Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Raleigh

10_m-100722382-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1293_002908-1533578As I plodded along in the Raleigh sun, my stride shortened, shoulders hunched, pace crippled, I stopped running and ask myself, “What the %#@& is this?” The humidity had overcome me and to put it plainly, it really just sucked. I’d become weak and feeble in the fair Cali weather.

That was 2013, a training run during the wedding weekend of my friends Joey and Kerrie. Almost three years later, three things were the same and one was different:


A month earlier I raced in St. George and registered my first “Did Not Finish” after freezing on my bike in sub 40 temps and rain. After some thought, conversation with coach Matt Dixon and some full-court press by Meredith Kessler, I decided to call up Joey and see if they still had room for me. Operation “Bounce Back, Thaw Out” was on.

I was ready to put the fitness that I’d built for St. George to the test, only to be totally laid up for a week and a half before the race with the gnarliest of mega colds.

Race Prep Training Log

My prep before race weekend included less than 2 hours of activity in over a week

It’d be a lie if I said I wasn’t less than optimistic. But thanks to the constant reassurance of key individuals (thank you), I kept my head straight and toed the line ready to give my best, whatever that was on that day.


The chart in my last post got some positive feedback. Obviously people value the in-depth analytics that went into it and really, just appreciate science. So I’ve brought it back, but in light of my beloved Cavaliers fighting for their lives in the NBA Finals, I’ve adjusted the scale a bit:

Top: You’ll notice the top end of the scale is this amazing human being. Animal. That’s when I’m feelin’ great.

Bottom: At low end the scale, we have a Draymond Green kick, which if you ask Timmy, Adams, Kyrie, KD, Russ or Brewer, can’t feel good. Zero = a size 15 to the gut on this chart.Race ChartThere are 33 things I felt worth calling out in this race. You might disagree, so I’ve bolded the race-story critical ones.

race chart key

Post Script (33.1): It turned out the guy had started before me and wasn’t racing me for the same finishing time, but we really did push each other to the end.

As I gulped down my 4th bottle of water in as many minutes at the finish line, Joey and Kerrie came up to congratulate me. I was happy to have laid it all out there, but was a bit subdued and winged a bit about my slowest ever swim and run. It was then that Kerrie pulled out here phone, refreshed the results and told me that I won my age group by 2 seconds

I was genuinely shocked. Because of the wave start, there was no way for me to have known this. I seriously thought I tanked. It wasn’t the day I know I could have, but it was a hot, long day for everyone out there and I managed to pull together a division win with focus on the bike and by sheer will on the run.


Had the last 800m not been a track meet, I likely would not have gotten the division W. I learned something that day. I guess I should say, I re-learned a lesson that each race I’ve ever done has taught me. I always have more. WE always have more. That 2 seconds was the difference between me pulling up and coasting to the finish line instead of out-sprinting. The difference of being focused in transition 1 vs. being rattled about my swim. The difference of focusing on gearing and hiding from the wind on every one of the 56mi cycled between the lake and the city. The difference between listening to the reasonable Mike on my shoulder at 7min/miles and swatting away Devil Mike.

Whether in a race or in life, when you think you can’t go any further or any faster, turn off your mind and do it. You’ll surprise yourself when you in fact do it. And pain only hurts.

And now, I return to earth with one of my patented “Worst Race Photo-Taker of All Time” gems to kick off some race pics:

The final sprint, as ugly as it looks.

The final sprint, as ugly as it looks.


The Roka Viper swimskin gave me a fighting chance in the non-wet suit swim. The Roka R1 Light Amber tint goggles were perfect for a cloudy morning.


Aisu in all it’s glory. Felt IA, Enve 8.9+Wheelbuilder Disc Cover, Louis Garneau one-piece kit, Rudy Project Wing 57 helmet+visor, GU in the bottles.


A happier time on the run. Floating in my Saucony Type A5s. QUICK. Boco visor kept Carolina sun at bay.


Massive thank you to team EMJ, sponsors, purplepatch coaching, the Albrights and all my friends and family for your support! Definitely a team effort to bounce back from St. George.

See you all at Vineman! -MV


Race Report: ITU Standard World Championship (Chicago, IL)

Playing Captain America for a day in the Windy City

Playing Captain America for a day in the Windy City (Felt IA, Enve 8.9s, Rudy Project Wing 57, Louis Garneau shoes, GU Brew onboard)


“Wait didn’t you race in the World Championship a few weeks ago? And wasn’t it in Austria?”

The majority people don’t spend most of their weekends in spandex talking about aerodynamics, so I got this question a lot before leaving for Chicago. The answer: Yes. But I also raced in the ITU Standard Triathlon World Championship this past weekend in Chicago. So read along to see how it went and check out the pictures at the end.

For starters, here is how the two Championship races are different:

The pain face is the same regardless of the race

The pain face is the same regardless of the race

The ITU Grand Final weekend has an “Olympic” feel to it. In part because there are, in fact, athletes vying for Olympic spots. But the whole city is abuzz with folks from different places and team sweats qualify as legitimate evening wear. Additionally, the type of racing is very different from Ironman racing. If Ironman and 70.3 racing is about grinding it out, Olympic style racing is redlining for two hours thinking about nothing except the word, “GO!”

