Friday, June 28, 2013

Edmonton ITU Paratriathlon: Guiding Aaron

22 Jun-
So last week I posted about this amazing opportunity that came up.  If you missed the post you can read about it here: .  Thursday I boarded a plane and headed to Canada to guide Aaron Scheidies at the Edmonton ITU Paratriathlon.  It would be my first time guiding an athlete and the days leading into the trip I was nervous about the whole situation.
It is one thing to influence the outcome of your own race, but when you can influence someone else’s race that they have trained hard for, that is hard to think about.  Once arriving to Edmonton and meeting up with Aaron the nerves went away.  I had previously met Aaron down at CapTex a few weeks prior but we did not get much time to talk.  He had flown with the tandem in a huge bike box, and amazingly was only charged $50, which is quite amazing for those of us that are familiar with traveling with our bikes.  We took a shuttle to the team hotel in downtown Edmonton and once arriving headed out for a short run.
This was the first time I had ran with Aaron so we were just getting used to verbal cues to alert him of upcoming obstacles.  We ran an out and back section and on the way back I was really impressed with his memory of the route and knowing what was coming up.  He is not completely blind and can see blobs, but is still considered legally blind.  After returning from our run we met up with some of the other US Paratriathletes and headed out for dinner.
Friday morning was going to be the first time we rode together.  We figured the best way to get test out the tandem would be to ride from the hotel through downtown Edmonton to the race site.  Yeah no problem, only: traffic, pot holes, descents, bridges, sidewalks, pedestrians, the perfect route to get use to riding together.  The one thing that helped is I brought my own saddle (ISM Attack) and fit coordinates so felt comfortable on the bike from the beginning.  Aaron mentioned after the first start how stable I was and I thought he just meant in general for being on a tandem together for the first time.  He kept saying it after each time we would go from a start and I finally asked him what he meant and he was saying from a stop to go I was really stable and he was impressed, because most people are really shaky for the first 5-10seconds after starting from a stop.
We made it to the race site with no incidents and swam 2 laps of the course, so 1500m total.  We swim with a “tether” (rope) attached just below the waist line.  It drags in between the both of us and I swim normally and then Aaron will sight off of me when he breathes.  The one area that gets tough is when we approach turn buoys and ensuring that I give him enough room to get around the buoy.  Other than the turn buoys I felt pretty good in the water with him.  We both knew that would be the weak point for me in comparison to him, but we weren’t all that worried about it.
After the swim we headed out for a course preview on the bike with the other athletes.  It was police escorted for one lap and then we headed out on our own for a second lap.  The bike course was a 4 loop, 5.1K course with a 400m hill that averaged 8%.  We tried to find good points to shift leading into the hill and on the hill and for the most part we had that figured out, but definitely not to perfection.  That is the one area that I lacked on the bike was with shifting experience of the tandem and what gears to be in.  Once the bike preview was completed we headed out to run a lap of the 2 lap run course.  Flat and wide open loop that was not technical with no obstacles, which is important for a paratriathlon.
The race briefing was held later on in the day and we attended that and picked up our race packet.  Then all of the US athletes went to dinner again and had some really good Italian food.  The group of athletes that were on this trip were amazing.  I was a little worried that I might be an outcast of the group as I did not know any of them.  They were very accepting and I enjoyed hanging out throughout the weekend with them and sharing stories.  Two of them were prior military which meant for some jabbing back and forth about the AF being better than the Navy and vice versa, all in good fun.
Saturday morning was not the typical race morning since the race was at 5pm.  We got up around 0645 and headed to the local YMCA to get a short swim in.  The USA Elite guys/gals were there as well as they were not racing until Sunday.  I got a quick 1500m swim in with Aaron.  Since he has partial vision and can see blobs he is able to swim on his own in the pool by using the T to know when to turn.  Towards the end of the set we were the only two in the lane so we swam side by side and did some short 25m pickups with 25m easy back.
After the swim we headed to Tim Hortons for some breakfast, but on the way there we experienced some of the “crazies” in Edmonton.  We were walking down the street and some guy started yelling as he was walking by us.  He was yelling about how he had no friends and how he lost all of his friends.  He then went on to yell about how “Gretzky” killed all of his friends.  Aaron then wants to stop and talk to the crazy guy as I am trying to ignore him.  Aaron was laughing after the fact and says with all of the public transit he does in Seattle one of his favorite things about it is hearing all the crazy stories from people on the bus.  I wanted no part of it though as I could tell there was something off with this guy as apparently “Gretzky” killed all of his friends.
Tim Hortons is the Dunkin Doughnuts of Canada.  We ordered some food and sat down, then Joe Maloy and Eric Lagerstrom of The Triathlon Squad ended up joining us and we got to talk with them for a bit.  After breakfast we went back to the hotel and just hung out till it was time to leave for the race.
Ride number two with Aaron would be down to the race start from the hotel, with just our luck it was in the rain.  We made it down to the race with no incidents other than soaked shoes and a dirty bike.  Once arriving we had athlete check in, bike check where they checked the length of the tandem, and then we setup our transition area.  Luckily by this time the rain had stopped and the sun was out. Aaron wears fake tattoos to promote his foundation which supports various foundations including the Cdifferent foundation.  At check in he was told that in the future he is not allowed to wear them due to “Ambush Marketing”.  I was joking that he needs to get a permanent one so next time when he shows up they can try to “remove” it and miserably fail.  The whole set of ITU rules seem to be confusing at times in paratriathlon, even for the officials.  From what I am hearing different rules are enforced at different events, but I guess everyone is still in the learning stages.  I will say that all of the officials were super helpful in looking up the rules and clearing up any confusion prior to the race and after the race.  Now to the race…..

