A couple a posts ago, I had a dream. Mine was about some has-been triathlete, turned has-been cyclist, who has decided to once again become a triathlete. In my dream sequence, I told Lance that he needed to qualify for Kona, despite the fact that he could walk on to the starting line at his leisure.
I'm assuming that since Lance has no job and has an entire group of people available to manage his philanthropic endeavors, he's got a lot of time on his hands. And, since we are both endurance athletes, he spends his free time in much the same way I do... Trolling the internet for useless semi-entertaining blog posts. That's when, I assume, he came across my blog and it's insightful musings about earning higher respect should he decide to qualify instead of accepting a celebrity invitation to the big show.
Of course, Lance isn't one to balk at a challenge. He decided to try and qualify. And, in true Lance form, he decided to one-up the Banter. He's not going to try and qualify as a low-life age grouper, he's going in as a pro.
So, here we have Lance Armstrong, 40 years-old, hasn't done a legit road tri in like half a century, has only done one 70.3 distance (I think) in his life, has decided that he's going to try the pro-triathlon circuit for a while. Good luck to you old chap. Triathlon is more than spinning your over-sized quads in tiny circles. You also have to swim and run some too. He'd better start training.
The First Race Back
Lance decided to test the triathlon waters at the Panama 70.3. The field was stacked with lots of Grade A, finger licking good, cream of the crop professional triathletes. Chris Lieto. Rasmus Henning. Matty Reed. Bevan Docherty. Richie Cunningham (not the kid from Happy Days). All of these guys are amazing athletes and capable of winning. The show down was billed as a Lieto vs Lance, which was odd as Lieto is an accomplished long course guy. Lance is, well, he's Lance.
For the most part, Panama is a race that not many people will actually watch on TV. Me included- as it wasn't televised. There was some live text updates on the website. Still, tens of people who would have never tuned in were glued to their monitor screens, me amongst them. I wanted to see how Lance would do in a real race, not that crappy thing on some hills in France.
Did Lance win the swim? Nope. Of the top ten finishers in the race, he finished 4th in the swim.
Did Lance win the bike? Nope. There were at least 2 people that beat him by 20-30 seconds.
Did Lance win the run? Nope. 5 dudes in the top 10 beat him as did one chick.
Fine. Did Lance win the race? Nope. This guy did.
So, where was Lance? He finished an embarrassing 2nd. Bevan beat him by a whopping 40 something seconds. In Lance's defense, he came off the bike in the runner up position to Chris Lieto. Lieto is know as one of the top cyclists in triathlon. Lance decided to play it conservative and hung with Chris. Chris has struggled on the run in the past. Nobody had any idea as to how Lance would do in sneakers, including Lance. Much to everyone's surprise, Lance passed Chris early and lead most of the run. Bevan passed Lance in the last mile or so, smoking in for the win. Lance finished, as seemed to be the story of his day, in 2nd place.
Not bad for a guy, who just a few short weeks ago, had nothing going for him. He had no job. He had retired from cycling. Lucky for him, he still has internet access. If I didn't have a dream, a blog, and the gumption, Lance may have never gotten the idea to try and qualify for Kona. Now, he's a professional triathlete chasing points to qualify for the World Championship. If it wasn't for me and my blog, Lance may have been sitting on his couch in Austin, TX doing nothing with his life. Mr. Armstrong, you are welcome.