Los Cabos 70.3

In between eating tacos, body surfing, and strolling up and down palm-lined beaches, I did a race. It did not go well. After one margarita, I didn’t care.

Adelaide and I never had a honeymoon last winter, and the trip to Mexico we had planned for last fall was cancelled when Adelaide was hit. So last week’s race down in Los Cabos had purposes other than just being a race. But going back to that first paragraph, I actually did care when my race went to shit.

The swim was rough. Once again, I found myself alone for 99.9% of the time. A beach start meant we got to run and dive, which I’d been practicing for two days before the race and was eager to find out if my goggles would stay on my head for once. 82 degree water meant that no wetsuits were allowed, which, combined with wavy conditions, was a major disadvantage for the less skilled swimmers such as myself.

Within five seconds of entering the water, someone smartly used my face to propel themselves forward. I attempted retaliation by swimming on top of their back, but only managed to push him forward and myself backwards. A few moments later I was on my own, scanning left and right hoping to find a fellow straggler to follow. I spent the next half hour chocking on salt water and wondering where I was supposed to go, since one of the paddle borders freaked me out by frantically signaling to go right when I was pretty sure I was supposed to stay straight, which I was. Throughout it all I did take time to appreciate the fact that out of 2,000 people racing, I was most likely the only person lucky enough to get to swim all alone. There’s no fighting for position when you’re in a race of your own.

I passed over some colorful tropical fish as I approached the beach 35 minutes later. I by through the crowd at the start line and heard the announcer exclaim that the first age grouper was out of the water.

Nope. That’s just me. 10 minutes down already. But thanks.

I stumbled through the transition area to my bike and tried to collect my thoughts and breath. All the men’s bikes were gone and half of the women’s too. But I had heart left, hoping beyond hope that the previous two and a half weeks of no training would give me good legs for the ride and run. To combat the fatigue from a long season packed full of external stressors, not to mention my god damn piece of shit nonfunctional thyroid, I’d opted to simply not train between Silverman and Los Cabos. After Silverman I’d briefly attempted to ride and wasn’t able go any harder than recovery pace.

15 minutes in to the bike I realized that all that rest wasn’t the magical cure I’d yearned it to be. I failed to pass the lead woman, and by mile 40 I’d been re-passed by the 2nd place woman (remember, both had started out five minutes behind my group). Not only had I simply not been able to put out the power in the first hour, but now my back and glutes were cramping up so badly that I couldn’t pedal in the aero bars. So I just coasted the downhills and soft pedaled in the bull horns on the flats and climbs. Soon they were so cramped that I couldn’t even coast in the aero bars anymore. By that point it was mostly downhill to the finish.

Despite my complete lack of ability to pedal hard, I did enjoy the scenery. The course went out along the coast for about 30 miles of palm trees and short rollers, then it climbed up towards the cactus and tall green brush of Baja Sur’s mountains. I hoped that Adelaide was having a good race.

I gave up almost immediately during the run. I didn’t have it in me physically, and at that point I was well over half an hour behind the leaders. A few miles into it I became incredibly depressed, wondering if I’d ever be fast again. Or be able to train. I thought that taking almost three weeks off (aside from swimming, which I’d still been doing) would allow my hormones to balance. But nothing of the sort had occurred and here I was, jacked up on caffeine, sugar, and race adrenaline and still unable to ride over 250 watts or run below eight minute pace. All those feelings of panic, self-loathing, and hopelessness came rushing on as I crossed over a long bridge. I looked down and saw that it wasn’t nearly high enough to do the job, so I continued my slow, lonely jog/walk, unable to imagine ever being happy again if my thyroid wouldn’t return to normal.

I trotted that first lap at 11 minute pace, walking at times, stopping to shit in the porta potty, and even taking the time to wipe. The only thing that kept me from packing it in after the first lap was the realization that I was going to have to wait for about nine hours before Adelaide finished since she was doing the full and had also started an hour and a half behind me. I had some time to kill. So I started that second lap, now mixed in with age groupers for company, which was nice…to see other people suffering and going even slower than me. Misery loves company, because the human condition is an evil, fucked up thing.

I trotted along, walking through the aid stations to eat as many peanuts and drink as much coke as I could stomach, not necessarily because I needed it, but because it was free. After five hours and twenty two minutes I finally crossed the finish line. I was an IRONMAN©! But not really because it was only a half. A trivial detail.

I was in decent spirits during that second lap and had gotten over my depression, rationalizing that it might take longer than six weeks for my thyroid meds to return me to normal. But once I saw Adelaide half an hour later my heart sunk again. She was supposed to be out on the bike. If anyone was going to have a good race here it was her, since her training had for once gone perfectly leading up to the race. But her lazy fuck up of a bike mechanic (me) hadn’t taken the time to make sure her bike was in working order.

