We made the drive to Cedar Rapids and I had to stop twice to use the bathroom. It took a little longer than expected to get on the road and I still needed to pick up my packet, get my transition area set up, and get a warm up in. I knew it would be an abbreviated warm up. I got everything set up and had time to squeeze in about a mile of running and then put the wetsuit on. I was able to get a good swim warm up in which is probably the most important of the 3 since that is what the race begins with. There were 9 guys who showed up to race in the Elite wave. Our wave would go in the water 8 minutes after the Elite females. Pigman pays 5 deep but awards a $750.00 bonus to the first person to cross the finish line...male or female. The women get the head start. It adds to the excitement of the race. Before the event started I thought I was capable of going 7:00 in the swim, 37:00 in the bike, and 17:00 in the run. I thought those estimates were very doable and perhaps if I had a good day I may be a little faster in all 3. Adding in time for transition I was hoping to be under 1:03:20. 2 years ago I was 1:04:53.
SWIM: My plan was to swim really hard. 2 years ago when I did this event I placed 11th and I had the 35th ranked swim. I knew I would need to keep the gap to the leaders less this year if I wanted to be in contention for the win. I've been swimming more since school got out. This race would be my 9th straight day of swimming infact. I took off fast the first couple hundred yards. The swim is only 550 yards. I was in a nice group and decided to settle in with them and stay on their feet for the remainder of the swim if possible. Strength is in numbers on the swim. I was in a really nice draft spot at the turnaround of the out and back swim. I stayed there and exited the swim with a time of 7:12. It was the 16th fastest swim out of 648 participants. This was my best swim of the year by far. It was 13 seconds faster than I swam the course 2 years ago. I also was out with 2 other guys in my wave.
BIKE: I had a good transition and began the bike with 3 guys right in front of me. I did have one major mishap during transition. When I got out on the bike I went to take a drink from my aero bottle and noticed the straw was gone. I assumed it bounced out while I was running through transition with my bike. I would not be able to drink on the bike which didn't really concern me because it is a sprint distance race and the temperatures were very reasonable at about 70 degrees. The winds were also very calm for this race...it was pretty much perfect out. I had a full bottle of fluids with no straw so I decided I didn't want the extra weight and when I thought no one was looking I unstrapped the bottle and chucked it to the side of the road knowing I would pick it up later. The reason I had to wait until no one was looking is because it is a USAT violation to abandon trash or equipment during a race. I wasn't really littering because I would pick the bottle up later but I didn't want to risk a penalty so I waited until it was clear to get rid of the bottle. Early on in the ride while I was messing with my bottle 2 of the riders got away from me. I passed one guy who passed me back and I was pretty excited because I thought we could work together to pull back the field. I was sitting in about 7th place at the time. I passed him back after dropping out of the draft zone first and gave him some encouragement when I went by him but he was unable to hold onto me so I would be trying to pull the field back solo which is a position I've gotten used to in pro races. The sprint race goes by so quickly I was trying to put a lot of power into the pedals but I could not seem to pull back any of the racers in front of me. At about 5 miles in we entered a short loop through the small town of Palo, IA and I could see my own shadow in front of me. I noticed something long sticking out of my helmet like an antenna...of course it was my straw!! In disgust I grabbed it out of my helmet and put it in my race jersey knowing I would not find it if I left it along the road this far into the race. I had no use for it since I had already gotten rid of my bottle. Later Jen informed me that she was screaming as I left transition that I had a straw sticking out of my helmet...I'm sure the guys I passed wondered what the heck I was doing with a big straw sticking straight up from my helmet. After the Palo loop I could tell I was at least 30 sec. from a group of 3 riders I could see. One of them was starting to come back on the return trip and just before we made a turn at mile 11 I passed him. I was gaining on another guy as we entered the park and when I got off the bike Jen told me I was in 5th and was 15 seconds from 4th. I had a good dismount off the bike and moved through transition quickly. I ditched the straw in transition so I could get it later. My bike split was 37:30...24.9 mph and it was the 4th fastest of the race. It was only 4 seconds faster than 2 years ago when I took a wrong turn at one point in the race so it really would have been slower than 2 years ago had I gone the right way that day.
