Racing Professionally in 2018

As a kid I played most sports but soccer was always my favorite. I played soccer all through high school then played in college. I was a 2x Regional All-American and a 3x All-Conference player in college. When I graduated I did everything I could to try to play professionally. I traveled to Florida, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee, pretty much any place I could to try to make it happen. I took 3 years post college to give it everything I had to try to make it. Why? Because I NEVER wanted to look back and wonder “what if”.

After those 3 years I moved on from that goal and kept playing with other teams but it wasn’t the same. I gave it everything and it didn’t work out. But that’s life.

So on to my next chapter! And that next chapter turned out to be the 2010 Chicago Marathon. My dad ran a marathon when he was younger so, of course, I wanted to do the same. In the WAY back of my mind was triathlon. I had seen Kona on TV and thought that would be cool to do someday but never did I think an Ironman was realistically in the cards.

Fast forward 7 years and I am still racing triathlon. When I started racing triathlons in 2011 I never thought I would take it to this level but year after year, race after race, I got better and faster. At 70.3 Steelhead this year I qualified for my Elite License with my 3rd place amateur finish. I know I didn’t win the race, I know I wasn’t the best amateur racing, I know I finished 20th overall but I don’t think I am done getting better at each of these sports.

So for the 2018 season I am going to take a leap and race professionally. Do I have illusions of winning Kona, or any other World or Regional Championship race? No. But what I am going to do is go out everyday and train smart and hard, so that I can race to the best of my ability. What I am also going to do, and more importantly, is do all of that while being, a husband, a new dad, a son, a friend, and a full time teacher.

Why race professionally if I don’t think I am going to win races? Well because if everyone had that mindset we would only have about 10-15 professional athletes racing around the world! I will also race professionally because, like I said above, I don’t want to look back in 2, 5, or 15 years and wonder “what if”. What if I raced a few years professionally? What if I showed my kid(s), my students, and my soccer players that even though I was not winning, I was going out and giving it everything I had and to show them that hard work pays off? That is what I think would make me a successful triathlete, dad, teacher, and person.

I completely understand that I am going to get my butt kicked in every race but I am prepared for that. I am willing to train hard and smart to be the best I can be. That is why I am going to be racing professionally in 2018. Hate it or love it that is my plan!


My First Triathlon

As I finish up my 7th season as a triathlete my mind sometimes wanders back to 2004 when I completed my first triathlon. And man oh man was that race a disaster! But I guess it sparked my triathlon career 6 years before I even knew it.

I decided to do the Devils Lake Triathlon kind of out of no where. I was home from college for a semester and thought, “what the heck? This looks fun.” My training consisted of riding my mountain bike around, swimming enough laps to get 400 yards, and running every now and then while playing soccer.

Come race weekend I drove up to Wisconsin and camped out at the state park. Ate no dinner or had no plan for breakfast outside of a granola bar I had. That was just one of the mistakes I made. I also thought it was a good idea to change wheels with my dad’s bike. I mean why wouldn’t that work out? It may or may not have the same cassette, may or may not have the same gearing, but it did have thinner tires so why not?!

With those mistakes out-of-the-way things could only go up right? Wrong. I was only equipped with tri shorts for the cold swim so when I tried to put my head in I freaked out. So I hung on the buoy for a little while then somehow made it to the swim exit. I got to my bike, laced up my running shoes, put on a running shirt then started the ride. No tri kit or cycling shoes for me!

It was a hilly bike ride and the wheel change I made would quickly be an issue. I dropped my chain 3-4 times on the ride and it was a struggle most of the way. But the good thing is I had my running shoes and shirt on already so it made for a quick T2! Running was the easy part. I made it through the run and got to the finish.

What is the point I am trying to make in this post? Is that everyone has to start somewhere! Whether it is triathlon, running, a new job, a new school, whatever it is, everyone has to start at step one. Some make it to step 2 a bit faster than others but we all start somewhere. If you work hard and put in the effort then things will go your way!

Rolling Starts are Fun! 70.3 Steelhead

In the 4 weeks between Racine and Steelhead I put in A LOT of work on the bike. The week before Steelhead was 15 hours of training so even with a week to recover I was still a bit worried my legs wouldn’t make the turn around and be ready. But no matter how my legs felt I was going to make sure I got everything out of them as I could!

