Quinoa Flake Bake

If you're unfamiliar with Quinoa, it's a grain native to South America.  The big benefit to eating quinoa is that it's the only grain that is a complete protein, meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids (essential amino acids are amino acids our body cannot produce themselves so we must get them through out diet).  This has made it a staple in a lot of vegan diets.

One of the amino acids that quinoa has in abundance is lysine, which is essential for tissue repair and growth.  That makes it good for triathletes constantly trying to recover from big workouts.  I saw some claims that lysine helps athletic performance but couldn't find a real study to back that up.  But it does aid in tissue repair and growth, and that aids recovery which aids athletic performance so I suppose you could argue in a roundabout way lysine aids in athletic performance.

I like quinoa, but it's a little dry and flavorless.  That sounds bad, but it's not really.  Chances are you won't dislike quinoa, but you'll probably feel like it needs a little something for flavor.  So when I make quinoa I typically add cinnamon and dried fruit to it - cherries typically.  I've read that a lot of people mix eggs in with quinoa, so I think I'm going to try that.

In my searches to find ways to make quinoa a little more flavorful, I found this recipe for Quinoa Flake Bake (using Quinoa Flakes).  

It's quick, simple and tastes great.

Quinoa Flakes, Chia Seeds, Cinnamon, Applesauce and Raisins.  That's all you need.
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar [optional - it's great without it!]
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • handful of raisins
  • handful of coconut [optional]
All you do is combine everything in a bowl.  I was making two flake bakes - one for me, one for Courtney - so I doubled up on the ingredients.

Mix everything together and then put it in a small dish.  I used a 16 oz CorningWare container that I coated with coconut oil.

Ready to cook.

Then you put it in the microwave for about 4 minutes.  Since I was doing two, I did 5 minutes and they turned out fine.  I might play around with the time a bit to see how that affects it.  You know it's done when the top hardens a bit and the sides pull away from the dish.

Finished product.

I then took the flake bakes out of the dish and onto a plate.  I topped it with a few more raisins and some real maple syrup.

Aunt Jamima has nothing on this syrup, but it's really high in calories so I use it very sparingly...and it's really expensive.  If I remember right this bottle was about $15 at Whole Foods.

 Each flake bake is about 350 calories, and since I need more than that for breakfast I made some scrambled eggs with rosemary, basil and a little goat cheese.

A healthy way to start the day.  

The flake bake was really good, and I'll definitely make it more often.  I usually eat breakfast before going to work, but Courtney eats breakfast at work (she doesn't like to eat right away after waking up).  So I think this flake bake is going to work out.  I can make a double batch and cook mine right away and put a cover on hers and she can take it to work and nuke it when she's ready to eat it.  

I love the quick, easy, healthy recipes.  I like to eat healthy and do enjoy cooking, but it's hard to find the time to make healthy meals sometimes so it's nice to have quick, easy meals like this to whip up when you don't have tons of time to cook. 


Race Report: Door County Half

This was my second trip up to Door County for the triathlon, and I was once again impressed.  I thought they did a great job last year, but this year they outdid themselves.  The weather this year was brutal - low to mid 90s, very humid, sunny, light winds....tough day for a half ironman.  It reminded me of the conditions I had to deal with in Florida.  The race director added more aid stations and brought in more ice and water.  Well done.  If you're thinking about doing this race, you should.  It's very well run, and I've yet to hear anyone say they would never return.  The course is challenging but good.  


Courtney and I arrived on Saturday, the day before the race.  I booked the hotel a little too late and ended up in the Comfort Inn instead of the AmericInn in Sturgeon Bay.  Trust me on this one, go with the AmericInn if you can get it.  The Comfort Inn was good enough, but the AmericInn was a lot nicer.

Wow.  Check out the carpet.

We went to the race site, got my packet and then headed to the hotel to check in.  Then we met my parents for dinner at Woldt's (right by the Comfort Inn).  Their hours are "7am - Close."  It doesn't get much clearer than that.  

I've noticed I've been having some great workouts lately the day after eating red meat, so instead of the traditional pasta dinner the night before a race I went with steak and boiled red potatoes.   After dinner, we went back to the hotel and got everything ready and went to bed.

