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!

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Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

I am still not sure how I want to write this report since I did not have the race I wanted but it still wasn’t a total loss.  But first I wanted to give thanks to those who supported me during this Ironman ride.  First, I want to thank my girlfriend who had to put up with all of the early morning and early nights and me not being able to go out ever and not wanting eat anything but salads.  I also want to thank my parents for coming to all of my races and supporting me.  And my friends who have looked the other way at all the times I have not been able to go out because of training and racing.

I also want to thank the Snapple Triathlon team for selecting me this year and I apologize for not crushing dreams at Ironman Wisconsin!  And also a HUGE thanks to all of our great sponsors!  All of the gear, nutrition products, and support made this all possible!

Lastly, I want to thank my coach JonnyO for getting me to the start line with the fitness needed to put on a good show just couldn’t get it done on the day.  But I know that the future will bring some good results!

Now I guess I should get to the report…

First I will give some thoughts that went through my mind during my walking during the marathon.  “Well this feels good, looks like if I run a good marathon I have a chance.”  “This perform is warm and this water is too.”  “Well let’s just walk this one aid station and get some calories in.”  “Well I am NEVER going to do another Ironman, what’s the point?!”  “I think I can run it in to the finish so let’s book it and if I collapse so be it.”

So as you can see I had a wide range of thoughts, as most do, during the marathon.  I came off of a pretty good swim, a not so good bike, so I had some time to make up if I wanted to qualify for Kona.  I want to make this short and sweet because I don’t want to relive the race too much.

Swim: 59:49 (1:32 min/100 meters 17th AG/85th Overall)

Swim start

Swim start

I was expecting to swim about an hour based on my half swim times and my training.  I started off all the way on the inside about 15 yards from the buoy line.  I was the furthest person so the left so I knew I would have a pretty clean start.  Got going and got into a good rhythm and just kept swimming.  It was pretty nice that I didn’t really think,”wow this is a long swim!”  I tried to stay on some feet but it didn’t seem like anyone was swimming straight, or maybe I wasn’t.  My calf started to cramp a bit so every now and then I would flex my ankles to try to stretch it out.  Got out of the water and saw my time and thought “right on schedule”.  Got to the wetsuit strippers then started up the helix when I felt my right glute start to lock up, “oh sh*t!”  I was hopeful it would release and let me ride but I was not that positive.  Love my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit!  I have had my best times this season wearing it and would not wear anything else!

Bike: 5:43:47 189 NP (19.55 MPH, 25th AG/182rd Overall)

Got to my bike and the glute was not releasing so I had to stop and stretch a few times.  I did have some thoughts about dropping out right then because I did not want to have the same struggle of a race I did in 2012 but quickly told myself I would give myself an hour and if I was still hurting by then we would revisit that thought.  But thankfully after about 10 miles it released but it still didn’t go away completely so I just couldn’t generate the power I wanted.  I knew my chance of finishing top 3 in my AG would depend on my run so I kept riding conservatively and letting people pass me.

I like my bike position!  Thanks Jessica for the picture!  Loved my "homemade" Louis Garneau skin top.

I like my bike position! Thanks Jessica for the picture! Loved my “homemade” Louis Garneau skin top.

The hills weren’t as bad this year and I kept them nice and easy then hit the downhills like my coach told me to and it was a fun way to ride.  I did not have any jitters hitting top speed which was 42.5 but I think I could’ve gone faster if I wanted.  I kept ticking off miles and getting my Osmo nutrition in and felt ok coming off the bike.  I knew I was behind where I wanted to be time wise but figured if I rode decent and got my nutrition down I could run a good marathon to catch up.

Got off the bike, ran through transition, made a quick bathroom stop then headed out with the legs feeling pretty good.  I also used a “homemade” Louis Garneau skin suit top to get a bit more aerodynamic and get some more sun coverage and it worked.  I found an old cycling skin suit at a bike shop then cut the bottoms off.  It was a bit tough to put on when wet but it worked!  No sunburns!

Run: 3:54:29 (8:56 min/mile, 20th AG/154th Overall)

Coach told me to go on a nice easy run to start the race so that’s what I tried to do.  I kept having to slow myself down the first few miles but I was talking to myself to make sure I was going easy.  All was going well until about mile 9 when my stomach started to get unsettled.  That never happens to me so I got a bit worried.  Then at mile 12 I walked an aid station to get calories in since even though I tried to get in fluids everything was warm so it made it tough to drink or eat anything.  I had some miserable middle miles where dropping out came into my head again but I started to walk with someone who felt like me and we chatted a bit and both kind of said “if we have to walk it in we walk it in”.  So I kept putting one foot in front of the other and tried to think positive.