Swim (750m)- 10:09
The one area that I knew I was not as strong as Aaron, so was a little worried about the swim in a race setting.  During the warm up I felt pretty good.  We got on the start line and got a good start.  We were out front with one other athlete to the right of Aaron and I was to his left.  We were with the other athlete till the turn buoys and then he got away from us.  We made it around the turn buoys alright, but not great.  I think as we race more together this will become easier.  By the time we exited the water we were 25 seconds down to the leader, Stefan Daniel of Canada who ended up 2nd Overall and won his category.
Bike (20.4K)- 32:32
Exiting transition onto the bike we were 45 seconds down on Stefan.  My legs felt pretty good from the get go and about ¾ of the way through the first lap we had caught Stefan.  Aaron started feeling better as the bike leg continued and as we started the 2nd lap I could tell he was starting to feel good as he was putting out some power back there.  The third time up the hill was starting to wear on us but we kept grinding up the thing.  The hill was the one point where I struggled as I was screwing up the shifting, but by the 4th lap I had it figured out.  The rest of the course was fairly technical but as the race went on we started to get more comfortable and making our way in and out of the corners well.  We held onto the lead and put some good time into the rest of the field by the time we got off the bike.
Run (4.6K)- 17:27
The legs felt pretty good as we exited transition area and about ¾ mile in Aaron asked me to back off a bit as he thought I was pushing the pace a bit.  That point is where I realized that I needed to just settle in to whatever he wanted to run and if I felt it was too fast to let him know.  Overall I was really happy with how we communicated on the run though.  Although coming around on the first lap the penalty board showed our number on it and we were both confused.  We had the choice to stop on the first lap or the last lap, but decided a breather during the first lap wasn’t a bad idea.  He got a little worked up about why we were getting a penalty as it was the first time he had ever got one.  The week before at the paratriathlon in Alanya, Turkey, the European Champs 5 of the 10 athletes were disqualified in his Category due to failing to stop in the penalty box.
Once stopped in the penalty box we were told it was a 10sec stop and go penalty due to a swim  cap not making it into the transition box.  I was pretty sure it was not mine, but either way Rule #1 to guiding, IT IS ALWAYS THE GUIDES FAULT ;)  That is the running joke, but partially true.  Anyways, I always hold my goggles and swim cap in my hand when taking my wetsuit off and when pulling my hand through always leave the goggles in there.  After the race I checked and my goggles and swim cap were still in the wetsuit and Aarons swim cap was in his transition box.  I asked the officials what happened and they said Aaron had dropped his swim cap on the way to transition area.
We left the penalty box with a little over a lap to go and got back to work.  We kept a pretty consistent pace and ended up crossing the line first.  One of my favorite quotes from Aaron is “Smile through Pain”, and I tell you what I can’t remember a moment when I would look over and Aaron was not smiling.
Swim (750m) – 10:09 (
Bike (20.4K) – 32:32 (
Run (4.6K) – 17:27 (
Total: 1:02:47
After this race Aaron is now ranked #1 in the world in his category:

