What do Elvis Presley, A Peanut Butter Gun, Steelhead fish and Schaumburg have in common? No not things you can find at IKEA! The last month of my life!
"Why are you dong this?" That's the question I get asked by a lot of people when they hear my race schedule. "To raise money for The Pathways Foundation." Is always my answer.
When my son was born, because of the doctors' and the hospitals neglect, there was a moment where we thought he would lose his right arm. He was 4 hours old. At two days old, he ended up having surgery on his arm, pins put in and a long road of re-hab ahead.
The Pathways Center in Glenview is where we started our journey to his recovery and the place I owe a debt of gratitude. This is why I am racing 500 miles this Summer, because I can, because God forbid, if you ever need Pathways, they are always there. If you haven't donated yet, any amount is appreciated, all you need to do is click here.
Onto the racing!
Between the Steelhead 70.3, The Elvis is Alive 5K and the Bicycle Illinois Tri. State Tour(100 miles). From Saturday, July 31 to Saturday, August 7th, I added a total of 173.4 miles to my journey, bringing the total to 404 miles raced.
When you go into a week like this, you have to make deals with your body, "get me through this and I promise to give you an ice bath and recovery socks. Don't cramp anymore and there is a huge nap in your future, pizza, yes, we make it up this hill and there's pizza waiting tonight." Luckily my body fell for it, and not only was the last 404 miles fun, but I have been doing pretty good.
The best part of this journey is experiencing all of the amazing events and meeting the great people that are in and around the Chicagoland area.
I have a picture gallery below of what last month and 213.4 miles of racing looks like.
Here is a little breakdown.
The LATE Ride- Saturday, July 10th- Midnight.- 25 Miles-
This was my first time riding in the LATE Ride, it won't be my last. Despite having to hammer my way through it in order to get to a triathlon in the morning, I loved every second of the 25 mile ride through the city. It is pure magic. You would think that a ride that takes you through Greek Town and down Halsted on a Saturday night would be a recipe for disaster, however, everything went smoothly. Great volunteers, police patrolling the course and 10 thousand riders make this a surreal experience that you don't want to miss. This is a family event, there were riders of all ages and experience level out to enjoy a great night. We live in a beautiful city, and riding through it in the middle of the night is a great new way to experience every mile of Chicago.
Schaumburg, Splash, Pedal, Dash Triathlon- Sunday, July 11th 7:00 AM-20 Miles-
This was the second part of my back to back races, after finishing The LATE Ride, I dropped off one bike, loaded up my Tri. gear and headed to Schaumburg for their annual triathlon.
Splash, Pedal, Dash, is a great event for a newbie who isn't quite ready for open water (it's a pool swim) or anyone looking to get in a great race with out having to fight a massive crowd.
The Schaumburg Park District does an amazing job of keeping this triathlon/duathlon moving along at a good clip, while providing a pretty sweet bike and run course.
If you have never tried a pool swim, it is different and worth checking out. They start athletes every 5 seconds, by your ability, so the longer it takes you to swim, the higher number you start. It makes sense, so you don't get to banged up. I somehow got #30 out of 400 athletes and quickly got passed by 12 swimmers (I counted) in 400 meters!
The vibe and energy of this race is what makes it fun. For a little local triathlon, it's the great mix of Ironmen looking to hammer and first timers, testing the waters of the sport.
The only knock, is the transition areas. The race is point to point, and there is no place to put your bike, which means you are forced to lay them on the ground. I saw several people stumble or kick another bike, by accident, but still, not cool.
Splash, Pedal, Dash is a great entry level race and fun workout for those with more experience.
Apparently staying up for more that 24 hours and doing back to back events, isn't all that good for you. Though I finished strong, I spent the next two days throwing up and cramping. Despite that little set back, my mind was focused on my first major race, the Steelhead Triathlon and 70.3 miles of pain.
Steelhead 70.3 Half Ironman- Saturday, July 31- 70.3 Miles- Click here for a full race review.
is something special about that side of the lake, like the ads say
"Pure Michigan." The swim, is parallel to the shore and with the
current. The bike and the run are a challenge, but chalk full of great
volunteers and beautiful scenery.
I was able to pull off a PR in the swim and the bike, before cramping up on the run and limping through 12 miles of pain.
Steelhead was the beginning of Endurance Hell Week for me, a good start, but it left me pretty beat up.
The event has grown to be a can't miss race for those of you looking to get into longer triathlons. Cool finishers medals and shirts are a part of the Ironman finishing experience.
