So, what happened last year?

It happened again. My desire to blog fell off around mid-season in 2019, a tad earlier than it did in 2018 – when it started to feel more like work than fun. Last year I made an attempt to write shorter posts. That lasted for two races and then the writing quickly faded. Maybe that’s common amongst casual bloggers – I don’t know (insert emoji with both hands in the air here). Well, fast forward to today – I’ve had a little extra free time given COVID-19 stay at home and social distancing. So I thought I’d recap the remainder of 2019 into one post.

Chisago Lakes Triathlon (Sprint Distance)

I had never done this race before, but I was really intrigued by the distance configuration and it was a USA Triathlon sanctioned event. It had sprint and half-iron options. The sprint bike was 22 miles instead of the standard 12 – so it was a bit of a mashup between a sprint and olympic distance. The sprint would be a great tune-up distance before nationals in August.

The competition-level was high, yet the overall vibe of the event remained local and chill. I think there were a lot of participants in the half-iron distance utilizing this event as prep for a fall Ironman such as Wisconsin. Not a lot of specific commentary from me on my personal performance. I finished 9/21 in my age group and 28/253 overall. I just had a good time. And had even more fun at the post-event celebration at Uncommon Loon Brewing. I think half the reason I like endurance sports are celebrating with a beer or three afterwards and not feeling guilty about it!

That’s the “I know I’m about about to get a beer soon” smile.

USA Triathlon Age-Group Nationals (Olympic Distance)

I skipped this one. It’s funny – after going to nationals for the first time in 2018, I couldn’t wait to compete for a chance to go back and see if I could do better. I qualified again in 2019 through my finish at Trinona – the USAT Triathlon State Championship race in Minnesota. I punched my ticket and registered for the main event. But when it came time to start packing and hit the road, my heart was in another place. I already knew I could complete the Cleveland, OH course – the same one as the year before. I had done nothing different in my training to notably improve my performance. It was like I already knew a middle of the pack finish was in the making, and with a road trip to the great Southwest on the horizon at the end of the month, it became harder to justify the travel expense. My heart just wasn’t in it. It felt like if I went to nationals, I wouldn’t be doing it for me – but to just say that I went. It didn’t feel right.

So I spent that five days of planned time off camping on Minnesota’s North Shore instead. Trading in the stress and anxiety that sometimes comes with racing for week of peace and nature turned out to be one of the best decisions I’d made in a long time.

Time stops in places like these. The only moment that matters is the one you’re in. 

Ragnar Relay – Road Minnesota

This one surprised me. Like really surprised me.

I had long been intrigued by running ragnar someday. But the logistics and team recruiting kind of overwhelmed me. This year, I got invited to join an existing team. All of that coordination would be taken care of. All I had to do was show up and run my assigned legs. Obviously I said yes.

I totally underestimated the experience I was about to have. I knew I’d have a good time. I’d make knew friends (I barely knew one person on the team, and was brand new to everyone else). I just thought I’d run my 20-ish miles and it would be some good training. You see, I’ve been used to the solo and self-sufficiency aspects of triathlon and running. This whole team thing was going to be different for me.

What surprised me was the sense of accomplishment after finishing, and it grew in the days after the event. Our team of 12 dudes ran the 200+ miles in just under 28 hours, finishing 16th our of 390 teams. We ran non-stop, making sure the next runner was at the next transition early for the handoff. Everyone ran their hearts out. And in the downtime waiting for our next turn, we joked, laughed, shared stories and encouraged each other. I slept on the pavement of a parking lot. The atmosphere was wild in the early morning hours (something we called “the witching hour”) as all teams were tired and exhausted, yet still going – like half-human and half-zombie. And the finish line was electric as teams waited for their final runner and joined, running through the finish arch together. I made 11 new friends. Gained countless stories that we still joke about today. It was an epic adventure and honestly just something you have to experience to understand why people are so proud of those stickers on the back of their vehicles. I can’t wait to do it again.

12 dudes. 200+ miles. One epic adventure. 

Maple Grove Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

Feeling a re-energized again, I was excited about the Maple Grove Tri. It’s a well-organized and locally owned event, USAT sanctioned and happened to be the 2019 USAT North Central Regional Championship race. I knew the competition would be high, but it would give me a chance for qualify for nationals again in 2020, which is returning to Milwaukee, WI. I was ready to make my last triathlon of 2019 a good one.

