Ironman Mont Tremblant – Part 2

[ed. note: To all of you who are unwillingly here from the Facebook after accidentally clicking my automatically generated posts, I am truly sorry. At some point in the distant past I linked this blog to the Facebooks and now when I schedule a post it automgically posts there when it puts the post live. Since then many updates have happened to WordPress on which this blog runs, and I have not yet been able to figure out which sequence of buttons and links to press in order to make it stop, and quite frankly i’m too lazy to really put much effort into it. So until I accidentally figure out how to make it stop, enjoy my unintended Facebook posts clogging your feed. Also you can read Part 1 of my historical adventures Here.]

Turbulence – Saturday, 1 day until Race Day aka #NoSaturdayCheckin

Now, /usually/ I’m very good about being prepared for races.  I read all the rules, I attend the mandatory meetings, and I know my shit.  But after 30-something races, including at least 5 70.3s and 1 other Ironman you’d think I’d know how these things work.  Yea… Not so much.

Saturday, 6:30 AM: “Oh Fuuuuuck!”

Saturday, 6:31 AM: “Shitshitshitshit… Fuuuuuuuuck!”

Erica, bleary eyed: “What?”

Andy, “Fuckshitfuckfuckshit!”

As it turns out in my perusing of the Athlete’s Guide in the weeks coming up to the race, I had somehow missed the large, bold, highlighted warnings in several places mentioning that Athlete Check In was on Friday, and would not be on Saturday, “No Exceptions”.

I’m perfectly willing to put up with my own shenanigans and stupidity, and sure it would have wasted a crap ton of money, but I could only blame myself, so meh… But in this case, I had family making a 14 hour trip from NJ, and some friends coming from Rochester NY all to watch me race. So I start panicking. Pacing back and forth across the room, my family was already in town, but I texted my friends, who were like, “We are coming to volunteer and sign up for next year, we just wanted to make you feel good, we don’t care if you race or not…”, so I started to feel a little better.

Now, after /actually/ reading the Athlete’s Guide, I noted that there was an emergency help line to call if you could not make athlete check in, but you had to call them at least a day or two in advance. OK, a way forward, I’ll just call them and get this all straightened out. This help line opened at 7 am. At 6:59:59 I dialed the phone. Fucking gibberish.  I don’t know what I was thinking, we were in Canada, where they speak French. I don’t know French, I don’t know anyone who knows French, but I’m pretty sure that was what the sound was coming through the phone.  I figured out it was a message after hanging up, frightened, and calling back a minute later and hearing the same gibberish in the same voice, but I still had no idea what it was saying. Extended Athlete Check in? If you missed Check In just go home already? Was the help line closed for the weekend? We’ll never know. I called back several times over the next 15 minutes continually getting the same foreign message taunting me, as the panic began to return.

After about the 30th time listening to the message, I decided to get some help and went down to the front desk to get an interpreter. If you know me, you know what a great feat this was, not only making a (multiple) phone call(s), but then actually talking to a real live, unknown to me, human? That’s just crazy talk, but there I was, explaining my situation to the guy at the front desk, and asking for a translation of the message. I finish my long winded rambling explanation and he agrees to help. So I give him the number and he dials the phone. And a real live motherfucker answers the phone, and she speaks English. After a brief exchange in French, where I’m sure the guy was explaining that there was some kind of dumbass American who thinks you’re an answering machine here, and he wants to talk to you, and he looks more than a little unhinged. He handed me the phone and I explained my situation to the very nice woman on the other end. (If anyone asks, we had a fender bender on the way out of town and had to turn back to switch cars and that’s why we were late and couldn’t make check in. Like I said, I was panicked.) She was very understanding and said there was a double top secret late check in at 11:30 at a certain location that if I was at I could get checked in. But under no circumstance was I to tell anyone about this (so keep your big mouths shut), and I was now on a list so in the future I would not have another chance. Pfft whatever, I’m in!  Woohoo!

[ed note: There has been some debate over whether or not the above couple paragraphs represent alternative facts. And that I was, in fact, just curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the room clutching a pair of tri shorts while gently weeping, while Erica found the number, talked me off the ledge, got me to call, and was smart enough to know that the front desk guy could easily translate the message for me. And that that would be more useful then swearing at the computer generated message in broken high school Spanish. Which version is the real truth?  I guess we’ll never know.] 

