Milkman Half Ironman – June 19th, 2016
Its official, summer is finally here! Mother Nature is sure letting us know it by giving us 90 degrees and sunshine for race day. Luckily for me, the forecast didn’t change for quite some time leading up to the race. This gave me plenty of time to mentally prepare for the challenge ahead…
After having a solid 2016 triathlon debut at Elkhart Lake the weekend before (5th overall and in da money!), I was excited to follow that performance up at the inaugural milkman half ironman. These first few races are really just meant to give me confidence that I can compete with some of the best triathletes in the Midwest. I definitely consider myself a rookie competing at this level and found myself questioning if I even belonged in this elite wave looking at the names and faces in this stacked field. After convincing myself I belonged there, I went out and had a great race, finishing 5th overall and 2nd amateur! The proof is in the pudding, I can compete against these guys!
Here is a little summary of my race…
I came down to Madison on Friday night, two days before the race, to get registered and pick up my numbers. The nerves were already flying high once I rolled into town. Just by going through registration, I knew it was going to be a well-run race. Saturday morning I joined some other BBMC racers for an easy group ride along the run course. I am sure glad I did that! Biking the first couple miles I would try and keep track of the hills, pretty soon I lost track… Okay, run strategy, hold back early!
After a quick team photo, I dropped by bike off at transition and took it easy at a friend’s condo for the rest of the afternoon. After eating out for the last couple of days, I decided to just pick up a few items from the grocery store. I didn’t know if they had any cooking pans at the condo, so I got to enjoy microwavable mashed potatoes and chicken, yum…
My wife got into town around 6 after being in Michigan for a wedding. After being gone for a few days, I was sure glad to see her! Time to rest easy and get ready to race in the morning.
Up at 4:15am to down an 800 calorie smoothie. We were out the door at 5:30 and at transition around 5:45. The weather was fantastic in the morning. I was able to keep the nerves in check knowing I had no real expectation on how I’d place overall today.
Swim – 1.2 miles
We had 30 minutes of down time after transition closed before the start of the elite wave at 7am. Water temps were pretty warm (in the 70’s) but still manageable in a full sleeve wetsuit. At the start of the race, everyone was very slow getting into the water and lining up at the start buoys. Only 5 or 6 of the guys got right up front. All of which were legit swimmers that I knew I wouldn’t be able to hang with for very long… Right out of the gates we dolphin dived for what felt like 2 mins, the water was pretty shallow for the first 100 yards or so. For the first stretch I found myself occasionally swimming side-by-side with someone but wasn’t getting much draft. About halfway into the race I latched on to somebodies feet and let them drag me around the rest of the course. Sure makes a big difference! I felt really comfortable the last half of the race, I’ll need to work on positioning and drafting at the start of the swim waves.
Getting out of the water I was surprised to see Patrick Brady and a few other very solid guys next to me. Considering swimming is my weakest sport, I was pretty pumped about where I was at! Last year I would have been passed by people in later waves, talk about a big improvement!
Results: 30:50, 46th out of 1211
T1 was a pretty long transition, 400 yards or so from the lake. I made my way to my bike keeping HR low and in control. It was a pretty smooth transition for me.
Results: 2:14, 6th out of 1211
Bike – 56.2 miles
I’ve been targeting an averaged power of 230-235 watts going into this race. If the temperature started to affect me, or if the prescribed power was a little too high, I would knock it down 10 watts or so. Right out of the gates my legs weren’t really feeling it, not sure what the cause of this was. I raced the weekend before, but I felt fully recovered heading into the weekend. I didn’t let this affect me and just took it fairly easy for the first 15 miles with a power 20 watts below target. In the meantime, I was passed by four or five riders. I just told myself to not worry about it, I’d be coming back for them J
After about 30-45 mins, my legs started to come to life and I dialed in my targeted power. At this point, it felt like an all-day pace. I was feeling great! I would play leap frog with a few racers as I slowly passed more and more people. I think I ended up passing close to 10 people for the remainder of the ride while only having one person come up from behind me. I think holding back when I didn’t have the legs early was a smart move on my part.
