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Jul 8, 2012

South County Triathlon 2012

South County Triathlon 2012

This is a race that I always try to enter every year. It is where my whole journey into triathlon began when my neighbor, John Schrader, convinced me to train and race it with him in 2002. I've been hooked and doing them every since, although I'd say I've only been serious about it for the last 3-4 years. I wish I'd have known then, what I know now. Hind sight is always 20/20 though. I'm still in search of my first overall triathlon victory after just missing and getting 2nd overall three times now. This race was going to be my best shot to that this year. It's also a great race to see and catch up with friends and fellow racers including the family of star triathlete, Sarah Haskins.

The day started early to get a good transition spot and I was happy to have at least one race close to home so my wakeup call didn't have to be earlier to accomidate a drive. I got the spot I wanted and it didn't take long for my best competition to arrive. Brian Shoenholz is a great local racer and has consistantly beaten me in every race we've done so far. I didn't lose hope though. I felt good about the progress I'd made in all 3 part of the triathlon and believed it was going to be possible. Even better news, we had the same start time and were in the same lane in the pool so I could keep a close eye on him. 

As discussed with Brian S, I took the lead in our lane and plowed our way with a good tempo through the swim. He was able to stay on my toes the entire time. I feel like I have the potential to do a better time, but it was acceptable. I came out of the pool in second with Brian right there with me.

Brian left transition a split second ahead, but I had caught him before leaving the park. Both of us had passed that first swimmer during transition. I took the lead for the first half of the bike. Pushing the pace knowing I needed a lead off the bike since he has proven to definately have me on the run. He had kept up and even passed me. I let him lead through much of the sencond half, but decided to pass and really push the last few miles to try to start a gap. I got a little coming into T2, but he was close enough to even start the run just ahead of me.

It's a long, steep hill to start the run and I was able to keep Brian in my sights and not too far ahead up that first big hill. He took advantage of the downhill on the other side and seemed to have opened a sizable gap. He was still close enough that I could see him from time to time. Once I saw him coming back from going off-course which closed my gap to him. On top of that, I saw a slight chance of an opening when he looked to be walking up the last long hill heading towards home. It was short lived though and his run resumed and had matched and quickly surpassed my pace. The gap was opening up yet again and I was doing all I could to maintain my pace and get up the last major hill. I let loose on the downhill coming into the parking lot and finishing stretch, but it was not going to happen. He wasn't in sight as I turned the last corner towards the finish. I finished as strong as I could because you never know if a later heat might produce someone to push me down the rankings further.

I finished in 56:44 and just 1:17 behind Brian (the closest I'd ever come to catching him). There were possibly some more racers that we saw out on the course that looked fast enough to challenge for the top spots. Unfortunately, both of us get bumped and I was bumped twice. There were two young, teenagers that are really doing well in the junior circuit (and otherwise for that matter). Someone even said they were 4th and 12th in the nation for juniors. I believe it. Take note of their names, Austin Hindman & Griffin Bailey, as they as sure to be known in the triathlon world if they keep this up. They did great and my hat goes off to them. Another honerable mention to Maureen Conley as the top female coming in just 4 seconds slower than me. I ended up 4th overall (just 1:41 behind first) and thus 1st in my age group. I was happy with my performance and time. It's too hard to tell if it was a personal best since the course is different every time we do this race, but I am pretty sure it would have been. I admittingly was slightly disappointed with my place, but I know that I did everything I could on that day. My overall victory will have to wait for another day and my preperation for that day starts again, immediately.

Innsbrook Max-O-Mania 2012

Innsbrook Max-O-Mania

I'm still recovering from the pnemonia and last weekend's race, but feeling much better. It still might be a little crazy to have decided to participate in the 3 race event that takes place within 24 hours. It's a tough place to race with the hills and my first time doing a multi-stage triathlon race like this. Friday night is a 1000m swim and 5K run. Saturday morning is the star event with Quartermax 100m swim, 28 mile bike, and 6 mile run. Later that same day is a shorter mixed up triathlon with a 10 mile bike, 500m swim, and 2 mile run (in that order). I've got the kids with me and we are going to be staying in a hotel fairly close to the race site so we don't have to make the long drive back and forth.

