Tag Archives: age group

Today, champion is just a title

On the patio, away from the sight of others, my mom comforted me. I didn’t race poorly. I had won my age group and the title of Junior Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion. What upset me was that I didn’t have fun, I didn’t want to be there, and it hurt way more than it should have. I had suffered for the last hour and twenty minutes and after I crossed the finish line, I cracked. I had pushed my body to its limits physically, but more importantly, I was not emotionally capable of handling five races in one week.

Two days ago I laid in my bed with thoughts of pain and suffering swarming me. I wanted to be free of it all. I wanted to take the weekend off from racing. Racing is like burning a fuse and mine was merely a nub before the race even began. My attitude is usually that pain is life and should be embraced but the middle road is looking really enticing right now.

By the start of the bike, the lactic acid burning my thighs uncovered my negativity from the lies of optimism surrounding it. Towards the end of the ride, a typically unthinkable thought swarmed me. I wanted to drop out and return home to comfort and peace. But the shame of quitting still outweighed the overwhelming agony.

I raced on and still fourteen hours later, comfort has not returned to me. I have napped. I have eaten ice cream and pizza and let carbonation of soft drinks settle my stomach. I have bathed, watched movies, and wrapped my withered body in cozy blankets. But none of this has brought a feeling of comfort to me. My fuse burned its way all the way to an explosion of sadness, and I am still trying to return the flavor to my life.

I am ready to train hard but another race lies a ways in the distance. That is comforting but not quite enough to restore my usual full throttle drive. Maybe I need a hug.

At this point I wish I had not raced and I am not sure if it was macroscopically beneficial for me to have stuck it out today. I am now the junior regional champion but what good does that do if the champ did not have fun?

Sometimes I pump up my old basketball, move the cars out of the driveway, and goof around on the court or I go to the local public golf course and lose a few balls. And sometimes I head to a baseball field with a bucket of balls and a bat. I feel at peace when I do those things. There is no pressure and I can just mess around for however much time I want to. The other day I made eighteen out of twenty free throws.  I practiced none but there was no pressure. I just goofed around and ended up impressing myself.

Maybe if I raced with no pressure then I could do the equivalent of my free throw shooting. If I just relaxed and had no expectations maybe I could exceed my high goals. I’ll save that idea for next time. Today I try to restore the damage done from last time. What is being a champion without the feeling to match it?

Not my day

A half mile from the finish I passed a guy who barely mustered the question, “What age group are you in?” and upon my short breath response he exclaimed “Good!” and relaxed into his own pace again.

I spent the whole morning yesterday on the chase. And although I recently had a breakthrough at Power sprint triathlon, yesterday was not my day under the spotlight. A guy from Freeman High School gained almost two minutes on me on each leg of the race. Sadly my chase was fruitless and I never saw him.

I had a highly unusual swim in which I lost minimal time to my competitors. However, the bike leg unveiled my rusty mountain bike handling skills. My body hit the ground four times throughout the ride but with no major injuries. They simply were reminders of the fact that I had not ridden this course in this direction since last year. To add to my difficulty I had a rubbing front brake that in addition to slowing me down, squealed at me the entire ride.

With that said, Xterra is a race of problems. Nothing seems to go perfect and the person who does well is typically the one who handles those challenges the best. In road triathlons, preparation in the months and weeks and night before the race can almost always prepare a racer for the day to come. However, in Xterra, no quantity of training or preparation can completely prepare an athlete for the challenges to come during the race. Those preparations can only give the racer a false sense of readiness. Experience, patience, confidence, and perseverance outweigh the fitness which solely propels on-road triathletes to victory.

In Xterra my four years of training are useless. My only foundation is the two Xterra triathlons I have done before. The challenge, although frustrating at first, is in essence what entices me to the hellish race.

Conrad Stoltz, the winner of the Pro division this past weekend raced with a three inch open gash on his foot. He wasn’t making excuses so what is my rubbing front brake compared to that. I was almost happy that the brake rub was the worst thing that day.

My run went smooth. I made sure to pace and yet I still cramped. My kick was late though. I prefer to feel like death at the finish and with this race I simply had to much left in the tank in the last mile. I finished second in my age group but still my competitor and I both beat everyone in the 20-24 age group.


I guess after going two years straight without being beat in my age group it serves me right to be humbled this year. I’m excited for the competition. If I am in the best shape of my life and so are they, I won’t mind losing. Endorphin fitness is home growing some of the fastest juniors I have ever seen. I hope the guys share the same dream as I do and maybe one day we’ll all race alongside each other wearing red, white, and blue.