Racing for the Kids

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I’ve joined Team Save the Children again for this summer’s Minneapolis Triathlon, raising awareness and funds to help support the amazing work they do for children around the globe.

Millions of children throughout the world face chronic malnutrition, die from preventable illnesses, or are vulnerable to exploitation, violence or neglect. Save the Children saves countless lives by providing food assistance, medical care, education and disaster relief assistance. And 86.5% of donations go directly to those programs.

In 2017, I joined Team Save the Children for the Minneapolis Triathlon as a way to honor the memory of my dear friends’ daughter, Olivia. Through the contributions of friends, family and some very generous people who I’ve never met, together, we raised $1,420 that made life a little better for kiddos who urgently needed the help.

That support and generosity blew me away, and left me feeling overwhelmed with emotion on race day. What started as an effort to honor one child in particular became a message of hope for children everywhere.

The experience showed me how much positive impact can be driven when leveraging my triathlon efforts for a greater cause. And it’s what inspired me to once again join Team Save the Children in 2018.

I strive to be a positive role model, with hopes that my efforts will also inspire people to do something that helps others – whether it’s though contributions to my fundraiser or embarking on their own journey for change.

I’ve pledged to raise at least $500 for Save the Children and I need your help to get there. Please consider making a donation and share this page with others so they too can have the opportunity to make a child’s life happier, healthier and safer. Together, we can be the difference.

To donate, please visit my personal fundraising page here.

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New Distances in 2018

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I kind of thought I’d have this year’s race schedule a little more locked-in by now, but with a few core races decided on and registered for, my 2018 season is starting to take shape.

The plan so far

Trinona | June 10, 2018 | I’ll be kicking-off my triathlon season at the race where it all began for me. Trinona has a special place in my heart and I’ll probably compete in it for as long as I’m able. It’s the first triathlon I ever competed in. It takes place in the beautiful bluff country and river valley of southeastern Minnesota where I grew up. And it’s a race that some of my good friends are competing in now as well, which makes it even more fun with banter before, during and after. This will be my third consecutive year competing at this race, and fourth time overall. In 2017, I missed the podium in my age group by 16 seconds. I’ve registered for the sprint distance once again, with a goal of making this my best Trinona finish yet.

Minneapolis Triathlon | July 14, 2018 | New distance alert. I’ve registered for the International / Olympic distance for this race, which is twice the distance of a sprint. I’ll be swimming 0.93 miles, biking 24.5 miles and running 6.2 miles. I’m pretty excited to be taking my triathlon career to the next level. And I’m even more excited to be doing it as part of Team Save the Children, raising awareness and funds to help support the amazing work they do for children around the world (I’d be honored if you visited my personal fundraising page here). This is sure to be a special race on many levels.

Twin Cities Marathon | October 7, 2018 | Another new distance. Last fall I ran my first half marathon. This fall I’ll be running my first marathon. Tackling this distance wasn’t on my radar until last year. As my overall triathlon goals began trending towards an Ironman within the next few years, I realized I needed to start increasing my distances and exposing myself to the physical and mental challenges that come with them. But exposure to suffering wasn’t the only reason I chose to run a marathon. I’ve heard so many great things about this race specifically from past participants. It’s been dubbed the most beautiful urban marathon in America. It’s well organized and has tremendous fan support. The atmosphere is sure to be electric, providing a spark right when runners need it most.

Yet to be planned

I’d like to get a few running races under the belt prior my first triathlon of the year in June. A few options include the Hot Dash and Goldy’s Run, which both offer 5k and 10-mile options, and the Get in Gear event, which offers a 5k, 10k and half marathon. I’ve raced the Get in Gear 5k the last two April’s, but given my goals for this year, I’d likely target the 10k distance. A ten-miler at the end of March or early April might be a way to start the season with a bang though!

The biggest gap in my schedule is the second half of July through August. I’d really like to do four triathlons again this summer. With two already registered for in the early part of summer, this late summer window is the place to add them. A few local options include the Chisago Lakes Triathlon at the end of July and the Maple Grove Triathlon at the end of August. Or it may be time to look into a long weekend trication.

I was disappointed in learning that Life Time Tri races moved away from being USA Triathlon sanctioned, meaning the Minneapolis Triathlon will no longer be the regional qualifier for USAT nationals in August. I was really hoping to make my first run at the International / Olympic distance as an effort to qualify. However, it’s been a race I’ve always enjoyed and coupled with my opportunity to leverage race efforts as a way to bring positive change for kids around the world through Save the Children, it’s still a race I’ll continue to prioritize.