Steelhead would be my first rolling swim start. Racine was going to be a rolling start but with the cancelled swim it became a TT start. I was really looking forward to the start because I wouldn’t have to wait around waiting for my wave to start and I was hoping that I could find some others to swim with since we are self seeded into groups based on time. Another plus is I thought I would be able to find a few other races to legally ride with which my coach and I thought would help a lot too.


I seeded myself in the 27-30 minute group hoping to swim at the lower end of that time if all went well. I started with my teammate, and 70.3 World Champion and hopefully Kona champ!, Ryan Giuliano and we swam together for a bit but soon I lost him. The swim had some chop to it, although it was hard to figure out if there was a current or it was just chop. I was in a good rhythm and was passing a fair amount of people so I was thinking I might be swimming close to a 26 based on how many others I was passing. But come the final stretch to shore we would get some of the “waves” we were up against on the first section but I felt like we would also get pushed back a bit when the water returned from shore. According to my Garmin I was going steady at 1:19 min/100y the first two legs then 1:26 the last section. This might not be accurate since it isn’t great at getting satellites when in the water but the line seems pretty straight. Ended up swimming a 28:59 which was the top in my AG and 11th amateur. Swim data

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Ran through the long transition area to get to my bike and get ready to ride. My goal was to ride at the watts I knew I could hold but also to hop on the back of a group and push harder for a while if that meant getting in with a group. About 5 miles into the ride I got passed and tried to stay with that rider but after a bit he was gone. Then a little later Ryan passed me and yelled at me to get going. Well I tried but he was pushing way above what my legs wanted to give out at that time. Most of the ride was pretty lonely but for a good 10-15 mile stretch I was able to ride with a group of 4. I sat in the back for most of it so I could save some energy. The group broke up after a while and it was back to riding alone again. I kept looking at my watts, which were spot on, but looking at my speed and time and was getting a bit discouraged. I ended up riding a 2:17:42. I was pretty disappointed that day but after looking at all the results I realized that the times were that fast across the board so that made me feel better. I had the 3rd top split in my AG and came off the bike 10th amateur. Bike data

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Well now it was time for run. They say “bike for show, run for dough” and I think that sums up most of my races. Well except my bike splits usually aren’t that much “show”, they’re pretty much just go. The first few miles I passed a few guys on the road but had no clue where I was overall. I was hoping for a top 3 amateur finish in this race so I wanted to push it. I knew I was fighting for 3rd since the top two amateurs being World Champions so 3rd would have to be good enough on the day. I hit a rough patch about 5 miles in and a few miles were a struggle. This run course is very deceptive. Looking at the elevation it probably doesn’t look too bad but there is one hill out of transition then one hill we run twice during the loops. But there are also many tight turns, false flats, and not many straightaways to get in a groove. So I was getting discouraged by my splits and was thinking the worst about my placing.

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Looking at the tracker I made it to 3rd between mile 5-7.5 but I couldn’t tell that because I had no clue how many were in front after the bike and starting the second loop we get mixed up with those starting their first lap. So all I was doing every aid station was taking in cola and water and hoping it would keep me fueled until the finish. I got around to the split for the finish and the second lap and was VERY happy to head down hill to the finish. But for some reason the last 1.5 miles seemed like they took forever! I was crazy tired and ready to be done but the road just kept going and going and going. I got a lot of encouragement from the racers coming out on their first loop and that helped a lot. I finally got to the final turn and made a last-ditch effort to see if the legs had anything left in them. Ended with a 1:19:39 for 4th best split in my AG and 15th overall. Run data

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I crossed the finish line and saw Ryan and we started to chat and he said he thought I might be 3rd amateur but wasn’t sure. My wife found me and we checked and sure enough I was. I was happy but still pissed about my bike split and also annoyed because I wanted to break 4:10 and I was 4:10:29. My dad was racing his first 70.3 so I was wondering how he was doing. My mom and wife said he had a good swim and we were waiting for him to come in off the bike so I grabbed a beer and waited a bit to see him rack his bike. Pretty cool racing with my dad!

All in all the race went well. Ended up 2nd AG, 3rd amateur, and 20th overall. Now I have to hope my legs bounce back because I need them once more this season before they get a little rest. Chicago Triathlon in less than two weeks!

