Thursday, May 21, 2015

Taking Risks

Since I have raced twice in the past 2 weeks, it is probably time for an update and not just a few pictures.

The Gulf Coast Triathlon has been around for 33 years and I have never competed there.  I have always heard great things and figured it was about time to try out some new races.  This race did not have a Pro field but I figured it would give me a great opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs from the winter of training and work out anything that needs to be adjusted going into Challenge Knoxville.  Gulf Coast treated me like an age grouper and it reminded me of the "pressure free" racing that I experienced all the way back in 2008.  I was in the fifth wave along with every other male aged 30-39.  The gun went off, and I swam through a lot of the field during the 1.2 mile swim.  I had to sight a lot, but that still didn't prevent me from swimming like a snake.  My first few open water swims of the year are always anything but a straight line.  I came out of the water, ripped my wetsuit trying to take it off, and jumped on my bike.

Here is where the big difference comes in pro racing.  With this race not having a pro field, I was able to take a few extra seconds to hop on my bike, put my feet in my bike shoes, and settle into 70.3 bike pace.  I started a little on the low side then built from there.  I passed all but two people during the bike leg.  Here is my Training Peaks file from  GCT Bike   It was very even paced and very few spikes.  With it being a flat course there were very few power surges as well.

I came off the bike in third overall (other two guys were in earlier waves), passed Bruce Gennari in T2, and went running after the next guy.  I didn't catch him until about the 4 mile mark but he did have a 10 minutes head start.  The amazing thing was he was 57 years old!!!! Crazy fast.
The rest of the run I spent trying not to let my quads cramp up and not get over heated.  I walked quite a few times during the second half of the run and kept looking back thinking that I had someone running me down.  I did, but he ran out of real estate.  (pun intended).  I crossed the line in 4:08 something.  My fastest 70.3 since 2011.  The bike was 1 mile short but I was happy with the result, and happy to win a race with such history.  Slowtwitch even had a little write up on the race which was unexpected.

Casey and I were able to spend the rest of the day on the beach and have a relaxing weekend.   PCB wouldn't be my top beach to visit, but it was nice being at the beach for an extended weekend.

The very next weekend, I traveled to Challenge Knoxville to compete against 60+ other Pro's.  Big difference from the previous weekend when I only recognized names on the start list that were from Middle Tennessee.  With Knoxville only being a few hours away, we drove over Saturday morning, attended the pro meeting, caught up with some buddies that I haven't raced/seen in a long time, and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.  Casey and I were lucky enough to have an awesome homestay (Thanks Muna!!) that was close to town and took the pressure off of us trying to find a hotel on such a busy weekend.

One thing that I'm very strict about is my pre race breakfast.  For the past 2 years, I find something that settles easily and has about 400-600 calories depending on the race.  And something that has some caffeine.  Eboost gives me my caffeine fix with one of their 4 oz shots, and the new Generation UCAN bar settles super fast and keep me full.  I also had a Picky bar for the first time and it was amazing.  And of course I took my 2 pills of Vector450.  Also sponsors Matt Hanson, winner if IM Texas.  Must be something to this stuff ;)

Race morning was cool, but nothing like last year.  I got everything ready and walked to the start.  At 6:50, we were off.  I started right next to my boy Kevin Ryan, and drafted off of him for all of 20 yards. But I did have clear water for the first 200-400 yards which is how I like it, then I came over a little, found some feet, and stayed there for the rest of the swim.  It's nice to swim in a pack and recognize the guys next to you in the water.  I was right where I needed to be for the swim.  About 6 of us came out of the water in just over 27 minutes and transitioned quickly to the bike.  We ended up on the wrong side of the cones for the first mile of the bike, which led us to being on the wrong side of a barrier so we had to turn around and get back on course.  We ended up behind about 5-8 guys that we had out swam by at least 1 minute, and also the top 2-3 girls.  Ugh!!!!  I worked hard for the next 4-5 miles to get past them and just stayed focused on not crashing in the rain soaked, pot hole filled roads of close-to-downtown Knoxville.
Finisher's Medal!!