The first race was the aquathon, swim/run. I was not going to push it on this one as I wanted to make sure I was going to be ready to push it for tomorrow morning's race. That being said, I wasn't going to take it too easy either. We started as a group into the lake. It had been hot and it was definately not a wet suit legal swim. I reached the other side of the lake at about the time I expected, but I heard the voice of hte compeditor just behind me that I wanted to track. Tony Rigdon is know for being able to do multiple races and is very comeditive. I've actually gotten the better of him at the last two races, but it's not like they were huge time gaps. The tough run back around the lake to the finish was going to be hilly. Tony passed me quickly and I was just going to hold a comfortable pace. Those hills were tough. We hit the biggest climb and Tony was just ahead... and walking. I actually was right on his heals when we hit the top and he had started running again. I was strained from the run up the hill and he was recovered from the walk and quickly created a gap again. I held my own and just did a moderate pace, finishing in 38:07. Right were I expected to be and only 43 seconds behind Tony.  I was 8th overall. Time to recover and do another race in the morning.

I felt good in the morning and didn't feel like the effects of the race the night before had done much damage. We got to start in the first quartermax wave and the swim went fine, but Tony was actually infront of me out of the swim. A suprise, but only a second ahead. I actually passed him on the run up the big hill into transition. We basically started the bike together along with a couple of guys competing as a team (and allowed to draft on the bike). I held with that team until we left the resort and were out on open roads. Even then I kept them in sight as I gradually put time into Tony. It was hilly with some wind, but my biggest issue was a truck pulling a trailer that forced me into the grass. Thankfully, it hadn't really cost me too much time. I started the run feeling pretty good, but that actually turned into a struggle fairly quickly. It's a tough run and the day's racing along with yesterday's was starting to wear on me. I wasn't giving up though and I had a good time going. My run pace was slower than I'd like, but good relatively speaking. I pushed it in the finishing straight to littlerally edge out another Max-O-Mania compeditor that was coming up strong from behind me. 2:18:05 and a new personal best time at that tough course. I was 2nd out of the Max-O-Mania compeditors. I was even 16th overall out of  339 racers (most of which hadn't raced the night before). That put me 3rd in my age group and my first time placing at this race. This is such a great compeditive race since it's a qualifier for nationals and the star race for the weekend so I was glad to have shined. Almost as important, I had actually more than made up my gap to Tony and will lead him going into the 3rd and last race of the series. I had about a 1:55 lead on him and I would think the last race would be my best since it was most heavily on the bike which is where I make up the most time. I moved all the way up to 4th overall in that competition.

I spent the day at Innsbrook with Max, Phoebe, and my parents. We went up for the awards to collect my 3rd place medal. Afterwords we had a nice picnic lunch on the hill by the beach and I got in the water to cool down while the kids were swimming. It was hot, but we stayed in the shade for the most part. I probably should have tried to sleep. I did take some time to look at the standing to try to figure out how to move up (and not down). 1st was too far ahead, but 2nd and 3rd were within my grasp and Tony was just behind me in 5th. With the time trial start and each rider going with a 1 minute gap, each person I caught would move me up in the standings. Tony would need to catch me and beat me by almost a minute and I felt comfortable with that lead.

