09/28/15

Ironman Chattanooga 2015

Every race is a learning experience.  Best performances and worst performances offer nuggets of truth if you take time to reflect.  The race before Ironman Chattanooga (Toughman National Championship) was one of my best put together half distance triathlons.  The way I approached that race from a taper standpoint was a little different than other races in the past.  It seemed to be something worth trying again for Ironman Chattanooga just 2 weeks after Toughman Triathlon.

I felt great doing the newly discovered taper leading up to the race.  Plenty of sleep, my legs felt fresh.  My performance management chart was almost identical to the Toughman half the week prior to the race.  I rode my computrainer for every ride the week before the race to try to get as close to the amount of TSS I wanted for each workout.  Mentally, I was ready to race.  Physically, I was fit and fresh.

Ironman morning in Chattanooga was incredibly beautiful.  It was close the first time the sun had shined all weekend.  And with the swim starting right at sunrise, it made for a great view in the water.

Ironman Chattanooga sunrise

Picture credit: Carrie Kiefer

The race started out without warning.  No countdown, no clock to know when 7:20 was arriving… just a loud cannon.  The swim started out very chaotic. The down current swim kept swimmers together a bit more than normal.  I got hit in the face and chest more in this race than I have in very long time.  I decided to swim to the outside of the group for a bit to just get into a rhythm and wait for the group to settle down a bit.  I worked my way back into the group and swam the rest of the way to Ross’s Landing where my Argon 18 bike awaited my arrival.  I believe I was around 15th or so out of the water out a group of 50 pro men.

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The bike course in Chattanooga is a challenging course.  4400 feet of climbing (about 1500 more than Ironman Louisville) and 116 miles as opposed to the standard 112 miles.  When I arrived at my bike, I noticed that someone moved it a bit and one of the rubber bands holding my shoes in a position that would allow a fast transition had snapped.  I managed to make it work without too much of a problem and then put my head down to catch the guys in front of me.  I pushed just under half distance watts for the first 10 miles or so to get into a group and then settled into a nice rhythm with a few other guys.  The group got pretty big, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t take long for it to break up.  It eventually did.  I was in a group of 4 (Trevor Desault, Ray Botelho, and Shearon).  I was spot on for my goal wattage for bike course.  My target was 295-300 watts and we were right at on that goal.  Riding at this goal would put just slightly over 280 TSS for 112 miles. Since this was 116, maybe I should have lowered that goal wattage just a bit.  We rolled up on special needs and volunteers were not even close to being ready for athletes.  The group of three rolled through without stopping.  I stopped to grab 3 bottles of my custom mix of Infinit (MAVERICK save 10%) with 150 calories of NAPLAM with caffeine mixed in.  That combination gives me 430 calories per bottle.  I waited for what seemed like an eternity to get my special needs (probably more like 30 seconds).  I got back in the saddle and decided to take a gamble and try to catch the group of 3 ahead of me.  I rode hard for 40 minutes.  I averaged 315 watts and was slowly reeling in the group.  I probably got within 75 meters of them before we mixed back in with the age group athletes to begin our second loop.  I never caught them and toasted my legs in the process.  I managed to salvage the rest of the bike leg for a respectable time, but about 10 minutes slower than what I was hoping for on this course.  (The group that I lost at special needs road my goal time for this course to the minute.)

Once I got back to transition, I decided to try to the run to see what would happen.  I was hoping my legs weren’t too cooked from the bike effort to try to catch the group earlier.  I felt pretty good for the first 4 to 5 miles.  I averaged about 6:30/mile and then I started slowing down… a lot.  I think part of it was physical.  But I think a big part of it was mental.  I just lost the motivation to keep going.  I was doing 6:30/miles and the guys I exited transition with were not getting any closer.  At the 9th mile marker, I called it a day.

