Clinton Lake was one of those races that happened by chance. A friend couldn’t go and offered his bib to me (yes I’m one of those guys). My friend Kamil was also running so that helped me make the right decision. Up to that point I had only 2 long (kinda) runs under my belt, a half-marathon race 2 weeks earlier and a 15 miler the week before. I was however, on a steady training plan for about a month and felt I was losing my off-season fat at a good rate. I took an unusually long off-season this year. I couldn’t get motivated to sign up or start training for a few months into this year. Slowly, I’ve made a racing schedule that is quite challenging.

After the Triple Iron last year the most asked question was, “What are you going to do next?” I didn’t have an answer for many months. For me, I needed to talk to other athletes and find out what they were doing to find what was right for my racing season. I made a wish list and then over time, added some and deleted some. But there’s always room to add an unexpected race like Clinton Lake in there. They are more for training than racing, but I get cool race swag to prove I was there!

Kamil, Erica and I headed down to Clinton late Friday night and got there around midnight. The Garmin can sometimes send you the long way and that’s what we did. No worries, it’s just a training run, right? We slept in the car and woke up 6 hours later to volunteers getting prepared for the race. Judy had plans already and couldn’t come with, so no video this time. We saw Lee, Keith Daniels and Holly Bochantin in the morning and headed to the start line just a minute or two before start time. While waiting for the start, I saw John Lopez, a buddy who seems to be at all the races I show up to. We wished each other good luck and headed off at start time. We told Lee that we were going to just “take it easy,” which really doesn’t mean anything for us. Half the time we end up running hard when we say that anyway. Clinton Lake is three 10 mile loops. It’s very hilly and there are aid stations every 5 miles. About 6 miles into the run, Kamil picked up the pace and we lost Lee (sorry). We finished about 1:47 for the first 10 miles. Not too fast. The second loop was a bit different.

The second loop had less traffic so it was more convenient to push the pace between catching other runners. The first loop felt pretty easy so we had some spring in our step and used it on this loop. We finished that loop at about 3:25 into the run, almost 10 minutes faster than the first loop. We were both feeling it by then and knew the 3rd loop was going to hurt. Of course, every race ends up that way. We see how much pain we can endure and for how long. There is a fine line that we ride throughout a race, especially the 3rd loop of this one, where we find the balancing point between being able to finish at the current pace and blowing up at a faster pace. There is a constant determination to find the pace that is faster than what is comfortable, that I can maintain. Doing this while in pain is a difficult thing to do. Your brain says to slow down – that pain is not a good thing. To override that and expand our capacity for pain to become a better athlete is the essence of endurance racing for me. We finished at 5:12 which was the same pace as the first loop.

So we finished 13th and 14th overall and only got chicked by Christine Crawford. I’m fine with that. 1st and 2nd guys in our age group got 1st and 2nd overall. So our 3rd and 4th age group got us on the podium (overall winners don’t count in age group awards). But those are just numbers. The real beauty is riding that wave, balancing the effort and finishing.

Current Race List

April 15   McHenry County Human Race 5K (run)

April 22   Earth Day 50K (run)

June 2-3   Kettle 100 (run)

July 5-8   Viaduct Trail 200 (run)

August 11   Dairyland Dare 300K (bike)

September 9   REV3 Ironman Ohio (tri)

September 27-29   Tejas 500 (bike)

October 22-November 1   Deca Ironman Mexico (tri)