Sunday, August 23, 2009

Apple Capital Triathlon

Not too sure of this swim technique...I think Bruce Gennari taught me this. Some say 'feel the water.' I like to 'listen' to the water

Wenatchee Apple Capital triathlon has been a race that I have wanted to do for a few years now, but it has never really lined up with my schedule. On a few occasions it was the same weekend as IM Canada. But this year it did not seem like there would really be any conflicts. I had originally thought about doing a race in Portland this weekend, but that would be another 3 hours of driving, each way, so Jessi and I threw our hats into Apple Capital.

We both registered the week of the race and got our lodging all dialed in on Thursday for the Sunday event. Emma was going to do an overnight with my parents, and Lloyd, our dog, was covered by one of our neighbors. The only thing we needed to do was get packed and in the car.

Saturday came and it was 12:00pm and neither Jessi or I were ready to leave. With school starting in a week, and this being race number 14 for her and 13 for me, our motivation to race was lacking to some degree. I think if there was some reason that we could have come up with not to go, we would have stayed home. My mom came and got Emma and it looked like we needed to get moving. We finally got the car loaded and headed out around 3:00pm. Both of us were fine with racing, but just did not have the bug to do it. I tend to get this way every September as school nears and chaos ensues.

We arrived at the race site to check out the venue the evening before and to shake the legs out a little with a short ride. The wind was blowing at about 25 mph and thought of riding a disc in this was a little scary. We rode the run course which seemed pretty hilly, but entertaining. My legs felt sluggish, but I also know this is very common the day before for me, and the day of the race as well. I went for a short run and Jessi continued to ride the run course again to get it set in her mind as to what it was like. The run felt difficult to me with all the short, and long, hills. But I knew once you were in a race doing it, they would all feel the same as the flats…tough.

We made our way back to Wenatchee where we were staying at the 1970s Econolodge. Not fancy, but we would only be there for about 8 hours. That would equate to about $12 per hour. Hmmm…I think they made out on this one. Jessi got caught up on all her facebooking that had happened while we were in the car for the past 3 hours and then we watched some TV. Lights out at 11:00 (pathetically late, I know) in anticipation of an early alarm.

We got up at 5:00am, had breakfast, and were off to check in and get set up. I was moving rather slowly, typical for me on race day. We drove up to Daroga Park and got there before the sun did. We were the first to rack our bikes and began the whole race morning process. I was able to connect with some people I have not seen for a bit which is always nice. Some people from reading this blog, and some from facebook, and some that I just have known. After getting everything relatively set up, I figured I had better do something, so I hopped on the Trek, threw on my new Rudy Project Wingspan, and went for a spin. I have to tell everyone that the new helmet is amazing. It is so dang light and you cannot even feel it when it’s on! In the race I could not believe how it felt. I did not feel any pressure on it at all, I even looked straight down, up, everything and was amazed. Anyway, I ran through the gears, I felt slow (again) and rolled back to transition.

Removing not only my goggles, but milfoil as well

As the start was approaching it was time to get on the trusty Helix and find my way to the water. I really wanted to get in a little warm up, but knew that I would probably be a little rushed…again. The swim is a 2 loop swim that is in the Columbia River, but in a bay where there was significant milfoil growth. But they cut swaths where the swim would go, so that was cool. I tried to figure out what the course looked like, checked the people around me, and figured I was set. I still was not feeling overly motivated to race this morning, but when you are waist deep in cool water at 8:00am, you figure you better do something. We got the “2 minutes to start” call, so I checked my Timex and made sure it was ready to roll. 5, 4, 3, 2, (I think there was a horn or something, I don’t know, my head was under water on 2). I took off and was watching all of the cut milfoil pass below me. As I was crossing the back side of the triangle, I ran into a giant floating patch of milfoil. It represented what one would find in the drain of the women’s shower at a YMCA (just guessing). I did not freak out, but I was “in it.” I actually rolled out of it and tried pushing it to the side. I was out of it and all I could think about is the rest of the swimmers coming up on it in a pack. That could be a sight. I made the first lap and felt fine. As I was making the second, I could feel pieces of the milfoil get stuck on my goggles, cap, etc. Kind of like when you swim in a pool and you feel a hair…it bugs the crap out of me. I finally made it to the end of the swim and was headed to the bike. I looked at my watch…22:45. Hmmm, must have been a tad long. It kind of evens out since Cda Oly was short, so it’s “even steven.”

