On September 17th I raced the ITU Triathlon World Championships in Rotterdam. This was the 23rd race where I have represented Team USA in a World Championship over my career. I am very proud of that accomplishment and very thankful for all those international opportunities.
We arrived to good weather in Rotterdam on the 13th, but then it was wet 95% of the time thru the 16th. The rain really stressed me out because I knew the bike course was narrow, had some cobbles and had a lot of turns. The bike course would be a nightmare if it was wet. I can think of about 8 different World Championships that I’ve raced in where it rained leading right up to the event, but on race day the weather was great. Thankfully due to the power of prayer, God blessed me once again in Rotterdam with clear skies and 68 degrees on race day. Amen!
The 1.5K (0.93 mile) swim was held in Rijnhaven Harbor. The water temperature was 60 degrees so it was brisk, but manageable. The harbor was very calm so it was just like swimming in a lake. I swam pretty well as my time was 24:33 which put me in 17th place. We had a very long run (0.6 miles) to transition. I covered that ground pretty fast, but there were a lot of cobbles so it was hard on the feet. I made the bad decision in T1 to put on a jacket for the bike and this cost me some time. My T1 time was 6:05 – 62nd best or not so good. It was warm enough that I did not need that jacket. Skipping it would have given me a good T1 time. Ugh!
The bike course was 2 loops for a total of 23.6 miles. Holland is one of the flattest places on Earth and Rotterdam is no different. The only hills were on the bridge crossings. We went over the beautiful Erasmus Bridge twice. Holland is known for its gorgeous architecture and this is illustrated by the Erasmus Bridge which I think looks like a harp. I was timid on the bike. The road conditions were ideal, but I was never comfortable. My skills on the bike are fairly limited and that was apparent on a flat, technical course with so many turns. There was 1 section we had to do twice that was on a steep temporary ramp built over some stairs with a very sharp turn right after you came back down the ramp – I still can’t believe that! My bike split was only 1:13:35 which was 97th best (really not good) and it dropped me down to 73rd place.
The run course was 2 loops for a total of 5.67 miles in Westerkade Park. For as much as I disliked the bike course, I loved the run course. 75% was on trails and it was much better for spectators than the bike course. I ran very well; probably because I was so motivated after my poor bike to do whatever I could to minimize my embarrassment. I had the 2nd fastest run split on the day with a time of 36:24. My finish time was 2:22:47. I placed 41st out of 111 in the men’s 55-59 age group and I was the 7th out of 14 Americans. I am very pleased to say that American Lee Walther placed 1st as he edged out a British guy by 3 seconds. My good friends Kyle Welch and Steve Wade placed 4th and 51st, respectively.
To see my race pictures, click on this link http://www.finisherpix.com/gallery/photos/en/EUR/2213/21522
At the same time I was racing, my wife Laurie was running her 245th marathon – the Bikse Natuurmarathon. Laurie was the overall female winner and her prize was a tech t-shirt that says “WINNAAR” across the chest. I think it is so cool! She is the only woman on the planet with that shirt. Her greatest challenge was returning the rental car after the race. It took her 2 hours to find the correct garage, even with gps.
After Rotterdam we went to Amsterdam to be tourists where we really enjoyed ourselves. On one day we took a 5 hour tour that encompassed a windmill tour, cheese factory tour, wooden shoe factory tour and a boat trip. On the next day we toured the Rembrandt house, Anne Frank house, Van Gogh Museum and took a canal boat cruise. We were both especially moved by the Anne Frank house. It is amazing to think that 8 people hid from the Nazi’s for 2 years in that tiny 500 square foot space. Personally setting foot in the Secret Annex and trying to minimize the sounds of your foot steps just as the 8 did was very sobering.
Living the life…