Here is where my power on the bike was jumping from 500+ to 0 because of the surges of the guys around me, the steep uphills, and the steep down hills.  The first 15 miles my NP was 310.  I was not prepared to do this, but I did not come to this race just to sit on my bike and watch my power meter to make sure I was "pacing" myself.  I came to race, and if I had to walk the 13.1 miles, then I was going to do it as long as I kept these guys close on the bike.  The pace stayed hot from 15-30 miles as my NP was still in the upper 290's.  We settled down a little from 30-40 miles, but then the last 14-16 miles were hairy because we got back onto the Olympic distance bike course where there were hundreds of triathletes still competing.  Imagine trying to pass 10-15 age groupers every minute, while keeping your competitors close, and avoiding the bad sections of the road.  Our pace dropped significantly here as we were just trying to get back to T2 safely.  Here is the power file. We witnessed several crashes and several others almost crash.  A group of about 8 of us all came into T2 together.  I had a great transition and ran out to have my brother tell me I was in 5th position.  I was third out of our group meaning there were only 2 up the road.  I knew something must have happened to one of the guys up the road because at the last 180 degree turn on the bike, there were 3 guys leading the way.
Ryan and I sporting the Tri4Him uni's.
Old Roomies taking 2 of the top 10 spots

I settled into pace and passed Thomas Gerlach early.  AJ Baucco ran past me about about the 1 mile mark and I picked up the pace to run with him.  We ran together for a few miles before he slowed a little.  I passed Kevin Ryan around mile 5 or so and he told me I was in 3rd.  I couldn't believe it but didn't want to think about it right then.  I held my pace but then Thomas and Justin Metzler ran past me about mile 6 like I was standing still.  I kept them close until about mile 9, but managed to hold my 5th position all the way to the finish.  I finished in 4:07 something which was amazing considering the run course was much harder than last weekend, and I rode 2 miles longer than last weekend.

These results wouldn't have been possible without Casey there by my side at the race and throughout the winter during my "rough" patches. My family and also my Tri4Him team and their continued support.  I love representing our team every where I go.  It's a great conversation starter before/after the race (kind of hard during the race) and I've had several people contact me after the race to give them a little more info about our team.  The Lord has blessed me with the ability to go fast and to suffer and I try to put those to use in His name.  Without Him, none of this is possible!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Second half of January

One of my many trainer workouts this winter. this one was 3x10 min @ 315-320 watts.
Drake enjoying one of our favorite shows with us.
Ben's cake for his visit to Nash during his bday

discovering that he does enjoy some wind in his face.
and some more...

he's a little tired after covering about 12-13 miles of hiking in Gatlinburg.
About 1.5 hours up the mountain.
first snowfall in Nash for 2015.

One amazing steakhouse. 

Just a little snow on the mountain.
About 2.5 hours up the mountain. 

My usual outfit for the bike.
View from the top.
Drake and his 2 yr old twin.

Gatlinburg in January.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Something New

Let's try something new for 2015.  Apparently I'm terrible at keeping up with blogs.  An update on the past few months: got injured, took month off, slowly getting back into shape.  Fitness is ok right now.

Here is a pic blog for the first 2 weeks of 2015.

New Year's use of the Selfie Stick.  Unfortunately it fell from my pocket that night so I no longer own it :(
Lady Antebellum concert for New Year's 2015 on Broadway.
Drake chasing a moth makes for hilarious pictures.
Still chasing that moth.
Just something that made me laugh before a swim one day.

Eric Church concert on the last night in my twenties 

And running into an old college buddy at that concert.
And here's the proof.

Drake right after his first 5 mile run. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Steelhead 70.3

What do you do on a Saturday morning when you wake up WAY too early and can't go back to sleep? Why catch up on you overdue blogging of course  ;)

This past weekend was the annual Steelhead 70.3 and the last year of this race having prize money.  It is a great race and one of my favorite little towns to visit.  The Benton Harbor / St. Joseph, MI area is beautiful this time of year and the weather is almost always great.  This year was probably the warmest it has ever been for this race and it was still 59 degrees race morning.  Now it  did get up in the high 70's to low 80's, but living in TN, that didn't seem that bad, especially with the humidity being low.
Shot of the swim start. 

I was flying solo this weekend as Casey had to work.  I drove up on Friday and it took me roughly 7.5 hours to get there.  I only had to pass through about 12 different construction zones.  When I drive that far alone, I make sure to be prepared and prepared I was.  I listened to my favorite Podcast right now which is ESPN's Fantasy Focus with Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz.  Each show is about an hour and I had 4 episodes to catch up on.  I mean, it is my favorite time of the year with my fantasy football draft coming up soon and the NFL starting in less than a month.  Also listened to some Spanish along with a few church services that I've missed this summer when traveling to races.  By the time I got bored, I was in South Bend, IN and only had about 30-40 minutes to go.

How I feel without my better half. 

The weekend was uneventful leading up to the race.  I had a wonderful family host me for the weekend and they were truly bummed out they didn't get to meet my better half.  Saturday was a lot of relaxing, a few short workouts, the pro meeting, more relaxing, and eating some great home cooked food.  Thank you so much to the Page-Wood family for such a wonderful stay.

Sunday morning was like all race mornings.  Up crazy early to eat a light breakfast, pack the car and head towards transition.  The weather was great and I was feeling good.

I can't say enough good things about how much I love my Xterra Vendetta wetsuit.  I had a terrible start to the swim and didn't get in a great position.  I was probably 20th to the first turn buoy (maybe not but it felt that way) and felt like I was already out of the game.  After a few hundred yards I ended up in a group of guys which ended up being the main pack.  There were 3 guys that went off the front but there were about 6-8 guys all right in that pack where I was.  After not feeling great, I still ended up 4th out of the water.  The comfort of my wetsuit helped me stayed relaxed and warm in that brisk 66-67 degree water.  This was the roughest swim I've had in a long time.  We swam against the current/waves the whole time which made for a slow swim.  Being 4th out of the water, you would think it would be faster than 27:25.  

I ran up the beach, into T1, and stayed calm as I jumped on my bike this time.  I was right where I needed to be.  Sitting in a group of guys that was going to be the main pack.  About a mile into the bike I heard a "rock" hit my bike frame.  I don't think twice about it and kept on rolling.  One minute later, my bottle cage, with my bottle that has most of my calories for the bike, falls over and I hit it as I'm pedaling.  The force of hitting this unclips my right foot and I lose my balance.  Fortunately, I kept my balance this time and managed to save my water bottle at the same time.  That "rock" that I heard was one of the two screws holding my cage onto my bike frame.  I immediately got clipped back in and hammered to keep the guys close.  On the next downhill, I made sure to put my water bottle in my tri top since I didn't want to get a 4 minute littering penalty and the bottle with my nutrition in it in my other cage.  I rode like this for about 10 miles until I hit the first aid station and then dropped my bottle that was in my jersey.  We had hammered that first 10 miles but I didn't feel too bad.  That's about when the eventual winner Lionel Sanders came FLYING by us.  He broke up the pack and I was the first gone.  I had ridden way too close to my Olympic distance effort/pace for the first little bit and was now popped from the group.  The rest of the 40ish miles was very lonesome.  I rode strong for about 10-15 miles but towards the last 1/3 of the bike, my legs felt very heavy from going too hard, too early into the bike.

I came into T2 way back from everyone else.  I put on my run shoes and hit the course.  My legs actually felt better than expected but not great.  I ran the first loop right around 6:05-6:10 pace which is ok for where I'm at right now in my fitness.  But then the wheels fell off and I really struggled the last 6 miles.  I did get a boost at around 11.5 miles as my home stay, Melanie, was doing the run leg on a relay team and she passed going the other way just yelling and screaming my name.  It was great to hear and really helped me bring it home.  I once again finished with a finishing time of....

4:13:43 and somewhere around 18th overall with a few amateurs beating me.  Still not used to this as this almost never happened a few years ago.  I was almost always top 10-15 with only Pro's being in front of me and the top amateur being kind of close but not really.
My time from Muncie 70.3...  4:13:54.   My time from NOLA 70.3....    4:13:10.    hhmmmm....
Think I'm setting some kind of trend.    

One of the positives to this is the fact that I have His name on my chest while I'm competing.  The longer I'm out there, the more people will see me and at least wonder what "Tri4Him" is.  Maybe even enough so that they go home and do a little research about our team, and eventually develop a personal relationship with Jesus.  Which is the whole goal of our team.  Now, my goal isn't to be out there for a long amount of time, otherwise I would really make sure to go easy, haha.

One thing I have noticed this year is that it isn't about how high up I finish, but the fact that I'm always in the top 1-2% of the finishers and I have His name on my chest.  I am blessed with the talent and ability that even when I have a poor race, I'm still going to finish in the top 1-2%.  It also helped to have my Tri4Him teammate Ryan Rau there this year as well.  With both of us finishing in that top 1%, people notice that, and that is why we race.  It isn't about us, it is all for Him.  If neither of us have a great race, but we can bring someone closer to have a relationship with Christ, then it was a successful trip for us.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Music City Tri RR

This past weekend was the local Music City Tri.  I won this race WAY back in 2006 when it was somewhere outside of town.  Last year I did it and it was the longest race I competed in all year as I was still recovering from an injury and just wanted to do a few local races.  This year, I was out for the win.

Race morning was just like any other, except I got to sleep in my own bed.  It was almost a normal morning for me.  Waking up around 5 am, making some coffee, eating a light breakfast, then heading downtown to the race site.  Casey made the decision to race this year, it being her first Olympic distance triathlon.  She did amazing and won her AG.

One thing that was different was how hot it was going to be.  It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and made for a sufferfest.  The sprint distance athletes started first around 7:30 am and then it was a time trial start from there.  Being number 506, I knew it would be a while before I started.  Somewhere shortly after 8am, I was off.  There was one other pro who races mainly sprint distance ITU events.  He started right in front of me so it gave me an advantage to sprint the first bit of the swim, get on this feet and sit right in.  I was there for about 1200 of the 1500 meters of the swim.  We came out of the water together, we both had a good t1, and was off on the bike.  I made it a goal to really push the first few miles on the bike just to get a feel for doing that since that is how most Pro races pan out.  Come out of the water in a pack, hammer the first few miles on the bike, and then settle in.  I passed the other pro a few miles into the bike and never looked back.  We had a nice tail wind on the way out, but a brutal head wind on the return trip.  This made for a slower day as the way out is slightly uphill and the return trip is downhill.  The bike course was an unusual 27.5 miles even though it's advertised as an Olympic distance tri (and one small section on the website says it is 43k, which is still shorter than 27.5 miles).  I pushed a good effort on the bike, but didn't over do it considering the heat and came off the bike with a nice little lead.

I started the run controlled and took a :15 walk break every 2 miles to help deal with the heat.  After the first loop, I saw I had a big gap on 2nd place so I backed it off even more to make sure I got in enough fluids and didn't trash my body.  The bad part was the lack of aid stations.  They had 5 on the run course (technically 6 but the last one was 100 yards from finish) and two of them were only about a 1/2 mile away from each other.  So you had to run 1.5 miles from aid station 2 to 3 and even then, there were only 2-3 volunteers passing out tiny cups of water or powerade.

The finish line couldn't have come soon enough but I'm sure everyone felt that way.  I went straight to the cooler and grabbed 2 bottles of water.  One went over my head and the other I drank.  I couldn't drink enough fluids for the rest of the day to recuperate from the fluid loss I had during the race.  After the race, I checked my phone and it said it was 94 degrees with a "feels like" temp of 103.

The local paper got a few nice photos of me at the finish and wrote up a good article. You can find it here  the Tennessean  It is always nice to get a win, but that fire still burns to be competitive in a "Pro" race.  With the inaugural Challenge Half distance tri in New Albany on the same weekend, it made me wish I had gone up there and maybe fought it out for a little prize money.    I'm headed up to Steelhead 70.3 on August 10th to race some of the big boys.

