This was my 10th Ironman and first non-Kona Ironman since 2003. I chose to take a year off from racing the IM World Champs in 2015 because I really felt that I needed a mental and physical break from probably the hardest (everything considered) iron distance race. It sounds cliche, but it really takes a piece of your soul. So, I chose IM Maryland for many reasons. First, I like to race this time of year as I feel that the summer weather allows me to train just right for a fall peak. Also, I have raced the 70.3 Eagleman course 7x previously. So I know the venue really well and many sections of the course are the same for both venues.
Race morning started with temps in the high 40s and winds of 15-30mph. Water temps were 63 degrees. Even though the conditions were not ideal, I was mentally prepared for the day. I stayed calm throughout the race announcements that preceded the swim start and just focused my thoughts on visualizing how I wanted the race to unfold.
The first announcement came 20 minutes prior to the scheduled start: "due to the winds of 15-30mph, a small craft advisory has been issued and we cannot continue with the full 2.4 mile swim course. The course will be shortened to 1.2 miles and the race will be delayed to 7:30am start." Fortunately, I had packed an extra bottle of calories and electrolytes, so the delay did not effect my nutrition balance at all. The second announcement came at 7am: "The conditions have improved and we are working to lengthen the course out to 3 kilometers (1/2 mile short of full distance). Race start will remain 7:30."
Swim: 43:26 (36th OA / 7th AG)
The conditions prevented any warm-up swim prior to the start. So the first jump into the water, as we ran down the boat ramp, was a bit of a shock to the systems. We swam out about 25 meters then made a right turn right into the rising sun. I couldn't see a thing, but neither could anyone else. Fortunately (in this case), I am not going to be leading any Ironman swims, so I had plenty of splashes to follow. I experienced the usual elbows, feet, bumping, and swimming over athletes. However, I kept the perceived effort pretty easy. I exited the water feeling extremely fresh and ready to roll the remainder of the race.
Bike: 4:49:12 (8th OA / 2nd AG)
The two main factors that I wanted to focus on during the bike were: staying comfortable and my nutrition.
My riding attire was spot on for the cooler conditions. I wore my Skins compression calf and arm sleeves in addition to my Castelli one piece tri suit and aero top. I felt like I really nailed my nutrition. I focused on staying patient on the bike. I was very methodical in my approach to my nutrition, electrolyte, and hydration. The cooler temps forced me to have 6 rolling #1 potty breaks. I've never had to do this in an Ironman before as it's usually so hot that I just sweat everything out. The winds definitely played a big factor for the entirety of the bike ride. I would say that 90% of the time we had a side wind or head wind. However, that 10% that was a tailwind was glorious! I came off the bike feeling relatively fresh and optimistic for the run. For the first time in an Ironman race I was able to get off of my bike without my hamstrings locking up on me.
Run: 3:10:23 (3rd OA / 2nd AG)
I was told that I came off the bike in 4th place overall. I had the normal stiffness and fatigue coming off of a 112 mile bike, but I was way more fresh than I've ever been at this stage in an ironman. I tried to focus on getting into a rhythm and settling in for a consistent run. I was able to roll sub 7 minute miles off pretty well until mile 12. At this point, I hit the headwind and my pace dropped substantially to high 7 minute mile pace. Fortunately that slowdown was mostly due to the headwind. I did start to take cola at each aid station going forward and I even walked a bit of each aid station to make sure I absorbed the fluids. I started to feel some deep muscular fatigue by mile 16. I have felt this in the past but not to the same extent in recent ironmans. Fortunately, I ran up on a local athlete at this time (Tim S). I was able to run with him for a few miles. By the time I hit mile 19, my hamstrings were cramping like crazy and my quads were screaming. I was trying to take as much salt as my stomach could handle. However, I believe I was just to muscularly fatigued from the day, wind, and colder temps. By mile 21 I had managed to move up to 3rd place overall. I saw that 2nd place was going through a really rough patch. I tried to keep a pace that wouldn't cause my cramping to re-emerge. I managed to keep the cramps down and moved into 2nd place right before the 22nd mile. At mile 25, my right calf locked up on me.
I knew I could force my way over the last 1.2 miles, so I just kept moving the best I could. It was not pretty at all, but I was able to cross the finish line in 2nd place overall.
Final: 8:50:21 (2nd OA / 1st AG)
Post Race: This year I am really focused on my recovery. I have had a really hard time the past few years with my recovery during the first month following the race. I am using all of my Standard Process supplements that my nutritionist has recommended for my optimal recovery. I look forward to the 2016 racing season and heading back to Kona for my 9th trip to the Ironman World Championships!
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.