Races 12, 13 and 14 – Chicago Triple Challenge

This weekend was quite an experience. We tackled races 12, 13 and 14. If 12 is a dozen and 13 is a baker’s dozen then 14 sure felt like the devil’s dozen. This third race of the weekend was humbling and disappointing. On my facebook page after this third race I described three areas where I failed on Sunday: pacing, nutrition and cramping. All three of these things led to one heck of a day.

So, as everyone knows Chicago is an amazing city. For all its beauty and culture there are parts of Chicago that pose real challenges to racers. The rough roads and strong winds of Chicago are unavoidable. The race organizers (to their credit) did all they could do to prepare us for the roads and the risks that we would face out on the bike course. To me, the cumulative effect of the three races started to show on the third bike.

Let me give you a bit of background about the structure of the weekend. On Saturday we raced a very short race called a Super-Sprint. This race had a total distance of 8 miles. The bike was on a closed course but it still was on rough roads. Again, the race directors did what they could to ensure our safety. I planned on Saturday being a race to loosen the legs for Sunday. I came across the finish line and felt pretty good about sticking to that plan.

Sunday morning came very early. The alarm went off at 4 am for us to start our trek down to the race. This race is huge. It is the largest race in the country. There was a total of 8,000 racers getting their transitions set up at the same time as me. I got everything set up and began the walk down to the swim start which was almost a mile away. We were the first wave to go off in the morning at the stroke of 6. I was running to the start line and jumped in the water as the gun went off….that was fine but it wasn’t the start I would like. The swim for the first 200 yards was chaos. There was no room to find your own space and just swim. After the first 200 the water cleared up a bit and everyone was able to get into some sort of a rhythm.

The swim exit was 1/4 of a mile from the bike start. A run from the swim exit to the bike didn’t allow much time to relax. We were off on the bike. This was a 14 mile bike and there was no real traffic from the other racers. Since we were the first group we really had the road to ourselves. This trip introduced me to the road and the wind. It is not usual that you feel so much wind on both directions of an out and back course, but this is Chicago. The wind and roughness of the road required constant vigilance. Soon enough we were off the bike and out on the run. This run felt really good. I really focused on staying smooth and not pushing the pace, knowing that I had a race that was twice as long as this one coming right behind the finish.

I came across the line..got my medal, a water and then started the mile long walk back to the transition to get set up for the next race. As soon as I finished my set up I started the mile long walk back down to swim start for the next race.

Soon enough we were in the water for the .9 mile swim to start our Olympic distance race. I could tell, from early on in the swim, that this was going to be a very different race. We were the 20th wave to go off in the Olympic race which meant that the course was packed with other racers. It took nearly half a mile for the swim to clear up a bit to allow free swimming.

Out of the water. Off onto the bike and I knew this bike was going to be very difficult. For the entire 26 miles on the bike I was surrounded by other racers. This race introduces hundreds (if not thousands) of new racers to the sport. I love seeing new racers test their endurance. However, on a course that is so rough and so windy it was exhausting watching the other racers to ensure that I didn’t end up on the pavement. I started to suffer on the bike a bit. The wind is a mental challenger more than anything else.

As I approached transition I looked down at my race kit and saw something very troubling. My kit had gone from black (normal color) to almost white. This was a sign that I was about to really suffer on the run. I had not done my job on the bike to replace this sodium. I knew this. The weather had changed between our first race of the morning and the second. It had gone from 70 degrees to 90+ degrees.

The first thing I did on the run was grab a glass of water heading out of transition. Water is a bad choice when you are facing depletion of sodium and/or electrolytes. Water further dilutes the remaining sodium and/or electrolytes that you have in your body. At the next few aid stations I did the same thing. I had sabotaged my run. At mile 2 it started. Cramping in the quads brought the run to a shuffle to a walk. 1:13 was my run time for the 10k. I haven’t really focused on any of my times during this season because it really does not matter. I am out there for Team Chad and not for myself. However, this 1:13 showed me that I have to be careful because if I don’t pay better attention to my pacing, nutrition and the effects of cramping then it could jeopardize the whole season.

I learned a lot from this weekend of racing. I suffered more during the third race than I have in any other race before. During the whole journey out there I couldn’t forget why I was there and what others have gone through in their fight against cancer. I kept the feet moving and got to the finish. This weekend we added some good distance to the overall total. Races 12, 13 and 14 added a total of 57.3 miles. This brings our total to 283.7 miles.

Go Team Chad!