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The biggest thing I pulled away from this race is stopping for special needs is NOT an option if I want to be toward the front of the pro field on the bike course.  Before stopping for special needs, I was jockeying positions with other athletes for 10th to 12th place.  After stopping to wait on my special needs, attempting to ride up to the group and then over exerting myself, I fell back to probably somewhere between 20 and 25th, and lost 10 minutes on the group I rode with for the first half of the bike course.

During an Ironman distance race, I need about 2000 calories on the bike.  This is about 40% of my total calories burned during the bike.  So I need to figure out a way to carry all those calories without stopping. The only option is super concentrating my bottles of Infinit with about 6 servings of NAPALM and 2.5 servings of my custom mix.  It puts me at exactly 1000 calories per bottle.  The other thing I’d have to do with following this plan is to drink more water since I’ll be taking in less volume in liquid calories.  I think it is possible to do this with aid stations every 15 -ish miles.

Overall, I’m obviously disappointed on how it turned out, but I know I have a great result at the Iron distance inside me.  However, it’s going to have to wait until 2016.

Thanks again to all my sponsors that make it possible:

Maverick Multisport, Duro-Last Roofing, Vibra Healthcare, Argon, Enve Composites, Jay Bird, BlueSeventy, Infinit Nutrition, Cobb Cycling, Rotor Bike Components, Sugoi Apparel, BSX Athletics, VO2 Multisport, Swiftwick, Primal Sport Mud, Occupational Kinetics, Lakeside Seahawks

 

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Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
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09/14/15

Toughman National Championship – 2015

This last weekend, Toughman put on their national championship race located about an hour north of New York City.  It is located at Croton Point Park (Croton-on-Hudson), and it made for a beautiful race location.  The weather didn’t look promising leading up to race day with rain in the forecast and possible thunderstorms, but it ended up being nearly perfect race conditions.  For quick recap, scroll to the bottom for the video update.  For a more in-depth race report, just keeping reading…

Swim –

The swim was in the Hudson river. It had rained the night before, so it made the water have a little more dirt turned up in it.  I under estimated how much time it would take to get to the venue and get set up, so I scrambled a bit to get to the swim start on time and found myself about the 3rd row back in the starting shoot for the swim.  The gun went off and we all made a mad dash for the river.  My goal for the swim was not so much time oriented as it was technique oriented.  I gave myself a swim stroke analysis about a week before this race and found a few things to work on to swim more efficiently.  I decided that if I focused on those things, the rest of the swim would come together.  For the most part that was true.  I was maybe a little too focused on form at the beginning when I should have been focusing on finding a faster swimmer’s feet to get behind.  Once the craziness of the first few hundred meters calmed down, I found myself just behind the lead pack of 4 swimmers.  About 2/3 of the way through the swim, one of them fell off the pack and I passed him before exiting the water.  I would guess I was somewhere between 50 and 75 meters behind the lead pack.  I knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike to catch that group.  I exited the water and T1 in 5th place.

Bike –

This bike course was no joke! 3900 feet of climbing in 56 miles!  There was literally not a flat spot on this bike course other than the first and last mile getting and out of Croton Point Park.  Once out of the park, I was greeted by the first big climb.  I would guess about 1.5 miles long, most of which was in my smallest gear.  The pavement was still wet from the rain the night before, so I was a little nervous about going down this hill since there was a swooping right hand turn at the bottom of it.  I figured I was better off taking it cautiously then spending some time at a hospital.  The first 180-degree turn was about 5 miles into the bike.  At this point, the leader was 2 minutes ahead of me and a group of two behind him was about 90 seconds ahead of me (I passed one guy going up the big hill).  I made it safely down the hill and got back into my aerobars and put my head down and pedaled hard.  I made one small adjustment to my bike prior to the race.  I cut the straw from the my profile-design aero bottle about in half so that it would allow me to get my head to a lower position.  See picture below of me trying to achieve a better position prior to the race:

1694 bike

last year’s position during Ironman Louisville.

 

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Newest and improved position that I adopted for the 2015 Toughman National Championship.

