Back by popular demand: the GCM post-race interview. On Sunday afternoon, we sat down at our favorite coffee shop and I grilled him about his Ironman St. George experience. Last year he finished second in this race and although he missed the win by less than two minutes, he was very pleased with his performance; however, this year his second-place performance was a disappointment to him. Below we discuss. Photos with many thanks to the great Sue Hutter!
If there is anything I didn’t cover here, add your questions to the comments and we can do a Part Two!
Let’s start with the swim. It sounded like the chaos began while the pros were in the water; was the water choppy before the start or did you notice a drastic change during your swim?
The water was okay in the beginning. I was in the water really early (for once) and it seemed fine! We had to swim way out and then make a left-hand turn for a U-shaped course and it was once we made that left-hand turn that it got choppy.
What was it like?
It was like a really rough ocean—not like a lake. We couldn’t see anything because every time we picked our heads up, there would be a wave. I was swimming with Ben (Hoffman) and Meredith (BFF), and we kept stopping and looking at each other, like, “Where to go?!”
Were you scared?
No. But I was glad that I had company.
And then what was it like when you got on the bike?
I came with the Hoff out of the water but I put the arm warmers on, so I was a little bit behind. The 4-mile climb out of the lake was not too bad—it was just a side wind. Ben and I passed the two guys in the lead on this climb and once we made the turn after the climb it was nuts. Ben and I kept changing positions for the first hour; at one point he told me, “Let’s be smart.” We both knew it was crazy out there.
After awhile I think our motivation took a hit. It was no fun. I enjoy the speed on the bike and there was no speed!
Have you ever had an ironman bike split over five hours? (Ben and Maik had the fastest rides of the day with 5:10 bike splits!)
No, I really don’t think so. I think even my first ironman, which I did on a road bike, was still under a five-hour bike split!
So did you have to eat more to fuel this additional time on the bike? How many calories did you take in during the ride?
I was thinking ahead and packed a special needs bottle, but unfortunately it did not show up there—not on the first or second loop. Somehow it was there after the race when I picked up my bike though?! So actually I ate less than usual. I am usually eating 16 gels (8 in each bottle) and sometimes the sports drink from the aid stations when I get it. I was able to grab a banana and 2 gels from the aid stations when I didn’t get my special needs but I definitely took in less calories than normal.
Tell me about watching Benny H get blown off the bike.
On this section he was in front of me. He was riding a disc wheel in his aerobars and I had my Xentis wheels—no disc—and at this time we were hit by a strong side wind from the left and next thing I knew, he was off the road in the dirt. Somehow he recovered and got back onto the road quickly. I was twice blown the other way over the center line, too.
How did these conditions compare to what we faced at Leadman in Vegas this year? Was the wind as much of a factor on the run in St. George as it was for us in Vegas, or was it mainly just an issue on the bike?
In Leadman the wind got worse as the ride went on; in St. George the wind was worse in the first loop. But it was still bad on the second loop and we were out there longer (than in Leadman). There were a lot of similarities, though: the courses are very much the same in that they are both hard bike courses already, and then with the wind on top . . .
But the run in St. George was way better. We were running in the middle of the town so we were protected from the wind, and I think the wind was getting less as the day went on anyways. The wind was not an issue on the run.
So what the heck happened on the run? I know you have been crushing your runs in training, so what was that about?
I felt good on the first loop of the run . . .
Ummm then why was Benny H putting boatloads of time into you immediately?!
Well I came out of transition about 1:30 down because I had to pee . . . I didn’t want to start the run already with pressure there . . .
We don’t have time for “pee breaks”!!!! Why wouldn’t you just pee in your “trouser”?
I have never done this. Well maybe one time in the past, before triathlon, when I was really drunk . . . (ed. note: Wife learns something new every day . . . and is not sad that she missed this phase.)
I was feeling pretty good and then the gap was increasing anyways, and then I started to feel really smashed, and my quads started to feel really smashed, and then . . .
And then you started to walk and have some of your famous “parties”?
The second loop I had a lot of “up and downs.” Then the third loop I realized I was still in second and started to get organized.
Ben was really strong, though. I think this was a “head race,” and I think he was better prepared for that.
Are you disappointed that you won’t have another chance at a full ironman distance race in St. George?
Yeah, I am disappointed. It was a really nice race. It is a great community and a beautiful place, plus an honest bike course. I am glad there will still be a 70.3, but disappointed that there won’t be an ironman because those are my focus– we will see if the half fits into my my schedule.
What is coming up for you for the rest of the season?
Honu 70.3, then a road trip to LA for summer training, then I would like to go to Vineman, then probably either Lake Placid or New York Ironman. After that, I am not sure.