09/14/14

Ending sooner than later

Things don’t always go as planned.  But the way our lives go always has a purpose and reason to it.  My plans for getting one more race in before the end of the 2014 season ended 5 steps after crossing the finish line at Ironman Louisville.

My right leg seized up so bad, I couldn’t walk for 24 hours.  I was in a wheelchair until about noon the day after the race.  And I was in the worst pain of my life for about 36 hours.  I barely slept, I didn’t have an appetite, and almost had to use PTO time at work because I could barely walk on my own (safely) to make visits at patient’s homes, but I was determined to get one more race in before the end of the season.  I had made plans (but no plane ticket purchased yet) to go to Challenge Rancho Cordova for the 70.3 outside of Sacramento, CA.  In order to try to make the plan work, I visited Occupational Kinetics about 3 times a week for 3 weeks to get treatment and massages.  Every time I made a trip to them, I noticed an immediate improvement.  I can’t thank them enough for all the treatments they gave with the ultrasound and massage therapy, etc.  I know that I healed much faster with them.  The crew there is absolutely amazing.

I told myself that if I made a full improvement by this weekend, I would try to go out to CA and race.  However, I’m not quite there yet and have decided to throw in the towel a bit early this year.  But, oddly, I’m really okay with it.  I have a lot on my plate right now.  The biggest thing is getting the house I was living in before getting married that has since been rented out, ready to sell.  I know that I would have done what was needed to get it on the market by early October whether going to CA or not to race, but I would have been training and doing the house improvements half heartedly.  I hate doing things like that.  I’m either all in or not at all.  With the injury happening, I was able to find some really good deals on things like tile and granite counter tops at places that sell remnant peices… some of which had EXACTLY the correct amount of product for what I wanted to do… that just doesn’t happen by coincidence!  I hope by getting it on the market a little sooner will save us from paying a mortgage on an empty home. 

Also, I had promised to get my wife a dog after the season was over, so I surprised her by taking her to the Kentucky Humane Society last week and found  a great dog.  A puppy that behaves like an older dog… no chewing on everything in site, house trained after about 4 days, and really cute.  So getting a 3 month old like that is like one in a million… so I’m glad that we were blessed with that dog (he was in the human society for less than 8 hours when we got him).

I also have more time to spend with my loving and supporting wife and enjoy the nice fall like weather s (that started the week after IM Louisville – figures!). 

All these things have helped me realize that God let this happen for a reason… to shift my focus what is more important: family, promises, and work.

Thanks to everyone that supported me this season.  I made some huge improvements this year and can’t wait to get started up again when the timing is right for the 2015 season!

 

08/27/14

Keep Our Pros part 2

So my original plan to get signatures for #KeepOurPros the day of the race at Ironman Louisville and at the awards ceremony didn’t really work out.  Not because of lack of interest in the cause, but because I sustained an injury that severely limited my mobility.  So it was time to figure out a Plan B:

I started an online petition to collect signatures from people that want to continue seeing professional triathletes at all of the Ironman branded races that will be loosing their pro prize purses in 2015.  9 full distance and 11 half distance races will be loosing their money and professional field.  Here is a few reasons why it is bad for the sport:

1. This will make it much more difficult for pros to get the exposure they need for sponsorships.

2. It will make the top 20-30 triathletes in the world very profitable and leave the others at a severe disadvantage when trying to compete with them.

3. Having races with smaller prize purses allows new pros to get some recognition and move up the ranks.

4. Having age groupers now being able to say they are an Ironman Champion lessens the accomplishment of any pro being able to say they won an Ironman.

5. Less foreign athletes will spend time in the USA in the summer because of the lack of races with prize purses and could spend their summers in Europe instead where all the races kept their prize purses.

6. Pro triathletes at events inspire people to get involved in the sport and bring value/legitimacy to the sport. No other sport in the world allows pros and amateurs to race together on the same course under the same conditions.

 

Several things will be different when IM Louisville rolls around next year in October:  No returning champions to be interviewed on the news, no pro panels, no racing down to the final 100 meters of the race to claim the win (McDonald edged out Gerlach by 17 seconds after 140.6 mile journey), no one will care who will win, etc.

Please sign the petition to Keep Our Pros and share it on your facebook page and Twitter handle.  Share it to your local triathlon club, cycling club, running club, etc.  Spread the word and be sure to hashtag it with #KeepOurPros!

Our goal is 10,000 signatures by Kona, which is October 11, 2014.  We have about 6 weeks… so spread the word and sign the petition!

 

08/26/14

Ironman Louisville 2014 Race Report

It’s not very often a professional triathlete can sleep in their own bed just 10 miles from the race venue… but Ironman Louisville allowed me to experience this luxury one last time.

The days leading up to the race were full of fun meeting sponsors, being on 3 pro panels and reuniting with Maverick Multisport teammates Clay and Molly who also drove on to race Louisville on Sunday.

