Oct 13

Race Report: Ironman Louisville

I just wanted to share a quick (or not so quick) race report from my race at Ironman Louisville.


I woke up race morning at 5AM and headed down to the lobby to find some food. As I got on the elevator, there were already people leaving the hotel to get in line for the swim start. The unique thing about Louisville is that the swim is a time trial start beginning at 7:30AM. Everyone gets in line (first come, first serve) and two people enter the water at a time until everyone is in. So, the earlier you get up and in line, the sooner you start. I really had no idea on when the best time to start would be but I knew I didn’t want wake up extra early just to get a spot at the front of the line. Instead, I met Rich and Brad in the hotel lobby at 6:00 and we walked down to transition together. I added nutrition to my bike, pumped tires, and headed to the swim start line by 6:30 or so. The walk to the line wasn’t far as we were nearly the last people in line. And there we waited. And waited. And waited. At last the line finally started slowly moving at 7:30AM. As we walked along, we got our wetsuits on – water temp was 73*. The air temp was even cooler – probably under 60* so it was actually nice and warm in the wetsuit.


As we got closer to the docks – nearly a mile walk when all was said and done – it started to get real. You could feel the energy and nerves in the air. Also, the ground was noticeably wet despite the fact that it hadn’t rained at all. Just don’t think about why the ground was wet, but sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go.


Finally at about 8:10 we were on the dock. We were so close to the end of the line that we could see the last person in line as we walked along the dock – so probably only 100 or so racers behind us. I crossed the timing mat, jumped in, and was off. I immediately got a little water in my goggles from jumping in (my biggest fear with this sort of start). I tried ignoring it but knowing how dirty/disgusting the river water was, I didn’t want to swim for an hour with it sloshing around. I swam up to a paddle board (only realize the water was shallow enough to stand) quickly adjusted them and was off again.

The swim course for Louisville starts going upstream in a narrow canal before making a left turn around the island and heading back downstream. The entire upstream portion of the race was very congested – primarily from starting so far back but also because it was just a narrow stretch of water. Eventually I reached the turn and it was time to head back downstream. At this point the river was much wider and I was able to get into a better rhythm. I just focused on long smooth strokes making sure I was starting with good hand entry into the water and using the full stroke rather than pulling my hand out early. I did have to stop twice more to dump water out of my goggles before I got a good seal.


In a matter of no time (thanks to a little push from the current), I was approaching the swim exit. Because it is a river exit, there isn’t much of a shoreline. Instead, they put a couple sets of temporary stairs in the water to climb out. This was pretty congested and I was probably 8-10 people back when I finally stopped swimming and had to wait to actually exit the water. I headed over to the strippers and they made short work of removing my wetsuit.

As worried as I was about swimming in the dirty Ohio River, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. While it was definitely no Versluis Lake, it wasn’t totally digusting. Nevertheless, I did throw away my contacts post race just in case.

Time: 1:00:54 (3min PR)


Holy crowded hot house. I’m used to mass swim starts and exiting near the the front of the pack which means T1 is generally pretty empty when I get there. Not this time. With 2000+ people starting the swim before me, it was a mad house. Bare asses and balls as far as the eye can see – some people prefer to do a full clothing change in T1 but I swim, bike, and run in the same kit. I finally found a seat near the exit, popped on my shoes and helmet, applied some chamois cream and ran to my bike stopping to get a spray of sunscreen on the way.



When I got to my bike, I saw that my Garmin was on the "Calibrate Power Meter" screen. Crap. I knew I forgot something that morning. I quickly dismissed that screen hoping that the previous calibration settings would be enough and then I was off. I ran to the mount line, hopped on, and was off. I switched my Garmin to the screen to show my power readings and it was blank. Double crap! I quickly tried to re-pair my power meter on the go but it never picked up. Oh well, it looked like I was going to have to do this ride based on feel (and HR data).

The Louisville bike course is a lollipop shape with a double loop – it is basically a 20 mile stretch out, 2 – 35 mile loops and then back. I did get a chance to ride a 20 mile portion of the loop on Friday, but other than that, I knew very little about the course other than what I was able to glean from some Youtube videos and previous race reports. I knew that for the first 20 miles I just had to focus on settling into a good pace without pushing it too hard. This turned out to be easier said than done. With so many other racers on the road, I found myself nearly continously passing people. While frustrating at times, this did benefit me to some degree as you get a bit of a legal draft off of other racers as you pass them.