While I still have some planning left to do, one thing has already become clear — 2018 is going to be a year of new distances and new challenges. It’s going to take me out of my comfort zone. It’s going to push me harder than I’ve trained and competed before. But it’s also going to provide opportunities to get faster, stronger and smarter. The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. I’m ready to see how much farther I can go. Cheers to goals, growth and new experiences in 2018!

My 2017 Season Review

One of the best parts about challenging yourself is looking back after the fact and realizing all that you’ve accomplished. I kicked-off 2017 by setting a planned race schedule. What I didn’t realize then was that I’d be wanting even more challenges as the year went on.

I completed four sprint-distance triathlons, a half marathon and a handful of 5Ks (notable race recaps linked below):

Three of the above races were part of my planned schedule. The Rochesterfest Triathlon happened on a whim, which was empowering to know I was capable of completing races on back-to-back weekends. Entering the Monster Dash Half Marathon only became an idea just one month prior to race day. My training was opening doors I didn’t realize I could open.

In triathlon, I noticed growth with each race. I still recall my slight panic attack during an open water swim one week prior to Trinona – my first race of the year. By the end of the summer, I was swimming a half-mile with confidence in the choppy Lake Michigan waves surrounded by hundreds of other swimmers. On the bike, I was two miles per hour faster in my last two races compared to the first two. And on the run, wow, the speed built with each race. All four triathlons ended with a 3.1 mile run, with my times being 00:23:39, 00:23:05, 00:23:12 and 00:22:11 respectively. I was running 28 seconds per mile faster at the end of the year!

After the triathlon season wrapped-up, I shifted focus solely to running. I broke sub-seven minute miles at the TC5K, setting a new 5K PR of 00:21:12. That’s about the time I had the wild idea of attempting a half-marathon one month later. That was a lofty goal in itself given I only gave myself one month to build running distance and train for the event. It had me doubting my own abilities. But I crossed the finish line of the Monster Dash Half Marathon almost eight full minutes faster than my goal. That really drove home the idea that I’m capable of accomplishing more than I thought I could.

The most meaningful race of the year was the Minneapolis Triathlon. Competing in that event as part of Team Save the Children, raising funds for their worldwide relief efforts and raising awareness for child issues around the globe, all while honoring the memory of my dear friends’ daughter, was an experience that still brings a rush of emotions each time I think about it. Unlike my previous races, this race wasn’t about me. I became a vehicle for a larger cause. Realizing that I could use my triathlon hobby as a way to help bring positive impact for kiddos throughout the world was something I’ll not only cherish but also carry into future seasons.

Season highlights:

TrinonaFinishers

Racing Trinona with friends. The cheers and jeers were a plenty. Hopefully we’ll all be back in 2018!

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Taking 2nd Place in my age group at Rochesterfest. My first-ever podium. And it came just seven days after Trinona.

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Racing with Team Save the Children and honoring my dear friends’ daughter. This was an experience that I’ll cherish forever.

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Chicago. The whole weekend was a highlight. Lake Michigan. The skyline. The post-race pizza.

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Setting a new PR with sub-sevens at the TC5K.

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Channeling my inner-superhero to finish my first half-marathon. The jump from 3.1 to 13.1 in one month was a big one. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

2017 taught me a lot about what I’m capable of accomplishing. I saw growth from the start of the season to the finish. Most of all, it gave me confidence to tackle new goals, both faster and longer, in 2018.

Change of Pace: Enjoying the Out-season

Two months have passed since crossing the finish line of my first half-marathon, signaling the end of my 2017 running and triathlon season. Those two months have been much more relaxed than the previous ten.

My running schedule dropped from five times per week to one or two. I’ve saddled-up on the bicycle just twice, both times in my basement on a borrowed trainer. I’ve visited the pool twice as well, both times within the last week.

That reduced level of activity wouldn’t have cut it during the summer. But in the out-season, the change of pace has been a real treat. I’ve been able to say yes to impromptu happy hours, dinners, concerts and other fun without needing to consult my training schedule first. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, pets and friends. I’ve been able to rest, recharge and enjoy the holiday break.