11:30 rolls around, and me and about a dozen other shady characters coalesce in a hallway on the second floor of an adjoining hotel. One by one they call our names as we shamefully enter, heads hanging, to fill out our check in paperwork and get our instructions. We get our wristbands, our packets, and are instructed to get our timing chips from the start line on race morning. I grabbed my packet with a vice like grip and left as quickly as possible hiding my smile, excited that I was finally checked in and ready to race.

After the excitement of the morning, it felt good to get in a short brick, rack my bike and be on to staying off my feet carbo loading and heading to bed.

pregamedinner

Friends and Family Excited That I’m Actually Racing…  Mostly. Also carbs.

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Upcoming Season – An Interlude

[ed. note: We will take a quick pause from our Ironman recap to look at the upcoming season, don’t worry, you’re regularly scheduled show will be back in no time.]

The 2017 season is shaping up to be interesting. I’m coming off a very lackluster 2016, and am eyeing a return to Ironman in 2018, so I want a strong season that I can use to build off of headed into an Ironman year. But I don’t want to over schedule myself and end up burnt out before the big training even starts. But even knowing that, I’ve been training hard on the bike, I’m sick of all my races following this pattern: top third or even quarter in the swim, then on the bike everyone and their brother passes me, then I pick off a couple people on the run. Every. Race.

Well, except for my cyclocross races which go something like…  Start in the middle get instantly ejected out the back, and get lapped by a bunch of people. So that’s not much better. At least they are super fun.

So since sometime in December I have been on the trainer, pretty consistently, in an attempt to get some biking legs on me for this year. Which seems like a good idea, except for the races I have thus far signed up for:

  1. Patriot 70.3 – Hopefully a PR bike for me
  2. Peaks to Portland 2.4 mile swim – Umm no bike here..
  3. Maine Swim Run – 6 miles of swimming and 11 miles of running… Umm… 0 biking…

So I’m hoping to get some biking skill for the Patriot 1/2, but other then that my hard fought biking skills (At least that’s what I plan for) will go unused.  At least until the fall, when I can hopefully get a post Otillo block of hard bike training, so I can at least not be terrible at  Cyclocross, and maybe, juuuust maybe, not get lapped.

And with any luck that late season biking, even though it is the exact opposite of Ironman racing will give me some descent fitness on the bike to build off of for Lake Placid. But as usual, I’m really good at planning, but the execution of the plan is slightly suspect…

You may have noticed that there is almost no talk of running in this master plan.  Well that is because running is stupid and I do as little as possible. I’m betting that my bike endurance and fitness will help out my run, a lot. Also I’m trying to be less fat…  Which should also help out. But recently I’ve been looking at some early season 1/2 marathons as I managed not to get into the Mid winter Classic 10 miler, which is my usual off season test of how terrible I have let myself get. But at the rate I have been running recently 10 miles would be a stretch, and would not even be in driving distance of a PR. So a couple months later would give me a little time to get up to speed so to speak and also let me relive some awesome races that I haven’t done in a while such at the Great Bay 1/2 Marathon where  few of my internet friends became real…

So this will be an interesting season with lots of biking but not that many bike races until the fall…  So maybe it may not be the best planned season, but with any luck I won’t be dropped by the B group of my local Thursday night group ride…  Which really… Is my main goal…

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Ironman Mont Tremblant – Part 1

[ed note: Yes, I know this is slightly overdue…  You can’t rush perfection… Also, apparently you can’t rush total crap either, who knew?]

It’s actually a miracle I even managed to start the race.  Everything conceivable went wrong before the event even started.  And by “went wrong”, I mostly mean, I fucked it up.

Calm Before the Storm – Thursday, 3 days until Race Day

I had packed everything I would need earlier in the week. And when I say, “everything”, I mean it. I don’t fuck around when packing. I probably had enough stuff to do two or three races with me all ready to go. So it was quick work on Thursday, after work, to toss all my stuff in the car before heading from Gardiner down to Erica’s in Portland, so we could leave for Mont Tremblant early the next morning.

All we had to do was wake up not too late, get the dog off to the people that were watching him, and head out. I had it all under control.

