Triathlete hammers out first half-Ironman
When Matt Wickham approached me about 10 weeks ago to coach him in his attempt at his first half-Ironman distance (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, 13.1-mile run), I knew we didn't have much time to get him ready.
But having coached Wickham before, I knew that his incredible athletic abilities could get him across the finish line. The question was: How fast?
He had also been struggling with a lingering knee injury, so the balance between overtraining him and giving him ample training would be a challenge.
Wickham came out of the swim, his weakest discipline, in a very strong time of 39:20, averaging 2:02 per 100 meters in the Ironman 70.3 Austin competition last weekend.
The 56-mile bike course was next, which included many rolling hills, a few big climbs and chip-sealed areas and typically comes with windy conditions.
He hammered out an impressive time of 2:40 over the 56-mile course, averaging 20.9 mph.
Next up was the 13.1-mile run course, also with an ample amount of hills that can become humid at the time of day when most triathletes are headed out onto the run course.
"When I hit the first big hill on the run course, I thought maybe I had blown it by going so fast on the bike. My legs felt sluggish. By mile 5, I started on the second loop and began feeling better, blowing by the other runners. My knee was hurting, but once I was over halfway done, I was not about to give up," he said.
Wickham set a blazing pace on the run, running a 1:39 half marathon split, averaging 7:33 per mile.
He came across the finish line in an impressive time of 5:05:39, placing 12th in a very competitive 50-54 age group.
"There is a reason you do an Ironman race. You have to learn to park those mental thoughts in the back of your mind and put your pain on the back burner and just go," he said. "Right after the race, I thought 'Why would I ever do that again?' I left nothing out on the race course, and I stuck to my nutrition plan."
The nutrition part was crucial, as Wickham was diagnosed with Type I diabetes four years ago and went on insulin to control his blood sugar two years ago.
"I did feel a bit hypoglycemic at periods during the race," he admitted.
"I had no specific race goals in mind. I wore no watch and just went with it, knowing I was capable of about 40 minutes on the swim and 20 mph on the bike. I had no idea what I would do on the run," he said.
He says he could not have done the race and trained the way he did without the support of his wife, Gay.
"She was extremely supportive in allowing me to get my training in, especially on the weekends. We have a son and two small girls, so there is some juggling that has to go on," he said. "I also have to credit my coach, who trained me well despite the short time given and my knee issue."
Wickham is so excited about his performance, and we are already looking to his next race at this distance. He would like to go sub-five hours, medal and possibly qualify for the 70.3 World Championships.
Denise Tomanek and Jason Browning also competed in the Longhorn 70.3.
Tomanek covered the course in a time of 5:44:37, placing 26th in her age group. She covered the 1.2-mile swim in 37:02 (1:55/100m), the 56-mile bike in 2:55:17 (19.1 mph) and the 13.1-mile run in 2:03 (9:23/mile pace).
Browning covered the course in a time of 6:24:21, placing 193rd in his age division. He covered the 1.2-mile swim in 42:44 (2:12/100m), the 56-mile bike course in 3:04 (18.18 mph) and the 13.1-mile run in 2:21 (10:45/mile).
A group of triathletes traveled to Sugarland on Oct. 20 to compete in a sprint triathlon. There was a 300-meter swim, a 10-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run. The course was flat and fast with cool temperatures for race day.
Results: Madison Hobbs, 10th 14&U age group, 1:14:36; Gunner Hobbs, 6th 14&U age group, 58:35; William Seiler, 26th 14&U, 1:19:39; Carlos Salas, inconclusive, 15-19 age group; Jazlyn Payne, 4th 20-24 age group, 58:10; Brandee Bratton, 1st 40-44 age group, 58:09; Joe Bratton, 2nd 40-44 age group, 53:21; Kimberly Rollins, 19th 40-44 age group, 1:21:17; Tressa Story, 6th 55-59 age group, 1:17:53.