My focus may have changed gears throughout the last two months, but it hasn’t been lost. I’ve kept diet top of mind, making many of the same snack and meal choices I made throughout the summer. I even took a metabolic calorie test to gain personalized data around what rate my body processes food and how much I need to consume for different activity levels. The frequent snacker in me was quite pleased with the results – 4,000+ calories on peak training days! And while my weekly run frequency dropped, I’ve been proud of the distance covered during each outing. Prior to starting the half-marathon training in October, I was running just over three miles per run. Now my go-to run has become five miles. That’s a bonus when considering my yet-to-be-blogged-about goals for next year.

Here’s a couple highlights from November and December:

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A 7.1 mile #OptOutside run on the day after Thanksgiving

Measuring my metabolism

Getting festive with my main man Mitch

Exploring Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas

Reading

I finished “You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon” by Jacques Steinberg a few weeks ago. It was understandably a little hard to follow given the tough task of bouncing between six age-groupers’ individual journeys to race day. But it was an insightful look at the commitment that athletes put into Ironman training along with the physical and mental battles they fight during the event itself. It was even a little surprising to find out how much the six paths crossed during the race.

I’m currently reading Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography “A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey“, and am about halfway through the book. Wellington has won every Ironman distance race she’s entered, including four World Championships at Kona. Talk about domination! Reading about her journey has been inspiring, and I still have half of the book to go.

Listening

I know I’m about ten years behind on this, but I’m starting to get into podcasts. Until recently, I’ve always gravitated to music when I need an audio fix. About two years ago I read “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll, an autobiography account of an overweight man on the verge of middle age who adopted a plant-based diet and a focused fitness routine that helped him become one of the world’s fittest men. He went on to complete five Ironman distance triathlons within one week – one on each of the Hawaiian islands. Wow. Mind-blowing. Rich has been someone I’ve looked up to and respected ever since reading his book.

Anyhow, back to the podcast topic. I discovered Rich Roll has a podcast — and it’s pretty great. His guests include athletes, coaches, nutrition experts, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders and more. I love that he’s also started posting video episodes on YouTube as well. My favorite recent episode was Rich’s November conversation with Lance Armstrong. My interests were very different back when the cycling doping scandal shook the sport years ago so I missed a lot of that news. Listening to Lance’s current perspective on the topic, along with hearing how he spends his days, opened my eyes to the significance of the scandal and left me wanting to learn more about the story.

Up Next

The year is quickly coming to a close. I’m in the process of reviewing my 2017 season and then hoping to turnaround a plan for next year. My interest in endurance and multisport events grew significantly over the last year. I’m excited to focus that energy into some defined goals for 2018!

Focused on Running

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It’s been one month since crossing the finish line at the Chicago Triathlon. I took a few days off afterwards to relax, celebrate and recover. Then I laced-up my sneakers and got back to running.

Sure, my 2017 triathlon season had ended, but that didn’t mean it was time to trade-in the training routine for a seat on the couch. It would be pretty hard to do so even if I wanted to. The daily workouts become habit. A day without one, unless it’s a planned off-day, feels like feels like a day with a hole in it. So I just kept on running.

Outside of a few leisurely bike rides and one visit to the pool, I’ve been averaging 15 miles on the feet per week. With distances between three and four miles, I’ve been bouncing between paces of 07:30 and 08:00 per mile. I’m not trying to push it too hard. Just maintaining fitness with miles on the legs and air in the lungs.

Over the weekend, I participated in the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend 5K. With a full summer of training under my belt I felt really good going into the race. My goal was to hit sub-seven minute miles. I’d done it once last fall, but just barely, with splits of 06:59 per mile in the Warrior Waddle. During the Chicago Triathlon just one month ago, I averaged 07:10 per mile and that was after swimming and biking. I knew sub-sevens were within reach.

I lined-up near the seven minute pace marker in the starting chute. There’s more than 2,500 participants in the event so it’s important to start near the front if you’re looking to run otherwise you’ll get caught-up in the pack until it spaces out. The course started and finished at the Minnesota State Capitol with a loop that went down Selby and Summit Avenues.

All of the cross training paid off. I was able to stick with my pace group throughout the race. And best of all, I achieved my goal, crossing the finish line with a time of 00:21:12 and an average pace of 06:50 per mile (71st place out of 2,503 participants). Sub-sevens and a new PR — heck yeah!