Molly, me, and Clay (left to right) swimming at the most awesome pool in the country… The Lakeside Quarry. Home of the top 10 swim club, the Lakeside Seahawks.

Race day finally arrived and I was prepared to give it my all.  I had my usual breakfast before an Ironman race – oatmeal, 2 hard boiled eggs, slice of bread with peanut butter and half banana, and 2 servings of ENERGY BITS (MIKE502BITS saves you 20%).

My training leading up to the race had been great and I felt I had a shot to win the race and claim the final professional victory from Ironman Louisville.  I set my goals lofty this year and wasn’t going to let the competition intimidate me.  I lined up in the water with about 15 other professional men.  The gun went off and I took off… and found myself in a very unusual situation… ahead of the chase pack that included Chris McDonald and about 5 other guys.  I was probably just on the edge of getting any help from Guy Crawford’s draft in the swim, I did my best to stay on his feet.  However, when I lifted my head up a bit to sight, I saw him look over his shoulder while taking a breath.  He put in a surge and dropped me.  I focused on the things I’ve learned while swimming with the Lakeside Seahawks to keep my form as efficient as possible.  I knew this was crucial since I was now swimming on my own upstream with a pretty good current due to all the rain leading up to the race.  I managed to hold off the chase pack and only about a minute behind Guy Crawford when exiting the swim.  I had my best swim to date (thanks to TYR SPORT and LAKESIDE SEAHAWKS for a fantastic swim)!

I ran carefully through T1 since I knew I had just gotten over some IT band pain located in my right knee.  I felt it twinge a couple times, but nothing that slowed me down any.  I left T1 still in second place and was feeling good.

Primal Sport Mud banners in the background. Primal is a great sponsor of mine and was happy to see them getting some major attention for their great product! MAVERICKPRIMAL14 saves you 40% on your first order!

Before the race started, I had a goal wattage to average for the bike of 280 watts.  Last year, I did 258 (if I remember correctly)… so about 20 watts more.  I big jump, obviously.  But thanks to Brain Grasky for the coaching guidance and the advantage of the Q-rings from Rotor, I felt confident about the goal.  For the first 1.5 hours I averaged 300 watts, knowing that I had to stay within touch of the lead guys.  After sustaining those watts for that amount of time I decided it was time to back it down a little to leave something for the run. I completed the first lap of the bike and stopped briefly at bike special needs to get a refill on Infinit and NAPALM.  However, I was in such a rush, I forgot my flask of NAPALM in the special needs bag.  I grabbed a gel along the way at one of the aid stations to make up for some of the calories I left behind and figured it would be enough since I had more NAPALM in the last flask than what I needed (use MAVERICK to save 10% on Infinit’s products).

great shot of all my sponsors for the bike leg – Rotor bike components, Enve Composites, Vitorria Tires, Argon 18, Infinit Nutrition, Cobb Cycling, Champion System (Bottle Rocket, can’t see it between my arms, but it’s holding my bottle from the front and back)

I rolled into T2 in 6th place… and was ready to run my heart out to get as far up in placement as I could.

My wife, Leslie, made a sign for me at Ironman Louisville. A little inside joke from the previous year when I came in 6th.

I managed to hold 286 watts for the 112 miles!

I started the run with a lot of space between me and 5th place, about 5 minutes from what I was told by my dad as I passed him (see picture below).  I felt pretty smooth while finding my legs during the first mile of the run.  I waited to look at my pace until I felt like I had found a rhythm.  6:20 pace after the first 3 miles.  Right on target.  I passed the first 4 aid stations looking for things to cool me off.  No ice or cold sponges.  Seriously!?!  Is the race director trying to make a point here that the race moving to October is because a sponge manufacturing shortage?  I felt myself starting to overheat and my pace slowed dramatically.  It wasn’t until almost the 6th mile before any aid station had cold sponges… but by that time the damage had been done.  Cooling myself down would be very difficult at this point.

I passed the 5th place guy before the first turn around.  However, the runners behind us looked to be in hot pursuit.  I was convinced they were going to catch me and take me out of the money.  By mile 10 the dark thoughts started creeping into my head. “Quit now.  It’s too hot out here.  Those guys are going to catch you anyways.”  I almost listened to them.  I saw my family at the corner of  Chestnut and 3rd street.  It gave me the boost I needed.  My dad told me that 4th place was just 5 minutes ahead of me and looked to be in pretty bad shape.  With that information, the motivation to keep going was renewed.  I caught 4th place just a couple miles later.

Thanks to the companies that helped me run the marathon leg of the Ironman – Swiftwick Socks, Champion System, Infinit Nutrition, and Smith Optics.