One thing that I liked about this race was the relatively short transitions. Then on top of it, the mats were right at the entrance and exit of transition. So your transition time was the time you were actually “in” transition. Kind of cool. I think T1 was about 36 seconds. That’s fast! The only bummer part of this is that your bike time includes the pre “mount” and the post “dismount” running time. Oh well, transitions will look impressive.

Moving on the bike...in my new helmet.

I was off on the bike and ready to roll. I did not know what kind of gap I had on 2nd, but I would imagine it looked like about a minute or so after T1. I headed out the 1k climb leading the riders to the highway and tried to keep it steady. I had a motorcycle escort so that made me feel a tad safer since we were riding on a state highway. This bike course is very rolling. There are not any real steep climbs/descents, but it’s definitely up and down. But the road surface is very smooth, which is nice. I got going and was feeling okay. Not great, but my watts were telling me that I was doing what I needed to. I pushed hard to the turn where I would get an idea as to what kind of gap I had on 2nd. Upon making the turn, I then realized that wind had kicked up a bit and I would be working against a headwind the whole way back…as would everyone else. I kept watching my watch and waiting for 2nd to go by. It took some time before I saw 2nd so that made me feel pretty good. I kept pushing on the way back knowing that the headwind would create some problems for people.

I came cruising down into T2 and was ready to run. I flew trough T2 in 17 seconds…nice, and was off and running. The run was 2 loops as well that took you through the park. The first part looped you back to the transition area so I was able to get an idea as to what kind of gap I had. As I passed transition I was looking to see if I could see any bikes other than mine. Since I have such amazing vision to start with, I knew that would not be a real solid way to accomplish that. So as I headed up the hill (same one as we did on the bike) I asked if there had been any other bikes in. They said 1, but they looked like they really did not know. So was the ‘one’ meaning me? Or ‘one more’ besides me? It really did not matter, I was running my own race and needed to get lap 1 down. I came through the first lap in 18:10. Wow, that’s good. If I keep it steady, I could run a 36 and change. That’d be good. So that was the new motivation, negative split the run and run a low 36. I was getting a little bored out there so I looked way up the road and picked out someone that looked like they were moving okay and said I have to catch them before the finish. I stayed focused on them and I started to close a little bit after a long downhill (note to self, work on downhill running). I started to close fairly quickly along the trails through the park. After I passed him, I started to run a little harder and all of sudden was running into the finish. I crossed the finish, looked at my watch, and saw 36:06. Nice! Not only did I negative split the run, I ran one of my best 10ks in a race. That feels good. Since everyone else was out on the course, that was where most of the attention was.

I am pretty sure the girl behind me thinks I made a wrong turn but does not know how to tell me

So the finish was a little anticlimactic…at least compared to Cda Oly. I grabbed a bottle of water, took a fistful of peanut M&Ms, changed into some running shorts and top, and went out on the trail looking for Jessi. It was a two loop run so I was bound to find her if I ran it backwards.

I found her with about 1 mile to go in her run (thank goodness since I did not really want to run too much further…I did just run a 10k :)) She looked like she was moving well, but was a bit in ‘la, la land,’ because there really was not any girl that close to her in front or behind. She kept pushing and had one of her best 10ks ever…I am pretty sure she pr’d it too. Jessi ended up 1st in her age group and 3rd overall. There were some pretty fast gals there. One was headed to age group world championship in Australia and the other was an Xterra national champion. So some good athletes and I think she enjoyed keeping them honest in the race.