Elvis is Alive 5K- August 5th- 3.1 Miles-
Fleet Feet Sports Classic. As tired as I was, how can you pass this
up. An all Elvis corral, Elvis music, free beer and peanut butter and banana sandwiches! How could this be
Despite being tired, I ran with Phil Castello(Going The Distance) and we chatted our way
to a pretty decent time.
The energy at en event like this is what
makes it so special. It is a race, there were the usual fast looking
kids in their team get ups, but it's also a moving costume
party/concert/fundraiser/bash! If you haven't donned the mutton chops
and sparkly spandex for Elvis, make sure to hit it next year.
was a good distraction to keep me calm. Friday afternoon my wife and I
went to lunch and I quietly said to her, "this next one is going to be
real hard." She smiled and said "yep." Not fully recovered from the 70.3 mile beating, I was
heading straight into 100 miles of hell.
Illinois, Tri. State Tour- August 7- 100 Miles.
Waking up for yet another race, I realized how tired I am of seeing 5:00 AM.
is the best new endurance event I have had the painful pleasure of being a part. "3 states in one day" is what ride director Rob Layton
touts, from Hammond to Kenosha, the Tri. State Tour is an amazing look
at the many diverse communities that make up the Chicago area.
the MS150 offers, plenty of volunteers and cops to keep the traffic at
bay, The Tri. State Tour has none of that, but what it lacks in
volunteers, it makes up for in positive vibe and great potential.
Layton and his 3 man staff mark every turn and rest stop themselves on
the 100 mile ride, that winds through Lake Shore Drive, through the Des
Plaines River Trail, onto Sheridan Road and into Wisconsin. If you are
planning on doing the Tri. State Tour, make sure you know how to change
a flat, while the course takes you through some amazing scenery, let's
just say that the roads in Hammond and North Chicago aren't exactly
There are a lot of easy jokes about how nice it is to leave Hammond, Indiana, but we will save them for later.
100 miles in a bike is hard, but the course that
Layton plots out is mostly flat, very safe and has plenty of
opportunities to light it up and burn! There are the occasional red light, stop sign and freight train that get in the way, but it isn't a deal breaker. I've never been so happy to see Wisconsin, not even when the drinking age was 18!
This is the little ride that
could, I was in the lead group along with my ride buddy Peter (he's
single ladies) and Brad, the dad from Libertyville. I predict that
will be harder to do next year as more people find out how well run of an event
The course is long, challenging, fast and safe, which adds up
to an appealing day on the bike. Layton and his crew have found an exciting new way to make 100
miles seem fun, from the course to the peanut butter gun at the rest
stops (picture a caulk gun, shooting peanut putter), this ride is sure
to sell out next year, so make sure to add it to your race to do list.
like the idea of a free spirit ride, where you follow the markers on
the road, it made it more of an adventure. The only knock was the
transportation situation back to Hammond, if you didn't arrange a ride
to pick you up, you had to wait until the last rider finished, which
put you back in Hammond at roughly 9:00PM. After 100 miles and having
to get up at 4:00ish AM, this was not an appetizing option, so we had a
friend pick us up. Next year, an early and late bus option would go a
After making it to the 100 mile marker (I was first BTW), I
fell off my bike exhausted and relieved, 404 miles down! As I watched
the spots dance in front of my eyes, I thought about the constants in
this journey that have kept me going.
partner Peter (single and cute), he has been with me for 200 miles of
biking fun, pulling me when I needed pulling and never a negative
word. Peter you are the man (and single ladies...single!).
My Pearl Izumi P.R.O Octane Bibs, nothing keeps your bottom more comfy! My Trek
Madone tricked out with SRAM components, quiet, comfortable and solid
as a rock. From here out, I am on my triathlon bike, which I am
looking forward to getting fit on Running Away's new Guru fit machine,
I will miss "Blue," you have been a worthy steed.
Clif everything, no
throwing up, plenty of energy and PR times, nutrition can be your
achilles heel or the wind at your back, Clif keeps me going. So does
CamelBak, on the 100 mile ride I drained my CamelBak with 10 miles left
and thought, that's a lot of hydration! Brooks running shoes, clothes and gear, I may be slow, but I am comfortable and look great.
If I can stay healthy, I will hit the 500 mile mark on September 12th at the Rev3. 1/2 Ironman. Racing wise I am more than 1/2 way there, donation wise, I have a long way to go.
See you out there and thank you for all your kind wishes and support.