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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peaks and Valley's

Lesson learned form my last race at Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis on July 9th is that life has peaks and valley's and sometime no matter how much you plan, things don't got as planned.

On the Tuesday before the race I asked Dana to Marry me and she said yes, which of course is now one of the best days of my life. That went as planned. The rest of the week was supposed to be one of the best weeks of my racing career. I am from Minnesota and I was bringing my Fiance back home with me to race in front of my friends and family. This part did not go as planned.

I did not do anything out of the ordinary before the race. I have a routine and I stuck with it. The race was a little different as Lifetime Fitness brought back the equalizer. They send the women off so far in front of the men and who ever crosses the finish line first wins a bonus. I knew that was not going to be me, but I knew I had a chance for my first top 10 finish and my first pay day. After waiting for 10 min and 43 seconds after the women went off they sent us off (this was determined by previous years and the time gaps between the men and women). I was lined up all the way to the right. If I swam straight I would be right along the sighting buoy's.  The top swimmers like Andy Potts and Cameron Dye were off to the left. After the gun went off all the swimmers went way to the left to try and get the draft off the top swimmers. I was swimming straight along the sighting buoy's and the entire field was about 15 meters to my left . I wondered why they were so far over and should I move over for the benefit of the draft, but I remembered what happened in the swim at the Capital of Texas triathlon and just swam straight on course. Unfortunately they did not all go off in a strange direction and left me to swim the course correct for an advantage.  I could have used it. I came out of the water in 10th, I was currently in the money. But as soon as I was on my bike I felt exhausted. Throughout the bike I tried different things to try and get my legs feeling better. Lower cadence, higher cadence, drink fluids, but nothing worked. By the time I was off the bike I had moved down to 12th and I went from exhausted to really exhausted. I knew if I did the run I would have walked it. Since there was no money on the line, I dropped out, there was no point to push my body further and have it even more broken down. It was the first time I dropped from a race. I was embarrassed. I felt like I let a lot of people down. My new fiance, my family, friends, and Scott, the owner of Champion Systems (they make my uniform for me and are an amazing company with great people). I really felt bad as they have all invested their time and efforts into me. How I felt racing was bad, how I felt after dropping out was even worse.

But I did perk up later. My family and friends got together for a BBQ and my God son Jack who is 5 came up to me and said I raced fast because everyone cheers me on, it made me smile and made me feel better. He does not care how I finished (or if I finish at all), my family is still my family and they love me regardless of how I do and Dana is still going to marry me. The next thing to do is just get ready for the Chicago Triathlon in about 6 weeks. Keep training and keeping plugging away. Maybe I can get into the money there. I really hope so. Dana and I have been looking at wedding stuff and they are not cheap.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tri Monroe

I was talking with some friends about the racing this year and so far, in every race, something has happened, being sick, uniform showing up at the last minute, the swim shortened, thunderstorms, a messed up swim. Well, to keep the theme alive, the week leading up to the TriMonroe race was no different.
Saturday before the race I was up riding the Racine course with Dana and my friend Erin. Two guys came by hammering it on the bike. I thought it would be great to jump in on the draft and get some practice so I just jumped in. The guy in front position kept looking back for some reason, and not just looking back, but swerving the bike a bit as well. This should have been a good indication for me to just drop off. These guys were trouble. When you are hammering on the bike, you stay smooth. If you have to look back, you do it quickly and briefly. You are going way to fast and one false move and you have problems. Well, that was what happened, one false move. The man in the second position over lapped his front wheel with the man in first position back wheel. He went down and started to slide on the road in front of me. Now it is kind of funny how much goes through your mind in a short period of time. I thought to myself, can I go left or right, no. Slam on the brakes, not enough time, I am going to crash. And then stories of other people's crashes ran through my head. Why I am not sure, but I guess it was better then my life as I did not think I was in that much danger, just a word of hurt!. Dana was behind me and said it was really quick, down he went and I went right over, so I know I did not have any time to react. I hit him and for a split second I thought maybe I will ride right over him, nope. I went over my bars and the bike flipped over me. I hit the back side of my head and then onto my right shoulder and back on my feet I went and actually had to take some quick steps to try and slow down. I was very cat like, but the damage was still done. I had some road rash on my elbow and my back. In addition, I hit my back hard and it is still sore. Being a bit compulsive my first thought was to try to stop my watch so it would not record time I was not actually riding. I know, stupid, but it was my first reaction. I was lucky. The other guy, not so much. He was not in critical condition or anything but he had some really bad road rash and probably a tire print from my wheel across his back. After we knew everyone was ok, I got back on my bike (it was perfectly fine) and road another painful two hours.

