2012 Ironman Wisconsin Race Report - 6th Place

Going into Ironman Wisconsin, I was very unsure of what to expect from body. I tried the back-to-back Ironman thing in 2010 as an amateur, and although the performances looked ok on paper, I certainly underperformed in terms of what my potential was.

Going into the race I had absolutely no expectations. This was the first race of the 2013 season for the Ironman Pro Circuit and the field was relatively stacked for a low P1000 race. The guys coming into this race were well tapered and focused heavily on doing well. For me it was simply more of a feeling like I had to do the race. After all, I literally live two blocks from the start and finish of the race. As an athlete who takes his job seriously, the better business decision would have been to go to a bigger race with a less stacked field at Rev3 Cedar Point, but with another race looming - Leadman Bend - I didn't want to deal with the travel and extended recovery required with traveling. In addition, Ironman sweetened the pot a little bit by adding back the Timex bike and run premes and I thought there was a good chance that I could get at least the bike preme. Anyways, here is a recap of the day including the good, the bad, and the disgusting...

Midnight at the Pro Racks on the Monona Terrace

First the bad... As many people are aware I have a homemade disc wheel that is basically just a regular wheel that is made into a disc with some tape. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no experience with rain and this wheel and so you can imagine the freak out the followed when the night before the race we had a torrential downpour and my bike was sitting totally exposed to the elements. I knew I would never be able to sleep unless I at least attempted to go dry it off, so while everyone was in bed sleeping, I got up and walked over to the Monona Terrace. It took some explaining with the security guards but thankfully one had recognized my wheel in transition and knew the story I was spewing was no BS. Thankfully they escorted me to my bike and we were able to wipe it down as much as possible and I was able to go back to bed and get my typical 3 hours night rest.

Then the disgusting... Race morning came early and because of the midnight rendezvous, I decided to sneak out every last bit of sleep and opted to set my alarm for 4:50. Two hours is plenty of time normally to take care of everything, but this day was different. With the cold weather, all the families and friends supporting athletes were crowding the hallways and choking off all the access points at the Monona Terrace. Because of the expected chilly morning I made a last minute decision to add some gloves to my T1 bag and simply lost too much time in the process and was never able to go to the bathroom.

Pro Swim Start 

Now I will say that I am not that athlete who believes they are "special" and can just budge some line and thus I decided I would forgo the bathroom. This turned out to be the wrong decision and as soon as I got in the water I had to go really bad. Having no other options I opted just to go in my suit. I tried my best to flush it out, but then I swam out to the start line and had to go again. 30 seconds before the start of the race I found myself on the verge of vagaling and seeing stars. It wasn't ideal, but I had no choice. I simply hoped that through the swim that most of it would get cleaned out.

Swim (54:42): Thanks to a last minute fulfilled panic request to 2XU, I was faced with a decision on race morning to go with a sleeved or sleeveless wetsuit. Although, the sleeved wetsuit is faster on paper, I knew that I ran the risk in the unusually warm water temperatures of overheating and I went with a sleeveless instead. I think this ended up being a great decision and I would do the same if I had to do it all over again.

Before the start of the race I lined up next to race favorite Ben Hoffman. I knew he would be the man to mark and when the gun went off I did just that. I swam on his feet for bit but the pace was too hot and I decided to drop off and switch to "Plan B" which was to mark Justin Daerr. Fortunately for me I was actually leading the chase pack at this point and I just dropped the pace until I merged with a large group of swimmers including Daerr. Although the swim was a little brutal from a contact standpoint, it was a relatively easy group to swim in because of all the turbulence. Before I knew it I was done with the swim.
Exiting the Swim

T1 (4:26): Running up the helix I knew I was right where I had to be with Justin Daerr and Blake Becker right in front of me.  I took my time in T1 putting on socks to avoid some issues I had on the bike at Ironman Louisville.  In this time Justin and Blake put a little distance on me, but I wasn't too worried about it

Leaving T1
Bike (4:45:22): I got on to the bike and made a small effort to catch back up to Blake and Justin and then I pretty much just sat there.  With Justin as the likely other favorite for the win, I knew that all I had to do was bide my time and not let him out of sight.

We rolled out of Madison and picked up a few people in front of us along the way.  A few made up time from behind and before you knew it our group was 8 strong.  Nobody really wanted to push the pace at all and everyone pretty much seemed fine with Eduardo Sturla doing most of the heavy lifting.  The individual mentality of riding in a group always seems to be "why would I do all the work and give the rest of the guys a free tow" and as a result we ride slower than if we actually worked together.  As a result we were consistently giving up time to Ben Hoffman riding solo, but it was way too early to be making any solo breaks.  