I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to guide such an amazing athlete and person.  I learned a lot about the whole guiding process and about paratriathlon and couldn’t have asked for someone better to have taught me about it all.  The most important thing that I learned though is you have to accept the fact that the whole time you are with the athlete it is not about you.  Everything has to do with them, you have to make sacrifices in your own training and just go with the flow.  If you can handle that and just go with the flow the experience is a breeze.  Aaron was very patient with me and I think overall we worked really well as a team.  I am not sure exactly when I will be guiding him again as he has some tentative guides selected already for his upcoming races.  But I told him whenever he needs someone I am just a phone call or email away.
I met some amazing athletes and people during this trip and look forward to hanging out with them in the future.  Thanks to everyone for the continued support, this weekend was amazing with the amount of people that reached out asking about the experience.  I hope this answered a lot of the questions and if not feel free to message or email if you want to know more about the process.  I can’t thank Aaron enough for giving me this amazing opportunity and I hope I met you expectations, well other than letting you lose your swim cap ;)

 The most common question I was asked leading into the race from people was "Who rides on the front of the bike? " So to answer that question, I think the grin on my face answers that question ;)
 In transition area before the race
 With some of the other US Athletes at the race: Myself, Matt Perkins, Aaron, and Michael Johnston

 Trying to stay out of Aarons spotlight, but somehow Mr. Guide still ended up in the picture.

And with Aaron being such a stud we had some front page coverage on for a whole 12 hours before the Elites raced on Sunday and took our glory ;)  I have to say it is quite nice having USA on the front page!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Opportunities and a 10K PR

13 June -

A little over 3 weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a message asking if I was interested in guiding a blind athlete.  I had already been interested in the possibilities of this but really wasn't sure if I was ready for such a task.  I thought about how you have someone else's race in your hands and that was quite frightening at the time.  I was thinking of more long course guiding rather than sprint or Olympic distance.  Well the opportunity presented itself and I basically put my name in the mix and was hoping for the best.

The request was for someone that could swim 750m in 10:00, bike 40K in under 1 hour, and run 5K in 16:30.  Well I am not quite that fast in the water and I hadn't ran an open 5K in quite some time so didn't know how close I was getting to that, this past weekend was a good indication that I might be a little closer than I thought.  So I was put in contact with Aaron Scheidies, the guy that was looking for a guide, thanks to Caroline Gaynor of Team Red, White, and Blue.  She has guided many athletes in the past and has put many people in contact to guide others as well.  I looked at this as an amazing opportunity not only to be able to help someone else out, but to be able to give back to a sport I love while still being able to race.

I feel at times that as triathletes most of us are focused on ourselves and don't stop and take a moment to find ways to give back.  We consume ourselves so much with the sport and focus so much on our own training and racing that we forget to help out.  I have been helping out a little bit here at a local middle school with their new triathlon club that our triathlon club is a huge part of.  But I still feel over the past 4 years I have not done enough to give back to a sport I love and that has done so much for me.

So I want to thank Aaron for giving me this opportunity to race side by side with him, well actually he may be dragging me through the water and then dragging me on the run, but on the bike I think we are going to have one heck of a time.  We will be racing in Edmonton, Canada on the 22nd of June for one of the main stops of the Paratriathlon ITU series.  It will be a 750m Swim, 20K Bike, and 5K run.  You can find out more about the race here:

If you would like more information on USAT Paratriathlon check out this link:

You can find out more about Aaron here:
and on FB:

Luckily this past weekend, David Bradfield who lives here in Ft Worth and is part owner in Arundel Bikes let me take his tandem for a spin.  I was a little worried about the bike portion since I had never ridden a tandem, but thanks to David I feel somewhat comfortable now.  Thanks David for helping out with that and for showing me some of the amazing products you guys have!

This past weekend I also ran a small 10K event up in Irving, the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon and 10K.  I don't want to go into too much detail but it was a crazy day.  One hour delay due to a Thunderstorm that rolled in.  Then the course was an out and back with the half marathoners starting about 20 minutes ahead of the 10K.  I got out to a good start and ran with a lead pack till about the turnaround point.  We caught a lot of the slower half marathoners and part of the course was on a small running trail that was only about 4 wide.  By the time we got to that it was covered with half marathoners so we had to run on the grass which was turning into a muddy mess.  At the turn around the 2 guys started to put some time into myself and one other guy.

