Season Debut

Just a quick update from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. I am on my way to Clermont, Florida for my first race of the season at the USA Elite Sprint Nationals. This race is an ITU Pan American cup, so it will be a draft legal race just like the one I did in October in Myrtle Beach, only this is a sprint distance. (Sprints are half the distance of an Olympic=750m swim/20km bike/5km run)

Training has been going really well, especially considering the busy season of indoor track that just concluded. I’ve been working hard on my swim, and I think that will show on Saturday.

Please follow along my journey this weekend by checking my twitter account: and checking back to this blog next week.

Myrtle Beach ITU Part 1

The Myrtle Beach ITU Pan American Cup weekend festivities began on Thursday night. Mo and I drove down the mountain to Carefree where we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Carefree Station. I have a general rule that when duck is on the menu, I order it, and Thursday was no exception. It did not disappoint.

Duck at Carefree Station

We spent the night at Mo’s aunt and uncle’s home in Scottsdale which made our early morning travel on Friday a little more bearable. I had a flight at 7:05, so we woke at 4:30 and were out the door before 5. Once I got to the Delta terminal I saw a huge line to check my baggage ($150 bike fee for the loss). I got through that line and I figured the long lines were behind me. I then got in a long security line, only to be told about 10 minutes later that the line I was in was for first class passengers only. Seriously? The TSA officials rallied on my behalf and had a real sense of urgency, only giving me two bag checks, and got me to my gate with several minutes to spare.

The rest of my travels were less notable and I met my mom in the Myrtle Beach airport. My mom conveniently had some business meetings in Charlotte, NC so she decided to make the quick trip over to Myrtle Beach. I am always happy to have her, or any of the rest of my family, there with me for races, and I am very lucky that this is the standard and not the exception.

My mom and I are staying at a beautiful Marriott right on the ocean.

This morning I met up with fellow USAT Collegiate Recruits Dan Feeney and Natalie Kirchoff to check out the bike and swim courses. The roads are very clean and smooth. There are a few inclines and declines on the course, but it is for the most part a very flat course. The swim will be in some very “rusty” water, as Natalie described it. Rusty? Dan and I thought. Once we jumped in we saw what she meant… the water is very brown and visibility is about two or three inches probably. We aren’t 100% sure of what the swim course will be, but should know those details after the elite athlete briefing in a couple of hours.

I have spent the rest of the day laying low, feet up, watching the Ironman World Championship coverage, and drinking lots of fluids. No cramps for me tomorrow! I am now heading out for a quick run, a little stretch and then off to the briefing. Nerves are OK, for now. But with each hour I am getting more and more excited.

USA Triathlon will have some live coverage of the race tomorrow on their live twitter feed @USATLive. The women’s race begins at 7:30 am and the men’s race is at 10:00 am EST. (If you don’t have twitter you can still follow along here:

Officially a pro!

I qualified for my elite license (or “pro card”) in my second triathlon of the year by winning the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island. Since I already had USAT Age Group Nationals on my race schedule, I didn’t want to go pro right away as that would leave me ineligible to race AG Nationals (just like if Prefontaine had raced Viren and Vaatinen in Oulu instead of those less qualified guys in Helsinski). After another strong race in Burlington I decided now was the time to stick my nose in the professional ranks. I sent in all the appropriate paper work and paid the required fee a few weeks ago, and now… I’m officially a pro!

I have signed up for my first pro race, the ITU Pan American Cup in Myrtle Beach, SC on October 9th. This will be a draft legal race, so I have my work cut out for me in the swim. I have put a lot of time and energy into my swim and I am hoping it pays off.

For such a late season race, the field is looking very competitive. At first glance, there are two Olympians in the race and several other World Cup caliber athletes. View the start list here. What better way to learn to race than from the best, right?

There will be a few other Collegiate Recruits competing in that race (Jeff Helmer, Kalen Darling, Brianna Blanchard and Natalie Kirchoff) and it will be nice to catch up with them. While most of them have other ITU racing experience, we are all in very similar situations and it is going to be fun “racing the circuit” with them in the coming months and years.

I am truly living a dream.

Olympic Training Center

The life of a professional athlete: sitting alone in a hotel room, waiting for an early morning flight, watching HBO and blogging.

