Checking In – Early 2014

This past weekend was Ironman Oceanside 70.3 and if you read my 2014 Preview – and retained any of it – you may recall that it was the first race in a season full of fun and challenging races.

I’m happy to report that I reduced my time by 4h 24min and 10 seconds over last year with a time of 00:00:00. I’m less happy to report that it was because I am still coming back from my running injury discovered in late 2013 and I’m still not fully up and running. Definitely bummed to have missed this incredible race, but my buddies Brett and Pat did well to carry the M2 flag and set a strong tone for the year.

Still, I’m having some awesome training, gaining a lot of fitness and eating the food:

I'll take all of the Nutella, please.

I’ll take all of the Nutella, please.

What is the injury and why has it taken so long?

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Standing tall and “straight” for the camera

My left leg has been a problem child since leading up to and through Tahoe. After time off in the fall, it continued to be a problem at Christmas. I went to see Dr. Shepherd in Powell, Ohio while home for the holidays and we found some serious imbalance and misalignment with my hips and spine. This is either because my left leg is longer than my right (by birth or growth patterns), which would be consistent with the 4mm difference in my legs during my bike fit last year, or because my muscular imbalances have thrown this platform out of whack, making my left leg “longer,” but not actually longer.

If that sounds like a bunch of jargon, just know that it means that everything is more injury prone in my left leg and it stinks. I worked with Talitha at Individual Fitness Solutions while in Dublin to develop a strength and flexibility program to try and stabilize the platform. I do this strength program at least twice a week and my attention to post workout stretching and rolling has increased ten-fold (so, so important). I also continue my body work with my main man, Andy Tubbs, who induces eye crossing pain (i.e. massage therapy). Lastly, I run in a bubble:

Shirt off, thumbs up, bro out

Shirt off, thumbs up, bro out

The Alter-G at M2 Revolution continues to be an absolutely essential tool for coming back from injury in a controlled, healthy manner. I’ve progress from 75% to 77% and currently 80% of my body weight, while I begin to run at speeds that look much more familiar.

The goal remains the same

It can be easy to have a negative mindset when you miss a race and the road back to health is taking much longer than originally planned. But that’s the thing – you can’t plan it and it’s silly to think you have more control over the circumstances than the hard work you put into it allows. That’s all you can do, work hard to be healthy and the return will hopefully follow.

I entered this year as one of the best triathletes in my age group in America. My goal for this year was to race well at a level that removes that qualifier – I want to be one of the best amateur triathletes, not just in my age group. The goal still remains, and the race calendar has shifted a bit later.

Stay tuned to see how it unfolds!

A big thanks to friends, family, the sports med folks I’ve worked with, M2 Revolution and GU.

Race Report: Ironman Tahoe Pt. 2

It's going to be a long day (photo credits Competitor Group)

It’s going to be a long day (photo credit Competitor Group)

Race day

After a night of minimal sleep and plenty of staring at the ceiling, the alarm went off at some hour that I have blocked out of my mind. As far as I knew, this race was going on as planned despite any concerns about temperatures or frozen roads. I was ecstatic to see that it was 30 degrees out! Was definitely thinking mid-high 20s.

The house began to stir as we put on the coffee and I made my oatmeal. The plan was to essentially get race ready in the house and drive to the finish line as late to possible. Standing outside in 30 degree temps for any extended period of time did not seem like a good way to start an Ironman.

I was feeling loose and ready to roll. I put on a pre-morning play list as I gathered my things. There were a lot of great tunes that played, but this is the one that would stick as…

Race Song

Calm Rush Before the Storm

A final word with Pops before heading to the beach

A final word with Pops before heading to the beach

Staying in the house for as long as possible meant arriving to the insanity of the transition area with a pointed agenda and no time for fumbling around. I got to my bike to put air in the tires and of course the little plastic baggie I put over the seat was no match for the ice that would freeze across the leather. After getting transition areas set up, I walked over to my personal body-marker, M2 sista from another mista, Alessandra Sales. We hugged it out for a good-luck embrace and she ensured me that I’d see here and Evgenios out on the course.

I suited up, hugged and kissed the support crew – Mom, Dad, Ali and Nancy – and told them that I’d see ’em on the other side.

