Following my Ironman disappointment last week I decided to take a 1 week vacation. I needed the vacation much more mentally than physically. I've been training hard since November 1 and since that day I only had 2 days where I did not train up through Ironman St. George. I also wanted to let my injuries from the crash heal. The only one that would have made training tough was a big hole on the inside of my hand. I knew it would be extremely painful to swim or hold the handlebars on a bike. I exercised a little bit this week only when I really felt like it. My total workout time for the week was about 6 hours. It was great. I ate whatever I wanted to this week, ran with family members, friends, co-workers, and even students in my class during their gym class mile. I'll begin what I call "Season II...Post Ironman Crash" tomorrow morning...perhaps as early as midnight depending when I finish this post. I'm extremely excited to begin a regular rigorous training schedule to prepare myself for a big summer of racing which will culminate with Ironman Wisconsin on September 11th. For now my plan is to race June 5th in Cedar Rapids in a very competitive sprint, on June 18th at the hometown Quad City Triathlon, and then getting back to the pro circuit with 1/2 Ironman events on July 17 in Racine, Wisconsin and August 14th in Benton Harbor, Michigan before finishing the year out on September 11th at Ironman Wisconsin.
The highlight of my week was going to Newton, Iowa for a small sprint triathlon called the Summer Daze Triathlon. It was put on by the Newton YMCA and involved a 300 meter pool swim followed by an 18 mile outdoor ride, and finished with a 5k run. I was excited to do this event because my two older brothers would be competing in it with me. My oldest brother Jason would be doing his first triathlon since losing his arm in a terrible car accident last October. My other older brother, Justin would be doing his first ever triathlon. I was really excited for them as they've both been working really hard to prepare for this day.
On Saturday morning we were greeted with some extremely cold weather. I've only raced one other triathlon in anything comparable. It was 41 degrees with the wind chill and also included 17 mph winds, and a very cold light rain. I had a hard time sleeping the night before because I was worried about my brothers doing the race. Justin had only ridden his new bike one time, and Jason would be racing for the first time with one arm. He had practiced his transition 10 times before this race. Jason has a much tougher time doing things in transition with one arm than most people probably realize. So much of what we take for granted is a struggle for him. Think about how you would put on a race belt with 1 arm...socks...the prosthetic arm...snapping a chin strap...putting on shoes...putting on a camelback (since grabbing a water bottle is not possible while riding). All those things are a much bigger challenge and I was impressed that he was able to do it in 5 minutes even though he said in practice he had it down to 2 minutes. It's a bit tougher when the adrenaline is flowing.
SWIM: I started as the 3rd swimmer to enter the water. They had one person start every 10 seconds. We would swim down the pool and back in our lane before going under the rope and moving to the next lane. We did this until we had swam down and back in all 6 lanes. The pool was in meters so it totaled 300 meters. The swim time included our run from the pool to transition area. I was surprised to find I had the fastest swim time with a 4:37. This was the first time I've ever had the fastest swim time in any triathlon. My brothers got stuck later in the swim when it became really congested. Even Jason, swimming with 1 arm was having to wait for people as it is extremely tough to pass people with this swimming format.
BIKE: Out on the bike I quickly realized we were riding this out and back course with the wind at our back on the way out. It didn't take long to exceed 30 miles per hour and the Zipp Sub-9 disc rides extremely well at high speeds. It almost feels like the bike has a motor powering it. The course only had a couple turns getting out of town before traveling on the same road until the turnaround. It was a nice smooth road but it was pretty constant rolling to challenging hills. I had a hard time standing on any of the hills because my hand still hurts to hold the drop bars due to the skin I've been missing since my crash last week. I hit the turnaround averaging almost 31 mile per hour and it was a blast. I knew it was going to be a much tougher ride on the way back and it certainly was. I was struggling to average 20 mph on the ride back to transition. I saw my brothers looking great when I passed them on the return trip. It was a very cold ride and when I got into transition I had trouble getting my helmet unstrapped due to the cold hands I had. My overall bike average was 24.4 mph. It turned out to be the fastest bike split of the day by about 4:30.
