Race Day: August 2, 2014 – 8:30am

After an outstanding race in Chisago a week before, I was more excited than ever to defend my Brewhouse Short Course title. I had won the race three times in a row and going for number four. Although there is always the chance of a ringer coming in for the win, I had had this race locked down really well all three times. The biggest threat in my mind was Nick, Assistant Manager at Duluth Running Co., and running phenom. We had been training more and more and more together during the spring and summer and I finally convinced him to dip his toes in the tri game. He had pretty good results at Timberman short course, finishing second, but had recently dropped stacks on a tri bike and wetsuit. In the tri game, you can buy speed.

During the week, I went on a couple of short, fast rides, and kept my running up. My race strategy is pretty fail-proof, so I went with it again–start really fast in the swim to get out front, hold a blistering pace in the water and come out the leader. Keep the lead on the bike and put a lot of time on any fast runners, then leave it all on the run course by starting fast and ending fast.

Everything looked good in transition. The weather was literally perfect. I got a little swim warmup in and the gun went off. I really pushed it hard on the way out to the first buoy in the thin rectangled-shaped swim course. I think I was the first to turn, tried to sight smartly on the next short section. I think I was still in first turning the last buoy, and tried to look back and stack up the competition. Nobody on my heels. On the home stretch, I was breathing really heavy only on one side and tried to keep it tight and fast. When I got to the beach, I looked back and there wasn’t anyone even close. I had the perfect swim. Now to go to work.

After a speedy transition, I hopped on my bike. It took a second to get my feet into my bike shoes. I’ve been careful with this after popping the shoe off a few times. That takes much more time than carefully getting my feet in. Once I was locked in, I brought it to the pain locker. I focused on smooth, round pedal strokes and to generate as much power as possible. At the turnaround, there wasn’t anyone that close to me. Some of the closer guys to me weren’t able to run with me, so I was specifically looking for Nick, who would surely out run me. He was in 10th place or so when I saw him, and my confidence soared. As long as I could crush it on the way back, the run would be a piece of cake.

I rushed through T2 as fast as humanly possible and was out on the run. I tried to keep my legs turning over as fast as possible… it’s hard to get that pure speed, all out anaerobic feeling after biking, no matter what the distance. As long as Nick isn’t breathing down my neck… I hit the turnaround and didn’t see anyone even close to me. Once I got back onto the road (the turnaround is a lollipop shape), I saw Nick cruising really fast, but he was too far off. I knew I had it in the bag, but kept pushing just in case. The finish chute was ecstatic.

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After catching my breath, I turned around and saw Nick coming in fast. Wow, he picked a TON of people off on the run. He put two and a half minutes on me on the run, and I had the second fasted run. This was a 5k run, by the way.

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I was happy to have two awesome triathlon races in a row and also to uphold my title as Brewhouse Short Course champion.

Results

Race Stats:
Wetsuit: Blueseventy Helix (from, like, 2007)
Bike: Specialized Transition AL
Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Time: 1:02:24
Swim: 12:04
Pace: 1:29
Bike: 30:52
Rate: 24.1
Run: 17:42
Pace: 5:43
Place: 1/207

Race Day: July 27, 2014 – 7:30am

The Chisago Lakes Triathlon has historically been my highest priority race of the year. The previous three years I have strived to get to 4:30 for the half ironman distance. I don’t know why I had that time in my mind for so long, but I never really got close. My first attempt at the 70.3 mile race resulted in a 4:47. Then I did 4:42 two times in a row at Chisago. I found it hard to shave time off of my overall time… if I tried to crush the bike, I’d pay for it on the run.

This year was a bit different. I knew I wanted to race Chisago, but my triathlon training was seriously trumped by running. I’d been going to tri nights, but hardly rode my bike or swam besides Tuesday nights, although I felt pretty fast on those nights. Meanwhile, I’d been running more than ever.

Leading up to the race, I got really nervous that I would explode my quads on the bike. It’s one thing to be able to keep up during tri nights on a flat 14 mile out-and-back, but to ride 56 miles and then run with less than 100 miles on my bike for the season was a really scary prospect. I figured I needed any edge I could get, so opted to shave my legs.

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My plan for the race was to swim smart, bike conservatively as not to blow up, and let ‘er rip on the run and make up time on the one discipline that I’ve been actually doing during training.

Again, I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house, which is a short 15 minute drive to the start line. This is such a great accommodation before a big race! I met my mom, who was racing as well in preparation for Ironman Madision, at the packet pickup on Saturday and did a little open water swim with her. I ate pasta and went to bed really early.

Race day was really nice. The weather turned out to be perfect, party cloudy with a slight chance of rain later and cool. I set up transition and sipped on a Mountain Dew. I was afraid I forgot how to race a triathlon for a second! No, I just didn’t train for swimming and biking. The transition only takes mental training… After biking a tiny amount and making sure my pedals were clipped in, I hopped into the water and waited for the race to begin.

I was in a later wave, which made me pretty bummed, because the year previous, I swam over a ton of people and felt like I didn’t swim as fast as I could have on a course with 50 people. Chisago Half is pretty big after all… So that reinforced my “swim smart” game plan. When my wave went off, I tried to get way ahead of everybody, which worked out well. I was out on my own for the first 1000 yards or so, then caught the stragglers from waves in front of me. I navigated through those people with relative ease and felt good. After that, the only real backups were at turn buoys. After the last turn home, I tried to kick it up a notch. I exited the water in about 33 minutes, which is definitely respectable given my lack of swim training.

Onto the bike, I tried to play it cool. I looked back to my race strategy at Grandma’s Marathon and wanted to emulate that by easing back if I ever felt like I was breathing too heavily. The course is really flat and fast for the first 25 miles or so, then goes down a big hill, then back up a big hill and is pretty flat the rest of the way. I definitely felt good into the halfway point and going up the hill sucked, but I made it though. At this point, I started planning out the rest of the race. I knew that if I could keep a steady rate through the last 20 miles, I would be in a great position starting the run. I finished out the bike leg just trying to maintain. It helped to think that despite how bad I’m feeling on the bike, the run is going to be much easier because of my heavy run mileage. When I got back into town, I started getting super amped up because the split was 2:28, which is really fast based on how well I felt!

Into T2, I had to pee really bad, so I stopped in a portable toilet in transition. Also, I doubled back to empty my pockets of bike garbage. I felt like it was a sloppy transition, and was almost twice the time as my T1 time. Starting the run, I went out hard. I figured I could hold a sub 6:30 pace after an easy bike. Granted, I was pretty shredded after getting an otherwise stupendous bike split. My first few miles were close to 6 minutes a piece. A few miles in, my pace slipped to around 6:30. I really wanted to hold this pace, because I thought I had that sort of fitness, and I would completely crush my PR with a half marathon around 1:25. The meat of the Chisago run course is always kind of difficult. Around mile 7, I knew I was slipping fast. My pace was over 7:00. I tried to take down a gel and got past the turnaround. From here, it is just a grind it out scenario. My form was crap, but I locked in at 7 minute pace and knew that I would still have a pretty good PR unless I was reduced to walking.

I ended up coming into the finish line with a 1:28:59 split for 13.1 miles, which is my half-ironman run record, and a total time of 4:33, which was 9 minutes faster than the year previous. Needless to say, I was completely jacked up and excited about it, but then the confusion set in.

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Why was my best time off of almost no bike training? I had a faster bike and run than ever. Did shaved legs really contribute an abnormally fast 56 mile bike ride? Is run-heavy training the best way to go?

Either way, I was excited for triathlon racing. My mom had a decent race as well. I don’t think she was extraordinarily content with her time, but good Ironman training regardless.

