|Paulo doing his thing during the on-course warm up|
Marc Lees, the Las Vegas Super Sprint Race Director, first told me about this race back in April. He said, “Hey, this is an opportunity to race on the strip in Las Vegas. We’re building a pool in a parking lot and putting the race on television. You’re not going to want to miss it.” I was sold.
The timing wasn’t perfect having raced the London Grand Final four days beforehand–but hey, how often does timing work out the way you want? There was no keeping me out of this race. I flew into San Diego on Monday night, swam and ran on Tuesday, and I drove to Las Vegas after my Wednesday morning workouts.
While it’s all very exciting, the travel is not without headaches. The ironically named “Nirvana Travel Company” was responsible for transporting me from my London hotel to Heathrow Airport the morning after the race. The coach driver first insisted my bike bag was too large to transport (even though he had a full-sized bus). He and the Nirvana Travel representative on-board promised my bike, along with my teammate Greg Billington’s, would be transported in a van following the bus. There was never a van, and I had to pass through customs with only a promise that my bike would be promptly shipped. Then, after promising to air-mail my bike bag to the USA in time for the Vegas Super Sprint, Nirvana Travel again disappointed. Long story short, I’m writing this post 14 days after leaving London, but my bike bag is still in the United Kingdom. Nirvana (noun)- “a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering nor desire…” Nirvana, indeed. More on this later…let’s get back to the race.
While it seemed circumstances were stacked against me, these are normally the situations where I excel. Back when I was a youth swimmer, I recorded my first-ever “A-Standard” time in my younger brother’s suit and goggles (I had forgotten my swim bag at our home 90 minutes away). On another occasion I had one of my best-ever meets during a snowy winter weekend when I had forgotten to pack any type of footwear. I recorded my first triathlon podium was after wearing a borrowed wetsuit during the swim portion (I didn’t know an Antarctic current runs along the western-coast of South America).
An advantage to being absentminded is you learn to make adjustments when things don’t go to plan. I had preformed well under less-than-ideal circumstances before, and I told myself this was another one of those situations. My coach, Paulo Sousa, lent me his bike (which was actually better than mine), and I wore a pair of cycling shoes that my Triathlon Squad training partners Heather and Trevor Wurtele had sent (with love).
The race had a morning semifinal and an evening final, but I failed to qualify for the final. In hindsight it would be easy to rationalize this poor performance, but that’s not my style. I didn’t show up to work, and I was beaten by better athletes on the day.
The race left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt as though I had just typed a twenty page paper and forgotten to hit save. I had written it–so of course it was awesome–but I had no proof of anything I’d written. It was gone. I had blown an opportunity that would not come back.
All, however, was not lost. I took the rest of the day off and enjoyed watching my Triathlon Squad teammate Eric Lagerstorm crush the final and finish 2nd overall. I see him work his butt off every day in training, and it was fun to watch him put everything together for a good result. His performance even put a smile on Paulo’s face!
Mark Lees and company did a great job putting this race together, and I think I speak for most of the field in saying I can’t wait to participate in more of these races every chance I get.