There are a lot of great ways to train for and win a race. This is not one of them.
It was a seemingly good idea back in February. Get together with friends (who I also coach), capitalize on our strengths in each discipline and go rip up the field at a Minnesota Tri Series race as a stacked relay team under the Soles Inspired brand name. Following his success as the fourth person out of the water at the USAT AG National Championship, Josh (left in the pic) would hammer the swim. After a long year of life in Zone 5 moonlighting as a spin instructor, I (right in the pic) would ride my bicycle. A 2:58:53 marathoner, Drew (center in the pic) would rock the run for us.
Then Josh welcomed his first-born into the world. And I injured my knee and couldn’t ride for the month leading up to the race. And Drew got a real job and started to run again only a month before the race after a 6 month hiatus. Perfect.
So, we show up on race day in Baxter, Minnesota looking and feeling our best with a collective 60 extra pounds of love on our formerly svelte triathlete frames. The goal became simply to go hard and have fun. Drew added the additional goal of not throwing up, which was a bit ambitious I felt given our situation.
With the possible exception of a yoga studio, a triathlon on race day is generally where I feel most at home. Nervousness is not something I’ve ever really dealt with. Yet as I walked around T1 waiting for Josh to exit the water and hand off to me, I realized I was out of my league. There were many cycling dorks with shaved legs and full kits riding their second bike on a trainer to warm up just outside of transition. Me? Only two days prior I contemplated riding my steel framed single-speed commuter. Sucked in to a bit of the peer pressure, and knowing my trainer and second bike were 150 miles away, I warmed up the best way I could – a nice easy jog. Barefoot. Around the parking lot. It was moronic and I’m glad there are no photos of it.
Josh exited the water in second place, averaging 1:28/100m for the 1/2 mile splash. Not bad.
Once in the saddle everything went fine. The course was pancake flat except for the two little bumps that the flatlanders from the city insisted to drone on about during pre-race banter, referring to them as the “two big hills.” I finished the 17 mile bicycling portion of the race in 45:27 minutes, averaging 22.8 mph. Good enough for the second best bike split of the day.
Drew held on during the 3.9 mile run for a 26:27 averaging 6:46 miles and fulfilled his real goal of not puking on camera. Again, not too shabby. (And don’t worry – I’ll talk to him later about the heel strike.)
First place. Forever immortalized in the local paper.
Who woulda thunk it? I guess this is where I should plug my coaching services, but this just further proves my theory that there is really only one key to placing high (or, on rare occasions, winning): Show up to small town races and hope for the best.
And how, might you ask, do a group of two healthy athletes and their very healthy vegan coach celebrate such a victory? By leaving the race and going to the bar. On Sunday. At noon. In a John Deere tractor.