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.

Falling Short (Chicago Tri) – 8/27/17

Going into Chicago this past weekend, I felt really good. Even though I had gotten sick after them, the final two Open Water Swim (OWS)es of the season were extremely helpful. They were both choppy and moderately warm (mid 70s), which I believed would help for race day. Tthe pre-race 20/20/20 with Kyle went well, and I had a plan for both sides of the extremely long transitions (3/4 mile to swim out, ½ mile from swim in). So everything should have gone perfect with me setting a PR at Chicago, right? No, not really….

After getting everything set up, our group headed towards race start, and our Sprint wave started at 8:45. Once in the water, things felt really good; and from what I mentioned about OWS earlier, I anticipated a 25-26 min swim. When exiting, I ended up knee planting on the huge step. Even with that, T1 ended up being quicker than last year.

Making it out onto the bike, we picked up a tremendous amount of places. Throughout almost the entire bike, we were passing people continuously. Well, except for when people like one of my teammates (David Kuhn) blazed past us at almost 30mph. And even with a couple hiccups (hairpin turns and having to stop for a bit because my lower body went numb), the delta was almost 1000 people.

With the nutrition plan that I had been using, I felt good going into the run. Unfortunately, my knees kept cramping up throughout the run. It was so frustrating, as I had enough breath / stamina to keep going, but I couldn’t keep the pressure on without a lot of pain. I have no idea exactly what caused it, but I managed to make it through the run.

As I’ve already told some people privately, this day was full of frustration for me. I knew that I had put in the work to get the time down, but it didn’t show in the results (+10 min from 2016). While it would be easy to let that frustration make me say ‘screw it – I put in the work and it just got worse’, that’s just not in my DNA. Honestly, the last few days have been a struggle as I continue to try and ignore those feelings.

What will help to silence those voices is continuing to keep perspective and getting back into the pool on Friday to start the off-season workouts. A couple years ago, the struggles with bike mounting almost got the better of me. This year, with the exception of the first race, I’ve been in clips with very minimal issues. The bottom line being that I just have to remember that while it won’t be immediate, things will continue to get better if I keep pushing forward. And that’s the message I’ve got to keep feeding myself the entire off season.

There are several things that I’ll be discussing with coaches and other athletes over the next several months. There will also be several different sets of experiments as I try to find a way to get the numbers to where I need them to be. I am watching the clock and know that my first shot to qualify for 2018 Nationals is about 6 months from today. Even though that’s a lot of time, it’s really not…

One of the other main things that I need to get addressed in the off-season is aaddle fit. Every race this season, the current saddle has caused my lower regions to go numb and lose power during adjustment. On Sunday, this wasn’t noticeable until it was a real issue, causing us to stop for about 60-90 sec at mile 11 or 12. If I want to be able to keep a constant 20mph+, I can’t have that happening.

Even though my 2017 racing season is over, things aren’t completely done for the year. In addition to off-season training, I’ve got two long bike rides and potentially a Tri camp before the end of the year. I’ll have an end of year reflective post once I’m down to just off-season training.

Leave it all on the course – 8/28/16


With the Chicago Triathlon being the last triathlon of my season, as well as PT Mid-East Regionals, I had a lot I wanted to accomplish. One set of goals was related to the time ahead; the other set was to a final show of the 2016 effort. I’ll have more to say on both of these in the future. For now, I want to just focus on the event.

After arriving and getting transition set up, we all made the long walk to the starting area. I am glad that Luke convinced me to keep my shoes on instead of going barefoot, and I now see why they give you a swim check bag. Trying to do about 1/2 mile in bare feet would be a VERY bad decision. We did a team photo and then got into line for the start.

Lake Michigan was very calm and with a 70 degree water temperature, I went without my wet suit. We were the second Sprint group into the water, and it went very well. I’m still slower in Lake Michigan than I am anywhere else; not sure why. After about 28 minutes in the water, I had a little bit of trouble getting up the stairs (swim exit). But Luke and others at the exit helped steady me and we made it towards transition.

As I mentioned earlier, swim out to transition was a LONG way away. We made it back and headed out on the bike after about 12 minutes (swim out to bike out). With the exception of the second turnaround, the bike went great. On that turn, we ended up hitting the curb and having to do a quick dismount to avoid falling.

Up to this point, things had gone extremely well. Perhaps not as fast as I had wanted, but a good swim followed by a good bike. Then things unraveled a bit.

Whether the sun had been behind clouds or the breeze had masked it, it got extremely humid on the run. To the point where I was struggling to run for even a full minute. I had some tighthness a couple of times, but managed to stretch it out. So after crossing the finish line, I was surprised when I could barely stand. Long story short is that I was dehydrated and didn’t realize it. Enough fluids fixed that pretty quickly.

If you would like to see photos and full result information, please click here

While it didn’t go exactly as planned, there were still a lot of good things that came out of the day. As well as some benchmarks to push forward from for 2017. I also learned a very valuable lesson about hydration, which I will have a chance to put to use during the remainder of my 2016 events.

Finding Perspective – 8/26/16

D2T High Res

Whatever sport you choose to do, success isn’t just based on strength. You can be the fastest person in the world, but if you don’t have the mental edge (to handle both the successes and challenges), others will pass you by. In this week leading up to Chicago, I’ve been struggling with, and unfortunately losing sleep over, some of the mental aspects.

The short version of mental battle was this — Chicago is not only PT Mid-East Regionals, but also the last race of the season. In other words, my last chance to strengthen my 2016 resume, on which a couple of 2017 items are dependent on. The hang-up was being concerned that if I fell flat on my ass (aka multiple flats like at Pleasant Prairie), and it derails what I’d like to have happen next year.

Earlier this morning as I was relaxing and having a beer, I finally got perspective on everything. Two different, but convergent views on the entire situation —

1) In 2015, an overwhelming majority of the support / help I had was grassroots. Even though there were some struggles (see ITU Chicago swim), there was still talent seen there, enough to get the additional help and support I’ve had in 2016.

2) While I want everything to continue moving forward, if catastrophe struck on Sunday, resulting in a step backwards, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Yes, I want to keep things moving forward, but I believe that even a step backwards could be corrected because of how I was able to progress in 2015.

So the bottom line here is that I plan to succeed overall on Sunday and get redemption in the water (aiming to cut about 24 minutes off ITU swim). But I also know that if something goes wrong, it’s not going to be the end of the world. There’s a lot that I can’t control, so I’m just going to put the effort out there and have fun.

And while this will be my last triathlon of the year, that doesn’t mean I just go into hibernation until March of 2017. There will be a lot in the works to keep moving things forward WELL before the 2017 triathlon season starts.

If you want to track my progress on Sunday, use the Race App and enter bib 4055.

More Media Coverage – 7.15.16


Last week, I was asked to do an interview as part of the Chicago Triathlon race. As one of my goals is to get more AWD/PT competitors out to races, I immediately agreed. The article by Bill Bird of the Naperville Sun is below.

Naperville Sun – 7.15.16 (Bill Bird)

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