Race Morning:

One thing the Door County Tri does that I love is assigned transition areas.  You might not get the spot you really want, but it's nice not having pressure to get there really early to get a good spot and then having a lot of time to kill.  And since the race didn't start until 8 am, I got to sleep until 5.  That's late for race morning.  We left the hotel about 6:10 and got to the race about 6:30.  It was already hot and muggy.  I got my timing chip, got body marked, set up transition and then headed out for a short warm up on the bike a little after 7.

My bike in transition.

Just before heading out for my warm up.

The Swim:
This was the first race in quite a while that I haven't been in the elite wave.  I can't remember for sure, but I don't think they were going to do an elite wave when I signed up so I didn't have the option. They later added one (or maybe I just found out late - can't remember the details) but if you went in the elite wave you weren't eligible for age group awards (per USAT rules).  This rule makes no sense to me, but I'm not going to go on a rant about that.  I figured I wouldn't be in contention for top 3 overall, so it made more sense to go after an age group award.  So I was in wave 8 as opposed to wave 1.  It was a little weird having so much time to kill and actually watching the race for a while before starting.

The water was about 69 degrees which felt really good on such a hot day.  If I was a better swimmer I would have skipped the wetsuit.  I've been working on my swim lately (as usual) and had come into this race with a PR on my mind.  I recently swam a solo 1.2 miles at Devil's Lake in 31:30 on a calm day so I figured I'd shoot for a 31:30 with hopes of breaking 31.  After the swim start, you turn right and swim a few hundred meters and then turn around and swim a straight line to the shore.  I was hanging with the group the best I could and drafting as much as possible, but I noticed we were really cruising which told me we had a current.  That means that for the bulk of the swim, we would be working against the current.  I didn't give up hopes of a PR but knew it was going to be tougher than planned.  

Early in the swim

I felt good in the water until the halfway point.  Some of the older athletes complained that they're always in the last waves and they're the slowest so they never see anyone on the course, so the race director put them in the first few waves.  That's great until you swim into the back of them because they're doing the breaststroke.  So I had to work my way through the slower swimmers from earlier waves, and that got tough at times.  I came out of the water in 33:18.  

I noticed swim times across the board were slower than last year, so I'm using that to convince myself that I have in fact improved my swim and that it was just a tougher swim.  But no excuses.  I set out for a 31:30 and only swam a 33.  My work in the water continues.


Transitions are usually very smooth for me, and this one was for the most part.  But I stumbled as I got to my bike and smacked my lip on my brake lever and gave myself a bloody lip.  I don't know if I tripped on something or if I was dizzy from the swim.  It was weird.  That's never happened to me before (I have fallen down in transition from being dizzy though, but that was an aquathon so no bike to smack my face on - I was taking my wetsuit off and the next thing I knew I was staring at the clouds).  Time:  1:13

The Bike:

I went easy on the bike.  How's that for a change of pace?  I knew my run fitness was going to be lower than I wanted, but I still wanted to have a good run.  I'm tired of being the clumsy cyclist who sets a fast bike time and moves backwards on the run.  It's time to be a little more balanced, so I figured I'd back off on the bike and see what happens. Plus, with the heat I figured it would be a good idea and pay off in the end. I'm not sure it did, but I'll give it another shot on a day with better weather.

My dad finds the bike portion of a triathlon to be very exciting.

I rode 10 watts lower than last year and 25 watts lower than my training rides.  It felt a little weird to take it easy in a half, and I'm not sure I liked it (by easy, I mean easier...I was still doing tempo so it's not like I was putzing around).  I soaked myself with water at all the aid stations and tried to drink a lot but I'm not sure I drank enough water.  I had one bike water bottle, half a bottle of gatorade and 3/4 of a bottle of water.  I only drank half my Perpeteum so that was about 130 calories, I dropped my gel and ate one hammer bar.  With the gatorade, I probably had 300 calories on the bike.  I don't know why, but I hate eating and drinking on the bike in a half ironman.   I need to work on that...I said that going into this race and still screwed it up.

Time:  2:24:50


They had an aid station as you entered transition so I grabbed a bottle of water and dumped it over myself (why I didn't drink it instead I do not know).  I had a flask with gel, water and a salt pill so I took that (200 calories) and put on my shoes, grabbed my visor, race belt and fuel belt and headed out on the run feeling really good.  My legs felt great and I didn't smack my face on anything this time.  Time:  1:09

The Run:

The run started out a little rough.  My legs felt good, but I quickly developed a horrible side ache that forced me to walk a couple of times (outside of my planned run/walk).  I think the side ache was from my Perpeteum.  Heat and Perpeteum don't mix well, and even though I froze it the night before I think it got hot and went bad.  