God gives me strength and endurance every day.  Without Him, none of this is possible.  Just getting in the workouts that I do, while working almost 40 hours a week and having free time to enjoy with Casey is a blessing in itself.  Casey is a true blessing that the Lord has given me.  When I'm feeling down or overwhelmed, she is always there to listen, or tell me the harsh truth that needs to be said.  We knew this was a rebuilding year, and I just continue to chop wood and carry water.  Reading posts from other pros is truly inspiring to keep at it.  Watching what guys like Jordan Rapp do is amazing.  I couldn't imagine racing five 70.3 races in a span of six weeks but he did it and did well.  In his blog, he talks about why he did it and it's a really good post. Rappstar blog

Me after drinking 14 bottles of water.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Muncie 70.3 RR

This weekend was the annual Muncie Endurathlon.  It has been around for years and has a great history to this race.  It was a World Championship race back in 1995 and it used to be a Kona qualifying race until about the mid 1990's.  This was going to be my 2nd attempt at this race.  The last time I was here, I remember the swim being warm and a little slow, the bike is pancake flat, and the run is challenging with some rolling hills that is completely exposed to the sun.  

We started our trip on Thursday after work when we made the 2.5 hour drive from Nashville to Louisville to visit with my aunts Francie and Carol.  It is always a lot of fun to visit with them and super nice for them to open up their home to us.  We hit the road early Friday morning for Muncie.  Friday was mostly like any other "day before the race" day.  Once in Muncie, I got in a few short workouts, attended the pro meeting, and relaxed at our homestay's  house.  The Gries' were very welcoming to my wife and I and we had a blast staying at their house.  They cooked some amazing food and made sure we were properly fueled for the next day.  

Race morning was just like all the others.  Wake up super early, prep your nutrition stuff, put on your race number tattoos, and head to the race.  I got there with plenty of time and got my transition all set up.  On the way to the race site, of course I hear a song on the radio that gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  It was a little unusual for this song to be on the radio, but it is what it is. 

Not everyday you hear a Disney song on the radio.  It definitely made me laugh and I was hoping that this was the one song NOT to get stuck in my head.  But when you think that to yourself, you know it has already happened.

The water temp was 74 degrees so we were going to swim in our wetsuits.  This was a little unusual as Muncie is typically super hot and never a wetsuit swim.  It didn't matter to me since I have my Xterra Vendetta.

Pre Swim shot with some Crazy eyes. 
At 7 am, the gun went off.  I got out pretty good but not quite as hard as I went in Kansas.  I settled on some feet about 400 yards in, and stayed there.  I was swimming comfortably enough to notice a gap open up in front of the guy I was swimming behind.  I put in a hard 100 yards or so and bridged up to the feet up ahead.  I was glad that I did because I believe the other guy got dropped from the pack.  I was comfortable in the pack for the rest of the way and we came out of the water in the mid 26's.  Not fast, but for the effort I was giving, that was to be expected.  I led the group of 7 guys out of the water and ran into T1.  My transition was ok and I ran quickly out of T1.

About 10 seconds for taking my spill.
Right after the mount line, I jumped on my bike and immediately started to hammer.  Four pedal strokes into the bike, I hit a bump while I was pedaling downwards with my right foot.  I was not in my bike shoes yet.  When I hit the bump, my foot slipped off of my shoe and I lost my balance.  I shot over my handlebars and hit the road.  I was fortunate enough to roll and not hit super hard.  I jumped up, did a quick assessment and made sure nothing was broken.  My Rudy Project Wingspan kept my head safe for sure as I have a nice little scuff on the back of my helmet.  Nothing appeared to be broken so I quickly picked up my bike.  Looked it over, fixed the brakes as they had moved and were not mashed against my wheels.  After running back to get my bike shoe that was lost about 10 yards back, and picking up my water bottles, I got on my bike slowly and took off.  I ended up losing about 1 - 1.5 minutes.  The 6 other guys that I came out of the water with were long gone.  The first mile or two I was still assessing the situation.  My bike hit on the gear side and the rear derailleur took most of the damage.  It was jumping every time I shifted, but was manageable to race on.  It wouldn't have been worth it to pull over and wait for a mechanic as I'm sure I would have lost a lot more time doing that just so my gears wouldn't be jumping.  Mike Hermanson and Patrick Evoe both made quick work of me in those first few miles as I was still getting my head back in the game.

