I remember what it feels like to be a triathlete again! I certainly wasn’t successful in terms of what I WANT to do, but I know the opportunity is there. I can certainly claim bits of credit in aiding the return to professional racing in the USA with a smaller scale race at the Bear Lake Brawl, so that’s a huge win for PRO Athletes and a nod to my business sense. And, while that was NEARLY the coldest race I had ever done (I’ll elaborate shortly), IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel was the mother effing hottest race I’ve ever attempted…it also taught me some incredible lessons. The first one is…STICK TO THE PLAN DUDE!! Also - BOTH of these races went above and beyond in terms of COVID-19 prevention. proving WE CAN DO THIS!
Bear Lake Brawl
What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Bear Lake Brawl? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t have and neither would I…but then COVID happened. Yup, COVID-19 has been canceling races since March 2020 but now we SEEM to be on the upswing, albeit if only for a moment. This small amount of “getting our shit together” has allowed some awesome events to take place! Also, because race directors still love their jobs JUST enough to leave the unemployment line and work their asses off. I took the IRONMAN St. George “postponement” as a giant kick to the face since you know, I live here. Then weeks later I notice a “COVID-19 APPROVED” taking place on the same day (19 Sept) and the rest is history.
My race report is very simple and I certainly missed a valuable opportunity. However, the massive sting which occurred on race day was out of my control and I guess in some way that dulls the pain just enough for me to sleep at night. My first ever race-day flat tire and it was when I needed it the least. Of course, leaning out has many benefits when it comes to run speed and bike aerodynamics but it sucks with body-heat management. The race was about 100% colder than I expected! Given the conditions and while I was in this same position once before at IRONMAN Louisville in 2018 where I also was blue-lipped and seeing Elvis while simultaneously failing all known sobriety tests due to extreme wetness and coldness, I am worse in the cold now more than ever, go figure!
A much bigger and stronger storm front rolled into our small corner of Bear Lake, extending our swim course about 1 mile due to a turn buoy blowing away, throwing positive body temperatures and outlook for warmth in the crapper. While we didn’t get rain immediately, it was still enough to utterly popsicle every athlete. I started 20th in a line of 21 professional men and despite the 3 the most insane swim laps ever, came out in 4th, behind a good pal Big Metz. Without rain and with a massive tailwind we were likely dry within 25 minutes and temps were still in the low 50’s with the sun blocked by layers of angry clouds. After the Matt Hanson locomotive and the Sam Long space ship went by on the bike I noticed a few sprinkles. I noticed them a few minutes later as I was drenched. Cut to 30 minutes later I couldn’t shift gears with my fingers and has to use the palm of my hand and forget trying to grasp a bottle. Shivering and dreading the remaining 20 miles on the bike, I just buried myself trying to keep warm and at mile 45 I noticed I was bringing someone back but also, Big Metz was also bringing me back. As I thankfully approached T2 for a 6 mile out and back “mileage grab” I was right on the heels of Ben Kanute, also suffering in the cold because he usually doesn’t race slower than he starts. Quickly and suddenly, the I had suspension on my tri bike as my front wheel went from bouncy to, oh now I’m riding on the rim. After a massive shivering sigh, I hopped off, which was VERY challenging while shivering uncontrollably with ZERO tensile strength in the hands. Then I kinda died a little, knowing I couldn’t even open my flat kit much less precisely insert a new tube in my tire or…even get hold ON my tire. I was just dead in the water, wondering if I could beg someone to even chance my flat but….of course, no one was even nearby in the pouring cold rain. Luckily a lovely family with a bike rack drove me the 2.3 miles back to T2 where I continued to shiver for the next hour while sulking in my truck. So, there you have it….if you took the time to read this, thanks
IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel
Moving on! I still knew IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel was the following weekend and I had to drive 6.5 hours home after Bear Lake, run the next day because…well, DNF’s suck and you have to get back on the horse and quickly pack for a 24-hour travel departure. In retrospect, I’ve raced 100% better off of a 2-day pre-race arrival rather than 6 days. The goal was for some light heat adaptation, recovery, and honestly the chance to travel and hang with my best pals.
Each day in Cozumel was purely about sweat management and how little time we could spend outdoors outside of training. Even after living in Florida for 12 years, it was over 100 on the heat index daily and it sucked. BUT, I felt awesome Monday-Weds in terms of heat and “pep”. We had fun, laughed a LOT, and trained just enough to stay sharp so I was able to arrive fresh-ish on race day. We had awesome weather in terms of no rain and light wind but there were a few race variables I needed to overcome.
First, as there wasn’t any racing as of late, 6 or 7 Mexican ITU athletes were added to the start list and I can say this confidently because it happens EVERY time I race in Mexico…Professional Athlete Draft Packs ARE REAL and this is usually with “officials” riding next to them.
I knew there was a chance I could hang with that group on the swim but with the up-current start, I was still dropped at the turn buoy and just as that 7 dudes got away. The regular fellas I swim with were even still a minute or so back and it was just myself and Tyler Butterfield who came out together.
I immediately settled in, aero as possible, and set a 290-305 watt window until I brought the group back at appx 55 min of riding. This is where I got a bit irritated and was forced to make a choice. Riding up to the pack I could see a direct echelon in the crosswinds, meaning these fellas were close enough to each other to feel WHERE they needed to draft to keep their nose out of the wind…I’m not embellishing. Additionally, I noted the guy on the back sitting up, stretching his back, and generally moving forward without much fervor….also, telling! There was like a 6-8 meter gap between most and since I looked back and saw Tyler and the Sam Long rocket ship coming….I decided to not even mess with this group. I rode around 320-340 watts for 3 minutes and quickly passed that group before we hit the tail-wind section, eventually, Sam came through at the usual “WTF is that pace” and I relegated myself to the 285-296w effort since I was still gradually pulling away from the bunch. I just knew I needed a buffer on the run to keep myself in the top 10. I knew those dudes would have fresh legs and I felt confident I could still run well given my effort and honestly I could have until….The Hanson, Laundry, Butterfield, ITU train rolled back up on me in T2. They apparently knew I wasn’t a threat but when those fellas rode by, they knew they needed to work together. Hindsight being awesome, yea I wish I knew they were only a few minutes down and I would have likely rode 250w solo until I was caught and then could have sat at the LEGAL distance, still saving some watts and mental energy.
Off the bike too hot, then the body was too hot, then I melted on the street and was heartbroken. But, I’m the one to blame this time, no flat tire did me in! I should have just set a heart-rate and pace threshold because holy hell there was NO WAY I should have went out near 5:45 pace when AVG run splits here are like 1h 25m….damn, if only I had just sat in at 10% lower output immediately life would have been different. I wouldn’t have been bonking, shaking my head during some walking, and ultimately, running 7:45 pace with 178 bpm….super frustrating when you’re the biggest problem with your race-day. Anyway, I packed in a 14th place finish off a 2nd place position off the bike, sadly….not the first time I’ve been there. I think when you want something SO badly, you tend to forget some of the previous lessons learned but honestly, I think I just need to make my coach develop some hard-pressed limits when I race in the heat. I keep racing to win when honestly, I need to race with more patience…I’m just not there yet on all 3 disciplines but I’m EFFING close. I can swim in the top 6 most always and I have been top 3 off the bike nearly 8 times so, it’s time to make 2021 my championship year. Otherwise, I’ll like… to lose my mind.
If IRONMAN Arizona and IRONMAN 70.3 Florida happen…. I’m there and I’m coming for top 5’s on both. I suppose you never realize how bad you want something until you continually let it slip through your fingers. Oh and holy shit congrats to Sam Long for a next-level performance and to my pals Jackson, Taylor, Tyler, Kelsey and Flaca for suffering smarter than I did!! They also made this trip incredibly FUN and I’ll still never forget the laughs along the way.
Before I dive straight into the looming race report I think its definitely time to pre-face with some early season notes. Most notably what the heck has been going on over the last few months? For one, you could guess (and be correct) that I’ve been training quite a bit. While, not as much as last year. In 2019 I believe I attended 5 camps before April which was quite the drain come mid-season but I would argue paid off after July since I had some of my best racing to date.
Since the start of 2020 I focused on more of a lighter-camp approach, only attending our annual Braveheart Camp in San Diego at the end of January. My training has also been more focused on suffering in the pain cave, since St. George has some very cold morning as let’s face it, I like to get everything done before 2pm. Undoubtedly, this has added tremendous value as proven what I just did at IRONMAN 70.3 Campeche and there is more to come on that awesome story. I have to also give credit to my best bud Jackson Laundry for coordinating at least 2 weekly ZWIFT rides where we literally rip eachother’s legs off. The biggest stress and time commitment has come in the form of building a strong sponsor support network, developing a small team with Body Health and working on a podcast launch.
SPONSORS for 2020
It’s not secret, I for sure make a strong point to represent and work hard for sponsors that sign on with me. In my personal opinion as an entrepreneur it’s the single most important aspect for my next 10 years of racing. Currently, our great sport provides a small trickle of funding for athletes unless you’re likely ranked in the top 100 and hell, I’m getting close to being part of that network. Regardless, sponsors have the ability to influence, support and provide a better race-centric lifestyle for athletes like me and I love giving the athletes I coach a steep discount for amazing products I actually believe in. Here is my 2020 sponsor list which has been actually built via blood, sweat and tears.
- Reforest Tech - Our Goal is to plant over 1 billion trees via drones!
- BodyHealth- The flag ship product PERFECT AMINO is for real a game changer
- Zoca Gear - Produced in the USA with amazing pricing, Italian materials and FAST reliable service
- Rudy Project - Simply put, amazing pro-level support and better lenses than you will find anywhere else. Their New WING is also stellar and what I’ve been missing for 2 years.
- Blue Seventy - Performance based, no fluff wetsuits that work beyond all measure
- INFINIT Nutrition - That’s right, I’m a 5 year CUSTOM Blend guy and still going strong!
- Factor Bikes - This past weekend I fell deeper in love with the SLICK! 1st off the bike!
- Clever Training - I provide product reviews and regular content for people who give AF.
