It’s been a little while since I have posted an update on the life triathlon. Coming off a three month training block in Australia and my first World Cup start I unfortunately had a downturn in my health. As a result I was forced to take several weeks off training in April/May. There is never a “good” time to have health problems or injury in the middle of the season. But if it had to happen there was a small silver lining for me, which was this break coincided with the crescendo of my mother’s Mayoral campaign. I was able to keep myself occupied during this down time by diving into helping my mother and family on the campaign trail in Portland.
After this break to let my health recover, I have been back to full time training for the past 5 weeks. I was worried that I would lose a lot of the fitness and hard work that I put in during the Australia training camp. Only two weeks after returning to training I won a local 5k in Portland. That win, coupled with some solid training sessions have been encouraging me that not all has been lost for the season. It might take me a little while to work my way back into peak form, but once again I am feeling healthy and fit, and the time is now to return to the international race circuit.
This week I set back out on the road. My first stop will be to my sister Caitlin’s wedding on my Dad’s farm on the beautiful island Kauai, Hawaii. Serendipitously there is an ITU Asian Cup race in Osaka, Japan. From Hawaii it will be a relatively easy trip over to Osaka to make my return to racing. Directly from Osaka, I will be headed over to base myself out of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (Capital of the Basque Country).
In Vitoria I will be training with US Olympic team athletes and coaches in their final preparations for the London, Olympics the first week of August. Jono Hall the US high performance director has used Vitoria as a training base for several years. I am certain this will be a world-class training environment, and a perfect place to get my season and fitness back on track. Since I will be in Europe I will have the opportunity to go over to London to watch the Olympics for a week. Spectating the Olympic triathlon race will no doubt be very inspiring and keep the fire burning inside of me to reach my goal of racing at that level in four years time in Rio.
Not only will Spain be a great place to be for training and proximity to the Olympics, but it will also be great for racing. Most of the ITU circuit races this time of year will be in that part of the world. I will take advantage of that by racing in either Geneva or Kazakhstan in late July, then Russia or Czech Republic in August, before returning to the US at the end of August to get ready for the US National Championships in Buffalo, NY in mid-September.
Thanks for following along. I will be sure to update more frequently during this exciting time in the run up to the Olympics as I get my season back on track.
A month ago I returned from an intense 3 month training block in Australia. My return coincided with the crescendo of my mother’s yearlong campaign to become Portland, Oregon’s next Mayor. I thought the world of elite sport was tough; let me tell you, the world of politics is even more brutal.
My mother entered this race as a political unknown. Although she helped to build several landmark businesses in Portland, was a leader in the nonprofit sector and was appointed by the Governor to help fix the healthcare crisis in Oregon, she has never held elected office. Despite being a political outsider, she shot out of the gate and quickly became the front-runner in a race that had 22 other candidates, including her two main rivals (white male career politicians).
She successfully out fundraised all of the other candidates by building a tremendously broad based grassroots coalition of support. To my knowledge this level of success is historically unmatched by any political outsider seeking citywide office in Oregon.
The daily schedule on a high profile campaign trail is considerably more grueling than any day as a professional triathlete. My mom worked from 6 am – 10 pm, 7 days a week, for a year without a second of downtime to herself. Throughout any given day she would be researching public policy, speaking in front of thousands of people, meeting with donors, and having constant dialogue with various mainstream media sources.
There was never a moment where she could let her guard down. Few people I know could have handled this workload or pressure, but my Mother being the amazing individual that she is, remained poised and focused every step of the way. More impressive than anything to me is the fact that she didn’t need to run for Mayor, and open her life to inevitable public scrutiny. She has already has an incredibly successful career by anyone’s standards. However because of her core values and integrity she felt compelled to take on this challenge due to her belief that she could help create a better city and life for the citizens of Portland.
Not only was my mother’s tireless dedication to this cause inspiring, but also equally impressive was the dedication of my family and the volunteers. After hearing about my mother’s early momentum in the race many perfect strangers reached out and dedicated thousands of hours of work to the task of getting her elected. I am blessed to come from a family that consistently supports one another.
Through divorce, marriage, business success and failure, triathlon, heartbreak and love, my family has remained a cohesive unit of uncompromising support and strength. I am so proud that throughout the rigors of this campaign, this powerful family bond remained stronger than ever. Winning this race became more than just my mom’s goal, it became the goal of our entire family. Every one of my siblings, my step dad, significant others, ex-step parents and family friends passionately poured their hearts into the campaign with every spare moment they could find. It was one of my greatest thrills in life being on a team, working toward a common goal, with everyone dearest to me. I only wish I could have been home for more of the year to contribute to the cause.
After leading in the polls for nearly a year, 10 days before the primary election my mom saw the electorate shift away from her. And in a shocking and sudden turn of events, she lost her grip on the race and fell to a disappointing third on election night disqualifying her from a run off in November. Very few people, including her opponents, would have predicted this outcome.
