Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Clark Lake Triathlon - Defending the 2009 Title

Sorry this write up is a little delayed, but it has been a long world tour and I have finally landed back in my resting place...Dallas (not a grave!).

So following the Aquathlon and open water swim, I was flying high.  pulled out the double win super hungover.  I was playing golf with my parents later that day after the race and told them that hurt way too much to keep putting myself through that, so this week for Clark Lake I decided I was going to be a little more under control Saturday leading up to the race.

Race morning came and it was pouring rain.  I hadn't raced in the rain in quite some time, but I was actually looking forward to it!  Got to the race site, jumped out and quickly ran over to the Alpha list of all the competitors, picked out my bib #, and scoped out the competition.  There were a couple of locals that I knew that would give me a run for my money, so I had to get my game face on.

I let the rain settle a little bit before getting my equipment out and setup in transition.  Got in a nice little 10 min warm up jog, and headed down to the water to start the swim.  After getting rained on and sweating in the warm up jog, it was difficult to put on my wetsuit.  I nearly missed the race start because of rookie mistakes in putting it on, put the damn thing on backwards!

With less than a minute to spare I got it on and made it to the front of the first wave.  The gun was off and the race was on.  First up was a half mile swim.  My plan was to get out hard and get into the lead pack and hold that position, jet through transition, and get out on the bike alone.

Around the first buoy I had already gaped the rest of the field and had a nice cushion, so I maintained my pace, and ran through what I was going to do in transition so that it was crisp and flawless.

Coming out of the water I saw my buddy Kev and the rest of my family and they were heckling me like crazy.  While I was looking for them I was also peeling my wetsuit down as I ran.  I have found this to be the best strategy for me to quickly and efficiently get into transition while actively peeling the wetsuit off.  I unzipped and un-velcroed quickly all in one swoop, then peeled the wetsuit off my shoulders and rolled it down to my hips.  This allows me to keep running and making progress toward the transition area, but saving myself a few free seconds.  Once in transition, I quickly locate my bike, and get to that area.  Then i roll down the wetsuit as far as it will go, and then try to aggressively  pull my legs up and slip them out of the last part of the legs (usually i can do this in one swoop with each leg).  After that I quickly put on my helmet, buckle it up, and head out to the mount line.  Again I secured the fastest T1 by 10 seconds! :)

Out on the bike I tried to push the pace early.  Knowing that there were some faster old guys going in the later waves I needed to race the clock and hammer the entire race.  I was 5 miles into the 13 mile bike and I was feeling pretty good, and had a good cushion on the rest of the wave behind me, but I kept hammering.

Coming in off the bike I was licking my chops going into the run.  I knew my swim and bike were pretty strong and that my best event was up last.  Running has been my passion the past 6 months and i haven't been as consistent as id like to be, but i know that's been my strongest event the past couple seasons.

I had a quick transition, and was off.  The final leg was a 4.2 mile run along the lakeside road, but it wasn't scenic because the houses blocked the view.  The run kinda sucked, I was alone the whole time.  There was a lead biker, but he rode so far in front of me it was more demoralizing than helpful.  Coming down the final dirt road, approaching the last turn, I could see my family and buddy Kev, but knew I didn't have it locked up yet.  I finished hard through the line, and the waiting game was on...did I lay down the hammer enough to deserve to win?

A young guy came in about 2 minutes after me and was flying.  You could tell he was a stellar runner, he put down a great race and a well deserved second.  7 or so minutes passed before an "old" guy crossed the finish line and at that point I knew I had locked it up!  My time was about 2 minutes slower than when I last won in 2009, but I was happy with it.  Racing alone is tough to stay focused, so like I said I was pleased with my performance.

Still waiting on the pics from my mom...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Howell Aquathlon & Open Water Swim

Let me start this post off by saying this is one of the most fun and low key races I have ever been apart of!  I have never seen an event like this one, and will do everything I can to fit this in my schedule every year!

