This week was focused on getting recovered from last weekend's race at Steelhead. I knew I would not be able to get much quality training in if I neglected the time required to get recovered. This would be a very important recovery because Ironman Wisconsin is only 4 weeks from Steelhead and I knew I would want to get 1 more solid block of 10 day training in prior to my taper for Madison. The recovery did not go as quickly as I hoped. I was really sore of course and going back to school on Monday cut hours out of my sleep time. I also did not spend as much time doing easy workouts that normally help me flush out the contaminated muscles with fresh, new, healthy blood. As a result the soreness and tightness lingered into Friday. I was hoping to do a duathlon on Sunday out at Loud Thunder Park but I began to wonder if it would be wise to compete with the way this recovery was going. On Saturday morning I rode about 60 miles with Adam Bohach and I felt really good during the ride so I decided I would go ahead with the duathlon. It's crazy how quickly confidence can be zapped. I had a great race last weekend but without much training this week I was beginning to wonder if I was getting out of shape. I also feel like I've picked up a couple pounds with substantially less workouts and for some reason teaching has made me really hungry this week!!
I woke at 5:00 a.m. and made the 40 minute drive to Loud Thunder Park. Super Mom decided to sleep in rather than wake the kids up before the sun came up so I went solo. This was the 22nd year of the Du State Duathlon. They always do a great job putting on this event to benefit the Cornbelt Running Club and Quad City Bike Club. I have won the race 3 times. 2 years ago I missed the event record by 7 seconds. I was in great shape at that time, following that race with my best ever in Chicago just 2 weeks later. I felt like I should have done the first run a little faster. The race includes a 1.96 mile run followed by a 14.7 mile bike, and then finishes with a 1.81 mile run. The runs are both completely flat and stay in the park. The bike ride makes up for the easy runs with an extremely difficult course involving 4 substantial climbs. The record was set in 2004 by local Jeff Castro at 57:50. I was at that race that year when Jeff set the record. Jeff was in tremendous shape and went on to place in the top 40 overall at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii that year. I remember that race well because I was in good running shape and I was thinking I would be ahead of Jeff before the bike but he smoked me on the runs and then smoked me even more on the bike. I was 7th in 1 hr. 3 minutes.
When I was warming up I ran into Brandon Gittelman who is a great runner competing at my alma mater Augustan College. I was pretty excited to see Brandon because I knew he would help me push that 1st run more than I did 2 years ago. This was his first multi-sport event.
RUN: We started the run at a very fast pace. Brandon took off like a shot! I sat back just a bit and looked at my GPS. At about 1/2 mile in I decided to go up and help him with the pace setting. We were at 4:45/mile average pace through 1/2 mile and I couldn't believe how comfortable it felt. It certainly wasn't a jog but this was much faster than I've ever gone out in a duathlon. We made the turn and went through the mile at 4:53. On the way back we slowed just a bit. I got just a little ahead of him coming into transition. I looked at my watch to check my average pace and at was still under 5:00/mile with a 4:59 reading just before I entered the transition area. I was really surprising myself at this point. All the doubts and negative thoughts from my rough week were gone as I grabbed my helmet and bike and headed out to tackle this tough course.
BIKE: I knew I had already cut nearly a minute from my time in 2009 on the first run alone. I have a lot of confidence in my cycling right now. I did a lot of high intensity interval training on the bike in the month between Racine and Steelhead and I'm now seeing the results of it. This course is so tough I only averaged 23.7 mph on it 2 years ago. That was 2 weeks before averaging 26.1 mph in the Chicago Triathlon which is a 25 mile bike course. That reflects how tough this bike course is...and how fast Chicago is. I was a little careful leaving the park as they had warned us of a spot with fresh gravel on the turns out of the park. It was really small gravel but not something I wanted to take any risks on. After I got on the main road I began putting a lot of power into the pedals. I went down my 1st big hill and hit 43 mph. I rode hard on the uphills getting out of the saddle and pedaling a tough gear. After turning around I headed back down that hill and up the side I had come down. The course then travels out about 5 miles into Illinois City. This is where the 3rd really big climb is at. I never forget that hill as it's one of the tougher climbs I've ridden in a race. I was thinking how this was a perfect race for getting ready for Ironman Wisconsin where the bike course is pretty hilly. After turning around in Illinois City I checked my watch and saw I had about a 5 minute gap on the 2nd place rider. I pushed hard the rest of the way and had 1 more big hill to climb which goes back into the park. I have always thought this is the toughest one. It winds back and forth up to the top where it finally levels out. I was went into the park with about a 25.0 mph average on my computer so I was thrilled. I was about 1 minute faster on the bike than 2 years ago so I knew I could run pretty easy on the 2nd run and still be under the record by quite a bit.
RUN: I ran very comfortably on the 2nd run and was still surprised when I checked the GPS to see my current pace hovering between 5:10 and 5:25 most of the way back. I crossed the finish line with a time of 55:53 which was nearly 2 minutes under the record. The race was a huge boost of confidence to me. It reminded me of the importance of rest. It left me with no doubts that I'm in a spot I've never been in condition wise. I felt great after finishing and it was the perfect workout to end the week with. It was a hard effort and most importantly I gained a ton of confidence in my running and cycling heading into my final race of the year in 3 weeks in Madison. Being able to bike so well on the hills leaves me believing I am going to have a great race on Septemeber 11th.
I was really proud of my older brother Justin and his wife Amy for doing this race. It was definitely the most challenging race both of them have finished. They continue to impress me with their committment to fitness. Justin has done 3 races with me this year and afterwards he pointed out that he must be good luck for me because I've won them all. I'm thrilled he'll be in Madison hopefully bringing that luck with him although I did remind him the pro races are an entirely different league of athletes. I think there were about 8 people with Live Uncommon shirts at the race. This movement to advocate fitness has continued to grow at amazing speed. Check out the website at www.liveuncommon.org and join the movement. It's a great way to inspire people to begin a personal journey of fitness and it only takes one to make a difference. Fellow Live Uncommon member and co-worker of mine Phil Pancrazio had an amazing race! Phil dropped 6 minutes from his best time at this duathlon. It's so fun for me to watch people like Phil meet personal fitness goals. This is a tough event and a big congrats goes out to all who showed up for it. The weather was perfect with temps at about 70 degrees and barely a trace of wind. Complete results from the duathlon with splits can be found by clicking here. Now that I've adjusted to the schedule of being back in school I'll ramp things up for about the next 10 days before cutting back so I can be fresh and ready to race my best ever at Ironman Wisconsin. I can't wait for that race! After crashing at St. George in May I'm super excited to be able to add "Ironman Finisher" to my list of accomplishments. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!