I was really looking forward to racing Lake Stevens with my confidence high after my first win at Steelhead two weeks ago. Competition was very tough with the likes of Joe Gambles, Matt Lieto (Matt has a fantastic story in his journey to becoming a pro athlete) , Luke Bell, Paul Ambrose, Luke McKenzie, and Guy Crawford but I was still looking for a podium spot.
Race morning again came very quickly and before I knew it we were all lined up waiting for the gun. During the warm up I noticed a rope on the lake bottom that was in line with the race buoys. I made sure I lined up right on the line while lots of my competition were further out to the right. Gun went off and I was able to cruise the first 500m in my Velocity ++ swim skin while the pack to right started angling itself my way. Brian Fleischmann went off the front but I was comforted by the fact I had Luke McKenzie and Guy Crawford around me. Swim was standard and a bigger pack formed that I was thinking would.
The bike was going to be strong as Lieto, Bell, and Ambrose all like to ride pretty hard to brake up the field. I felt pretty awful the first 10 miles and kept yo-yoing off the back of the group and worried I was going to be dropped. Eventually my legs came around and I was feeling okay. The second loop of the bike course became very interesting as we would now joining the age group field and be exposed to more cars on the course. Bell was smart and broke the field and would ride solo into T2. He got a minute cushion over the rest of us in the chase pack. While he rode solo up front we all battled for prime position. If you were not constantly holding your position up front, your race would potential be over with. With cars exiting out of drive ways and more cars on the course it was easy to became trapped behind vehicles while the pack in front could accelerate away from you. At mile 45 I became trapped out of nowhere as a car quickly exited his driveway. It was obvious this guy was not happy to this race taking place on his backyard and we was constantly accelerating and decelerating to annoy the riders. I managed to put in a huge effort to brake free of the vehicle and hunt down the group up front containing Gambles, Ambrose, McKenzie, and Crawford. I was able to latch on and ride back into T2 with the group.
Bottle One: 24oz water, first endurance liquid shot (400cal), two scoop EFS lemon-lime (200cal)
Bottle Two: 24oz water, 2scoops EFS (200cal), 8 pinches base salt
I was feeling a little flat the last 10 minutes of the ride and was unable to get to the front of the bike group before heading into T2. My transition was horrible with the group 10 seconds up the road before I managed to get sorted and running. I had to start very conservative which was very tough for my ego as I knew having Gambles off the front would be very dangerous. At mile 3-4 I came right and moved up on to Ambrose's should battling for third position. I was feeling awesome at this point! I was floating in my K-Swiss K-Ruzz thinking to myself this is another podium spot for sure as we were moving up fast onto Bell and Gambles was not getting any farther from us.
Turns out I was a little cocky and at mile 6 or so I got the stitch everyone fears. The stitch that reduces you to a shuffle because it hurts so bad. Paul was running awesome and gaped me straight away. Bell ran straight past me and it was off the podium for me. It wasn't until about mile 8-9 I came right and made up the 40 seconds Bell made on me. Soon as I passed Bell I had three miles of pain left for a moment of glory on the podium.
"James, you can do this!" I was telling myself.
I surged and opened up a gap but the cramps/stitch came back. I surged one more time hoping Bell would think I was on fire and would let me go. He didn't and was right on my shoulder. I lasted another .5 mile before I had to slow it down. You're a hard man Luke! All the best in Kona this year. With two miles to go, I had to accept 4th and a close fourth it was as Mckenzie was breathing down my neck.
Not the result I was hoping for but I did go as hard as I could but just couldn't get it done. Can't be bummed with forth because last year I was horrible. Nice to be a spot of fitness were I can be disappointed with fourth though, right!!
1. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:57:47
2. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 3:59:07
3. Luke Bell (AUS) 3:59:53
4. James Cotter (NZL) 4:00:55
5. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 4:01:32
Thank you Matt Dixon for turning me around and allowing me to "turn it on" consistently. K-Swiss for making the best apparel and running shoes. You all need to check out the Blade-Light Running shoes. They are amazing! First Endurance for amazing nutrition. Phase One Design for your support. Ron Vaughn for the best massage in town. Jarod Carter for fixing some last minute injuries. Also want to thank Kyle Watson for hosting me while in town for the week. Kyle owns a great store in Redmond that you need to check out if you are in the area called Mr. Crampys Multisports.
