Break the Tape: Ohio 70.3 Race Report

Back on top! 2 weeks after IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie I wasn’t sure how my body would respond to my 4th 70.3 of the year, but it turned out pretty great! I headed down to Ohio on Wednesday to spend the week in our Columbus office. My coach and I decided to train through Wednesday and then back off the 3 days before the race. We wanted to maintain as much fitness as possible before IMWI next month.

Swim: Another hot swim in the books. Race day water temp was 80.8 degrees. I was able to get a pre-race warm up swim in before lining up in the start corrals. I lined up about 15 people back from the front of the line. I knew Cameron was a fast swimmer so my goal for the swim was to swim strong and limit the gap out of the water. 

Eric Engel Triathlete | IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio Race Report

Coming out of the water

I ran into the water and did a few dolphin dives in the shallow areas. Once I got into a rhythm I passed a few small groups of people and then I was on my own the rest of the way. I felt like I was swimming really strong and caught a few swimmers about halfway through. Once thing that rarely happened is that I was never passed during the swim. Usually I fade late and I get passed by a few athletes, but not this time. When I came out of the water I was bit disappointed though, thinking I had swam faster than a 29+ swim. Oh well, onto the bike to close the gap! Swim – 29:16 (1:23/100yd avg) – 10th overall

T1: Out of the water, a friend yelled that I was 5 back. I didn’t know if this meant 5 minutes or 5 people so I just assumed the worst that it was 5 minutes. For some reason when I registered for the race, they didn’t give me an AWA (All World Athlete) bib number. This usually means I have a low bib number with a good rack position, but instead I was bib #1299 and right in the middle of transition. For transition, we needed to put all of our belongings in a bag since we wouldn’t be coming back to transition so I made sure that I put my googles and swim skin in the bag. I put on my shoes (no socks) and ran with my bike to the mount line. Made up 3 places in transition. T1 – 2:07

Bike: Looking at the weather in the morning I knew there was going to be a strong tailwind the first 22 miles of the bike. That mean the last 35 miles we were going to have a headwind for most of the ride. With this in mind, I pushed a bit early on. I was averaging just shy of 270 watts for this portion of the ride and just shy of 28 mph. I had passed a few people early on in the bike, but didn’t know where I was overall on the course. When I started the headwind portion I tried my best to keep as aero as possible, tucking my head down when possible. The roads for this race were in pretty great condition (everything is better than WI roads). 

Eric Engel Triathlete | IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio Race Report

Early on in the bike – tailwind included

After making another pass, I could see an athlete further up with the lead race vehicle. I knew that this must be Cameron leading the race. He was about 1 min up at the halfway point and I wanted to keep pushing to make the pass. That never happened. The headwind was strong and I only got within 15-20 seconds on the road – I was actually about dead even with him for the overall standings since he started the swim about 30 seconds before me. 

During the race I thought he might be benefiting from the draft of the lead vehicle, because I wasn’t able to catch him while holding my power. After hearing his post race interview the local paper he mentioned that his goal was to push the 2nd half of the bike, so this explains why I was never able to put any additional time into him. 

My bike nutrition strategy was simple (it always is now) – 2 bottles of INIFNIT Nutrition and taking in as much water as I can at aid stations. I made some aero adjustments to my bike with Isaac at Neff Cycle Service and we put my 2 water bottles on my frame behind my saddle. This seemed to be a huge benefit with the headwind on the day. 

As we made our way into the city of Delaware, I made sure to top off my nutrition and spin the legs a bit before starting the run. Bike – 2:08:08 2nd fastest bike split of the day (26.22 mph avg, 255 avg power, 258 NP) – Tied for 1st overall after the bike.

T2: I was right behind Cameron coming into T2, about 11 seconds back of him on the course and dead even with him overall time. I racked my bike, threw on my socks and grabbed my race belt/hat/glasses. I made up a few seconds on Cameron in transition so I started the run only 6 seconds back of him on the course, but with the overall lead. T2 – 1:51

Run: The first mile of the run always has so much anticipation. During the last few miles of the bike I always wonder how my legs will feel or if I biked too hard or not. Starting out the run I had a lot of adrenaline pumping because I was so close to the front. I passed Cameron coming out of T2 and was holding about a 5:45 pace for the first mile. I looked back a few times up the first hill and saw I had already put a decent gap on 2nd. I knew at this point it was my race to win or lose. 

