This past weekend I raced in the hometown Quad Cities Triathlon. This is a well run event that sells out annually. Many first time racers and veterans gather at West Lake Park for this event. Jen and I were wearing bib #'s 1 and 2 along with the pressure of having everyone we run into race week ask us if we are going to win. I was looking it is more as a good hard speed workout leading into Challenge AC and a test of my current fitness. I got up at 3:30 without the alarm and ate a pre-race breakfast of Kodiak Cakes and made Jen the same at 4:00 when I got her up. Jen did exactly 1 swim and 1 bike ride prior to this event...last Tuesday and Wednesday. She amazes me.
SWIM: I started in the elite wave with about 10 others and my goal was simply to swim hard. I thought last year I swam too easy and left myself quite a ways back after the swim. I've really ramped up my swimming by going to the lake 14 of the 16 days prior to this race. 1/3 of my total swim yards this year came in the last 2.5 weeks. I have done a lot of interval work at the lake and did many 300 yard repeats at near all out effort thinking that would prepare me well to swim hard. I did swim hard and at the half way point of the swim I paid for it. I was in a good spot at the turn right with a guy who ended up swimming 30 seconds faster than I did. I completely died and felt like a little kid learning to swim the last 1/2. My time was 8:20...exactly the same as last year which is very frustrating.
BIKE: I had my toughest time ever getting into my bike shoes. I never know how I want to approach the start of the bike with an uphill. I opted to clip in but couldn't get both feet on my shoes before losing momentum. It was either fall over or stop and put my feet down and try again which I did. JJ Bailey went running by me pushing his bike up the hill as I felt like a beginner trying to figure out how to mount my bike. I got on and got going and started my Garmin. I was hoping to average 275 watts out to the turn and bring it back a bit higher. Out of the park I was at 265. I passed JJ just before we left the park and then about 2 miles in he passed me back. I settled in 1 hash mark in the road behind him. I use the hash marks as a guide for a 10 meter zone which is what the draft zone is in pro races. After 1 mile of trailing him we hit the 2nd hill and I started to get closer so I made the pass. There were 2 riders still way up the road. I hit the turn around just behind super swimmer Sam Lundry and set my sights on the leader who was riding really tough about 25 seconds ahead of me. I got to the turn around exactly at 275 watts and started my average over so I could see where I was on the 2nd half. I was stronger holding near 290 on the return trip. Slowly the leader was coming back but it was VERY slowly. JJ Bailey passed me back again at about mile 12 and he was flying. I struggled to stay 1 hash back and mostly floated between 1.5 and 2 hashes back the remainder of the way as we clawed back at the leader, Josh Madsen. I got off the bike with a 25.0 mph average which was the 3rd fastest of the race.
RUN: Immediately on the run I moved into 2nd as JJ Bailey had a cramping issue right out of the gates and had to stop and stretch for a bit. By 1/2 mile in I was moving into the lead. I felt pretty good especially when I got out to the road. At the turn around I could see I was clear of 2nd by almost 45 seconds already so I just maintained a good tempo pace effort and began to think about doing as little damage to my body as possible with Ironman this week. I finished in 1 hr. 4 minutes and 29 seconds which as almost identical to what I've been the last 3 times I've raced this course. I was the first one to cross the line...but that is not the first. That is the 3rd. About 45 minutes later I was called to the finish line and race director Eric Sarno informed me I had been assessed a penalty for drafting. That was disappointing. The referee was there and told me I drafted. I told him I knew the draft distance was 7 meters and I had used the hashes (what they always tell us to use in the pro race meetings for a 10 meter draft rule). I told him the only time I got within 7 meters was the one time I made the pass on the hill. He said from his view he thought I was closer than 7 meters. I don't think he had ever heard about the hash marks as reference. There is no such thing as a protest in triathlon. All penalties are final so I knew I would have to just accept it. I told him I realized he had to do his job but my only frustration with him was that he didn't ride the motorcycle up beside us to get a more accurate view of the distance. The motorcycle followed me nearly the entire race and he must not have had a very accurate view of judging the distance from behind. The penalty was my first ever in a race...hence the first...and the 2:00 dropped me to 3rd place in the race...hence the 3rd. Jen was 3rd as well. It was a great day to race with awesome weather and it was so cool to see so many athletes complete their first triathlon. It was especially fun for me because all 4 athletes I'm coaching this year raced as well. For 2 of them it was the first one and they both did outstanding. 1 of the others is preparing to tackle Ironman out in Idaho this week. He is in the best shape of his life and placed 21st. I'm super excited for all 4 of them. Complete results from the race with splits can be found here. Congrats to all the finishers...hopefully you enjoyed your day and will continue working hard and DREAMING BIG for the next one! I certainly am!! Big thanks to Phil Pancrazio for capturing some outstanding photos of the race. Lastly I owe so much thanks to all of our iHope business supporters and to the companies who support my racing. You all inspire me so much to continue doing what I am. I would not be who I am today in regards to triathlon and the iHope Foundation would not made the impact it has on 10 students so far without your support. THANKS!!