My beautiful wife having fun on the bike...and makin' the boys cry

So for a race that neither one of us really wanted to do less than 12 hours ago, it all worked out. I ended up winning overall with a time of 1:54:50 (not too sure of the seconds). That was pretty fast for me. But since the swim was a tad long, say 2 minutes, I think that this was hands down one of my fastest races ever! I know the bike and run portions of this race are the same year after year, so those can be compared, so the swim is the only variable…as it always is.

I think we both enjoyed the short trip to Wenatchee for this race. I hope to be able to do it again. This is a beautiful area to have an event and they do a great job.

Now it’s time to go and crunch some numbers and see how I can replicate this performance again.

You can see a small article at The Wenatchee World

Monday, August 10, 2009

Results are in...Cda Olympic Race 4, Roger Thompson 1. Finally!

In order to appreciate what this race meant to me, you have to understand its history. When I first started doing triathlons, this was my first Olympic distance race back in August, 1997. I had done a sprint the week prior (Medical Lake Mini) and won that, so I thought an Olympic couldn’t be that much harder. I gave it my all, and looked the part wearing only a black Speedo for the entire race. I suffered on the run, but at that point, I knew I had found a new sport that I loved. I finished 6th in my age group in a time of 2:21:13 (swim 26:01, bike 1:10:38 run 44:34). Other local notable entrants were Sam Picicci (2:48:44), Martin Scates (2:18:37), and Michael Bergquist (2:41:39). In 1997 Matt Seeley won the race (2:01:39), and he would win many more in subsequent years. I had a VHS recording of the race (that I had a few cameos in) that I watched over and over. They showed the results at the end, and I thought that one day I had the potential to be on that list.

Here are a few pics from 1997, my first Oly race.
Photos by Jessi Thompson

Coming out of the swim in 1997 in my Performance wetsuit

On my 1988 Pinarello Montello with downtube shifters. Very retro, but still quite fast.

Struggling on the run sporting nothing but the banana hammock. I wonder what those people in the yard are thinking?

I doubt Chip n' Dales will be calling me anytime soon, and I am sure Oakley discontinued those glasses as well. I am not sure, but that may be Denise Austin behind me.

I raced triathlons into November in 1997 traveling to California for many of them. I got bit by the bug late in the season and wanted to race as much as possible. In 1998 I started in March and raced through June where I completed my season at Nationals in Florida. In 1999 I did not race again and went to grad school and that is where my “job life” got into full swing.

In 2003 a little event called “Ironman Cda” was going to take place in Coeur d’ Alene. What the heck, with less than 50 slots still available, I threw my hat in the ring. That started a whole new triathlon pursuit. But this blog entry is not about Ironman, it’s about this other race in Cda. In 2003 I would race the Oly race as well, but I showed up to the start line after having the stomach flu. I was up all night on the toilet. Enough said, but I was very dehydrated race morning. I stumbled to a 3rd place finish in my age group, and I don’t recall what I was overall. Needless to say, I would not see my best performance that day.

I would return again in 2004 after racing IM Cda again and preparing for IM Wisconsin about 4 week away. That year the bike course was a little longer and I ended up 2nd overall to none other than Matt Seeley. I took that as a win. I was able to hold off a very fast Brian Hadley on the run, which was a huge success for me. He is a far superior runner.

In 2005 I was at the National Championships in Kansas City, MO. I was in amazing shape for Oly distance racing and was bummed to miss the Cda Oly. I was especially pissed when Nationals were cancelled the day of the race because of weather…whole different story. That year Brian Hadley came away with the win.

In 2006 and 2007 my training was not in line with the Cda Oly since I was racing IM and what I was doing just did not seem to fit with the race.

