Rockman Race Report

This last weekend I headed down to Rockford, IL for the second straight year for my final tune-up before Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2 weeks. Chip, the race director, is turning this race into one that is going to be around for a long time. It is a very well run event and this year, there was a pro field, as well as a $10,000 prize purse.

"The boss," Kurt, and I decided to go into this race with a little less rest than California 70.3 earlier in the year. The idea would be to get a little more quality training in before Ironman Coeur d'Alene in a few weeks. As last week rolled along, I was tired and didn't start to feel better until Friday night before the race.

The weather forecast looked sketchy and did not disappoint. Hot temps, humidity and high winds were forecast, along with severe weather. The day before race, there were winds gusting to 60-70mph, humid temps in the high 80's and storms with tornadoes in the area.

Our plan was to dial back the watts on the bike and pay close attention to electrolyte intake. It is one thing to have someone else beat you, but it is another thing to beat yourself.

Race morning came around and it looked like we might be able to get the race in without incident. With about 30min to go until the start, I checked over everything and started to head down to the water. I took about 10 steps, stopped and decided to go back and look at the tires on my bike, just to make sure I was ready to roll. A little OCD I think :), but I was glad that I did!! The front looked good, but as I looked at the rear I noticed a tiny lump in the rubber. I poked around and found a nail stuck all the way into the tire....WOW, this would have given me a flat for sure. The little things do matter.

I quickly headed down to the start and got in a very solid 15-20min of swimming. I really wanted to make sure I started the day off well. The gun sounded and I swam HARD. There were 15, 10, then 5, then 4 of us. I was determined to stay in the group and drilled myself. My HR monitor told me that my HR was between 180-186 for the first 12+ minutes of the race. BUT, I did make the group. With about 200m to go, the sprint began for the swim prime, which I didn't want any part of. I was 4th out of the water and 2nd out of T1.

Once on the bike, I just used my Powertap to guide my effort. I dialed back the watts and focused on getting low/aero and just rode steady. It was windy, humid, but thankfully not sunny. I upped my electrolyte intake by about 50%, using Saltstick tabs. I got to the turn around, where I had about a 4:15 lead on the next athlete, Zach Ruble, who I know is very talented, so I still didn't feel very safe. I rolled along, taking advantage of free speed where I could and arrived back to T2.

A quick transition and I was out on the run. The run course went out for about a half mile on the bike course before turning off. I didn't see another cyclist, but anything can happen in long course racing. With 3 turn arounds on the run, the plan was to run hard, as long as I had to.

I turned after the half mile and all I could see was a black sky. I was HOT and actually rain didn't sound that bad. I went through the first 3 miles feeling good with a solid pace/HR. Then the sky opened up. You couldn't see anything!!! The path turned into a river and there was lightning everywhere.

I got to the first turn around and knew that I had a good gap, but still didn't know where everyone else was. Since it was early in the race I decided to push until the second turn around. I headed across a wide open field and over a hill and was literally scared for my life. There were lightning bolts everywhere and I couldn't see anything with the rain. At least I wasn't hot anymore, right???

I got to mile 7 and the second turn around where I would get a chance to see everyone else. I was very happy to find out that I had a 12min lead with 6 miles to go. I thought, "As long as I don't get struck by lightning or crushed by a tree, I am ok." I eased off the pace, thanked the volunteers who stuck it out all day in the horrible weather and enjoyed all of the hard work that I have put in over the last 6 weeks, as well as what would be my largest paycheck to date.

With 2 weeks to go, I still have a few key workouts left and have to stay healthy, but feel very confident for June 22. Thank you to all of the family, friends and companies that believe in me. Timex, Blue Seventy, Twin Six Clothing, The Trek Stores of Madison, Coffees of Hawaii, Salt Stick, Berkeley Running Co. and Personal Best Multisport.

I hope to report back soon with more good results.

Full results for Rockman can be found here.


Sue said… much for my stupid comment on the weather...see you next will have a blast here...along with a great race...
Anonymous said…
Congrats! I cannot believe the weather you all had...great job on a tough day.
Jenlz said…
I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations. I was beaten down by the rain and hail twice on the bike, to the point I was so terrified that I was saying prayers and asking God to take care of my children. When I got to T2 I saw 50 mph wind gusts blow a tent out of the ground and the entire 2nd rack of bikes blew over. I forced myself to head out on the run at about 4:10.

Then I saw you running to the finish line. You said something like "Great Job" or "Way to go" to me. I don't know if you saw the pain and turmoil in my face or if you do this to all the back-of-the-middle of the packers like me but man, but it was just what I needed to keep my legs moving forward.

With those little words of encouragement you changed my entire day from 'I promise to never do this again' to 'I can't believe I finished when can I do it again'. You are truly a CLASS ACT. I'm a new fan.

Congratulations on your win - but even more importantly - thank you for your kindness and human compassion.

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