I have been quite delinquent in updating my triathlon plans for 2017, so here it is along with a little background on me.
I will be racing a mixture of events this year: kicking off the season with Collegiate Nationals- my last year doing this race- but something I am passionate and excited about. I will also be racing the Major League Triathlon series again and hopefully some of the Escape series. Along with some local races mixed in and maybe a 70.3, I am excited to get to racing. I have already kicked off the season with two races: the Houston half marathon in January where I hoped to run a big PR in the 67-68 minute range. It ended up being a hot and humid day, which slowed everyone and I finished with a subpar 70 minute run, but still tons of fun. I also raced the Lake Havasu triathlon with the CU triathlon team. It was a really solid race for Nick Noone, Timmy Winslow, and myself where we went 1-2-3 over Ernie Mantell from ASU. It is tons of fun to race with teammates, and an experience that many do not appreciate until it is too late!
Some background: balancing triathlon, graduate school, and a life seeking adventure
The 5 am ring of the alarm clock is something I am accustomed to from growing up as a competitive swimmer. Years of staring at the black line got me into a routine that demanded daily training, setting goals, and getting absolutely stoked on achieving them. I was not a super star swimmer—sure I won a state title in Delaware—but that is a small state and on a relay; my best individual finish in the state was 3rd in the 200 IM, barely breaking 2:00. I worked hard but was burnt out. My junior year in high school, I discovered that running allowed me to train, set goals, and it provided me with an exciting new challenge, and I saw immediate improvements. Fast forward one year and I accepted a scholarship offer to run cross country and track at the University of Delaware. I thought my swimming days were done.
After my sophomore year, I had made some large jumps in running from finishing top 15 in our conference cross country meet and top 50 in the region to being on numerous top 10 lists for steeplechase, 10K, etc. Then one morning, coincidentally following a training run, my teammates and I received an email saying our teams were cut and there was nothing we could do. As a 20 year old who was improving and loving running, this brought my world down. Thankfully, I had a conversation with Barb Lindquist at USAT and she accepted me into the collegiate recruitment program in its second year. Looks like it was back to swimming for me.
CRP crew circa 2012. Jason Pedersen, Eric Lagerstrom, Jeff Helmer, Sean Borne, David Demeres, and Kalen Darling
Triathlon can be a cruel beast of a sport. It demands almost constant attention, and luck can turn on you at the drop of a hat. For instance, the first time I ever made a lead pack in an ITU race, I flatted with 2 laps remaining. On the other hand, when things go well, you feel like you are on top of the world. This led me to being in my mid 20s, racing professionally, but needing to find a way to make ends meet.
I decided to pursue another passion of mine: research and teaching. I enrolled in a masters program at the University of Delaware where I received a stipend for being a TA. I quickly found that graduate school was simultaneously a nice compliment to triathlon and allowed me to grow into a well- rounded individual. Subsequently, I moved to Boulder, Colorado with my long time girlfriend, Melissa, and matriculated into a PhD program in the neurophysiology of movement. While balancing a PhD program and training at a high level can be difficult, it allows me to pursue two passions of mine while living in a pretty awesome place.
When Major League Triathlon came out, I was among the first to get super excited about it. I love short, fast, and technical racing. It suits me and my availability to train. While I absolutely love long rides on the weekends, I cannot commit the necessary time to race ironman at a professional level. MLT, however, is a different story. Where else can you have the pain face (see above) to the best after party (below)? #GetRusseled I love the style of racing, the comradery, and the MLT company goals.
I am looking forward to racing as a Puerto Rico Islander this coming year and can’t wait for the races to begin! #PushItPuerto