Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 IMWI

2012 IRONMAN WISCONSIN
 5th Overall 
Swim 54:00 - Bike 4:56 - Run 2:58
Finish 8:56

Each season, Ironman Wisconsin is always the race that means the most to me. Though I train hard for every race that I start in, I have so much more vested in this event. I grew up in this city, I have so many who support me here and it really does feel like I have home field advantage. When I started racing Ironman events, 25 races ago, I told myself that one day I would win this race. THAT has been a major reason why I get up each morning and train as hard as I do.

This year was my 11th time racing here at Ironman Wisconsin and everything had gone perfectly leading into the event. I was at life best fitness on the bike and run and thought that this could REALLY be MY year.

The last build into the race had gone well. I knew that my numbers were up to par with some of the best in the world, thanks to my coach, Cliff English, who works with some of the best in the business. So confidence was very high, despite the strong field that would be racing.

SWIM:

The swim started and my plan to go out with race favorite, Ben Hoffman, failed. I just didn't have the gear to go with him over the first 200m. I quickly switched my focus to the main group and slotted in about 1 or 2 swimmers back from the front. I wore a sleeveless wetsuit for the first time in an Ironman and let me tell you, I don't think I will ever swim in full suit again. The range of motion is perfect for me and I tend to like "feeling" the water more. Thank you, TYR and Trek Store Madison for providing me with a great suit. I swam comfortably with the group and exited in a bit over 54min and more importantly with many of the strong guys I wanted to key off of in the race.

BIKE:

As I was heading out to my bike I thought that I dropped my sunglasses it T1. This meant that it was going to be one bright, headache filled ride... "no worries," I thought. This was a race and there is no time to worry about things like that.

Justin Daerr and myself lead the charge out of T1 and quickly made our way up to 4th and 5th on the road.  We were soon joined by Gerlach, Sturla and Goehner, with Hoffman up the road. As we made our way through loop 1, Ben had bridged up to the front of the race and our group had lost about 3 minutes to him.

My legs were not feeling good, but based on training wattage numbers, I knew I was riding well within my ability. I lead the charge into special needs, picked up my bottles, downed my energy drink and immediately didn't feel great.  I thought it would pass, but the legs just didn't respond. I managed to ride with the group until about mile 75, when the thought that these guys could potentially be riding too hard popped into my mind. I thought that they would eventually blow on the run and that I could run them down.

In hindsight, I believe I should have done everything I could have to stay with the group until we turned with the wind. instead of losing 10minutes in the last 35miles, I would have likely lost half that amount of time. Hindsight always 20/20.

The remainder of the ride was not one I want to remember, but I kept pedaling and then my attention shifted to my head. This was partly because of my headache and partly because of something hurting on the top of my head. "Could my glasses actually be stuck inside my helmet?" I thought.

As I rolled into T2 after 4hrs 56min of riding, I was in 10th place and 10minutes down on 2nd place, I took off my helmet and what did I see...my glasses of course! HA...how many Ironman races have I done again?!?!


NOT on Straight & NOT Happy

RUN:

My eyes were SO HAPPY. I started off on the marathon and thought that I could at least run into 5th.  This was the first race in my KSwiss KRuuz 1.5 flats and I have to say that if you can handle the pounding, they are fantastic marathon shoes.

I clicked off the miles and settled in to a 6:20-30 pace.  This was slightly ahead of plan, but not outside of my ability.  By mile 5 I was in 8th and by 12 I was in 6th.  I finally caught 5th at mile 17 and got a split at mile 19 that 4th was 2:20 ahead and 2nd/3rd were about 4minutes.

Hoffman was long gone, but podium was possible.  I pushed on, but hit a rough patch around mile 20. I was no longer taking 40sec per mile out of the guys, but still making progress. At mile 22, I saw all of my Team BBMC Athletes cheering hard and it briefly gave me a good boost.  I was 8sec out of 4th and 75sec out of 3rd with 4miles to run. 2nd had started running well again.

