|Photo by Nils Nilsen|
I’m really happy to have a win on the board for 2013. It took me a bit by surprise. I’d been struggling a little bit with the training in Boulder. Early in the year it was good, but then we got some rough weather and it’s been hard to get all the training in. I raced San Juan a few weeks ago and it was a bit of a disaster so I came back from that and restructured my training to focus more on my swim.
I wanted to get back for another warm race – I don’t like the cold races so much, so TX 70.3 seemed like a good choice. I was a little nervous though because I did this race the first two years they had it and they were two of my worst races ever. The first year I DNF’ed and the second year someone threw tacs on the road and I got a flat, which made for a bad race in the end. I was hoping maybe I’d get lucky the 3rd time around.
The weeks leading into the race I tried to work on my swim a lot. I knew with Will Clark coming across from the ITU, the swim would be fast. I tried to sit with him on the swim and we got a good lead out on the bike with Allen Gardner, who came out of the water first. He was pushing the pace on the bike the first 10-15 miles. After that I took over the lead. I rode thru half way and at the turn around I realized there were 10-15 guys chasing that were only 1 1/2 minutes behind, so I tried to keep the pace high. About half way back, around mile 35-40, Allen dropped off and I was on my own. I knew there were strong guys like BigSexy and Tim Berkel chasing and I didn’t want to get caught with 5 miles ago after working so hard, so I really pushed it the last few miles.
I managed to finish the bike with a little bit of a lead. I settled in on the run and for some reason it just clicked and I felt good. I really worked mile 3 and mile 7 to extend the gap a little bit. After around 8 miles, I felt like I had enough of a lead and just focused on maintaining my pace. It felt really great get in a win in TX after a few bad years. I really wanted to get back to running fast again after my race in San Juan, so I was really happy to run a 1:12 in that race. I’ve been working pretty hard on my run over the winter and have been doing some long runs at high altitude, so I’m glad to see it paying off. Congrats to Tim Berkel and BigSexy on 2nd and 3rd. It was great to race with you guys.
Also thanks to my sponsors. I have some incredible sponsors and gear helping me out this year and it’s really made a difference.
Getting a podium in the 70.3 Pan American Championships is a great way to start the season. I battled hard through the Boulder winter to prepare for this race. The hard work paid off. Congrats to Oscar and Bevan for first and second. The day was a lot tougher than I expected with the heat and the wind, but it gave me a good chance to test out my new Blue bike and Reynolds wheels, which were fantastic. It was the best I’ve felt on the bike in a long time.
Read More in the Wattie Ink Press Relase: Wattie Ink. Athlete Richie Cunningham Rocks the Podium at Ironman 70.3 Panama
I’ve already been asked about my race plans for 2013, so once again, my lovely wife made me a calendar of all the half and olympic distance triathlons she could find. Feel free to print this out for yourself.
***MOST OF THESE DATES ARE BASED OFF OF LAST YEAR and have not been confirmed, so some may be on the wrong weekends or not be on again in 2013.
Remember, you can get a season pass to all Rev3 races for $1200 (and you can share with a friend). More info here.
Driving into Wisconsin Dells I was blown away by how many water parks there were. I think I should have come for a holiday instead of a race. I think there were more watermarks in a 5 mile stretch than in the entire country of Australia. Every hotel seemed to have a water theme park coming out of it. For any age grouper who has kids, I think this would be the most awesome race you could do for a race/holiday trip.
A couple of days leading int o the race I was a little bit nervous – after Portland I decided to do Vegas, so I’ve really been training hard the last 5 weeks. Even though I tapered properly for this race, I felt like I still hadn’t recovered 100%. It showed in my fantastic swim. I’m sure someone put a hill in the swim course. That was one of the toughest and slowest swims I’ve ever done. I think I was over 2 minutes down from Leto, Marsh, and Hadley.
Before the race I was a little stressed it was going to be really cold. The cold sometimes can kick me in the ass and I don’t race very well. However, after the first 5 miles of the bike, it wasn’t really a factor at all. Much like the swim, I didn’t feel that great on the bike. Luckily I had Pellow and Palmer with me who were riding hard. After about 20 miles we were able to catch Brandon and James. We could see Leto in the distance so I wasn’t too worried about him getting too far ahead with some of the big climbs coming up. Once we caught Leto, the pace steadied out and everyone rode solid to transition.