The swim went great. Man, it sure felt great to finally kick those panic attacks this year. The bike leg kicked my butt, as always. The course was open to car traffic and mostly on exposed roads near open fields or new house developments. Once we got a few miles out of transition, three younger athletes, who I can only assume to be friends, grouped together and appeared to draft off each other to push forward, which is more than frowned upon. So, you’re darn right I made it my mission to pass all of them – solely on my own power. We traded spots a few times, and I don’t remember if I ultimately passed them all, but the competition pushed me to go harder and kept me motivated throughout the ride. I battled through stomach cramps throughout the 6.2 mile run. To occupy my mind, I thought about my late dog Mitch, who was always so stoic. That memory of him never grimacing pushed me to keep pushing – and imagining him running along side me. Gosh, I miss that dog. Overall finish time was 02:26:43, good enough for 10/28 in my age group and a qualifying spot at nationals again in 2020.

Twin Cities Marathon

The grand finale. This would be my last race of the year and I wanted so badly to beat my time from 2018 (03:32:38). In fact, I really wanted to go sub-03:30:00. However, I didn’t really train any differently than the year before. I maybe even trained a little less, hoping to avoid he same knee injury I wound up last year, attempting to ramp up for a marathon in a month and a half’s time after the triathlon season ended. I was basing this off of pure desire.

I started out way to hard. Last year I used a $10 Timex and did the pace and total math in my head at each mile marker. This was my first year with a GPS watch. About a half-mile in, I looked at my watch and noticed a 09:30/mile pace, which certainly wasn’t going to get me to my goal. It felt like I was moving fast, but the watch said otherwise – so I ran faster. Then I made it to the first mile marker, looked at my watch and it hadn’t made it to seven minutes total yet. The tall buildings downtown may have interfered. I had just ran a sub-seven first mile. If I kept that up, that was a guarantee to blow up early. In the second mile, I randomly connected with a friend from the Ragnar team. He thought his watch was off too. We ran alongside each other, same pace, and our watches were more than a minute off of each other. Something was up with GPS in the beginning.

I eventually settled into a comfortable pace in the mid sevens. I knew it might be a little fast for the long haul, but it felt good. Like really good. Maybe I was going to blow my goal out of the water. Well, that all eventually caught up with me around mile 17. My hips started to hurt. The bottoms of my feet started to hurt in ways they haven’t before. The speed had caught up with me. But I had gained so much ground, I could afford to slow down and still be on track.

Well, once I reached the first big hill around mile 20-ish, I decided to take a walk break. I had never done that before – walked in a race. That’s not meant to sound cocky. I just hadn’t done that before, so I had no idea what it would feel like to walk and then try to run again. Boy was that a kick in the shorts. It was like my legs didn’t want to do what my brain was telling them to. It was like that feeling you get in dreams where you’re trying to run from something but your feet don’t move. Multiple walking breaks ensued after. I couldn’t keep the momentum. The wheels had fallen off.

It was an odd feeling still being out on the course while my goal time ticked bye on my watch. In that moment I asked myself, why keep going. And the fact that I asked myself that was enough to keep me going. Not everything is going to go my way. I couldn’t control the moment any longer, just how I responded to it. I still finished with a great time of 03:37:52. I was probably prouder of this finish than the year before, because I didn’t give up, even after the goal was no longer achievable.

When the wheels fall off, smile anyways. We’re stronger than we think. 

Season Wrap-Up

So what were my takeaways from 2019?

  • You can’t do the same thing and expect different results.
  • Sometimes motivations change, and that’s ok. Follow your heart. It knows the way.
  • Regardless of finish time, just be thankful to be out and participating. Never lose sight of the fun.

Some of these learnings drove decisions for the 2020 season, which as we all know now, has a completely different landscape.

Race Recap: Trinona 2019

This was my fifth year racing at Trinona, but my first time tackling the international distance. Known for it’s intense cycle climb up Garvin Heights (1.15 miles with 540 feet of elevation gain at 9.2% grade), the Battle for the Bluff did not disappoint. It was a real kick in the shorts alright. But also a badge of honor to race up a hill that Greg LeMond trained on in preparation for the Tour de France.