There are many speculations on what went wrong in these last few days, including a strong belief that that print media waged an unfair and editorialized sexist negative campaign against her on the front pages of their newspapers. However in this blog I will resist the urge to be a Monday morning quarterback, and leave the speculation to the professionals. Bottom line, despite all of the hard work and sacrifice, we lost the race.
As with professional athletics or the crazy sport of politics, I think the Dalai Lama said it best:
“When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”
Of course, after such a taxing year in the public eye and sudden defeat, it will take weeks, months or even years for my mom to fully take stock of all of the lessons from this campaign. My hope is that when the dust settles that she will see that although the election returns did not turn out in her favor that her ambition to dream big and take a risk inspired thousands. I’m certain that her ambition will not die with this election. Without a doubt she will leverage the political capital, name recognition and broad based support she has in Portland to influence positive change in the lives of her fellow citizens.
Her lessons will be for her to share, but I will leave you with my own lessons from this chapter:
1) My mother is one of the strongest and most inspiring people I know. I could not ask for a better role model.
2) There is nothing in life more important than the love and support of family and community.
3) Success is measured in love. The top of the Olympic podium (or an election win) can be either the happiest or loneliest place on earth. That outcome depends on what you sacrificed to reach that end. My mom never compromised her family or integrity in the pursuit of greatness.
4) “Remember that great love, and great achievement involve great risk” – Dalai Lama
5) I’ve never been so proud to be a part of my family.
This Saturday I will be competing in the biggest race of my life. After a couple withdrawals from top US men, I was offered the opportunity to represent the USA at the World Cup, in Mooloolaba, Australia on Saturday. Getting a start in a World Cup was my biggest goal for the 2012 season, and I am overjoyed to have achieved that goal of racing at the top level in the first race of the year. For all of you baseball fans out there, my Step Dad Brian aptly quoted Bull Durham when I told him the news saying, “You are going to the Show!”
World Cups are always extremely competitive as they bring together the best in the world for 8 series races throughout the year. But with Olympic selection on the line for many countries this weekend, the timing of this race makes it ever more competitive than normal. Of the 65 guys I will be racing on Saturday, a significant percentage of them will be also racing at the London Olympics in August. This will be a true test for me against the very best in the world.
I am feeling stronger than ever before. I haven’t been blogging much, because my head has been down focused the past two months during this
intense training camp in Noosa, Australia. Not only have I had great training partners in my Team Siruis teammates, but many other top pros have been using Noosa for their winter training base. It has been a great learning experience for me to have the opportunity to train with the likes of Greg and Laura Bennett, Tim O’Donnell, Mirinda Carfrae, Belinda and Justin Granger etc. Now its time to put all of this hard work to practice at the World Cup this weekend!
There is some other great news as well. After the World Cup I have been invited to join the USA National Team Coaches and Athletes in Wollongong, Australia for a three-week training camp. The top US Men and Women will be using this camp as a final training block in preparation for the US Olympic Trials selection event. Although London 2012 is out of reach for me at this point, getting invited to this camp is a great sign that the USA Triathlon Olympic Committee is committed to developing me for the 2016 Olympics. Having the opportunity to train with the top US athletes as they prepare for London will be a great experience for me in my young career. It will give me a first hand look into what it takes, and where I will hopefully be in four years time preparing for Rio.
Coincidentally I raced in Mooloolaba two years ago as an Elite Amateur shortly before turning pro. My parents and Jenna were there to see that race. I vividly remember watching the Elite Mens World Cup, and telling my family that one day I would be racing that race. Fast-forward two years and here I am racing with the best in the world. It feels fantastic to set a goal and achieve it after two years or hard work. The goal however, is not to just be on the start line. Now the bar is raised. I will use every ounce of strength I have to push my body to its limits on Saturday and truly show I can compete with the best.
The event will be televised online. I am not sure if the coverage is live for Mooloolaba World Cup in the United States, but it will certainly be uploaded after the race for viewing. Tune in: http://triathlonlive.tv/
Yesterday the triathlon world was abuzz with the news that Lance Armstrong will be returning to triathlon after more than two decades away from the sport he dominated as a teenager. I believe, and it seems to be a general consensus among other professional triathletes that I have spoken with, that this is a great development for the sport. There is no doubt there are many benefits from the raised profile this will bring to triathlon. With his seven consecutive Tour de France victories Lance has clearly proven that he is one of the best endurance athletes of all time. It will be great to see him challenge the best triathetes in the world at the Ironman and Half Ironman distance.
