2018 is DONE. And the timing could not be better- BIGMETZ is toast! This year has been all over the show… Highs, lows and everywhere in-between. After a string of good results (1st at Challenge San Gil, 5th at IRONMAN Canada and 3rd at 70.3 Santa Cruz), I was motivated and excited to take on the late season races . After Santa Cruz I got right back into training and that led me to 70.3 Augusta, a race I have not and probably will not write about. I got decimated by the field, groveling to a 12th place finish that brought my momentum to a screeching hault.
Getting back to Boulder my physical, emotional and mental state came to a head. I struggled in a major way, unmotivated to train and questioning my place as a professional athlete. After about 10-days of uninspired training, another 10-days of sickness with a head/ chest cold and a few days in Minneapolis with my family for an attempted mental reset, I had about 5 days to decide if I was going to even board the plane to Shanghai. I had 1 or 2 workouts that week that I was able to complete as intended which gave me enough hope to at least try… Fast forward a few days and a 14-hour time difference, I arrived in China ready for my 6th race there in the past 2 years.
Race week itself was business as usual- loading myself up with fried rice, riding the trainer at 3:00am and getting frustrated with the one English TV channel that would run the same Disney kids show on loop for 12 hours. Despite the usual headaches, Jeanni and I did our best to keep spirits high, stay positive and get to the start line ready to go.
Before I knew it, I was lined up on the pontoon ready to dive into the water. The cannon fired and after a few hundred meters of position jostling, I found myself driving the main group. Olympian Andres Salvisburg got a bit of a gap but he was still in sight distance the whole way. Unaware of his cycling ability, I wanted to limit the deficit so I kept the pressure on, towing the majority of the mens field with me. I was 3rd out of the water just under a minute from the lead.
I got some time in transition and was onto the bike quickly, watching Salvisburg exit as I was running to my bike. I mounted with about 8 other guys and navigated to the closed course with the lead in sight. I immediately noticed the company that I had behind me and wasn’t overly eager at the start to bridge the gap to the front. I let the best runner in the field, Azevedo, pull through and he proceeded to ride about 200w on the front. Nobody pulled through for 10 minutes and I thought that was my opportunity to try an attack…
I went right for it riding threshold power for about 5 minutes and then settled into a still hard but more comfortable effort. I got to the turnaround and saw that I had about a 600m gap on the field. I put my head down and got butterflies in my stomach. Could I break away from the field right now? Will anyone chase me down? All I knew is that I had some space and I had to try. I continued to hold the gap for about 20 minutes but with the likes of Taylor Reid and Matty Trautman in the group, they ultimately closed it down and I was swallowed back up into what had formed to be a 10+ man main lead pack.
I didn’t feel great about the big effort that I had put in to start the bike and the accelerations within the group were putting me into a bit more pain that I would have preferred. I weathered the storm and got off the bike knowing that this half Ironman had quickly turned into a open 13.1 run for spots 1-10…
A race best T2 put me in the lead quickly but hot on my heels were 7 other top runners and previous 70.3 winners including Felipe Azevedo, Matty Trautman, Mitch Robbins, Taylor Reid, Andres Salvisburg and Sam Betten. Anyone still think racing in China is a cherry pick? Onto the 3 lap run, we had an epic battle unfolding. Nobody was breaking. 8k into the run and we still had 6 guys running in a pack. Around 10k the guys started really picking up the pace. I was running my hardest but the rubber band snapped and they got separation on me and Salvisburg. I didn’t blow up and as we continued down the course, I kept them in my sights. Salvisburg on the other hand started to go backwards and I was able to pass him. Taylor Reid went with that original acceleration and paid for it sometime after and I was able to go around him at 12k. I was running in 4th but the 3 leaders, still running shoulder to shoulder, were just up the road. Eyeing each other up, their pace slowed and this diesel started to recover from that early effort. By 15k I had gotten within :10 seconds of the lead trio and my hopes of the podium and even the win came back into the picture. I got re-motivated and charged, trying my best to regain contact. On a small out and back, the guys saw the gap to me and stopped playing games amongst themselves. They reaccelerated and pushed the gap back out to :60 seconds that held to the finish.
I crossed the line in 4th. Which on another day I may have been disappointed with. But on this day, I was happy. I took multiple risks in order to put myself in a position to win the race and I have to be proud of that. Especially considering the challenges that I had in the weeks leading into the race, anything beyond getting around the course was icing on the cake. My #1 goal was to finish content with the season being over and I was able to achieve that. Continuing the trend of the entire year, I took the good with the bad on this one and came out the other side motivated to be better next time.
Stay tuned for some more pieces that I want to put together about some of the perviously spoken about highs and lows in addition to my plans moving forward.
A big thanks to my team, especially Jeanni, Jesse and my family, who without my year would have been over in September.
And a major shoutout to my incredible group of 2018 partners who have been with me every step of the way. Many of them not only this year but the past three years. Thank you.