MICHAEL LOVATO | Professional Triathlete

 

PART BEAR. PART MAN. ALL AMERICAN

 

Lonestar Sprint Triathlon

Thursday, April 3, 2008


In some ways, I felt like I was going back in time about fifteen or sixteen years. I was traveling across the large state of Texas, en route to a sprint triathlon; my bike was on the roof, collecting bugs; and I was enjoying the company of a good friend, as we admired the wildflowers on the sides of the highway. It was just awesome.

Almost a week ago (I’m slow to update, as usual), Amanda and I headed down to Galveston Island for the Lonestar Tri. I was planning to do the sprint on Saturday, and Amanda was set for the Quarter on Sunday (1/4 of an Iroman). We left the dogs with Uncle Fred, so it was just the two of us, our bikes, and a lot of gear… and food.

What it reminded me of was my first full season of racing triathlons back in 1993. I had just discovered the sport; I had just met a bunch of great folks; and I was driving all over the place to do every race I could fit in my schedule: Athens, Corpus Christi, Del Rio, Jefferson, Grand Prairie and Canyon Lake. We went everywhere.

On Saturday morning, when I strolled out of my hotel room and down into transition to pick up my packet, a flood of memories overtook me. I was seeing some of the same faces from way back in the early nineties: Dave Sing, Carl Stewart. I was anticipating a brand new event. I was unsure of how I would feel racing. Somehow the newness of the venue, coupled with the sameness in my mind’s eye made me feel strangely nervous, excited, comfortable, and relaxed. I loved it.

Amanda showed up to see me off in the swim. It was somewhere between 500 and 600 meters (or was it yards). I do not know, and it does not matter. I was in the second wave (how long has it been since the last time I did not get the first wave!?!), and I was ready to swim flat out for the duration. It was truly a refreshing break from the strategy-laden, pace-oriented swim of an Ironman. I swam until I blew up. Then I just swam a few more meters and got out. How cool.

Next up was a FAST transition. Fortunately, I got my helmet positioned and strapped in no time. My flying mount was flawless, and I was on the way.

Just as I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable with the intensity of the bike ride, I realized I was at the turnaround. Whoa. The 12.5 mile bike ride was over before I knew it.

Coming into T2, I was so excited for the run. Of all three sports, my run training has been the best. Not unlike that first season, when my run was my only fighting chance, I was about to make my move.

I slipped into my shoes without socks. This is something I have gone away from as an Ironman and 70.3 athlete. It just seems so fun to be carefree and fast and sock-less. I was off to run a 5k. I figured that was not the time to worry about blowing up. Again, how bad would it be if I blew up for the second half. I could always make 1.5 miles.

The pain I felt for that 55 minutes (plus or minus) was awesome. No matter how much my legs or lungs or arms hurt, I was almost done. I felt I was almost done when the gun went off!

After the race I stood at the finish line for probably 45 minutes. I shook hands of random finishers; I talked splits and data; I admired those who won their sprint finishes; and I reveled in the return to my roots.

I reflected on how far I have come in the sport. After racing my first triathlon on a mountain bike, wearing soccer shorts, and struggling to finish the sprint, I have made my way back to my roots. Sure, I’ve won a few races between then and now, but in the end, I’m still right where I started: having fun sharing a great sport with great people.

I am grateful to have shared in many others’ experience at their first triathlon. Thank you for sharing it with me, and I urge you to enjoy the journey the sport will present to you. I remember vividly (now even more so) how much that first race impacted my life. Many moons ago I got hooked, and I am as hooked now as I was then!

11 Comment(s)

Bigun on 4/5/08 said:

Yet again securing your place in my “favorite pro” category.

Dinger on 4/5/08 said:

Amanda, I hope you enjoyed the draft around the swim course last Sunday at the quarter. Sorry about not giving you any space to come through on the inside of that last turn.

In all seriousness, you guys showing up at races like this make the experience that much more memorable for mortals like us.

sincerely,
#681, the feet in front of you

Speedo-guy on 4/7/08 said:

Great race in Galveston Michael. I consider it an honor to say that I was beat handily by 9th place at last years Hawaii Ironman. It was great to see some pro’s at one of the local Texas races. Good luck for your 2008 season!

Chris on 4/7/08 said:

Very Cool post and reflection on the race.

I agree with bigun! Hey, maybe nice guys do end of first! :-)

Ben on 4/8/08 said:

You have a great attitude, Michael. See ya round FAC.

ginny on 4/14/08 said:

How fun! Hey – I hope you are going to come do Jack’s Generic. It’s my favorite race (along with Buffalo Springs). Ginny

jessithompson on 4/15/08 said:

Michael,

I’ve been a long time fan and just ran across your blog. I was in the stands watching as you won IM Cd’A and have been impressed since then by your gracious nature and attitude (always aproachable)… staying LATE into the night welcoming everyone to the finish. Saw you in Kona as well at the Underpants Run (we were the crazy club all decked out in red boas and crazy red bozo wigs). Nice undies by the way ;) ! Anyway, I just wanted to say that your race report from a relatively lil ol’ sprint in Texas goes down as one of my all time favorites. If you don’t mind, I’m going to put a link to it on my blog because I think we all need a reminder to get out of our heads sometimes and just enjoy sharing a “great sport with great people”.

Thanks again.
Jessi

Viv on 4/16/08 said:

Michael, this was my first tri experience. It was awesome, and I am officially hooked. As, I was coming out of T2 you were crossing the finish line! I enjoyed that little interview you gave at the award ceremony. You are a real stand up athlete. Best of luck to you this season :-)

CoachLiz on 4/17/08 said:

Michael,

Thank you for a great post. I am going to send a link to it to all of my athletes that were out there getting their first sprint triathlon under their belt that morning.

They had the time of their life and cannot wait until their next event at the Cap Tex Tri.

Good luck at CdA!

Tea on 4/21/08 said:

Iloved this post! Even for me, remembering that first race (which wasn’t that long ago), brings back the best memories. :)

Flatman on 6/18/08 said:

Dude…those shoes are uber-hawt!

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