A month ago while I was at home in Portland, Oregon for the Christmas holiday, Lance was at the Nike World Headquarters (based in Portland) celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Livestrong Foundation. I was invited out for a private one-hour swim workout with Lance. It was a blast to train with him as he prepared to launch his 2012 Ironman racing season. The main set we did in the swim session was a set of descending 300’s in the 25 yard pool at Nike, with the last 300 being a max effort. I went 2:59, and Lance went 3:04 from a push to end the workout. For a guy who has been out of the pool for majority of the last twenty years he can still throw down. I was impressed. I have no doubt he’ll be right in the thick of the front swim pack at any 70.3 or Ironman race. Clearly he has the skills on the bike, so it will all come down to the run…
Thank you to Yumi Ozawa, Tim Dodson, and Josh Speer for inviting me out to Nike.
I applaud Lance Armstrong, Livestrong, and the World Triathlon Corporation for announcing a partnership that will raise $1 million this year for people affected by cancer. Its great to see someone take advantage of their celebrity to do so much to give back. Read more about the partnership here, or about how you can race and raise money as a part of Team Livestrong.
Good luck to my three teammates Leanda Cave, Magali Tisseyre, and Kevin Taddonio, who will be toeing the start line with Lance in the pro field this weekend at the Ironman Panama 70.3. Show him how Team Sirius represents!
Watch the video below and hear what Leanda has to say about Lance racing Ironman.
As the final hours wind down on the 2011 year, I want to take a moment to reflect on the year past, and look forward to the year ahead.
2011 was a year of learning and transition. I began the year having never raced professionally in the ITU, and with seemingly strong roots forming with a coach and training environment in Portland, OR. I ended the year having 10 professional ITU
races under my belt, and with a wonderful new team, coach, and home in Santa Monica, CA. At the onset of the year I could never have anticipated all of this change and growth. One thing I have consistently heard from my coaches and veteran pros is the invaluable importance of experience. There is no way to gain that needed experience than repeatedly putting yourself on the start line, pushing your limits, and learning from each race. I feel that I have successfully accomplished all of those things this year, and the experience gained will help me break through to the next level in 2012.
Not all of the experiences have been positive. For example, getting food poisoning in the Philippines the night before the race, and throwing up while standing on the start line, or crashing in Ixtapa and finding myself in a Mexican hospital rather than crossing the finish line. But in my mind all experience is valuable. As the Dalai Lama says, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”
There have certainly been some positive confidence building experiences gained in 2011 as well. A few notable experiences include: Towing the start line beside Olympians, having a breakthrough sub 33 min run split in Valparaiso, learning how to manage long haul international travel and still perform, and experiencing first hand the power of the mind over the body through my meditation retreat.
Reflecting on where I was a year ago, versus where I am now makes me very excited for the 2012 season. Anyone who has truly excelled in triathlon will tell you that consistency is the key to success. As a result of coaching and location changes these past two years I have never had a full year of true consistency. After my trials and tribulations in other settings I am 100% confident that I have found my permanent home with Team Sirius. I am excited to start 2012 knowing that for the first time I will have the same coach and team to support me from the beginning of the year until the end. Siri is such and incredible coach, and I know I will excel under her guidance. Having so many other amazing athletes to train with daily has brought my training intensity and focus to a new level. My biggest success of 2011 has been finding Team Sirius, and with it great teammates and coaching to keep me consistently moving towards the realization of my goals.
Not only will 2012 be a huge year for me professionally, but it is perhaps and even more monumental year for me personally as it relates to my family. We will be officially welcoming two new members to my family this year. My sister Eva is pregnant and due in early February, and my sister Caitlin is getting married in June. Additionally my Mothers campaign for Portland Mayor culminates in the 2012 election. Hopefully this time next year we will be celebrating my Moms inauguration into office. Go Mom!
2012 is an Olympic year. As a result the ITU races in the first half of the year will have an added level of importance as athletes from all over the world try to secure their Olympic selection. My sights remain set on a 2016 Olympic berth, however, racing beside athletes trying to qualify this year will be another important experience gained for when its my turn in four years. I’m hoping I will be able to make it over to London in early August to watch first hand the men’s Olympic triathlon race. I know that being there, will add to the already burning passion I possess to reach my greatest goal of competing in the Olympics in 2016.
Before I get too carried away talking about the summer of 2012, I should get back to the exciting things that will be happening to kick off the year. Team Siruis will be having our winter training camp in Noosa, Australia along the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I will be in Noosa training from the end of January through the end of March. It’s a perfect time to train there as it’s the Southern Hemisphere summer, but also there will be a number of the ITU races held in Australia during this time. I will be kicking off my season at the ITU race in Geelong, Australia in February, will race at least two other ITU races during my time Down Under. After two months in Australia I will be returning to my base in Santa Monica, and will continue to race ITU Continental Cups in North and South America. I have posted my tentative race schedule for the first half of the year (2012 Schedule), look for a more complete schedule in the months to come. My goals is to accumulate enough ITU points in the first half of the year to get my first ITU World Cup start by next fall.
I hope everyone is having a safe and happy New Years Eve! I cant wait for all that is to come in 2012.
“Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon…”
-Auld Lang Syne