08/26/13

Ironman Louisville Race Report 2013

From about two weeks out from this race, when my taper started, I had good vibes about the Ironman in my hometown of Louisville.  In the past, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well (extra well) while racing in my hometown.  Instead of focusing on that, I focused on the advantages I had by racing in my hometown, such as knowing all the rough patches on the bike, having the extra crowd support, and being familiar with the all the places to park downtown on race morning.

My morning started at 4:20.  I basically just grabbed all my morning bags and headed downtown.  I picked up my fiance on the way.  It was a good thing to have her their in the morning to help with keeping the nervous energy down and helping carry a few things to and from transition.  We walked down to the swim start and waited from the long day to start.

Fortunately, the pros are able to get into the water and swim for about 10 minutes before the race.  The sun was just coming up over the horizon.  The water temperature was perfect – about 80 degrees.  I looked around for some guys that I wanted to stay right behind on the swim.  I knew I had to stay on their feet, especially with the first 1/3 of the swim being up stream.  The gun went off and the group was off to begin the 140.6 mile journey.  I stayed in the group until the swim started to turn a little once getting passed towhead island.  By the time we turned down stream, I managed to be dropped from the group.  I did my best to maintain a good body position in the water and get a strong catch.  I could tell at times my form was falling apart, but when I made the switch back to swimming properly, I could feel myself speed up and wasting less energy.  In a long day, such as Ironman, wasting energy is the last thing anyone wants to do.  I exited the swim about 2 minutes behind the leader in a time of 50:48.  This is my fastest swim time ever in an Ironman.

 

 

 

 

The bike started out cooler than previous years.  I approached the bike this year differently than previous years.  I broke it up into 15-minute increments.  I alternated salt tabs and some NAPALM every 15 minutes.  It was a great strategy.  It broke up the bike ride in my mind to short, incremental steps.  I was able to stay on my plan until about the 4th hour when it started getting warmer and my energy was starting to wan.  For the first 4 hours of the bike, I had a normalized power of about 265 to 270 watts.  This was about 10 watts higher than I wanted to do.  Between that, and a couple other mistakes I made on the second loop through Lagrange, I believe the last hour of my bike suffered a little.  However, I did manage to hold a normalized power within my overall goal for the race.  During the last 50 meters of the bike, there is a small lip from the road to the sidewalk we have to go over.  I hit it too fast and ended up getting a flat on the back wheel.  I rolled it in and dismounted the bike.  My legs felt like jell-o… running to the men’s changing tent was a bit of a challenge.

 

 

 

The run is something that I always tell people to not think about as a 26.2 mile run.  However, when exiting the tent, that was the only thing I could think about.  I refocused my thoughts to finding a nice rhythm and keeping the turn over high.  I also needed to keep my body cool.  I stuffed ice in every place I could.  On the way to the first turn-around, I felt as if I couldn’t keep the pace without the legs giving out by half way through the race.  I knew I could hold a slower pace and probably be able to hold it the entire run.  So that’s what I did.  I believe the mistakes I made on the bike made my run suffer.  At this time, I was in sitting in 7th place.  One thing I was told by one of my homestays this year was to never give up because you never know what is going to happen to the people in front of you.  I kept hoping the people in 5th and 6th (who were running together) would crack and slow down.  I made it to the next turn around and could tell I was gaining ground.  Keep plugging away.  I ended up passing 6th place around mile 18 or 19.  Could I make it to 5th?  I didn’t know.  Ryan Bates looked strong as he was heading back for the last 10K of the race.  I gave everything I had left, but didn’t quite make it.

 

 

 

The finish line was the greatest thing I had seen all day.  It was also a dream come true.  I managed to finish in the money at my hometown race.  I couldn’t have been happier today with all my friends and family out there supporting me.  Not to mention that my fiance was able to be down there the entire time I was, bouncing around the course all day being so supportive.  The next pictures really captures the day:

 

 

 

After my first wheel chair ride to the medical tent and a night of tossing and turning from being so sore, I was able to end the weekend with being up front with the rest of the fast guys from the week.

 

 

Again, I need to thank all my sponsors, my friends, and family and family to be that were all very supportive.  I also want to thank all those that were praying for me throughout the long day.  God has blessed me!

08/20/13

Ironman Louisville 2013 Prerace

A week ago I was in Florida living the life of a professional athlete that has “arrived” (with no thoughts of working at the hospital being the biggest difference).  I was surrounded by salt water, lots of open roads, and some really fun people.  I haven’t had a real vacation in over a year.  But it wasn’t until after the race was over that I was able to enjoy myself in Oregon.  This time, the stress levels were non-existent.  My only worry was how big the waves would be in the ocean the next day.  As my vacation was nearing an end, I realized how close Ironman Louisville was and a few nervous chills went down my spine.

Racing in my hometown always brings a bittersweet feeling.  I love not having to travel, being able to eat food that I have in my house and from my garden, sleeping in my own bed, and not having to deal with unfamiliar location.  I love the energy that friends – both on and off the race course – give off during the race.  It’s also a bit nerve wrecking because of all the friends that are on and off the race course.