Okay, oaky. I’m not really a professional athlete just yet, but as the saying goes, “Fake it till you make it!” And that is what I will be doing for the next week. As a USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruit, I have been invited to an eight day training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to eat, breathe and sleep triathlon. The program coordinator is Barb Lindquist, a 2004 Olympian, and she has quite the schedule planned for myself and the twelve other athletes. I am looking forward to learning from some of the most knowledgeable in the sport and meeting other athletes that are also trying to bridge the gap between collegiate and professional sports.

But why am I sitting in a hotel room, alone? You may have been warned of the coming Carmageddon — the shutdown of the 405 freeway. Well this all starts tonight, and I have a 6 am flight out of LAX tomorrow. To avoid the mayhem, my mom got me a hotel and my friends Matt Ritz and Spencer Marcus dropped me off this afternoon. Now I’m a short, 5 minute shuttle ride to the airport.

While I am there I will hopefully be able to blog with some updates. If I can’t find time for blogging, I’m sure I will still be tweeting.

Collegiate Recruit

The eerie feeling of no longer being a collegiate athlete has worn off, and I am in full swing with my next pursuit. Thanks to USA Triathlon’s (USAT) Collegiate Recruit Program, I have hit the ground running.

The Collegiate Recruitment Program was created in 2009 to find the next Olympic athletes for team USA. All but one of the US Olympians from the last three Olympics have come from a Division I swimming or running background, and this is a trend that USAT believes will continue. Barb Lindquist, who swam for Stanford and competed for USA in Athens, is the program’s coordinator. She contacted Coach Eric Heins in the Fall of 2009 asking if any of his athletes would be interested in a career in triathlons after finishing their collegiate eligibility. Heins forwarded me her contact, and we kept in touch as I dabbled in triathlon last summer.

With the end of my running career on the horizon, Barb and I discussed becoming a “full blown” recruit. What this means is that Barb and USAT help me progress from a novice triathlete — getting me a coach, equipment, training camps — to a 2016 Olympic hopeful.


The first step in getting me prepared for a future in triathlon was finding me a coach. I won one race and took second in two races last year without a coach, but those were small fish. There are much better athletes out there, and I need someone with experience to bring me up to their level.

Barb began by contacting some of the best triathletes in the world,?? Jordan Rapp (previous Ironman Canada and Arizona winner) and his wife Jill Savege (2004 Olympian). Eventually she found Ian Murray, a Level 3 Certified coach, and asked if he knew of any coaches in the area that would be willing to work with me. Surprisingly, he was interested.

Triathlon Training Series

I am very lucky to have Ian as a coach and I am confident that he will help me accomplish my goals. He has great experience, serving as a team USA coach at several ITU continental cup races and coaching other ITU professionals. He has a series of triathlon training videos called TTS, and he hooked me up with some swag.



Quintana Roo CD0.1 "TT" Bike

Next up was equipment, i.e. bike. I had been riding on a Trek 1500 from 2007 that has served me well, but was putting me at a pretty big disadvantage at the level of racing I am now at. For non-draft racing, I found a sweet deal over at the Slowtwitch classifieds on a Quintana Roo CD 0.1. The bike has SRAM Red components that work like a dream. For the majority of the races I do this season, I will be on this time trial bike.

But moving forward, I want to do draft legal racing. The point of the Collegiate Recruitment Program is to prepare athletes for the Olympics, which is draft legal. I needed to upgrade my road bike from a Trek 1500 so I am not missing out on “free speed.”

Thanks to USAT and Blue Bicycles, I am now riding a beautiful Blue RC6. Ian helped me build up the bike with a mix of Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra components. We slapped some beefy training wheels on there (for now), and what I am left with is an amazing ride. It is so much more responsive than the Trek, and I am really excited to put in the mileage in the saddle on it.

New Blue RC6 Bike
Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra components

Training Camp

Barb didn’t stop there. I have been invited to come to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for 8 days in July for a triathlon camp with other collegiate recruits, including friend and recent pro Brianna Blanchard. I am so thrilled for this opportunity to learn from the very best in America and to meet some triathletes that share my goals.

I am beginning to train more intensely, focusing on my swim and bike while my Achilles continues to heal. I plan to continue with updates on the road toward living my dream as a professional athlete, so please continue to follow.

