Steelhead 70.3

7th Overall. 3:55. PR at 70.3 distance. DE7700B0-F6F3-462B-9495-832839525801

As I sit here, with sore legs, devouring all food within 10 steps of the couch, I am thinking about my next moves. What can I do better in the next training block? How can I take that elusive next step (the one that keeps moving further away as I prog
ress)? How can I execute better at the next race? Wait, what is the next race? Wait. Woah. Slow down. Soak it in. I just went 3:55 in a 70.3. I just finished 8min behind a legend in the sport… the same legend I was 15min behind at the same race last year. When I started this sport this was unimaginable to me. Hell, in 2010 if you told this 5:55 70.3 finisher that he would go 3:55 and finish 7th I may have asked if the swim was canceled and the course was shortened. And if not, how could I not be top 3 with a 3:55?!?! The sport has definitely gotten faster. And so have I. And I am right now, in this moment, appreciating that and this entire journey. I truly love it. The training, the lifestyle, the whole entire process. Failures, injuries, triumphs, and all. What a ride! And I still feel like it’s only really heating up. I hope everyone has the awareness to occasionally pause and really be satisfied with their accomplishments before moving onto the next ones, or beating yourselves up about the things you can do better. 

Race Recap:

Swim-29:57.  Lake Michigan was calm, unlike last year! And it was wetsuit legal, unlike last year! Despite this, I had my slowest swim of the year. I just had one of those days in the water where I could not go hard. Nothing felt right. In Chattanooga, when I came out with the 2nd group, I was able to put in hard efforts to close any gaps and then settle in whenever on feet. This time all I had was 1 gear. It was solo, other than the guy on my feet, the entire way. When I got out and saw 29 high I was disappointed, but not devastated… entering T1 I was very happy to find out the leaders were only (haha) 3.5min up, which meant the swim was slow for all due to the current. Usually a near 30min swim would mean a 7min deficit to the leader. Praise be.

Bike- 2:06:12. Even though I felt so weak during the swim, I got onto the bike and immediately had one of those moments where you want to loudly yell “ohhhhhhhh babyyyyy, I got dem Golden Legs.” But I just whispered it instead. I felt great. I rode steady at what ended up being 4.3w/kg for the first ~20 miles and it truly felt so good. Controlled and sustainable, although I would never find out if it was. By mile 25 I had moved from 19th to 7th and was now with a group of 5. Being with a group was a first for me. Once there, I went to the front immediately and continued at my watts only to be passed back by Blake Becker who rode hard at the front for the next section. It was him and I back and forth for a bit to the turn around, but honestly more Blake at the front to that point because I decided the smart thing to do would be to stay the legal distance and get a little break from the hard effort to bridge the nearly 2min gap in the first 20 miles. Once we saw the 2nd group at the turn and we knew where we stood things got a bit more organized. Jesse Vondracek, Blake, and I did our best to keep the pace going to minimize the gap to the next group. When at the front I would ride 4.5w/kg only to look back and see everyone still there. Riding away was not going to happen on this course, with no real wind. So working together seemed like our best bet. Meanwhile, 2-3 others just sat on the back, which is fine because it may have been all they could do that day. I also knew that within that group Jesse would be the biggest threat on the run, as he has been running about as fast as me in the previous few races we’d been in together. At the same time, this group was out of the money and 4min back from the 2nd-6th place group. That was going to be a tall order on the run, so we needed to hold the pace and try to claw back a bit. Sparing all the minor details, we rode well on the way back in, legally spaced, with a moto official in the group the entire time.

 

Run- 1:15:46 I lost half of my bike nutrition (because I dropped it at an aid station like an airhead). So in t2 I slammed a gel and a bunch of water. Out of t2 I was shoulder to shoulder with Jesse, which TBH I was not super pumped about right away. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a 13 mile battle with someone. I sort of wanted to just get away and suffer alone… weird I know. I also knew that 6th was about 3:30 up and that I would need a fast run to have a shot. So I went out pretty hard, and after 1 mile was by myself. Things were rolling fairly well for awhile. No leg numbness or hip issues, which I’ve been dealing with all year, and the gap was coming down. At mile 6 I waIMG_5932s 2min back from 4th. By mile 9 it was around 90sec to 5th and 6th. With about 5k to go I was in the hurt box… bad. I sort of wanted Kitty to tell me that they were out of reach, because then I could just focus on getting to the finish. But instead she told me I was 1:07 down to 5th and 6th and I let out a pretty loud “F$@K!” because I knew it was doable and I knew it was going to REALLY REALLY (really) hurt. So off I went, deep into the land of self inflicted physical pain and mental self bargaining. Now with 2 miles to go I could see them for the first time. I dug deep. Thinking “up onto the toes. Leg speed. Go to the arms. Grind it out.” Mile 12 now and the gap is closing more and more. “Ok, stay on it. They have mentally settled and they don’t know you’re coming.” Obviously they are running slower so maybe they will get sloppy. And then the dreadful heavy dead leg feeling set in. The one you have when you are dreaming of running and no matter how hard you try you can’t go fast. The harder you try, the slower you go. Then I knew, it was over. Close, but no cigar. 7th place. 34 seconds out of 6th. 37 seconds out of 5th. 

As always, I couldn’t do this sport without my support team. Kitty was helpful in so many ways this weekend, and everyday as I balance training, work, family and life. She said all the right things when I was out there racing (which is really hard to do) and provided me with the best race mantra I have ever used. Mark and Tina Buttner traveled down to watch and support me as well, which was above and beyond and it was great to see them out there and know they were pulling for me. Thank you guys! Of course, all of my friends, family, Team PBC (same) back home on the tracker. I think of you all often out there! Thanks for caring about my passion. Finally, a special thanks to my training partners who endure the day to day glamorous lifestyle of a pro triathlete with me, even if it is only for a session or 2 per week. You guys inspire me and make me believe.

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Cheers,

PB