#RaceTheLegend

Beat Jan Frodeno’s transition times. That was my revised goal coming into Challenge Roth after finding out Jan Frodeno had entered, and also as a result of me missing about 5.5 weeks of training as a result of my well-publicized bike crash 3 months ago.

Since taking the unexpected time off from training, I went back hard and with a vengeance as soon as I was cleared by my neurologist. I knew I had missed some very important weeks, and I wanted to try to gain as much fitness as possible going into Roth. Still, my longest ride prior to the race was only a little over 60 miles and my longest run was 16 miles. The rides and runs were quality though, and so I headed into Roth ready to kick ass.

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It’s true. I didn’t have gum.

Challenge Roth was on Sunday, so we decided to leave Monday evening arriving in Nuremberg on Tuesday morning. Since I wasn’t sure what we’d find in Roth in terms of triathlon-specific gear, I decided to play it a bit safe and pack everything. I also packed all of my necessary race day gear (except my nutrition) in my carry on, including my helmet. This way, if I had any issues with luggage or an incorrectly routed bike, all I would need to race would be a dinosaur bike. Luckily for me Lufthansa was amazing and not only did everything arrive safely and on time, they also didn’t charge me any bike or oversized baggage fees! Definitely flying them again!

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It may not look like a lot of stuff, but only one of us was racing.

Anyway, once we arrived and settled in Roth on Tuesday I decided to check out the dreaded swim course which was in the Main-Donau Kanal between the towns of Hipoltstein and Heuberg. Apparently it’s a major shipping canal, so triathletes were prohibited from practicing in it except for Friday and Saturday morning, from 6:30 – 9:30 AM. Nevertheless, while I was there on Tuesday I saw a few triathletes doing their practice swims.

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The canal. The tower on the right is the announcer’s tower, with Swim Exit right before it.

Since I had a 4 mile run on my schedule I decided to run the swim course (not literally, I’m not Jesus). From what I could tell, the canal was fairly narrow and pretty dead straight. The swim was basically a rectangle that went south until for 1440 meters, before turning back north for 1970 meters (thus going past Swim Start and Swim Exit) and then finally turns back south for the last 390 meters (I know these distances because the race briefing provided us with them).

Roth Swim Course

See? Big. Ass. Rectangle.

Other than that, the swim was pretty straightforward and I was happy to see how narrow the canal was. This gave me a bit of a confidence boost that I wouldn’t die, particularly since I hadn’t swam the distance during my swim training prior to the race.

Speaking of confidence, one thing I noted leading up to race day was that I was not nervous at all. Normally for a triathlon, I’m quite nervous about the swim leading up to the race and I can’t stop worrying about the swim. To me, a triathlon is really just about that first leg. I know that once I get through the swim, no matter what happens on the bike or the run, I’ll finish the race. It’s quite funny to think how a race of 140.6 miles for me really comes down to 2.4 miles, but that’s how I view triathlons with this stupid fear. Rather than being nervous, though, I was actually quite excited for it. I spent the rest of the week doing my prescribed runs and rides through the course quite happily.

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Anyway, enough about the pre-race and let’s get on with the race!

The Swim

As I mentioned earlier, the swim took place in the canal. The race started at 6:30 AM for the pros, and subsequent waves went off every 5 minutes. Each wave had about 200 starters, which meant for a race this size there were about 20 waves. I was in Wave 15, so I didn’t start until 7:40. The interesting thing to note here was that Transition never closed. We had access to T1 and our bikes all the way up to the time we had to line up in our swim corral (5 minutes prior your wave start).

This was actually pretty awesome of Challenge to allow us to stay in transition, because it gave me an awesome view of Jan Frodeno’s transition when he came out of the water (cause you know, he swam 2.4 miles in 45:22). It was incredible to see it firsthand. Before he got to the top of the ramp leading out of the water, he already had his wetsuit down to his waist. As soon as he grabbed his bag, he started to open it. Within what felt like 5 seconds of him entering the change tent, he was running out with his socks and helmet on, and was zipping up his tri top on his way to his bike. I didn’t know it at the time, but his transition time was 96 seconds. That is insanely fast, and I knew I had my work cut out for me to beat him.