Throughout the bike I drank about 80-90 oz of Gatorade and put down 3 gu’s which put me in the 700 calorie range. One thing new I tried this race was having a water bottle between my aerobars. This allowed me to chase my gu’s with water while having my Gatorade on my frame. I didn’t have any stomach issues throughout the bike so I think I am starting to dial in a nutrition plan I am confident in.
The last 5-10 miles I dialed back my power by 10 watts below target. I wanted to make sure my legs were feeling good for the start of the hilly run. I ended up averaging 23 mph with an NP of 225 watts on the bike. If I could have shaved off less than two minutes from my bike, I would have went from the 9th fastest bike split to the 4th, definitely feasible on a different day. I am still in shock my biking has improved this much in less than a year and appears to be continuing to improve. Seeing results sure does make interval training more enjoyable!
Heading into transition area, it sounded like I was in 10th place overall.
Results: 2:26:36 (23 mph), 9th fastest out of 1211
I decided to wear socks for this race, I started to have some small blisters from running sockless last weekend. I strapped my belt on while on the run and was off. I was still feeling great at this point!
Results: 1:09, 4th out of 1211
Run – 13.1 Miles
Biking the run course the day before was definitely a benefit for me. I was hoping to have 6:30-6:40 miles today, but after checking out the course and knowing the weather forecast, I figured that was likely not going to happen. Starting the run I felt great but held back quite a bit knowing what lied ahead. The first four or five miles I just focused on a quick cadence and keeping my HR low (below 167) and tried to ignore my pace. This felt like a walk in the park as I already roped in a few people. Keeping my HR low and walking through the aid stations allowed me to get some calories in. I put down a gu around mile 4 although my stomach didn’t seem to like that. I really should look into finding some other form of adequate calories on the run, this is where I always seem to stumble.
At about mile 6 or 7, our nicely shaded run turned into a sun cooker. This is where things started to get tough for me, especially since I had no-one in sight for about a 3 mile stretch. Luckily for me, my best cheerleader (my awesome wife!) surprised me at mile 8 which gave me a good mental boast at a much needed time.
At each aid station I would chomp on some ice cubes and dump a few glasses of water over my head. This would cool me down for about two minutes until I started roasting again. Time sure does go by slow when you are over-heating and all by yourself. I would check my watch every 30 seconds hoping I’ve gone a mile since I last check…
With about two miles to go I had two people in front of me by about 40-50 seconds that I was guessing. If I could pass these two people, that would put me in fifth place. I just kept telling myself that they were hurting more than I was and I slowly roped them both in with about 0.5 miles to go. Time to hammer home and lock up 5th place!
One thing I noticed was during the last three miles of the race my HR went from about 185 down to below 165 bpm, I’ve never experienced this big of a drop in HR before. I was certainly giving it everything I had, so not sure what caused this or if I should have been concerned. I was definitely overheating, maybe the large drop in HR is a symptom of this.
Results: 1:31:14 (6:58 min/mi) – 7th out of 1211
I finished the day in 5th place overall and 2nd amateur. Something I did not expect heading into the day, especially considering I was using this for a training race. Each day I am learning more about myself and this sport and pushing myself to new levels. I am absolutely pumped to see where this sport is going to take me. I am happy to say that this train is moving full steam ahead and I will be continuing to push for more ambitious goals.
I want to thank my wife for her continued support. She has been my biggest fan and probably puts on more miles chasing me around the course than I do racing. She always seems to appear out of nowhere when I need some extra motivation. She’s my secret weapon J
I also want to thank my coach, Blake from BBMC. There’s no doubt I owe any racing success’s I have to his training philosophy and coaching. I am supper pumped to see how far he can push me.