Triathlon season is finally here! What better way to kick the season off then at the Inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin race. This race drew a very deep field with some of the best competition around, including the World 70.3 AG champ, Ryan Giuliano, and multiple other IRONMAN overall amateur winners. I absolutely could not wait to see how I stacked up against those guys. I knew it was going to be very tight up top and this race definitely lived up to those expectations. It was a mere 37 seconds that separated 3rd from 7th overall!
I’ve just started upping my mileage in preparation for IRONMAN Santa Rosa at the end of July. Except for an aggravated disc in my lower back (THANK YOU for fixing me up Dr. Tislau!), I’ve been able to keep my body healthy and fit heading into this race. At this point, I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been and had real high expectations for Wisconsin. I walked (limped) away from the race in 6th overall and with 25-29 AG win. Winning my age group, meant I punched my ticket to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. It’s going to be a busy fall!
Although I was hoping to place higher, I am happy with how I executed the race given the course difficulty and conditions for the day. Below is a little summary how this nail biter of a race played out.
After complaining nearly every day in May about our cold, dreary, and rainy spring we’ve had in Wisconsin, it was no shocker that the weather called for 90 degrees, full sun, high humidity, and high wind on race day. You get what you ask for, I guess…
I showed up to transition a little before 6 am. I was in no hurry as it was a self-seeded swim start. After going through transition I joined my family and swim coach who were here to cheer me on. I was definitely in the zone and ready to bring it. Game time!
Swim – 1.2 miles
This is a self-seeded swim start, which meant in theory everyone would line up in order of their swim ability and enter the water one at a time. It would then take a good 45 minutes for the 2,600 people to enter the water. I decided to make my way up very close to the front of the swim. I figured all of the overall contenders for the day would be there. I sure did get some funny looks after repeatedly being asked what college I swam for and responding I just learned to swim a couple years ago…
My plan for the swim was to spend the least amount of energy as possible and swim at a consistently moderate pace. If I was able to find some feet to draft, great! Although I would be perfectly content at finding my own way. After the canon gun went off (nearly taking out a few of us up front in the process), we were on our way.
I wasn’t able to find much of a draft for the majority of the race so I stuck to my original plan of just staying very comfortable. I’ve worked a ton this offseason with my swim coach, Laura Becherer, and was excited to see how my pool speed gains have translated to the open water. We’ve really been working on extending my reach so I spend much of the 1.2 mile swim thinking about my form and controlling my breathing. I was finally able to find some feet to draft on the back stretch, although I might have touched his foot on accident one too many times. Next thing I know he slams on the breaks and kicks as hard as he can. Lucky for me, I was able to demonstrate my ninja skills and dodge all the kicks! I decided to move away from him at that point!
I came out of the water in a little under 30 minutes. It was a good minute slower than I wanted, however still an improvement from last year! Most importantly, I felt like I had a ton of energy left for the bike and run…
Results: 80th out of 2,452 – 29:57 (1:25/100yd)
Heading out of the swim, we have to run a good 300 yards to the transition area to get to our bikes. One area I really pride myself in is getting through transition quickly. You can easily get 15 seconds on your competition and is essentially free time if you are good at it. In a race this close, seconds matter! Unfortunately on this day, I SUCKED! I literally could not find my bike… I ended up shooting past my bike rack a good three times before getting to it. Although it probably was only about 20 seconds lost, it felt like an eternity. After calling myself a moron for this simple mistake, I ran out of transition, hoped on my bike and was on my way.
Bike – 56 miles
I was targeting about 270 watts for this race given the conditions for the day. I knew that if I wanted to have a chance at a win, I needed to put down an impressive bike. Yet at the same time, I knew the run was going to be brutally hard… Time to walk that fine line!
One of the main reasons I wanted to start up front on the swim is so I wouldn’t be stuck in such a traffic jam on the bike path leaving the transition area. For the most part, everyone was single file and I was able to zip past most of them within the first few miles. Right away, my legs were feeling great! It was a pretty big challenge just to hold myself back and ride at race wattage early on. Once off of the bike path, the field was already very spread out and I was able to ride my own race. I jockeyed back and forth with quite a few people before I was finally able to make my passes stick.