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Goals have also been top of mind over the last month. My goals for next year are starting to take shape and a blog post on that is sure to come in the following month or two. But I’ve also started to think a lot about my goals for two and three years from now. I recently finished reading “Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek, and am now reading “You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon” by Jacques Steinberg, if that gives you any clues.

Who knows, there may still be time to tackle one more goal yet this fall!

Race Recap: Chicago Triathlon

Swimming in Lake Michigan. Cycling on Lake Shore Drive. Running through the museum campus and into the iconic skyline. The Chicago Triathlon was breathtaking. Figuratively and literally.

Before the Race

This was my first time traveling out of state for a triathlon, so we added a few extra days to the trip and made a trication out of it. We packed-up the car on Friday morning and made the seven hour trek to Chicago.

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We stayed at the host hotel, which made packet pick-up a breeze by just taking the elevator down to the Multisport & Fitness Expo on Saturday morning. It’s no coincidence that one has to walk through the maze of more than 100 vendor booths before getting to back of the room where packets are obtained. I didn’t mind though; seeing the latest and greatest gear, nutrition and services just added to the excitement that built upon entering the exhibit floor.

I also decided to take advantage of the early bike racking on Saturday. Normally I just rack my bike on race morning, but given the almost 7,000 bikes that would end up in transition along with the athletes that would transport them there, I decided it might be good to just skip the race morning chaos and rack mine a day early. It turned out to be a good call. Unlike every other triathlon I’ve done, this event did not have assigned numbers on the rack. Each wave had their own row, but the individual spaces on that row were first come first serve. I lucked-out and got a spot on the front end of the rack, which would make it very easy to find. Considering transition was a couple hundred yards long, and my wave was at the far end of it, anything I could do to make my life easier would be good!

I enjoyed dinner with family and friends that night at Pequod’s Pizza – a Chicago staple. Surrounded by such great people, some of whom I hadn’t seen in more than six months, the natural tendency would be to let loose, have a few drinks and enjoy some heavy deep-dish pizza. But I stuck with my night-before-a-race routine and had one beer and a plate of pasta. It was really hard to pass up that pizza, but I knew trying something new the night before would be a risky move. After dinner, we all went to a local bar to take in the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight. I tipped back a few waters to stay hydrated and enjoyed the company of family and friends. However, I turned in early, missing the main event, so I could get to bed. It wasn’t easy leaving the fun, but Sunday was going to be a big day.

Race Day

My swim wave wasn’t until 9:15am, but I woke up at 4:00am to eat breakfast. I ate the same race-day breakfast I’ve eaten all season – an english muffin with peanut putter and a cup of yogurt. I like the early meal so my body has time to process the fuel and relax before the race kicks off. Normally I’d go back to bed after eating, and I certainly could’ve given the late transition window available to Sprint racers, but I was already awake, was anxious to see the water conditions and was too excited to not be a part of the pre-race action. I grabbed my stuff and joined the steady stream of athletes making the 30 minute walk to transition. Since I set-up my gear early, I was able walk back to the hotel and relax some more before walking the two blocks back down to the swim start.

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Pre-race smiles with my two biggest cheerleaders: my other half, Jamie (left) and my mom (right).

My wave was loaded into the start chute about 20 minutes prior to our scheduled start time. Here, I got the chance to watch a few waves before me take off on the wavy swim, and also chat with fellow triathletes. One thing I love about this sport is how nice and welcoming everyone is. Everyone is always excited to just talk about the sport, their past experiences, their goals for the day and offer any advice they can. It’s a wonderful community.

Finally at the sea wall edge, it was our turn to step down the bleacher stairs into Monroe Harbor and start treading the Lake Michigan water. This was the calmest I’ve ever felt before a swim, which surprised me given how not calm this new body of water was for me. I had never swam in chop and waves like this. But I knew I could do it. All of the three-quarter-mile practice swims at Lake Nokomis over the last month paid-off in providing new confidence that I was more than capable of handling this half-mile swim.

The horn sounded and we were swimming, all 150 of us from Wave 39. Congested is an understatement. It was hard to find any personal space for the first quarter-mile of the swim. I got kicked a lot and kicked a lot of others. I ran into others and was ran into by others. It’s just the nature of the beast. Outside of the pauses to stop and re-sight after running into someone of having my ankles grabbed, I only took one real pause on my own, which was to catch my breath after swallowing a poorly times lake wave. Once I found some space and found a groove, the swim was beautiful. The water was a fairly clear blue-green. To my surprise, the waves brought peace rather than stress, allowing me to feel one with the lake. I cruised to a new personal record on the swim, clocking-in at 00:14:18.