The Swim

"This is it. Don't get scared now." Kevin McCallister, Home Alone

“This is it. Don’t get scared now.” Kevin McCallister, Home Alone

Tahoe swim start_

Enter the abyss

Enter the abyss

I stood in the icy sand listening to the National Anthem, moving to keep warm, and taking in the dreamlike setting that would be the venue for this race. The way the steam rose off the water and dissipated, giving way to the snow-capped mountains was surreal.

There was a general vibe across athletes and spectators alike that was part appreciation of the unique circumstances and beauty, part what the hell are we doing, but all excitement. As the singer finished, the music started pumping and there was less than a minute until the pros started. I was so freakin pumped and ready to go, that my keep-warm movements turned into genuine excitement.

The gun or cannon or horn (I was too in the moment to remember which) went off and the race started. Per Ironman’s new swim start format, it was a rolling start instead of a mass start, so your race didn’t start until your chip crossed the mat, similar to a running race.

Most folks in the race took their time walking into the water. Tahoe is knee deep for about the first 100 meters, so most people would opt not to burn energy by water-running anyways. Layer on top of that the uncertainty of how long it would take bodies to warm up and caution seemed to be the MO. I was completely on board.

My goal for the swim was 1:10. I figured that on my best day I could do about an hour and change. I made a marked decision to back off on an altitude swim to set myself up for a solid day.

Run across the land of a thousand daggers

Run across the land of a thousand daggers

The water was a relief. At 50-some degrees it was more than 20 degrees warmer than the air temp. Sighting was somewhat of a challenge as the steam off the water made buoys and rest platforms appear at the last minute. The water however was, per usual, the clearest water I’ve ever been in. So taking stock of the race around me and swimming on the right feet was easy.

To this end, I really liked the self-seeding, corral start. I didn’t have to fight not to be dropped or pick through traffic that usually happens when a race shakes out of a mass start.

As I came back into the beach, my body started to shiver. The water was becoming shallower and the affect of the air became greater. I exited the water and my feet immediately turned to block on the jagged, icy sand. 1:09:54 – I was stoked to be exactly where I wanted.

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 27

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 2.4 mi 01:09:54 01:09:54 01:48/100m 27 315 389

Transition Hell

I ran through the transition bags and grabbed my bag of full cycling gear. Normally in a triathlon, the majority of athletes opt to transition at their bike, stripping their wetsuit, staying in the same kit they wore underneath and pedaling away. There is a tent available for those who would like to take the time to do a full dry change.

Use your imagination to make a chicken coop. I'm horrified of birds and hell to me is chicken coops.

Use your imagination to make a chicken coop. I’m horrified of birds and hell to me is a chicken coop.

The problem with a race at 30 degrees is that no one is transitioning at their bike, everyone is doing a full dry change and that this tent that is available as an option to some, becomes a necessity to all. It was an absolute train wreck. Athletes packed, running around like chickens in a chicken coop. Someone accused me of stealing their wetsuit, I could barely stand upright to put my clothes on, and worst of all I lost a glove. I realized this as I finally Heismanned my way through the crowd and headed to my bike. I decided it was worth going back into that mess of humanity to find it because I couldn’t imagine trying to shift or handle my bike with a frozen hand.

Crap

Crap

That was absolutely useless. Thank God I ended up coming into an extra glove before getting on my bike, or else it would have been trouble. Speaking of trouble, I was now at my bike and my feet were so numb, I couldn’t put my socks and shoes on. A volunteer came over to help me.

This was just nuts.

17:50 later, I was running out of T1 to the cheers of my family and friends. I shook my head in disbelief. Looking around me and seeing the athletes that were exiting with me, I knew that this set me back.

The Bike

IMLT Bike course_crop

Bundled up, tongue out, making ground

Bundled up, tongue out, having fun

The plan was to ease into the long saddle time and build into race watts on cold legs. The reality however was that I had 17 minutes worth of athletes in front of me that I need to get by. The way passing rules work in triathlon is that you have to make a full pass and be out of the no-draft zone. When there is a line of 20 athletes spaced out at 3 bike lengths (no-draft zone), you have to pass the whole line, as falling into a draft zone half way is illegal.

