More team rider awesomeness

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Team rider results are coming in hard and fast these days. The latest greatness comes from Brant Bahler, who took a resounding age group win in the Hoosierman triathlon. Well done! Here is his race report:

The day started off early, 5:30 AM, but really I was up pretty much all night. I can never sleep very well the night before a race. I got to the transition area around 6:30, and got a pretty good spot on the end near the bike exit. One of the first things I did was go ask the official if the race was wet suit legal. (It has to be under 78 degrees in the water to wear one). He told me if he could find any place in the water that was under 78 he would say it was good to go. (Pretty nice guy!) Turns out it was 76, and we could wear them. The only bad thing is, if it is 76 in the water, you know it is going to be a really hot day, and it was! I didn’t need a wet suit, but I wanted to wear one just because it makes you faster, and you use less energy while swimming.

I check in, and get my number written on my arms, and legs. I have my bike and everything set up, ready to go. And then we find out the storm from the night before had blown the buoys all over, so the swim course had to be reset up. This caused over an hour delay. I also come to find that they are starting the sprint racers first, instead of the olympic. Which if you have ever been to a triathlon with both, the olympic should always go first, because they will be out in the heat longer. Which is exactly what happened. The sprint racers were all done, and we hadn’t even started the run yet.

Anyway, when the race started, I was in the first wave with an age group ranging from men 20-34, so I thought. It turns out they gave me the wrong color swim cap, and I was supposed to be in the 3rd wave with  my age group 20-24. I didn’t find that out until after the race. But after I thought about it, I was kind of happy about it. I had a chance to race with the older males, which are usually the faster ones. And being in the first wave, I had the mindset that if someone passes me, then they are beating me overall. When you start back in different waves, you get lost on who is with you, and you just try to pass everyone, but knowing that if anyone passes you, then you’re losing to them, really helps you race harder.

The swim went pretty well for me, I’m not really a great swimmer yet, I have only been swimming for about a year. But I came out of the water in about 7th, according to my family. It is the best swim I have ever had, and I know it. I look down at my watch when I am in transition, right before i get on the bike, and I see it says 13 something. I can’t believe it – I just swam 1500 meters in 13 minutes something. I come to find out the course was a little shorter, as everyone says they had fast swim times. I don’t know how much shorter, but it was still a fast swim for me. I had the 11th fastest time out of the whole 110 racer field.

On to the bike – I get out ride pretty fast and feel good, but I know it going to be a long 28 miles of steep hills. Right when you come out of transition you hit a little hill, go down a little hill, and then have about a mile climb up a steep hill. Gets the legs burning right from the get go. I did have one advantage though. I have ridden the course about 7 times, so I know how I needed to ride it, when to attack, and when to sit back and take my time. I passed two riders a few minutes into the ride, they didn’t like the first couple hills, haha. I try to get into a groove, but I then get passed by a fast rider. I don’t like to get passed! On the other hand, I knew who it was, the best triathlete in the field. His name is Ryan, and he did win the whole thing. I knew this was not the guy to try and catch right away. It would have taken too much energy. It sucks when you know someone is that much better than you, but sometimes you just have to race to the best of your ability, and see where you stand up. I keep riding hard, and get passed by a few other riders about 8 miles into the ride. I just sit tight and keep riding, I know that the hardest part of the course is still to come. As much as I want to chase them down, I just keep riding my race. My plan worked almost to perfection; as soon as the climbs started on the back part of the course, I started to rope them back in. I’m not even that good at steep climbs, but I saved my energy.  I caught up to them right before the end of most of the climbs, and was able to put them behind me and ride hard the rest of the race. I did get caught by a group of 3 riders that I had not seen the whole race, but as soon as they passed me, I started riding harder, and they never got too far away. I had a bike time 1:22:44, a 18.9 mph average. I was hoping to have a little higher average, but that just tells you how hilly the course really was. I ride into transition, and blaze right though it. It only takes me 36 seconds. I had one of the fastest T2 transitions. I passed a couple of the guys that had just passed me on the bike in the transition.

I go out on the run, and it is up a hill and then off into the woods. This 10k course was a 5k loop that you had to do twice. The first mile of the course was trail running. And I don’t mean a nice flat trail through the woods, I mean muddy, slick, steep hill climbs, and descents – with logs, and creeks to climb over. The only nice part was being in the shade of the forest. I passed one guy a few 100 meters into the trail, and kept running hard, trying to find a rhythm. It was really hard until I got onto the road again. I got passed by a guy about mile 2 1/2 and I just didn’t feel like I could pick up the pace yet, knowing I had to run that trail again at mile 4.  I got passed by one more guy at about mile 3. I wasn’t very happy but I still wasn’t ready to move. I get in and run the trail, I pass about 5 people, but they are all racers on their first lap of the 10k course. It helped to pass people in the woods; the first lap I didn’t hardly see anyone. I get on the road for the last 2 miles and start to speed up the pace. I see the two guys that passed me as the are coming back the other way. The course was and out and back kinda. They were already going back the other way, and I didn’t know if I could catch them. But I had to try; I start gaining speed. I’m running hard, my body wants to stop, but I will not let it. I run hard all the way to the finish, but I never quite catch those two guys. I wasn’t too far behind though. I ran the last two miles in under 6:00 minute pace. My run time was 43:25, 6:59 mile pace. I was hoping to go at least 6:45 pace, but that was before I found out how hard the trail run would be.

