“What do you do when you fall off the horse? You get back on.” – Multiple sources
After Pleasant Prairie, I wanted back on the horse; badly. I had to wait 3 weeks for the opportunity though. Going into Lake Zurich, I also intended to test out a few things and see if they worked. They included ‘racing empty’ (1/2 Powerade for breakfast instead of solid food) and racing without a wet suit.
Lake Zurich is the earliest race that I have during my season. When you’re not fully awake at 3:30AM, you can sometimes forget things. HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thanks to Steve from Village Cyclery for his help. We would not have been able to race without it.
While I had planned to race without a wet suit, I couldn’t have raced for points with it. The water temp was a balmy 83.5 and the air temp was about 68 pre-race and mid-70s when we got out. So it was the perfect water/air temp mix IMO. With the issues in the water the previous race, I gave myself a little bit of a cushion when self-seeding. Even though there was traffic, it was definitely the smoothest OWS I’ve ever had during a race. To the point that I believed we still had one more buoy turn when Lee signaled me we were at the swim exit.
Transition went as planned, and we were out on the bike relatively quickly. The bike went really well even though there were a couple of unexpected obstacles. There are a lot of hills (both rollers and a couple of huge ones) on the bike course, so there weren’t any good places for bottle passes. However, draining half a water bottle of Skratch from dismount into T2 seemed to work out well.
A reasonably smooth T2 led to us headed out onto the run at just over 1 hour. At this point, the heat and humidity had increased from the nicer mid-70s that it was on the bike. While my goal was to run the entire 5K, it just didn’t happen. I knew it would go well because of WI hill hell and hoped I could make it happen. But the huge hills at about 1mi and 2mi, along with the heat and some other minor ones killed that.
Even though the run wasn’t what I wanted, it was still 2+ minutes better than last year. And overall, I PRed the race by almost exactly 12 minutes (1:39:51.66 vs. 1:51:51.59).
As I head into the back-half of my season, I would greatly appreciate your support. You can support me by donating through my Dare2Tri fundraising page. Thank you in advance for any support you can provide!
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” – Christopher Lloyd
Prior to this past week, every race that I had done was on a paved surface. Even if we were going through the forest or along a lake, it was still on some sort of paved surface. The Run for a Vet 5K was my first trail race, and it was an entirely different animal to say the least.
During the past two years, I’ve found an event prior to our week in WI. That way I don’t feel as bad about a week of R&R filled with beer. But since I couldn’t find anything before we left, I found this 5K on July 4th. So R&R turned into ‘active R&R’ that included AM hill runs and afternoon swims.
While those AM hill runs were not fun, I’m glad that I did them. If I hadn’t, Thursday’s race would have been even more of a challenge. The course was a combination of a snowmobile path and a cross-country ski path, so LOTS of hills. I mean, LOTS and LOTS of hills. (Followed by hills…)
Prior to the race, I met up with my guide Paul and his family. After we had a few minutes to talk, Mazie Vincent from the local NBC affiliate interviewed us. You can watch Mazie’s piece here.
As we started off, things seemed really good. The first mile on the path wasn’t that bad. There were some hills, but they were minor or gradual ones. And then we made the turn onto the second half of the trail…
The second half was full of ‘fun’, steep hills. Some of these came in rapid succession; some were long, hard climbs. I did have to walk a couple of these because of length or after doing them because of the difficulty. Regardless, Paul was there to help steer me around the obstacles and help talk me through the hills. I was able to catch my breath during the rare flats and aid station as well.
At about 2.8, someone from the race was giving you your time. They also mentioned ‘only 525 steps to the finish’. Oh, but they didn’t mention that about 490 were in hills. LOL We crossed the finish line to a cheering crowd, and Carrie captured our finish. You can view the video of it here.
Even though it was an extreme challenge, it was a tremendous amount of fun. I am extremely grateful to Paul for being my eyes for the race. THere’s absolutely, positively no way I could have run this race without his help. Also, huge thanks to Rebecca and Dave for all their help and Mazie for interviewing us! I hope to do the race again in the future!
“Send lawyers, guns and money. The shit has hit the fan.” – Warren Zevon
This year, Dare2Tri split the PT Training Camp into two, a beginner and an advanced camp. With all of the racing that I’ve done to this point, I was at the advanced camp.
