My name is Joe DeVreese. I own 2 running shops in Santa Barbara, CA. I consider myself an ultra trail running junkie. I find trail running and racing to be so rewarding. It is not always about the time or splits you run. For me, it's more about the journey, the experience and what I take away from that. One year ago we formed our first Santa Barbara Mountain Racing Team and we are stoked to be running and racing in rabbit this year. Last weekend I had the opportunity to race in our rabbit kit in the Angeles Crest 100 mile trail race (sidenote: the most comfortable gear ever. No chafing, no rubbing. It really was perfect). I chose to race in the welcome to the gun show singlet and the daisy dukes (yeah, the shorty shorts).
The 2016 Angeles Crest 100 was my second time to run this race. I will not go into details about my 2015 AC100 experience, but let me just say I had some unfinished business to take care of. This picture from last year pretty much says it all…I am here with my friend and ultrarunner legend Billy Simpson sitting a deadman’s bench at mile 80 of the race saying at prayer to whatever God would listen to get me to the finish last year.
The route: the race starts in Wrightwood, California and finishes in Altadena, California via the San Gabriel Mountains all just above Los Angeles, California. It is 100 miles overtechnical terrain at an elevation gain of over 20,000 feet. Cut-off time is 33 hours.
My AC weekend started on Friday, Augst 5th with my crew and pacers Dave Odell and Mark Warren. We headed out of Santa Barbara in the Sprinter…coffee in hand (of course only Handlebar coffee). The van was loaded with the yeti cooler, gels (only had three during the race), bars, Renaud’s pastries (killer idea), coca cola, plenty of water to get us all through the day and night, head lamps, and a patio chair to sit in at the aid stations. As we are heading to Wrightwood, the three of us make our plans and strategies in how we will tackle the rugged mountain course. I’m excited and nervous, mainly because of what happened to me last year as I didn't want to experience that kind of suffering again. As we pull up to town, I see familiar faces which set me at ease for a bit. I do the check in, catch up with other runners, get my number, hit the pre-race meeting and then check into the cabin.
I was very wound up and having a hard time relaxing once we got to the cabin. We hit dinner a block away (Mile High Pizza). I spoke to my wife, Monica, and the boys before hitting the sack and the best advice from the day came from Monica “just relax and enjoy the day tomorrow”. That is just what I needed to hear before I went to bed. I set my alarm for a 4:00 am wake up, had a fine cup of coffee (thanks Dave), some oatmeal and a 500 calorie pastry from my favorite local pastry shop in Santa Barbara, Renauds. We walked to the start at 4:40 for the 5am start. I was feeling excited. We listened to Uncle Hal (the race director) do his prayer and then came the 10 second countdown.
It’s 5am and we were off. I took my time up the first climb. It is a 2000 foot climb up Acorn to Inspiration. It felt easier than last year, but my time was about the same. I roll into the first aid station at 9.3 miles, do a fast switch of bottles with Mark and Dave and start my climb up Baden Powell, a mountain full of switchback splendor which tops out around 9,600 feet. I’m feeling really relaxed and keep repeating what Monica had said the night before. It seems to be working. I cruise into mile 26.5 and meet my crew, take a seat, eat, fuel up on an almond croissant and my first coca cola, which tastes so refreshing on these kind of runs. My nephew, Nick, who lives in LA was out cheering for me as I made the climb up Baden Powell and snapped this photo.
I make my way down Highway 2 for a bit, the day is starting to really heat up and I never allow myself to push too hard. I think at that point I’m around 25th place. I enter the new section of the course with a climb up Mt. Pacifico, a 4.5 mile climb on a hot exposed rocky road, running with a guy from Denver, CO and we work together to the top. Once I hit the top, I eased into a nice pace all the way back down and found myself feeling rather good.
I hit the 50-mile marker, grabbed a few things off the table to eat and made my way to Chilao where Dave and Mark are waiting (mile 53). Mark is ready to pace me to mile 75. We keep moving pretty solid up to mile 60, the Shortcut Saddle aid station. This will be the last time we see Dave until he takes over pacing duties at mile 75. I slam some soup and eat some quesadillas.
