The Middle of Somewhere


Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is the small town of Canton Illinois.  Host to the 17th Annual Lakeland Bi-Tri Classic.  This is low key sprint triathlon and biathlon.  There were no fancy finish lines or swag.  But I came back for the second year in a row.

The morning started at 4:30a.m. when the alarm when off.  S.S.S. but without the shaving part.  I packed the Jeep the night before and all I had to do was walk out the door (unintentional rhyme.)  I opened the garage door at 5:00 and there stood my sister Kim, on time.  It is always fun when you start driving in the morning and it is still dark out.  I am really not a morning person, but you have no choice when racing.

CantonTri2008 009Canton Illinois is around 100 miles or so from Springfield.  Google says it will take you 2hr to get there.   I couldn’t remember how long it took me last year.  I just know I got there early.

This year was no different.  It took 1:20.  I once again got a primo parking spot.  I think is was the exact spot as last year.  It pays to be early. 

Kim and I went a picked up our packets and headed to stake out the transition area.  The racks were unassigned, so we got another primo spot on the rack.  Right by the bike exit and entrance.

After getting setup we headed over to the exhibit area (that may be an exaggeration.)  They had a table of shoes, all $19.99.  And a rack of tri clothes for 60% off.  Deals too good to pass up.  I got a pair of Zoot flip flops (Zoot calls them “recovery” shoes) and a nice Sugio jersey for $20 bucks!  After scoring some great deals at 7 in the morning.  Kim and I went for a warm up run.

After the run,  we tidied up the transition and headed for a swim. 

CantonTri2008 002The swim was in a small lake or large pond.  The water was warm and kind of clear (much nicer than Lake Springfield.) I did a quick 100 or so, just to get the feeling down.  I was ready as ever.

I had chosen to go off in the first wave.  Not because I am fast, but because I wanted to keep track of all the fast guys, and know my position in the race.  8:10 arrived and we all huddled in the water. “Go” everyone took a dive and started to swim.  I felt rather comfortable and managed to get in position.  There were a few bumps and kicks, but I held my ground and continued to swim.  By the first turn in the triangle swim, I had plenty of room and felt myself floating towards the back of the pack.  I didn’t care, just as long as I kept my rhythm up.  By the last corner  I had the fast guys from the next wave passing me.  But before I knew it I was running up the sandy beach.  10:10 and putting me in 67th place.  I really need to work on that swim!

Helmet, Bike. Helmet, Bike, was all I could think about and that was exactly how it played out.  I was out of T1 in 26 second, the 3rd fastest.

On the bike I quickly got into my aero position and found my gear.  2 miles were already gone and I felt great.  But then the hills started coming at me.  I remembered them from last year, but I stayed focused and fought through them with a slightly higher cadence.  I had a couple of battles with others on the course.  One guy, named “Blaze” had more hair then helmet (yes, that was his real name.) I passed and then he passed me.  I kept the same pace, but he was accelerating a slowing down.  We did this back and forth 2 or 3 times, until I was able to shake him.

I came up to another couple of guys.  One was just sitting on the other wheel.  I passed them, asking him if he knew he was drafting.  He said, “you can draft in this event.”  I just kept going. What an idiot, I guess drafting is legal if there is no one on the course to catch you.  He should feel pretty guilty about his finish time.  I know I would.

CantonTri2008 001I finished the bike in 30:16 averaging 23.8mph.  That was my same pace from last week.  I really thought I had a stronger bike, but the hills must have taken their toll.

I entered T2.  I got my left shoe on.  Then once again, I struggled to get my right shoe on.  I just couldn’t bend over.  I ended up kneeling down, loosing precious seconds to get it on.  I grabbed my hat, belt and bottle and headed out in 40 seconds flat.

The run is always a challenge. Your acid filled legs don’t want to move.  I exited with two others.  This really helped.  I was able to pace off of them.  Just seconds later “Blaze” came flying by.  Now I know were he got his name.  I guess it was actually spelled “Blaise”, but I don’t think that matters.  He was fast.  And before I knew it he was out of sight.

The two others were still with in striking distance.  I don’t think I have ever passed anyone in the run before so today I was going to change that.  By the end of the first mile I caught the first guy.  He was in my age group.  I asked him, are you doing the bi or the tri.  Bi he said.  I kept going.

CantonTri2008 015The next guy was still up the road.  He was a young one. But by mile two I had caught him in the water zone.  I stayed on his heals for a little while until we hit a hill.  I wasn’t sure if I could over take him and keep a gap.  So I accelerated and he didn’t respond.  Thank God.

The last mile was a challenge.  I had no one ahead of me, and a good gap behind me.

I finished strong, sprinting the last 400 or so.  But it wasn’t good enough to get me under the 20 minute mark.  My time was 20:04.  Damn! 

My finishing time was 1:01:38.  Now I had to sit and wait for the results.  I had no idea where I finished.  I thought top 10, but I didn’t know.

I walked back up the course and cheered on Kim.  She had broken the 1:10 mark with a 1:09:05.  Awesome job!

The results were posted…. Drum roll please…..

8th place.

Kim immediately said, well it is not 7th…

I guess I have to be pleased with my performance.  Looking at the results the 5 of the people ahead of me all had a 5 minute pace on the run.  Some very fast guys.  Plus looking back at last year, I moved up from 26th place to 8th.

What a race…  I will definitely be back again next year. [Results] [Photos]