Disney Marathon Race Report

It’s been a while since I ran, trained, raced or blogged. So this week I attempted to remedy all of that.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.07.28 AMWaaaaaaaay back in April (I think) I registered for the Disney Marathon. Other than making travel and dinner reservations, that was probably the last time I thought about the race.

I was really excited for it, but had no motivation to train. My longest run all year was maybe 7 miles, and that was in the summer. I put on a lot of weight, skipped any type of race prep and just didn’t care.

That is until the race came around.

I had low expectations. Lots of walking was the plan, and according to Disney’s athlete guide, I needed a 16 minute mile to finish the race. That sounded easy enough… Right?

The only nutrition I brought on race day was a package of gummi worms. I was really hoping there would still be some Clif Shots available on course by the time I got that far.

Weather-wise it was perfect. It was about 50 degrees when I got to Epcot and the high was expected to be in the low 70’s. There was an hour+ wait from the race start until my corral started. When the fireworks went off I started at a slow jog.

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I forgot my Garmin, so I was relying on Strava for iPhone to track my run. Essentially I ran nude, since I didn’t really monitor my pace though out the race.

I felt good jogging and kept pushing my “walk” mile back. I was going to run 3 miles and walk one. Instead I ran 11 miles (slowly) until I took a walk break.

2015-01-11 09.15.30Between miles 12 and 13 as the course ran through Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I stopped for a bathroom break. As I exited I noticed several runners jogging into the line for The Expedition Everest. After a quick time check and realizing I was well ahead of my schedule, resting my legs on a roller coaster sounded like a great idea.

I partied my way through the next few miles, singing and dancing with the on course entertainment. 

Then the course headed into Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports and it sucked all the momentum out of the run.Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.16.19 AM

Maybe it was the little rain shower, or that running through an empty sports campus and around a mostly empty baseball field just wasn’t any fun. But what ever the reason, miles 17-20 were painful.

There was 6 miles and 2 more parks ahead of me and I felt great. I ran another couple of miles before the traffic jams set in. I remember the last few miles of Disney’s Wine & Dine 1/2 being the same way. 25,000 runners are sharing a very narrow walking path through the Disney Resorts and into Epcot. It was frustrating.

Eventually the course opened up on Disney’s Boardwalk and into Epcot’s World Showcase. It was torture to smell all of the food cooking in each country as I ran to the finish. The only answer was to pickup the pace and finish.Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.16.34 AM

The crowds were great leading up to the finish and running around the iconic Spaceship Earth ball. Then before I knew it thr race was over. With a time of 6:21 I finished another marathon.

It was such a fun day and time to celebrate all of our accomplishments.

My kids ran a 100 & 200 yard dash, my wife & her sister did the 1/2 marathon, so everyone had something to be proud of!

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And what a better way to celebrate than with fried food and beer

After finishing the race I thought about how well I could have done had I actually trained. Oceanside 70.3 is in 10 weeks, so I have a lot of work to do!

This weekend I’m putting my half Ironman training plan together, and I’ll post about it later.

An unexpected PR

A normal person would train diligently, focusing on improving weak spots in their race plan. A normal person knows which discipline has the most flaws, and designs their race in such a way that everything is seamless. 

I’m far from normal. Anyone who knows me (or has ever read this blog) could tell you that. Which is why, after a year of no training, coming off one of the most painful races I could ever imagine, I decided “hey why don’t I register for a race 2 weeks away.”

To be fair, the Wauconda Triathlon starts a mile from my front door… and I registered for a sprint, hoping it would be an extra kick in the ass to get moving and back in shape… And I think it worked.

I’ve only raced two other sprints. They were both in Lake in the Hills, I had been woking with a coach for one and somewhat following a training plan for the other. Needless to say I was in better shape.

Outside of being more rotund and un trained, for this race the only other big difference to me was the bike I was riding. In both of the past sprints I was riding the Felt DA4 tri bike. However this time around I was on my Trek Madone 4.5 road bike, no aero bars.

Like every other tri I focus on finishing the swim… If I finish and feel good thats a bonus, but priority #1 is GET OUT OF THE WATER. Sunday at the Wauconda Sprint tri this was no exception and my time proved that…. just over 19 mins, yeesh!

