The 2015 Duathlon National Championships are past, and it was another great experience in my life. It turned out to be a very challenging couple of weeks just getting ready to go with all the flooding in the area; as a firefighter, I was really busy. I got off shift on Wednesday evening around 9 p.m. to start the 1,200 mi drive to St. Paul knowing it was going to be a quick turnaround trip.
I had planned to be there Thursday afternoon so I could get two good nights of rest, but my truck got a fuel leak outside of Dallas around midnight, and I found myself in the IHOP parking lot wondering if I was going to make it at all. I stayed miserably in my hot truck all night, and thanks to Google I found Gillette Automotive in De Soto, who got me out in a few hours on Thursday morning. I could make it yet. My friends Brian Zahm and Angela were way ahead of me in Iowa, and here I was 1,000 miles away leaving Dallas. With a quick stop in Irving to pick up a bike for transport for my good friend Monte I was off.
Many naps and multiple thunderstorms later I arrived at the venue on Friday afternoon around 1:30 to pick up my race packet and do openers on the course. Before I knew it, it was 4 p.m. and I hadn’t even been to the hotel yet and was really feeling a bit rough. Before I left I saw Jeff Gaura, Mike Kostenik. and Mike’s girlfriend; seeing these friends was a real pick-me-up. I drove to my hotel (in traffic of course), got checked in, found an Olive Garden and ordered takeout, and was back by 8 p.m. I was whupped by this point and I hadn’t been there six hours.
|William with fellow athlete Bob Jones|
I was early in transition, and then I started seeing people I hadn’t seen in a while, including my good friend Bob Jones. As he said in his own race recap, it has become a tradition for us to do our pre race warm-up together. He is an outstanding athlete and fellow age grouper, and I’ve been chasing him for three years now but am getting closer. I was feeling very calm and relaxed that morning, and this was a good thing, though it was probably from lack of rest.
At 8:15 a.m. we were off. As expected, it was
a very quick start, but I stayed in control and settled in behind Bob to finish the first run in 18:57. That put me in eleventh, three seconds behind Tony Prado and 22 seconds behind Bob. (I told you these guys are fast.) With a quick transition I managed to get out ahead of them, but Bob came back on the long climb that we would make three times. On the long downhill leading back to the river, I managed to pass Bob again. After a very steep sweeping downhill that cut back to the opposite direction, there’s about a 4-mile stretch along the Mississippi river back to the long climb. Here I was riding near Bob Jones, Tony Prado, and Bob Brown (who’s in a division up but seems to be in our mix). These guys were seesawing back and forth and went into transition about a minute ahead of me.
I started the second run feeling good, and I was hoping I could make up a couple of positions, but as I made my way through the U-turns I could see Bob was doing really well and Matt Kellman, who I’d gained on some on the bike, seemed to be running strong. On lap two I managed to pass Bob Brown, and though he wasn’t in my division, it felt like it, and I had Tony Prado in my sights. Tony seem to be slowing and by closing hard I managed to finish nine seconds behind him, finishing 12th. The 12th place finish was my third consecutive 12th place finish in three years.
Tony and I are always so close at the finish, but I have yet to beat him. He is a great person, and I’m happy to compete with him. I will see him in Florida in December for Powerman National Championships for long distance, and I am sure it will prove to be a close competition between us.
The 12th place finish qualified me for Team USA for the 2016 Duathlon World Championships in Aviles, Spain. This will be my third World Championship with Team USA. I will also go to Adelaide, Australia, in October for the 2015 Duathlon World Championships later this year. I feel blessed for the people I have met and to be able compete at this level. My coach Gray Skinner of Enlightened Performance, who I have been coached by for over two years, has brought me to a level I used to only imagine. He has transformed me both mentally and physically for the goals we have achieved and the goals ahead. Learning from him I have also coached a few athletes to division wins in their first races ever, and it’s an amazing feeling to watch them grow. So this one is in the books, and just to top it off, at the awards ceremony 87-year-old Ed Maruna went up to receive his award, presented to him by his son Dean. This is just an example of some of the amazing people in this sport, and I hope that I am blessed to be able to compete as long as Ed has.