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!

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