I was in the windy city this weekend to race the Lifetime Fitness Chicago Triathlon. Despite the city living up to it's billing, I came away with my best race in many attempts with a 10th place finish and bike/run splits that were my fastest since first racing here in 2008.
It was a mild, windy day as the 11:30 race start approached on Sunday. The swim was non-wetsuit and the water was very rough, so it looked like a good opportunity for strong swimmers to make an impact on the race. I started out comfortable and quickly found myself in the front group as we rounded the first bouy. The waves were small and choppy, which made it tough to find a solid tempo. I worked my way up through the group to come out of the water in 3rd place just a few seconds away from Hunter Kemper and the swim prime.
The 600m run to transition all but neutralized my strong swim and I came into T1 in 8th place right in the mix with the leaders. The short sprint followed by the first few miles of hard riding exposed my weakness and I fell back to 9th 5 minutes into the bike. I keep my effort steady and fought the headwind heading North on Lakeshore Drive. My ISM Saddle saved me from the man-eating road conditions as I maintained my position and started making up ground on a few of the leading cyclists. I was passed around mile 20 by Dave Thompson, but was able to keep him in my sights for the rest of the ride and came off the bike in 10th place just behind Dave and Filip Ospaly. Despite the wind, my bike split was almost a minute faster than years past! I took off on the run with the wind at my back and feeling strong.
I clicked off 5:30 miles for until the turn around, where I saw I was just over a minute behind the next runner. Unfortunately, a group of 2-3 other racer had made up a bit of ground on me! Turning into the wind, I pushed myself to maintain the gap and finish the last three miles quickly to accomplish my top 10 goal. Despite being a bigger target for the wind than some of the smaller runners, I was able to come in just over 1:56 for a 10th place finish and a run split that was again better than all of my previous years. I was happy to continue my streak of finishing in the top ten and making a bit of money as well.
After the race, it was great to visit with a bunch of great people who had come out to watch the race. It's amazing how much energy comes from a bit of support! Based on my current training and the past few results, I'm extremetly excited for my last three races of the year. I've been racing olympic distance races all year and will now switch to the longer and better-suited 70.3 distance. It should be a great way to end the year and begin the process of qualifying for the 2012 70.3 World Champs. I'm headed to 3 Sports of Richmond for a Retul Bike fit next week to dial everything in for the 56 miles of cycling fun that comes with the distance!
I want to send out a big thank you to David Carlins and Gloria with Magellan Development for hosting me at the beautiful Aqua in Lakeshore East and making the weekend enjoyable. I was lucky enough to get in a swim session at the Aqua monday before I flew home and it was as close to paradise as you can find! Of course thank you to the race organization for continually putting on a first-class race year after year. My sponors are always there with support: BlueSeventy (saw Mike cheering on the run!), Kiwami Triathlon (Sorry I missed Andre at the Expo), Newton Running, First Endurance Nuturtion, ISM Saddles (Saved my butt on LakeShore), Great Clips Salons, and 3 Sports of Richmond.
Finally, I always have the Blazeman Spirit in me when training and racing. The courage and fighting spirit of the Blazeman is something we shoudl all apsire to. Check out the latest breakthroughs of the foundation and give them your support! I'll be back in action in a few weeks up at Syracuse 70.3. See you there!