Winner winner, FRIED chicken dinner – New Orleans Race Report

It feels pretty darn good to win my first Pro race, even if it was a bit of an altered version of a normal Ironman 70.3 event.  With high winds expected for race day they officially cancelled the swim the day before the event.  I’ve never seen a race make that call on a weather FORECAST before, but they made the right decision (some are saying otherwise, but the lake was insane so perhaps that’s just a bit of bravado). The nice thing about having the swim cancelled the day prior is it gave me the best night’s race sleep I’ve ever had in my entire freaking life.  I wasn’t alone in that either, it seemed to be a general sentiment that no matter how much you love swimming, this leg of the race causes the most pre-race restless sleeps.

With the race format now being a 2 mile run – 52 mile bike – 13.1 mile run, my main goal of the day was to just stay with the leaders as long as possible.  Bang, gun goes off, I get sent to the back of the pack.  Obviously it’s not just my SWIM starts that are lacking; I seem to have issues with starts in general.  For real though, we went out bloody hard.  I was really sucking wind at mile 1.  By mile 2 the group was still pretty much together as we came in to grab our bikes.  I was in no less pain by this point, and very surprised at the size of the group given how much I was hurting.  But I went with the ‘if I’m hurting, these guys must be hurting too’ mental affirmation.  Actually, in my head I’m a bit more cocky than that, so it was more like; ‘if I’m hurting, these guys must be absolutely DYING”.  Well, to be REALLY honest…I was definitely doubting my run fitness at that point.

On to the bike it was a bit crowded (understatement), but with officials around, everyone was doing their absolute best to stay legal.  I think I was probably about 15th or 20th in the group, which meant the leaders were a good 150 meters up the road.  All I did was keep my eyes open for a break in the line and whenever a gap formed I would hammer to get up to the front and close it down.  By mile 7, TJ Tollakson and Tom Lowe had opened up a clear gap on the now 8 or 9 guys in front of me.  This brought the major decision of the day: stay with the group and probably cruise a pretty fast ride and have great legs for the run.  Or, give it my all to try and catch Tom and TJ.  My thought process was:

Only 5 spots get paid. 
Two of the best cyclists in the sport are up the road. 
Probably at least 2 runners in this group that can take me down. 
Hmmm, doesn’t leave much room for slipping up. 
What’s the point in staying here? 
Screw it, I’m going.

5 minutes later:
Oh shit, if this doesn’t work, coach Paulo will rip me a new one for making another mistake.
OK, this hurts, this could end badly.
Damn this road is rough
I’m in it now, I have to keep going
Wow my wheels sound so freaking cool on this concrete bridge

After 30 miles, at the second and final turn-around I was feeling the effort and hoping to see a big gap to the guys behind.  This did not prove to be the case.  It’s not a good feeling when you’ve been riding really hard (335 watts avg) for an hour and you make the U-turn and see a lot of people RIGHT there.  Thought process:

Son of a bitch.
This is bad.
Do I cruise for a bit and ride it in with them.
Do I keep the pressure on and potentially blow.
I wonder why Linsey Corbin told me last year they had to clear the course with ATV’s because there were so many alligators. I thought that was for real. I’m such an idiot.
Damn my avg watts are way higher than planned. This could get interesting.
Well, here comes Chris McDonald and Patrick Evoe.

Normalized power of 320 watts on the day

Chris and Patrick definitely got me charged up again.  They were both keen on opening up the gap on the chasers, and with brief glimpses of Tom up the road, on his own, it was certainly worth keeping the pressure on.  The beauty of having a couple guys with you is you can move your body around a bit and not worry about losing ground.  I gave my hip flexors a stretch, took some big gulps of EFS Drink, and did my best to share in the pace making.  In general I don’t like riding with others because it’s not steady riding.  With two others it’s ok, but even then I find the watts shooting around from 250 to 400 just to try and keep the gap even.  You can see this in the power file. Click to open if you care about that sort of thing:)

Finishing off the bike I was expecting us to come into T2 on a completely different road.  I could see the final turn and saw the street sign of the road that I knew we finished on, so took off my one shoe and rounded the corner only to see the transition about half a mile up the road.

Thought process:

Son of a bitch
Do I put the shoe back on?
That’s ridiculous
I’m a tool

So yeah, I put the shoe back on for another 30 seconds of riding, then took it, and the other off again for the T2 dismount.
On to the run I was in 3rd with Chris and Patrick right there.  Tom was up the road by 45 seconds or so, TJ was 3 minutes ahead (he rode 3 min 30 sec faster than me but took it a bit easier on the first 2 mile run), and I just had to assume fast runners like Richie Cunningham, as well as Lovato and crew were not far behind. Happily, my run legs were flying!! Sweet, I love when the run legs come out to play after being absolutely smashed on the bike.  To top it off I had a lead cyclist.  I love those guys! It’s a great feeling to have them on a bike telling the crowd what position you’re in.  My game plan for a Half Ironman run (and this 67.1 distance event as well) is to hammer the run and hang on to the fast splits for as long as possible.  There’s no holding back the reigns if I see a fast mile split.

