Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Ironman Louisville

Solid End To 2017 

The 2017 season started strong in Puerto Rico and ended strong at Ironman Louisville. The middle was less than desirable. Ironman Louisville was a race that I had planned on doing all season. This was mostly because I knew I would be training hard for Ironman Wisconsin and I wanted to see if I could carry the fitness for another 5 weeks. This is something that I haven't done very well in the past, however I felt like my strength and maturity as an athlete would allow me to do it this year.

If you haven't been to Louisville to race, you should definitely add it to your list. The river swim, though dirty, is unique and pretty enjoyable. The bike course is VERY rolling with about 5500' of climbing that comes almost all from about mile 15 to 95. It absolutely beautiful with great road surfaces. The run is for the most part flat and ends at Fourth Street Live (downtown area of Lou where they have bands and a number or restaurants). There is plenty of lodging and the city is pretty centralized for most who live east of the Rockies.

The race for me was not my fastest but it was satisfying after getting sick 10 days before racing Ironman Wisconsin. The training that my coach, Cliff English, gave me was more quality focused, which was a great compliment to all the volume we had done throughout the summer. I felt good for pretty much the entire build into the race.

The swim was a bit of a cluster. Our start time was pushed back a few minutes due to darkness and we weren't given any warm-up or warning for the start of the race. I was actually faced the wrong way toggling through the Garmin when the cannon sounded. If there would be one thing I could recommend to WTC it would be to give us 5 minutes to warm-up and line-up, then start us. After all, we are racing for checks!

Talk about dark!

Even though I was out of position on the swim and missed the front group, I swam a solid tempo and felt pretty good. I wore my PZ4TX speed suit (no wetsuits for the PRO's) with a brand new sleeved top that Borah Teamwear will come out with in 2018. I came out in 55', about 4' back of the pack.

The bike for me was pretty solid. I pushed the first 30 miles pretty hard to try to limit the losses to the front group. Despite the effort, I still lost 90 sec or so. It was at that point that I decided to dial in back and stick to my game plan. The rest of the ride went well...there was a lot of bike traffic on the second loop and we had a FIERCE headwind for the last 30 miles, but I felt like I handled it well. 

I got onto the run and I was a bit worked, however my targeted pace was there. Unfortunately it didn't last; I ran well for about 10 miles and then the wheels slowly fell off. This was also about the same time that a massive front came through (note the blue line drop, which is temperature). I think the reason for my fading was probably a combination of things; the first 30 miles of the bike came back to bite a bit, not having any more places to run for and I just think in general it was not my best day of running.

Despite slowing in the last half of the marathon, I still finished 11th in 8:46 and with a smile on my face. I told myself before the race that we never know how many fast races we have in us and that it's important to be grateful. I did that, along with enjoying the day and I am happy with the result. Thank you to all who support me.

Next up for me is TBD. However I still have a few goals in the back of my mind...and if you know me, you know I don't let goals go very easily. More to come soon!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2017 Ironman Wisconsin

Mile 90 on Midtown Road

This year's Ironman Wisconsin was a race that I was keyed in on since 2014. That was the last time I was able to race here in Madison due to the absence of a Professional Men's field. Each season I would race but wouldn't quite have the heart that I normally would have at Ironman Wisconsin.

As you can imagine, this year when it was announced the male pro's would be back, I was ALL IN. The season was focused on this race, 30hr+ weeks all summer long to try to raise the bar going into this event. The result of the training was fantastic and the data geeks would have had a field day with it. My coach, Cliff English, built a massive engine and he gets all of the credit for that!!

As we all know though, things don't go exactly as planned and while I did avoid getting my usual cold/flu in peak training, I managed to pick up a sinus infection about 8 days before the race thanks to our lovely Lake Monona on a rough day. I took antibiotics to try to get back to 100% by the race. I found by about day 4 I was feeling better from a sickness standpoint, but I lost that usual next gear that I had while peaking. I was strong, but not sharp.

Race day came around and that's exactly how I felt from the get-go. The effort yielded times across the board that were about 10% low (swim time, bike power and run pace). Yes I am disappointed I didn't have that race I wanted, but I am pleased that I was able to place 12th and that I got the most out of myself on the day while also making sure I had fun out there. I believe that it's important to race hard out there whether you are meeting your goals or you are an hour back from them.

During my second loop on the run I was able to see so many athletes who I helped get to that finish line and I couldn't help but feel very grateful to do what I do. It's now about more than me, it's about more than 1 result. It's about influencing and impacting as many people as I can to find the joy and greatness that triathlon can bring, whatever that means for them.

A huge congratulations to BBMC!!

Will I continue to race is the question I am getting a lot and the answer is YES! Will I focus on Ironman Wisconsin in the future if the Pro race comes back? I don't know. We all have a finite amount of energy and I will have to cross that bridge when I get there.

Thank you to all my sponsors, my family, Cliff English, my training partners, BBMC and anyone else who helped me get to that start line.

I'll end with a nice article that written by the WSJ (click on "WSJ).

Until next time...

Friday, September 01, 2017

Taper Time!

IMWI 2010 5th Place Professional

I cannot believe it's almost race week and more importantly I cannot believe I get to race an Ironman again in my home town. I raced IMWI 2002 through 2014, then without a men's Professional race, had to skip out on 2015 and 2016. Now that it's back for 2017 and I am grateful to simply be on that starting line once again.

Ironman for me represents something different than any other race distance, because it was such a challenge for me to be competitive at and because it is so different than any other race distance out there. There is no faking the distance, there is no Tour d'France mentality of "create a gap" that others miscalculate. The race is more like the boxing the match from a few weeks ago, or the US Open 2nd Round match from last night with Nadal. What is the condition of your body late in the game; round 10, 2hrs into a match or 8hrs into the race while at mile 20 of the run. Of course we all have bad days, we all make mistakes and $#*! happens, but for the most part Ironman is different. It's not about going fast, it's about not slowing down.

The above picture was taken in 2010 when I finished as the 5th Pro at IMWI. This race represented my first breakthrough Ironman and how I was feeling is pretty obvious in the picture (side note that Max Longree, in the background, missed the swim start by a few minutes).

10 days from now, MY GOAL, is to have that expression on my face when I cross the line...regardless of the placing. If I can get the most out of myself, be grateful and realize how far I have come since I started doing what was so hard for me 15 years ago, I will be satisfied.

I have had a lot of support from my inner circle, from my awesome team of athletes at BBMC, as well as from Peak Performance Massage, Trek, Blue Seventy and Endurance House of Madison. Last, but not least, I had a great plan and guidance from my coach Cliff English. Thank you!!!

Always remember that it's a privilege to race...for all of us to race. Next Sunday, I will be leading 32 other BBMC athletes on the race course, many of them for their first time. I couldn't be more stoked for each of them to be out there doing what they love to do for their own reasons and with their own goals.

My biggest piece of advice to them, regardless of their goal, is to find the joy in their race. That's where that extra 1% comes from and that's how you get the most out of yourself.

Happy Taper!