Lake Zurich Triathlon Race Report

A few weeks ago I finally got to race my first triathlon of this year! After seeing a bunch of my teammates at the Chicago ITU race a few weeks before, I was itching to race. That night, I signed up for the Lake Zurich Triathlon, a nearby triathlon. I didn't know how I was going to get there, just simply that I was going to race. Getting to the race was no easy task. My plan was to take the train to my aunt's house, sleep over there, borrow her car the next morning and drive to the race, then drive back to her house, and take the train back home. Turns out I chose the ONE weekend of the year that you can't take bikes on the train (due to the Taste of Chicago)... After lugging all my tri gear to the train station with me (and managing to not crash on my bike there) I was crushed when the conductor told me I couldn't board. After pleading my case for the next 15 minutes, he decided to break the rules and be a decent guy and let me on. Thanks conductor--you're awesome.

The rest was pretty simple--except that they didn't have my registration when I got to the race site that morning. Turns out I had just signed up late but there were no issues with me racing.

The water temperature was awesome; wetsuit legal but not too cold. I wore my Wattie Ink exclusive BlueSeventy wetsuit and got off well with the age group pack I was in. My swim was feeling strong but, as has happened in many races before (only is open-water, wetsuit races), my left shoulder started aching. I don't know how to describe the feeling except that it felt like there were only so many strokes I could take in a row, or only so much power I could put behind the stroke before I had to give that arm a second of rest. I gave my shoulders a ton of warming up before the race in fear of this, but it still happened. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it!

I came out of the water in a time I was pleased with given the circumstance. My bike was ready to go, but after scratching the visor on my helmet, I had opted to remove it and race with sun glasses instead. My Rudy Project glasses look sick anyway, so it was a good move.

Screenshot 2014-08-03 18.41.34

H/T teammate Cate Demet for this image (these are her glasses and picture but I have the same pair)! Image source: Rudy Project

The bike was a 2 loop rolling course so you had the benefit of learning the course during the first lap and attacking more aggressively on the second lap. The course had enough hills that it was fun but not so many that you couldn't still go consistently fast. I was caught by a few of the strong older guys, but spent of the time passing earlier waves.

I much preferred riding without the visor on my helmet as I could see a lot clearer and didn't have to worry about to the visor fogging up, especially early on during the bike. Nor did I have to worry when trying to wipe away any sweat or water that would collect on the visor.

I decided to really push hard on the bike and had one of my fastest bike splits to date on an olympic course. This left me more tired for the run, respectively, but I still felt good. It was my first run of that distance in a while--my training as of late has been much more focused on short intervals and tempo work, so I was happy to be able to keep the pace I did.

The run was 2 laps as well. On the first lap I felt strong, but knew I would be hurting by the end (but that's supposed to be the case!) I started running alongside a guy in an older age group and paced with him for most of the race. He actually was passing me and I wasn't going to let that happen, so I filed in immediately behind him and basically drafted off him. Whether drafting during a run is mental or there really is some benefit, it seemed to work! At one point I ran up next to him said "Just to let you know, I'm not trying to be a dick, just trying to keep up!" His response was something like "Fuck you kid, you're 20 years younger than me!"  To which I just gave a grin... While there was nothing memorable about the run course, I would rate it as "difficult". It was all pavement and only partially shaded with small rolling hills.

I finished with a time I was happy with! I placed 3rd in my age group and in the top 10% overall. It felt really, really good to medal in my first race in 7 months. I'd really like to figure out this shoulder issue and see how well I could do in the swim if I could really give it my all.


2014-07-13 14.34.20

A fun start to the season and I'm looking forward to a few more races I have planed for this year! Let me know if anyone has insight on my shoulder issue!

- Rock the W -


Crystal River Sprint Triathlon... and tubing!

Since this was just a sprint and I have a lot of pictures, I am going to spare you the narrative and just post a lot of pictures

Saturday was the first of a 3 part sprint Triathlon series in Crystal River.  This was a 400m bay swim, 15 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

Sprints hurt.

The swim was a running start from the beach.  Luckily there aren’t really any waves so I was able to work on entry and dolphining from a running start.  Not my best swim ever, but finished ahead of enough people to feel ok about it. I still know that I need a ton of work here, so I’m just going to keep grinding.

In T1 I opted, for the first time to go sockless since I felt it would be a good idea to figure out how I felt about this and my transitions need work as is.

The bike was fast and flat--a straight out and back.  Due to where I was, the course wasn’t too crowded so it was easy enough to pass people and also avoid any drafting.  This is good because while “drafting” can give that slight advantage, it does nothing to help develop my power systems. It was frustrating to see packs of riders coming at me in the other direction as I made my way on the back half of the course.

I finished the bike with and average pace of about 22.5 mph.  Threw on my shoes and bolted out on the run.  3 miles is no joke.  I set my Garmin to Heart Rate and just ran as hard as I could so that I couldn’t look at my pace. After pushing hard on the bike and pushing hard on the run, I was definitely feeling it (it was awesome!)

I kept thinking to myself, I do half Ironman’s??  How do I possibly do those runs?? But these are completely different types of runs. It tells me that I need to better develop the capacity of my heart muscle to allow me to go harder.

My pace for the run was 6:11 min/mile.  Pretty happy with that and 10th overall run.

Overall I came in 32/275 and 2nd in my age group.  The guy who beat me was pretty good, but did get a drafting penalty... No I shook his hand, the picture just caught me at an awkward time lol

Here’s the group we brought from XpMultisport--all the victorious finishers!

After the race we drove up to Rainbow River and spent the afternoon tubing down it in our Walmart Innertubes. The water was perfect and it was a blast.  And rope swings?  Hell. Yeah.

We also began swimming in the long course pool this week. One practice in and I really like it.  I think this is going to really help my stroke. Right coach?

This Sunday I am racing the Long Course Duathlon National Championships in Cambridge, MD. I fly out Friday morning and am really stoked but really nervous/exited to race. We will see what this race holds and who shows up.

Alls I know, when I toe that start line, I’m going to be ready to go and balling to win.

Rock the W

So I looked at my buddy and said...

“...I’ll bail if you bail?”  We both gave a fake laugh, and both knew it. There was a shared feeling of “F that, it’s time to throw down.”

We were waiting at the start line of Gasparilla Half Marathon in the dark with a light mist and wild winds.  It was 5:50AM and had been mid 80s the day before, but about 45 minutes before the race started, a mini monsoon rolled through Tampa and let down a 10 minute torrential downpour bringing 60 degree temperatures and gusty winds.

I needed this race.  I needed to know where I stood in terms of my training, my readiness for my half ironman in 3 weeks and for the Boston Marathon in about 6 weeks. I needed to mentally know that I could still overcome feelings of not wanting to run and vicious cycle of sleeping all weekend.

The gun sounded and we were off.  It was very windy. The first 3 miles were good, running with a neutral wind onto Davis Island, my usual short bike ride route, but the back side of the Island was right into the wind until about mile 5.  From there, it was a straight, probably 4.5 miles, directly down Bayshore.  Then turnaround and straight shot to the finish. There was a lot more into the wind on the backside though, which I was not expecting.

I pushed this race pretty hard and could always tell when I hit wind when I looked at my watch and realized I was about 10 seconds off my goal pace.  I had been running with a guy for about 6 miles, but as we hit the backside, he started to drop off and I to commit to maintaining pace on my own.  When it came down to the final mile, I was kicking as hard as I could. Always fun when you realize you have farther to go than you think... which is probably good because it forced me to hold that pace for longer.  I didn’t gel during this race- didn’t need to- but nor did I have any water or Gatorade at any aid station... I was too focused on trying to break the goal time we had set for me. This was my first race a Wattie Ink Athlete and was rocking my W tats- but they ended up being covered by the sleeves I ended up wearing lol. I got pictures afterward though.

I would say the "Coach Felipe no-taper taper" worked pretty well.  I was pretty stiff on Saturday but I loosened up by Sunday morning.  Felipe has had me swimming a lot as I mentioned before and I’ve had to put my faith in him, and rightfully so, that his plan would still have me fit to run. It did.

The winners time was about 1:12:00 I think, so I ended up 48th overall of 4,747 and 9th of 282 in my age group. I did a 1:26:57 and was 13.19 miles by my Garmin.

This was not a PR, about 20 seconds slower, but I was very happy with the result and more faith than ever in my coach and myself.  Overall it was a great race and it was fun to see a lot of people I know or seen on blogs, out there running.

So thanks for reading and thanks for inspiring me!

Remember to send any podcast questions soon as we are recording this week!

  1. Do you have a race coming up?
  2. What’s your go to pre-race meal?
  3. Favorite post race meal?

Rock The W

Race of the weekend #1: It's not about the distance...

How many times have I heard, “I’m just doing a short triathlon- its a sprint, not those crazy hard ones that you do!”

I can tell you that the distance of the race shouldn’t matter on how “hard” it is.  If you’re racing easy.... you’re really “racing” are you?  I know there are a lot of events where the joy is just in finishing, I totally get that (not that I’ll ever be able to race like that lol).  But if you’re going to say a sprint triathlon isn’t “hard”, you’re wrong.

This morning I raced my first of 2 triathlons this weekend. Today, Saturday, I did a sprint triathlon, and tomorrow morning I’ll be doing the Olympic.

This was the first sprint tri I’d done in about 2 years!  I’ve been focusing on so many longer races that I didn’t want to “sacrifice” a training day to do the sprint. I look at that in a new light now, since after today’s race, I won’t lie, I was pretty tired- in a "I really just pushed myself" kind of way.

But the difference is in intensity- you have a lot shorter distance to go meaning you can expend the same amount of energy, just in much shorter amount of time.

I finished todays race 14th overall of 127 racers and finished 3rd in my age group. My time was a 1:07 something but the run was only 2.8 miles... HOWEVER- there was at least a .31 mile run from the water to the transition area, so I actually think my overall time is pretty accurate.


My focus on this race was just to smash the entire time and see what I could do!  My swim was... well, I’m still working on it lol. I average about 22 mph on the bike- the course was pretty flat, a little headwind at some points.  I’ll be doing the same course double tomorrow so I’m glad I know it now.

