Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chicago Triathlon

On Sunday, August 24th I was up at 3:45 a.m. for a small breakfast and to head to transition area. My good buddy Zeb Gilliam was nice enough to let us stay with him in downtown Chicago so I got a good night's sleep. The transition in Chicago closes before the sun comes up at 5:45 a.m. My wave was scheduled to enter the water at 7:41. When I registered for this race last May I weighed nearly 200 lbs. and was completely out of shape so I registered for the amateur division despite placing 27th in the Elite Amateur division last year. 2 weeks before this race I tried to get them to switch me into the Elite Amateur division but was told they were already full. No problem...just more people to pass on the run.

After a good warm-up I put on the wet suit and and waited for the start of the race. The swim start was very crowded. It was the roughest start I can remember ever having. I was kicked in the goggles and had my feel pulled on numerous times. I tried to swim hard the first couple hundred yards until it spread out a bit. I pushed hard on the swim for what felt like 30 minutes but when I exited the water in 22:40 I was excited since last year I exited in 25 minutes. I had a great transition to the bike and felt good on the first of 2 loops along Lake Shore Drive but was frustrated because my bike computer wasn't working for the second straight race. I decided to ignore this problem and rode hard through the first loop. I hit the half way point in 30:30 and was hoping to be around an hour so I lifted the tempo a bit. My second loop was better and I got off the bike feeling great with the split of 1 hour, 8 seconds.

My second transition was another great one. The transition area in Chicago is huge...about 300 meters long. I found my shoes quickly and headed out for the run hoping to hit 5:50 pace. My legs felt great starting the run as they always do after being worked on by Dr. Robert Kaminski from Kaminski Pain and Performance Care. I always have him give me a tune-up two days before I race. I was feeling a bit tired at the first mile and was 5:54. My second mile slipped to 6:00. I knew it wasn't going to be a 5:50 pace day. The sun was very bright and I was wearing down. I began to pass more of the Elite Amateurs on the run despite the 15 minutes they started before me. I knew it was going to be a PR and I tried to stay in a good rhythm but slipped in a 6:20 on mile number 5. I came back a bit over the final mile and finished in 37:40 (6:05 pace) for a new PR of 2:05:18. Although I didn't get passed by anyone after exiting the swim 6th in my wave I finished 4th in the amateur race out of over 4,000 competitors. I felt good about the race but know by training year round instead of coaching I can go under 2 hours next summer. DREAM BIG!

Dream Big!

I have made the plunge! It has been a difficult decision but I have decided to resign my coaching positions at Pleasant Valley High School as a track and cross country coach so that I will have more time to chase the dream of becoming a professional triathlete. I know this will take a tremendous amount of committment considering how much this sport is growing. It is a challenge I am looking forward to with great enthusiasm and optimism. DREAM BIG!