On to the bike. I had no expectations for this race, which helped I think. It was a 14+ mile loop around Wauconda. Mostly smooth roads with a few hills thrown in for good measure. I was moving along this route! I averaged 18mph though the bike course and it felt like I wasn’t trying!

So good news, my biking fitness hasn’t completely deteriorated!

Bring on the Run!

My legs felt fine, and it was only a 5k so at least it would be over fast…. well, fast enough. The route looped right though my neighborhood, which was great cause my wife and kids could come to the end of the block and cheer me on!

I held a 10:30/pace for the 5k. Not super human speeds, but again not bad for not training. I wasn’t paying any attention to my overall time. That is, until I approached the finish line. I stopped my Garmin and thought to myself… “I’m pretty sure this was a sprint distance PR.”

Nah, it couldn’t be.

While packing up my transition area I looked up past race results, and sure enough it was a PR by 1:22! Hey not bad for a fat guy!

Obviously this was a fluke. I’m not sure if the wind was behind me the whole time or maybe Wauconda is mostly down hill… but what ever it was, I’ll take it!

Now the real work starts. Lets see what else I can PR!

Making lemonade

The pool I go to has the WORST lap swim schedule on the planet.

My plan was to take my kids to the play center while I did a swim workout. But to my surprise, there was no lap swim between the hours of 11 & 2 because of summer camps & swimming lesson.

So there went the swim for today.

However, I figured out a way to sneak ride in.

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It’s the “Outdoor Movie Picnic Lunch Ride”

The kids can eat, be outside & have lunch… All while dad sweats his ass off.

It’s not perfect, but it’s done!

The wrong kind of PR

It’s been so long since I’ve been on this site, that I forgot my password to login!

I’ve been busy.

Since when is that a valid excuse for not working out? … It’s not. But that hasn’t stopped me from using it for the last year.

Between working on my startup RentSpek, working part time at CBS2 Chicago and filling my remaining time with my family, I felt too busy. The reality is that I’ve had all that responsibility and sometimes more for every race I’ve ever trained for… What was missing in the personal accountability to actually DO the workouts.

And because of that lack of motivation, I put on about 30lbs. And while we’re at it, let’s be honest… I was about 20lbs overweight before that.

At the tipping point I was 220, a new PR. When I raced Michigan Titanium ’13 I was 199, and I hadn’t trained for that race!

So now it’s time to go backwards, get back into shape and race. I signed up for 2 marathons this fall that I haven’t really been focused on training for. Luckily I still have about 3 months until the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

This will be my third 26.2 mile run through the city. However I think my goal of 5 hours or less is a longshot.

Almost exactly 3 months after CM14, I head to Orlando for the Disney World Marathon in January. This should be a fun race, my wife is going to run the Disney 1/2 Marathon and my kids will be in the 100 & 200 yard dash.

After running with Mickey & Friends I’ll head to California in March for Ironman Oceanside 70.3. This is the biggest event I’ve finalized on my schedule. I’m racing with my buddy Adam again, just like we did at Mooseman 70.3 in 2011 and Ironman Wisconsin in 2012.

Finally I’m looking at Ironman Louisville in August 2015. Sure it’s more than a year away, but I’ll need at least that much time to get my ass in gear.

They’re lofty goals for someone who hasn’t thought about training in a year, but they’re all attainable.

As I get moving toward the Chicago Marathon, the next step is to find a training plan that I can stick with and MAKING the time to fit it all in.

Here we go again.

To 70.3 or not? That is the question.

I was planning on on having an “A” race this year.

After three 70.3’s, a couple Olympics and IMWI in 2012 I was pumped to tackle another big year of races in 2013. The problem was, I wasn’t al that interested in training.

I skated by eventually finishing MiTi 10-15 lbs heavier and with only 20 mins before cutoff, hobbling away from that race feeling like I had been hit by a car. I followed up that race with the Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon which was a suffer-fest.

I decided to take 2014 off completely. Maybe a break was needed (not that I had worked that hard anyway).

Now for the dilemma.