By mile 5 of the run, my side ache felt better and I dropped the pace from 7:45s to 7:30s.  I was in a great mood and loving the race.  The heat wasn't bothering me at this point.  The first big hill before running back into Egg Harbor was brutal, but I survived it and looked forward to running back into town where I was sure Courtney and the family would be.  I ran past them smiling, soaked my head in a sprinkler and went on my way. 

By mile 9 my pace was slowing and fatigue was setting in.  The big hill at mile 10 was brutal.  I ran most of the way until I realized I wasn't catching someone walking, so I walked the hill.  At the top, I figured the last 3 miles wouldn't be too bad since the big hills were now behind me.  Wrong I was.

The last 3 miles of this race were a hell that cannot be described.  No shade, no spectators, no nothing.  I could feel the heat radiating off the road, and I was beat down and tired.  I had only taken in two gels during the run and had only had about 30 ounces of water at that point.  I was tired, over-heated and dehydrated.  I was struggling.  I was thinking about Kona.  I wondered how I could possibly run a marathon in heat like that.   I wanted to walk to get my heart rate down, but I wouldn't let myself.  "This is Kona training," I told myself.  I pushed hard, real hard, and only managed an 8:20 pace.  I wondered how people make it through Badwater.

I hit the final aid station, took in some water and soaked myself down and walked for a minute (my walk breaks are supposed to be 30 seconds).  Then I dug deep and finished off the race.  

Time:  1:46:32

Overall:  4:47:04

My goal for this race was to break 4:30, so I came up well short of that goal.  But it was a tough day and a lot of people struggled.  My time was good enough for 10th overall and 2nd in my age group so I'm happy with that.  

My quest to break 4:30 on a legitimate course continues (I broke 4:30 at the Spirit of Racine a few years ago but those who did that race know that wasn't legit).  

Right after crossing the finish line there was an ice bath available.  It had a lot of ice in it, and I was a little nervous to climb in.  I love ice baths, but this looked cold and I was really hot.  To make matters worse, there was a camera man there filming me.  I tried to look calm and casual, but I don't think I pulled that off.

The water came up to my chest and took my breath away.

Overall I'm happy with how the race went.  I didn't hit my goal times, but it was a tough day so I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  I got to the finish line, got an age group award and didn't have any knee or hip pain.  This injury may finally be behind me.

The Drive Home:

The AC in my car broke about a week ago so we had to drive home from Door County (3.5 hours) in 94 degree heat and humidity with no AC.  It was as tough as the race.  And to make matters worse, it turns out spectating at triathlons is dirty work.  I had to drive home with these feet:

Courtney's dirty foot.

Next up:  Janesville Twilight 5K. 


If you could only choose one sport...

I don't know what got me thinking about this but...

 ...if you could only choose one of the three triathlon sports to continue for the rest of your life and you had to give up the other two, which would you choose?

I think you all know I'd give up swimming.  That's easy.  But the other two...not so easy.

I started out with cycling and love the sport. And it's my strength.  So you'd think I'd pick that one hands down.  But no.

I'd pick running.  Here's why in no particular order:

1.  Time.  Most of my runs are at lunch and are 45 minutes.  Long runs are usually around 2 hours, sometimes longer when an event is near.  My bike rides range from 2 hours to 6 hours, with my typical ride being 3 hours for 50-60 miles (Tuesday and Thursday evenings).  When I did my run focus I ran twice a day, but even that was only 90 minutes total usually.  My Saturday long rides eat up a good part of the day, even if I get up early.  But if I get up early and do my long run right away, I'm home by 9 am with the rest of the day ahead of me.

2.  Cost.  You can kit yourself out in top of the line running gear for about $200 - shoes, shorts and a shirt.  You can spend money on gps watches and nice jackets, but you don't need to spend much money to get started.  Cycling?  Top of the line will cost about 10 grand, and even entry level is going to be about 2 grand.  You have more gear you have to buy, and then there's maintenance costs.  With running you only need new shoes every once in a while.

3.  Travel.  It's a whole lot easier to travel to a race when all you need is shorts, a t-shirt and running shoes.  And you won't have to pay $300 to bring your bike on the plane.