RUN: I headed out of transition with the Garmin GPS on so I could find out what kind of pace I was capable of. I certainly did not feel in very good shape after a 12 day taper for St. George and then a week of eating like crap and keeping my exercise to a minimum. I stayed pretty steady between 5:37 and 5:40 pace for the entire 5k. My time was 17:39. I would really like to knock off about 50 seconds off that time for Pigman sprint in 3 weeks. That will be a very competitive race and I'll have to be under 17:00 for the 5k if I want to have a chance at a high finish. When I finished the run I changed clothes and waited for my brothers to arrive in transition. Justin came in looking awesome and I was relieved he did not crash. He said the bike road great and I headed out on the run with him. Justin has been working extremely hard since the new year began. I think he's only had 1 or 2 days of not working out and he did his first 5k a couple weeks ago and ran 29:02. As we progressed through the run I realized he had a chance to better that time after swimming and riding 18 miles which I thought would be pretty friggen awesome. He stayed consistent with his pace and ended up running 28:45. I was really proud of him! While we were waiting for Jason to come in I was talking to a guy at the race who said, "There is a guy out there competing with 1 arm. He should be coming in soon." With great pride I told him that was my brother and we were anxiously awaiting his arrival. Not long after, Jason entered the parking lot for his finish and you could tell how excited he was to have finished this race only 7 months after the accident that took his arm and nearly his life. After Jason saw the results he said he was disappointed in his time! He was hoping to be faster than last year. We all had to put things into perspective for him. With that said, I do think Jason can be faster than he was before losing his arm. It will take consistant hard work but I know he has a lot of room for improvement if he's willing to put in the work. I think he is! This race was a great reminder to me what multi-sport is all about. Everyone has a personal journey to physical fitness. It doesn't matter whether you are first across the line, last, or somewhere inbetween. The key is striving for personal improvment in health. I believe striving to improve in triathlon or some other sport by setting short and long term goals and working like crazy to reach those goals is what allows people to reach their physical fitness goals. It helps so much to have something to measure that. Congratulations to the women's winner in Newton, Andrea Wood. Andrea swims at the same pool I do and I've seen her working extremely hard all winter and spring. Way to represent the QC Andrea!! Complete results with splits can be found by clicking here. I saw something else this week that reminded me the importance of proving to yourself that you are capable of more than anything you ever dreamed of. I have a student in my class who is quite obese. I watched him finish the mile last week while I was doing some drills on the track while our 8th period kids were running the mile for gym class. I saw this boy walking and I encouraged him to run short periods of time between his walks. He did this and finished the mile in 13:40. This week I asked him if he would run it again and I said I would do it with him. I had a plan for him to run the first 1/2 lap and then we would alternate running 100 meters followed by walking 100 meters. On the last lap we would run as much as possible. I could tell he didn't really want to run it again but he agreed to do it if I ran it with him. I met him outside during our 8th period and we took off as planned. By the end he ran 12:18!! It was a 1 min. 20 sec. drop from his time last week. I could see his confidence grow! He learned something about himself and how much he was capable of. It was awesome. I hope I can inspire more students to live a healthy and active life...to believe that they are capable of much more than they ever dreamed.
I've had a lot of people tell me how bad my luck in St. George sucked. It did suck. Sucking more than the crash was all the mechanical problems I had before it. Prior to this race I've never had a mechanical problem during a race. I was certainly disappointed but I also know to put things in perspective. For me the most important part of the preparation that went into the 6 months leading up to St. George was getting myself in great physical condition. The accident did nothing to change my fitness. I had gotten myself into the best shape of my life. That is more important than the result of the race. Races are a chance to prove that fitness. I didn't get to do that but I didn't need to. I knew from the workouts I completed, from the weight I lost, that I was in the best shape of my life. I'll have many more races to prove my fitness. Some will go great, and unfortunately some will not. In life and in sports we have good days and bad days. Unfortunately we don't get to pick when the bad ones are. We have to control the things we can, which for me is my training. After that the rest is to chance. I'm super proud of my brothers for taking a chance on this sport and for working hard to achieve their goals. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!