Louisville Ironman – Oct. 9th, 2016
Your 2016 Ironman Louisville CHAMPION, ladies and gentlemen! What an unbelievable day to cap off an unbelievable year. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the race to play out like it did. I’m so humbled by this experience and am so blessed to have such amazing support throughout the year. Here is a little summary of my race.
Leading up to the race
The last time I raced was in the end of July which allowed my body to heal up and give me dedicated Ironman training. I had 2+ months of awesome training where I increased my FTP by another 20 watts and was running faster and more comfortably than I ever have. Everything was going perfect until I injured my knee right when I started my taper… No shocker here, I’ve been plagued by minor injuries all year long. Going two months without an injury was just too good to be true. I spent four days just taking it easy, hoping some good old fashioned rest would turn things around quickly. No such luck. After those four days, I had made little to no progress and was in pain just standing at my desk. This is when I started to panic! That all changed when I got ahold of Dr. Tislau at Creekside Chiropractic. After a few sessions of ART (Active Release Technique), I felt almost 100%. He has made me a believer! Confidence was back and ready to rock!
For the last month leading up to the race, I had quite a bit of trouble sleeping. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I accomplished what I was going to Louisville for; qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. This race had been on my mind nearly 24/7 those last few weeks. All of the pre-race anxiety went away once I got to Louisville with my family. I felt extremely relaxed, confident, and most importantly, slept like a baby!
After bike and gear bag check-in on Saturday, we just hung out at a house we rented for the rest of the afternoon. After a couple games of Euchre and an early dinner (salmon, mashed potatoes, and a Heineken to keep the nerves in check), it was lights out for me @ 9pm.
Alarm went off at 4:15 and I pounded a 1500 calorie smoothie. I got to the transition area around 5:30 and took my time setting up my bike with nutrition. At around 6 am, I went through body marking and started to make my way back to the main road to have my wife pick me up. Right when I was about to jump in my car, I realized I left my bike pump at the body markers. Now I’m behind schedule, don’t get stressed out! Back at the car, my wife was going to drive me to the line forming at the start of the swim which was close to a mile away from transition. What a disaster that was! With all the road closures and one ways, our short 1 mile drive turned into a 30 min excursion and tour of the city… Finally we saw a massive line of people (probably 5,000+ people with family members). For some reason I just decided to jump out of the car where we were and look for the end of the line. I walked nearly a half mile passing thousands of people in line until I gave up and snuck into the line about 2/3rds of the way back from the start. Once in line, I got my nerves back into check and just tried to relax. Lesson learned for future races… It was a good 30 minutes after the cannon went off before I jumped into the Ohio River.
Swim – 2.4 miles
At the swim start, you jump off of two docks into the Ohio River and swim upstream in a bay about a half mile before turning 180 degrees and swimming the rest of the way down stream to the exit. One by one, racers would jump off of the dock, some taking their sweet old time. By the time I got on the dock, there were four people just standing there, afraid to jump in. I stood there for a good 30 seconds trying to determine if my timer had started before saying the heck with it, and diving in. The one main pitfall with starting this late is the river was very congested, especially heading upstream. I had to swim around and over many slower swimmers, some already beginning the backstroke just a couple minutes into the swim… As I started to make my way down river, I started to find my rhythm. Everything would be going well, until SMACK, I’d run into a slower swimmer. After going under one of the bridges, I thought I was getting close to the swim exit and started to head to shore before realizing we still had another bridge to go under. I then headed back towards the middle of the river to benefit more from the current, before finally making my way back to the shore for the swim exit. I decided to not wear a watch for the swim, so I didn’t have much of an idea what my swim time was. I was just targeting under an hour and felt like I probably achieved that.
Results: OA – 122nd out of 2652, AG – 16th out of 150 – 00:58:52 (1:31/100y)
They let us leave our bike shoes and helmet buckled into our bikes, so my T1 bag was completely empty. I ran to my T1 bag and tossed my wetsuit to a nearby volunteer, thanking her for putting it in the bag for me. I then did a flying mount and was on my way on my bike.
Bike – 112 miles
The first hour on the bike was COLD! It must have been close to 50 degrees with full shade. Luckily my adrenaline was through the roof which made the weather manageable. Starting near the back of the pack, I was passing other riders pretty much the entire ride. I was blown away by how much drafting I saw from the middle-of-the-pack riders. There was seriously double pace lines 20 riders long all riding a couple of feet from each other’s wheels. All I could think of was this better not be going on with the front group of riders I was trying to chase down…
As I started out biking, my HR was extremely high (>155 bpm). I was targeting a HR below 145 given my prescribed power. It took nearly three hours for my HR to fall to the expected levels. During the early part of the bike, I’d try coasting down hills and reducing power a little bit to see if I could bring the HR down. Nothing seemed to work, so I just ignored it and stuck to my power plan. One of the things that likely was causing it was I really front loaded my calorie intake, consuming over 400 calories/hour. I was also trying to drink as much fluids as possible, causing me to pee five times throughout the day. Yes, FIVE times! Congrats to my sister-in-law Emily for guessing right!