I know the end of these posts are repetitive but without these people and companies I would have a much harder time doing all of this! So thanks to my wife (and the baby in her belly), my parents, and my friends for giving my all the encouragement I could ever need. Thanks EGO, Sammys Bikes, SLF Motion, ICE Friction Chains, Greater Than Sports Drink, and my newly found recovery boots made by Air Relax.

Racine 70.3…I mean 69.1

I signed up for Racine at the start of the year because I knew this race would be a very competitive one. I wanted to really test myself with some of the best AG athletes around to see where I stood. Things did not all go to plan but the competitive field did not disappoint.

I was very excited when I heard that it would be a rolling swim start. This would mean that I could start off up front and swim with people instead of going off solo most of the swim. This would also, hopefully, allow me to find some other athletes to legally ride with for the bike. But come race weekend the water was cold. Like REALLY cold. It was 53 on Saturday and there was talk of shortening the swim if the water was too cold. Throw beach hazard warnings with high winds and riptides and I figured the swim would be short. But when we showed up on race morning the temperature was 51 and the swim was cancelled.

That meant no rolling start, no finding feet to swim with, no riding with a group to help pace the 56 mile ride, but it still meant I was starting in front! One of the benefits of the All World Athlete program is a low number. The start of the bike was a time trial start where 2 athletes started every 5 seconds. I was very happy to start early because I know how sketchy this course is when trying to pass a lot of people.


So off I went up the hill outside of transition and on to one of the worst roads I have ridden on! But I was prepared for that so it wasn’t too bad. My goal now was to push my watts and hopefully find someone to ride with. But the TT start spread things out early and I was alone pretty much the whole ride. I was hitting my watts for the most part but the cross winds were causing me to get out of aero because I am a big baby when going fast and worrying about a cross wind blowing me over. I tried to settle and just relax but I just wasn’t comfortable staying in aero worrying about a cross wind going 30+ MPH. (I NEED to work on this!)

The roads weren’t great but for the most part the course was in good shape. I got into a rhythm for a while but then was unsettled by the winds then got into a rhythm, then the winds, rinse and repeat. I was pushing a solid 24-26 MPH so was thinking I would come in with a 2:14ish bike split which I would have been happy with. But getting back to transition I saw 2:18 and was pretty upset. I would not know how upset I should be until the end of the race when I saw that I gave up 5-10 minutes to the other top AG athletes. I am used to giving up some time on the bike but that much time is way too much since the other top athletes can also run fast. This is the time I wish we swam because I can usually get a few minutes on some people so I wouldn’t have so much time to make up on the run.

On the run I knew I had a lot of work to do. I got out of transition and Matt Hanson was starting his second loop. I started to run with him for a bit but I didn’t want to push too hard at mile 1 but I was feeling comfortable so I stayed with him for a mile before he left me. I was running 5:50 miles and feeling good so tried to keep the pressure on and see what my legs had in the tank.

Miles kept ticking off and ran lap one in around 39 minutes which meant around a 1:17-18 which would be a few minutes faster than my best time, 1:20, so I was happy. But I wasn’t happy knowing that the leader in my AG was ahead of me and the guy who I knew would win the AG was starting later. My dad told me I was gaining on him but every time I saw him he seemed a decent way ahead of me and was looking solid. But I wanted to catch him so I could at least get 2nd in the AG but wasn’t sure it was happening.


I was starting to feel it and I started to see a few 6 minute miles but wanted to make sure I had enough left for a last push starting at mile 10. I saw the AG leader at one of the turns and had it in my mind I was not going to catch him. I still wanted to push as hard as I could since I was still trying to see where I would place overall in the amateur race so I did not want to let up. With about a mile and a half to go I caught a glimpse of the leader ahead of me and put it in my last gear to see if I could make the catch. I was able to make the pass in the last mile and I left it all out there. Crossed the finish line with a lot of pain on my face.

I ended up with a 1:17:41 run split which was a big PR for me. Finished 2nd AG, 5th amateur, and 21st Overall. Still disappointed with my bike split and how I rode it but happy with the run split so overall feel pretty good about the race. But now time to get back to training and hope that I can ride better at 70.3 Steelhead in a few weeks!


As always a huge thanks to my wife for putting up with my crazy training! I know life will be much different next summer with a baby but I am so excited for it! Thanks to my dad for coming to the race and giving me splits and carrying around my bags.