Swim Exit

Catching my breath and running at the same time. Ironic?

T1 was an animal like none other I’d experienced before. I was super thankful for the volunteers that helped guide each swimmer up the stairs and out of the water. Then I was off on a 450-yard run along the red carpet to transition. For those keeping score at home, that’s a quarter-mile! Then, once I reached the transition entrance, I had another couple hundred yards to run to reach my rack on the other end. By the numbers, 00:05:44 looks like a long time, but given I ran almost a half-mile and changed gear, I was pretty happy with that time!

The bike course was amazing. The sprint course was a 15-mile round trip out and back along Lake Shore Drive. On one side you had the beautiful views of Lake Michigan and on the other you had the downtown skyline. I tried to take it in as much as I could, but to be honest, I spent a good chunk of time with my head down and pedaling against the wind. I had only rode my bike two or three times since the Minneapolis Triathlon in early July. It was quickly evident that my bike training had slipped a little. My quads weren’t happy with me, but I powered through and gave it everything I had. Averaging just under 19mph, I was still happy with my ride.

Bike

I had pushed my legs so hard on the bike that I was a little nervous heading into T2, worried that my legs would wobble too much to stand after dismounting. My adrenaline must have given me the boost I needed though. I jumped off the bike, ran to rack my bike, swapped helmet for hat and bolted to the run exit.

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The quote in my head: “All it takes is all you got.” – Marc Davis

The run had been my strongest leg all year and that was top of mind heading out onto the course. I knew this was where I could really push it. It was time to give it everything I had left in the tank. The path was lined with spectators. Even though I knew none of them, I fed off of their cheers. I did my best not to think about the distance. I kept focus on the person in front of me, trying to pass them and then refocusing on the next person. After the turnaround, I ran around Shedd Aquarium where the view broke open into the iconic Chicago skyline. I could hear the cheering from the finish chute. I rounded the corner onto Columbus Drive and kicked it up a gear, setting a new run PR of 00:22:10 (07:10/mile) and crossing the finish line with a total time of 01:32:15. Wow, what a race!

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My 2017 Chicago Triathlon Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:14:18

01:54 min/100m

17/160

262/2275

T1

00:05:44

25/160

300/2272

Bike (15.0 miles)

00:48:25

18.59 mi/hr

55/161

540/2284

T2

00:01:39

2/159

19/2272

Run (3.1 miles)

00:22:11

07:10 min/mile

15/160

132/2274

Total

01:32:15

17/161

181/2283

After the Race

Getting a medal placed over your head is pretty great, but even more exciting are the congratulatory high-fives from family and friends. I was even greeted by two friends that made a sign to cheer me on, which was really cool. It’s pretty special to having the support of people that care about me enough to watch my races. There’s really only a few short moments of time where the athlete that a spectator is there to see can actually be seen during the race. Theres a lot more chunks of down time just waiting for that person to come back into view. Knowing that people care about me enough to invest that time is humbling. I hope my family and friends know how much those cheers mean to me!

Dave and Alex

Love the sign!

After the race, Jamie and I spent the afternoon down at Navy Pier. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating and lakeside views, kicked-up our feet and celebrated with a cold drink. The afternoon after a race is always a treat – you can eat and drink just about whatever you want and not even feel remotely guilty about it considering the work that was put in earlier that morning. This is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy life. It’s pretty great.

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Navy Pier

And now that the race was complete, you know I had to celebrate even more that evening. After holding back the night before, it was finally my time for deep dish pizza – Lou Malnati’s style!

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Of course we got the buttery crust!

Reflection

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I’m a lucky guy!

First, I have give a shout-out to Jamie. She somehow calmly handles my anxious tendencies leading up to a race. She’s my cheerleader and the first voice I hear heading into transition. She’s the first to raise a high-five at the finish line. As I juggle race-day emotions from doubt, anxiety and exhaustion to excitement, determination and celebration, her support never wavers. She even proudly called herself a TriWife during Chicago Triathlon weekend. She’s my other half, and I’m so thankful for her.

