I played it safe. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital. And in my defense, it was pretty damn hot. But this was a race and the only one for over a month on either side. It was what I train for and commit myself to for hours each day. It was money spent on travel. It was the emotional investment. It was my parents, friends, and coach’s support. And I had wasted it all by playing it safe.
I ran through it three times. And after that, I lay trying to fall asleep, running through it another dozen times. It was one of the only technical finishes to a triathlon I have ever seen. People always practice the bike course, taking the turns at speed or at minimum drive it so they know what to expect. But no one ever thinks the run will matter. I didn’t either, but I thought I better not take my chances. The year before, this exact race was seemingly going to come down to a sprint finish. Ben Bartlett caught me early in the run and we ran together for the next two miles. But not wanting to wait till the end to get the win, I sprinted past him with one mile to go to take the lead. The final sub-5 minute mile was enough to win by a mere twelve seconds.
I absolutely love being short. People crack short jokes all the time. Hell there’s even a song about how I’ve got no reason to live. Don’t get me wrong, seriously, I love the jokes and the song, I’ll even dish it right back. But what people may not understand is that, while yes it limits the selection of girls I can date, I absolutely love my height. Being short is awesome.
I would be returning to Lynchburg, Virginia to race the same course I had raced as my first triathlon over five years ago. I was fifteen. Over a fourth of my life I have doing these multisport races and since then I have done in the vicinity of fifty of them. My goal five years ago was to win and not only that but beat the course record, held by Michael Harlow, a triathlete who would become my coach a few months later, a man I would realize is VERY hard to beat.
My mandatory week off from training starts today. Yesterday my season ended with a win, standing on that top step of the podium, fastest time of the day of seven-hundred plus people. I guess just recently I decided that it was time to win. I had placed second and third and fourth in so many races over the past five seasons and only first a few times in my career.
A few minutes ago I finished applying some first aid to the six nickel and quarter-size blisters on my feet. The rehab process for my mangled body begins.
Since I arrived at school I have raced every weekend. Last week finished a stretch of an exam a day for six days of classes. I knew my pace was unsustainable and now here I am with a mandatory seven days off and I am wondering what I am going to do with myself.
Last weekend I went to Alabama with a few teammates from Endorphin Fitness to race the Age Group National Championships. I placed 12th in the 20-24 age group and 36th overall.
The weekend before that I raced with the Outdoor Club in the 15th annual Roanoke Mud-run. I came in first in that.
The weekend before that I raced in Williamsburg in the Patriots Sprint triathlon. I came in first in that.
Its very glamorous on the surface and it definitely is exciting for me. But yesterday when I crossed that finish line with an athlete from Navy doing his best to chase me down, the physical stress from such a close race overwhelmed me more than the pride of another win. I was glad the season was over. I was glad that the late-season racing was done. The medics fed me with oxygen for my lungs and copious amounts of Gatorade and water for my stomach. I had stretched a peak about as far as it would go and I am tired from it.
But hearing the roar of cheers through the finishing chute that only two people in a race ever seem to hear, the first and the last place finishers, is extremely exciting. Its what I worked for all season, through coming off the A.T. emaciated, distraught, and slow, through a surprisingly high-maintenance broken thumb and two surgeries and two months of casts, and through lack of inspiration towards the end. I am so, so happy with how the end of my season went, and ecstatic that my season is over.
I could not have done all this with the help from every one of my teammates from Endorphin Fitness and Virginia Tech, especially my coach Michael Harlow. My surgeon Dr. Keith Glowacki saved my season by being the most attentive and helpful doctor I have ever met. He put me in a new waterproof cast every week to allow me to train with no reservation. I not only was able to keep my fitness up but actually got faster with my time in a cast. And not to forget, in addition to being the best fan club and sponsors any student athlete could ask for, my mom and dad and Aunts Martha and Margaret and Uncle Jimmy babysat me through my various doped and disappointed states from my injury.
Roanoke Marine Mudrun results:
Age Group Nationals results:
Giant Acorn Results: