Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memphis in May

Two weeks ago Rev 3 Knoxville was the coldest I have ever been during a race. This past Sunday was the complete opposite at Memphis in May, hottest race I have ever done, no other race I've done even comes close to the heat I raced in on Sunday. In the days leading up to the race I knew it would be hot as highs were forecast to be in the mid-90s with high humidity. However I was not prepared for the wave of heat and humidity that hit me as I walked out of the hotel at 8:30am, it was worse than I anticipated. Had our race start been near sunrise like most races it would have been hot, but this year at Memphis the pros didn't go off until 10:30am when normally we have already crossed the finish line. This made it almost unbearable at times. I cut my warmup way short as I was already sweating bad just setting up my gear. After just a 15min ride I was pouring sweat. Filled my bottles with ice and headed for the lake. Usually jumping in the lake to cool off is what you do after the race but on this day I was doing it before. This was my third time racing Memphis and my previous two times were both very solid results. Having not had a good race result in some time I thought it would be smart to pick a pro race with a less talented pro field. Memphis, with a smaller than normal prize purse, tends to mostly attract newer, lesser known pros. That, plus the fact that I know the course pretty well and have raced well in the past made this a good opportunity to bring home a good race result to build some confidence and momentum heading forward.

Swim: 17:54 4th fastest split

Started about midway through the 15 male pros with the time trial start, one person every 10 seconds. Immediately felt great, had a good turnover and strong kick, things were clicking. Passed one person pretty early on and then midway through had someone come by me. Latched onto his feet and he wasn't quite strong enough to pull away so I was able take advantage and stayed with him for the next several hundred meters. We caught two more up ahead towards the end of the swim and I think someone caught us from behind. Came out of the water in a group of about six or seven. Funny how you do a time trial start but still end up in a big pack by the end of the swim. This was a great swim for me, fourth fastest out of 15 is the highest my swim has ever ranked in a pro race. In my previous two races in Memphis I swam right around 17-flat, but this was my first time without a wetsuit. Have no idea what to say about my swim, two weeks ago it was atrocious, today it was great.

Bike: 55:06 25.6mph 5th fastest split

Got onto the bike in a large group. Made my way up to the front in the first few miles and soon our group was down to just three people. I lead nearly all of the first half into the wind with the other two taking turns at the lead the second half of the ride with a tail wind. Super clean riding by all of us. The heat wasn't an issue in the first half of the ride with the wind in our face but I really started to overheat towards the end when the breeze went away and we had a tailwind. The other two rode away from me in the final miles as I was really struggling with the heat and all I could do was limit the damage. Having nothing but 90 degree fluids to drink the whole way didn't help either, so much for the ice I added before the start. I'm pretty happy with the effort I gave on the bike although I could tell my legs weren't clicking the way they have at times in the past.

Run: 39:18 3rd fastest split

Started the run already overheated, I don't think I've ever overheated on a bike before. I knew I was running slow but didn't really care. Turns out everyone felt the same or even worse as I got a confidence boost when I saw the person up in front of me walking within the first 5 minutes. Went through the first mile in slower than expected 6:30 and decided I shouldn't look at my watch anymore. I've done some hot races in the past where I've slowed considerably at the end of the race but I've never done a race where I've been so slow right from the very first step. My plan was to take it easy the first half and then try to be tough the second half when I knew everyone else would crumble. The second aid station on the run was the only one that had cold drinks and ice I took full advantage drinking and covering myself with plenty of cold fluids and putting ice down the jersey. That must have dropped my body temperature considerably because within a minute I started feeling so much better and my stride started clicking. Was surprised to see just one competitor out in front of me at the turnaround and he looked to have a sizable lead. Behind me there were about five others all pretty close and I knew it was likely a tossup for second through sixth place. Really wanted to finish second as opposed to sixth. Pushed as hard as my body would allow the second half and I think starting so slow may have helped me finish relatively strong. With less than a mile to go a spectator told me the leader was just 30 seconds up the road and for a moment I thought I might be able to win but it was false information. Crossed the line in second and ended up second overall for the second time in this race. I think second through sixth place ended up being decided by who slowed the least the second half of the run. I ran a full five minutes faster here two years ago and was just two seconds off the fastest run split on this day. That says a lot about the heat.

Overall: 1:54:01 Second place Top American

Really happy with this race result. Was just talking at dinner Saturday night about how it's been over a year now since I've had a race result that I'm really happy with and the confidence has been pretty low. I've had great training this past month but without any race results the confidence has been absent. So this one feels extra good in that respect. Got out of this race exactly what I wanted. Felt very good about how I handled the heat as well which is encouraging, after pouring water on myself for five minutes at the finish line I was feeling pretty good. Heat index was 101 at the finish. Had four athletes race here, it was a big race for all of them. None raced as fast as they wanted but that was just a product of the day and I thought they all did well. Ron won his age group by 15 minutes! From here it is two weeks of rest and recovery as I peak for the Mooseman 70.3 in New Hampshire. Excited to take the momentum and confidence from this race and see what I can do rested in a 70.3. Also good to know that just four races in I likely already have my hottest and coldest races out of the way for the year. And finally it's good that I brought home a check that will easily cover the speeding ticket I got on the way to Memphis! Below is another video documentary masterpiece by the ever popular Jun. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rev 3 Knoxville Race Report

This past Sunday was the inaugural Rev 3 Knoxville Olympic distance triathlon. This was my first Pro outing in 2010. Although the results were not what I had hoped for this was a great race held at a great venue.