The Chicago Triathlon will be an experience I’ll always remember. The views were spectacular. Swimming in Lake Michigan pushed me out of my comfort zone and to new heights, giving me even more confidence in the open water. This was a big race, four times the amount of participants that I’ve competed against previously. Finishing 17/161 in my age group and 181/2283 overall shows me I’m capable of hanging in there with some great great triathletes. And I know I still have untapped potential in the tank. It’s bittersweet knowing my 2017 triathlon season is complete, but given the amount of support I have around me, and the drive inside me to keep getting better, I know I have a lot to be thankful for already and a lot to look forward to in 2018. Cheers!

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Race Recap: Minneapolis Triathlon

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It was the strongest and most meaningful performance of my young triathlon career. I finished with a time of 01:27:38, beating last year’s time by more than eleven minutes. I represented Team Save the Children, connecting my race efforts to a worthy cause. And it was all in honor of Olivia Ann Christiano.

Before the race

I knew it was going to be a special day. It was the culmination of months of fundraising for Save the Children, totaling $1,420 that will make life a little better for kiddos somewhere in the world. I was surrounded by family and friends, including Robbie and Alisha. I had joined Team Save the Children just seven months prior as a way to honor the memory of their daughter.

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This race was different than the others because, for this race, my body was a vehicle carrying a much larger message.

My emotions ran the gamut as I stood on the beach of Lake Nokomis, waiting for my wave to be called. I was anxious to get started. I was thankful knowing my friends and family were there to cheer. I was tearful knowing that Olivia was not, but at the same time, was inspired to be honoring her. I felt a lot of pride representing Team Save the Children. I was excited to compete.

Before I knew it, I was standing on the lake’s edge in front of a race official, our knuckles bumped together. Then he dropped his fist as he said, “Go!” and I dashed into the water. The race was on.

The Race

My goal was to finish in 01:30:00, which would’ve been almost nine minutes faster than 2016. That was a big chunk to cut off. I surprised myself, finishing the race in 01:27:38 — beating my goal by almost two and a half minutes, and beating last year’s time by eleven.

My MPLS 2017 Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:15:36

02:04 min/100m

9/27

131/539

T1

00:03:01

6/27

140/539

Bike (14.8 miles)

00:44:52

19.79 mi/hr

16/27

222/539

T2

00:00:59

1/27

6/539

Run (3.1 miles)

00:23:12

07:29 min/mile

8/27

75/539

Total

01:27:38

8/27

107/539

At 0.47 miles, the swim was almost twice the distance of the 0.25 milers of Trinona and Rochesterfest. Fortunately the water temperature measured 76°F on race morning, just two degrees below the limit for a wetsuit legal swim. Having the extra buoyancy of the suit gave me the peace of mind I needed to tackle the longer swim. Overall, I was pleased with my effort in the water. Sure, I still needed a few breaks from the freestyle to breast stroke, catch my breath, and regain bearings and composure, but even during those breaks I maintained focus on forward progress instead of treading water. The swim is still a hurdle for me (mostly mental), but with each race I become more comfortable and see more improvements in pace and time. I was a half-minute faster than last year.

Out of the water

I was pretty tired when I stepped back onto land, but I was quickly re-energized knowing the hardest part was over. I ran up the chute into transition, slipped out of my wetsuit, laced up my shoes, slapped on my helmet and shades, grabbed my bike and headed towards the bike exit. I shaved almost two full minutes off my T1 time from last year. I think I’m getting this transition efficiency thing down!

The bike leg was smooth sailing. Almost the entire length of the course contains new blacktop, which provides a lot of opportunity for higher speed. I passed a handful of people and got passed by a handful of other riders. It was rather uneventful. Just a 00:44:52 pedal grind. Looking back at that time, and seeing where it ranked against the field, I’m realizing that cycling is where I could use the most improvement. Every other category stayed within the top 140, but cycling, I ranked 222/537. It certainly makes sense given it’s the sport I train the least in of the three. Guess it’s time to reassess training efforts!

The second transition was a breeze. I racked my bike, removed my helmet, ran towards the run exit and was on the course in less than a minute. Much of that super fast T2 time can be attributed to me not changing shoes. My bike still has the stock platform pedals and I wear my running shoes for the last two legs. Eventually I should upgrade to clip-in pedals to maximize cycling power. Whatever time would be lost in swapping shoes would surely be made up for with a faster bike time.

