You may remember Mike Anello. He was the gritty, walk-on football player from a couple years ago who was a special teams stalwart, making great tackles, causing fumbles, and recovering fumbles. He has starting doing triathlons, to raise money for a charity. He was also a high Dean’s List student and a great kid.
This is from Mike:
I apologize for the delay in sending out an update. I was hoping the photographers would post the pictures they took throughout the race, but they've been slow to get this done. I’ll send out a quick email once they are posted. I've included a few that my family and friends took as well.
Summary: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” – (from Friday Night Lights)
This quote couldn’t describe my experience racing in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon any better. As in any race, I periodically run through a mental checklist to see how my body is holding up and adjust my pace accordingly. While my body waned, my mind continued to remain strong. Midway through the race, the Friday Night Lights quote came to mind, and I just kept repeating it every time I’d run through my mental checklist. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I had a smile on my face the entire time. My goal this year was 2:55, 3.5 minutes better than last year’s time. I ended up finishing the race in 2:45, 13 in my age group and 89 out of 2000 overall.
Since I don’t have any family on the East Coast, I’ve done most of my big races by myself. What really made this race special was having my dad, Aunt, Uncle, their family, and a couple friends to share this experience with. It would have been great to have my mom, but she was with my sister-in-law at her baby shower (can’t wait to welcome my second niece to the family in April. Rest assured I will be fulfilling the ND stereotype well. Both her and my other brother’s newborn daughter will be fully outfitted in ND gear for the next 30 years of their lives).
This is always a tough race to project as the currents and winds can really change people’s times. To give you some perspective, one of the favorites to win the race said his swim time would be anywhere between 22 -35 minutes depending on how choppy the water would be at race time.
Unfortunately for me, the water was the worst it’s been in a while. They ended up pulling 5x as many people from the water as they usually do, and one person sadly lost his life. I felt myself bobbing up and down at times the peaks to troughs of the waves were 4+ feet. I’m not sure if this forced me to focus more, but I can honestly say this was the first time in my triathlon career where I really felt strong and in control in the water (key here is I didn’t mention fast. If you’d like a visual of my swimming technique, think of a plow moving through water…). When I exited the water 6 minutes faster than last year’s time, there was no question in my mind that I was going to have a great race.
The bike was a bit windy, but knowing the course served me well. I beat my bike time last year by about a minute (for those of you who were on this email last year, you’ll remember I rode my bike to the brink of exhaustion because of how bad my swim went, so it was great to get off the bike having ridden faster than last year).
Last year I struggled quite a bit on the run given how hard I rode on the bike section. Everything from my calves to quads to hamstrings tried cramping on me last year. What carried me across the finish line was thinking of one of my friends from Notre Dame, Xavier, who lost his life to Leukemia. Through all the hills, stairs, sand, and sand covered stairs, all I did was concentrate on my family, Xavier, and my former high school’s AD who recently passed away. Armed with these thoughts I flew through the course finishing 6 minutes faster than last year. I ended up averaging just over 7 minute miles for a very hilly/sandy 8 mile run. To give you an idea of how varied the hills/terrain are along the course my mile split times are below:
I can’t wait to race in this again next year. For anyone that is interested, I’m going to try and pull together a bigger St. Baldrick’s team, so please let me know if you’d like to join in on the fun.
Our big St. Baldrick’s event is only a few weeks away on April 6th. If you haven’t had a chance to donate and would still like to, please use the link below. I’m only $2,500 from my goal! Thank you again for all your support.