Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US OPEN Race Report

I know I'm a little slow to get this report up. These days with so much race coverage being posted on Facebook, I feel my blog has become a little redundant. Even so, I want to keep my string of race reports alive…

For someone who typically races every weekend, the 6 week gap between Nationals and the US OPEN was certainly a change. With Kerry and many friends racing Ironman Wisconsin, I was busy playing full time Sherpa. Kerry is ALWAYS there as super support guy, so it was nice to finally have the chance to be on the sidelines and return the favor. That day certainly deserves its own post, but I’ll lazily point to a few favorite peeps who shared their journey across the farmland: jmac, Kerry, Erik.

I’ve attended each US OPEN since the inaugural race in 2007. Lifetime Fitness does an amazing job supporting top Amateurs by rewarding the top 5 finishers in each of their series races (Minneapolis, NYC, Chicago, LA) with complimentary race entry, airfare and hotel for the Championship race in Dallas. Like last I couldn’t turn down the offer even though it was just 5 days before the Ironman World Championships. I'm pretty sure only Andy Potts and I did the double!

After winning the race in 2007 and finishing 5th last year, I was eager to go back and try to regain the top spot on the podium. I knew it would be a very competitive race, but I was excited to face the best from across the country.

Kerry and I arrived on Saturday, and while staying connected to the Ironman World Championship coverage most of the day, I was able to get my bike together, get checked in, and somehow prepare for my race the next day. I’m not really sure if it was good or bad, but I was so consumed by the events in Kona that I didn’t think too much about my own race until I boarded the bus the next morning. I actually watched the final finisher cross the line in Kona as I walked out of my room just before 5am CT. Just the inspiration I needed!

Weather was less than optimal with a light mist and temps in the 50s and the water temp hovering near 68 didn’t improve the situation. Luckily there wasn’t too much idle time and before I knew it, the race was underway. The Championship wave was small but fierce. I knew I needed a great swim/bike to be in contention, so I didn’t hold anything back. I was swimming off the front, feeling pretty strong, but when I excited the water in the lead, there was a pack just behind me. YIKES!! We were all racked in the same place, so with 4 or 5 of us in T1 together I was pretty nervous for how the race would unfold. I typically like to get out on the bike ahead using the “out of sight out of mind” philosophy, but that was not happening this time. I was on the bike first, but the pack was right there. Despite freezing on the bike, I managed to find a groove early on. I stayed in front until about half way, when both Lindsay Whalen and Mandy McClane passed me. That sort of woke me up, and then there was a little back and forth action between the 3 of us. Eventually, it was just Mandy and me, but with wet roads, and some wheel sucking potholes it was hard to get too aggressive. Knowing Mandy is a great runner, I knew I had to build up a lead heading into T2. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I managed to come out of T2 in the lead, but within the first half mile, Mandy came zooming by. She looked great, fit and motivated. I did my best to stay with her, had one of my best 10K splits of the year, but still fell about 45 seconds short.

Here’s the race recap from Jerry MacNeil.

I have the Monster Dash Half Marathon this Saturday. It’s my final strong run before Clearwater, but there’ll be no shortage of hilarity out there. Facebook has spoken, and my costume has been chosen. Kerry is on photo crew, so I’ll be sure to provide a little comedy here next week.

Have a FUN Halloween!