In 2008 I found myself on the start line again with an amazing race base with a lot of success. I felt that this year was going to be good. It was a stacked field and I was ready to race. From the start, the race went to shit. You can read my blog post on that event if you want, but the summary is this: too little calories, too little fluids, and was getting the flu…again. Struggled on the bike, barely made it in from the run, and sat there with my head in my hands wondering what was happening? Why now? It just was not to be. Again, for a detailed report, scroll waaaaay down.

So that brings me to 2009. This year was about putting together a solid race for me. I was not focused on a “place” or an overall win. I was focused on a better bike and a better run than I had last year. If I did that, I would be happy and I knew my “placement” would be fine. Many of my close friends knew I had a bone to pick with this race, and my immediate family knew what this day meant to me. It wasn’t about “who” was there, it was about me being there and overcoming crappy races in the past. I knew my fitness was where it should be and the 2 weeks leading up seemed to go well. You know, you train, feel like mud, second guess what you’re doing, get more rest, still feel bad, and wonder if you should even do another race this season…those feelings. But having done a ‘few’ races before, I knew that these feeling are all connected to races that you put a large importance on. And this race would ultimately be attempt number 2. If I did not put together a good race this time, I would probably start making voodoo dolls or something.

Everything was packed and ready to race 2 days before…2 DAYS BEFORE! That’s how prepared I was. Jessi would not be racing in this race because she wanted to be out there on the course cheering me on and there to support me in any way she could. Jessi’s dad Tim, was out there with the video camera to document this event along with his wife Kris, daughter Anna, and mother in law Phyllis. Tiffany was in the car cheering her ass off as was Quinton. Tons of friends (literally, if you were to have placed them on a scale, I think you would get over 2 tons) were there giving their positive thoughts to not only me, but to many of the other athletes racing. I think they all had more faith in me than I did. But I also knew the history of this race and what it has had in store for me.

My morning started at 3:45am with the alarm welcoming me to the day. 3:45…are you kidding me? That’s earlier than I have ever got up for an IM! I thought I would probably run into ‘bar traffic’ on the way to the race. I picked up Steve and Tim and we were off to Cda…in the dark. We arrived about 4:55am and incidentally were not the first people to get into transition. It was a cool and overcast morning and I quickly got my area set up and just stood there and stared at it. I’m not too sure what I was thinking, or doing, but I wanted to be ready. As people started to filter in, it was good to calm the nerves with friendly chatting with many of the people I knew racing. It’s always nice to connect with people before you race. It creates a sense of comfort knowing that no matter how tough it gets out there, you have friends out there too.

It’s kind of funny that no matter how early I arrive to a race, I am always rushed as the start nears…always. This time I found myself in the bathroom waiting for a stall. I kept watching my watch to see if I had enough time. It would be close, but I thought I’d be okay. I ended up getting to the start in plenty of time. Enough time for a short 100 yard warm up. Don’t think I have ever done that. Steve was standing near, so it kind of felt like a Master’s swim morning, just with a lot more people. Ben Greenfield joined us and it was starting to feel a little more local, or homey. We stared at the somewhat rough water and were welcoming the cooler temps and overcast skies. We got the 30 seconds to go call, and about 2 minutes later, we started…. and heeeere we go. I HATE the start, or actually ‘before’ the start of races. Once we take 5 strokes in the water, I feel comfortable. But the 15 minutes prior, I am anxious. Anyway, I took off and settled in. I felt people all over my legs and feet and that soon disappeared. The waves were bigger than I thought and had to be careful when breathing. I took in a few mouthfuls of water but it was something that you simply adjusted to. I kept a steady controlled pace, and made it to the first turn. I could see someone off the front, so I figured it was a young club swimmer since Kalen Darling (winner last year and phenomenal swimmer, was side lined and cheering today with 2 stress fractures…major bummer). So I kept sighting and moving well. As I crossed the far end of the swim, the waves were not as bad because they were on my left side and I normally breathe on the right. I hit the final turn and was headed for the arch that indicated the swim end. The waves were helping to push me in, but I was still swimming hard. I could see that the person in front of me was still up there and getting a little further ahead. As I approached the exit, I was already excited to be done and hit T1. As I got out of the water, I was greeted by a boom of cheers. It was like I was the first one out of the swim. Pretty cool.

