The Gold Guys asked me to present a dynamic discussion of Ironman Chattanooga rather than a traditional rambling race report. Please enjoy these pros and cons from Ironman Chattanooga:
Homestay: My homestay Alex was fantastic. A great homestay makes for a great weekend. He showed me around town and even braved the rain to make sure he caught me at the finish, even though I was coming through later than predicted. Can’t thank him enough. Alex, see you next September.
The Swim: The swim was all downstream. I went 9 minutes faster than my ridiculous swim from Louisville last year. It was the best. I’ve never swum that easy in a race before. Just sat at the back of the main pack. I was actually sharing a pair of feet with Trevor Wurtele and we swam face to face since he’s a lefty breather and I breathe right. I think my 40:35 should be a Minnesota state record for legit distance Ironman Swim. My fast lanemate Marcus went 44 at Louisville and it is wonderful to have smashed his time without having to swim hard. In your face Marcus. This quick time is a small consolation for my outstandingly lethargic overall time.
The Bike Course: This is my favorite Ironman bike course. Only a handful of full 90 degree turns otherwise all gently curving roads. This way you can keep your momentum. All the climbing is very subtle, lots of gentle up and down so you may not even notice the climbing till the second lap. Some rougher roads as you leave town but that was over quick, overall road quality very solid. My only five minutes of glory came during the bike when I went to the front of the main group. My brief stint at the front got me on the online coverage! Unfortunately I bonked myself cross-eyed & fell off the pace. Rode 4:46 on my PRsix. Does my PRsix match my Gear West Bike kit? Yes. Best to look sharp even if you don’t race sharp.
Perfect Weather: Not hot, not humid, overcast, even a light sprinkle at the finish. Almost optimal, more wind during the bike could have been useful.
The Ruth: Pride of Rochester Ruth Brennan Morrey debuted with a massive state record for Ironman going 9:09 and getting second. I had figured this is what she would go so I was not surprised. This a monster achievement and such an impressive performance.
Learning: This was my most difficult Ironman to finish and I very much wanted to step off the course after only 8 miles of the run. One of the biggest reasons I did not quit was out of respect for QR. They put a ton of effort into their pros racing and I knew I was going to drag myself across the line. Going into the race I did not plan my calories carefully enough. My goal was simply to be steady all day and maintain even energy levels. I was pacing more conservatively than ever before. So that was good. But I need more calories than I planned and even with mild pacing I was losing it by 50 miles. By 70 or 80 miles I was going cross-eyed and had to really focus on trying to regroup. I rebounded for the first few miles of the run but inevitably lost it again and was miserable earlier than ever before. I am embarrassed by the my egregious caloric miscalculation and the enormous slow down that resulted. Last year in heat and humidity and with less specific preparation I ran a stunningly slow 3:35 at Ironman Louisville. At Chattanooga under perfect conditions I went a full twenty minutes slower and stumbled in at 3:55. It was such a relief to finish. This race proved I need to be much more precise when planning my calories and I have 7 weeks to get it together before Ironman Arizona.
Factory Tour: QR HQ is in Chattanooga. On Monday I visited the offices and also toured the Litespeed factory. QR is part of American Bicycle Group which also owns the Litespeed and Litespeed has some terrific titanium bikes. Seeing how those things get made was neat. American Bicycle Group CEO Peter also raced the Ironman, except he did it with a broken elbow. It is comforting to know that the man running the company has a personal passion for triathlon.
Peace Coffee Sponsorships: Over the weekend I was able to sponsor several athletes with tasty Peace Coffee. Ruth cornered me at the pro meeting and insisted I sponsor her a bag of coffee at once, “or else”. Being a timid and trepidatious young man I meekly obliged her sponsor request. In addition to athlete sponsorships I created a whole new level of inter-sponsor sponsorship by sponsoring the QR breakroom with a bag of Twin Cities Blend. Full disclosure, I’m only joking about Ruth saying “or else”. She didn’t have to, it was implied by her expression.
My performance was way off. I am aware of the issue and have a chance to be better at Ironman Arizona. I’m not interested in dwelling on anything negative from the weekend.