Running down Observatory Hill.

Running down Observatory Hill.

At some point I told myself to stop being negative Nancy and try to have some fun.  So I started to play the high 5 game and give everyone who wanted a high 5 a high 5.  That helped a bit then at about mile 20 a little girl had a sign that said “tough here and get a speed bust” (or something along those lines).  So I of course jokingly, or so I thought, hit it and started to run. I figured it would only last a little bit but I quickly realized that my stomach wasn’t hurting.  Well great!  My girlfriend and parents were waiting at like mile 21 and I knew they realized that something went wrong so I got to them and gave them the run down and told them I would be able to keep up at least 9 minute miles to the finish.

Letting the family know my plans for the last few miles.

Letting the family know my plans for the last few miles.

So with my legs hurting like hell but working and my stomach feeling better I started to run again.  And for the last 6 miles I kept a sub 8 minute pace and when I got to the last few miles I just took off.  I knew I was hurting but I just wanted to be done.  I got into the finishers chute with a woman in front of me so I slowed down to give her her own finish and I started to give out some high 5s.  I was looking for my girlfriend and parents but couldn’t find them.  I guess I looked right at them but didn’t realize.  Now it was my turn to cross the finish.  “Jeremy Rielley, a teacher from Chicago, Il you are an Ironman!”

Finish: 10:46:26 (20th AG/154th Overall)

Right after the race I was obviously VERY disappointed because I trained all year and pretty much put all of my eggs in one basket.  But after a few days of relaxing and thinking I realized all was not lost.  I had a good swim, a decent bike and a good finish to my race.  Now I am trying to figure out how I want to attack next season.  My coach and I have been talking about doing another Ironman but doing it later in the season and not making it the only big race of the year or we do an Ironman and make it just another race.  Now that race will never be “just another race” but having some other big races in the early part of the year and summer take some pressure off of the Ironman result.  My bike accident put a lot of pressure on Ironman Wisconsin because I lost a few races while recovering so I basically only had two big races in the year which can lead to a lot of disappointment if one does not get the desired result.

Now time to recover then get back into some loose training and find some running races and maybe bike races for the rest of the year then hit the winter hard with a good block of training on my weaknesses!

70.3 Steelhead: The Race I Wanted/Needed

I am writing this while watching Shark Week after a much too long drive home from Benton Harbor.  The only positive that came from the drive home is that my hamstring didn’t cramp up!

Today I raced Ironman 70.3 Steelhead and won my Age Group, came in 25th overall, and 10th amateur.  I had my best race yet and that is exactly what I wanted and what I needed.  The start of my season was going great, I ran my PR open half marathon time at 1:16:53, and was hitting all of my training then boom!  I got hit by a car.  That derailed training for really a month while I was recovering.  This caused me to miss my first race and race Rev3 Wisconsin Dells in not good form.  And because of that I had my worst race in my short triathlon career.  I over biked then suffered through the “run”.

I have had some good results since then in shorter races but with Ironman Wisconsin being my BIG race with Kona being the ultimate goal I needed some reassurance that my fitness was back.  I knew in the back of my head it was because training has been going well and my coach, Jonnyo, has been making me WORK but being able to perform in a race is different.  I thought this race was my best start to finish race yet.  But as good as this race was/is I know I still have work to do in order to race my best at Ironman Wisconsin!  Now the boring details about the race!

Getting a GREAT pep talk from my GF Jessica!

Getting a GREAT pep talk from my GF Jessica!

Swim: 30:35 (1:35 min/100 M) 4th AG/46th Overall

Well any swim in Lake Michigan can be an adventure.  And today was a decent adventure.  The “waves” were coming at us at an angle so it caused me to not be able to breathe to my left that much which kind of sucked.  Right before our start the announcer told us the lead pro was out at 25.  I thought to myself that a 32 swim would probably be in order.

Got a good start off the beach on the outside left, first turn was right.  I wanted to stay in front if possible but not get engulfed by other swimmers.  I got my rhythm and started to cruise and it was pretty much smooth swimming throughout except for a few sections that got pretty congested with other waves.  But my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit kept me going fast which I am very grateful for!  When I got out of the water my dad told me he only saw a few swimmers ahead.  That was a pleasant surprise.  Maybe I have finally learned how to race a swim!