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Race 11 – Bowling Green Triathlon

Sunday morning brought us to the Bowling Green Sprint Triathlon. I was excited to attend this race as it has been on my radar for the past few years. I can say this, it will stay onto calendar for the years to come. They know how to put on a race up there. Great event with a lot of enthusiastic local support.

I am not usually nervous heading into races – especially those with a pool swim. However, I had made a mistake (apparently) in my estimated swim time and therefore I was seeded as the 7th racer to start. This meant I would have fast swimmers nipping at my heels on the swim. The swim started. I jumped in and pushed it so as to not be too embarrassed. Fortunately for me I didn’t bottleneck the swim and only a few racers made the pass.

Off to the bike. I knew there were a few climbs on the course around mile 3 or so. I don’t race with a watch or a GPS to measure distance so I have to just guess where the climbs will be. Hit the climbs and they were recognizable. The legs and chest weren’t real happy but that’s what racing is about – right?

Heading into transition and the bike dismount. Usually (thankfully) this is uneventful. However this time as I pushed the bike from the pavement to the grass as I ran behind the front wheel caught the grass edge and sent me tumbling over my bike. What makes wrecks at transition memorable is that it is usually the only place on the course where there are crowds. They all got a chance to see my moment of glory. I composed myself, got up on my knees, loomed at the crowd (who looked bak at me with a mix of concern and comedy) and shrugged my shoulders, got off the ground and racked my bike. Run shoes on and off for the run.

Not much to say about the run. Came into the finish feeling alright knowing I was going to get some ribbing about my spill.

Awards ceremony was great. The race director handed me the mic to give me a chance to tell the crowd what we were doing for Team Chad. This received a warm response from the crowd.

Race 11 added 17.6 miles. This brings our total distance raced to 226.4 miles. Next up is the Chicago Triple Challenge this weekend.

Race 10 – Indianapolis Sprint Triathlon

Well, we made it into double digits.  It sounds like we still have a long way to go (which we do) but it was very nice to get into double digits for me mentally.

The race in Indianapolis was in a beautiful park called Eagle Creek.  Heading into this race I adopted a race strategy that was different than I had ever raced before.  A little lead in may be necessary.  This upcoming weekend I will be racing three (3) races in Chicago.  Saturday will be a short, super sprint.  On Sunday we will race a sprint race followed by an olympic distance immediately thereafter.  So, knowing that I was going to have a challenging race on this upcoming Sunday I wanted to see how I felt after an “easy” sprint race.  So, the Indianapolis race was going to be a test of how the legs would feel at the end of the race so that I could try and prepare, even if just mentally, my race coming up in Chicago.

The swim course was in a lake that is used by collegiate crew teams.  It was a good venue for spectators.  I would say it was a bit of an uneventful swim although there were some periods of clustering.  All in all though the swim went well.

The bike took us through some beautiful parts of the park.  There were a few “rolling”hills on an out and bike course.  The traffic was not too bad and the course was clearly designated. One memorable portion of the bike came near the turn around point.  Leading up to the turn around there was a slight climb that all the racers noticed.  As I was making the climb I was passing another young racer.  I could tell he was working to get up the hill and was truly gutting it out.  He was gutting it out to the extent that as I came by he started to loose his breakfast on the course.  He looked over, as he was wrapping up that process, with a big smile on his face.  Ohh, us triathletes are a weird group.

The test for the moderate pace always comes on the run for me.  I really worked hard to maintain a moderate pace that would leave some legs at the end of the race.  The run course had one slight climb and then it flattened out.  Coming across the line I felt fairly good.  I am glad I didn’t have an olympic race on the back side, but I know I could have gotten back out there and raced it.  

Following the race we handed out dozens of cards about Team Chad.  A few people wanted to reach out to me after the event to talk about other partnerships that could help further the cause.  At the awards ceremony the announcer was kind enough to talk about the season and the cause.  Following the awards we were again talking with other racers and spectators.  All in all it was a great day for Team Chad.

Race number 10 was a short race (13.5 miles).  This runs the total race distance thus far over the 200 mile mark.  At the end of race 10 we were sitting at a total distance of 208.8 miles.

Week 9 – Rev3 Wisconsin Dells

1,500 miles. That was the driving distance for our race in Wisconsin Dells this weekend. Some people (being most everyone that I talked to about the trip) would say this is crazy. But I have to tell you that there are two reasons why driving this far for a race is worth it:

1. Rev3. Rev3 races are worth the travel. They know what athletes and their family want at a race. As a point of example, here is a shot that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This is a picture of me carrying Lincoln across his first finish line:

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Most races forbid you from running through the chute with anyone. Not Rev3, they are a family centered race company and this picture shows that. This is but one reason why you (everyone, racers and not racers yet, should put a Rev3 race on your calendar). It was great to be back around my Rev3 family for a weekend. I look forward to the other Rev3 races on the calendar.

