Monday, September 14, 2015

reTH!NK Addiction 5k - Race Report

As I continue down the road of completing a race event in each month of 2015, I registered for the reTH!NK Addiction 5k in Oshkosh, WI on September 12th.  Initially it fell perfectly into my schedule with that Saturday being my first night back at work, meaning I would have slept at home the night before the race.  After some shift trades at work, I ended up agreeing to work for a coworker on the Friday night before the race.  Now instead of going into the race all rested, I got to work from 8:00pm-6:30am and then drive down to Oshkosh for an 8:00am race....lucky me!!  I've definitely done this before with little complaints, so I won't really start now.  But, since changing departments, I have not worked an overnight shift since the first week of May...4 months ago.

The race itself is run from the Solutions Recovery Center in Oshkosh.  All proceeds of the event go towards several not for profit organizations that help recovering addicts or agencies which work to deter drug and alcohol use.  Being a law enforcement officer, I found it compelling to chose this race over some other races in the month of September, as I deal with many of these problems every day.

Training for This Race

Let's keep this simple....I have not been training at all this year.  I have been doing random "stuff" most days.  I have not run longer than 8 miles in a few months, and often just take a rest day if life is particularly busy.  I have not followed any sort of formal plan and usually find myself planning my exercising around my life, opposed to planning my life around my exercise.


As I mentioned above, I had to work the night before from 8:00pm-6:30am.  I was lucky enough to get a decent nap on Friday afternoon knowing it was going to be a long night and an even longer morning on Saturday.  After work, I rushed to get ready and get on the road as quickly as I could, knowing my time would be limited.  I still needed to get my race packet and I wanted to get in some sort of warm up before the race.  I made decent time and arrived at the race site around 7:15am.  There was no line to get my race packet and bib, which was nice.  After pinning my bib to my shirt, I was out to start my traditional warm up.  I did all my usual drills, including, pick ups, lunges, high leg kicks, and leg swings.  After I felt good to go, I made my way back to the start area and just hung out.  The weather that morning was damn near perfect, with temperatures around 50F, clear skies, and maybe a slight wind, if any.

Nutrition Plan

I had no plan for my race day nutrition, other than to not eat for the 3-4 hours before the race.  I last ate a hot dog and brat around 4:00am and that was it.  I took a few sips of water on the drive down to Oshkosh, but felt pretty good, so I wasn't too concerned about taking in calories or liquids.  I took 2 Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps at 7:00am and that was it.  I wanted to bring along some Hammer Energy Surge tablets for during the race, but honestly completely forgot and left them in the car.  :(


Road ID Elite

3.1 Mile Run (18:06)

As I do at the start line of any other race, I scoped out the competition while I waited for the race to start.  First off, I kind of knew going in that this would be a smaller race (based on participation) and figured there probably wouldn't be too many competitive runners.  My estimation was correct - there were not many other runners who would be running around my projected pace.  Most of the people I recognized or chatted with before the race started would be running with a goal time of around 20:00.  Knowing this, I figured I would start the race easy and really focus on getting faster as the race progressed.  So after the race started, as about 98% of the runners do, many of the guys around me took off like a bat out of hell.  I just let them go and started pretty relaxed and allowed my body to find a comfortable pace for the first half of the 5k.  After the first quarter of a mile or so, all of the runners who sprinted out of the chute were now behind me and I was in the lead.  By the first mile, I had built up a significant lead.  I started thinking to myself that there was no need to really push hard for the second mile and opted to ease up during the second mile and save a little bit for the final mile.  The majority of the race was run through Menominee Park in Oshkosh, along Lake Winnebago.  As I said before, the weather was perfect, which made the scenery just that much better.  It was rather easy to focus on the lake and the views instead of how I was feeling.  After the second mile marker, I decided to push just a little harder and then cruised the rest of the way to the finish line.  I came across in just over 18:00, over a minute and half ahead of second place.  I was kind of upset, but I forgot to change the settings on my Garmin watch to "run mode" and discovered I had left it in "bike mode" during the race.  Because of this, I have no mile split data to look at to see if I indeed ran negative splits throughout the whole race.

Post Race

Immediately after finishing the race, I hung around the finish line to congratulate the next few runners to come across the line.  After that, all I wanted to do was go home and go to bed.  I felt obligated to stay for the awards ceremony as the overall winner, so that is what I did.  I tried to kill time by talking to random people about the race and running and the weather and frankly, whatever came to mind.  After about an hour and a half of killing time, I received my award as the overall winner of the race.  I really hope I do not come across conceited or arrogant during the award ceremony, but honestly I just wish they would hand out the awards and we would get on with the day.  Personally I do not like getting in front of others to accept the award.  I feel like I am no different from anyone else and I would rather not be "shown off" or highlighted.  I do understand that many other people see the awards ceremony as an opportunity to celebrate their achievements, but I guess, I just like to celebrate achievements with friends and family instead of individually.  Nearly right after getting my award I split to get to bed!

What's on Tap

The rest of the month will continue to be much like the past 8 months, doing what I feel like doing, when I feel like doing it.  My next race will most likely be the Freaky 5k in Appleton on Halloween, October 31st.  After that, I currently have 2 November races on the schedule with the Turkey Trot in Appleton, on Thanksgiving and the Noodleini in De Pere a few days afterward.  I currently do not have a December race yet, but you would be fooling yourself if I would screw over this stupid goal of mine in the final month of the year.  So I promise you, that I will find a damn race!

On another note, yesterday (September 13th) was Ironman Wisconsin down in Madison, WI.  It was two years ago that I was lucky enough to cross the finish line and forever be called an Ironman.  It seems like every year since then, I have followed the race from home.  While tracking friends and acquaintances, I'd be lying if I said I don't get motivated and excited about doing the race again.  The way things are going with my life, career, and family, it is looking like I will get that opportunity to again take a crack at an Ironman race in 2017, just two more years!  What that means for me, is that after I finish this stupid goal in December, I will take some time to regroup and recharge, then start focusing on building a strong base in 2016 to be in my best shape yet for 2017!

Thanks, as always, for reading!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Packers 5k - Race Report

I you happened to read my race report that I posted on Sunday, you know I had planned on running the Packers 5k on the Saturday following the Ripon Medical Center Triathlon. I chose to run this race for a few reasons. First and foremost, with the race happening on Saturday night, I was simply able to with my work schedule. Secondly, we participated in the Packers 1K Kid's Fun Run last year and had a lot of fun. Lastly, I knew that this race drew a large crowd for a hometown 5k and wanted to put my abilities to the test against some of the best runners in the state. Plus, the final quarter mile of the race are run on Lambeau Field and any opportunity to a lap around Lambeau Field is one you can't turn down!

Training for This Race

I am not going to keep writing the same thing section, so to keep this short and simple, I haven't been specifically training for any race this year at all. But, coming off of the RMC Triathlon and heading straight to the Dells after the race for a few days, all I did this week were a few 5 mile runs. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, to be exact. Friday was a rest/recovery day and then Saturday was race day. Pretty simple.


I have been working day shift this weeks rotation, which was been great for my personal life. It also allowed me to race in this race. I worked from 6:30-4:00pm on Saturday and I soon as I got home, I changed into my race clothes, and we loaded up the kids and hit the road. We honestly left too early, but personally, that's alright with me. I had no idea what to expect with parking for this event, but we were able to get a decent spot right in the stadium lot. We had tons of time to lounge around the stadium atrium for while before the start of the race. After sitting around the stadium for about an 45 minutes, I started my warm up. I got a great warm up in with dynamic stretches and strides. By the end of my 15 minute warm up I had a good sweat going and was feeling actually pretty good. The race start was extremely organized with 7 separate start corrals. I was in the first wave, which went off at 6:30. Sarah and the girls were in the "walkers with strollers" wave...wave 7. It turns out, I actually finished the race before she ever started. I found a good position on the start line and waited patiently for the race to start. It turns out they had three Green Bay Packers alumnus running the race as well. One of them was UW-La Crosse alumni, Bill Schroeder.

Nutrition Plan

Much like the "Training for This Race" section, I don't want to keep repeating myself from previous race reports. But, due to this being a short race, I have found that less is more.  I last ate at work around 1:00pm and it wasn't anything too complex, just some yogurt, veggies, and a salad with salmon.  On the way to the race, I sipped on a water bottle with one serving of Hammer Nutrition HEED (100 cal).  After that was gone I really didn't drink much of anything until the race.  I did take a few sips of water after my warm up just due to the heat.  It was going to be a hot race with temperatures right around 80*.  An hour before the start, I took my dose of 2 Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps and then Hammer Energy Surge tablets as needed during the race.


3.1 Mile Run (18:04)

When the race started I did my best to try and run a conservative first mile.  I knew that with the level of competition in this race, the leaders would be out of my league.  So, I didn't want to get caught up with the adrenaline of a race start and try to keep up with them.  My first mile split was 5:25, one of the fastest miles, I have run to date, that I can recall anyway.  I tried to gauge exactly how the rest of the race was going to go for me and how I was going to pace the final two miles.  After making the second right hand turn (right around mile 1) onto Morris Av, I saw what no runner likes seeing...especially during a race...a long and steady hill.  The hill wasn't anything challenging, but just enough to make it just that much more taxing on your lungs.  In addition of the hill, there was a slight head wind heading west as well.  I found a small group of runners that I could hang with and just tucked in behind them to try and break the wind.  It seemed to work pretty well, but unfortunately it did absolutely nothing for the hill.  My second mile was a slow 6:03.  After crossing the mile 2 mark, I kept telling myself that there is only 1 mile left and tried to dig deep and put up a strong final mile.  Most of the 3rd mile was down hill, but the best part of the final mile was the lap around the inside of Lambeau Field.  We entered in through a back garage area and ended up coming through the same tunnel as Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.  Coming out that tunnel and seeing all the seats and hearing the loud music makes you forget all the struggles and pain you may be feeling at that point of the race.  They had the scoreboard screens on and set up to show the runners as they pasted by the north endzone.  It was neat to see yourself running on the screen.  They also opened up sections of the stadium for fans to come in and watch the runners complete their lap around the stadium.  I was surprised to see exactly how many people were in the stadium, it was a unique feeling.  After coming out of the stadium, you could see the finish line.  The finish line was also pretty cool as they had a large slab of artificial turf with a huge Packer's "G" on it.  The atmosphere of the race in general was so cool, from start to finish.  I was very impressed with the size of the crowds along the entire course.  I'm used to seeing no one along the course of 5k's, but this one was different.  There was an energy that came with this race.  It had the feeling of a Packer's home game mixed with a 5k....very cool.

Post Race

I finished the race in 18:04, not a PR, but definitely not a time I'm ashamed of.  I placed 4th out of 230 in my age group and 41st out of 5,159 runners overall.  After crossing the finish line, I was slightly disappointing they didn't have any post race memento...nothing.  How well...not like I don't have enough medals as it is.  I took a minute or two to try and catch my breath and then started walking the course backwards to try and find Sarah and the girls.  After walking the first half mile or so, I started to jog lightly as a cool down, of sorts.  I ended up finding them just after the 1 mile mark.  I walked the rest of the race with the girls.  I took the opportunity to teach Maya and Delaney about running.  We worked on running parts of the race which gave me a unique chance to run side by side with either Maya or Delaney.  As they approached Lambeau Field, I went to the finish line to watch them finish.  I was proud of both Maya and Delaney after the race.  Maya walk/ran the entire race by herself and Delaney walked at least 75% of the race by herself.  We decided that from now on, we are going to start registering Maya as a participant now that she can consistently finish a 5k by herself.  After the race it was straight home to get three little girls to bed as they were just exhausted.

What's on Tap

On the drive home from the race Sarah and I started talking about how disappointed I was that I didn't place in my age group.  We talked about where I was in my life, starting a new job, raising 3 kids, and trying to balance everything.  I mentioned how, my training has been non-existent this season, how I have been basically just "winging it."  She reminded me how that we talked about how this year was going to have to be a lax year with my training and racing.  She mentioned how we talked about this when I took a the new job and that after this season, I'll be able to get back into a more consistent training regime.  It made sense and in a way made me feel better about my finish.  I was only 20 seconds off of a PR and my times haven't really slipped much from when I was training consistently.  After my little reality check from Sarah, I was actually quite satisfied with my race.  An 18:04 5k for a working father of 3, really aint to shabby.

As far as my goal of finishing a race in every month in 2015, I have completed a total of 9 races so far in the 8 months of 2015.  Up next will either be the Waupaca Triathlon on August 15 or the Fox Cities Half Marathon on September 21st.  Either way, I will be doing the half marathon as my September race.  And yes, if you have been following along with my 2015 journey, that does mean that I am passing on racing for Team USA in the ITU World Championships in Chicago.  Fact is, I just can not justify the financial commitment to compete in that event.  It is just too much of a short notice on top of my lack of specific training.  I would not want to go into that big of an event just to cross the finish line.  I would have liked to commit a solid 3-6 months of dedicated training to the event to give it my all to see exactly how I stack up against the best in the world.  I am relatively young yet and feel I still have great things ahead for me and my racing career.  And, of course, I will never give up on my dream of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Thanks for reading!  Keep on keepin' on!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

RMC Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

Back in the early spring of this year, I received a personal email from the Race Director of the Ripon Medical Center (RMC) Triathlon. He informed me that as last year's winner of the sprint event, I would be offered free entry into this years event. I was thrilled and honored by his offer. I immediately accepted and inserted this race into my race schedule. At first it was unclear whether or not I would be able to even participate in this event due to starting a new job with the City of Kaukauna. In June, I was slotted into a permanent rotation and I was scheduled to work the night before the race until 3am. I was fortunate to agree to a shift trade with a co-worker to allow me to race in this event. The race itself was well run last year, I had no complaints, and was very impressed with the awards offered, especially because it is a relatively small race. This year, I went into the race with high win it again.

Training for This Race

As with many of my races this year, I have been relying on the base I have built up over the past 6-7 years of endurance training, opposed to following a strict and thorough training plan. I was a little concerned whether or not I would even be able to finish the race at all. During a weekend camping trip at Devil's Lake State Park, I went out for a run and a tweeked my right calf. After taking the remainder of the weekend off from any form of exercise with hopes of it healing itself, I tried running. I was able to finish two runs, but it was still present. I opted to take the next week and a half completely off from running. I focused on my cycling and swimming. I was leery to whether my calf would heal or not in the limited time I was giving it, but I was willing to try it.


I had to work Friday into Saturday morning before the race and was going on limited sleep. On top of that, it was just me and the three girls, as Sarah was in Chicago all day and night for a bachelorette party. It was a low key day for me personally, as my dad wanted to take my two oldest to a local splash pad for the afternoon. I got to bed early and had my alarms set for 4:30am. My hope was to get on the road before 5. I was close to my goal and ended up on the road at 5:05am. The drive took about an hour and was my chance to visualize my race and listen to some good music. I got to the race right around 6, which left me more than enough time to set up my transition area. The RMC Triathlon does not have designated transition areas, which allows you to choose any area you wish. Since I got there early enough, I was able to get a spot on the end of the row. This is a prime location as you do not have to worry about getting caught up in the crowded aisles.  This also means there is less distance you need to run to get your gear. After getting my transition area all set up, I got into the water and did a good, thorough warm up in the lake.

Nutrition Plan

This is now my second straight year of focusing on short course triathlon racing. With the two years of focused attention, I feel very comfortable racing at high intensities with limited to no nutritional assistance, before or during the race. On my ride to Ripon, I drank a cup of fresh brewed coffee. After my transition area was set up and I was ready to race, I took two Hammer Nutrition Anti-Fatigue Caps about 60 minutes before the start of the race.


500m Swim (7:34)

The race started about 10-15 minutes after the Olympic distance race started. The first wave of the sprint triathlon consisted of males under 40 years old. The swim start was a mass beach start in about 1' of water. The water depth dropped off in a hurry. Within about 10 feet of the shoreline the water was at least 4' deep. My start was basically one large dive into the water and then right into my stroke. I initially had to fight a for positioning with one or two other guys. I was getting a little frustrated with one guy who was on my left and was struggling to swim a straight line. So no matter how often I would attempt to reposition my self along a new line, we would run into each other. I held up for a split second to let him get ahead of me and then passed him on his right as it seemed he was always pulling to his left. Once I did this, it was pretty much smooth water ahead of me. I ended up being the third one out of the water.

T1 (0:41)

Why yes, it does appear I have a mullet.

The transition area was very close to the beach, which allowed for a quick T1. I had no issues with taking my wet suit off and since I was the third one out of the water, I have virtually the entire transition area all to myself. After getting changed over and ready for the bike, I was out of the transition area. I made one mistake during my T1 and it was actually a mistake from my preparations that came to light during my T1. I forgot to preset my crank arms to my desired angles. Normally I have my right pedal in the forward position so I can swing my right leg over the cross bar and clip right into the right pedal. My crank arms were all backwards, so, after swinging my right leg over the cross bar, I had to take a few seconds to readjust my crank arms, then clip in. In all reality, it probably only added a second or two, but it sure did feel like forever I was sitting there trying to just get clipped in.

15 Mile Bike (40:48)

Once on the bike course, I saw two others ahead of me. They weren't too far ahead of me, maybe a quarter mile and a half mile respectively. I immediately began to hammer with the idea of passing them as soon as possible. After the first mile or so, there was a deceptively challenging climb. My heart rate soared and my legs began to burn. I immediately began to question my tactics of trying to pass the two dudes ahead of me. I made the decision to just settle into an aggressive, but maintainable pace and just pass the others as the opportunity arises. I told myself that even if I don't catch them, I know I am a strong runner and would more than likely pass them on the run course.

I ended up passing them both around the 3-4 mile mark of the bike course. At this point I was leading the race. I then began to rethink my strategy for the remainder of the bike course as I had over 10 miles to go. I figured I had two options, I could throw the hammer down and build as much cushion as possible and hope I don't fade on the run. My other option is to realize that I had no positions to gain by hammering hard and just ride fast enough to not get passed, then to rely on my run legs to hold off others on the run course. I opted for my first choice; to ride as hard and build the largest lead possible and hope I can hang on during the run with what ever may come my way.

I was riding strong and felt good throughout the race. All of a sudden around mile 13-14, a guy I didn't recall passing flew by me on his bike. I down shifted and my cadence dropped, with hopes of at least keeping up with him. Even though I was redlining at this time, I couldn't even keep him in sights. I ended up coming in with the second fasted bike split of the day, but it didn't even compare to the other guys split of 37:12!

T2 (0:21)

Coming into T2, I was very confident I would be able to run down the guy that was currently in the lead. I had the second fastest T2 in the race. I feel very confident in my ability to transition from the bike to the run. Coming out of T2, I needed something to drink. I have been opting to forgo any fuel/hydration during the bike portion of the race. The weather on race day was hot with limited wind. I became very thirsty on the bike and had to get something to drink. I took a few seconds to stop and get some liquids in my system, I figured that no matter how long it took to stop and get some liquids in me, I would have been worse off not stopping.