The dreaded "run" up the beach to transition.

The dreaded “run” up the beach to transition.

Bike: 2:23:04 (23.49 MPH/222 NP) 2nd AG/47th Overall

I got on the bike ready to ride hard but also keep myself in check.  After the much too hard ride at Wisconsin Dells and my blow up on the run I wanted to keep some gas in the tank for my run.  And that is a very, very fine line at long course races.  Short course races I can go pretty hard and still run decently but there is no faking a half marathon if you biked too hard.  I rode Dells at 235 NP and have been doing most of my zone 3 rides at about 225-230ish so I was thinking I would see how my legs felt and be conservative and stay at 220-230 depending.

IMG_1440

Legs felt pretty good at the start so I kept the power below 230 for the most part and made sure to get my nutrition right, thank you Osmo Nutrition!  Got in a nice groove and started to ride behind one rider but he soon started to go a bit faster and instead of keeping up I let him go.  Then another rider passed me and the rider who I was with just got right on the guys wheel.  It was really frustrating because I thought he was in my AG and he was getting a free ride.  But all is ok because he was not in my AG and he didn’t look good when I saw him at mile 1 of the run.

About halfway through the ride I was still feeling good and still holding myself back.  My power dropped a bit because I had to coast a few times to empty my bladder.  Happy with that because that meant I was keeping myself hydrated.  I think I nailed my nutrition but I missed a bottle at an aid station that I wanted to I was a bit worried I would be low calories at the start of the run.  But now that the ride is over it is time to put my PF Flyers on and see how fast I could run!

Run: 1:20:59 (6:10 min/mile) 1st AG/25th Overall

The Steelhead run course is a good honest course with a few steep, but shorter hills and some heat.  The first hill is right out of transition and it really tests you early on.  My legs felt good so I was happy.  My plan was to take gels/blocks at mile 2/5/8/11 and when I got to mile 2 I grabbed a gel.  Strawberry banana..YUCK!  If you know me you know that I HATE banana but the other option of blowing up and walking home was not worth it so I gulped it down and kept going.  Around that time I caught up with a few runners from an older AG who were running well.  I started to sit in behind them and pace off of them but after a few hundred yards I pulled ahead/side and we ran together for a while.  One of the guys I was running with is a crazy fast AGer, Scott Lott, who hosts the Training Bible Podcast I listen to when training.  We talked for a second then ran with each other for a mile or so.  It was really nice to run with someone because it makes it easier to run since I am not concerned with looking at my watch as much.  I was feeling really good and was happy to run with someone.  But that was short-lived, nature called and he took off not to be seen until after the race.

IMG_1471

Miles started ticking away and I was still feeling good.  It got pretty hot at certain times when running on the tar with no shade but, thankfully, it didn’t seem to hurt me.  I tackled the steep hill on the first loop and started the second loop.  I was counting minutes and thinking that a 1:22 might be possible and maybe a 4:20 overall.  But I wanted to make sure I kept my pace because I assumed I was high up in the AG but not sure where.  I ended up passing the 1st place guy at about mile 6.5 and kept going.  More miles ticked off and more nasty strawberry banana gels were taken.  I started with the magic potion of coke at mile 7 which is great.

Up the steep hill for the second, and last time, and I had about 3 miles left.  I tried to pick it up a bit.  Made the turn to the finish with about a mile and a half left.  Now the hill that we had to run up at the start is also the hill we go down at the end and that tested my quads.  I could not get my leg turn over to fully take advantage of the hill but oh well.  I saw that no one was close to me but kept pushing the pace because I wanted to get every second I could out of the race.

Sprinting down the finish chute

Sprinting down the finish chute

Cross the finish like happy with my race.  My dad tells me I won my AG and that made me pretty damn happy.  I have won my AG in other races but never in a bigger race like this.  I also PRd every leg of the race, I had a faster bike time at Steelhead in 2011 but that had a cancelled swim, and ended up with my fastest overall time by about 7 minutes

Finish: 4:18:27 1st AG/25th Overall/10th amateur

Awards ceremony!

Awards ceremony!

VERY happy with this race.  Looking briefly at the results I think I had one of the top 10 run times overall which is fantastic but still need some work on my bike.  I have a few tough weeks of training then taper time for Ironman Wisconsin!