Josh Running

I have to admit, I was feeling a little tired when I embarked on the run. My legs were gassed from grinding it out on the bike. I had been pedaling hard. But I kept with it. I kept repeating a running quote in my head: “Tough runs don’t last; tough runners do.” Looking across the lake and seeing how far away the finish line is can mess with your head. I tried to simplify the run into smaller increments. I kept my eyes on the person in front of me and tried to pass him or her. Then I set my sights on the next person. And again and again. That kept my mind distracted from the remaining distance. It worked. I had another strong run at 00:23:12 (07:29 per mile pace). The run has become my strong point all year and it feels pretty good to have that to rely on at the end.

Finish

My MPLS Tri Time Comparison

MPLS Tri 2016

MPLS Tri 2017

Swim (0.47 miles)

00:16:05

00:15:36

T1

00:04:47

00:03:01

Bike (14.58 miles)

00:51:04

00:44:52

T2

00:02:39

00:00:59

Run (3.1 miles)

00:24:11

00:23:12

Total

01:38:44

01:27:38

Reflection

This was the seventh triathlon of my career and by far the performance I’m most proud of. Physically, it’s probably my strongest performance to date. I crushed last year’s time. I finished eighth in my age group, which means only five people stood between me and the podium. That’s pretty cool to think about given the level of competition at this race. I’m trending in the right direction.

Sporting the Team Save the Children gear was a pride point of the weekend. It was truly an honor to represent an organization that in making a difference in the lives of kiddos around the globe each and every day. I thought about the important work they do throughout the race and that helped me keep things in perspective, and keep trucking along. I’m so thankful to everyone that donated to my personal fundraising campaign. Together, we helped make a difference in the lives of children somewhere in the world, who will now have a little better life because of our efforts and contributions. Thank you.

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And most of all, it was really special to do this in honor of Olivia. I thought about her throughout the race. My emotions were up and down, but they reminded me to keep going. I still remember the day I heard she left us so soon — I had no idea what to say to my dear friends Robbie and Alisha. I said I was sorry and I was here for them in any way I could be. But there really was nothing I could say to ease the pain. There was, however, something I could do to honor her and joining Team Save the Children for the Minneapolis Triathlon was it. Her memory lives on through the lives of the children positively impacted by the Save the Children donations. Every dollar raised, every swim stroke, every pedal, every step — it was for Olivia and her family. Robbie and Alisha, I love you guys.

This race will always be near and dear to my heart.

Thank You for the Support

Thank YouThanks to the generous donations from family, friends and some very kind people who I’ve never even met, I’ve raised more than fourteen hundred dollars in support of Save the Children.

I joined Team Save the Children seven months ago to honor the memory of my close friends’ daughter and I committed to raising at least $500. I was a little nervous if I’d be able to reach that goal, but I knew is would be totally worth the effort. I’ve been blown away by the generosity and support I’ve received ever since, surpassing the goal by almost three times. That money is going to make a direct and positive impact for some kiddos somewhere in the world that urgently need help.

To everyone who has contributed to this campaign, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tomorrow morning I’ll be standing on the beach of Lake Nokomis, waiting for my wave of the Minneapolis Triathlon to be called to the starting line. And I’ll be ready to give it everything I’ve got, hoping to make you proud. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of children throughout the world. Thank you.

Race Recap: Rochesterfest Triathlon

FinishLine

Less than 48 hours after my wild last-minute idea, I’ve completed my second triathlon within a week’s time and second overall for the year.

I finished with a time of 01:09:24 which was good for 2nd place in my age group and 27th place out of 114 participants overall. This was the first triathlon where I placed in the top three of my age group, so I’m super stoked about that. To be honest, I think it’s all still sinking in, which is making the smile on my face bigger and bigger as the day goes on. I’m sure it’ll still be there when I wake up tomorrow.

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My Rochesterfest Triathlon 2017 Results

Split

Split Pace

Age Rank

Overall Rank

Swim (0.25 miles)

00:08:35

01:57 min/100 yd

1/7

18/118

T1

00:02:26

3/7

57/118

Bike (10 miles)

00:34:42

17.3 mi/hr

3/7

45/117

T2

00:00:38

1/7

4/117

Run (3.1 miles)

00:23:05

07:27 min/mile

2/7

23/114

Total

01:09:24

2/7

27/114

My overall time was also 04:55 minutes faster than Trinona seven days ago. Rochester’s bike leg was one mile shorter than Trinona, but I was faster in every leg of the race except for the swim. My swim time was only 16 seconds slower and I can live with that. I opted for the wetsuit, which helped keep me warm pre-race and buoyant through the swim. Even with the wetsuit, I beat my T1 time from last week by nine seconds — and I didn’t even wear a wetsuit last week! It’s pretty great to see small improvements like this.