Results

Race Stats:
Wetsuit: Blueseventy Helix (from, like, 2007)
Bike: Specialized Transition AL
Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Time: 4:33:47
Swim: 33:15
Pace: 1:35
Bike: 2:28:11
Rate: 22.6
Run: 1:28:59
Pace: 6:51
Place: 22/414

Race Day: Friday, June 18, 2014 – 6:30pm

The Park Point 5-Miler is a cool race that I had done once before. It is a pancake flat out-and-back course where you can really let ‘er rip and race like a 5k. It’s always really competitive, too, so it is fun to see how you stack up. I think I jumped in this race last minute (should have done a timely race report… don’t quite remember!), but it was worth it because it is so fun and I got free socks. I wish every race gave away socks instead of tshirts.

I aided with the timing on this race, too, which just consisted of setting up the start mats. This was a very simple task at 75 degrees and sunny, but felt weird in short shorts and a running singlet!

Once the race started, I went out really fast and wanted to see if I could hold my first mile split the whole way. The field spread out pretty quick and it seemed like the leaders were pretty much set by the time the first mile came up. I had a fast split somewhere in the 5:40s. I got passed after the first mile but before the turnaround and thought that the finish order was pretty much set for me. Nobody else was gaining on me from behind and I would have to majorly implode to let another racer get in front of me.

My blistering pace was catching up to me on the way back, and my right foot was starting to hurt quite a bit. The plantar faciitis was definitely flaring up for this one. I started reeling in the kid who passed me earlier and that was motivation to keep pushing. I could feel my form starting to deteriorate, but I think I was keeping my pace up. I saw Tony, General Manager at DRC, on the sideline and he told me to catch him. I tried to kick it into high gear and got the kid in front of me. It really feels good to reel someone in like that!

I jammed it in to the finish line and had a really good time. I know I dropped back a little bit on the way back, but it was at least enough to bump up one place. I mowed down on some race rolls and drank half my weight in chocolate milk as I waited for my friends to finish. My foot was in pain, though, and I was limping.

A lot of familiar faces were there, and that makes it really fun! Instead of doing a cool down run, I biked back to the Running Co. where my car was parked.

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Results

Race Stats:

Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Time: 28:32
Pace: 5:43
Place: 9/385

Race Day: Saturday, June 21, 2014 – 7:45am

Grandma’s Marathon… what a race! This was the sixth year in a row I had raced on this day, but my first marathon. The Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon is really where this all started, and it was only a matter of time before I jumped into a 26.2 mile race. Why I registered in the first place, I don’t really know, but it was definitely well in advance. That means a I had a long winter and spring to train.

Training for a marathon is definitely different than anything, even long course triathlon. The sheer volume and consistency of running was made possible in large part to Diamond, my running partner. As if having a terrible race isn’t the worst prospect in the world, shrill barking in my ear is literally the best motivator to run in sub zero weather.

Anyways, the weather looked good all week and training leading up to the race was spot on. I felt confident going into the race and wanted to nail a 6:45 minute mile every single mile. The only mystery is how my body would react to working at the race expo from 5-9pm on Thursday night and then 9-9 on Friday. In the past, working the long days and trying to race 13.1 has been really tough, so I was pretty nervous how the ol’ bod would hold up to a much longer and more strenuous race.

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I enjoy racing in cool weather, and definitely don’t mind a little mist! The race day brought 50s and foggy, light rain and mist. The pre-race nerves were there, but I felt like I had a really solid race plan and felt confident. This section will be brief, because as I write this, it is October and I don’t exactly remember how I felt during the race…. Note to self: do race recaps as soon as possible.

I began the race right on schedule. Every mile was a few seconds within my goal pace, and if I ever fell off, it felt easy to crank it up a bit to even my time out. I ran with some people for a bit and then either passed them or lost them in the mist. I remember talking to one guy who had to take a dump and lost his friend. He latched onto me in an attempt to make up time and catch his buddy, but I think he burnt himself out.

