Redemption: IRONMAN Wisconsin 2016 Race Report

Redemption. That’s the word I had been focused on since my disappointing finish at IRONMAN Wisconsin last year. Last year I was so focused on what everyone else was doing and what everyone else thought and I let it get to me. This year I took on IRONMAN with a new perspective; stay in the moment and only worry about what I can control. I didn’t care whether I finished first or last this year as long as I gave it my all on race day. Here’s how things played out:

Cliff notes version: We had a gorgeous day for my 9th IRONMAN. I had a PR in the swim, a solid bike and finished it off with hard run to take 3rd place overall!

Swim: 58:07 (PR)
Bike: 5:03:50
Run: 3:23:29
Overall: 9:31:27 (PR)

Swim: The cannon went off and the chaos began. Starting a bit on the inside of the buoy line, gave me some open water for the first 100 yards or so. After the first 100 yards, I made the move back outside the buoys. I must have not secured my goggles completely because my left eye filled up with water.

I settled into a pace and immediately found some feet to swim on.

At each of the turns, I adjusted my goggles to let the water out, but they continued to fill up. Luckily it was on the left side, I breathe to the right about 90% of the time. As we started on the 1.2 mile back stretch, I stayed on the feet of a swimmer with an all black cap (All-World-Athlete). I thought this may have been Clay Emge, the winner of IRONMAN Boulder in 2015 and 2016. I stayed on his feet in the back of a group of 6 for the majority of the back stretch.

After we made the turn towards the finish, I lost a bit of the group, but ended up swimming next to one of my friends, a former UW Swimmer, Kelly Winkler. We came into the swim finish with a solid group of about 10-15 people, a good mix of males, females and few female professionals. Swim: 58:07 (PR), 1:30/100m. 11th M25-29, 24th male, and 34th overall.

T1: I got out of the water and peeled my wetsuit down to my hips. I heard someone yell my name so I went right to that group of wetsuit strippers. Off it went and I ran up the helix. I stayed on the outside of the helix (its not as steep as the inside), grabbing a few high fives on the way up. I came into the T1 room and ran right to where my bag was. Inside, I had by shoes and helmet. Without slowing down, I took out my shoes and helmet, and tossed my wetsuit and transition bag at the nearest volunteer (I did say thank you!).

I ran outside and out to my bike, putting my helmet on along the way. I made it all the way to my bike, with shoes in hand. As the volunteer grabbed my bike, I put my bike shoes on. I grabbed my bike and headed off down the helix. A teammate who was spectating yelled that I was 10 minutes back of the leaders and 15th place overall. That means I had passed about 19 people during transition. T1: 4:14photo-sep-12-6-34-06-pm

Bike: After biking down the helix, I headed out on John Nolen drive. As I headed out to the 2-loop course, I tried to take some deep breaths and keep my heart rate down. There was a head-wind (SW), but I passed a handful athletes before making it Verona. My legs were feeling pretty good and I was pushing a little bit harder than I should have (sorry coach).

Once onto the loop, I was feeling great and pushing towards the top of my power limits. On the first hilly section of the day, a 50-year old came flying by me cranking up a hill. I said to the guy next to me, “he’ll be walking on the run!” (Turns out he took 4th overall).photo-sep-12-6-33-23-pm

I made my way up to 4th place by the time I reached the climb into Mt. Horeb. During the climb, Clay Emge went by me, also up out of the saddle and cranking. I knew he was a stronger biker, so my goal was to try and limit his lead off the bike to less than 10 minutes. I stayed with him for the next 10 miles, mostly due to the fact that I knew the course so well. There were a lot of downhills and technical descents that I had ridden hundreds of times.

On the big climb up Barlow, Emge dropped out of my sight. I made the turn for the second loop, still feeling great. My power was still a bit higher than I had planned (sorry again coach). There was quite a lot of traffic from other athletes doing their first loop. There were a few times where car traffic and athletes caused some riders to weave in and out of cars (there were also 2 bike vs car accidents on race day).photo-sep-12-6-33-35-pm

Most of the 2nd loop I rode in 3rd place overall behind Emge and one of the swimming leaders, Andrew Kiely. As I turned home for the last 15 miles, I knew that it wouldn’t do me any good to push the bike. Gaining a minute or 2 would only hurt me more on the run. I relaxed and rode home on the stick pushing a little bit easier with a tailwind at our backs. I overtook Keily around mile 100 as he had with some stomach issues. The Monona Terrace was a welcome sight and I was happy to get off my bike! Bike: 5:03:50, 22.12mph. 1st M25-29, 2nd male, 2nd Overall.

