Breath of Life Ventura Triathlon

Sunday I raced at the Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura. I raced my first Olympic here last year and placed 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I was thrilled. This time I did one better: taking the overall victory!

Before I get to the race report, I want to mention how much fun it is to win (see my last post, “It Makes It Really Fun,” on David McNeill’s winning ways). While I have been a fairly successful runner throughout my 17 years of competition, winning has been tough to come by since I entered high school. I have run on state championship high school teams and top-10 collegiate squads. I have been surrounded by very talented, hard working teammates and have chosen to compete against the best around. Because of this, I haven’t found myself in a position to “go for the win” very often. Sunday I had that opportunity and I was able to seize it. Even if it was a relatively small race, it is always fun to win.

Pre Race

Alarm went off at 5am. Didn’t sleep too well… my mind was going too fast thinking about the race (“Sometimes an on/off switch would sure come in handy.”). No worries, eat-well-sleep-well night was Friday. I looked to my window and was surprised how dark it still was, just 6 days into summer (I am always very aware of the Summer and Winter Solstices). Yep, it is early. I followed the same morning meal as last year: a bowl of oatmeal with 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and a tablespoon of brown sugar, a bagel and a banana. My mom and I left the house around 5:30 and I made it to the transition zone by 6:30.

Me and Chris dealing with pre-race nerves

The first wave was scheduled to start at 7:15, so the transition area was actually already getting a bit crowded. Racks were zoned off by which wave you started in, and to my luck, my wave was right near the bike in/out.

Chris Baird and I jogged about a mile after getting everything set up. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to start we got our wetsuits on and made our way to the Pacific.

The Swim

13th in 20:35, 1:43 behind the fastest

Note the puffy red eye. That's where I was kicked!

My story of the year continues to be my improvement in the swim. Last year I was only the 56th fastest swimmer in a similar size field. Of course there is still plenty to improve upon — notably my start. I got punched and kicked a couple times in the goggles (luckily they didn’t fill up with too much water) and was nearly “swam over” by some bigger fellows. I think I need to be more aggressive getting into the water and then just sprint pretty hard for a minute or so.


2:25 (according to Garmin)

The transition was a bit of a run from the beach. Once I got into transition, I wasted no time getting on the bike. Since my last triathlon, I purchased new tri-specific cycling shoes with only one strap to allow for quicker transitions. I mounted the bike barefoot and had no problem getting strapped in quickly. I will definitely not be going back to strapping on cycling shoes in transition.

The Bike

15th in 66:54, 4:39 behind the fastest

The bike felt much better than my last race. About a mile into the race, Jordan Bethke, who recorded the fastest bike split at the Collegiate National Championships in Lubbock Texas a few months ago, passed me. Knowing he was a far superior biker, I didn’t let it get to me and I was able to get up to about 24 mph and hold that for much of the race. My Garmin recorded a 1:04:25 bike split of 25.48 miles at 168bpm (23.7 mph). The course consists of three loops which can get pretty crowded once the slower waves mix in there. I kept looking for people that started in my wave, but never found anyone. In the end, I didn’t pass anyone on the bike and Jordan was the only one to pass me.

I’m happy with where my biking is at considering the amount of volume I have been putting in. In the future I will probably have to get in more time on the saddle, but I am not willing to sacrifice my running volume until I am done with my eligibility next year.


1:01 (according to Garmin)

Like my last race, T2 went well and there were no issues. I rode the last quarter of a mile or so with my feet on top of my shoes and had a quick dismount. Race belt and racing flats on.

The Run

1st in 34:00, 6 seconds ahead of 2nd and 3:42 ahead of 3rd

Heading out for the run I was a few minutes back from the leader.

As I left for the run my parents told me I was about 3 minutes back from the leader. I figured Jordan must be leading, and knowing that he is the brother of NCAA track and cross country standout Brandon Bethke, I had no idea if I could pull that in. What the heck… I’ll bite. I felt good the first few miles hitting 5:10, 5:14 and 5:18. I had passed a few other guys, but knew I still wasn’t in first. I pressed on with a couple 5:12s and then about 5.5 miles into the race I found Jordan. Maybe he has some speed? I surged passed him. Just as I went by, my left hamstring started pulsing. Oh shit, I’m going to cramp up half a mile out. I then eased up a bit in hopes of making to the end in one piece.

As I came near the finish line, my parents seemed pretty excited, so I thought I must be in the lead. But then as I crossed the finish line, no one seemed to take notice. Shit, someone kicked my ass. As it turned out, they had some computer problems at that moment and I had indeed won!

