IRONMAN 140.6 Wisconsin Race Report – Sept. 9th, 2018

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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!

Morning of

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…

Swim

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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)

T1

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!

Results: 00:05:06

Bike

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.

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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!

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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.

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Results: 5:07:29 (OA – 16/2407, M30-34 – 3/208)

T2

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.

Results: 00:02:03

Run

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Results: 3:09:45 (OA – 10/2407, M30-34 – 3/208)

Overall Results

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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!

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2018 IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin Race Report

IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin Race Report – June 10th, 2018

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Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to race all over the country. The travel has been amazing and feel blessed to be able to race in some of the most beautiful places. Although, there is just something special about doing big races in your home state. These are the races that you circle on your calendar and expect to perform well. I’ve had a year full of ups and downs, but rolling into IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin, I was feeling better mentally and physically than I have been in months. This was a work trip and I was ready to get down to business!

Morning of

This was my third year racing the 70.3 Wisconsin course (first year was the Milkman) and was fully expecting yet another year of 90 degree heat. It was much to my pleasure that a storm rolled in and brought some serious rainfall and temps in the 60’s. I definitely wouldn’t be worrying about overheating during this race!

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Swim

About an hour before the swim, it started raining hard! It was quite the sight to see having over three thousand people frantically searching for far too few tents and umbrellas to hide under. In weather like this, it’s not the racer’s that have the toughest job, it’s the spectators. I couldn’t help but feel bad for all the people wearing soaking wet jeans, all we had to do was throw our wetsuits on and enjoy the rain…

The IRONMAN officials pushed the start of the race back 30 minutes to 7:30 AM in hopes for the rainfall to settle. I said a couple of prayers that the rain would lighten up to give us some safer race conditions… Sure enough, right before the gun when off, the rain settled to a constant sprinkle.

This race was a rolling start and I lined myself up about fortieth in the water, about a minute or so off of the canon. This course makes a triangle shape, with the two longest legs on the out and back. Heading out, we had some pretty big chop and I swam pretty hard on that first stretch. Likely a little too hard as I was overheating a bit in my full sleeved suit. It was pretty much a solo effort and uneventful the rest of the way. Exiting the water, I saw my buddy Peter Christensen next to me, I was expecting to see him at some point… We would be seeing more of each other throughout the day!

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Overall, the swim was a good three minutes slow because of the weather conditions. Although it certainly wasn’t the time I was shooting for, the overall placement isn’t too far off from where I would expect to be. Still working on this swim thing!

Results: 0:32:08 (OA – 68/2336, M30-34 – 11/196)

T1

I made my way up through transition and made it right to my bike on my first attempt! I’ve been known to lose my bike in the sea of bikes in transition. But not today! My helmet was upside down and collected well over an inch of rain water which I proceeded to dump over my head. Today was going to be a soaking wet kind of day…

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Results: 00:02:33

Bike

The first 10 miles on the bike were very sketchy to say the least. I had to deal with riding on a sidewalk with quite a few 90 degree corners, parts completely flooded over with 2+ inches of water, and a fogging up helmet visor to top it off! I took a corner a little too fast early on and realized my brakes don’t work too well in the rain… Time to test my off-roading ability! Luckily I was able to keep it upright and pulled it back onto the sidewalk. The first 30 minutes were anything but efficient, but was soon on some open roads and put my head down and hammered.

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Right from the get go, my legs were feeling strong and knew it was going to be a bike power PR day. For the next twenty miles I road pretty hard and consistent, keeping my NP around 270-275 watts, passing more and more people and making my way up to the top 10 range.

Between miles 30-40, I made my first major mistake of the race. I was passed by Pete and another biker on one of the hills and I was feeling way too good to just let them pass me! So I over-biked… I pushed a NP of 291 watts for those 10 miles, a little too high given my current fitness level. But I managed to survive and dialed back into my race target power facing a fairly stiff headwind and technical course/corners heading back into town.

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Heading into transition, I was feeling pretty good and was mentally in the game to put down what I hope would be a PR run. My body coming off the bike had other things in mind…

Results: 2:25:36 (OA – 7/2336, M30-34 – 2/196)

T2

After mounting my bike, I took my clean and dry running shoes out of an open Ziploc bag, threw them on and was on my way. I couldn’t help but laugh about the effort I made to keep my shoes dry and then proceed to run through a literal mud pit to start the run! Tough Mudder meets IRONMAN…

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Results: 00:01:37

Run

I immediately passed someone coming out of transition and was in 4th place at this point. But I had a good six or so people behind me by 30 seconds to a minute, including the speedy Pete. Immediately starting the run, my back was locked up and both hamstrings were already starting to cramp up. I was starting to feel the wrath of poor bike pacing and soon enough 4-5 guys made the pass on me.

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I worked so hard to stay mentally focused heading into this race after a less than stellar race in St. George. It didn’t take long before the negative thoughts rolled in after being passed by a few guys that made me feel like I was standing still. It did ease the burn after the race knowing one of the guys was the eventual overall winner and ran a 1:14 on a fairly tough course! Regardless, one of the biggest pieces of endurance sports is mental willpower and toughness. This race proved I still have some work to do in this area, especially on the first part of the run.

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I just hammered base salt the first 8 miles of the run which prevented my hamstrings from cramping up and my tight lower back eventually subsided. This was pretty much exactly how my body and legs loosened up in St. George. In the back third, I was finally able to start picking up the pace and feeling good.

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Results: 01:26:59 (OA – 21/2336, M25-29 – 5/196)

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Overall Results

I finished the day in 9th overall and 3rd in M30-34 Age Group. There was certainly some areas were I did well and some areas that I still need to work on. I came away with a bike power PR which was awesome, but not quite sure my position off the bike reflected that. I’m working on making some significant bike positioning changes, which I am optimistic will improve my aerodynamics on the bike. Aerodynamics is EVERYTHING!

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I had a solid day in the transition area. The more you race throughout the year, the smoother you get in transition. This can give you some free time. I didn’t even lose my bike this year which is a major win! As with every race lately, my nutrition was on point. It was 6 huma gel plus’s and gatorade endurance on the bike, then another two huma gel plus’s on the run. Plenty of calories to get me across the finish line!

Yet, for the second race in a row, my body was not having it for the first half of the run. Luckily, I have another race (or two) before my “A” race at IRONMAN Wisconsin that I can try and figure this whole run thing out. My three big focus areas to work hard on are improving my aerodyanmics/bike fitting, increasing run volume, and reducing bike intensity a bit on race day. Fingers crossed this will yield results at IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie in a few weeks!

Overall Results: OA – 9rd out of 2336, AG – 3rd out of 196, 4:28:53

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Big shout out to all of my family and friends that came and watched me race last Sunday! Thanks to my awesome coaches, Blake Becker and Laura Becherer, that keep me on track and ready to race! Last, but not least, thanks to my great team of sponsors that put keep me dialed in and feeling good on the fastest equipment around!

Next up, IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie on July 14th!

 

IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Rico Race Report

The 2018 race season is officially underway and IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Rico did not disappoint! Although hurricane Maria has left a lasting mark on Puerto Rico, I am so glad I did not let that deter me from getting this race marked on my calendar. My brother and his girlfriend ended up making the trip with me and we made a memorable vacation out of the trip, spending six days in Old San Juan. The architecture and history of Old San Juan was unbelievable and hard to describe in words. Pretty much every other door in this small town led into a restaurant, café, or bar. You definitely do not want to have to worry about your race weight when visiting Old San Juan, I’ll leave that for races later this year! Needless to say, it was all play no business for the majority of this six day trip!

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Leading Up

My 2017 race season sure was a roller coaster of a year. I rolled into the New Year motivated and hungry to build off the momentum of a late season win at IRONMAN Louisville. I was feeling strong, fit, and motivated to have some real breakout performances in my more important late season races. Things turned sour pretty quickly as I suffered my first significant injury of my short triathlon career. Many, many trips to doctors, chiropractors, PT, acupuncture, MRIs and a bike crash at Kona had me feeling pretty burnt out in October. After Kona, I put my foot in a walking boot for a month to try and let my injury heal and took another two months off of any form of exercise. Mentally, my head just wasn’t in the game…

As I rolled into 2018, I slowly started training again. It is quite unbelievable how much performance you can lose in just a few months. But, knowing where my fitness was just a few months ago, I didn’t let the low performance numbers deter me. Trust the process! The two months leading up to PR had me starting to feel like my old self again. The performance numbers have been slowly coming back, but most importantly I was motivated, hungry, and healthy. Game on!

Morning of

I am a person of routine and just like any other 70.3, I woke up three hours before the race started and downed my 900 calorie smoothie (Almond milk, peanut butter, banana, flax seed, and instant coffee). One word of advice if you ever visit Old San Juan is do not use a rental car, parking is a nightmare and there are strict rules about where visitors can park. Luckily, I got this advice right before making the trip and was able to cancel my reservation and relied on Uber for transportation. Definitely a smart move!

After a short Uber drive to the transition area, I set my bike up to race, then made the half mile voyage to the swim start. I was able to get in about a 600 yard warm-up swim in, put down a Huma Chia gel, and hung out with my cheer squad before they started corralling us in the first wave (M30-34).

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Swim

Every IRONMAN branded race has a little bit different strategy to how they start their races. Originally, all races were mass starts where everyone started at once. As the popularity of the sport and the number of entrants grew, mass starts have slowly dwindled due to safety concerns. This has led to races typically switching to Age Group wave or self-seeded time trial starts. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with self-seeded time trial starts, IMO. You put the fastest people up front to truly “race” against others for Age Group and Overall results. This usually results in the fastest person of the day being the first one across the finish line… This race was an Age Group wave start where they broke up a few of the most competitive male age groups and put them in the beginning and at the end of the wave assignments. I’m not sure what the logic of the wave assignment order was. I would have no clue about where the other top Age Group athletes were at and would experience a totally different “race” throughout the day. This is certainly my only major gripe about how this race was organized. Otherwise, I was overall extremely impressed with the rest of the race “experience”.

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Anyways, back to racing! My wave had a smaller field of about 50 people. We all got into the water a few minutes before the gun went off and got into our positions. My strategy was to line myself up front in the middle and try to hang on to the fastest guy next to me in the hopes of catching a good draft around the whole swim course. My plan lasted for a total of about 15 seconds or so as the guy next to me shot out like a rocket and I had ZERO chance hanging on. Damn swimmers!

After those first 10 yards, it was pretty much a solo day for me the rest of the race… I just pushed what I felt like was a moderate pace, trying to stay efficient as possible and focused on my breathing. With about a half mile to go, I could not see anyone in front of me. Either I was somehow out front or a few people put in a sizeable gap on me. The latter of the two was true…

I came out of the water in fourth overall, with the leader over 5 minutes in front of me… I would have some work to do!

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Results: 0:32:44 (OA – 36/679, M30-34 – 4/48)

T1

I quickly pulled down my sleeved Zone 3 swim skin and began my 1/3rd mile run back to the transition area. I passed one guy when running through transition and at that point thought I was in 2nd overall, not realizing the first place guy was already 2 miles into his bike ride!

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Results: 00:03:48

Bike

I did a flying mount onto my Quintana Roo PRsix and was on my way. This bike course was pretty much pancake flat except for a few on and off ramps that you get on. The roads were also pretty clean which meant I could put my head down and HAMMER!

In nearly every race up to this point, I can usually get up to my race wattage without much problem. For this race, my legs felt pretty heavy and it took quite a bit more effort to get my power up to race wattage of around 260w for the day. After a good 10 miles, my legs starting finally loosening up and I started to get into a rhythm. The next 30 miles was extremely un-eventful as I was all alone on some pretty flat and straight roads. I just kept focusing on getting my nutrition (Huma Plus gel every 30 mins) and really loading up on hydration. I knew I could NOT go into the run without a full tank as that would spell disaster on this course…

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At each turnaround around I could tell I was gaining momentum on the second place guy (although I thought he was first…) and it would be a matter of time before I made the pass. With about 10 miles to go on the bike I added a pretty good push and made the pass, now being escorted by a motorcycle on my way back into town. With about 5 miles to go, the motorcycle escort missed an on-ramp I was supposed to take, the first of three times I was taken down the wrong direction…

Results: 2:18:26 (OA – 5/679, M30-34 – 2/48)

T2

I rolled into transition feeling pretty good and braced myself for a brutally tough half marathon.  I quickly threw a cooling towel I had frozen the night before around my neck (clutch move), grabbed my hand held water bottle, and made my way out of transition.

Results: 00:01:04

Run

This race course is all about the run. If you want to be an age group contender, you really have to execute well on this run course as small mistakes can lead to BIG problems… The course is very hilly, including two out and back loops. There really isn’t a single flat part of pavement on the whole course and also included some stretches of 10% grade. With correct pacing (and power walking up the 10% grade portions!), you can certainly deal with the elevation climb. But what makes you have to really respect this course is the conditions for the day. With temps hitting close to 90 degrees this year, a course with absolutely zero shade, and a sky without a single cloud in sight would cripple most on race day.

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To be honest, coming into this race I was extremely nervous about how this run would go. Heat impacts everyone a little differently and, unfortunately, it is one of my biggest weaknesses. But I really wanted to use this race as a good learning experience to figure out how I can race effectively in the heat and build off of this for the late season races. My goal was to play it pretty conservative, running almost completely on perceived effort, and keeping my heart rate below 170. At every single aid station, about every mile, I would stop and fill my water bottle up and fill the front of my race suit with ice. Dehydration was NOT going to be a problem for me!

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At the first turn around, I estimated I was less than two minutes back from the first place guy. Keeping consistent and steady, I was able to make the pass and take the lead just before the half way point in the race. Through this point, I really worked the aid stations hard trying my best to cool my body as I know how quickly things can turn… With about six miles to go, I could tell my core temp was rising and my forearms started to burn as they had direct exposure to the sun. The next few miles ticked by, just trying to stay focused.

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Just as I had feared, with about three miles to go, I started overheating. Big time. I stopped sweating and my forearms felt like they were on fire! All I could think about is taking it one minute at a time. Man, time sure goes by slow once you get in this kind of discomfort. The clock slowly ticked 15 min left, 14, 13. The last mile really, really sucked… But, just like I’ve done before when I get in this amount of discomfort, I got through it.

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Results: 01:31:50 (OA – 5/679, M25-29 – 1/48)

Overall Results

That was by far the worst I have felt after crossing the finish line. I was absolutely fried. I was immediately sent of to the medical tent, making this my second visit… They immediately starting covering parts of my body with bags of ice. Parts not covered had this sensation of being on fire, not a pleasant sensation. After covering me with more and more ice packs, they eventually just completely covered me in ice. It took a good 15 mins for my body to start producing sweat and another half hour for my body to produce chills. I was so afraid I was doing permanent damage to myself and had a lot of bad thoughts about why exactly I put myself through this amount of discomfort. Fortunately, the medical staff was absolutely amazing and were able to lift my spirits up.

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After an enjoyable hour in the medical tent, I found out I had won my age group but was beaten by two other guys who had started later in the day. Congrats to Nicholas Marcantonio for getting the Overall win and torching this run course, despite the tough conditions!

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Overall Results: OA – 3rd out of 679, AG – 1st out of 48, 4:27:52

Overall, I raced fairly close to my potential given my current fitness level and course conditions. I used this race to get myself motivated and back to racing healthy again. Mission accomplished! Definitely excited to keep building my fitness back up and continuing to build off of this performance for my more important late season races. Big shout out once again to my brother, Bobby, and his girlfriend, Shiann, for making the trip with me. Definitely was a memorable trip and I can’t wait to visit Puerto Rico again sometime in the near future!

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I have an amazing support team that has helped me race at my potential. Thanks to my triathlon coach, Blake Becker and the rest of Team BBMC, who got me from a couch potato to race shape in two months. Thanks to my swim coach, Laura Becherer, who tirelessly works to make me become a swimmer! Thanks to my awesome group of sponsors: Quintana Roo, Zone 3 USA, Epix Gear, Huma Chia Energy Gels, Attitude Sports, Creekside Chiropractic, and SportsCore. Lastly, thanks to all of my family and friends who support and believe in me. You guys rock!

 

IRONMAN World Championships

IRONMAN World Championships – October 14th, 2017

Just a little over two years ago, I completed my first IRONMAN and became a man on a mission to get to the “Super Bowl” of triathlon, the IRONMAN World Championships! After qualifying at IRONMAN Louisville the previous year, I had a full year to prepare mentally and physically for the toughest IRONMAN race on the planet. Despite my hunger to dominate this race and race to my fullest potential, things just didn’t want to go my way on race day. I saw firsthand how this race can cripple even the most prepared and talented triathlete, Jan Frodeno (2x World Champion), who finished hours later than expected and amongst the age groupers. I had a few setbacks early in the race, but things unraveled drastically when a bike crash sent me flying over my handlebars at 20+ mph. Much like Jan, my race goals changed from “racing”, to just crossing the finish to honor the race and my fellow competitors. There is no doubt that without my family and friends supporting me, as well as three amazing volunteers, I would have pulled out of the race due to the crash. I would have had to live with that disappointment for many years to come. Luckily, my support team got me through the finish line and I will be forever grateful! Below is a quick summary of how my race played out.

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Leading Up

Sheboygan County was very well represented at the World Championships this year with two of my close friends, Frederick Guesneau and Christine Sonnemann-Gordon also qualifying at IRONMAN Wisconsin last year. We also had a huge support crew come watch us race. We all arrived a week before the race to get acclimated to the heat, something I grossly underestimated… Stepping off of the plane, I immediately broke out in sweat just standing there in the 87 degree, 90%+ humidity Kona sun. This race was going to be the real deal…

We rented an amazing place a few miles up in the mountains for 12 of us to stay at. Considering only two people there were racing, it was nearly impossible to be in “race” mode versus “vacation” mode for the first half of the week. Despite my valiant efforts to eat healthy, I broke down and eat/drank my fair share of Kona chocolates and brews.

Just about every day I would do some swimming and bike training out on the race course. The energy out on Ali drive was contagious with thousands of the best triathletes around out training together throughout the day. Everyone was absolutely shredded, making me feel a good 7 lbs. over my race weight! I made sure to get the full Kona experience, competing in the annual underwear run and welcome banquet. During check-in I ended up getting drug tested, which took a good 1.5 hrs. It appears they are really ramping up their drug testing, which is great to see! By the time Friday rolled around, I was confident and ready to race come Saturday.

Morning of

I set my alarm for 3 am, a good 4 hours before my race starts, to give myself plenty of time to put down a massive 1500 calorie breakfast. I’ve tried to do it in less time in previous races and found myself bloated during the swim. Unfortunately, this was my first mishap of the day as my alarm went off in vibration mode and I overslept by an hour. Once 4 am rolled around, someone woke me up and asked if I knew it was 4 am. Not the way I wanted to start the day… I ended up cutting back my breakfast by 400 calories because of this mishap. I was out the door by 5 am and headed over to the race start.

The day before and the day of the race I always seem to be at peace with where I am at and have very little nerves about the race, no matter what the magnitude is. I honestly get my best night sleep of the week the night before the race. I could tell this wasn’t the case for most of the racers in transition as you could sense the anxiety and nerves in the air.

Swim

After the 50 person pro fields went off, approximately 1700 male Age Groupers slowly made their way into the water. I got in the water within the first few hundred people to make sure I had my spot reserved. I waded in the water on the far left side and in the second row of swimmers. Although I’ve made big progress in my swimming over the years, it is still my weakest sport. This forces me to make up ground on the bike and run versus the “pure” swimmers/fishes…

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Once the cannon went off, it was complete chaos and would stay that way for the entirety of the swim. I’ve never been hit in the head so many times in my life as we would fight for draft positions with feet in front of us. Having a wrestling background, I actually didn’t mind that much close combat, but definitely wouldn’t be ideal if someone was claustrophobic or sensitive to a few unintentional (hopefully) kicks and slaps.

I always wear two swim caps to help keep my googles in place. I would have one cap over my head, then googles, then my second cap. By the halfway turnaround, somehow both of my swim caps got pulled off of my head. Miraculously, which I am still dumbfounded by, my googles managed to stay on my head! An ocean swim without goggles would have been brutal if not impossible… The only issue was my straps were now in a bad place and my right google started to fill up with salt water. The burn in my eye caused me to stop twice on the way back to empty and readjust the goggles. Just a small mishap to overcome which could have been much worse.

Results: 1:02:15 (OA – 612/2455, M25-29 – 62/105)

T1

There was around 400 racers exiting the water within a few minutes of me. This is one of the biggest issues of having a mass start where a huge majority of the field are at the same caliper level. Because of the congestion around the bike mount location, I ended up packing my bike shoes in my T1 bag rather than on my bike. This paid off for a fairly quick T1 and first bike split.

Results: 00:02:54

Bike

This is where things would get interesting… My biking has really started to become my standout strength and have been having some solid long rides up to this race. I set out to push a pretty aggressive bike of 245 watts given I would be riding in 88 degree lava fields with full sun for the entirety of the ride. I knew if I could ride well for the entire race, I would be able to make up some serious ground lost in the swim and put myself within the top 5 AG contention.

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Right when I jumped on my bike, my heart rate sensor was not connecting to my Garmin, but luckily my power meter was. After a few times trying to connect, I gave up knowing it was probably best I didn’t know what it was in this Kona sun!

At the start of the bike, I had about 600 racers out in front of me, most within just a few minutes. This led to some crazy jam packed roads… In theory, every rider should be over 6 bike lengths away from the rider in front to avoid a drafting call. This was nearly impossible with this many riders on the road covering such a short distance. I pushed quite a bit harder than I was hoping to, often riding at my threshold to pass the largest groups in hopes of clear roads in front of me. I was so nervous about not making a pass fast enough (drafting call) that I was seriously anxious to see some open roads.

I spoke with a friend before the race and he told me that the roads should open up around the 30-40 mile mark. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for me… At about 40 miles in, I had already passed over 300 hundred riders, riding in the left lane for nearly the entire time. Yet all I could see in front of me was a single file row of bikers. I continued to ride left, only being passed by two riders for the entire first half of the bike. At mile 47, I got my first ever dreaded penalty call for not completing a pass fast enough after I just caught a pack I worked so hard to chase down. After that, I backed off on the power, not too eager to make big group passes all the way to the turnaround in Hawi. Lesson learned is that the next time I race Kona, I have to come in a much stronger swimmer and also push it quite a bit harder swimming than I normally would. If I can knock off 3 minutes or so on the swim (easier said then done), that would put me within the top 300. That would be a much more manageable number of passes on the bike… Coach Laura, let’s get to work!

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At the turn around, I had worked my way up from 62nd to 25th AG and only 4 minutes down on top 5 with a good 50 miles left on the bike. On the way back, the field finally strung out a little bit. I put my head down and road my planned power for the majority of the back half, catching people quite a bit faster as they began to fade. Looking at the splits against my competitors, this is where I started to make up the most ground. Not having all the power surges and focusing on riding “my” race helped me to really get into the zone. That all changed at mile 96 of the bike. I was riding with my head down, occasionally lifting head to get a feel for how fast I am approaching other riders. Right before I arrived to the aid station, I lift my head and someone is changing a flat tire IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! The shoulder is a good three feet wide, so why he didn’t see a need to move over is beyond me. Anyways, I swerved around him and struck a water bottle someone tossed before the aid station. At that point, everything happened in slow motion as my brain realized the ending was not going to be good… I tried to correct my steering left-right-left, and by the third correction my wheel was completely sideways. I learned the hard way that wheels don’t like to spin when they are turned sideways and I was quickly ejected over the handlebars at 20+ mph. I completed about ¾ of a flip and landed real hard on my hip/back. I never screamed so loud in my life as it felt like I broke my pelvis, to the point where I had zero pain from all of the other road rash I suffered.

I blew a flat tire in the crash and I was in zero shape to change it. None of the volunteers were able to help me if I wanted to keep racing, so I had to wait a good 20 minutes for the bike support to show up and get me back on my bike. At that point, my race was “over” and just wanted to get back to transition to let my parents and friends know that I was okay. I hopped on my bike and slowly made my way back to transition, just trying to loosen up my hip. Right up to the crash at mile 96, and excluding the 5 min penalty, I was averaging 23.9 mph. This definitely would have led to a bike split PR for me. Oh well, that just how life goes sometimes! In all, I lost a little over 30 minutes from mishaps on the bike, but more importantly, my hip was in pretty bad shape going into T2.

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Results: 5:17:52 (OA – 666/2455, M25-29 – 60/105)

T2

When I rolled into T2, I was feeling pretty emotionless, having the crash drain everything out of me. I slowly put all my running gear on and made my way over to the medical tent. I was in no hurry to start my 26.2 mile sufferfest… In medical I got bandaged up and took some ibuprofen. After spending the better part of 10 minutes in transition, I decided it was probably time to test the run.

Results: 00:10:20

Run

I knew it would hurt, I just didn’t know how bad… As I started to “run”, each step was pretty painful on my hip. A few minutes in was the first time I saw my parents. I knew they were so relieved to see that I was okay, knowing something must have happened on the bike course. I broke down and all I could muster was an “I’m sorry”. So many people support me and I was so disappointed in myself for crashing at my biggest race of the year. They quickly lifted my spirits and I kept my feet turning.

About two miles in, my running “shuffle” was still giving my hip a lot of grief. Mentally, I was not prepared to walk another 24.2 miles. I pulled off the course at the second aid station and told some volunteers I was pulling out of the race. After a few minutes talking with them, they convinced me to keep going. This was the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! I’ll be forever grateful for those three volunteers, because without them I would be thinking about the disappointment of quitting for many years to come.

As the miles ticked by, my hip seemed to loosen up a little bit. The ibuprofen must have been working! At that point, I decided to finish the race in the least amount of pain and effort possible. I really wanted to “enjoy” the race. I started running alongside other racers, no longer competitors, and heard some very amazing stories about their journeys. I no longer wanted to “beat” the person next to me, but now wanted to help them get to the finish line. I would start walking with someone that seemed to be struggling and we would then run together, pushing each other to keep going. Despite the slow speed, the back half of this IRONMAN run was the most enjoyable run I’ve ever experienced. It truly was the Hawaiian definition of “Aloha”, which is to have love, peace, and compassion for one another. This race and trip to Hawaii has been life changing for me.

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Results: 04:19:20 (OA – 1257/2455, M25-29 – 77/105)

Overall Results

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It’s so easy to be disappointed with failure. Especially when it comes at the most important time. To be honest, I’ve hung my head quite a bit about crashing and how my race played out. A race that I have thought about every day for the last two years. But the more I reflect on the race, the more proud I am for not giving up and realizing how lucky I am to have such amazing support. Everyone from all of my friends and family that came to Hawaii with me, my coaches Blake and Laura, my awesome Sponsors, and all of my friends following along. Your support is greatly appreciated!

The disappointment and lessons learned from this race will be used as fuel for 2018. Excited to get back to work!

Overall Results: OA – 943rd out of 2455, AG – 75th out of 105, 10:52:41

Below is my tentative schedule for 2018:

2/10                      Seroogy’s 15k – C

3/18                     70.3 Puerto Rico                            

5/5                        70.3 St. George                              

6/3                        Green Bay Olympic – TBD

6/10                     70.3 Wisconsin

7/14                     70.3 Muncie                                    

8/12                      70.3 Benton Harbor – TBD

9/9                        140.6 Wisconsin                             

11/3                      140.6 Florida – TBD

Ironman Santa Rosa Race Report

IRONMAN Santa Rosa Race Report – July 29th, 2017

Well, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches… IRONMAN Santa Rosa was one of two races I’ve circled on my race calendar for 2017 after winning IRONMAN Louisville last October. I was really excited to prove to myself that I could put up another big performance and showcase all of my hard work I’ve put into this off-season. I had a tune-up half Ironman race in Wisconsin in early June and was starting to feel better than ever. I was setting myself up for that “perfect” Ironman build, or so I thought… The very first build weekend I went down for the count with a foot tendon issue (tibialis anterior tendinopathy) which is basically tennis elbow for your foot. This completely sidelined my running during the entire five week build and any time I would even attempt a run would result in a setback. During those five weeks, I was filled with frustration, anger, disappointment, you name it. I felt completely helpless knowing my best medicine was time and rest…  As I got closer to the IRONMAN, I gave up on attempting any “trial” runs. The next time I would be running, it would towards the finish line at Santa Rosa!1

At the end of a long day in Santa Rosa, I ended up 6th overall with a time of 9:16:56. I’m quite pleased with how the day played out. What I really took away from this race is that you really don’t need to have a “perfect” build to perform well. Your fitness you’ve built up over the year(s) of consistent training is just as, if not more, important than the build itself, so don’t count yourself out if things don’t go according to plan… I also learned that I need to deal with injuries on the mental side better. I was hanging my head way to much thinking my perfect race is over. I’ve learned from Santa Rosa that I love to race IRONMAN because of the journey and comradery, not because of what place I get… When things don’t go to plan in the future, I’m confident I’m much more ready to roll with the punches now! Below is a summary how my day unfolded.

Leading Up

We flew into Santa Francisco Wednesday night and made our way over to Santa Rosa on Thursday. I was in awe of the beauty of Sonoma County. Everything from the mountains, vineyards, wildlife, blue sky and perfect weather made me strongly consider throwing my plane ticket back home away! What a great place to have an IRONMAN!

We rented a house about 25 mins outside of town and completely in the thick of wine country. It was nice to stay away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The main focus the day before the race was to keep off my foot as much as possible and keep the nerves in check. A glass of Sonoma’s finest helped me hit those goals! It would be an early night with the alarm clock set for 3 am…

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Morning of

After a rude awakening by my alarm clock, I put down my usual breakfast smoothie that I scale depending on my calorie needs. For this IRONMAN, I targeted 1400 calories that turned out to be equivalent to an entire pitcher full… I nearly vomited trying for that last gulp, I think I need to consider some denser calories for IRONMAN racing next go around… After breakfast, we drove up to Sonoma Lake which was about 30 mins outside of Santa Rosa. I quickly went through and got my bike set up and tried to figure out how Transition 1 worked. I asked a good eight people before I figured out how the whole setup worked. Literally every other person would tell me something different or be completely confused themselves. I probably should have done my homework! After chatting with my swim coach, I made my way down to the swim start. Time to do this thing!

Swim

Lake Sonoma rarely gets above 70 degrees, so it was a pretty much guarantee that it was going to be a wetsuit swim, or so I thought… With record high temps so far this year pushed the lake temp all the way up to 76.1 degrees, missing a non-wetsuit cutoff by just a couple of tenths! When it gets that hot, you are actually hoping for it to be a non-wetsuit because it can get quite toasty in a full sleeved wetsuit.

With all of the unknowns of this race for me, my primary goal of the swim was to swim moderately comfortable and exit the water feeling good and relaxed. If I hit my sub one hour goal, great! This was a self-seeded swim start that would start right at sunrise (6:10 am). I’m definitely starting to enjoy these self-seeded swim starts as you still get all of the “fast” guys at the front, yet you don’t have to be nearly as concerned about “missing” the pack at a wave start.  I started at around 50th place in line and was in the water within a minute after the cannon went off. The first stretch of this two loop course, I tried to stay relatively comfortable and grab onto a draft when I could. Right when we turned unto the backstretch of the first loop is when the race started to get interesting… All of a sudden there was a thick layer of fog and we were staring directly into the sunrise. I literally could not see a sighting buoy until it was within five feet of me. All you could really do is follow people in front of you and hope the herd of cattle were heading in the right direction!

After I exited the water at the end of the first loop, they were just finishing up getting all of the 2000 participants into the water for the first time. This meant it was going to be fairly congested this time around, one of my main complaints with a two looped system. I found myself swimming in terrible position quite a bit where the buoys were on our right and I’d be on the far left of the pack. This adds up to a lot of extra yards on a course with this many turns. I definitely need to continue to work on my navigation around swim courses in the future. All in all, I accomplished my goal of feeling very good and refreshed exiting this beautiful swim course with a less then optimal swim time. My swim coach, Laura, and I will keep working hard on that!

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Results: OA – 87th out of 2149, AG – 17th out of 109, 1:03:18 (1:30/100 yds)

T1

Definitely the longest T1 I’ve done to date! They make you run up a very steep boat ramp a good 1/3rd of a mile, zig-zag around transition and the changing tents, before finally making your way to your bike. This transition can cause your heart rate to fly through the roof if you let it. I was also very nervous about hurting my tendon running uphill. It would have been a very long day if it got aggravated early… I ended up taking it very easy and made my way to my bike.

Results: 05:18

Bike

Being a relatively weaker swimmer, it’s always fun to blast by people early on the bike to give you that much needed mental boost. I did zero recon on this bike course ahead of time, but from what I heard it would be fairly hilly and technical in the first half then nearly pancake flat in the second. Given the temperature would be in the mid 80’s during the run, I targeted a moderate bike power of 245 watts. I would play it fairly conservative in the first half working on getting my heart rate down and “flattening” the hills, then put out very consistent power in the back half. Hopefully this would mean make up significant ground on the leaders later in the day. For the most part, I raced my race, but man there was some fast swimmers AND bikers out there today!

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The first few miles leaving transition were a rush! It was a fairly steep downhill down some pretty curvy and technical roads where you are going well over 40 mph. Being a good bike handler, I was able to zip by most people and even caught up with someone riding their top tube in aero. He must have thought he was in the Tour de France or something! At the bottom of the decent came the fairly consistent rolling hills. None of them were too significant in length, but was certainly steeper than I was expecting, especially after looking at the elevation map of the course. For the next 30 miles, I’d ride consistent power and slowly make more and more passes. There was just one guy that blew by me like a bat out of hell and seemed to vanish into the sunrise… I’d go the entire race without seeing him again, yet he never finished the race. Hopefully he’s alright!

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At mile 30, there was an out-and-back for a couple of miles. This was the first time I could tell where I was placed. There was already people finishing the out-and-back as I arrived and a good 20 people on that stretch. This was definitely disheartening, but kept telling myself there is a lot of race left and keep telling myself to race my race. I also was putting a heavy emphasis on nutrition and hydration, taking a Huma gel every 10 miles and Gatorade Endurance in all of the miles in-between. This came out to roughly 400 calories/hr which was spot on for this race. The next 30 miles were pretty uneventful as we headed into town and to the start of our two flat loops.

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The loop wasn’t nearly as fast as I was expecting because we had some winds start to kick up, but man did I feel strong! I definitely felt like I was holding myself back the entire bike! I knew I would be needing all the extra energy I could get on the run, and just kept slowly ticking away at more and more riders. On the back half of the race, there was about a  2 mile section of absolutely terrible roads. It was really my only complaint about this entire race, but man it was definitely was something to complain about… The first time through, I was reaching for nutrition and was nearly launched off of my bike when the rough patch came out of nowhere. After getting it together, I just held on for dear life for the next two miles. You really couldn’t avoid the potholes because the entire road was absolutely covered. To make matters worse, there was sporatic shade which made the rough patches really sneak up on you. Luckily, I kept it upright and had a nice chiropractor adjustment in the process!

Coming into transition I was absolutely pumped because I felt so strong and was flying by riders at the end. With the bike power I had in additon to how I felt, I really was expecting to be in the top 3 or 5 at the most coming into T2. My sails were completely deflated when I saw about a dozen bikes sitting on the racks…

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Results: OA – 6th out of 2149, AG – 2nd out of 109, 4:51:01 (23.09 mph)

T2

I flew into T2, handed my bike off to a volunteer, and then made my way into the changing tents. A lot of negative thoughts were flying thinking my day was over. I just tried to bring it in and focus on the task at hand, a short little 26.2 mile run…

Results: 03:15

Run

I rarely was able to get out of my aero position on the second half of the flat bike course. This lead to my lower back being completely locked up at the start of the run. One positive was that this shifted my focus away from my foot tendon! I knew the back would loosen up eventually, so I just tried to stay calm and focused. I broke this course down in thirds, which was awfully convenient considering it was a three lapped course. The first lap was all about playing it conservative, just like I had in Louisville. I put up a 148 HR (Zone 2) cap as well as a 7:00/mi cap. On the second lap, I would remove any speed cap and let my HR up another 5 beats or so if I was feeling good. I knew my lack of running fitness would catch up on me in the third lap, so that would be TBD…

After about four miles, my lower back loosened up and I was feeling great! I was holding steady 7:00-7:15 miles and had a nice and low HR (144 BPM). Being self admittedly, not the fastest racer in high heat, I tried something new in this race. I ended up wearing a cooling towel around my neck and would dump cold water on it at every aid station. Given the temp was in the 80’s, this sure felt nice! Although it certainly was not a “magic bullet”, I’m confident it marginally helped me to maintain a cool core temp. I would also dump ice down the front of my jersey every chance I could get! I started to pass a few people and just had one person, Matt Ison, the eventual 3rd place finisher blast by me running about 6:30 miles.  I made it about halfway through the run before the heat and lack of running fitness slowly started to catch up to me…

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At that point, it just turned into survival mode and damage control… I literally started to cramp everywhere. I’ve never had to rely too heavily on extra salt, but it was definitely my saving grace for that second half of the run. Every time I would start to feel the tingling sensation in my quads, I’d take a good lick of base salt. After a few mins, the sensation would disappear before sneaking up on me again the next mile. I repeated this routine until I was licking base salt every ¼ mile! Let’s just say I went through an entire container of base salt in the last miserable hour and a half… I ended up walking and even stopping at every aid station to try and cool my body down. At one point, I grabbed an entire gallon of water off the aid station and dumped it over my head. Let’s just say I was in survival mode!

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Luckily, it looked like a few people were hurting as much as I was and I slowly made my way up the leader board. I ended up pacing behind an EMJ guy, John Savage, for the last 7 miles or so. He was definitely a class act and we would exchange high fives at various turn arounds. That definitely helped me dig deep and work WITH him to rope in a guy or two at the end.

Their mile markers were all placed in wrong spots throughout the course. The last “mile” was a good 1.6 miles and I began to think I would never see the finish line! Once I turned the corner and saw the finish chute, I was so relieved this long day was finally coming to a close. Phew…

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Results: OA – 9th out of 2149, AG – 3rd out of 109, 3:14:04 (7:24 min/mi)

Overall Results

I ended up finishing 6th overall in a very competitive race. I am definitely pleased with how this race turned out considering what I’ve been through the last month and a half. I raced with no regrets and left it all on the race course. What more could you ask for?!

After putting about a dozen ice packs all over my sore legs and downing a plate of sushi, we went and watched two other Team BBMC racers finish, Dan Luhman and Darin Spindler. There is so much energy around the finish line, it is definitely something worth sticking around for after you finish. The next morning was awards where the 25-29 AG showed their dominance with the top 5 all in the top 8 overall!

Overall Results: OA – 6th out of 2149, AG – 3rd out of 109, 9:16:56

Racing IRONMAN is definitely a team effort and I’m blessed to have one of the best! Thank you to my family and friends for all of the support and encouragement. It definitely helps me dig deep knowing people believe in me. A special thank you to my swim coach, Laura Becherer, and her daughter, Kelley Becherer for making the trip to California to watch me race. Thank you to my chiropractor, and ART guru, Dr. Tislau for your work in getting my sore foot to the start (and finish) line! Thank you to my triathlon coach, Blake Becker, and the rest of Team BBMC for getting me ready to race despite the setbacks.

Last, but not least, thank you to my amazing sponsors that allow me to race with the best on the best equipment! Thank you to Quintana Roo, I definitely feel like a rocket ship on the PRsix! Thank you to Zone 3 USA, the Vanquish wetsuit has been hands down the most comfortable wetsuit I’ve been in. Thank you to Epix gear for designing the most flashy race suit on the course! Thank you to Huma Gels which continue to allow me to hammer it on the race course and have zero worries about GI issues. Those days are long and gone for me! Thank you to Creekside Chiropractic for keeping my body functioning at a high level. Active Release Therapy (ART) has been my secret weapon to recovering quickly! Thank you to Attitude Sports for providing the best mechanical services around and keeping my equipment dialed in!

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IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin Race Report

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.

Morning of

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!

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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…

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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…

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Results: 80th out of 2,452 – 29:57 (1:25/100yd)

T1

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.

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Results: 02:46

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!

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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…

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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)

T2

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.

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Results: 1:31

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….

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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!

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Results: 8th out of 2,452 – 1:28:59 (6:47/mi)

 

Overall Results

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”.

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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!

Boston Marathon Race/Tourist Report

Compete with the very best runners in the world at the Boston Marathon – mission accomplished! The race didn’t unfold like I wanted it to. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared and confident you are heading into a race, some days just don’t go quite like you’ve planned. Although the last 10 miles were brutally painful, I’m proud of myself for NEVER refusing to QUIT!

Our memorable weekend kicked off with seeing Eric Church in Milwaukee Friday night. The Bradley center was packed with 18,000 screaming fans. There was so much energy in that place with that many people! Then I realized that was nothing… I’d be toeing the line with 30,000 adrenaline filled runners and nearly a million spectators on Monday. Leaving the concert, I was pumped! LET’S GO!

After the concert Friday night, we had to drive to Chicago to our hotel. We finally rolled into our hotel around 2 am and got a couple hours of sleep before we had to get to the airport for our 8 am departure. Yeah, we were a little sleep deprived on Saturday… You only live once.  Suck it up, buttercup! This was our first time flying to a race which added to the excitement of our mini-vacation.

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Luckily, we had a direct flight on the way out so we had a full day to tour Boston. One of the main reasons to run Boston (not being much of an “open” marathoner), was to visit my cousin, Tony, and his wife, Steph, who live in Charlestown. It was so cool staying with people that knew the city inside and out. It was like we had a tour guide everywhere we went.  There is so much history in Boston, it was a little bit overwhelming trying to take it all in. Nearly every building had a story which dated back to our independence. God bless the USA!

I should really start off by saying we made the decision to put our vacation to Boston first and racing  second. Saturday and Sunday were full of tourist activities, logging 39,000 steps. Phew! On Saturday, we tried to test the strength and will-power of my stomach. We threw everything we could at it. New England clam chowder/bread bowls, raw oysters, pitchers of Samuel Adams beers, a freaking 2 lb lobster! Oh yeah, and cannolis! Everything I ate, I just kept telling myself if it added 2 mins to my time, it was worth it! Waking up Sunday still full from my indulgences the previous day with a stomach that felt like it went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson in a boxing ring, I was starting to wonder if what I ate Saturday was a good idea… Yes, yes it was! Time for a massive brunch with mimosas! Sunday afternoon, I started to detox myself with many glasses of water and some spaghetti. I mean, I do have to run a marathon the next day… By Sunday night, my gut returned back to normal and I was ready to give it a go!

I woke up on Marathon Monday at around 6 am with a solid 8 hours of sleep. I had minimal nerves and for the most part, felt like I had potential to put together a very solid race. I got dropped off at the buses which takes us to the start of the Boston marathon in Hopkinton. It was nearly an hour bus ride before we got dropped off at the athlete village. The weather was mid-70’s and full sun during race day which was a little bit of a shock to the system for this Wisconsin racer. Luckily, there was tons of hydration on the course which made the temperature bareble. The race itself was a net downhill race that goes east and finished downtown Boston. This course is notorious for the long downhills which I grossly underestimated. More on that shortly…

I didn’t have to wait long in the athlete village before they started to corral the Wave 1 runners to the start line. I lined up right at the divide between corral 1 and corral 2 runners, which put about 800-1000 runners in front of me. It was pretty cool when they lead the 100+ elite women and men past us, close enough to give out a few high fives! The $150,000 prize for 1st brought the very best talent to this race. I tried to keep my addrenaline and excitement in check after brushing shoulders with the elites. My efforts didn’t last long after having a pair of F-16 fighter jets fly over our heads. Game on!

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I put down a Huma gel 10 minutes before the race start. Right at 10 o’clock, the gun went off and the flood gates gave way to the thousands of anxious runners. My goal for the race was to average around 6:15 min/mile. All of my long runs leading up, I did a good chunk of the miles at “race pace”. The first six miles included mostly downhill right out of the gates. I immediately got to my race pace (a little bit faster), and although my HR was unusually high, the pace felt effortless.

Running shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of people running the exact same speed as me (~ 10 mph)  was INSANE! You didn’t dare running anywhere but straight… If an aid station was on the other side of the road you were running on, there would be little chance you could navigate over without tripping up other runners. It took me a few aid stations before I got the hang of it and comitted to a side of the road. I really tried to stay on top of hydration given the weather for the day. I would put down as many cups of gatorade or water I could get my hands on at every aid station (usually 2-3), followed by a cup or two over my head to help keep cool. This is one area I executed pretty well which helped to minimize the effects of the weather on race day.

At mile 8, I ran past my wife, Liz, and Tony and Steph. I thought no way I would see them during the race. It was a great surprise to see them, and at that point I felt like I was still on track to execute my race plan/time of 2:40-2:45.  The number of spectators on the course was way more than I could have ever imagined. Literally the entire 26.2 mile course was packed shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road with hundreds of thousands of screaming spectators. Who knew a marathon could be so exciting?!

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Things started to take a turn for the worse at mile 12 when I started to feel sharp stinging pain in my quads. I expected this type of pain at mile 20, but knew it was not a good sign of things to come to have this feeling this early in the race… I kept trucking along for the next few miles without any more added discomfort until we had a good ½ mile+ descent. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill at mile 16, my quads were absolutely destroyed! At that point, I changed from race mode to survival mode… I knew I wasn’t going to hit my time I wanted, now I just needed to minimize the damage.

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Each gut wrenching mile after that, my pace went slower and slower and my HR began to drop. It didn’t take long for my 6:20 miles to become 7+ min/miles. I tried my hardest to try and get my legs to turn over faster and they absolutely refused. Each pain-staking step sent shooting pain up my quads. I would breathe a huge sigh of relief to see any kind of uphill to relieve the pounding impacts on my legs. The last 6 miles was a real mental challenge as I had hundreds of runners passing me and everyone made it look so effortless to cruise to the downhill finish. Each step I took, I just repeated to myself that “pain is temporary” and put tunnel vision on to block out all of the runners and spectators around me. I have never been so relieved to see the finish line! I finished with a time of 2:53:31 (6:38 min/mi pace), quite a bit off of where I wanted. I was still proud none-the-less for racing “tough” and completing such an iconic race.

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I didn’t have too much time to lick my wounds after finishing around 1 pm in the afternoon as we had to catch our flight just a few hours later. It was one long flight and drive home on Monday. My bed never felt so good! I was back to work on Tuedsay and starting my road to recovery. It’s taken a good week for my quads to start to feel somewhat back to normal and for me not to cringe thinking about running downhill!

One thing I did nail at this race was my hydration and nutrition. Getting on top of my hydration levels early is crucial being a heavy sweater. I probably drank a good 80+ ounces of gatorade and water. I put down 4 huma gels (400 calories) throughout the day (before, 7 mi, 15 mi, 21 mi) and had absolutely zero stomach issues. It’s definitely been a lot of trial and error to nail my nutrition and hydration plan. I’m pretty excited that those issues are in my past!

Thank you, Tony and Steph, for being such great hosts! Also, thank you all of my friends and family (especially my wife, Liz) for the amazing support! Thank you coach Blake Becker for getting me ready to race. Thank you, Dr. Tislau, at Creekside Chiropractor for your amazing work getting me recovered from this race. I’m back into heavy training mode and ready for my triathlon season to start. I’ll defend my win at a local duathlon in a few weeks, then kick off my triathlon season in June at Wisconsin Ironman 70.3. I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder for not having a great race and ready to start hammering my training!

Thank you to all of my triathlon sponsors, Quintana Roo, Epix Gear, Zone 3 USA, Creekside Chiropractic, Attitude sports, and Huma Chia gels. Lets get this season started!

Average Joe to Ironman Champ – A reflection of 2016

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I found triathlon a few years ago after graduating college. Up until this year, it was nothing more than a hobby and a fun way to stay in shape during those summer months. I found that the more I trained, the more beers and bratwursts I was able to eat while tailgating at Brewers games. That was my prime motivator at the time. Only in Wisconsin! After my 2015 season, after tasting some success at my first full ironman and really falling in love with the sport, I made the commitment to see how far I could push myself in triathlon. I’ve never really considered myself as a runner, biker, or swimmer and still don’t to this day. I knew my mental toughness and drive could give me some success, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to WIN an Ironman, in my first year none the less.

The last few months I’ve had a chance to reflect on how I got to where I am today and where I’d like to go. I’ve learned so much this year and continue to learn more about myself and this sport. Although I could come up with a list 100 pages long, I’ll save you the pain and narrowed it down to six keys lessons learned this year.

  1. Get a coach!

It really does not matter whether you are training for your first ironman and just trying to finish or a seasoned veteran on the cusp of turning professional, you will benefit greatly by working with a coach. For me, this was hands down the smoking gun to my success for 2016. I started working with Blake Becker (team BBMC), a pro out of Madison, WI. I saw continual improvements on a near weekly basis in all three sports. It’s been so rewarding seeing all that hard work pay off. In the past, sure I worked hard, but I certainly didn’t improve at the rate I am improving right now. Not even close! There was many times in the past where I’d continue to push hard only to see my performance plateau. A good coach will know how to minimize this by continually changing the training stimulus which allows for physical adaptation.

What my coach also helped me with is to time when I should be pushing hard and when I should be easing off the gas to make sure I am on form, healthy, and in peak fitness for your most important race of the year. For me, this was Ironman Louisville.

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There are a lot of great coaches out there, especially in the Madison area. Referrals are a great place to start when looking for a coach. However, make sure that their coaching styles align with your needs. Are you someone that needs motivation to do a workout? Are you looking for constant communication or someone just to schedule your workouts? Everyone’s needs are different and so are the coaching styles. Triathlon can be an expensive sport, consider a coach as an investment to help keep you healthy and have the race you have always dreamed about!

I’ve decided to work with a swim coach, Laura Becherer, a few days a week for 2017. To reach that next level, my swimming needs to improve drastically. So far working with Laura, I’ve already seen some improvements and drops in splits. I’m super excited about the direction my swimming is going. Who knows, she may even make a swimmer out of me?!

  1. Consistency in training is paramount

I do believe that the best training advice you can give someone is to be consistent with their training. It can be tough to train year round, especially during the winter months in the Northern climate. However, if you want to have the most success you can, those winter months are crucial! This time should really be used as technique sessions and fitness maintenance so when spring rolls around you can hit the ground running without feeling like you are starting from ground zero. Too often people work their tails off building fitness through the summer then completely let off the gas during the winter. When spring rolls around, they found they’ve lost all of their fitness they have built from the previous summer and are likely in the exact same position as the year before, or worse! Trust me, I definitely fell into this category leading up to this year… Following a plan and training with groups is a great way to stay motivated during this time along with any other time.

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  1. Mental toughness – How bad do you want it?

I read a great book on sports psychology this year called “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Matt Fitzgerald, an elite runner and sports writer. It really taught me to embrace the suck! Too often people fear the pain they are going to feel at the end of a race. This oftentimes holds them back from reaching their fullest potential. Going into this year, I really was traumatized by horrible experiences in my first few triathlons and running races due to mistakes in pacing and nutrition (later on that shortly…). For fear of re-experiencing those pains, I’d find myself holding myself a little too far back and realizing I had more to give after crossing the finish line. Regardless of your finishing time, there really is no better satisfaction in knowing you left it all out on the course. This book really helped me turn the corner and reach my potential this year.

Although there was certainly races this year where I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked, for the most part I gave it all that I had each time I toed the line. One race in particular, was Toughman Minnesota. Although it wasn’t a great race for me, it was a GREAT mental test and has helped build that much needed mental toughness. With about 5 miles to go in the run I started to really struggle from the heat and dehydration. At the time I felt like I had my place locked down as I was guessing I had about a 4 min lead on the next person when we reached the halfway out-and-back point. My pace slowed to well above 7 min miles and I started dreading each step I took. It didn’t take long before I had someone bridge the gap and was about 1 min behind me with 3 miles to go. Three miles doesn’t sound like much, but it felt like an eternity. I knew that this race was going to be a failure if I let him beat me and would have certainly hurt my confidence heading into Ironman Louisville. I would not let temporary pain ruin my race! At one point he was less than 10 seconds behind me judging by crowd noise (I was too scared to look…). I was literally pushing with everything I had yet still couldn’t get any separation. I held my position by 15 seconds crossing that finish line. I literally couldn’t take another step…

The key to my success this year certainly isn’t my natural ability in these sports, but my deep desire to push myself as far as I can day-in and day-out. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? Bad enough to deal with some TEMPORARY pain!

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  1. The 4th discipline – Nutrition

I ran my first marathon when I was 17 to get my mind off of a neck injury that took me out of high school sports. It was a complete disaster… I trained so hard for it and followed my training plan to the T. I did my 20 mile runs. I had a race plan I was confident in. I was ready, or so I thought… So why was this race so bad? One thing I didn’t consider was nutrition. Having really no experience or mentors, I trained without nutrition. Come race time, apparently I thought it was a good idea to eat as many GUs as I could. Anyone who is familiar with this product can probably guess the outcome… Needless to say, I spent a good 30 minutes in porta-potties every mile or two for the second half of the race. It took me over five years to toe any race line again after that debacle.

I continued to use GU products in my triathlon career as that is what is typically offered out on the course. I have learned the hard way my body does not like this product. Each time I raced it was like I was playing Russian roulette. I often lost more than I won. It was so frustrating because I would train without issues with this product, but when it came time to race with higher intensities and stresses I would have GI issues more times than not.

That all changed when I tried HUMA gels at the Green Bay Marathon Expo earlier this year. This product is made out of Chia seeds and natural fruit juices. Reading the ingredients of this product versus GU’s it’s easy to understand which one would be easier on the stomach… I have literally had ZERO issues after completely making the switch to this product during the second half of my 2016 race season.  Never will I again choke down one of those GU packets! If you are interested in the product, please contact me and I can get you a discount.

Now there are a lot of options out there for nutrition that may work awesome for someone but not great for you. Before you completely switch based on recommendations, I recommend you try various products in your training. One thing I did a lot more of in my training is race simulations where I would do long race pace intervals while practicing my nutrition plan. I was more confident in my nutrition plan going into Ironman Louisville than I have ever been.

  1. Listen to your body

One thing I currently struggle at and will be working really hard at in 2017 is listening to my body. One downside of my drive is if there is a workout on my calendar, I will do it at all costs. I’ve learned that I am not invincible many times in 2016… Once I started training hard, more often than not a nagging injury would pop up. My back, calf, knee, shoulder, etc… At this rate, I will not be in this sport for as long as I would like unless I start taking better care of my body and putting my health in front of my workouts. Four areas where I will be focusing on to keep my body healthy in 2017 are:

  • ART therapy (Active Release Technique) sessions
  • Mobility work and dynamic warmups
  • Understanding the difference between being sore and the start of an injury and having flexibility in workouts when the latter occurs
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet

Before Ironman Louisville, I had an eight week stretch where I was training really hard and was feeling stronger than ever. Three weeks out, my luck ran out and I had a knee injury that left me completely sidelined. I was in pain just standing at my desk. I was desperate and was calling doctors and chiropractors to see what could be done. I was ready to try anything and everything. After a referral from a good friend, I got in contact with Dr. Tislau and Creekside Chiropractic who is licensed to perform ART therapy. I literally went from completely sidelined to 100 percent in just a couple of sessions with Dr. Tislau. He has made me a believer in ART therapy and will be my secret weapon to keep me healthy and injury free in 2017. If you are serious about your athletic performance I highly suggest you research ART therapy and find someone licensed in your area. It’s a great tool to not only treat injuries but to prevent them before they even occur.

  1. Long Course racing is a team effort

As I’ve started to have some success in my racing career, I more and more realize that to be successful in this sport is a team effort. You cannot be truly great without the support and help from those around you. So many people have impacted my life which have shaped who I am both as an athlete and as a person. Everyone from my old wrestling coach, Mike Kappers, who taught me about mental toughness. My triathlon coach, Blake Becker, who has taught me how to train and race in long course triathlon. My teammates and training buddies, who share their triathlon knowledge and push me to keep getting better. My family and friends, who are there for me no matter the outcome of my races. Last, but not least, my wife who sacrifices her time to let me chase my dreams and pushes me to be my very best.

As we wrap up 2016 I have started to plan out my 2017 race season. Next year will be a HUGE year of racing at some of the most iconic races in the world! Below are some of the races I have planned so far in rank order of priorities:

  • Ironman World Championships, Kona, HI – Oct. 14th
  • Ironman Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, CA – July 29th
  • Ironman Wisconsin 70.3, Madison, WI – June 11th
  • Ironman 70.3 World Championships, Chattanooga, TN – Sept 9th (TBD – Still need to qualify)
  • Boston Marathon, Boston MA – April 17th
  • Toughman Wisconsin, Sherwood, WI – June 17th
  • Neenah Duathlon, Neenah, WI – May 13th
  • Seroogy’s 15k, Green Bay, WI – Feb 11th

I have some great sponsors set up for 2017.

  • Quintana Roo – The founder of the “triathlon specific” bike design who continually changes the bike scene with their revolutionary designs. http://www.quintanarootri.com/
  • Zone3 USA – One of the most recognized brands in the world specializing in wetsuits, swimwear, and triathlon apparel. https://racezone3.com/us/about-us/
  • Huma Gels – A new and growing nutrition company making all natural (and flavorful!) gel. http://www.humagel.com/company/about/
  • Epix Gear – Making custom clothing designs that stand out from the pack! http://epixgear.com/
  • Creekside Chiropractic – A one stop shop for chiropractic services, ART therapy, and message therapy located in Sheboygan, WI. http://creeksidechiro.com/
  • Attitude Sports – Full service bike shop located in Fond Du Lac, WI. I’ve been bringing my bike to Dave Haase for a few years now. There is no one I trust more to get my bike ready to race! http://www.attitudesports.com/

If you or your business would like to be a part of my team for 2017, please reach out to me for details! I look forward to representing these brands both on and off of the race course!

 

 

 

 

 

Ironman Louisville

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!

Day Before

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.

Morning of

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

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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)

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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.

Results: 00:03:38

Bike – 112 miles

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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.

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Results: OA – 2nd out of 2652, AG – 1st out of 150 – 04:51:18 (23.1 mph)

T2

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.

Results: 00:03:14

Run – 26.2 Miles

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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.

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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.

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Results: OA – 1st out of 2652, AG – 1st out of 150 – 03:04:15 (07:01/mi)

Overall Results

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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!

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Overall Results – 1st out of 2652 – 09:01:17

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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!

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Chisago Lakes Toughman

Toughman Minnesota (Chisago Lakes) Half Iron – July 24th, 2016

Going into Toughman Minnesota, I’m attempting to race two half ironman’s in back-to-back weekends to cap off my summer racing. Considering I was pretty banged up from racing in Door County the weekend before, this was not going to be an easy task. I’ve been dealing with a nagging calf injury and messed up my lower back after dropping my handlebars days before racing DCT (not a smart move…). Considering the circumstances, I was able to put together a clean race and had another top 5 finish.

Day Before

My parents live in Somerset, WI, which is about 35 mins from this race. I always like to do this race to get home and see the family and let them come watch me without having to travel too far. Saturday morning I went for a ride with my dad. I had to remind him that this was an “easy” ride for me, the old man can still crank some watts!1-1

My little brother’s son, Walter, was baptized the day before so we had a gathering and church which took up most of the afternoon. My oldest brother made the trip from North Dakota for the baptism. It was great having the whole family home which can be quite difficult with everyone’s busy lives. Having everyone home also meant I was going to have the most dominate cheering sections on Sunday! They had their GoPros and cameras ready for an action filled weekend.

On Saturday, I couldn’t sit for more than 15 minutes without being in significant pain from my lower back. I told my coach I would pull out of the race if I wasn’t 90% on Saturday and live to fight another day. Well, I wasn’t even close to that… Throughout the day I would go back and forth trying to figure out if it was a go. Finally, I decided to give it a go and just race SMART and CONSERVATIVE! If I started to feel significant pain, I’d have no shame in pulling out of the race. Game on.

Morning of

My morning was the usual routine. Wake up at around 4:30, pound about an 800 calorie smoothie, and hit the road. I got to the race site and set up my transition. I felt very relaxed, likely because I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to perform well. Definitely a different attitude then I had racing in Door County. At this point I learned that the lake temperature measured at 81 degrees and would not be wetsuit legal. Great, I’d be swimming 1.2 miles in a hot tub… I got a little warm-up swim in and was ready to go.

Swim – 1.2 miles5-1

Having never raced without a wetsuit, I didn’t really know what I could expect for time or how much more difficult it would make the swim. My race plan, which was the theme for this race, was to go out moderate and swim my own race. I pretty much lost feet right out of the gates and just swam very comfortably, thinking about having a smooth stroke and comfortable breathing. I could tell I was pulling a few other swimmers around the course with me. I didn’t try to separate and just stuck to the script. This was definitely the most comfortable I’ve been in a swim, likely from swimming a little easier than I have in the past. I came out of the water around 12th place in the elite wave, close to where I’d expect to be. I’m guessing swimming without a wetsuit added about 2-3 mins to my time.

Results: 19th out of 487 – 33:35 (1:36/100y)

T1

I got through transition pretty quick. After having a disastrous flying mount in DCT, I was very hesitant to attempt it again. This time I took a different approach, however. I jumped on my bike out of T1 but didn’t worry about put my feet into my shoes right away. I wanted to get away from the transition area and then slowly put my feet in which would limit any mistakes. Everything went according to plan. I’m starting to get my transitions down where they are becoming a strength of mine.

Results: 6th out of 487 – 0:49

Bike – 56 miles8-19-1

This bike is a fairly fast course with a long descent and climb right around the halfway point. I knew we would have a tail wind for the first half and a head wind for the second. My plan was to bring my power down about 10 watts from the weekend before and to try to minimize any power surges. I planned on 235 watts and pretty much stuck right on it.

About 15 miles in, the felt backing on my armrest came completely off. There was absolutely nothing holding my armrest pad onto my aero-bars. At this point, it was not a matter of if I was going to lose my armrest, but when… When this happens, I will be forced to rest my elbow (and 40% body weight) on a hard carbon fiber post and the rough side of Velcro. Not only that, but now I would be lowered even further on my aerobars. All I could think of was how bad my lower back was going to hurt! After performing acrobatics on each turn trying not lose my pad, I made it to mile 30 before it was gonzo. Luckily it was on a bottom of a hill where I had a chance to rip off the Velcro from the aero-bars.

The last 20 miles were pretty tough with the headwind, I just tried to get as aero as possible and started roping in more and more riders. With swimming being my weakest sport, meant I wasn’t passed by a single biker. It also means I usually have no clue in what place I am in heading into transition. Judging by the number of bikes, I believed I was in 4th or 5th place (I was in 5th).

Results: 5th out of 487 – 2:18:14 (24.4 mph)

 

T2

I was in transition all by myself, with no sights of anyone in front or behind me. I had a feeling it was going to be a fairly lonely run…

Results: 5th out of 487 – 0:53

Run – 13.1 Miles

I told my family it was going to be a fairly flat and fast run course. I probably should have looked at the run course to find out it was different this year… At this point in the race it was 80 degrees, full sun, and HUMID! The first three miles were uneventful as I headed out of town with still no sights of anyone. Luckily, my injuries weren’t giving me much troubles early on. At mile three we turned on this open, loose gravel road with constant rolling hills. It was very desolate and open with no signs of shade. Hydration was going to be a problem…

I ran past my family at around mile 5, it was definitely a boast I needed. Most of the race there was no signs of racers, spectators, or anything else which would get me through this run… Not sure how my family made it back on this dirt road, I’m pretty sure it was blocked off. I won’t ask! At this point, I really wanted to get off this dirt road and onto some pavement again. Considering it was an out-and-back course, I realized that was not going to happen…

Getting close to the midway point, I finally saw my first signs of racers. The lead guy had about 7 mins on me. I was probably 3-5 mins back on the 2nd through 4th guys. They looked like they were clipping at a pretty good pace, I was doubtful I could bridge the gap today. After I reached the turn-around I had a good look on the racers coming up from behind me. It seemed like I had about 3 minutes on the next guy so I wasn’t overly concerned about getting caught at this point. That would change…

At mile 8 or so, things started to change for the worse. The heat was really starting to get to me and it felt like my shoes were made out of concrete. Each aid station I would dump multiple cups over my head which meant I was running in completely soaked shoes (I’d later lose 2 toe nails because of this…). My brother passed me in his car and told me the next guy was still a ways back so I tried not to panic and just keep running steady. I tried not to think about what was going on behind me and just put one foot in front of the other.

Just before mile 11, I peeked over my shoulder and saw the 6th place guy about 30 seconds behind me. Great. This guy must have been hauling pretty good to have made up over two mins on me. At the time, my pace slowed to over 7 min miles while my HR was crazy high considering the pace (175-180). I knew that if I let this guy beat me, I would have been extremely disappointed in myself and my race performance. I couldn’t let that happen… At this point, I gave it everything I had, near maxing out my HR at 185 bpm. I didn’t want to peak over my shoulder to show any signs of weakness. I’d try gauging how close he was by the cheering as we came into town. At one point, he must have been within 15 seconds of me. I cranked it up another notch to a pace I really didn’t believe I could sustain for another mile. This was definitely the deepest I have ever dug in a race and a lot of things started to blur out for me near the finish.

I crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of him and only 1 min back on the 4th place guy.

Results: 8th out of 487, 1:29:25 (6:50 min/mile)11-3

 

Overall Results

I went into the race pretty banged up and just wanted to have a clean race with minimal errors. I’m pretty pumped I was able to lock of another top 5 finish, especially considering the level of competition we had in Chisago today. Although the run was brutal, and nowhere near enjoyable, it gave me a chance to test my mental toughness. I’ve been reading a good book on sports psychology called “How bad do you want it?”. That phrase is what got me through those last two miles. I’m sure I’ll be asking myself this question again in future races. Hopefully the answer remains “bad enough”!

It was so awesome to have my entire family there cheering me on today. I was in some pretty rough spots on the run today and you guys helped to keep me going. Thanks Mom, Dad, Liz, Andy, Bobby, Shiann, and Walter for making the trip! Thanks again to coach Blake from BBMC for getting me ready for this double.

I have nearly three months until my next race, Ironman Louisville in October. This time off from racing will help me get my body back healthy and get some solid Ironman focused training in. Although I am quite happy with my race performances so far this year, I am extremely confident that my BEST race of the year is ahead of me. Watch out Louisville, I am coming for you!

Overall Results – 5th out of 487, 4:22:5714-1

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