As usual HUGE thank you to my girlfriend, Jessica, and my parents for coming out and watching me!  It always makes racing more fun when I get to race in front of friends and family.  Also, thanks to all of the volunteers for making the race run so smoothly.

I am very happy to be a part of the amazing Snapple Triathlon Team who are supported by some AMAZING sponsors: Xterra Wetsuits, Osmo Nutrition, Louis Garneau, HED Cycling, SweatVac, Rudy Project, and Clif Bar!

2nd Again at Wauconda Triathlon

Well the title says it all.  2nd place at the Wauconda Olympic Distance Triathlon.  I know I should be really happy with second but I was going into the race thinking that my first triathlon win would be possible.  This race is a “long” olympic race at 1 mile swim, 28.6 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run.  I did this race in 2012 and came in second.  I figured that with my fitness, even though I was carrying fatigue from training, I might be able to get the W.  But it was not my day…by 47 second!  47 seconds.  And when I looked at the results I knew that the time was lost on the bike.  But I digress because there were some positives about the race.  I had my fastest swim split, even though this course is longer than a normal Oly race, I ran pretty well considering the course was rolling hills, and I had the fastest T2 time of the race!

Swim: 24:29 (1:23 min/100) 2nd Overall/1st AG

This race was a wave start and I was in the 4th wave.  Lined up in front for the beach start and gunned it out of the gate.  Then after a bit I was in front and was a bit nervous people would swim past me so I hit it hard.  After about a 100 yards no one passed me.  Weird.  I have NEVER led out a swim before.  I kept looking around for someone to catch up and make a pass so I could latch on and swim with them.  But that never happened.  There was another guy parallel to me but was off course a bit so I didn’t want to lose my line so I stuck with it.  Other then catching up to other waves it was an uneventful swim and I was still SHOCKED that I was leading out of the swim.  But now the time had come to run up T1 and get ready to ride!

Bike: 1:12:19 (23.7 MPH/ 234 NP) 3rd Overall/2nd AG

I got on the bike and got up to speed pretty quickly.  Then someone passed me about a mile or so in.  I thought about going with him but wanted to race my race knowing that this guy would either ride hard then run hard or he would ride hard and put a minute or so into me that I could make up in the run so I stuck with my pace.  The guy ended up putting 3 minutes into me.  The ride can be summed up by saying “I didn’t have an extra gear”.  It was a pretty simple ride on a 14.3 mile loop on mostly decent roads with some rollers.  I just couldn’t get my legs going which was kind of annoying but I also didn’t want to push too hard then not be able to run.  That goes through my head EVERY race.  How hard can I push without losing my running legs.  I know that running is my strength so I want to keep something in my tank for that.  But I also realize that in the big races I am going to have to push a bit more maybe and hope my bike fitness is where it is so it allows me to run well after.  Well first loop went well, second lap went well now it was time to run!

Run: 37:20 (6:01 min/mile) 2nd Overall/1st AG

Well after my race best T2 time I headed out for the run!  I took off running fast knowing that I had at least one person to catch and not knowing how far ahead the guy was.  I also wanted to race fast because I didn’t know if anyone in the earlier waves put in a solid race so far, which someone did, and beat me by 47 seconds!  I found my stride pretty quickly and got into a good rhythm.  I was running hard and I saw a few people ahead of me on a hill about a minute up the road.  I kept getting closer and closer and counted 25 seconds, then 15 seconds, then on a hill I was about 5 seconds back.  When I make a pass in a race I put on my best poker face and try to “fly” past to act like I am just cruising.  Thankfully the guy didn’t come with and I ended up beating him by about a minute and a half.

This course had some decent rollers and wasn’t flat so it was challenging but that made it fun.  I ran a few of the hills fast but didn’t have good enough turn over and tore a hole in my shoe with my big toe, oops.  But I was having a blast even though it was painful.  Get to the final mile and push it hard because I know that I am racing time and hoping that no one else put up a faster time.  Cross the finish line, go to the timing booth and get my results but they didn’t have the official results.  So I had to wait…

Finish: 2:16:06 (2nd Overall/1st AG)

Well after a while they have the results posted and I realize that I lost by 47 seconds!  I was very disappointed because I thought I had a good chance of winning.  But after a while I realized that a lot of good came from the race and I can’t complain too much since my training had been tough and I didn’t have any taper or real easy days leading up to the race.  And I also hope I am saving my best results for Ironman Wisconsin and 70.3 Steelhead!  And the icing on the cake was the amazing breakfast my girlfriend had waiting for me when I got home!  Then I continued to eat the rest of the day/night!

