I was awake at 3:15 even though my alarm was set for 3:45. I kept waking up about every hour in anticipation for this race. I went for the Belgium waffle as my race fuel and I was out the door by 4:45 a.m. headed to West Lake Park where the race takes place. At 5:10 I arrived outside the park and was greeted with at least 100 cars in line to get in. This race is extremely well organized and it is awesome that race director Eric Sarno donates much of the proceeds from the race to Stroke Awareness programs. After getting parked I sprinted to the bathroom and then got my race packet and chip. I was ready to start my warm up at 5:30. After getting a late start at Pigman I was going to make sure I got a proper warm up in for this race. I ran 2 miles with drills and strides on the end to get really loosened up. Then I rode the bike a few miles making sure the gears were all shifting well. The bike was running well so I racked it and put the wetsuit on for a swim warm up. The race begins with a time trial start (2 swimmers entering the water together about every 5 seconds) and I wanted to go in early. My plan was to start the swim in one of the first groups and then as I got passed I could try to get on the faster swimmers feet for a bit and catch a draft.
SWIM: I began the swim with a 16 year old kid who was a really fast swimmer. We were the second pair to hit the water. After a few dolphin dives we reached deep enough water to start swimming and I was swimming hard. I have gained a lot of confidence in my swimming lately under the guidance of Stacey Zapolski. The swim workouts she writes for me have been tough and I've been swimming more days a week and more yards than I was before school got out. 2 weeks ago, Pigman was my best swim of the year and I expected this one to be even better. 1/2 way out to the first turn bouy I was still on the feet of the 16 year old kid I went in the water with. I felt great. Just after we reached the first turn I lost his feet and I began to lose ground pretty quickly on him. 2 guys I coached in high school were starting behind me and they were both all-state swimmers...John Beck and Will Horvat. I expected them to be going by me any second and I would try to get on their feet. I kept swimming for the 2nd bouy and I never saw them. The swim is triangular shaped so there are only 2 turns in it. I was headed for home. I was tired but was still pushing hard knowing the swim would be over soon and also knowing I was having a good swim for myself. Just after the 2nd turn Jen Foley came flying by me. I didn't know how much behind me she started but I know she is a super fast swimmer. I jumped in behind her and stayed on for about 100 yards which also surprised the crap out of me. I exited the water in a time of 8:33 which was over 20 seconds faster than 2 years ago when I raced this event. It was also the 17th fastest swim out of about 650 athletes. I felt great about it. I was only 16 seconds from the 8th fastest swim time. This swim leaves me excited for my next pro race on July 17th. I certainly won't be out with the leaders but the gap from me to the leaders will be much lower than it was for my 1st two pro races.
BIKE: I was quick through transition and got on my bike in about 3rd place. Super swimmer Charlie Cunnick was way up the road...someone yelled to me I was 1:20 behind him exiting transition. Charlie is a great triathlete who is originally from Davenport and if I'm correct he holds the Iowa high school 500 yard freestyle state record. If not he isn't far off. I opted to put my bike shoes on in transition and run my bike up the parking lot hill that greets riders out of transition. Last year I watched people fall over trying to get on their bikes while going up this hill when I was volunteering at the race and I decided I would run in my bike shoes all the way up to the road and then get on the bike. I also decided to lay my aero helmet on the ground this race so I wouldn't risk losing my straw like the disaster I went through at Pigman. Once out on the road I shifted into harder gears and began trying to focus on pulling the leaders back. I was able to pass the 16 year old who outswam me. He ended up with the 3rd fastest swim in the entire race. When we got on the main road the course is on I could barely see Charlie Cunnick. He was riding really well and it wasn't until the turnaround that I caught him. I gave Charlie some encouragement as I passed by and I kept the pedal down. As was the case with Pigman sprint 2 weeks ago I really felt much better riding the 2nd half of the course. Probably due to all the Ironman training it seems like my legs take a little longer to get going. On the way back I felt really good. I knew I was over 25 mph ave. speed and I had the 2 biggest slowing points (the start and the turaround) behind me. I rode hard back into the park and had a great running dismount after pulling my feet out of my shoes about 600 meters before the bike finish. My bike time was 35:38 which was the fastest bike split of the day by about 50 seconds. I rode the Zipp 1080 front wheel combined with the Zipp Sub-9 disc rear wheel. I was feeling really good at this point since I'd shaved another 30 seconds off my time from 2 years ago. I put on my running shoes and grabbed my race belt and was out on the run course quickly not knowing how much time I put on the guys behind me but sure they would be in hot pursuit.