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I knew that getting into town was going to hurt. I had been dealing with some plantar faciitis and was anxiously waiting for it to flare up. Even though the crowd support is really big in town, that is where I’ve always started to feel the burn in the half marathon. Sure enough, I felt my pace drop off bit by bit going past the Glensheen Mansion into Lemondrop Hill. My legs and muscles were starting to feel super fatigued, but I gathered the mental fortitude to put these thoughts of pain aside. Also, I knew my friends and supporters were coming up quickly.

I got a second wind as I came into the London Road business district. I think that this is always where you can pull through and have a good race, or crumble. I saw a group of friends on the side of the road and my form all the sudden was fantastic and I didn’t hurt so bad anymore. Andy snapped a few pics.

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I also knew that Duluth Running Co. was right around the corner. That was going to be a huge boost because they always have a ton of spectators and a lot of familiar faces. And a free keg, so everyone cheers loudly. I ditched two gels at DRC, which means I only had two gels and sporadic water and Powerade at aid stations.

DRC was great. It felt like I was running a 5 minute mile and I high fived everyone on the curb and then disappeared into the mist. Once I was hidden, I could feel my back slump and my hips collapse. I was really fatigued, but at this point, you just keep running the final two or three miles. I tried to keep my pace but know I dropped off a bit. I knew I had to get around a 2:57 flat to hit my goal pace, and I really wanted to go under that, so I tried to kick it up in the finishing chute. My sister Emily snapped a few pics from the stands, where my parents and sister were spectating.

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When I finished, I felt my calves cramp up immediately. I dropped down to grab them in pain. A volunteer came up to me and said that I better walk. He was right… I got up and my calves felt much better. Then, I waited at the massage tent with some snacks. Boy, that was uncomfortable. Walking felt good. The pain subsided until I sat down or just stood there. After 15 minutes with no line movement, I opted for self massage instead. I saw my parents and friends on my way to the drop bag area. The race went well and the only low moment of the day was when my running friend Stacie missed her BQ by a few minutes. If she kept her pace through the halfway mark, she would have met her goal by, like, 15 minutes. But that is price you pay for starting off too hot!

Overall, I was very pleased with the race. It went perfectly according to plan. Although I was slightly off my goal, the time was still really good in my eyes, and I had a new viewpoint on the marathon distance.

To avoid piercing barks, I was back running that week!

Results

Race Stats:

Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Time: 2:57:38
Pace: 6:47
Place: 265/6212

Race Day: Saturday, March 8, 2014 – 9 AM

I had the pleasure of racing a really fun 10 mile race this past weekend in Minneapolis, the 100% Irish For a Day 10 mile. I am very fond of the 10 mile distance and I think this race was perfect to get a gauge on how hard I can push this early in the running season. I was at the race with my mom, who registered for the un-timed 5k. Also, my friend Stacie, who I’ve been doing a bit of marathon training with, drove down from Duluth that morning and raced the 10 mile.

Unfortunately, I left my running jacket at the Minnesota Timberwolves game that I attended the night before the race, which made me really nervous about layering for the race. The temperature was mid-teens into the 20s by noon or so. I ended up using an old windbreaker from the back of my parent’s coat closet. I bundled up for the sub-20 degree weather, and after a half mile, I realized I majorly overdressed. Luckily, we parked right off of the race course and I threw the windbreaker onto the snowbank. My hamstring was bothering me a bit during the week leading up to the race, so I was nervous to see how it would react by me pushing hard for 10 whole miles. I started slow as not to aggravate my muscles, plus it took a bit to rip off the jacket and get my race shirt back on. There was a split around the 5k mark, and I think this is one of the first races I’ve posted a negative split. It felt really good to consistently pass people, and I didn’t feel very fatigued until the last mile. The conditions were pretty tough–a lot of ice and slippery areas, but the weather was pretty nice otherwise. It was sunny and felt great once I got going.

Results

Race stats:

Shoes: Saucony Ride 6
Time: 1:02:48
Pace: 6:17
Place: 9/610


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