Eugene, Oregon

30:01 is a solid debut, but it is currently only 50th in the West region and only 48 qualify (if I were in the East region I would be sitting pretty in 30th??? confirming what everyone already knows), which means it won???t get me into the Regional meet.

It doesn’t happen very often, and it can be difficult to admit, but sometimes I am wrong. This is one of the few times that I am genuinely over-the-moon to be wrong. 30:01 got me in and now I am sitting in a beautiful Days Inn in Eugene, Oregon next door to Track Town Pizza and across the street from the University of Oregon. I wonder if any sub-13 5k guys have ever slept in this bed?

Suze at Track Town Pizza

We arrived in Portland Tuesday and made the trip down to Eugene with a stop at the always-delicious Applebee’s. Mmm mmmm. Wednesday we woke up to some rainy conditions and just took it easy. Tim and I went over to Track Town Pizza, which was delicious. We sat next to Suzy — she wouldn’t stop bitching about Regina Jacobs.

The track was open at 4pm so we headed over to Historic Hayward Field to do a little jog and strides. The Achilles is feeling pretty good, so I am confident that it shouldn’t bother me too much in the race. It was pretty surreal to finally be at the track. So many of the nation’s best athletes have raced there. What an honor for me to share that experience with them.

Today Tim and I have been laying low in the hotel. As each hour passes, we get a little quieter as those old familiar nerves creep in. I suspect I don’t have too many more days of nervously waiting for an evening race ahead. Maybe I should be enjoying this?

Of course I enjoy this. And I am going to miss it. This is likely my last collegiate race and I’m going to live in the moment all 25 laps.

This is it.

One more time

February 3, 2011,

Now I was a little banged up over winter break, but I would be foolish to think my last collegiate season would come without some adversity. Every time I go out on the track PRs aren???t going to happen just because I???m convinced I???m a better runner now than I was a few years ago. The work needs to be put in and I need to be ready for battle every race. If I do that I know I will be competing at Hayward Field at the end of May, satisfied.

Here???s to making the next four months count.

“Adversity” — what an understatement.

In all honesty, I haven’t seen all that much of it in my 24 years. I have lived a fortunate life with little worry, surrounded by the best family and friends. Perhaps this is why my life is so involved in athletics — I have had the opportunity. I never had to work late nights to pay for my college education and could always afford to travel to the very best competitions. But from my sheltered perspective, the last 14 months have been quite trying.

In March of last year I had knee surgery, forcing me to forfeit an indoor and outdoor track season. In May, I split with my girlfriend of 4.5 years, who was my biggest supporter and best friend. Running helped me get through it, focusing on the outstanding cross country season NAU was sure to have. A couple injuries to key members of the team and an unfortunate day for our captain David McNeill at NCAAs turned our national championship dream into just another top-10 team. I, however, had a pretty successful season, improving on my NCAA finish from the year before. But it was no All-American performance.

Shortly after beginning training for my final track campaign, I started battling IT band pain in my knee. While cross-training in December, I crashed on my bike and broke my wrist, limiting my cross-training options. I got through the indoor season and made a — now considered a very successful — debut in the 10k on the track. Then, with less than three weeks until the Big Sky Conference Championships I developed an Achilles injury. Still, I knew I had to give it my all in the 10k and 5k as it could have been my last track meet, my last time wearing a Lumberjack jersey. Then I got that infamous blister

This post is not meant to be me complaining about how unfortunate I am or how “rough of a year I have had.” Weeks, months and years from now I am going to read this post, and I want to capture exactly what I was thinking and feeling the day I found out I had one more, and this was all a part of it. Yes, that painful 5k at Sacramento State last weekend was not my last track race in NAU blue and yellow.

At practice this morning, I nervously checked my iPhone to see if the declarations for the NCAA West Prelim were posted. Once they were, I slowly scrolled through the results. When I got to the men’s 10k, I went one name at a time.

13th. Ahmed Osman.

31st. Tim Freriks. “I moved up 10 spots. PD, you got a shot.”

I paused at number 47. This is my track season. The next name determined whether or not I am a collegiate athlete anymore. This is my 18 year long running career we are talking about!

48th. The final qualifier to race the 10,000m at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field is. . . JASON PEDERSEN.

