Six weeks ago I had just finished my first World Cup. I was helping Melissa with last minute wedding details, and getting ready to race again the following weekend. Since that race, I have raced 2 additional times, gotten married, had a fabulous week long honeymoon in Maui, and attended another wedding. It has been a crazy month and a half. Fun, but crazy.
The World Cup took place in Edmonton, Alberta. It was only my third time making the trek north in to Canada. It seems odd that Canada is close to were I live and have only made it there 3 times in 29 years. And each time has been for a race. Edmonton is a very nice area with loads of pine trees surrounding a busy city center. The sprint distance race featured the swim and transitions taking place in a park on the outskirts of the city. The weather was nice and after a month of working on my swim, I was ready for a race. Out of the water I was 15 seconds from the front pack. This is the closest I have been to the front pack after a legitimate swim. I made the front pack at Clermont two times, but those swims included a lot of running in the water during the swim. With a pack of 4 guys we were able to catch the front group halfway through the bike. The bike course and run were very hilly and hard. There were a few great runners at the race and I knew I had my work cut out for me. Especially since I had used a lot of energy catching the front pack. I had plans of getting off the bike at the front of the group, but my body had a different idea when I tried to get around everyone. I came in towards the back of the pack and went after it in the run. Halfway through the run I was just outside the top 10. After a grueling second lap of the run I was able to cross the finish line in 5th place. I'll take that on any day!
The second race I did, which happened to be one week before the wedding, was a half hour west of St. Louis. It was a 5150 race and I was counting on a good performance there as well as one more race to compile enough points to get into HyVee. I had no idea how hilly the area was before I got to the race site. The run course turned out to be one of the hardest run courses I have ever competed on. The only other course that might be harder was an Xterra race in Ogden, Utah that took place at a ski resort where the first mile was up the bunny hill. I had a good swim and came out of the water about 1 min behind the race leader. My bike was not outstanding but considering I had raced the week before and had not been working on the bike very much over the last month, I was happy with what I was able to do. The run course was very hilly and on gravel roads for the majority. At one point I considered walking because the hill was very steep and I was wondering if I could walk faster than I was running. I ended up with the fastest run split and a very respectable 2nd place. I did as much as I could to get points.
It has been a month since Melissa and I got married and it still feels like a dream. I get to hang out with my best friend every day and sleep next to her every night. It really is amazing. We took a week long honeymoon to Maui. It was very beautiful and we were able to relax a lot...although a few swim workouts and runs cut in to our relaxing time. It was nice swimming outside and Hawaii's public pools are free to go to. That was the only cheap thing in Hawaii! After a week of what felt like heaven we made our way back home and it was back to the grind for me. At the end of July I had my final chance to garner as many 5150 points as I could.
The last weekend of July turned out to be an interesting one. Melissa and I headed to Columbus for one of her friend's wedding as well as 5150 Giant Eagle. Normally when I travel to a race the weekend consists of relaxation and focusing on the task at hand. That weekend I had to be a husband of a bride's maid and a professional triathlete. We went out with with the bridal party on Thursday, had rehearsal and dinner on Friday, and the wedding and reception on Saturday. I was able to get in my usual day before workouts on Saturday but had to attend the pro meeting in my suit. The meeting was at 4:30, I had to set up T2 and then get to the wedding at 5:30. Somehow I pulled it all off. I had to set up T2 the night before because Giant Eagle has two separate transitions. I enjoy the race a lot and this was the 3rd year I did it. I had another good swim for me, although it was a little short. Things might finally be getting better in the water, the last 3 races have produced favorable swims. This time I was 40 seconds behind the leader out of the water. I knew I needed points for HyVee so I was on mission on the bike and during the run. I had possibly my best bike ever and it couldn't have come at a better time. I felt a little sluggish on the bike, but I was able to generate good power, for me, and respectable speeds. As I approached the mount line I could see second place leaving transition. I knew what I had to do on the run and just went after it. Once I made it in to 2nd i just kept pushing, hoping Ben Collins was having a bad day on the run course, but the only time I saw him was on the out and back part of the course. I handed out some high fives to my mom and Melissa coming in to the finish line and took 2nd place for the second straight race and for the third time at Giant Eagle. I was very happy with my race and once again did all I could to gain as many 5150 points possible.
Just a few days ago the final points race for HyVee finished and I ended up in the last earned spot in to the race! 25 athletes make it in to the race on points and 5 more are invited by the race director. What a relief. I am excited to race HyVee again this year! But before I head there I have some solid training ahead of me as well as a race in the Wisconsin Dells.
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. ~Ralph Marston