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.