Photo by Rory Buck

Out of the swim into T1
Photo by Rory Buck

As I headed up from the water I heard someone yell 1:17 down on the leader. Way better than being 3 minutes down on Kalen last year. I wasn’t too nervous because I did not think that the person that was first out of the water was an overall contender…I could be wrong though. I had the fastest T1 of the day and was out on the bike. As I exited T1, I heard that I was 24 seconds down. Well, I just closed almost a minute on him in a VERY short amount of time.

Heading out of T1. Feet still not in shoes.
Photo by Jessi Thompson

As I mounted my bike I could see him not too far in the distant. But I also knew I needed to get me feet into my shoes, so that would slow down me closing time on him right away. As I was doing this, I could hear Sam Picicci yelling at me at the top of his lungs, at 7:20 in the morning in downtown Cda, “Thompson, stop fu#$ing with your shoes!” I had to smile, but I also needed to get going too. After about 1.5 miles on the course, I was in the lead. I never passed 1st place because he went straight through a turn and kept going (he eventually turned around). So now I was in first and had open road, and volunteers that “might” not be ready :). After about 4 miles I saw the black excursion go cruising by with screams and yells coming from it. To my surprise, I saw Tiffany yelling out the window. I did not know she came, and it was nice to see, and hear, her since she was there last year when things went to, well, not well. Also in the car was Jessi’s dad Tim, Quinton, Emma (love her voice), and Jessi at the wheel—God help us all. I hit the first of 2 out and backs and was able to take a split on 2nd and 3rd. In second was Ben and it seemed like I had a bit of a gap on him. Charging close behind him was Adam Jensen. Adam is a friggin’ amazing cyclist. He biked faster than IM World Champion Craig Alexander and a couple minutes slower than uber cyclist Chris Lieto at Boise 70.3 early this year. So this guy can ride. He passed me last year at about mile 10 on the bike. In my mind I was thinking it was not “if” I was going to get caught by Adam, it was “when” was I going to get caught. But I wanted to make it harder for him. I was worried about Ben too because he has these ‘breakout’ races and does things that he has not done all season. He raced Troika last week (local ½ IM) and got second, so I was not too sure what he had in his legs for an Oly race this week. There was no doubt that they knew where I was and what kind of gap I had on them. My goal, increase it.

Heading up Bennett Bay hill. The run turnaround hill in IM Cda.
Photo by Jessi Thompson

As I started the series of climbs, I saw my peeps on the hill cheering me along and telling me things I needed to hear. I love to hear Emma’s cheers. Her voice always makes me smile and makes me realize that this is “just a race.” The truly important things in life are right there on the side of the road. It helps me to take a deep breath and gain control, or perspective. Jessi always knows how I am doing just by looking at me. The position on the bike, my eyes, movement, drooling, whatever it is, she always seems to know. If she asks “how are you doing,” I know she already knows the answer. I continued up the climb and really felt like I was in a good rhythm. I was watching my power and keeping it where I needed to.

Climbing the hills
Photo by Jessi Thompson

Adam and Ben at the top of a climb
Photo by Jessi Thompson

I built a cassette for this race because some of the climbs were kind of unique, yet you needed some big gears for the descents. It worked perfectly…actually better than I thought. I was nearing the half way point and getting over what felt like a 15% grade, and was feeling good. I pressed on and knew the second half of this race would be where time would be made, or lost. I hit the second ‘out and back’ and knew that Adam and Ben were not closing fast, if at all. Adam had passed Ben and was now in second. The last 4-5 miles were relatively flat and I knew at this point I would be able to tell if I put too much out on the hills or not. I was able to still move along quite well and was heading into T2…and the run.