Day 1 started with triple bricks (3 mi bike/1 mi run/rest x3). The bike felt really good, and more importantly so did the runs. While GPS wasn’t great because of all the trees, I was able to be at and under pace for the first 2 runs and at for the 3rd. The pace that I set for myself for these runs was 30 seconds faster than my current normal run pace. Not just to get faster, but also to get a measuring stick towards the <35 5K I need to hit before summer’s end. After lunch, we were in the water for skills and drills. The day finished up with recovery, during which I had a chance to try an amazing product.
Over the last couple years, I’ve had intermittent pain in my upper right arm. The only thing that’s really helped prior was getting worked on by a PT. But after about 5 minutes in the arm sleeve that’s made by Rapid Reboot and things felt great. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to use their products more in the future.
Day 2 started with swimming the course, and continued with a course overview. After some bike handling skills, the day finished with a breathing session and an ice bath experience. Last year, I had had an opportunity to do the contrast bath course (cold/hot/cold/hot). The cold sessions were in about 40 degree water for a total of 10 minutes, so I thought this 1:15 would be just fine. And outsize of the first 5-10 seconds, it wasn’t that bad. Meditation in 30 degree water is interesting to say the least…
There’s nothing fun about 3A wakeup calls, but that’s what was required for race day. After meeting up with Dave and getting transition set up, I felt really good. We poisitioned ourselves far enough back in the wave to avoid getting run over by people like Jack and Owen, and had a great start. Then at about 175-200, I started to feel the carbon dioxide start to build up. Using a drill that Stacee had taught me the day prior, I was able to get rid of a bit. At about 225 though, it came back and we had to head to the floating podium so I could try and clear it. At about 275, it was back and severe enough that I had to go to the boat. They gave me some water and it felt like the throat cleared. However, less than 10 strokes later, I had to tap out of the water. I felt true distress between when I told Dave I needed to and as we were swimming to the boat.
Because of HIPAA, I won’t go into much of what happened between when I was pulled from the water and when we walked to the finish line to cheer teammates in. All I will say is that too much fluid in the lungs was the culprit behind this. Post-race, I’ve had a chance to talk through this more with coaches and teammates that I trust. As a result of those conversations, I’ve got a few different things to try to help minimize this going forward.
As many of you know, I don’t believe in DNFs. In fact, Pleasant Prairie (2016) was the race where we walked the bike back 3+ miles so that I wouldn’t have to tap out. But this one was unavoidable for safety reasons.
While this was a disappointing day — not just in the water, but also having to scratch both of my A races — it wasn’t all bad. I know that as I continue to move forward, there are going to be bumps and setbacks. While I don’t ever want something like this to happen again, I’m glad it happened at a local race.
I still have a huge chunk of my season left, and I will find ways to work this out. I will also find a ‘replacement’ A race to focus on. And while this is a setback, it will NOT be a permanent one. I WILL find a way to fix all of this prior to the start of 2020’s seaons. And I WILL be in CA next summer.
I am extremely grateful to Catapult. Not just because of the 2019 grant that they approved, but also for the opportunities that have / will continue to push me outside of my comfort zone. Ultimately, these help me grow as an athlete — even though there may be some crazy / ‘oh shit’ moments along the way.
As I’ve mentioned throughout the blogs this year, the swim has been my weakest discipline. While I’ve been able to improve on the bike and run, the swim has drug me down. The grant they approved will enable me to work with a swim-specific coach. I am confident that their assistance will pay dividends both short and long-term!
I had an amazing time with them at TIR in March, and will start my 2020 season with them in Houston. I had given up doing Half Marathons after the challenges I had. But after how well TIR went, I decided to try another comfortably uncomfortable experience with them. It will be a 5K Saturday and a Half Sunday.
THANK YOU CATAPULT for everything! I look forward to the successes from your support in 2019 and to starting the 2020 season in Houston!
When I planned out my 2019 schedule, I tried extremely hard to give myself a break between Triathlons. However, Indy’s unplanned addition threw a wrench into that.
I had wanted to do Batavia for the past couple years. But the Dare2Tri camp was the same weekend in the past. With it being split into two camps this year, I was finally able to do it.
Having done the Naperville ET race a few times, I have become used to the ‘quarry madness’. Because of this, we seeded ourselves back far enough to minize it. The swim went better than I had hoped, even though it was a little odd. I say that because one side of the rectangle was in water so shallow that it made more sense to get up and walk than it did to try and ‘shallow swim’.
