The first big race of the year was also the shortest of the year. The PossAbilities Reverse Tri at Loma Linda, CA is a 5K run, 10-mile bike and 125yd pool splash. The best part is the prize purse. My goal going into the race was to take the grand prize of $2,000 but in my way would be Collegiate National Champion and pro Chris Stahula. I arrived in So Cal on Thursday night and my first time guide Jim Lubinski picked me up and we got an extra large pie at Pizza Fusion and then hit the hay. The next morning we headed up to Calabasas to the home of the Talbert’s to pick up the hidden gem of tandems, The Seven. This thing costs more than most people’s car. When we got to their house Chris McCormick (Macca) had just left for a long ride so we missed hanging with the Aussie icon. From there we headed to K Swiss HQ to hang with my Swissle peeps. I tried to challenge K Swiss Marketing director Erik Vervloet to ping pong but evidently I wasn’t facing the table so I didn’t fare so well in the match to say the least. I also managed to draw some new shirt designs for the upcoming K Swiss line. One of the designs states how K Swiss supports blind runners. From Swissle we stopped by some of Jim’s clients as “The Lube Man”.
Friday evening we went to Spumoni’s Italian Restaurant in Santa Monica. After dinner it started. I started feeling really nauseous and weak. For the next 17hrs I was couch ridden sleeping before we headed east. I think I ate like a bowl of oatmeal all day but I was still ready for the race in the morning.
We stayed at my PossAbilities Foundation peeps Shawn Plafker and Cotie Williams just blocks from race start. The next morning I woke up still feeling very weak but my stomach was a bit more settled. With my Shoe Headband on and an array of body tattoos I was ready to race.
As we toed the line, an 8 year old girl with Muscular Dystrophy named Abbey did an amazing rendition of the National Anthem.
“One-Armed Willie Stewart” started the race and I headed out with the lead pack for the first mile. As we came to the first mile Jim read 5:00 on the watch. The lead pack began to separate from us but some of them were only 5K runners so I wasn’t too worried. I stayed with the 3rd place guy, a pro named Ian Mikelson. At mile 2 we were at about 10:45. I could feel the sickness from the prior day setting in and I began to feel as though all my energy was sucked out of me. I stayed with Ian but I could tell I was slowing down and came into the transition in 17:50 which was absolutely horrendous.
With our aero helmets on we jumped on the Seven and flew by Ian and took over 2nd place behind Chris Stahula. The bike was a 3 lap course with a moderately good climb on each loop. We pumped out massive power but weren’t seeing Chris. By lap 3 he was still a good minute ahead and we thought we were well ahead of Ian. As we came into T2 we were shocked to find Ian was right behind us. As I ran to the pool Jim said Ian was gaining on me quickly. I jumped in the pool and he jumped right behind. He began clawing up my legs with each stroke. We were both flailing our arms out of control. At the second to last turn, Ian swam right into me so I did what I needed to do and swam over top of him. He took the shortest route and veered me into the wall before racing out of the water to the finish line. Jim met me at water’s edge for the race to the line. The finishing chute narrowed and as I made a move on Ian he moved over and nudged Jim into me. Despite this I dove for the line and crossed it ahead with my chest but unfortunately this is not track and field. They go by ankle timing chips and Ian somehow kicked his ankle 3 one hundredths of a second ahead of mine. The suspense heightened as no one knew who had won the amazing race. I lay on the grass spent. That was the closest race I had ever had. I wish I was at full strength to see how close I could have come to Stahula who came in first but that will have to come next year.
Hours later as they announced the awards we finally found out that I did indeed get 3rd. Three hundredths of a second separated $700 winnings from $300. I was a little disappointed because I really wanted to make a statement for all challenged athletes about breaking down barriers. Well, on the good side I still walked out of there with a big check. It’s not every day that one can say they got a big check.
That my friend is how it went down at the 8th Annual PossAbilities Reverse Triathlon. Next up in one week is Wildflower Triathlon in central California. We leave for the road trip on Wednesday. Stay tuned for road trip updates.