2019 Year in Review

What a year it was! Coming into 2019 I was very unsure how it would play out. I had a very challenging 2018 that left me unmotivated and unsure of my future in the sport. I told myself that I wasn’t going to do an IRONMAN and that I would just focus on my speed at the 70.3 distance – obviously this didn’t happen but I certainly did improve in that aspect.

I started the year without a coach, just doing workouts as I felt, mainly focusing on running since I had signed up for a half marathon in Phoenix in early February.

Motivation began to switch near the end of January – it’s amazing the amount of motivation a new bike can bring! I ended up going with a Project One Trek Speed Concept after selling my QR PRsix after my race in Kona. I absolutely love this bike by the way and looking forward to riding it again in 2020.

With my renewed motivation I linked up with a new coach, Will Smith, who coaches in addition to his full time gig with Normatec. The goal for the year was just to build some consistency now that I was in one place and not traveling/living in a van.

The winter went by pretty uneventfully – I had a dud of a race at the half marathon in Phoenix but was happy to be able to get back on the bike and in the pool.

The spring brought some new changes – a new downtown apartment and a new puppy. The apartment was a perfect location right off the bike path and a stones throw from Lake Monona bay. The puppy, Giannis, however was a lot of work. A lot of restless nights getting up every few hours to take him out meant I had to be extra diligent about fitting my workouts in.

A few weeks before my first race of the year in Chattanooga, I came down with bronchitis. This hit me pretty hard, at one point not working out for 10 days straight. After a call with the coach about potentially pulling the plug on the race, we decided to go for it and test out my fitness.

Here’s how my season panned out:

IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga: I really didn’t know how this race would go. With a shortened swim, I came out of the water in a good position, had a decent bike and ended up negative splitting the run. I finished 4th overall amateur and 4th in my Age Group. A good start to the year despite the bronchitis a few weeks earlier.

IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin: Only a couple weeks after Chattanooga, I raced the local 70.3 here in Madison. A PR swim and a steady bike put me in great shape starting the run. I ended up running down the leader and taking the overall win – my first 70.3 amateur win.

IRONMAN Wisconsin 70.3 2019 Race Report - Eric Engel Triathlete

Men’s and Women’s Overall Champions (and Badgers!)

IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie: After 70.3 Wisconsin, I was hungry to race again so I headed to Muncie. I once again put myself in contention off the bike, coming in 3rd overall. On a hot day, I was beat by a better athlete who ended up running a 1:12 Half marathon. I came across the line 2nd overall almost 10 minutes back of the leader. After the race I took my slot to the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand.

IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio: Two weeks after Muncie, I lined up to race again in Ohio. I wasn’t feeling very confident coming into the race but that quickly faded as I found my grove on the bike. I came out of T2 shoulder-to-shoulder for the lead and ended up throwing down the best run split and winning by almost 10 minutes.

Eric Engel Triathlete | IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio Race Report

All the feels!

After Ohio, my main focus was IRONMAN Wisconsin. I had 4 great weeks of training – hitting 30+ hours in my peak week. Looking back I may have overcooked myself a bit, but it was a great experience to know what I could handle.

IRONMAN Wisconsin: Even though I said I wasn’t going to do a full IRONMAN in 2019, I found myself toeing the start line for my “A” race of the year. I had never been more confident in my ability and felt like this would be my day to set a new PR in all 3 disciples. A choppy swim had me flustered a bit but made it to the front of the race early on the bike. I got a bit too excited on the bike and ended up paying for it on the second half of the run. I finished 2nd overall amateur and got a slot to Kona which was great, but I was deeply disappointed in my collapse.

IRONMAN Louisville: 5 weeks later I was back on the start line – with the sole goal of winning the race. A cancelled swim and a top 3 bike split put me into striking distance for the overall win starting the run. With a new run PR and my first sub-3 IRONMAN run, I was able to take the tape and finish first overall.

Obviously it was a great year on paper, but more importantly I started to enjoy the process again. I enjoyed training again and seeing how far I could push myself.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without great people in my corner. Huge thanks to the following people who helped me achieve my success this year:

Will Smith – Thanks for all your guidance and support – looking for to our first full year of coaching together in 2020, big things ahead

Family/Friends – I have a great support network of family and friends who encourage, motivate and support me along the way.

Training buddies – I’m fortunate to have some good training partners, specifically Dustin and Alfredo, who help push my limits

Life Style Staffing – I have a great career where my boss supports me outside the office as well. They’ve been such a huge support system for me in 2019 and looking forward to continuing it into 2020 and beyond.

INFINIT Nutrition – My first sponsor back in 2014. Thanks for a great 6 years and pumped to be back for year 7 in 2020. Use code EENGEL-INFINIT for 20% off

Peak Performance Massage – Training doesn’t mean anything if you can’t recover. Thanks to Brianna and Meghan at Peak Performance massage for getting me the start line healthy and ready to rock!

Neff Cycle Service – After Wisconsin 70.3 I met Isaac at Neff Cycle Service. We honed in my bike fit and set me up with the best equipment possible to take on the rest of the year. If you live in the Madison area you definitely need to check out Isaac and his crew for all your fit, service and bike needs.

I have some exciting new sponsors and race plans for 2020 so stay tuned later this week for my 2020 season preview! Thanks again for all your support and following along – it really does mean so much to me.

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