Anyway, before getting into the water I was strangely calm and not nervous. I did not know if this meant I would have a great day, but I took it as a positive sign. I was even positive even though my goggles fogged up when I swam to Swim Start. For the race, athletes had to enter the water via a short ramp and then swim to the Start Line about 50 feet from where we entered. Since we are not allowed in the water prior to the start, most of us took this opportunity to do a quick warm up. I took this as an opportunity to pee in my wetsuit and get myself wet (that’s what she said). It was then that I noticed my goggles were fogging up, which was a first for me. I currently use the Roka R1 goggles, and they’ve been amazing. The clarity and comfort of the goggles are second to none, and I’ve never had an issue with them. I actually have practically one of each lens tint, since each tint is optimized for the weather conditions and location. Of course since I make it a habit of not looking at weather forecasts before my races (I don’t really care about weather – after all, we’re all racing in the same conditions), I did not bring goggles optimized for cloudy conditions. Mirrored goggles combined with a cloudy start to the day meant it was a bit difficult to sight, but since the swim was basically a straight line down and up and since I breathe to my right, I just decided to keep an eye on the shoreline (if that’s the proper term) and stay roughly the same distance away from it the entire time.

This actually worked out really well on my way down the canal. There were also hundreds of spectators that lined the canal, which gave me some additional comfort that if I was drowning, someone could jump in and save me. I was hoping that these spectators hadn’t started drinking yet, since it was only 7:40 in the morning, but you never know with these Germans. 🙂

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Those spectators lined the swim course in both directions.

As I continued to swim down the canal, I noticed a woman who was walking down the canal at the same pace I was swimming. She also kept staring in my direction the entire time. At first I thought she was there supporting someone else, but I quickly glanced around a few times and noticed no one was swimming around me. I had no idea who she was, but it really did help me to have her walk down the canal as I swam.

I also noticed a few triathletes who were doing the breaststroke, so I made it a mini goal of mine to beat them. It was a bit harder than I thought for one of the breaststrokers, since he was moving pretty well and I’m quite a slow swimmer (when I swim with Columbia Masters, I swim in lane 9 out of the 8 lane pool). Between the breaststrokers and the woman walking, I felt completely calm on my way down the canal.

One positive change that Challenge did this year was to add distance markers, approximately every 200 meters. This was incredibly helpful, since there really were no buoys going down the middle of the canal so I used the small signs to sight off of and to make sure I was actually making progress.

So, at about the 1200 meter mark, I started to swim away from the side of the canal and moved towards the middle where the turn buoy was. As soon as I swam around the buoy, I started to make my way back over to the side of the canal, this time going upstream (for lack of a better direction). At this point, I was close to the 1500 meter mark. When I swam between the 1500 meter marker and the 1700 meter marker, I checked my time in the middle of a swim for the first time in a long time. I saw 37:xx. I was quite a bit surprised at that time, but I told myself not to get too excited. I hadn’t reached the halfway point yet, and swimming another 1.4 miles is a long ass way to go. Still, I was happy with this so I pulled a Dory.

Swimming Cat

This was pretty much me, for 2.4 miles.

While I was swimming back towards Swim Exit, I noticed a black and yellow checkered flag along the side of the canal. Since I was lacking buoys to sight off of, I decided to sight against it. I swam for a while and I noticed that the flag was not getting any closer. I thought I was just swimming slower because I was tired, so I just kept swimming. Eventually I noticed that I was passing 200m markers, but still, the flag did not appear any closer. Finally, after about 600-800 meters, I stopped and looked. It was then that I noticed that the flag was being held by two spectators who were walking down the canal at the same exact pace I was swimming. I shook my head, laughed a little, and kept going.