3.1 Mile Run (20:32)

Remembering from last year, the run course was extremely challenging. At least the first half mile or more is straight up hill. After climbing, you come back down, just go back up hill for the next quarter mile or so until the turn around point, just to do it all over again. Once I started my run leg, I tried to the distance between me and the leader manageable and I was going to try and make my move on the first downhill. As I was climbing the first hill, I was passed by one of the guys I initially passed on the bike leg. He looked fresh and fast. He just looked more comfortable than I was feeling, as I was breathing hard and my legs felt heavy. It was at this point that I felt like winning was not going to be an option. I tried to keep a positive mindset in case the two of them faded after the turn around due to the hills. After climbing the first hill I eased into a more relaxed pace to gather myself and hopefully have a strong kick during the second half when the other two would hopefully slow down. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I just couldn't catch them. I was the third one to cross the finish line and could tell just by the way I felt, that I gave it my all. I was gassed.

Post Race

After the race, I congratulated the other two finishers that finished ahead of me. It turns out that the guy that passed me in the late stages of the bike was in the second wave, meaning I had about a 2 minute head start on him. That completely explains why he was able to just blow by me that late in the bike leg. Even though he was the second one to cross the finish line, he ended up winning the race overall, again due to the 2 minute discrepancy in waves.

I ended up finishing in 1:09:57, 3rd overall, and 1st in my age group. Even though I came in 3rd and didn't win the race, I was extremely happy with my race time. I improved my swim time, my T1, my average bike speed, and my T2. My run leg was barely slower than last year.

What's on Tap

To keep on track with my goal of completing at least one race each month, I have a 6 day turnaround to my next race. I am racing the Green Bay Packers 5k on Saturday, August 1st at 6:30pm. After getting home from the race we got all packed up and headed out of town for a short family vacation to Wisconsin Dells. It was a nice relaxing vacation and I was able to get out for a couple shorter runs just to stay fresh for the upcoming race.

On the Friday before the race, I found out that I was awarded a spot on Team USA for the upcoming ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships. I was full with mixed emotions upon receiving this email. First I was thrilled for the opportunity as it was the culmination of all my hard work throughout last year leading up to the Age Group Sprint National Championships. On the other hand, I was looking at a minimum of $1,000 of unplanned money to spend on a single night stay in Chicago and race fees. Upon making it public knowledge that I was offered this opportunity by would likely turn it down, I received many offers to assist in paying for the trip. I also received encouragement to ask for donations or do some fundraising. First, I just can't ask or accept money from friends and family for this opportunity when I can "technically" afford it. It would just be such a big hit to our family finances, that I am having a difficult time justifying it. It is also a very short notice, with the race taking place in about 6 weeks. Had I earned the spot outright, immediately following last years National Championships, I probably would have been able to saved the finances and better planned for the $1,000 commitment. Currently I am asking around for corporate sponsorships from local businesses to assist with the financial responsibility of representing Team USA in the ITU World Championships. As of writing this, I have not received any sponsorship money and doubt I will, meaning I will have to regrettably turn down the opportunity to race for Team USA this September.

As always, thanks for reading and keep on keepin' on!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Delaney Turns 4

I am almost positive I say it every year, with every birthday, but I can't believe Delaney is already 4.  This year is a special birthday for me.  It is the first year that I am off of work, not only on her birthday, but the days before and after it.  Normally, I am stuck working Country USA, which always falls on her birthday.  I have always felt guilty working on her birthday, but never more will I have to work out at Country USA.  In fact, Delaney was even born during the festival, which pulled me away from the festival that night.  Delaney is the most selfless, caring, and passionate little girls I know.  She is a spunky, quirky, and energetic kid, who simply loves the art of music, dance, and acting.  It never ceases to amaze me how many songs this kid knows all the words to and how she can act out entire scenes from movies with ease.  She is truly one of a kind!
  1. FAVORITE COLOR?  Purple 
  2. FAVORITE TOY?  Ellie the Elephant  
  3. FAVORITE CHARACTER?  Anna & Elsa 
  4. FAVORITE SUPERHERO?  Batman Girl 
  5. FAVORITE FRUIT?  Blueberries 
  6. FAVORITE VEGETABLE?  Broccoli with dip  
  7. FAVORITE BREAKFAST?  Eggs sandwich
  8. FAVORITE CEREAL?  The squares (Golden Grahams)
  9. FAVORITE LUNCH?  Turkey sandwiches  
  10. FAVORITE DINNER?  Breakfast for dinner
  11. FAVORITE DRINK?  Juice  
  12. FAVORITE SNACK?  Cheese crackers
  13. FAVORITE DESSERT?  Cake with strawberries and cream (Strawberry Shortcake)
  15. FAVORITE TV SHOW?  Frozen
  16. FAVORITE MOVIE?  Lion King 
  18. FAVORITE SONG?  Forever in a Moment by Rome da Luce
  19. FAVORITE SINGER/BAND?  Taylor Swift
  20. FAVORITE BOOKS?  Disney book 
  21. FAVORITE BOOK SERIES?  Pout Pout Fish Books 
  22. FAVORITE OUTFIT?  New jeans and my super hero shirt
  23. FAVORITE GAME?  Sneaky Snacky Squirrel
  24. FAVORITE SPORT?  My T-Ball
  26. FAVORITE PLACE TO GO?  Camping
  27. FAVORITE THINGS TO DO?  Play with Kona
  28. FAVORITE SUBJECT?  Animals  
  29. FAVORITE STUFFED ANIMAL?  Ellie the Elephant 
  30. FAVORITE DAY OF THE WEEK?  When it rains, because we step in puddles
  31. FAVORITE MONTH?  Wednesday
  32. FAVORITE SEASON?  Winter
  33. FAVORITE HOLIDAY?  Halloween
  34. FAVORITE THING MOMMY DOES?  Play with me
  36. FAVORITE VACATION?  Going to the cottage
  37. FAVORITE MEMORY? Going Camping 
  40. WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?  When you hug me...and Ellie the Elephant 
  41. WHAT SCARES YOU?  A big spider
  42. WHAT MAKES YOU SAD?  When you go off to work
  43. WHAT DO YOU WISH FOR?  Guinea Pigs
  48. DISLIKES?  Carrots