4.  You can't buy speed.  Running races are all about who's fastest.  In cycling, you can buy speed - time trial bikes, skinsuits, aero wheels, aero helmets, etc.  If someone outruns you, you know it's because they were faster.  Not because they dropped 4 grand on a set of wheels.

5.  Winter.  It's a whole lot easier to run in the winter and stay warm than bike.  And even if you have to head indoors, you can get in better workouts in less time running.  Being on the trainer for hours on end is horrible.

6.  Mechanicals.  You can have rides ruined by mechanical problems or flat tires.  I suppose you can have an issue running, but it's going to be very rare that your equipment keeps you from finishing your run.

7.  The running season is a lot longer so you can get in more races.  

8.  It's safer. I don't really worry about getting hit by a car while running, but I do on the bike. 

Those are the main points I can think of.  One big negative to running is injuries.  Running is a lot harder on your body, and I think a lot more people get injured running than cycling.  

Luckily, no one is making me choose so I still get to do all three sports.  Speaking of that, it's time to start preparing for the Door County half ironman Sunday.  My training has gone well the past couple of weeks so I'm looking forward to the race.  There are still some unknowns with my run, but I think I've managed to get in enough volume recently to have a decent race.  

Should be fun.



Race Report: Pardeeville Sprint Triathlon

Saturday morning was the Pardeeville sprint triathlon - 1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.  After the race in Janesville last week, I was really itching to get out and race again.  I woke up at 3:45 am ready to roll (no, I didn't set my alarm for 3:45 - just anxious).  I got an early start to my pre-race prep and while I wasn't the first bike in transition, I was the first bike on the elite rack.  I won the race to transition. 

It was a beautiful day - warm, sunny, low humidity, calm winds.

Before I go into my race report, I want to say two things.  

1. This was my first time racing Pardeeville and it's a great race,  I loved the course and will most likely return next year.
2. Pardeeville is nothing like Margaritaville.

The Swim:
Not a whole lot to say about the swim.  I started right behind a guy who used to swim with on the Swimfast group hoping I could stay on his feet the whole time and get pulled to a solid swim.  Not a chance.  He set the second fastest swim and I set the 19th fastest.  I'm working on my swim and absolutely refuse to give up on this sport, but it continues to be my weakness.  It's time to start hitting the swim with some of the volume I do on the bike and run.  If I slack off in my training, it's usually in the swim and my results reflect that.  So it goes.

Swim Time:  6:26
My first thought when I saw this pic was "where the heck is the guy in the QR wetsuit going" but then I remembered the first buoy was to our left so he's not really going the wrong way.

The elite wave swimming toward the first buoy.
Courtney did a great job getting pics today.

When I came out of the water I was unzipping my wetsuit when a volunteer grabbed my arm to help me out of the water.  When he did that, the cord to my zipper slipped out of my hand.  In the above picture you can see me trying to find it to finish unzipping my wetsuit - it's sitting on my shoulder.  There's a fairly long run to transition so I eventually found it and got my suit unzipped before getting to my bike, but I was freaking out for a little while there.  I thought I was going to have to bike in my wetsuit.

T1 was quick.  I set the 2nd fastest T1.  1:21

Coming out of T1 heading out on the bike.
The Bike:

The bike was pretty good.  Much, much better than last week.  I started out easy and settled in, then picked up the pace.  I made up ground quickly and had the lead group of 3 in my sights by the 5 mile mark...or what I thought was the lead group.  It turns out there was one guy, Dale Humphrey, out front.  Once I got close to them, I couldn't catch them.  I made up a little ground but couldn't close the gap.  It was a little frustrating. I pushed a little harder, but the gap remained about the same.  
Overall, my power was still lower than I want for a sprint tri, but much higher than last week and I was able to push the whole time.  I probably could have gone faster, but I wanted to save something for the run.  I wonder if I would have been able to put out more watts if I hadn't done my long brick on Wednesday, or if it's more a matter of a lack of intensity in my training.  I don't do a lot of intensity - especially this year with my injury.  I'm not saying I had a bad bike - 4th fastest - and I'm happy with it.  But I feel like my sprint tri power should be higher when compared to my threshold.  Something to work on, I guess.

Time:  36:47 (24.8 mph)


Again, pretty quick at 51 seconds.  7th fastest.  I struggled to get in one of my shoes and that cost me a few seconds.  

