Redemption…sort of

This past weekend was the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, and the one year anniversary of my rib breaking bike collision that put a huge damper on the middle part of my 2011 campaign. I was excited to get back and try and get some redemption from the crash and come up with another big race to cap off a great first half of the season.

The race in Minneapolis does a great job of taking care of the athletes and makes life really easy for us with a great hotel, shuttles everywhere, and a constant effort to make our lives easy. Its always nice to go back year after year and see the same faces at the race and the hotel. Thursday and Friday were pretty uneventful with the normal pre race workouts and relaxation, and after a good pizza dinner with my family and an old college buddy it was time for bed to get ready for an early Saturday morning.

4am came about the same time it always does but it never seems to get any easier. Luckily on race morning the slight shot of adrenaline when the alarm goes off is usually enough to get me out of bed and going. This was no different and after some coffee maker oatmeal and a hot shower it was onto the shuttle bus to make our way to Lake Nakomis. Getting the shuttle, or in this case school bus, loaded was a bit of a laugh as there were more pros than they expected so stacking bikes and squishing in people made for an interesting start to the morning.

Once we got to the lake I got in a solid warm up and got things all set in transition. The weather was nice and cool but it had rained the night before so it was super humid. I did what I could to hydrate a little extra before the race make sure I had the bottles set up on the bike. Then for the second week in a row it was down to the water for a quick swim, and then stand around and watch the clock as the women vs men equalizer ticked away. This week however, the equalizer was 10:34 which although big was a much less daunting number than the 16 min they gave the women at the Boulder Peak. That number sounded better but considering the guys on the start line just the mens race alone was enough to keep me motivated to race.

The gun finally went off after the 10:34 and we ran into the water. I had a good start and was quickly clear of my side of the field on onto the feet of Dustin and Jimmy. It was exactly where I wanted to be and just did what I needed to stay on their feet. About half way through Dustin pulled away, but Jimmy kept an honest pace and we headed into the beach about 15 sec back of Dustin, but with a very splintered field behind us. I had a good transition and was first out onto the bike, and with 3 Olympians and a field of good cyclists in tow I tried to hammer out a really fast first couple miles.

Things were gong according to plan and by the five mile mark I was completely clear of the group and riding well. I tried to keep the pressure on the boys, picking the best lines and maintaining my momentum on the hills as best I could but with a pack of riders in chase getting much distance was tough. By the end of the ride I had gotten about 1:20 on the leaders and felt good about the effort. Only having 5 days since Boulder Peak I knew my legs might be a bit tired but as I exited T2 I felt strong and was ready to finally hammer out a good run at MPLS Tri.

I ran a good couple miles but at the one turn around on the course knew that Hunter had separated himself from the group and was gaining quickly and that behind him was a group of 4 good runners trying to make up time. Hunter made the pass a little before the half way point and I did my best to stay with him but he came and went very quickly. Once he did that I had to dig pretty deep. It is that middle 3 miles in a 10k where it really hurts, and if you ease up even a little bit, it will cost you a lot in the end. So after a bit of talking to myself I knew I had to get to the turn around on the second loop still in 2nd if I wanted to have any chance of holding on for a podium spot. So when I got to the turn around and was in 2nd, even with Andy and Bevan closing the gap, I felt good about my mental state and pushed on. Andy made the pass with a mile to go, and just like in South Beach, Bevan caught me about 800m out. All three of us finished within 15 seconds of each other and Chris wasn’t very far behind me. It’s what you get when you race the best in the world. If you are even the slightest bit tired, or having an off day at all you will not win. You probably won’t even end up on the podium. That said, it took Olympic racing experience to catch me after my course record bike split, and even those guys almost ran out of time.

It wasn’t my best result of the season, but it was one of the best races I have had. I swam well, rode really hard, and ran tough. That is all I ever try to do. Sometimes it works out and other times you get caught, but in this case I was pleased with the race and ready to get back to work. This 4th place race puts me in the lead for the series, and in a good spot heading into Chicago in 5 weeks.

That said this next week’s off week of training I am very much looking forward to. The family and I are taking a couple days to relax in Aspen, hopefully golfing a couple times, and in general letting my mind and body recharge for the second half of the season. See ya in a week triathlon…

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