Where do I even start. The week after Chicago I had been rolling in a funk. I had a phenomenal performance at Chicago, but 5th place just doesn’t cut it on a resume. I was not doing well in the Lifetime series, but wait a second. I am a contender for the Rev3 series, but to beeligible for the series, I had to do a full. So on Labor Day, 6 days before the race, I registered. I regularly do a 3+ mi open water swim, so swim would not be bad. Bike, I can ride a bike. Run, 14 miles is my longest run, so who knows.
I talked extensively with my coaches, studied my power files, we all came up with our thoughts on a plan and then combined them. They were nearly identical. So the race was on…and it did not take long for people to have their opinion on me racing. Check out the race preview where the talk of the town got laid on the line. The night before the race I was sitting on the floor of the hotel room mapping my consumption plan of Gu Brew, Gu, and Zicofor the day…and praying it would work.
Race morning was better weather than I wanted, but hey, it was perfect for the “plan” I was about to unravel. The water was calm and quite and cool. Wetsuits, darn it. I dug through my bag and pulled out the Helix. Long time since I have been in one of these! I headed to the beach and my breath was taken away by the tribute that the Rev3 crew put together for 9-11. Right before the race, they played Toby Keiths new hit, “Made in America,” it got my head in the right place. Land of opportunity, and it was time to show that the American dream is still alive.
The horn fired and the race was off. I knew Graham O’Grady was the fast swimmer, so I quickly found his feet and we went stroke for stroke the first 1.2 miles. As we came around the turn buoy, he elevated the pace and got a gap. I surged too and was able to hold it, to about 3-5m. Then we started mowing through the back of the age group field and I lost track of Graham since his cap was the same color as all the age groupers. I just kept my pace strong and steady and knew my race began once my feet hit the ground. When we finally got out of traffic I could see Graham about 50-75m ahead, I rolled over and checked to see who is behind. It was at least 100m back to 2 swimmers and I could not see much beyond him looking into the sun. LIVE RACE COVERAGE SWIM – 48:26 – 2nd Place
T1 was fun…I got to use a wetsuit stripper, shove 1500 calories of Guin my jersey, chug a Zico, and run just about a 1/4 mile all in under 2 minutes. Done – 1:53 – 2nd Place
Time to bike and calm the heart rate. I was jacked and ready to attack. I mean this Ordu is a time machine, it does not know how to slow up. It was go time, no it is slow time. Relax, spin, easy, come on, relax. It took nearly 20 miles to reel in Graham, but once I did I was able to find a rhythm. As I passed him we talked a bit about the old days when we used to race and then parted ways. LIVE RACE COVERAGE
Something calming about being the leader. I kept up with my nutrition and kept my heart rate spot on. The first time we hit the short out and back I could see that it was me, then Graham about 10s back. Then DKT and MacDonald at about 4 minutes. Next was Bretscher, and then Cowan, great ride for them. The volunteers were awesome at the bike stations. They were not statues, they were excited and were on their toes. I dropped ZERO bottles in all the stations.