Harbinger – Friday, 2 days until Race Day

I was relaxed, my usual pre-race checklist had all it’s boxes checked, so it was no concern that we woke up a little late and had to take care of some last minute pet related logistics.  Erica was on the phone and mentioned that she needed to get her passport…

“Shiiiiiit.” – Dumbass me

“Under control”, riiiight.  And it was in the car, headed back to Gardiner at illicit speeds, to get my passport from its /safe location/ where I, /wouldn’t forget it/. An hour and a half later, I was back in town, and we were finally ready to leave for the Great White North of Canada. A relatively short 6 hours and 40 minutes away…

Well, unless you hit traffic in NH…

And at the border…

And all through Montreal…  

So more like a not so short 9 hours.

We rolled into town tired and grumpy at around 9 PM, checked into our hotel room, and fell into bed for some much needed sleep.

More to come.

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Hello? Is this thing on?

Wow. Over 2 years? WOW.

Yeah, I guess I’ve been slacking a little in the blogging department, huh? Well, let’s see if we can change that. Just prepare yourself though, I figure I have about 500, crappy posts in me before I can actually learn to write well. So I’m going to try the quantity over quality approach. I have a ton of 1/2 finished or just started posts that I gave up on because they weren’t coming out how I wanted them too, so I let them die.  But that doesn’t appear to be making me better at this and isn’t entertaining at all. So I figure I’ll hammer them out, even if they aren’t what I want them to be, and see how that works.  Worst comes to worst, you, my loyal reader, will just stop reading my blog, which you aren’t anyway because it’s been TWO FREAKING YEARS!  Oops.

So if you’ve stuck around, or are a new reader, you can get to witness me writing a bunch of random crap, not just race reports, but training updates, and probably other things as well. I’m betting a shitty poem or two, maybe a short story about aliens. Basically me taking the English language out back hitting it over the head with a led pipe and rifling through it’s pockets for loose change. Who the hell knows what will happen, I’ll be just as surprised as you.

Things you can look forward to:

  • New Ironman Race Report (Only a year and a half late!)
  • What happens when you push the bike to hard in a 70.3
  • How to make your heart explode (Cyclocross episodes 1 & 2)
  • Probably something about current training
  • How to watch an Ironman in the Canadian wilderness

There you go loyal reader, in the immortal words of Ray Arnold:

Hold on to your butts.

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I Never Win Anything – Capital City Y Tri – The Recap

The Capital City Y Tri is my local race. The swim is in the pool I workout in, the bike is on roads and trail that I ride on all the time and I have run the trails of the run course countless times. The inaugural event was last year, where I finished Top Male and 3ed overall. I was only beaten by a 13 year old girl and a very quick woman.

It wasn’t a secret that I wanted to do well in this race, and if the same competition showed up from last year I figured I had a good shot at the overall win. But I tried not to let on how much I wanted to win this race. It’s not often I get a legitimate shot to win a race, I figured this year may be it, if some actual fast kids find out about this little race.  So I wanted to get while the getting was good.

This winter and spring my training has gone very well. I have been consistent and haven’t let any setbacks turn from days into weeks of not training as has happened in the past. I had a solid first race at The PolarBear Tri and had excellent splits at the Ragnar relay a couple weeks ago.  Although the Ragnar came with a downside, while basically PR-ing a 10 mile last leg, I tweaked something in my left quad, which had done nothing but get worse even with rest.

With the first part of my race season in full swing and some big training blocks coming in preparation for my A race, I got all panicked and with the help of WebMd I had determined I either had a stress fracture or cancer…  Probably both.

I decided discretion is the better part of valor and went to the doctor. She looked at me quizzically and said, I’m paraphrasing…  Mostly.

“You know your femur is the biggest bone in your body right? If you have a stress fracture you’re coming in for more tests because something else is seriously wrong with you. Also I need to pay off some student loans so I’m going to let you get X-rays to make you feel better even though I already know the outcome.”

So when the results came back negative (#duh) she told me to take a bunch of Advil, ice it a quit whining. (Again, paraphrasing… mostly.) I followed her advice and things go a little better, not good enough that I was confident for the race though, just better enough that I didn’t think my leg would snap in half if I ran hard.

The Actual Race

I was in the last wave with all the fast swimmers and my main competition…  This was my first race where I knew my competition and I would start with and have to finish before them in a straight up race.  Usually I just go hard and have no idea if I’m ahead or behind the people I was passing and the people passing me.

I had one guy marked, I raced him at the PolerBear Tri a few weeks ago and beat him by maybe 1:30, and he had a pretty killer bike split.  So I knew he would probably go by me on the bike and I would have to run him down. Other then that the only competition I knew about was the 13 year old girl (now 14) who had beaten me last year for second place. She frightened me as word on the street she had an actual road bike this year to go along with her crazy swim and fast run.

Swim – 425 yards – 6:56 (5th overall swim)

The swim was a 425 yard pool swim, with this being a little local race everyone got their own lane which was nice but hard to tell where you were as you were swimming.  My swim recently hasn’t been where I want it. It was going really well but I lost it somewhere, so it was not my best swim ever.  But I managed to exit the pool with most of my competition but not ahead like I had hoped.

Bike – 11 miles – 33:46 (2nd overall bike)

The bike is almost an out and back, with some of the out being on the rail trail. It is basically flat, on the way back there are a couple short steep rollers, but nothing to write home about. I out transitioned most people (transition time is included in the bike time I believe), but was caught by a couple guys within the first couple miles, including Chad, my main competition. I tried to hang with him with him for a while but couldn’t without keeping the effort to high. In the PolarBear I had a really strong bike but faded pretty hard on the run, knowing I would need to run him down I didn’t want this to happen so I let him go up the road and tried to keep him in eye sight while hopscotching another rider. This tactic was relatively unsuccessful as he was out of eyesight pretty quick and I just had to hope he didn’t get to far ahead. I also had to deal with this other rider who I just hoped wasn’t a super fast runner because I was definitely not making time on him on the bike.

I finally made a pass stick heading into the last two short steep hills before turning in towards transition. I then impressed the old ladies and kids watching the dismount line by performing the ever so impressive, yet simple flying dismount… and headed into transition ready to run.

Run – 5 km – 20:45

At the start of the run I knew I had some time to make up, I just didn’t know how much.  The start of the run is kind of twisty and there is a downhill on the way to the rail trail, so I just tried to settle into a fast pace until I could see up the road a bit to see where I stood.

I turned onto the rail trail proper and look up to see how far back I was. I saw a black dot pretty far down the trail that I thought was Chad.  Ugh, he was a long way ahead but I put my head down and tried to reel him in. And, ever so slowly, he started to come back. But he was still way up the road.

I was hurting at this point, the run is flat except for 1 short steep hill back up to the Y and a bit of a gradient as we go around capital park, but I was going for all I was worth, and I didn’t think I would have enough track to catch him. My brain was in the midst of trying to convince me to go into cruise mode and settle for 2nd…  Or at worst 3ed…  I finished 3ed last year so this would be fine…  Trust me.

Then the following occurred as I was passing a woman and she heard me coming:

Her:  Fast feet coming…

Me: *breathe hard and trying to smile*

Her: Great job… But you’re never going to catch Chad.

Me:  *now pissed off* Watch me.

There was no going back after that, with my brain now fully on board, I kept pushing. The gap continued to shrink as we reached the turn around, and I could se clearly how far in front of me he was. It was still a long way, now with only maybe 1.5 miles left. I continued to close on him.  He reached the base of the hill up to the Y and as he rounded the corner he looked back to check the gap. I knew I had a shot. I hammered up the hill, legs burning as I went up the last 10 yards of 8% grade and turned right to go around the back of the Y. He was right there now, less then 50 yards ahead, but now we I was really running out of time. My brain descided it was done again and wanted to back off, “Nice job body, we almost caught him…” But then as I round the Y are all my friends cheering for me and they know I want to win, so now I /have/ to give it everything… Stupid friends.

We run across the street to Capital Park, and up the back side, he’s 10 yards ahead now and I’m still gaining…  Now I turn to strategy, do I sit behind him for a second to regroup and try and out kick him? If he goes now, I’m not sure I can go with him… I try my classic disheartening strategy, mostly because it works as everyone is hurting at the end of the race. As I bridge the last new yards to him we are inside 200 yards to go. I throw in a surge as I pass him and accelerate down the path hitting all the apexes and hoping he doesn’t have to much left in the tank. I heard him behind me but don’t bother to look back as I take  hard right towards the finish line and the final 75 yards. I once again heard my friends cheering, and just started chugging for all I was worth and came across the line with 10.8 seconds to spare.  Holy shit I had won! I think…

In my on the fly calculations, that was either for the race win or for 2nd place. I wasn’t sure, as I hadn’t seen the little girl (young woman? But that makes me sound old…), that I know of, the whole race… Either she had smoked us or she had had a problem somewhere. I asked around about her to see if she had finished and she had not. I started to think that, /maybe/ I had actually won. I didn’t really believe it until they had posted the results and there I was on top.

I am #1

I am #1

Wait, what? But I never win anything!?!

I was giddy! (Still am for that matter..) I don’t win races, even little ones, and definitely not exciting down to the wire races! And I even got to be on a podium with my good friend Melissa who finished top Female, and now owes me dinner, because I crushed her, even on the bike…  😉

Podium pic

All I do is win. (For real this time!)

 

 

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Plausible Deniability…

[Ed note: This is looong…  You may want to get some water and maybe a Gu to keep your energy up as you wade through it.  Sorry, as you can see 2 posts below this is my recap of last years race so I guess I have been bottling up my words, I’ll try not to let it happen again.]

The 2014 Mid-Winter Classic 10 miler rolled around once again this weekend, once again signaling the start(-ish) of the race season.  It really serves as a long painful warning to keep up some semblance of run fitness throughout the winter so you can survive its notorious hills.   It didn’t quite do its job this year, as you can tell from my staggering total of 96 miles for December and January combined.  But I was signed up for it and all the cool kids would be there so there was no backing out.

Cool kids.

Cool kids.

The race was filled to capacity 1000 not so bright people planning a long hilly race in the middle of a Maine winter. I had no one to car pool with this year as Danielle was running the race as a training run so would actually be running /to/ the race, so I decided to get there stupid early to get a good parking spot and get all set up.  I was all prepared for a nice arctic race but as I exited the car I noticed that it wasn’t all that cold, and as people started to filter in I saw a number of t-shirts and shorts in the mix.  Unfortunately I had no warm(-ish) weather clothes with me I did luck out that I had a running hat in my bag so I could ditch my super warm winter hat, and I don’t mind being warm so it turned out OK.

As race time approached the usual suspects filtered in, Eric, his angry little soon to be wife Sara, the newly stupid fast Danielle, The Gardiner Girls soon followed with their crazy fast husbands in tow.

The usual suspects

The usual suspects

The plan was my tried and true long distance race plan, relax for the first 5-6 miles then ratchet up the speed as towards the end.  This plan has given me several PRs and is my go to race plan for anything of distance.  This year wasn’t going to be a PR year, last year was to quick and I was in much better running shape, so I estimated I should be cruising at around 8:15 miles and hopefully approaching the 8 min barrier as we got towards the end.  I had heard rumors of Eric’s training and that his run was doing quite well, so I had resigned myself to yet another defeat added to the disturbing number of them that have come on recently, especially when he showed up in shorts declaring that he was going to “go hard”.  I’d get him come tri season when it really counted.  I informed him this would be pretty much a training run for me and I just hoped that I could hold off Jen for at least most of the race.  Jen was gunning for me after last year when I motored by hear near the end of the race humiliating her and causing shame to her family.  I had heard her training was going well too…  This had the makings for an ego pounding race.

Once again I lined up with Jen and Carrie, hoping to get them to drag me up the hills again if I could hang on. Again the downhill first mile passed to quickly, deciding discretion is the better part of valor, I let Jen and Carrie slowly slip ahead.  Mile 2 is where things start going uphill, then crazily enough I slowly reeled in Jen and Carrie up the hills, I paused to stick with them for a moment before deciding that I felt OK going this pace and passed them…  Carrie, having done this dance last year, swore at me as I went by and left them behind.

Jen and Carrie far, far behind.

Jen and Carrie far, far behind.

I continued to roll going at a too fast barely sub 8 pace, when I glanced up and there was Eric 20 feet in front of me.  Just then Sara comes motoring by greets us both stays with Eric for a second and then is gone on her speedy way. I rolled up beside Eric and it was on.

Not that either of us would acknowledge that it was on, but it was in fact, on.

Not racing

Not racing

“What are you doing back here with the slow kids?” I queried, knowing that I was well above my predicted slow pace.

“I’m just not feeling it today…” He stated as he motored on at exactly his goal pace.

And we continued on like this, shoulder to shoulder, as the next few miles ticked by, still to fast, but I was committed now.  I was surprisingly still feeling pretty good and relaxed as we crossed mile 6, which is kind of an ugly mile and also the point in the race where I wanted to ratchet up the speed.  I was having a good race, but there was no way I was going to be able to motor the last 1/2 of the race like last year, but I decided to push the pace a bit and see if Eric was still “not feeling it”. I heard Eric’s loud-ass Newtons slowly fall back a bit.  But they soon returned and he was at my shoulder again, apparently he was “feeling it” enough not to get dropped.  We slowed to an almost sustainable sub 8 pace and continued on as if nothing had happened.  We cruised through mile 7 accelerating up the long slight incline neither of us acknowledging the change of pace.