I found out I’m going be in Sawyer Michigan the weekend of Ironman Steelhead in August. I have wanted to do that race since I started doing Tri. I really pushed Adam to do it as our first race, but ultimately lost our bet & ended up doing Mooseman.

I’m conflicted on registering. On one hand I’ll be RIGHT THERE. On the other I’m worried I won’t stay dedicated enough to train and it’ll be a disaster.

What to do?!

My Pros & Cons list seems more like a conflicting pile of excuses. For example:

PRO: I was going to bring my bike to Michigan that weekend anyway.
CON: I don’t have a Tri bike anymore, so I’ll be riding a Madone 4.5 Road Bike.

PRO: I already have accommodations set up 20 mins from the course.
CON: The house we’re renting is being shared with 5 other families, all with kids 6 years to 4 months old.

While my excuses cons are valid, they’re really not anything worse than I’ve dealt with in the past.

As a precaution I set up a coaching account with Optimized Training Labs again. Regardless on if I race or not, dropping all the weight I’ve put on since last summer is probably a good idea.

Steelhead most likely won’t sellout, so I can register late if I decided to race.

What would you do?

P.S. Adam has been hounding me to do St. George, which I have repeatedly said no to. So Adam, there is no need to answer the question above with anything involving St. George or Las Vegas!

The House That Built RentSpek

About three years ago, my wife and I moved out of the 1 bedroom condo we own in Chicago’s South Loop into a house because we needed more space.

We had 2 big dogs and an 8 month old son, so our 915 sqft wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Searching for a house to rent was harder than I expected. We both worked full time, some odd hours and with the baby it was difficult to get us all out to the suburbs.

We ended up touring houses one at a time. If Tracy had the morning off, she would schedule an early showing. On weekends I would see as many places as I could.

The downside was there just wasn’t much time. There were a couple places we lost because we couldn’t act quick enough. But in the end we found a place that would do.

It was a cute Tudor style house in Des Plaines. The biggest selling point for us was its proximity to the Hospital Tracy worked at and the train I would need to take into the city.

The house itself was ok. It seemed sturdy, but outdated. The key for us was space. There was lots of space. Tracy and seen the house once and I had driven past it once. It was too difficult to arrange another showing with the Landlord.

With time running out because we had a tenant set to move into our condo, we pulled the trigger and rented the house.

In the first month the issues began. Water started pouring out of the ceiling from the bathtub upstairs down into the kitchen. Upon inspection from a plumber it wasn’t the first time this had happened. He pointed out some sagging in the kitchen ceiling. I never would have thought to look for that.

As through the Fall we had rain water coming down the walls where an addition and been put on the house about 20 years ago. Because of the dark wood in the room it was hard to see water stains there if you weren’t looking for them.

The winter was rough. With the thermostat set at 90* we still had to have fires in the fire place and space heaters in all the rooms to even keep the place slightly hot. My gas bill was $700 in the cold months.

By the spring all we kept talking about was wanting to move out of that house. But we hadn’t seen the worst of it yet. There was a raccoon nesting in the attic. It used a window that didn’t have a latch to get in & out.

Tracy developed a cough that was attributed to asthma. It wasn’t until a storm flooded the basement with inches of water that we thought maybe the asthma was from mold.

Sure enough, the whole basement had to be ripped out and mold remediation done.

This house was a nightmare.

I kept thinking, why isn’t there a better way to inspect rental property before you’re locked into a lease!?

That’s where RentSpek came from.Spek Screen

I started to study home inspections, talk to inspectors and researched things like the life of appliances and utilities to determine what is important to someone living in a house or apartment short term.

By using a patent pending method of inspection and a proprietary scoring system, we developed a way for anyone to grade an apartment for rent or rental home the first time they visit the property.

We launched RentSpek.com in November 2013. Each month our users grew by well over 50%. We have an iPhone and Android app in development that we plan to launch the end of this month.

We are so close to getting the RentSpek app out to the public. But with our users growing so fast, we’re having a hard time keeping up. In order to meet out demand, we launched a Crowdfunding Campaign on IndieGoGo. If we can raise $2200 in the next 10 days, we can get this app done and into the hands of the people who need it.

