Saturday I won the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis. When I started racing professionally, Lifetime was the most prestigious race in Olympic Distance non-drafting, and it has been a dream of mine to be able to put a victory from that race on my resume. The fact that it still draws one of the most competitive fields, and that I won against three of the raceâ€™s past champions makes the victory that much sweeter.
What I didnâ€™t win, however, were the races within the race. I had the fourth fastest swim, the second fastest bike and the third fastest run splits. I also lost the equalizer by 19 seconds.
The equalizer Iâ€™m referring to is the men vs women race for the Toyota Triple Crown. This is how it works: at Minneapolis, New York City and Oceanside the women will start ahead of the men by a predicted handicap (based on prior yearâ€™s results). The men try to catch the women by the end of the race and the man or woman with the fastest combined time (including handicaps for the men) for the three races wins the Triple Crown prize of $50,000. In Minneapolis I started 10 minutes 1 second behind the women and finished 19 seconds behind Alicia Kaye. Meaning for me to win I need to hold off the other men and be 19 seconds faster than Alicia in the next two Triple Crown Races on August 3rd and October 26th.
The race takes place south of Minneapolis at Lake Nakomis. I exited the water this year right with Cameron Dye, Hunter Kemper and Kevin Everett. Through transition I lost some time, but in the first couple of miles I managed to pull even with Cameron. I wanted badly to take the lead, but it seemed like Cam was sprinting to keep my from passing him. Itâ€™s not the first time Iâ€™ve had that experience and I finally gave up and settle into my own pace. Cam pulled away from me slowly and by the last 10km of the bike I could no longer see him. Hunter fell back into a pack and ended up a couple of minutes down along with Greg Bennett, Kevin and some other guys. Chris Foster had a bad swim but moved up on the bike and started running within striking distance of the podium.
I started the run with no knowledge of my distance from Cam, and it wasnâ€™t until the first mile marker, with an out-and-back section over a bridge, that I saw I was about 40 seconds back. When I saw him he was passing Sarah McClarty, who was the second female at the time, and I started to wonder if Alicia could be close as well (out of transition I was told 3:55 to Alicia). I passed Sarah at mile 2, and by then I could see Cam up the road. I focused on breathing and turnover and by the 3rd mile I was within striking distance of Cam.
At the half way point I was told that Alicia was two minutes ahead, then moments later another spectator said 2:25. Thatâ€™s a big difference! One means I had closed half the gap, the other time means I was still going to lose by a lot!
At mile 4 I passed Cam, and as he tried to stay with me I told myself to keep steady, knowing that a surge now could slow me down and I still needed to catch Alicia. At the bridge I thought I saw Alicia go by, but it may have been a mirage. I was really hurting as I headed into the last two miles and I could feel my lungs tightening up. Cam had fallen back and I knew it was now my race to lose. I wanted to catch Alicia, but I was legitimately worried that if I ran faster now I might now make it to the finish. It wasnâ€™t until the six mile marker that I finally saw Alicia, but it was too late. She was entering the finish chute and I was too far back to catch her.
I crossed the line with a smile, won the menâ€™s race, but still felt that sting of loss for failing to catch Alicia. Maybe in New York.
Thanks to TriJuice.com and Nick Morales for posting some great pictures from the race.