What is up crazy like polarized-molecules-in-a-microwave-on-the-high-setting fans! Solid race this Sunday in a stacked field, and even more so just a fun weekend. Let’s get right to it.
Swimming is…Annoying?: 10th fastest
Armed by my Mackenzie Madison women’s hand me down swim skin, I took off like a person wearing an extremely tight and thin garment in front of a large crowd of people. Seriously, I did get out to a pretty good start, and it wasn’t due to my blazing turnover or ferocious kick, it was my WORLD CLASS dolphin diving ability. I’m good at dolphin diving. There, I said it. It’s like riding a roller coaster in the water. Booyah!
Anyway, for the first 300 to 400 meters I swam next to Joe Gambles, who I knew would be one of my top competitors. Then Joe made a strong move. I tried to go with him, but I just didn’t have that gear, and by that time it was too deep to dolphin dive. Honestly, I knew that it was super important for me to stay with him, so I pushed as hard as I could to stay in his draft, but he just kept pulling away. So I looked over and saw another group to my right, and quickly bridged the gap. I recognized Chris McDonald, who I’ve swam with before. I stuck on his feet and came to terms with a not-as-good-as-I-hoped-for kind of swim.
From there on out, the swim wasn’t too bad. I wouldn’t say it was particularly comfortable, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was between uncomfortable and comfortable. I guess a good adjective would be annoying. Yep, the swim was annoying.
Biking Alone: 4th fastest (30 seconds off fastest bike) Garmin/Strava Report
After riding with guys my last two races, I was pretty eager to try and catch the groups in front of me, but I had no idea what the gap was. So I ran hard through transition, got my shoes on quickly and was the first guy up to speed. When I hit the first rolling uphill, I started hammering. I was excited and super motivated, but a few minutes in, my legs told me they felt a little flat. They always say that in the first 20 minutes, so I just told them to shut up little legs and that everything’s going to be ok.
I passed a few of the strong swimmers, but still had no idea where I was. I kept hearing updates from random spectators: “3 minutes down,” “1 minute down,” “About 4 minutes down,” “9th place,” “No. 7th place.” It was like riding a roller coaster of emotion. Roller coaster metaphor #2, double booyah!
This is seriously the song that came into my head about 20 miles in to the ride. Pretty brutal. Good news is I found a claymation video of it to share with you guys.
I finally got a split about ¾ of the way in from Julie Dibens – last years women’s champ who was commentating. She said I was 2:40 back on the lead, 6th place. 2:40? That’s not terrible, depending on who’s in front of me. A few miles later, at the only turn around, I saw the lead. A four man group: Matthews, Gambles, Cunningham, and Cunamma. Damn. That sucks. Basically all of my primary competitors, had been riding together for God knows how long. Plus all of them, particularly Cunningham, Gambles & Cunamma usually run race best splits. If I wasn’t close to that group off the bike, it would be near impossible to catch them. So I pushed it in HARD, trying to limit the damage. I knew I was hurting my run, but felt that if I wanted a chance to win, or even podium, it was my only option.
Running Backwards?: 5th fastest Garmin/Strava Report
Right as I started the run, I had a glimmer of hope, a guy told me I was 1:20 down. 1:20! Man, maybe I did finish that ride well! If I have a great run, I might be able to catch them! So I took off at a pretty hard pace. Unfortunately, my Rundar knew immediately that I wasn’t feeling a stellar one today, but I tried my best to ignore it. Take it a mile at a time. You’ve got a shot.
I kept the pace up, knowing it might be unsustainable given the way I felt. Then four miles in I passed Julie who said I was – pause for dramatic affect – 2:05 down. WTF?!? I’ve been running my ass off and those guys just put 45 seconds on me in the first 4 miles?!? It took me a few minutes to do some brain Excel and realize the first split I got was wrong, I was probably 2:20 down when I started the run. Which meant I was gaining, but not gaining fast enough.
I passed Paul Matthews to move into 4th just before the first turnaround at about mile 6. I finally got my own split on the leaders, still running closely together – 2:00 ahead. Damn. 7 miles to go and a 2 minute deficit started to look like a long shot. Joe was off the back just a bit, maybe 1:45 up. So I told myself that, even though I feel like complete ass, I’d run hard until the next turn around at mile 10, and see if I had a chance to catch him.
By the time mile 9 came around, I knew it was game over. Lauren says sometimes I get stuck on a saying, a lyric, I sign I saw, whatever, and repeat it over and over again without realizing it. She calls it my “Way of the future.” Anyway, my brain kept saying, “Left the run on the bike, left the run on the bike, left the run on the bike.” I told my brain to stop saying that, but it wouldn’t listen. Finally, I got to the turnaround, saw Joe go by about 1:35 up. 1:35 to make up in 3 miles? No way. Then I saw Paul was still ~1:30 behind me. So I shut it down big time. Like 30-60 seconds a mile big time. I think I was secretly glad I wasn’t close. I mean, I was really, really tired, and I just wasn’t feeling it dude.