Monday, June 15, 2015

Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

I last raced the Elkhart Lake Triathlon in 2013 in preparations for Ironman Wisconsin.  It quickly became on of my favorite triathlons and it was easy to figure out way.  The race venue is damn near perfect.  The race is very well run and organized.  It has a large number of volunteers who know what they are doing.  Finally, it draws a good number of participants from top end to novices, so no matter your experience level there will be some sort of competition, if you are looking for it.  This year has been an interesting year to say the least.  It started out with me making a half-assed goal of doing at least one race each month of the year.  At first, it sounded very doable and easy.  Then came March and April, when I began applying for a new job, which I ended up accepting and starting in May.  This threw a total wrench into my plan.  Honestly, it's most likely my type-A personality which is to blame for my stubbornness and inability to give up on a goal - even when the circumstances say the better idea is just to bag it until my schedule is more apt to allow a race every month.  But, none-the-less, here we are, 6 months into my goal, and I registered for the Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon for my 7th race of the year.  The race date was a scheduled off day for me, but I ended up getting scheduled to work a music festival in our city from 5:00pm-3:30am the evening after the race.  In and of itself, that isn't terrible.  Honestly, it was the month or so leading up to the race, which made the decision to race on this Saturday a questionable one.  I was on Field Training for the past month working nearly every day with minimal time off.  When I did have time off, it was spent cramming in other family events that we had scheduled before I accepted the new position.  So, to say I have devoted ample time for my family would be an understatement.  But, like I said, because of my inability to let go of a goal, I registered for the race and sacrificed some much needed family time.

Training for This Race

To say I had been training for this race would be a flat out lie.  To be honest, I don't think I have actually "trained" for any race since the Whistle Stop Marathon last fall.  I have been just winging it.  Basically, I would plan out my training about 2-4 days out based on time available and how I feel and what I actually feel like doing.  It has been difficult to actual sit down and plan out even a month with the unknown of a new job.  On top of the new schedule and the uncertainty of the new position, my off time has been crammed full of family adventures, which have included trips to La Crosse, Point Beach, and a Brewer game.  I have been keeping my weekly running mileage up in the 25-35 mile range since the Neenah Duathlon back in the beginning of May.  My cycling mileage has increased quite a bit since the weather has finally warmed up to a comfortable level to get out early in the mornings without freezing my ass off.  As for my swimming, I think I could count on one hand how many times I have been in the pool since April.  I have been in the pool 3 times total since May 1st and only 9 times since April first.  So in a nutshell, I have been staying active, but to say I have been actually training, like I said, would be one big fat lie.


One of my single gripes about some races, is the requirement of picking up race packets and bibs the day/night before.  I understand why it's done, but I still find it to be an inconvenience to sacrifice more time just to go and pick up a bib.  But, it was something I had to do, so on Friday evening Delaney and myself made the short trek to The Osthoff Resort for the race expo and packet pick up.  The expo itself is small and simple.  Packet pickup is well organized and goes quick.  We were in and out in under 10 minutes.  That night I made one of my favorite prerace meals of butternut squash with brussels sprouts fried up with some diced up chicken breasts.  I was in bed and sleeping shortly before 10pm.