I made it to the final turn around and could tell that unless something crazy happened in front of me, I would be placing 4th at best.  With that final turn, I knew that I only had 10K to go.  10K to go and 5th and 6th place were not far behind… and they appeared to be feeling better than me.   I began running scared.  I constantly was looking over my shoulder to see if he was gaining on me.  I couldn’t tell.  Sometimes I thought he closed the gap, other times I thought he was fading.  I made the final turn and saw the finish line.  As I entered the finisher shoot, I looked over my shoulder one last time to see where 5th place was… I didn’t see him.  With that bit of information, I scanned the crowd for my wife.  I found her on the left and stopped ever so briefly to kiss her and then made the final 100 feet to the finish line.

A PR on the toughest race conditions I’ve experienced.

Shortly after crossing the finish line my legs gave out and I was wheeled to the medical tent.  4 of the top 5 men went to the medical tent.  Thanks so much for the nurses and doctors that helped get fluids back in me and lifted all 160 lbs of dead body weight from the wheel chair to the stretcher.

My family supported me during the entire day… thanks so much!

My dad helped me walk since my right leg had completely stopped working.

A day after the race, I couldn’t walk. My wife pushed my onto the stage in a wheel chair to accept my award!

 

All 4 of the top men are sponsored by Cobb Cycling. Use code MAVMIKE to save 5% on your order and support Mike at the same time!

A huge shout out to all my sponsors… none of this would be possible without you.  (Thanks to Maverick Multisport for putting all these wonderful sponsors together for the team).  Thanks to Vibra Health Care for supporting me financially to chase my dreams.

An even bigger shout out to my wife who believes in me even more than I do sometimes.  Her support has been unwavering the entire time.  To my parents that supported me when I first started racing triathlons at 17 years old after an eating disorder.  To know where I was 12 to 13 years ago at 115 lbs and just under 6 foot with a 1.3% body fat is a testament to God’s goodness and how he puts us through trials and tough times to bring glory to his name.   I am truly blessed.

08/23/14

Keep Our Pros

This week has been very bittersweet for me.  Ironman Louisville will be running its last pro race in just a few hours from now.  And, because of that, it will be the last time I participate in my race… my hometown race.  The decision by WTC to cut the prize money from half of the full distance triathlons they host in the USA has literally hit home!

Over the course of the week, I was on 3 different pro panels.  Every time someone in the audience asked the question what we thought of the decision.  Of course, all the pros thought it was a horrible decision for several reason.  But here are just a few:

1.  New pros will have a harder time getting recognition from sponsors (and therefore money).

2.  Foreign professional triathletes used to come to the USA for the summer because of the abundance of races to choose from.  With that not being the case anymore, these pros may stay in Europe for the summer.

3.  More traveling costs to get to races since only one might be within driving distance now.

 

I started thinking about how we (as pros) could come together and make a movement against WTC.  Something needed to be done, because if we just sit back and take it, WTC will keep throwing their weight around.  I had an idea to use social media to start a movement that will hopefully spill over from IM Louisville into IM Wisconsin, IM Lake Tahoe, and IM Florida:

#KeepOurPros

Myself and two of my teammates will have a petition to sign at this event at Makers Mark located at 4th Street Live right by the IM Louisville finish line.  (For some reason, I can’t insert a hyperlink, so copy and paste this to your browser: https://www.facebook.com/events/266504916873694/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming)

We will also be going around at the awards ceremony collecting signatures.  We will then publicly deliver the petition to Ironman with your signatures… age groupers, spectators, pros, family, friends, anyone that feels the need to keep the pros at EVERY Ironman race to help keep the race special.  What other sport out there can you participate in right along side some of the best athletes in the world… none!

Also, I would challenge you that if you don’t agree with the decision by WTC to cut the races with pro prize purse, don’t sign up for WTC races.  Choose other ones like Challenge Family.  Every time you sign up for a race by WTC you are casting a vote… a vote that agrees with what they are doing.

08/16/14

Primal Sport Mud and Occupational Kinetics

Getting injured is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

A week ago, I was spending some quality “framily” time in Destin, FL.  It also happened to be my last big training week in preparation for IM Louisville.  By the end of the week, my running shoes have taken their final beating.  After my last run, I felt a little soreness in my right knee.  I knew I had to change out my shoes once I got home.

On Tuesday, my coach, Brian Grasky, scheduled race simulation for me.  1 hour OWS, 50 mile at IM wattage, followed by and hour of running at IM pace.  As I started my run, the pain in my knee was back.  I cut the run short, but managed to hit my goal pace despite the pain.  I immediately went to VO2 Multisport for some new Newtons.

I gave my knee some rest and then tried a run on Wednesday. I made it 15 minutes in and the pain in my knee was so bad I knew if I kept going I would possibly put myself on the sideline for IM Louisville. I bagged the run and limped back to the car and drove home.

Once home, I put some Primal Sport Mud on my knee and applied a heating pad to it for about 20 minutes. I felt a lot better afterwards, but still had some slight pain.