That's about as good as it got though. You would think that with someone so close, it would be easy to close the gap, but it doesn't work like that sometimes. Justin started to run a bit better again and I was only holding the gap to 3rd. I got to mile 24 and the splits had gone up a bit. I was now 25sec back of 4th and 80sec out of 3rd. I gave one more focused effort, but at mile 25 I conceded and held my 5th place in to the finish.

With a bit smarter pacing, I think I could have run my way up to 3rd with a 2:54/55 marathon, but I am very happy to finally run under 3hrs on this course and nail my nutrition using a combination of PowerBar products.


On A Mission

Notice the orange bracelet and L.I.F.E. Logo screened on my kit. This represented Eric McLean, who passed away a bit over a week before the race. Eric has been an inspiration to so many as he fought a losing battle with cancer. After learning of Eric's death, I wanted to make sure that he wasn't forgotten, that his foundation lives on and that all of us remember and know that we are lucky to do what we are able to do. Though it wasn't my day, I am still thrilled to finish 5th and run 2:58. Eric, you gave me a lot of strength out there on course! I will be back next year to give this race another BIG RUN!



Glad to be done!

Congratulations to all of my athletes who had great day's out there, as well as those athletes who supported us all over the course!!! It's an honor to lead you.

Finally, thanks to all of the support I get from my great sponsors; Trek Store of Madison, who provides me with all of my triathlon gear, including wetsuits, wheels, power meters, helmets and clothing. A big thanks to KSwiss for my racing shoes, PowerBar for all of my training and racing nutrition, as well as Cliff for my coaching!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Thoughts on Ironman Wisconsin 2012

This will be the 11th year that I have toed the line at Ironman Wisconsin.  Every year I put together my thoughts on how I believe the front of the race will play out, so here they are for 2012!


THE COURSE:

The 1 loop swim will be great for the PRO field and the back third of the Age Group field. It will be much easier to find and stay on feet, without having to navigating through a thousand other slower swimmers.  Those swimmers also won't have to deal with faster swimmers going over the top of them.

The new bike course adds 5-6 short steep hills on each loop and a longer climb coming back into town.  While the new course SHOULD be closer to 112mi (last year was 114.5), it will be just as challenging. Throw in some weather variables and you better know where to distribute your energy.

The run. Well it's a treadmill in my basement, packed with everyone I have ever known here in Madison; those involved in the sport, friends from the past, as well as family to provide support that only I have here in Madison.


THE COMPETITION:

There is a good field coming in.  Guys who have won, top 10 in Kona, guys who can run, guys who have lots of experience and guys who are very young.  While there can sometimes be multiple reasons to come to a race, there is clearly one goal on everyone's mind. It's definitely not about the money, it's not about the points for Kona, it's not about finishing... Everyone wants to WIN.


THE RACE

The best line around is that "the work is done."  If I race my race and take care of myself and you cannot swim my pace, ride my watts, before running my pace, it doesn't matter. If you can, then it will come down to who wants it more. If you can do more, then hats off to you and there is nothing that I can do.

The thing you realize after racing....25ish Ironman Races, is that you can only do what you have done in training. The taper doesn't allow you to do things you haven't done, it just rests you to ensure you can put the swim, bike and run you have done, together on one day.

If I had to speculate, I would say that there will be some guys riding VERY hard on the day. The question they will try to answer in their favor; "Will they be able to ride hard enough and gain a large enough lead, so that the 2:50 and faster runners won't catch them?" My answer: we'll have to wait until this Sunday to find out.  If I look at the course, the competition, the forecast (as of now) and fitness levels, I am confident in my strategy, no matter who turns out to race.

+++

Things are right where I want to be for this race, if not a little further ahead. This year it's all about giving it everything I have, during every moment of the race.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone out there and especially all the BBMC athletes. There will be some first time finishes and a few people hopefully heading to Kona... it's going to be a great day. Thanks to everyone who has support both myself and the team over the past 12 years.