Instead of pre-riding the course, unpacking and dialing in the bikes after our flight, and doing all that important stuff the days leading up to the race, we’d spent our time swimming in the waves and having fun on the beach. During the race, her front brake had clamped down on her wheel due to damaged brake cable housing. She’d stopped to adjust it five times on the first lap 56 mile lap but couldn’t get it to unclamp. It would have taken a multi tool to get to her front brake, which she didn’t have. Thanks aero brake cover fairing! That’s progress!

Usually when people say their wheel was rubbing it’s just an excuse for bad legs, but when I tried to spin her wheel with my hand I could barely make it budge. We quickly righted all the wrongs of the day by downing a pair of large margaritas. Then we decided that the only reasonable thing to do next was to get back to our hotel and take the bus to the beach for a second, and possibly, third and fourth round.

I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years for races, but none of it was for vacation. And a lot of it has been to places like Arkansas and Minnesota–not bad places by any means but also not vacation destinations. All of my travel has been for races, and I always come back home way more worn out than when I left, which, from what I gather, is not how vacations are supposed to work. Although this trip did involve a race and a lot of stress the day before during all the equipment drop offs, this trip had a different vibe to it.

I’ve always wondered what people do on vacation. It weirds me out seeing everyone else at the airport without bike bags. What will they do when they get where they’re headed? Do they rent bikes at their destination? Do they go on runs or something? How is it that all of these people are runners? Or are they going on long backpack trips? How will they exercise? This incredibly bizarre thought process has followed me into my movie-watching mind as well. During a romantic comedy I’ll wonder how any of the characters can possibly train with all the relationship stress that’s going on. “I wouldn’t be able to do it, Adelaide! These people’s lives are horrible. How can they ride hard with all this crazy drama?!” Adelaide tells me to be quiet a lot.

Well, after last week I came to a realization. It turns out that, on vacation at least, you can kill the day just fine without even thinking about training.

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Dealing with a bully

In middle school it might have been the kid with the absentee parents. He took his aggression and feelings of inadequacy out on smaller, younger, or less popular kids. With boys it was a simple mindless taunt (fag, retard, fatty) often accompanied by some minor physical abuse. Girls were even meaner. They found real, or created imaginary, flaws in their victims to inflict psychological damage that dwarfed the physical bullying of boys. Almost everyone partook in a little taunting, teasing, and unfair treatment of others from time to time. To deny this is to deny that your farts stink. Humans are fallible and oftentimes horrible. Virtually all of us have been major pricks at least a few instances in our lives. I have been one on more than a few instances. But there were, and still are, people who took teasing and meanness to different levels.

As they grew older, the intelligent bully became much more subtle in their nastiness. Bullies either became smart or, more likely, a larger percentage of smart people became bullies. Instead of openly attacking another person, they connive, plot, and twist other people’s opinions of their victim into something that isn’t true. They put on a play of smiles to your face, then smear your name with shit when your back is turned. If their goal isn’t monetary it’s to gain a position of power or to boost their low self-confidence, which quite possibly was heavily trod upon all those years ago as a teenager.

Up until recently, I worked at Amante Coffee, Uptown. One of the employees had become renown for doing sloppy, lazy work; being rude to the customers; and for talking mad shit behind all of the other employees’ backs to the manager, who this employee smartly became better and better friends with. This two-faced facade was blatantly obvious to everyone but the manager and store owner. As a boss, you’ve got to realize that people treat you differently than they do everyone else, and that no matter how long you’ve been working with someone, they’re always walking on a bit of glass around you. In some cases, an employee becomes an entirely different person around their higher-up. Our manager, as well as the owner of Amante, didn’t seem to get this. They didn’t get that they’d been used. That, or they’d just been turning a set of blind eyes throughout all the years. Call it laziness or dishonesty, both were part of the problem.

With enough whispering in the manager’s ear, the employee not only kept their job, which to me is quite simply baffling given the quality of their work and attitude, but they were also given a raise and moved up to assistant manager. This all happened about a month ago by the way. Things did not look good for the future of Amante or the quality of life for its staff. The employee wasn’t just bad at their job, they had been out for vengeance over every slight to their person, real or imagined. Giving someone like this power, someone with ill-intent and downright hatred for half of their co-workers, was an incredibly poor and dishonest decision by the management, and something had to be done.

Complaints had been made for the past two years about the employee, but the manager had simply ignored them. As a last ditch effort, my brother’s girlfriend Joslynn took one last stand against the decision and attempted to rally the rest of us together in opposition of the employee being given the managing position. Joslynn was fired. My brother Galen was essentially fired as well, though he’d been given the “opportunity” to stay on. Joslynn was crushed from losing her job in that manner and you’d have to be a fool to think Galen wouldn’t stand in solidarity with her. Galen quit. Then I quit. Just like that, Amante lost its two best employees (Galen and Jos, not me).