Eventually I noticed that the same woman who was walking down the canal as I was swimming downstream was now walking up the canal in the company of a male spectator. I have no idea how she got to the other side so quickly, nor could I figure out how she found me out of all of the neon green caps in the canal (everyone except for specific waves and pros wore a neon green swim cap). Regardless of how she did either of those things, she continued to walk up the canal at the same pace I was swimming. This really helped me feel safe and secure, though as I continued to swim past the distance markers I kept telling myself not to get too excited because anything could happen.

Finally I made the final turn back to Swim Exit (after swimming past it!), and I allowed myself to believe I was going to finish Challenge Roth. I knew that as soon as I got out of that water, no matter what happened in the remaining 138.2 miles, I would finish the race.

As soon as I was within reach of a volunteer, s/he (can’t remember) grabbed my arm and yanked me up. Relieved, I quickly glanced at my Garmin and was SHOCKED that it read 1:35:19. Prior to starting the race, I was predicting 1:45-1:50 for myself. I couldn’t imagine seeing a time less than that, but I did. I didn’t even feel like I swam hard. I just tried to swim calm and controlled and not die. Apparently this time left me out of sorts, because I messed up my transition next…

Swim Time: 1:35:19

T1

The run out of Swim Exit to your bag and into the changing tent isn’t all that long. It was only about 50 feet to the bags, which were arranged in bib number order. Every 10th bib number had a wooden stake with a sign denoting that number. Since I was bib 3100, all I had to do was to look for the wooden sign saying “3100” and also because my bag started an entirely new row. It should have been pretty simple, but it wasn’t. I had issues finding my bag because I somehow forgot my bib number and couldn’t remember if it was “3100” or “3010” and I couldn’t apparently count anymore. Eventually I found my bag, and I ran into the change tent.

Once in the change tent, a volunteer ran over and offered to help. She unpacked my bag as I took off my wetsuit. She then gave me my socks and proceeded to tell me to just dump everything I had (wetsuit, swim cap, goggles) on the floor and she would take care of it. Seriously, she was amazing. Once I had my socks on, I just put my sunglasses on, grabbed my bike shoes and ran out.

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Rexie Jr. racked with my helmet. I still haven’t mastered the flying mount (my poor balls), so my bike shoes were in my T1 bag.

Here’s where it got a bit tricky. About 90% of the bikes were in the transition area right outside the change tent. The remaining 10% of the individual participants and the relays were in a smaller grass field across from the main transition area. In that area, my bike was in the 4 row from the entrance. It wasn’t bad to be in this transition area at all, however I had no clue where the mount line was since they hadn’t marked it the day before during bike check in. There’s a bit of a way to go once you grab your bike from that second transition area to the Bike Out banner, so I thought I’d have a long-ish run before I could get on my bike. It turns out there was a mount line about 15 meters from the exit of the transition area, well before the Bike Out banner. In the video below which I took a couple of days prior to the race, you can see white tape on the ground. It turns out this was where I would start the bike, which I was happy about. I didn’t see where the main transition area athletes mounted their bike, but I figured the distance would be the same regardless.

Overall, my transition was quite slow thanks to me being discombobulated coming out of the swim. Sadly, it was a precursor to the rest of the day.

T1 Time: 3:52 / Jan Frodeno’s T1 Time: 1:36

Bike

Once on my bike, I was quite excited. I had ridden bits of the bike course coming out of transition in the prior days, and the roads were amazing, beautiful, and FAST. In one of my practice rides, I hit 29.0 mph while pushing well under 200 watts. Given this and Roth’s reputation of being a very fast course, I thought the bike course would be relatively easy and flat.

I was wrong.

The bike course is 2 loops which starts in Hipoltstein, but ends right outside of Roth (split transition). Within those two loops, the total elevation I climbed was over 4,700 feet. This is less than IM Mont Tremblant, but it’s definitely not as flat as I thought it would be. In fact, the elevation profile provided by Challenge actually shows this, but of course I didn’t pay attention to it since I typically don’t really care.

Bike Course Elevation Profile

Bike Course Elevation Profile - Garmin

Challenge’s elevation profile (top) was actually pretty accurate. The elevation profile below it is from my Garmin.