Headed out on the bike, I knew we’d be able to make up time and that it would go well. To that point, I believe we had a net pass of zero. Even after we had to stop and retrieve a dropped water bottle. Sure, people did pass us, but we were able to retake them before T2. It also felt like we were at 30+ several times during the course. And while I’m still not fully comfortable going/being aero for long periods of time, there were a couple of stretches that it paid off in.
Headed into the run, I knew it was going to be a long one. Almost all of the sanctioned Tris I do are a 5K run. This one was a 4.1mi run, which was the longest I had ever done in a Tri. Even though it was a longer run, the shade/overcast weather made it go really well. I was able to keep the normal run -> walk through aid stations that I wanted. The only other time I had to walk was at about mile 3 for another 20-30 seconds to catch my breath.
Also during the run, I misheard Michael. At the time, there was an older gentleman in front of us running at a much slower pace. We were at a point of getting ready to pass him when I heard Michael say ‘watch out for the turtle’. What heard was ‘watch out for the slow runner as we pass him’. What he really meant was to watch out for the snapping turtle that was by the side of the path — and not happy that we (all of us) had woken them up!
Thanks to Michael for guiding for me and to Coach Joe, Suzy and the rest of ET for putting on a great race as always!
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” – Elbert Hubbard
As I had mentioned in the Leon’s blog post, I had lost all of my spring short course plans. To give myself another NQ opportunity, I added the Indy Sprint to my calendar. Even though this race had been a trying one two years ago (with us doing the bike with just the hardest 4-5 gears), I was still excited to do it again. I was able to find a guide through Tri Loco (Indy) and everything else fell into line.
When I met up with Zach on Friday evening, we had a chance to do a decent amount of bike practice. After riding for about an hours and having a chance to talk through the rest of the signals (swim/run), I felt good. I also was confident that I’d be coming back from Indy qualified for Nationals.
However, the swim did not go as needed. At about 150-200 in, I got something caught in my throat and just couldn’t get it out. So for the rest of the swim, I was surfacing every 50-75 to try and cough it out. It made for a draining, long 500m swim…
But having done a lot of bike practice with him and knowing my run had imiproved, I thought there was still a chance to salvage a NQ time. Even moreso since we had the full 30 gear set to work with.
The bike did go well, even with uneven surfaces in places. These were apparently potholes that hadn’t been properly smoothed. So instead of having a flat path, you’d have stretches akin to highway rumble dots. We were able to pick up some time in the downhills, where I’d estimate we were at 30+.
As I was trying to make up time, I headed out onto the run without remembering to grab my visor. The Indy run course is much more shaded on the way out than on the way back. This meant that the first half (not much sun) went much better than the run back. During the hot sun parts, I had to go down to a run/walk method. And even though Zach told me I was more than 10 minutes behind goal going into the run, I still wanted to give it everything I had on the run.
After finishing, Tri Loco provided great hospitality. Thanks to them for that and Zach for guiding for me! And thanks to Tuxedo Borthers for all their help on race day!
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns
I had such great plans for the spring Tri season. I’d have at least two, possibly three opportunities to qualify for Nationals at short races. Then in June, Leon’s and Pleasant Prairie could be ‘tune up’ full Sprint races. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. I couldn’t find a guide for either IN race and Monsoon Houston killed the other one. I did manage to find a June short course race — more on that in a future blog.
So going into Leon’s, there was a bit more pressure than usual. But I still felt good knowing what my times had been in 2018 and knowing the work I had put in in 2019. Hootie even mentioned that the swim was only 500 during the Athlete Briefing, which made me feel even better.
Heading into the water, I felt confident that I would get close to a NQ time. And then things fell apart… We had a group of 60 for our wave, all with different swim levels. So combine traffic with my normal swerving, along with the swim being 750-800 instead of 500, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster for me.
Even though the swim was not the best, I tried to regroup in T1. During it, my sunglasses fell out of my helmet and I accidentally crashed them with my cleats. Thankfully it was overcast, so I was okay without them. The bike itself went decently — nothing could be done about 15mph headwinds in the worst possible places (uphills/inclines).
This year, they changed the run so that we headed the other way on the lakefront path. I clearly went out too fast in mile #1, as I felt it at about the turnaround. The rest of it ended up being a run/walk pace on this > 5K run.
