USAT Long Course Nationals Race Report: Bruce Thompson, 16' PR, 3rd AG, ITU Worlds!

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Bruce Thompson at Ironman® Wisconsin

Bruce Thompson at Ironman® Wisconsin

Short Version

I finished in 4:59:45, my first sub-5 hour HIM, 3rd in 60-64 AG, 178/713 OA, 167/491 Male.  This was a 16 minute PR.  I qualified for the USA team for the ITU Long Course Worlds in Sweden in June 2015.  I’m going!!  I had a solid swim (about equal to my previous best in a HIM), and set PRs for the both the bike and run splits. My transitions were slower than I would have liked, got beat in transition by both the 1st and 2nd place finishers in my AG.  So that is my opportunity for improvement. Overall, very pleased with my results.

Long Version

Goal:  1) go sub-5, 2) run under 1:45, and qualify for LC Worlds.  I felt fairly confident I could achieve #3, but not so sure about the other two.  Sub-5 would be stretch.

Training:  Training leading up to the GR HIM was very good in all 3 disciplines. In swimming, I had been able to hit 100m intervals in 1:38-1:40 range for 12 repeats. On the bike, a week before this race, I rode 82 miles at 21.2 avg mph (then got off the bike and ran 6 miles) so I felt that I could ride that pace in the HIM. My run training has been the best it has been in 2 years, mainly because I’ve been injury-free, followed the EN Long Term IM Marathon Improvement plan, and did some hard training runs with ENer Claudia Langarica as she prepped for Boston in April.

Pre-Race: Drove to Grand Rapids on Sat am, and drove the bike course to get a feel for it.  Then went to packet pickup, where I lingered to meet Matt and Rick Aaronson. We had nice EN dinner with David Salzman, Paul Hough and the Aaronsons.

On race day, breakfast was my usual: 1 banana, 2 bagels and a cup of coffee 2.5 hours before race start.  I got to the race site early and got a great parking spot & dosed for 30 minutes before heading to transition. It began to rain about 90 minutes before the start of the race, so transition was wet.  An hour before the race I had a power bar, and 10 minutes before my swim wave I had a 16 bottle of Infinit.

Swim: I started in wave 4 so I got a good look at the start line, where people were lining up and the buoys.  I started in the 1st row of my wave in the middle, and went hard for about 200 meters.  There was minor bumping but nothing like an IM start.  I settled in, drafted where the opportunity presented itself.  It was a pretty routine swim, and I just stayed in my box and focused on technique. Time 37:34, 3rd in my AG.

T1:  Since it was a steady rain before & during the race start, I put my bike and run gear in plastic bags to keep them dry.  This cost me some time to get them out, but I had dry stuff to put on.  Since I had about 200 m run to the mount line, I carried my bikes shoes.  A guy came out of one of the racks, hit me with his bike and I drop a shoe.  Had to stop to pick it up and get untangled.  I put shoes on at the mount line.  Time 2:51, about a minute longer than my goal.

Bike: I had problems with my Garmin 500 from the get go.  I had to re-start it several times, and it wouldn’t calibrate the Quarq.  It gave me really strange readings, and I even stopped for about a minute to see if I could get it to operate correctly (I think sitting in the rain for nearly 2 hours screwed it up). I never could get the power meter to register so I said screw it, and race using HR, cadence and RPE.  Since I raced my first year in EN with HR, I knew what to do and what my HR range equates to watt range.  I targeted 135-140 bpm, and 95 RPMs.  This HR is what I’m in when riding 205-210 watts, Z2.  I rode at a slightly higher cadence since this would prevent me from pushing too big a gear and trashing my legs without knowing it.

Once I got my HR plan activated, the rest of the ride was uneventful.  It stopped raining about 30 minutes into the ride, and I began to pass lots of people from earlier waves.  There was a little but not much drafting (I heard after the race that some people saw huge draft packs, but I didn’t).  This was my first race with a new X-lab torpedo bottle between the bars (I had ridden 4-5 times with it before the race), and it worked great.  I was able to stay aero, and drink anytime I wanted.  I re-filled it once at mile 40 with H2O.  I also had a 24 oz bottle of 3x concentrated Infinit (720 Calories) as my nutrition.

I may have drunk too much liquid as I peed 2x on the bike, at mile 42 and again at mile 52.  This cost me some time as I have to stand up and stop pedaling to pee, I just can’t get it going while seated. Anyway, I finished off my Infinit in the last mile, and felt ready to run.  Time 2:33:27, a 4 minute bike split PR, and averaged 21.9 mph and 94 RPMs.

T2: My shoes and socks were dry since they were in plastic bags, but I did have to dig them out.  Once my shoes and socks were on, I grabbed my go bag (headband, visor, race belt w/ bib, fuel belt with two 10 oz bottle of Infinit) and started jogging out.  Along the way as I was putting stuff on, a bottle fell out of my fuel belt and I had to stop, go back and pick it up.  Time 2:33, again about :30 to slow.

Run:  I was really pleased with my run.  I wanted to break 1:45 and I ran 1:43:19, averaged 7:53 pace.  By the start of the run, the sun had come out and the temp was climbing towards 80.  My goal was to run 8:00 avg pace and keep HR below 150 bpm.

I started at about 8:10 pace for the first 3 miles, and then had to pee AGAIN.  Stopped after mile 3 and it cost me about :45 seconds per my watch.  Between miles 4 and 11 I ran steady between 7:40 and 7:54 pace.  I sipped my Infinit as I approached each aid station, and then grabbed a cup of ice at each station.  I never stopped to walk thru any aid stations.  I saw my ENers on the course and everyone looked good, and strong. I continued to pass people from earlier waves and from the OLY race too.

I picked up the pace in miles 12 and 13, running @ 7:23 & 7:25 pace, respectively.  With about ½ mile to go, I finally began to hurt a lot and almost stopped to walk.  But I didn’t and just tried to relax and keep good form.  When I saw the finish line clock, I realized I had a chance to go Sub-5 with one last 200 m push.   So I just pushed all the way to the line, resulting in breaking 5 hours by a hair.  Of the top 3 guys in my AG, I had the fastest run.

I saw many ENers at the finish…Matt A, Kori M, Rick A, David S, Paul H, Trish Marshall.  It was great to see some many fine performances by ENers.


1. Practice transition.  I lost 2nd place d/t slow transitions.

2. When allowed by race rules, put my shoes on the bike using rubber bands. I’ve never done this before but must learn how.

3. When it is not so hot, drink less.  I drank like it was 90* on the bike.

4. Figure out a new “go bag” set up.  Probably not going to put the bottles in the fuel belt holster until everything else is on.  Also, except for an IM, I’m going to try to skip the fuel belt with Infinit and try the on course liquid nutrition.


Coach P

All stories by: Coach P

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