ITU Chicago: A FAST day of racing

This past weekend the triathlon world, well short course world, traveled to Chicago for what was a spectacular weekend full of racing!  The ITU, International Triathlon Union, is the governing body that puts on the draft legal racing that is used for the Olympics.  The Elites, or pros, race in a series of races to gain points for themselves, and country, in order to qualify for the Olympics.   These races are really cool because they are very spectator friendly.  The race features many shorter loops that allow spectators to see the racers multiple times in each event.  The Women’s Elite race and the Para race was on Saturday and I went to the Women’s race and watched Gwen Jorgensen smoke the field with a ridiculously fast run, she ran over a minute into the leaders during the run which is crazy fast!

This was a fun race to watch!

This was a fun race to watch!

Then on Sunday it was my turn to race!  The cool thing with the ITU is they require completely closed streets.  Now that is amazing because cars on the road with racers can always get a bit hairy but also because this course had 3 U Turns per lap if they were only to shut down a few lanes on the course it would’ve made for a dangerous course.  They did a good job at spreading out the waves to attempt to keep the course open.  But the problem with that was transition closed at 5:45 and I didn’t go off until 8:20, and I was a middle wave in the Olympic race.  So I set up transition then anxiously and nervously sat in my car, at a Subway, then by the swim start until my wave went off.

And because of the time differences in the waves the race was against your age group and not so much overall.  The first wave was basically finished with the race by the time I started so there is a big difference in the course from the first wave to the last so my priority was race my age group and wherever that fell overall was what it was.

Swim: 25:06 (1:32 min/100) 15th AG/108th Overall

The swim was a pretty straight forward swim.  We swam north then turned and headed straight south to the exit then had a LONG run to transition.  I should mention now that on Saturday night and Sunday morning it rained, and my transition area was right near a big ol mud pit!  But back to the swim.  I got a good start off the line but unfortunately I was not able to find a group to swim with.  I am still working on being comfortable swimming with others without having mini freak outs so I am always nervous to jump in a draft and trust the leaders sighting as well as their pacing.  I know I need to work on this because for an Ironman drafting saves valuable energy that can be used later in the day.  But it was a comfortable swim and exited the water and ran through transition.

Time to ride!

Time to ride!

Bike: 55:34 (26.8 MPH, 242 Normalized Power) 8th AG/46th Overall

So I should preface this part by saying that the bike course was short.  My Garmin had it at about 22.8 miles, 2 miles short, but it’s hard to say how short it was since about half the course was on Lower Wacker where I had no GPS signal.  But adding another mile onto the time would see about right.  This was a FAST course!  Racing on Lower Wacker was really cool for the most part, there were some bad spots but nothing too terrible.  It was a 4 loop course with 3 U Turns and 4 turns each lap so it made for a lot of slowing down, turning, then getting back up to speed.  I wanted to push it but I also wanted to hold back a bit since I am still not back to full fitness after my bike accident.

During the ride I looked at my watts but mostly to keep myself from going too low.  I was going off of feel and because Lower Wacker was dark with sunglasses on it was hard to see my computer so I just went by feel which was a nice change-up to having my eyes glued to the computer to keep me in check.  Nothing special to say about the ride except it was fun and I ended up gaining 60 places overall and a few in my AG!

Trying to stay aero the whole way.

Trying to stay aero the whole way.

Run: 36:44 (5:55 min/mile) 4th AG/21st Overall

Well I wanted to get off my bike and run FAST.  That worked for a bit but then I got a side stitch that didn’t want to go away!  But I kept pushing as much as I could but never caught my stride that well.  One big issue I had with this course was there were no mile markers for either the Olympic or Sprint race.  Normally this isn’t a big deal but I had this course measured at 5.9 miles, .3 miles short, and many others had the same.  So without mile markers my pacing was off, which isn’t terrible but it would’ve been nice to know my exact mile splits and to see where I really was on the run.  The run course was 3.5 laps and the cool thing was we got to run past Buckingham Fountain 3 times before the final pass to the finish.

Trying to run fast to catch some people!

Trying to run fast to catch some people!