On the run I averaged about 6:20-6:21 min/mile pace and finished with the 2nd run time overall for the day. I knew the run was shorter and that's why I wanted to go harder on the bike since I knew I had less of a chance to pick people off on the run.

All in all a good day!  Now time to hit the sack and be ready for tomorrow!

1) Don’t sell yourself short- there’s no such thing as an “easy” triathlon, so remove that mindset, cool?

All or Nothing

My legs are finally coming back to me.  Oddly enough, I was never super sore after Wildflower? Which actually surprises me since (a) It was a half Ironman! (b) It was the roughest course I’ve ever raced on, and (c) My post race nutrition was not as ideal as it could have been (in terms of timing.) However, what I’ve noticed as working before, was to go stand in the 63 degree lake water for 10-15 minutes and let the water cool my legs with the same effect as an ice bath.  Saying this though, my legs didn’t really have any power this past week.  This led to some shorter runs, a lot of elliptical, a lot of spinning, and actually, no swimming- even though swimming would have been the best thing I could have done.

I talked myself into taking more days off than I wanted to this week though. After being forced to take 2 days off after the race, I did 2 hard days with a mix of shorter running and a lot of cross training.  But then, for some reason I took another 2 days in a row off. Maybe I needed it after the race...maybe I’m a whuss.  However, I committed to myself that this would be a baller weekend and made sure it was.

Saturday was a: 9.2 mile run in 1:02:00, 30 minute bike, 30 minute spin, burpees and core work.

Then Sunday, I planned to go run for the first time in the morning... but when I woke up, it was too late to do the full workout, BUT instead of going back to bed, I went to the gym and had a great 60 minute lift instead!  I came home from this and had some “overnight oats” that I’ve been trying to do for a while.  I still haven’t gotten this perfect, lol, but I’m working on it.

This was a mix of delicious fresh organic strawberries, oats, vanilla protein powder, and 1 cup of Strawberry Banana Honeymilk

I think I should have used a little less liquid (or more oats) and apparently I should be using yogurt too?

I grabbed a quick nap and then headed back to the gym for round 2.  I ALMOST bailed on this....The lift in the morning really took a lot out of me.... standing on the treadmill contemplating.... but I remember all the guys that beat me last week and all the success I want to have this year and just started running.  I said, “get to 2 minutes and see how you feel”, “get to 5 minutes and see how your feel”.  30 minutes later I had run 4.51 miles and then continued it out 5 miles. I then did some cross training and finished with a BRUTAL spin class... On Sunday’s there is an awesome teach who actually knows what she is doing and every workout is very specific with an actual objective.  Then I jumped on the treadmill and ran another 1.8 to work on my bike/run transitions. Finished with some core and I was finallllly headed home.

Home to where my crispy tacos were awaiting me to cook them!

Monday, as sore as my legs were, the weather was gorrrrrgeous.  I actually went out alone on a ride for the first time--haha straight out and back do I wouldn't get lot.  On the ride I saw a circus (?) a woodchuck, and a place to get "the world's best fried chicken".  Got a solid ride in, then bricked a 4.5 mile run with some elliptical.  I took tonight off to let myself “get stronger” (recover) and be ready to get back at it tomorrow!

I also grilled these up earlier this week!

Mother’s Day made me remember something my mom called me out on a while ago.  She told me I am completely all or nothing.  Either I go to the gym and absolutely crush it, or if I’m tired I just skip it completely.  This isn’t a healthy way to live- your life needs balance between hard and easy days and tasks.

If I don’t go all out, I carry the weight of this with me until the next workout and really begins to tax me.  Read this amazing post by Lindsay and how to let go of these mental injuries.  Should everything be so all or nothing?  If I don’t push myself to my limits everyday, have I failed?  No, two-fold: from an exercise standpoint, your body can’t take that every day and if you ask it to do what it doesn’t want to or can’t handle, then you are doing more damage than good.  Pushing your limits is definitely the way to make progress, but one can’t do this everyday.

From the other perspective, what kind of a way to live life is it where everything is either black or white?  Most things aren’t that simple, there is no one answer, and there is no perfect solution.  You’ve go to craft each day as it comes to you and each decision is another chance at success.  I didn’t say “success or failure”, but simply success.  Just because everything was not absolutely perfect does not mean I am any lesser because of it or that the resulting outcome wasn’t still really good if we still deem that it wasn’t perfect.

But who the hell is to tell you or me what perfect is anyway.  Not to sound mushy or anything, but we are all already perfect and everyday are presented with situations to make right choices. Make the right choices--you’ll always be successful.

I’m off to Tampa on Thursday to find a place to live, so if you’re in the area or know anyone down there, hit me up!  There’s also a triathlon down there Saturday morning and I’m reallllly tempted to rent a bike and race it...

  1. How have you been successful this week?
  2. What weekend plans do you have?
  3. Know anything about Tampa?
And I thought this was hysterical:
P.S.  I've got an awesome crispy peanut butter chicken recipe coming tomorrow!  Assuming it works, that is....