This weekend I was in Minneapolis for the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. The race has a long and storied history as one of the top non-drafting Olympic distance races in the U.S. and I was excited to finally make my first visit. I came away with a solid 8th place in a field that included top names like Matty Reed, Greg Bennett, Andy Potts, Cameron Dye and David Thompson. I knew I was in for a challenge, but now that I’m a ‘full-time’ pro, it’s time for me to start mixing it up with these top names. I flew in Thursday morning and was able to get in a solid bike and run before the heat came out. The pro meeting was short and sweet and the dinner afterwards was awesome with Reed, Dye, and Bennett relaxing two days before race day. The next day I had a great shake out with Matt and Cameron as I previewed the course and mentally prepared to race. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the amazingly accommodating and friendly Best Western Hotel provided by the race.
Race morning started with a shuttle ride to the race start and a perfect ride/run warm up. The weather was threatening and for a moment I thought the swim may be cancelled, but the women pros started right on time at 7:00am. The men started exactly 10 minutes and 43 seconds later to create an “equalizer” race. The first man/woman to cross the line would earn an extra $5000! The concept had been used in the past to add a bit of excitement to the race and it was great to see it back. We hit the water and I settled in with the top group right behind Greg Bennett. The pace was pretty smooth and everything was going well until about half way when Greg lost the feet of the guys in front of him (he actually apologized later… a class act)! By the time I realized we’d been gapped, I had 20m of open water to get back to the leaders! Luckily, I’ve been swimming well and was able to get back with the group and came out of the water with the first group chasing Andy and Cameron out of the water. I had a quick transition and headed out on the bike just ahead of eventual winner Matt Reed.
On the bike, I felt strong and immediately went to work over the relatively rough roads. My legs felt good and my ISM saddle kept me from getting too beat up. I lost time to the leaders and I know that a bike focus over the next few weeks and months is needed to put myself at the front of races like these. I held a steady 25mph pace despite having my seat post slip slightly over a particularly bad pothole and came into transition only losing one spot from my swim finish.
I hit the run running shoulder to shoulder with Brian Lavelle and we ran together for the first lap of the two loop course. Around mile 3, I was able to pick it up and put in a solid 5:25 mile to open up a lead and maintain my 8th place position through to the finish line. I felt stronger every mile that went by and ended up negative splitting a 35:14 run to cross the line in 1:56 and change. While my speed still isn’t where I’d like it to be, I feel like I can maintain a 5:45 pace for 13.1 miles which bodes well for the 3 half ironman races I have planned to end the season!
I’m sitting in the airport and am pleased with the way the weekend turned out. I’ve successfully managed my move to Richmond and I’m starting to see the benefits of added time to train and recover. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and months to really take advantage of the chance that has been given to me. Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in making it happen! Thanks to the race organization here in Minneapolis, the Best Western in Eagan, and of course my great sponsors! It was great to see Mike from BlueSeventy and the crew from ISM at the race. Kiwami Triathlon, Newton Running, First Endurance, and Great Clips Salons round out the team. I’ll be back in action at the end of the month back in Ohio at the Giant Eagle Triathlon in Columbus, OH. Until then, stay tuned to the blog for hopefully more training updates and triathlon-related goodies!