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!

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!