick with them. The final step will be figuring out how to win.
As for my experience at ST. Anthony’s, it was absolutely amazing. Crossing the finish line allowed me to celebrate my entire triathlon career and left me with real sense of satisfaction with my life. Looking forward, I know that I will never have to regret not committing to this goal. I am ecstatic to have accomplished my dream of becoming a professional athlete.  

**A special thanks to Zane's Cycles, CT Cycle Center, Southern CT Muscle and Joint Chiropractic, Silverline Athletic's Coach Holden Comeau, Amber Hackeman, my parents, and all of the athletes that I ever coached. I couldn't have done it without all your help and support!







Welcome to my website! This is the place where I will write about my life as a professional triathlete!