From there, Mark and I have a 5.5 mile downhill section where we try to keep a 8:30 - 9:00 minute pace. The sun is still high, we are both cooking and we are looking forward to it setting, it was still hot. We make it to the next aid station at Newcomb, mile 68, and its still light out. Last year it was already pitch-dark at this point for me. I remember telling Mark there that I was tired. I grabbed my drop bag, took my headlamp out and threw on my long-sleeved rabbit top (I’m wear testing a new top coming out in the Fall) and we split. The next 7-miles were just beautiful! The sun was setting and we were catching glimpses of the LA lights below. I got a sense I was getting close to being done even though I had 30 more miles to go. We roll in to Chantry Flats, which is mile 75. Dave is there, waiting with a bag of burgers from the Habit. I wished so badly I could have stomached a burger, but I just couldn’t. I tried to have a few bites and then Dave and I were off for the last 25 miles. Right out of Chantry Flats we climb back up to 7000 feet. My goal was just make it to Dead Mans Bench, which is 1 mile from the top of Mt. Wilson…everyone stops there, it’s all lit up with x-mas lights and from the bench you have a killer view of LA… sparkling lights for miles and miles.
We hit the top of that climb and I know I have 19 miles to the finish and I am starting to smell it a touch. We have another decent and Dave is setting a great pace that I wish I could keep up with, I’m struggling, but we make it to the next aid station. I sip on some soup and ginger ale and off we go to the next and last big climb back up another 2000 feet or so…and I am just pooped. Dave makes a good plan to hike for .30 mile and rest for 30 seconds or so, all of a sudden I was only focusing on the .30 and not the entire climb. It freaking worked and we make it to the top to the Sam Merrill aid station. I’m sitting in the chair chatting with the wonderful volunteers and all of a sudden I have to puke. It all comes up…all of the food and cokes I have consumed during the race blanket the back of that aid station. I tell Dave I think its all blood (23 hours of running will make you think like that) and the poor guy comes over to inspect and there was no sign of blood. After that, I actually really started feeling better with 10 miles to go. I knew at this point I was not going to break the 24 hour mark and earn the sub-24 hour buckle, but there is the second sunrise buckle and I knew it was very doable to still make the cutoff time for that (it changes every year, but this year it was about 25:30). We refocus and set our sights on getting that buckle. The next 10 miles were rocky single track. Once again, Dave sets a blistering pace and this time I’m locked in staring at his HOKA Speedgoats in front of me. Picking our way through the rocks, big drops and switchbacks, we pass three runners and their pacers in the last 4 miles, which was more fuel for the fire. We make it down to the fire road with 2 miles to go. I savor those last 2 miles, it's so sweet to know you are going to make it and that all the hard trails are behind you. It about 5:30am and we run into the park where I see Monica, DeAnna and Mark and its a great reunion at the finish line.
Me at the finish with my crew and pacers, Dave and Mark - I can’t thank these guys enough.
What took me 31:44 last year took me 24:28 this year for 19th place overall. AC100 and I are now even. I’m so glad I had both experiences. I believe it’s the perfect combo to learn and grow from. Its all about the journey, the good, the bad, the ugly and making it through. That is ultra trail running life in 24 hours.
“The only way out is through” - Billy Simpson, Ultra Running Legend
We can't think of a more perfect way to start our F U E L E D F R I D A Y: watching the women's Olympic 10,000 meters final, eating double chocolate waffles + nutella cream and sipping on a freshly brewed cup of Handlebar coffee. We are stoked for the weekend!
This week our F U E L E D F R I D A Y feature is brought to you again by one of our dear friends, foodie and all around RAD creative chick, Michelle Battista. Michelle is a Creative Contributor to rabbit, Creator of Small Suppers, Owner of Stockpot Collective, 1/2 Owner of Ned Ludd, Proprietress of Elder Hall - - - Currently at home in sunny Portland, Oregon.
Every now and then, we all need a little BS in our lives. Heck, it’s good for you. Really good, in fact.
Yes, of course, we are talking about Brussels sprouts. This week our F U E L E D F R I D A Y recipe is a simple goodie – roasted Brussels sprouts.