RentSpek is a free tool for people to use. It’s designed to offer renters more transparency when searching for a new place. Stop taking the. Landlords word for it. With RentSpek you’ll know the quality of the property in 20 minutes or less.

If we had this app when Tracy and I were looking for out first rental house, we would have avoided all of the problems we had that year.

If you can contribute to our IndieGoGo Campaign click here.

Why my startup would never leave Chicago.

“Please no more California songs…. And fuck New York too.” – Local H.

Ever since I started working on Landlord Advisor and now RentSpek I have been reading articles on Internet startups, app developers and all the other businesses that take root on the coasts to try and make it happen.

I don’t know why, but the coasts have always bothered me. I have no good reason for it either. I’ve only been to New York once. And I think I was too young to remember visiting Cali.

Almost everyday I check out AngelList and I can’t help but feel like Chicago is neglected. It appears that if your not in CA or NY you don’t matter.

The same goes for TV. When I was producing and editing for NBC, our team (the Chicago Bureau) pitched an idea for a story about the Cubs.

Now I’m not a baseball fan, but if I was I’d go Sox.

It was the New York office who approved the stories for our show, and to this date I will never forget their reason for shooting down our pitch…

“The Cubs aren’t a team everyone cares about like the Yankees or even Red Sox.”

Wow, way to shoot down one of the most valuable teams in baseball. Even without a championship in the last 100 years.

I feel that same attitude transcends in to any business. The feeling is Tech and Movies go west, Business and TV go east, and everyone in between can eat it.

Now to be fair. RentSpek is in it’s infancy… Or maybe fetus… Or that awkward stage where you’re thinking about it, but your not sure how your spouse will react.

But the size of your startup shouldn’t matter. RentSpek has gained 22 users in it’s 7 days of life. We got mentioned in blogs by Crain’s Chicago Business and ChicagoNow.

As far as I’m concerned we’re rolling. But l know where I’m from and where I want to be.

At my part-time job (hey I have to fund this startup somehow) I cover Chicago’s Mayor Raham Emanuel a lot. He likes to talk about small business and job growth (and education… 100% college ready, 100% college bound).

And every time I sit in the back of the room and take notes for the TV stations I think about how I want my startup could help create those jobs.

The quote at the top of this post is from the Chicago band Local H, who apparently had the same feeling about music as I do about startups.

So close I can taste it.

No, I’m not talking about a race. And I don’t see my waiter coming from across the restaurant (though that is always exciting).

I’m talking about the Startup I’ve been working on since August 2012. Landlord Advisor was an idea I had sitting on the shelf for a while before I took a run at it.

Building a web start up with no coding experience and no funding was a process of trial and error. Like prepping for an Ironman, Landlord Advisor was a series of ups & downs, hard fought battles, and a few bonks.

But in December 2012 the site went live! I was thrilled. Now all we needed were users. From there would come the ad revenue, then updates and added features.

But the users were few and far between. After 10 months I gained less than 100 users.

And as I tried to figure out ways to bring them in, larger companies with working capital & real staff were offering similar features to their legions of users.

To say I was frustrated is an understatement.

Had I failed? Maybe, but this wasn’t the end.

There was a product I wanted to add to the site that no one else had. It would change the way people look for apartments.

I called it RentSpek. A patent pending method of inspecting a rental before you get locked into a lease. It guides renters through a property and asks simple questions that are calculated into a grade.

It will help renters diagnose potential problems with an apartment or house right away.

It started gaining a little interest, and I realized that RentSpek was more than just a feature of Landlord Advisor… It was THE feature. RentSpek needed to be its own product & brand.

After talking with some associates, I decided RentSpek had to get going quickly.

I began re-branding the companies Twitter & Facebook pages. The freelance developer I was using needed to shift his focus to making RentSpek a standalone product. And we NEEDED an app.

Things moved fast. Mockups were done, graphics were designed and I started soliciting quotes from app development companies to get this app built.

Currently RentSpek is being designed for mobile web. Which means users will need to log on to RentSpek.com to use the service on their phone.

A little more tedious than just tapping on an app icon. This NEEDS to be an app.

Why?

Because it makes sense. People are always snapping pictures with their iPhones on apartment tours to revisit later when deciding on a place. We’re connected online to “check in” at buildings.

People will use this app because it takes what they’re already doing and adds a free service to it.

The quotes for the app build nearly gave me a heart attack. $50,000 was about average.

So I set up a campaign on IndieGoGo, a crowd funding platform. That gave me 30 days to raise $50,000.

There are 8 days left and we’ve raised a total of $110.

I remembered the same thing happening when I was building Landlord Advisor. With that project I eventually turned to a website called Elance, where freelancers around the world bid your project.

Just for grins I posted the job, and within hours I had proposals. I found one freelancer who had the best quote & an amazing work example to show me.

My faith in getting this app built was restored… Sort of.

The fact that I found a quote 10’s of thousands of dollars less than the big firms quoted doesn’t change the fact that we have only raised $110.

The frame work is there. The site will go live in a week, we have a marketing plan. We just need some capital.

You endurance athletes know the feeling when you’re blocks away from the finishline. You can hear Mike Riley’s voice in the distance, the spectators are giving high fives and everything you trained for matters for this one moment.

That’s where we are now. If you or anyone you know may be interested i helping us out, you can find all the information here on the IndieGogo page.

If you have any questions about anything… Ever, send me an email.

And as always thanks for reading.

Simulated Coaching

With Michigan Titanium behind me, I’ve starting going over how I trained (or didn’t train) for the race.

After having completed Ironman Wisconsin the year before, my thought was that some missed runs, rides or swims will not make or break my chances of crossing the finish line. That mentality is what led to my demise at MiTi, so I began thinking about what EXACTLY was different.

Last season I worked with Coach Jen Harrison, who is a rockstar. Jen is a super experienced triathlete and very knowledgable coach. She was great at not only designing my training to help me meet my racing goals, but also at explaining why certain workouts were important. Jen coached me to 5 PR’s including the Chicago Marathon and two IM 70.3’s before preparing me for Ironman Wisconsin.

This season I made a change to an online training company called Optimized Training Labs (OTL).

OTL is a newer program that uses mathematical algorithms to design and build your workouts based on your upcoming races and the data from each workout. Think of it like “Moneyball”, based on your data, these algorithms adjust upcoming workouts.logo

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Sounds kind of cool right?

There was no single reason that I made a coaching switch. A lot of it was cost based. One-on-One coaching grants you a ton of access to your coach, lets you ask an unlimited amount of stupid questions, get great guidance from someone with great experience, but there is a premium to pay for that.

As someone who went from employed to unemployed, that was a cost I decided to cut.

Another reason I made a switch was because I wasn’t sure what my racing plans were going to be. I didn’t want to get into a coaching program only to call my coach and say “Nah, I’m not going to do that race anymore.”

I searched for a while to find a program that would work for me. I looked at Dave Scott training plans, Training Peaks and a variety of other pre-set plans. But my issue is I didn’t want a plan that was set in stone. What happens if I get injured? or my Schedule changes? Then I’m stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for me.

That what I liked about OTL, adjustments could be made. If you’re injured, sick or traveling you can mark missed workouts, set restrictions add or delete races and the algorithm would change upcoming workouts to help prepare you for your ultimate goal.

And it’s only $20/month. Who can argue that?

I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t be successful using this program.

Last season when I was working with Jen, I would often email and say things like “Hey Jen can I do two 70.3’s on consecutive weekends?” or “Jen I want to do a half marathon and marathon back to back!”

Jen would reply, say no and give me the reasons why.

So when I was building my schedule for this season and had a ton of races I wanted to do, but I didn’t really know what would be a good idea and what wouldn’t. So I winged it and picked races I thought would be safe.

Once I had a schedule lined up I felt… OK.

I’m pretty good at following directions. So when my workouts show up in my calendar, I usually have no problem doing them. But I can remember on several occasions getting emails from Jen asking me for my data so she can build my next series of workouts. Or even worse, emails asking why I missed workouts!

When you purchase a training plan or program like OTL there isn’t anyone looking out for you. One of the cool things that Optimized Training Labs does is require you to update your schedule every few weeks and that includes an option to re-test in each discipline to get more accurate data to gauge your improvement.

But If you don’t upload workout data regularly OTL has no way to tune the program for you, which just the same as using a pre-set program.