While it wasn’t the day I had planned or needed, I did still come home with a 2nd (Mideast Regionals) and 3rd (PC Open) for VI Male.
Thank you to Dare2Tri for all of their help and support and to Lee Dunbar for guiding for me!
While ‘Chicago Spring’ hasn’t arrived yet (roughly May 1st), it’s at least getting nicer out. Nice enough that the outdoor running season is in full swing! This was my 2nd Chicago race of the spring.
To this point, every race that I’ve done at Montrose Harbor has started from the same place. So that’s where I went when I first showed up. Thankfully, there was plenty of time to get over to where the start actually was.
Once Rob and I met up and did all of the pre-race stuff, we headed over to the starting grid. Apparently someone didn’t get the memo that 2000 – 2500 people running in the street means that you DO NOT drive your car down it. Instead, you wait a couple minutes for people to pass. But since they didn’t, we had to contend with that hazard within the first 100-200 feet.
After we had cleared that, the first mile was still a challenge. This was because I unintentionally kept going far too fast. Even with Rob having to pull me back several times, it was still about an 11 min mile.
From the start of the second mile through the hill, things went well and standard. Mt. Roosevelt is absolutely, positively no fun; but at least it’s on pavement. The hill that was at about 2.6mi was very similar, except entirely on grass. I made it about 1/2-2/3rds of the way up before I had to stop. Rob’s encouragement helped me to re-start the run after 10-15 seconds instead of truly walking.
Once we were over the hill, it was a decent downhill and a lap around the track to finish. Even with the hill challenge, it was still a solid race.
Thanks to Achilles Chicago for their support and Rob for guiding for me!
For those who know me, or even just quasi-stalk me, you know that I end up doing a lot of ‘crazy’ things. Okay, maybe not as crazy as skydiving or going around a NASCAR track on a ride-along (both on my bucket list), but crazy in the sense that someone would look at me and say ‘you can’t do that’. I’ve ignored that thought, and 95% of the time, things have worked out really well. And my condo walls are covered with memories from those attempts.
So when I saw Catapult ask for people to fill their Texas Indepence Relay (TIR) teams, my immediate thought was ‘okay, let’s go do something else crazy.’ But since it was a team event, I neded to make sure that things would work before I said yes. Several back-and-forth e-mails later, everything was set.
On Friday, we met up as a full group and received gear / packed everything in. And after a stop at Buc-ee’s, we made it to Gonzales. Now if I had known how amazing Buc-ee’s would be, I would have skipped breakfast and waited. Oh well, lesson learned for 2020. 🙂
In Gonzales, we did packet pickup and then the team dinner. Giant Jenga/bags + good people = great fun! And after an appearance at the PJ party/lobby gathering, we called it a reasonably early night.
With teams of 12, the layout for TIR was that we’d all run the Prologue (1.15 mi), 3 legs and the Conclusion (.05 mi). The Prologue and Conclusion were run as a team, and the 3 legs were run individually (or with a guide for VIs). Claudio was my guide throughout all 5 of the legs that I ran.
The story throughout TIR was the weather. Going in, I knew that there was a chance of TStorms throughout both days. As one of my legs was on a dirt road, my biggest concern was getting through that leg before it rained and turned it into mud. In retrospect, I should have been more concerned about 25mph+ headwinds… But more on that later.
After gathering for full team photos in the park, we were off on the Prologue leg. Even in the dark, it was humid enough that I was drenched in sweat after just 1.15 miles. We had about an hour rest before our first individual leg.
As a bit of background, during each of the day legs (1-6 and 12-18) that our van had, the runner would say where they wanted to first ‘aid station’ at. The van would go to that point and wait, provide hydration and then move to the next ‘aid station’. When the runner said they were good to go to the end, we’d go to the exchange point and cheer them in as a team. Once it got dark, we did similar things — just no getting out of the van in full.
So for my first leg, we had (a) an unpacked dirt/stone road, (b) humidity and (c) hills over (a) for a big chunk of 4.68mi. The worst part was the first 1.5mi as sweat kept dropping into my eyes. So it was great to see the van at the first aid station. And while it wasn’t exactly ‘fun’, it was a lot more fun than sitting behind a desk! After about 50 minutes out in the Texas sun, we made the exchange — giving us about 6 hours before the next leg.
Once everyone had run, we took a lunch break and stumbled about the TIR movie location. Even though we didn’t have the greatest team idea, I’ll be interested to see the finished product with all the teams that did stop We also accidentally muffed the exchange point. For 2020, the reference point needs to be meeting at the fainting goats (that wouldn’t faint for us).
