All my racing in 2018 was to set me up for success at IRONMAN Wisconsin. Although my build was much shorter than I would have liked, I was at this year’s mental and physical peak heading into this race. Expectations were high, and I was absolutely pumped to come back to IRONMAN Wisconsin where my IRONMAN journey all started back in 2015.
My main goal was to negative split each portion of this race. I knew if I did that, I would have a very good chance of my other goals: qualify for Kona, top 3 overall male, and go sub 9:15. Although I didn’t end up hitting my time goal, I’m proud of how I mentally dug myself out of a tough spot and worked myself into the top 3 overall male with a half mile to go!
My buzzer went off at 3:15 am Sunday morning. My excitement and anxiousness always seem to peak about 3-4 days before the race starts. Strangely enough, the day before the race all of that anxiousness goes away, and I get some of my best sleep the night before. I woke up feeling rested and strong. GAME TIME!
I put down approximately 1400 calories worth of a high carb smoothie and a plain bagel with jam. Emily and I were out the door at 5 am and made our way to transition. It was pretty quick and easy getting through transition, although getting up to the swim start was a different situation… Almost every race I’ve done this year was a self-seeded rolling start. You could just wait until 10 minutes before the race started and then make your way into position. I didn’t expect this race to be any different, so I was in no rush to get in line. Walking into the starting corral with about 15 minutes to go, I quickly realized getting to the front was going to be much tougher than I thought. The closer I got to the front, the more jam packed everyone was. With still a good 400 people in front of me, there was absolutely zero room around anyone. We were sardines… At that point, I did something I was not proud of, I forced my way up through people in spots were room didn’t exist. I was that guy. Races are always tight up top and I knew I couldn’t give up a minute or two in the swim. Lesson learned, if you need to up front on the swim, make sure you have a quick way to get up there…
The field of professional women started about 10 minutes in front of us. At 6:50 the cannon went off and the race was on. My goal for the swim was to take it fairly easy for the first ¼, and then push the effort up just to the edge of uncomfortable. For the most part, I stuck to this plan, although the start of the swim was a lot more eventful that I expected. I took head on quite a few slaps and kicks as I tried to find some feet to draft off of. After the first ¼ of the swim, I finally found some space in the water, although really struggled to keep any draft. Each time I thought I was on a draft, I would lose it after a few minutes and found myself quite a bit off course. Drafting is something I definitely need to continue to work on… After a few more failed draft attempts, I decided to just swim the buoy line and stay as efficient as possible. The rest of the swim was very uneventful but came out of the water feeling like I had spent very little energy. Complete and efficient swim, goal accomplished!
Results: 1:02:27 (OA – 81/2407, M30-34 – 8/208)
The transition was a bit longer this year due to the moved swim start from the flooding. I made my way up the helix feeling great and focused on keeping my heartrate from spiking to 190. I got to my transition bag, sat down and put my bike shoes, then took off. I then had to run in my bike shoes a good 600 yards to my bike, all while being passed by others carrying their bike shoes to their bike. Rookie mistake!
My goal for the bike was to be aggressive from start to finish with a Normalized Power of around 240 watts. Right from the beginning of the ride, my legs were feeling great. There is no better feeling then when you are telling yourself to hold back early in a ride! Within 5 miles or so, Ryan Giuliano (eventual winner) and Eric Engel caught up to me. I was never so excited to be passed on the bike as it told me I was at least in the mix for the swim. An area where I am usually playing catch-up! Ryan slowly pulled away while Eric and I did a little leap frog for 15 miles or so until he began to have some bike troubles.
Once out on the loop, there was very little time for recovery. It felt like I either had a massive headwind in my face or up climbing out of the saddle. I found myself riding much closer to half ironman power throughout the loop. I just crossed my fingers hoping my aggressive power (and 155-160 bpm averaged HR…) wasn’t going to be costly on the run.
My nutrition was on point throughout the bike, consuming 11 caffeinated Huma gel plus’s (1 every 10 miles). However, by about mile 70, I really started to feel lethargic. I believe this was due to a caffeine insensitivity. For future IRONMAN races, I am going to reduce my coffee intake in the month leading up to a race and then hold off on taking caffeine until the second half of the bike. When I start taking caffeine, I will want it to work to it’s fullest!
The last twenty miles, I knew I could make up some serious time if I can stay aero and keep the power up. I put up one of the fastest bike splits in this portion and felt strong rolling into transition.
Results: 5:07:29 (OA – 16/2407, M30-34 – 3/208)
Coming into transition was the toughest spot in my entire race. As I started to dismount my bike, my left hamstring completely cramped up. By the time I got off my bike, my other hamstring cramped. I honestly, didn’t know how I was going to even make it to my transition bag… I slowly made it inside where my transition bag, put on my running shoes, and made my way onto the run course.
I dealt with some cramped hamstrings/tight lower back after biking a little too hard on hilly courses at St. George 70.3 and Wisconsin 70.3 this year. Each of those races led to disappointing first halves of the run. Coming into this run, feeling the exact same, I needed to be mentally strong. I reminded myself to be patient. A LOT can happen in 26.2 miles. As my coach has said, just because you feel crummy THIS mile, doesn’t mean you will feel that way in your NEXT mile.
Coming into the run, I had about 7-10 people out in front of me, with no one in sight and no-one behind me. This was a real blessing as I ran my first 7 miles running all alone, focusing on my effort and hammering the salt to loosen up my cramps. Each mile that ticked by, I started to feel incrementally better, but not great. As I made the turn-around on state street, I could tell the field was getting pulled together. I had three or so guys within a minute or two in front of me and four guys who were coming in hot behind me.
It gave me a huge boost seeing all my other training partners from BBMC rocking it on the run course as I was heading back into the capital at the half-way point. At mile 12, James Harrington made the ground up on me and made the pass. I made it a goal to keep him within a 10 second range for the rest of the run. I made the halfway point in 7th place or so but saw the 4th place runner lead by a biker probably 4 or 5 minutes up.
The miles started to fly by after mile 12. I kept telling myself to be patient. The last 10k of the race is when you can make up HUGE time on the field with proper pacing. One of the best things that works for me is to run on heart rate for the run. I kept my AVG HR right around 150 bpm. I knew I could close hot at this effort. James and I ran close together, making our way up the field mile by mile. Coming back near the Capital with two miles to go, I could see the 4th place biker. I was pumped to see the biker lead-out ahead. I pushed HARD to make the pass stick. Shortly after the pass, I still had no clue how far up the 3rd place guy was. Then a spectator yelled out to me that the 3rd place guy started walking. This is when adrenaline shot through the roof! My race goal was right in front of me! I dug deep, real deep, and made the pass on Revere with about a half mile to go.
After making the pass, I dialed it back just a touch to really soak in the last few minutes of the run. This is what it’s all about. All the ups, all the downs. Chasing down goals and finding out what you are capable of!
Results: 3:09:45 (OA – 10/2407, M30-34 – 3/208)
Although I did not hit my time goals, I was absolutely pumped to have dug myself out of a tough spot on the run and making up big ground on the field in the second half of the run to finish 3rd overall male (Lindsay Corbin absolutely destroyed the female professional field – BEAST!). I am going to enjoy this one for a bit then back to work planning on 2019. Kona, baby!!!
Results: 09:26:48 (OA – 4/2407, M30-34 – 2/208)
One thing I continue to realize over the course of this year, is how absolutely blessed I am. I would not be successful without the help and support of so many people. Big thanks to my partner in crime, Emily Schmitz, for all that you do, including those long bike rides next to me as I run! Thanks to my amazing coaches, Laura Becherer and Blake Becker, and the rest of Team BBMC. Thanks to my amazing chiropractor, Dr. Tislau, at Creekside Chiropractic for keeping me healthy all season! Also, big shout out to the LeMire’s for sending me the ARP machine when some old tendonitis started to rear its ugly head! Life saver! Thanks to the rest of my awesome sponsors, Huma gels, Quintana Roo, Zone 3 USA, Attitude Sports, Sports Core, and Epix Gear. It’s easy to represent brands and companies you believe in! Thanks for keeping me going rocket fast!
I plan on doing some local running and duathlon races this Fall while I focus on schooling and work and then hit 2019 hard as I come into the new year!