I lit up. I was sure I had no chance of qualifying. Someone pinch me. Surely I was dreaming. Nope, this is for real. I have one more race. One more time to pull that NAU singlet over my shoulders. One more time to line up against the nation’s best college athletes. One more time to say thanks to all my supporters over the years by simply doing what I love, running hard.

Mt. Sac 10000

Let me bring you up to speed on all PD-related running things (or is it running-related PD things?). About a week after the Stanford Invitational 5000, I went to University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to get a steeplechase in since I hadn???t raced the event in over two years. That race was mediocre at best, 9:27.02 converted, but I knew it was going to be rough: first steeple in a couple years AT altitude??? oh, and I did my first steeple workout the week prior. The steeple is one of those races with a learning curve, so I wanted to get a crash course before I really go for it.

After that meet, it was back to Flag to focus on 10k training. This weekend???s Mt. Sac Invitational was to be my first 10k on the track (speaking of learning curves). During those couple weeks of mental preparation for 25 laps, I was fortunate enough to share several meals with David McNeill & friends. As if sharing a meal of kale and Brussels sprouts with a two-time NCAA 5k champion wasn???t enough, the ???& friends??? made it extra special. On the first occasion ???& friends??? included a few NAU teammates, which was a lot of fun. The second time was with Ryan Fenton of Flotrack and Ben True from the Oregon Track Club, whom we had some great discussion with about the different levels of ???professional??? athletes in the sport.

But then a week ago, Dave asked if I wanted to join him for dinner with ???Kip and Abdi.??? You know, that???s short for double World Champ-3:26 1500-multiple American Record holder Bernard Lagat and three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman. I thought for about half a second of all the exams I still had to grade and the Smart Materials exam I had to study for, and I said, ???YES! I would love to!??? So on Sunday I helped put furniture together for Co Mo???s and Dave???s apartment (Lagat signed the bottom of one of the chairs), ate dinner, and then watched the 2007 Osaka 5000m Final, all with Bernard Lagat. (For the record, he was only worried about Kipchoge in that race.)

Since then I have come off cloud 9 and back to the reality of my own mortal efforts that include cruel truths like lactic acid. As I said, this weekend was my first 10k on the track, which should never be confused with a 10k in cross country. I know now that those are two completely different beasts.

Unfortunately for Coach Heins, NAU had 7 different people competing in the 10k???s on Thursday night, spaced out amongst 6 different heats. The first beginning at 8:10 and the final one concluding at about 11:50. Those of you that pay attention to the details will notice that those 150 laps almost spanned across two days. Coach handled it no problem, and was still spry and full of character by the end of the night ??? no doubt the marathon training for the 2008 Trials paid off that night.

My race was one of the last ones, scheduled for 10:40 pm. I would have liked to be in Tim Freriks heat, for so many reasons, but mostly because 10:40 is usually after my bed time, 8:50 is not. I was able to have a very low-key day and arrive at the starting line without a yawn. There was a little confusion about hip numbers, so the 40 or so of us athletes were held in purgatory a few more minutes while they cleared it up, awaiting our 25 laps of hell.

The gun sounded and off we went. As we rounded the first of fifty turns, I found myself in the lead and thought, ???Tim and Coach Mo are going to kill me for taking the lead, again.??? We came through in about 72 and about half a lap later someone else took over and I rode the train hitting 71???s. At about 3k I had a bit of a smirk because I felt great and I thought I could keep hitting those splits all night. I came through halfway in 14:52, which was exactly where I wanted to be. Then a few laps later, it started to get rough. 71???s turned into 73-74 and I was hurting bad. From 8 laps to go until about 2 was really rough. I had come unhitched and couldn???t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was well on my way to running a 30:15 10k or so, but was able to rally the last couple laps. I came to 200m to go in 29:30 and kicked with all I had: 31 seconds. 30:01.31 was my final time. Hurts just to write it.

30:01 is a solid debut, but it is currently only 50th in the West region and only 48 qualify (if I were in the East region I would be sitting pretty in 30th??? confirming what everyone already knows), which means it won???t get me into the Regional meet. So what now? The only other 10k I might run would be at Conference, and those are usually slow and tactical. So my next chance to qualify is in the steeplechase in a couple more weeks at the Double Duel meet down in Tempe. For at least the next two weeks, I will be a steeplechaser.


Watch more video of 2011 Mt. SAC Relays on