Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
5x Ironman Champion/ 4x 70.3 Champion

Ironman 70.3 Traverse City Race Report

I took a much needed break after Coeur d’Alene 70.3 then got right back into Kona prep. The early parts of this was heat specific training which really took a lot out of me. Two weeks ago, there was no way I thought I would be ready to race at Traverse City. But, I trusted the plan that Coaches Julie and Matt put together for me and about 5 days before the race everything started to quickly snap into place. I arrived in town on Friday excited to get back on to racing. 

Race Morning
I woke up at at 4:00 as per usual and drank my typical breakfast of 2 servings of First Endurance Ultragen. I went back to bed for 30 minutes or so, then headed to transition to get everything ready to roll. I got there early and was able to take my time getting my gear prepped and ready to roll. Despite feeling pretty good the last few days, it was still taking me quite a while to get rolling in workouts, so I wanted to take extra time warming up. I ran 5k about 45 minutes before the start, then went back to transition to get my wetsuit on and head to the swim start to finish warming up in the water. I swam 10 minutes then made my way to the start. 

Swim – 25:19
Despite all the time I spent warming up, I still got off to a terrible start. I got stuck pretty much in the back immediately, and spent the next 500 yards trying to get around into clean water so I could start making up time. After the first turn, I finally get into a groove and spent the next 1000 swimming alone but gaining on the group in front of me. I finally caught the back of the group with about 200 yards to go. 

T1 – 1:57
It was a bit of a long run to our bikes, so I was able to get my wetsuit down around my hips so I could quickly slip out of the suit at my bike. I threw my on my helmet and was out on the road. 

Bike – 2:09:45
I had no idea how much time I had to make up out of the water, but knew I had plenty of work to do. There was a decent climb about a mile into the ride, and the plan was to hit that hard. I got to the top and still couldn’t see the group in front, so made the decision to keep riding hard through the climb and just get to the group as soon as possible. I caught the group around 45 minutes into the ride and went to the front to make sure that everyone was together. My plan was to just chill out a bit and try to recover, but Joe decided to push off the front pretty much right away. So I spent the last hour of the ride about 20 seconds behind Joe just trying to stay in contact, never really making up or losing any ground after his initial surge. I came into transition 3 seconds off the fastest bike split of the day and 23 seconds off the lead. 

T2 – :57 
I pushed through transition as quickly as I could. I grabbed threw On my shoes and grabbed everything else and ran. I ended up dropping my visor and sunglasses, but didn’t turn back to get them. I could see Joe right in front of me and wanted to get to work.

Run – 1:12:36 
It took me about 400m to find my stride. Kilshaw was right on my heels but we were making up time quickly on Joe. By the mile mark, the three of us were running together. We stuck together for 2 more miles or so, then Joe fell back a bit. I put in a little surge at mile 4 and was able to get a small gap and the lead to myself. I got to the 1/2 way turn around, I had 40 seconds on Kilshaw and 50 seconds on Taylor. I went back out for the second lap thinking it was my race to lose at that point and wanted to make sure I just didn’t screw anything up. I let the pace drift a bit slower and focused on getting down the fluids and calories as planned. My pace went from 5:30s to 5:40s, but I was ok with that at the time. I was comfortable and my stride was holding strong. I didn’t know I was losing that kind of time to Taylor until I heard someone behind me cheering for him. I saw that he was only about 15 seconds back around mile 10, so picked it back up to a 5:20ish pace and held him even for the last 5k. I was pretty confident the entire time, but would be lying if I wasn’t sneaking a peak behind me at every turn making sure that I was holding steady. Taylor and I have gone back and forth a number of times throughout my career. He had a heck of a race, but fortunately for me I was able to hang on for the win. 

Overall – 3:50:33
This was a big confidence builder for me. I had been struggling early in the season to find the right balance between how hard to bike and still be able to put together a solid run. I nailed it at Ironman Boulder for the first time in 2019, and finally put it together in a 70.3 as well. To be clear, I don’t have to win a race to feel like I “got it right.” I have had a few decent results this year, but just didn’t put together a complete race. So having a solid run after a hard bike was definitely a what I was looking for out of this race…regardless of the result…but I’m more than happy with the result :). I’m also pumped to get one of the first slots for the 2020 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand!! Congrats again to Taylor on a fantastic race, as well as Stephen Kilshaw on rounding off the podium with a breakout race. 

Overall, Traverse City was a great course. The water was calm and clear. The bike course was challenging with great road surfaces (minus the last mile). The run was flat and fast. This is definitely a race I’ll look forward to returning to in the future. The morning after the race, I rode up the peninsula to the lighthouse and back…what a beautiful ride!

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