I know I normally give you the long drawn out recap of my race weekends but to be honest I really just don't have time for it this time so your getting the short and sweet version. I arrived in Chicago on Wednesday night as late as you can arrive and still say its Wednesday night.. Thursday marked the first full day in Chicago as well as the first flat tire on the tandem for Ben and I. The first flat happened not too long after we made ourselves dizzy in the parking lot of Soldier Field practicing U-Turns as we geared up for the 7.5 lap, 23 U-Turn Crit bike portion of the sprint triathlon on Saturday.
That night was the USAT Hall of Fame Banquet where people that are much more famous and well known in the sport than myself were inducted such as the scrappy Mike Pigg, the woman that is "Living on a Prayer" Sister Madonna Buder and a few of the Founding Fathers in the sport John and Patty Collins. Ben Collins and I were at the event representing BP America, who is a proud sponsor of the US Olympic and Paralympic programs.
Friday morning I woke up to Ben's dog Oden coming to comfort me and temporarily take the place of my little buddy Retina before my parents arrived from Detroit and then Ben and I went out to get yet another flat tire on the bike. This one was a bit more explosive as the tube inside totally blew out of the tire. We had no idea what was going on but we needed a solution fast. Ben returned back home for yet another set of wheels and we placed the most durable tires on the market on the wheels. We took the bike for a test drive and she rode just fine. We were all set for Saturday morning.
Saturday morning came and it was game time. This World Triathlon Series Chicago event would mark the second race on the Road to Rio. It was the second race I could grab valuable world ranking points that would be used moving forwards toward Rio. The venue was top notch and for one of the first times in my career the Paratriathlon race was getting the blue carpet treatment so it was something special.
The race would be a 750m straight swim along the sea wall in Lake Michigan, a 12.5mile back and forth bike and a 3.1mile three lap run course ending around beautiful Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Fresh off signing the recently released Guide Contract, Ben Collins would be guiding for this adventure. Obviously Ben didn't know what he was getting into before he signed the contract as he had spent the day before hauling bike parts and large bags on his back like a moving yard sale. Despite this he was up for the challenge.
Ben swam at about 50% effort while yelling at me constantly in the swim to as I went 100% effort and we came out in 10:06. I was pretty happy with this time and Ben would have been happy with this time if it was a backstroke race.
We headed out onto the bike course and began attempting to count our number of laps correctly while still focusing on the task of racing. Everything was going well until we were on lap four and we made the sweeping left turn onto Congress St and we felt the bike sliding out from under us. We managed to save the bike from a crash but come to find out we had done it again. The back wheel had flatted and we were very near SOL except we had put a spare set of wheels in the wheel pit and thankfully it was nearby. We very cautiously road n the flat around the U-turn and to the wheel pit. With some difficulty, we got the new wheel on and back on the bike but we had lost nearly three minutes in the process. Just when we thought all that could go wrong had went wrong, Ben yelled obscenities from the front. He was stung on the lip by a bee. I told him to, "Stop being a baby" and we surged forward. Not exactly sure where we were in the race we pushed as hard as we could and as we came into T2 Ben realized we were the first tandem into transition.
We set off for the 5K run just trying to keep it steady and not let the hot humid conditions get to us too much. The run course included three times around Buckingham Foundation with the last time around being a detour to the left to the finish line. We crossed the line with a run split of 18:02. It was not the smoothest of days but we had still taken gold despite the misfortunes crossing the line in a true time of 1:03:20 and a compensated time for the factor system of 1:07:03.
I loved the venue. It was great to be back in the midwest where I grew up and have such support from family, friends and the city of Chicago behind me. I can't wait until next year when Chicago will host the ITU World Championships Grand Final.