I've been bad with my blogging this year but finally have accomplished something that deserves an update. I picked up the first major win of my professional career a couple weeks back at the Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan.
The race itself was actually one of my less adventurous and more boring so I'll keep the report short. After sitting on the feet of the leader for the first 10 minutes of the swim and realizing the pace felt too easy I took the lead and never gave it up the rest of the race. I pushed hard the second half of the swim and was able to open up a 20 second gap on the main pack behind, my first time ever to post the fastest swim split in a pro race. I got on the bike and was pretty confident the group behind me would, as usual on a flat course, form their pace line, push the limits of the draft rules, and work together to catch me. Fortunately for me I am significantly faster than I've ever been on the bike this year, I've been riding very strong the entire summer. After the first 10-15 miles of the bike I managed to get out of sight of everyone behind and at that point there was no debating about a race strategy, I was committed to pushing the pace out front the entire way. I ended up with the day's fastest bike split, and a 6 minute lead into T2. At the time, however, I had no clue what my lead was and that lead to me running frantic and scared out of T2 not wanting to let this opportunity, that I've waited so long for, slip away. After really pushing hard the first 10k I started getting multiple reports that my lead was in excess of 5 minutes. I was able to relax a bit, but never let my guard down until I was positive I had the race secured with a mile to go. Then the last mile it was party time, first major win in the bag!
This first win came 6 years and 3 months after I committed myself to seeing what I could do in the sport of triathlon. That's 6 years 3 months of investment in myself that it took to make this happen. Over that time frame I had imagined countless times what it would be like getting the first win, sometimes wondering if it would ever happen. I always imagined an epic head-to-head battle the entire way coming down to the last mile, possibly a sprint finish. The way it actually happened wasn't so exciting but looking back on it I think it's pretty cool to lead wire-to-wire, nose to the wind full throttle the entire way just like the sport should always be, complete domination.
I'd reflect more on Steelhead and the past 6 years, 3 months but that's what the end of the season is for. Right now my mind is in the moment and focused on this weekend. I've got another big race coming this Sunday, the Rev 3 Cedar Point full iron distance. I'm really looking forward to this one and to testing my fitness against the competition and the 140.6 miles. This is the third straight year I've done this race, I know the course well, I've had good races the past two years, and feel good about my chances this year. If I can execute a 'good' race I think I should be racing for a top-3 finish, if I can execute a 'great' race then I think it's possible to be racing for the win and pushing an 8:30 finish time. Excited to see what I can do!
The weekend on my Steelhead win was also a huge weekend for the Bretscher Multisport squad. Ron Gierut (Cedar Rapids IA) claimed his first National Championship winning the 55-59 age group at Age Group Nationals in Burlington VT. Ron's been knocking at the door for a while now and finally broke through! In addition Andrew Person (St Louis) also raced to a 70.3 PR of several minutes at Steelhead finishing in 4:21, good enough for the 7th overall age grouper on the day out of 1500+! Both Andrew and Ron have been with Bretscher Multisport for 3-4 years and their long term commitment has really shown.
Below is a link to Ironman's instagram pic from my Steelhead finish.