I told myself I was going to at least get in a solid training day.  Once we got on the main road, I put my head down and just hammered away while having "Let It Go" running on an endless loop in my brain.  I ended up averaging around 278 watts for the ride.  Not bad considering those first 5 miles was only about 260ish because of crashing.  Here is my Strava file from the bike. This is by far the best I have ridden in a race this year so I'm happy I was able to do that after an accident.

My T2 was slow as I noticed a lot of blood when I pulled my foot out of my cycling shoes.  I didn't notice it right after the crash as I don't think it had started bleeding yet.  However, one toenail got ripped partially off, and another toe had the skin ripped off.  So my foot was covered in blood.  I wasn't sure how bad it was so I sat down to put on my run shoes.  I looked at the bottom of my foot to make sure the bottom was ok (it was) and then slipped on my running shoes carefully.  Then I was off running.

Nice little shot of my rear after the race. 
The run was uneventful as I was so far back I didn't see many people out there. I settled into a comfy pace for the first 6-7 miles and then the fatigue and pain in my foot started to creep up.  I slowed down and jogged it in.  I ran about 6:15 pace for the first half and then about 6:50 pace for the second half.  I crossed the finish line somewhere around 4:13ish.  Still nothing close to what I used to be able to do, but I have never crashed before in a 70.3, so I have nothing to compare it to.

My bike fitness is coming along as I only averaged about 250-255 watts at NOLA 70.3.  I felt very comfortable holding the wattage I did for Muncie and feel that I could have pushed harder had I been in the group that I came out of the water with.  The guys that finished 5th - 7th place on Saturday all came from that group.  Not saying I would have finished that high, but....

I still think back to 2011 when I was racing full time and remember averaging 300 watts for Muncie.  So I'm almost where I used to be, but not quite.  I knew this was going to be a rebuilding/relearning year, but I sure hoped everything to progress faster than it actually has.  All I can do is continue to put in the work and be patient.  I know the Lord has a plan for me and that I just need to have faith and be patient.

I'm not as beat up from the crash as expected so training resumed on Monday as usual.  I did rest up on Sunday.  We stopped back in Louisville Saturday after the race and had a wonderful evening with my aunts and my bro and sis in law, Dana and Ben.  So it is always nice to visit with family and relax after a long and stressful day.

Next up is the Music City Triathlon here in Nashville on the 27th of July and then Steelhead 70.3 on the 10th of August.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon

This is a race that I'm very familiar with.  I have raced here 3-4 times in the past and knew what to expect.  A pretty easy swim, a challenging bike course, and a hot run.  It has been several years since I raced here last but the course was identical the past years.

The weekend started with some relaxing around the house with Casey and watching Gwen Jorgensen tear up the Chicago WTS race.  We left for Chattanooga Saturday afternoon, picked up my packet around 5:30 pm, then headed over to one of Casey's friends' house for our "home stay."  It was super nice of Tracy and Stephen to open up their home for us to stay with them.  We relaxed, called it a night pretty early, and woke up at 5 am Sunday morning.  It was kind of nice to have a "later" start at 7:30 as I got to sleep to almost my normal wake up time.  However, I wouldn't have minded a 6:30 start if we could have avoided some of the heat.