I had set me alarm for 4:30am with hopes of getting on the road around 5:00 as the drive to Elkhart Lake was around 50 minutes.  Prior to leaving I tested my heart rate variability or HRV which is a great test for stress on your adrenal system.  The higher the HRV the more recovered you theoretically are.  My HRV this morning was over 100.  Typically, the range for HRV is 1-100.  On average an HRV for a typical day would be 75-85.  After testing and getting ready, I wound up leaving shortly after 5:15 and got into Elkhart Lake around 6:10.  I honestly don't remember if we had assigned bike rack locations in 2013 or not, but this year we had assigned sections for transition.  I like this concept a lot.  Basically they would assign a few bike racks for bib numbers.  So I found the rack section for 750-800 and found a nice spot to set up shop next to the edge of the rack.  It doesn't take me long to set up my transition area, as I subscribe to the idea of less is more.  It probably took me a total of 5 minutes to fully set up and organize my transition area, then I just wanted to get my wetsuit on as it was kind of chilly and damp.

The temperature that morning was around 50-55 degrees with a light misty-fog that was just lingering around.  It was breezy which didn't help matters either.  All I wanted to do was get my wetsuit on to help stay warm.  After getting my wetsuit on I walked down to the beach to get into the water to get acclimated to the water temperatures and start a swimming warm up.  It was roughly 6:30 and I still had about 45 minutes until the start of the race.  The reported water temperature was 67 degrees, over 10 degrees warmer than the air.  I walked in and started to swim.  The water was cool, but comfortable.  I honestly was a little afraid to get out as the air temperatures were so chilly.  So I just stayed in the water and kept moving for about a half hour.

The water conditions in Elkhart Lake are damn near perfect.  The lake is spring fed and is always around 55-70 degrees.  The water is crystal clear and you can see the bottom even in 5-7' deep water.  I saw several small fish swimming near the bottom of the lake while I was warming up.  The swim start is slightly different from most triathlons I participate in.  The race starts with a time trial start, meaning each individual participant starts by themselves in small 3-5 second increments.  

Nutrition Plan

With my finishing time goal being around an hour, my nutrition plan was to not take in any calories until after the race was done.  On the drive down to Elkhart Lake, I drank my usual tall travel mug of dark coffee.  About an hour out from race time I took 2 caps of Hammer Anti-Fatigue Caps and 2 caps of Hammer Endurolytes.  During the race, I had no water on the bike and had no intentions of slowing for water on the run.  I also ate no breakfast or took in any calories before the start of the race as I knew I would have ample fuel on board from last nights dinner and had no need to "top off" my fuel stores.


400m Swim (5:40)

My strategy for the swim was to start out harder than goal pace and after the first 100-150m settle into a challenging pace for the final 300m or so.  As you can see I totally forgot to start my Garmin at the start of the race.  I guess I just got caught up in the atmosphere of the time trial start and the only thing on my mind was gaining ground and coming out of the water ahead of as many people possible.  As I came out of the water, I won't lie, I was kind of dizzy, I'm really not sure why.  The best I can explain is it was like I had my "sea legs" after coming off the lake.

T1 (1:48)

We had quite the long run to get into the transition area after swimming.  Based on my Garmin data it was about a quarter mile.  Taking that into consideration, I would expect a longer T1, but honestly, not as long as I ended up with.  After getting to my transition area, I was still struggling to get off my wetsuit.  At first I was struggling to get it off over my Garmin, then it was my right foot.  Finally I wasted time trying to get it off my left foot.  I felt as though I got more and more frustrated as I continued to struggle just to take off my wetsuit.  As soon as it was off, I was golden.  I finished getting ready for the bike and was out.

12.4 Mile Bike (34:13)

As soon as I got clipped in, I began to hammer down.  My mindset on the bike was to leave it all on the bike course.  I knew I am a strong running and would be able to put together a solid run even if I ride hard all 12 miles.  One thing I forgot to take into consideration, was how hilly the course was.  None of the hills were overly challenging, but the entire course was rolling hills.  There really was never a flat section.  One benefit from having a time trial start, was the consistent flow of people.  There was never really a pack of athletes.  I thrived on this.  There was constantly  some one ahead of me to focus on.  As soon as I passed one person, there was someone else ahead to be passed.  It kept me focused on a single task opposed to focusing on the wind or the hills.  One thing that I still am surprised with is the fact that my bike split was the fastest time of the entire race.  Cycling was never my strength, but somehow, on this day, my bike leg was clearly the reason I won the race.

T2 (1:04)

I don't know what it is about the bike to run transition, but I have become very efficient at this transition.  I had the second fastest transition time of the race.  When I first got into the transition area, the very first thing I noticed was the lack of bikes in transition...and that's a good thing.  It was at this exact moment I stated thinking about putting together a strong finish for a high placing.  Personally, I take pride in my transitions and practice them.  In my eyes, it's free time.  You do not need to be a freak of nature or metabolically efficient to be good at transitions.  You just need to be calm and efficient.  Keep things simple and know what you need and what you don't need.

