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Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Return

The St. Anthony's Triathlon was one week ago. Sorry for not updating this earlier, but it has been a busy week to say the least. For those who know what I do for work, you can understand why it has been busy. Also, Monday, we got our new company with the new contract so it was filled with doing all the paper work that needed to be done. If you remember from an early blog post about some of the hardships and uncertainty that was going on with my job. But now we have a new company with a small raise, so good news there.

Last Sunday I returned to the St. Anthony's triathlon, the first race that I earned the right to go Professional in triathlon, so this race has a special meaning for me. The week leading up to the race, starting on Monday I was not feeling well. It was a busy Easter weekend and I had not gotten enough rest and I was starting to feel sick. This worried me as my first race I was sick, but I was not going to let this happen. So it was adjusting my workouts and getting rest, as much rest as possible. Even if it meant getting to bed by 8 pm. Dana was great during the week. She helped take some stress off of me so I could get the rest I needed. By the time I was leaving on Friday, I was feeling better, except of course some anxiety that I my health would suddenly turn for the worst, but it never happened.

Dana was coming to the race with me and our flight was leaving at 10:30. No problems with the flight and we arrived in Tampa Bay without any problems. I went to the baggage claim to pick up my bike and once again, as every time I travel with my bike, the TSA checked it and did a terrible job of putting the case back together. In fact, they some how completely turned the top cover around. How, I really don't know. To do that, it takes a lot of work, as it taking all the straps off, and flipped the whole thing around, but I guess they wanted to out do themselves from the last time they checked my bike. However, I had no problems, the bike was not broken and everything was good.

One of the great things about competing in the Pro field is you get home stays at many races. The race organizers will get volunteers to pick you up and drop you off at the airport and someone will put you up for the weekend. They did this for Dana and me. This gentleman named Steve picked us up. Great guy. I unfortunately did not get his last name. He was doing this all day and I can't thank him enough. My home stay was William Muhlstadt. He is the owner of "The Center 4 Muscle Recovery." He does massages for muscle recovery and has come up with many of his own techniques and worked with 5 of the top 10 women before their races at Kona (the Ironman world championships). He has been hosting for the past 13 years and has hosted Tim O'Donnell in the past, so I figure he is good luck. Great guy. We had a lot to talk about with Triathlons and we shared our stories about how we ended up working in this crazy sport. I know he will be working up here in Chicago in the near future and will be up at Racine, so if anyone wants some great work done, let me know and I will get you in touch with him.

The rest of Friday was just relaxing and putting my bike together. I was having a hard time getting my wheel on and the brakes were rubbing on the wheels. I could not figure out what was going on. Well, to prove I am the smartest person on the planet, when I ship my bike I put rubber bands over the brakes and the handles bars and I had not taken them off yet. So after spending 5 min stressing out and trying to figure out what was wrong, I realized nothing was wrong with the bike, just me. After that, no problem. As part of the weekend we were invited on Friday to a dinner with the Mad Dogs Triathlon Club. There I ran into my old Friend Brian Lamar who I first met when we were competing in Australia in 2009 in the Age Group world Championships. What you will find with the world of Triathlons, it really is a small world and over the course of the weekend I caught up with a lot of athletes, some who were still racing in the age-group divisions or who made the leap to the professional level. It is a great community and everyone is always welcoming.

At the dinner all the athletes competing in the the pro race were asked to come up front and introduce ourselves and say something unique. Sure enough it was like a bunch of first graders walking up there. Everyone was a little self conscious and no one wanted to go first. When ever they handed the micro phone to someone and it was not you, there was a sight of relief.

Saturday was just a relaxing day. A quick workout and then the a required meeting to go over the race rules and the course. Then it was out to dinner and to bed early. I was in bed by 8, I can never fall asleep, but off my feet and relaxing.

Then it was Sunday morning. Race start, 6:50 am. I have a rule, up 3 hours before the race, so we were up at 3:45 am, or 2:45 am my time. I felt awake. No problems. I ate my normal  breakfast. Two packages of Quaker oatmeal- cinnamon brown sugar, two bananas, and a  bagel with peanut butter. Off to the race and pre race warm up. They had to move and shorten the swim due to the winds blowing in from the east an making the swim unsafe. Before I knew it, it was race time. We toed the line and I looked off to my left, there is Andy Potts, 2004 Olympian, then off to my right, right next to me is Cameron Dye, last years champion and Matty Reed, 2008 Olympian and 2008 national champion. Also in the field was an Olympic silver medalist and the 2010 70.3 World Champion and lifetime fitness series champion. Crazy deep field.

The gun went off and it was just arm, legs and every time I sighted for the buoy it was just white water. So I just followed the swimmers in front of me, hoping they were not leading me off into the middle of the bay. Due to the change in swim, it was a 2 min run to the transition on side walk. With my feet wet and the long run, I could feel some of my toes getting ripped up, but no time to worry about it, on to the bike. I had a plan and I stuck to it and it worked out for me. I was 24.7 mph on the bike last year, this year I was 25.4. As I jumped off the bike and started to run in to the second transition, my toes were screaming at me. I took a quick look and sure enough I just saw skin hanging off. I figured, nothing I can due about it. I got my shoes on and ran off. I don't know if it was adrenaline or my shoes (Saucony Fast Twitch 5's), but I did not feel my toes at all. I could just focus on my effort. After the race was a different story as I hobbled as I walked. But it was a great run, I stuck to my race strategy and had my best 10K run off the bike ever. 1 min fast then the year before. At the end I was 34th out of 39 finishers (42 started the race). Not a high finish, but like I said earlier, it was a stacked field. Last year there were only 23 pro's on the start list and this year it was 44. This may have actually been one of the best pro fields ever in a non-draft legal Olympic distance race. I was happy with my finish. I was faster on the bike and the run then I was on the same course as last year, so I can't ask for anything more then that.

After the race, one of my sponsors (champion systems- who made my race uniform), wanted a photo of all the racers down there so we all got together for a photo. For me this was the biggest thrill as I met Matty Reed (2008 Olympian), Greg Bennett (2004 Olympian for Australia) Laura Bennett (2008 Olympian), and many other up and coming triathletes. All of them, not only great athletes, but very friendly.

After the race it was a quick pack up of the bike, and after party with the Mad Dog Triathlon Club, were I met some great people and talked to some who I met on Friday. We shared our stories of the race and past races as well. A lot of wonderful people. Very welcoming and I can't thank them enough for their hospitality. But time went to fast and it was time to fly home. I said my good byes and then it was off to the airport.

All in all, a great weekend. I had a great race. Meet some amazing athletes, and when I say that, it was not just Olympian, but athletes who have been doing the sport for 20-25 years. Triathlon has a great community with a lot of amazing people.

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