- Red Rock Bike (St. George) - I host clinics and they hook up the stellar support
- Outspokin Bicycle (Florida) - a LONG time ally, supporting me since the beginning!
While I had to sound too much like a salesman I really do love those who I support and it’s a short list for a reason. Thank you for showing some support to those who have my back, everything helps when it comes to proving value.
To Race or NOT to race...
While in retrospect, I think moving forward with this event was likely irresponsible a LOT changed in the time I departed for Mexico and when the gun went off for the start of the race. While cases continued to double each day and borders and more restriction piled up, we were already in Mexico wondering if the Mexican government would provide restriction. Waking up on race morning, at that point we knew the race was on as everything was checked. Meanwhile more updates on postponed triathlons and gatherings over 100 are banned. However, we still felt lucky yet hesitant to race but, we were already rigged up and might as well play the hand we were dealt. Honestly, If things had escalated to this point when I was set to board a plane to travel I would have likely just stayed home but, I think deep down I selfishly wanted a chance to get out on the circuit before everything was shut down for the unknown duration. Either way, we raced! Here is how it went.
For the most part there are a few “set” things to expect when traveling to Mexico. For one, your contracted rental car price is always negotiable and will likely double when all is said and done. On the particular venture, if I didn’t buy the $280 full coverage they would but a $4600 credit hold on my card and honestly, I don’t even like to travel with a card of that limit for obvious reasons. So, they got me by the gonads on that one. At least at that point I knew all I had to do was bring it back full of gas and some sort of operation since it’s covered, right? The other items of interest are food and lodging. Will the air conditioning be adequate? Will the running water be enough to take 10% of what you would consider a shower and would the toilets flush every time? Would the food cause a 2 day diarrhea fit and would your GPS directions actually take you to the correct place? These are always the unknown items of interest when racing in Mexico unless you opt to stay at a resort. Personally, I like to prepare my own simple meals and have a kitchen….so while it might complicate things it does add a level of control us triathlete enjoy. Oh the final thing is, will your bike arrive? Astonishingly, I have to admit that Mexico has been VERY friendly to my bike case as opposed to America. I completely appreciate this aspect since our rigs usually cost in excess of $10k and are a means to make a living.
So, our water pressure sucked, the air conditioning was great and despite making some solid, simple food choices I still ended up with immediate GI issues which seriously rarely happens. I think it was the frozen back of freezer burned veggies….sigh. My bad! Myself, Jackson and Cody stayed together with another bud nearby, Taylor Reid. Honestly, These Canadian boys have become not only peers but some of my best friends and I would lie if it wasn’t a sad goodbye when we parted ways. The race logistics for IRONMAN 70.3 Campeche are as follows.
- T1 and T2 are separate (we stayed blocks away from T2) and near a 50m swimming pool
- The race starts at 12:50 PM and it’s usually 90+ degrees and windy
- We split a rental car so we could easily transport ourselves + bikes to T2 (appx. $500 for a minivan)
- We did our Grocery shopping at the local MEGA which was great for health options.
- Make sure to pre-ride the first 20k of the bike course as it’s the only technical aspect
Aside from general race stuff it was really business as usual. Due to COVID-19 we of course were using hand sanitizer as much as we were eating food and the pro meeting was cancelled in spite of the expo being pretty packed and the shuttle service still running. Otherwise we chilled in our AirBnb and made the most of our down time by laughing, watching trailer park boys, playing Nintendo swtich and debating on the value of the PTO. We cooked at home and basically ate rice, eggs and snacks in the form of carbs. Campeche itself is a very cool little down build inside of a fort. There are tons of shops and restaurants to peruse but we decided to stay away from most people. Leading to the start of the race we just had a ton of down time with a few light sessions to plan around. Otherwise we just ate a shit load of snacks.
- We were ready to hit the shuttle promptly at 10:30 and after a 25-minute ride, we were at the beautiful Campeche Country Club with our bikes. Step 1 is to always make sure your pride and joy is safe and sound and your tires aren’t exploded. This was my FIRST trip with my new bike but holy hell was I pumped to race it. After being on Storck for the last 2 years and really hating it I cannot tell you enough how proud I am to be on a FACTOR! My Alto race wheels were set and even though my pals said I was an idiot I decide to run the Specialized Cotton tires with Tubolito tubes. They survived the overnight heat-fest and ultimately the abuse of the day (which was a lot). After some shots from TriMexico and a swim warm up, which actually cooled us down a bit - it was time to line up. Of course our group of 4 stuck together since we knew each other’s style AND that we could all lead the groups.
We started far left in order to avoid a lot of the heavy bashing that usually takes place on the more “direct” side knowing we could still all be up front even having to go around a bit. All in all we had a very clean start and I was quickly floating between 2nd and 3rd but we are pretty sure the 1st dude cut a buoy and consequently the course. I exited the water 2nd with Matt Hanson, Jackson Laundry, Taylor Reid and Cody Beals all within 6 sec of each other.
Straight out of T1 there a series of 2 steep hills, one of which meant I was going to have to push my 1X front chainring set up to the max since it’s like 18% incline for about .25 mile. Matt quickly got ahead since his front derailleur stopped working and also placed him with a sub-optimal gear scenario for the 1 massive climb of the day. At the top of the hill there are brief section of shitty cobbles and then a STEEP descent into more cobbles where 90% of us lost a bottle. I certainly did…I made a rookie mistake and forgot to add a rubber band. I quickly said goodbye to my 370 calorie bottle and knew it would be essential to use course nutrition which was Gatorade….and usually kills my stomach. After about 5 minutes into the highway portion and long-steady climb I settled into a 320 watt aero position that felt really smooth. Heading into the only technical section of the course I knew this was where I could likely bridge away but I STILL expected others to come back eventually. I bunny hopped every LARGE speed bump at full speed, aero-tucked a sketch descent and quickly found firm power once on the coastal highway. As I made my way into town and onto the 2-loops section I was certainly expecting a few to punch up to me but, no one was coming. Of course the first aid stations weren’t ready for me so, no extra nutrition until the 45 min mark. The course was mostly great surface but then also had a lot of chip-seal surface and a LOT of wind. The heat was full-on for the first loop of the bike and I prayed for some cloud cover. Still alone up front I just stuck to my numbers and manage my low back pain. I ended up taking in 4 bottles from the course and came into T1 with a but over 60 sec lead on M. Weiss, Jackson Laundry and Matt Hanson.
My second problem came as I was putting on my socks in T2. The hell of my sock totally ripped open, exposing the whole back of my Achilles to the aggressive heel of the Nike Next %. Within 1k I was bleeding all over the back of my shoe and I had to stop like 4 times to finally tighten it down all the way so it would at least numb the pain. I was holding strong with solid pacing at mile 3 until the boys were about to pass and honestly, even riding I knew I had a bit at a 4th and 5th position since those boys have always killed me on the run. I’m a realist but I still would be STOKED with 4th or 5th for season opener. Regardless, at mile 5 I was either going to have a butt explosion or my guts were going to explode from a sudden knife wound to my right side. Anytime I’ve had to use Gatorade on course this has happened which honestly was only 1 time before and also because I had dropped my INFINIT mix. It’s these tiny mistakes that cost my strong finish. All I could do was walk to prevent knife-stabbing pains to the right side of my gut as I just knew I had to finish and enjoy the opportunity to race and a lot of TV time on the bike. I gave a LOT away but was still so happy to be with my pals and seeing Jackson finish in 2nd place, ahead of M. Weiss was amazing. Taylor and Cody had days that did not reflect their abilities either so at least we could all commiserate together post-race and give Jackson the respect he so consistently deserves.
For the COVID-19 part of the race, I would say 90% of volunteers had gloves but I still felt pretty suspect biting into each water-bag or taking ice…but it was SO hot, we needed it. I’m going to thoroughly focus on the nutrition aspect with a new run mix in a hand-held bottle for future races or at least a concentrated super-flask I can take with some water at aid stations. My performances just cannot suffer from a nutritional screw-up…trust me, it’s frustrating but I will own it. I’m still learning and sometimes small things ruin a big result. It was at least amazing to lead a good amount of the race, knowing I still have some great results ahead. Moving forward I’ll likely take some lower pressure weeks of solitary training as we all adjust to the new type of disease prevention focused life.
Seriously, for any of you who have shown my some love and support, you need to know that it means to world to me. I base my life around this sport and it’s literally my life story for now and I’m not going to let up. I will take this as far as I can, wherever that may be.
It's for sure the busiest time of the year if you plan to be a "Free Agent" in 2020. That's right, come 1 January I plan to jump out of my staple green kit and jump into something that I've helped to build and design for 2020 and beyond. For the last few weeks my friends and I have been working to build, build, BUILD!! Soon, we'll be ready to announce! I'll be producing a whole post on this later but...what's coming is going to be big for me AND our future team. (build suspense...now)
One more thing! You've all seen, heard or maybe even you're already woke...but CBD is making a huge impact on endurance sports. The name of the game is certainly a battle against inflammation and with recent studies and personal tesitamonials there is NO doubt CBD has the potential to add big value. I've personally been using this for low back pain and a sleep aid for timezone jumping. Check out a new partner of mine Azalla, who produces some of the highest qualty sport-safe THC FREE CBD you can find. (CLICK HERE) Also use code racechase25 and save 25% + help support me
70.3 Los Cabos
Honestly, where the heck do I start with this one? I'm smiling even right now, trying to get my actual thoughts about what this race REALLY was.
It was awesome and also a shit show....
Yea, that's kinda what sums it up. Let's talk about why it was a shit show FIRST since that's actually super important as our sport evolves. While it might seem like less of a big deal for an amateur, for a professional it's a big deal. When it comes to any race I've ever been to before, the event staff and official referee's are on point...or at least they are on course with authority. There are usually a few Moto's designated for pro men and pro women however in Los Cabos for the IRONMAN 70.3 event, we had a dude in a red shirt on a moped. Surely, he must be the real deal with he shirt stating "OFFICIAL" on the back but don't be fooled, he's just there to burn up some fuel on that moped. I'll keep details pretty vague but let's just say if you were in the pro men bike group there were times where you literally sat up, threw up your hands and went "WTF" to the "OFFICIAL" and his response was shaking his finger at you. He did NOTHING to clean up our race, warn anyone or come anywhere near citing anyone who broke the rules. Now, as a newbie racing in Mexico I'm probably being laughed at by any other pro athlete since it seems, that's just how it is but...it's a bit shit when we are trying to position ourselves for money!!! Racing in Argentina blew me away when we had a blatant false start that was never called back or cited post-race. South America and Mexico need some actual referee's who know the rules and enforce them. Rounding out the issue in Mexico, I heard that the "OFFICIAL" I am mentinioning was confronted and basically said, I don't really understand the rules so we are just there for safety. End of story. That's a big reason why it was a shit show....but let's talk about why it was awesome!
Notoriously a party town, where pastie folks get away for copious amounts of booze, beaches and un-solicited/un-welcomed sales tactics designed to annoy you until you just fucking buy something, Los Cabos is a get-away. For the IRONMAN 70.3 event there are two main places you can stay, with a long strip of road (also the bike course) connecting the two towns. The race takes place in San Jose Del Cabo which is for sure a more resort-feel with a more family friendly atmosphere. Cabo San Lucas on the other hand, is a pseudo-port where cruise ships come in to regurgitate more consumers and beach goers on the beautiful beaches so they can spend some time and money "living it up". Personally, not my thing and after 30 minutes eating breakfast at The Office after the race, I was like wow this is amazing but let's get back to our private beach. All of that being said, let me say that everyone we met and came in contact with was incredibly professional and friendly so, if you visit you will be well taken care of. Oh, and if you have money, you can buy anything you want.
The race venue itself split between a host-hotel and then T2 which is at yet another hotel. Plan to visit 3 locations when you register. You'll have to register at the host hotel, drop your T2 bag at the next hotel and then finally drop your bike at swim start, which is at the bottom of a very steep and long hill. The day before the race requires some logistical planning but everything is within a 15 min drive with swim-start being the most "remote". The host hotel had a mechanic on staff and tons of volunteers who had no idea on what they were actually doing but, in Mexico shit gets done when you get enough people together who are clueless.
My Personal Experience
My buddy Steven and I arrived Friday and the race is Sunday...we arrived just the right amount of time to find a local coffee place and grocery store before we were too wrecked to even build bikes. The Airport battle and ensuing rental car BS took up a lot of time before we drove the 30 min outside of town to our AirBnB located in Cabo Bella (a few miles from Cabo San Lucas). We found the equivalent Whole Foods, picked up groceries and made it home, where we found out they kinda Catfished us. The pictures were like, amazing but in reality....run down and full of mosquitos. Also, the A/C took about 2 days to finally cool the place down...but the show must go on! We had a wonderful private beach, Netflix and I played a lot of GTA5 on XBOX!
We boiled all of our water, used bottled water and over-cooked all of the meat and veggies for good measure while consuming plenty of white rice. It was pretty basic but still fun as we negotiated race logistics. If you don't have a rental car you can still survive perfectly find, but make sure and stay close to San Jose since shuttles run from there to swim start.
My day started pretty stellar as I slept well enough, woke up feeling positive and didn't have any major issues to work around. The bike was checked and all Steven and I needed to do was drive to Swim start and try to park somewhere. The issue there was, race instructions said there would be parking at the shops in La Pamilla but...those were for sure blocked off race morning so we parked on a random road with everyone else. Let's just say the rest was basic but holy hell after having zero visibility during my last 3 races while swimming, this was amazing. The crystal clear water made for some great views and wow, I could see my competitors underwater for once. I led in the main pack of guys, nearly 2 min off the 3 leaders and quickly heard Lionel Sanders name called. I really wanted a bit more of a bike warm-up before he blew by us all but oh well. Of course it's every pro-males dream to think "maybe I can go with Lionel" but then he blows by us like we're sitting down for a lunch break. You already know the basics of the bike course but let me tell you it's a tough course with wind a lot of climbing. My goal was to actually rip my legs off and then....see what happens. It was a really strong push up AND down hill at all times with a some big surges and an aggressive pace. Of course the last 4 guys in the group had to fight but I wanted to keep the price for sitting back a bit steeper. If nothing else 70.3 Shanghai showed me I can work harder on the bike and live to tell about it. The big downside to being back in salt water was that I managed to take in more than I wanted during the swim and was now burping up my INFINIT drink mix...lame, what a waste! Hopefully I was getting in enough regardless.
Onto the run and straight away, my hips don't lie! Tight hips but overall, moving decent enough. I see after 4 miles that 5th place is coming back a little and 6th place is a few minutes back so...I just keep asking "how bad do you want it"? I mean, the answer is always "really freaking bad" but I had to dig dee to keep the dismal pace alive! Into 5th place I just had to hold on and wait...is that 4th place? No, it wasn't...back to the fight to keep 5th and prevent further slowing. So....yea, I finished in 5th place and while that is awesome I'm really hungry for another top 3 BUT I still have work to do on my run. I'm realistic...my run has never been my weapon but it has always been my goal to sharpen that up so I can actually WIN one day. The back half of this season, if nothing else, proves that my new program, living location and attitude are paying off. If you check my "results" tab above you'll see my progression over the last 4 years and...man, I spent a lot of time getting my ass kicked. I've never stopped fighting and since I decided to make this my career EVERYTHING I do is for sport. Now I just have to always look for new sponsors to represent well and build the RaceChase Empire :) Here is the basic nutritional outline for my race.
- Pre-Race Din Din (Day before) = Chicken, Rice, BBQ Sauce.....
- Breakfast = Applesauce, INFINIT Cold Brew protein, banana, INFINIT drink mix for sipping
- Bike = 2.5 bottles of my "Hot Race, Sweaty Face" CUSTOM drink mix from INFINIT
- Run = Race Course nutrition all the way and SHIT ton of Ice and the last 3 miles = COLA!!
Since my last post nearly one billion things have happened. Or maybe, over one billion calories have been consumed...either way, shit has been REAL! After a sick top 5 finish for me at St. Anthony's I quickly races 70.3 St. George then 70.3 Chattanooga and then 70.3 Victoria. While 70.3 St.George was quite a shit day for me, I ended up moving here....so it really WAS a win. I was top 10 at 70.3 Chatty and 70.3 Victoria but then, disaster....injury. On our way home from 70.3 Victoria, Karen and I decided to make a stop in St. George, Utah to put an offer on a house. We'd been looking on Zillow heavily and worked with a great Realtor so we had a plan!! Show up, make an offer...leave back for Florida for a quick sale of our townhome. Needless to say it took about 30 days of extreme stress, hard work and good luck to sell while closing on our home in Utah on 19 July. During that time I was dealing with a medial knee injury which prevented any running so actually it was a bit of a reprieve. I could focus on the stress of moving rather than getting ready for another race.
I was supposed to race IRONMAN Lake Placid at the end of July but since we finally moved on 19 July, setting up shop in St. George, I was not ready at all...nor could I run yet. The backup plan was IRONMAN Mt. Tremblant and MAYBE 70.3 Boulder as a warm up but, I still was crap. Then finally after ton's of rehab, Cryotherapy and patience, I could jog again. It didn't take long to get back after it and I was 100% racing 70.3 Santa Cruz as a warm up for IRONMAN Chattanooga. Here is a quick gallery of the fun before I was racing again.
Present Day Fun times @ 70.3 Santa Cruz & IM Chatt
Finally, I'm back into health as my first race in what feels like one billion days begins to approach. I was able to have a bestie join me, Joey Deluca. He doesn't say much but when he does, it's important! We ended up at this sweet AirBnb in this place called Ben Lemmon or something like that. We had tacos like, every day and it was the most relaxed I've ever been before a race. It might be the air, the woods or just the fact I didn't give AF - I was just pumped to be racing again.
- 70.3 Santa Cruz Quick Summary -
It was LIT - super fun, cold water but windy AF on the bike. Super fast tailwind on the way home but bike power was shit however I ran super well and came 10th. All in all.....pumped for more training!!
- IRONMAN Chattanooga - A bit more in depth
My training leading up to this mega race wasn't nearly what I would have wanted given I'd missed out on months of quality running but, I've already had years of quality running so whatever, it should work out, right? I spent 10 days in Park City Utah having a BLAST with some new friends, freezing my nads off a few days and literally hating my life while I adjusted to altitude. It takes me like 5 days to feel decent so I just let it run a course on the old legs and decided stress is stress and I should just enjoy being in such a beautiful place. Of course the week I show up it like...snows, but whatever I love a fireplace in the evening. I drove 4 hours back to St. George on Tuesday am, where we live at appx 3,000ft. I managed to put in a few 80 - 90 mile rides, a 135 miler with 10,000ft of climbing and a few 15 and 20 mile runs. All was going well.
This is the first time my life did not allow me to make the pro meeting which I had in the past snubbed pro athletes for missing but, shit happens. I basically arrived 2 hours after the meeting but negotiated that pre-travel just in case. I met up with my buddy Romain, a fellow pro and athlete I now have the pleasure of coaching. We picked up our rental truck and made the 15 min drive to Whole Foods where I proceeded to spend $135 on like, 7 things....UGH!! It's all good though since it eliminated any last minute cooking. Anyway, it was hot AF, I was slamming coconut water and glued to NETFLIX....ready to rip on Sunday AM. Missing the pro meeting made me feel like I was totally lost though. After 5 years of it, it's def a reliable meeting that I really missed as much as I've previously complained about going to.
4:15 am - Wake up / Consume more applesauce than ever before + banana + INFINIT Repair
4:30 am - FML that's a lot of applesauce....wash it down with cold brew coffee or wait 60 min?
5:30 am - A better time to ingest some coffee and enjoy after a hot shower.
6:00 am - arrive at transition, navigate through all the hyper-crazy folks - smile and nod
6:25 am - board the shuttle...head to front of the line and listen to everyone talk mega-shit (sorry it's like one of 2 privileges of being a Pro athlete)
6:45 am - Am I actually going to shit myself while waiting in line for the porta-let?
