“This is the race plan, all or nothing”, he screamed. These were the words of a three time world champion as he overtook for me for the lead 50 miles into the bike ride of the 2013 70.3 Worlds in Henderson, NV. He went on to win the Championship, whereas I went on to stagger over the line after a massive meltdown and multiple stops in the portajohn. We had vastly different results, but we had the same tactic; all or nothing. Sebastian Kienle and I forged a bond that day, and it’s a bond that I also share with any athlete that also lives and dies on the racecourse by this code. It’s a code forged through hard work, honor and respect for the sport, through training to your limits day after day, and toeing the line with pride race after race. I don’t always see that same respect unto me as I give to my competition, but I couldn’t ever imagine racing any other way. It’s who I am.
I grew up as a swimmer. I was a racer from the first time I put a cap and goggles on. I adopted a fierce competitive spirit as a young swimmer that transitioned seamlessly into professional triathlon. When I race now as a triathlete, I race to my strengths. I’ve led out of the water every race I’ve done this year, with exceptions to Escape from Alcatraz after a fatal navigation error. From this point, it’s head down on the bike to try and increase or maintain my lead. Racing from the front on the bike normally involves a lot of games, patience and guts. Every u-turn is a chance to gauge time gaps, but also a chance to sew doubt into your competitors. Do I glance their way or refuse to acknowledge them? Or flip them the bird with all the confidence in the world? While I’ve never had that kind of audacity, I’ve thought and laughed about doing it on more than one occasion. There’s no time for jokes on the run though, because the pain really starts once I’m off the bike. If I’m winning a race, it’s normally because I’ve been off the front the whole day.
Most recently I won the Xiamen 70.3 in China in wire-to-wire fashion, and it goes down in my mind as one of the best ‘races’ thus far in my career. I had a 2 minute lead out of the rough water swim and a 5 minute lead on Tim Don heading onto the run. Over the three lap run, he’d taken 2.5 minutes out of me the first lap, and another 2 minutes on the second. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the win was about to be snatched from me on the last lap. I was hurting massively; my lungs were burning and my legs caving, but fortunately Crowie was there on the sidelines cheering me on. I had come to terms with not winning the race at this point, though as I passed Crowie with 4.5 miles to go, he told me that Don looked horrible and to run with him with everything I had when he attempted to pass. I nodded and eased up, ready to go to the well against Don in one last attempt. I waited a minute, and waited some more, but the pass never came. I glanced back and couldn’t see Don. In that second I was overcome with adrenaline, and I said to myself calmly, “all or nothing”. With a massive grimace, I pulled away to win by 90 seconds over the former World Champion for my 7th 70.3 title. My dream is to someday be in Kona, and for these words to motivate me in the same ways it has since the first time I heard them. But no matter where I’m racing, you can bet that I’ll be doing just that, going all or nothing.
Thanks for reading - JA -
Photo Credit Shout Out To - Wesley Xie for the cool shots