I decided to hit the first 2 miles of the run really hard as I didn’t know the form of some of the guys who were with me. Luckily, my run legs were there and it didn’t feel anything like the bike or the swim. Strange how that tends to happen. Going through the 3-4th mile, I don’t think I’ve ever felt better running, so I decided to really push the rest of the run and hopefully get a good hit-out for Vegas. The run course was tough and challenging but a really cool course. Secretly, I was trying to get the 1:11 run time, just because my training partner Joe ran that a few weeks ago in Vineman and if he does it then I have to do it too. The last two miles bit me in the ass. They were a little hillier than I expected..so I ended up with a 1:13.
Congrats to Kyle and Brandon for 2nd and 3rd. Also congrats to the Rev3 girls – Jess Meyers and Mailaka Homo for finishing 2nd and 4th.
Next stop is Rev3 Maine. Back to the olympic distance. Hopefully I can find a little speed in the old legs.
Thanks again to my sponsors. The Kestrel 4000 once again came through for me on a day when I was hurting on the bike. Riding a bike that really suits me helped carry me through the tough course. I couldn’t wait to get in the Recovery Pump when I got home as my legs were killing me. Rev3 puts on my favorite kind of race courses. Also thanks to TYR, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Shimano and Pearl iZumi.
After getting home late Sunday night, I was looking forward to a couple easy days. However, my slave-driving wife made me finishing digging the entrance to my basement. So I spent 3 days digging holes and moving bricks. I think this smashed me more than the race did.
But anyways, the race. I was excited to get back to Portland this year. I knew Rev3 had changed the bike course – they added 2,500 ft of climbing and I love hilly courses.
I flew in Thursday night with my wife. Lucky for us we have some house guests who were willing to take care of the dog and chickens while we were both gone. Thanks Terra, Pat and Megan! Friday morning I drove the course with Barny. At first it didn’t seem so bad, but half way through we got into the serious hills. I knew this race was going to hurt, but was excited for the hills. They are a lot like the hills I train in in Boulder. It was definitely going to be one of the hardest bike courses I’ve raced on.
Race morning was a little chilly but not enough for a wetsuit swim. I felt pretty crappy the first half of the swim. I was fighting off the breathing problems I’ve been having, but managed to avoid a full blown attack. I felt better the second half of the swim but came out of the water 40 seconds down on the front pack. Coming out of the water, I tripped on the step and banged my knee. What a gumby move. However this made me super angry and I plowed through transition and started hammering the bike. Tripping probably ended up helping me catch back up to the pack.
Barny, who came out in the front of the swim took off on the bike. He had a good 45 seconds on the group in front of me, which included: Brian Fleischmann, Terenzo, Kyle Leto, Andrew Russell, and O’Grady. I managed to catch the group at the start of the hills. Instead of settling in with the group, I decided to bridge up to Barny. I knew if he was able to open up a big lead he’d be extremely hard to catch. We then held our lead of about 45 seconds through the hills. At the turnaround, with about 6 miles to go, I saw that Jesse and Jordan – two of the big threats in the race were gaining on us. I hadn’t put nearly as much time into them as I thought. That made me angry again. I really didn’t want to start the run with Jesse as he’s one of the best runners in the sport, so I put my head down and smashed the last 6 miles of the bike. It paid off as I managed to get about a minute into them. I have to thank Kestrel that I was able to pull that off.
Going on to the run, I heard that I had about 1:50 on Jesse and about 1:30 on the rest of the guys. After about 4 miles, my wife told me she thought Jesse was at about 1:30, so I knew he was gaining on me. People kept telling me he was there after that but I never got any splits, so I didn’t know how close. At the turnaround at about 8 miles, Jesse had pulled back a big chunk of time. With about 4 miles to go, I realized he was getting really close, so I put in a hard mile around mile 10. Then I went back to maintaining my pace. Jesse put up a hell of a fight. It was one of the hardest battles I’ve fought in a while, but I managed to hold on for the win. Congrats to Jesse for a great race. It seems to be every time I race him this year it hurts a little bit more.
I’m super excited to get another win in a Rev3 race. The field of athletes is always amazing and I had to fight hard. I couldn’t have done it without my sponsors – Rev3 of course. RecoveryPump is always a huge factor in my training. Also thanks to Kestrel, TYR, PowerBar, Rudy Project, Pearl iZumi and Shimano Pro DI2 for the support and awesome products. And finally, thanks to the Boulder Track club for all the run sessions.