To stand up against a bully, especially when they’ve conspired their way into a position of power, took a lot of courage on Jos’ behalf. It was only fair that I recognize that with my own resignation. I don’t want to work for an employer or company that’s dishonest, that doesn’t treat their employees equally. Life is too short to be around caustic people, and if you can’t change them, can’t bring their actions to justice, the best thing to do is remove yourself from the situation. That might be seen as losing. But the real loss is to remain silent and oppressed. Sometimes you just have to say fuck it and quit. If you can’t beat ’em, leave. Don’t join ’em. Jesus, the last thing you want to do is join ’em.

P.S. Spruce Confections, just a block north of Amante, makes a fine cup of coffee. Just so you know.

Last one out the door

Reality is just now setting in.

At first I saw my diagnosis as a blessing. Just finding out that I had Hashimoto’s felt like a cure, in and of itself. To have a reason for feeling so shitty was to have a way out, or so I assumed. It didn’t seem like a very serious disease, and it isn’t, compared to many. All it does is make me tired, grumpy, unable to get consistent nights of sleep, and it makes me really, really weak. It makes me a cat 5 on the bike. I’d take all the other symptoms times 10 if it meant I could still ride hard.

I assumed the pill I’d be taking would get me back to normal, or at least close enough to normal that I wouldn’t know the difference. Unfortunately, the more I research and the more I read first hand accounts, the more worried I get that this is something that could potentially end my athletic career. Not just my athletic ‘career,’ but something that could end my ability to work out in general. I’m not worried that I won’t be able to go on hikes and jogs. Those things will still be possible. I’m worried that I won’t be able to go out on a five hour ride in the mountains and climb 12,000 feet. I’m worried that I won’t even be able to compete in bike races or triathlons at the local, amateur level. I’m really worried that I simply won’t have the power to ride over 200 watts anymore.

This past week I’ve been going out for rides and averaging 170 watts, and feeling tired afterwards. That should not happen to me. It’s one thing to feel tired and crappy after a hard day or two of training. But that’s an entirely different feeling than what I’ve been struggling with. I go out on rides and don’t feel tired, per say; I go out and my legs just won’t push the pedals harder than recovery pace without catching on fire. I’ve felt lethargic in the pool too, and I cut my run short today because my entire body just felt weak, incapable, and out of breath.

Yesterday I went through my training journal and saw that I was more fit last November than I am now, or this August, or July, or June, or, May, or April. I was riding harder back in November with zero fitness, having just taken Adelaide home from the hospital, than I was at any other time of the year. I’d been off the bike for three months at that point and was dealing with more stress than I’d ever encountered in my life, yet I was still able to ride somewhat hard.

I find the majority of my joy in life, not to mention my identity, through training and being able to compete. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with working out since before I reached the double digits. I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly happy again if I’m not able to exercise. Hard exercise. While it’s true that even if the pills don’t kick in, I’ll almost certainly be able to go out on long easy rides once in a while when I find the motivation, I’ll never want to compete again if I’m this tired and weak.

But I still have hope that sooner or later the medicine will start working. It takes a long time to kick in, from what I’ve read. For now I refuse to leave the comforts of denial, like a dinner guest lounging on the living room sofa long into the night, seemingly unaware that the appropriate time to leave is well past. The grandfather clock over in the corner slowly ticking and tocking towards 11:00 fills long pauses in conversation, yet he continues on, dragging out the night into infinity. Everyone else has eaten, socialized, and said their thank you’s and goodnights. Except for this one guy, who has nowhere to go and apparently no one else to talk to. He continues on in animated bursts of dialogue, mostly speaking to hear himself heard while the two, fleetingly polite hosts try to conceal yawns with the backs of their hands, wishing and praying to whatever god will listen to just make this fucking guy go, vanish into thin air, clutch his heart in agony and cry out “goodbye, thanks for the chow” as a thin stand of spittle drips out the corner of his mouth and cardiac arrest finally silences him.

I’ll be that guy, clutching to the last few minutes of the night for as long as I can. Work you fucking thyroid pills. Just work.

Got my ass kicked at Silverman 70.3

Last week Adelaide and I fled the first taste of Boulder’s fall and retreated to Henderson, Nevada to race Silverman. Adelaide came to cheer me on and help out. It was hot, sunny, and I soaked up the good weather as much as I could. I’m an endless summer type of person. If it’s below 80 degrees, I’m grumbling. I’m usually grumbling if it’s over 80 degrees too, but that’s because I’m a jerk.

Our hosts, Ron and Julie, gave some tips about the course and also lived a convenient four blocks away from a 38-mile-long bike path that looped through the desert, which is where Adelaide and I headed the next morning. Here are some pictures of us before we parted and Adelaide got super lost and almost died of dehydration in a multitude of CVS parking lots.

