Lake Mills is the only sprint I have done that I particularly enjoy. I’m not sure what I like about it, but compared to say the Pewaukee Triathlon the distance and intensity don’t seem to make me as unhappy during the race. Since this aa short and sweet race I use this race as a bit of a speed workout, and as a fitness test of sorts.
Lake Mills is just a short drive from my house, so Mary and I got up at 4:00 am and meet our friends Matt (the cheerleader for the day) and his wife Adrianne (racing!) at a Starbucks to head over to the race.
On the drive over we encountered a bit of rain which made me think that today could end up just like Ironman Wisconsin last year, fortunately I’d have to be out there for 9 fewer hours, and it was warmer!
Lake Mills was the first race where I have signed up for the elite wave – I thought that getting out on the bike and having a speed demon like Mark Harms just up the road would be good motivation. I racked my bike with the other folks in the elite wave and felt a little inadequite with what seemed like the only bike sans race wheels. I got my bike and gear set up and went for a short warm up run – while it proceeded to downpour on us.
Just prior to the race a former teammate from my days on the UWSP swim team said hi to me, Pete Nowak. Pete was one of our top distance swimmers at school, so I figured it’d be a pretty good idea to start near him and swim with him, so as we lined up at the start I got a good spot in the front row next to Pete.
When the race director sent us on our way, it was pure madness as about 50+ people went from 0 to redline in just a couple of seconds – rougher then any Ironman start I’ve done. I managed to stay right next to Pete for the 100 or so meters out to the first turn. He or I (or both of us) had a little bit of issues swimming, every time I would try to drop back just a bit to get in his draft it seemed like he moved over into me forcing me out. As we rounded the first bouy Pete and I were in a comfortable first and second place. I kept trying to slip into Pete’s draft, but kept having issues, after a couple more tries I just pointed myself towards the next bouy and stomped on the gas.
Pete stayed just a little in front of me for the rest of the swim, but it was close enough that I was able to pass him on the 100 yard or so run from the beach to enter the transition area.
I had a speedy transition, which combined with my swim got me out of transition and onto the road first. Everything went smoothly, I made the short run to the mount line, mounted up and started pedaling. Typically, for short races like this I will rubberband my shoes in place to keep them right side up, and then the bands break or fall off as I start to pedal. This time they didn’t, I spent some time trying to pedal hard to force them to break or come off, but my rear quick release was angled just right, so the bands couldn’t come off. I ended up having to stop and remove them by hand. By the time I got moving again I had dropped back to second and was even with two guys.
To top off the bad news, the finger that I had cut open fairly badly the night before started bleeding – with the lake water, rain and sweat it was a mess. All over my bike, my legs, my water bottle – to top it off I was a little ginger with my grip on the aero bars with that hand to try and keep it from bleeding more.
After a bit of cat and mouse with my two “friends”, I put one of them behind me, and fell off to about 30 yards behind the other. The guy that passed me initially, Mark Harms was gone already.
The remainder of the ride was very uninteresting, just a flat hammer fest – I got passed about 1 mile before the turn around, dropping me to fourth. From then on it was just ride as hard as I could to get back. I pulled into transition as the fourth biker, and was feeling pretty good about my ~24.1 mph average.
I got out on the run course, with the goal of trying to better my run time from last year (19:23), and to try and maintain my place. I clicked off the first mile in a 6:03, which I was pretty happy with. I settled in a solid effort from there, but was passed by a few people dropping me to 6th. I was a little disappointed to get passed by those few people, but I contented myself with the knowledge that while I simple wasn’t able to run any faster – I was stuck in the neighborhood of Half Ironman pace/effort, and just couldn’t muster any more speed – and I even tried to. I was only able to muster a few seconds out. I crossed the line 7th (6th individual).
Overall, I was really happy with this race, a top ten finish. It’s amazing how much faster this race has gotten, two years ago I was 10th with a 1:08, last year I was 14th or so with a 1:06, and this year 10th with a low 1:04 – crazy. This race also showed me that I have made some big improvments on my big since last year (as if that wasn’t obvious at Ironman Arizona), but my run is a little stagnant. Good and the bad.
One other interesting tidbit – turns out I got really lucky on the bike, about an hour after the finish I strolled back to my rack and had a big flat tire – with a nice piece of glass embedded in it. Not sure how long it in the race it was leaking, but I reaired it up at home, and it wasn’t a fast leak, but it was flat within an hour. Lucky me!