It was nice to have loops because it made for more fans but the course was also VERY narrow with runners going both ways at points which made it hard to pass.  There was also no shade so it was a hot one, and brutal later in the day.  Combine that with only having 2 aid stations and it made for a struggle of a run.  But I am not going to play the blame game but I would have loved some ice  or cold water more often during the run.

The run course was pretty narrow, and hot but thankfully it wasn't too busy when I ran.

The run course was pretty narrow, and hot but thankfully it wasn’t too busy when I ran.

Saw my fantastic support crew featuring my mom, dad (who was racing the Sprint later), and my girlfriend, a lot during the run!  It is always nice to see and hear familiar faces and voices to kind of snap me back into it and help me push a bit harder.  I made a final push starting at the last half loop and ended up passing a group of 4 in my age group which was nice.  I made sure to make the pass fast to let them know that I was feeling good, but I wasn’t, so they wouldn’t try to hang with me.  Rounded the fountain for the final time and sprinted towards the finish!  Another good race in the books.  Obviously could’ve been better but I will take it!

Final: 2:03:07 (4th AG/21st Overall)

After the race I hung out with the family and talked to a fellow Snapple team member who I saw on the race course.  It was cool to see so many other Snapple/DC Tri Club racers out there on course!  After that we got some food then headed to the swim start to watch my dad race!  It was getting super hot and all the walking we did gave me a new found respect for spectators!

As usual I want to thank my mom and dad and girlfriend for coming out to see me.  It was also cool because I met a few social media friends as well.  And thanks to Xterra wetsuits for helping my swim well, Felt Bikes for the fast bike, Rudy Project for the helmet and glasses, HED wheels for making my faster and more aerodynamic, and Louis Garneau for making the amazing Snapple Tri Team race kit that kept me nice and comfortable during the race!  It was also my first sock less race in my Saucony Type A6 race shoes and they performed very well.  Those shoes make you feel like you’re flying out on the run!

Now time to rest up, get back to training then head out to San Francisco this week for some down time and my cousin’s wedding!

Rev3 Wisconsin Dells: A day of struggles

Last Sunday I opened up my triathlon race season at Rev3 Wisconsin Dells.  It wasn’t supposed to be my opening race of the season but after I got hit by a car, see blog post, I was not able to race 2 weeks before that.  Prior to getting hit by the car I had high hopes for this race.  I had heard it was hard and hilly but my training had been going well and I was feeling good.  But after I got hit by the car June 3rd I had to take a lot of time off and was not, and still not, feeling in top shape.  My shoulder and hips were still bruised and my road rash was getting better but was still sensitive.  But even with that I wanted to race all out and have a good race.

My girlfriend and I drove out Saturday morning to Wisconsin Dells so I could get a swim in the lake, first open water swim of the year, and do all the race check in and all that.  Got all that done and went to our hotel, which wasn’t really our hotel since the hotel we reserved closed but a hotel next door took over.  I did not get a good nights sleep before the race but that usually doesn’t happen so no biggie.

Swim: 32:13 (1:48 min/100) 4th AG

It was a time trial start which was pretty cool but because of that there wasn’t much of a chance to draft during the swim.  I got into a nice rhythm and kept swimming.  It was open the whole way but there was a little confusion on the way back where the buoys weren’t well-marked so some of us swam towards the out section and lost some time.  But swim felt pretty good and it was my first race in my new Xterra Vendetta wetsuit which felt great!  There was a nice long transition up a hill which was really tough because my heart rate sky rocketed.  Got through transition and got ready to ride.

Bike mount line...not as smooth as usual

Bike mount line…not as smooth as usual

Time to ride!

Time to ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bike: 2:44:48 (20.4 MPH, 235 Normalized Power) 4th AG

I was excited to get my first race done on my new Felt DA with my sweet HED wheels but I hadn’t been on the bike more than 30 minutes since the accident since it was in the shop until Friday.  But can’t use that as an excuse.  Got off and got into a little rhythm and was focusing on my race plan and getting nutrition in.  But that was harder than expected.  I was able to get a Clif Bar and a bottle of Osmo Hydration during the first hour of the ride but after that it was a struggle to get much more in.  Aid stations seemed to be very far apart and the aid stations are so short that by the time I filled my aero bottle it was over.  The marshals were very clear about littering, as well they should be, so I was stuck with an empty bottle with nowhere to put it.  I was wearing a one piece suit so I couldn’t just put it down my pants or up my shirt.  I tried to put it down my back but I dropped it.  I slowed to get it and thankfully I did because the marshal was RIGHT behind me.  They waited to see if I picked up the bottle before they drove off.  A minute lost is better than a 4 minute penalty.  So I rode with a bottle down my back for another 12ish miles.