RUN: I was pretty excited about the run. I thought I was certainly in shape to go under 17:00 from the workouts I've been doing. Leading up to Ironman I lost a lot of speed doing longer, slower intervals but I thought the past couple weeks I made good progress in getting that speed back. I took off and was moving well for the first mile but I was not gaining on anyone ahead of me. It was pretty demoralizing knowing I was not making up any ground and this was a race I had hoped to win. I started slowing down just after the mile when we went up some short gradual hills. At the turnaround I was down about 20 seconds to 4th place and he was the only one close enough for me to have a chance. I also knew I had lost ground to him in the 1st half of the run. I had another pro triathlete, Aaron Bachman hot on my heals at the turaround. I was guessing I was only 15 seconds ahead of him. I got into a really good rhythm at about 2 miles in and thought I would be able to hold him off but at the top of a hill with just under 1/2 mile left he went by me pretty quickly. I tried to go with him but I just did not have that extra gear. I was stuck at 5:35-5:40 range and I couldn't drop it down at all during the run. I went on to finish in 6th place with a run time of 17:39 and a finish time of 1:04:38. The run was only 2 seconds faster than 2 years ago and it was the 6th fastest of the day. All 5 guys who beat me ran faster than I did. Complete race results with splits can be found by clicking here
The race was extremely frustrating to me for many reasons. I expected to be in contention to win and I was not ever in the picture. I was only 15 seconds faster than when I did this race 2 years ago. My bike and run times were barely faster than 2 years ago and I'm in way better shape right now. I'm really at a loss right now as to why I raced so poorly. I hope that it has to do with training for an Ironman. I did not ever feel like I had that extra gear today which is so important in a sprint race. I get stuck in this 5:35-5:40 pace on the run and I can't seem to go faster. This winter when I was doing track workouts with Augustana I was in shape to break 16:00 for a 5k and thought I could run 16:30 off the bike. I actually did a 3 mile time trial off a 30 minute bike time trial and I ran 16:15 which would be about 16:40 for 5k. That was then...and now I'm looking for answers. It was tough to find any positives to take from this race. After searching I'd say the swim was good. I went from being ranked 35th 2 years ago to 16th this year. Part of that was due to a less quality field at the top of the race. After I finished on Sunday there was almost a 4 minute gap to the next finisher. About the only other positive was that I recovered very quickly. My legs felt really good within minutes of finishing. I was able to run a 4 mile cool down no problem and was able to begin my week long training camp today without any problems. This picture of Payton sums up my race pretty well. This is of her when I finished. In times like these I begin to question whether or not what I'm doing is working. Is there something wrong with the training? It would be easy to say yes but this is the same style of training I did 2 years ago and the results later that summer were very good. I decided I will continue to trust in the training...trust that things will get better. I have a lot of hard work to do. The reality may be that I'm not as good as I hoped to be or wish I could be. After earning my pro license my goal shifted from getting there to proving I belong there. I have not done the ladder. Infact I may be learning that I'm just not good enough. I would be okay with that if I give it my best shot. A pro license only lasts for 2 years and after my injury last year that leaves me with 3 more pro races to hit the renewal requirements which I never thought would be tough to hit. Now I'm wondering...am I nearing the end of this journey? If I give it my best shot and know when I'm done I just wasn't good enough I'll be okay with that. I don't think I've given it my best shot yet and my goal now is to be ready to do that 3 more times this summer...Ironman Racine 70.3, Ironman Steelhead 70.3, and Ironman Wisconsin.
Today I began a week long training camp. I'll post updates of what each day of camp was like on a nightly basis. For today it began with a 14.5 mile run at 5:30 a.m. and then I lifted weights and did lunges and jumped rope. Following a nap I did a 1 hr. 15 minute swim workout which totalled 3,900 yards and then I did a 55 mile bike ride with Adam. Making things tougher than the volume is that the heat index was over 100 degrees today. From the morning weigh-in to after my bike ride I was down 9 lbs. Time to fuel up and get in a short evening workout before hitting the pillow and getting ready for more punishment tomorrow. Quoting Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."I'm not dead...yet." Pigman wasn't how I envisioned it but I'll continue to get myself ready to race best late in the season. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!