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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

EGO

Sammys Bikes

Jonnyo Coaching

Wattie Ink

Catlike Helmets

Vitargo Nutrition

SLF Motion

ICE Friction Chains

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

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Trying to be as aero and fast as possible

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Beach starts are pretty fun!

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1st Overall at Toughman Indiana!

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Married my sweetheart!

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Dance the night away!

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Donut bar…if you know me this makes PERFECT sense

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Cool sunset in Maui

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Even the rocks are cool!

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Did a bit of training in Kona too.

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

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Some fun before the start

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1st AG and 2nd Overall at Steelhead 70.3

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

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Back to back wins at Chicago Triathlon!

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The shoes make me look fast!

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Head down and run through the pain

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The Cubs won the World Series!!!

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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…

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

2015 Chicago Marathon: A Painful PR

Well I found this in my draft folder from last year. I guess a week away from this year’s marathon is good as any to post it!

My season race season is over. After last week’s Chicago Marathon I have had time to rest, relax, and enjoy some downtime…and a lot of food! I had this race pegged as a great chance to really crush my marathon PR and to end the season on a bang. I was able to lower my PR by 4 minutes and end the season well but I still wish I did better.

After my win at the Chicago Triathlon my coach and I adjusted to A LOT of running. I figured all the miles and runs I had done since USAT Nationals then Chicago Triathlon would get me into the shape needed to run my goal, 2:40. But after about 15 miles my legs were already starting to rebel and told me a 2:40 was not in the cards! I had the lungs for the 2:40 but my legs just didn’t have enough miles in them to go that fast for that long.

Steelhead 70.3 Report: All aboard…Choo Choo!

Starting this season I had a few goals. I wanted to continue to improve my racing and take it to the next level and compete more in the overall racing rather than just my age group. Another goal, the main goal, was to qualify for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga. I raced the 2011 70.3 WC in Vegas by getting a roll down slot and it was a great experience but in reality I had no business being there in my first season of racing. Well the title kind of gives it away but goal accomplished!

Leading up to the race I knew I had some good fitness in my legs. I was coming off two good Olympic distance races and felt that with the proper taper I could race really well and secure my 70.3 WC spot. I drove up Saturday morning with my wife and sister and the ride was pretty easy. We stayed at our family friends house with some other athletes so it was a fun and laid back day before race.

As usually woke up crazy early to eat my pop tart, drink my ensure and espresso, then head over to the race to wait…and wait…and wait…until my wave started. It was nice seeing fellow teammates, Lauren and Chris, before the race start and we joked about what might be the first ever race in Lake Michigan that was a non-wetsuit swim! I heard someone call that out when I was walking in and thought it was a joke. But nope! It was the truth. I wasn’t really that worried because there was nothing to do about it but roll with it and adjust a few time goals. I wanted to try to go sub 4:10 but knew it would be close and with the non wetsuit swim I thought that was not in the cards but I was fine with that.

Got in the water and the water felt really good. As with every race the last few years I had a few thoughts in mind. “find feet” and “push the swim”. Well I started off well and tried to find feet. Found feet, lost feet, found more feet, lost more feet. The swim was pretty uneventful until the last 10 minutes when my hip flexors start to tighten a bit. That was not the feeling I wanted this early in the race. But it’s a long day so nothing to do but look forward! Got out of the water in around 31 minutes and 14th in my AG which was split into two waves.

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Ran through transition and saw Ryan and my family which is always a nice surprise. Got on the bike and my legs felt good! Starting in a late wave meant I would, hopefully, be passing people the whole 56 miles. The course was pretty busy but there were only a few spots that were a bit crazy. Got in a nice groove and stayed on top of nutrition and hydration. Miles were ticking off. I was trying to do mental math on how fast I was going. I was hoping to bike around a 2:18 as Best Bike Split had predicted but because I lap every 10 miles all I saw on my Garmin was 10 miles splits. And trying to add 24 minutes and divide for 10 miles then multiply to get 56 miles was WAY too much for me so I just rolled with it. Pushed the pace until the end and I think this might have been my first 70.3 race where no one passed me on the bike which was pretty cool. There is a little no pass zone right before transition so I clicked over to see my time and saw a 2:12! Wow, better than I thought. So that 4:10 was back in play! Here is my bike file for anyone who wants to check it out. I biked a 2:14:08 and got myself up into 7th in my AG and 16th Overall.