The next day, I called my friend Mike, who works at Occupational Kinetics and asked if he thought an ultrasound treatment would be beneficial.  He said yes, and stated that we should do the treatment with Primal Sport Mud instead of ultrasound gel. I got the treatment Thursday evening.

The difference I felt the next morning was very significant. No pain. I gave my knee another day of rest and tried to test it out today (Saturday). 2 hrs at IM wattage then 30 minutes at IM marathon pace.  No pain during the run.

Why does Primal Sport Mud work so well? There are lots of antiflammatory properties in the product that absorbs through the skin. Additionally, Primal Sport Mud has a property called the Black Body Effect. To put it simply, that takes all the energy and pin points the energy and makes it more intense… which is why using the ultrasound with Primal Sport Mud works so well. The ultrasounds healing is intensified through the Primal Sport Mud.

This is the second time this year that Occupational Kinetics has used Primal Sport Mud on me with an ultrasound. And both times it took just one treatment to get rid of the pain.

So, if I were you, I would buy some Primal Sport Mud to always have on hand. If an injury occurs and you need ultrasound treatment to heal up faster, schedule an appointment and bring the Mud with you. It will save you time and money by decreasing the number of treatments you need.

So… big thanks to Mike with Occupational Kinetics and Primal Sport Mud for being in my corner this year and getting me healed up and ready to rock in Louisville.

MAVERICKPRIMAL14 saves you 40% on your first order.

08/3/14

IM Louisville, Kona Slots, and Pros

Ironman recently announced that several races will no longer offer pro prize purses, and the money from those races will be reallocated to other races to increase the prize purse and also pay 10 deep.  I can’t say for sure how this will affect the pro race fields, but I’m guessing that now the races left with pro prize purses will be very hard to place top 10.  It will be just as hard or harder for pros that are starting out in the sport to collect enough a money from the races to cover their traveling expenses.  Those at the top will be making lots of money, while the ones getting started in the sport are at a disadvantage due to covering their expenses by working another job, coaching, etc.  I am not saying that every professional triathlete should be making a ton of money (just like starting quarterbacks should make more money than the back up), but I think their should be some sort of travel stipend or something.

I also read Eric Limkeman’s blog and agree with a lot of what he said there.  The term professional triathlete is a very loose term. Very few triathletes can actually make a living doing it, and the value of a professional triathlete is hard to quantify.  Pro’s do their best to represent companies and companies do their best to promote their athletes.  We don’t make a ton of money off of them, and they don’t make a ton of money off of us either, so the compensation is probably fine from the companies.  I’m not asking to make millions, or even be considered rich.  I just think that Pros need to reconsider chasing points for Kona and not getting paid, or not getting paid enough to cover traveling expenses.  I know I plan on doing more Challenge Races next year as a business move to help me collect more money at races… and because I don’t think Ironman is a company to support right now.  Plus I know that at least this stage of the game for me, Kona is out of my reach.

Speaking of Kona, there has been lots of talk about having equal representation of male pro and men.  IM also talked about cutting the number of pro men slots down and increasing the number of pro women.  I don’t think this is right due to the proportion of male vs. females in the average Ironman race. From the pro start lists that I’ve looked at over the last few years, their is usually between 2 and 3 times more men than females.  Currently, 50 pro men and 35 pro women get to toe the line in Kona.  So even though there is 2-3x more pro men vs pro women, men only get about 1.5x more slots at the pier in Kona.

Some people think that equal slots on pier in Kona would send a better message to young women getting started in the sport.  However, I think that is not the case.  If people think that the pro men and pro women should have equal slots, you could argue that the F18-24 (the AG with the least amount of participation in IM races) slots should have equal representation in Kona as the M40-44 (the AG with the one of the highest representation in IM races).  If for some reason women out numbered men (which they probably do in comparison of F40-44 vs. M18-24) then the women should have more slots in Kona and be in proportion to the number participating.

At the end of the day, we (triathletes) can make a difference a vote with our money.  If we continue supporting IM and their poor decisions (at least in my opinion), they will continue throwing their weight around and screwing both AG and pro athletes.  Be vocal and speak out… don’t just be complacent.

07/28/14
DSC_4151

Challenge New Albany 2014

Challenge New Albany was my first Challenge Family event… it was also a first year race that HFP racing teamed with Challenge Family to produce the event. When I saw that Shanmon Kurek and his team at HFP were managing the event, I knew it would be well managed. The race started at 6:30… so just a little earlier than most other 70.3 races, but the wake up call still wasn’t bad at 4:15. My wife and I arrived at Alum Creek park and I got set up in the first of two transition. The bike was a point to point bike so I had dropped of my gear bag in T2 the day before. The water temperature was 75ish degrees. No wetsuits since the wetsuit line for pros at USAT sanctioned races is 68 degrees (WTC follows their own rules).  I was happy that we went by the 68 degree rule, because I think anything over 72 or 73 degrees is way too warm for a wetsuit.

