18 Aug 2022
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
10 Aug 2014
Race Day: August 10, 2014
After two sweet races in a row, I was so ready to keep it going at the Green Lake Tri. This one is a perennial classic for me, and I love the flat and fast course, so I was amped. Ryan, Nick and I booked a hotel and went down to Willmar for the night.
As opposed to the previous two weekends, the weather at Green Lake was terrible. I really don’t like racing triathlons in the rain, and it was really rainy and cold. That should make for a fast run, anyways. I was really excited to let it rip on the fast course. I was also borrowing a pair of race wheels from my buddy Bill, so I figured I could have a super fast bike split and follow it with a steaming run in the rain.
I was confident that I would be able to take Nick down again, despite the longer run. I figured with a little more flux room in the swim and bike, I’d have enough to hold him off. Another guy on the start list, who was pegged to win by Minnesota Tri News, was a guy who calls himself Casey Miller. He was a fast bike-runner but I had him on the swim. My plan was to get out of the water with a big margin, hold everyone off on the bike and have a steady, fast run for the win.
In the warm water, I started off the same way as Brewhouse one week earlier–push it early and establish a good position in the front. Another guy really crushed the swim and I couldn’t catch him. I swam neck and neck with another guy who I didn’t see after T1, but he was swerving everywhere!
When I got onto the bike course, I tried to let it rip. I didn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me, so it was kind of lonely out there by myself. At the turnaround, I saw Tim Bode, the fast swimmer, hammering. I’ve raced him here before and knew I could catch him on the run if I shrink his lead on the bike a bit. Once I started the return route, I saw Casey pretty close behind me, and Nick pretty close to him. This was going to be a good race!
I got off the bike and zinged through the transition zone. The announcer, Jerry MacNeil, mentioned that that sort of fast transition meant that I was going for the win. Correct! I knew I would catch Tim, it was just a matter of how long it would take Casey to get me, how long we could run together, and who had the grit to finish it out in first place. As I was exiting transition, I knew Casey was in. I started off fast and tried to lock into a pace early. I felt good running. Casey caught up to me near the short course turnaround in between miles 1 and 2. I stuck on his shoulder and we ran side by side for a half mile or so. I got a little cocky and wanted to make a move, so I kicked it up. He matched me stride for stride. Then I eased back into my pace and he kept going. That crushed me mentally. What a weak move!
At the turnaround, I knew Casey had the win. He put too much time on me just in that mile, he looked strong, and I started to feel really bad physically as well as mentally. I saw Nick after I turned around and he was pretty close. He had passed Tim as well and looked speedy. A mile later, I looked around to see how much he had gained on me, and he was right on my shoulder! I didn’t even hear him coming and he passed me in a picosecond. I told him Casey was 5 minutes or so ahead and he zoomed off, leaving me in his dust. That was tough mentally, as well, because I knew that I had third place no matter what. I could probably walk a little bit and still get the third spot. My pace slowed and I dragged myself across the finish.
Nick reeled Casey in for an amazing first place finish. As mentally tough this race was for me, especially after two big races in a row, it was a huge mental boost for Nick and I was really happy. I know Casey was kind of pissed getting reeled in, but it sounds like he faded a bit, too.
It was still a fun race, I won my age group, and I love the production of the Green Lake Tri.
Wetsuit: Blueseventy Helix (From, like, 2007)
Bike: Specialized Transition AL with HED3 wheelset
Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Run: 39:16 (For comparison, Nick had a 32:00 run split. Freak status)
02 Aug 2014
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.
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.
I was happy to have two awesome triathlon races in a row and also to uphold my title as Brewhouse Short Course champion.
Wetsuit: Blueseventy Helix (from, like, 2007)
Bike: Specialized Transition AL
Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3