You know, Brussels sprouts sometimes get a bad rap, for a myriad of reasons. Insert fart joke here. Yes, they can be quite notorious for causing gas. BUT, most people can eat these little vegetable treasures just fine. And if you can, you should. Brussels sprouts are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Packed with Vitamin C and K, Brussels sprouts can help lower the level of the “bad” cholesterol, as well as inhibit DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Plus, they have protein, iron, and potassium. I mean, #winning!
It is rather easy to make Brussels sprouts taste delicious. You just need a few basic ingredients and a hot oven, and voila! So, let’s get started.
First, when shopping for Brussels sprouts, pick the bright green ones that are firmly packed. Once you’ve selected your batch, wash and cut into halves.
Next, throw your sprouts on a baking pan and drizzle with some high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar (you can even use flavored balsamic). Add a little salt and pepper and you are done. It is really that easy.
Throw into a pre-heated oven at 400-450 degrees for 25-40 min (depending on how sweet/crunchy/charred you like them).
Generally, the longer the roast, the sweeter the sprout. We like to go with 450 degrees for 30 min or so (and we like them a little blackened with that crisp).
Once they have been roasted to your liking, take them out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before you enjoy these delicious veggie nuggets. This recipe is just so super simple and your body will be thankful for the nutritious-deliciousness!
Veg / V / GF / Paleo
- the rabbit crew
Big super duper exciting news from one of our RADrabbitPROs!!! Read this great blog from our very own Sabrina Little and hear about how she will represent the United States at the 50-Mile World Championship in Portugal:
Big [Little] News:
One day in November, I came home from a weekend away and went for a run-lamenting a probable lack of fitness.
I’d missed a few days of training for a conference, after a period of relatively lower mileage. So that day, I trotted without expectation. After the first mile, my watched beeped: 6:10.
“Surely that’s not right,” I thought. I felt like I was moving too easily, and while I often hit 6:xx during training runs, it doesn’t happen accidentally and never feels very easy. I'm an ultrarunner. I go far more often than fast.
But as the miles clicked by, the pace stayed where it was. And when I ran the next day, the same thing happened. I wasn’t out of shape like I thought. For the first time in a long time, I was rested.
Rest. It’s not a new concept. But for a lot of runners (me included), it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing hard every day. Fast is exciting. Slow means you have to admit to yourself your limitations as a finite entity. But when you push hard every day, you have to slow down because nothing is a special effort anymore. I know this. I teach this as a coach. Still, historically I have resisted rest.
Since November, I have been incorporating more rest and cross training days, and while the Texas summer is suppressing my speedwork, I’ve seen a lot of improvement from last summer to this one. Races have gone better as well.
Thus far, I have raced four times this year:
Rocky Raccoon 100 – 1st Place, 100-Mile National Trail Champion [2 hours, 11 minute improvement from my winning time in 2012]
Bearathon Half Marathon – 3rd Place – [Most significantly, I tied my husband. Contrary to popular opinion, this was not a planned outcome. I tried to drop him, and he tried to drop me. It turns out that when you do the same workouts, have the same sleep schedule, and eat the same foods, you become the same athlete. So, yes…We finished holding hands, but only because his hand was right next to mine for the entire race.]
Toughest in Texas 50K – 1st place overall – [I improved upon my course record by 15+ minutes, which was really encouraging.]
Cayuga 50-mile – 2nd Place, 50-Mile National Championship runner-up – This was significant because…I qualified for my second national team!
I guess it’s a weird time to announce I’m running for America. Vote for me. But don’t. It’s not that kind of running.
In late October, four other women and I will represent the United States at the 50-Mile World Championship in Portugal. You can read the press release here. Judging by my incredible teammates, I think we can do really well.
There are some experiences that are so surreal that it’s difficult to recall them as a non-fictional part of your personal history. For me, running for the US at the 2013 24-Hour World Championships was one of those. It is an honor to represent the United States, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
In Other News:
If you know me well, you know that I have a history of questionable fashion choices.
Well, in the past two weeks, my outfits have suddenly become coherent and sensible. Miracle? No. I signed with clothing company, rabbit! I love them. rabbit is a California-based, running-specific clothing company. Their clothes fit well, handle heat beautifully, and look great. fabbit’s founders are runners (talented runners), and their excitement for the sport is contagious.
I am thrilled about the team aspect of being a RADrabbitPRO. I am always emboldened by the goals of other athletes, and I’ve already been inspired by my teammates’ training and racing successes. Most of rabbit’s pro team consists of elite athletes with day jobs—like me. The company embraces and encourages us as whole people—with jobs, messy lives, and big running dreams. It’s a joy to run for this team.
In races, even though you’re the only one on the starting line, it’s not really just you. You stand there with your head and heart full of conversations you’ve had recently, and with the support of family and friends. You stand there based on the generosity of people who believe in the beauty of your goals. fabbit stands on the starting line with me now, and I'm proud to wear their singlet. I’ve been on the team for two weeks, and I am already abundantly grateful for their support.
Secondly, I was recently involved in a documentary—Just One Step. It is about the mental side of running. The director came to Waco to interview me, and then interviewed the team I coach (and love).
He filmed track practice. Then he hid in the forest during the Toughest ‘n Texas 50K with a video camera, and when he couldn’t access me directly, his drone did.
Have you ever been filmed by a drone? It feels like being chased by a hairdryer in the woods. I recommend it. Somehow, every time I was having a weak moment, I would think, “Ah, good. I’m glad the director isn’t seeing this right now.” And then he’d pop out of a bush. So be on the lookout for this! It should be fun. --------
Shout out to David, for being the best husband ever and for showing me what excellence looks like in small things and big things. And as always, the glory goes to God. Colossians 3:17.
- Sabrina Little, RADrabbitPRO
This week our F U E L E D F R I D A Y feature is brought to you by one of our dear friends, foodie and all around RAD creative chick, Michelle Battista. Michelle is a Creative Contributor to rabbit, Creator of Small Suppers, Owner of Stockpot Collective, 1/2 Owner of Ned Ludd, Proprietress of Elder Hall - - - Currently at home in sunny Portland, Oregon.
I grew up in Kissimmee, Florida which claims it’s fame from being ‘Home to the Silver Spurs Rodeo”. It was never my favorite place (still isn’t) and honestly the better part of my youth was spent devising a grand plan to get the hell out of dodge as fast as I possibly could. I’m a swimmer…so I spent countless hours quietly doing sets and laps crafting my exit strategy. Florida offered me nothing and creatively I felt so stifled I could barely breath. I’m fair-skinned and freckled so ‘Spring Break’ and the beach wasn’t appealing. The typical weekend pastime of Nascar and canned beer didn’t resonate with me either. Then I found food. Cuban food to be exact. Bored one weekend I headed downtown looking for something stimulating and I discovered a little restaurant called Numero Uno. I still remember the first time I tasted their Platanos Maduros. Sweet, ripe plantains fried into a delicious sweet, sticky side dish served with fluffy white rice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, and I was hooked. I’ve experimented cooking the versatile and healthy fruit in various stages of ripeness since my Florida departure. You can prepare your very own version of my life changing sweet Maduros moment by frying very ripe plantains in oil until caramelized cuban style or you can simply smash and bake green plantains into savory Tostones or Patacones (depending on what country you are from) just add salt and sometimes cream cheese says my dear friend from the Dominican Republic. I like to grill mine. Super simple and full of fuel for quality workouts and recovery. Start by buying the ripest (ie. blackest) plantains you can find. If you can’t find over ripe fruit buy the spotted ones and let them sit on the counter for a couple of days until they darken. Make your glaze and slice the plantains in long halves with the skin on, brush glaze on and grill until super soft and caramelized. It’s brain and body food that’s potassium rich, boosts the immune system and regulates digestion so fire up that grill and meet your new addiction.
3 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter
3/4 cup raw honey or packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
4 very ripe (black) plantains
1 Prepare the butter glaze
Place the butter or oil and honey or sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter is melted and the honey or sugar is dissolved. Add the vinegar and stir well. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2 Prepare, grill, and serve the plantains
Heat your grill to high (550°F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the heat to medium-high (450°F) and continuing. Careful oil the hot grill grates.
