To begin this story, let's first go back to October of 2001. I had just finished the Xterra World Championships in Maui. I had planned this race to be the last race of the season and of my career. I was mentally prepared for the end of a great ride in triathlon. I had competed in over 220 triathlons. I had raced in over 26 countries. I was ready to retire as my body told me so and my mind was ready to be creative in other ways.
Thus, in Maui, I carried my 7 week old daughter, Makenna, across the finish line so that she had "seen" me do a triathlon. I finished that race in 8th or so. Although mentally, I wanted to race well, my body told me otherwise and the 8th place finish reiterated my desire to move on with other life adventures.
Since 2001, I co-owned Endurance Films from 2001-2003, where I and two partners created 4 triathlon related films. Eric Feller's continued hard work has made Endurance Films the premier triathlon film company in the world. In 2003, I started Wes Hobson Performance with its primary objective of triathlon camps and triathlon coaching. WHP continues growth in the coaching industry. Furthermore, in 2004, I began Wes Hobson Performance Real Estate which is affiliated with RE/MAX of Boulder. I had always had a keen interest in real estate. When I trained throughout the 90's, my easy run days consisted of viewing a house for sale and seeing how close I could get to naming the list price. Approximately 80% of my home sales are triathletes.
I wanted to give you some back ground as since I have left triathlons in 2001, I have started three businesses. In addition, I have a beautiful daughter which I share 50% custody. Rarely did I have time to exercise. As much as I hate to admit it, I portrayed to the athletes I coach as "Do what coach says, not what he does." Since retiring, I have participated in any type of race about eight times. This included two Pikes Peak Ascents, two or three bike races and a few 5K or 10K runs. In 2002, I was asked to do one of the Eco-Challenges, but I just couldn't find the time to train. To the point, since retiring from triathlons, I exercised only three to four hours a week. Part of me was happy to not be required to train. With the chronic fatigue feeling still lingering in my body from the 1997 episode (see Chronic Fatigue in articles), my body needed a rest. However, the other part of me is like, wait a minute, I used to train 20-25 hours a week consistently for over a decade and now I have resorted to this!!!! I knew with my big ego, yes ego, that I would never do a triathlon again. In my own self inflicting way of mental anguish, I could never let myself do another race if I could never train the way I used to train, even if it was in the amateur division. How could I ever live it down that Joe Schmo beat me? He would get on all of the blogs telling people that he beat Wes Hobson. That is/was my mentality, a former self driven pro triathlete that thought his reputation would be tarnished if he did a race just for FUN!
Skip to a few months ago. I am on the verge of turning 40 (Nov. 10th, 2006) when I get a call from a previous client I coached in 2002-2004. Adam runs his own successful triathlon coaching business in the Chicago area. Although I no longer coach him, I have, like with many of my previous clients, maintained a great friendship. As we chatted over the phone in August, Adam through out the wildest of statements "Why don't you race for the triathlon club I am associated with at the Pumpkinman Triathlon in Las Vegas which is the National Club Championships?" For the first time in five years, I hesitated before saying "no."
Here it is short and sweet. For the eight weeks, I averaged seven hours a week of training. I didn't create a training plan. I had no set schedule. I just did something when I could. At week three, I became very sick and lost six pounds while training just two hours. Week six was my biggest week of ten hours and thirty minutes. I typically swam once or twice a week for a total of 3,000-4,000 yards. I biked two times a week of four or five hours and I ran two to three times a week of two hours. As much as I had anticipated training more for the race, it was difficult with work and family. I will admit that there were times when I chose to watch television and relax after a long day of work and putting my daughter to bed instead of getting on the trainer at 8 at night. Thus, I would say my training dedication for this race was about a 7 out of 10. If I was 100% dedicated, I could have been consistently at the 12-14 hour week. Whoa, wait a second, I am doing my first triathlon in five years. Something that I said I would never do, and I am not putting my whole heart into this even though my ego tells me I should because I just can't go out and have fun. Having fun training for a triathlon? Whereas I don't have that requirement which I am forced to train because my income depends on it? Quite a concept. To even make this more fun, I trained with no heart rate monitor (I haven't owned on since 2001), no wattage meter and I rarely used a watch.
As race day approached, I got more skeptical about my ability to finish well in the race. I incessantly mentioned to my girlfriend, Hayley, that I am really worried how I will feel coming off of the bike. I haven't run much and I do know from past experience the pain and cramping that can occur after biking hard for 40 kilometers (the distances were 1.5K, 40K, 10K). To top it off, how far back will I be after the swim?
In looking at the website of the race before arriving in Las Vegas, I noticed there would be two wave starts for the 500+ competitors in the Olympic distance field.: 34 and under and 35+. I thought if I am putting this much effort into training and this is my coming out party, then I want to race with the young guns. I called the race director and he was happy I was doing and the race and he placed me in the first wave.
I arrived at the race site two days before race day, on Friday. For me, the race site was a trip down memory lane. For it was at this site that I won the 1992 Coke Grand Prix in the Bud Light Triathlon Series. It was the site of the national championships and I finished third overall. The swim start was at the same place on Lake Mead, but the bike and run courses were different. The day before, Hayley and I drove the bike course so I could visualize the race. It turns out, I read the map wrong from memory and we didn't drive any of the course! However, we did get to see Hoover Damn.
The morning of the race, I awoke early enough to get to the transition area without having to hurry and thus create additional stress (Triathlon - Racing Faster). However, I forgot some of the essentials that were engrained in my head through years of racing. No Vaseline for the shoes, no Vaseline for the wetsuit. Luckily the day before leaving for Las Vegas, I remembered to add a lace lock system to my running shoes.