7:00 am - SWIM WARM UP YAY - warm up in a sea of boat fuel, get hit by a kayak = win
- Okay so here goes the breakdown -
SWIM - I lined up on the right hip of Antione because he's always first out of the water and I figured, why not go for it. I was there, loving it...then I was at his calf, then ankles, then bubbles...then oh well. This for sure shot me ahead of the group by at least 200m by the time I was let go, but I caught the next set of feet that went by and hit cruise control. That was one of the most relaxed IM swims aside from that of IM Zurich...likely 50% effort with a few course corrections. Out of the water 4th position, nice lead on the chase pack.
BIKE - Okay so normally my legs get ripped off in the first 20 miles so I for SURE made a point to settle in at 260-270 watts rather than blasting 280-320. Pedro and I rode together for nearly 45 miles until the Sam Long train caught us (Sam, Adam, Matt and maybe Andy). But before I move on, holy shit I had actual cameras on me for like SO long and I had goosebumps. Let me tell you, I could have cried a few times with how amazing it felt to have a moto actually covering MY race. But deep down I was like...what the heck are those commentators saying about me? "Well, Nick will likely blow up and be dead on the side of the road"? Anyway, when the boys caught me the pace went wack with tons of spikes as they tried to drop Pedro and I but I was like...OH NO YOU DO NOT! I mean I was totally fine seeing Sam launch off the front because after riding with him at Victoria and 70.3 Chatty I knew he'd have left me for dead. Then it was Matt, Adam, Me and Pedro. After a few surges and Matt receiving a penalty for littering (which had to have been bogus or extremely close to being bogus) we hit lap 2 and I was back on the front as Matt took off in a rage-filled surge. I sat up a few times, Pedro went through...then he stopped coming through and after mile 65 or so....it was just me. I was like...WTF??? My voice was getting a bit weak due to shouting "on your left" but overall everyone was super cool. One I made the right turn back to transition, it was like 13 more miles of camera time. I was feeling good, fueled well with INFINIT and had zero thoughts on the run. I mean, the legs sometimes feel terrible but then you take 3-steps and you're fine.
RUN RUN RUN - As I was hitting T2 I heard Matt and Andy come in behind me so I was please to not be alone. Matt and I actually ran together and had a chat for nearly 7 miles. We were searching for ice and overall it was very nice t have company. Plus, with his pedigree I was like, I'm not running faster than him right now...that would be dumb. Either way, at mile 13 I was walking up a hill, dizzy AF and hit a big moment of Hypoglycemia. After that it was coke and gatorade only with a bit of pink salt to try and prevent the massive cramping which was looming around every corner. I was certain 4th would catch me but...I knew if I was consistent I could hold onto top 5 since I knew everyone would be cracking in the heat to some extent. Finally, I'm on the blue walking bridge and no one is coming to run me down. I'm literally tearing up for moments and smiling bigger than ever as I make my way down the last hill knowing in a few moments it'll be over. I'll have achieved one major goal as a pro athlete, making the podium for the champagne party. Even typing this I have goosebumps and for the life of me I hope it never leaves. I did it...finally.
I attribute my success to patience, fueling and hard work. For 8 years I've put my entire life into this sport and as a 5th year pro athlete toeing the line for my 7th IRONMAN 140.6 I knew if nothing else, I'd be top 5. Additionally, I know for sure I responded very well to my altitude camp so THANK YOU Brad and Stormy for hosting Karen and I. Also, I have been using the Hyperice Hypervolt religiously for recovery along side Cryotherapy...I can for sure tell that was a game changer with keeping the body primed. Finally without the support of so many over the years I'd have been in EVEN more debt, haha. Here is a long list....
- Pewag Racing Team and all of our sponsors, you provided me with reliable gear for the last 2 years and it's amazing.
- I LOVE Xentis wheels...omg are they fast..
- Castelli Clothing
- Oakley Glasses
- Garmin computers and power meters
- INFINIT Nutrition
- Clever Training for all of my shoes, recovery gear etc..
- Storck Bikes
- Ekoi Helmets
- 3T Cycling
- USA SPINE
- Ted Tagalakis
- Val Tavanese & Outspokin Bicyles (Tampa, Fl + Clearwater, Fl)
- All of my athletes who allow me to coach them, learn and grow :)
- Braveheart Coaching because I LOVE what we stand for.
- Jackson Laundry for always having my back despite being a REALLY big deal :)
- Laura Jansik for being the best on-course Cheerleader EVER....she made me cry :)
- Karen (Wifey) for always supporting my lifestyle, cleaning up after me and loving me even when I suck (which is rare)
I've never received so much love and to everyone who has said something nice to me about this race, I appreciate you more than you know. It takes a damn village and it'll evolve into a whole city soon enough. I'm going to keep it up and make my way further down the rabbit hole!!
Since my last post in December 2018, I've been really working hard on a few aspects that really negatively impacted me last year. While I did have some success stories, won some money and was lucky enough to be on Pewag Racing Team again in 2019, I really left a lot out there. Namely, when it comes down to my run performance off the bike....sigh. While I do have to remind myself that I actually started this sport when I was 24 years old and this type of fitness takes a long time to master, it's pretty frustrating to have it come together 2 out of 5 times. I mean I really want this so, it's just a matter of time before it comes together 5 out of 5 times, that's a fact.
Since Dec I've been traveling a bit, but with huge focus on building 3-4 months of solid fitness so I can knock out the following events before the end of July:
- St. Anthony's Triathlon
- St. Geroge 70.3
- Chattanooga 70.3
- 70.3 Victoria
- IRONMAN Lake Placid
I've put in some heavy hours in Tenerife, Spain - California - Tucson - North Carolina and Clermont, Florida. That makes about 5 Camps or so in some pretty tough environment, surrounded by people who are better than me. I'll post a pretty nice photo montage below because honestly, I'm proud of these pictures and then we'll chat about St. Anthony's triathlon.
St. Anthony's Triathlon 2019
As always, this is my favorite race of the year despite being a race distance I don't really train for. For one, this race pays out huge prize money to the top 8 male/female finishers and the start line is nearly 1 mile from my house. This means I can really be proud to represent a race in my home town, one of the best organized and executed Olympic Distance races in the USA. Since I can probably race this thing in the dark despite having like 40+ turns makes it even more fun. Here is a brief race recap with some of the facts I think are fun and awesome.
This race tends to bring out some incredibly fast athletes and even when I was racing in the Age Group Category I was so amazed to see which professional athletes showed up. I've seen plenty of Olympians and even IRONMAN 140.6 and 70.3 World Champions. It's always a toss up as to who actually hits hard on race day since this is such a unique course but that always makes it more fun to watch. This years race still brought out most of the people who have beaten me in the past and I've never been more motivated to prove myself until this year. Why? Everything has seen an increase in power, speed and stamina...finally! I used to be a decent swimmer and strong biker but would tank on the run more times than not. I have struggled with some health issues along the way which complicated things but I think I've finally nailed down the issues and honeslty, I've been running a lot more...which would seem the obvious approach but it's not always that easy. They type and timing of "key" running has been incredible.
My Race Report
- Pre -Race / Swim - Waking up at home for this race was perfect and it only happens once per year, so I was amped! I plowed into 2 cups of white rice, 2 TBS maple syrup, 1 banana and 2 eggs around 3:45 am. This means I was finished with breakfast 3 hours before my race started, plenty of time for my food to pass beyond the stomach and top off everything I needed. In the future I'll drop the overall rice load since this is a shorter race but since I've been down in bodyweight I know I needed to eat a little more for power. Jackson Laundry and I rode our bike down to the race start while Karen parked the truck and prepared to babysit one of my friends kids while he raced. I think I had around 5 atheltes racing in total, most are actually from out of town!
The one down side to this race is that the venue has highly used in the weekends before our traithlon, so the grass has long since been convereted to dust and dirt. Your feet and nearly anything you bring into transition will be dirty, but that's just a small neg. T1 is located a few hundred meters from swim start so it's only a 5 minute walk and luckily for this year we had some solid weather and low wind. If the wind creates too much chop the swim is sometimes shortened. After my new Ekoi helmet was checked by the referee's and I spent a few moments in "clinch" mode since they were having a hard time understanding the foreign helmet license, I walked over to swim start where the sun was just peeking on the horizon.
The tide is a bit low but we were able to start in chest high water in a solid line. As the cannon went off I did something different from last year. I didn't CHARGE into the swim and really spike my HR causing a huge lull in effort around the 500m mark. I started hard but it was very controlled and out of the water I was only 1 minute down on the leaders. I did lose about 25-30 sec since the feet I was following falsly turned at a buoy but I think it was pretty minimal as I was able to pull everyone back on the bike who I could.
Bike Course -
We start on the cobbles, heart rate flaring as we try to build speed and slip our feet into our shoes which have been flattened out due to pedaling on top of them. A few hard turns and we're onto our first straight, an out an back. My goal was to push around 325 watts for at least the first half of the ride but I have to say my stomach was not feeling chipper. I was super bloated and burping up some salt water and honestly, 320 was a bit tough at that point but I was patient UNLIKE other years and held steady. I know I could pull back time in the corners since I usually stay aero and attack with speed rather than sitting up for safety. By the time we hit the winding part of the golf course I was in 6th place with a 45 sec gap to 4th and 5th. Sitting in 4th place was Jackson Laundry who I knew would ride a bit faster than me so I wasn't planning on catching him but the 5th place guy was riding way harder than he did years before so I couldn't pull them back. Additionally, on a very fast/hard right turn which was quite narrow, a police car decided to STOP and chat with his fellow officer, somehow forgetting I was coming up at 28mph! I had to stop, while yelling and finally he got the Eff out of the way! On the next long out and back section I saw I had at least 2 minutes on the next group of 5 behind me so I just held 310 to 315 and dealt with the pain. All in all I was very pleased with the ride but the legs were feeling pretty tight at that point and since I was still a bit bloated I was hoping to hold on to some leg speed.
