07/28/14

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

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!