Going all the way back to the summer of 2006, I can vividly remember my first triathlon experience. At that point I was headed into my last year at Lehigh University where I was a member of the NCAA Division I Cross Country and Track teams. I had just received a 1998 Trek with carbon tubing and aluminum lugs as a birthday present from my Uncle a few weeks prior( to use in some cross training while not running). That summer I started riding with my buddy Dave Hryvniak and he convinced me with only a few weeks of bike training in me to sign up for my first triathlon - the Mini-Mussel Triathlon! I was very concerned about the swim though as I have never swam a lap of organized swimming in my life! All I had really done before was splash around and play Marco Polo. Back then, the swim was thankfully only 350 meters but with the same bike and run as it is today.
When I toed the line I had no idea what I was in for, yet it was all so exciting. I remembered the gun going off and immediately my heart was pumping out of my chest. Half way through the swim I thought I might not finish it but I kept going. Finally as I dragged myself out of the water, (in about 60th place in my wave) I got onto my bike and started hammering. I can honestly say it was all a big surprise to me when I kept passing more and more athletes. After the scenic rolling hills bike ride taking me along the shores of Lake Geneva I came back to the transition zone in about 10th place. My dad was as surprised to see how many spots I made up on the bike as I was. After leaving transition 2, I started to run and remember to this day the jelly legs that I had. I was in great shape at that time as I was in the middle of 80 mile weeks. After passing a few more athletes by mile one, the piano finally fell off my back and the legs started moving again. Before I knew it, I was in the lead with about a half mile to go. I ended up crossing the finish line first of the day utterly shocking myself. I ended up finishing second overall that day to the one and only Curt Eggers and my interest in triathlons started. I will always remember that race and have so many fond memories over the years in Geneva at the Musselman Triathlon. I have been fortunate enough to have won the Mini-Mussel 3 times in 2010, 2011 and 2013 but have never competed in the full Musselman.
This year, I am excited to say that I will be coming back once again to where my triathlon career started but this time not to do the mini but to do the full! Since the last time I raced here in 2013, I have been competing more in the half Ironman and full Ironman distance where I have been fortunate enough to have gone sub 4 hours in a half and 9:11 in a full. This season though has been all about having fun and doing different things. I raced the NYC Half marathon, 2 ITU sprint draft legal races, a SwimRun event and this past weekend competed at the NYC Triathlon Olympic distance. With an 8th place performance against a tough pro field last weekend going 1:52 in NYC, I am primed and excited to race this week at the Musselman Triathlon!
It is amazing to see how life has changed since I first raced here in Geneva 12 years ago. I have gotten married to an understanding and amazing wife Chelsea, have an awesome 2 year old little dude, earned my Doctorate in Optometry and have since moved to Charlottesville, VA. Triathlons don't define me but they have been a big part of my life and it all started here. I really do love this race weekend and tell everyone I know they should partake at some point. I hope to see you all out there this weekend and please stop and say hi. I love this sport, I love the challenge and I love this race! See you this weekend!