RUN RUN RUN
- I've been hitting some VERY solid run intervals off the bike so I really wanted to hold 5:30min/mile for this 10k and honestly I was confident I could. In the game of fantasty vs reality I realized my legs were just not at that level so I was stuck running 5:40 / 5:45 pace after about 3 miles of burping up liquids. I decided to go sockless in a shoe which should 100% have socks...so I came away with some nasty blisters but I didn't want to waste any time in transition. Looking back, I had time for socks....damnit. All in all, I ran well enough to hold of the boys and finished 5th in my home town. Moving into 2019 this is really a strong boost in confidence and overall drive.
Tomorrow I race 70.3 St.George and I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say about that. Aslo, I've updated my 2019 Race Schedule! Check it out!
...The Most Beautiful Course You'll Ever Race....
Patagonman is an extreme triathlon or what we now call Xtri. If you haven’t put it together, it takes place in Patagonia, which for this race means the southern part of Chile, South America. So for anyone traveling, you might be wondering how you actually get there since it’s definitely a remote location. Traveling by air, which 99% of Patagonman athletes will most certainly do, means you will head to Santiago where you will transfer to the domestic terminal and fly to Balmaceda airport and then drive 1 hour or take a bus to Coyhaique.
Coyhaique is basically your race-central location. Since this is a point to point race, you’ll notice the bike course comes through this amazingly beautiful town around 90k. That means the bus ride back after the race wont be a full 200k or something like some of the Xtris. The race takes you through 4 major towns; Puerto Chacabuco, Coyhaique, Villa Cerro Castillo and finally the finish in Puerto Ibanez. This means a lot of driving for your support team so make sure they are up to it before-hand. Your support is often awake even longer than you are since they are in charge of your personal logistics for the day (bike set-up, bike handling, transitions, ALL nutrition for the day and finally – your well-being). So now that you have a basic overview of the race, let me lay out my personal experience and how you can tackle this race at the end of the world.
Pre-Race Navigation & How to Tackle Logistics
Arrival and transport to the hotel
My wife and I flew from Tampa, Florida and nearly 19 hours later landed in Balmaceda, Chile. Transferring through Santiago was actually very easy since we had a very nice man grab us as we left the baggage area and brought us to our next LATAM airlines bag-check (for a small tip). Security and customs were also very easy through Santiago with plenty of people to help move us along so our wait times were only 20 minutes max. I personally experienced a bit of a pain in the ass once we arrived in Balmaceda since whoever took my bike off that plane ripped the front of my bike case off so right when we landed, I hit problem #1. How will I get the bike back home? More on that later. If you have 2 people or more, I would recommend 1 person waits on baggage while the other handles your transportation to Coyhaique. I decided to rent a car, which was handled by the Patagonman race organization, so I just had to show up at the right vendor’s counter. I was 2nd in line and it still took nearly 20 minutes since most everything is hand written and they actually do a thorough vehicle inspection with you before-hand. I had to leave the standard credit-card on file for damages but opted to pay for the balance ($360 for 7 days) with my debit card. We had a fun-little Fiat Uno which was manual-gear box however I saw some really nice trucks you could rent. I would recommend getting an SUV or small truck for this race – there are many gravel roads and off-road parking areas. The drive to Coyhaique was super easy and you can’t help but look around at the year-round snow covered peaks!!
We opted to stay at the Dreams Hotel and Casino since it was race-headquarters and seemed to be one of the nicest hotels available. I know many others had success with AirBnB and also with other hotels recommended by the Patagonman organization. Actually, I think we will do AirBnB next year so we can cook our meals. All that being said, the Dreams hotel left us wanting for nothing. They have 24/hr food via room service, our breakfast was included each day and they also serve lunch and dinner, but keep in mind Chileans eat dinner after 8pm, which is when the restaurant opens. Our hotel room was very modern, luxurious and everything we would expect for the price we paid. The front desk attendants speak basic English but remember that we are far south in Chile so barely anyone will speak English outside of the race-organization. We never had any big issues since I can speak Google Translate Spanish and had a few friends who spoke decent Spanish too. I have to say, I think things were about the same price as they were in the states too. Things were not as cheap as I found in Argentina or in Peru. Our hotel room for 7 days + room service was around $390 per night but included airport transfer, breakfast and bike mechanic services (+20% off through the race organization). Oh, we also got some very nice hats, CO2 tubes and welcome note, which were waiting for us in the hotel room. There is a small pool and sauna as well. The hotel stay was perfect, no issues and highly recommended.
Course Recon / Pre-Race Logistics
Since Coyhaique is located nearly in the middle of the race course, this does mean driving to the swim is around 1hr 15min. Also, there will not be any swimming allowed at T1 - it’s a shipping area, so we went to a small beach which was north of the town of Aysén. We found out about it through the Patagonman Facebook page since all of the atheltes were connected via that forum. The water was surprisingly warm considering what I was expecting. It was about 15 Degrees Celsius, so we really didn’t need our neoprene hood, boots or gloves – but tested them out anyway. The weather was quite warm for 2 days before the race but always windy. This means we had two days in the low 30’s (Celsius) but the day before the race was cold and race day was colder – but I still didn’t need anything extra besides normal tri-kit.
Our drive back from the beach was SO beautiful and gave us a chance to recon the first 90k of the bike course. Before we left, we went to a great burger place in Aysén, Terazzo, for lunch so the whole trip took nearly 5 hours, so make sure to get it done early. The road conditions in this region vary. Before the town of Coyhaique you will experience some new roads, some light cobble sections and hopefully by 2019, any construction will be complete. The climb into Coyhaique is cobble, which wasn’t bad and the descent had a few gravel patches and was 1-lane road due to construction but I didn’t hear that it caused problems. The roads out of Coyhaique just got better and better, however even on the good roads there were plenty of potholes so you really need to keep your head on a swivel with the high-speeds. Also, I’m 90% sure you can always expect a tail wind for MOST of the bike course. BUT this will be a CRAZY head wind when you turn to Villa Cerro Castillo…I mean it was the most wind I’ve every experienced. December is part of the windiest time of the year for this region so...come prepared for this.
You can expect race-day swim temperatures from 9-14 deg. C for the swim. Also, the wind can be very, very high for the swim. This means there are 3 options for the swim which the organization will decide on race morning (the Navy tells them which one actually). One option is the original which is advertised, one is the same distance but more protected and one is shorter. You should expect a tailwind for 75% of your ride but then some MEGA head winds while descending which would be quite scary. Then finally, the run – it’s all trail and very challenging, with some small hiking sections but it’s 95% run-able. Also, it’s the most beautiful part of the day with so many sights to see.
Your SAG Logistics - IMPORTANT!
For our race we had 2 options but I think in 2019 they will only have 1 option. SAG/Support options we had: #1 = The Organization transports SAG, #2 = SAG transports themselves via personal vehicle. This means we could either have our SAG be transported by bus from support station to support station (there are a LOT of busses btw) or your SAG could drive to the support points with their own vehicle. Your SAG could ONLY provide support @ T1, 2 points on the bike, T2, 1 point on the run (30k). For the swim portion your SAG should expect to arrive with the intent to set up your transition zone and actually handle your bike the day before, the day of and the day after the race. Here is how race day logistics went:
That pretty much sums up how the race will unfold, especially with race logistics. There will be some fuel on course from the organization, 5 times for your SAG to help on course (including T1 and T2) and there are plenty of police and Navy personnel to keep the water and roads safe. The run course is well marked with very large Merrill flags every 500m for the single track portion and once you’re back on the dirt roads, you can only go one way, however there are still a few people helping to point you along the way.
How did my race go?
How to Navigate 70.3 Buenos Aires
Honestly, this race was more of an impulsive decision based on some nudging by Jackson Laundry, the desire for adventure and some key aspects which made this race appetizing. For one, South America is only 1 hour ahead of Florida’s time zone, so it wouldn’t be a terrible jet lag scenario. Also, at the time, the travel arrangements didn’t seem too daunting – Hell, they never do months out from a race. I managed to find a direct flight to Argentina via Miami (4ish hour drive) for around $800 with 2 one-way rental cars for under $100 – sounds good eh? Well, it really wasn’t a bad deal considering I would be splitting a seriously awesome AirBnb location with Jack once we were set in country.
So the trip made sense, it wasn’t so expensive and the payout was great though 10thplace. Hell, even before IRONMAN Louisville I felt like I should certainly be able to nudge out 10thplace. Training was going well; the Florida weather was getting tolerable and overall I was feeling strong. After IM Louisville went south I was even more motivated to get here and rip it. Before I get to the overall race result and course details let me run you through some very very important aspects any triathlete must know when racing in Buenos Aires.
#1 – Rent a Car – The transportation system here (Uber, Taxi, Bus) is incredibly complicated for a foreigner to navigate. I say that because for 6 days we only came across 7 people who actually spoke English, zero of them being an Uber driver or Taxi driver. Heck, without Uber we would have been totally screwed, even though that was a bit of a shit show too. Anyway, a car would have eliminated 90% of the ass-pain because the airport is nearly 1 hour from the race site, the race expo was 30 min from the race site and if you want to swim, plan on 30 min each way too. A car would have really made our experience nice however there is a cost there too and associated risk because people do drive a bit nuts. However, if you’re aggressive and good in a clutch – a car is the way to go. It’s also important to know we stayed 500 meters from transition which made race day extremely awesome – but groceries, the pool, expo and eating in general a pain in the teat. Luckily we grabbed a ride with Barney Matthews for the expo since he rented a car – otherwise it would have sucked again.
UBER – I think there is a lot of tension with Uber drivers and local cab drivers. Almost every driver messaged me beforehand asking for the location we were heading, almost like they didn’t know how to use the app and some even wanted me to pay cash after the ride was over. Now, they were generally safe and it was ridiculously cheap (6-8$ for 30 min drive) but there was a lot of waiting around and multiple cancelations.
#2 – Stay near or at Nordelta Centro Commercial – Basically Nordelta is a huge double layered security-type community. They check your license when you enter and each community has a set of guards to verify you’re not a Narco (I guess). Either way, it’s one of the safest communities in Buenos Aires and compared to the surroundings, it’s a whole new world. Jack found a 1 bedroom apartment which we made work with a floor mattress and honestly, it saved the trip from being a total pain at all times. We were still nearly 1 mile from food or groceries and couldn’t ride our bikes anywhere because honestly, they would have been stolen if left even marginally attended. If you have a car and stay at a hotel or Airbnb near Nordelta you’re set. You can even drive to the nice 50m Pool if you need to.
#3 – Arrive Friday – I came in weds evening which mean I still had to do some training before the race. Luckily I brought my feedback sports travel trainer because without that it would have been really unsafe to ride for 90min outside. A few more days at home would have been great for pre-race and yes it’s cutting it close to race day but honestly, getting to a pool for 2 days of swimming was just ugly. The pools were barely swimmable, hot and again – no one speaks English. We were incredibly lucky to arrive within 10 min of the pool opening since we had no idea on their hours. Also, they charge only 250 pesos for attending and swim caps are mandatory. Anyway, the probability of being annoyed about everything here would have been cut down. I mean we had 2 levels of security to go through every time we wanted to leave and most people had no clue who we were so they had to call our airBnb host each time….but I get why it’s necessary .
#4 – Food – We always managed to find good food and groceries. We went to a grocery store called Jumbo which was great as the Walmart was absolutely terrible. We also came across a few health food stores, bakeries and healthy places – and it was incredibly cheap. Each meal for two only cost $17-$22 and we never left hungry. Buying groceries for 5 days was nearly $78 but really had to be done – overall it was a great place to eat and find new food. I would say the most common food is a burger, steak, pastries and tons of café’s.
Honestly, if you would have asked me if I would come back when I finished this race it would have been a huge NO but now it’s just a “maybe”. I mean there were so many issues I’m sure the site-team had to deal with I cannot imagine how frustrated they must have been so they did a great job putting on this race in a very complicated area.
As I mentioned before we went to 2 pools (list pools) and they were just tough to manage but really, it’s all they have here so it was nice to at least swim. The expo was in a place called the Docks and it was super nice, the pro meeting was a bit basic and for a championship race, I was a bit let-down with the set-up. The briefing went off okay but the head referee for IRONMAN wasn’t even there and really….which is odd for a championship race. There is a lot of money up for grabs so you’d think the extra attention would be put on the rules. Thankfully there was a warm up swim the day before the race but honestly, I don’t think it was worth it or a smart call. The water was seriously some of the dirtiest I’ve ever been in. Totally brown sludge everywhere with tastes of fuel and fertilizer made it something gross that is still affecting me even now. Anyway, the race-site was cool with a great spread, lot’s of security and overall they did put on a great event AT the actual race.
Swim – We had a water temperature of 20.9 or so, nearly 1 degree and we’d have been non-wetsuit. It was a bit warm at the end but I guess a wetsuit prevented more bodily contact with that water. So, the big problem of the day started with the swim. We had our warm up, que’d up at the start line while some dude finished his warm up within 10 sec of the gun start. Seriously, this guy went out about 150m within 2min of the start for a warm up – sigh. Anyway, as the announcer is counting down and all these guys are creeping forward before the start – about 5 dudes took off and got about 2 body lengths out before the rest of us went off the cannon. That was totally crap and honestly, made it a bit tough to nail the right position. Oh well right, those guys should be DQ’d but….that’ll never happen. I ended up grabbing a set of bad feet, meaning the dude was being dropped by the group and when I went to pass the gap was just 4 body lengths too long….sigh….all alone, 1 min off the group. It didn’t really matter because it all came together on the bike.
Bike – Transition was pretty long and we had our stuff in the blue/red bags and yes, I ran by my helmet bag for another 30 sec loss. I came onto the bike course in top 10 and quickly applied some watts, but didn’t really like the way they felt. A few weeks prior at IRONMAN Louisville I was ripping 310ish watts for at least 30 min at the start and felt unstoppable but 290 felt like a freaking grind. Also, my stomach felt like it was either a puke situation or maybe I magically ate a pizza in transition. Seriously, my belly was a messy bloat fest but yes in fact, it did go away with some massive burps. Honestly, I knew this race was going to be a bit dirty on the bike. 2,000+ athletes on a course where we share 1 lane at a time. It was going to be SOO packed on the 2ndlap. The roads were mostly crap, full of big speed tables and thick painted white lines….but not as bad as it was in Peru. I kinda liked it being a bit hectic but that’s just me. Positions 6-12 basically came together by the middle of the last lap and honestly I have no idea how no one crashed. We were blasting by people going 5 mph slower and 3 abreast, barely staying in our lane, avoiding oncoming traffic. It was super super sketchy on the second lap. I’m pretty sure I saw about 3-4 pelotons of Age Group athletes and yes, even a pace line. I started feeling better after 60k and power was manageable but still super low and it’s all I could manage. I think there were 9 x 180 degree turns which put us all at a dead stop, meaning this course is not fast….or actually safe. But if you’re smart, shoot the gaps and avoid water bottles on the ground – all good. I’m 100% sure the top 10 guys all had gone off course at least once….unless they had the lead moto.
Run – Off the bike I was just not confident but knew I was gonna give her. I’m gonna be super honest and say my run fitness on the back half of this year is just not good – for whatever reason. I have been racing a lot, traveling a lot etc but man – I just have been shit off the bike since August. Back to the drawing board eh? It’s something that is of the utmost importance for 2019 or I’m like, retiring. I was good for about 5k and then I just didn’t have any juice in the legs. Energy was fine and my head was clear but my HR was 180 and I Was stuck at 4:25 min/km and feeling busted up below the hips. I saw the top 10 run away from me and then eventually ran into Barney, who was dealing with some stomach issues. We ran in the last 3km together chatting and honestly, I’m super glad he was there. Man, I finished 11th and 1 position outside of the money and a small bonus…..so my airfare would have been covered. I think that’s the biggest bummer since that was like….all I needed to do, finish top 10. I love this sport and appreciate more than anything this opportunity but man, I was a bit deflated moving into IRONMAN Arizona in 12 days or so…..I need some mojo in the next few days. Oh and the run course was great btw – super super awesome volunteers.
Putting a race on in Buenos Aires must have been such a huge challenge and I know everyone did their best to make the course great – so I’m very thankful for that. I just wish they referee’s would have brought back the swim due to the false start, the bike course would have been a bit safer and the first aid station on the run wasn’t like…over 3km away. I’ll be back for this race IF we have the same place to stay AND have a rental car – otherwise, man it’s just a tough one to get to but that means only the determined athletes will make it. Jackson also managed to sell his bike to an Argentinian so that’s great. The bottom line is, the people here were absolutely accommodating and friendly, willing to help us even though my Spanish was very sparse. If you can learn some before you get here, it’ll help you tremendously. Thank you Argentina – I’ll be in Chile racing in Dec so….I’ll be nearby soon!
I've been cold during races and I've been wet during races but I've never been so cold and so wet for so long. This year at IRONMAN Louisville was a totally different set of conditions compared to the 100 degree race in 2017. For one, I never thought it would be such a challenge to my physical endurance, so when I was at mile 14, stumbling around and leaning on the side of a building debating if I could struggle through another run loop - I was seriously confused.
This race was extremely important for me and Pewag Racing, especially since IRONMAN Austria left me with a bag of questions I'm still trying to answer. For the most part I was very confident in every aspect heading into this race. I'd spent a few weeks in North Carolina crushing some hills and relaxing a bit, finally driving the last 6 hours to Lousivlle 4 days before the event. At that point I didn't really have any worries about the weather being an issue, heck I've trained in Iceland for 25 days. Little did I know, the combination of weather + working my butt off on the bike, bit me in the butt pretty bad.
It was raining, cold and dark on race morning but everyone showed up with a good attitude. I love being around that many athletes and feeling the buzz. Some people are nervous and silent, other are nervous and can't stop talking. I try and think about it like any other swim. There will be contact and as long as I control my breathing and heart rate, I won't have any issues. Obviously the goal is to find some feet however, being prepared to go it alone helps.
Around 10 minutes before we were supposed to get into the water the race organizers decided to cut the swim to .9 miles due to the raging current. Let me tell you, it was FAST. The protected channel we were supposed to swim up-stream in was pushing pretty hard, however it would have been no problem. The issue would have been making the turn to head down stream. As it was, we had a hard time swimming to the buoys. We were racing with a 1.5 mph current and I finished in nearly 12 minutes for 46sec/100yd. It was so so fast. I was so happy to come out of the water 4th with my Pewag Teammate, Jeremy Jurkiewicz. Since neither of us had a jacket or anything warm or waterproof to wear....we ripped off onto the bike course.
- BIKE -
I've never led any IRONMAN event on the bike course so holy cow my adrenaline was RUSHING as I followed the pace car. As we tore by swim start with the crowd cheering, if nothing else, that was such an amazing moment for me as an athlete. I lead the race for nearly 45 miles until Jeremy and I were caught by 5 others around mile 30, but at that point I saw a chance to hopefully grab some more minutes before the run and broke away. Hindsight now tells me, I should have just let it happen and settle into my own power numbers but....I had to go for it. Plus I could barely see through my rain spotted visor OR read my Garmin Edge. I ended up putting around 4-6 minutes between me and the chase group before Sam Long bridged up and we both agreed we should work together. The only problem was, that's when I really started to feel the effects of the cold. I must have been burning through 3x the calories since I'd already slammed 1.5 bottles for nearly 150g of carbs but since I could barely shift my di2, grab bottles or grip...I just put my head down and tried to stay steady. I wanted to push 290-300 watts for 30 minutes and then drop steadily and normalize near 270 watts for the race....which I did. However, I ended up working quite hard for 60 minutes. Any other day, I know I could have sustained but with the added stress and cold, I really felt it. Coming into transition I could barely keep up with Jeremy, who passed me and then 1 other athlete.
Coming off the bike I couldn't feel my feet, I coudln't lift my arms or squeeze with any tensile strength. I could have really used a jacket or waterproof gloves. Regarldess, I was dead set on getting out of that transition tent. I needed help putting on shoes and putting fuel in my pockets since I couldn't use my hands any more than as a stump. The first mile was pretty slow and I hoped I could eventually get to 6:50 or 7:00 minute mile pace by mile 3. Around 35-45 minutes I hit 2 really, really big low points as far as blood sugar. I was taking in A LOT of calories, but even coke wasn't helping after 9 miles. Around 13 miles I had to walk for the first time and it was scary. I was not able to walk straight and I was starting to shiver. I rallied once more time, saw Karen and Anne but then starting the second loop I had to run over to a wall and hold myself up and eventaully lean against it with all my weight. I was partly ashamed, embarassed and maybe even attempted to let my emotions get the best of me. I tried 1 more time but I got a bit light headed and the shivering came on harder so....it was what it was. I walked back to the finish area to find the med tent and spent the next 6 hours shivering, drinking warm liquids and overall not wanting to move. Do I feel shitty knowing that others were able to keep going, you bet...it sucks. It sucks that I still get angry and I still get sad but at this point, I am still driven to overcome this race and erase it with 2 more races.
I booked IRONMAN 70.3 Buenos Aires and IRONMAN Arizona for the finale...well, then there is Patagonman, which will be more of a fun event in Patagonia, South America. I have some positives that I'm holding on to, knowing I ripped through the bike course for a bit - felt invincible and can use that feeling to drive my future races. I feel like this job and the opportuntity to race other events after one goes badly is very nice however, I never want to lean on that. Of course my goal is to finish every single race and people can say whatever they want when Pro's DNF...but we know our bodies well and given extremes I still know it was the best thing so I could take care of myself and focus on a better day NEXT time. The journey is full up these ups and downs. Watching Kona the day before was super inspiring but it maybe fired me up so much I felt I was too invincible for the first 60k of the bike leg. The bottom line is...the rain + the cold was very new and after 4.5 hours I paid the price. I'm envious of those who made it through and I'm so proud of the athletes we had racing. They were stronger than I was and I'm not ashamed to admit.
For everyone who understands and had nice things to say - thank you so much. None of us are immune from a DNF and when you race 10 times a year, shit happens.
Also, we had such a great home-stay from a Pewag Employee, Lisa Frank, that we felt so comfortable and welcome #solucky !!
The day after the race I flew to San Antonio, Texas where I was a guest speaker for the AWRF convention. I have to say, that really picked me back up. I love speaking about health and wellness, and knowing that I helped 2 Pewag Employees lose over 60 lbs in 6 months is so huge. I suppose that made the wounds heal up faster, knowing I can still make a positive impact! More to come...
I'm guessing you've heard Iceland is beautiful, amazing and somewhere you should definitely visit. I'm here to tell you that it's just so much more than that. After IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead I ripped on over there via WOW airline where I think I paid around $320 for a one-way ticket (bags, bikes, food). I believe the flight was around 9 hours but it could have been 10 since I really can't remember (google says 10 hours). Anyway, Iceland can be best viewed with your own eyes so put it on the top of your list and find some great prices on tickets.
22 Days in Iceland
Last year I had the pleasure of racing Challenge Iceland, which was sadly erased from history after it was canceled for 2017. Now, you can't even see the results...so it's like we never raced. During that trip, I was paired with two lovely hosts who made my trip remarkable. Not only were they cool with Karen making a surprise birthday trip to visit, but they also gave us the best taste of Iceland we could imagine. (link to the last blog) So if Challenge Iceland is canceled, whey did I go? Honestly, I just made a good excuse and didn't think twice. I'm racing an extreme 140.6 distance triathlon, Patagonman, in December. I figured I might as well try and place myself in the wind, rain, and cold temps while knocking out a huge adventure. Karen and I ran the Reykjavik Half Marathon and a week later I ran another 1/2 Marathon in the Westman Islands. I feel like I could probably write a small book on this 22-day journey since the people and memories are both vivid and unforgettable. I guess I just want anyone who reads this to get beyond these awesome pictures I'm posting here. Make your own trip to Iceland!
- Week 1 -
Since I arrived on a Tuesday and Karen was coming on a Thursday AND I was still incredibly sore from the previous 70.3, I laid low and once again found my way around our local hangouts. First I HAD to get some of the best sourdough bread I've ever had from Brod & co. Then I just tried to spend some time swimming, stretching and taking in the crisp, clean air. The temperature would be in the 40's in the am and maybe reach a high near 58 during the day. It was perfect running weather, especially since Florida had been feeling like 90-100 degrees each day according to the heat index. My luggage for this trip was mainly warm cycling clothes since I knew I would be spending a lot of time in the cold and most likely wet weather. Either way - my legs were trashed but I really wanted to give her a solid push since the weather was so nice.
Reykjavik Half Marathon - I really wanted to run a 1:16 and for about 16 kilometers I was on point. However, I think since I really wasn't expecting much, I also slacked on my preparation for this race, mainly dealing with hydration. When I limped her in at 1:18 I was in all sort of muscular pain...like my engine ran out of oil. I did my best to get in some near-beer, get my dry clothes on and warm up but I just couldn't. I had a 1-mile walk back to the house where I really thought I was going to have an issue. I couldn't feel my hands and my shiver-level was damn near 500%. All I could think was "great, now I'm going to be sick for a week". After a 30-minute scolding shower and a 2-hour nap in my Pewag puffy jacket I was finally warm. After my INFINIT Mud shake, I was even better - for real!! So I went out hard with a great group of runners, learned a bit about pain management and overall - had a nice day. I think I finished 11th. Oh, and Karen hit up the 10k with Steinunn while Yngvi grabbed some awesome race pictures.
- Week 2 -
I knew we didn't want to simply explore Reykjavik like our last trip, I wanted to visit some cool pools and see some new sights. We decided that since I wanted to check out a pool in Hfsós, we would head north and visit the second largest city in Iceland, Akureyri! I rented a car and we ripped up there in about 4 hours or so. I was able to connect with a super fit athlete, Gunnar, who proceeded to kill me on a trail run not 2 days after my half marathon. I repeatedly told him when we were talking "I'm really going slow, maybe even 5:30min/km or more" however, everyone wants to beat up the pro triathlete. The next morning we proceeded to take 2nd KOM on a grueling, steep 8' part of the trail....so I was pretty much-questioning retirement. The downhill portion was even more embarrassing since Gunnar pretty much gapped me by 1km per minute going downhill...he was like a freaking mountain goat. After the run he proceeded to blow my mind by telling me he had an Air Bnb in Hfsós AND he would help us change our manual transmission Kia to an automatic (so Karen could SAG my bike ride) since he knows everyone in Akureyri. I mean holy crap I meet the most amazing people! Before we headed out of town we ate some expensive, mediocre sushi, bought awesome hand-made sweaters and plotted a course around one of my new favorite bike-routes.
As you can see from the pictures - it was an unforgettable ride. We rode north around the peninsula and after only 2 hours I was ready to get in the car. After the morning run and lame hotel breakfast, I was a bit under-fueled and super tired of riding through freezing, dark tunnels. I wanted coffee and chocolate from the next town! You can see from the pictures yet again, it was just epic - amazing chocolate and food and then finally Hfsós pool....nestled on the side of a cliff. Oh, and the pictures of us walking on the rocks was Karen's idea to walk along this 2 mile-long rock beach until we got to the other side so we could say we did it....and walk back. Needless to say 1 mile in, I was turning back and pretty freaking tired since it was 10pm. It was still something I'll never forget though, we had a lot of fun nearly rolling our ankles, throwing rocks and estimating how much further we had to go.
- Week 3 -
Our trip North lasted only 3 days but we really milked out every bit of fun we could. Once back in Reykjavik we decided to have some local pizza, more walking around town, a few easy runs and some ice-cream from Valdi's. Karen had to rip on back to Florida so I was again flying solo for another week or so. The next adventure beyond the long solo bike rides and group rides + swimming, hot tub, cold tub + 2 hour runs + 48-degree ocean swims - was still going to be MORE epic. I wanted to run a half marathon on the Westman Islands with Steinnun and Yngvi. This would have been a seamless 30-minute ship ride but the weather was incredibly extreme so we had to use a port further away....making the journey last 3 hours!!!! I have NEVER been in such heavy ocean swells, it was just freaking awesome and nope...I didn't puke (even though 180 of the 200 people did). The key is to go outside and get your body used to the rolls while viewing the sea...it really helped. We arrived super late and couldn't really see anything but in the morning I was just blown away with how stunning the sights were and just how freaking hilly this run course would be. The half marathon would have normally had around 50 people but since no one really wanted to ride 3 hours on a boat but a few crazy people, there were like 16 people. We ran in what felt like tropical storm winds, often times being stopped in place while running uphill. Next came the small stinging rain but I'll tell ya what - I'd do it over and over again. It was super fun and since only 16 people showed up, I could def win that race! Oh, and the regular winner (an Olympian) decided to push his little boy in a stroller for 10k so....thanks for that. Not long after the race was over, we were back on a 3-hour ferry ride...again. The sea was even more terrible but yet again, I was playing Lt. Dan on the boat with a death grip to the railing while we rolled back and forth. I was supposed to ride 3 hours before the run but with all of the crap logistics we had to deal with, it was impossible. I was going to ride home from the port but after 30 minutes of riding, questioning if I would be home before midnight...I had to call for a ride and managed to ride 1 hour 15 minutes...where I was blown off the road 2X.
Iceland really welcomed me with open arms. I was training with Kona qualifiers, amazing trail runners and marathoners. The food was never anything but amazing since it was mostly home-cooked and honestly, I cannot wait to be back with my Icelandic friends once again. As a matter of fact, Karen and I are begging them to come to stay with us in Florida so we can repay them somehow.
10 things you need to know about Iceland
- It's very expensive - I filled up a Jeep Grand Cherokee with gas for $140 and a BLT and espresso will run you about $30....oh and sushi for 2 was 100$ (no apps, no alcohol)
- Eat at Brod & co - For real the best bakery...probably worldwide
- Bring a bathing suit - Geothermal pools and amazing swimming at every corner
- Buy a sweater - seriously, you have to wash them with shampoo...it's real freaking sheep hair
- Get out of Reykjavik - Why? I think there are a million reasons......
- Most Icelandic swimmers don't have pool etiquette - I had to "sight" during most all solo swims in the 50m pool because people would hop in and just float....without warning.
- Rent a bike - You can explore all of Reykjavik almost by bike
- Bring running shoes - you can run, hike explore and there is fresh water everywhere
- Jump in the Ocean - It's soooo freaking cold but there is likely a geothermal hot tub nearby (everyone does it)
- Admire the big trucks - Seriously, there are Land Cruisers and Land Rovers everywhere with tires that dwarf me - I want one...I want one...I WANT ONE!
70.3 Augusta 2018
I'll keep this pretty brief since it's more of a stepping-stone race which honestly, could have gone either way in terms of awesome or mediocre. For anyone interested, here is what was like, going on pre-race.
- For one, that whole cold-weather training thing I did in Iceland was just peachy, except for when I came back to Florida. The literal bitch slap left my struggling on the regular. Not only was the humidity something I had all but forgotten while in Iceland, only taking my arm warmers off one time, the red-tide was creating some breathing problems. So, the heart rate is skyrocketing, I can't breathe and I basically feel like I'm falling apart. Looking back, I def tried to make the best of it and overall I think my attitude was decent, often times hitting the trainer or treadmill to try and convince the problems of the outside world. Either way, I needed to get my ass ready for Augusta, which would most certainly be nearly as hot/humid/stinky/sticky.
- Since IRONMAN Austria was a bust and honestly left me more confused than ever, the overall goal, even through 70.3 Steelhead, was to get ready for IRONMAN Louisville. Not that I'm super awesome at longer distances over 70.3's but I need to have some better performances to show progress. This year was supposed to contain 3 IRONMAN events and now I'm down to the last main chance to make it count. I feel like Augusta was the perfect food for the next race, even though I wasn't really on my game mentally or physically, so I'm making oatmeal cookies out of oats....(see what I did there).
- PRE - RACE -
The 8ish hour drive with my lovely wife was just swell. Seriously, we made some awesome time even after the Panera stops! We even arrived 1 day early to meet up with our dear old pal, Jackson Laundry (who drove 19 hours because he's cheap). So this was House #1, which we had for 1 night and it was just super awesome and located in North Augusta, South Carolina (I know...wtf). Jackson and I knocked out our Friday am, sweat-filled sessions then packed up house #1 and headed over to house #2. I rode 40 miles of the course and was actually pretty excited since the 2018 bike course is an improvement (well, after mile 4 at least). House #2 was 20 minutes from the race site located in Martinez, GA. We had a sweet house, plenty of room and we needed it since Ivan, my teammate was coming to finish off his last bit of Kona prep. The final key to this puzzle was linking up with TRIBAL Multi-Sport Athletes. I had about 5 athletes racing and Jon/Beth had another 7 or so combined so we were rolling deep.
The pro-meeting, final sessions and race recon went smoothly since we're all OCD and have everything pre-planned days in advance. The shopping was complete, the 50 items needed to race were organized and then it was time to watch movies and get fat. I'm not sure why, but each and every taper brings a whole lot of stiffness, despite Epsom baths, foam rolling and movement. It kinda sucks but at least I know what to expect.
Swim/Bike/Run recap in 1 paragraph
I went out too hot on the swim and kinda lost some pretty solid position. My goal was to stick with Jackson and Ivan but I kinda went off like a champagne cork. I even remember seeing those guys go by me as I was struggling to pull it back together. Sometimes it's just something you have to do...see what it takes to pop and like, don't do it again. I also have determined I just don't like down-river swims since everyone is still bunched together for the bike. By mile ten there were like 12 of us and 2 Moto's keeping us from drafting. This meant a shit load of accordion-type riding and after a few miles of that I moved to the 4th wheel and avoided that nonsense. There were attacks and such but after 10 miles and with a group that size, we were pretty set. If you don't get away within the first 2-3 miles it likely won't happen. Since this race has a fast, flat course I figured I'd just turn off my brain and wait for the run. The bike course really wasn't bad for the 40-mile section of hills. There were some new roads and 1 or two areas that made you wish you'd had lower tire pressure. For some reason, when we all ran into transition, 50 age group swimmers were still coming out of the water, scrambling for their bikes. It was a mess and I really think they need to work faster at getting these people in the water faster - that's a LONG day if you don't start until 9:30!! The run was eventually a grind lacking any sort of enthusiasm or drive. I tried changing my stride, pumping the arms like a madman but in the end, gave in to the heat and finished 16th. Of course, Jackson took 2nd and Ivan took 3rd, totally inspiring and crushing at the same time. You know, after all of the hard work I've been putting in - I just dream of those days when it consistently comes together.
Next up I'm headed to Lake Toxaway North Carolina for some awesome weather, solitude before IM Louisville and some mountains/lake training. After that....70.3 Buenos Aires and finally for my finale in 2018 Patagonman Extreme Triathlon in Chile!
I’m sure it’s no surprise that 70.3 Steelhead, for me, was just peachy - 6th Place Male Pro -. For once, I had a bit of an upper hand. It all started with the swim. First off, this course is just great. The beautiful beach front, rolling hills and challenging run in my home state really make for a solid challenge. I really nailed my nutrition this time as well with my custom INFINIT Mix on the bike in 2 bottles and a 3rd bottle of Jet Fuel. On the run I basically survived on Coke....
A Rip In Lake Michigan
Having raced here 3 times now, I definitely respect just how volatile this lake can be. The first year I raced as an age grouper it was a point to point. That was cool but a pain in the ass when you have to walk 1.2 miles in the sand. The next year I believe it was canceled (the swim), last year it was a bit choppy but wetsuit legal and this past Sunday was a bit of a swell session, however only a few white caps off the beach. All that being said, let’s focus on why the swim gave me an advantage.
- I like swimming in water with a bit of a 1-2 foot swell OR completely flat. When it’s super small chop it’s a bit annoying and you just can’t breathe but can still hold rhythm. The bigger swells that force you to often roll down and then breach over top of the next wave, really suit my style. My swim stroke is definitely more power driven and as I’m not the skinniest out there, I could carry momentum without losing as much steam.
For that reason, I knew the typical swim packs would break up and we’d be pretty tight in smaller groups. I mean, one second you were headed towards a buoy, the next you’re perpendicular and headed out to sea. Plus, I kept mistaking kayaks or other objects as buoys. All that matters in this situation is stroke + breath timing. If you do it well, you’ll avoid the tragic breath of water while you’re begging for air. All in all, I’ve heard it called the “hardest swim ever” with 20 ft waves but honestly, I loved it.
The New 70.3 Steelhead Bike Course
There is no doubt the bike course is fast and in my opinion, the new course is even better since it eliminated a lot of the more questionable roads. Sure, the turnaround area is a bit interesting but it still works well for general flow. My bike started out solid, however, I kept seeing 320+ watts while we were building up momentum in the first few corners. I’ve learned that you can certainly get away with riding near 100% FTP for the first 5-10’ as you settle into your group or break-away while still sustaining a solid overall average around 295 watts for the whole bike leg.
It was me and Taylor Reid working for a bit until Jackson Laundry motored on by. I made the mistake of letting the gap get a bit too large before starting to chase and before I knew it I was working just a bit too hard for that point in the race (without getting any closer) and I backed it off. Around 25 minutes later Taylor and TJ rode up and we actually worked nicely until 25 miles or so when Taylor was given a 5 min penalty- which I understand but…it was just unlucky. We had a moto with us the whole time and as we rounded a corner at high speed and went uphill, we tend to bunch up for a brief minute as we sort ourselves out. The referee cited him straight away and then it was just Tj and I (after the mid-point penalty tent). My power backed off a bit as I let some more space between TJ and I zooming into T2 and honestly, I just wasn’t sure how the run was going to play out since it’s always been kinda shit for me.
The Breakaway Wins!
I had a pretty solid gap from 7th/8th/9th place but heck, I had no idea it would shake out the way it did. I was essential, off the front, biding my times as the peloton of 3 gradually reeled me in. within the last mile I still had 100 or so seconds on them but when you have 3 guys pushing each other and one guy trying to survive, those 3 usually end up moving much faster. In the end, I almost got caught up giving my parents a high-five running through the shoot and had a pretty solid sprint finish to hold onto 6th place. All in all – I just couldn’t be happier to make my way into what I consider, a pretty damn good spot moving forward. It was a hot day, the run course is hilly AF but overall - I wasn't too far behind the average pro run time.
Some Final Thoughts…
My season really hadn’t gone the way I’d hoped it would, with 70.3 Texas, 70.3 Victoria and 70.3 Chattanooga having their own variations of issues while St. Anthony’s showed some solid promise. However, I’ve worked out a few kinks which have really helped.
- My bike position has just been impossibly aggressive since I’ve gotten the Storck this year. I’ve moved the saddle 100 times, adjusted the height and until I was in Austria and fit by someone who really impressed me, I was not biking well on race day. My back would seize up after 45 minutes of sustained power over 300 so something really needed to change. Now, my position just feels so much nicer and my hip/back angles are much more ideal for power production and I’m still super aero.
- My blood work was terrible only 6 weeks ago. Since then I’ve really boosted iron intake, zinc and I’m working to try and understand what’s going on with my hypothyroidism. I often eat much less than my training partners but I just end up being “thicker” but now, since seeing a bit of estrogen dominance, I’ve got to put more emphasis on methods to fix that…which are still in the works.
- Confidence – after 8 days in Guelph Ontario with some stellar athletes, I really had some breakthrough sessions on the bike and swim. I mean my running was good too but still not as good as it has been in the past. I’m improving but yes, the run is just a very delicate area my team and I are working to improve.
- The power of the Rip hat – Jackson and I were both out for a rip so …. The hats had to have helped.
Currently, I’m in Iceland for a bit, working on some cold weather prep for Patagonman in December. Mainly, I need some more extreme cold water confidence…so that’s the goal. Next up is 70.3 Augusta, IRONMAN Louisville, 70.3 Los Cabos and finally, Patagonman in Dec ….
And then training camp in Tenerife early Jan and 70.3 Dubai Feb! BOOM!
A huge thanks to Pewag Racing Team, INFINIT Nutrition, Storck Bikes, Garmin, Shimano, Castelli, Oakley, 3T Cycling, Ekoi and Schwalbe for always giving us great gear to race and train with year round.