Thursday, May 08, 2008

5-03-2008 Weekend of Wildflower

It has been a while since I have posted. Sorry about that. I have been and am still dealing with some new health obstacles. I will get into that later, but for now, I wanted to give a little summary of the weekend.

This last weekend was the Wildflower Triathlon. It is a little more than your run of the mill triathlon as it serves as the collegiate national championships, offers a half-iron man, a mountain bike sprint, and Olympic distance events, and draws over 7000 competitors. There was plenty for the 30,000 spectators too, as they had a festival with all sorts of vendors, food, and even a few bands. Just to give you an idea, here is a shot of the transition area. Don’t forget where you parked your bike.

About a month and a half ago, a couple buddies from college, John Burke and Tom Allen, had been talking a bit of trash, as they often do, and John mentioned that he was going to do the half-iron man at Wildflower. This sounded cool but was not all that surprising as John has done a few triathlons at that distance and is in pretty decent shape these days. He works out and takes good care of himself. Well, for some reason, Tom said something to the effect of, “Half-iron man…huhh… whatever. I could totally do that.”
John replied, “Well, lets see it big boy.”
“Well, allrighty then. Maybe I will.”
And from this little interaction, the idea of doing Wildflower was born. Immediately, the question of whether or not Tom could make it was raised. Now even though it is only half of a full ironman, it is no meager feat to complete one of these races. It consists of swimming 1.2 miles, riding the bike 56 miles, and then running a half-marathon (13.1 miles). The winners have been known to finish the long course in under four hours. Tom would say this is unfair, but I would consider Tom getting through the race without an ambulance a victory.
To add another aspect to the race, Tom and John decided to rally friends and family around the race and try to raise some money for PANCAN to help fight pancreatic cancer. I was really touched that they would do something like that for me and they were really successful. They managed to raise over $5,000 dollars in just a few weeks. I was amazed with how well they did considering I would occasionally have to wrestle the rent out of these guys when we used to live together (and trackhouse rent was not all that much money). The fundraising page is still up and if anyone else would like to contribute, just go to

Any support is greatly appreciated. I personally am in debt to all of the wonderful friends and family that have supported me over the last 22 months. Just know that each of your thoughts, prayers, and actions are truly appreciated and have been the high points of a very turbulent time in my life.
Now on to race day. It had been a while since Eva and I have gotten out of town so this was a pretty exciting little outing. We drove most of the way up on Friday night, crashed for about 6 hours in a Super 8, and then were on the road out to Lake San Antonio. We had heard that Wildflower was pretty big, but nothing compares to actually being there and seeing it first hand. We managed to make our way to the start and we actually ran into one of Tom’s buddies, Scott, and his girlfriend. Scott’s brother, Eric, was there as well and was also going to do the half-ironman. Amazingly, a bit later, we saw John and Tom in the holding area before the swim. They looked pretty ready to go though John said he had never seen Tom so nervous. Luckily Tom had a smile on his face and looked pretty fit and ready to go.

Now spectating at one of these events is pretty cool, but it is not exactly non-stop action. You cheer real hard as they start the swim, then you hang out for about a half hour, then you cheer as they get out of the water and a few minutes later when they go out on the bike, then you hang out for about four hours, and then you have to choose if you are going to cheer them coming in from the bike or going out on the run (because they go in one side of the transition area and come out the other, and they can probably get from one side to the other much faster than you), and then you wait another couple hours until they finish. It is very exciting for those moments when they are going by, but you have to know that you will have to amuse yourself in the interim times. Luckily, there was plenty to do though Eva and I really just enjoyed sitting on the grass and hanging out. For the run the guys wore the Team Tyler shirts from the October Cancer Challenge. That was really touching, I just hope that after wetting his shirt, John’s nipples did not take too much of a thrashing.

After nearly seven hours of racing, John and Tom made their way across the finish line. Eva and I were exhausted from just hanging around that long which gave us an even greater appreciation for what they had accomplished. After the race, Eva and I took a little dip in the lake and then a number of us went back up to their campsite and had some dinner together. Seeing the excitement on Tom’s mother face warmed my heart. You could tell how proud she was of her boy. Some props need to go out to John for being a good partner and biking and running with Tom as well as to Chris for riding with Tom as well. Looks like none of those penalties got posted. It’s not drafting if you don’t get caught. Also, props goes out all the people who made their way to remote Lake San Antonio just to cheer on a couple of crazy guys. All in all, it was a beautiful place, the whole event just had a nice vibe to it, it was great to see old friends, and awesome to see Tom and John finish so well. When someone asked Tom about next years race, he replied, “Never again.” We will give him some time and see what happens.

Here are just a few of the support crew, braving the sidelines.


Nick M said...

It's good to see another blog post!

That looks like a great event. I wish I could have been there with you guys.

Anonymous said...


I'm in awe of your buddies pulling off this half ironman.

I'm in awe of you pulling off this last 3 months. You all deserve accolades. You and Eva are the BEST!

Mom and Dad

Anonymous said...

Hi Tyler!!
Great to hear from you!
Hope you had a wonderful birthday...can you believe Erik is now an official teen?!!
Lots of love

Zane said...

Long time since I saw you at J Trani's. You and Eva look like you are a great married couple. How are your parents doing. I called them today with 310 548 7076, after all these years I still remember that number. Give me a call sometime at 310 702 4500

Amy Heimann said...

Hey Tyler,

Great to see you back on the Blog - I was wondering where you have been! Am very jealous you got to go to Wildflower as it is supposed to be such a beautiful course and great atmosphere!!!

I will be heading back to Cali for the last week in May for Mikes graduation (secret - so don't tell him). It would be great to meet up with you and Eva! Shoot me an email if you might be around ->