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We went for a swim that afternoon after Adelaide straggled back in from the ride. I did a 100 in 1:11 without too much difficulty. A few days before I did 1:09, which for me is blazing fast. Previously, my fastest 100 yards was 1:18 going all out, and a 1:22 was usually all I could muster on a good day. You can probably tell where my brain was going after seeing such a big improvement—into super, ultra, over-confidence mode. Shit, I probably wouldn’t even have to try in the swim.

Side note: the fast guys can do two miles at a faster pace than I can sprint 100 yards. Also, this race probably had the deepest field that I’d competed in. I knew this, yet I still thought I’d do well in the swim and win the overall race.

Two days later at the crack of dawn, we started to a gun shot. And within two minutes I was dropped from all but one guy. There went my good swim. Despite having clear skies and clear water, it felt like swimming in the middle of a storm. Calling it “choppy” doesn’t do justice. The wind was tearing across Lake Mead from the south, creating one and a half foot tall waves.

The water was so rough that for a moment I began fearing for other people’s lives. I couldn’t imagine things going well for the 50+ age group women trying to swim through this and the chaos of 1,600 other people. I legitimately thought that someone would drown. Though to be fair, up until recently I was getting passed by 50+ year-old women at the rec center all the time, so maybe the fear should have been saved for myself.

I gasped for air in the chop, trying to stay on the feet of my buddy. My form went to complete shit. It was as if I’d forgotten everything I’d learned in the last six months. There was too much to concentrate on. I’d forget to kick, which meant my feet would begin to sink and drag. This was the first non-wetsuit race I’d done, which made kicking all that more important. I’d notice my feet dragging and correct that, but then lose sight of the guy’s bubbles in front of me and frantically try to chase back on to his draft. Then I’d miss a breath and gulp a mouthful of water. Then I’d realize that I was just bulldozing through the water without any body rotation or bend in my arms or wrists. For me it’s hard enough to focus on good form in a pool, let alone a lake with that kind of chop. About 10 minutes in, my lungs began cramping from breathing so hard.

By the half way point the lead woman passed us like we were standing still. Five minutes later a large pack of women blew by. I tried to get onto the back of them but they were way too fast for me. I did make sure to sprint around the other guy a hundred meters before the finish so I wasn’t last out of the water.

With a time of 35:55, I was 11 minutes slower than the first guy out of the water. Some spectator told me to “just calm down and take a few deep breaths” since I was gasping for air like a 12-year-old giving birth.

After crashing into some barriers coming out of T1, I finally got clipped in and began doing what I know how to do. Sort of. Actually, even riding didn’t feel good. I couldn’t get my power even close to what I’d hoped for and my weak glutes were soon destroyed. And that was just getting out of the parking lot.

Moments before crashing into those orange barriers.

As I neared the turn around, I began counting how many guys were in front of me. 26. There had been 30 starters. Things did not look good. The wind continued howling on the way back into town and I caught a few more guys with legs even more pitiful than mine. I passed the lead woman at mile 40, not having been aware that she was still ahead of me from the swim. Whatever. I chalked it up to a small victory since that meant I was now 24th on the road.

I came into T2 pretty destroyed. Despite only averaging 270 watts, I was hurting something fierce. The wind and 5,000+ feet of elevation gain had only prolonged the agony. I’d originally picked this race out as one that I’d do well in since the bike leg is one of the most challenging in North America, but some days you just don’t have it, and you can’t fake it in triathlon. My swim was awful and my ride was weak. The only thing left to redeem myself was the run.

I gave up about a mile into the run. I didn’t full on quit, per say, but I slowed down to a “comfortable” pace and held it there for the duration, averaging 6:13 per mile. This excellent decision came after I realized that I was 20 odd minutes behind the leader and 10 or so minutes behind 10th place. The race only paid eight deep, and I didn’t have the mental fortitude to continue killing myself for 13th or what have you. What I’m trying to say is that I’m weak-willed and only in it for the money.

Despite caving, I was happy with myself for not getting too upset about being so slow and throwing a temper tantrum. I had fun during the run, if that’s possible, and made faces at Adelaide whenever I saw her cheering me on from the side. Plus, look how color-coordinated I accidentally happened to be. I mean, come on. I looked goooood.

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Only 22 minutes slower than 1st. That’s good, right?

I came in 17th and Adelaide and I both got a free massage and lunch. Plus, like every Ironman race, I got a sweet mesh backpack, hat, shirt, and a finisher’s medal that weighs 18 and a half pounds. None of that will go directly to GoodWill, I swear.

Next up is Los Cabos. Adelaide is doing the full and I’m doing the half. Redemption is just three weeks away. Time to remain utterly serious.




Dear Ironman, please send $10 to reimburse my entrance fee into Lake Mead so I that was able to get to the race start. I prefer paypal: kennettpeterson@gmail.com. Thanks for not being cheap,