2014 Ironman Chattanooga Race Report

Photo by Nick Morales from Trijuice.com

     I had an interesting race this last weekend at the inaugural Ironman Chattanooga. It wasn't the race I'd been looking for there. I believed that a solid performance would put me on the podium, but alas my quads decided at mile 18 of the run that I'd be finishing 15th on the day. This was a disappointment for me coming off of a good race at Ironman Louisville last month, but there were many positives and lessons learned. First and foremost, Ironman did a great job with this new race. I really enjoyed the venue and course. I'd go back to this race (if I can improve my swim). Also, I learned that I need more time between full-Ironmans than most athletes. Some guys back up 3-5 weeks very well. With 5 weeks between Louisville and Chattanooga, this was uncharted territory for me. My coach and I talked about it earlier this year and he said, "we won't know how my body will respond until you try." Now I've tried and I think I need a little more time between races.

    I did have a very fun time at the race. The Little Caesars' Franchisee for the area, Tom Getz supported the race as an official sponsor. Tom, his head of Operations Billy Jensen, and I linked up for some fun publicity. Little Caesars was visible all over this race with pizzas and even Little Caesars himself on a Little Caesars boat out on the swim course. I want to thank Tom and Billy for all of their efforts around the race. They really went all-in making this race a great marketing opportunity for Little Caesars!

     Rather than share every minute detail of the race, I'll give you an abridged version then share some of the race photos.

     The race started with a very fast downriver swim. We had to hold a rope tied to a dock before the swim or we'd float down stream. I thought I was having a good swim, finding good feet to draft. The swim was about 10 min fast with the leaders coming out in 38 min and I came out in 43 min. Seeing my wife and parents at mile 2 of the bike, I was expecting to hear that the main group was maybe a minute ahead because I thought I swam well. They said a group of 20 guys were 3:30 up the road. I was in 28th place. I set the pace for a small group for the first 50 miles trying to make up time on the main pack. As my coach said afterward "chasing a pack of 20 guys is Mission Impossible!" By mile 45 I'd brought the gap down to 2:15. Around mile 60, my legs felt like total garbage. I could feel Louisville still lurking in my quads. I backed off the rest of the bike to make sure I didn't totally destroy myself.

   At the end of the bike, it was just myself and one other guy together. I came out of transition onto the run in 17th place (not exactly where I'd expected to be). I'd made up 10 places, but not nearly enough. I had only one card to play and that was to run hard and try to make up ground. I ran the first 13 miles very well and my running legs felt great. My pace felt strong but sustainable. In the first 13 miles I'd run into 9th place and was on pace to catch more on the second loop. My legs felt great for another 5 miles. Somewhere around 18-19 miles, we ran on a bridge over a highway, just that uphill flipped a switch in my quads. I went from "hero to zero". My quads got so sore, I had to walk the hills. I couldn't believe how sore my quads got in a matter of a mile. The last 5 miles of the race was really hilly and I had to walk every hill. I lost 20-25 minutes in the last 7 miles of the race, fading from 9th to 15th. It was bitter-sweet, not my worst race ever, but far from what I'd call good. I finished in 8:49, not totally terrible, but far from my capabilities. I walked away frustrated with the result, but confident that I'd given my all on race day and that's all I can ask from myself. My swim really killed my race there. The pack of 20 guys was just too much to chase. 

    On to the pictures!

At the finish line with Little Caesars' Tom Getz and Billy Jensen. They were wonderful in their support of me and this race. It made for a special race experience.

Thursday before the race at the expo, we did an autograph signing with free pizza for athletes. Thank you to Tom and Billy for setting it up!

I really had fun with the signing.

Thursday's press conference. The venue was really nice and I think Ironman did a great job with this race both in location and production.

 Trevor Wurtele and I as two of the pre-race favorites answering questions.

Given bib number 1. No pressure, no expectations.

Herbert from Slowtwitch was on scene capture the race for Slowtwitch.com. Here I am at gear check in the day before the race. Don't worry, I didn't race in flip-flops. Photo by Herbert Krabel Slowtwitch.com

Little Caesar out on the swim course with Little Caesars pro fisherman Brent Brady!  Photo by Nick Morales from Trijuice.com

Photo by Ironman.com

Photo by Herbert Krabel Slowtwitch.com

Photo by Herbert Krabel Slowtwitch.com

Little Caesars' franchisee Tom Getz, Little Caesar, Little Caesars' pro fisherman Brent Brady, and myself post-race.

Billy Jensen from Little Caesars had these t-shirts printed up for the race. I'll be wearing mine at future races!

     I want to thank Little Caesars Pizza for their support of me and my racing. Their belief in me is so important for me be able to do what I'm doing in this sport. ROKA Sport is providing me with the best wetsuits and speedsuits in the sport. PowerBar's nutrition products have been a key part in my training and racing. I'd also like to thank RecoveryPump for their support. RecoveryPump has been a critical aspect of my training and recovery and I truely believe the product has helped to take my training to the next level. Jack and Adam's Bicycles in Austin are always there to help support me and my racing. I want to thank Blue Bicycles for putting me on such an amazing bike, the Blue Triad SL. HED Cycling has provided me with the best wheels and aerobars on the market. Champion System Clothing has provided me with the race and training clothing that you see in my pictures.  Cobb Cycling provides me with the best saddles to keep me comfortable on the bike for the hours of training and racing. Brooks Airbrush Studio painted up my amazing aerohelmet this year. Atomic High Performance has coated my bicycle drive train with high performance low-friction coatings. CeramicSpeed provides me with the fastest, low-friction bearings for my bike. Also I want to thank my family and friends for their unending support for me. Without these people and sponsors, I would not be able to pursue this dream.

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