So I kept my eyes on the watts and rode at the upper end of the range, making work of the traffic. It took 30 miles to really feel like I was in the clear to ride my own race. Which was what I was hoping for, because I wanted to avoid the bottle neck in Truckee, leading into the climbs. The crowd was out in full force and riding through Truckee was like a cycling road race!

Something I noticed around this point – as my feet began to thaw, my right foot was kind of hurting, specifically in the pinky toe area. I chalked it up to my feet being numb when I put my shoes on and tightening them too much. Stopping, taking the booty off, adjusting, putting it back on…nah, didn’t seem worth it.

Martis Camp

IMLT Bike profile_crop_label

The first of the two mega climbs came in the Martis Camp area. Since it was closed until race day, this was my first time riding it. I knew what climbing watts at altitude looked like from riding Brockway before, but something about Martis Camp was more difficult. Brockway is a steady grind without any real change in grade or direction. Martis Camp was much more full of switch backs and steep pitches. My body was sending off altitude warning signals – higher heart rate, leg burn – at watts that were totally fine on Brockway. So I dialed it back.

Another challenge in Martis Camp was that I started to overheat a bit. At almost 40 miles into the race it was warmer and while climbing, I was working harder. The big descent down to Brockway was like a built in engine coolant and I leveraged it with all 4 layers upzipped.

Brockway

Family and underwear men ahead at Brockway Summit

Family and underwear men ahead at Brockway Summit

For how difficult it was to settle into a groove during the undulating Martis Camp climb, Brockway was smooth sailing. Put the head down and grind at a set cadence all the way up. The awesome thing about Brockway is that the line of traffic going the other way for supporters driving to Squaw was a continuous cheering section. As the climb got closer to the top, the crowd turned Tour de France and supporters stood cheering on both sides of you. At one point a dude in underwear was even running beside me like I was Froome himself. A very unique and appreciated aspect of this race.

Grinding out the the top of Brockway

Grinding out the last few feet of Brockway

The goal was to do second loop better than the first, but that would be somewhat challenging given how much harder I had to ride during the first 30 miles to get past the unplanned traffic. I kept an eye out for the Champagne Prius my family would be driving the opposite way to T2/Finish in Squaw Valley and sure enough I saw them and gave them a wave.

2 loops down and onto Squaw Valley

2 loops down and onto Squaw Valley

I was feeling pretty good, but something weird was happening – I kept peeing. I was kind of concerned because I was drinking as much as planned, but I was afraid my body wasn’t using all of it since I wasn’t sweating that much. I told myself it was still important to drink due to the unseen effects of dehydration, but I was a bit uneasy about it.

Contrary to plan, lap 2 ended up being worse than lap 1 by about 10 watts on average. Though I was feeling good, numbers were just down across the board and not nearly as consistent in either Martis Camp or Brockway. By the time I descended Brockway again and made it to the climb out of King’s Beach en route to Tahoe City, I was feeling a bit zapped. From Tahoe City to Squaw the watts just weren’t there. I was ready to get off the bike and run, but was a bit ticked to see the watts fall off.

And so the first negative thoughts begin to creep:

Why did T1 take so long? Surely I spent more gas earlier on the bike than I would have wanted because of that. Why was I peeing so much? Was I flushing myself out? What is the DEAL with my right foot? This shoe must be on super tight for it to be hurting like this.

You just rode your bike 111 miles, calm down and get to T2. Getting on the run will…wait there’s Virgilio, already mile into the run. Due to a crazy work schedule, my main man hadn’t trained more than a couple hours a week for the last  weeks. He waved as I mouthed, “What the f*&%?” Ughhh…Get me off this bike!

Meanwhile, at the ranch…

Beautiful day to watch some triathlon

Beautiful day to watch some triathlon

Ali and Nancy

Taking in the sites before the athletes parade in

The ‘rents, Ali, Nancy and Vince were all enjoying the plush treatment of the VIP access that John and GU were able to hook up. It’s tough for better viewing conditions than a sunny day in Squaw, until you throw all the free food and libations you could ever want on top of that. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded if I did another loop on the bike!

Enter T2

Entering T2

But there they were, waiting as I rolled into Transition 2, ready to get off the bike and into my running shoes.