  • Finding strength and confidence on a long swim that would’ve been filled with panic in years past, and cruising to a swim PR by more than five minutes.
  • Conquering that monster hill and still averaging 19mph+ across the bike course, even after being slowed to 8mph or less during the mile-long climb.
  • Discovering pure joy while riding a new bicycle in its first race, and feeling like I could legitimately hang.
  • Winning the mental battle on the run.
  • Setting a overall distance PR by more than ten minutes.


Trinona – International Distance – June 9, 2019


Split Pace

Age Group Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.93 miles)









Bike (24.85 miles)


19.15 mi/hr







Run (6.2 miles)


07:15 min/mi








Race Recap: USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships 2018


Three years of training, racing and a heck of a lot of hard work lead me to this race — the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. The opportunity to compete with the best Olympic distance triathletes in the nation. The chance to compete on a level I’ve never been on before.


The magnitude of what I was about to embark on finally sunk-in during the national anthem. As I stood next to the other 159 athletes in my age group staring at the American flag, along with countless waves of athletes standing behind us, it hit me why we’re all here. We’re about to compete for the opportunity to represent that flag and the entire nation at the world championships next summer. I was surrounded by the best of the best. And further yet, I realized I wasn’t just standing amongst them on the outside looking in — I was one of them. I had earned the invite to this race just like each and every one of them did. And that was a pretty powerful thought to fill my mind with as I walked into the swim corral.


This was far and away the most gnarly swim I’ve ever tackled. For starters, let’s set the stage with location and condition. This was a 0.93 mile swim out in the great wide opens of Lake Erie. There wasn’t a breaker wall to protect us from the chop and waves. Nope. We were swimming right into the thick of it.

I was in the very first swim wave of the morning, a likely indicator that it would be one of the strongest age groups of the field. After a quick warm-up swim, we were directed to wade over and line up at the buoyed start line, between waist and chest deep water depending on your height. The music from the shoreline behind blared, the countdown began and then horn sounded. All 160 of us started swimming furiously, all at once. It was chaos. I got kicked, but also kicked others. My ankles were grabbed, but I grabbed ankles as well. I was ran into and swam over, and I did the same. None of it intentional– it’s just what happens during a mass start.

It took a good quarter-mile before the group started to space out in the water. I did my best to just focus on myself – staying calm, keeping my heart rate low and continue taking consistent, long-reaching, steady strokes. Sighting was a challenge. I’d lift my head every few strokes in search of the next buoy only to be met with a wave rolling above my sight line and straight into my face. Fortunately, I had hung with a pack of swimmers and was able to glance at those to either side during each breath, or follow the splashing directly in front of me. Outside of the sighting challenges, I didn’t mind the waves. I think they helped distract my busy brain during the long swim.


I stepped back on the beach, noticed there were still orange caps coming in behind me, but there were also green caps in front of me, meaning the second wave was passing some of the first wave — my second indicator of just how strong the competition would be today. I unzipped my wetsuit as I ran down the long chute back to transition and started jogging my memory on where my bike was racked amongst the field of 3,000.


This was the part of the day I looked forward to the least. I knew I was under-trained on the bike. My back injury limited me to two bike rides in the last five weeks — both of which were races. If it were up to my physical therapist, I wouldn’t have ridden at all during the last month. So anyhow, I knew I was in for a grueling ride.


The good news was I didn’t fall. I clipped-in after the mount line rather seamlessly and got to pedaling. The course followed many under-construction expressways, which were rough, bumpy and full of cracks. I’m glad I took the advice to run the tires as at slightly lower pressure in order to try an avoid a flat.


Almost immediately I began getting passed by other riders, bike after bike. I was out of my element on this course. These riders were strong. I mean, I averaged just over 19mph throughout the course and they were blowing by me like I was standing still. My third indicator of how strong the field was. Mentally, this was a battle for me. It was hard to not get too down on myself about how much faster everyone else was on the bike. I knew I was underprepared given my recent back injury, but I was hoping I could hold my own against some riders. I finally passed two bikes in the 22nd mile on one of the steeper climbs of the course. But about a mile later, they both passed me on a downhill. I was quite happy when I reached the dismount line at mile 25 and knew the bike leg was now behind me.