So, coming out of transition there was a small climb up to a main highway before making a quick left to head out of Hipoltstein. It was during the climb out of T1 that I saw Abby for the first time, and I was actually quite surprised (and happy) to see her there. Apparently we had discussed her being there before meeting me right after Solarer Berg (past 70k), but of course I forgot. Still, seeing her yelling at me to go was encouraging so I started to ride hard. My and my coach’s initial plan was for me to ride the first 90k in 3 hours, with a bit more of an effort put in in the final 90k to come in under 6 hours. Based on how I was riding in the previous 10 weeks since I started training again, we thought this was very doable.

Unfortunately my legs thought otherwise.

In the first fifteen miles I was riding an average of almost 220 watts which was much higher than I was planning on riding, but my average speed was not even 20 mph (19.7, to be exact)! This was very different from my rides prior. Admittedly I was quite confused as to why I was riding so much slower with a much greater power output than planned. At first I thought I needed calories since I had just swam 2.4 miles, and I hadn’t had any calories since I ate my 2nd breakfast of a Nutella sandwich (should have been approximately 240-250 calories) an hour before I got into the water. My first breakfast prior to that was a slice of toast (90 calories) and scrambled eggs (approx. 180 calories), which I ate at about 4 AM. I had 600 calories of CarboPro in my Ventum’s integrated bottle, so I started drinking heavily from it hoping I would start to feel better.

Sadly it did not help and to make matters worse, I started to really tighten up in my upper body. For the first time ever my shoulders, neck, and upper back started to feel sore while riding in aero. I had a new fit after Eagleman since I experienced lower back pain and feet numbness during the Eagleman bike, but the new fit had felt very comfortable and great in my training rides (including my longest ride of 60 miles) prior to the race.

For some reason, and it may have to do with the fact that I had swum my longest swim in 4 years prior to the bike, I was very uncomfortable and no amount of adjusting myself helped. With no other solution but to keep my head down and ride, I rode.

Luckily for me, the Roth course is incredible beautiful. As I mentioned earlier the roads are incredibly smooth and clean, and the only reason to even keep your head up while riding was to admire the scenery and to make sure you weren’t drafting. Roth takes drafting very seriously and they actually had a visualization of the draft box in transition and in a couple of points on the bike course. In the pre-race briefing they also mentioned that they had almost 90 race marshalls around the bike course to ensure fairness.

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They took drafting seriously.

Besides drafting, the Roth course is quite remarkable. There was so much greenery to see, and riding into each town was an incredible experience. Some of the towns we rode through really went all out in their support, including lining a stretch of road with tables, food and beer stands for the supporters. They called this the “Beer Mile,” and while I wasn’t sure if it was actually a mile long it was pretty awesome to ride through it.

At least for the first loop. For the second loop when I was really struggling, it wasn’t that much fun to ride by people eating and drinking. You could smell the beer and the food smelled delicious. In fact, in my second loop I saw a female triathlete actually buying food from a food stand. It was quite funny to see, and I have to admit I was quite jealous of her bratwurst (I don’t actually know if she purchased a bratwurst, I just really wanted one).

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The infamous Beer Mile.

Anyway, for approximately 97% of the bike course, the roads were closed to traffic. There were only two spots near Hipoltstein where we had oncoming traffic to deal with, but the sections were short (1.5 km and 4.5 km) and well policed. I didn’t find there to be any issues with vehicular traffic and it really was one of the most beautiful and triathlete-friendly bike courses I’ve ever ridden in.

Even the major climbs on the course (which had grades of 9 – 11%) were quite remarkable. The major climb of the course happens at around the 40k and 120k mark and it’s a tough climb. You climb for a little over four miles, but the hardest part (where it hits 11%) is within the first mile. There, the crowds line the hill on both sides and while they’re not as plentiful as in Solarer Berg, they generate a large amount of noise and support. In my first loop, I couldn’t help but smile at everyone as they were incredibly enthusiastic in their support. Experiencing that hill for the first time, I couldn’t wait for Solarer Berg.

