With my Achilles injury, and a deep field, I ratcheted down my own expectations. My race day plan was to swim hard, bike all out and hope it was enough for the bike preme, and then race-jog the run. Fortunately on this day, a solid swim and a monster bike afforded me the luxury of being able to cruise the run in route to my first ever Olympic distance triathlon win. Here is a recap of the day:
|Couldn't get the wetsuit off quicker|
I continued fighting and I was determined to see how long I could last. After a few hundred meters I could tell that the person to the left of me was Jake Rhyner. He was drafting off some feet but then he let them go. I instantly made the decision to surge and catch back up. I managed to draft for another 50 meters and then I was simply broken by heat overload and I made the tough decision to let the group go. I knew it was going to be warm day and the battle might become one of hydration - it was the smart thing to do.
I swam the remaining 900 meters solo as I watched the distance to the lead pack grow. By the end of the swim they had managed to gain more than a minute on me.
T1: The run through T1 is always tough at Elkhart Lake. It has a steep uphill pitch that always leaves me gasping for air. It didn't help though that I was asking for water and was passed a cup of sports drink. There is nothing like a glass full of sugar stinging right into your eyes. I backed it off and tried to wipe as much liquid off as could but got passed by Jake in the process. With him now in front I would be the 6th person out of transition and would have to make up the ground on the bike.
Bike (1:06:27 / 1st place): I hopped on my bike and used the first minute to warm-up the legs. I wanted to get out of the city and onto the main country road before stepping on the gas. Problem was that my Garmin was not reading my powermeter and I still wanted to ride the first five minutes under a controlled pace. After resetting my Garmin I was able to get my power readings back online. At that point I took a look behind me and then stepped on the gas. It was then when I started creating some separation with Jake and started reeling in the other competitors. One by one I played leap frog as I worked my way on by Scott Bowe, Cameron Kanuth, and Nick Early. Then I was left with passing the legendary Greg Thompson. I made all the passes quickly and made sure to make them decisively so as not encourage anyone to come with. I had rocketed to the front and made up over a minutes time in less than 5 miles. In cycling that is a lot of time to make up in a short period.
I continued to push big watts and made sure to put in surges coming out of all the turns and as I crested the rollers on the course. I knew that with a bum Achilles that I would have to work hard on the bike and so I rode like a man possessed. I don't really know what inspired me on that day. Maybe it was the V02 Max intervals that I had done less than 36 hours earlier or maybe it was out of respect to the bike course director, Andrew Starykowicz, who happens to hold the 70.3 bike split record. Or maybe it was the mentality that I could bike as hard as I wanted to with no expectations on the run. Nevertheless I road well - almost too well. Something had to go wrong and something did.
By mile 13 my competition was completely out of sight out of mind. Unfortunately so were my fluids. The hot day and the long delay to the race start meant that my bottle was empty by mile 13. With over 14 miles to ride to transition I knew I was in trouble. I was starting to the squeeze, re-squeeze, and shake every last drop out of my bottle. I was already planning to have some of the famous parties that Hillary Biscay is always talking about during Ironman aid stations, but there was nothing I could do. Frankly it was just poor planning on my part. I rode back to transition with the help of a little tailwind and gradual decline back to transition. I hopped off the bike and I hoped that it was enough for the bike preme.
Run (39:24 / 1st place): I racked my bike and headed out on the run. I knew it was going to be a real scorcher and I was hoping the conditions along with the hilly run course would nuke the running legs of some of the better runners. The field included some speedy guys who can run 30 min open 10k and 32-33 min 10Ks off the bike. I was hoping at this point just to be able to finish in the top 5, but I had set a limit of myself to run no faster than 6:30. The benefit of this was that my fitness was not the limiting factor for my run speed - my Achilles was.
|Finishing with the win|
I continued on running and could feel the powerful sun radiating down on me. I hit a downhill section and my legs had forgotten how to turnover quickly and I struggled to hold form. Then I finally hit aid station #3 where I was able to get some much needed sports drink. I instantly felt better. It was also at this point on an out-and-back that I passed by my competition. I was 1 minute and 20 seconds ahead of Jake and had 2 minutes and 40 seconds on Early.
Now I should point out realistically my head was not in the race. I had no expectations I could win and I figured Jake would catch me but I thought I could hold off Early. I must say that it is a little different midset going into a race when you are not even close to 100%. With that being said, with each step my motivation started to increase. Near mile 3.5 I saw Blake Becker and he informed me of my split. I'm not sure exactly if it was true or how he got it, but if it was correct it meant that Jake was not gaining that much time on me and I started having thoughts that I could sneak out a win.
I headed toward the big climb that takes place between mile 4 and 5 and tackled it with ease. Coming back down the hill was not easy. Clearly not running fast in training was taking away my neurological ability to turn over the legs quickly. I reached the bottom of the hill and made the turn to head back into town. I took one last look behind me and I couldn't see Jake. I knew at this point I could fight to the death if I had to, but I decided to cheat a little instead and dropped my pace to 6:00. I figured with 1.2 miles to go, I would make Jake run a sub-5 to make up the difference but it didn't happen and I cruised in for the win.
|Men's Podium with Nick Early and Jake Rhyner|
As always I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and I also wanted to thank Trisports, 2XU, and Powerbar.