Still not racing

Still not racing

Miles 9 and 10 are tough, with long steep climbs and some pretty steep downhills that don’t let you relax much.  The road opened up and we were in a gap in traffic so we had to deal with a nice headwind as we approached the last big climb.  We started to push the pace and my wheels began to come off as we began the climb.  Eric got his shoulder in front, then a step, then two, then 10 and soon he was 200 feet up the road. My brain started to rationalize, “Meh, you knew he was going to beat you and you were only expecting 8:15s so you’re fine…”  My pace slowed even more.

Then two women went by me on either side. My brain woke up, “This is not gonna be a race where people storm by me at the very end as I limp in!  And there’s no way you are going to start this year like you finished last year with Eric disappearing into the distance!” it decided.  I pulled a Jens, told my legs to shut up, and picked up the pace re-passing the women, and drawing a bead on Eric’s back. I slowly, agonizingly slowly started to reel him in as we climbed that last hill, which according to my calculations is 9.8 miles long.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough time to catch him, the turn into the parking lot was coming and then it was a deceptively long downhill to the finish, and if he hammered I wasn’t going to catch him.  We turned into the parking lot, I was still 10 steps behind and closing.  Now I knew I could catch him but had to be careful as I was just about fresh out of kick and if I went to early or if he turned around and saw me I didn’t think I could make it stick.

We approached the final two real corners, a 90 degree right followed by a 90 degree left, after that is was a gently sweeping left all the way to the finish.  I was only 2 steps behind now, he swept wide at the entrance to the right, taking it like he was driving a race car, I wanted to do the same but was kamikaze-ing into the corner to fast to change my line at this point.  This ended up being fortunate, as we weren’t going at race car speeds so I made the corner still holding my speed and had the inside line for the final left.

I’m not sure if Eric just went wide or if he heard someone coming up the inside and made room, but he left a gap and I made the pass up the inside and just let it all hang out.  Chugging with everything I had left, I heard his Newtons close behind me.  The finish refused to come, I guessed that I had gaped him, but I couldn’t be sure that I just couldn’t hear his shoes over heart exploding or if he had actually fallen back, and I didn’t dare look back or ease up.  I also didn’t know if I could keep going to the nonexistent finish line. Finally the finish line showed itself and I stormed across, doubling over and sucking wind victorious! Err, I mean, I finished my training run satisfied with my current run fitness going into this year.

Obligatory photo bomb

Obligatory photo bomb, somehow this became a thing…

Then it was time to greet all my friends as they came in and those that had already finished, because they are now or already were super speedy jerk faces (Danielle, Sara, I’m looking at you…).  I also met a new internet friend, or I met a friend who I now know on the internet, I’m not sure which way it went, Michelle who I believe had her self a nice PR! w00t! We moseyed on over to where we had stashed our stuff, drinking Gatoraid and eating some food before going our separate ways and heading home.

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Every Great Champion…

Every Great Champion must deal with setbacks and defeat. Yesterday was my turn. Playing Clubber Lang to my Rocky (Matt Serra to my GSP for you young kids) was my “little” brother who bested me at a race for the first time in our endurance career. He was nervous and pulled out all the stops, rented race wheels, a borrowed aero helmet and, you know, lots of actual training. While I was resting on my laurels, sure that I had done it before so I would do it again.

I was dominated in every facet of the game once we left the water, a place where I remain supreme. He had quick transitions, a ferocious bike, and a strong run. While I made rookie mistake after rookie mistake, an adequate bike that wasn’t up to the task, and a sub par run that let Ben catch me inside the last mile. I was beaten up one side and down the other. He put in the work and he deserved the dominant victory.

But what makes a great champion is what you do with your defeat. Do you give up and cash in your chips. Or do you become more determined, get back to basics and back to work. My coach and I have have already booked a flight to Nepal where we will be spending a month folding origami cranes and meditating on what has gone wrong. We will come back renewed, rejuvenated and ready to kick-ass next year.

Enjoy your hard fought victory while you can, because there is a storm brewing the likes of which you can not even comprehend. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Game On.

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