We drove down town, parked, and got my transition all set up.  After a pretty stress free morning, we walked to the swim start and got prepared to race.  Being the only "pro" in the race, I was racer number 2 (there wasn't a number 1) and was the first individual racer after the relays were sent off.  I got a pretty good start and had passed every relay swimmer before the 2nd buoy.  I was by myself until about half way when super swimmer Bruce Gennari swam up beside me and passed with ease.  I sat on his feet for a few hundred yards until he accelerated away from me.  I came out of the water about 20-30 seconds behind him (he started about 30-40 seconds behind me in the time trial start).  I put on my Rudy Project Wingspan helmet and Swifty sunglasses and was running full steam ahead out of the first transition.

Unfortunately for Bruce, he got a flat in the first 2 miles of the bike course, so I passed him as he was already on the side of the road.  I was out front by myself for the rest of the ride.  The bike course is on a highway and has some very large rolling hills.  I felt better than I have all year on the bike during this ride.  I had to back off the effort on some of the hills as I looked down and was putting out 370+ watts.  I knew with the heat that I would expend too much energy on the bike if I held that effort and would not be able to run well.  Here is my Strava file from the bike.

I have to give a shout out to Quarq and the guys down Red Kite for helping me out the past 2 weeks.  They sent my power meter back to Quarq to take a look at it since it has been cutting in and out for no reason.  They replaced my 2 year old power meter for a brand new one since it was covered under warranty.  So I now have a brand new power meter with the newer technology that Quarq just released this year.  

Anyways, my legs felt pretty good coming off of the bike, slipped on my running shoes, and took off running.  The first 1/2 mile is pretty much straight up hill.  I kept the pace solid, but under control for the first mile.  I hit the first mile in about 5:50 and was surprised it was that fast.  I got a side stitch almost immediately after the 1 mile mark.  I haven't had one of these in a long time and I forgot how bad they hurt.  I tried to work it out but only managed a 6:15 mile 2.  I knew at that pace, the 2nd place guy would probably catch me.  I stopped and walked for 10 seconds, worked it out, and was back running.  The third mile was also in 6:15, but that included the walking.  I hit the turn around and the next guy was only 1:30 or so behind me.  His race number was 49?!?!  Holy Crap!!!  I immediately started doing math in my head.  How far back did he start after me, how can he be this close, how bad do I want to win?  I immediately found another gear and picked up the pace.  From mile 3 to 5, I ran 11:20 (never saw the 4 mile mark) and knew that I could hold that for the last mile.  Well, I forgot that a lot of the 6th mile is a gradual climb going into a short but very steep hill before running down the big hill I originally ran up in the first 1/2 mile.  I kept the pace hot all the way across the finish line since I have literally lost by 1 second at this very race in past years because of the TT start.

Tyler Jordan, number 49, finished 2:45 later (I know this because I timed it on my watch).  I was super nervous for the next 2-3 hours as I had no idea if I actually won or not.  Casey tried to keep me calm as she was more confident that I had actually won than I was.  When I crossed the finish line, a writer from the Chattanoogan interviewed me, along with a guy from Channel 9 in Chattanooga.

I did eventually find out that I did win by about 30 seconds.  It was all in the swim as well.  I out swam Tyler by about 2 minutes, he out biked me by about 1.5 minutes, and we were almost dead even between the run and transitions.  Congrats to Tyler as he kept my effort honest and I wouldn't have been able to go that fast without him there to push me to the line.

At the awards ceremony, they asked the winner to give a speech as Team Magic does at every event.  I kept it short and sweet.  I did win a door prize while waiting and got some tasty Red Bike Coffee.  

And I even got to take a picture with the birthday boy Blake.

We made the short trip back to Nashville after the race.  We snacked on some Welch's fruit snacks which made the drive that much better.  Then we chowed down some pizza and a Reese's blizzard from DQ for dinner.  I don't always eat like this, but allowed myself a bit of a cheat dinner on Sunday. 

This was a big confidence booster going into Muncie 70.3 which is now only about 1.5 weeks away.  I feel comfy on my bike and just need to pace myself a little better on the bike to have a solid run.  Thanks to Tri4Him for the support this year along with my lovely wife Casey, and the rest of my family who have helped me stay positive through the few set backs I've had early this year.  God has blessed me with these support teams and blessed me with my athletic ability.  None of this is possible without Him. 

Tone Loc