So, we started and I immediately started hammering it on the bike. It was a hilly 5 mile out and back. It felt like forever before I saw anyone. The leader was passing me on his way back. With all the turns, I would have to be right up on the guys in front of me before I'd see them. I felt confident I was making up time. Right at the turn around, I was able to see both places in front of me. This was very possible. Suprisingly, on my way back, it seemed like I hadn't put any time into Tony... as a matter of a fact, I was pretty sure he was making up time on me. It still didn't worry me at that point in time. I still had to push hard the last 5 miles back into transition and caught both of the guys in front of me and we were all in there together to head down for the swim. I was able to keep track of one of the guys and expected the other to pull away a little bit. I'm not the best at sighting, but as far as I could tell, I was holding one of them off. Out of the swim, up the huge hill into transition, and quickly onto the run. SHOCK! Tony was ahead... and by a decent amount. I seriously have no idea how he managed to do that. So that put me coming out of the water in 4th with 5th able to catch and pass me in the first 1/4 mile of the run. I just couldn't push to keep up, Tony was flying, and then the other guy in front was doing my same pace. I did my best to hold on to the best pace I could manage. I pushed the finishing straight, but it felt more like I was staggering in.  I got the 3rd best time in that last race and it was enough to jump ahead of the guy who finished just in front of me, but with Tony passing me (and both guys in front of me into 2nd overall) that kept me steady at 4th overall and 2nd in the Men's Open division behind Tony.

It was a fantastic weekend and a complete success. There were plenty of lessons learned if I ever decide to do another multi-race series again. I was completely spent after that and was glad to still have Sunday to rest and recover.

St. Peter's Rec-Plex (Spring) 2012

St. Peter's Rec-Plex (Spring) 2012

Lets just say that my pre-race routine was sub-optimal. I have been spending the night with Emily in the hospital since her kidney transplant (including the night before the race). I can sleep just about anywhere, so the expandable couch wasn't a real problem. However, getting woken up frequently with nurse visits and IV alarms going off needing a refill, and othe such things only allowed for short durations of actual sleep. On top of that, race morning was the completion of my meds for getting through my pnemonia. The effects from that don't have me at 100% either. Despite that, I'm actually in good spirits and have high hopes for the race.

I have a pretty early start time which is great because the heat is likely to pick up right about the time that I will be getting ready to come in to the finish. The swim started my race off fine. It was right about the time I was looking to come in at. Transition to the bike went fine, but I think I could get a few seconds here if I really wanted to work on it. I was actually battling to get out of transition with a rider and were practically running into eachother for position.

That battle continued as he and I went back and forth passing eachother over and over again through the bike. Based on the race number, I had started 2 minutes ahead, so I needed to get that back to really beat him. By the end of the bike course, I had held for a while and was no longer getting passed. I tried to do a quick glance back and actually couldn't see him. I thought I'd finally broken him on the bike. I quickly came into transition and was starting on my way out on the run, when I got a suprise. There was that guy and his number... in front of me. I was confused by this as I thought I dropped him on the bike and didn't take a long transition at all.

He started the run fast and I pushed my pace just a bit, but knew he was going out harder than I could maintain. My goal was to hold my pace and see how things progressed through the race. I was hopeful to get a big second wind to catch him, but even then I really needed two minutes more than just to catch up. I held him just out in front of me for the first two miles and then I had a bit of luck on my side. My battling foe was cramping up and I made up the gap pretty quickly. There was enough time left in the run to make up the other two minutes, so I pushed it with every last bit of energy that I had. I felt like I had a good pace going, but two minutes might be too much to ask for.

I finished in 1:35:44 for the 500m swim, 21 mile bike, and 4.4 mile run. A fantastic time! I started my watch as soon as I crossed and waited to see if I had done enough to get my two minutes. 1:00.... 1:30... 1:45... oh no, here he comes... and finishes just under the two minutes by a couple seconds. I was slightly saddened by this, but knew that I had put in a good day and didn't leave anything out on the course. Someone in the crown at the finish heard me talking about this and came up to me to let me know, I had been battling his TEAM and not an individual. I had battled one guy on the bike and a fresh one on the run. That also explains the fast transitions. It was really the female in the swim that made up the time at the start who had beaten me. The results started being posted and that's when I realized I hadn't lost to them at all! I only needed 1:45 and had beaten them by 15 seconds (the 3rd place team). I was 6th overall and 1st in my age group. My best finish here and a complete success! Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for the awards as I wanted to get back to Emily at the hospital, but a good friend, Brent Newman, picked up my award and prizes for me.

May 23, 2012

Chrissie Wellington in STL

Chrissie Wellington in STL

4 Time Ironman World Champion

It is hard not to be infected by Chrissie's smile and energy. She is fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat taking in everything she had to say in her story. Telling us about how things came to be and how she can now be sitting in front of us as a 4 time Ironman World Champion. She was so humble and a very down to earth person. I was amazed at how much I could relate to so much of what she was saying. I can't imagine anyone that would ever be in her presence and not like joy she emits from every fiber of her being. I think her spirit can be summarized by the moment that happened to close her talk. She got a well deserved standing ovation. It touched her so much that she was brought to tears.

I could go on and on about what she said, but instead I will highly suggest you go out and buy her book. From what I've read so far, I think it's going to be good and it would be a more detailed account of her and her life. It's also going to be a good read for all, not just triathletes.

May 22, 2012

Lunch Break PR

Lunch Break PR

Just one day of rest after the Kansas City 5150 race and I'm back at it. I know I've got the Big River Running speedwork session tonight at Vianney, but I wanted to get in a lunch run as well. I was really feeling good. I left from work and ran over to Lafayette square to do some laps. By the 5K mark, I realized that I wasn't that far off my best pace and I felt like I could maintain it. I knew I had a hard session later tonight, but I just went with it. Lap after lap my pace stayed steady and even slightly faster. Then it was time for the home stretch. In order to avoid waiting at some traffic lights, I took a slightly different route. It actually cost me some of the downhill that was owed to me after my uphill climb to get there, but I didn't want to have any * next to my time if I broke my record. I made it! 41:45 and a new 10K personal best. I had a huge grin for the rest of my cooldown as I made my way around the final stretch back to work.

Now I know I can run those times and I just need to be able to do it when I am coming off the bike. Hopefully, tonight's speedwork session will do just that. My body will be learning how to push hard even when it's tired... and it will defianely be fatigued.

Side Notes:
1. Yes, my work does have a shower.
2. and yes, I used it.
3. That pace is actually slightly faster than my highschool 5K best (20:59) almost 20 years ago

May 21, 2012

2012 Kansas City 5150

2012 Kansas City 5150 Triathlon

Lee's Summit, MO

It was time for my first real test at the olympic distance which is my real focus for this year. I changed out some of my shorter sprint races for olympic and am staying away from any half or full ironman completely. Emily and I got to Lakeview Lake campground fairly late. My parents were already there, but we had to quickly get our tent setup before we lost out light. We got to visit with my parent's (Ray and Carol), my sister (Lynn), my neice (Summer), my nephew (Austin), and Summer's horses (Rowdy and Georgia). It was wonderful. We also got to have brunch and visit with some of Emily's friends she'd made at Kidney camp. The weather was a bit of a concern. Rain was in the forecast and the wind was really picking up. It was actually so strong that it was blowing our tent over and we had to add extra secure lines to keep it upright. Between midnight and 1AM on race mornign the wind had kicked up again with a little drizzle of rain as well. It kept me awake, waiting to have to prop the tent up from collapsing on us or to abandon it for my parent's camper. It didn't last long and I was able to fall back asleep and felt plenty rested when I had to get up.

My division was the last to go for the olympic distanced race and the sprint compeditors folloowed us after a short break. While waiting to go we got to watch the Pros start. I didn't recognize any of the male pro names, but the fmale field had the newest addition to the US Olympic team, Laura Bennett, Jillian Peterson, and Becky Lavelle. They ended up finishing in that order with Laura Bennett getting the win. When our heat finally was ready to start, I jumped out to a quick start as planned. I wanted a stronger swim and knew that being in the front would help navigate the slower swimmers from the heats in front of us. I did get a little lost in the traffic and splashing, and at least one of the bouys had gone rogue and was directing us for a little extra bit of swimming. According to my watch, the overall swim distance wasn't longer than it should have been despite not taking the shortest distance around. My time was good and only slightly slower than I was hoping. I felt good and hustled through more traffic getting to my bike, and a fast transition passing 5 people in my age group on the way out to the bike leg. I also noticed that I was ahead of a friendly rivalry I have with Tony Rigdon III (and his huge beard).