This race had a few fast swimmers, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay with the very front pack, so I decided to try and stick with the second pack of swimmers.  Over the last month or so, I’ve been working on changing my stroke with the Lakeside Seahawks and it has made a noticeable difference.  Instead of barely hanging on to the second group of swimmers, or being spit out the back, I exited the water with people in it that beat me out of the water earlier in the year consistently. In fact, I actually lead them out of the water with another guy.  I exited the water knowing I had already set myself up for a good bike ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out on the bike I was feeling great.  The group of swimmers I came out with broke up on the bike as I and another guy were pushing the pace.  15 miles into the ride, the group of 8 had splintered into a group of 3 in the front (that included me), and group of 2 a minute or so back, and a few stragglers behind them.  I was working my way through the group of 3 slowly as the lead guy was slowly pulling away because I didn’t want him to get away from me.  Since the rules are different for pros in drafting in USAT races compared to WTC races, I had literally all day to make my pass.  However, you have to be outside of the draft box, which in the pro meeting was explained to us as a 2 meter by 10 meter area.  I understood this as being 1 meter on both sides of the rider and 10 meters back.  I was about 1.5 meters to the right of the guy as I was making my pass until the race official came up to me and told me to stand down for a penalty.  Apparently the race official interpreted the rule for drafting as 2 meters on both sides of the rider and 10 meters back.  I served my time and with every “whoosh” of aero wheels I became a little more discouraged.  I finally had a good swim and was killing the bike course and had splintered the group.  And I hadn’t even gotten to my strongest event yet… the run.  And then the penalty.

While I was waiting for the longest two minutes, I did drink a bunch of fluid figuring it would help me as opposed to just waiting.  I remounted my bike after loosing about 5 or 6 positions on the bike determined to catch the group I had lost.  I rode hard for the rest of the ride.  I passed the group of two that passed me about a minute into my penalty about 10 miles up the road.  I caught a few more people that I think beat me out of the swim before the end of the bike.  After the race was over, I was told by my wife the two guys that I was with on the bike when I got the penalty were only a minute ahead of me exiting T2.  That means I rode solo for 40ish miles and was still able to make ground on them.  I wonder if I had been able to ride with them how much further ahead I could have gotten from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The run course was essentially on a walking/running path around a horse farm, golf course, and neighborhood that the half distance racers had to complete twice.  The course had a lot of sharp corners at the bottom of hills and then a short and steep (think climbing stairs) for about 5-10 yards to go up with no momentum after taking the corner.  I definetily slowed down the run course a little, but I think it was a fair and honest course.  It was also a very scenic course. Plenty of aid stations… my only thing I would change about the run would be having ice on the course.  I know it wasn’t hot, but even on days in the 70’s, the ice can help keep the body temperature down a bit and increase the speed I can run.  On the first lap, I was on pacing about 5:50 per mile, which would be about a 1:16 run.  I still hadn’t passed any runners yet, which really surprised me, but when you’re racing against people that are fast already, it can take a long time to catch them, even if you’re running under 6 minute miles.  I finally passed another pro… but then another one passed me.  His name is Adam… and he ran a 1:12 in Racine 70.3 the weekend before, so when I saw him behind me at one of the out and backs, I figured he would catch me eventually.  With about 1.5 miles left to go, I passed John Kenny from the US Pro Tri time and cruised in the rest of the way for the 8th place finish.  I was happy and mad myself at the same time.  I knew that mistake on the bike cost me a big chunk of change (I think I could have finished 5th if I didn’t get the penalty)!  On the other hand, I had a PR by about a minute at the 70.3 distance for the second race in a row… and I didn’t even taper for this race.  I had 28 hours of training from Thursday 7/17/14 to Tuesday 7/22/14, and one of those days (Monday) was a day off!

My biggest fan and encourager, my wife, Leslie, always waits for me at the finish line!

 

Why did I not taper for this race?  Simple answer… hometown race, Ironman Louisville, is about 4 weeks out.  I’m going to go ahead and say it… I’m going for a win this year at Louisville.  The training that I’ve been doing over the last couple weeks is showing tremendous improvement from last year.  I did the calculations on what I think I can do, and it puts me between an 8:30 and 8:40 finishing time.  If things go well, I should be closer to the 8:30 mark than the 8:40 mark… and that time has won it in years past.  So, I decided I’m going for it.  Why not?  It’s my dream to win my hometown race!

Thanks again to all my sponsors that made this possible.  Be sure to click the sponsors tab and consider using these great companies for your own training and racing.  Some of them have coupon codes to save yourself money and support me and/or Maverick Multisport in the process!

