2nd 70.3 Racine
To start off thank you to all of my friends and family who made the trip up to Racine to watch me race. I like when it is bring your friends and family to work day. Greatly appreciate all the support!
The Spirit of Racine triathlon, this race I want to win in a bad way. I want to win it the way I wanted to win Chicago Triathlon for the half a decade that my sole focus was the Olympic distance. Now the focus of my career has changed and the goal shifted from Chicago Triathlon to Spirit of Racine, why, because they are home. I get to sleep in my own bed the night before the race. I have an unfair advantage of knowing how to ride the rough roads of the midwest. The conditions are what my body work best in. So coming to my house to race…just sounds like such a losing proposition…
Race morning started early because I really couldn’t sleep, my mind and body were charged up for race day. On the drive up nothing on the radio could satisfy the hunger inside. I got to transition and quickly set up my gear and made the walk down to the swim start sharing small talk with Rappstar and Malaika Homo…arriving to the start more than 20 minutes before the cannon would sound. Today Lake Michigan was as flat as I have seen it in my 32 years of existence, the bows of the kayaks didn’t even bob. I was hoping for a hilly swim, instead we got glass. After a few minutes of warm up and some nervous pacing in the water the national anthem followed by my favorite sound…the cannon!
Everybody dove in and started swimming as I ran, I was literally running away from my competition. Finally I dove and had clear water to both sides. I just stretched out and took long powerful strokes and slid into the middle of the lead pack. The first turn buoy is after just 150m, then it is a 1 mi drag race. I lined up 3rd in line and just tried to keep my stroke long because in such tranquil conditions it is possible to catch water like you are in a pool and really conserve some energy while swimming really fast. More than a thousand strokes we hit the last turn buoy and headed to shore. The pace elevated and I slipped from 3rd back to 6th but I did not feel the need to sprint to shore, I knew the race would be won on land.
T1 was a quick one and I moved from 6th back up to 4th before sliding right back to 7th in the opening meters of the bike and I left my Metron drive train in a monster gear instead of something I could spin up the incline out of transition. Once settled in on my Orbea Ordu I elevated the power and flew past a train of 5 containing Carvalho, Fontana, Pete Robertson (Robo), and Tim O’Donnell (TO) too many world championship podiums to even count. Up the road was one more person, who the heck is driving the pace. After a dodgy turns in town my Mavic’s reeled in the leader…Collington. This could be trouble! If Kevin is feeling this good, he is more than a threat to win the race. I kept the hammer down and quickly gapped the field.
The course has no out and backs or points where you can really get a sense of where you are at relative to your competitors, it is just 56 miles of beat up roads. The strategy was simple ride hard on the “better” roads, ride harder on the rougher roads. How fast was I riding…Ironmanlive agreed that I was flying.
I rode on or above what I thought my limit nearly the entire 56 miles riding the course in just over 2 hours, but a much harder fought 2 hours than last week.
T2 was lightning fast as it was go time and I had a brand new pair of Alphawoolf’s ready to devour a half marathon. Having ridden at the level I did I was leery of what my run legs would feel like. The opening mile was not the best as I tried to chase the blood out of my quads and into my glutes. I hit a double caffeinated Gu and the legs came alive. I started to roll miles in the low 5:50’s. My body was screaming, about mile 2 I started to get feedback that the “pack” was just under 8 minutes back. That sounded good but I did not know who was in the pack but I knew how fast some of the guys in the field had the potential to run. At mile 4 I got my first look into my competitors eyes for the day. In 2nd at 6 min back was Lionel Sanders, 3rd 10 sec back of Sanders was Tim TO, 4th was Collington another 15 seconds back…the hounds were coming. At the end of the first lap you really don’t get an extact time of where you are at because the course lollipops, but I eyeballed it to be just under 4 minutes and I was on pace to run just under 1:18.
I kept the pedal to the medal as my legs really started to cramp. I just kept focusing on holding my form together and I kept rolling miles in the high 5:50’s. The final turnaround my lead was under 2 minutes, I then hit mile 10…59:15. Everybody else was more than 5 minutes out of the picture. My body was shot, my quads and calves were completely cashed. Come on, 1 good mile, I rolled a 5:58 mile. My arms started cramping making it downright painful to hold my arms up anymore. Come on, 1 good mile, I fought for a 6:01, 1.1 miles to go…you own this baby! Then I started hearing foot steps. Just past mile 12.5 Sanders surged by me, I sprinted to try to keep up and as I did my hamstring cramped hardcore as I drove my knee forward attempting to match his pace, and did not release as I went to plant my foot, somehow I did not face plant. Now there was not a muscle in my body that was not cramping. I pushed to stay close in case Sanders cramped on the downhill, that didn’t happen…so I reluctantly took my foot off the gas and tried to give a smile and a few high-5’s out to a lot of friends that lined the finish chute that came out to see me race. Full of disappointment, I crossed the finish line runner up.
Immediately after the finish I went to grab a barrier because my mind and body were so cashed…I MISSED. As I was falling forward I thought to myself this is going to be embarrassing. Once I hit the ground…oh this feels so good. Medical rushed over and I told them I was fine and to just pick me up. I felt like an idiot. For the next 10 minutes I sat there sipping down a Cola talking with my wife, friends, and a few volunteers watching Sanders walking around like he didn’t even race while 3rd place Robo followed by Collington, Fontana, and TO all finished and staggered to the nearest chair. I put together a race that was to the max of my ability and just plain freakin’ got beat. TIME TO TRAIN!
Fighting to Win & Punish,
THANK YOU ALI ENGIN FOR THE GREAT SHOTS!