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Friday, September 2, 2011

Chicago Triathlon- My Back Yard

First off, thank you everyone who has been reading my blog. I keep running into people who say they have been reading my blog and I have realized that more people have been reading up on my adventures then I though. If you have been reading, become a follower. It actually helps me with getting sponsorship for when potential sponsors look at the blog, they see how many followers I have had.

But enough of that, on to the race. The Chicago Triathlon, as part of the Race to the Toyota cup, was this past weekend and of course I have to do the race as I get to sleep in my own bed and bike down to the race start. It is a little different from a lot of the non-drafting races as they sent us off last after about a 90 minutes break from the last age-grouper. Start time, 11:27 am.

Race morning I woke up without an alarm and took my time eating my breakfast and preparing for the race. I even had time to unload and reload the dish washer. That is a first for me before a race. I thought to myself, if I race really well I will have to try this every morning, I have to keep doing what works. After I was ready I took a nice and easy bike down to transition and set up my transition for the race. Before I excited Greg Bennett walked into transition and I wished him luck, which I really like to do as he is a great guy, very friendly, and it's fun to hear him talk in his Australian accent, "Oh, Thank Mate, good luck to you to." I want to ask him to say "Throw a shrimp on the barby," but I have decided that is probably not a good idea.

After my transition was set up I ran over to finish and got there just in time to watch Dana finish. I told her congrats, got a quick kiss and headed over to the swim start. The day would have been perfect if it was not for the wind. It was blowing in hard from the North East and it was making the water really choppy and on the bike we would have to fight it twice on the two loop bike course. Nothing I can do about the wind, we all have to race in it, so I just focused on the task at hand. I did some light running and then put my racing suit on and into the water for a quick swim. WOW! It was really wavy and choppy. A couple of us joked about it and shrugged our shoulders, what could you do. Soon, time to start. It was an in water start and I was lined up just to the right of some of the top swimmers. The gun went off and I latched right on their feet. This was great as they just pulled me along, breaking up all the chop. I was thinking I would come out of the water right behind the likes of Cameron Dye, Hunter Kemper, and Greg Bennett and I was really excited, this would be my best position yet. But it was not meant to be as I swam off to the side just a bit about 400 meters into the swim and I lost their feet and they were gone. And when I say gone, imagine what it is like to stand still as a car passes you by at 60 mph. Ops! I need to make a mental note and never make that mistake again. I soon found myself fighting the waves by myself and it was no where near as much fun as I was having 30 seconds prior. After about another 400 meters the chase group caught me and I just tucked in. This was much easier, but some of the damage was done. That solo swim took a lot out of me.

Soon we were out of the water and it was onto the quarter mile run to transition. A quick transition and then I was onto my bike. Going north the wind was brutal and I worked on keeping a high cadence and staying as aero as possible. Since it was two lap,s on the first lap heading south with the wind at our back I made sure not to over ride it as I had to fight the wind north one more time and that is where I wanted to ride hard. I stuck to the plan and rode hard into the wind on the second lap. In Chicago the cars are on the outside two lanes and we ride on the inside two lane. Some people recognized me as I heard my first name called out in a car or two passing by. I thought that was pretty cool.

Soon I was heading into the 2nd transition and right before transition there were a couple of friends cheering me on. A quick change into my shoes, drop the helmet, grab the race belt and I was off. The swim and the wind on the bike took a lot out of me as I was feeling tired. I just focused on having a quick cadence and one mile at a time. About a 1/2 mile into the run and more friends were shouting my name. What a great feeling. On the run one athlete went by me and I did not have it in my legs to stay with him, but I noticed up in the distance I say another runner and I was sure I was catching him. Was that an age-grouper still on the course or another pro. I was not sure, but I focused on them and started to chase them down. Slowly I started to real him in and with abut 400 meters left I pulled up right behind him. This was right when the crowd starts to get thicker as they are watching the finish. The crowd started to get louder in anticipation of a sprint finish. As I pulled up on his shoulder he made a quick surge and I was afraid I could not respond, but I took a breath in, hoped my legs would respond and anticipated the pain that was going come. I knew this going to hurt, a lot! Then I kicked and as I surged past him I could see his shoulders drop and I knew he would not be able to respond. I heard the response from the crowd, cheering their approval and despite how tired I felt, that small little victory and the crowds response felt great!

I finished 18th out of about 28 athletes at the start line. It was not the time or place I had hoped for, but considering the conditions and how the MN Triathlon went I was happy with the race. It has given me some motivation for the training needed to finish out the season with 3 races on back, to back, to back weekends starting on Sept 24th with USAT Elite Nationals in Buffalo NY. My first nationals at the highest level. I am really excited for it.