On Saturday I elected to race a duathlon in Iowa City over the local Quad Cities Triathlon. The reason was pretty simple. Although I enjoy racing the premier hometown event I was leading the Scheels Duathlon series and could not afford to score 0 points at the 2nd race. A series win would mean a huge financial lift for iHope with a $1,000 series prize looming. I made the drive to Napolean Park in Iowa City early Saturday and the stormy weather was just clearing up as I pulled in. I was dealing with some serious lower back tightness that had me worried a bit about running two 5k's (1 to start the race and 1 to finish it). I got a good warm up in of 2 miles and went through more stretching than I normally do before a race and my back loosened up significantly.
RUN 1: The first run went out fast. Right now I feel strong and able to hold a tempo pace of around 5:45/mile for a long time but running 5:20 pace is not as comfortable right now as I'd like it to be. The leader went through the mile in 5:10 and I was about 5 seconds behind. I moved to the lead about a 1/2 mile later and held the lead into transition with a 5k time of 16:35. I thought the course was a tad short as my GPS expected me to come in just under 17:00. I really botched the first transition. I had a hard time getting my helmet on over my sunglasses and my lead of nearly 30 seconds was down to 20 leaving transition. My run split for the 1st run was the fastest of the race.
BIKE: The bike course was two 10 mile loops so there were a total of three speed sucking 180 degree turns. The course was nearly dead flat with a headwind going out the 1st and 3rd five mile sections. I wanted to push the bike really hard hoping that would leave me with the option of not running very hard on the 2nd run. I began pushing hard early but was not real comfortable. I always tend to ride better on gradual climbs or into winds. I knew I would get lots of time checks with the out and back double loop format. At the first turnaround I was leading by about 1 minute. I knew it would be a fun ride back with the wind at our back. I was only averaging about 23 mph on the way to the first turn but was able to hold about 29 mph average over the next 5 miles bringing my average speed up. At the 1/2 way point my lead was only about 1 minute and 10 seconds. Frustrated with myself for only gaining 10 seconds in the 2nd stretch I pushed on harder when we turned back into the wind. I tend to ride better with longer courses and was hoping to make more time on the 2nd half of this one. At the 15 mile mark I was up about 2 minutes so that was a good stretch into the wind. Coming back with the wind was about the same 29 mph average and I got off the bike up a little over 2:30. For the ride I averaged 25.0 mph which was the fastest ride of the race.
RUN 2: I headed out on the 2nd run knowing I did not need to run hard. I didn't know how my back would feel or how my legs would feel because I had pushed the ride really hard. I felt like I was running slow but checked the watch and I was holding just under 6:00 pace. I got into a rhythm and was able to just run tempo effort negative splitting the 2nd run and I ended up running the 5k in 17:43 although it was also a tad short and I probably would have been closer to 18:00. My run split was the 2nd fastest of the race. My overall time was 1:23:04 which was good enough for the race win. With 1 more race in the series I need to finish only 4th or better to win the top Scheels prize for iHope. This race win earned $150.00 for iHope which is awesome because with my parents generous matching funds to whatever I win racing that means the day earned over half of an iPad gift for a low-income student displaying tremendous character and work traits. If you'd like to make a tax deductible contribution to the iHope Foundation you can do so by clicking here. I'd be so thankful to anything you can do to help. Complete results from the race with splits can be found by clicking here.
The best news of the day came shortly after I finished the duathlon. I was thinking of my wife Jen who was racing the QC Triathlon. I quickly got to my phone and called her. I heard she not only won the race but shattered her time from last year by nearly 4 minutes! I knew a year ago that Jen could be a stand out triathlete if she decided to devote more time to the sport. I can honestly say she still has not done that. She did train more for the race than a year ago. I'd say she swam 4 times this year compared to 5 minutes last year before the race. She also rode outside 4 times this year compared to twice last year. Where she made her biggest training increases was riding the trainer indoors. This year she rode about 8 times while last year she only rode twice. What helped Jen the most was that she started doing Cross-Fit at QC Cross-Fit last winter. The amount of strength she has gained is obvious just from looking at pictures last year compared to this year. I know some people think Cross-Fit will cause athletes to put on bulky muscle. Although Jen is a lot stronger than last year she still weighs the same. She has added lean muscle and gotten rid of some fat. I knew this was the case when she did her first trainer ride about a month ago. I put her on my Cycle-Ops Powerbeam Pro trainer that you can control power output with. Last year she started to whine when the resistance power hit 140 watts. This year it got to 180 watts before she said it was remotely uncomfortable. The only difference between last year and this year was cross-fit.
I watched her swim on Thursday this week and I was really impressed. She takes less strokes down the pool than I do and I've swam over a million yards over the past couple years. She was doing 50 repeats just a few seconds slower than I do them. I knew she was going to shatter her swim time especially since last year she did not have a wetsuit and this year she is swimming in an Xterra wetsuit. If she actually starts to train for this sport she'll be do so much better than I ever could. This upcoming weekend we are looking at possibly going to a race together which would be fun. She hasn't gotten to be at any of my races yet this year. Also, a HUGE congrats to Corey Towle for winning the men's division of the QC Triathlon. I knew Corey was going to be a tremendous triathlete and he's just touching the tip of what his potential in the sport is. Corey is a standout runner that has run 5,000 meters in 14:40. I knew he could run before I started working out with him but what impressed me the most was his ability to swim very fast. At one of Stacey Zapolski's swim clinics I saw Corey swimming and thought, "he's really good at this." When I went open water swimming with Corey it was even more of an eye opener as he swam effortlessly away from me as I desperately tried to stay on his feet. His biking has gotten a lot better over the past month and it's only a sign of things to come. Yesterday I was glad to have him with me for 80 miles of a 100 mile ride. Finally, a BIG congrats to everyone who was out there competing in either Iowa City or Davenport. I talked to some who finished their first triathlon and said there would be many to come. The sport leads to such an active and healthy lifestyle and if you've never done one I'd encourage you to give it a shot.
I'm really excited about the generosity and compassion people have been showing towards iHope. It's my motivation for racing this year because I have been able to see 3 different times the difference an iHope gift can make for a child in our community. Just thinking about their reaction when being presented with a gift...the tears of joy, hope, and confidence that is built fuels my motivation to train hard and race well to support this foundation. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!