20 miles in and I was out to to the loop – the meat of the course. The loops are where most of the hills are so you don’t want to burn yourself out on them. Because I was only familiar with part of the loop, I decided to take the first loop relatively controlled and then pick it up on the 2nd loop if possible. The interesting thing about this course is that while there were hills, they were more like valleys. Instead of climbing and then descending, it seemed like most of the time, I was descending and then climbing back up. This meant that I could carry some speed from the downhill into the following climb. The congestion on the course ebbed and flowed throughout the loop. At some points there were a ton of people with groups riding 3 wide and other times it really emptied out and I could just settle in. I eventually caught up to Nick, John, Johanna, and Jeff who all started the swim before me. It was great to see the Apex green out there!

2016-10-09 12.20.54

For my nutrition, I basically replicated the same strategy that worked for me at MiTi. This meant carrying a single bottle with roughly 400 calories in it plus a gel flask with another 400 calories. I would swap these out with a 2nd bottle and flask at the halfway point. I supplemented with water bottles from each aid station and salt/electrolyte tablets every hour.

In no time I was at the halfway point of the ride and picking up my special needs bag to swap my nutrition bottle and flask. I peeked at my elapsed time for the first time and saw that I right where I wanted to be pace-wise. The 2nd lap was even less congested than the first loop. With one loop under my belt, I knew exactly where I could push it and where it was better to just settle in and spin.

As I rode through Lagrange, I somehow missed seeing Jennifer and Nate but did see JR and Ronda screaming their heads off. It kind of sucked that the big spectator area was on a slight downhill section so it was much harder to see people than if it were on an uphill section.


Once I got to mile 80, I knew that I was in great shape. From the 80 mile mark all the way back to transition it is a slight downhill with a bit of a tailwind. I checked my elapsed time once more and knew that I was in a position to PR the bike split. I continued to ride at a controlled effort for the next 30 miles. In the last 40 miles of the race, I managed to average a whopping 23+ mph – faster than any other split of the day.

Without my power meter to rely on, I just tried to keep my HR around 145bpm as much as I could – I ended up averaging 143bpm so I nailed it. Thankfully, I didn’t feel like I had to focus on my pace at all and it really just sort of came naturally. As much as I would have liked to have had the data, it was sort of nice to just ride without having to be focusing on the numbers. I may have actually rode a bit harder than I would have with my power meter to reign me in.

Time: 5:10:21 (8min PR)


I rolled into T2, handed off my bike to one of the awesome volunteers and headed off to the T2 tent. This time around the transition tent was much less crowded and I easily found a seat. I pulled on my compression socks and running shoes and swapped my helmet for my lucky ND hat. I hit the sunscreeners once more on the way out.



I hit the run course like I was on fire. I was feeling awesome. Within the first mile I saw Jennie and Nate for the first time. After missing them at both the swim exit and on the bike course, I was super excited to see them. The first 4 miles were sub-8 pace which I knew wasn’t sustainable. I slowly settled into an 8:00-8:30 pace for the rest of the first half of the course. My goal was to get through the first loop of the course without having to walk and then re-evaluate on the 2nd loop.

2016-10-09 14.40.47

As I began the second loop, I knew that I was going to have to change things up a bit. The long day was catching up to me. I switched to a strategy of running between aid stations but then walking through the aid station to recover a bit and to make sure I was getting enough nutrition. Oddly, I was unable to drink and coke on run which is usually my saving grace. I tried it twice and both times my stomach flipped on me. Rather than take my chances, I stuck to water and Gatorade. I also took a couple cups of warm chicken broth once that was available.

IMG_5777The double out and back course was nice because it allowed me to see all of my friends and teammates out on the course a couple times. However, it did let me see how much Brad was gaining on me. Having someone you know chasing you is one of the best ways to dig deep and keeping pushing through the pain. It was close but I managed to stay ahead of him at the end. Thanks for the push Brad!

With a mile left, I picked up the pace and kicked it in for a strong finish. It was the best I have ever felt after an Ironman knowing that I had left it all on the course.



Time: 3:43:17 (3min PR)

Total Time: 10:05:43 (14min PR)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2016/10/13/race-report-ironman-louisville

Oct 07

Race Report: XTerra Grand Rapids

On Sunday I raced my first ever XTerra Triathlon. An XTerra Tri is a triathlon that incorporates mountain biking and trail running instead the traditional road racing. I was on the fence about doing this race until Jennie found me a contest to win a free entry. Only two people (myself and one other) entered the contest and I ended up winning. I’ll take a free race any day!

I got to the race site about an hour before the race started – more than enough time to get setup. The race was fairly well organized which was sort of surprising based on the lack of information leading up to the race. One of the reasons I didn’t sign up earlier was because I was frustrated by the lack of communication by the RD so I was pleasantly surprised. It is definitely a different experience than a “regular” tri though but I knew to expect a more laid back experience.


The swim was pretty uneventful which is good. The swim start was in Deep Lake and was a floating swim start. This is my favorite kind of swim start and personally I think it is one of the safest ways to start a swim. Not only do you get a mini warmup in as you swim out to the start buoy, but it also allows athletes to establish a good position in the water and cuts down on washing machine effect.photo 2 (1)

The water temp was listed as 67* and that seemed about right. It was brisk when I first got in, but once I got moving, it warmed up. I suppose that could have just been all the athletes peeing though.

