Leon’s Tri – 6/2/19

“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!

Final Shot (Leon’s Tri) – 6/3/18

For those of you following my blog or me on social medial, you know that I had to pass on my May race that I planned to use to qualify for Nationals. So Leon’s was my final opportunity to qualify. And even though I was conservatively 3 1/2 minutes off headed in, I still thought I had a chance.

Before I go any further, I want to remind all of you reading that VI Paratriathlon is a team effort. While I’ve heard some refer to the guide as “equipment”, that’s not the whole story. This is someone who’s given up their time, their race and their comfort to ensure you succeed. Yes, it’s “your race” and yes, you put a tremendous amount of trust in them. But that has to be a two way street for success; both short and long term.

Wolf Lake has two very different modes. One is it being calm and you can easily churn out your 100s. The other is wind hitting the lake and it slamming waves into you for the first 150 – 200m until you make the left around the buoy. While I struggled with waves two years ago, bilateral breathing helped out. It was wavy again this year, and my guide ended up with a couple of huge mouthfuls of water early in. It got down into his lungs so for the rest of the swim, we had to stop every 50-75m so he could get breath and try to cough out more water.

Even though the clock was working against me and I wanted to get out of the water ASAHP, I didn’t have an issue with this. For the simple reasons that I knew he needed to stop to try and reset and that he would have done the same if reversed.

We made it out of the water and by the time we were a couple of miles into the bike, he was doing much better. Between the wind and the 4 U-turns (so much ‘fun’), I wasn’t drinking much from my bottle on the bike. I think that this led to some minor dehydration, as I had cramping to the point of pain about 300-400 ft from the dismount line. It all worked out though and we moved onto the run.

With what had happened the previous weekend, I was a little bit concerned about going too fast. But I still wanted to finish strong. Even though qualifying for Nationals was gone, I still wanted to PR. And while it wasn’t a smooth run, it was 100 times better than 2017’s. During that run, at best I was able to run for 1/10th of a mile and then had to walk because of back issues. This year, I was able to run for much longer stretches, finishing with an all out sprint down the finish chute.

I did succeed in setting a new PR by about 10 minute (mostly by shaving 13+ min off from 2017’s run).

Dare2Tri Injuried Military Camp / Leon’s Triathlon (6/3-6/4/17)

“’Children, it was the most single, wonderful outpouring of generosity that this school has ever seen. More cans of food feeding a hundred and ninety-three families came to this school than ever before. We only have one problem and we’re gonna deal with it this coming week. We’re gonna cancel our regular classes and what we’re gonna talk about is: what are those people gonna eat next week?” (Harry Chapin)

Far too often, Veterans get forgotten. Sure, you think about them on the major Military holidays. But what about the rest of the year? The above quote came to mind when I started writing this blog, and I think it’s pretty apt.

Having formed connections with Team RWB, I was excited to turn a one-day race (Leon’s) into a two-day weekend. There were reporters and camera crews throughout, and their stories will do much better justice than I can. Let’s leave it at – these people were amazing to sacrifice their lives on the battlefield and they continue to amaze even after being wounded.

While volunteering for the second day of the camp, I got a chance to talk with several of the veterans and learn from them. I also had a chance to help them during the day with things such as fireman carries out of the water. An incredible day, which ended with the race crew raising the gigantic American flag and taps being played.

Help is a two way street though, and during breaks at camp, I got some help myself. Some came from a teammate helping us with better bike starts; other came from a vendor coming up with a better swim tether. Both helped on race day, and will continue to help going forward.

While Leon’s Triathlon is a great course, that’s not the only reason I love doing it. Leon himself is always out there doing EVERYTHING to make sure that not only do things go smoothly according to USAT rules, but that it’s an amazing experience. I STRONGLY recommend that you pencil it in on your 2018 calendar NOW. Figure first Sunday of June 2018 and then wait for an official announcement in early Feb 2018 for the actual date.

Going into this race, I felt more confident than I did ending Leaning Tower. With the new swim tether, I had gotten back full arm extension on whichever side the guide is on. And with the bike starts and going to clips, I had gotten more power/speed than with flat pedals/’skateboard’ start. Now if only the run would be okay…

Long story short – the swim was great, the bike was great and the transitions went better than before. But the run is still my Achilles heel. While my back was tight during the run, at least it was a little better than the last race. I still had to do a fair amount of walking / stopping to stretch it out on a tree/pole. Even though the run was a mess, there was no way I was walking it in. Even though my body was killing me, seeing the finish line gave me that extra push I needed and I made it through.