T2: I rode up the helix, unstrapped my shoes, and dismounted my bike. The volunteers grabbed my bike and I ran my way into the change rooms. I grabbed my bag and ran into the men’s change area. I sat down, putting my socks and shoes on, while the volunteers helped organize my race belt, hat and nutrition bottle. I was out the door and ready to run! T2: 1:47

Run: Deja vu. Just like last year, I would have to run down my competition if I wanted to win. Out of T2, I was about 6:15 back of the Emge. I knew he had just raced (and won) IM Boulder last month so he might not be able to hang on for the full marathon.

My goal for the run was to stay consistent and keep my pace between 6:50-7:05 min/mile. The first 2 miles clicked by around 6:45. I was trying to run slow but it felt so easy. In the first 8 miles, I put a minute or 2 into the leader.

As I made the turn-around on the lakeshore path, my calves and quads began to tighten up. I started to take some salt at each aid station which seemed to help a little. I watched my pace begin to fall as I dealt with tight muscles and some GI issues. I wanted to walk, but I knew how I felt last year after walking for 8 miles. Not this year. Although it was an ugly shuffle, I kept holding around 8 minute miles. Anything can happen, if the leader walked at all, I’d still have a shot at winning.

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Around mile 14-15 is where the 3rd place guy, Kevin Wright, came flying by me like a freight train. It was frustrating as I had no gear to try and even think of keeping pace. My mindset instantly shifted to holding onto 3rd place. I pushed myself up Observatory drive, back to State Street, along the lakeshore path and back towards the Capitol. By the time I hit the Kohl center, I knew that the 4th place guy was too far back to catch me. I took a deep breath and relaxed my arms.

The cheers were amazing as I came down State Street and around the Capitol Square for the last time. I made the final turn towards home. Mike Reilly’s voice brought me in as I walked, waved to the crowed, and slapped some high fives. I took a few more waves to the crowd, shook Mike Riellys hand, placed my hand over my heart and pointed to the sky in honor of my late friend Ryan. Run: 3:23:29, 7:46 min/mile.

photo-sep-12-6-32-04-pm

9:31:27, 2nd M25-29, 3rd male, and 3rd Overall.

Overall: I didn’t cross the line first, but I was proud of what I had just accomplished. Redemption was sweet. This was my 5th IMWI and my 9th IRONMAN overall. It was a PR by :20 seconds (Kona 2014, 9:31:47).

Nutrition: My nutrition plan was simple thanks to INFINIT Nutrition. On the bike I started with 3 bottles of 587 calories each. I picked up a 4th bottle at bike special needs. Along with my nutrition on the bike, I took in water at aid stations. On the run, I had my handheld full of a concentrated INFINIT blend, I refilled the bottle at the run special needs stop.

Thank you: There are so many people to thank! Not just the people who played a role on Sunday, but the whole year leading up to the race. Thank you to all the volunteers and staff who put on a great event! Thank you to my coach, Blake Becker and all my teammates who were out in full force cheering and racing! Thank you to my family  and friends who are always there to support me and keep me going during the race. Thank you to all my sponsors, most of all Endurance House. Its so rewarding having a career that lets me do what I love! Thank you to Borah Teamwear, TYR Sports, INFINIT Nutrition, Newton Running, Superfeet, Cycleops, Rudy Project and Tifosi Optics.

Up Next: I’m going to enjoy the next two weeks off! As of right now, I have no racing plans for the rest of 2016. We’ll see if it stays that way.

However, 2017 is filling up quickly. In February of this year, I qualified for Boston 2017 in April. This will be my first trip to run the Boston Marathon, I’m excited to try and chase down a new PR. In September of 2017, I’ll be headed to Chattanooga for the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships! Like Boston, this will be my first time racing the 70.3 Worlds. Last but not least, on Sunday I re-qualfied for my 3rd trip to Kona. I will be headed back to the big island in October 2017 to race the IRONMAN World Championships.

I am so humbled by the opportunities I have been given and the experiences I’ve had. Competing in 3 iconic Championship races next year is beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you again to everyone who has gotten me to this point and everyone who will be a part of the future! Cheers!

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