First, I should re-introduce myself, it's been four years since I've raced, and this was a great season to get back it.
Second, I need to thank my partner, Elizabeth, who provided me with unwavering support and was amazing in prioritizing this race for me. I could not have done it without her and she deserves a lot of the credit.
Third, I need to give another thank you to Mark Carey and Z, because without those two guys I probably don't even get to the start line, let alone put down a memorable performance. Mark was an exceptional training partner and our 100 mile rides and 20 mile runs got me in cardio shape to throw down.
Z's is an amazing teammate. His cycling knowledge is second to none, but he also hooked me up with a set of new tires and an awesome 3D printed aero bottle cage. More importantly, Z's emails/rants provided me a ton of motivation. For example, a few of weeks ago I found myself in Wilmington, DE, at the end of work day, but having 4 hours before my flight. I had already run 7 or 8 miles on the hotel treadmill that morning, so it was tempting to be a wuss and head to the airport early to enjoy a nice meal. However, I said, what would Z do? And the answer was obvious, head to the Central Y pool and put in 5,000 yards. Reading Z's emails/rants over this past year educated me on how to win, and most importantly, not being afraid to win. Thanks Z, and congrats on the KONA entry, I can't wait to follow you next year and cheer you on as you crush the course.
I'd also like to thank Parker McConville and Dave Williams. Parker generously lets me workout at PARcycles for endless hours on my Kickr and Dave is my coach at Triangle-Multisport and put together a great training program. Lastly, I would like to thank all the volunteers who made the course fun, your cheering was well appreciated even if I did not smile until the very end.
Here's the race report.
6:08:58 -- 1st Overall
Swim 45:20 (3rd Fastest Split)
|At the start with friends Mark and Josh|
Not much to report here other to say I had a great swim and maximized the use of the currents. The first half of the swim was slightly against a current, and then the second half, with the current. The goal is the same in cycling, keep you nose out of the wind, and avoid swimming into currents. I took a path not followed by many others for the first mile or so of the swim, which was to swim far away from the buoys. The buoys were in the the middle of the channel, which is the deepest part of the channel. I chose to swim near the docks, which was near much shallower water. I could see my competitors struggling against the current and chop while I was swimming in nice calm water. I would need to make up the 100 meter or so difference in placement eventually, but I knew I could do it when the tide switched and the current came on my back. That's exactly how it played out. I led the swim for probably the first 2 miles of the swim, until the stronger swimmers caught me. If they had taken my route, they would have put minutes on me, but lucky for me they did not know the water. I swam with the leaders and we entered transition separated by a few seconds.
Bike 2:17:16 (2nd Fastest Split)
I was the first athlete onto the bike and out of T1, and I soon realized that the light rain from the night before shorted out my Quark. I would be racing this blind from power. Since 90% of my riding this year has been on a Kickr at a specific power, I was a little afraid to lose my security blanket, but at the same time, this is a race and you play the cards you're dealt. The wind was blowing hard and I knew there would be guys going too hard and blowing up. I also knew I was in good shape and if I rode within myself, I could win this on the run.
My plan was to eat my 1,000 calories, and to keep the lead or come off with the first group. I felt great the whole ride and basically stayed in my aero position for probably all but a minute of the two hour and 17 minute ride. I'd put in some long rides on the trainer, and this was just another one of them. Staying focused and turning the pedals. After the the first turn around at mile 25 I was able to see where the competition was. I took a time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, so I knew I had an approximate 4 to 5 minute lead on number 2. The next 15 miles were basically into a terrible head wind, but in all reality, that head wind is about 100 times easier than trying to keep Z's wheel during a TTT or trying not to get dropped after pulling through off of Z's wheel and having Brian or Allen throwing down. At one point during the ride, I commented to myself how easy this felt compared to those TTT workouts on the banana loop. During the IronMan, I just had to keep pedaling and staying within myself and I knew I could do that. When the wind hit my back at mile 40 or 41, it was smooth sailing, I was riding 28-30 mph and having a great time. About mile 45, a spectator said, you have a 7:30 lead and it's growing. At that point, I said this is my race to win, go out and do it. About a minute later I saw Z on the other side of the road and gave him a big wave and smile. I was having a blast and happy to Z catching the others.
I enjoyed the tailwind and cruised into into T2 ready to run.
Run 2:58:45 (3rd Fastest Split)
This is when you just suffer and deal. My quads were hurting but my feet/toes were the major culprits of my terrible cramps. I felt as if each foot was wooden block just pounding the road. Every time I would try to change position slightly, I would feel a cramp in my hamstring. I knew what I had to do. Pound my toes into the ground and just deal. You can run with toe/foot cramps, they suck and are miserable, but you can at least go forward with each step. When your hamstring goes, it's terrible, and you're likely walking or standing for minutes. Miles 19-26 were a tough slow experience. All I did was keep running, and all I thought about was getting to the next mile. This was my one place in the race where I could have improved. I lost a bit of focus and gave back probably 4 minutes, but I also kept running forward and kept getting the job done.
As I approached the finish line I saw my partner Elizabeth and son Orion. I was in a ton of pain but with a giant smile, and I knew in a few seconds I would be the IronMan NC champion. I shuffled down the finish chute, put my arms in the air, and was elated to have a nailed a race with near perfection. The 5 hour Zwift rides, the 17 mile treadmill runs, and the time away from family was part of the equation of learning not to be afraid to win and the actual race was just the proof.
It was just awesome.
Thanks again to Elizabeth, Z, Mark and the rest guys who have trained with me. I appreciate all the encouragement.