As I finished, I look down, my time is 2:21:00. My goal was under 2:30 would be an okay day, under 2:25 would be great. I killed it!

I finished 1st in my age group beating the next guy by almost 8 minutes. It feels good, and what I was even more proud of was a top 10 finish overall. I finished in 8th place, right up there with the veteran men. Every guy that beat me was 30 or older except for one. It was a good race, and gave me tons of confidence for my upcoming half Ironman in July, and my full Ironman in August.

Thanks to everyone that came out, and supported me. You really kept me going when I thought about slowing down on the run. You guys are awesome! Also thanks to all of you in this group, your support means a lot. Also a special thanks to my sponsor Velocite.

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…on another note yours truly also had some races in the last two weeks: 6th of June saw Ironman70.3 take place in Switzerland. The race takes place on the shores of lake Zürich, and had a stellar field of about 2000 athletes headed up by Michael Raelert, Half Ironman World Champion.

This was my first A race for the season, the other one being the Half Ironman World Champs in Florida in November. My first attempt at the Half IM distance was in South Africa, where I had a soso swim in the ocean in a 1200 people mass start, and was fast on the bike (6th in the agegroup), but paid for it with big cramps on the run. Since I got back to Switzerland I had trained hard next to work, putting in not only a lot of hours, but some intense stuff. Highlights were definitely some “big days” where I would swim in the morning, then go for a three hour bike with two hours at 300 watts average (race pace) and run 30min off the bike at 4:00/km.

All the preparation had left me very eager for the race, and feeling really well prepared. I had never run so well, the bike was strong, even the pool times were getting a bit faster. But it also increased the pressure, as I tend to take my races with a bit of humour and try not to get upset if it doesn’t work out well. But all this preparation had to be put to good use, and I was aiming for 4h45, nearly 20 minutes faster than in South Africa. Of course it is difficult to compare courses, but both of them have close to 1000m ascent in them over the 90km, South Africa with rolling hills and Switzerland with a series of shorter but much steeper climbs of up to 13%. So I had no idea whether the goal was realistic, but was hoping for the best.

Race day turned out sunny and swelteringly hot. We started relatively late (9.40am) for a swim in cool and calm but muddy Lake Zürich. I was hoping for a sub 30min swim, and was a bit disappointed when I exited in 32 minutes and about 50th position. Unfortunately the cool spring had left me without any openwater swimming, something I paid for on this leg.

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When I got on the bike, the story was a bit different: the legs were awesome and I had trouble believing my SRM, which was hitting 340 watts on the first 15km even though I was not trying hard. Unfortunately it meant I overpaced a bit, finishing the first 45km in 1h14.

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You get what you ask for, and surely, after 55km, I got a little cramp in my left leg. I backed off immediately, afraid of repeating the South Africa experience. As a result I averaged about 40 watts lower on the second lap and did that in about 1h18, leaving me with a 2h32 bike.

Coming off the bike I was nervous about my legs and definitely felt the tingle of an almost-cramp in my quads. Luckily, though, I was able to settle into a good pace and didn’t have any cramps.

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The two lap course was boiling hot and humid – not nice for running. I kept pushing hard on the first lap, finishing that in 45 minutes, despite the ‘stairways to heaven’ that had you climbing about 80 steps in the old town of Rapperswil. The first half of the second lap still worked out fine before I caved in and had to slow down – too little nutrition and sugar left my head spinning. A definite lesson learned.

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You learn through suffering, and the last 4km were not very easy, but the finish line came into sight eventually, and I crossed it in 4:44:40 – nice timing :-). 16th place in a competitive field is well above my expectations, but improvements can be made!

 

…and over to all team riders near and far: send us your results!

Ride safely,

Nicolas

  • Nice stories, above all for the competitive and ambitious point of the narrator / actor of them 😀

    Congratulations!!!

    P.D.: Here in Spain, we have also a HIM with a “stairway to heaven”: the HIM of Elche (Alicante) and that’s one of the main loved and hated characteristics o this race 😀

    P.D.: It seems that both don’t like very much hot… others (i. e. myself) love it and prefer very hot weather (the hotter, the better) 😀

  • Nicolas

    Hhhmmm… the hot weather is ok for biking for me, but running…. phew! Especially since we didn't have hot conditions during preparation.

  • This is a really nice post and good reading. I truly enjoyed it. Good results too 🙂