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!