My first Ironman attempt at St. George did not go well as it ended after only 13.1 miles. It was probably a result of multiple things including not enough long rides, not enough rest during the last 2 weeks and a poor job of managing my nutrition on race day. I'm somewhat interested in giving ironman another go but I probably won't decide until later this summer.
After a couple of weeks of rest, followed by a couple weeks of training I was back racing at the Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon. The field was pretty stacked with most of Wisconsin's top triathletes sans a few names. The race went pretty well, I exited the swim near the front. After 5 miles I moved into 2nd place behind Will Smith who was flying as I could never really see him up the road. Blake Becker and I exited T2 together. We had about a 1min on the chasing group but Will was quite a ways up the road. My legs didn't feel great during the run but I ended up with a pretty decent 5km and finished in 2nd overall, 2 minutes faster than last year.
The weekend after I headed down to the Kansas 70.3 race. I was hoping that the field would be a little weaker than St. George or Nola 70.3 as there were 2 other domestic 70.3 races that weekend. Despite the other races, there was a pretty strong field.
Onto the race, I had a rough swim but most people did as the waves were quite large for a lake. Looking at the swim times my time wasn't too bad (just over 30 min) but there is still a lot of room for improvement here. Onto the bike I was moving pretty well. The course had some rolling hills that, coupled with a head wind on the way back, made for a decently tough bike ride. I came in at 2:16, not a bad time but 6 minutes off the eventual winner's time. This was one of my longer rides since St. George so I think there is still room to improve on the bike, particularly at the longer races. After looking at some pictures from Kansas I also lowered my front end about a 0.5 inch or so as I was riding quite high. I started the run moving pretty well. I felt strong through about 8 or 9 miles. The last 4 miles were rough and I was passed by 3 other guys. My time for the run was 1:20. I was a little dissappointed but the run, like the bike, was my longest since St. George. Here too I think there is room for improvement.
Overall, I feel like I'm in a pretty good place fitness wise. My top end is good (but not great) in each sport. Where I'm lacking is steady state efforts that more closely replicate the demands of 1/2 ironman racing. I plan to include these efforts during my long ride and long run while continuing to include 1 fast/hard bike and run interval workout per week. On the bike I'll gradually shift from shorter intervals (2-5 min with similar rest ratios) to longer (10-20 with less rest). I feel this difference in intensity (with the inclusion of longer steady state intervals during my long bike) will be sufficient enough to continue to stimulate physiological changes and improve the right end of my power curve. I took a similar approach in the winter and it seemed to work. On the run I'll continue to include some quality in the long run as I build it back up. I may include a true track workout 1x/week as opposed to just a hard T-run but this will vary depending on my run fitness. I seem to run better when I run more (obviously!) so i'm more inclined to build back up to running 6-7x/week and including my quality efforts in a t-run and during my long run. From an economy stand point, adding in some hard 200s and 300s (as an example) during a brick run seems to be enough for me to keep the fast twitch fibers working (at least at my current run level). In the swim, I need to keep working but I also should be trying to do 1 open water swim per week.
As far as upcoming races go, I'm planning on doing Muncie 70.3 on July 9th, Racine 70.3 on July 17th and maybe the Pewaukee Sprint on July 10th. My goal is be to be 3:59.59 or faster at Muncie and/or Racine!
This past weekend I headed down to New Orleans with a few other wisconsinites - Paul Eicher, Mark Hering and Jackie Arendt. For all of us, this marked the first race of the season. For Jackie and I it was also our first professional race. I was a little nervous for the race, particularly in the days leading up to it but mostly I was excited to finally race. I think it was calming knowing that Jackie was going through the same experiences as me.
We did the usual pre race stuff and soon enough it was time to race. Race morning brought a couple of surprises, the first was that I managed to rip the valve extender off my rear tire trying to inflate it (I blame Paul's pump). The volunteer mechanics at the race site were able to fix it right away so that was awesome. The second surprise was the swim was cancelled due to wind and the race would become a bike run. Part of me was happy but also I wanted to see how I would fare in the swim starting with a smaller, faster group of swimmers. I guess I'll find out soon enough in St. George.
For the bike, the pros started every 30 seconds. I didn't have much of a plan for the bike. I wanted to ride competitive and see were that put me for the run. I managed to catch the 2 riders ahead of me within the first ~ 15 minutes but I took it out a little too hard. When a couple of faster guys passed me a few miles later I couldn't hang with them. I also couldn't ride away from the 2 guys that I had caught earlier. We rode together passing some other riders until we hit the ~ 35 mile mark. At this point Dirk Bockel came flying by! I didn't try to go with him then, but I should have, because I tried to bridge up to him a mile or so later. Despite my effort, Dirk continued to ride up the road but I felt good and continued to hold a pretty good effort into T2 and I was also able to pass a few more people.
I started the run not knowing exactly what place I was in. My plan for the run was to start conservatively and build into it. I was passed by 3 people right away but I kept to my run pace. I didn't have a watch on so I wasn't sure of splits but I felt good through the first few miles. The middle miles of the run went by quickly. I wasn't getting paced and I was making up time. At mile 8/9 I was starting to hurt a bit but I had passed 2 of the 3 guys who had passed me earlier. The last part of the run was probably my favorite race finish ever. The run ended in the historic french quarter and the last 600m of road was packed with spectators. It probably didn't hurt that I felt like I was having a good run too! I ended up passing a couple more guys in the last mile or so.
I finished the run in 1:18.36, which was a pretty big run PR. Combined with a 2:12 and change bike and I finished in 3:32.51, 18th place overall. I was pretty pleased with the result. I wasn't too far behind some very good athletes (http://ironmanlive.com/tracking.php?race=neworleans70.3&year=2011). But I also know that even if I swim well, i'm still going to lose (hopefully only) 3 minutes to the faster swimmers so the results probably would have been different had there been a swim.
After this race I have a pretty good idea of what I need to work on. Ideally I need to drop ~4 min on the bike and ~3-4 min on the run as well as continue to improve my swim. It's not realistic to improve this much in one year, or maybe two years but I'm going to enjoy trying.
Jackie, Mark and Paul all had solid performances as well. All three are going to have very good years!
The trip was a lot of fun. I look forward to racing NOLA 70.3 again in 2012.
Thanks to all my sponsors and teammates for their support!