Next up in Branson 70.3!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
WOW!! I managed to get my first big win at the Steelhead 70.3 triathlon in Michigan. It was an absolutely amazing feeling crossing the finish line in first place. I couldn't help but to recall all the struggles and sacrifices made in the events leading up to Steelhead. I have had a very rough past couple of seasons and I had told myself I would be done with triathlon if 2010 didn't go well! I think I might hang around a little longer and hopefully my performances will keep on progressing the way they have the past three months
After Vineman 70.3 my plan was to get in a solid block of hard training as I pretty much have been racing every other weekend since Rev 3 back in June. I was set on the decision and got back into training until my friend, Tim Marr gave me a call and told me about Steelhead. Once Tim finished telling me about Steelhead my wife, Lindsay, even mentioned the race. I e-mailed Ironman on the weekend and just hoped to receive an e-mail back telling me I was in. The days went by and I was starting to train hard but not too hard because I wanted to be fresh for Steelhead if I was accepted. Wednesday rolled around and nothing back yet so I went for a 3.5 hour tough ride. It only became tougher because 30 minutes in a storm rolled in and it poured down with rain for 2 hours! When I eventually arrived home I was not in the greatest of moods. When I sat down and grabbed my computer there was a note from the wife telling me I should start packing my bike because Ironman emailed back. I really didn't want to go. I delayed packing until 10:00pm even though I knew I would have to get up at 0350 the next morning. Finally I convinced myself to go. I had good form and looking back I was racing well with one week between each race.
Arrived in Chicago and drove 3 hours behind traffic to my hotel (microtel) in South Bend, Indiania. Assembled everything and stayed in the rest of the evening. Friday was pro meeting and would allow everybody to see who had shown up. Looking around it looked as if Saturday was going to be hard. I knew Graham O'Grady (GOG) would tear up the swim up. Michael Lovato, Matty White, Josh Rix, and other company would be hunting the swim leaders down and then it would fought out on the run. It was going to be a exciting day in my mind!
Alarm went off at 3:50am as I was staying 40 miles from the race site. I prepared my nutrition as normal. I have found what works for me and will continue using the same formula. First Endurance make top notch nutrition and until something needs to be changed, or I cramp, or run out of energy starting the run here is my nutrition.
Breakfast: bowl of wheaties fuel, 2 rice cakes with sunflower seed butter, 24oz of EFS lemon lime
Bike bottle 1: 24oz water mixed with Liquid shot (400cal), 1 scoop EFS Lemon lime (90cal), 5 pinch salt.
Bike bottle 2: 24ox water with 2 scoops EFS Lemon lime (180cal), scoop of pre-race, 5 pinches of salt.
Once I finished everything in the hotel, I jumped into the car and started the drive out to race site. 20 minutes on the road and it started raining. When I arrived at race site it only got worse. Thank goodness I had the ride on Wednesday in the rain of I would have been very upset. After setting up it was a 1.2 mile walk/jog/run down the beach to the race start. I made sure I was lined up around GOG because if you missed his feet...you were going to be a ways back. I managed to jump on and we opened a big gap on the main field but had two other guys 25 meters back. GOG smashed it and I lost contact with 100 meters to go. I was not too concerned because of the long jog to the bikes. Will Smith (another Kiwi) jumped aboard and it was three Kiwi's up front leading the race. The three of us worked well together and were switching pulls every five minutes. Around mile 20-23 the Aussies presence rolled in with Matty White and Josh Rix. With three kiwi's and two Aussies up front I was hoping the end result would be similar to the rugby match played earlier in morning with New Zealand taking the win! We all worked very well and clean up front pushing the pace. GOG unfortunately flatted around mile 40-45 and put him out of contention. Will Smith received a drafting penalty and Matty White received a yellow card (he took a piss on the bike.......didn't know you were not allowed to) with three miles to go. He immediately launched an attack and I jumped on to his attack. Didn't want him to get an inch because he has been racing very well.
I made it out on T2 first but Matty White blew by me 200 meters into the run. I was a little scared with his acceleration and just prayed he was just trying to break me straight away. Eventually at mile one I pulled up to his shoulder and we ran that way until mile three. It was then my turn to try and break him! I put in a surge and managed to get about 10 seconds. Next thing I know Rix made a surge and was getting close. I dug deep and went pretty hard and opened up a gap of about 400-600 meters with 4 miles to go. I held on and crossed the line for my first win! Rix and White rounded up the podium.
Thank you Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Fitness. Sometimes I think Matt can predict my performances better than I can!! K-Swiss for the best shoes on the market. First Endurance for amazing nutrition. TRX for getting me into some strength work which has proven to be beneficial. Xterra wetsuits for the fastest suits on the market.
Phase One Design, Invert Align, Ron Vaughn, and Jarod Carter for all you help.
Oh, and a HUGE thanks to my wife who supports me 100% and gets me going out the door when I'm lacking motivation. All this hard work is paying off babe!
Whirlpool Steelhead Ironman 70.3
Benton Harbor, Michigan
July 31, 2010
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. James Cotter (Christchurch, New Zealand) 3:53:13
2. Josh Rix (Boulder CO) 3:54:40
3. Matthew White (Boulder CO) 3:55:22
4. Tony White (Lexington KY) 3:58:16
5. Michael Lovato (Boulder CO) 3:58:56