 

07/23/14

IMLP7th

Ironman created quite a buzz earlier this week, accidently.  An error was made on the athlete packet that people could download from the website stating the total prize purse for IM Lake Placid was $75,000, instead of the advertised $25,000.  People quickly found out about this and Ironman quickly corrected the mistake.  But when Ironman makes a mistake, you can count on @TheRealStarky to jump at the opportunity to poke some fun. And did he capitalize on this typo!!  You can read is blog here (a fair warning for those that don’t know @TheRealStarky, he speaks about issues that need to be addressed in the multisport community… however they tend to be a bit vulgar.  This one isn’t nearly as bad):

http://www.therealstarky.com/blog/2014/7/22/imlpth-a-strange-twist

The issue here is obvious… many pros are forced into wearing multiple hats while still trying to compete in the sport.  I, for one, work a total of 4 jobs just so I can pay the bills, make it to races, and still be able to save a little bit of cash further on down the road.  I’m a nurse (RN) part-time, manage a rental property, coach 15 triathletes, and also race professionally.  This is way over 40 hours a week worth of work… and my wife and I don’t make anywhere close to the average Ironman athlete family income (last I heard the average income in a household of an Ironman athlete was about $175,000 annually).  Between coaching and training alone, I’m at about 40 hours a week.  Add in 20-25 hours a week for nursing and a couple hours for managing the rental property and I’m working 65ish hours a week and not getting any money at races… which I consistently finish in the top 10 at Ironman branded races.

How is it that Ironman has been around for 35ish years and the prize purse is smaller than a sport that is basically in the infant stage, such as crossfit?  I have friends that race bikes in Cat three races that make more money racing bikes as amateur than me racing triathlons professionally!  I’ve actually considered getting into bike racing next year so I can help cover my traveling expenses to triathlons.

On the flip side, Ironman has played all their cards right.  They have manipulated the market to make it so they don’t have to pay out large sums of money to the winners of Ironman races.  Why? Because bike companies, running companies, and swimming companies will pay top dollar to have a winner endorse their product.  Also, Ironman pays the athletes that have really big names “appearance fees” to just show up and do a short press conference and maybe a quick photo shoot.  I’ve heard that some of these athletes get paid $10,000 just to show up.  They don’t even have to place in the money and they are still profiting from the weekend.  Maybe Ironman should make the playing field a bit more even, by giving pros a travel stipend to get to races.  If you go over the amount, you pay the extra.  If you are frugal, and travel smart/cheap, you keep the extra money.  Hyvee Triathlon does that for all the pros that show up to their race… and at the same time, they had the highest prize purse in the triathlon world (they may not anymore… I’m not sure who does now).

Additionally, Ironman makes pros pay a pass to get into their events for the calendar year.  I believe I paid about $850 to race with Ironman this year.  In contrast, Challenge lets pros race free (I’m racing the New Albany race this weekend), and when Rev3 had pro races (very sad to see them no longer have them as I had a couple of their races on my schedule this year) they also let pros race free and did a lot to promote each athlete’s website/facebook/twitter.

I hope that @TheRealStarky and his group of people that organized this 7th place prize purse in IM Lake Placid bring some attention to the lack of money in the prize purses in the triathlon world.

 

07/14/14
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Muncie 70.3 Race Report 2014

Leading up to this race, I knew that the competition was going to be stiff.  The start list was posted on line 2 weeks before the race and I was shocked at the names on the list.  There was literally one of 10 or so people on the list that could have won that race.  Instead of concerning myself with everyone on the list, I picked out a couple names on line up I was aiming to beat.  Those names:  Chris McDonald and Patrick Evoe.

I picked these two out specifically because the last three or four years, one of them has won Ironman Louisville (my hometown race) and I felt that the progress I have made this year at least could put me in the mix of these two athletes.  I wanted to beat them to have a mental victory and confidence booster going into Ironman Louisville, which is now about 6 weeks away.  I shared this with a few people, so I could have some sort of accountability on my goals, but for the most part kept it quiet.

Race morning set up went like it usually does: hydrate, eat, set up in transition, get to the swim start.  The water was 75.5 degrees according to Ironman, but over the years of racing I’ve learned that if the water temperature is close, the numbers will be fudged a bit to make it wetsuit legal.  In Raleigh, I used my wetsuit and overheated in it during the swim in the same temperature of water.  So this time, I took out my TYR Torque swim skin and used it.  Did I put myself at a disadvantage not using the wetsuit when every other pro used theirs’?  Maybe… but a few of them said I was smart for doing it once we got in the water to warm up.  If I had to guess, I’d say the water was closer to 80 degrees or slightly under.

