Life is full of ironies. I started my 2013 race season just over a month ago, and already I’ve traveled over 10,000 miles to and from competitions. If that sounds like a lot to you, let me take this moment to remind you the moon is 238,900 miles from Earth–and you can see that on most clear nights. Even though you can’t see Miami from San Diego, it’s still much closer! Anyway, before I get too off-subject, here’s the ironic part…the biggest race of my season (so far!) was only 24.8 miles from my condo in Poway, CA.
A couple of my friends asked before the race, “Joe, are you nervous?” I responded, “Of course not! Would you be nervous racing 60 of the world’s fastest triathletes on live tv?”
My coach, Paulo Sousa, was incredibly supportive leading up to the race. He was available whenever I needed him, but he didn’t smother me. This approach seemed to suggest, “Look–I’m here for anything you need, but out on the race course you’re on your own. That’s when it’s time to execute your training.”
I approached the race in a step-by-step manner, focusing only on the task immediately before me. Like one of those old school “connect-the-dots” pictures, I was confident that stringing together enough of the dots would produce a good result. This metaphor, too, is from Paulo. Come on, you don’t think I came up with something like that on my own, do you?
The race didn’t start until 4:00pm, so I had a day where I could either worry about the challenge awaiting or enjoy a bit of down time. I chose the latter option. As time so often does, my day actually went by pretty quickly.
Before I knew it, I was standing in a long line nervously waiting to select a starting position for the swim. Positions are assigned based on an athlete’s current world ranking, and I was #49 in the field.
No matter one’s ranking or nationality, once the race began everyone was equal. This is one of the things I love about racing. There is no prejudice, and the clock ticks the same for everyone. I’m not sure the same can be said for other professions.
Anyway, the race became a game of executing the tasks I’ve learned and practiced over the past few years. I focused on staying within myself and racing my best possible race.
Good results do not just “happen.” I’ve had a solid month with a 3rd in the Nautica South Beach Triathlon backed-up with a 20th here in the Omegawave San Diego World Triathlon. Since the race was also designated as the USA Triathlon Elite National Championships, I was also racing the other Americans in the field. For this “race within the race,” I finished second, just 13 seconds behind 2013 National Champion Matt Charbot. Four-time US Olympian Hunter Kemper rounded out the US podium.
I’m pleased with result so far as it’s an indicator that I’m moving in the right direction. The feeling is made a bit sweeter knowing I share the credit and joy with so many of you reading this right now.
Below is a photo journey through my race:
Swim start…the next 5 minutes included a kick to the face and a bit of jostling for position