3.1 Mile Run (19:24)

Coming off the bike, all I wanted to do was get into a comfortable groove and just maintain it.  I started out coming out of transition at a high turnover rate.  I took note of another guy in front of me about a half mile ahead or so.  I started to focus in on him and made it a goal to pass him as soon as possible.  After the first half mile or so, I started to settle into a more manageable pace for the remainder of the 5k.  After passing the first guy I saw another athlete further ahead and at this point I was already over a mile into the race and wasn't sure if I'd be able to catch up to him before the end.  But I knew I was going to try.  The run course was one of the hardest 5k courses I have ever run, even including open 5k's.  The first mile or so is at a very slight incline, then you make a left hand turn and you are stuck running almost straight up hill for the next mile or so.  This hill made it extremely difficult to catch up to the guy ahead of me.  I remained focused on my form and breathing.  I especially concentrated on my foot striking and made sure to maintain a high leg turnover rate, all while listening to my breathing, making sure to take deep breaths from my stomach.  The last mile of the race was the fastest, as it was mostly downhill.  I put the hammer down at around the 1k mark and tried my hardest to pass the guy that was ahead of me since the first mile.  I ended up coming pretty damn close, but never officially passed him.  I ended up finishing with a final time of 1:02:11 and I knew I had run a great race.

Post Race

After the race it started to mist ever slightly and I started to get cold.  I grabbed a couple bagel quarters and a bottled water after the race to refuel with and began wondering around aimlessly to kill time.  Knowing that I had to work that night at 5pm, I wanted to get home as soon as possible, but knowing I had at least placed in my age group, I wanted to stick around for the awards ceremony.  It was roughly 8:30 at this point and according to the race's web site the awards ceremony wasn't scheduled to begin until 10:00.  So, I had some time to kill.  I decided I would at least clean up my gear and load up the car, so I would be able to hit the road as soon as the awards ceremony had concluded.  As I was waiting to take my bike out of transition, another racer approached me, he was the first guy I had passed out on the run course.  He came over to congratulate me on the race and we began chatting.  He was an older dude who focused a lot of his efforts on his bike.  He was telling me how he just finished racing an 8 stage race in California.  It sounded really neat, maybe a bucket list item for further down the road???  After grabbing my free sandwich from the concession stand and loading up my car, I hung around the awards tent until the official results were posted.  As soon as they were posted, I weaseled my way up to the board to check the results.  I won the whole damn race.  It took a few seconds for it to actually sink in.  But I checked again, and I had won, I took first place overall.  I finished with an official time of 1:02:11 and the second place male finished in 1:02:27, just 16 seconds behind me.  I was thrilled, but it sucked, as I had no one to share the joy with.  I immediately called Sarah to tell her the news.  I wanted to put my time into perspective, so I quickly checked the race results from 2013, the last time I did this race.  In that race, I finished 6th overall with a time of 1:05:29.  I improved my time by over 3 minutes.  I took over a full minute off my bike split and ran about the same run split, my swim time improved as did my transitions.  A short while later the awards ceremony began and the overall winners were announced first.  I received a very nice etched glass/crystal trophy and had my photo taken on the top podium.  It was a great feeling.  To me, this was my best race to date.  I know the Ripon Medical Center Triathlon overall win had a larger margin of victory, but this race had a competitive field and has always drawn some fast racers.  After receiving my award, I felt terribly guilty leaving immediately to so I could get home and get to work.  I felt like a guy who was selfish and didn't give a crap about the other racers.  I wish I could have stuck around for the rest of the awards presentations, but I just couldn't.

What's on Tap

It's hard to describe the feeling you are left with after winning a race outright.  You feel unstoppable, motivated, and inspired.  Part of you feels like you deserve a day off with celebrating, while the other side of you says, "hell no, get your ass back out there and pound some pavement!"  You immediately start dreaming of future races and what the future holds.  It's contagious, this sport.  I guess that's why I love the sport of endurance racing.  It's a constant battle and the only thing holding you back is yourself.  Sure, their are other people out on the course racing, but no matter what your skill level is those other people motivate you.  They inspire you.  You see people who are better than you.  You see people who are first timers who are racing with a smile on their face because they are accomplishing something they never thought possible.  It's a great sport.  For me, other people on the course are a threat, they are my competition, even if they don't view themselves in that light, that is what I make them out to be.  Other people see others out on the course as company.  It's a party, like one large group training ride/run.  But in the end, regardless of your finish time, you are only racing against yourself.  You can never control who else will be racing the event or how many people are racing.  You control the one thing you can control...yourself.  You do the best you can do on that day in the given conditions and you can only look inward and ask yourself, "did I do my best?"  If you can answer, "hell yea!" Then and only then can you say that you had a successful race.

As always, thanks for reading!
Be fast, be strong, and carry on!