I started on the bike firing on all cylinders heading out of the first of two laps. I was blitzing through traffic, passing an endless line of riders. There were a few decent hills to climb and that concerned me. In the past, I hadn't been the best climber. Things have changed though. I continued to blow by everyone else on the hills as well. I came around to the start of the second lap and checked my watch. I was making good time and was on pace. The second lap was more of the same, fast peddling and lots of passing. Into the transition and a quick turn around to start on the run.

Another two lap course for the run. I felt pretty strong, but was having trouble getting my running legs going. I was trying to push it to keep my pace where I wanted it, but was cramping off and on the whole time. I slowed just a touch for the second lap and tried to pick it up for the downhill sections. I was able to stay with or pass most of the people that were around me, but there were some guys that just flew by me and I had no hope of holding onto them. I did push the last mile or so to a decent pace, but still got tracked down by someone on my age group in the final quarter mile. I tried to hold onto him despite his much faster pace. I finished just a few seconds behind him.

I ended up with almost a 6 minute personal best at the olympic distance. I also improved on all three legs of the race. I qualified for the Hyvee 5150 Championship race by getting 9th in my age group and 58th overall. I know there is still more room for improvement and I'm ready to put in the work to do it. I look forward to a couple weeks off of racing to log some training to make improvements where I need them most. I'm excited to see where I can go from here.

2012 Trizou - Elite division

2012 Trizou Triathlon

Columbia, MO

I must say that it took just short of a miracle for me to have my bike here and ready to go. You can read my previous blog to find out more about that fiasco. Emily is with me and the first thing we did was stop by the famous Shakespeare's Pizza. We are staying with my cousin, Devon, and shis fiance, Mishelle. They were great hosts and can't thank them enough for putting us up for the night, showing us some good places to eat, and watching War Horse.

This is the first race that I have ever entered the "elite" division. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking. Why not try for the prize money. The top 7 were going to be in the money. I was still feeling pretty good about my off-season training and although I didn't have a complete indication of my fitness level from the Steamboat Classic race, I knew I had made improvements.

They gathered up all of the elite division races and annouced us by name as they moved us into our lanes. All 550+ of the rest of the races in the stands and along side the fantastic pool with their eyes focussing on us. It was a lot of pressure, but I just my focus and took some deep breaths. I was just going to stick to MY race and let it play out. Next thing you know, we were off. I'm not the strongest swimmer, but I held my own with the much youger racer sharing my lane. I was on the very end so it was hard to see the full width of the pool to know where the rest of the group was. I had a respectable time for the swim and was off on a long run to the transition area where my bike was.

This was going to be a real test. A test in riding my bike for the first time ever. It wasn't even a mile in and one of the riders in front of me crashed. I was thinking to myself that I'm happy it wasn't me and that I was feeling pretty comfortable on my new ride. The miles ticked away and I passed a few along the way and had caught up to Sunny Gilbert, a former pro triathlete and the female leader, right at the end of the bike. That made me feel great!

I left on the run right on her heels, but she slowly started to pull away. I held my pace and passed a male athlete that was obviously cramping. I started to hear footsteps, but decided to let them come and maintain my comfortable pace. If it was the cramping runner or another male athlete going for my spot, I'd just try to out kick them in the final mile or so. It wasn't. It was the 2nd place female. I just kept her in sight and made my way to the finish. I really could have pushed harder on the run, but didn't have any male athletes close enough to chase. I finished and really wasn't sure where I had placed.

Emily was at the finish line counting and when she told me I was 6th, I was ecstatic! A PAYCHECK! $75 Smack-A-Roos! We celebrated the successful race at Blu with some fantasic food. I couldn't have been happier with how that race went. I was so pleased at how I felt on the new bike. Really, there are only a couple weeks until my next race, the Kansas City 5150.

Male Elite Podium. 1st through 7th in order from left to right. Me representing "Emily's Kidney".

A New Bike?