I know that people track me when I’m out of town racing, but, to me, it’s much different when they are in person.  Whenever I start thinking that way, I need to convince myself that I’m not racing for anyone else.  I’m out there to have fun, enjoy myself, and race in a manner that brings glory to God.  But it’s not just the race that matters, but all of the activities leading up to the race.

So far, I’ve had the honor to speak a youth group meeting at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Louisville.  I spent some time making a coorelation of figuring out what people’s goals were in life, the sacrifices needed to get there, and how (often times) we need help to achieve that goal.  I made a spiritual connection of how people try to reach Heaven on their own, but will always fall short.  It’s not until they reach out for help (Jesus) that they will make it to Heaven.  I then spent some time talking about how to intregrate faith into their daily lives as they chase after their goals.  I thought it went well, and was pleased to even get some crowd participation from the youth.

Wednesday, I’ll be talking in an informal Q & A with last year’s IM Louisville winner, Patrick Evoe, at the Presbeteryian Center downtown.  We did this last year and was very successful.  And on Friday, I’ll be in my first pro panel hosted my Ironman.  I doubt that anyone outside of Louisville will know who I am, so I don’t expect to be asked very many questions, but it’s a step in the right direction.  I’m very excited about these opportunities.  But nothing is more excited than trying to redeem myself from last year.

Last year, I got sick about three days before the race, and, as a result, my race suffered significantly.  Thanks to support from sponsors and my new coach I’ve been with since mid-February (Brian Grasky), I’m feeling very confident going into this race.  I’m not overly exhausted going into the event, have had positive thoughts, and have had played portions of the race in my head over and over again.

My goals for the race are to place top 5 (even though I’ll take 6th because it pays out  to 6th).  However, I know that goal is very dependant on who shows up.  So I’ve got time goals in mind as well.

Swim – depending on the current in the Ohio River, the swim times could vary.  I would be happy with anything from a 53 to 55 minute swim

Bike – I want to hold about 250 watts on the bike.  This should put me around 4:50-4:55 bike split.

Run – break 3 hours on the marathon (anything less that a 6:50 pace).

With some wiggle room, if everything goes well, I’d like to be between 9 and 9:15 on race day.

Now with my two work days behind me for the week, I have nothing in the way of me and crossing that finishline, except 140.6 miles.

Cya at the starting line…

08/6/13

Steelhead 70.3 Race Report

I admit it… I made a rookie mistake.

Michigan summers are very unique.  Or should I say “cool” or “unpredictable”?  And Lake Michigan is even more unpredictable.  Race morning was in the upper 50’s and water temps were in the mid 60’s.  The day before, the water was about 10 degrees colder.  But the one thing that should always be predictable is how the morning prep goes before a race.

I woke up later than I should have, rode my bike the 2 miles to transition, and then ate breakfast.  BIG MISTAKE.  I should have left the house the time I woke up and ate breakfast as the house.  This would have  given me more time to digest my food and get down to the swim start to warm up before the race.  Instead, I ate breakfast about 45 minutes before race start and didn’t get a warm up swim in due to the nearly 2 mile walk from my spot in transition to the swim start.

 

The waves were a bit unforgiving.  I’m guessing some were about 3 feet.  Also, instead of swimming with the current, as the race director promised we would, we swam against the current.  Swim times were slow across the board, mine was about 5 minutes slower than normal.  I exited the water where I normally do… right behind Ryan Rau.  Running through the sand to transition I notice my stomach felt full and my breakfast was still sitting somewhere in there while being tossed around by the waves.

I hopped on my bike and onto the Blue Star Highway to begin the 56 mile journey.  My stomach still felt full.  I became nauseated and wasn’t able to stick to my normal nutrition plan.  My power was lacking and every time I took a gel (which I spaced out more than normal for this distance trying to relieve the nausea) my stomach wanted to burp it back up.  Finally around mile 35, my stomach emptied.  The nausea went away and I was able to race the last 20 miles of the bike leg.  However, at this point I knew it was too late to salvage the race.  I decided to focus on the future run leg, the only thing I could control at this point, and try to run 6 minute miles or faster.

I got off the bike and felt great right away.  I passed a couple guys in transition, and one before hitting the first mile marker.  With the exception of the first mile, which included a steep hill, my first nine miles were all between 5:50 and 6:00/mile.  I was slowly catching some of the pro field.  However, the lack of calories on the bike caught up to me by about mile 10.  I started slowing down and only managed about 6:20 for the last 3 to 4 miles.  This allowed some of the guys to pass me in the final miles.

          

I crossed the finish line disappointed with the day.  I shot myself in the foot from the time I woke up in the morning and couldn’t do anything to fix it from there.  However, that being said, I doubt even if I was on top of my game that I would have placed in the money.  There were lots of fast people in Benton Harbor on Sunday getting last minute points for worlds and getting in a final tune up before going to Vegas in September.

 

Next up, I’m looking at my hometown for the Louisville Ironman.  I feel much better this year going into the race.  As long as I don’t get sick like I did last year just before the race, I think I’ll have a good race and have some hometown support to help!