Near perfect weather made for a fast day of racing in Madison earlier this month. Numerous course records were set including the overall men's & women's set by champions Joe Gambles (Australia) in 8:38 and Gina Crawford (New Zealand) in 9:27. I recorded a course PR by almost 45 minutes crossing the line in 8:58.
Swim (55:30) - This two loop swim in murky Lake Monona has an in-water start along the water ski course. Two weeks leading up to the race there was quite a bit of chatter among professional athletes concerning the water temp as this would be the first race under new WTC rules prohibiting swimskins such as blueseventy's pointzero3. It was a non-issue though as the water temp registered at 68 degrees making it a wetsuit-legal affair. I had a relatively clean start, but found myself swimming with a couple other athletes who seemed to be slower. With some sighting I could see another small group just ahead and was able to bridge up to that faster group about 800m into things. I would stay with this group for the duration of the swim. The pace felt comfortable, yet not too cushy. Towards the end of the second loop we began to swim into some of the age groupers which can always be a bit tricky. Rounding the final turn buoy our group got splintered as we swam into a massive jam of athletes. In an effort to keep clear of the masses I swam fairly wide. It was a bit messy and I swam hard to get out of the jam. I exited the water with a few others as we re-grouped towards the swim finish.
T1 (4:15) - I don't think I have ever made it through this lengthy transition up the helix and through Monona Terrace in under 4:30. My focus was running up the helix on the most inside line I could take then get through the ball rooms and long stretch of bike racks as swiftly as possible.
Bike (5:05) - Having raced IMWI a few times I am fully aware of the importance to be patient over the first portion of the bike. I liken this course to going the distance in a heavy weight boxing match. While no single hill is a game breaker, the culmination of them is like taking body blows for 12 rounds. Within the first five miles I caught several of the faster swimmers and settled into my target ranges. I was pretty much riding solo until getting caught by Stefan Riesen (Switzerland) around the 20 mile mark. He is a strong cyclist and even though the competitive side of me wanted to try and go with him, I stayed within range as he slowly rode away from me. My legs felt better as things unfolded and just before riding into the crowds at Verona I caught and passed Wil Smith (New Zealand) who was obviously having some mechanical or physical issues as he was sitting up and riding off to the side of the shoulder. Just after the special needs area and early into the start of the second loop I caught Markus Ressler (Austria). Throughout the second loop my legs were feeling pretty decent as I continued to ride through many of the age groupers while fueling myself for the run. Just past the final longer climbs lined with spectators I was passed by Matjaz Kovac (Slovenia) and Dirk Wijnalda (Netherland). They were riding strong on the final part of this course and would remain within my sights over the final rollers heading back towards Madison. With about four miles to go Max Longree (Germany) rode past and I knew I needed to stay with him as he is a very fast runner.
Run (2:51) - Heading onto the run course my legs felt pretty decent as I settled into my pace. Having the necessary fuel on board I was intent on running smooth, relaxed and strong. I was 15th off the bike just behind Max. Heading into Camp Randall Stadium I could see Max along with Matjaz & Dirk. Maintaining a comfortable pace and fluid form I passed Dirk & Matjaz with Max in my sights. It took a while, but I caught Max around the 8 mile mark. We exchanged a few words as he stated he wasn't feeling too good while encouraging me to continue to run strong. Making our way back towards the Capitol building I opened up a gap on Max and caught Ian Mikelson just before making the turn for my second loop. I later learned Ian was having some stomach issues which would continue to plague his run with numerous port-a-potty stops. My legs & mind were flowing as I ran through the field and was running in 6th position at the Henry Street turn-around. Max was continuing to run well and caught me at the 20 mile mark. He was very encouraging in trying to get me to run with him in an effort to close on Blake Becker who was running in a solid 5th. In his heavy German accent Max said, "C'mon on man it's only 6 miles. A mile for me, a mile for you." Oh man how I would have liked to stay with him, but my body & mind started to fade through this rough spot. Max was able to open up a gap and ended up in a sprint finish with Blake finsihing just 30 seconds back. I was another 1:30 down crossing in 7th with the day's second fastest run split.
I would like to thank my sponsors, family, friends & coach for their continued support. The crowds in Madison, Verona & other locations throughout the bike were stellar, creating an electric race atmosphere. Big congrats to my buddy Joe Gambles on his win.
Recovery has been great as I look forward to closing out the year at Austin 70.3 mid October and IMFL in early November.
Keep it smooth,