Huatulco World Cup

ITU’s Huatulco World Cup is known to be one of the most difficult races on the calendar every year thanks to its hot & humid climate and a very steep hill that reaches grades of 20%. Since my first professional season in 2012, I have wanted to come down to Huatulco, thinking my skillset as a triathlete would be rewarded. 2015 was finally my year and I highlighted this race on my schedule at the beginning of the year.??Thanks to the hip injury I had earlier in the year, my cycling has been better than ever and I am finding some new confidence in my swimming. In the weeks leading up to the race, Paulo had me and the rest of The Triathlon Squad preparing for this event doing specific training sessions to prepare us for the climb. I came into this one feeling ready to go and excited for the possibility of a career best day.

The days leading up to the race were pretty wet. There was a small hurricane warning and we were hit with some pretty heavy thunderstorms. Because of the threat of a wet bike course, there was quite a lot of discussion over what kind of tire pressure to use on race day. For my readers that aren’t savvy cyclists, using a lower tire pressure increases the tire’s traction on the pavement. The downside of this is it can be a little bit slower and, if you are using clinchers, there is always the possibility of a pinch flat. I, however, race on tubular tires, which are??impervious to pinch flats. Or so I thought.

Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

45th in 9:38, :25 behind the fastest

There is a lot of talk about the bike course here, but that’s all a waste if you don’t get it done on the swim. I was prepared to bring the intensity from the horn and the inevitable physical contact around the buoys. The consensus from the other athletes after the race seemed to be that this swim was one of the rougher ones. I’m used to the occasional whack to the head from a hand or a kick to the face, but this time there seemed to be a lot more pulling and grabbing going on. Everyone was so antsy to get to that hill on the bike, I guess.

Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

I tried to keep toward the inside at each turn and was happy to find myself in the middle of the large group the whole way. Looking at the splits, there weren’t any breaks up ahead and a steady stream of guys continued behind me for about 10 seconds. Running into transition I was pretty confident that I had put myself where I needed to be.

55th in 36:05, 3:25 behind the fastest

Onto the bike I fumbled around getting my feet on top of my shoes properly. There were plenty of bodies all around (the benefit of coming out??in the group vs. at the back of it) so I didn’t have a problem getting up to speed once I figured it out. As we made our way towards the climb for the first time, I started to position myself about halfway up the field into a safer spot. My plan was to just ride up at the group’s pace the first time (4 lap bike course) and then consider pressing the pace on the next laps depending on how I was feeling.

As we crested the climb, I pushed up on the right side to better position myself as we quickly approached a roundabout with stone/cobbles. Almost immediately after transitioning from the asphalt to the stones I heard an explosion. I am sure the pack of cyclists collectively thought, “I hope that wasn’t me.” Pretty quickly my hopes were dashed and I realized I was having my first flat-tire racing experience.

IMG_3907What happened? I’m still not entirely sure. As I mentioned earlier, I had my tire pressure a bit lower than normal, but not??that low. I filled the tires up to 90 psi, only about 10-15 psi off of what I would often go with on a completely dry day. When I inspected the tire, I found a whole that had ripped on the sidewall of the tire. I suspect that I hit a sharp corner on one of the stones where there wasn’t quite enough grout between and it more or less slashed the sidewall.

I was able to negotiate the turn on the flat front tire without being run over by the big group. After yelling a quick swear word, I remembered from the race briefing that the neutral wheel stop was “at the top of the hill.” I yelled to an official on a scooter and asked where the wheels were. He pointed ahead and I rode the flat tire 200m or so to make the wheel switch. As I bent over the bike switching the wheels, the rest of the field that had missed the front group whizzed by. I struggled opening and closing the skewers and it all felt like an eternity. Finally, I was ready to go and I took off down the hill.

Pretty quickly I realized this new wheel was a different width than my ENVE race wheels. These new ones were much more narrow. When I grabbed my front brake lever at the next turn, I pulled it all the way back to the handlebar and it barely pulled on the rim. I did my best to tighten the barrel adjuster on the front brake. At best I was now racing with 1 and a 1/2 brakes.