There is a great amount of self discipline needed to train for endurance sports and having a REAL PERSON as a coach is a perfect safety net for people like me who will tend to slack off every now and then and need the whip cracked!

Now I’m not knocking Optimized Training Labs by any means. I have had emailed them to ask questions about changing schedules, what to do about off season training, ect. They’ve alway emailed me back, usually the same day. They’re constantly making updates and adjustments to their system and asking what athletes are looking for.

One thing I’d like to see OTL add is the ability to train for any race. Currently you select a Triathlete program or Runner program… But what if you’re doing both? For example I just finished MiTi, an Iron Distance Triathlon but the next event on my schedule is the Chicago Marathon. I am able to select “Other” as an upcoming race category, but to be honest “Other” doesn’t sound like it’ll be a finely tuned program.

The only other issue I’ve had with OTL is that uploading data doesn’t seem very user friendly. Most of the time I’d manually import my data (which is an option) but that takes longer, and we’ve already established that I’m a slacker in that department.

Everyone trains and races differently, so I don’t think there is a “right way” to train. I think everyone has to do what works best for them.

Personally, I think I need to get my ass more disciplined and focused on what needs to be done to get the results I want.

Michigan Titanium Race Report

Grueling probably best describes my day racing MiTitanium Iron Distance race Sunday.

I’m going to talk about the heat. I’ll mention the wind, the darkness, hills and road construction. But the real reason I didn’t have a good outing was because I didn’t really train for this race like I should have.

I hardly swam all season, never road more than 50miles and didn’t run more than 10. So I wasn’t surprised when my day began to crumble… I knew going in to this race that it was going to be painful, so I decided to change my perspective and look at it as an eye opener and beginning of my 2014 season.

MiTi Swim Practice
MiTi Swim Practice

The Saturday before the race I did about a 1/2 mile swim in Lake Versluis. It was a beautiful lake, very clam and clean. The water temp was 74ish and wasn’t expected to rise. Some athletes were saying it was too warm for a wetsuit, but I didn’t feel overheated at all.

After the swim I took time to drive the bike course.

The beginning of the course was filled with rolling hills. The first climb I came across looked ugly. It was a pretty steep incline, though not really too long. But the condition of the road was poor. The climb was loaded with potholes and big cracks. I’m glad I was aware of it ahead of time.

The big issue on the bike course was some surprise construction. The Race Directors had already networked with the city well ahead of time to make sure there would be no issues on the course. They were assured that roads wouldn’t be torn up until Monday (after the race). But to everyones surprise crews ripped up about 600 feet of road mid-day Friday.

The MiTi team spent hours Friday night assessing the situation and made plans not to change the course. They swept off the loose gravel and laid down a thick mat to make the spot ride-able. The road was closed to traffic as I was driving through, but Dave from the Priority Health Cycling Team was out there. He was working with the MiTi crews to assess the issue.

Dave was awesome, he showed me the mat they were going to use and walked me through the whole process on how they planned on dealing with several hundred riders abusing on race day. He was out there with his bike riding and re-riding to make sure it would be safe and effective.

I even took my bike over it a couple times.

The biggest pitfall with the construction was going to be momentum. This section of road came after a nice long decent, but the torn up section was on a climb. Time would tell what kind of difference it would make.

After the course I hit up the expo, got my race packet, racked my bike and headed back to the hotel before dinner then an early bedtime… 4:15a was going to come early.

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Transition Setup

Race morning I felt pretty calm. I checked my bike one last time and noticed it was shifting odd, I think it had been knocked over the day before. Thanks to the rockstars at West Michigan bike they adjusted the front derailleur and it was good to go.

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That’s the body of a man who hasn’t trained!

Before you know it, it was time to race!

All of the full distance athletes started in one wave. As we got in the water, I got a little nervous when I saw how FEW people seemed to be starting in this wave! I kept telling myself that I’m not really racing these people. I’m racing MY race.

Then the horn went off.

I started the swim real easy, the plan was to build into it. I felt good the whole swim, only had a couple run-in’s with other swimmers and when it was all over I was only 1:02 off my IMWI time…. I’ll take it!

