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Sometimes a triathlete’s biggest competition is themselves. While getting on a podium or climbing the rankings can be motivating, a lot of times when a racer steps up to the start line the person they are looking to beat is the person staring down at their own stopwatch.

Earning a personal record or PR can be a huge achievement and a lot of times a large incentive to sign up for new races. Doing well and finishing a race is one thing, but after months of training and putting in the hard work, it can be very satisficatory to punch in at the finishline at a time faster than you anticipated or had hoped for.

In fact, for TITAN Craig Hoogerwerf, getting to the MiTi Full-Distance start line in the first place all came from accomplishing a race PR. Here is his story:

I am a TITAN, Meet Craig Hoogerwerf

Age: 35
City: Ada
Distance: 140.6-Mile Full

How did you first get involved in triathlon?
There was a local tri in my hometown that went by my house. I was a swimmer and enjoyed biking, so I thought I’d give it a try. I got hooked.

What is your favorite discipline? And strongest?
I used to despise running, but it’s now tied with cycling as my favorite. I’ve come a long way from struggling to run a 10 minute mile. Swimming is my strongest, but years of competitive swimming have made it my least favorite discipline.

What was the first triathlon you ever raced in?
Grand Haven Triathlon.

What made you first decide to race the full 140.6-mile distance?
I decided on a whim to do the full distance at MiTi last year after setting a 70.3 PR at the Grand Rapids Tri. Given the MiTi bike course is so close to my home, the logistics were easy (we can hear the transition area from our house across the Grand River valley). Also, the cost was so cheap. It was a much easier decision vs. doing another “branded” full race.

What was your training schedule like for that race?
I ended up averaging about 8 hours/week of training from January to the race, as I wasn’t planning on doing the race until late June. I was very conscientious about missing family time so I used a few vacation days to get my big training days in (a few 120+ mile rides and triple bricks – 3x 30 mile rides and 4 mile runs) and snuck in workouts at lunchtime and after our daughter’s bedtime.

How was your race experience? Did you accomplish your goal? Did you enjoy the distance?
I had a really great race experience and ended up with a big PR.

What did you like specifically about the MiTi race experience?
The smaller, family friendly feel is great. My finish line experience was pretty funny and memorable, too.

Would you ever complete that distance again?

What advice would you give to someone looking to do the full distance for the first time?
Focus your training on swimming and biking, your running legs won’t matter if you don’t have enough bike fitness. Also, be prepared for the conditions of the bike course. It’s hilly and lots of chip seal roads (welcome to Michigan!)

What makes you a TITAN?
My dedication to having great races while balancing family life and a career.