Friday July 30, 2010
The big double race weekend. I woke up at 4:30 to give myself enough time to get to the airport. “The man” and owner of MyMark Tyrell was kind enough to drag himself out of bed and drive me to the airport. Many thanks big guy - I know Sunny appreciates it too.
I was super excited to not be flying Delta and waited in line to check in on my United flight. I had trouble finding my flight at the kiosk and had to go to the counter for help. I was kindly informed that I did not have a United reservation and that I was indeed flying Delta.... grrrrr! As I was waiting I got as message from fel
low triathlete and ph
otographer Eric Wynn. He was in the fancy Delta VIP lounge area
and invited me to join him as I waited for my flight. It was super nice and I enjoyed some free food and cushy lounge chairs. I think I just figured out where the bike check fee money goes;)
My flight was delayed an hour so we sat on the run way while they changed out a mechanical box. Always grateful when they find these things but it’s frustrating to just sit there in the plane when it’s not flying. At first glance I didn’t think the flight delay was going to make i
t tight for me to check in for me race. I figured with 4 hours of time on the ground I would have plenty of time to drive the 115 miles from Chicago Illinois to Benton Harbor Michigan. After a smooth flight I snagged my bags and discovered that the rental place couldn’t find my car rental. Seriously? Another delay.... why not make this harder than it has to be. With my “no worries it will all work out” attitude I pulled out my trusty iPhone and booked another car through Orbits. Turned out I got a better deal on the car and it was a bigger one - which is great cause my bike case is massive.
Started the drive with what I thought was still lots of time until I h
it Friday Chicago traffic. What a joke this turned out to be. I also didn’t factor in the 1 hour time change from Illinois to Michigan. After driving for 3 1/2 hours I made it to check in with 15 minutes to spare. I now had the challenge of
finding my hotel which was 30 miles away in South Bend Indianapolis. I found it with little difficulty, checked in and got all my things ready for race morning. To recap I woke up at 4:40 in Utah landed in Illinois, drove to Michigan to check in for the race and am sleeping in Indianapolis..... and let’s not forget that I am racing in Calgary Canada SUNDAY.
Saturday July 31, 2010
After a very short night sleep I woke up to heavy rains. I headed back to Benton Harbor to get all set up for the race. The lake looked great but the skies looked bad. 1500 athletes were all soaked, cold and trying to huddle under pop up tents in an attempt to stay dry.
While standing in line for the restrooms I started talking to a guy behind me who was wearing a jacket from Canada.
I asked him “What part of Canada are you from?” and he told me the “Toronto area.”
I told him I grew up in Calgary and he said “I think there is a race there this weekend.”
I said “Yes there is and that I am doing it!” He says “Wait, are you James Lawrence?”
In my head I thought “holy crap yes I am” but only said the “yes I am” part out loud. He proceeded to tell me that this was my 11th and 12th race of my quest and that he had a
notification about my quest that came across his blackberry this morning. This was a cool experience for me to have as it is hard for me to measure how well I am doing at getting the word out there. This is a definite step in the right direction. I pray every night that this project isn’t a waste of my time and that it will both pay off for the African people and my family.
The pros went off in the rain and I waited an hour fifteen for my wave to go off. I tried to switch my swim wave to give myself some additional time to get back to Chicago and fly to Canada but was denied. By the time I hit the water the rain had stopped falling from the sky, everything was already wet but I prefer to bike without rain fall.
This swim in Lake Michigan was FAST and my time reflects this - 30:52. The nice thing about this swim is that it is a point to point. No turns, just swimming straight. The water was clear and smooth.
I jumped out of the water and put on my wet shoes and headed out. The first part of this ride was FAST. There were some small rollers but they didn’t seem to slow m
e down. I was able to jump up the rollers and fly down the back sides. I hit the half way point of the bike course, looked down at my clock and a big smile came to my face. I was flying, feeling great and way ahead of pace. It was a good thing I was having a great day because after doing some quick math I didn’t have the luxury of going slow due to the drive back to Chicago to catch my flight. By the half way point of the ride my goals changed, bust it hard on the bike with a new PR and hold on during the run. To my ultimate surprise I was able to increase my pace over the second half of the bike and ended up finishing up with a personal best time of 2:20:04 averaging 23.99 MPH!!!
I headed out on the run and felt decent. My run has been a frustrating puzzle for me to figure out. I can’t seem to throw down consistent times. I am working on getting my speed up but is tough when I am in the middle of this project. The run was mostly flat with only one significant climb that we had to do twice. I forgot to grab my Garmin on the run and just settled into comfortable pace not knowing how fast I was moving. I never felt too heavy and powered my way to the finish. I quickly snagged my finished medal, T-shirt and bike and bolted to my car. I took off not knowing my finishing time. Once settle into the drive to the airport I check my times. 4:39:24..... WHAT? A new PR by 11 minutes. I WAS SUPER EXCITED and called my wife to share the great news. Maybe I should book my flights really tight after each race. It seemed to have created some much needed urgency in my racing.
I was super hungry and needed some food. I rushed out of there so quickly that I only grabbed a few pieces of fruit. OK SO GET THIS. On the way to the airport I had to pay 3 tolls. Right before the last stop there was a McDonald’s right in the middle of the freeway. Literally in the middle. As traffic slowed for the toll booth I pull into the center and bought burger, fries and a Dr. Pepper. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy from this one of a kind McDonald’s. To make the experience more memorable I placed my order with a girl named LAQUANDA! It was perfect.
I got caught up in some traffic but ultimately made it back in time to catch my flight. I disassembled and packed my bike in the rental car parking lot, and checked in.
Race one of the double weekend was a raging success!
I was greeted in Calgary by my dad at 8:45 pm. We went straight to their house and built up my bike. We then drove the 40 minutes out to the lake and T1 to check in my bike. The race directors of the Calgary race were super accommodating allowing my dad to pick up my race packet the day before and allowed me to check in my bike after it had closed. I was met at my parents place by an old high school friend whom I have kept in contact with. Vicky now does massage and volunteered to work on my legs in between these two races. This was awesome and I can’t thank Vicky enough. I did my last minute prep and finally got to bed at 1:10 in the morning.