It was pretty hot out – mid 80’s with parts of shade on the run. I made sure to take advantage of every aid station, getting in water, calories and ice if available. On the first lap of the 2 loop course I tried to run consistent and stay close to 6 min mile averages. My first 7 miles splits were 5:45, 6:05, 5:59, 5:59, 5:57, 6:12 and 6:03. During this stretch I tried to push the downhills and the shady sections of the run. I got a few updates after the first lap saying I was a few minutes up (In my mind I was thinking, what does a few minutes mean? 1? 3? 5?). I knew I couldn’t slow down, but at the same time I didn’t want to blow up. My mindset shifted back to my run at Muncie a few weeks prior, just maintain and don’t get caught. 

The last 6 miles ticked by slowly, averaging 6:12, 6:13, 6:08, 6:23, 6:15 and 6:09 pace. At the top of the last big hill someone told me I had over 7 minutes on 2nd place. With less than 2 miles to go I knew I had it won. That didn’t stop me from pushing though. I’ve had a goal to go under 4 hours at the 70.3 distance so I gritted my teeth and pushed hard. My legs weren’t on the same wavelength though. The last mile I enjoyed the encouragement and high fives from athletes just starting out their run. 

Eric Engel Triathlete | IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio Race Report

Gritting my teeth

As I entered the stadium and got onto the track, I anxiously looked to see if the finisher tape was up. At WI 70.3, I missed out on being able to break the tape so I was excited to see I’d have the chance to do so. I got a little teary-eyed and laughed to myself a bit saying “this is happening!” Run -1:20:31 (6:08 min/mile avg) Fastest run split of the day.

Overall: Looking back at my race I’m very happy with how it played out. Obviously I would have loved to go under 4 hours, but I think in order to do that I’m going to need to work on my swim a bit more and be able to hang on a bit longer late in the run. This race wraps up my 70.3 season as I did 4 70.3 races since May. My results were 4th Overall Amateur (Chatty 70.3), 1st Overall (WI 70.3), 2nd Overall (Muncie 70.3) and 1st Overall (Ohio 70.3). After the year I had last year, I never thought I’d be racing at this high of a level again. 4:01:53, 1st Overall, 1st AG

Eric Engel Triathlete | IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio Race Report

All the feels!

Next up is IRONMAN Wisconsin. No racing until then, coaches orders! I’m looking forward to taking the recent success I’ve had at the Half IRONMAN distance and translating it into the full distance. I have some big goals for the race, but I’ll save those for another post!

Thank you’s:

INFINIT Nutrition: Again, if you’re struggling with nutrition or you are just sick of carrying gels, bars, or kitchen sink then you need to check this stuff out! It’s simple and easy and you get everything you need in liquid form. Use my discount code EENGEL-INFINIT to get 20% off! 

Coach Will Smith: He’s kept my as consistent as I’ve ever been with my training and I’m looking forward to the 4 week build he has planned for IMWI. No more days off!

Life Style Staffing: I was traveling before the race for work in Columbus so its great to be able to have a company who supports me in the office and outside of it as well. Looking forward to racing with my boss, John and co-worker Brandon at IMWI next month

AP Racing: Andy Potts and Daniel have taken me under their wing this season in the inaugural season of “The Crew” – More big things to come! Thanks for the support.

Peak Performance Massage: I can’t say thank you enough to Brianna and the staff at Peak. My legs were pretty wrecked after Muncie and she got me back in great shape to perform a high level at Ohio. I’ll be back there at least 3 more times before IMWI. Stop in for your first massage and tell them I sent you (50% off first timers). 

Neff Cycle Service: My fit has improved a ton since WI 70.3 and all credit goes to Isaac at Neff Cycle Service. If you live in Madison, make sure you check them out for all your bike service, parts and fit needs!

Photo Gallery Ohio 70.3

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