This race consists of 2 races, first a 1 mile open water swim. Then 30 minutes after that is a 1.25 mile run .5 mile swim 1.25 mile run Aquathlon.  You can choose to do either of the two races, or both!  Naturally, being the competitor that I am, I entered in both :)

This may sound repetitive and you are probably asking yourself why I would put myself through this kind of torture, and all I can say is...I dont like to miss out on any fun ;)

My race prep for this race was very similar to what I did for the ITU Chicago race.  I wont dive into as deep of detail as I did previously, but lets just say 4th of July weekend at its finest...54 holes of golf, cases on top of cases of beer, and lots of beer pong :)

The races were on Sunday morning and I had an early wake up call as the race site was an hour and a half away, and needless to say I wasnt feeling the freshest.  Beer pong with the fam till nearly 1am was looming heavy on my stomach and head.  But that wasnt stopping me from attempting to defend my double title from last year!

After the long painful drive I got to the race site and got myself setup in the little transition area.  This wasnt your typical transition area.  With only about 70 participants, and no bikes, there wasnt the need for a big transition spot.  I picked up a little bucket they provide, put all my essentials in there, and was ready to kick off the first race, the 1 mile open water swim.

Last year in the swim there was a 52 year old young man, Mike Schuldinger, who was an absolute torpedo in the water!  He and I battled it out last year nearly the whole way, and I squeaked out the W.  This year things were a little bit different, the swim was wetsuit legal (water temp was 75 degs) and I took full advantage of of that!  I ran into Mike on the beach before the race and we chatted a bit, and I had to break the news that I was going to be "cheating" and wearing my wetsuit to make things easier on myself. He is an unbelievable guy, and a great sport and just chuckled and said he was still going to hang with me :)

The race was pretty uneventful, I got out really hard to create a gap, and then just maintained that throughout the rest of the course.  I was hurting pretty bad, and as the HR rose, so did the discomfort in my stomach...but like I mentioned, I got through it and defended my title :)

Next up was the Aquathlon, the Main Event!  Aquathlons are one of my favorite endurance events and I was really looking forward to this!  Last year I also had a close showdown with another good friend of mine from Michigan State, Chris Matulis.  Last year it came down to the final mile, and similar to the open water swim, I squeaked out the W.

When the race began I got out to the front pack and ran with another longtime racing friend, the man with the best hair in the sport...Roman Krzyzanowski.  He is also an unbelievable guy to know, very genuine and all about having a great time with every racer out there!  He and I got out hard on the first leg and opened up a little gap on the rest of the field.

Roman came into T1 just ahead of me, we kicked off our shoes quick and were into the water...Chris was right on our heels!  One thing I learned in last years race was to run with your goggles and cap in your hand so that you can have a speedy transition.  I slipped my goggles on just before running into transition, flipped my shoes off, put the cap off, and dove into the water for the swim.  I slipped around roman just before the first buoy, and before I knew it, Chris had shot around me on the inside.  I had to hammer hard to get on his feet, and was able to hang for the rest of the first lap, but the second lap he really kicked it into gear and started to create a little gap.  At that time the rest of the field was starting to get into the water so it was hard to keep track of him with the other athletes, and my goal was just to hammer it into shore and focus on a quick T2 and catch back up to him.

Chris left transition with a 5-10 second lead and i really had to hammer to reel him in.  I was really hurting bad at this point and knew that it was do or die time to make a pass.  I caught up to him about 1/3 of a mile into the last run and without hesitation tried to create a gap rather than run with him.  We came up on a tough uphill spike and I tried to hammer as best I could up it because the rest of the race from there was flat and downhill, and being a strong downhill runner I knew it would be tough to reel me in.

I never looked back because I was too scared to see where Chris was, and I just kept hammering all the way to the finish line, again eeking out another close W, and defending my double title.

It was a great day of racing, and it was great to see all of my old teammates and friends!  Great racing to all who came out, and I look forward to another great rematch next year in both races!

I also found this short article in the local paper (http://www.livingstondaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014307070002)

Next up is the Clark Lake Triathlon Sunday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

ITU Chicago Recap

So I am going to try to start writing race recaps again, 1) because its fun and I like looking back at races and seeing what went well and what didnt, and 2) because i just got this cool new iPad keyboard and wanted to use it ;)

To preface my race recap, I just finished my first year as a high school teacher down in Texas, and am thoroughly enjoying my first real summer off as a post college grad!  At times it sucks because you get so bored and want to call your friends up, but realize its 10:30 am on a Wednesday and they are all working!  But the majority of the time its great, I can workout whenever I want to, can sleep in if i want to...the list goes on.