The next week was pretty good training wise, but my back was still sore. I think I have some deep bruising from the crash. I was a little worried for the race.

I flew out to Seattle on Thursday night and meet my parents at the Airport. On the way out I forgot I had a knife, spoon, and fork in my bag for my lunch at work. They took it out and I was a bit worried they were going to do a search in a way I was not going to be to happy about. But they just took the knife (it was a butter knife, not real sharp) and they rescanned my bag and I was on my way. In Seattle I was staying with my Aunt Janelle and my uncle Howard. This was great as I have not seen them in sometime. I have to admire them. Back in 1999 they were living in Atwater California in  what they felt were dead end jobs. They wanted a change and they packed up their stuff and moved up to Seattle. They are now living much happier lives and I have to admire them for taking a chance like that. Most people would have not moved and stayed in the dead end job. They were not scared and went after a new life.

Friday I went to the race venue and did my pre-race routine. Afterwards I went to the pro meeting. The man giving the brief was kind of funny. Think of Edna from the animated move "The Incredible" (the lady who worked on the super suits), but a guy.

Race day was sleeping in as the race was not till 2:45 pm. It was kind of strange and I was not sure what to do as most races I start around 7 am. So it was breakfast, relaxing, then lunch and off to the race site. I saw the most of the pro women's race before I started my warm up. During the warm up I meet and talked to another Pro name James Bales. He told me at St. Anthony's his wife saw me and told him there was a bigger pro then he was with massive quads. Most pro's are about 150 pounds or some where around that. He is about 170 pounds and I am 182, so we think we may get T-Shirts that say Pro-Triathlete: Clydesdale Division.

It was now time to line up and race. In ITU races you line up according to your ranking. As this was only my second race I was number 41 out of 44 listed on the start line. You want to be on the outside as much as possible as it is less chaotic, but with my number I was right in the middle. I got a good jump on the start and found myself slightly up on the swimmers around me, but I mad the mistake of trying to settle into my pace to early and suddenly a swarm of arms and legs came flying over me. I was also having a hard time breathing. I think it was because of the wet suit (I had not race in one yet this year) and all the bodies. I found myself struggling to breath and behind some lead packs. I came out on the first loop of the swim, ran up and around the marker on the beach and found myself about 10 sec down on a group in front of me. I jumped back in and I felt the sting in my muscles from running on the beach. I had never done that before and probably need to practice it. I worked hard over the next lap to catch the group in front on me and right before I exited the water I thought I did, but I had caught the guy in front of me and when I ran out of the water I noticed he had been gaped. I knew I needed a good transition and so I sprinted hard for my bike.

I ran into the first transition and I did not think I was super quick, but I did not loose any time either (looking later I had the same transition time as the top athletes). It was onto the bike and hard riding ahead. Soon I was with two other riders and we started to work together and soon caught some more riders. In my group there were five riders and a rider from Egypt and I tried to get everyone to work together to catch a group of two who were trying to catch a group of 3. I knew if they caught them we would have a hard time closing the gap. We were unable to. I put some heavy efforts in the front, but it did not work. There was a group of about 7 chasing us and they caught us about half way through the bike. I knew if we worked together we could catch a couple groups in front of us, we had time. But we were to disorganized. It seemed as if some guys did not know how to work in a group. I made several efforts up front, would find myself in the 2nd or third position and doing another strong effort in the front. If I was in the lead on a 180 degree turn I would come around the turn and find myself 5-10 sec up. If I was in the back we were coming to almost complete stops. We just did not enough guys that had the handling skills and knowledge to bridge the gap. The time never got smaller. I did a lot of work up front and with about 2 laps left I moved off to the side and let everyone come through. It was time for someone else to work and I was going to make this a race amongst us and got some recovery time. I knew many riders were weak on the corners so on the last 180 degree turn I moved up to second position and took off. Sure enough I opened up about a 5-10 sec gap and rode into transition by myself. There I had some problems. It turns out my necklace (its basically a string with a bead on it that has a swimmer, biker, and runner) got caught in part of my helmet some how, so when I tried to take off my helmet it did not come off. I ripped my helmet off hard and everything came off, helmet, necklace, and sunglasses and I was off running.

I had a good run. I was passed by a couple of guys, but I also caught some guys from some groups in front of us. With about 1 mile to go I had one more guy to catch and ran hard. I did catch him and ended up 20th over all.

Much better experience then my first Draft legal race. I had a lot of fun and look forward to the next one. I need to work on getting with a higher pack in the swim, but with some work I think I can do that.