Not the front wheel that I started with. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Not the front wheel that I started with. Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

I never thought about pulling out of the race, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let it affect me at all. At each turnaround, it looked like I wasn’t losing much time to the leaders, and that helped motivate me to continue pressing on such a tough day. In the end I lost almost 3 minutes to the lead bunch and came into T2 towing a couple guys behind me.

Strava (with power)

14th in 16:11, :30 behind the fastest

Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU Media

As we got out to the run course??the heat and humidity had really turned up. Only a couple hundred meters in I could see there was some carnage up ahead. Though I was at the very back of the field, it was nice knowing that I was going to be rolling up guys all the way to the finish line and it helped to keep my head in the game.

In the end I got by about 15 guys, but that still left me with only a 39th place finish and outside the ITU points cutoff.??I’ve been a bit up and down emotionally since the race. I am happy with how I felt and executed prior to the flat, but I’m obviously very frustrated and left thinking “what if?” I felt like this was probably my best opportunity in 2015 to use my strengths and current fitness to make a statement on my ability as a triathlete. I was counting on this race to boost myself in the rankings and help me get into the bigger races ahead. Leaving here empty handed makes the coming months pretty complicated when it comes to picking races and I will have to spend some time considering what’s next.

Still, Huatulco is a hell of a race and coming down to Mexico to race is always a treat. The locals love triathlon and me and some of USA athletes were hounded with photograph requests and autographs. It’s a great professional sports atmosphere and I really hope that I have another World Cup in Huatulco in my future.

Results | Photo album

Mid Season Update: Making up for lost blogs

I began writing this blog over five years ago to share my experiences training, competing and living as a student-athlete at Northern Arizona University. I had always been a deligent recorder of all aspects running in my personal running log, so I thought I might as well put this stuff on a blog to allow friends and family (mostly Mom, Dad and teammates looking for a shoutout, originally) to see what I was up to. After a couple years had passed, I realized that I had created this great resource for??myself??to remember what I had done in the past, mistakes I’d made, decisions that had worked out, and perhaps most importantly, things that had previously motivated me to be my best.

I had great expectations for myself for the 2014 season. With the exception of a couple bright spots (New Plymouth WC and Yokohama WTS),??results have been fairly disappointing this year. This, in addition to the time committed to training, travel, life, etc., has created an excuse for me not to continue documenting my experiences along the way. It’s August now, and looking at my blogging for the year, I see that I have left a few holes, which kinda upsets me.

There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.
There are some great views on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

I am now sitting on a train travelling south along the coast from Simi Valley back down to San Diego. I went on a short trip to Tucson (via plane) to help my girlfriend move out of her place in Tucson and over to Simi Valley (via truck/car). I have learned taking the train is quite relaxing, but can be??very slow — my departure from Simi was delayed over an hour, and then I sat at LA’s Union Station for about an hour and a half until continuing on. Anyway, all that to say that I had some time + Wifi on my hands, and thus: this blog!

My last good race update was from my first three ITU races of the season back in March. Those races were highlighted by my 18th place finish at the New Plymouth World Cup against some very good competition. Shortly after returning from that trip, I had a bit of a cycling accident, crashing into a fairly large commercial truck. I was lucky in that I??came away with just some bruised ribs and my bike only suffered a few scratches. My front wheel took the brunt of the impact and was totalled. Turns out carbon fiber makes for a pretty good one-time-use bumper, though not a very cost effective one. ENVE took care of me and sent me a new SES 3, and I was back ??on my bike in a couple of days. Swimming and running took a bit longer to come along, but after a few weeks, I put all that behind me.

IMG_2161In April I went to Barbados for a Sprint Pan American Cup race. I swam well enough to get into a group of some strong cyclists that were willing to work together, and we caught the lead pack about halfway through the race. I struggled on the run and finished up 8th. Disappointed that I missed a good opportunity to get on the podium, but happy to collect some ITU points. Results

In May I jetted off to China with training partner Joe Maloy for the Chengdu World Cup. This was my first time to China. I was happy to be travelling with Joe; it helps to have a bit of familiarity when in such a new place. I missed a very large pack on the swim and ended up time trialing the whole race on my own. My 57th place finish in Chengdu is probably one of my worst races of my career. Results??Facebook Photo Album (Chengdu & Yokohama)

Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)
Best swim of my life! (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

I had a second chance the next weekend in racing my very first World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama, Japan. This race was wetsuit legal, and I took??complete advantage of that. I swam in the middle of the field the whole way, coming out ahead of some very accomplished athletes. I hopped on the Davison-Murray-Sissons train and we made our way up to the front of the race. This race was without a doubt the most??fun I have ever had racing triathlons! I was riding right next to guys that I’ve been watching on TV since I started the sport — Brownlee, Gomez, Brownlee, etc. It was a small affirmation that my career is moving in the direction. I held on with a decent run off the bike and came in just behind Joe in 20th. A top-20 result in my first WTS race had me??very excited for what was ahead. Results

My next race was the Pan American Championships held in Dallas. I finished 5th in this event last year when it was held in Vila Vehla, Brazil. I ended up in the second chase pack on the bike, and the gaps were just too big for me to mix it up in the front end of the race. I was 33rd. Results

We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.
We made it out to Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona a couple of times each week.

Right after Dallas, The Triathlon Squad packed their bags and headed to one of my favorite places in the World, Flagstaff! We were there for about four weeks getting in an altitude training block. I saw a few friends that I went to school with and put in a lot of training hours.

From Flagstaff I went to Chicago for my second WTS race. We were looking forward to another wetsuit swim, as the water in Lake Michigan had been quite chilly. The weather leading up to the race was pretty warm, raising the lake temperature to just under the wetsuit cutoff. The ITU and medical staff decided to ignore the temperature cutoff, and went with a nonwetsuit swim. I was well off the back on the swim, but fought like Hell on the bike. I bridged up to several guys, rode with them for a couple laps, and then ultimately broke away to see if I could cut the gap a bit more. A lot of friends commended me for my effort on the bike, which was nice to hear, but it didn’t make up for the hole I had dug myself on the swim. I finished up with a 44th place finish. Results


My most recent race was a week ago in Jiayuguan, China. Yep, two trips to China in one year. Like Chengdu this was another World Cup, but this time at about 5,500 feet of elevation. The lake that we swam in can be quite chilly, as it is fed from the local mountains (with some peaks reaching an impressive 18,000 ft!), so my hopes were that we would have a wetsuit swim. Jiayuguan is right on the border of the Gobi desert, and the days before the race were very warm. Temperatures in the lake shot up to 23C by race morning, making it a nonwetsuit swim. I hate that swimming with a wetsuit gives me such an advantage, as I want to be an athlete that can perform in all conditions, but the reality is that, at this point, it makes a difference for me. I ended up with a very similar swim to the one I had in Chicago. Again, I rode well, this time actually pulling back some time to the front pack with a 4th best bike split. I picked off a few guys on the run, but still only finished 45th. Results

(Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)
(Photo by: Darryl Carey / ITU Media)

Up next for me is a Sprint Pan American Cup race in Kelowna. I raced there two years ago, and fell in love with the area. I’m very excited to head back, this time with good friends Heather and Trevor Wurtele (they live there part of the year) and Eric Lagerstrom (also plans on racing).

I will most likely be racing the Super Sprint event in Las Vegas on September 11th. This is not an ITU event, so no points up for grabs, but it is fun, fast racing with good prize money available.

I will finish up my season with a couple World Cups in October, most likely Cozumel, Mexico and Tongyeong, South Korea.

Thanks for everyone’s support and words of encouragement this season. The highs and lows of 2014 have been very polarizing, and the phone calls, emails, and little messages I have received from many of you help me keep a level head and remind me to enjoy the pursuit.

#JiggyWC Tomorrow

My second race of the year in China is tomorrow at the ITU Jiayuguan World Cup. The trip has been surprisingly smooth, and I am ready to go for tomorrow. I just had a sitdown with Coach Paulo (it’s nice having him along the trip this time, along with The Triathlon Squad teammates Joe Maloy, Eric Lagerstrom and Chilean Felipe Van De Wyngard) and we highlighted what it will take for me to be successful tomorrow. More on that after the race!

For now, I’d like to let you know how to follow the race and share a few photos/instagrams/tweets from my adventure so far. There should be live timing tomorrow at My race goes off at 9 am local time on Saturday, which will be 6 pm Pacific on Friday. The start list can be found here (I’m wearing #18 tomorrow) and results will be posted after the race here.

#TheTriathlonSquad singlehandedly created the #JiggyWC hashtag.

@worldtriathlon listened.

First look at the race venue. It’s a two lap swim, eight lap bike, four lap run. Of note: we are over 5,000 feet of elevation here. While this is my first time racing a triathlon at altitude, loyal RunPD followers know that I am no stranger to altitude as I spent six years running and going to school in Flagstaff, AZ at 7,000 feet.

As I’ve said, the trip has been quite smooth, much thanks to the great group we are travelling with from USA Triathlon, including Coach Greg Mueller and athletes Jarrod Shoemaker, Will Huffman and Jessica Broderick in addition to my squadmates/coach.

But that’s not say we’ve encountered some interesting items (or just bad translations) in the buffet and around.

"The dainty cyclone is coming." Right; sounds like no cause for alarm.
“The dainty cyclone is coming.” Right; sounds like no cause for alarm.
Some good words in there. But what does it all mean???
Some good words in there. But what does it all mean???

And finally, I did get to see the Great Wall of China a couple times while out riding. Jiayuguan is the furthest west point (“first pier”) of the Ming Dynasty portion of the Great Wall. I’ve had fun researching the area and the Great Wall in general on Wikipedia and Google Earth (which requires a VPN to get pass the Great “Firewall” of China).

P.S. Check out this article my local paper, The Ventura County Star, wrote on me a few days before I left for China!

One for three

On Monday I returned back to Poway from my first block of racing of the season. To be honest, it was (mostly) a rough start to the year for me. I was very unsatisfied with my first two races in Florida and Australia, but found a little redemption in my final race in New Zealand. Here are some recaps:

1974277_658855540823908_2068188299_oMy first ITU race of the year was at the Clermont Pan American Cup. I went into the race ranked 10th, and came away with 21st. I struggled to find the intensity required in the beginning of the swim and came out of the water near the back of the field. On the run into transition, I dropped my race cap, and earned myself a 10″ penalty, to be served on the run. I was in the second chase pack with about 10 guys. Coming into T2, I completely blew threw the dismount line and earned myself penalty number 2. After a mediocre first lap, I served my 2×10″ penalties, and was back running. I managed to catch a couple guys that past me while I waited in the penalty box, but it wasn’t enough to salvage any ITU points. I left Florida empty handed.??Results

Photo by: ITU Media

After a few days back in Poway, I was off to Australia to race the Mooloolaba World Cup. Mooloolaba is a very popular race and has been running for many years. The start list was pretty stacked, with guys like Mario Mola, Richard Murray, Sven Riederer, ??Laurent Vidal, and many other Olympians. My trip over went great; I adjusted very well to the time and weather. I felt like I was very well prepared for this race, both physically and mentally. So when I came out of the water in last place, with a visible gap to the next guy, I was disappointed. I continued to press on, but upon reflection of the race, I admit that I thought I had already blown my chances at a great result, and that likely had a negative effect on the rest of my race. I ended up with just a 54th place finish. Results. Photo gallery. ITU Race recap video.

Photo by: ITU Media
Photo by: ITU Media

From Australia I jetted off to New Zealand for another World Cup. The start list was perhaps more competitive than the previous week’s, looking more like a WTS race at the top than a World Cup. Coach Paulo and I discussed how to overcome the challenges I had in Mooloolaba and how to take advantage of my opportunity to race here. I had a better swim, and perhaps more significantly, a better transition and first few kilometers on the bike. I was in a good group with strong cyclists willing to work hard to catch the lead bunch. After a couple laps, we caught the lead pack and I rode in the ~ 50-man pack until the finish. There was a pretty dramatic crash towards the end of the final lap, but I was in a safe enough location to avoid it. Out on the run, my legs felt pretty strong and I worked my way into the top-20 guys. At the end I was able to shake a couple guys I had been battling the whole 5k, finishing in 18th place. This is my 2nd best World Cup result in terms of place (I was 15th in Cozumel in October), but my best in relationship to the level of competition on the day. After a couple poor performances to start the season, this is just what I needed. Results. Photo gallery. ITU Race recap video.

I came away with some decent points, moving me up to 120th in the World on the ITU Points List and back up to 8th American. On this trip I have already begun to see just how important these rankings are in terms of getting race starts. It’s important that I take advantage of every opportunity to race so that I can control my own racing destiny in the future.

Post-race. Everything looks neat and tidy = NO PENALTIES! (Those DEEP wheels are ENVE SES 8.9’s, in case you were wondering.)

I posted a few more photos over on Facebook.

ITU Cozumel World Cup

364 days prior to last Sunday, I raced the ITU Cancun World Cup, finishing 44th. It was my first World Cup and I was probably in a little over my head at the time. Fast forward back to this Sunday, and I was just a few miles southeast on the small island of Cozumel, once again racing a world cup. The training I have put in leading up to this weekend’s race was so much better than last year’s, so it would seem that I would surely have a much better race, right? Well a wise man once said…

The field was very strong, with an unusually high number of Europeans racing for a late season world cup in the Caribbean, including 2013 World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist Javier Gomez from Spain.

The man they call "Wild Wolf." (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)
The man they call “Wild Wolf.” (Photo by: Delly Carr/ITU Media)

I was ranked way down at number 40, but knew that if I could make the main pack, than I would have a great opportunity to surprise some people. That’s easier said than done, as I have only caught the leaders once in my entire ITU career and this was probably the deepest field I have competed in yet. I had a few things going in my favor, however, that made me think this was possible, and I promised myself I would try to take advantage of those things.

2012 cozumel wc splits pedersen


The first thing I had going for me here was that the race was a sprint distance. With only a 750 m swim, there just isn’t enough time for the real fast swimmers to get much of a gap (usually). On top of that, the quality of the field meant that there weren’t going to be guys going out way over their heads the first 200 m and then completely blowing up, losing the feet in front of them, and letting a gap open up.

Larry Rosa/ITU Media
(Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

After the swim warm up, I asked Tommy Zaferes if he noticed much of a current. He said there was one going from right-to-left (out to the ocean). Once I finally got called, I found a good spot that was pretty far to the right. The first turn buoy was way out there at 470 m, so I figured if I just concentrated on swimming on feet, the current + the navigation of the guys ahead of me would get me to a reasonably good spot.

Once we dove in, I did a great job of staying in the moment. Looking back at races where I have had poor swims, I realize that I wasn’t focused on the task right in front of me. I sometimes think about how hard the effort feels or how slow I must be swimming. On this day, I was hyper-focused on??feet and didn’t let the physical contact or negative thoughts distract me.

When you free yourself from dwelling on outside pressures or expectations, when you are focused on the step in front of you and know that you will continue to be a valuable human being regardless of numerical outcomes, worry is less likely to intrude on and disrupt your performance or your life.

–??In Pursuit of Excellenceby Terry Orlick

One, big pack. (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)
One, big pack with no gaps. (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

Looking at the splits, you can see I was still pretty far back in the group, in the last 1/6th of the field or so. But like I had hoped, there were no gaps ahead and the overall time behind was manageable. I ran into transition knowing that the race was right in front of me.