Being able to enjoy almost 3 months off, I planned a trip to head back to Michigan to see all my family and some close friends.  I decided to drive because I wanted to have all the essentials like my bike, golf clubs, and of course my bowling ball :)  I drove up with a buddy from down in Dallas, Zach, and we decided to take the trip in 2 days, stopping in a town called Clarksville, TN (about an hour west of Nashville).  We had this awesome idea planned to go watch funny car racing at this little dirt track, but unfortunately we hit too much traffic along the way and didnt make it in time :(  Anyway we got to Chicago on Thursday June 26th and hooked up with zachs relatives (it was his little nephews 2nd birthday).  

I would say that this weekend was not the most ideal race prep weekend you may have ever hear of, but I think I ended up doing alright considering the pre-race activities I found myself in.  Thursday night was a night we spent in, but up in his sister and brother in laws high rise baller pad overlooking Lake Michigan.  We drank copious amounts of beer and whisky before calling it a night and walking back to the hotel (about a mile down the street).  Friday we slept in, then hit the beach for infinite amounts of beers and sand volleyball games.  We shut the beach down, then headed back to get changed and ready for dinner and to hit Lincoln Park hard.  And that we did!  Had dinner at a delicious Mexican joint before walking a couple blocks down to this low key irish pub.  Had a couple pitchers, and wanted to try to get into something crazier so we found this other place with a younger crowd called trinity, and posted up.  Right when we walk in zach and I see they have beer pong and immediately get next game.  We ran the show the rest of the night and forever cemented in those young little college kids heads that Dallas TX can represent!

Saturday morning was rough and again we slept in, but not too late because we had tickets to the first game of a cubbies double header!  The game was a blast, and cubbies got the win!  After the game we came back to his sisters pad and celebrated his nephews 2nd birthday.  Fun was had and by the time all the festivities were over zach and i notice its already midnight and i havent gotten my bike from my car, and dont have anything ready for the race!  We quickly get all that stuff taken care of and by the time we get to the hotel it was already 1.  

The race started at 6am, but had over 4000 participants so there were many a waves.  My wave (unfortunately) didnt start till 8:30!  I hadnt picked up my packet or anything ahead of time, obviously i had my priorities in line, so i had to wake up at 4 to be able to ride my bike there (5 miles) find my packet and then get my stuff to transition.  I walk out of the hotel with all my gear and sure enough...its pouring rain!  Im super hungover, and now its raining...i almost turned around and went back to bed, but decided against it and flagged down a taxi, jammed my bike in the back seat and took shotty.

After getting everything setup in transition i made my way back to the water, and since i didnt start for nearly 3 hrs i decided to take a little power nap :)  After 2 hrs of a nap i still woke up feeling like i had been hit by a truck!  I want the most optimistic about the race, but I was going to give it all i had.

The swim started and I got out hard.  Water temps were mid 60s in Lake Michigan and were perfect for a wetsuit.  The swim was very sluggish and not to kick around the bush...it sucked!  It hurt bad, my stomach, my head, my arms felt heavy and weak...this is going to be a long day!

Coming out of the water, I had my transition plan all figured out.  I wanted to be efficient and make up as much ground as i could on the field, and that I did...having the 2nd fastest T1 in the whole field 
of 4k!  It was a super long run from the water to transition not to mention there being 4000 bikes in transition...my transition was 3:10 right on the money, and the fastest was 3:08, so I was doing something right!

Out on the bike I wanted to get into a rhythm early, and slowly build it up.  The bike consisted of 4 laps through the city and was actually really cool!  But there were far too many people on the course...things got a little crammed.  I actually rode very well for not having much bike fitness rolling in and averaged 24.5.  

Coming into T2 I was feeling pretty good, but felt dehydrated.  I ran out of water the start of the last lap of the bike and after 3 long days of drinking my body was dying for some hydration!  Again I tried to focus on my transitions and zipped through T2 with the 7th fastest T2.  

