Du Chicago (Chicago Triathlon) – 8/25/19

Throughout the summer, I went into the city for Dare2Tri’s bike / swim sessions and Chicago Tri Club’s swim / run sessions.  After the issues in June, the focus behind them was getting ready for Chicago.  Even during the ‘washing machine’ swims, things went well for the most part.  All of this was great practice for what was to be my Tri season finale.

Knowing that traffic / road closures could cause delays Sunday morning, I decided to do packet pickup myself.  IMO, the Expo is set up like a Vegas casino – in that even when you see an exit, it isn’t always an exit.  At least pick up went smoothly once I finally found the right place to start at.  Having gotten all of the race materials, and just as important, the alcohol bracelet, I was set to do the Tri.  And then the water decided not to play nicely…

The first e-mail dropped the swim to 750 for everyone and offered people the option of a Du.  When that happened, I told Eric that I still wanted to do the full Tri.  Unfortunately, early Sunday morning it became a mandatory Du.

Upon making it into the city, we ran into lots of closed streets and delays.  The closest we were able to get at 6:30 was Navy Pier.  So it was a mile walk to transition.  Eric met me at the entrance, and we still had plenty of time to set everything up.  As a Du, the set up was much more simple (just helmet, sunglasses and bottles on/next to bike).

After making sure that everything was properly set and we had the layout for ‘swim out’, bike in/out and run out properly mapped, we made our way to the start.  It’s a 3/4 mile walk that is best done in shoes.  Even if it hadn’t been a Du, I still would have been in shoes pre-swim.  But with it being Run/Bike/Run, I just walked there in my run shoes.

Given the duplicate run leg, I had planned to do the first one more slowly than normal.  I figured that this would save my legs for the second run.  After we started in a time-trial type one, the pace was a little bit faster than I had planned.  We ended up passing a few of my Dare2Tri teammates, making it to T1 in about 8:15.

After a quick T1, we headed out on a challenging 15.8mi bike.  Because one side of Lake Shore Drive was closed, the bike was reversed.  You could tell who didn’t pay attention during the briefings – those were the ones riding right.  They were also the ones serving penalties at mile 1 of the run. 

As with the past several bike legs, we passed a tremendous amount of people during it. We had a tailwind on the way out, which helped us to almost catch Alberto and Justin.  But we paid for that wind ‘help’ on the way back – doing hills into a headwind aren’t fun.  Even still, Eric told me that we topped out at 39.8 and had an average of 21.

We had a solid T2 and left it just seconds behind Alberto and Justin.  The first 1.25 miles went well, and then the hills came into play.  I remembered the first one at about 1.5 from 2017.  However, because of course changes, we had a ‘new’ second one at about 1.8.  With the heat and climbs, I ended up having to walk part of these hills.  As we were at about 2.2, Val and Andrew came past us headed the other way.  While I was starting to struggle, my main thought was ‘I need to finish strong and not let the bike go to waste’. 

Going into the race, I knew that I was giving 5-7 minutes up on the run to Alberto and Val.  With that solid bike, I had probably 12 minutes on Val going into the run.  I would have been distraught for giving up 13 minutes on the run.  Even though the last mile was a moderately painful run/walk, I turned it on when we made the final turn and finished strong.

A huge THANK YOU to Eric and to Dare2Tri for all of their support.  Not just during the race, but also leading up to it.  Eric was my pilot during many of those bike sessions.

Rock the Quarry – 8/17/19

Last year, Rock the Quarry was just ‘some race’ that I happened to find on Running in the USA.  It was simply a replacement race for having lost Naperville.  But after how much I enjoyed it last year, it was a definite race and one I looked forward to.

As well, last year we were in a wave with a single other AWD (Athlete With Disability) participant.  It was amazing that they held the race until we were both out of the water.  This yea, we were part of the normal AG wave.  The M35-39 wave was large, and it wasn’t a ‘normal’ start.  To ensure that we weren’t swum over, Michael had us towards the back.  We probably lost 45-60 seconds on the water entry because of how things were set up.

Once in the water, the swim went okay.  There was one point where swimmers from wave 4 (the next male wave) caught up with us.  When one of the participants from that wave swam right over me, I lost my stroke and then time having to restart in open water.  Once I was able to get re-started, we made our way back to the shore without incident.

There is quite a long run from swim out to the transition racks.  After making it there, T1 went decently and we headed out on the bike.  The 15 miles went by quickly with a couple interesting and one dangerous incident —

1)  As it’s Amish country and there are open roads, you can sometimes run into a horse and buggy.  We did again this year and made the pass around both it and the horses without any incident.  A hoof to the bike can ruin your day…

2)  Seeing the two AWD teams and their support teams on the course.  As a ParaTriathlete, I love seeing other AWDs at these local races. 

3)  One of the most important bike ones is ride right, pass left (unless specifically stated otherwise).  That’s important on any course, but especially on this one where you do an S curve under a railroad trestle.  Coming out of it going out, we had someone pass us on the right-hand side.  The asshat did that to someone else a bit further on as well.  I really wish that Michael or I had gotten his bib number.  People like that should really be Dqed.

Also on the bike, we passed a tremendous number of people.  As in the past several races, we got the smartass ‘you’re cheating’ joke.  If someone wants to trade me their 20/20 eyes, I’ll gladly give up the tandem…  But I won’t hold my breath for that…

T2 went as well as T1, after which we made the long run onto the run course.  Loop 1 went okay.  However, on loop 2, the head and humidity took its toll.  It became a walk/run, with the last 1/2 – 3/4 mile being in pain.

While there were issues on the swim and run, I did still manage to shave about 90 seconds off of my 2018 time. 

Naperville Sprint Tri – 8/4/19

Last year, a broken crank sidelined me from the race.  I tried everything I could to make it work, but had to eventually throw in the towel.  So I was really looking forward to this year’s race.

Upon getting to the race site, I was surprised in the dark.  I thought that I knew where my ‘stalker’ was at that weekend.  But they surprised me by being there.  Their note pre-race was ‘finish faster’. 

In past years, we’ve been immediately behind the elites.  While it’s been a privilege to be that far up-font, it’s come at a price.  Simply because we’d have those able to do 5-6 minute swims swimming over us.  To counteract this, we seeded ourselves towards the back of the pack.  This helped some, but didn’t solve all of the issues.  Especially since it seemed like they went from a lane-line barrier to a more solid one.  Even with a couple of hiccups, it was still a decent swim.

After doing a reasonably quick T1 for the distance, we headed out on the bike.  As in Lake Zurich, we passed a tremendous amount of people on the double loop.  I was hoping to see the Para Relay team while we were on the bike, but we didin’t.  It also got a little hairy towards the turnaround on the 2nd loop.  At this point, the participants of the Kids Tri were on the bike course.  While some weren’t as familiar with the rules, Lee was able to keep us safe and [eventually] get them to ride properly so we could pass.

Arriving back in T2, I drained about half the bottle of Skratch before we headed out on the run.  While I remembered most of the course from 2017, I had forgotten about an important hill on River.  Even still, the portion through the woods and over the bridge was solid.  So were spurts along River.  However, when we hit Aurora in the heat and humidity, things broke down a bit.

While it wasn’t a perfect race, I did end up shaving 14 minutes off my 2017 time. 

ET Lake Zurich – 7/14/19

“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!

A Rocky Weekend (Train2Race / Pleasant Prairie) – 6/21-23/19

[Photo credit – Claudia Ani]

“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.