The adventure for the race started out with a short 70 mile drive up to Racine, Wisconsin on Saturday the 21st. My dad drove as my two little brothers and I played Mario Party 8 in the backseat of the car for the whole ride. We got up to Racine, I picked up my race numbers, checked in my bike, and went over to the lake to get a little test swim in. I started to swim out into the lake, and I froze. The waves were smackin' me in the face, the water was freezing, and it seemed like forver just to reach the first buoy! I was definitely not used to the open water after swimming in a lap pool everyday. My mind started racing just trying to imagine what it would be like swimming congested with many other races in the choppy waters. My swimming to begin with isnt that great! After calming myself down a little, I swam about 500 meters just fine and called it a day.
My friend John Atchison and I at the start goofing around.
We ended up driving back at night just so I could sleep in my own bed. I figured it would be cheaper to drive home than to just go stay at a hotel. Only downfall was waking up at 3:40 am to drive back out to the race sight. My best friend John Atchison (up and coming triathlete) came out to support me along with my dad. At the race site, I had to fix a few problems on my bike, make some final adjustments, and I was set. Everyone headed over to the start line (a 1.2 mile walk down the beach) and before I knew it I was off swimming. To my luck, the water was still and it felt great swimming out in the open lake! I started in the elite wave and was actually holding my own ground swimming right with most of the competitors. This was a great sign of relief because I am definitely not a swimmer with no background whatsoever. I just started swimming seriously this past month hitting the pool 6 days a week. I only got kicked around a little on the swim, but I managed to not panic and continue to swim. I exited in 33 minutes, whipped off my wetsuit, and was off to the bike. This swim was 20 minutes faster than my last half-ironman that I competed in 3 years ago! So it was nice to see some improvements there.
Off to the bike, I took off. I was feeling good and averaging over 24 mph, until I died. My seat was slanted downwards, which put me in a very uncomfortable position, and riding a brand new bike and I never rode more than a mile on took its tolls. Once at mile 30 of the 56 mile bike, I was dead. Everyone that I had passed earlier came flyin' by me as I struggled to hold 20 mph. There were even moments when I was unsure if I could complete the race. I guess I had gone out too hard. I just chugged through the bike and eventually came into transition. I took my time and started out for the 13.1 mile run.
Once running, I was feeling ok. I averaged 6:35 pace for the half marathon, which is pretty slow for me, but considering that I could barely move off the bike, it was decent. I was definitely not in shape to race a half-ironman all out. I think that in time, with more training and miles under my belt, I can take much much more time off. I finished 49th out to the 1500+ competitors. Hopefully within a year or two, I can start cracking into the top 10. As of right now though, my focus is going to be on Olympic distance triathlons, so swimming is my main goal. I would like to continue to see improvements in that area, since that is where I can take the most time off.
Finish! Overall time: 4:34
Next...update on the John Kurtz (Not Quite a) 5k
So on July 15th, I took a short drive over to Bensenville to compete in the John Kurtz 5k. This small race offered great prize money of $500 for first, $400 for second, and $325 for third. I knew that with a good amount of money involved, so decent competition would show up. When I showed up, I was right. My friend Jason Bill (a recent U of Illinois grad and top runner for the school) was there, Charlie Kern (York H.S. coach), and a number of other top runners from the area. My goal at the start line was to just somehow place top 3 to get my share of money.
John Atch and I stretching before the race.
The race was set up a little differently than most. It was a 3 loop course with each lap being around .9 of a mile. The start line was set back, but it was not enough to make up for the distance lost on each lap. So overall, the race ended up being around 2.85 miles. At the gun, I took it off a little slow. Looking at the picture below, you can see I am nowhere to be seen. I have been taking this approach a little more lately because I do not like sprinting off the gun just to tire myself out. I like to slowly catch up and then settle into my pace.
After the first loop, I came through the mile in a blazing 4:35. I was sitting nicely in 2nd place, just a few seconds behind first place runner Jason Bill, but third place was right on my heels. I was feeling great and thought I would possibly have a shot at taking the whole race.
After coming through the second lap and going through the 2 mile in 9:20, the pace and heat started to kick in. I had bridged the gap and was running with Jason, but around 2.25 miles, I backed off the pace. It was a stupid mental letdown and it cost me. I was soon passed by Charlie Kern, who was on a mission to catch Jason. I did not make a move as he passed me and just watched as he slowly pulled away. As the finish line approached, I just jogged it in since 4th place was about 35 seconds back and I did not need to push any more than I needed to. I crossed the line in 13:48, which was 4:50 pace for the 5k.
I was pleased overall with my run and gladly took my 325 dollar payday. With a little more speedwork, I believe I can dip into the mid 14's for my 5ks. It was nice to finally have some speed again after not racing so well in some other local 5ks.
The podium: 1st Jason Bill, 2nd Charlie Kern, 3rd Me