I was comfortable pretty much the entire swim. I didn’t seem to have a lot of umph though. I would try and pick up the pace and push it but would find myself subconsciously easing off for some reason.

Stats: 18:48 (21:14 including the run to transition). My Garmin measured the swim as 1700yards so a pretty accurate course.


My transitions were horrendous. For T1, I am including the run from the water to transition. It was a good 150-200 yard run with a nice climb up some “steps” to get there. I knew this going in and staged my shoes at the swim exit.

photo 3 (1)

The climb to transition was like a slap in the face. They weren’t regular steps either – they were a good foot tall each and spaced unevenly so it was hard to find a rhythm.

Once in transition, I stripped my shoes and wetsuit. I put on socks and my bike shoes. It was kind of a mess in transitions – for a couple reasons. First, it had started to rain so everything was getting wet and muddy. And second, MTB-ers don’t know how to rack their bikes. They all wanted to rack their bikes facing the same way. I tried explaining before the race the alternating strategy but no one cared. Well, when I got to transition, nearly all the bikes had been knocked off the rack. It looked like one or two riders pulled their bikes out and took out everyone else’s in the process.

Stats: 1:22. It could have been worse. Looking at the results someone spent 3:33 in transition… MattyO???


So apparently riding the bike twice in as many weeks and only being on the mountain bike twice this season is not adequate training. Go figure. I knew going in that the bike leg was going to be tough. Even though I enjoy it immensely, I’m not a strong mountain biker. If I spent more time at it, I’m sure I would improve but I just haven’t made the effort yet. Despite the lack of training, I set a slew of personal Strava PRs so go figure.

Yankee Springs is a fairly sandy trail but with the rain we have had (and had during the race) the sand was really tamed and it turned into thick batter like substance. I really enjoy the trail – more so than some of the more technical trails in the area. There are lots of roots and rocks – especially on the climbs/descents – which make it crucial to pay attention and find good lines. All it takes it hitting a root the wrong way on a climb to lose all momentum. It makes the bike ride almost as much mental as physical. Maybe this is something that gets easier the more you do it, but for me I really have to stay focused.

I managed to stay upright except for one minor crash. I just sunk into some sand more than expected and turned my bars too fast. The nice thing about MTB crashes (at least most of them) is that they are usually at a slow speed and of soft ground. As long as you don’t run into a tree (or fall off a bridge) they bruise the ego (on confidence) more than anything. I did have a few instance were I had to unclip to avoid falling over but managed to avoid crashing for the most part.

photo 2 (2)
My one battle scar from the race. Must have hit my crank during unclipping.

I did have one minor mechanical issue that could have been much worse. Early on, I sucked up a stick into my rear derailleur. Thankfully I wasn’t pedaling hard at that point and I just came to an abrupt stop. If I had been, I would have risked ripping off the derailleur ending my race. I got lucky.

Some things I learned on the bike. First off, I’ll need a Camelbak if I continue this sort of thing. Taking my hands off the handle bar to drink from a bottle is really just out of the question. I only managed to grab one quick sip at the beginning of the ride when we were still on the dirt road leading to the trail. Second, I need to learn how to push harder. When I had someone in front of or behind me, I was able to push the pace but as soon as I was by myself, I would drift back to casually riding. Having an experienced rider in front of me did help with finding a good line to ride though. And finally, I need to practice better technique. I rely too much on the brakes and really lose ground on the windy parts of the course to the riders who have better flow through everything.

If you are interested in what the course was like, check out this YouTube video of the larger loop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYjjk2_hH74. It is pretty cool to watch and I may use this during my trainer sessions this winter. The course looks a lot more open in the video because all the leaves are down.

Stats: 1:16:40 (11mph). The course ended up being 14 miles based on those stats. I had 12.7 on my Garmin but it must have been having GPS problems because I know the trail is at least 13 miles long.


T2 was just as miserable as T1. Again, the bikes on the rack were a mess. I think the racks were actually a bit too close together too. It was very tight trying to spin my bike around. Thankfully I had packed my running shoes in a bag so that even though everything else was wet, my shoes were dry. While they were dry, I forgot to loosen up the laces ahead of time so I had to fiddle with that.

How do you like that look of pain? My back was killing me and I was trying to get my sunglasses out of my pocket.

Stats: 1:36. How the heck was T2 slower than T1?


The run. Finally. I was really looking forward to the run in hopes of catching some of the people that passed me on the bike. As soon as I started running though, I had doubts that would happen. My legs were cooked and my back was sore from the bike. It took a solid mile for me to ease into a decent pace.

The run course was a mix of single track and two track with a stretch of pavement connecting the two. Whenever we hit the pavement, I would hammer as much as could but then would ease back a bit on the trails so that I could focus on my footing. The weird and fun thing about trail running is how alone it can feel. I would be running through the woods not being able hear or see anyone. Then we would pop out to the road and there were 3 or 4 people only 50 yards ahead of me. It makes for a very peaceful run.

We did two loops of the double track before heading back to the finish. At first I was very uncomfortable running on the trails, but by the end of it, I was really starting to get the hang of it and develop a feel for it. I was able to catch a handful of people on the run. Not as many as I had hoped but enough to make me happy. At the very least I managed to catch some 16 year old kid who was talking a big game at the swim start. It’s the little things.

I did almost get lost though. I made a wrong turn and about 25 yards in, I thought, “This doesn’t seem right.” Just as I was turning around the guy behind me (who I had actually just passed) alerted me that I was off course. You really do have to pay attention during these trail races or it is easy to get off course. The course was fairly well marked so I had no one but myself to blame.

Stats: 39:48 (7:58/mile) for 5 miles.

Final Results

I ended up finishing in 2:20:49 which I found out the next day was good enough for 3rd out of 9 in my age group and 26th out of 62 overall. I have to admit that I am a bit shocked based on how many people it felt like were passing me. It actually looks like the 30-34 AG was the second largest age group of the day as well (40-44 was the biggest as usual these days). I ended up being 13th out of the water which I guess accounts for the fact that there were plenty of faster cyclists behind to catch me.

Post Race

After I was done, I collected up all my gear and took off. It looked like they had a pretty good post race party, but I didn’t feel like sticking around for it. By the time the race was over the transition area was pretty much a mud pit.

photo 3 (2)
I’m glad that I didn’t have to put this muddy bike into the back of the car!

Overall the race was an absolute blast and I would do it again in a heartbeat. However, I would like to actually train for the race next time so that I could be more prepared.

Have you ever done an XTerra tri? Thought about doing an XTerra tri?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/10/07/race-report-xterra-grand-rapids

Aug 28

Race Report: Michigan Titanium 140.6


My morning started at 4:30AM – about a half hour later than planned. Thanks to an incompatibility with Apple’s “Do Not Disturb” feature and the clock app I use on my iPhone, my alarm was muted. Thankfully Jennie was up with Nate and able to wake me up. Thankfully I had pretty much packed everything up the night before so it was just a matter of grabbing a quick breakfast (scrambled egg burrito and OJ) before heading out the door. I drove myself to the race and Jennie came later with Nate and Grandma. One of the cool things about this race is the fact that the race site was only 20 minutes from home so it was easy for Jennie to come and go throughout the day.

Once I got to the race site, it was immediately apparent that my head just wasn’t in the game. While pumping up my tires, I realized that not only did I leave my crack pipe adapter for my disc wheel at home, but I also mounted my wheel cover slightly askew and I couldn’t quite access the valve stem. Side note: Where else but a triathlon can you legitimately ask someone to borrow their crack pipe and not get a funny look? Any ways, I first had to fix my wheel cover. Of course, in the process dropped one of plastic screws for mounting it. In the dark. With no flash light. Awesome. If I had brought my toolbox (which also contained my crack pipe), I would have had spares. Luckily I was able to borrow a flashlight and after a few minutes of searching I was able to find it. So, what should have been a quick 5 minute setup of my transition area turned into about a 30 minute ordeal. See. My head was not in the game.

Once I finally had things situated, I caught up with a few friends that were also racing before heading to swim start. On the way to the swim start, I spotted Jennie and Nate.


After a quick hug, kiss, and photo, I headed down to the beach.


The swim is in Versluis Lake and let me tell you, it is one heck of a lake to swim in. They only allow electric boats on the lake so it is super clean. I’m not sure about this year, but last year when it was tested for water quality, it tested safe for drinking. However, for those of you who don’t like seeing things while you are swimming, probably not the lake for you. Because of the cleanliness, the water is very clear.


As is typical with an iron distance event, our race started at 7:00AM as a mass start. There were roughly 140 athletes starting the swim with some doing an aqua bike and others part of a relay team. The course is a continuous (no beach exit/entrance) two loop triangle.

As for my swim, it was miserable. It was actually so bad, that I almost started laughing. I lined up with great positioning and as soon as the horn went off, I took off. Not even 50 yards into the swim, I felt my timing chip slip off my ankle. No one hit me, it just slipped off.  I stopped, looked back and saw it floating on the water. I grabbed it and then struggled to wrap it back around my ankle in the middle of the crowd. In no time, I was shot off the back of the pack. Oh well, time to play catchup. The small field meant that it wasn’t too crowded.

Do you see me? I’m the guy not swimming wondering where my timing strap went.
Thanks to Brian for sharing this picture!

I felt decent for the first loop. Not great, but not horrible either. I felt like I was sighting good, but I just wasn’t very comfortable in the water. It got a bit worse on the 2nd loop. The water temp was in the mid-70’s and with a full sleeve wetsuit, I was starting to get a little warm. I pulled down on the neck to let some fresh water in a couple times and that helped. However, the whole 2nd loop I felt like I wasn’t moving. I felt like I was smacking the water on my entry and my pull/follow through felt rubbery. Nevertheless, I muscled through it.

As I turned the the final buoy, my RoadID slipped off my wrist. What the heck!?! I grabbed it before it sank and reattached it to my wrist. It was kind of funny because as soon as I got going again, I looked over and saw my buddy Brian swimming next me.

I continued on, but about 200 yards from the finish, both of my calves cramped up on me. Not one. Both of them. At the same time. All I could do was roll over on my back and wait for them to loosen back up. It felt like forever but was probably about 30-60 seconds. Once they started to loosen up, I breaststroked for a bit before I was comfortable enough to switch back to freestyle.


As I exited the swim I saw Jennie and Nate waiting for me. I stopped quickly before moving on. And then my calves seized up again on me.


I stopped briefly to massage them before carefully heading into transition.

Stats: 1:10:14 17th out of the water


I was a bit frustrated from the swim, but I knew there was still a long day ahead of me so I did my best to shake it off. I actually started to think of positives of a slow swim – more of a chance to catch people on the bike. My brother was working in transition all day and he was in the change tent with my gear bag waiting for me. I just had to slip on my shoes, helmet, gloves, and load up my nutrition in my pockets. A quick stop at the sunscreeners and I was off on the bike.



My bike ride started out great. I immediately picked off a few riders within the first few miles. The fact that I had people to chase down made up for the lousy swim. Despite feeling good, I was noticing that the course seemed much more difficult than it hand during my training rides. Overall, I just felt sluggish and climbs that were easy two weeks ago, were suddenly a challenge.

Once we turned off of Cannonsburg, I settled in and got a bit more comfortable. About 30 miles in, the course does a short out and back section. This gave me a chance to see where everyone else was. I had moved up quite a bit which gave me bit of mental boost. Plus, I was pretty sure that a couple of the guys ahead of me were aquabikers.

After the out and bike, we approached the unknown part of the course. Unknown because on Friday, the road commission decided to tear up 600 feet of perfectly good road despite the race directors being told no work was going to be done. I actually got a call from the race directors on Friday asking my opinion as a racer – keep the course and work on making the dirt/gravel rideable or change the course to an out and back. I honestly wasn’t sure what would be better. They ended up keeping the course. To make it rideable, they laid down a “carpet” of felt paper. Overall, I think they did a great job. You still had to slow down a bit but because it was an uphill section, I can’t imagine that I would have been going much faster.

Not too long after that, a motorcycle pulled up next to me as he paced the lead half iron distance racer. They started an hour after us and he just flew by me. He was the only half distance athlete to pass me so he must have had a huge lead because it was another 15 miles or so before the turn around.

I had mixed feelings at the turn around. On hand I was happy to be half done, but on the other, I couldn’t believe I had to do it all again. It was around this time that I realized my bike was making a lot of creaking noises. As I thought about it, it dawned on me that I cleaned my chain on Saturday but then forgot to relube it. Doh! Another mental mistake.

Shortly after the turnaround, I hit the special needs stop. I swapped out my water bottles and grabbed the Snickers bar that I had packed. I packed it in a bag with ice so that it wouldn’t melt and that actually worked great. I was able to get down half of it and it really made me feel better. I was already sick of my liquid nutrition so the solid food was a nice change.

Even though the Snickers helped, I just could not get comfortable on the 2nd loop. My stomach felt bloated and my back was getting sore. Those two combined made riding in the aero position very uncomfortable. I spent a good portion – probably at 50% – of the 2nd loop riding upright on the horns. Not ideal but it was the only way I could keep going.

I abandoned my own nutrition and started to just take water and Gatorade from the aid stations instead. They were spaced about every 10 miles so it was easy to grab a bottle at each one and not have to worry about running out. It was starting to get pretty warm out as well so I was dumping a lot of water down my back to try and cool off. It was also apparent that the wind was really kicking up as the day wore on. From the flags, I could tell that it was going to be strongest on the final 15 miles back to transition. Even though it was primarily out of the west, it felt like it was hitting me from every angle.

Starting at about mile 70, I seriously contemplated dropping out. I was really struggling both mentally and physically. There were times I simply wasn’t having fun and questioning why I was out there. While the small field of athletes has some advantages, one of the disadvantages is that it can get pretty lonely out there which makes it easy for me to get discouraged and for me to stay focused. Every aid station was like a Siren’s Song luring me to throw in the towel. Each time, however, I trudged forward refusing to give up.

The final miles back to transition seemed like they took forever. I only remember getting passed by 3 people during the bike and 2 of them were in this section. The first was an aquabiker who passed me at special needs. Thankfully I knew that one of the other 2 guys was on a relay. So, getting passed by really just one guy in my race made me feel somewhat better.

Can you tell where the wind kicked up?

Stats: 5:44:24 7th fastest bike. Worked up to 10th overall.


I was really, really, really depressed when I got off the bike. Not because of my time or performance but simply because I just felt miserable. I wasn’t having any fun and I just wanted to be done. In hindsight this was just a classic case of The Bonk. You’d think by now I would recognize this. I handed my bike off to Nancy (my brother’s fiancé) as I entered transition and then once again, my brother was in the change tent with my gear bag.


The run course was a complete death march. With the hot weather, it would have been approriate to hang a banner over the start of the run: "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate" (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here).

When I left for the run, I just started walking. I had no desire to run whatsoever. I was honestly at the point where I assumed that I was either going to quit or just walk the entire marathon. My motivation was at an all time low. However, once I started to get my fluids and nutrition back up, my attitude change completely. I took water, Gatorade and Pepsi at pretty much every aid station and it is just what I needed to keep moving.

I did end up walking nearly the first 2 miles. Not only was I mentally down but I was struggling to breathe. It felt like each breath in was only getting me 50%-75% of a full breath. I eventually started running slowly and realized that my breathing, while labored, wasn’t affecting my running too much. Shortly after I started running, my buddy Jim rode by on bike. I asked him if he had seen any medical on the course. He hadn’t, but asked what was going on. I told him and he gave me yoga breathing techniques to try. Basically he told me to breath in slowly through my nose and out through my mouth. That gave me something to focus on while I ran and it really helped. It took a few miles, but eventually my breathing felt less labored.

Once I started running, I actually got into a groove and started to catch some people. While it was a fairly lonely run, I did go back and forth with one other guy (another Kevin) for a large portion of the run. He ended up getting an 8th wind towards the end and left me in his dust, but it was nice to play leapfrog in the early miles.

My leap frog buddy for the early portion of the race.

About 8 miles in, I saw my neighbors standing at one of the turnarounds. It was awesome that they came out to cheer me on. As I ran by, I yelled out Jennie’s cell number and asked them to text her and let her know where I was. Jennie had gone home with Nate after swim knowing that it would be a long, hot day to be outside with Nate. Plus, there really wasn’t anywhere for her to see me on the bike so this worked out great.

A few miles later, I looked back and I could see the lead guy rapidly approached. I did my best to hold him off, but he ended up lapping me at about the 12 mile mark. I congratulated him as he went by to win with a 9:11 in his first ever iron distance race.

Any ways, in just a few minutes, I was approaching the halfway point and ready to start my 2nd loop. I was feeling pretty good still but knew I had a long day ahead of me still. At run special needs, I stopped to change my socks. My feet were soaked and I was getting a few hot spots. The fresh pair of socks felt great, but they didn’t stay dry for long. However, they did feel better and the hot spots went away.

I was feeling great through about mile 18. At that point, there is a 2 mile out, 2 mile back portion. The out is a steady uphill almost the whole way. On the hills, my calves would threaten to cramp up on me forcing me to walk. At about mile 20, I saw Jennie, Nate, Grandma and Brad (my brother-in-law).

I think this series of pictures shows the amount of hurt I was in at this point.

I hobbled over to them very happy to see them. At this point, I knew that I would finish but it was going to be a slow struggle. I walked with Jennie for a bit before heading off to the turn around. I passed by Jennie one more time before heading off to the finish line. I still had about 5-6 miles to go so I knew I would see Jennie in about an hour.


The next 3-4 miles was brutal. My calves were in such bad shape that all I could do was walk. Even attempting to run caused my muscles to spasm and lock up on me. While walking, I got chicked by the lead two women who were battling back and forth for the lead.

Finally, at about mile 24, I was able to start running again. Even as my muscles spasmed, I knew I would be done shortly. There was one guy ahead of me that I tried to catch but he seemed to know I was chasing him and each time I started to catch him, he would start running again. It helped pass the final miles and in no time I was turning onto the home stretch.

As I turned the corner, Jennie handed Nate to me so we could all cross the finish line together. This was easily the best part of the race as I got the cross the finish line with my two biggest fans. Without them, I could do any of this. They are the best!




My brother even managed to capture of video of us finish.



Stats: 4:49:31 13th fastest run

Post Race

I ended up finishing 9th overall in the Iron distance event and 1st in my age group. I don’t care that it was a small race, 1st in my age group for an iron distance race is huge.


While this was by no means the time I was hoping for, I could not be happier with how things turned out. I went to some dark places mentally on the bike and run yet pushed through and finished strong. It is funny how some of the races that seem miserable at the time turn out to be huge wins in the end.

Race bling! The 2nd medal is because I Double Down-ed and did both the GR Tri and Michigan Titanium

What’s Next?

Honestly, I don’t know. Going into the race, I had a whole month of fun races lined up for September/October. However, during the race, I was really feeling burned out so I am re-evaluating. I hurt much more after this race than I did after my previous two Ironman. But not, only 3 days later, I feel like I am 90% recovered. I hit the pool today for a short swim and that just made me feel even better. I’ll most likely do the Reeds Lake Tri which is only a mile away and is a nice quick sprint race. After that, I’ll see how I feel. There is a new Xterra (off road tri) event that I want to do because it sounds like a fun change. I think I just need to take some time and do some fun events and recover mentally.

Thanks for reading!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/08/28/race-report-michigan-titanium-140-6

Jul 06

Race Report: Bostwick Lake Triathlon

The Bostwick Lake Triathlon was a late addition to my schedule this year. It was a race I had never done before but had heard good things about. And with a logo like this, how could I pass it up?


This race was a sprint distance (.4 mile swim, 14 mile bike, and 3 mile run) and my first really short sprint distance in well over a year. The short course made for a great way to go all out the entire race.

Pre Race

I arrived a bit early for the race because I had to get my bike ready. While I love our new Thule T2 bike rack, it doesn’t allow me to travel with my wheel cover installed so I had to allow time to put that on. While putting that on, I realized that my front brake was dragging (a problem that has been plaguing me for months) and had to mess with that. I couldn’t figure out the issue and had the bike support take a look at it and they were stumped too. I ended up disassembling the whole thing and removing one of the spaces. Once I did that, it tightened right up where it was supposed to be. Crisis averted – hopefully permanently.

After my bike was ready, I cruised over to transition and found a nice end spot on a rack. Racks weren’t assigned or anything but because it was a small race, pretty much everyone had a good spot. I  set up my gear and headed to the registration/check-in table. Check-in simply involved giving the volunteer your name and she gave you a number and t-shirt (with the turtle logo on it FTW!).

They had fenced off the trampoline pit (upper left). I think that they should incorporate it into next year’s race.

I had plenty of time before the race to chat with some of the fellow racers. One of the things I like about small, local races like this is the number of familiar faces.


The swim was a .4 mile loop in Bostwick Lake – a great venue for a swim. Nice clean water with a sandy bottom and no seaweed. The water was pretty warm but I made a last minute decision to wear a wetsuit for the added advantage. I wish I had brought a swim cap though as they did not provide them to racers. I’m actually glad they didn’t give them out as I have such a stockpile of them and the last thing I need is another one.

I lined up right in the front and waited for the countdown. As soon as the horn went off, I charged off. I had a bit of mild contact at the beginning but it was mostly on my feet so I swam strong to establish my position.

They even had aerial coverage!

With such a short swim, I just hammered it as hard as I could. After the first 50 yards I had nice, open water and settled in. In no time I was rounding the turn buoys and headed back to shore. The return was straight into the sun which made it hard to sight off of the buoys. Thankfully the lead group was just in front of me and I was able to sight off of them instead of the buoys. The water is shallow a good distance from the shore (you can see how far out we were standing for the start) and I never know the best way to handle this. I swam until my fingers started to hit sand and then stood up. Realizing I was still a good distance from the shore, I did a few dolphin dives before running up to the beach.

I ended up coming out of the water 7th with a time of 9:30-ish. Note: All discipline placing and times are estimates as you only get a total time at this race – no chip timing.


I had a fairly uneventful T1. I decided to start with my shoes off the bike so I had to slip those on, pop on my helmet, sunglasses, and race belt before heading off.


I headed off on the bike in 7th and got off the bike in 3rd, so I would call that a success. The course was a 14 mile out and back course. We had a bit of a tailwind on the way out so the return trip was a bit more of a challenge. I felt like I was pushing it as hard as I could but after looking at my post-ride power numbers, I probably could have gone a bit harder.

I ended up finishing in about 36 minutes averaging 23.9mph and 256W for 14.3 miles. I had hoped to be closer to 275W for the ride so a little off. Of course, the lack of power could be due to the lack of sleep I have had lately. That, and I didn’t exactly taper for this race with a 100 miler on Thursday. I’m not a good taperer 🙂

I did make a rookie mistake and missed the final turn back into transition. I wasn’t paining attention and had to pull a quick U-turn after I blew passed the turn. I still managed to roll into transition in 3rd with 4th right on my heels. Totally my fault for not paying attention and not knowing the course.


Again, uneventful transition. I had slipped out of my bike shoes on the bike so I just had to pull on my Kinvaras and grab my visor before heading off.


My legs were very tight at the beginning of the run but loosened up quickly. This is something I have struggled with over the past two seasons so I was happy actually have my legs transition over. I got passed within the first 1/4 mile by the guy who followed me into transition. I hung onto his heels for a bit but he managed to put about a 50 yard gap on me.

The run course was actually a bit more challenging than I thought it would be with some good rollers. I did my best to hammer up the hills and recover on the descents. Not only that, but because the roads didn’t go all the way around the lake, part of the course cut through a couple yards and some trails so we had a little bit of off roading.

For a 3 mile course, it was very well supported with at least 2 official aid stations and 3rd aid station that I think was just someone set up in their front yard. The course itself reminded me a lot of the non-defunct Johan run course in that it wound through a neighborhood and had a fair amount of spectators out in their driveway. Quite a few residents had put out sprinklers and hoses as well to run through.

I got passed by one more runner in the last 1/2 mile. I was so hoping to hold him off as it was a guy I know who I’ve never managed to beat. He is a super strong runner but I thought I might have had a big enough lead off the bike to hold him off.

In the end, I managed to finish the run in 18:36. I’m not 100% sure on the distance but it was somewhere between 2.9 and 3 miles which puts me between a 6:12 and 6:25 pace which is pretty darn close to my 5k PR pace.


I cruised across the finish in 1:06:10, good enough for 5th place OA. They only had overall awards (no age groups), but I would have been 1st in my age group after the overall winners were pulled out.

Final Thoughts

I can’t stress how awesome of a race this was. This is how the sport should be – about the sport, the athletes, and the experience – not about making a buck off of it. Sure, you don’t get the red carpet treatment you get at some of the bigger races, but you also don’t find mind tris for only $50 these days. The race director and volunteers did a fantastic job. I had an absolute blast from start to finish at this race and I would recommend it to anyone from the elite to the newbie.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you’ll join me next year at the Bostwick Lake Triathlon!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/07/06/race-report-bostwick-lake-triathlon

May 30

Nate Update

I haven’t been inspired to write much about my training. It is happening. It is going pretty good. First race is next weekend. I’m feeling ready-ish. I feel like each individual discipline is solid, but don’t know how they are all going to meld together at this point. But other than that, it gets boring to write about the same old same old. So, how about an update on baby Nate?

We are at 37.5 weeks – the home stretch so to speak. Jennie and Nate are both doing great. Jennie is absolutely adorable pregnant and looks like she swallowed a watermelon. Nate is passing all of his doctors appointments with flying colors. And when he isn’t sleeping, he is kicking the crap out of Jennie. It is amazing to be able to watch from across the room as he kicks and moves around.

The nursery is finally completed. It has been 100% functionally complete for a while now, but we wanted to put a few final touches on the room which we did in the past couple of weeks.

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Once the walls were painted, Jennie got to work painting the wall quote. We chose an Irish lullaby to go above his crib.  We used an LCD projector to project the quote on the wall and then Jennie used paint pens to paint it on the wall.

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We ended up going through 10 paint pens to copy the entire quote, but it was worth it don’t you think?

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The next project was to repaint a rocking chair for Nate. The chair came from Jennie’s parents and is the rocking chair that she was rocked in as a baby. We wanted to freshen it up with a new coat of paint though.

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I used some of the extra spray paint to paint some letters that Jennie picked up. The funny thing is that Jennie had originally bought the letters “E”, “A”, “T” with the intention of hanging them in the dining room. Then she found an “N” and with a quick rearrangement, we had some art for Nate’s room.

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Recognize the shoes?

We got Nate’s dresser from Jennie’s parents and, like the rocking chair, was hers growing up. I added the changing table to the top. Rather than just put the changing pad on top (which was bound to slide all around under a squirming baby), I built a frame that will help hold it in place.

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The next project was a bookcase. It came from my grandpa and just needed a fresh coat of white paint. Nate better like to read because he sure has a lot of books already. And I have a feeling that he and Jennie will be making plenty of trips up to the library.

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One of the final touches we did this week was hang some art that Jennie had been working on. The blue ultrasound picture was a a Mother’s Day gift to Jennie (from me). I got the idea from this site, but figured I could make one cheaper myself. Thanks to a Facebook deal on a canvas print, it was much cheaper than having it made.

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And finally, Nate is all ready to run. We just got a jogging stroller (a BOB Revolution SE) from my dad. We also got Nate’s first pair of Saucony running shoes from a friend of ours. I think he is ready to go!

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photo (11)

Now we just play the waiting game… June 15th is the due date. Anyone have any guesses on when he will actually arrive???

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2013/05/30/nate-update

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