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 11

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 112 mi 05:58:20 07:26:04 18.75 mph 11 126 139

Transition 2

I wanted to be consistent, so I botched transition 2 as well. In addition to a gear blunder (left the watch on the bike, volunteer chased it down), I was about to really find out what I was in for with this right foot. I took off my cycling shoe and immediately let out an expletive or seven. My right toe felt like it was broken. I mean, I really thought it was broken.

What was the deal, might you ask? Well I’d put hand warmers in my socks so that my feet would warm more quickly. I handled the left foot, but as you might recall, I had a volunteer helping with the right foot. Of course he didn’t know there was a handwarmer in my right sock, and so of course he didn’t take it out. But since my foot was literally numb, I couldn’t feel that it was there.

Exit T2

Hobbling out of T2

So I rode 112 miles with a little baggie handwarmer bunched up on top of my upper right foot. Stellar.

I left T2 in a pretty crappy place mentally. I was already not pleased with where I was at in the race, upset with the lost time of chasing down the watch and pretty sure I was going to have to run a marathon on a broken toe.

The Run

IMLT Run course and splits_crop

No shortage of inspiration on the IMLT course

No shortage of inspiration on the IMLT course

The first  mile of the run was spent deciding if my toe was broken. Or rather, even if it was broken, could I run on it? After deciding that, yes, I can run, it was time to start running well. I took a moment to center myself and remember just how long a day of Ironman is. I was starting a marathon – nothing before this mattered, so much could play out in my favor if I ran the way I was capable of.

So off I went. It’s net down hill out of Squaw Valley and to the Truckee River. Even still, I went out too hot. The plan was to ease in from 7:30s down to 7:00s and below and I just couldn’t hold back. By the time I got down to 89 I was getting sucked up into running with other guys and I should have stuck to my slow burn plan.

I made the turn around at mile 9 and change and I was feeling a bit off. Mile 10 went by and I was starting to loose my grip on the pace. As I approached the 12 mile marker, I did something I’ve never done in a race: I stopped.

I stopped running and stood there. Something was not right. Sure I was feeling fatigued, but something else felt off. As I began to run, I immediately stopped again, clutching my stomach. It was totally jacked and prevented anything more than a walk/jog. And all the while I had freakin’ Starship stuck in my head. Not the time for We Built This City! Need to revise playlist criteria.

I got myself to the porta-John at Mile 13, hoping that would do the trick. But it continued to be a struggle. I felt absolutely awful. Until that point I’d done only Coke and my concentrated electrolytes. Now I could hardly stomach anything.

So there I was, wondering what the next 13.2 miles had in store for me. How was I going to get to the finish line? Until now, I was finding silver linings, realizing it was a long race and even running 8:30 miles could net out to a solid day if others were struggling. But this was pretty much the nail in the coffin for hopes of a competitive finish. It became a game of survival.

As I got to the entrance of Squaw Valley, I put on my brave face and trotted by the supporters. As soon as I hit the hill returning to the Village, I began walking again.

Mile 13: 8:41

Mile 14: 9:51

Mile 15: 12:20

This was getting bad.

Considerably less pep in the step than seen above in the same spot, lap 1

Considerably less pep in the step than seen above in the same spot, lap 1

This is where I bottomed out. At the top of the hill, trusty Alessandra saw me walking and began to run with me. She really got me moving again and even though my stomach prevented me from running well, at least I was running. She sent me off into the Village where seeing my family meant everything. It was what drove me.

I struggled to run through the village, but the wild support really kept me alive. I saw my family and stopped and gave each one a kiss (except Vince, sorry bud) and told them I was doing my best and I’d see them soon. I think at this point they knew it wasn’t the day that I wanted, but they were all smiles.

9 miles left and the goal was no walking. This is where the magic of Tahoe really shone through, because the course was littered with SFTri, GGTC, EMJ, Viva Pink and all the other Bay Area staples. Having supporting during almost the entire run was all the difference.

Driving the struggle bus at mile 22

Driving the struggle bus at mile 22

Then it came back, and at mile 20.5 I was back in the porta-John. Twice. Miserable. Directly uphill after that and I was walking. I drew strength by thinking of my loved ones, thinking about how much I’d asked them to stand by me and – sometimes – play second fiddle as I prepared for this. I owed it to them to do my best. It’s truly what kept me running. The determination grew.