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Near the end of the 4 mile climb.

Once you get through that climb, there’s a very steep descent with 3 hairpin turns. I couldn’t wait to hit the descent hard, because I had a number of Europeans (bibs had the participant’s country flags) pass me. I knew European triathletes had a habit of hammering up the climb, but for some reason they coasted on the descent. I saw this in Ironman Copenhagen last year, and also in Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Austria. So, on the climb I let everyone pass me. As soon as we hit the descent however, I attacked. Throughout the race, we had to ride on the far right side of the road even though the road was closed to traffic. Heading down the mountain, though, I moved to the left a number of times (after checking I was clear behind me) in order to lean into those hairpin turns with minimal speed loss. Descending this way allowed me to pass a number of other triathletes which definitely felt good.

After that descent, there were a few climbs leading back to Hipoltstein but one of those climbs is Solarer Berg (Solar Hill). If you’ve ever seen the Tour de France where spectators line both sides of a climb and cyclists ride single file, that’s what Solarer Berg was like. It’s almost impossible to describe in words because it really has to be seen to be believed.

Solarer Berg is preceded by a short, but steep .5 mile climb that’s also lined with very enthusiastic spectators. In my first loop, I climbed that hill and when I crested the top I thought to myself: “That can’t have been Solarer Berg. It was awesome, but it was so short!” I then proceeded to ride the descent, take a right turn and there it was. The road had barriers lining the street from the corner, but eventually those barriers went away and people crowded the course. It was remarkable. People were 5-6 deep yelling, screaming, making all sorts of noise, and of course drinking. It was an experience of a lifetime. As much as I wasn’t having a good ride at that point, I couldn’t help but really enjoy it. I smiled, laughed, and even gave a couple of people high fives.

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This photo doesn’t do Solarer Berg justice, but you can see how all of the triathletes had to ride single file from the spectators.

At the top of Solarer Berg was an aid station, and that’s where I had planned to meet Abby to swap out my Ventum bottle. In my first bottle I had 600 calories. Since I was meeting Abby about 10 miles prior to the 90k mark, I put in about 200 calories more in my second bottle. When I saw her waving her New Jersey American flag t-shirt, I pulled over to swap bottles. (Side note: Roth allows spectators to provide nutrition/aid to athletes within 100 meters of an aid station. Roth doesn’t have a traditional Special Needs station, so this is their substitute.) She helped me unscrew my bottle and secure my new one, but before that I had told her I was having a bad ride. She said I was still making good time, which was true since I was on schedule. I didn’t feel as good as I should have though, so I knew I would struggle in the second half. The total time I was stopped, thanks to Abby, was about 45 seconds. After that, I kept going and I kept hoping to have a better second loop.

Sadly I did not feel any better during the second loop. In fact, my upper body felt really uncomfortable and sore. I was uncomfortable enough that I had to actually stop twice in the second loop in order to get off my bike and stretch. I also used that opportunity to pee in the woods, since I had noticed quite a number of folks who had done that. In fact, I wondered why I even bothered to pee on my bike in my first loop because everyone peed everywhere. For the rest of the loop, I just focused on trying to maintain my power numbers and finishing the bike course strong.

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I was actually peeing here.

Bike Time: 6:23:32

T2

Coming into T2, there’s a slight downhill. I wanted to use that downhill to try a flying dismount but unfortunately there were too many other triathletes around me. Since I had never done it before, I dismounted the normal way and made sure I didn’t cause an inadvertent pile up.

As soon as I dismounted a volunteer came over and grabbed my bike. I then proceeded to run to where the bags where, grabbed mine, and ran into the change tent. Almost immediately upon entering the tent, a volunteer had come over and taken my bag from me. She told me to sit and take what I needed to take off and she’ll help me get what I needed. As I took my helmet and bike shoes off, she took out my race belt, my Gus, my hat, sunglasses, and my running shoes. She had me put my shoes on first, and after I did she told me to go ahead and leave the clean up to her. She was amazing. In fact, all of the volunteers were absolutely incredible in Roth. They were so helpful, encouraging, and supportive, and I had to make sure to thank every single volunteer I passed and who helped me.