Of course thanks to EGO for their continued support and for making the best lawn care products out there! Now that I have a house and a yard I understand the struggle of keeping a yard looking nice! SLF Motion and ICE Friction for making my drivetrain smooth and efficient and Greater Than Sports Drink for keeping me hydrated and looking cool in the nice gear they have given me!

Race season is here!

Well my triathlon race season finally started last week at the Pleasant Prairie International Distance race. This is a race I have done a few times before. It is a great race! Close to home, good swim course, fairly fast bike course, and solid run course. My race season was supposed to start last month but the race got cancelled the day before the race because of “possible” weather issues. After the initial frustration of not racing I got back into training and things have been going smoothly.

Race morning went the same as pretty much every race; woke up too early, made myself a triple espresso, ate my pop tart and anxiously waited loading the car and driving to the race. Race morning was a bit chilly which was kind of a shocker since it had been pretty hot around the Chicago area leading up to the race but I will take it because it mean pretty much perfect race conditions!

Swim went a bit better than expected. I got off to a good start and got out to an early lead, shocking I know!, but that was short-lived when I got passed by one person about 500 yards in then another about 800 in. I tried to stay on the feet of the second person and was able to for a little while but then couldn’t hold on any longer and let them go. Got out of the water in 3rd place but right behind second. I heard my dad yell I was 90 seconds back to first so the race was on!


I had a little trouble getting my sleeved tri suit up and that cost me a bit of time in T1 but I chalk that up to the first race of the year. Got on the bike and wanted to push it early on to see if I could catch the leader early then keep pushing and see what the legs had. Caught the leader around 5 miles in then kept on pushing. I am always trying to find the right balance between pushing hard on the bike and running well but not pushing TOO hard on the bike and blowing up on the run. I think I paced it pretty well on the day. There were a few spots on the course where I could see how far ahead I was to the rest of the field but could never get a good idea so in my mind they were right behind me!

Jumped off the bike and sprinted through transition. Legs were feeling good early on and I was trying to test the legs to see if I could gain more time so that when the other racers saw me up the road they wouldn’t try to catch me! Well thankfully that never happened and in reality I had A LOT more time than I thought but whenever I am in front I try to run a little scared so that I never let up until I can see the finish.

Ended up winning the race by about 3 minutes. So all in all it was a great start to the year! And on another note my dad raced the sprint race and also walked away with some hardware!

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This weekend I will be racing the Lake Zurich Olympic race to get another good hit out before the big one, 70.3 Racine! I am really excited to see what kind of fitness I have and how well I can race against some big guns in a very competitive midwest race.


As always, thanks to my wife, parents, friends for putting up with all of my training and racing. Thanks to EGO for supporting me through the year and for making the most amazing lawn care products out there! Thanks to SLF Motion and ICE Friction chains for making my drivetrain silky and smooth! Thanks to Greater Than Sports Drink for keeping my hydrated and kitted out with great shirts and socks!


2016 Year in Review

Well, now that the 2016 season is over I figured it would be a good time to write up a little recap. Usually I write things up and give a little info on each race but I think this year I will do it all in pictures! 2016 was a great year for me racing but it was an even better year for me personally! So hope you enjoy!

HUGE thanks to my family and friends for supporting me and giving me all the encouragement anyone could ask for during the year.

And thanks to my many amazing sponsors/partners for helping me during the season!


Sammys Bikes

Jonnyo Coaching

Wattie Ink

Catlike Helmets

Vitargo Nutrition

SLF Motion

ICE Friction Chains


Started the season with 2nd Overall at the Thunder in the Valley Olympic


Trying to be as aero and fast as possible


Beach starts are pretty fun!


1st Overall at Toughman Indiana!


Married my sweetheart!


Dance the night away!


Donut bar…if you know me this makes PERFECT sense


Cool sunset in Maui


Even the rocks are cool!


Did a bit of training in Kona too.


Think this was Lake Michigan’s first ever non-wetsuit race!



Some fun before the start


1st AG and 2nd Overall at Steelhead 70.3


That race was TOUGH! Left it all out on course.


Back to back wins at Chicago Triathlon!


The shoes make me look fast!


Head down and run through the pain



The Cubs won the World Series!!!


And the parade was so cool…well until we almost got trampled…

Chi Tri…Back to Back!