I grabbed my quads, strutted like an old man up the mulch stares back onto 89 and closed in on the 23 mile marker. A guy with my age group on his calf in was front of me and something clicked.

“You have 3.2 miles left in this freakin’ Ironman. Balls up and run like you know you can to the finish.”

I passed him emphatically and charged uphill to the finish. Any pain didn’t matter. I can run a 5K, I’ve done it a thousand times. I latched onto a guy running even faster and pretended it was a track workout and he was leading. When someone yelled, “Let’s go, Mike!” he turned his head and said, “Yeah, let’s go, Mike,” and turned up the pace. Fine by me, I’m here dude!

We flew by the EMJ group again and after going through the final aid station, I asked if he wanted me to take a pull. I cranked it up a notch further, while we exchanged words of encouragement. He dropped about a mile from the finish. It was really cool to strike that connection and fire each other up.

I passed the SFTri group again and I heard Adam Smith’s unmistakable British accent say, “There’s Mike, he’s looking good now.” That’s how bad it was earlier.

With the blinders on as I go full bore through the village

With the blinders on as I go full bore through the village

As I made the turn to go into the village, I was out of my skull. So much pain. So much emotion. So much energy from the crowd. Thank God I had sunglasses on because my eyes were definitely sweating. The day had not gone to plan, but I’d be damned if I was going to leave a drop on that course.

I made the final turn and saw the finish line. I can’t even describe how painful my body felt but how amped my mind was. Staring at that finish line didn’t even feel real. The crew was on the left but I didn’t even see them, all I could see was the line.

Charging to the finish

Charging to the finish

Vince extends for the high five, to no avail

Vince extends for the high five, to no avail

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Overcome. Family and Vince, arms raised in the background.

Overcome. Family and Vince, arms raised in the background.

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 8

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 26.2 mi 03:51:36 11:23:12 08:50/mi 8 103 118

El Fin

Dad and me post raceI literally had nothing left in my body when I crossed the finish line. Tearfully, I reached out to Vince and gave him the high five I’d missed coming down the chute. When I crossed they asked me some questions to which I responded, “Everything hurts.” After some time in the med tent (I was shuffled there to get my core temperature back up), I came back out to hug it out with the crew.

I was so grateful to them for being so supportive. We headed back to the VIP pavilion so I could partake in the food and beverage party. I think I had about 4 sips of my beer and could only eat for about 10 minutes before I was toast. I looked over to see Chris McDonald, the winner of the race, cheersing folks, right as rain. Good for him. I felt like sh!t.

Takeaways

The list of takeaways is way too long to put here. And in some ways, I’m not sure exactly how much there is to take away. With so many extreme variables across the day, it’s tough to point at the body breaking down before the half way point of the run and know exactly what caused it. I have my theories, ranging from effort to nutrition, but as of now they’re just that, theories.

The biggest takeaway is that even though I didn’t get the result I wanted, I had an immensely successful training build, reached new levels of fitness and learned so much about myself along the way. It may have been my worse race by the numbers, but I think it’s the finish I’m most proud of, because it truly took everything.

Thank Yous

I can’t thank Ali enough for her support through the year. After being together, but across the country for 3 years, she moved out here this spring. I know it wasn’t easy to settle into a new place when I was logging Ironman training hours, but she really was supportive and I’m grateful.

The family for always showing their support, and coming to share in the big races. It was great to have my parents there and I know Nick was rooting along at home. It was incredible to have Nancy (Ali’s mom) out here as well, as it was to have the support of Andrew and Amy remotely.

Michael and the M2 gang. The support to get me across the finish line started on our New Years Day ride and lasted until the end. My physical progress was no doubt accelerated by being a part of this crew, and it was a blast of a season with all of you.

The Bay Area tri community. Whether you were racing on the course or a supporter in the crowd, awesome, awesome support out there. As I mentioned earlier big shout outs to everyone that was there from SFTri, GGTC, EMJ and Viva Pink. I could list almost all of you off by name, but the list would be long. Thanks!

My Fitbit crew for being so supportive, it’s great to work with a group of people who value this kind of journey. John and the folks at GU, I knew you had my back this year, but it was really great to see my family enjoy the race from the VIP section – mimosas on the dock in the morning to rounds next to the finish line by afternoon. Stellar!

