I was excited to get back to racing after my performance at IRONMAN WI 70.3 in June. I was also a bit scared to be honest. Having ran so well at WI 70.3, I was nervous I’d never be able to repeat that or that it was a fluke. I put in a consistent month of training and was ready to toe the line once again. Cliff notes version to the race, I set course PRs in all 3 disciplines, a new 70.3 bike PR and finished 2nd overall and 1st in my AG. I beat my time from last year on this course by over 24 minutes (blame van life).
I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to this race in style! We hopped on a plane (no security lines) and made it Muncie in just over an hour. Didn’t even need to break down my bike! My boss and coworker travelled with to support me as well so it was set up to be a great weekend.
I started about :30 sec back of the first group of swimmers. I usually start as close to the front as possible so that I know if someone passes me on the course throughout the day, they are ahead on me on the chip time as well.
They changed the swim course this year so that we would swim parallel to the short instead of straight out from the beach. The reason for this was to prevent the final stretch of the swim from having the sun glaring into our eyes.
The swim was pretty uneventful. The water was hot as balls (80ish) so we couldn’t wear wetsuits. I felt pretty good for the first half of the swim, staying in a pack of 3-4 other athletes who I knew I wanted to come out of the water with. On the back half, I faded from the group a bit, but could still keep them in my sights. I got a little lazy during race week and didn’t get any of my swims in besides a splash around the day before. I came out of the water about 3 minutes behind the leader and about :30 back of a former teammate who knew would be up near the front most of the day. Swim – 29:01 (12th Overall, 3rd AG).
After getting out the water, its a decent run up to the transition area. I kept my Wattie Ink aero suit tucked underneath my swim skin so as I ran up I pulled that over my shoulders and zipped it up. For the first time in 10 years, I tried something new in T1 – I put on bike socks. I always train with my bike socks so I thought why not try it during the race. Putting them on took a little bit of extra time, but it felt pretty comfortable during the bike. My transition in the past are usually one of the fastest, if no the fastest. This season, I’ve been trying out new things and have lost that edge a bit. Looking to get back in the groove for the next couple of races. T1 – 2:25
Getting on the bike I knew I was about 2:30 back of the lead and I assumed about 10th place overall. The first 6 miles of course wind a bit on the road, so I wasn’t able to see many people up the road. I passed about 3-4 people in the first 5 miles. When I got to the main bike section (11 mile out and back we had to do twice), I could see the lead biker in front of me, he had a moto cop following along side. Before I was able to bridge the gap up to him, I was passed by Vanacora (former teammate) and another athlete.
For the next 30 or so miles, the 3 of us would go back and forth for the lead. I was pushing much higher power than I would have liked, but I knew I didn’t want to get too far back from this group since I knew Vanacora was capable of running sub 1:20. I stuck to my nutrition plan perfectly – drinking my concentrated INFINIT Custom Blend (use code EENGEL-INFINIT for 20% off) every 10 minutes and supplementing with water.
A few points during the race, I faded off the back – 20 seconds or so in my estimation. I was able to make up some as we exited the out and back section – I seemed to go a bit quicker through aid stations and around corners.
The last 6 miles I sat about 10 seconds back (in 3rd overall – on the course). With about 1 mile to go, I was passed by an athlete who we hadn’t seen all day (spoiler alert: he won). He came by me at a good clip but I managed to pass him back as we entered transition. My bike power ended up being 259 NP and 255 avg power. I think the bike was about .8 miles short for those following along at home. Bike – 2:08:21 (25.8 mph)
Coming into T2 I was right where I wanted to be. I took off my helmet and bike socks and through on my run socks/shoes and grabbed my belongings. I was able to pass the 2nd place guy in transition and headed out in pursuit of the lead runner who was about :20 seconds up the road. T2 – 1:40
This run course is notoriously a hot one with little cover or shade. The day before the race, my coach told me that if anyone was able to run sub 1:20 they would probably win (if they didn’t blow up in the process). Before I could run down the leader, I saw a flash from my peripherals. This “flash” the eventual overall winner and he was clicking off 5:30 minute miles. As I caught up to Vanacora we exchanged a few words and I told him “let’s let him go, he’s gonna blow up.” He never did. The winner negative splitted the race and ran a blistering 1:12 half marathon after a 2:04 bike. He’s a former collegiate runner from Penn State and well on his way to becoming a professional triathlete.
Back to the rest of us peasants. I held my own at 6 min/miles until the turn around. It was hot, but not nearly as hot as last year. On the back half of the run I did what I could to maintain my 2nd place position (1st AG). I got a few splits along the way telling me the leader was already 5 minutes ahead at the turn around. He put another 5 minutes on me on the back half. My pace faded, but it was just happy to see the miles clicking off with no one running me down from behind.
With about a mile to go, I saw a friend out spectating and I yelled to her “cant win ‘em all!” I was still in good spirits as I knew there was no way I could have beat the winner. I snuck under 1:20 for the half marathon and managed to pull off a new 70.3 PR of 4:01:35. Run – 1:19:51 (6:07 min/mile pace).
It’s hard to complain when you set a PR, but there’s always things I want to improve and do better for the next race. I was happy with my effort on the day, but know that I can push a bit more on the run if I’m not as greedy on the bike. The best part of the weekend was being able to see some good friends and celebrate with them. Oh, by the way I qualified for the 2020 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand next Thanksgiving. I was the first 30-34 Male to qualifying in the US (Muncie was the first qualifier). NZ has been on my bucket list and what a better way to check it off then with a racecation. Overall – 4:01:35 (2nd Overall, 1st AG 30-34)
I’m racing Ohio 70.3 this weekend (yes, I know I’m crazy) and then shutting the racing down until IRONMAN Wisconsin in September. I’m looking forward using the momentum and confidence I’ve built at the 70.3 distance to performing at the IRONMAN distance.
Life Style Staffing – Thank you to my boss John for getting me to the race in style and for supporting me on race day with his son and Brandon
Coach – Shout out to my Coach Will (a Kiwi from NZ) who helped get me to this consistent fitness level and keeping my head on straight.
INFINIT Nutrition – INFINIT Nutrition always has my back. Never any issues during training or race day. Use EENGEL-INFINIT at http://www.infinitnutrtion.com for 20% all day everyday. Also check out my custom blend if you want to know what I use!
Peak Performance Massage – My favorite place in Madison! Brianna gets me ready for every race and big training week. Thanks for keeping my healthy and fresh! Madison folks, get 50% off your first massage when you mention my name!
Others – As always thanks to all my friends, family and supporters who keep my motivated and excited to race. It’s been a fun ride so far this year and looking forward to closing the second half of the year with some solid racing!
Thanks for hanging out for a bit! See you next week!