Wow. What an experience it was representing USA at the 2008 ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championship in Almere, Holland.
My head is filled with so many memories, and my heart much pride, that I really don’t know where to start. A part of me still hasn’t put the amazing experience in context, while another part has a need to share it early and often.
And so I will honor this need by starting somewhere — here with these pictures. There will be many, many more pictures and certainly more stories, all to come.
I hope this early sampling of photos shows the pride in my heart, for this — the experience of racing for country on such a big stage — is something I will never forget.
ITU Long Course World Championship – Almere, Holland
August 31, 2008
Swim Start: A final wave to Heather before jumping into the water for what was supposed to be 4K swim (2.48 miles) but was, in reality, much longer at 4.8K and with strong currents made possible by the high winds changing direction right at race start.
Swim Exit: Shortly after the longest swim of my life, where I swam farther than ever before and in conditions much tougher than expected, I finally climbed out of the Gooimeer, site of the swim, and made my way into Transition for the bike. After this picture was taken, I needed a good luck kiss from Heather to help set my day straight.
Bike Start – Flat Tire: Immediately after mounting the bike and pushing forward to ramp up to speed, something beneath me went horribly wrong. My front tire was flat! And I wasn’t even 10 meters into the course.
Bike Start – Tire Change: And so after a very difficult and slow swim, before I even hit the bike course, I had to change my front tire. Heather, off to the side unbeknownst to me, snapped a photo. She called my name a few times but decided I needed to focus. Although it seriously sucked to flat so soon into the race, it was very cool to hear the fans supporting my efforts with “Go Thor!” and “U-S-A, U-S-A!” It hit me while changing the tire that my fortune, although taking a turn for the worse in the race, was as rich as ever — that’s right, I got a flat in a World Championship race!
Bike Loop 2 Start: Starting bike loop number two with a smile, I was trying to gain back as much time as possible due to the slow swim and flat at the bike start. Here you can see a pesky Netherlands athlete who, despite my attempts to shake with first kind words and next not-so-kind words and a few other actions (middle finger, spit, sport drink spray), sucked my wheel for about 25 miles of the course. I kid you not. I even told a race official on motorbike. Nothing. So I ignored him and got back to work.
Run Start Loop 2: Starting loop two of the run, just after coming through the finish area, I knew Heather, my number one supporter and love, would be up ahead, so I prepared to unload my hydration belt — it chaffed me too badly to carry on — and my sunglasses. I could have used the shades, but the very hot and dry temperatures kept fogging them over, and I was too tired and hurting and holding on to give them the cleaming care they needed.
Wait until the official race photos come out. I finished with that flag, held overhead, waving in the air behind me. It was my Olympics. For I am a World Champ!