And to everyone else supporting via texts, calls, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thank you! Every not meant a lot and was a source of inspiration as I had to dig deep to finish.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _                                  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

That’s a wrap on the 2013 season…! Tough to believe. I’ll write a season wrap up, 2014 preview, but for now, I think I’m going to go eat some cake. Offseason.

The crew enjoys tequila and tacos at Tahoe Blue Agave the day after IM

The crew enjoys tequila and tacos at Tahoe Blue Agave the day after IM

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Boise (First IM AG win!)

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

Blue turf and triathlons!!!

If Wildflower was the triathlon Woodstock – 8 dudes in some RVs, racing, drinking and eating a lot of meat – Boise was a business trip:get in, get out. Knowing that I wanted to do one more solid, competitive long course triathlon before Ironman Tahoe in September, this was the closest, most schedule-friendly and financially feasible race there was.

So off I went, solo to Boise Idaho for less than 48 hours to race a half Ironman. The outcome: taking my first age group win at an Ironman 70.3 race and discovering haloumi cheese (ohmafreakingod).

Flying solo

Racing solo presented its unique set of wrinkles to race weekend. I checked into my no-frills motel, similar to the meth hotel from Breaking Bad, a mile from the finish line and took the same taxi from the airport to registration. I realized I was in trouble when I saw the tri-bike transport tent at the expo.Which meant my bike was brought not to the bike start, but to the finish line. Which meant I had to get my bike to the bike start. Which meant that, after making some calls and realizing there was no option for bringing it there, I was going to have to ride it 10 miles uphill to the bike start.

So after riding my bike back to the motel on bike paths to get my helmet, riding it said 10 miles uphill to the bike start, convincing the iron-willed organizer to let my bike in without my (forgotten) stickers, and hitching a ride home with a tattooed guy in a kilt and a neon green drop top Wrangler – I was set!

I stayed positive, viewed the 10 miler as my warm up for the day, got to meet a cool guy named Clint in a kilt who would become my buddy and drive me to the race the next morning. All was good – but it sure took some effort.  

Race morning

This edition of race morning is about 6 hours longer than usual. Boise is a unique race in that race start is at noon (my wave at 1:00) as opposed to the usual 7:00ish. Going in, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. Sure, it’s more civil, but there’s more time idling around, finding shade, wondering if you should be eating or not, sitting or warming up… I think ultimately the later race start was nice, but my wave was last and went off at 1:00pm, way too late, and that 10:00am would have been great.

Race day song

Boise, Brazil, close enough.

The Swim

Boise waterAs the last wave of the day on a single loop course, I knew we were going to have to mow through some traffic. Luckily, the lake was crystal clear so keeping on the right people in sight was easier. The goal was to come out of the water in a competitive position, but, I wanted to be careful not to overexert. The altitude of Boise is not Tahoe-eque, but at ~3K ft., it ain’t nothin’. I paced and managed through traffic to come out in 6th position.

SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 6

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 1.2 mi 00:33:00 00:33:00 01:42/100m 6 71 88

The Bike

I headed out onto the bike in the company of plenty of guys from my age group. Similar to the swim, a late start meant a lot of traffic to work though. The course started with a long downhill and some flat before a climb and I noticed guys were chippy with this free speed in their wheels.

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

Holding steady in some bodacious winds

However the head and crosswinds were insane. I had to ride the first couple of miles with a hand on the brake to prevent from getting blown over (seen above).

A big goal for Boise was to establish myself as a presence on the bike, something I knew I was capable of but perhaps didn’t have the confidence to do in other races. But I had to be careful in the wind early. When we turned to make the first climb, I targeted the guys who were making noise early and made it clear that they were going to have to ride well to keep up.

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

Doing my best Jaws impression into the wind

It was pretty difficult to settle into a groove with such strong winds. Watts jumped all over the board and I didn’t know which numbers were “real,” so a lot of by-feel riding. An out and back at mile 21 provided the biggest test of the day as it was straight into the wind. However the turn around provided the first glimpse at my position against the guys in my age group and it looked pretty good.

About 75% into the bike I noticed a bit of the pep in my step fading. After checking all systems, I arrived at the decision that this was likely because of calories and that perhaps the late start. So I started to take in calories. But by the time I was a couple miles out from the bike, I was really feeling zapped and my stomach was a bit off.