The course itself was absolutely beautiful. The roads were all in pristine condition and consisted of rolling hills almost the entire time. There were some descents where you could really let it rip, I must have run out of gears nearly 20 times on the course. The only thing I didn’t like was how much traffic I saw on those roads. There were numerous times I had to pass cars on their left because they were stuck behind slower bikers in front of them. Talk about a harrowing experience!
It wasn’t until mile 70 or so when I started to feel very strong and knew it was going to be a good race. My HR dropped, stomach went back to normal, and legs felt amazing. This is about when I started taking caffeinated HUMAs. Likely not a coincidence! The back third of a bike leg is where you can make up some serious time. I knew this and really wanted to take advantage of how I was feeling and let it rip, trying to stay as aero as possible while averaging over 25 mph the last 40 miles.
Results: OA – 2nd out of 2652, AG – 1st out of 150 – 04:51:18 (23.1 mph)
I came into T2 real fast and just tried to be as efficient as possible as I tossed on my socks and shoes. I grabbed my belt, visor, and sunglasses then was off on the run.
Run – 26.2 Miles
Throughout this year, I’ve had races where I have felt good starting the run, and others where I felt downright crummy. This race, I felt better than good, I felt amazing! I started running, trying my hardest to hold myself back. I kept reminding myself that things can change in a blink of an eye during the run leg of an ironman. Stick to the coach’s advice and keep the pace above 7:00 for the first 6 miles. I kept my HR right around 147 and tried to stay comfortable.
The run was a relatively flat out and back that you have to do twice. At the first turn around, I got a good look at the leader who was a good 20 minutes in front of me (he started much earlier on the swim). I also saw Justin Herrick and Eric Engel both about 2 miles in front of me. Two people I expected near the top of our age group that was packed with top notch athletes. At mile 8, my buddy Dan Luhman let me know I was in first for my age group and had about a 2 minute lead on Justin. I knew Justin was a good runner, so I kept my focus on my age group for another 7 miles or so.
At the start of the second lap, my family told me I had an 8 minute lead on second place in my division. I immediately yelled back, “where’s the leader”? About mile 16, still feeling good, I decided to take the gloves off and try and win this thing. At mile 18, my fan support let me know I was 2:30 down on the leader and he was running 7:11 pace. I turned it up to around 6:45’s, let’s go! Just two short miles later, I was dead-even with the leader. He must have lost a wheel at the end. Time to bring this thing home!
The last few miles weren’t quite like I had imagined it. Starting nearly 30 minutes back, there were about 5 people or so in front of me. There was literally no cheering as I made my way through down town. It really didn’t feel like winning an ironman until I turned the corner and saw that finishing chute. Running down 4th street and seeing myself on the big screen was such a surreal experience. I let out a few screams, gave props to team BBMC, than channeled my inner Clay Mathews showing off the guns at the finish line.
Results: OA – 1st out of 2652, AG – 1st out of 150 – 03:04:15 (07:01/mi)
I still can’t believe how far I have come in one year. I have had so many people help me get to where I am, I don’t even know where to start. Thanks, foremost, to my loving and supportive wife, Liz. You have pushed me to be a better husband and triathlete. Thanks to my coach, Blake Becker and the rest of team BBMC. You have turned an average Joe to and Ironman Champ in one year. I look forward to many more years of success together. Thank you, Dr. Tislau at Creekside Chiropractic, you literally saved this race for me by getting me back to health so quickly. Thanks to all nine of my family and friends that drove well over 20 hrs each this weekend to watch me race. Lastly, thanks to all of my friends for all of your support. The flood of texts, phone calls, emails, and posts have been so overwhelming, yet appreciative and motivating. Thank you all for your support!
Ironman Louisville has made me hungrier than ever. I have a lot of things to work on heading into the off season. I’m looking forward to getting back to work after a few weeks of rest. Bring on 2017!
Overall Results – 1st out of 2652 – 09:01:17
As if my day couldn’t get any better, I got to have my biggest idol Brett Favre sign my bike after the race! I did feel bad that he had to touch my bike after the race. Yuck!