Slice the unpeeled plantains in half lengthwise and place them cut side down on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the plantains over and brush baste the cut sides of the plantains with the butter glaze. Close the lid and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Brush a bit more glaze on the plantains before removing them from the grill.
Serve the plantains in their skins while hot from the grill.
You can prepare the butter glaze a few hours in advance. It will thicken when cool and will need to be reheated before you brush the plantains.
Veg / V / GF / Paleo
We absolutely love featuring guest blogs written by our RADrabbitPROs and this is especially true for our newest blog written by our newest PRO Rachel Sorna. She gets it, she gets us, and it warmed our hearts. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
“Good things come to those who wait.”
The following are snippets from actual email correspondence I had with the recruiting coordinator at a professional running group the summer after my senior year.
Recruiter: “Hello my name is _____ and I am the recruiting coordinator at _____. We have a professional running group here called _____. We are interested in talking with you about running post collegiately.”
Recruiter: “…our club provides room, board, physio, domestic travel, and we have no shoe sponsor so our athletes are encouraged/allowed to secure any sponsorship they can!”
*I expressed to them that, while I was absolutely flattered, it was very important to me that I be able to get a job in engineering and begin my career while still training*
Recruiter: “My offer for you would be to consider putting ‘work life’ on hold for what sounds like 16 months to concentrate on making the Olympic team (June, 2016).”
My first reaction to the professional running offer above over was, naturally, to be pretty excited. When someone mentions you and the Olympics in the same sentence, it’s hard not to get excited. That anyone thought enough of my accomplishments to think me worthy of such an opportunity was absolutely flattering. Even though I was already set to complete my masters of mechanical engineering that fall at Cornell, there was still a part of me that gave the offer a fair amount of consideration.
But over the next few days, as the initial giddiness of feeling wanted and important and validated finally wore off, I was left with an oddly bitter taste in my mouth.
Although their offer came with a lot of cool and exciting things, it also came with a condition: no engineering. If I choose to join their group and chase my dream of being an elite distance runner, I would have to give up my dream of beginning to build my engineering career. The fact that they nonchalantly asked me to put something I had been working towards for four long years on hold, something that was, in many ways, just as time sensitive as a professional running career, just didn’t sit well with me.
I know it wasn’t intentional on their behalf, and perhaps I was just taking things a bit too personally, but I felt a little disrespected by their offer. I had been performing at a high level in both my athletic and academic pursuits for two years. The first season I became an All-American was the first semester I made Dean’s List, and those two things proceeded to coincide each of my remaining three semesters. I had shown that I could handle both, shown that doing both concurrently had, in many ways, helped me develop the organization and discipline and determination needed to excel in both.
Being told that I couldn’t pursue both, that they didn’t believe I could successfully pursue both, was frustrating, demoralizing, and ultimately pretty devastating.
And for that reason, I did not accept their offer. To do so would be to settle for something less than I believed myself capable of, and that’s something I just couldn’t do.
Flash forward two years.
There I am living my life – waking up at 6 to train and then working my 9 – 5 as an engineer – when a woman contacts me out of the blue. She tells me she saw that I came in 12th and ran 1:16:51 at my debut half marathon at the USATF Half Marathon Championships, and that she’s interested in talking with me about about a sponsorship with rabbit, a running apparel company she co-founded. Slightly apprehensive but still intrigued, I responded that I would love to learn more about the opportunity.
And that’s when everything changed.
The following are paraphrased snippets from the first phone conversation I had with Jill Deering, co-founder of rabbit along with Monica DeVreese:
*after sharing with her some of my PR’s and accomplishments*
Jill: “You ran that well while studying engineering at Cornell ? That’s awesome!”
*after telling her I work full-time as an engineer at a technical consulting firm*
Jill: “I love that you have a full-time job. I think it’s important to have that balance. A bunch of our current athletes work full-time too”
Jill: “You’re exactly the type of person we want on our team; someone who isn’t afraid to dream big”
My initial reaction to rabbit’s offer was the same as before, extreme excitement. But, unlike before where there was an underlying tone of control and restriction and a lack of respect or appreciation that caused things to go sour, my giddiness never wore off.
She got it. She understood. And that meant that rabbit got it, that rabbit understood.