Although I’ve been training hard for the 70.3 distance the last few months, it’s always fun to come back for the Olympic distance Rev3 Knoxville race as it’s one of my favorite courses. We got extremely lucky with the weather. The Saturday was very wet, but race morning turned out to be perfect.
The swim was a little on the chilly side, which allowed us to wear wetsuits. I positioned myself next to the good swimmers at the start with Brian Fleischmann and Cam Dye. I started the swim hard and found myself in a good position next to Brian after the first 100 meters. Then all of a sudden it felt like someone hit me in the chest with a sledge hammer. I don’t know what caused it but the next couple of minutes were probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had in a race. I had a massive anxiety attack or something. I don’t really know what it was. I just found myself unable to breathe and panicking that I was going to drown even though no one was touching me and I was in a great spot. It was a feeling I’ve never had before. I tried to concentrate and work my way through it, which seemed to make things worse. I managed to get through another 100 meters and then I just completely freaked out and I had to get out of the pack. I made a b-line for where I thought the safety boats were as I was sure I was going to drown. When I got out into the open water, luckily I didn’t find any safety boats there because I would have DNF’ed the race. That’s how bad I was freaking out. I let a bit of water down my chest and in my wetsuit. By the time all this happened we were coming up to the first turn can. I put my head down and started swimming again. By this stage, things were starting to calm down and I was able to breathe again, which unfortunately didn’t help that much, because the adrenaline rush caused me to go lactic and bonk. I managed to drag myself through the rest of the swim. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to get out of the water.
Starting out on the bike, I still wasn’t in that bad of a position, however I was still having trouble getting going again. David Thompson and Matias Hecht went bombing by me in the first 5k. Normally I’m able to hold these guys but I was feeling so shitty that I got dropped. After about 15-20k, things started to come good. I started to get a bit of energy back and feel good. I managed to work really hard the last 20k on the bike and catch back to the main group a few miles before transition.
Heading out onto the run, I didn’t feel bad at all. There was a small group of guys to run with. I found myself in a good run battle again with David Thompson. It was a little bit of deja vu as we had the same battle last year. I managed to run down a couple of guys. I had to dig deep in the last 1k to get rid of Matty Reed and Thompson. In the end I ended up 8th, which was better than the drowning I was sure I was going to have earlier in the day.
Congrats to Greg Bennett and Kelly Williamson for their wins. I’m looking forward to the next stop in the Rev3 series: Quassy.
I was super excited to head back to Rev3 Costa Rica. It’s one of my favorite destination races. Last year I had my honeymoon here, so Costa Rica is a special place for me. It also marks the start of the race season.
Training had been going pretty well this year so far. Unfortunately I got sick after Panama, which lingered for a couple of weeks.
I arrived in Costa Rica on Thursday and after deep negotiations with the cab driver at the airport, we finally managed to get to our hotel. After I arrived and went to unpack my bike, I realized that I forgot my Di2 battery. So, I had to announce to the Twitter world that I’m a dumbass and after some old-forgetful-man jokes from Paul Matthews and his fiance Hillary, I found some nice friends to bring me one (Thanks Erin and Rob Spitler).
Going into the swim, I knew I would have some hard work to do. With Cam, Brian, Leo and Manny racing, the swim pack was fast, so I tried to stay as close to them as possible. I exited the swim down on the front pack and spent the whole bike trying to catch up. I had two guys in sight, but then a car backed out in front of me and I had to come to a stop. After that they got away and bridged the gap to the front. I’ve been training hard on the bike lately – maybe too hard, because I felt pretty average the whole ride.
My run was pretty solid. I felt good most of the way but just wasn’t able to get out of fourth gear the whole day. With 1K to go, I managed to catch Leo to get 6th, which put me in the money and gave me some good points for the Rev3 series.
Big thanks to Krista for helping organize all the pros and also to Charlie Patten, the Rev3 race boss. He’s willing to get his hands dirty and work the aid stations. You don’t see that too much anymore. Respect. Also thanks to Recovery Pump, Kestrel, TYR, Rudy Project, Shimano, Powerbar and Pearlizumi for providing me with awesome race and recovery gear.
If anyone is looking for a great destination holiday race, I highly recommend this race.
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Andrew interviewed me last week. Check it out on his blog here: Richie Cunningham Interview.