Coming down Sherman into T2
Photo by Rory Buck

Dismount and into T2. That is Kris, Anna, and Grandma Phyllis behind me
Photo by Jayne Anderson

I finished the bike with the fastest bike split of the day and rolled through T2 with the fastest T2 of the day as well. I guess I was in a hurry. I headed out on the run to mobs of cheers. It was unbelievable! I did not know what kind of gap I had on Adam at this point so I kept listening to the crowd to see if I could hear when the next person came in. After a minute, I left the park and could not longer hear the announcer. So I knew it was more than a minute. I was feeling pretty good on the run but knew I needed to settle in and not run “from” people, rather run what I can. I would save the running from people until later. I saw Jess, Tiff, Emma, and Quentin at about mile 2 and they were cheering like I was on fire…literally. This was the exact same point last year when I was not doing too well. Actually, totally imploding. So they were pretty excited to see me running well to that point. Curt was also out there stopping from time to time cheering and giving words of encouragement. When you are in the lead, it’s pretty quiet out there. It’s kind of like a training run. Then when you get to the aid stations, it’s kind of like you have to ‘teach’ them how to give you water, or you simply attack them and get it from them. I saw Tim out there too shooting some video and cheering me on as well. When I see that early on in the run, I often think, “I wonder if I will look back on this section of video and say, “Oh, that’s when I was feeling good.”’ As I passed the 3 mile mark, I was feeling pretty good. Time to head home. It’s always easier mentally to feel like you are heading back. Not always physically, but mentally. I eventually saw Adam and he looked like he was flying. Fast turnover, smooth, solid. No matter what kind of gap you have on people that look strong, it always looks like they are going to catch you. Even if you have a mile to go and they have 5, it seems like they will catch you. At about the 3.75-4.25 mile points, I started to feel a little rough. I knew I had a good lead…one that I could give up a minute per mile, but I did not want to do that. I started to reassess and figure out what was going on, got things under control, and was going well again.

About mile 2...where I blew up last year
Photo by Jessi Thompson

Feeling a little rough...and alone
Photo by Jessi Thompson

With about 1.5 miles to go, I saw Curt again and he said, it’s not going to be puke finish. I had told Curt I like to know what kind of gap I have at the end of a race to know if I need to bring it up to puke speed, or photo speed (photo speed is where you look good for the cameras at the end). He said that it would not be a puke finish. But I still needed to make it to the finish. The stream of athletes were on the run now and I was trying to run the shortest line, but the people coming out were obviously occupying that. So I hugged their shoulders. I saw Jessi and she was reassuring me that it all looked good. Run strong to the finish and enjoy this. I got my Timex tri suit zipped up and was a half mile out.

Coming in on the run with about 1/2 mile to go.
Photos by Rory Buck

I was pretty excited about this. All I wanted to do was put together a good race…to have a better bike and run than I did last year. I did not care if I was 5th, 8th, 3rd, …it did not matter. In the past, this race has been a series of disasters for me. Today, it would not be, and I would win it as well. I simply could not believe it. The demon is looking me in the eye, and I am smiling and peeing on its foot. I entered the park and started to get into the crowds. I saw Sam and Rick Phillips sitting on a bench, and Sam was saying, “Oh, wouldn’t ya know it, here comes Thompson…big surprise.” Sam knew that I had something to settle with this race, and he predicted that it would be a good day for me. It was. I rounded the final turn into the finish and I absolutely could not believe it. I had done it. The crowds were packed, the announcer was booming, and the cameras were flashing, I had done it. I raised my hands to the sky and was relieved and damn proud.

This series of photos by Rory Buck says it all

Photo by Rory Buck

I asked Jessi if she could recall a better race experience I have ever had. She and I could not think of one. I have done well at Nationals, Worlds, Ironman, Wildflower, many races that I was excited about. But I have to say, this was the one. I think it was so special because it was more than the race itself, it was the race within me. As I have said before, that’s the race I want to win. The race I am at is simply the venue, I bring the race with me.