They supported me and things I wanted to do in my life. They saw my ambitious pursuits as something that would benefit my life and my training, not something that would retract from it. They made me feel wanted and important and validated, just the way I was.
When I walked away from that professional running offer the summer after my senior year, I knew it my heart that it wasn’t the end.
I had faith that things would work out, that another opportunity would present itself if I could just be patient and stay the course.
I trusted that somewhere, some organization would see what I was trying to do in my life and would understand and respect and appreciate it.
That organization is rabbit.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me, or more excited for what is to come.
My official rabbit uniform and gear is currently in transit somewhere across the country.
When it gets here, you’ll know.
- Rachel Sorna, RADrabbitPRO
We’ve all been there. You’ve just finished your long run, the effect of your last Gu ended 2 playlists ago, you don’t have time for a real meal because you might certainly lose your job if you don’t get to work stat, and so you go trolling around the pantry in hopes of finding some bar type thing to hold you over until you can resolve the current crisis. You fumble past the rice cakes, take a left turn at the canned pinto beans, pause too long at the bag of M&Ms, and finally finally you feel that rectangular bar shape. You grab the bar and jet out the door. You have been momentarily saved from hunger and you are very relieved!!!... But, alas that relief is short-lived. As you ravenously tear open the package and bite into the bar, you are devastated at the taste! It’s another generic fruit/nut/chocolate/protein bar with little flavor, a boatload of sugar, and other ingredients that you cannot pronounce.
Well, if you are tired of buying over-priced, unremarkable, extra-sweet energy bars, join the club. Here’s a recipe that will save you tons of dough, is shamelessly easy to make, is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, and can be modified in an infinite number of ways to make it just how you like it. We suggest you whip up a batch (makes about a dozen), bag them up individually, and then all week long you will have no excuses for going hungry after a long run. Enjoy.
For this batch, we added chopped almonds and chia seeds. Boom.
We are proud and honored to share some insight into training after injury from our very own RADrabbitPRO Brock Moreaux. It is an honor to help Brock continue his recovery and see him tear up some races later this fall. Enjoy this blog written by Brock himself.
This photo was taken milliseconds before my season ending ankle injury at the Oxy Invite this past May in Los Angeles. In a race where I was sure to check another big accomplishment of breaking 9 min for the 3k Steeplechase off my running list, it all ended quickly with one hard roll of the ankle. Any, and every, runner will tell you that injuries are a huge part of the sport. And now it is my turn to work through injury, learn the life lessons that can be realized only through struggle, and return to the track stronger than before.
Fortunately, it was during this time of struggle, that I first became in contact with rabbit. Although I have never been one to lack motivation in my running career, rabbit has been a HUGE motivation to shake off the runner injury blues, and get back to the grind. It is always amazing to me just how much fitness a runner can lose in such a short period of time. Consistently training for 10 months straight, and then taking 10 days off for an injury, and you are, all of a sudden, back at square 1. However, it is also amazing to me how quickly you can bounce back from that loss of fitness! A great reminder of this to me was my 4:05 PR road mile at the State Street Mile after just 2.5 weeks back training from my ankle injury. My training and recovery from my injury on May 7 to now has consisted of:
I sometimes prefer to express my feelings with pictures rather than words, so here is a great picture to portray my last few months of training since injury :)
The recovery is always a struggle. But when you are injured you learn to never take for granted a day that you are able to get your runs in, which is what I am reminded of every day. Since my injury, I have had a slow buildup back with weekly mileage of:
Week 1: 13
Week 2: 43
Week 3: 44
Week 4: 49
Week 5: 51
Week 6: 59
Week 7: 64
Week 8: 70
I will continue to build up this mileage slowly to the 90-100s to prepare for my half-marathon debut at the Chevron Houston Half in January. I do not have a schedule set in stone right now, but I do plan on racing at least once a month to keep those competitive juices flowing! Until them, the grind continues!
Thank you to my coach and all of my family, friends, supporters, and sponsors! I look forward to continuing to share my running success with you!
