The day before the race, Team Every Man Jack teammate Mike Vulanich and I met up for a short bike-course preview and shake-out jog. We rode pretty easy except for one short interval to escape a large and fast on-coming pitbull, and chatted about racing/training/etc. Mike also did a fantastic job of making me super jealous of his ENVE wheels! Now I know what to do with any wedding cash Bri and I may receive ;). Unfortunately Mike was having some trouble with his rear derailleur, and being typical triathletes we could not fix it, so I sent him to Mike at the Greenway 500 for some last minute adjustments. I headed back to work for a few more hours and that evening went out to prairie creek to pick up my race packet.
Race morning I set the alarm for 4:30 (it's so nice having the race in your backyard) early enough to wake up and get some food in (a blueberry bagel, banana) and sip on GU Roctane Tropical Punch while I loaded up the car. We ended up leaving the house just before 5:15, and I'm glad we did because there was a fair amount of traffic. Muncie streets werent designed to accomodate such a mass of people. In transition, I ran into teammate Mark Graham, who had traveled from Las Vegas to race and we talked race strategy and goals!
Amazingly, before the race I managed to stay pretty calm. This is atypical for me and perhaps a result of this being the 4th triathlon I have done this year (I think the most I had done until this season was 3 in a year). After slipping on my Roka wetsuit, Mike and I made our way down to the water to warm-up. Unfortunately our wave would be the last to go off. At the start I positioned myself in the second row, right behind the tallest/longest arm guy I could find. By the time we hit the first buoy, myself and two other athletes in my age group had already put a pretty gap on the rest of the age-group and already caught the group who left four minutes before us. The rest of the swim I spent weaving in and out of the age-groups who went before us, sticking with one other athlete in my age-group. I got out of the water and took a glance down at my watch to see 28:XX. I really can't express how happy I am to be swimming at the front of the pack this year. No doubt a product of my efforts in the water this winter and the assistance of my Roka suit!
Swim time: 28:29
T1 was long and uphill. I ran uphill and into transition to my Felt IA4 bicycle and Rudy Project helmet. The bike has been my strength now for the past two years, and I was excited to see what I could do on this notoriously fast course. The first 6 miles were laden with potholes. Fortunately for me, these are streets I ride daily, and could ride them with my eyes shut. Weaving in and out of athletes in front of me, I made it to route 35 (where we would do 2 loops) a wide and open course. By the time I made it to 35, my heart rate and steadied and I was ready to lay it down. The first loop was pretty uneventful. My watts began to climb and my heart rate appeared to stay steady. After the first loop I checked my garmin: 255 watts and 25.4 mph. The bike course was quite crowded but fortunately I didn't appear to pick up any wheel suckers along the way. With about 10 miles to go I began feeling a bit tired, so I decided to back off the workload and try to get a couple of gu's in before the run. Here is the strava file from my ride. Watts were high, but I felt pretty good and decided to go by feel.
Bike time: 2:13, 254 watts
Dismount went flawlessly and I found my bike spot quickly. Throwing my bike on the rack I quickly slipped on some socks (learning a lesson from GR 70.3) and my adidas adi0s shoes. Setting out on the run I could feel the bike in my quads but my engine felt good. I decided to make sure to keep the first mile smooth and under control. Crossing the first mile in 6:15 I felt pretty solid. The second mile I kept the effort constant and ran a 6:30. Alright I told myself, keep this up and I'll be under 4:15 overall. Unfortunately the third mile did not go as smoothly. I kept the effort constant, but the time was not. I ran a 6:50 and most of it was downhill. Miles 4 & 5 were around 7 minutes. It was somewhere in mile 5 that I passed friend and Muncie resident Mark Stagge! Mark and I shared our grievances with one another "its hot and hilly, what is this?" By the turn around I had slowed down to over 7 minute miles and nearly tripped Mike as he came flying by me. The last 6.6 miles I redefined riding the struggle bus and seriously began wondering if I was going to be able to cross the finish line. Stopping at the mile 7 aid station, I attempted to drink 2 gatorades, water, and a some red bull. It was shortly after this that I developed a wicked cramp in my right hamstring, the rest of the run I would spend trying to fend-off hamstring seizures. Mile times were slowing to 8 minute miles, and every time I tried to run faster my heart rate sky rocketed. Around mile 9, a bee decided my gatorade-filled socks seemed tasty, flying into my shoe and stinging me, rubbing salt in the wounds. At this point I just decided to make the best of what I had left. I started encouraging the athletes around me as they flew by me doing 8 minute miles. Their supportive words encouraged me and at last the finish line was in sight. My last mile was something close to a 9 minute mile. Crossing the finish line I stumbled around, congratulating teammates Mike and Mark. Mike handed me some pretzels which I began to try to consume while I sipped on a sprite. Ouch.
Run time: 1:36
Race time: 4:22, 4th AG and 14th OA
I have spent this past week reflecting back on my race. Although my run time was disappointing, the 2015 triathlon season has been good to me. I have raced more already this season than I ever have in my life. I have also now completed two 70.3 events in one season, something I had never done before. I had a fantastic swim and bike, both of which I am very happy about. As for my run? the wheels came off, what more can be said. Unfortunately I wasn't even able to start running this season until April due to a plantar fasciitis flare-up. Furthermore, I have only done two runs in 2015 over 10 miles (a hard 12 miler and my run at Grand Rapids 70.3). Once a runner (this book is fantastic, and anyone who hasnt read it needs to), always a runner. While my running might be my biggest weakness now, it will come back.
This Saturday I am excited to get married to the love of my life, Briana Paxton. After our wedding we will be going to the Dominican Republic for a week-long honeymoon before returning to Muncie for 2 more years of school. As far as my racing goes for the rest of the season. I will probably race Tri Indy when we get back and try to go under the 2-hour mark for the first time in an olympic distance triathlon. I am also toying with the idea of racing Chellenge Cedar Point in September, but we'll see how my body feels.
Thanks for reading!