Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
3x Ironman Champion/ 2x 70.3 Champion

IMTX Race Report – NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPION!!!

First things first, apologies for the length of my report but this win was a pretty emotional one all round!!

11118853_713401451999_8564253273362151342_nI am not going to lie. I REALLY wanted this race. I absolutely love The Woodlands. The local triathlon community has embraced me as one of their own. Since both coaches David Tilbury-Davis and Tim Floyd live in The Woodlands, I spend quite a bit of time training there. I took full advantage of this for the North American Championships. I was able to do all of my training for the week or so leading into the race in a comfortable and familiar setting and I was able to stay loose and hang out with friends. On Thursday and Friday morning, I was a bit worried that I wasn’t getting nervous enough for the race. That all changed Friday evening. I had that undeniable feeling that I was missing something. I checked and re-checked my bike. I was convinced that I felt a hop in one of my wheels and asked coach David to come over and change my Tube (he generously came over, spun the wheel, then promptly told me I was delusional 🙂 ). This was the first night that I had trouble sleeping before the race. My “game face” went on much, much earlier than usual.

Race Morning

I ‘woke’ up at 3:00 a.m. and had my typical pre-race breakfast: 2 servings First Endurance Ultragen with 32 oz water, 1 serving of OptygenHP, and 1 serving of MultiV-PRO. I laid back down and tossed and turned for another 45 minutes before getting up and getting ready for the day. I aired up my tires, did a final bike check then loaded up the car. My homestay was racing as well, so that was another blessing in disguise. Richard was able to navigate for my wife while I sat in the back and started to get my mind ready for what was shaping up to be a very hot and humid day. He was able to show her a great parking spot that had zero traffic around. Driving to the race site in the morning always seems to stress me out and having Richard in the car and Ashley driving took all of that away. I got to transition around 5:30, racked my Quintana Roo PRsix and got my bags set for T1 and T2. Then I found my wife, hugged my mom, and walked down to swim start. I was feeling a bit later than I wanted to be. I lost about 15 minutes in the chaos of race morning. But I was able to stay collected and not panic, but I got to the swim start right when they were letting the pros get into the water. I threw on my Huub Design swim skin faster than I ever had before, lathered on some sun screen, threw my special needs bags into the corral, and jogged over to warm up for the swim.

Swim – 55:02

                    

I was cutting things a little close on time, but I knew the importance of getting in a solid warm up before the swim. I kept a close eye on the clock and was able to get in everything I wanted to and literally grabbed my place in line 1 minute before the cannon. I really think this helped calm the nerves quite a bit, the 5 minutes leading up to the start can be tough at times. I was able to stay focused and calm despite the time crunch. As the cannon went off, I was shocked by the turn over of Faris. I had swum with him in the pool a few times the week leading into the race and thought I might be able to catch his feet. Unfortunately, he got up to speed just a bit too quickly for me, so I was forced to settle into the chase pack. Despite a great deal of congestion in the pack (literally thought a few were going to go to blows after the second turn), I was able to swim comfortably and according to planned. I was in the middle of the pack until we made the turn into the canal, then I pushed forward quite a few places to make sure I was in a good spot to come out of the water without a lot of congestion heading into T1. I have worked really hard with Coach Tim in the off season on my swim. I know I am capable of swimming faster than a 55 without a wetsuit, however it wouldn’t have made sense for me to on the day. I would have either pulled off by myself or ended up pulling the pack. Both are inefficient uses of energy. I was on good feet and conserved a great deal of energy for the bike.

T1

Really happy with how T1 went…despite the muddy ground which led to mud in the bike shoes. Everything went smooth. Again, I stayed calm and “present.” At Oceanside earlier in the year, I had a really bad T1 because I was focusing on what was going on ahead of me. Saturday, I was able to focus on what I was doing at that moment. Staying ‘present’ was the mantra that Coach David gave me for the bike and run as well.

Bike – 4:21:25

Bike 1The ride got off to a great start. I wanted to control the pace early on, so moved to the front of the chase pack quickly. I heard that we had a 7 minute gap to chip away at, and I also knew that there would be a few riders coming up from behind. I did a great deal of work in the pack setting the pace early on, but definitely had some help. Ronnie, David Plese, Joe Skipper, and myself broke away from the rest of the pack just as we turned on to 2978. We all took a turn on the front, and it appeared to me at least that all were working hard to stay legal (we had a moto with us most of the day). Lionel came up on us about 90 minutes into the ride and tried to blow through the pack, but we covered well so he sat in for a few minutes. He attacked a few times, the first I was able to cover, the second Ronnie, David, and I all popped off but I put in a hard 5 minute effort and caught back up to Joe and Lionel again. Right about the time I joined the group again, he surged again, and that was the last I saw of the green machine and Skipper for the reminder of the bike. At that point, I made the decision to ride a bit conservatively for the rest and see what happened. I really focused on pushing calories. I had my bottles with 2x strength EFS-PRO and went through 5 of them throughout the course. After looking at the weather report, Coach David and I decided to sacrifice a bit of aerodynamic gain by using the TorHans aerobottle on the down tube and instead opted for just two bottle cages. I carried 4 full bottles on the bike and picked up another at special needs. Judging the heat and the humidity, I thought that the person that would win would be the last man running. I really pushed the calories for nearly 20 minutes and pedaled at 40 watts under target. Ronnie and David caught back up to me and I re-joined them for most of the ride. Unfortunately, Ronnie was given a drafting penalty earlier on, so David and I finished up the ride. We were able to catch 3 guys from the lead pack around mile 100. I went full into conservation mode at that point, and was happy to legally ease up and sit on the back of the group of 4 while I prepped for the run.

