Checking in: Austria!

  

A wise man once said that in Austria “the beer flows like wine and the women instictively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” Or maybe he was talking about Aspen. In any case, I am in Zell Am See/Kaprun, Austria for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and it’s  definitely beautiful:  

Trying to fiind some boring roads with Jesse and Kevin. Not working.

A lot has happened between the Muncie race and Europe. Some great, some not so great. And I get ready for Worlds by playing triathlon in this gorgeous place, it’s as good a time as any for a check in.

The year of gimp continues:

– In my Muncie race report, I mentioned hurting a rib in a bouncy house at the family reunion. Well, that bouncy house forced me to sleep upright for a week and not swim for two. You win bouncy house.

– The thing about injuries is sometimes you can over compenstate. Since I couldn’t swim, I overdid it on the bike and run and messed up my left knee, which scaled back running for a few weeks. Le sigh. 

– Just when things started to come together, I had a freak crash four days before leaving for Austria. I was well taken care of during and after the crash and because Sports Basement and Felt keep Team EMJ’s bikes running fast, they overnighted parts and fixed my bike just before I took off. So race is on!

One of many ouchies. Roads are hard…

Making it work. Perspective heading into Worlds:

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s bike wreck #1, bronchitis from hell, rib, knee, bike wreck #2 in 2015. All you can do is understand that things happen, to everyone, and the most you can do is work with what you have on any given day to get better. Just make it work. In that light, I’m feeling good about Worlds on Sunday, because I know I’ve given it everything I’ve had this season.

On top of any of that, riding bikes in Europe is always something I’ve wanted to do and the rides I’ve done so far are incredible. I’m like a kid in Disney world (Epcot, obviously).

The main event(s):

I’ve been racing since April, but this is the meat and potatoes of the season. I like both meat and potatoes. So I’m pretty excited.

– Aug 30: Ironman 70.3 World Championship – Zell Am See, Austria

– Sep 19: ITU World Championship (Olymic) – Chicago

– Oct 4: Ironman 70.3 Silverman – Las Vegas/Henderson

It’s been a crazy year since qualifying for Worlds last year at Silverman in Vegas. I’m really excited and super fortunate to be racing such high profile races over the next six weeks! Stay tuned for updates.

Signing off from Austria. Wait for it, wait for it…

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Muncie

muncie finish chute

The Summary:

Ironman 70.3 Muncie was just the appetizer to an action packed weekend back in the Midwest. Almost immediately after crossing the finish line soaking wet, I was in my car b-lining for Cincinnati to celebrate my good friends Jillian and Dan getting married before turning around for a family reunion in Columbus twelve hours later. But unlike most appetizers, it was not small, expensive (thanks, GU!) and didn’t leave me wanting more. Nope, this was a very solid race for me that ended in a 3rd Overall finish driven by a my fastest ever bike split (by far) and a solid run.  Ok, so I kind of wouldn’t have minded more, 40 seconds behind 2nd, but 3rd OA was another exciting notch up the performance ladder! It went something like this…

The Swim – 1.2mi: (00:31:41) After a great warmup in what was essentially a lap pool off the lake’s shore, I began the swim loose and in control. Unlike most of my swims, this feeling never went away. I stayed on pace with a group of my wave and sighted like a champ after tons of practice each week with the purplepatch group. My visibility was incredible in the Roka F2 goggles with amber lenses as the green of the treeline and orange/yellow buoys really popped.  While this swim wasn’t my best time (and the course may have been long as times were up), I was on the perfect line, swam confidently and even surged past some guys as they wore out. I got to my bike feeling fresh, a huge mile stone for me!

The Bike – 56mi: (02:13:23) This is hands down my best bike split I’ve had in a half iron bike. In fact, I even bested my 40km time! After riding without power at St. George, I decided I was going to do this again and just ride hard and respond to the race. The night before I texted with Ritch Viola and he said something that stuck with me, “ride hard, but not breathless.” I thought I was doing this during the first 15 or so miles of the bike but once I saw Greg Grosicki of my team coming the other way and Eric Hawley of Indiana continuing to put time into me, I knew I had to take the effort up even another notch. I rode like it was an Olympic distance for the rest of the race and holy smokes did the Felt IA and Enve wheels respond – SOOO FAST. I train and race with GU Brew, a light hydration mix – never Gatorade, which was on the course. However knowing that the day was only going to keep getting hotter and the humidity would assuredly cause cramping if I wasn’t careful, I went through my GU bottles immediately and moved onto bottles and bottles of the sugary stuff. But with the hard effort and this foreign sugary liquid in my stomach, my gut wasn’t happy and kept…sending Gatorade back up and out. Gross! I know, but I tried to pay attention to it, while ignoring it, if that makes sense – be aware of the body to ensure it’s ready to go for the run, don’t freak out that you kinda keep puking.

The Run – 13.1mi: (01:19:42) Since I’ve never ridden that hard on the bike during a 70.3 and my legs felt a little crampy at times before forcing more Gatorade down the hatch, I wasn’t sure how this run was going to go. This course was actually very rolling and felt similar to Vineman with sustained, pesky grades. But I laced up my trusty Saucony Fastwitch 6s and found my stride quickly to run a focused first mile in 5:54. The next couple of miles slipped a bit as I felt my way through the open, rolling terrain. I took advantage of aid at every mile, keeping the core cool and beverages flowing. I started counting time to the guys ahead of me on the out and back, knowing that in my cases I could make up the time. But when I saw Hawley running the other way, I knew he was going to have to blow up in order for me to catch him – he was running well. I turned on the gas. When it was getting tough on the stubborn inclines, I’d put myself mentally in the Valley of Doom and just pretend that I was doing another repeat. It really worked and the training gave me familiarity and confidence to run strong. I started my final kick with about half a mile left and boy was I suffering. It’s a beautiful thing what the body can do when it only has to endure another couple of minutes – I was officially in zombie mode. I crossed the finish line with an embarrassingly loud grunt, before seeking out my parents and friend since age six, Nate who were there supporting the whole time.

Result – 70.3mi (04:09:42): Overall – 3rd, Division – 2nd

Thanks – First and foremost to my parents. Not only for always being so supportive, but for being there every step of the way on race weekend, including my Houdini escape to the wedding – couldn’t have done it without you! Nate for waking up at four-something o’clock and schlepping all the way from Columbus to the middle of Indiana to watch me run around for a combined 23 seconds. To my Uncle John who did the same from only a slightly less far drive via Noblesville. Greg Grosicki for having me the day before the race at his place for home base as he showed me the bike course and hooked me up with his bike mechanic, Mike, at Greenway 500 – thank you! Mark Graham for just being a great teammate, even when I only saw you for a few minutes; and to you and Jessica for the great pictures!  The rest of my Team Everyman Jack teammates for always inspiring me – whether it was texts or just knowing what results were going to be clocked the next day at Vineman, I was jacked up (bad puns). And of course, to all of our sponsors – see the Mike Like’s page to see the amazing brands/products that I used to get me to, through and recovered from the race!

Here are some closing photos. Thanks for the support and keep on keepin on, all!

My biggest fans

My biggest fans

Felt IA and Enve 8.9s.  Ridiculously fast!

Felt IA and Enve 8.9s. Ridiculously fast!

This dude drove for 2 hours at 5 am to watch me run around in Indiana!

This dude drove for 2 hours at 5 am to watch me run around in Indiana!

Uncle John woulda have done the bike if I asked him to

Uncle John woulda have done the bike if I asked him to

Fast forward a couple of hours... #cleanupnice

Fast forward a couple hours #cleanupnice

Family reunions are a great time to recreate old pictures. Until you're the one holding the baby.

Family reunions are a great time to recreate old pictures. Until you’re the one holding the baby.

Homemade baked ziti. All of it, please. Italian reunions ftw!

Homemade baked ziti. All of it, please. Italian reunions ftw!