The Setup

Like Austria, the race started at a civil 10:45 a.m. I could get used to this! I traveled with my close bud Vince D’Onofrio and come race morning, we were amped and ready for one of our epic throwdowns in what has been a back-and-forth history racing against one another. My parents were in town for the race as well, which makes consecutive ITU Worlds cheering on the Stars and Stripes! Sadly, I picked up the cold that was going around SF a few days before the race, so I pumped myself full of caffeine, Ibuprofen and electrolytes and reminded myself that I only had to feel like sh!t for 2 hours.

Lots of loops, lots of speed on this fast, flat course

Lots of loops, lots of speed on this fast, flat course

The Swim – 0.9mi (00:24:37)

This swim went almost exactly the way that each fast and furious Olympic distance swim has gone for me:

  • In the cold waters looking at the Chicago skyline, pumping myself up before the gun
  • Gun goes off, and I commit to swimming hard to stay with the pack
  • Settle into rhythm, find myself falling off main group into second group
  • Half way through, second group looking thinner…
  • Begin hating my lack of swim skills and asking myself why I do Olympic races
  • Have a HTFU moment, fight the chop of Lake Michigan alone and bring it in for a strong bike and run

One day I’ll write a different race report, but with the setbacks I’ve had this year, I don’t believe that will be in 2015. I didn’t give it a second thought and focused on sprinting the quarter-mile to my bike.

The Bike – 24.9mi (00:55:17)

 The crowds were great and as I got on my bike I immediately went to business in the midst of USA chants. Per usual, the legs were a little heavy to start, but I pushed as damn hard as I could until they woke up. The course was crazy as two-thirds of it was in a tunnel. So while that was very fast (sadly not fast enough as discs were not allowed allowed at the last-minute, preventing me from putting my aero jacket back on), it was actually a bit sketchy because bumps and holes in the road were tough to see in the dark on the windy road.

Vince had swum almost two minutes into me, and I used him as my benchmark on the out and back. On the second loop, I had put no time into him – crap, he was riding hard! I kicked it into my highest gear and passed EMJ teammate Kyle Fox as he yelled at me to go get ’em. I knew Kyle was a strong rider, and that this meant he was coming with me. I went through the many turns like a crit racer and brought it home.

The run – 6.7mi (00:36:21 – 10K route was 1/2mi long)

Not having caught Vince on the bike, I knew I was in trouble and had to run hard. Though I thought I was transitioning well, Kyle ran by me and put about ten seconds into me as we headed out. Like the other two legs of this race, the only thought in your head is “go as hard as you can.”

Unfortunately for me, my hardest on Saturday was good, but not great, compared to runs I’ve done in the past. I knew this meant keeping a steady, controlled burn instead of going through matches with gutsy moves. In addition to going back and forth with Kyle, I saw teammate Sean Cooley and his girlfriend Hanna cheering at the perfect spot to keep me pumped up.

I looked down at my watch and saw 6.2mi (10K), but knew we had a good deal of running left. This course was officially marked long! But I used it to my advantage and turned up the heat passing a bunch of folks on the way in.

As I circled around Buckingham Fountain (which was pretty rad, by the way), I was going deep for sure, as my “pain face” finisher photos confirm. I was up on the toes, going down the blue carpet, knowing my parents were in the stands and that I’d done the best I could. All you can ever ask for!

Result – 2:01:56; Division 20th OA, 8th American

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, this is a really fun way to race on one of triathlon’s biggest stages while representing your country. I’m honored to have been there again and so fortunate to have had my folks and buddies there to share this (and the deep dish pizza) with. For the record, Vince took this round by 48sec – the saga continues!


Thanks as always to my friends and family for supporting – to those of you who send kind notes, to the ones who help me pack my bike up before I leave, I’m so very grateful! To the Team USA staff who did an awesome job organizing the team, information and accommodations like mechanics, masseuses, chiropractors, etc. Thanks to the Team Every Man Jack guys at the race and sending support over the interwebs, and all of the sponsors that legitimately make me go faster – special shout out to ROKA Sports who hooked me up with an insane Maverick Pro wetsuit as mine was full of holes!

Next Up

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

Final race of the year in less than two weeks and I can’t wait to get back to Henderson and throw down!


T-minus 15 minutes, time to suit up!

T-minus 15 minutes, time to suit up!

Imagine how slow it would have been without the Roka...

Imagine how slow it would have been without the Roka…

Oh hey, Sears Tower

Oh hey, Sears Tower

If skinny dudes in onesies were allowed on Baywatch...

If skinny dudes in onesies were allowed on Baywatch…

Scrambling for spots...!

Scrambling for spots…!

On the toes, pain face intact...the blue carpet is always a welcome sight

On the toes in my trusty Saucony Type A5s, pain face intact…the blue carpet is always a welcome sight

Not a bad place to finish a race

Not a bad place to finish a race

The crew watching the pros go at it. Incredible race to watch!

The crew watching the pros go at it. Incredible race to watch!

If you didn't finish your day with Chicago deep dish, you were doing it wrong

If you didn’t finish your day with Chicago deep dish, you were doing it wrong