The countdown started and last minute nerves began to climb… the countdown, then the cannon start.  Off we go…

The last couple weeks before this race, the coaches at Lakeside Seahawks worked with me on my stroke.  After a few suggestions, and a video analysis, they came up with 2 or 3 three things for me to work on (as I’m sure there is more… but they didn’t want to overload me with too many things to think about).  I was a little anxious to see how doing this on race day with little time to get used of the new feel of stroke, but I gave it my best shot to maintain what they suggested.  It seemed to have worked.  I was in the chase pack (two or three guys were way ahead) for most of the swim.  I fell off the back with just 500 meters to go. I think this may have been because I still haven’t conditioned the muscles that are now being used more to last the whole swim, but I definitely stuck with the chase pack much longer than other races this year… so improvement has been made again.  I exited the water probably 20 seconds back from the group.  I got to my bike and saw Patrick Evoe’s bike still there and Chris McDonald was finishing up his transition and heading out on the bike, so I wasn’t too far behind him at this point.

I started out on the bike and was extremely thirsty.  I drank an entire bottle of Infinit before mile 10 and was still dying for more fluid.  I had to wait another 5-ish miles to get to an aid station.  I grabbed a bottle and put it in my bottle cage and grabbed another bottle of fluid and drank as much as I could before leaving the aid station and threw the bottle.  I felt better, but still not satisfied.  Still a little bit of cotton mouth.  I kept pounding the water and went through another bottle during the next 12-13 miles.  I’m not exactly sure why I was so thirsty.  I peed 3 times from the time I woke to race start.  Perhaps I should have had some additional salt tabs to help me retain fluid before the race and drink another bottle of water (that’s the plan next time.)  Started feeling better as the bike went on, but never great.  With about 8 miles to go in the bike, Patrick Evoe passed me.  We rolled into transition about 30 seconds apart.  I knew he was a good runner and it may take a while to catch him, but I was going to do my best to at least meet half of my goal (since I figured Chris McDonald had too much of a lead to catch him with just the run left to go.)

It took me three miles to make up that 30 second head start that Patrick had on me.  I was feeling smooth and with the help of some ice, cold sponges, and Infinit’s NAPALM the run was going well.  I passed Patrick just after the 3rd aid station and did my best not to slow down.  The turn around came and I knew I could catch one more person, possibly two.  I passed the next guy at mile 8-ish.  The sun started to come out and the humidity started to rise.  I did my best to stay cool to help maintain my pace, but started to slow down in the final two miles.  I could see 10th place ahead of me by about a 1/4 mile, but didn’t have enough steam or time to catch him (later I found out it was Guy Crawford).

I crossed the finish line in 11th place… but considering who was there, I’ll take it.  I know that if I could have biked to my ability, I would have been in the top 10, and possibly could have broken 4 hours.  But, there are some personal victories that I can come away with here:

  • Stuck with the chase pack in the swim much longer than normal and was only 30 seconds back from them (even with choosing to use a swim skin instead of a wetsuit).
  • Had a PR on the 70.3 distance by about 4.5 minutes
  • Finished just 3:45 back from Chris McDonald (3x IM Louisville champion) and 10 minutes ahead of Patrick Evoe (1x winner of IM Louisville), who are both coming to Louisville in about 5 or 6 weeks to defend/reclaim the title.  A major confidence booster going into the race knowing that I’m in the same ballpark as them right now.

Next up is the Challenge Race in New Albany on July 27th… looking forward to doing a non-Ironman branded race with a better prize purse… hopefully I can grab some cash at that race!

06/23/14
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Syracuse 70.3 2014 Race Report

Syracuse 70.3 is a great event. I’m a fan of races that take place more out in the country than the starting in the city. The roads are usually better, and the course is often much more scenic that races that take place around a big city. Syracuse fits this sterotype. The course is very scenic and makes the 70.3 miles go by rather quickly.

Last year I placed 4th in Syracuse 70.3. However, I knew that this year the times would be much faster to finish in the money. Big names like Andrew Yoder, Ben Collins, Jordan Rapp, Lionel Sanders, and Paul Ambrose were all on the start list, along with others I didn’t mention. I usually get a little worked up from looking at the start list, but this time is was different. I didn’t really care about the names on the list. I looked at it that I have nothing to loose and everything to gain from where I stand at this point. I felt physically great on the days leading up to the race… everything was clicking really well. I just was hoping that I would feel on top of my game come race day.

I woke up at 4:45 on Sunday morning and had a small (first) breakfast that included a serving of Energy Bits (use code MIKE502BITS to save 20%) to help give me sustained energy throughout the race. We headed out the door (the first time) ahead of schedule. About 5 miles down the road, I realized I had forgotten a crucial part of the day back at home. My two bottles of Infinit for the bike and my flask of NAPLAM for the run (use code MAVERICK to save 10%). We turned around and sped back to the house. We headed back out on the road for the second and last time, thankfully. It could have been worse… I could have left my front race wheel somewhere (but that’s a whole other story that happened in Galveston last year!).

We made it to the park in plenty of time thanks to guidance of my awesome homestay by taking the back way into the park from the south and avoided the 3 mile line of cars coming from the north. We pulled into the parking lot and headed to transition to get set up with about 75 minutes before the start of the race.