RUN: Once out on the run I knew it was going to be a struggle. I was getting some pretty bad abdominal cramping that was making breathing really uncomfortable. I've had this happen in a 1/2 Ironman a handful of times but never in a sprint. I knew from my experiences in a 1/2 that it typically goes away within a couple miles but in a sprint that's nearly the entire race. I had a decent lead of about a minute and a half but the way I was feeling that could disappear pretty quickly. We started out the run in the grass and I was trying to get into a rhthym but the cramping was not allowing me to go very fast. I eventually got to the main road where I would be running up and down some rolling hills to the turnaround. The turnaround had been advertised as having a John Deere tractor that we would run around before heading back to the main gate and finishing near where the race began. I saw the tractor and the orange arrows on the ground directing me to run around it. There was a timing mat at the turn and I went around the tractor and over the timing mat. This is when things got weird. Race director, Eric Sarno was there and he began yelling for me to go around the tractor again. I was quite confused as to why I needed to round it a second time but I began the circus-like performance by turning back and rounding the tractor a 2nd time. This time Eric was yelling to me that I needed to run further down the hill before going around the tractor for a 3rd time. I knew something wasn't right here. I was completely thrown off as to what was going on but I followed Eric's directions and went down the hill where they had another turnaround marked with a cone. I ran around it and went back up the hill and past the tractor for the 3rd time. I knew something was wrong. I could see the other runners coming down the hill and they weren't having to run loops around the tractor. The 2nd place runner, John Noland pointed at me and said, "I'm coming for you brother." I already knew this and I was still hurting from the cramps but I told myself to dig deep for the last 1.5 miles. Once I got near the entrance of the park the cramping had slightly subsided and I was able to get into a better rhythm. I glanced over my shoulder as I entered the park and I still had a decent lead so I knew I would be the 1st one to finish but I also didn't know how much behind me Noland had started the swim. I tried to push hard to the finish and I came in with a time of 1:04:41. My run time was garbage as I ran 18:36...the 5th fastest run time of the day...I was still really frustrated by the turaround fiasco because I knew that cost me 15-20 seconds in time. John Noland finished not long after me and still about 5 minutes later they were announcing that I was the winner so I figured I had still held on despite a lousy run and circus-act loops I had performed. The news and paper interviewed me about how it felt to win in my home town. I saw the volunteer coordinator Greg Hanson at the finish line and he told me he had been at the turaround and he apologized to me and said they had messed up where the turnaround was supposed to be. He said they were trying to move it quickly before I came through and they weren't able to get it moved in time. I told him I had been worried that it may make a difference in the race outcome and Greg told me if it did they would probably be able to take care of it since the race director is the one who had me run the extra amount. Greg told me it was probably near 20 seconds extra that I did. Just about then is when the timing guy Jeff Castro came over to me and said I lost the race by 2 seconds on the chip time...just as I expected with the way things have gone for me early in this 2011 season. It was out of my control now. I would have to wait to see if they made any adjustments in my time as Greg expressed he thought they would. When I told Jeff Castro what happened he said they had records of how much time it cost me because every time I went around the tractor I crossed a timing mat so they would have some data to back it up with if they wanted to make the time adjustment.
About an hour after the race director Eric Sarno called me over and apologized to me for what happened. He told me he felt embarrassed about it and said he cost me the race. He said it was clear to him I would have won had he not sent me around the tractor 2 additional times and in his mind I was the winner. He told me he would pay me the winner's check amount but then told me he had decided he was not going to make any changes to the result times so I would be listed as 2nd. I was pretty disappointed because this is a race I have really wanted to win. It's easy to say "next year" but who knows what will happen between now and then. I learned with my brother's car accident in October you never know what the next day will bring. I hope I'm still healthy and in great shape to try to win again but at this time I really don't know how long this triathlon journey will last for me. As my kids grow older and get more into activities I don't want to miss things because I need to train. If I don't extend the pro license at Steelhead or Madison this may be my last year of training like I am. It would have meant a lot to me to win this race. Only 1 local has ever won the Quad City triathlon on the guys side and that was back in the 2nd year of the event when it was much smaller. The turnaround circus I was sent on undoubtedly cost me more than 2 seconds but the bigger blame goes to me for having a piss-poor run. It was my slowest run in 3 years of doing this. Had I run what I was capable of Eric could have sent me around the tractor 10 times and I still would have been able to win. What's done is done and I began training today for my next pro race in 4 weeks at Ironman Racine 70.3. I have a lot of positives to take from this weekend's race. My swim was my best ever and my bike time was my best on this course by 35 seconds. I know my run will be there. I had a great interval workout on Wednesday and I'm in better run shape than when I came off the bike to run 1:17 for the 1/2 marathon in Texas 2 years ago. Now I just need to put all 3 together on the same day.
Congratulations to winners Jen Foley and John Noland on their great races. Jen is going to race Madison with me in September and she will be ready to roll fast.
Congratulations to all the 1st time triathletes. There were a lot of you out there and I hope you loved every bit of the experience. Even with the turnaround circus I dealt with I still believe this race is top-notch and I hope you enjoyed the experience enough to keep exercising for another race. Training that is done to prepare for a triathlon is what this sport is all about. It creates a healthy lifestyle that promotes physical fitness and that is great for the community. Complete results of the race with splits can be found by clicking here.
It was great seeing so many members of Team Tri-Fit and they took home the top triathlon club award for the 3rd straight year. It was awesome watching Dr. Bob Kaminski duke it out to the finish with fellow club member Earnesto Raya. Team member John Pfautz not only had a great race but also was awesome singing the national anthem before the race! I had a great time watching 8 former students or athletes I had in class or coached compete. John Beck, Will Horvat, Liam Weldon, David Zimmer, Anne Leners, Tony Meyer, Joe Mueller, and Grant Duncan. It makes me very proud to see student/athletes I worked with get involved in this great sport. The volunteers and the spectators for the race were outstanding. Lastly I'd like to thank Phil Pancrazio for taking some awesome pictures of me during the race. I think Super Mom was really jealous of how awesome his pictures were and she already wants a new camera.
The Quad City Times ran a story on the race and the turnaround mishap that can be found by clicking here.
I called my training buddy Adam Bohach after the race. He was in Duluth, Minnesota for a Marathon. We chatted about our races. Adam went through the 1/2 marathon with a time of 1 hr. 9 minutes!! It was a new for the 1/2 and he still had 13.1 miles to go. He said he began feeling really bad and had some stomach problems forcing him to use the bathroom. He said he had to dig deep in the final miles and was in "survival" mode. He ran 2 hrs. 26 minutes...a new PR! I was very happy for him and I'm proud to say I train with a MACHINE!!
Don't forget next weekend is the Davenport Duathlon on Sunday at Credit Island. Information on the race with a link to sign-up can be found by clicking here. I hope we can get a good local turnout to support this new race. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!