Finally, my favorite part of the day — the run. I just love the run. I bolted out onto the course and started cruising, focusing on the person in front of me, trying to pass them and then repeat. This is where I started getting some confidence back after a very sub-par bike performance. With my feet back on the ground, I was passing people. It was much harder to do than other races of the year — another indicator of a strong field. But I started noticing I was passing people during the run that had passed me on the bike. I was making up a little ground.

A fairly strong stomach cramp set-in after mile one, which was rather distracting. And to compound that, I really needed to pee. I felt the urge since stepping out of the water. I had tried letting it go while on the bike, and even while running the first mile, but I just couldn’t separate the physical activity I was engaged in enough to let it go (I guess I’ll need to train for that?). TMI? I’m sure this sounds weird to some, but this is what happens during a race. After mile two of the run, I noticed the familiar shape of a cement building that resembled a public parks restroom. It was right along the run course. Do I dare stop and use it? Or do I uncomfortably hold it and try to power through. At this point in the race I knew it wasn’t my day. It wasn’t my race. I was far from podium contention. I bolted into the bathroom, used the urinal and bolted back out onto the course, like I never lost a step. I probably lost 20-30 seconds doing this, but it put me into position to comfortably run my fastest for the last four miles.


I soaked-in every step of those last four miles. Running. Smiling. Passing people. Just enjoying the experience. I opened up a pretty gap during the last mile, turning the last corner towards the finish chute with a huge smile on my face. I ran down the red carpet, past the flowers, flags and spectators thinking to myself, “I get to do this. I have my health, strength and positive mental attitude — and I get to do this. I worked hard to get here. I did it. Just enjoy this moment, man.” And what an epic moment it was.


My USAT AGNC 2018 Results


Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.93 mile)






Bike (25 miles)


19.13 mi/hr





Run (6.2 miles)









*Note about the run split: USAT appears to have averaged the recorded paces from the timing mats throughout the run course versus dividing overall time by overall distance to calculate the split pace, which would have otherwise been 07:17/mile for me.


This race kicked my butt. The swim was the gnarliest of my career. The bike exposed what has become my greatest weakness of the three sports. And even though I had a sstrong run, there were still a lot of athletes were just flat out faster than I was that day — 705 of them to be exact.

The race also showed me how far I’ve come. I think back to the panic attack I had just 200 yards into the quarter-mile swim at Trinona in June — a panic attack that had me questioning if I’d even finish the race. And here I was two months later conquering an unforgiving great lake without pause.

Just one day earlier, while standing in line at packet pick-up, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’ve never been around such a shear number of incredibly fit athletes.” It was intimidating. Everyone just looked fast, even though they were standing still, waiting to receive their race packets. Much like during the national anthem on race morning, I realized I was one of them, earning my way there just as they did. Racing amongst and against them humbled me in a way I hadn’t yet experienced in the sport, realizing I’m far from my ceiling. Yep, while on this day this race wasn’t my race, it left me hungry for more. It was exactly the epic finale to end the season, and also the fire that will burn inside me throughout the offseason.


Race Recap: Turtleman Triathlon 2018

Josh Finish Line

When I scaled-back my registration from Olympic to Sprint at the Minneapolis Triathlon earlier this month, I knew I’d need to call an audible within a few short weeks. I’d need to insert another race into the schedule and get longer distance experience under my belt prior to the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. The Turtleman Triathlon in Shoreview, MN would be my audible.


Almost everything about this race was new to me. This would be my first time racing Turtleman. My first Olympic distance race (technically the swim is a little longer here – 1.1 mile vs 0.93 miles, and the run shorter – 5 miles vs 6.2 miles). My first time seeing this specific course. So since it as all new to me, I just focused on staying relaxed and taking it all in on race morning. I found a comfortable spot in transition (first come, first served), racked my bike and laid out my gear. I walked down to the beach and got my first look at Turtle Lake. I stretched. I maintained a balance of calm and excitement. Maybe the biggest surprise this season has been my sense of calm on race mornings. Even with all the unknowns on this specific race morning, nothing worried me. I was ready to tackle whatever came my way. And welcomed the challenge.