2208It is nice to start to see my physiological effort finally being expressed as speed again on the bike. Prior to this race, my PR on the bike was at IM Arizona in 2013, where I rode a QR Illicito. Despite averaging over 30 watts more than that on each course in 2014, I wasn’t able to put out a faster time. So, I couldn’t be happier to be working with Quintana Roo again and riding the PRsix this year. I spent a great deal of time getting the ride dialed in, working with Brian at Bicycle Speed Shop for a fit, Nick at TriRig for the cockpit, and Jim with EroSport on aero testing. This ride was validating to see me come in at goal pace, but nearly 20 watts UNDER target wattage.

T2

Again, really happy with this transition. I was able to hand my bike to a volunteer, run through the mud to the bag pick up where another volunteer had my bag waiting for me. I quickly threw on my On Running  Cloud Racers and went out the door…WITHOUT MY GARMIN! Thankfully the volunteer noticed this right away and chased after me screaming at me. This was the one mental lapse that I had on the day. I stopped being ‘present’ and was thinking about the upcoming pain I was about to endure.

Run – 2:45:47

2191 (1)I had run this course twice before, and would be lying if I said I didn’t want to make a statement. I really thought I could beat my last year’s time this year. However, I learned a lot from my run on the course in 2013 with similar conditions. So, unlike I did at Chattanooga, I settled right into target pace. It was certainly tempting to try to surge hard and cover a 9 minute gap as soon as possible, but I guessed that would be a recipe for disaster. My first 5 miles were a comfortable 5:55 pace, a little slower than planned. However, I was struggling in the heat so I made a conscious decision to drop to 6:00-6:05 pace and just hold on to that at least for the first few laps. Every aid station, I focused on throwing as much water on me as possible. So much so, that a few times I forgot to drink anything in the aid station. Thankfully, I always carry a flask of First Endurance Liquid Shot along with me so I was able to get calories that way. I did break down and resort to taking some of the ice that I had thrown down my jersey and sucking on it (yes, it was as gross as it sounds). My race plan was to focus just on my pace for the first 18 miles, then go and race whoever I needed to at the end. I honestly have no idea where I passed Ben or Lionel. I certainly saw them as I went by, but I was just focused on running the next mile according to plan. I finally caught up to Joe somewhere the end of the second lap. The only reason I remember that spot is I knew where my family was standing and they went absolutely nuts when I passed them with the lead. After passing Joe, I made another conscious decision…and to be honest I am not sure I am happy with the decision. I went conservative. I held pace for 1 mile after I moved into first, then I let the pace fade a bit. I bonked hard on the run course in 2013 and I had flash backs to that as I moved into the lead. My legs were feeling great, but I was really hot. I was VERY tempted just to dive back into the canal on the final lap just to cool off. Looking at my file post race, you can see exactly where I made the decision to drop the pace to around 6:30. My HR dropped 5 beats per minute right away and stayed under 155 for the remainder of the run. Overall, my average HR for the run was just 157. Last year, at both IMCdA and IMTX it was 165. While part of me regrets being conservative on the third loop, it was probably the right choice. I would have regretted it much more if I would have run myself into a hole and lost a lead.

Finish 2

Photo Credit: Sam Voigt

Overall- 8:07:03

Overall, I am very pleased with the day and thrilled to come away with the win and a new course record. I can’t thank my coaches, family, friends, and wife enough for all of their support on the day as well as getting me to race day. The sponsorship support that I have this year has been phenomenal. It was great to have both Quintana Roo and Vector450 on the race site to help me out throughout the weekend and to have Primal Sport Mud, First Endurance, On, Kiwami, and Trisports working hard to keep people following the race up-to-date with what was going on through social media. What a great, great weekend.

Awards Ceremony

4 Comments

  1. Becky Fredricksen

    May 19, 2015 at 5:56 am

    Congratulations, Matthew! What a tremendous accomplishment in your life!

  2. Ann Hoover Yearsovich

    May 19, 2015 at 8:56 am

    We’re SO proud of you and for you, here at Quintana Roo!

  3. Corey

    May 19, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Great read. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yu Hsiao

    May 20, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Hey Matt, congratulations on the big win! I learned a lot from reading your blog. It was cool to see you made many smart decisions like sacrificing aero bottles for more calories, dropping pace, etc. Thanks for sharing so many details, and best of luck for the rest of the season!

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