I entered the water and warmed up for a few minutes. The wetsuit Orca gave me a few years back for my camps felt great. I was "floating" on top of the water. Man, I thought, I sure would like to see what the latest technology feels like http://OrcaApexWetsuit. I did a few pick up sprints and then off to the start. I shook Adam's hand and wished him luck. He just gave me a look like "Man, I can't believe you are here doing this."
The gun sounded and instincts kicked in. After 100 meters, I got behind a few guys who took it out pretty fast. My goals were:
1. To hang on to someone's draft while not going way above my lactic threshold. (PS. I knew there was no doubt I would be above my LT).
2. Still get a lead on Adam in the swim as we did have the all motivating side bet for $.
I saw Adam fall back about 200 meters from the start. I didn't know if he slid into my draft. In front of me now was one person and a big BOAT right in the way of our most direct line. The leader went right around the boat and I went left thinking that way was the most direct way to the far bouy. I was right. The problem was, I was in the lead with no draft. The former leader saw his mistake and came back towards me. I thought he would take the lead, but instead, he got behind me. Doggone it, I have to pull him and I don't know how many others. There have got to be people faster than me. I hardly trained for the swim. I want a draft!! I made the first 90 degree turn and looked back. There was the guy behind me and then we had a gap of about 15 seconds. Well, I thought, I can't wait. I need to get more time. I never checked the race entry list so I have no idea who is entered.
I led the swim and went to my bike. Since I didn't want to blister my feet, I took the time to put on socks. During this time, the swimmer behind me took a 15 second lead out of transition. I must be a little rusty with five years off.
After three miles of the bike, I caught the leader who had a name on his butt. Thus, I knew he raced in some of the ITU World Cup events. I wasn't expecting any pros to be racing as there was no prize money at this race. After catching him, and knowing I had a good lead out of the swim, I thought two things:
1. I have a good shot of winning this thing as I felt the most confident in my cycling ability.
2. I am going to get some dinero from Adam!
After taking the lead, I looked back and saw a cyclist coming towards me. Wait a minute, cycling is my strength and some guy is about to catch me by mile four after having a good sized after the swim? The person caught me and went by me so fast I was like, "Hey, hold up, wait for me." I gave it my best to stay with him, but he was hammering. I then looked down at my 39 year old legs as they pumped up and down. Part of me was exhilarated to be doing this again and the other part of me had doubts such as what am I doing?
The bike course had a net gain of 1,100 feet of climbing. A difficult course, but tailored to the training I did on the mountains of Colorado. By the turnaround, the leader had a minute on me and I had about 30 seconds on third. I noticed that Adam was about 1:00 back. I pushed my effort as although I was getting my butt kicked by the leader, I felt pretty good. At mile 18, the rolling hills ended and "the climb" began. I couldn't see first, but third couldn't see me. I came into transition.
Leaving transition, several of my friends were watching. I did the fake trip as I exited the transition and began the run. I actually felt pretty good. Hayley was 100 meters outside of transition in her running gear. She began running with me and was wearing a Garmin which can indicate pace through a GPS system. She rattled off my pace "5:40, 5:30
.okay I will see you when you get back." The body was tired, but the mind was its old self, motivated. If I am here, then do the best I can. That is all that I ask. I was 2:20 behind the leader off of the bike. Since I didn't know who he was, I wasn't going to give up.
The run course was not easy. After three miles, the pavement turns to rolling gravel and dirt in the dessert. At the turnaround is a 200 meter hill with a 17% grade. Ouch!!! I saw the leader on the way up as I went down. He was hurting and I knew I was closer than 2 minutes to him. I made the turnaround and just thought "quick feet" as I did the climb. Third place was a ways back and Adam was in about sixth. I think I have won the side bet, but the body was starting to give out. The legs weren't responding to what my mind wanted to do. For instance, have you ever had the experience where you want the leg to move forward at a certain distance in front of you, yet it gives out some and your hips collapse? Well, I was experiencing that. Come on, ten more minutes
I finished in second place overall, 1:15 behind the winner. The winner turned out to be a pro from Arizona, Lewis Elliott. As I went up to introduce myself he said, "Wes, I met you when you were race announcing the Tempe International Triathlon two years ago. Lewis used to be on the US National Cycling team and he is an accomplished triathlete. In fact, the following weekend, he won the Soma Half Ironman which had a good field of pros. That made me feel even better about my performance. Behind me in third through sixth place were some other pros racing. I guess this old geezer still has a little something in his tank. Adam finished 7 minutes behind me.
When the results were initially posted, I looked for my name and it wasn't on the results sheet. Say what? I went to the timer booth and after about ten minutes of head scratching he said. "You know what, I didn't have you in the results because the race director said you were doing this just as a training race!" I thought to myself, "what the heck am I training for?" He then found my time and said "Here it is, by the way it didn't affect your final placing, but you also received a two minute penalty for 'positioning' on the bike!"
Interesting. So what the heck is positioning? I am really out of the loop with the rules. There was no one around me the entire bike. I do remember a marshal riding beside me on a motorcycle around mile 17, but I had no one around me. I went to the one of the officials and asked what is positioning. He said it is not riding on the right side of the road at all times except when passing. Well, I am guilty of that. I found the penalty to be pretty harsh as the first 18 miles were was on a road where maybe 5 cars passed me the whole way and there wasn't another cyclist around me for pretty much the entire ride. I need to read up on the amateur rules ?
Needless to say, I was really happy with my race. My recovery surprisingly felt good. It has been two months since that race and I have to admit that my bike is still in the bike case. It has to come out soon. I have another bet for the 2007 season
.to be continued!!!!