For 2013 I had plans of racing Ironman Coeur d’Alene and then a few half iron distance races before ending the year with another late Ironman to cap the season. CDA was a race that really was a reflection of my year to that point. After recovering pretty well from surgery last year, 2013 has been a struggle to just maintain any level of fitness that seemed to happen naturally in the past. I have had to learn some hard lessons that if I truly want to compete, I cannot just work hard. Truly becoming a professional, I am learning, is more than just a card, talent, or hard work for that matter. It is an overall approach that takes time to develop. No detail can be overlooked. If you ask my wife, I have never been detail oriented. So this process of refinement has been much more than just physical and I frequently make mistakes that I am learning from.
I tried to take the positives from my races early in the season and most of all was just patient through the summer as I worked to get better each session, each day. I got to Lake Tahoe a few weeks early to try to prepare as best as possible for what would likely be the most challenging course I have done. Not because of terrain or weather (or at least I thought) but because of an average altitude of over 6,000ft. My first few sessions went well at altitude including a couple days of good training in Salt Lake City where we stayed with an awesome sponsor and good friends Shawn and Julie Talbott. Shawn is the chief science officer for MonaVie and an amazing endurance athlete and Julie runs Wicked Fast Nutrition and in both cases are products I would undoubtedly use even if I were not sponsored. Shawn has been instrumental in helping me regain my health. Swimming is where I really noticed the altitude. As much as I knew I was working harder running, the trails and scenery in Tahoe made me forget that 7:00/mile pace was a lot easier at home.
Race week presented some challenges that I anticipated, just more intense that originally thought. Snow during pre race bag drop was a cold reminder that we were in fact in the Sierra Mountains. Regardless, I was pretty pumped to be toeing the line and feeling as fit as I have been all year. Walking down the beach race morning I wore mismatched old socks on the frosty beach-like sand. The first 100 yards consisted of a lot of running and dolphin diving in pristine Lake Tahoe and we were off into the mist that hovered right above the water due to a 35 degree difference in water/air temp.
The second loop was a lot of zig-zagging through age groupers, and after 56:xx I was into transition to put on lots of layers for a bike ride starting in sub-freezing temps. I can honestly say it is the first time I have ever worn my thermal gloves in a race. The first 25 miles was shaded and fast and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the frost was on the tree branches as we made our way along the Truckee river. In the first 60 miles I hovered right around 8th-10th place. As I made it further into the bike it became more apparent that anything under 5 hours was going to be a very solid time. As it turned out, only two men went under 5. I finished up the bike in 8th place in 5:08. Definitely the hardest bike course I have done. This includes St George.
Onto the run I tried to really take into account that pacing would be huge and that mistakes at elevation would be magnified. By mile 5.5 I had moved up to 6th place and was likely running as comfortable as I ever have in an Ironman. I ran through the halfway point right on my target pace. I got splits that 5th and 4th were only 90 seconds up the road, but that is as close as I ever got. From mile 15-20 I went backwards. I recorded my next 5 miles over 7:20 and lost 4 spots pretty quickly. After that I seemed to catch up on nutrition and get going again, but it was too little to late. I finished the run in 3:07 and although I finished in 9:17, I believe it was my best Ironman to date, including my 8:56 at Arizona last year.
Malachi found this spider in the garage where we were staying. Biggest I have ever seen outside of a pet store
After a bit of reflection and dialogue with my coach, I know what I need to do when I race again. Which is coming soon. In 4 weeks time I am going to try and improve in all facets at Ironman Florida. So I guess that means I better get back to work.
Thanks to everyone back home in North Idaho rooting me on. You guys really push me to be my best. The guys and gals at Bonk Breaker are like family and continue to send me bars that I can even let my kiddos eat with no guilt. North Idaho Physcial therapy always puts me back together after long sessions, my local bike mechanic Jim Kozak at Cyclemetrix, my friend Andrew Evenson for all his support this year, Brian Thompson for hooking me up with shoes that fit my feet and running style, Blue Seventy for awesome racing gear and wetsuit, Rudy Project for protecting my brain, Training Peaks, and as mentioned before Monavie and Wicked fast. I will continue to move forward with Coach Pauloand keep chasing the awesome athletes on The Triathlon Squad. Behind it all are my 3 boys who I adore and my ever supportive wife. Most of all I am thankful and trying to make the best of what God has given me.