Wildflower 2008 was definitely a very interesting event. A golden gem of triathlons, as some put it, draws competitors from all over the world. All the big names were there, including Chris McCormack, who by the way, ended up winning the event, and coincidentally, was racked only a few bikes away from me. Here I am, a beginner Ironman athlete, transitioning by a distance of only a few feet from a world champ. You don't get to see this in any other sport. The Wildflower Long Course featured a distance of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13 mile run.
The swim portion was fairly straight forward. No waves, no "sharks", and a semi-clean water. Swimming, being my weakest sport, went well. While there were a lot of people for my wave start, I didn't feel cluttered, maybe because I became aggressive at first and claimed my territory right away. It wasn't that bad.
Onto the bike... This was a different story. Obviously, Wildflower has one of the toughest bike courses in any half-ironman distance triathlon, but this just wasn't my day. The bike leg was horrible. No matter how hard I pedaled, I wasn't going and people who were not supposed to pass me, were zooming by me like it was nothing. Very disappointed, nevertheless, a learning experience.
Onto the run.... Tough run course, no doubt... but I felt very strong during the run. As soon as getting off that disappointing bike ride, I started jogging out of the transition area. Upon passing the sensors, my legs didn't feel like they just came from a 56 mile bike ride. As a matter of fact, they felt fresh... I absolutely enjoyed the run. With putting out only about 60-70% effort, I was able to run the hilly 13 miles in about 1:53. I could've kicked it up a notch or two, but realizing that I wasn't going to meet my initial goal of finishing the event in 5:30, I decided to enjoy and savor the moment.
It seems like all the training up to this point had paid off. I felt very strong during the event (even though I bombed the bike portion). I was only mildly tired afterwards and felt like I could've probably stretched the event an extra few hours.
Wildflower 2008 Long Course had many military members participating, in which many of the athletes were veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was very touching to see them right before the swim and throughout the event with missing limbs, blind, and with many other disabilities. But again, I realized that these people are the reason that I am able to stand in front of Lake San Antonio, with my wetsuit on, alongside thousands of other athletes, living in peace and not being in an imminent danger of being shot at. To take this one step further, these brave Heros are about to embark on the most difficult half-ironman distance triathlon and not let their handicap stand in the way. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people, "Stop Whining" Arnold Schwarzenegger, is as prominent as ever.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me and continue to do so in all my athletic endeavors. A special thanks goes out to my wonderful coaches (Paul, Rad, & Brad), my special lady Cynthia, mom, dad, brother, grandparents, teammates, mentors, everyone who donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and of course Tom Venuto and Fitness Renaissance, LLC.