On the way back we ran right back at the half marathoners and now all of the 10K runners as well.  The course was logistically a nightmare and the rain did not help the situation.  By mile 4 we were back on the road and had a decent size gap had opened between the first 2 guys and myself and a high school kid.  We had a rough idea that the course was going to be short so we talked about racing to the line but still running hard to get an actual 10K time past the line.  From mile 4.5 on it was clear roads and no more people to dodge, avoid running over, and no massive puddles to run through or hurdle over.  With about half mile to go I put in a decent surge and the high school kid didn't come with me and I opened up a small gap.  I ended up 3rd across the line for the 5.9 mile race and then ran the extra distance to get a full 10K and a solid PR.  My Garmin showed a 35:03 for 10K, which was a 1:47 PR from my last Open 10K and a 1:16 PR from my fastest 10K off the bike, yes it had been a while since I ran an open 10K.

3rd out of 1,199- 33:46 Chip Time (35:03 10K Time)
Strava File (

When you #WEARTHEEAGLE you can Fly, literally ;)

Also, over the weekend Team RWB had a great opportunity to go to the JW Hart PBR event up in Decatur.  We had a group of about 50 members and were part of an amazing ceremony.  There was a presentation of 5 houses for military veterans and their families from an Organization called 1000 Miles Till Home.  It was a great Team RWB event and we were all honored to be apart of the event.  After the presentation we stuck around to see some bull riding, have to say it was the first "Texan" thing I have done since living here and it was pretty cool.  Don't think I will be getting on a bull anytime soon though.  So all in all a great weekend, with great people and some amazing things happening.  Thanks to everyone for all of the support and for all of these amazing opportunities.  All of this would not be happening without the amazing people that are in my life, so THANK YOU!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

US Military Tri Champs

1 June-

The one race that I have been looking forward to all the way since last year.  I had the privilege of being selected last year to the Air Force Triathlon Team and had a pretty solid "debut" at the race.  Once again this year I was selected to the team and was really looking forward to the event as a whole.  This race is an amazing experience as the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines all bring teams, consisting of 10 men and 6 women.  Canada also makes the trip down as well.  The days leading up the race are great as we get a fair amount of time to train and hang out with our fellow servicemembers.  The whole experience is amazing and a great way to make new friends and spend time with old friends.  My least favorite part about the whole trip is actually the race ;)

Cam Loos did a great job on writing up a report about the race in general, so if you want to read that it can be found here:

The days leading up to the race I did some easy training.  I can't resist the amazing climbs that are right off the PCH so on Thursday I put on my 11-28 and headed up Yarba Buena and back down Mulholland.  Yarba Buena is a little under and hour climb when taking it nice and easy and if I ride up it at tempo it takes about 45mins.  So Thursday it was easy and such an amazing view.  Then came back to get our team gear issued with a quick team meeting.  Thursday is by far the busiest day, after team gear I got a short swim in followed by bike check.  After bike check was lunch and then the race briefing.  After race brief we headed over for pictures and then came the social and dinner.  Next thing I know Thursday is over, it just seems to be go, go, go.  The good thing about that is that means Friday is a fairly easy day in terms of stuff going on.

Got up early Friday morning and got an easy ride and run in and then headed out to "enjoy" the cold pacific ocean water.  It was in the high 50's, so not quite the normal temps that I am use to.  The rest of the day was spent lounging around and getting the bike ready for race day.  I also managed to get in a nice nap and then it was time to head out for our team dinner and annual James Bales tradition of Dairy Queen Blizzards.

Race morning is always nice because it is a later race start than the usual tri.  This year they actually moved it up since they were not holding the Admirals Cup Sprint race due to sequestration, so we had to start at 0900, instead of the usual 1000.  Had the usual breakfast of oatmeal and a banana.  Got a nice little pre-race run in and then headed down to get a pre swim in with the water being so cold.