Ok, this isn’t that funny watching just the clip (Leo’s too good!) but just so you get the reference.
So the last mile is uphill in the middle of a forest, no crowd, no nothing, just me and the hill. As I was slogging it in, there was this one random dude on a bike, all by himself, who took a picture of me with his camera phone. Then when I jog/walked by he said to me, only three words….”Bieber Zombie Mode.” Seriously. It was awesome. I would have laughed out loud if I had the energy to do so. All I could say was, “I could use some Bieber right now.” At the time it was all Zombie and no Bieber. Anyway, it was enough to get me up and over the hill into the last flat quarter mile into the finish. Thanks dude!
Overall: Staying in it when it isn’t your day. 4th Place, Full Results
I’m content with this place. I’m not head over heals psyched, but I’m content. It’s a happy middle of the road feeling. I am absolutely satisfied with my effort on the day. I didn’t give into the many moments of doubt or self pity I had along the way. Even though I was tired, felt a bit flat, lonely, and working my ass off solo, I kept pushing to get as much out of myself as possible. I kept the opportunity open in my mind that I could still move up into the top three, at least until the last couple of miles.
For sure, I wish I had swam a little better, I still don’t feel like I’ve had a great non-wetsuit swim – I lost 1:20 to Cunamma, who I beat out of the water at Wildflower. It feels like I lost the race in the swim, but a better swim wouldn’t have made the difference. I did everything I could to catch those guys on the bike and the first 9 miles of the run. They simply had a better day, and hat’s off to them. I know they were crushing themselves in that group. They are all solid pros with significant credentials/experience, so loosing to them on the day is not a huge disappointment.
Like I said in my preview, confidence & success brings with it the burden of expectation. It’s true that I hoped to win, or even place in the top 3, and I’m proud of myself for not caving in when I knew neither was in the cards. And for staying in it mentally, I was rewarded with a solid performance in a super strong field. I’ve made significant gains on all those guys when compared to last year. The bigger picture trend is heading in the right direction, and that’s something to feel good about.
The Event: Rad & Roller Coasters
Let me just tell you all how awesome this race is. I’m definitely coming back next year, and if you’re looking for a half-ironman distance race to do next year, you should seriously consider it. The course was absolutely spectacular, seriously. Amazing scenery, nice country roads, hilly, tough, LEGIT. The Rev3 staff had everything on point as usual. It was freaking awesome. As promised, the first thing I did after crossing the finish line – rode the roller coaster.
This video shows way too much of my receding hairline.
Update!: Check out the Rev3 Recap Video below, pretty sweet stuff, and some goofy cameo’s by yours truly.
Charlie, Krista, Ashley, Eric, Sean, Jaime, Jessica, and the rest of the staff & team at Rev3. This was an incredible event, and you guys made all of us pros – and I’m assuming all the age groupers as well – feel welcome and cared for. What an AWESOME course. I’m definitely coming back. I want a round 2 with that guy. Thank you so much for the support, generosity, and what you bring to the sport. You guys are rad! See you in Portland in 5 weeks!
- Geoff, Kody & Kelly at Pearl Izumi. Super fun hanging with you guys this weekend. Thanks for all the help & support. Congrats to Geoff for braving some nasty conditions on the Olympic on Saturday, and Kelly for crushing the Half with sore shins. Hope you guys are recovering in your sales meeting, haha. See you on Thursday.
- As always, Mallory, Sean, & Joe at Specialized – Another SOLID bike split. It kept me in the race honestly. I’m riding minutes faster when compared to the same guys last year. Thanks so much for all the help guys, keeping me competitive out there.
- The guys at Rolf Prima. They cranked on getting a new TDF 60 SL front up and ready for me this weekend. Seriously appreciate the quick turnaround and support. You guys rock, and the wheels are fast dude!
- My coach Matt Dixon – As always, got me ready and kept me mentally prepped for whatever I would get out of the day. Another great step forward, let’s keep it rolling.
- Robert at First Endurance – I have had absolutely ZERO cramping and nutritional problems this year. I owe a HUGE chunk of that to First Endurance. Thanks for keeping me going guys. I again used the same race day nutrition plan here.
- Steve and the rest of the team at Cycleops – The PowerTap was all the kept me company out on that bike ride this weekend. Definitely helped keep me honest out by myself. Thanks for all the help.
- Gerry Rodrigues of Tower 26 – Thanks as usual for all the help Gerry. Still got a little ways to go in those non-wetsuit swims, but it’s coming around. Back to work this week!
- As always, my wife, my family, the rest of my support crew, my newsletter subscribers, twitter and facebook peeps. I have some seriously awesome crazy ass fans. I had a bunch of people come up to me before and after the race, talking about this blog, etc. To have someone say Bieber Zombie in the middle of the race was a trip. I appreciate all your guys support, and when I’m out there alone, I just start writing the race report in my head. Thanks for giving me something to do.