Running out of transition.

The Run.
This year, this is where I get nervous.  Is my knee and hip flexor fully healed?  Will I reinjure it?  Am I being stupid doing this race?

As it turns out, I had a decent run.  Like every sprint tri, the beginning of the run was a little rough.  It's a tough transition and it takes me a little while before I feel good running.  

About 1/4 mile into the run.

I started the run in 5th and could see 3rd and 4th in front of me.  I really wanted a podium spot, but catching 3rd was going to be tough.  He had a decent gap.  4th was pretty close so I set my sights on that.  

For the entire run, I was uncomfortable and my legs felt weak - like jello.  

 [edited to cut out the part about me whining about losing run fitness to an injury...you've read about it already]  

I kept thinking about the Footlocker cross country race I did last fall and how uncomfortable I was the whole time.  If I could do it then, I could do it again.  I kept on pushing and eventually caught and passed 4th place.  The course was an out and back so I saw 3rd coming toward me.  He passed a for sale sign in someone's yard so I checked my watch.  I hit that sign about 45-50 seconds later.  That's a lot of time to make up in the second half of a 5K, but it's not impossible.  I dug deep and pushed hard.  

I didn't make up the time, and possibly didn't make up any time on him in the second half of the run, but I did finish strong and I'm happy about that.  I ran a 19:55 (6:24 pace) and set the 12th fastest run split of the day.  Not too shabby.
 The finish line.

I finished in 1:05:18.  4th overall.  1st in my age group.  I had tons of fun and felt like I was racing and pushing myself the whole time, unlike Janesville where I had troubles on the bike.  So that was encouraging and fun.  I really wanted a top 3, but 4th is good and I'm happy with my run.  I've only been running again for about a month so breaking 20 minutes is encouraging.  And best of all, no knee or hip pain.

Getting my age group award.

I don't know if it's because I missed some races and training due to my injury or what it was exactly, but the past two weeks of racing have me on a triathlon high.  Being back at the races and taking in the atmosphere have really reminded me what a great sport this is. I'm sure the great weather helped too.

This race was really well run, the course was fun and the competition was tough.  But best of all, it seemed like everyone was having a lot of fun.  Lots of smiles and laughter and bench racing.  I felt great.  I was happy about my race and feeling like I can go faster with more and better training.  I want to be really, really fast, but at the same time I love leaving the races feeling like I can go faster and that I haven't reached my potential.  It drives me to push harder and harder.

As we were waiting for the awards, I looked around and saw everyone enjoying the race and thought, "triathlon makes people feel good about themselves."  And that's why, as crazy as some people think this sport is, we keep coming back for more. And that's what makes it such a great sport. 


Lighting the Fire!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably know this hasn't been the year I hoped it would be.  I worked very hard for three years to get a Kona slot and really wanted to put in a 4th year of very solid training so I could go into Kona in the best shape of my life.  I won't say all hope is lost, but this injury has set me back quite a bit.

The worst part about the injury wasn't the time off from running. It was the ups and downs as I tried to start running again.  I'd have a good day or two, then I needed a day or two off because my knee and hip flexor had me limping around.  Rinse and repeat.  It's frustrating and really tough on a person's motivation.  I've done my best staying motivated the past couple of months as I battled this injury, but it hasn't been easy.

But that trend is changing...quickly.  On June 26th I did an 11.5 mile run and was completely smashed.  I couldn't believe how much endurance I had lost.  I was absolutely worthless all evening....but my knee and hip didn't hurt.  A glimmer of hope.

Then two days later I did a tempo run and felt good. 

Then on July 2 I did the Janesville triathlon and did better than expected and again my knee and hip felt fine.  The constant small twinges of pain in my hip were now few and far between.  

My parents, me and Courtney after the Janesville Tri.

The following day I ran 15 miles at an 8:14 pace.  Slower than I'd like to be running this time of year, but I survived.  I had some aches and pains, but they disappeared quickly.

Then, yesterday, I did my last (and only) key workout for the Door County half.  I did tempo on the bike (upper tempo - about 10-15 watts above half ironman power) for 3 hours and then did a hilly run.  I was hurting when I got off the bike so the run was really tough.  But I had no knee or hip pain.  It wasn't my best brick ever, but it was my best of the season.