Because of the swim success I felt great going into the bike, early on I was averaging over 17mph and I was really enjoying going up and down the rollers.

Though my pace was where I wanted it, other riders were passing me like I was walking! It took a while before I remembered that there was also an Iron distance relay and aquabike in addition to the 70.3 racers. So at least some of the people passing me had the luxury (if you want to call it that) of leaving everything out on the bike course… I still had a marathon to go, so I’ll keep my pace.

Soon I hit the first climb with the potholes and cracks, It felt brutal. I was riding with a good sized pack which made it harder to navigate that hill. My legs were screaming. Since the bike was 2 loops I had to do this twice. Each time I got up to the top I expected to see Mike O’Malley handing me my piece of the Aggro Crag (10 points if you got that reference).

A while later I came to the construction section, again I was in a pack, which slowed down the climb. The mat that was covering the missing road seemed to be holding up great. Crews were there sweeping and maintaining it all day. It started as a gradual climb until the very top then it got steep, I took a solid few minutes to coast and recover after that.

Heading back in to town to begin the second loop my legs began to cramp. It was very hot and I forgot salt, but I was using Clif ShotBloks that had extra sodium to compensate. After eating a whole sleeve the cramps started to go away but with 56 miles to go, I was going to have to keep on this. Eventually I stopped at an aid station and ate a bunch of pretzels before grinding away at rest of the course.

The final 30 miles of the bike I felt horrible. My feet hurt, I was having back spasms and the wind had picked up significantly. I’ve never wanted to get off my bike so badly. This was when I first started thinking about dropping out of the race. My pace had slowed to the low 15’s, but it felt slower. I fought hard to finish that ride, and when it was all over I pained me to know that it was only 26.5 minutes longer than my IMWI time. With as bad as I felt I would have assumed an hour or more.

I took my time in T2. No part of me wanted to run, but I figured if I just hit the course hard, I could get it over with. For some reason (and I really don’t know why) the time I had in my head was 5 hours. My fastest marathon ever was 5:24 and that was Chicago in 2011, so that wasn’t going to happen.

I got on the run course and started running about a 10:30/mile. I think it lasted 3 minutes, my legs were dead and my back was killing me. As my Advil started to kick in I started running 5 minutes and walking 2 minutes. I’m not sure how long I kept that up, but eventually I dropped down to 2 on/2 off and before you know it I was only walking.

I must have thought about dropping about at least a dozen times. After the turn around the course was getting dark. The run course was closed to through traffic, but it was all in a residential area and there were spectators who were driving to different spots to watch. So there was quite a lot of traffic, but no street lights or sidewalks. I felt very uneasy, worried about getting flattened by a car.

I was wearing a reflective sticker but there was no light to guide my way unless I was nearing an aid station. It was pretty scary.

Gross.
Gross.

My feet were blistered, Advil worn off and I had 10 more miles.

Again I thought about dropping out.

It would be easy, stop at an aid station and wait for someone to pick me up… But I had gotten so far, I couldn’t let 10 miles get away.

I kept walking, hurting, swearing until eventually I could hear the main road that led to the finish. I wasn’t even excited, I just wanted to be done. I couldn’t even run. I waited until the last minute to start shuffling through the finish line (so that should be a good picture).

MiTi Hardware
MiTi Hardware

Luckily I parked close. After packing my gear and texting my family to let them know I wasn’t dead, I got in the car in time to see the last official finisher come down the final stretch.

Despite how my race turned out, I thought Michigan Titanium was a great race. The swim was beautiful, the course was challenging and it was well organized and run. My only criticism was the light on the run course, I was hard to navigate after dark and the cars out there were driving real fast. So with no sidewalk there was little room for error on a runner or driver’s part.

Bu I’d definitely race there again… In fact I think I’ll have to just to redeem myself!

MiTi 2014 registration opened up on Monday, so as I’m building my schedule for 2014 it’s something to consider. Michigan Titanium has also banded together with five other independently operated Iron Distance races around the country to form the Full On Triathlon Series starting in 2014, which is awesome.

Thanks again to MiTi Race Directors Doug, Ann and Andy (though I never got to meet Andy) for having me up to race, you put on an excellent event!