Jumping back to the swim. This was my first time doing a mass start from the beach. The previous races I’ve competed in all released two swimmers every three seconds, allowing for some more even spacing throughout the water. Today was different though. It was kind of fun to run into the water at the same time, but once in the water, it was immediately congested with swimmers. As I swiveled my head underwater in-between breathing, I was constantly presented with a view of kicking feet not far from my face. It took a little while to get used to, but the lake was clear, free of weeds and still pretty warm from the weather of the last week. It was quite refreshing to be in the warm water after spending 30 minutes on the beach in 62 degree air temperature.

AfterSwim

After running out of the water and into transition, I knew it would be all downhill from there. Well, I knew there would be some uphill climbs on the bike, but I’m speaking figuratively here. Swimming is my weakest leg, so once that’s complete, I feel like I can tackle the rest with a clear head.

The ten-mile bike ride turned out to be a challenge. The first five miles out to the turnaround were almost all into the wind. I was ok with that because I thought I’d have that wind at my back as I powered through the last five miles to transition. Wrong. It felt like the wind changed, greeting my face with a smirk of its own for most the ride back.

My legs were exhausted as I hopped off the bike, racked it in transition and embarked on the run course. It took about a half mile to shake off the circles my legs were used to moving in. Once I loosened up though I felt like I just kept getting faster with each step. And my time showed the results with a 07:27 min/mile pace. That’s 11 seconds per mile faster than last weekend and 34 seconds faster overall. Again, more improvements.

It seems like just yesterday that I learned about the Rochesterfest Triathlon, which makes sense because it basically was just yesterday. I’m glad I acted with my heart instead of my head and just went for it. Sure there were risks. Was I doing too much too fast? I don’t really know. What I do know is that I can look back and know that I did two triathlons within a week’s time. And I got a little faster in that time too. Each event teaches me something, either about racing or life. Sometimes you just have to go for it. And I’m glad I did.

Rochesterfest Triathlon on a Whim

RochesterTriRegistration

Two triathlons in seven days? Sure, why not.

It started with a conversation about a friend of a friend who was doing a triathlon on Sunday (which is now tomorrow already). Naturally, I was intrigued. What was the name of the race? Where was it being held? What were the distances? I just wanted to know more out of curiosity. Then I realized I didn’t have any plans for the weekend and was free on Sunday. “Hmmm, were they still accepting registrations?” I wondered.

I jumped on the Rochesterfest Triathlon website and found that they were indeed offering walk-up registrations during packet pick up until the race was full. So that’s what I did. I drove one hour down to Rochester, MN and registered for my second race of the year, exactly one week after Trinona.

Why choose to do this? Well, I figured I could use the open water swim experience as I thought I could’ve done better last weekend. And honestly, it just sounded like fun. That’s what’s really important anyways. Go out, compete and enjoy the experience. It’s pretty simple when stated that way.

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Since this will be my first time participating in the Rochesterfest Triathlon, I drove down to Foster Arrend Park to familiarize myself with the lake and transition area.

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The buoys were already out on the water, but I’m not really sure if they’re in the final spot for tomorrow. The manmade lake looked really calm, which should make for a smooth swim. My only concern is how much the temperature is supposed to drop tonight. With a forecasted air temperature of 62 degrees, I’m not sure if that will also make for cold water temps too. I’ll pack my wetsuit just in case and make a decision in the morning.

RochesterTransition

The transition area construction was well underway but empty of  any bicycles. It was like a two-wheel ghost town. The races I’ve previously competed in have had many athletes racking their bikes the day before the event. So tomorrow morning, the transition will be bustling with activity and all of the athletes rack their bikes, prep their gear and start mentally preparing for the swim – a swim from which I gather is more a “mass” start for each wave versus releasing swimmers in pairs every few seconds. I could be wrong, but I guess I’ll find out at the swim start.

There’s certainly an element of the unknown for me in this race. Except for a few glimpses of the swim course, I know almost nothing about the course. But how could I? I made the decision on Friday night, registered in-person at packet pickup on Saturday afternoon and will be racing on Sunday morning. Not a ton of time to prepare. But in a way, that’s kind of exciting!