Race morning I was up early. As you can see, it was right around 2:30 a.m. This race was a logistical nightmare for someone coming up the day of the race. The race was point to point meaning the transition areas were 17.3 miles apart. I had to drive to the lake to pick my packet up. After just nearly missing killing 2 deer on my way I thought maybe I should become an amateur hunter. I arrived at the lake just before 6 a.m. to get my packet. I saw the race was full with 800 competitors. After being there for 15 minutes I had to drive the 17.3 miles to transition 2 to drop off my running shoes, race number, and sun glasses. Then I had to drive 17.3 miles back to the lake to warm up. I got there just before 7:30 and got a good 1.7 mile run in and then did my stretching routine and got on my bike just to make sure everything was working properly. I knew it was going to be a tough day. The wind was blowing 22 mph...of course out of the northwest. What direction would we be biking...why, northwest of course! It was also 47 degrees out without the wind chill factured in. I got a good swim warm-up in which was very beneficial because the water was 60 degrees. I was in the 2nd wave. The first wave also consisted of other athletes in my age division. It was perfect for me because I knew it would give me guys to catch who started 3 minutes ahead of me.
SWIM: On the signal to go I sprinted into the water until it was knee deep and dove in...of course filling half my goggles with water. Great idea on the dive in...I had planned to swim to the first bouey taking less breaths because I know I swim faster when I don't breath as often. I can't do that for the entire race without going into oxygen debt but knew I wouldn't have trouble doing it for 150 yards before settling into a rhythm. I was looking for guys to draft off but was right with the leaders. I could feel someone drafting on my feet until we turned at the first bouey. After the first turn I didn't see anyone from my wave ahead of me. About half way into the swim I started passing guys who were in the wave ahead of me. I navigated the swim very well which has been a problem for me in the past. I got out of the water first in my wave which shocked the heck out of me. Swimming has always been my weakest part and I have felt like since January I've been in a plateau swimming wise. I was excited to have a good swim on race day. I heard fellow LeClairian Jeff Witters yell to me that my swim was very good as I exited the water. Jeff was waiting for his wave. I was quick through transition trying to ignore the gravel under my bare feet as I grabbed my bike and headed out of transition. I had the 12th fastest swim out of the 800 people competing which totally blew me away when I saw the results. I've never had a swim rank that high. If I can continue swimming that well it should mean great things ahead the rest of the summer.
BIKE: Once out on the bike I pushed hard. I knew my bike fitness was better than it's ever been. All the interval work this winter and spring has me riding well. I began passing people from the wave ahead of me and quickly set a goal to pass everyone who started 3 minutes ahead of me. I asked a couple volunteers at intersections how many were in front of me. 7...5...and then by mile 6 just 2. I tried getting time checks with my watch when I could see them. They were about 1:15 ahead when I first saw them at about mile 8. Slowly they started coming back to me. The ride was extremely tough with the wind. Most courses are out and back so when you go into a wind you know you'll get it back later...not this one! The other tough factor was the hills. If you've ever been to Galena you know why it is a great place to ski. The hills were tough. Constant up and downs. I rode the Zipp 1080 on the rear wheel and the Zipp 808 up front. I was thankful I didn't have a disc on but I was still getting blown all over. At about mile 13 I passed 2nd place and had my eyes on the leader. He was about 30 seconds ahead. My computer had malfuntioned early on so I was glad they had mile markers. I had closed the gap to about 10 seconds when I made my one big mistake. I've been working on getting out of my shoes while still on the bike so I can transition faster on the run. I wanted to try it out and I got out very quickly. After the next turn I realized we still had about 2 miles to go. Oops! I thought about putting my feet back in but I was still moving pretty well with my feet on top of the shoes so I decided to try to maintain the gap the leader had on me. I came into transition 10 seconds down but had a great transition in what turned out to be the 2nd fastest transition time in the race. My bike split wasn't fast due to the conditions but I would later find out it was the fastest of the day by nearly 2 minutes. The hard work is paying off!
RUN: I exited transition 2 down about 3 seconds to the leader but I was pretty sure he started 3 minutes ahead of me. When I caught him a 1/4 mile into the run I decided to ask him which wave he was in. He told me he was the first and asked me if I was also the first. When I said I was wave 2 he said, "Well, you've got 3 minutes on me so I won't be winning today." He was a huge help to me on the run though as he helped me push the pace. We went through the first mile at 6:05. The second mile we were 6:03. The third mile we picked it up and came through at 5:53. At that point he said to me, "You're on your own now...good luck" and he dropped back. At this point I knew I would be racing against the clock because a lot of strong guys started after me. I pushed hard in the 4th mile and split 5:39. The last .3 miles were up a huge hill before turning to the finish line. I finished in 1:26:51. My run split was 25:32, a 5:57 pace. It was the 4th fastest run split of the day. I would have to wait until the awards to find out if I won because they didn't post results. In the mean time I decided the quickest way to get warm clothes on was to ride back 17.3 miles to the lake to get my car. It was either that or wait an hour and a half for a shuttle to take me back. I rode back which was nice because I had the wind at my back the entire way. I probably averaged faster going back than during the race into the wind. After getting my car at the lake I drove the 17.3 miles one final time back to the awards to find out how I placed overall. Of course they went through all the age group awards for the duathlon first and then about after an hour of waiting at the awards ceremony they did the overall triahlon awards last. 3rd was 1:29 something and then they announced that second was 1:29...which meant my time of 1:26:51 was the fastest of the day. I was very surprised! I knew I was fit but after missing 5 weeks of regular training with an injury I didn't think I could win this race. I was hoping to be top 5. This all came at the end of a very solid week of training. I didn't want to sacrifice training for this race. I managed to hit 9,000 yard swimming this week, 150 miles biking, and 40 miles running as well as 2 days of weight lifting. On Wednesday I had a great track interval workout of 5x800's with an average time of 2:35 taking 90 seconds rest between each. Walking back to my car after the race I thought about all the hard work that has gone into this. I thought about the tough decision I made to stop coaching track so I could train to find my potential. It couldn't have been a better start to the season. I have to thank Dr. Kaminski for having me ready on race day. I saw him on Thursday for an ART session that had me feeling very good. I also want to thank Healthy Habits and Zipp for arming me with some great wheels that helped lead to the fastest bike split of the day. I know my running will improve a great deal over the next few months as I get back into more interval workouts. For the win I took home some really nice gift certificates...$50.00 to Fleet Feet Sports, $70.00 to a restaurant in Galena, and best of all...a 2 night getaway to Chestnut Resort for my wife and I with meals and entertainment included. It will be a nice thing to share with Jen since she has also made big sacrifices to make all my training possible.
On a side note I apologize for not having any race pictures. My wife had a prior committment to attend a graduation open house for a friend graduating from Med-school, definitely a good reason to miss my race. Also, I got a call from college teammate Randy Bill today and I want to congratulate him on an outstanding marathon in Green Bay this weekend. Randy ran 2 hrs. 23 minutes just missing an Olympic Trials time. I'm super proud of Randy for the committment he's made to running and I'm glad to see the amazing results. He's inspiring to me DREAM BIG! Also congratulations to Nick and Nina from our triathlon club, Team Tri-Fit for their great performances in Galena. It was fun hanging out with them after the race.
Full results from the race with split times can be found at
Up next I'll be racing a small duathlon in Davenport next weekend but I'm really excited to race the Pigman Sprint Triathlon in Cedar Rapids on June 7. I hope to be a few pounds lighter and put up an even better performance. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!