2. Team Chad. Because we came from so far out of town for this race we were able to strike up a lot of conversations about the journey. During the trip we did several video interviews that we are hoping to have access to here shortly. Once I get them I will put them up on the blog. Also I am aware of at least three people that wanted the website so they could donate to our charity. That’s right. People that are nearly 1,000 miles away from Nashville appreciate the work that Team Chad is doing and want to be a part of it in a financial way. That was great.

So, that is why we traveled to the race. Now, how about the race itself.

Wisconsin Dells starts the swim in Lake Delton right off the stage of the Tommy Bartlett Ski Show. We were able to watch the ski and comedy show the night before under the stars. Just one of the many experiences along the way. The morning of the race the rain rolled into town. I was hopeful that the rain would push out because biking on water covered roads is always a bit more tiring. No such luck. The rain was there through all but the last three miles of the run.

Maggie and Lincoln had the right idea and stayed in the RV which was parked next to transition. They were able to watch me come in out of the swim, head out on the bike and come back in for the run out. Here are a few creative shots they were able to capture:

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Not much more that I can say about this race except that I was fortunate enough to end up on the podium again. The upside (other than a bit of personal joy) is that Rev3 was gracious enough to announce my journey for Team Chad while I was on the podium. This resulted in some questions off the stage about the upcoming year. Spreading the word.

So, where does this race bring our race mileage? Prior to the race I had completed 163.4 miles. This race added another 31.9 miles for a total of 195.3. This weekend will move us over the 200 mile mark. Get excited.

A Week Off Of Racing – Not A Week Off Of Team Chad

So we were in town this weekend. No racing which means a bit of a rest for the weary legs. Not to say that I wasn’t still working towards the goal, just not racing. Two good, hard runs through the streets of Nashville.

Awesome bike through the park:

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A few laps in the backyard pool:

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Sitting here tonight, I still have tired legs. But that is good…tired legs here hopefully will mean ready legs for this weekend as we head to Rev3 Wisconsin. Racing at the Dells with my Rev3 family is going to be a blast. I am very excited about the trip. We will be adding most states to the list for little Lincoln.

But, I want to make it clear. This is a year for Team Chad. Friday night Maggie and I had the privilege of having dinner with some very dedicated supporters of Team Chad. Nathan Wells (you can find him currently at Lockeland Table) was our fabulous chef for the evening. His dishes were combined with top notch wine and even better conversation about the past, present and very exciting future of Team Chad. All attendees at the dinner were very interested to learn more about how and why the charity was started and how we found our way into the Team Chad family. It was a very memorable evening.

No added race mileage this weekend but there will be some coming next weekend.

Race 8 – Music City Triathlon

Sunday morning came early for my fairly weary legs. Saturday’s race was a blast but it did leave the legs a bit trashed. However Music City is our big local race and I really wanted to put out a good show on behalf of Team Chad. It was great to see all of my tri friends at this race and they were all very excited to hear about the season for Team Chad.

The race got going with a brisk swim. Many racers were rocking the wetsuit but I opted to leave it at home. The Music City swim is always a challenge due to the river current. That wasn’t any different on Sunday. The swim requires a lot of advanced planning to ensure that you don’t get to far off course. For me the swim went well. Felt pretty good getting out of the water and ready to head out for the hilly ride down Ellington.

This is where I started feeling the legs. This bike course is a lot of fun but it does require a lot of strength to really race this course. The trip out was very windy and that is where you also fight the hills. However you get the wind at the back on the way back in. It was a lot of fun making my way to transition. I was very nervous getting off the bike that I was going to be walking the run course.

Off the bike and up the pedestrian bridge. This is a tough start to the run every year. No exception this year. I was really hoping that once I created the hill I would feel the legs loosen up a bit. To my surprise this is what happened. The run felt good (as good as a race can feel). Came across the line spent but happy to put out a good showing at Team Chad’s hometown race.

The performance was good enough to garner another podium spot. Team Magic again was awesome to announce to the crowd what I was doing and why I was doing it. Team Chad getting love in Music City.

Race 8 was a challenge but it was well worth it. Added 16.4 miles to the total. We are now at 163.6 miles total.