So this year's entire schedule was basically aimed at that. I raced Chattanooga 70.3 just to be in the city and race a similar course (2017 Worlds will be a different course). Next up, was the very first qualifier in the entire world for the 2017 WC: Muncie. I knew the competition would be stout, but I wanted to see if I could get that "Q" out of the way early.
Thursday July 7th
I left work early around 2pm. I had to go down to Inside Out Sports and pick up my bike. I had them check a few things and put on my new Ice Friction Chain. Every watt counts. They also put on a new bottom bracket. I hit the road by 2:30pm and headed up I-77 North. We used to go up to Indiana and Michigan every summer and for some Holidays, so I know these roads pretty well. I drove until about 7:30pm and stopped in Gallipolis, OH. Checked into the Super 8, grabbed some dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and then hit the sack.
|There was corn.|
Tried to sleep in, but only got to 6:30. Showered, shaved, grabbed some hotel breakfast and off I went through rural southern Ohio. I went straight to the race site as it was along the way before I hit Muncie. I arrived about 11:30am. I had grabbed a Subway sub earlier when I stopped to get gas, so I ate half of that before I went to checkin.
So I parked in the grass and walked to the other side of transition to check everything out. I found the tent with athlete checkin easy enough. No line whatsoever. I did go to AWA check in anyways to get my swim cap. I would never wear that thing in the race, but the dark, almost black color did look kinda cool.
So standard IM checkin. Waiver, medical, packet, chip, bag and puts you out right by the mechandise tent. I didn't even go in there. Like I said, I am spending $0.00 on extra Ironman merchandise in 2016.
After that, it was coming up on noon. I wanted to try and hit the next athlete briefing at 1pm. As I've stated before, I sure am a glutton for punishment. So I headed back to the car. I bumped into one of the Tri Coach Georgia people who was gonna pay to park across the street from transition. He said that this first lot wasn't going to be available on race morning (not true, but I didn't know that at the time). I hopped in my car and went across the street and paid $20 to park in these people's yard for the weekend. It was literally right across the street from transition.
|The yard across the street from transition|
I did a quick change in the car, and hopped on my bike for a quick little 20 minute spin. I was not feeling so peppy. Maybe it was the car ride. Then I went for a 1 mile run, and bumped into fellow BSR Damon as I finished. I changed again, wolfed down the rest of the sub and headed over to the athlete briefing.
|Sexy Shakeout Ride and Run|
|Ooooh, Baby. Wanna go Fast?|
|I could spit to bike out from my rack spot!|
Then I hung out for a bit and checked out the venue and transition flow. I found BSR Cyndi finishing up with the later athlete briefing. We then headed over to the BSR team tent for a little meet and greet and picture time. It was good to meet some more sexies before the race tomorrow and put some more names with real faces (not just Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pics). We got a good pic with the team banner as well. Then I was finally off back to the hotel.
Checked into the Baymont and got all my stuff lugged up into the room. Not soon after my niece and her husband along with my nephew showed up at my hotel door. They had come from western Indiana and Michigan to watch me race and cheer me on. They brought their stuff up and we headed over to Chili's for dinner. I got my usual chipotle chicken tex mex bowl. It's kinda become my go to Chili's dish.
|BSR Gang. Love this Team!|
|All the crap, ready to roll.|
4am wakeup call. Pretty much like a normal training day. I grabbed my bags, my water bottles, and my pickle juice and headed downstairs. The hotel had breakfast going already, so I grabbed a banana. I headed to the car and was on my way. After speaking with one of the volunteers at the information booth at the expo the day before, I decided to take US35 down around the south side of the resevoir and come up from that side. They said there would be much less traffic that way. Plus I was a little early. Transition opened up at 5am, and that's about the time I got there. I basically didn't hit any traffic at all as I pulled into the prepaid yard. So at that point, I took my time. I just wanted to sit in the parking lot and not sit waiting in traffic.
I grabbed my bags and pump and wandered over to transition. As I walked in I heard the announcement that the water temp was still 77.3 so no wetsuits. Well that stinks. Anyways, when I got to my rack, I found my bike not up on the pipe, but leaning against the supports on the end of the rack. I pumped the tires up and worked on getting it ready. I headed back to the car to drop off my bag and pump. I grabbed my swimskin and had a bagel and headed back to transition. On the way back I saw an official and asked her if it was ok with my bike leaning up against the post. She said no. She did say it was OK to rack by the handlebars.
So I move my bike and #155 is placated. I get ready to go, and strike up a little conversation with #153 and he doesn't act like such and idiot, so I guess he's an OK guy after all. I head down to swim start about 6:45. I still have over an hour. So I'm hanging out with several BSR 'mates as we wait. I stand there and try and eat some gels and bananas and drink my pickle juice. It was a little chilly. I did not do a practice swim because I was afraid that I would just get too cold when I got out. I did not have a towel to dry off or keep warm.
|Custom Home Made Shirts!|
42:27 Officially: 88 / 183 AG, 553 / 1229 Male, 738 / 1816 Total Finishers
Garmin had 42:24 and 1.21 miles.
Walked down the chute to near the end of the dock. So it was a standup, in water, start. I got my goggles ready, relieved myself, and waited for the gun.
As it went off, I was a couple rows back from the start. I was on the left hand side, so I tried to keep it there. I felt ok, and just tried to concentrate. I was the 2nd wave of 40-44. Always the second (or third) wave in my AG due to blatant alphabet discrimination.
The first leg out of this square "U" shaped course went pretty smoothly. I did not get hit or bumped too much. No shots to the goggles, which is always nice. A couple of the 40-44 women caught me before the first turn buoy. And luckily it wasn't really crowded at that first turn.
|Swim Splits (Nothing to see here) Please move along.|
So finally onto the home stretch. They weren't kidding about the sun. It was straight into your eyes. You literally could not see anything. You had to sight off of swimmers, kayaks, and boats off to the sides. I kept trying to look and see if I could see anything on shore and you just couldn't. A few minor contact episodes later, I could finally begin to make out the building that was on the beach. I knew the swim exit was to the left, so I just kinda aimed over there.
|RUN 'cause you swim like a brick!|
I tried to dig and keep my turnover at a good rate. I actually felt like I had a good swim. I popped out of the water and saw the the 42 on my watch. Deflated. Disgusted. Dejected. 4 minutes slower than I'd hoped. I figured it was bad, and I was right: 10 minutes down to the leaders.
42 min is terrible. My wife was nice enough to point out that it wasn't really that bad. She asked how fast I usually swim without a wetsuit. The fastest I have ever swam in a half without a wetsuit is 41 minutes. Technically then I really didn't have that bad a swim, I just really, REALLY stink out loud. Thanks, honey. Appreciate it.
I did the slow "first time on land legs" jog for 30 seconds or so and got my swimskin unzipped. Then I got my land legs back and started sprinting up the hill. Urgency kicked it. I made the long run to my rack and slipped my shoes on easily this time. Grabbed my bike and started toward the exit. I had filled my front bottle up too much and it splashed out all over the place. Made it out to mount, and I was off.
2:14:27 Officially: 3 / 181 AG, 11 / 1229 Males
Garmin had 56.10 Miles in 2:14:32 for a 25.0 mph average on 219 watts (93 cadence).
I knew from yesterday that the first 1.7 miles of road were brutally tore up. With that and the traffic, I pretty much stayed on the horns until the first left turn. After that I was able to get in aero and start passing people. The congestion there wasn't too bad, considering how many people were on the course due to my late start and slow swim.
I had wanted to try and average 230 watts for this race. I started feeling ok and hit that target for the first 5 mile split. By 10 miles I could tell I really wasn't feeling it. My legs seemed a tad fatigued. When I made that first turnaround and hit the headwind, I was like ooof. I had about a 225 watt average at that point, and then tried to focus and push.
The traffic wasn't too bad, but you had to really concentrate and focus up ahead. No head down and crank moments. It was constant passing, which I really don't mind. It was a typical slow swim, fast bike for me. The slingshot legal draft passing effect definitely helps me. It was nice to race on a course that actually was closed to traffic. No, Kona is not. People will tell you it is, and some parts are. But believe me, it is not totally closed to traffic. I was able to crank some good watts to mile 25 and had an overall average of 225 watts there as well. I stuck to my nutrition plan, taking in 3 gels, and just about draining my malto/electrolyte mix. I took a couple salt pills as well.
|Bike Splits (Check these out)|
That's when we started to fade a bit. With mostly a tailwind over the next 10 miles I averaged 25.8 mph despite only cranking 220 watts. At that point I was on the second lap, and it got a bit more hairy there. A couple of times we were 4 wide. A couple times when we were 3 wide, somebody would randomly start to move over. I'd be like "Hey, Hey, HEY LEFT".
|Somebody's Gettin' AERO|
On the first loop, I had noticed some of the spectators had come out to the course from the race start area. So my second time through I started looking for my cheer squad. I did see them on the way south and yelled. I saw them before they saw me. Then on the way back I was on their side and got to wave to them. That was pretty cool. They had to hike/run 2.5 miles to get down there from transition.
|Children of the Corn|
For some reason after the 3rd and last u-turn the traffic seemed to dissipate some. So the next 20 miles I would use Lance Armstrong's characterization of this year's Tour de France: Shit Show. I stumbled to the finish averaging 215 watts. Honestly though, I really didn't push it, because my speed was well over 25 mph. It was actually a 25.5 mph overall average through 40 miles. I knew if I could bring it home at that speed, I'd be in the 2:14 range and put myself into good position. As it turned out, I came off the bike in 9th place in the age group. Officially a PR bike for me (not counting Eagleman).
So perfect dismount. I got a "Nice Dismount" from a spectator. It was pretty bumpy on the grass getting into transition and a long way to my spot. I think I transitioned pretty good. Socks, visor, sunglasses, and race belt.
1:26:09 Officially: 4 / 181 AG, 16 / 1229 Males
Garmin had 13.06 miles in 1:26:11 for a 6:36 average (166 cadence)
I took off. I knew I had some work to do still. The plan (before the race) was to run 6:30's and then drop the hammer the last 5K. Well I felt good heading out and averaged 6:22's through the first 3 miles. I probably went out too fast, but honestly, I felt like I had to. I didn't feel like I was killing myself, so I felt that maybe I could make up some time.
I saw my cheer squad at the first right hand turn and that boosted me on. The run course was not too crowded, pretty typical. I did try and yell at every Big Sexy that I saw go by. I didn't slow too much over the next 3 miles, as I averaged 6:33's. This course has little hills here and there. Kinda similar to what I train on at home. I ended up taking 4 gels, 1 about every 3 miles. I took water at most every aid stations. It really wasn't hot. In fact a few times I poured ice water down my back I felt chilled.
|Cadence and Elevation|
So I was under 6:30 overall average at the halfway turn. I was feeling, just OK. I started to fade. I averaged 6:40's in miles 8-10. Then I kinda started to struggle. 6:52 average over the next 2 miles. The hills started hurting. I think my nutrition was good, but like I alluded to before, I just wasn't feeling it.
I hadn't really seen any guys in my age group as I passed people. As it turns out only 1 other guy in the top ten in the AG started in my wave. That other guy I come up on with 1/2 mile to go in the race. I saw the age on his calf. Normally you really don't know if someone started in your wave, but he had is name on his kit. I saw the 'M' and I was like, crap, I'm not 4 minutes up on this guy. We're racing.
I pushed for like a 1/2 second and it really hurt. But immediately my thought was that if this guy is the last spot for worlds, I'll never be able to live with myself if he beats me. He was passing a slower guy to the left. So I pushed and tried to sneak around the slower guy on the right. You know, like he wouldn't see me or something. Just about then we hit a downhill. I got a burst of energy and took off. I just tried to push like my hair was on fire. I split a 6:31 the last mile and beat him easily.
4:27:45 Officially 4 / 181 AG, 29 / 1229 Males Age Group Results Here.
I stagger through the chute and down a bottle of water. I see Big Sexy Jason and give him a hug. I felt like I did all I could do given the swim and how I felt the rest of the day. I was at peace, but really didn't think that I had "done it".