This was probably the best swim of my career. It’s hard to really say how it compares in regards to time and speed since this was my first Olympic distance. But in regards to how I felt, it was by far the best. Here’s what I mean. I didn’t have the slightest thought of panic — for the entire one mile swim. I didn’t question if I could do it or not — for the entire one mile swim. I didn’t stop to take breaks or catch my breath — for the entire one mile swim. My swimming struggles over the last three years have been well documented on this blog. Heck, I had a huge panic attack during the Trinona quarter-mile swim just two months ago. To conquer this one-mile swim with a sense of calm and strength is a point of immense pride.

Josh Swim Exit

Swim exit zipper struggles: proof that not all race photos are glorious and graceful.


This is where the wheels fell off. Not literally, but also not that far off. Exiting T1 was anything but graceful. The race director warned us all during the pre-race meeting that there was a hill immediately after crossing the mount line. She wasn’t kidding. I saw others in front of me struggling to mount on an incline. I clipped-in to my left pedal, pushed off and upwards, and threw my right leg over the frame towards my right pedal. But I missed the clip and my foot slipped. I couldn’t keep the bike rolling uphill with just one leg. And in slow motion, I tipped over, crashing to the ground, with one water bottle falling out and rolling backwards down the hill. Definitely not my greatest of race moments. I scraped-up my knee pretty good, took a gouge out of the skin on my ankle bone and got a few cuts on my hand. A very generous volunteer grabbed my water bottle and ran it up to me — otherwise I probably would’ve ditched it. I noticed a few athletes behind me must’ve said “F it” after seeing me fall and they ran their bikes to the top of the hill, mounting their bikes there. I did the same, ran my bike to the top, made my second mount attempt and got to rolling.

I quickly heard a fluttering sound from my front spokes. Oh great, did I break something in the fall? I pulled-over and noticed my bike computer sensors got twisted. The wheel sensor was out of alignment and the fork sensor was shifted. I made some adjustments and got back to spinning. No dice. No data on the computer screen. I rode for about a mile, struggling with a decision of if I should pullover again, or keep going without the computer. I really didn’t want to lose more time than I already had, but ultimately, I opted to pullover. The speed and mileage data were just too important to efficiency, power utilization, and most importantly — my peace of mind. I adjusted the sensors, pushed-off and started pedaling. Again, no dice. So I went the entire 25 miles without and speed or mileage data. Not ideal, but sometimes things happen. And you just have to roll with it. Luckily, there were mile-markers about every four miles along the course. Could be worse.

Josh Bike

Rolling with the punches.


Finally — the run. My favorite part of the race. This was my first time running after 25 miles in the saddle. I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would respond, but I tore out of transition determined to find out. Well, that quick sprint was short-lived due to a truck and boat trailer pulling-out across the run entrance. This was definitely a first for me — a transition area open to traffic. I wasn’t the only runner mumbling a few choice words under my breath. But after a few seconds, I was back on the course and it didn’t take too much longer than usual to shake out the legs. A stomach cramp set in after the first mile and stuck with me for another two miles, which wasn’t pleasant at all. I kept thinking my calm thoughts and stayed focused on the runner in front of me, trying to pass them and then focusing on the next runner. I just kept on running and didn’t let up.


My Turtleman 2018 Results


Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (1.1 miles)






Bike (25 miles)


16.10 mi/hr





Run (5 miles)


07:16 min/mile








I did it. I finished my first Olympic-ish triathlon. It started out strong, got rough in the middle, then shifted back to positive for a strong finish. Strong enough for a top-ten run too!

That rough patch in the middle — the bike debacle — really threw me for a loop. The fall was one thing. But then to be down on equipment added insult to injury. Literally. But as I mentioned earlier, things happen. And sometimes they’re out of our control. We can’t change that it happened; we can only control our response. I chose to keep going. It was a little frustrating in the moment, but now it’s a story I can look back on and say “I did that silly thing, I got back up and finished the race.”

My back held-up fairly strong in this race too. It had only been three weeks prior that I bulged a disc bending over to light a campfire. And here I was swimming, biking and running my longest combined distance yet. You could definitely say I’m a believer in the powers of physical therapy for getting me back to health this quickly.