Very shortly into the race, the rolling hills started. They were relentless… None of the climbs were too long early on, but they were steep enough to make you get out of the saddle and climb. I really wanted to keep my climbing wattages at or below my FTP. I realized real quickly that wasn’t going to happen… On nearly every hill, I was well above 350 watts just to keep spinning at a decent RPM! I think I need to replace my small ring after this race…
This was by far and away the most I have ever sweated on the bike in my entire life. The high heat and humidity early in the day was a major shock to my system. This led me to pick up 5 bottles (3 waters + 2 Gatorades) in addition to the 2+ bottles I had to begin the race. This comes out to roughly 150 ounces of fluids on the bike (~60 oz/hr) and not a single bathroom break. Yikes! I was also able to put down 5 Huma gel Plus’s (extra sodium), so nutritionally I had over 1000 calories on the bike and approximately 1000mg/hr of sodium. Very few people can put down that many calories on the bike. It’s taken me a long time to find a nutrition plan that allows me to do that. This is crucial to perform at a high level!
As I made my way back into the city, I was shocked to see my speed was only 23 mph… I was really expecting to be close to 25 mph given my race plan. This had me concerned as I had no clue what place I was in at this point. Although no one kept a bike pass on me to that point, I had no clue where the top guys were at. With just a couple of miles to go I joined up with two EMJ guys, Sean Cooley and Mark Beckwith. Two very solid racers. Alright, it’s going to come down to the run!
Results: 4th out of 2,452 – 2:23:52 (23.4 MPH)
I came into T2 with Sean and Mark and notice just a couple of bikes on the racks. We must have been in the top 5 range starting the run. I put my socks and shoes on, then put the rest on during the run out of transition.
Run – 13.1 Miles
Right away starting the run my legs felt pretty good, however, my core temp was way too high. At this point, I decided to play it conservative in hopes that the body would feel better after the first few miles. This led to Sean, Mark, and Scott Iott all making the pass on me. I was definitely frustrated to see all three of these guys pass me. I just crossed my fingers that things would turn around and I’d be able to rope them back in. Having raced the Milkman course under similar conditions last year, I knew how brutal the sun exposure was going to be in the second half of this race.
After those group of guys created about a 20 second gap on me in the first 3 miles, it was a complete stalemate for the next 5-6 miles. It looked like absolutely no one was making up any ground on each other and all of the guys were within arm’s reach. At this point, I started to get feedback from my family and Patrick Brady that I was only a minute down on 2nd place overall (Ryan Giuliano was starting to run away with it). Yet as every mile went by, my core temp would get hotter and hotter….
At about mile 9, things started to get pretty rough. I slowly started to bring in Mark and Sean again, but man, I was overheating big time! I felt like every cup of water I would grab at the aid stations would have literally 2 oz of water in them. Are they afraid of running out of water or something? It was a big help to see Patrick on his bike again remind me how important this race is to me. I’ve trained all offseason for this. At that point, I knew I was going to give it everything I’ve got.
I was able to pass Mark and with three miles to go, I was able to pass Sean. The only issue now is that I knew Sean started the swim a good 30 s to a 1 min after me… I would have to create that gap. In a race like this, there is no coasting to the finish line. Everyone is going to push it to the max as if it were a finish line sprint. With about a mile to go, I honestly thought I had made that gap with a very hard push from 10-12 mile. It was to my horror, that a spectator yelled out two people were closing in on me. Great, just as my body is shutting down.
The last mile was brutal as my legs refused to move any faster. Much to my displeasure, they make you run up a hill before turning the corner and running down the finish line. I gave it everything I had running up the hill and halfway up, both of my hamstrings instantly cramped up on me and refused to let go. After turning the corner, I literally waddled down the running shoot for the most embarrassing finishing photos ever… Following a finish line collapse, I was hauled off to my first visit to the med tent ever. My biggest fear is not giving it all I have in a race. Luckily my fear was not realized today!
Results: 8th out of 2,452 – 1:28:59 (6:47/mi)
After a good 30 minutes in the med tent I found out I won my age group and was 6th overall, missing out on a top 3 overall by 34 seconds! Although I was initially a little disappointed, I was pretty pumped that I was at least in the mix during the run. It was a tight, tight race and small changes could have yielded big results. With most of the top guys within a minute or so of each other starting the run, reaffirmed the quote “bike for show, run for dough”.
One of the main reasons I raced IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin was to qualify for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships. I’m ecstatic at the opportunity to race the best in the world in Chattanooga, TN in September! I couldn’t do it without the amazing support of my loving wife, Liz, and the rest of my friends and family who cheer me on. Thank you also to my awesome coaches Blake Becker and Laura Becherer as well as team BBMC! Lastly, thank you to my amazing sponsors that help make this all happen!
- Quintana Roo Triathlon Bikes
- Zone 3 USA swimwear
- Huma Chia gels
- Attitude Sports
- Creekside Chiropractic
- Epix Gear
Next up is my first “A” race of the year, IRONMAN Santa Rosa in July. Stay Tuned!