Early on in the Bike
In Cross Plaines
Somewhere on the Bike
Each hour I took a lap on my Garmin and each hour it showed that the group was fading.  In hour two my power was down 20 watts, in the next hour it dropped another 10.  For me, it was simply group riding well within my limits, so either the guys were sandbagging more and more or the group was actually starting to suffer.  At some point Daerr was at the front and a gaped opened up and nobody worked to close it and Daerr simply rode away, out of sight, out of mind.  The thought had cross my mind to bridge back up, but at mile 75 it was still too early to go.

Lap Two - The Group has Thinned
At mile 82, at the aid station in Cross-Plaines, I decided it was the right time to go and I made a move from the group.  I road hard and looking back at my power file it was actually the highest 20 min segment of the entire race. On the first of the three-sisters, I caught back up to Daerr and from there we would ride together as we rolled back in transition in 2nd and 3rd place.

T2 (1:31):  Typical T2 for me.  I had to go to the bathroom bad, but I figured I would run a few miles and build up some body heat before taking the detour to the porta john.  I left T2 in 2nd place.

Run  (3:12:19): I headed out on the run and was briefly greeted by an old college friend who was the 2nd place male bike leader.  She lead me for a bit, but it didn't last as Daerr made the pass about a 1/2 mile in.  I told my new lead biker that I would be stopping at the next porta-john and I did just that.  I will spare you the details, but after a lengthy stop I decided not to risk any sort of contamination from the swim incident and went to the next aid station to thoroughly wash my hands with water and antibacterial wash.  I figured with the weakened immune system from doing an Ironman, the last thing I wanted to do was contaminate all the food I would be eating on the run and I really didn't want to end up in the hospital.  Looking back, I could really cringe at the amount of time I gave up here but sometimes it is better to be safe the sorry.

The Strongest Drug on Earth #GetSome

Finishing My 6th Ironman Wisconsin 
With 24 miles to run and still in 3rd place, I needed to get in gear. I started back up and clipped off some nice mid 6 minute miles before the gradual Ironman creep started to kick in.  I ran strong, but I was still passed by the likes of Eduardo Sturla and Michael Goehner and that resorted me to 5th.  Coming thru lap 1 I was only about 2 minutes up on Blake Becker for 6th place and 7th wasn't much further back.  I wanted to at least end up on the awards podium and get another pro award and small check and was committed to salvaging 6th.  I picked up the pace a bit, but Blake caught me the second time up Observatory Drive.  Then, when I got to the turnaround on State Street, I could see I was only 30 seconds up on the next guy.  I wasn't feeling great but it was huge step down to 7th and I was committed to finishing 6th.  

For the next few miles I ran out of fear and didn't take any nutrition - I just ran.  With a little over 3 miles to go I hit the last turnaround and I had put a little time back into 7th.  However, I wasn't going to give him any chance to close the gap and I continued pushing it all the way to the finish. 

Overall (8:58:20 / 6th Place):  Overall I was pleased with my race.  The time gap between 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th were all close and I would have liked to HTFU a little bit earlier in the race, but part of my overall strategy is not having to go deep into the well too often and for too long.  I know there is an extra level of discomfort that I am prepared to go to, but I have had success in my conservative approach and I think it is part of what keeps my mind mentality strong.  

Realistically I went for it a little bit on the bike, and although I'm not here to make excuses, racing tactically is certainly different than racing your own race.  I was exactly where I wanted to be out of the swim and coming off the bike, and given my struggles with my Achilles, I am actually pleased with what I accomplished on a tough run course.  I know that given my swim and bike advancements this year that my run is now the lowest hanging fruit, and I will make my run a heavy focus as I head into Ironman Texas Austin 70.3, Ironman Florida, and Ironman Arizona.  

Thank Yous: Before I go, I want to take a moment to thank the people and companies that continue to support me including:

Trisports - for all the great tri gear you carry and for providing it in the most earth sustainable way. You can always help support me as an athlete by using my 20% off coupon code for Trisports that is tied to my name. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.

2XU - for your wetsuits, compression gear, and everyday training gear that rocks!!

Powerbar - for getting me to and thru races with your fantastic nutrition products!!

Drip Drop - for making sure I stay properly hydrated on a 90+ degree Louisville day.

A to Z Cares - for your continued support of my training, racing, and overall well-being.  If you ever need Asssisted Living Placement for a loved one in Tucson please check them out.

Steve Schwartz Coldwell Banker Realtor - for your continued support of my training, racing, and overall well-being. If you need a great Realtor in Madison, WI please consider Steve.

Ali Engin - for always taking great photographs and capturing that smile, even when sometimes it is more of a grimace ;)

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