Going into the second leg, I knew it would be hills, hills and more hills. Somewhere between 2 and 2 1/2 miles, I started having problems swallowing. Getting hydration helped — but only for a little bit. Thankfully, I was able to make it through and back to the van without a major incident. And after getting a couple of Gatorades in, I was OK.
Remember those TStorms I mentioned earlier? As we were waiting to do our 4th swap, it started pouring. This made it a miserable 5+ mile leg 23 for that runner, and no fun for the rest of the night legs For me, this meant 2.7 miles in the dark with 25mph+ headwinds. Claudio helped immensely with this leg, as all I could see until we hit the exchange was the while line / oncoming headlights.
Once we hit leg 30, we drove back to Houston and waited for the other half of the team to finish their portion. Once they got close, we all went to the park and finished as a team.
I am extremely grateful to Catapult. Not just for everything the did for me the whole time I was in Houston, but also for this opportunity. Doing the TIR pushed me way outside of my comfort zone on several different levels.
As just one CIP, if I had been doing a run on my own, leg 27 would never have happened. The mindset would have been ‘it’s crappy out and I can’t see a thing; I’ll run tomorrow’. But as part of a team, you have others relying on you. It’s not always easy; but it always works out. And with Claudio as my guide, I knew I was in good hands. So leg 27 happened.
Also a huge thank you to all of the sponsors and supporters of Team Catapult whom made this weekend possible. I appreciate everything you did to make this weekend happen, and look forward to being back in 2020!
“He’s a rebel and a runner. He’s a signal turning green.” – RUSH
While I haven’t done it in the past 2 years, the Shamrock Shuffle is a special race for me. This is the race where everything Triathlon-related started for me. And while I know that last sentence sounds odd, it will all make sense in a moment. Keri Serota, who is the Executive Director of Dare2Tri, is also the AWD coordinator for the Shamrock Shuffle. The short version of the story goes I told her I was going to do my first Tri in Aug 2015, she told me about Dare2Tri and invited me to the PT camp; the rest is history.
After Columbus, I felt really good going into Shamrock Shuffle. Instead of 3 loops of hills, I knew I’d only have one major (Roosevelt) hill and that I’d only have to do it once. So going in, I had two real goals: (1) To make it out of the tunnels before the elites caught up to us and (2) to not walk outside of aid station and at most 1/3 of the Roosevelt hill. Having burnt out in mile 1 in 2016, I knew that my pacing had to be better. Lisa kept an eye on this throughout the entire run, and that helped immensely.
Goal #1 was achieved during the 1st mile (I believe they caught us at about .65 or .7). From that point through the first aid station (about 1.6), the pace was fairly consistent and I had two guides with me. Then at close to 2, I unintentially dropped a guide. We tried to keep them in sight as they caught their breath and regrouped, but it just didn’t work for them to re-join. And while it wasn’t intentional, yes, I did still feel bad about it happening. All of the guides I run with give up their time and race to run with and look after me. I try my hardest to return that. Keri (Achilles) joined us about a half mile later so that I had two guides again.
Shortly after the 5K spilt, I started to look for the aid station. Given where the first one had been and the race distance, I expected it at about 3.25. However, it didn’t appear until almost 3.7. I’ve stopped running with a bottle on 5k/8K/10K races, so I was struggling a bit between where I thought it would be and where it was. Mostly in terms of trying to get enough lubrication so I could swallow.
After you make the turn at about 3.9 or 4, it’s a straight shot to the turn at Roosevelt, hill and finish. Having run that stretch several times, I remember it being clear sailing. So I didn’t expect or see the divot that caused me to trip and fall. Luckily I caught myself and really only hit the pad of my palm hard. After taking about a minute to regroup and about a minute to walk, we started off again towards Mt. Roosevelt.
While I didn’t succeed in running it completely, I did succeed with goal #2. In 2015 and 2016, I had to stop after about 100 feet and walk it. This year, I made it about 1/2 way up before I had to stop and walk for 30-45 seconds. Once I got my breath back, we kept running and finished strong (1:03:25).
I look forward to running it again in 2020. Thank you to Achilles for their support and to Lisa, Keri and Jen for guiding for me! Also thank to you Dare2Tri for facilitation the AWD support!