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I did a little math and figured if I could run around a 1:20, which was another season goal, I would be really close to that 4:10. The first mile and a half of the course was mainly up”hill” but nothing steep outside of a punchy one a mile in. Started out a bit too fast but things were feeling good so I went with it. Got in a nice groove and started passing people. I tried to pay attention to age numbers on the calves but most were wiped off from the wetsuit or sweat. I also knew that with the split waves an starting in the 2nd wave I just needed to pass everyone to be safe. I saw Ryan again right before the sucky hill on the loop and asked him if he knew where I was. He couldn’t tell because of the split waves so it was just time to leave it out there.

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Got onto lap 2 and saw Lauren crushing the run. We said “hi” but that is when things started to fall apart. The 2nd lap of the run felt like someone turned the sun way up. It might not have been that hot but the sun made me feel like death. Got to the magical 3 miles to go mark and I tried to pick it up a bit. The course ends the same as it starts so the last mile and a half was mostly downhill which would be great. Well that’s is when it started to get REAL! My hamstrings wanted to cramp and I felt like I wanted to pass out. Looking back at the run file I can see why…my heart rate was above 180 for the last 10 minutes! I don’t think I have seen it that high since a 5k race last year. Got down the finisher chute and about fell on the ground. Ended up with a 1:21:21 run splits good for 2nd best on the day.

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Saw my family shortly after and my dad told me he thought I had won the AG but the tracking wasn’t updating as fast. After a few minutes if was official. I can’t say I was the happiest person in the world because I felt terrible but I was happy I was going to the 70.3 World Championships! Ended up with a time of 4:11:14 good for 2nd Overall and an AG win. Now time to rest up and get ready for my tri season finale at the Chicago Triathlon.

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Big thanks for my wife, parents, and sister for coming to watch me race! It makes things a lot more fun when they are there to watch! Thanks to EGO p/b Sammys Bikes for helping to support me and believe in me! Thanks to Catlike HelmetsWattie InkICE Friction Chains, and SLF Motion for making my bike leg the fastest and most efficient it can be!

Lake Zurich Triathlon: Back to Racing!

I got married on June 10th! I set up my season to have a few races before the wedding because not only did I have my wedding but I also had back to back weddings leading up to mine so those weeks were dedicated to my friends’ weddings! Then we went on our honeymoon the Monday after our wedding. And it was AMAZING! Then when I got home it was back to reality…well sort of reality, I am a teacher so “reality” in the summer is basically training and trying to pretend like I clean our apartment. (sorry Jessica!)

I got back to training but realized I needed a carrot before my next scheduled race, Steelhead 70.3 August 14th. So I signed up for two local Oly races and last Sunday was the first in Lake Zurich. My coach was ok with the races but made sure to let me know we would not be resting for them since our priority is Steelhead and the Chicago Triathlon. I didn’t think much of the no rest part until about mile 3 of the run. But more of that later!

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The Lake Zurich Tri is a great race. Good local feel with a fun course. We started the swim and I tried to get off to a fast start but with a beach start that made it more difficult. Dove in to dolphin dive and my goggles moved and filled with water so I had to turn over to fix them. Not too bad but still annoying. Ended up swimming alone for most of the swim and came out next to someone in 4th place.

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Got on the bike and tried to push it. My Catlike helmet makes thing nice and easy in transition because it is easy to get on and has a visor so no need for glasses! The course was nice and open for the first 10 miles until I caught the tail end of the sprint field. It was around that time someone came up and passed me. It was a nice change since he was going the same speed as me so we rode the rest of the ride together, legally of course! It was also nice that there were marshals out on course giving penalties…take note WTC! Got off the bike in 3rd place and was ready to run the first two down! The Wattie Ink kit still amazes me. Super comfy and seems to be pretty fast as well. Having the ICE Friction chain on the bike makes thing smooth and quiet! And it saves me some watts!

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Got out on the run and tried to quickly catch the first two people. I passed one person about a mile in and tried to keep pushing but just did not have that extra gear. I finished the first loop and my wife and sister told me I was in 1st. I got a bit confused because I only saw one person I passed but then on the second loop the RD told me I was in first. Sorry Jessica and Tess! I tried to stay in control but pick up the pace but still did not have the legs. Oh well. I rounded the final turn and kicked it in as best I could for the win!

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But the finish was not without controversy, or confusion is a better word. The RD came up to congratulate me and asked about the course. We spoke for a few minutes then I went over to get some water and watch my dad, who came in 4th in his AG in his first official Oly race! Then a volunteer came up to apologize because he thought he told me the wrong lap but that was no biggie. He then said I was 2nd and someone came in about a minute ahead of me. That confused all of us because my wife and sister KNEW no one came in ahead of me because they knew who was ahead of me at the start of the run. After a few hours of waiting for the official results we finally realized that I had indeed won! Now time to keep up the training because I have the Wauconda Triathlon next Sunday and hopefully it goes similar to Lake Zurich!

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