Even though it wasn’t the end result I wanted, I made strides forward on several pieces. I’m confident that when I can get everything straightened out with the run that I’ll be a lot more satisfied. Until then, it’s just continuing to push forward and not letting the frustrations derail anything.

Leon’s Triathlon – 6/4-6/5/16


And so the outdoor season beings… Leon’s Triathlon (Hammond, IN) was my first race of the for the season. While the training hasn’t been perfect, I felt confident heading into it. Especially With th swim. Simply because Coach Stacee has been kicking my ass in the pool for the last 6 months.

There was a camp/team dinner that we went to Saturday night. Leon’s mom showed up, and I ended up sitting next to a wounded veteran (I believe Navy) and got to hear all kinds of amazing stories from him.

On Sunday, we practiced with the tandem that Dare2Tri loaned us, and then got ready to race (including the new magnetic race belt set up — thanks to Dare2Tri) They did an amazing opening ceremony with the garason flag and a multi-service (I believe Army/Navy/Narines) veteran singing the National Anthem. As we were the second-t-last group to start, we had about 45 minutes to wait after transition closed. This gave us a chance to see some of the other groups start, and antics from the wheelies. We’ll see what photos turn out… 😉

Prior to starting, Leon met us at the gate to the lake and welcomed each of us. There weren’t big waves in the lake, but they were consistent. The course seemed to be a sideways J, so the straight part out was into the waves and a challenge. There were a couple of times that it got hard to breathe because of the consistent waves. That’s where the bilateral breathing (one of my least favorite drills) became very helpful. I was able to make it out in my target window (less than 21 min) and we moved onto T1.

For me, T1 always takes — or at least seems to take — an eternity. There’s a lot of gear that need to get switched. Wetsuit/goggles/cap/tethercap off; towel off; socks/shoes/vest/camelback/helmet/gloves/sunglasses on and nutrition in.

Once all of the changes were completed, we were off on the bike. For almost the entire course, we were riding into a headwind. The softglide seats helped during the bike, with my ass falling asleep less times than it normall does during a 12mi ride. I thought we made it back within my target window (30-32 min), but when I saw the results it showed 42 min.

Back to transition for T2, which is always shorter since I’ve got most of my run gear already on.

On the run, my body was just spent. The majority of runs, I’ve been doing 4/1 or 5/1 intervalss, and have been close to 13 minute mile averages. I wasn’t able to do anything close to that on the run course – maybe 2/1 at best. I think there may have been minor ITU band issues, but stretching didn’t fully help. It allowed me to run a bit longer but nothing in the normal 4/1 area. So the run ended up taking 44 min.

Overall, the race went well. I was able to shave 23 minutes off of my sprint PR. And I believe that once I finally have my tandem and can practice on it consistently, I’ll be able to shave even more off. It was an amazing race setting and weekend, and will definitely be on my 2017 schedule. The only thing that I think needs to be changed for 2017 is a better fitting swim cap. This year’s were extremely tight — to the point of hurting. So unfortunately it won’t get used again. I know that TYR makes better fiting ones, as I’ve almost worn out the one from last year’s Naperville Sprint from consistent wear.

Thanks to Lee Dunbar, Dare2Tri and everyone else who helped to make it a great weekend. Next race is Dare2Tri TriIt (Sprint).

Paying the Price – 5/9/16


In late April, I had gotten back to a routine where I was running at least twice a week in addition to swimming. Then I had a couple of bad weeks back-to-back where I think all I got in was one swim workout.

When I got back to running this week, I could tell that I’d have to pay the price for that. And unfortunately, I am… big time. To put it mildly, my body has not been happy with me since I got back to running.

To illustrate what I mean, while I’ve never been a strong runner (1st full mile was in 2013), I’ve been able to put together run/walk miles with more ease this year prior to the break. The first run was a painful mile out and I had to walk the mile back.

It’s gotten better since then, but it’s not yet where I need it to be. I can’t read my phone’s screen when I’m running, but I could have sworn I heard it say an 11:21 mile yesterday. Regardless of what it says now, I need to be able to put 3.1 miles together in the 34-35 min range when it’s race time. Doing the math, that’s what I need to be in the ballpark for a Nationals Qualifying time.

We’ll see how it all turns out. First outdoor race of the season is Leon’s in Hammond on 6/5.