It was a wetsuit swim this time. 67 degree water… none of the fudging the number to make it wetsuit legal like they probably did in Raleigh a few weeks ago. I wore my TYR CAT 5 Hurricane sleeveless wetsuit. I had a 10 minute warm up. The pro men line up and “drifted with the start line” out into the swim course. The gun went off and the race had started.

I was looking for Jordan Rapp to swim on his feet. I had done some research on the top guys and thought he was my best bet to stay with during the swim. I couldn’t tell which one he was since he had a cap, goggles, and wetsuit on. So I missed the front group due to getting stuck behind a group of 4 slower swimmers. I realized the group I was in wasn’t swimming as fast as I could on my own, so I came around from the back and worked my way to the front of the group. By this time, the lead pack of about 12 guys was too far ahead to try to catch up. I focused on good body position/rotation, strong kicking, and grabbing as much water as possible with each stroke. I exited the water about 3:30 faster than last year and dragged about 5 other guys out of the water at the same time. I used the wetsuit strippers since I’m really slow at taking my wetsuit off on my own. Ran to T1 and got ready for the bike.

Less than a mile into the bike, we cross some railroad tracks. A guy two places in front of me crossed the tracks and then about 20 meters past them, he flew off his bike. I had never seen anything like it… it was like something kicked his wheels out from underneath of him. His bike went flying to the left and he flew to the right. I swung wide to the left to avoid the bike which laid in the middle of the road and got back into the aerobars and started trying to catch some guys and settle into my goal wattage of 300-310 watts.

Miles 2-12 is where about 1000 feet of climbing occurs on the course. From the top of these hills, we had a net downhill to the finish line, with at least 3 more climbs that required my granny gear. I decided to cap my wattage at 340ish watts while climbing these hills, because I didn’t want to build up a bunch of lactic acid early on in the race and end up bonking later in the race. When I finally got to the top, I passed a few more guys and then was on my own for the rest of the ride.

By about the 45 mile mark, I got within about a ½ mile of 2 guys, one of them was the winner of Ironman Australia earlier this year, but couldn’t reel them in. I finished the bike course just under 300 watts (probably because I spun out my legs a couple times on some of the down hills instead of just coasting down a few steep decents). I looked at my data from last year, and I averaged 275 watts…so nearly 25 watt increase!! I have to take a minute to thank my coach, Brian Grasky, who has really stretched me in my training his year. I’m gonna take another minute to thank Rotor power meter and their AMAZING Qrings that help me smooth out my pedal stroke and produce more power with their elliptical chainrings. Of course, the Argon bike was stiff enough to handle the watts, the ENVE wheels were light for climbing and super areo on the flats and decents. My John Cobb V-Flow Plus saddle was amazingly comfortable was well (use MAVMIKE to save 5%).

I got off the the bike in 11th place. I was wondering how my legs would handle the run for two reasons… crazy amount of climbing (one hill 1 mile one long, two other hills about ½ mile long) and attempting to run fast after pushing some watts that were much more than I had done before in a 70.3 race. With the exception of running up the hills that were like running stairs, my legs felt good. I would start to get into a good rhythm and then hit another hill that ruined my groove.

You threw off my groove!

When I could find that happy place, I was able to run some 5:50’s miles, but running a mile uphill took me about 7 minutes on the last lap. At the last turn, I saw the competition starting to gain ground on me from the last time we met there on the first lap. I figured I had about a 1/3 mile lead on them with 5K to go. No letting up now. I picked up the pace with what I had left and started to run out of steam in the last mile of the run and crossed the line just a few seconds over my goal time. I wanted to be under 4:10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over all, I was 10th male pro and 14 minutes faster than last year. No money… but I finished 1 minute behind Elliot Holtham (winner of IM Australia this year). I’m very happy with this result. I know that I still have lots of work to do to climb to the top, but I feel like I’m knocking on the door now. I think that I need to work on my swim the most. I have made big improvements already this year in the swim by swimming with one of the top 10 swim clubs in the nation, the Lakeside Seahawks, but I know I can get faster by working with them more.  I need to cut off another couple minutes in the swim to be out on the bike with the top riders and pace off of them. I know that I can run just as fast or faster than most of them… so I’m close. Very close.

Now it’s time to recover and get ready for Muncie 70.3 in 3 weeks. Primal Sport Mud is going on my legs again tonight (use MAVERICKPRIMAL14 to save 40% on your first order).

Thanks to Maverick Multisport for putting together a great roster of sponsors.  Thanks to Vibra Health Care for their support.  Thanks to my wife that traveled with me in the car all the way from Louisville to Syracuse to cheer me on.  Thanks to my family and friends that gave me words of encouragement the last 10 years when I first started racing triathlons.  I’m extremely blessed by God to allow me to race and do what I love.  It all would be impossible without Him.