Bike repairs turn into bike replacement

Well, not only did ripping my rear derailleur off my bike at the last race squash any chance I had at placing there, it also put me in a bind for my race the next weekend. I was entered to race in Columbia, MO at Trizou. I took my bike to the shop as soon as I could to talk to them about getting it fixed, warrantied, or whatever. The news was not good. The frame where the rear derailleur connects was bent and stripped out. It couldn't be fixed and Trek couldn't replace it (even if they could, it would not have been ready in time for my race). Because the failure was due to the derailleur, it wasn't covered. Plan B. Replace the frame or bike. The best Trek was able to offer was a discount on whatever I got through them as a replacement. I weighed my options which were limited due to the quick turn around I needed. I ended up going with a new Trek Speed Concept 9 frame and moving my parts from my old bike to the new frame. It is a killer frame and a wiked fast bike, but I really wasn't wanting to spend any money on a frame upgrade anytime soon.

The order was placed. It took a little bit for the frame to get in and the shop started working on it. They ran into an issue with the front brake and couldn't figure out how to fix it and weren't going to be able to let me leave without it working properly. Until they had that fixed, they weren't going to continue to work on it. I convinced them to keep going though and that we would deal with the brake last and would figure out a way to make it safe enough. The build started again... and then got stopped again. They were missing some of the bolts needed to fully secure the fork and handlebars to the frame. By this time, there was NO time. I had the shop have Trek send the bolts "overnight" and I went on a search for a more immediate solution. I called around to other bike shops in the area that carried Treks. I found one and only one that was able to help. They sold me 3 bolts that MAYBE would work since they didn't have the bike there to try it and the part numbers didn't exactly match up. I bought them and brought them down to test it. Success! The build continues and they were also able to get the front brake going with a fix. The mechanic worked hours after the shop closed on Friday night to get it done so I could leave for Columbia with it the next morning. No real test rides, but I was in business.

It looks pretty sharp and my display of hardware from previous races in the background doesn't look too shabby either. I hope with this bike, I will be adding to that collection considerably in future races. It's time to see if I can do that at Trizou.

2012 Steamboat Classic

2012 Steamboat Classic Triathlon

Cape Girardeau, MO

Pre "incident"
My first triathlon of the year. The Steamboat Classic has been my race to see where I'm at after off-season training and work any kinks out before showing up to any of my "A" races. I did a little extra pre-race tune-up on my bike since it had been so long since my last race. I wanted to make sure that it was running as smoothly as it should. My cranks seemed a touch loose and there were some issues with the bottom bracket so it was replaced and then I was ready to go. I had an early start to my day to make the hour and a half drive and to get there early enough to get setup with a good spot in transition. I was really feeling great about my training and my pre-race excitement to reep the rewards was high.

The indoor pool swim in "The Bubble" went about as expected, with a slight improvement over previous years. It was just good to be into the race and off to an acceptable start. I quickly went off to start the bike course. I was really pushing hard and catching everyone that started in front of me one by one. At around mile 11, I was just a few bike lengths away from catching the person that was likely to be the leader of the race and had been either first or second to start. I wasn't expecting to see him until somewhere on the run. That got me really excited about what kind of result I was going to have today. Just then there was a loud noise and my cranks slipped with nothing to grab. Slowing to a stop while looking down trying to figure out what had happened. DISASTER! My rear derailleur was ripped off of the frame and floating around on upper section of chain. There was no fixing this... so I just started running with my bike. 4+ miles of running up the hills and through the flats, my only rest was getting to hop on and coast the downhills. So many of the people I had passed were getting to go on by. It seemed like I was never going to make it. Finally! Into transition and off on the actual run. I took a slightly conservative pace, knowing that I had lost too much time to go for anything great. I even took the time to stop for drinks at both water stations.

This WAS NOT in a transition. This was out on the bike course!
I finished in 38th out of 164 and 8th out of 27 for my age group. More importantly, I didn't DNF. I know there are reasons to do so, but I haven't had anything that bad happen to me yet. I had a similar incident at the Alligator Creek triathlon where I broke a chain. That wasn't fun either, but I finished it as well. A huge complimentary post-race meal and then I made the long drive home feeling pretty disappointed about how the day had unfolded.