2010 has been a strange racing year for me. For the first time ever, I didn't have a big goal race on the line. I raced 5 Ironmans before qualifying for Kona at IM Wisconsin in '07. Each year I was focused on incremental improvement and peaking for the big race. '08 was Kona (training juggled with new infant son). '09 was 70.3 World Championships. Heading into 2010, I was toying with the idea of a non-WTC Ironman in the fall, but just couldn't find the necessary training hours.
Early on in the year, I did come up with a personal goal of regaining some of the short course speed that I had lost in the course of 6 years of IM training. I began the early season with a Master's swim meet where I turned in some of my fastest sprints since college: 24.19 for the 50 and 54s for the 100. Both a few seconds off college times, but fastest I've moved in the pool for awhile. I have the good fortune to be able to run with the Illinois Wesleyan Track and XC teams whenever I can work it into my schedule. These guys really helped me with my track intervals. I had a goal for the year to get back under 17 minutes for the 5K. Follwing a spring of somewhat regular track intervals I won a small 5K here in town in 16:50 something. I verified this performance a few weeks later with a 16:50 track 5K (that 16:50 placed me close to dead last of about 90 competitors). I had two more road races that I was fairly happy with. I went over to Peoria, IL for the world-class Steamboat Classic 4 mile race. Went out crazy-hard and suffered my way through the race at about 5:30 pace. Did a 5 mile race a few weeks later at about 5:40 pace. Improved run speed: check!
On the tri side of things, I wanted to race well at the sprint and olympic didistance which I am not as strong at compared to long course. I opened the early season with a 2nd place overall at a small sprint in Sullivan IL. I took second to my former Augustana Cross Country Teammate Jeff Paul who was just beginning his first season as a pro triathlete. Jeff's blog is here!
Next up, was the Desoto Triple-T in Ohio. Despite crashing out and breaking my collarbone at this race a few years ago, this is still my favorite triathlon bar none. The venue is tough, but gorgeous. This year I had the great opportunity to race on a team with my brother. For those not familiar with Triple-T it is 4 races in 3 days: Friday night super sprint, two olympics on Sat and a 1/2 IM Sun morning. For the team event, both team members do all the events- but you can draft your teammate on the bike. Racing with my brother was an awesome experience (in spite of getting seperated during one of the races and losing a bunch of time). We got to spend a super-fun weekend in a cabin with good friends Mike Donahue and Laura Vedeen. I also got to catch up with teammate JP, who tore up the Triple-T in his debut race there!
Next up was our local Tri-Shark Sprint Tri. I was trying to focus a bit on this race since I had never peaked for it before. ON paper I was able to win the elite wave of the race. What really happened was two pros who raced unofficially finished ahead of me and friend Robert Trimble snuck up from the age group waves to beat everyone.
My next tri was our local Evergreen Olympic-plus race. This has become a pretty competitve event with around 500 participants and a decent pro field. The elite wave was stacked and I knew it would take a strong race to stay in the top ten. I had an ok day and finished 15th in 2:12 (long bike leg).
I was mostly off of training for two weeks in July for a family vacation to Maine and week for work in Vermont. Following this break I went to race a sprint race in Canton IL. This is one of the races where I got started in the kids event almost 20 years ago. This was my surprise race of the year. All three events were just clicking. I came out of the water in the top 5 and then moved into the lead before the halfway on the bike. I came itto T2 with at least a 1 or 2 minute lead. I ran about a 17 minute 3 mile to hold onto the overall win. So far the small highlight of 2010.
Last weekend I ventured back into Xterra racing with the new Xterra Points Series race in Peoria, IL. I've raced a few Xterras and mountain bike races over the years. Unfortunately I had precisely zero mountain bike rides this season. Not ideal for Xterra racing, but I was still looking forward to the event! I was second out of the water and then had the frustrating experience of a bunch of people passing me on the bike leg (handling skills just not up to snuff!). I mostly kept the rubber-side down and then picked up some places on the run for 4th overall. I was just a few seconds shy of my good friend Sean Hyser who has been tearing up the Xterra circuit the last few years.
Next up is the Rev3 half-ironman with my Evotri team. I'm not really in any kind of half shape, but I will be able to pull something together.
I've really enjoyed dabbling in cyclocross the last few years, but the season was always cut short by big fall tris (Kona and Clearwater). Hopefully I will get a few more cross races in this fall!
Monday, August 30, 2010