Warning in an effort to develop a case-study for future athletes who are curious about the differences between a pro and amateur race, I have decided to highlight some additional items in this report. As a result it is significantly longer and more detailed than previous reports.
Pre-Race Planning: This goes for anyone racing, but the pro ranks in general are much more tactical and personally I research every single competitor on the start list. You never know when knowing something about a person's background, their motivation, and their strengths & weaknesses may work to your advantage. In this case, I identified Devon Palmer as a guy who would likely be a deciding figure in my own race. As a superb, and very underrated biker, I knew that coming out of the swim with Devon was a possibility and that it could be a good insurance policy to help bridge the gap up to the faster swimmers.
|Swim Start / Finish at Tommy Bartlett's|
Once the pros got in the water I lined up and made note to pay specific attention to how Devon Palmer and Patrick Davis looked. I knew it was likely that one of the two guys would give me the tow necessary to swim as fast as I could while saving as much energy as possible for the bike and run. One thing I learned from Matt Reed is that you never want to peg a swimmer, just swim hard from the go. If you try to react to someone in particular at the start of a race then you will likely find yourself a step behind from the get-go. As a result, my actual plan was just to swim and see where it took me.
|My very own transition Poster|
T1: I ran up the steep incline out of Tommy Bartletts and towards transition with a smooth pace. I wasn't worried about AJ or Patrick riding away and I knew at this point I would rather just work into the race more than anything. On this day it was the wrong move, but you live and learn. As I entered transition I took note of which bikes were gone and which ones were present. It told me that I had a lot of work to do. As luck would have it, I forgot to properly rubber band my shoes as I fumbled to get going on to the bike.
Bike (2:23:13): On to the bike I went. Simply put, the pros bike insanely hard and do so at all times including descents. Although the increase in speed may not be great, the increase in energy expenditure is. From the beginning, Patrick seemed like he was a hurry. I wasn't sure if he was trying to get away or trying to work toward bridging to the next group, but I had already decided I was going to work into the bike. I watched Patrick pedal away but I was content with that for the moment.
|Ben Cagle / Lindsey Heim representing Madison triathletes.|
I knew going into the race that if a move was going to be made it was going to be made on the major climb on the course on Bluff and Tower Roads. It was at this point where I actually reeled back in Patrick. In the matter of 10 minutes of climbing I was able to knock off 40 seconds. I don't know if this means I biked that much harder, or simply I am that much less aero on the flats. I always said I would worry about aero when time was right - maybe the time is right to start the investigation into my position in search of aero perfection. Regardless I am now the Strava KOM on that segment.
Patrick and I would ride side-by-side for many miles as we kept each other and the pace honest. Unfortunately two riders riding side-by-side two meters apart does not ride as a fast as a nicely formed and well-executed staggered group of 6. Just before we headed over Interstate 94, I would create a gap that would stick. I forged ahead solo in pursuit of the next rider and worked to reel in a struggling Courtney Ogden. I caught Courtney on another uphill section, but again in order to create separation I would need to push watts on another downhill section. I did just that and created a nice gap and rolled into transition with a nice lead over Courtney and was 4:20 down from the lead pack of six who all came in "coincidentally" together.
|One rider does not beat six in formation|
Run (1:28:01): Coming on to the run I knew I was only 4:20 down from the Richie and the rest of the pack. I totally expected someone or multiple people to crack on the run and I would keep running an aggressive pace as long as I felt it was necessary. Going into the race I had no idea if I would even finish given my Achilles, but early on I clipped off low 6 minute miles. On the way out, Jared Milram, AJ Baucco, and Ian Mikelson would all pass me going the other direction the bike. It told me I had a 9 minutes on Jared, 10 on AJ, and 13 on Ian. All were well out of striking distance. I continued on the rolling course and down the long descent into town. It was here where Patrick Davis would catch back up and make the pass. It was also at this point that I could feel a lot of pressure and tension on the Achilles as I was reminded of where the pain began - on the up-and-down run course that is Ironman St George. For those that have been following my progress you know that I don't run above what my Achilles can handle.
I let Patrick gain a little gap on the descent in to town and then I focused on putting forth the effort on the ascent and catching back up. I told Patrick I would run with him until we caught Devon, but when we passed mile marker 4, I was told we were 5 minutes down from Devon. He was in 6th place and it was at that point that it no longer made sense to me to race this race. I shut off the gas and went into typical lock-down mode. I had some of those famous aid-station parties that Hillary Biscay is always talking about as I got in some solid Ironman training. I jogged back to transition putting in some 7:40 miles, but in the last bit of stretch AJ Baucco actually had caught back up. Although AJ Baucco is a good friend, I wasn't prepared to hand him 8th place without a fight and instead we got in a sprint finish with 1/2 mile to go. The sprint was pretty pathetic from a pace stand point, but he was pretty gased from a solid 1:18 run and in the end it netted me an few extra Rev3 Series points. Not sure if those points will do me any good but better to have the points in my opinion.
|Picture with the true stars of Rev3 Dells|
In my own case, I learned to swim at 25 and I have to be incredibly proud at how far I have taken my swim. In this situation, just like the majority of pro races, the pros didn't get wetsuits and the amateurs did. That makes a huge difference and especially so for the disadvantaged swimmer. Overall, I was happy with my swim but I will continue to make it the focus of my development as an athlete.
|Adventure River at Noah's Ark w/ AJ Baucco|
Video to racing down QuadZilla @ Noah's Ark with AJ Baucco
Rev3 Pro Recap - Camio @ 0:06 - 0:10
Rev3 Pro Bike Recap - Camio @ 0:13 - 0:16