The slightly lower head position seemed to make a big difference at the race.  By the time I made it to the next 180-degree turn, the guys ahead of me formed a group of three and I was now only about 20 seconds down.  I caught them about 2-3 miles later.  It took me an hour to catch them after starting the bike… but I finally made it.  I averaged 330 watts to do so! I rolled up them fast and tried to put on a little surge as I went by them hoping that they wouldn’t be able to match my pace and I could have about a 4-5 minute lead by the time I got off the bike.  No luck though.  The 3 of them kept the legal distance behind and stayed behind me for the majority of the final 30 miles.  Two of them probably did a total of 5 miles worth of work at the front.  Just before we got back to big hill, a little rain came and wet the roads again… making the decent of the hill a little frightening for me.  I made it safely to the bottom again and continued on.  With about 8 miles to go on the bike, one of the riders in the group got a flat.  I saw this as an opportunity to try to splinter the group and get a little lead before the run.  One rider hung with me (Mario de Elias, a pro from Argentina).  We basically entered T2 at the same time.  I had my first ever race best bike split in a big race! Happy to do this on a tough course.  Lots of hard work and a little bit of playing my aero-position made a big difference from last year to this year.  I also had my race best power for a 70.3 triathlon.  323 watts from normalized power.  1.01 VI.  I felt this was a very well executed bike ride for me.

post bike

Run –

The run tends to be the best part of my race.  I felt really good coming off the bike.  I was pretty confident I could run away from Mario on this run course.  But Mario had other plans.  I left T2 probably about 10 seconds ahead of him.  The first mile was flat and fast.  5:39 was my first mile split… then the climbing started.  The pace slowed down a little… but only a little.  Over the next 5 miles we traded spots in the lead with the following mile splits: 5:46, 6:03, 5:47, 5:48, 7:03 (lots of climbing in the 6th mile while on trails).  Over those 5 miles we climbed just under 600 feet according to my Garmin.  At one point while on the trails, I took a miss-step where my foot didn’t land right.  A small cramp started on the inside of my right leg.  Over the next half mile or so, I felt it getting just a little bit tighter.  I contemplated stopping to stretch it out, but knew that every second was valuable in this situation.  I did my best to keep my stride long to prevent the muscle from cramping more.  I took a salt tab and the next aid station and the cramp went away shortly after that.  By the time we reached the highest elevation of the run, I surprisingly felt like I still had a fair amount left in my legs for the return to the finish line.  I feel that I’m good at working the down hills and getting some free speed, and was hoping for a surge for the finish line.  Mario stayed about 10-20 meters ahead of me during the next 4 miles.  At mile 11, we got to the final trail portion of the race and it was mostly slightly down hill.  I closed the gap with just over a mile to go.  Mario saw me pull up next to him and put on a surge.  I tried to go with him, but I just couldn’t find the energy to match him that morning.  My legs just ran out of juice.  I watched him pull further and further away and crossed the finish line in 2nd.

 

Overall –

I finished as the runner-up at the Toughman National Championship after one my best races (as far as numbers are concerned on the bike and the difficulty of the run course).  Just under a minute away from snagging the title and a lot of extra cash.  But Mario was a better athlete that day.  Toughman put on an excellent race.  The bike course was closed to traffic and the run course was incredible as well.  Lots of scenic views to distract you from the discomfort.  I’m looking forward to coming back next year to get one spot higher on that podium!

podium

Thanks to all my sponsors this year for making it a great season, faster than last year, and lots of fun!  Couldn’t do it without them – Maverick Multisport, Duro-Last Roofing, Vibra Healthcare, Argon, Enve Composites, Jay Bird, BlueSeventy, Infinit Nutrition, Cobb Cycling, Rotor Bike Components, Sugoi Apparel, BSX Athletics, VO2 Multisport, Swiftwick, Primal Sport Mud, Occupational Kinetics, Lakeside Seahawks

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using MavMike.
BSX Athleticssave $40 on the multisport unit with code MavMike
Energy Bits – buy the most nutrient dense food on the planet and save 20% at checkout using “mike502bits.”
Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs