Starting this season I had a few goals. I wanted to continue to improve my racing and take it to the next level and compete more in the overall racing rather than just my age group. Another goal, the main goal, was to qualify for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga. I raced the 2011 70.3 WC in Vegas by getting a roll down slot and it was a great experience but in reality I had no business being there in my first season of racing. Well the title kind of gives it away but goal accomplished!
Leading up to the race I knew I had some good fitness in my legs. I was coming off two good Olympic distance races and felt that with the proper taper I could race really well and secure my 70.3 WC spot. I drove up Saturday morning with my wife and sister and the ride was pretty easy. We stayed at our family friends house with some other athletes so it was a fun and laid back day before race.
As usually woke up crazy early to eat my pop tart, drink my ensure and espresso, then head over to the race to wait…and wait…and wait…until my wave started. It was nice seeing fellow teammates, Lauren and Chris, before the race start and we joked about what might be the first ever race in Lake Michigan that was a non-wetsuit swim! I heard someone call that out when I was walking in and thought it was a joke. But nope! It was the truth. I wasn’t really that worried because there was nothing to do about it but roll with it and adjust a few time goals. I wanted to try to go sub 4:10 but knew it would be close and with the non wetsuit swim I thought that was not in the cards but I was fine with that.
Got in the water and the water felt really good. As with every race the last few years I had a few thoughts in mind. “find feet” and “push the swim”. Well I started off well and tried to find feet. Found feet, lost feet, found more feet, lost more feet. The swim was pretty uneventful until the last 10 minutes when my hip flexors start to tighten a bit. That was not the feeling I wanted this early in the race. But it’s a long day so nothing to do but look forward! Got out of the water in around 31 minutes and 14th in my AG which was split into two waves.
Ran through transition and saw Ryan and my family which is always a nice surprise. Got on the bike and my legs felt good! Starting in a late wave meant I would, hopefully, be passing people the whole 56 miles. The course was pretty busy but there were only a few spots that were a bit crazy. Got in a nice groove and stayed on top of nutrition and hydration. Miles were ticking off. I was trying to do mental math on how fast I was going. I was hoping to bike around a 2:18 as Best Bike Split had predicted but because I lap every 10 miles all I saw on my Garmin was 10 miles splits. And trying to add 24 minutes and divide for 10 miles then multiply to get 56 miles was WAY too much for me so I just rolled with it. Pushed the pace until the end and I think this might have been my first 70.3 race where no one passed me on the bike which was pretty cool. There is a little no pass zone right before transition so I clicked over to see my time and saw a 2:12! Wow, better than I thought. So that 4:10 was back in play! Here is my bike file for anyone who wants to check it out. I biked a 2:14:08 and got myself up into 7th in my AG and 16th Overall.
I did a little math and figured if I could run around a 1:20, which was another season goal, I would be really close to that 4:10. The first mile and a half of the course was mainly up”hill” but nothing steep outside of a punchy one a mile in. Started out a bit too fast but things were feeling good so I went with it. Got in a nice groove and started passing people. I tried to pay attention to age numbers on the calves but most were wiped off from the wetsuit or sweat. I also knew that with the split waves an starting in the 2nd wave I just needed to pass everyone to be safe. I saw Ryan again right before the sucky hill on the loop and asked him if he knew where I was. He couldn’t tell because of the split waves so it was just time to leave it out there.
Got onto lap 2 and saw Lauren crushing the run. We said “hi” but that is when things started to fall apart. The 2nd lap of the run felt like someone turned the sun way up. It might not have been that hot but the sun made me feel like death. Got to the magical 3 miles to go mark and I tried to pick it up a bit. The course ends the same as it starts so the last mile and a half was mostly downhill which would be great. Well that’s is when it started to get REAL! My hamstrings wanted to cramp and I felt like I wanted to pass out. Looking back at the run file I can see why…my heart rate was above 180 for the last 10 minutes! I don’t think I have seen it that high since a 5k race last year. Got down the finisher chute and about fell on the ground. Ended up with a 1:21:21 run splits good for 2nd best on the day.
Saw my family shortly after and my dad told me he thought I had won the AG but the tracking wasn’t updating as fast. After a few minutes if was official. I can’t say I was the happiest person in the world because I felt terrible but I was happy I was going to the 70.3 World Championships! Ended up with a time of 4:11:14 good for 2nd Overall and an AG win. Now time to rest up and get ready for my tri season finale at the Chicago Triathlon.
Big thanks for my wife, parents, and sister for coming to watch me race! It makes things a lot more fun when they are there to watch! Thanks to EGO p/b Sammys Bikes for helping to support me and believe in me! Thanks to Catlike Helmets, Wattie Ink, ICE Friction Chains, and SLF Motion for making my bike leg the fastest and most efficient it can be!