Solid performances don't stop at the finish line - Nick and I took the Guacci Family Cornhole Title

Solid performances don’t stop at the finish line – Nick and I took the Guacci Family Cornhole Title

When you bruise your ribs dunking on an inflatable hoop. Kinda worth it!

When you bruise your ribs dunking on an inflatable hoop…

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 St. George

St. George bike_2

The Summary:

I’m not usually one for moral victories, but I feel good about this one! A week before the race I started to feel a “tickle” in my throat. But I did my race sim that weekend and did just fine. Fast forward to Tuesday before the race, and I had a mega cold, which mostly passed through by the time I left on Thursday, but I was left with full blown bronchitis. I wasn’t even sure if I would start. But after speaking with my inner circle, I decided to race as hard as I could, for as long as I could, and let my body decide when the race was over. Turns out that was the finish line – in a pretty decent time!

The Swim – 1.2mi: (00:32:22) Considering I’d only been swimming for about a month with two arms (see: January bike wreck) and the whole bronchitis thing, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pretty concerned when I saw that there was no swim warm-up allowed. I ran and got the core temp up as much as I could. The gun went and I immediately began hacking up while trying to pace breaths between labored strokes. After the first 600 or so yards, my arms really became tired and heavy and it was a struggle until about 500 left. I refocused myself on form and smooth effort and came in more comfortably than when I started.

The Bike – 56mi: (02:27:40) With the first pedal strokes, I realized my power meter wasn’t working as my computer displayed zeroes. All of my training and racing has been based on power as my primary performance metric. Usually, this would be very concerning. However, on a day where every other breath was interrupted by piece of lung projectiles, I was immediately calmed by the idea of not sweating coming in low to my expected numbers. I just rode my bike as hard as I could and responded to the race. I was caught by my teammate, Julian Sunn, much earlier than expected and instead of getting down, I used it as motivation and we rode together (legally) for the rest of the bike. Side note: it’s a beautiful thing to ride with guys you are competing with! The pro race is an infinitely different race than amateur wave starts in this regard. I finished through the beautiful red rocks and cruised into transition wondering just how the run would go.

The Run – 13.1mi: (01:22:12) This run course was no joke. It started immediately uphill through the neighborhoods and gained 1,440 ft. of elevation gain through the red rocks. Within the first mile, the guy who’d been with me most of the bike hopped onto my pace and we ran side by side. I came up to Julian who’d put a minute on me at the end of the bike on the last hill as I couldn’t go that deep – he was doubled over cramping. I was so bummed to see this because he was fit and racing very well. After giving him a holler I continued on and powered up the hill. While I didn’t have the top end, I was running steady after climbing up above the town and on top of the red rocks I set a CR on Park Loop. I was humming along, trying to close on my teammate Jake McDonald and I felt the pace slipping away from me a bit. Thank God I hit the point of the last 5km of screaming downhill – especially the last two miles, where I was running as low as 5:10/mi. I can truthfully say that if this 13.1mi race was 13.6 miles, I would have not have finished. I left it all out there to be sure!

Result – 70.3 (04:27:06): Overall – 38th, Division – 3rd

Thanks – A BIG thank you to my cousin Gina who housed Julian Sunn, Bruno Fritsch and me in Vegas before we headed to Utah. She continues to be THE BEST race host!! Mark Graham for being a great teammate and driving the four of us to the race from Vegas and being the local knowledge base. Meredith Kessler who, as the defending St. George champ, helped me prep the entire week prior with training and course tips, AND for hooking me up with an X-Lab Torpedo hydration system and coordinating the drop during a busy race prep day. The Team EMJ guys for being great race weekend-mates and Bruno for not tossing and turning too much in our motel bed ;) Family and friends for the support, it was really special this time! And of course, to all of our sponsors – see the Mike Like’s page to see the amazing brands/products that I used to get me to, through and recovered from the race!

Here are some closing photos. Thanks for the support and keep on keepin on, all!

Podium!

Podium!

Some of the guys loungin post race at awards

Some of the guys loungin post race at awards

The best race host ever, Gina!

The best race host ever, Gina!