I had a spectacular day at Ironman Wisconsin. Not only did I WIN Ironman Wisconsin, set a new bike course record, but I set a new course record in the process. Wahoo! Sometimes in my head, I script out exactly how I want a race to be or go – but rarely does that turn into a reality. I am fortunate that the script in my head came to be in Wisconsin.
“While you need a bit of luck to go your way to win a race, I believe success comes down to your preparation.”
My prep for this race was a bit different as we were hit with a bad wildfire season in Bend, Oregon (where I am based). The last two big weeks of training for me was moved all indoors due to poor air quality. In fact, I logged over 30 hours of riding over the course of those two weeks on my KICKR Smart Trainer. Some may call it crazy, but I actually don’t mind training indoors. I can crank up the music, have all my nutrition right there, I can dial in my workout efforts perfectly with zero distractions or concern for safety on the roads. The KICKR, combined with Zwift, provides a great simulation for racing on a tough course like Wisconsin due to the constant resistance on the chain. The good news is, race-day came and I felt confident that I prepared as best as I possibly could. Now all I needed to do was deliver.
I Ended up with a Solid Swim
It was a smaller field and so I ended up swimming alone, which is not an ideal situation. With that said I kept the pressure on and at every 100m buoy I would say to myself- “are you swimming as best you can?” I exited the swim only three minutes off the lead, which is a small deficit in a nine hour plus event.
I Nailed the Bike Course
The bike was the emphasis of the whole race for me. I made some significant changes to my cycling after the first part of the year. The training had been going great but race-day is always the ultimate test and that’s where racing IM Wisconsin came into play. I wanted to know how fast could I ride, and could I run decently off a hard bike. Race-day served up favorable conditions, my taper into the event had my legs feeling great, and the nature of the bike course totally suited my strengths as an athlete. Not only did I FEEL fast, but I rode incredibly fast as well, riding a 4:59 on the challenging course breaking the old bike course record by 13 minutes. It was one of the most fun 112-mile rides I have ever done – the course was super engaging, the crowd support was nuts, and when you are feeling good and riding well like that, the momentum keeps things going.
Execute a Controlled Marathon
I was off the bike with a sizeable lead and it was all about executing a controlled marathon. This isn’t always the case so I made sure to soak up every mile of the 26.2 miles. The marathon takes you through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus. One of the cooler things I have experienced in a marathon is running through the UW football stadium – Camp Randall. It was the only part of the race that didn’t have spectators on it. I had the entire stadium to myself on the first loop and even mentioned between breaths, “Goosebumps” to the cameraman.
The name of the game was to just to be smart on the run and to not put myself into a huge hole. I took on a ton of CLIF nutrition during the run to not only help me in the race but also looking ahead towards my recovery and Ironman Kona World Championships.
“I was smiling all day long and really, truly, was able to enjoy myself out there.”
One of the reasons I raced IM Wisconsin was that I wanted a low-pressure, fun race I could really enjoy myself at. It was a great reminder that my best performances come when I am living in the present, enjoying each moment as it comes and having fun.
The last bonus of it all is that we are operating under a new qualification system for the World Championships for 2019. Ironman Wisconsin was the first race under this system and with only 1 World Championship slot available – it went to the winner, which is me! I have now qualified for 13 professional Ironman World Championships– which is pretty crazy to wrap my head around.
A big thank you to Wahoo Fitness for playing such a large part in a special day for me. The indoor training leading up to IM Wisconsin was spent on the KICKR and this focused approach set me on a trajectory to not only win the race but to punch my card to Kona. I am looking forward to keeping the momentum rolling in the Ironman World Championships which will take place on October 13th.