The Garmin had 34:02 for 6.5 miles at 170bpm (5:14s).


1st of 414 in 2:01:25

Chris Baird, Jordan Bethke and I went 3-2-1 overall.

After the race I had a great time mingling with some of the other competitors, talking racing and training. Shout out to my buddy Spencer Marcus. He’s been telling me I gotta go for the win for the last couple of weeks. His motto: “Someone’s gotta win.” Truer words have never been spoken, Spence.

Next up on the race schedule is the Strawberry Fields Triathlon on July 18th. Last year the field was more competitive than Breath of Life’s, so it will be interesting to see where I stack up. Can’t wait!

My mom shot some video with my little HD camera, so I’m going to put together a movie with those videos and some pictures. I should have that up within a week.

Results | Pictures

Admirals Cup

Yesterday was my first race of any kind since the Lasse Viren 20k on December 13th, and three months post knee surgery to remove Plica. I finished 2nd out of 91 athletes at the Admirals Cup sprint triathlon at Pt. Mugu behind UPENN runner and former high school competitor from Agoura, Chris Baird. Needless to say I am very happy with the performance and had a great time competing again.

The Swim

5th in 5:20, :14 behind the fastest (4th male)

The swim was advertised as 400m, but was likely a little bit short. I got into the water near the front of the pack and made my way to the first buoy. I thought that most of the swim I was in a pack, but as I emerged from the water I was surprised to see just a few athletes ahead, and no one near me. As I entered T1, the announcer said I was in 4th place. Awesome! I have been working really hard on my swim and I am very happy that I am going in the right direction. I have always thought that my only limitation in triathlon will be my swim.


13th in 1:25, :38 behind the fastest

Unfortunately all the work I put into the swim was negated by my first transition. I had no trouble finding my bike or removing my wetsuit. As I bent over and put one foot in my shoe I seemed to get kind of dizzy and couldn’t balance very well. I guess if there is a spot to be weak in it is the transitions. With some practice and more race experience I am sure I can improve a lot.

The Bike

5th in 28:33, 1:20 behind the fastest

The swim was supposedly 12 miles, but my GPS said 11.3 miles at 23.7 mph. Before the race I thought 23 mph average would be pretty good, so I am happy with my performance. I felt like I had a bit of power missing and my lack of time in the saddle showed. I do take some comfort in the fact that I was the only guy in probably the top 10 that wasn’t on a carbon fiber bike with carbon fiber wheels. All the guys ahead of me also had aerodynamic helmets. With some more time on the bike and some equipment upgrades (which probably won’t happen until next year), I think I could be up near the top cyclists.


19th in :53, :23 behind the fastest

The second transition was less notable than the first. Clearly it wasn’t spectacular, but I didn’t fumble around or anything.

The Run

2nd in 14:56, :3 behind the fastest

I had originally planned to just tempo the run if I didn’t think I could win the race. After seeing how far ahead Chris was, I decided to go hard anyway and just see how I feel. Like the bike course it was flat and fast. My first mile was 5:05 and I passed two of the 5 guys ahead of me. I passed two more over mile 2 in 5:03. Chris was clearly just too far ahead and as I found out at the end of the race, he was moving at a pretty quick clip anyway. I averaged 5:04 for 2.95 miles which was much faster than I thought I was capable of doing right now. The best part is my knee didn’t hurt at all!


Next up is the Breath of Life Olympic distance triathlon in Ventura on June 27th. Until then, it is back to training!

Breath of Life Ventura Triathlon

Yesterday was the Dina La Vigna Breath of Life Triathlon in Ventura, Ca. It was my first Olympic distance triathlon and first race in the ocean. The last month and a half I have been training pretty hard in hopes that I could break 2 hours and 10 minutes.

When it was all said and done, I smashed my goal by over 10 minutes. I was shocked to see that my time was well under 2 hours, 1:58:22. I placed 8th overall out of 422 competitors and 2nd in my age group behind Agoura High School cross country and track alum and current UPenn runner Chris Baird. You can read more about my race report on the Slowtwitch forums.

I will now be taking a few days off before ramping the running volume back up for cross country. Our team is looking really good for this Fall which is awesome, but that means I will likely be fighting for my position as one of the top-7 again. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As triathlons go, I will definitely be doing more. Yesterday’s results have me really excited for my future in triathlons. The plan is still to put all my focus into running until I have exhausted my eligibility. After that, who knows…

Dina La Vigna Breath of Life Triathlon Results | Pictures (via brightroom event photography or Facebook)