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!