This is part 2 of the 2019 Duathlon National Championships. If you haven’t read part 1, click here!
After looking at the weather forecast for Sunday, I was dubious that we would get to race. Start time for the non-draft sprint was 1:00pm. As you can see from the picture to the right, the forecast called for 100% chance of thunderstorms at, yep, 1:00pm.
It was raining on and off throughout the morning and thankfully, there were no signs of lightning. However, about 30 minutes before the start of the race, event organizers called all the athletes to the start area to announce that the race would be turned into a super-sprint. So instead of the 5k run, 20k bike, 2.85k run that it was supposed to be, the race would now be a 2k run, 6k bike, and 1.35k run.
Just prior to the start of the race, tt was a torrential downpour with wind gusts exceeding 30mph. Bikes and helmets were strewn along the ground in transition so the athletes had to go back and make sure their area was secure. The sign showing athletes where to Run Out toppled over in the wind and a spectator crossing sign was felled too. Once the race got underway, it was actually fine, though.
Run 1- The heavens opened up
About 3 minutes before we started, the rain started to come down in droves. At that point, I couldn’t do anything but laugh! This was a duathlon turned into a triathlon! After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the starting horn blared to signal our departure.
I took the lead out pretty hard; I didn't want anyone getting the inside line on me. I went from 0-16.9mph (3:33/mile) in 13 seconds!
That didn't last long and I settled into a more comfortable pace (avg. 4:57/mile). A young kid came by me and took the lead for a bit but he faded quickly. Then Derek came by me and I stayed hot on his heels. I was surprised at how short the run actually was; 2k is not very far! Running down through the baseball fields, I took the lead and never looked back.
T1- That could have been embarrassing!
Time- 39 seconds
I had a quick T1 and shot out onto the bike. I almost crashed as I was mounting because my hands slipped on the bars from all the rain. That could have been embarrassing!
Bike- No time to waste!
I didn't even take the time to strap my shoes until the far turnaround because I was pushing so hard. The bike course starts uphill so you can't just coast and strap your shoes. Thankfully, my flying mount has gotten good enough that I can put my feet into my shoes right on the fly. I tried to stay as aero as possible on the ride- stacking my hands, keeping my head down, and having a flat back. At the far turnaround, I noticed that last year’s 2nd place finisher, Patton Sims, was only about 15 seconds behind me. He’s a really strong cyclist so I knew I had to keep pushing to stay ahead of him. I also forgot to push the "Lap" button after getting on the bike so I don't have any power data for that which I was really hoping to get.
T2- I am NOT going to run by my spot again
Time- 39 seconds
Thankfully, T2 was more successful today than yesterday and I was in and out.
Run 2- Just keep running, don’t look down
Upon exiting transition, I took a peek over my shoulder to see if anyone was close. Patton was only about 10 seconds behind me now so I really tried to push it. Both calves were cramping today, though, so I just tried to stay out of sight, out of mind. At the far turnaround of the run, Jacob Capin had taken 2nd place from Patton and Ryan Giuliano was running him down too. With about one tenth of a mile to go, I finally let myself relax and enjoy the run down the finish chute.
Finish Time- 21:56
1st Place Overall
It was a little disappointing we didn't get to do the entire distance but I understand USA Triathlon's decision so as to keep the athletes safe. You can see the sign in the picture on the left just above that it was blown off by the wind.
Crossing the line and taking the tape never gets old :) I now have 3 overall and 7 age group nationals championships to my name now. Only 33 more and I'll catch up to age-group legend, Kirsten Sass! hahaha
First, I’ve got to give a shoutout to my good friend, Rob Swartz. Rob is a fellow Michigander and he raced in the non-draft sprint too. Rob started a non-profit called Team Lucky Seven - named after his status as the 7th person in the WORLD diagnosed with microglial encephalomyelitis. Rob also started the Boyne City Triathlon in Michigan which is one of my favorite triathlons anywhere! He puts on a great event and has had 4-time Olympic triathlete, Hunter Kemper, to attend and guest host for the last 3 years. Rob is a stand-up guy and he medaled in his division.
If you want to learn more about Rob’s non-profit, click here —> https://www.teamluckyseven.org/.
If you want to read more about his story, check out this article USA Triathlon wrote about him here —-> https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/News/Articles-and-Releases/2019/April/10/Sport-as-Survival
And of course, I’ve also got to give a shout out to my dad. He drove the RV all through the night while I slept in the back. On the way home, he drove until 4:30am just so we could get north of Cincinnati and avoid traffic driving home in the morning. Because I won two national championships this weekend, he got one of my shirts. Nothing makes me happier than seeing that smile on his face!
Now, speaking of driving all night, we got really unlucky (or lucky depending on how you look at it). We were less than an hour from Grand Rapids driving down I-94 just west of Kalamazoo when all of a sudden, the right rear wheel completely fell off the RV. I looked out the passenger window and it was bouncing down the side of the road right next to us. It was like something out of a cartoon. Thankfully, there was no traffic around us at the time, we didn’t fishtail, and just skidded to a stop.
Honestly, at the time, I didn’t really think that much of it. At that point, we had been driving for a long time and I just wanted to be home so it seemed like a huge inconvenience to be so close to home and have this happen. I went back down the road and grabbed the wheel because why not. After waiting on the side of the highway for about 2 hours, we finally had a tow truck pick us up and tow us to the nearest repair shop in Kalamazoo. When we arrived at the repair shop and the guys took a look at it, they said 2 things. 1. How did you keep it from fishtailing and not flip over? And 2. We aren’t sure how it didn’t catch on fire.
The wheel bearing snapped off the axle and it was glowing bright blue. They said we were very fortunate that we didn’t flip or have the entire RV catch on fire. We were also very fortunate that we were so close to home that mom could come pick us up. (Thanks, mom! And sorry I was so terse with you! Love you today…tomorrow looks good too!) This could have easily happened in the middle of the night in the mountains of Kentucky or the middle of nowhere Ohio and the outcome could have been much worse.
The moral of the story is to be thankful for everything you have and not to take anything for granted. Yes, racing is fun and it’s cool to win races. But remember that it’s not a given that you will make it to (or from) a race healthy. Be thankful that you’re able to compete in whatever your sport is. Whether that’s triathlon, running, baseball, or something else. And just be thankful that you’re able to do whatever you can even if that’s not competing in a sport but life in general. It can all change so quickly so don’t take anything for granted. And make sure you tell your friends and family that you love them because you never know what your last words to someone will be. Love you all!