I cruised into T2 trying to reset myself mentally for the run.

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 3

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 56 mi 02:28:53 03:04:10 22.57 mph 3 42 44

The Run

Within the first 100ft there was something wrong with my shoe insole and I knew I had to stop, take it off and fix it, which was a buzz kill to that “bat-out-of-hell” thing I had going on. About a half a mile into the run I knew that I had bigger problems than shoe insoles to deal with. It felt like there was a vice around my torso. My stomach was really feeling awful – tight and nauseous

stan barfWorse yet I looked down at my watch and it was like I was running backwards. Bad thoughts started to creep into my head and as the miles went on, I began writing my race’s obituary in my mind. As I plodded along at a substandard pace, barely holding back beverages I’d drink at aid stations, I just waited for the first guy of many from my age group to come by me and put me out of my misery.

Except that wasn’t happening.

Either this was a slow day for everyone or they just hadn’t reached me yet. Whatever the case, just before the 5 mile marker I had a major HTFU moment. “Did you fly out to Boise, ID by yourself to get to mile 5 of the run and roll over? Didn’t think so. So let’s get running and stop quitting, you pansy,” is about how it went.

Boise Run_So I started moving with more confidence, hoping this would trick my body into thinking it wasn’t so bad. It kind of worked. And then after awhile, it definitely worked. I saw a guy at the end of loop 1 coming the other way who looked like he was running well and I was able to respond. Another reality check came at mile 10 when I felt like the race should be over, knowing I still had 5K to go.

“Just 5K to go,” I thought. A mile later, “OMG…2 miles to go???” The roller coaster continued.

Until I saw a strong swim/biker from our group that was approaching a turn around. I knew he was doing well in the race and was encouraged to see him. I came up behind him and gathered myself before making a hard pass that would lead into an elongated kick to the finish.

Boise Run chute_As I was approaching the finish line, it was great to see the support in the city of Boise present in the downtown finish. Music was playing and the crowd was great. I looked behind me and saw I was in the clear and coasted down the chute.

RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 1

Split Name Distance Split Time Race Time Pace Division Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank
Total 13.1 mi 01:26:54 04:32:44 06:38/mi 1 29 31

First Ironman event AG Win

I didn’t know that I had won my age group until getting a massage, eating soup to warm up, grabbing my morning clothes bag and checking my phone. Seeing all of the congratulatory texts, tweets and emails was a really cool way to find out. I had a feeling maybe I did, but given the slower pace of the run, wasn’t sure.

This was definitely a milestone in my days as a triathlete. First of all because I hadn’t won my age group and an official Ironman event, where the competition is usually a bit steeper, but that I did it on the bike instead of dropping the fastest run split (I did not this time).

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Stare into the sun and show everyone how happy you are to have a trophy!

Takeaways 

Swim: I was happy to come out in a position that would set me up to capitalize on my strengths. I averaged 1:42/100m which was decent, but as always, I need to be better.

Bike: I proved that I could ride harder and sacrifice some run performance and still net out OK. I feel good about how I handled the wind, but the energy zap toward the end was concerning.

Nutrition: On that energy zap…I believe I was dehydrated. At 3K feet, wind blowing so false sense of not sweating, late in the day start – all of these likely played a role. My response, however, was to take in more calories. This was a double whammy as I was dehydrated and my blood was going to my stomach to digest calories, and not my legs. So my theory is that I under drank and over ate.

Run: I worked with what I had on the run and executed a total mind over matter game. It played out OK, but I need to be mentally tough the whole race, not during the Haily Mary pass.

Boise: is awesome! It was a great race and I think I can definitely say it was the nicest town of people I’ve ever come across. If it works in my schedule next year, I will be back.

Thank yous

Thank you to my family, friends and of course Ali for the support. Michael and the M2 Revolution gang for helping me race the best I can. Fitbit for being supportive of my racing. GU Energy for the race entry and the buffet of nutrition options – I may have over eaten, but ultimately repped the best I could!

Next up, Ironman Tahoe. At mile 10 of the run when I wanted the race to be over, I wondered how in the heck I was going to do a full Ironman. I’ll let you guys know when I figure it out.

Cheers!