Out on the run I wanted to get into a good tempo pace early and try to get some fluids in me before I tried to go nuts and run in the red zone.  Got through the first lap of 3.5 feeling pretty good, second lap again got through feeling pretty good, but midway through the 3rd lap the wheels started to fall off.  I felt cramping coming on so i walked through the aid stations quickly and got as many fluids as i could get down!  Managed to hold it together for a 40 min run split, and not too upset with it.

Overall I finished 5th in my age group, and 28th overall.  Finished in a time of 2:04 and change and am happy with how well I held it together considering the absolute pain i was in 95% of the race!  No race photos are up yet, but once I find some I will post them up!

Next up for me is a super fun small race in Howell Michigan.  Its 2 races in 1, first is a 1 mile open water swim, then 30 mins after that is an aquathlon (2k run, .5 mile swim, 2k run).  Last year I was able to win both races, so I have to defend the double title!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 - Back to Work

So 2013 was filled with many ups and downs, and certainly was worthy of reflecting upon from both an athletic side as well as a personal side.  But I wont delve into that reflection here.  This first post of 2014 is meant to set the tone for the year ahead, hopefully a very successful and joyful year!

It all started 2 weeks ago with my first race of the year, the Resolution Run 10K in McKinney, TX, where I went out and set my new best 10K split on an honest and hilly course.  All while snatching the first W of the year in the process.  Very optimistic start to the season.

But the real story was my second race of the year, the Hypnotic Donut Dask 5k in downtown Dallas.  This race was the weekend following the 10k, and i was still pretty sore from that race.  Calves were shredded, legs were heavy from starting up tri training again.  Along with all that, I started coaching Track at the high school I teach at, and have been running with the kids every day.  I have really been hitting training well early this year to say the least!  

So, the race...I met a bunch of friends at the race, and it was meant to be a fun 5K we all met up at, and best of all, at the end they had free beer provided by the locals!  Race morning was pretty chilly (by Texas standards) hovering around 20-25 degrees, but it was beautiful clear skies and sunshine.  

With it being cold, I decided to go get in a little warm up, and ended up getting lost on the course because I didnt know where I was going, so turned around doubled back and cut the warm up short.  Went through my stretching routine, put on my flats, stripped into the short shorts, and was off to the start line!

There were close to 1500 people at the race, and the line was jam packed, but I was able to find a spot right on the front line, and shortly after that the race was on.

My plan for the race was to get out strong but comfortable the first mile, assess my position, and then turn the screws and try to get rid of people in the back half of the race.  I got out quick in the first 100 to take the lead, and settled into a nice steady pace. I felt another runner right on my heels but he was reluctant to run on my shoulder, or even take the lead, so I continued on with my race plan. 

We came through the mile at 5:15, and I was feeling really good.  I still had this other guy right on my heels but still wasn't trying to make a move on me.  I heard him breathing somewhat heavy, so I knew the pace was not easy for him, and I decided to ratchet it up slightly over the next mile to see how he would respond.  I would say 4 minutes at this pace or so I started to notice I was creating a gap, and went for the jugular!  I opened it up into a near sprint for 45 seconds and created a nice 5-10 second spread on him.  When I couldnt hear his footsteps or breathing anymore, I settled back into my race pace from earlier.  

I never saw a 2 mile marker, and was starting to get nervous as to how much of the race was left.  I knew I still had some more in the tank, but by no means was comfortable.  Just as things started to look bleak I hit the spot where I had warmed up to and got lost, so I knew I only had 2/3 mile left to go and at that point realized I was really putting together a great race!  I knew I had the race locked up, but wanted to race the clock and possibly put together my best 5K race a week after doing the same for the 10K. 

After hammering it home, I crossed the line in 15:44 and had held off 2nd place by 10 seconds to claim the top spot.  I was in shock at how well I had raced.  I got out exactly the way I wanted to, pushed the pace to separate myself from the field, and then grit my teeth and finished with everything I had left.  I wore my garmin and clocked it at 2.98 miles (unfortunately not a true 5K), but absolutely shredded my old PR based on avg pace.  5:17/mile is not too shabby in late January, and Im really excited for the coming season!

Motto for 2014 "Whatever It Takes"

Below are the rest of the race pics I was able to find, some are of my buddies as well.