Swim 1500: 18:41

To sum up the swim in a sentence it was the worst triathlon swim I've ever had. Race morning was cool, air temp 50 degrees at race time and 69 degree water. A year ago we would have been wearing wetsuits, but due to the new pro wetsuit cutoff temperature the water was 1 degree above the wetsuit cutoff. So no wetsuits. I got to the swim start in time for about a 5 minute warmup swim. In hindsight I should have just kept the warmups on, done armswings and jumping jacks as warmup, and jumped in the water the last minute before the start. It wasn't long after I got in before my teeth started chattering and I was getting cold fast. I had done a short swim on Saturday and the water didn't feel too bad but then again I swam in a wetsuit on Saturday and the air was 85 degrees not 50. To make matters worse the race started about 10 minutes late. They lined us up for the start but then had an invocation. Then they lined us up for the start again but had the national anthem instead. A lot of people were yelling at the starter to get us going. Finally after about 10 minutes floating around without a wetsuit in 69 degree water the race started and I was off the back from the get-go. The body never came around and I exited the water a full 3 minutes down on the lead swimmers which is about 2 minutes slower than normal for me. The swim alone took me out of the race.

Bike 40k: 23.1mph

I got onto the bike as one of the last pro men and almost immediately regretted not putting on gloves and arm warmers. There was a steady northerly wind and I was cold. The air didn't feel all that cold to me warming up but then again I warmed up with four layers on and being in 69 degree water unprotected for 30min probably had me a little cold to begin with as well. The bike course was on narrow roads and very technical, it gave a huge advantage to two types of racers; those who knew the course and those who rode fearless. I was neither. My one attempt to preview the course in the car on Saturday resulted in me getting lost in downtown Knoxville and not having the patience to figure out the course. Big mistake. The course was far more challenging than I expected. With so many blind curves and not knowing the course I was braking when I didn't need to and riding very hesitant. Call me crazy but I'm just not willing to dive bomb a downhill blind curve at 35+ mph when I can't see all the way around the curve and have never previewed the course. It would have also been nice to have known about the two separate ~2 mile climbs that were on the course, I didn't expect those and was pretty much gassed half way up each. The cold was another big challenge, at one point I thought I might have to pull over because my hands had gotten so cold I was having trouble grabbing my brakes. Was also shivering pretty good on the descents which was causing my entire bike to wobble. I know of at least one other pro who DNF'd due to cold. Was just happy to get into T2 with the rubber side down.

Run 10k: 35:36

After struggling to get my shoes on in T2 due to lack of feeling in the hands I was off on the run. I think I had a decent run in me but by that point my fate had long since been been sealed and I ran pretty uninspired, enjoying watching the Pro men's and women's races play out and cheering all my friends and age groupers on the out-and-back run.

Overall: 2:03:50 21st place

Finished 21st out of 24 male pros and two of the people who I beat walked most of the run with injuries, although there were a decent number of DNFs as well. It was my lowest placing ever in a triathlon, even two spots lower than I placed at the 70.3 World Champs in 2008. Certainly not the race result I wanted or drove 400 miles for but I'm not going to beat myself up over it because I know I'm far better than the results show. From simply previewing the bike course, not freezing myself out of a good swim, and running hard I would have dropped several minutes. It wouldn't have been a top ten finish, but I know I'm much more fit right now than the results show.
This was my first experience in a Rev3 race and it was very positive. I encourage everyone to enter a race in this exciting new series which is gaining momentum fast. The venues are thoroughly researched and the courses are carefully and strategically planned out. Despite not knowing the bike course I thought it was a fantastic and challenging route. I kept thinking how much more fun it would be taking those curves at high speed if I actually knew the course. I was very impressed with the city of Knoxville as well, it seemed like a great place for a multisport athlete to live. I really liked how you literally cross the bridge out of town and are instantly on nice country roads. Race morning also had one of the prettiest sunrises I've ever seen over the Tennessee River (see pic below courtesy of slowtwitch). The rest of the race pics are courtesy of Ryan Bates. From here I'll head to Memphis in May in two weeks which should be a good opportunity to place high and build some confidence in a less talented pro field. I made the tough decision not to rest at all for Memphis (as I did for this race) and save the peak for June 6. It was very tempting to rest and try to match or better my runner-up finish in Memphis from 2008. Now I'll just try to do it without resting! On June 6 is the Kansas 70.3, Mooseman 70.3 in New Hampshire, and Rev 3 half in Connecticut. I'm entered in all three and will decide in the coming weeks which one to go after. Thanks for reading, Daniel