The few weeks leading up to the Chicago Triathlon went pretty fast. I was coming off of a 2nd overall finish at Steelhead 70.3, I started preseason for soccer, and I was getting in the mode to get back to teaching. The summer was officially over but I took it all in stride. The big question I got a lot of the time from friends and family was “do you feel pressure to repeat”? That question always confused me a bit because even though I won last year and had some good results this year, winning a race overall is still something I am getting used to. But my answer was “not really”. But in reality I felt a bit of pressure. After winning last year my school district got wind of it and honored me at a school board meeting so my co-workers were now behind me! So that meant that I WANTED to win. But I also knew that, like with all races, I do not know who is racing the race so my goal was to race hard and put myself in good position to win the race. If it happened and I won, great!, but if I wasn’t able to pull if off I would be ok with it as long as I left it all out on the course.

Race morning went well, woke up even earlier than normal for my 6:04 start time but I never really sleep well the night before a race because I am always worried that my alarm, well 4 different alarms, won’t go off or I will forget something, or my car won’t work. Got to the race early to set up transition then headed to the swim start with my wife. We waited, and waited, and waited. The weather was nice and the biggest question I had was which goggles to wear…mirrored or a slight tint?! If you were wondering I went slight tint since the sun wasn’t up yet and I would not be looking into the sun. I think I made a good decision on that one…


The Chicago Triathlon is HUGE so starting in the “Premier” wave is great because we get to start in the second wave and basically have the course open on the bike…but not so much on the swim! The swim starts with an out and back but when you turn back there are only buoys separating the out section to the back section. So if you, or other swimmers, are not sighting the best or not paying attention it is not out of the question to run into someone going the opposite direction as you. And that almost happened a few times. Made it out of the water in 22:01 which was ok for me but wish I could’ve broken 22 minutes. Started the nice LONG run to transition and got my Wattie Ink kit zipped up and tried to go as fast and comfortable as I could.

Got on the bike and started to push immediately. The course was nice and open and the ride on Lake Shore Drive was smooth for the most part because they repaved last year. But once we got down to Lower Wacker and the likes it got rough. The combo of going from sunlight to dark made seeing the potholes, even though they were marked, hard to see. At one point I started riding with another rider and we were taking turns up front which is always a nice break. Pushed a few more miles then I went into a turn and boom! My basebar slipped straight down so that my extensions were pointing to the ground. I was pretty annoyed but also happy that I didn’t crash! I had to stop for a few seconds to fix them which meant I lost the guy I was riding with. Once I got them fixed I wanted to push and see if I could catch back up. Ended up making my way back up to catch one rider but the guy I was riding with was about 45 seconds ahead heading into T2 where I had another adventure!


Because my basebar slipped and my not so perfect fix didn’t get them straight I dismounted but the combo of sweat and a slight angle of the bar caused me to slip off and land HARD on my toes. I saved myself from falling but had a volunteer yell that my shoe came off me pedal. So I put my bike down, got the shoe, got my bike, then ran to transition to get ready to run. My immediate thought was my toe was going to be all nasty and bloody from the slip. Thankfully no blood but I did something bad to that toe because it is still swollen and bothering me today!


I headed out on the run and my dad told me I was about 45 seconds back to first. I pushed the pace early to try to close that gap as fast as I could but also pushed it to get a gap on anyone behind me. I knew there were a few people close so I wanted to put some more time in to them early in the run if I could. After about a half mile I could see the leader up ahead and knew that I would pass him shortly. But I wanted to make sure I was racing my race and kept pushing because I had no idea who was behind me and how close people were. Made the pass and now I had my own lead cyclist! It is always a cool feeling having someone lead you out.


But on I went. I felt I was pushing hard but my pace was not where I wanted it to be. It was kind of disappointing but I knew I was giving it all I had so I wasn’t really worrying about pace. I got to the half turn around and saw I had a nice little gap. I so badly wanted to ease up a bit but I also wanted to run faster and get this race over with! Once I got to the mile mark I figured I had it in the bag so I started singing Drake “Back to Back” in my head for a few seconds. Then the pain came back! Got to the final 200 meters and had the finish area to myself. I saw my wife and mom and waved at them. Zipped up my kit and pushed on through. I grabbed the finisher banner and was ecstatic to repeat. Even though this race does not have a pro race it is still really cool to say I am a 2x winner of the Chicago Triathlon!


The only bad to come from that race was my toe is still not right. But whatever. Happy to end my triathlon season with a win and now time to get ready for the Chicago Marathon in a few weeks!