Now I turn my sights to the biggest race of my life to date: USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

Race Recap: Minneapolis Triathlon 2018


Sometimes we just flat-out surprise ourselves. We go into something with lowered or relaxed expectations due to circumstances outside of our control. But we still have a choice – allow those circumstances to affect our effort, or still give it our all. I chose the latter, and despite a back injury that left me feeling 70% on race morning, finished the 2018 Minneapolis Triathlon with my best sprint time at this event yet.


I woke up Saturday morning feeling rather relaxed, which is kind of unusual for me on race day. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to race, but the race day stress I usually pile on my shoulders wasn’t there. I knew I was injured. I knew I wasn’t 100% and wouldn’t be able to race as hard as I usually could. But I was happy. Just happy to be healthy enough to compete. Happy to don the Team Save the Children kit and represent the amazing work they do for kiddos around the world. I knew that regardless of the outcome, it was still going to be a good day.

Laughs with Dad

Pre-race laughs and strategy talk with my dad.


The water temperature clocked-in at 79.2°F on race morning, meaning wetsuits were not permitted for the swim (78°F is the cutoff for wetsuit legal swims). This made me a little nervous given my panics of swims-past. But again, the water temp was out of my control. Just gotta roll with the punches and give it my best.

To my surprise, the swim was pretty great. All of the practices during Open Swim Club were paying off. Panicked thoughts never entered my brain, even without my wetsuit safety blanket. And even though the water was warm, it was still a welcomed cool-down after standing on the sun drenched beach for an hour before race start. It turned out to be my best swim time yet — even without a wetsuit. Progress.


No wetsuit; no problem.


Hopping on my bike was the part of the race I feared most. My physical therapist said I could do any activity I wanted unless is involved leaning forward. Well, that’s the only posture I’d have on a bike – leaning forward. I made it eight miles before the back pain set in and it wasn’t pleasant. It turned into a constant ache that intensified as I rolled over each crack in the road. I let my share of four-letter words fly during the last seven miles.

This was also my first race using clipless pedals and shoes. I was excited by the efficiencies this would bring, but also nervous given my lack of preparation for mounting and dismounting. I was still determining my strategy after transition closed that morning. Ultimately, I opted for no socks and wearing the shoes as I ran to the mount line to clip-in. Luckily, I mounted the bike without issue and got to pedaling. For the dismount, I unstrapped the shoes after making the final turn onto Nokomis Parkway, pulled my feet out and rode barefoot on top of the shoes until I reached the dismount line. I seamlessly hopped off the bike and ran back to my spot in transition. Success. Looks like I found my mount/dismount strategy.

Bike Into T2.jpg

The bike took its toll on my back.


My favorite part of the race. The run has always been my strongsuit and that was evident on this day. I slugged a gel on the way out of T2 and cruised onto the run course. I felt like I found another gear as all of my energy poured into my feet. My run strategy was effective once again, breaking it up into smaller increments by trying to pass the person in front of me and then focusing-in on the next person. It’s not that I’m trying to beat that person, but it’s that I by doing this I’m pushing myself harder and faster. And that’s who I’m competing against – myself. I always want to put my best foot forward and be better than I was last time. Well the strategy worked. I posted a PR 5K time — and I’m not just talking 5K at the end of a triathlon PR, I’m talking a straight-up overall 5K PR, breaking my time at last fall’s TC5K which I hadn’t swam and biked before running. With sub-seven-minute miles, I posted the 13th fastest run of field that was 548 deep. Proud of that.


Channeling my inner-cheetah.


Pleasantly surprised by these 2018 numbers. To be this competitive while only feeling 70% taught me a lesson not only in the power of pre-race relaxation, but also in mental strength and believing in myself to always be my best self.

My MPLS 2018 Results


Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.47 miles)


02:03 min/100m







Bike (14.8 miles)


20.16 mi/hr







Run (3.1 miles)


06:46 min/mile







And even more pleasantly surprised when comparing them back to 2017 and 2016. The only segment I didn’t improve in was T2, which makes sense to me since I had to change from bike shoes to running shoes here, whereas the previous two years I already had those running shoes on from wearing them on the bike with platform pedals.