After I put everything on, I put my Gus in my race belt loops. I then ran out of the change tent, and saw port-a-potties right outside. Since I had struggled putting everything on in transition, I figured I might as well take the time to properly pee instead of peeing on myself on the run. So, I popped into the port-a-potty, peed and ran out. Thus endeth the longest T2 of my life.

T2 Time: 4:42 / Jan Frodeno’s T2 Time: 1:18

Run

Roth’s run course takes place mostly along the Main-Donau Kanal. Coming out of T2 the run course leaves Roth and goes on a mixture of roads and trails for about 4 km before turning left onto the canal. Once on the canal, the course runs north for about 10-10.5 km before it loops in a couple of streets in a town called Schwand. Once you leave the Schwand, you run back down the canal in the opposite direction for about 10 kms, passing your original entrance to the canal. At the 25 km mark, you leave the canal at a town called Haimpfarrich and run approximately a 6 km loop between Haimpfarrich and a town called Eckersmullen. Actually, you run past Eckersmullen and across a bridge which crosses the canal (you run under that bridge, twice) before turning around and returning the way you came. The run course looks like a uterus. Trust me, it does.

Roth Run Course

See? Uterus.

Besides taking place mostly on a trail, the course is very flat. There’s a big downhill (and a subsequent uphill) in the northern loop as you leave and get back onto the canal, but it’s not bad at all. The bridge crossing the canal in the lower loop is a slight incline as well, but really the course is very flat. It is, however, a bit lonely on the canal. While there are a great deal of spectators in the towns at the end of the canal loop, the canal itself does not have too many spectators except for the areas where you enter and exit the canal. There were, however, a few spectators on bikes who rode with some of the triathletes.

Once you complete the canal loops, the course takes you back into the town of Roth where you run through half of the town before looping back to the finish line. The finish line itself is something to be experienced, because they built an entire 10,000 person stadium just for it. The run course actually enters from one end of the stadium and horseshoes around it to the finish line on the other side. There’s a red carpet that lines the course from the moment you enter the park to the time you cross the finish line. It truly is remarkable.

My initial thought going into the race was that I could run a conservative marathon and pace a 4:30. My coach and I thought this was very doable since all of my long runs have been significantly faster than that. In fact, my longest run prior to the race was 16 miles which I ran in 2:12 (8:12/mi pace). That run included me running with a friend for the last 6 miles at about 9:00/mi pace.

Coming out of T2, my legs felt a lot better than I thought they would. I ran the first half mile in about 8:15-8:30/mi pace but I forced myself to slow down because I knew I couldn’t maintain it. I ran the first mile in 9:05, and it felt very easy. I thought I was set up to have a pretty good run, but sadly I was mistaken.

Within the first mile, I also saw Abby. Prior to seeing her, I was thinking about the roll of Mentos I had given her before the race. I thought about how wonderful Mentos would be at at that moment, and sure enough, as I saw her Abby was holding everything she had – Mentos, Gu, water, and I’m pretty sure a beer. I grabbed the roll of Mentos from her, split it in half, and gave the rest back to her. As I was doing this, she said I was doing really well and that all I had to do was run.

So, I ran. I tried to maintain somewhere between a 9:00-9:15/mi pace which felt very comfortable. Unfortunately at some point before the 3 km marker, I lost all of my nutrition. I had felt a Gu drop off of my race belt before the 3 km mark, so I turned around and picked it up. When I went to put the Gu back on my race belt, I noticed that all of my other Gus were gone. This was the first time I’ve ever lost my Gus, and I’ve used my race belt through a number of triathlons and marathons prior.