The swim course was a 2 loop course and was supposed to be in our favor.  Well this year they got that part wrong and we had a current against us on part of the course.  If you look at the strava file below, the portion that paralleled the shore is where the current was against us.  I got a decent start and had some feet to stay on for a while but by the time I started to head back in from the first lap I was all on my own.  I think I did a bad job of sighting and may have cost myself some time.  The second lap the same thing, bad sighting on my part.  I did come out of the water about 5 positions higher up this year than last year, so maybe my swim is improving ;)


I had a bad T1 in my opinion and lost contact with a Marine who ended up in a small group just up the road.  I did come out of the water with my Army buddy Eric and we started working together once I got my feet into my shoes.  I really like my S-Works Road shoes, and they have worked great in the past couple of races.  But for the draft legal fast paced stuff I didn't really care for them.  Once I was in though it was just myself and Eric and I started taking some hard pulls and he came around a few times and helped out.  I think just after a lap he wasn't able to help anymore and dropped back to the group behind us.  I was in the middle of two groups but knew I could bridge if I continued to ride hard.  There were 2 groups up the road that became one and that is when I was hoping things would become dis organized and I would make up the most ground.  They started just floating out there and I was a little worried I wasn't going to make it.  Finally I started making up some ground and I finally just put my head down for 2 minutes and made a hard effort to get there.  When I got to the group we had 4 other AF guys, 3 Navy, an Army Guy, Marine, and a Canadian.

I made the bridge just at the start of the 3rd lap and sat in for a few rotations as I was pretty deep in the pain cave after making that bridge.  Looking back on the race here is where I made a tactical error.  I should have sat in a bit longer and recovered for 1/2 a lap or a full lap.  Then I should have made an effort to get away.  The reason I say this is because the Navy had 4 guys up the road to only our 2 guys up the road.  I think tactically I should have kept attacking till I got away and tried to bridge the gap.  This is the only place I am disappointed in my race.  Instead I sat in just made my pulls with the group and tried twice to get away but was pulled back in once by my own team and once by the Navy guys.  Half way through the third lap there was a nasty crash right in front of me involving one of my teammates, Brian, and a Canadian.  Brian touched wheels with Scott and next thing I know bikes and people are flying around in front of me.  I got really lucky and just missed Brians bike.  Going into T2 we just caught the tail end of the group of 4 in front of us. and we were one big group coming into T2 of 13 guys from 8th to 20th.


Coming off the bike I was 2'40" off the two leaders and 1'10" off of the first chase pack which had 5 guys in it.  When I got off the bike I ran a 5:50 first mile and most of the group I got off the bike with was running away from me like I was standing still.  I couldn't figure out what was going on other than everyone else was just killing it on the run.  It is a two lap bow tie run course.  So you run out away from the transition area / finish line, through that area, then do another out and back section.  It literally took me till the second lap to get the legs feeling good.  I ran a pretty steady pace the whole time and came on strong during the last 2 miles.  That is where I passed 5 guys and moved my way into 10th.  Three of those guys were Navy guys so it felt good knowing that I made a contribution to the team.

Swim (1.5K) - 24:50 / 25th Male /  (
Bike (22.3mi) - 52:02 / 1st Male /  (
Run (6.06mi) - 35:54 / 10th Male / (

Total- 1:53:52 / 10th out of 47 Men

Overall I am really happy with how my race went, although I finished 10th compared to 8th last year.  I was the 5th AF Male this year, which means our team is just getting stronger and stronger.  We had James Bales back this year, which I knew would bump me at least one spot, but then Jon and Scott both had great races.  Jon had an amazing race and really impressed me.  Great job on executing an amazing race tactically and running for dough, when I was biking for show ;)

On the team side of things we lost to Navy by 1 point, that is really hard to take.  We lost to them last year and we came back and fought this year to take the title back and we failed.  This race is unique with the team scoring and it makes it something special.  So for the next year I am sure we will all remember that one point and hopefully it can get us out of bed and out the door on those tough morning so that next year we can come back and take the title back.

A huge congrats though to Nicholas Sterghos on his first Armed Forces Win.  I have had the pleasure of racing at a few of the same races as him this year (he races pro), and hanging out with him and his girlfriend Heather.  Look forward to seeing him a future races and can see that all the hard work he is putting in is really paying off.  James Bales came back this year after a year off from Armed Forces and took 2nd, our top AF male finisher and Sam Morrison our top female finisher fresh out of the AF Academy took the win on the female side of the house.

Thanks again to everyone for all of the support.  Something big is happening in a few weeks, stay tuned.  Excited, Nervous, Anxious, Blessed, Thankful, yeah I think that all sums up what is about to happen!

Here are a few pictures from the race and the trip.

 Out of T1 with Eric and the chase pack behind.
 Suffering on the run
 Heading down to swim start with Kidd
 All of the competitors including our friendly neighbors up North, the Canadians!
 Our team with our silver medals

Thursday morning ride heading down the PCH, then up Yarba Buena and down Mulholland.  We also did this ride post race on Saturday.