In addition to the short swim and quality of field, the third thing in my favor was the heat and humidity. When it is really warm, guys seem to worry more about the run and are not willing to put in the same effort on the bike. The front group will ride at a conservative pace, allowing more motivated packs behind the opportunity to catch up.

Amongst some strong cyclists. (Photo by: USA Triathlon)
Amongst some strong cyclists. (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

After a very tricky bike mount on some very slippery concrete, I found myself in a group of strong cyclists, including Ritchie Nicholls from Great Britain, Gregor Buchholz from Germany and Kaleb Vanort from USA. At the end of one lap we were told the gap was just over 20 seconds to the back of the lead pack. In these situations I rarely drift too far back from the first three or four positions in the group, but on this day I was already feeling the heat and took about half a lap near the back. The guys ahead pressed on, and by the end of the second lap it was clear we were going to catch the lead bunch.

Rolling on the deepest wheels in the field -- ENVE SES 8.9 Tubulars! (Photo by: USA Triathlon)
Rolling on the deepest wheels in the field — ENVE SES 8.9 Tubulars! (Photo by: USA Triathlon)

Once joining the group, I had some moments where I felt like I was just chilling in the peleton. It was nice to put in barely any effort, but even on this non-technical course, it was pretty nerve racking being in the middle of 50 or so guys. I made an effort to get at or near the front going into both of the two 180-degree turns on each lap. There were a number of crashes there, so that was a good tactical move.

Calm before the storm known as "T2." (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)
Calm before the storm known as “T2.” (Photo by: Larry Rosa/ITU Media)

What was not??a good tactical move, however, was drifting from the front to the back of the pack on the stretch from the last 180 to T2. I don’t have much experience coming into T2 in such a large group, and that lack of experience showed. I was nervous taking my feet out of my shoes in the bunch, and lost my position as a result.

Coming into T2 was crazy with people and bikes all over the place. Some guys run past their rack and then had to turnaround and swim upstream like a salmon, adding to the confusion. I have heard of the importance of being at the front coming into T2 before, but now I have been there and will know to do better next time.


(Photo by: USA Triathlon)
(Photo by: USA Triathlon)

I felt decent starting the run and right away I began passing guys up ahead. ITU racing is infamous for guys flying out of T2 and then falling apart later on the run. By the first turnaround, I had moved up to about 30th place. I caught up to Steffen Justus from Germany and tried to sit on his heels. We came around halfway of the run just inside the top-20. I thought back to track sessions and workouts at Lake Miramar where I just try to hang onto Joe Maloy for as long as I can. I stayed right with Justus until about 1 km to go where he seemed to find another gear that I didn’t have. I was still moving through the field, and with 400 m or so to go, I moved passed Ivan Tutukin from Russia and Gabor Faldum from Hungary, putting me into 13th place. The finish line was beyond the turnaround point we used after the first lap, but how much further passed I wasn’t really sure. As we got onto the carpet, Tutukin rallied and came around me with Mark Buckingham from Great Britain (who had apparently been running just behind me the whole way), both nipping me at the line. A few hours after the race I was a little upset that I had lost those two spots right at the end, but then I remembered the way I felt crossing the finish line (and bending over to throw up), and I was satisfied with the fight I put in.

15th in 54:06, 0:40 behind winner (Javier Gomez)

Finishing 15th at a world cup at this point in my career is huge. I jumped up 53 places on the ITU points list and am now ranked 154th in the world (9th American). The race played to my strengths really well, and I’m happy I was there to take advantage of the opportunity.??Like I mentioned in my PATCO race report, this swim doesn’t show I-have-arrived or anything like that. I’m happy that I executed well in the swim, but it’s pretty clear that I simply need to become a faster swimmer to have consistent results. This race showed good progress, but also highlighted some of the things I need to do better. My next opportunity to do that is this next weekend at the ITU San Juan Pan American Cup.

Results | ITU Gallery | USA Triathlon Gallery

Thanks to ENVE,, The Triathlon Squad and Coach Paulo for their support.