As I drove home to Simla, CO, from my training home in Colorado Springs, my nerves began to grow with each mile. Was my bike packed safely? Was the workout on Tuesday too intense for my lack of elevation acclimation? The questions kept growing, as did the black clouds overhead. As I started to look around more, the storm chasers were driving crazy and were all over the place. They made me feel more uneasy about the storm that was brewing. It wasn't long and my parents were ready to drive me to DIA, but as the time came, so did the hail, the wind, and the funnel clouds. My nerves quickly shifted from my race to wondering if my parents' home would be standing when we returned. Luckily, the storm went past with just small hail damage, and we were able to make it to the airport with funnel clouds to the southwest but not on our ranch.
Exiting the plane and having English as the language of choice, I knew I could get a taxi and things were going to be less complicated here than in Mexico. The following day I checked out some of the course on my bike and felt very relaxed and prepared.
On race morning, my wake-up call rang, and the fear of being late rang through my mind, but after hanging up the phone, I saw I was just fine. I'm not sure what it is about hotel phones, but they have the most obnoxious ring. Anyway, as I went to shower, my mind read through the quote I had picked for this race. "What would you attempt today if you knew you could not fail?" I knew that this was not my typical triathlon, but instead the USA Duathlon Championships. I was confident that I could go with the leaders from the beginning, unlike with a swim start in a triathlon. I would not fail regardless of the pace; I would go with them.
The race began with a blistering sub 5 minute pace for the leaders with me coming across at 5 flat. After 2.5 miles, the top 5 settled down, and I cruised into transition at 15:52 for the 5k. With hills, wind, and several 180 degree turns, I felt great. We all quickly grabbed our bikes and were out to attack this 3 loop course that started with a brutal hill at the beginning of each loop. I knew that the Duathlon distances favored the cyclist, and it wouldn't be too long before I would be getting passed. However, after 2 loops there hadn't been but a few pass me. I got to the last lap and decided that no matter what, no one would pass me. I held true to that promise and clocked my best bike split at 57:47. It was now time to run, but sadly I had no one around me and went out too slow, running 6 flat for my first mile. When I saw this, I freaked and took off to run under 5:20 the next two miles and finished feeling very good with a time of 1:32:05.
Looking back, I am very pleased with my 11th place finish, knowing there was only one man in my age group who could beat me at this distance. I had a great mindset coming in and felt confident I had prepared well. There was, however, a question a friend asked me after the race which was how much motivation came from my father and his recent cancer surgery. The mindset one carries into any race can make more of a difference than any amount of training. While I have used happiness, anger, and even fear to drive me in different races, if I could choose I would rather be relaxed and confident than overwhelmed with any emotion. I knew just the word cancer sparks fear into my mind. While my dad has successfully undergone surgery and is doing great, the thought of losing him would be an emotion that I may not be able to control. This I knew, and this is why I did my very best to focus on my training, my faith, and the confidence that comes from being prepared. After the race, I said my prayers, thanking God for His blessings on my race and my father's recent surgery.