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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.