I made up some ground on Tom very quickly with a 5:15 first mile, but then he hung there for a loooonng time.  Slowly slowly coming back.  It wasn’t until mile 9 (I think) that I started getting ready to make the pass.  I never know what to do when I pass guys; especially those that have more palmares than I do.  Do I just pass?  Do I say something?  Somehow, “good job, keep it going” is just downright disrespectful when you’re the one doing the passing.  You can’t complement someone when at that current time you’re doing it better.  I freaking hate that.  Thankfully Tom said the first word – “One of us has to catch him!” – referring to TJ still a ways up the road.  I tried to say something back but I’m not sure if I made an audible sound.  Probably not, I’m a very quiet guy even when I’m not using my lungs for something like running as hard as I can.

Once I passed Tom I could see TJ and back split him at the last U turn to see a gap of 27 seconds.  This now with 3 miles to go.  At that point I started thinking about the win a bit too much.  I don’t know where I pulled this thought process from, but it was in my head from someone or some book. Maybe it was Paulo:

Don’t look too far ahead, stay in the moment.
Just do what I need to do right now….
Catch and pass TJ
Run over the bridge and get out of sight
Sprint down the far side of bridge
Cut the tangent
Take Liquid Shot, drink water
Zip up Jersey
Look behind to make sure
Go to finish line
WHERE THE F*$# IS THE FINISH LINE!?!

I didn’t scope out the last half mile of the run or even look for the actual finish shoot.  How could I have forgotten that vital piece of the race?  Transition was RIGHT there but I couldn’t see the freaking finish shoot.  It turns out we were still a ways away from the end, we had to run back out the course and take a couple more little turns before hitting the line.  Thankfully I didn’t make any crazy wrong turns, but with Richie, Tom, and TJ fighting it out for 2nd  I certainly didn’t want to lose it in the last 500 meters.  15 seconds is a fairly big gap to close in 500 meters, but when you’re in that position it certainly does not feel secure.  Across the line with a 1:13:35 run.

It feels freaking great to win a pro race with so many great athletes competing.  Even with the swim cancelation.  The best feeling is actually running and leading the race, believing that you can win the race – during the race.  That feeling is better than even having won the race.  I think.  Of course I’d rather win the race for sure, than be in a position to believe I could win the race, but lose.  But somehow that bit of suspense is stronger than the bit of relief.  I guess I love suspense, so here’s to the next bout of suspense….

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~ by trevorandheather on April 24, 2012.

15 Responses to “Winner winner, FRIED chicken dinner – New Orleans Race Report”

  1. Hoorah! I love your sense of humour and the way you write about your experiences. It’s such a pleasure to read, especially because the same words probably wouldn’t escape your mouth… Thank you for sharing your experiences and I give you such a HUGE congratulations!!

    My belief in you never falters… I believe you can be the best and i’m stoked to see you finally believing it yourself and coming into your prime! You rock! Congratulations.

    • Thanks Sis, looking forward to seeing you guys. Crush the shit out of those apples this summer. Glad to see you’ve got your own thing going, it’s going to be awesome, such a cool idea.

  2. So stoked for your, a much deserved win. No matter the format, you beat the other guys. Great work Trevor!!

  3. Freaking awesome work. Love the race day report. I hope to use a little of that thought process in two weeks in St. George.
    Keep smashing it out there Team Wurtele!!!

  4. Great job Trev! Very impressive your recollection of all the race details. I feel if I did that for any type of race it would be a jumbled mess.

  5. Nice work!!

  6. Congratulations to you, Trevor, on a much deserved win! Enjoyed reading your detailed blog of the race.
    You nalied it and it’s great to see all your hard work and dedication has paid off.
    Also congrats, Heather, on another outstanding performance!
    -Suzanne & Nana

  7. Awesome result both Trevor and Heather ! Big move forward on the run portions. Keep on “getting the work done !”. I know I’ve heard that somewhere before…Glenn & Lynne

  8. Trevor, I’m super happy for you! You work really hard and deserved the win! I’m so proud of you! Congrats!

  9. Congrats trev and heather. Really happy for you. Well deserved.
    love remo

  10. YEAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH TREVOR!!!!!

    Congrats on your first pro WIN!!!

  11. That was a really awesome report Trevor. I like the internal dialogue, that cracked me up. Damn you can run!!! Enjoy it, I hope you celebrated!! Great job to Heather too 🙂

  12. “it seemed to be a general sentiment that no matter how much you love swimming, this leg of the race causes the most pre-race restless sleeps.”

    ?????????????? 😉 😉

    Okay, maybe when they tell me it’s been switched from non-wetsuit to wetsuit but really!?!?! Come on! 😉

    Great job man. I really hope to see you two sometime this summer. Keep at it!

    • Ha, Mark, maybe general doesn’t apply to you in the water. It’s more just the apprehension of potentially not getting in the group you want to be in. For you, well, you probably don’t have that problem given you’ve probably only ever seen clear water in front of you. 🙂

  13. Congrats on your win Trevor – great to see you nail one. Must be pretty satisfying. And as for you Heather, you’ve set the standard where anything other than a podium and people are asking ‘what happened’!

    I’m still ticking over, I managed to qualify for the NZ AG team for the ITU world champs in Auckland in October. That should be a blast – I really love watching the ITU elites race the olympic distance. Brutal stuff…

    So, I was also wondering whether with your win it might be time for a Wurtele combo interview with IM Talk? Heather you’ve come a long way since your first appearance, and I think you both have an interesting story.

    Cheers, Rob

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