At the short out and back at mile 60 I could see, Graham was hanging ~30seconds back, DKT was at 5 minutes. So within 8 minutes…2 men. About mile sixty I started to get a little cramp in my calf so I shifted my weight around on the saddle and adjusted my hands on my Vision bars to use some different muscles. I actually picked up the pace, with the same heart rate, but started puke up a little Gatorade about every 3 minutes. I kept the position, but decided that I should probably get in a position that agrees with my stomach a bit more. So I shifted again and was fine, no cramps, I elevated my nutrition knowing that not everything going in was staying in, and I was a bit scared of this marathon thing coming. LIVE RACE COVERAGE BIKE – 4:25:54 – 1st Place
T2 was steady. I grabbed my bag for T2 and forgot how heavy it was. Ran into the change tent and dropped trow. I got rid of the Lake Erie, pee and sweat soaked bike kit and changed into a clean fresh Champion System race kit that you all know so well. That was the best move I made all day…Nothing like clean clothes. Then I pulled on socks, my Reeboks, grabbed a bottle full of Gu Brew, chugged another Zico, and hit the watch as I started my “LONG” run. LIVE RACE COVERAGE T2 – 1:54 – 1st Place
The first mile I ran too fast, 6:50, then another 6:50. Yes, 6:50 is my normal long run pace, but this long run was going to be much longer than the 80-95 minutes that I am used to. Then Graham caught me, he was chatty and I was trying to slow down, not a good combo. So I kept it short and just wanted to find my rhythm. LIVE RACE COVERAGE
I just pulled my visor down and started to hit pace. I let my body settle in for the first 10 miles of the run and kept to my nutrition plan. But the sun started to beat hard and the temperature really shot up. At the aid stations from there on out I was taking salt, Gatorade, water, ice, Gu. You had it, I was taking it. I even picked up a Gu that was full on the road just in case I needed it later, I knew that nutrition was the only thing that could dampen my day, especially after the Abu Dhabi meltdown in March. (13.1 split – 1:33:37, 2ndPlace)
At the half way point got to see that Graham was still moving good and 3 minutes up on me. I by-passed special needs and started into the land of the unknown. The split to DKT was just under 8 minutes and 8.5 to MacDonald who was back in the picture. If I don’t blow, I got a podium. The plan was working. Suddenly at mile 17 I caught Graham who was now walking. I passed him, hmm, I better hit my nutrition right, this is mine as long as I don’t melt. Yet I kept my mind focused on form and never thought about winning. Form first, then we can see if we win. I would jog the aid stations very slow getting everything I needed. I became a pack mule to the point at which my stomach was a bath tub of Gu, salt, and water washing back and forth inside my skin. Between aid stations I was still hitting 7-7:10 miles without much problem. When I hit mile 22 I saw MacDonald hit mile 21. I have 1 mile, 6.5 minutes, with 6K to go. So I could walk the rest of the aid stations and have time in hand. Instead I decided that I would slow my run from lows 7’s to 7:30 miles. We have all seen the melt downs in the final miles and I had a lead and there was no reason to risk it. Marathon – 3:10:08, 2nd 1/2 – 1:36:31
Winning the race was not at all part of the plan. I thought that MacDonald, Thompson, Gomez, or O’Grady would beat my plan. I also did not intend on running the whole marathon, I was going to run until I started cramping and then walk/jog it home, because there is still a lot of racing for me left this year. Instead, none of that happened, so in hind site the race went to plan, but the result was simply stunning. Here was the live coverage. 5 minutes back was MacDonald and Thompson was another 5 back. Gomez came home 4th. O’Grady walked it home is 8th, which I was happy to find out that he finished.
On the women’s side, fellow Purdue Boilermaker Malaika Homo crushed the field with the fastest swim, bike, and run to win her first major pro race. Both of us have been pro for more than 5 seasons and were seeking that first big win and neither of us thought it would have come on Sunday. BOILER UP!
I went back to the hotel and showered had some junk food, pulled on my 110% compression wear with ice packs, and then headed back to the race site to welcome in the final 2.5 hours of finishers. The Cleveland triclub were a bunch of loons and we had a finish line party that could never be replicated. The finish vaulted me to the series lead with one race to go. Thank you REV3 Staff, the twitter feed and live updates throughout the day are the best in the sport. You all kept my fan base in the race even though they could not be there.
Over the last 5 seasons as a professional I have had the lead at the worlds largest races into the late stages, just to watch the win slide through my fingers. A lot of breaks have not gone my way this season and, I guess, in life everything truly happens for a reason. Had I made HyVee I never would have raced Rev3 Cedar Point, which proves, the best things in life are not planned. So much for “the plan.” Time to recover and get ready for the US Open and Rev3 South Carolina.
Thanks for the support,