Best of all.....racing the Janesville triathlon lit a fire under me.  The pilot light has been going all season, but now we've got a full on fire.  I'm not out of the woods as far as this injury goes, but I feel like I'm healed.  I feel like I'm able to start training like I'm used to.  I feel like I can push hard and recover and push hard again.  I feel like I can start worrying more about watts and pace than aches and pains.  I feel like it's finally time to start training for Kona.

But mostly, I feel like racing.  

I absolutely love racing.  It's why I train.  When I raced motocross years ago, I raced every weekend from March through October.  I'm used to racing a lot.  When I got into triathlon I was very surprised to learn that a lot of triathletes train all year and only race a couple of times.  I need more return on my training investment.

So I signed up for the Pardeeville sprint triathlon Saturday.  Then the following weekend is the Door County half ironman.  Later in the month I'm doing the Janesville Twilight run (5K) - I do this race partly because it benefits Alzheimer's and my grandma died of Alzheimer's.  Then the end of the month is the Double Bong 40K time trial (ouch).  And I found another sprint tri in August I'm going to do.  

Then it's all Kona training.


On a completely different subject, one of Courtney's co-workers said he had some extra rhubarb.  He gave us a little bit a few weeks ago, so we asked if he had some more.  

That's a lot of rhubarb.  Time to make muffins....a lot of muffins.  Luckily, I like to add it to salads so my salads are going to have a bit of a kick for the couple of weeks.


Race Report: Janesville Triathlon

Yesterday was the Janesville Triathlon, my first triathlon of the year.  It's a sprint tri with a 1/2 mile swim in a river, 14 mile bike with some rolling hills, and a 3.1 mile run (it was longer but I'm not sure on the exact distance) with a pretty good hill about a mile into the run.  Being a river swim, there's a time trial start so we hop in one at a time rather than the usual wave start sending about 50 triathletes at a time.  

I was really nervous going into this race for a couple of reasons.  It was my first tri of the year, and only my second multisport race of the year so that had me worked up.  But mainly I was nervous because I didn't know how my leg would hold up.  Lately, my knee has been doing really well but my hip flexor has been giving me a lot of problems and that's what I thought would act up.  

Pre-race, I made a mistake.  I gave up caffeine last October, but I still use it occasionally for key workouts.  So I had a Red Bull about an hour before the race.  I've used Red Bull before time trials and tempo rides without problems, but for some reason it gave me big problems yesterday.

The Swim.

The swim takes place in the Rock River.  I wanted to get in line early and get toward the front (top 10 was the goal) but the line formed so fast I ended up about 30 deep.  They sent people every 3 seconds so I didn't have to wait too long after the start.

The swim start.

There's not a whole lot to say about the swim.  There's a current so you get a push, but it was nothing like last year so swim times were slower than last year.  I tried to keep pushing myself and swimming hard.  That's easier for me with the wave starts since I have people around me to chase the whole time.  There are people in the river, but I felt alone quite a bit more so it wasn't the same.  Plus I love the feeling of head to head racing you get starting in a mass start.  But it is what it is and it's the same for everyone.  My time was 9:31, which might have been an improvement over last year.  I'm not sure since everyone's time was slower (last year I swam an 8:45).  

The Bike:

Running out of T1.

Normally the bike is my strength.  It's where I make up my time (make up for my swim).  I love it.  But yesterday I struggled, and struggled big.  I ended up 40 watts lower than I should have been, and it was my worst triathlon bike leg ever by more than 25 watts.  I don't know what the deal was exactly, but I'm pretty sure the Red Bull was to blame.  I started easy, about 30 watts below my goal to get warmed up and then I was going to hammer hard figuring my run would be weak so I would need an especially strong bike to finish well overall.  But a few minutes into the ride my heart rate was so high I could barely breathe and my vision was a little blurry.  I tried to push through it and relax, but I couldn't.  I had to take a break and get my heart rate down.  So I sat up and, of course, did that right in front of a friend's house who was out taking pictures....

Trying to catch my breath and get my heart rate under control.

After resting, I tried to hammer again and the same thing happened, so I was forced to take a second break.  After that I rode tempo for a while.  My average power was below half ironman power so I was pretty frustrated (I was averaging 234 watts at this point - two weeks ago I did a tempo ride where I averaged 250 watts for 2.5 hours so it was killing me to see a number so low).  I hadn't passed a single person and for the first time in a multisport event I was seriously struggling on the bike.  About 8 miles in I started feeling a little better so I stepped things up a bit.  I began to reel in a few riders.  About the 10 mile mark, I started to feel pretty good so I increased my power a little more.  I caught and passed a couple of riders, including my teammate Robbie.