My MPLS Tri Comparison

MPLS Tri 2016

MPLS Tri 2017

MPLS Tri 2018

Swim (0.47 miles)








Bike (14.8 miles)








Run (3.1 miles)








PostRace with Dad.jpg

Celebrating and laughing some more with my dad.


It was an honor to once again be a part of Team Save the Children, raising awareness and funds for the work they do around the world, including right here in the United States, to help innocent children gain access to education, health care and nutrition while fighting to save them from poverty, discrimination and violence. Even with my back injury just one week prior, I knew if there was any chance I’d still be able to race, I’d be at the start line for Save the Children. I felt an immense sense of commitment not only to the organization, but also to those who supported my personal fundraising efforts along the way. I wanted to be there to represent them and their contributions to such a worthy cause. Together, we helped make a child’s life happier, healthier and safer. Together, we made a difference. Thank you.

In regards to my race performance, what can I say. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Racing through pain pushed me in ways I hadn’t been challenged before. I got my first lesson in suffering and powering through it. The result was rewarding and confidence boosting. Another reminder that we’re capable of much more than we may think we are.


That moment when you realize you did it, and are all smiles.


When Injury Strikes

This week was rough. I always knew an injury would impact my training and racing at some point; I just didn’t know when. Well, it finally happened. And there isn’t even a good story behind it. I wasn’t lifting a boulder. I wasn’t chasing a bear. Nope, nothing cool like that. On Saturday evening, just 12 hours after finishing the Lake Monster one mile swim race, I bent over to light a campfire and felt a burning pain in my lower back that immediately and drastically reduced my ability to stand up straight again.

I awoke the next morning with a stiffness in my back that wouldn’t allow me to get comfortable for the entire day. I couldn’t stand up straight. And I was twisted towards my right side. All I could think about was “how the heck was I going to be able to complete a triathlon six days from now?”

I was fortunate enough to be squeezed-in Monday morning to see a physical therapist who has a spine specialty. Chiropractic care has always made me a little nervous. I liked the idea of utilizing physical therapy first to address the inflammation and range of motion versus a quick manipulation that may or not work. I know a lot people swear by chiro, and I believe it works, this is just my personal preference to try first. My diagnosis was a bulged disc and was assigned variations of prone press ups to do every two to three hours, helping to stretch my spine and related muscles backwards.

Within the first day I noticed improvement. I was able to put socks on without feeling it was impossible. I started standing straighter and felt less twist. I went for walks in the evenings, noticing day-to-day improvements there as well, going from 20-minute miles to 17-minute miles. I was still rather uncomfortable, but was making progress.

I had a follow-up appointment on Thursday and confirmed the improvement I’d been noticing on my own. I was still nowhere near 100%, but maybe 60-70% or so. My physical therapist didn’t recommend racing this weekend, but said I also wasn’t in danger of doing irreversible damage, just delaying my return to 100%. He understood my desire to compete and honor the commitment I made through Team Save the Children. I was assigned another progression of the press ups and given the option to up the frequency to every one to two hours over the next day to see if that got me to a better spot for race day, allowing my symptoms to drive my decision. It was up to me — a decision I’d find myself putting much thought into.

So here I am, Friday the 13th, the day before the Minneapolis Triathlon. I woke up this morning feeling decent, still with some discomfort but miles ahead of where I was earlier in the week. I ran a mile last night — my first run of the week and a drastic change compared to my 30 mile weekly average — and it felt ok. I could feel discomfort during the run, but it got progressively better as I ran. I was pleasantly surprised to still feel decent in the morning knowing the run didn’t set me backwards. My mind was still set on racing my first Olympic/International distance triathlon.

I went back and forth throughout the day on what I should do. Should I look into a reduced distance? Should I even race at all? I had come to terms that I wouldn’t be 100% and I’d have to be ok with not being able to put my best performance on the course. But I also knew this was no longer my “A race” of the summer. That was now the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Cleveland, OH next month. And I want to put myself in the best position to be 100%, or as close to it as possible, for that race. So after giving it much thought, I decided to drop my registration down to the sprint distance.

