The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, the mantra this year was to switch things up and see if the outcome would change.
I had three main things that I changed up in 2014. First, I went back to a focused strength and plyometrics routine at the beginning of the year. Then I worked the entire season on dialing in my race nutrition. I did not want any nutritional excuses this year. Finally, I increased the frequency and length of my long rides.
The result of my changes left me very confident about my foundation strength and my race nutrition. I was not worried about completing the 140.6 miles. I was ready to race.
I was curious to see how the new swim start would change things this year. I swam out to the starting line and quickly realized that the split start was not going to change how dense the front line gets before the cannon goes off. The usual feeling of being a sardine packed in was still very real. Once the cannon went off, I just tried to keep my head down and stay relaxed. There were arms and feet everywhere, but my best option was to move forward as quickly as I could. After the initial 200 meter smash fest, I was able to get some decent open water. I quickly got into my own rhythm and looked for some feet to follow. I felt really relaxed the remainder of the swim even though the conditions seemed a bit more rolling this year. I came out of the water with the 256th swim time. It wasn't my best, but I was happy with it on the day.
The long day that is an ironman will always throw unforeseen challenges your way. Each race will have different challenges. So I always try to prepare myself the best I can and hope to adapt to the particular challenge I am presented with on that day. This year I felt really good heading out onto the bike and I was really excited to see how my nutrition plan would play out. What I did not expect was to be flagged for a blocking (just a stand down) and a drafting (four minute timed stand down) penalty within the first ten miles. I was so surprised and very disappointed. My thought process had this progression: anger at the referees for making two very bad calls at the beginning of the race, then the feeling that my race was over, finalized by realizing that it is a very long day and anything can happen.
The bike segment was the usual roller coaster of emotions. However, this year the conditions were quite unique. I would say that 2014's bike conditions were the second (behind 2004) hardest that I've experienced in eight times racing here. There was an extreme headwind from miles 25-45. Then we caught some major side winds from 45-55 that literally blew some athletes off the road. We got the usual brutal headwinds heading into the Hawi turnaround from miles 55-60, which did turn into a nice tailwind to start the descent back down to mile 70. Once we turned onto the Queen K at about mile 80, we had a massive tailwind. It was bizarre. I was pedaling as fast as I could while riding along at 40mph and thinking how nice this would be to have the remainder of the ride. However, that all changed at mile 90, when we got another blast of significant headwind to fight the remainder of the ride into T2. It was one of the strangest days I've ever experienced. I came off the bike in 206th place overall and 24th in my age group. While it was not one of my best rides, I was very happy with how my nutrition held up.
One of my main goals this year was to feel good (relatively speaking) coming off the bike. I have only felt decent one time exiting T2 in Kona and I really wanted to change that this year. I was really happy that once I hit the ground running, my legs felt good.
It can be very daunting to think of the distance still left to cover and I am guilty of having those thoughts from time to time. So I made a deal with myself that I was only going to think about running to the next aid station.
This was the first year that I was able to run the entire marathon without walking any aid stations. I felt
pretty good for the first 13 miles then I went through a tough patch until mile 19. My energy levels really dipped during this stretch and I only focused on my cadence in an attempt to keep moving forward at a decent pace. Once I exited the Energy lab, I tried to get my hands moving at a decent clip. I knew my feet would follow if I could stay in the moment and not drift off with my thoughts. The strategy worked and I was able to bring my pace back down to 7 min/mile pace into the finish. I crossed the line with my best marathon time to date and a total time of 9:21:59, which put me in 85th Overall and 6th M40-44. I left it all on the run course.
Career Highlights: 2009 USA Triathlon Amateur Athlete of the Year, 2012,2013, 2014 USA Triathlon Masters Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic National Championship Masters Champion, 4 X Ironman 70.3 World Championship Age Group Winner (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), 18 X 70.3 Overall Amateur Champion, 9 X Ironman World Champion Finisher (4 X Top 10 in Age Group), 2015 American Zofingen LC Champion, 2nd OA IM Maryland
I started competing in triathlon in the summer of 2000. I had always been intrigued by the sport since the early ‘80s when I would watch the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I got into running at a young age (6yrs old) as my father was a big marathon runner back in the late 70’s, early 80’s running boom. I did my first 10-mile road race when I was 10 years old. I also played ice hockey throughout my childhood and I stopped running my sophomore year in high school in order to completely focus on ice hockey. I did not run again until the fall of 1999. During that race, a friend of mine mentioned that he competed in sprint triathlons, short duration races lasting around one hour. I was immediately interested and I signed up for my first triathlon in July of 2000 up in Falmouth, Ma. I was immediately hooked. I loved the competition. I especially liked the aspect of the three sports and how one could continue to practice and improve in each sport. I believe all three sports compliment each other. I also really enjoyed the idea of challenging myself to see where I could get. So, while triathlon is a competition, I see it more as a race against yourself then others. It is a very addictive sport, but I think it’s probably one of the healthiest addictions that I know of. The training is also a great stress relief. I worked in New York City for the past 5 years and down on Wall Street for 2 years. The commute and the lifestyle can get pretty stressful at times. The training really helped me de-stress and stay focused. I have three little boys and I really enjoy sharing the sport with all three of them. I don’t care if they ever compete in a race, but I do believe it’s important to expose them to healthy opportunities in life. I would say that the hardest endurance scenario I’ve faced was actually the first half ironman I competed in up in Laconia, NH, which was the Timberman race. I’ve completed four full Ironman events, but that half ironman was my first attempt at the distance. I feel, in hindsight, that I just was not properly trained for the event. It was an incredible eye opening experience. I don’t think I’ve been more tired then the moment I crossed that finish line. However, the human mind is fascinating, as I was looking forward to the next race less then 24 hours after.