Brewhouse Triathlon Race Report
Race Date: Sunday, August 7, 2022 – 8:30am
Another Brewhouse. I feel like I get pretty nervous or anxious before Brewhouse most years, almost like a dread. I was probably the least excited for the year’s Brewhouse than ever before. In the back of my mind I thought about bailing on the race altogether. I hadn’t trained, I hadn’t been on my bike or worn swimming goggles since last year’s Brewhouse, and just wanted to crank miles on my stand up paddleboard. Equipment aside, I was almost certainly not in the running to win. That’s always been the goal, and I didn’t deserve it even if that’s how the race would pan out for me. I wasn’t ready for the pain of the sprint tri format, and I absolutely wasn’t ready to get in the damn water to swim. BUT, I got all my things together the night before, and by Sunday morning after I got my pre-race coffee and breakfast sandwich, I was excited. The morning weather was better than expected at least with sun out, but the winds were high and that’d be tough for the swim and bike. Well, I figured, that just makes the run even more enjoyable once it’s just that last leg left.
I got to the race site and immediately picked up my race bag. Easy. Brewhouse is like a family reunion and it was fun to see all my triathlon friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen for a while. I chatted with Kris Nisula, the only person to beat me at Brewhouse Triathlon besides my very first triathlon, which was Brewhouse 2010. He said he was really a cyclist now, had been biking a ton and not running or swimming much. Hmm, that was interesting. It would certainly come down to the run and I knew I had a little latent fitness from Grandma’s weekend about 6 weeks prior. I took a restroom stop, got my body marked, and then did a little bike shakout to make sure it was working well. All good. I put on my running shoes to shake out but got distracted talking to the race timer Brad Pickle. With a half hour until race start, about 8am, I got my wetsuit on and walked over to the lake. It was super choppy. The swim would be terrible. I saw Em and the dogs, which was a sweet treat! I talked with her and was so excited she showed up to spectate.
I pulled off the band-aid, so to speak, and hopped in the water. I had to pee immediately, which is always unfortunate in the wetsuit. Oh well. I swam around in the waves a bit and it felt great. The waves weren’t too bad, actually, and my swim stroke seemed good. I was ready to rip. One buoy had floated a way a bit, so the course was shortened. Excellent. Plus, the race got delayed a bit for some reason… maybe to fix the buoy. There was nobody in the water. Me and a few volunteers. More volunteers came down – a few paddleboards and they were getting tossed around by the waves. The racers came down eventually and before long Matt Evans rallied everyone at the start to stay safe and gave the announcer Ted the three minute go-ahead. My googles seemed to be getting foggy already. I wiped them off one last time right before the 10-second countdown. I wasn’t ready for the thrashing, but “3-2-1” by the announcer, the racers and the spectators watching from the hill. It’s happened whether I’m ready or not! “GO!!” and the thrashing began. I got out into a nice starting spot, but was overtaken quickly. I minute in or so and I was seemingly out by myself and wasn’t getting kicked or punched, but realized quickly that the waves would indeed be a factor. It was hard to breathe. I felt that breathing into the waves, on my left side, was actually better than my unnatural-feeling right side. I almost freaked out a few times with a big mouthful full of water. Then I had to stop. I was getting so battered by the waves and I just couldn’t get a solid breath. I couldn’t see due to foggy goggles, I was panicking. I flipped my goggles up to get oriented and wipe off the fog. Not optimal. But, the buoy was right there and so kept plugging along to sharply round the corner to head home. Immediately I enjoyed much nicer swimming with the wind a little more to my back. The rest of the swim was relatively easy and I felt strong. The first half shook me up a little, though.
I got out of the water and ran, breathless, up the hill and to my bike. Ok, here we go! The worst of it was done really. I knew my biking was not going to be as good as past years simply due to fitness. My bike miles were especially low this year. I got through transition quickly, got my shoes on and it was a matter of keeping my speed on the bike to mitigate the damage. I saw Kris zoom away on his bike while I was in transition, and he’d be only making up time that I would hopefully be able to recoup on the run. But, a 3 mile run course is not a lot of real estate to reel him in. I got blasted by wind right away, as Highway 4 curved and the open water directly adjacent to the road allowed the direct wind to push me to my right. My aero wheels were a sail and I precariously grasped my horns. I did not feel comfortable in the aerobar position with the winds whipping off the lake.
Near the turnaround, I saw someone looking fast way out in front, then Kris and Bettina a minute back, and I turned on Emerson. Ryan passed me unexpectedly. Shoot, let’s go Mike! We turned at about the same time and Ryan showed his strong bike fitness by pedaling right away from me. I just had to keep my speed and get to the run. I passed someone on the right side of the road. Was that the guy way out front? Got a flat? Bummer. I knew Paul Rockwood was pretty close to me but didn’t make a pass or get passed the rest of the ride. I got nervous back alongside Island Lake where there was no wind block. I prepared by sitting up on the horns again. It wasn’t too bad. I saw Em right before the transition and was excited to get off the bike.
The second transition went very smoothly and I felt good a few strides in. I saw what looked like Ryan and Bettina running stride for stride. I couldn’t see Kris or confirm if the younger guy biking way up front was still way up front, or was the one who was sitting in a ditch back at mile 8 of the bike course. I could easily tell I was making up time on Ryan and Bettina. Ryan was clearly running faster, so I passed Bettina first, then Ryan at about mile 1. I didn’t really say anything and kept going. I clocked about 6 minute pace. That would probably be good enough for one of the faster run splits, but was it enough to catch Kris? I couldn’t see him ahead but knew I was able to run faster than him, especially if he said he hadn’t been running much. I finally saw him and we met at the very top of the lollipop stem. He was completing the small loop at the end of the run course and I was starting it. I looked at my watch to preview how far back I was. It gave me a bit of a jolt but I was running pretty much as hard as I could given my relatively poor fitness level.
At the end of the lolly, I figured I was two minutes back. That is impossible. I’d have to run a minute per mile faster than Kris to pass him at the finish line. I took a left back onto County Road 4. A guy running the opposite said I can catch him up above and I look way fresher. OK! Let’s go! I hit 2 miles and tried to crank it up. I still couldn’t see Kris. Mayyybe way up there. Yup, that’s him, let’s go! I finally got to the turn-off into the woods. This is my specialty, I thought to myself. Make it up on the trail section. I pushed hard on the swamp boardwalk. I still couldn’t see Kris. For each step that I didn’t see him, it was less and less likely that I’d pop right out on top of him. Oh well, he won, I told myself. Second is great. The race went good. I’m happy. I kept my cadence into the finishing stretch and then knew definitively I wouldn’t pass him. I also knew I wouldn’t be passed so cruised in and was happy to finish. It was probably my slowest Brewhouse on this course. I chatted with Kris at the finish. Ryan came in not too much later and he had a strong race for third. It was a fun event – I was reminded that Brewhouse is my favorite race of all time.
Shoes: Mizuno Rebellion size 11.5
Bike: Specialized Transition
Wheels: Profile Design 78