With only one Gu and 39 km remaining, I had to take in nutrition throughout the aid stations. My original plan was to have a Gu every 10K, for about 400 calories for the marathon, but since I only had 1 Gu left I ended up taking in many more calories than I had originally planned. In fact, I think I over ate because I started to feel heavy and bloated towards the latter half of the race. I also think I overhydrated because the aid stations weren’t all 2 km apart. Some of the aid stations were much closer or much further than what I had expected. Since I couldn’t count on an aid station every 2 km, I took water in at every aid station even when I didn’t need it.

All of this combined for a very, very tough run. My legs fell off after about 10 kms, and I struggled hard to maintain forward progress. Everything just started to hurt terribly, and I had to resort to walking in between aid stations. I tried to maintain a semblance of pacing, but I couldn’t. I also had to stop twice on the run in order to take small rocks out of my shoes and I peed an incredible number of times at the aid station port-a-potties (which also leads me to think I was overhydrated).

At some point after about 29 kms, I passed an aid station. I declined water from an older male volunteer and passed him. He took a closer look at me as I “ran” by and he turned around and caught up to me. He looked me in the eyes, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re OK. You’re going to be OK. Great job.”

He clearly saw that I was really struggling at that point, and all I wanted to do was to stop moving. In fact, I was actually wondering why in the hell I paid to do this when it hurt so badly. When he told me that though, he gave me enough strength and encouragement to keep going. In fact, his words and gesture propelled me to run the rest of the 12 or so kilometers I had left.

I saw Abby again when I was approaching Roth, at about the 39/40 km mark. I didn’t expect to see her there, since I was running well beyond the time I was aiming for, but it was great to see her. She gave me the rest of my Mentos and I told her I failed. She assured me I didn’t, and that I was still doing just fine. I almost cried at this point, because it hurt really badly at this point and I really thought I had failed myself in not coming close to the time I wanted. Luckily, she told me to just keep going and that I just had 2 kilometers to go.

Buoyed by this and Mentos, I ran through the last 2 kilometers. Before the race, I had planned on taking my time through the stadium and enjoying the atmosphere and the Finish Line celebration. Unfortunately, since I was really struggling, this was the best I could do.

Sadly, instead of the glorious celebration I had envisioned at the finish line I crossed it half dead.

Run Time: 4:45:38

Total Time: 12:53:00 (Previous Ironman time in IM NYC: 15:53:53)

Post Race

Crossing the finish line, I was immediately disappointed. In fact, when I saw Abby right after I crossed, I cried. Not from the pain or exhaustion, but because I was disappointed in everything but the swim. Yes, I took 5.5 weeks off of training due to my crash, but I was in much better shape than my time showed.

I knew that I couldn’t hit my original goal time, and I was OK with that. I had adjusted my original plan to something that both my coach and I thought was very doable. Sadly, for some reason or another, I failed to perform. I’m still not entirely sure why or what happened, but I do know this: I want to do better. I need to do better. I know I can do better. I want to properly train for an IM again and really attack that race. I’ll eventually learn from what happened in Roth, and it will help me become a stronger triathlete.

Unlike last year, where I had the worst race of my life in 70.3 Worlds, I’m much more motivated to improve. While I had a tough day in Roth, so many things did go right. For starters, I didn’t panic in the swim. I stayed in control and was calm the entire time and I swam much faster than I thought I could! Give me a great new starting ground for my next triathlon.

Second, for the first time ever I feel like I’ve actually completed an Ironman. I know a few people won’t like this, but even though I completed IM NYC, I didn’t really feel like a true Ironman. That swim in the Hudson was just way too current-assisted. I swam a 1:03 in that swim, and that’s barely slower than my half Ironman swim time. I’m not taking away the accomplishment of finishing that race, because that bike and run were no joke, but for me I always felt like there should have been an asterisk there. Now I can remove it.

Third, Roth was absolutely amazing. It’s hard to quantify how much support the people of Roth and the surrounding towns really give the triathletes. It really is just something to experience, and I am looking forward to the next time I race Roth.

For now, I’ve got more training to do. 🙂

Oh, check out the video below from Roth. My personal highlights start at the 1:49 mark.

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