I attended the pre-race meeting, picked-up my packet and walked over to the solutions tent to make the change official. It was an easy adjustment to make. I immediately felt a little bummed. I felt like I was pressing an easy button, even though I know the sprint is still going to take a toll on my back. If you didn’t already know this about me, I’m pretty damn hard on myself. There’s still a part of me that believes I could complete the long distance event. But logically, reducing the distance, and the toll that will ultimately be taken on my body, puts me in the best position for Nationals next month. It was the smart choice to make. And when I keep that big picture view in mind, it makes the decision a little easier to reflect back upon.

The best part is that I’ll still be racing tomorrow and representing Team Save the Children. Once again I’ve been humbled by the generosity shown from family and friends through my personal fundraiser. Together we raised $600 dollars that is going to make life a little better for some kiddos around the globe. Together we made a difference — thank you! It will be with great pride that I wear the Team Save the Children kit, honoring and raising awareness for the work they do to help innocent children gain access to education, health care and nutrition while fighting to save them from poverty, discrimination and violence. It’s a constant inspiration and reminder to me that there is good in the world.

So tonight I’ll continue my press ups to help keep my back stretched and flexed. I’ll gather my gear for tomorrow and check it twice. And I’ll have my usual night-before-the-race beer with dinner to unwind. Then I’ll try to get to sleep early. And I’ll sleep well knowing I made the smart choice. Tomorrow’s a big day. I have no idea how my back will respond to the activity load, but I’m more than ready to find out. I’m ready to race!

Challenge & Opportunity Ahead


Two weeks have passed since my podium-topping age group finish at Trinona. I took two days off of training afterwards to rest and soak in the accomplishment. Then I got right back to it. New challenges and opportunities loom on the summer’s horizon.

So what’s first? Swimming. More swimming. Considering my panic attack 200 yards into the Trinona swim, I still have plenty of work to do as I gear-up for longer distance events this summer. Knocking-out more laps in the pool is one option, but I really wanted get out in the open water more. So I joined the the Minneapolis Open Water Swim Club. Being a part of this club gives me the opportunity to swim a lifeguarded course across Lake Nokomis and back three times per week, and at Cedar Lake twice per week. It’s perfect practice for the step-up in distance that I’ll be tackling this summer.


A successful 0.75 mile swim across Lake Nokomis and back!

In another attempt to strengthen my swimming-related mental-toughness, I signed-up for the Lake Monster 1-2-3 swim race on Saturday, July 7 at Lake Nokomis. This event offers one, two and three mile distances — I opted for the one mile event. This will be the same distance as my first Olympic/International distance triathlon that occurs exactly one week later on the same lake. I’m a little fearful that participating in this event provides an opportunity for another panic attack that would undoubtedly carry over into the next weekend. But more so, I see this as an opportunity to face that fear head-on, come out on the other side stronger from the challenge and be even more prepared for my first attempt at a longer distance triathlon.

Speaking of that next race, I’ll be competing in the Life Time Tri Minneapolis Triathlon on Saturday, July 14 at Lake Nokomis. This will be my third time competing at this event, but it will be my very first attempt at an Olympic/International distance triathlon (0.93 mile swim, 24.5 mile bike, 6.2 mile run), which is twice the distance of a sprint tri. Doing something for the first time is always a little scary. It’s also a chance to step outside the comfort zone and find out what I’m capable of. And I’ll be full of motivation and inspiration for this event, competing as part of Team Save the Children, raising funds and awareness for the amazing work they do to protect and nurture kiddos around the globe.

Save the Children helps innocent children gain access to education, health care and nutrition while fighting to save them from poverty, discrimination and violence. I’d be honored if you joined me in my journey for positive impact. Together, we can help make a child’s life happier, healthier and safer. Together, we can be the difference. Please consider making a donation and visit my personal fundraising page today:

And last, but not least, there’s plenty of logistical planning and training to do throughout the rest of July and into August. Last week I received my official qualification notification and invitation to the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. I’ll be registering for the Olympic/International distance, which is an invite-only race that I qualified for by winning my age group at Trinona (there is also a sprint distance event the following day which has open registration). The top 18 finishers in each age group at this event will earn the opportunity to represent the United States at the 2019 ITU World Championships in Switzerland. I don’t know that I’m quite on that level yet, but I’m absolutely honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to compete against some of the best triathletes in the country!

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The dividends of hard work and continuous effort.