Done...time to exhale
Photo by Rory Buck

Adam Jensen and me after the finish
Photo by Rory Buck

Congratulating Haley on her first overall win at Cda
Photo by Jessi Thompson

Cda Press interview
Photo by Rory Buck

I am out there racing, but the reason I am able to do that is because of such amazing support from my family. I cannot even start to explain what a gift Jessi is to me every day. Not only is she so incredibly gorgeous, she is an amazing athlete that pushes herself as hard as I do (I know this because of her powermeter data :)). She has seen all the good times and struggles I have had with racing, the politics involved, and balancing life. We are an amazing team that is blessed with a child that is also involved in all that we do. We are a family that shares this healthy sport called triathlon. But no matter what we pursue, we will all share it together. In the past year we have exploded as a family becoming even more of a unit. We are so fortunate to be able to share this together.

No matter if I win or lose, I still get a kiss. This kiss was just a little better
Photo by Rory Buck

My beautiful (and fast) family
Photo by Alex Endo

Congrats to Haley Cooper as well for winning the women’s title. This was the first time she won here too after a couple attempts. There were so many Tri Fusion members racing out there too that shouted words of encouragement along the way. I never felt like I was alone.

Haley and me at awards.
Photo by Jessi Thompson

There were some great cheerers out there too. One of my great swim coaches, Rory Buck and his girlfriend Carla where there in transition. You can thank Rory for some of the great pics…especially the finish ones. Some of my other WAVES friends, Arianna and Kalen were there to greet me at the finish too. Kalen won this last year with a stellar race.

There are very few races that make me content. I normally finish a race and want more…race harder, better, faster. I have now closed this chapter. Time to start a new one.

Make sure you win the race you set in front of you. The blue ribbon is not always in the hand of the winner.

Front page of the Cda Press. You can read the entire article HERE.

Though he was not there because he lives in another state, I have to say a big thank you to my coach John. John has been my coach since late 2003 and has got me to ITU World Championships, IM World Championships multiple times, podiums at IMs, podiums at Nationals, etc. Every year he sets me up to succeed in races that I deem important. Some loftier goals than others, but every year, when I look back, I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. We placed more emphasis on Cda Oly this year, and it seemed to work. So thank you for all your time, advice, scheduling and foresight.

A huge thank you to all my sponsors that have helped me get to this point. It's more than the products, it's the people:

TIMEX and the staff they provide the team. I cannot say enough thanks to these guys. This has been a great team to be part of and I know I have become a better athlete because of it. They not only help and support me, but provide nice swag for so many events I am a part of.

Trek: I am so happy with my arsenal of bikes that are all Treks. This is by far the best bike company out there. Their R&D is unsurpassed and it shows in their product. Get on and hold on. The small chainring is just an ornament.

Fitness Fanatics: Robin and her staff blow me away every time I am in there. Her honesty and support after the sale is unsurpassed. She takes care of me and my family. Emma is now cruising on her new “skinny wheel” bike…at age 6.

Ben at Kswiss providing me with phenomenal training and racing shoes. They have blasted into the market and are raising the bar.

John and Blueseventy who have been with me for almost 4 years and getting me out of the swim on top.

PowerBar keeping my calories up and well hydrated in racing and training. Also providing product support in races that I help coordinate.

Thanks to ARX (Faster Tomorrow) for their daily supplement that aids in my daily recovery. New for me this year, and making me better too.

Wicked Fast and their pre race/workout supplement Energ Ease and their post workout supplement Recover Ease. I have loved their product since 2005.

Rudy project has been keeping me safe the last 4 years while training and racing with their great products. I am looking forward to the new Wingspan aero helmet soon. Looking great with technically cool eyewear.