I found my cheerleaders and we hung out for a bit. We got a good picture. They were on their way to drive over to Chicago, and I was getting hungry. So they headed to their car, and I headed to the athlete food. Quite possibly the best spread I have seen on the IM circuit. It was catered by a local company with pork, chicken, rolls, some sides, some vegetarian stuff. Really good. Too bad I'm never really super hungry after a race.
|My cheer Peeps|
I get some food and hung with BSR Matt after the race. I stayed around the finish for a bit, but really didn't see anyone else come through. I decided to head to the car. As soon as I got there I grabbed my phone to check and see where I finished. Last week I had looked at the AG number to try and figure out how many slots M40-44 would get. My excel sheet calculated 4 slots. As I pulled up Ironman.com I quickly saw that I finished 4th! I started jumping around, pumping my fists, going Yes! And again Yes! Then fist pump Yes! One last time: Yes! Yes! I'm jumping around in these people's yard all by myself. "You Had One Job" as they say, and I did it. It's all about that Q: Chattanooga and Redemption. Going back to the WC with help from Blueseventy, Finis Swim, Quintana Roo, Cobb Cycling, Reynolds Wheels, IceFriction Chains, Ashworth Awards, Epoch Universal, Chili's Bar and Grill, and Big Sexy Gear.
As I walked by transition, I noticed that they are letting people in there. I got my bag from the car and walked back over to get my stuff. I was very careful not to interfere with the people still finishing the bike. Grabbed all my stuff, threw it in the car and headed back to the hotel to shower.
Unloaded my stuff, cleaned myself up, and then headed back to the race site for awards and such. Before that I stopped at the DQ there near my hotel for a large Strawberry shake. When I got back to the race site (and parked in my sweet spot, making the most out of my $20), the first thing I did was head over to the awards area. I wanted to make sure that the official slot allocation list matched up with what I thought. Sure enough it did! Another Q, no rolldown necessary, thank you very much. At the time, I was floating with permagrin because I had passed the guy for the last slot in the last 1/2 mile. This was even closer than my Kona Q as this was 26 seconds.
I found Cyndi checking out the sheet as well. She finished 2nd in her AG and got the Q, too. We headed over to the BSR tent to have a beer and hang with everyone else. We all talked about the race and how awesome Laura had done, AG winner, 4th overall and a 27 min swim. Her swim was cray-cray. Soon we all headed over for awards. They went through all the AG's and then did the Tri Clubs last. Big Sexy Racing won Division I as well. I knew we had a good shot. Jason and I got the award. We had 2 ag wins, a 2nd, and a ton of top 10's.
As the Slot Allocation started, the first couple of older AG's did not take their slots. Those 2 got reallocated to Male 35-9 and Male 45-9. In my age group, the top guy did not take his slot. So that made my last 1/2 mile pass a little less dramatic. 2 and 3 and me took our slots, but that last slot rolled all the way to 7. I was kinda shocked by that. There was very little rolldown other than that.
|Take my money for Chattanooga. STAT|
After that I just went back to the hotel and crashed.
Sunday July 10th.
Tried to sleep in, but didn't really. I just kinda enjoyed the relaxed morning and had coffee and breakfast at the hotel. Headed home around 7:30 am for the long drive. I stopped a few times for some crap gas station food. I did stop for lunch at Chilis in Charleston, WV. Took about 9 hours to get home, but it was worth it. I'm glad I stayed Saturday and drove home on Sunday.
|What it's all about|
After I got back, and because of my crap swim I had to figure out my bike + run time. Just looking at that I was 2nd in my AG and 9th overall. Not that anyone keeps track of that or cares, but it makes me feel better. Anyways this was my worst non-championship Ironman 70.3 finish ever for age group and overall. But I couldn't care less. All's I wanted was to qualify for Worlds. It's a nice feeling that on July 9th, you've accomplished your goals for the entire year. I'm excited about Chatt. I love that venue. In fact, I decided to race the 70.3 there again next May because I enjoyed it so much. And as you know, I'm not really a "same race every year" type of guy.
Worlds will be a different beast. Different swim course (probably a loop in front of Ross's Landing), and no wetsuits in early September. The bike course will incorporate one of the nearby mountain climbs. Not sure about the run. Maybe hit all the hills like in one lap of the full. Anyways it will be fun. Now I just have 14 months to try and figure out how to swim 1.2 miles in open water without a wetsuit. Please. Help. Me.