I'm third in line...feeling good here and about to pass these two.

We had a tailwind on the way back in so I was finally feeling good and pushing my power and I was now spinning out and running out of gears.  I was in my 50-11 spinning at more than 100 rpms.  I'm kind of a slower cadence guy (85ish for a race like this) so my legs were burning from spinning so fast.  But it felt good to have my heart rate back in check and to see some decent power numbers on my computer.  In the end, I only managed to average 242 watts (I was mid 270s last year so this was a big disappointment for me).  Coming into T2 I was really surprised to see the leader heading out on the run.  I was in second place, but being a time trial start I figured there were faster guys who started after me and that I was actually well out of the top 5.

My time was 36:35, two minutes slower than last year.
The Run:

This was the unknown for me.  I've been running for two and a half weeks now so my run fitness isn't very high so I anticipated struggling.  I was okay with that.  My only hope was that my hip flexor would hold up so I could push as hard as I could and not have to deal with pain and injury.  Early into the run you run right through the middle of the farmer's market and that's a blast.  Everyone is cheering and it really makes this event fun.  After the farmer's market is a long, tough climb and I was really suffering.  I was surprised no one had passed me at this point, and I began to wonder if I was going to crack the top 15 overall.  My run felt slow and my legs felt heavy.  But my hip flexor didn't hurt and my knee felt rock solid.
I checked back a few times and eventually saw my teammate Robbie closing in.  When Robbie caught me, I told him the leader wasn't that far up the road and that he needs to dig deep and run hard.  I thought Robbie had a real shot at the overall.  Robbie passed me and I decided to try to stay on his heels as long as possible and push him, help him make up some time on the leader by forcing him to dig deep.  I figured he'd eventually pull a big gap on me, but I wasn't going to give it him.  I was going to make him work hard.

The pace was fast and I was immediately uncomfortable.  But I settled in a bit just as Robbie put in a surge to lose me.  I closed the gap and kept telling myself to stay on his heels.  He surged again....then again...and again...I kept hanging on and actually began to feel more comfortable than I was early in the run.  I moved up side by side with him and we ran back past the transition area, past all the spectators, side by side.  Teammates battling head to head.  It was awesome, and will probably remain a favorite triathlon memory of mine for a long time.

Me and Robbie, just after I put in a surge toward the finish line.

The crowd was cheering and we had about a quarter of a mile to go.  I had hung with Robbie long enough that there was no way I was going to give this one to him.  I thought he had a lot more in him, and since he's fresh out of high school where he ran cross country I began to wonder what his strategy was.  He was holding the pace steady and I was wondering how hard he can kick at the end.  The run finishes by running around the park so we were on a curve circling around back toward transition.  I took the inside line close to the grass and tried to keep Robbie on my right forcing him to run a longer line. When the finish line was finally in sight I expected Robbie to go.  He didn't....so I did.  I thought it might be too early, but I had to know if he had anything left.  I put in a hard surge, looked back and saw a gap.  So I dug deep and pushed hard all the way through the finish for second overall and first in my age group.

Crossing the finish line.
I got interviewed for taking second overall.
My time on the run was 21:12, which surprisingly was one second faster than the winner who outran me by about two minutes last year.  I have no idea what my pace was because they changed the course a bit so it's longer than a 5K and I don't know the exact distance.  I wish I knew so I could compare my pace to last year, but I guess it doesn't matter.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and I'm happy with my performance with one exception:  the bike. I was two minutes slower than last year and my bike fitness is higher this year so had I been able to put in a better effort I may have had a shot at the overall (I finished 39 seconds behind the winner).  It's frustrating.  But I got a race under my belt this year and didn't have any issues with my leg.  I had some low points, but I also had some highs by being able to respond to Robbie's attacks and that was a lot of fun.  That's what racing is all about.  That's why I do these sprint tris.  

The top 3 overall.
This gives me some confidence going into my final two weeks of training before the Door County Half.  I survived a 5K, but can I survive 13 miles?  The suspense is killing me.  Only two weeks left to find some fitness.