- Brock Moreaux
We are so proud of our RADrabbitPRO, Seth Totten on his recent 4th place overall finish (yes, that's right, 4th in the entire world!) and 1st American finisher at the Duathlon World Championships in Aviles, Spain. We are so inspired by Seth's dedication, grit and determination and thought all of you rabbits would enjoy hearing his story on fulfilling his dreams. Thank you Seth for giving us a peak into the life of a RADrabbitPRO!
My journey to Duathlon Worlds in Aviles, Spain began on my bathroom floor. I was scheduled to race at the ITU Continental Cup in Richmond, Virginia five weeks before DU Worlds, when the night before traveling I was overcome by a violent case of food poisoning. Training had been going really well and I was fortunate to have travel and a home stay taken care of for Richmond. I cried as I vomited feeling like weeks of work were literally being flushed away.
DU Worlds had been something I wanted to do, but I was unable to get help to travel so I had all but dismissed the race. A couple days after the miserable night on the bathroom floor, as I lay on the couch feeling weak and sorry for myself, my dad approached me and asked simply, “Could you compete for a podium place at Worlds?” I thought I could, but I was doubtful, tentative, and discouraged that I was not able to find travel arrangements. “Your Mother and I want to fly you to Spain and watch you give everything you have to try and chase a World Championship”. The confidence in my Dad’s voice inspired me with a belief I did not yet have. With only a month to go before the race, airline tickets, airbnbs and fitness were all frantically procured, and before I knew it I was wheeling my bike into the International Terminal at LAX.
I have always dreamed of racing at a World Championship. On quiet afternoon runs and rides I often dreamed what it would feel like to cross the finishing line and be crowned a World Champ. These dreams were more than about just winning as a competitor; I thrive at big races, in front of big crowds, against big names. As I stood on the start-line and listened to them call out competitors from all over the world-- Spain, Japan, Great Britain, France and then, Seth Totten representing the United States of America, I was filled with joy at just having the opportunity to be there fulfilling a dream before the race even started.
As soon as the gun went off the race plan became clear: full-gas. The 10K run course was very narrow and twisty, constantly forcing you to stop, push your way around a corner, and sprint back up to pace. This is a very difficult way to run a flat-out 10K, and with a couple of guys set on blasting the 10K, the front of the group quickly dwindled down. Going into the last lap of the first run I was the last guy of a 14 man pack to scrap into the front pack , even though I ran a 30:42.
Every Tuesday night back home I go out for, what the local cycling community has dubbed, the “Tuesday night Worlds”. We race out and back to a pepper tree as fast as our legs will carry us, pretending we are racing for a World Championship. The weeks before the race I went out every Tuesday and rode on the front for harder and longer then I ever have, preparing for the actual World Championships. With three laps to go in the Du World Championships, I unleashed weeks of Tuesday night ride’s work onto this international field, right at a key technical part of the course. The transition area featured a series of technical corners, and for the first couple of laps I had touched my brakes to make the corners; this time, however, I didn’t touch my brakes and just made the final corner, missing the steal barrier by inches. As soon as I was out of transition I pushed on the pedals with everything I had. I was determined to split the 14 man pack. My legs screamed but the crowd the screamed louder! After 5-6 of the most painful minutes I have experienced, the front group was split to only 5 of us.
Coming off the bike, I was spent and my immediate thought was that 5th place would be a fantastic result. In almost the same thought, years of memories came flooding over me. Memories of gut wrenching track sessions; hours and hours cycling in the mountains; all the runs I had not wanted to do, but did in the cold, in the heat, hungry and tired. I thought of all the coaches and teammates that had built me up over the years. I thought of the generosity of my local athletic community. And I thought of making my parents and girlfriend Lauren proud for believing in me even more then I believed in myself. With those thoughts I set off after the 4 guys in front of me. I squeezed all I had left out of my legs over the next 16 minutes and crossed the finish line, smiling ear-to-ear in fourth place. Fourth place finishes can haunt people. There is no medal for 4th, no podium place, nothing- it has been called the “toughest position”. However, when I crossed the finish line at the Duathlon World Championships, in fourth, I may have been the happiest fourth place finisher in the history of fourth places.
If you would like to watch the full race coverage, it can be seen here. The men's starts at about 3:00 and Seth is introduced at 3:05.
Red, white and run.