To sum up this course it was HARD.  I think it was hard even if you’re used to hills but it was really hard for me coming from Chicago and flat lands.  I quickly realized that my body wasn’t really ready to ride the way I wanted and that became very apparent during the “run”.  I also realized during this ride that I can’t bomb down a hill like some people.  I hit 40 MPH during a section of a downhill but I was always on my brakes slowing down.  Maybe that was because of my accident and knowing how much it sucked to hit the pavement, maybe it was because I am not used to crazy fast downhills.  But whatever reason I just was not comfortable.

Another mistake I made was at the last aid station.  I took a bottle of Gatorade so I could drink some calories before the run.  But the problem was it wouldn’t squeeze into my aero bottle.  So instead of stopping to fill it I tossed it.  And it was a LONG last 10 plus miles home.

Run: 1:43:36 (7:54 min/mile) 5th AG

The only thing I can say about the “run” was it was a death march.  It was hot, humid, hilly, and the worst 13.1 miles I’ve ever gone.  From the start I could feel I had no legs.  The combo of biking above my fitness level and nutrition mistakes, as well as still niggling pains from the accident, I set myself up for a brutal last segment of the race.  But to make matters worse the curse was partially on a rocky trail which hurt my feet, and there was pretty much ZERO shade anywhere so the hot sun really took its toll.  I don’t think anything would’ve helped me on the run but drinking warm water, Gatorade, and having no ice made it worse.  I know I sound like I am making excuses but I have come to grips with the fact that my body wasn’t ready to race the way I wanted it to race so I raced above my fitness and paid heavily!

So happy to finish!

So happy to finish!

Finish: 5:03:19 5th AG/15th Overall

All in all I can’t be too mad about the race since it wasn’t my day and I still managed 5th in the age group.  Ate a lot of pizza after the race, took an ice bath, and shared one of these sweet Cokes with my girlfriend!

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Up next ITU Chicago this weekend!  I am excited to race at home on a flat and fast course!  I just wish there weren’t as many U Turns but oh well!

Hit by Car…But Thankfully Not Broken

There is kind of an unwritten saying in cycling, and road bike racing, that if you haven’t crashed yet your time will come.  But that saying is geared towards racing.  And the crashes in races involve other cyclist, curbs, flat tires, etc.  I had the VERY unfortunate luck to be hit by a car last Tuesday while riding on a road I have ridden hundreds of times and have never felt unsafe in.

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My shredded bike jersey. It’s worse in person

I do not want to go into too much detail about the situation and all that but I was riding near, or outside, the white line that divides the road to the shoulder when a truck going the same way as my clipped me with their side view mirror.  I then bounced around the car a bit before I hit the road.  Now thankfully nothing on my body was broken but I had some serious road rash and bruising.  I am still feeling the effects of the crash today.  Not only physically but mentally.

Road Rash but doesn't show the worst part which is on my back.

Road Rash but doesn’t show the worst part which is on my back.

Right when I realized nothing was broken and I was ok my immediate thought went to, “how will I ever ride on the road again?!”  This person took the innocence away from something that I love doing.  I have gone out a few times since for shorter rides and I am very nervous when cars pass.  I know I will get over it with time but there just seems to be WAY too much animosity between cyclists and drivers.  And the problem with this is that the cyclist will pretty much always lose.  We do not have anti lock brakes that allow us to stop on a dime, we do not have anything around our bike to protect us, we only have our helmet, bike, and whatever we are wearing.  And unfortunately that is not enough to spare us from serious injury.

Thank you Rudy Project for saving my life!

Thank you Rudy Project for saving my life!

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It’s hard to see the cracks but there are plenty of them!

The paramedics were amazed that nothing was broken.  They took a look at my broken helmet and basically said, “the helmet saved your life.”  I am battered and bruised but will keep training as the pain allows and try to get over it.  But what I will say to everyone who gets on a bike, scooter, roller blades/skates, “wear a helmet!”  It only takes one driver, a curb, a rock, to cause you to crash and a bunch of road rash and bruises are a hell of a lot better than a head injury!