Justin Lippert's Ironman UK Race Report

764448a1-9985-472f-ae1a-f71c4e40c98c.jpg

“Forever entrenched in the unrelenting pursuit of greatness” – Justin Lippert

Finish Time - 9:53:00

4th Place Overall

1st Place 18-24

Results

Jump to section: Preface / Pre-race / Swim / T1 / Bike / T2 / Run

Preface

Greetings and welcome to the Ironman UK race report. Going into this race I had assumed I would write up a race report for it. 48 hours after the race and I have been floundering back and forth with myself whether or not I want to write this and publish it. Half the time I do, half the time I don’t. As most people know and especially if you actively follow me on social media (mainly Instagram, @justin_lippert) I am an open book when it comes to giving an inside look into my triathlon endeavors and I share not only my triathlon journey but my thoughts and opinions about my progress and my training and also triathlon in general. Sometimes I even share too many thoughts and opinions. The thing is, I don’t want everybody following my journey to do just that – follow my journey. I want everybody to experience my journey along with me. So with that said, if you’ve been following along the past few months, hopefully you have been feeling along with me the excitement and anticipation I had for this race building and building. Hopefully you could feel along with me my confidence build upon itself over the 3 months of training for this race. Hopefully when race week finally arrived you could feel the immense amount of excitement, the hype, the air of confidence,  the watt nectar flowing through my veins, the nervousness of having my derailleur hanger break in transit, the fire that burned inside of me, and the amount of send I was about to unleash on Bolton. I know at least some of you did, because I had gotten messages from multiple people about how they didn’t care that the race started at 1:00 a.m. for them, they were going to stay awake through the night because they were that excited to track me live during the race. Alright, weird flex, I know. But really, in this sport and especially in Ironman it isn’t always pretty and it is things like knowing that people are tracking you in the middle of the night that can help to keep you going when the going gets tough. I’ll expand on this later.

 

So anyways, for all those reasons I want to allow those who have been experiencing this journey with me to continue to experience it. I want you to be able to feel the 9 hours and 53 minutes I spent in Bolton trying to get from point A to point B as fast as I could.

 

But, I do not want to give the wrong impression, and I do not want you to feel the wrong thing. The difficulty in writing this is that I am struggling to even understand how I feel. I do not want you to think I am completely disappointed, but I do not want you to think I am completely happy or satisfied. To be honest, during the last 10k of the race I did not want to be doing it anymore. Anything. I had completely failed. I was in the worst mental state ever in my life for those final 45 minutes. I had achieved nothing. I didn’t come close to doing what I set out to do. I trained extensively and specifically for this race. I came all the way to Bolton just to let myself down. I wanted to just go home. I did not want to be there. I crossed the finish line and if I could have just disappeared I would have. I did not want to go to Kona because there was no point. The announcer at the finish line asked me on the microphone how I felt. I thought to myself “I just want to go home” and I said into the microphone “Better than my first born child.” (no I do not actually have a kid, but after 10 hours of #send that is apparently what my mind thought that everybody listening would understand to mean “oh wow, he is super happy and excited!”)

BUT, like I said, I do not want to give the wrong impression by writing this. I do want to go to Kona. I am happy. I am proud of what I did. I met my expectations. I exceeded my expectations. But I also did not. I wanted to go to Bolton and do something crazy. Something out of this world. I wanted to make a statement. I wanted to turn some heads. I did not do that. I realized during the bike leg that would not happen because I was losing by well over 20 minutes. So when I (finally) finished the bike course I thought I could at least salvage SOMETHING crazy if I could run faster than a 2:50 marathon. That would have been wild, especially on that course. Zwift (who’s main goal at this point is to just ensure all of the athletes qualify for Kona) would have liked to see me play it safe on the run, with a 30 minute lead in my age group all I would have had to do was essentially jog a marathon and I would be guaranteed that Kona slot. What do you think I did? Do you even know me? I said fuck it and started running at suicide pace because I wanted to at least have something to be proud of at the end of the day.

I am sure you all want to get to the actual race report at this point so what it boils down to is this: I went all the way to Bolton to race in Ironman. I can think of very very few ways my training could have been better in the 3 months leading to the race. I could not have had more professional support, advice, and guidance than I did. From not only Sarah True and Tim Don, but from the rest of the Zwift athletes who have crushed Ironmans in the past. From Science in Sport to getting me confident and ready for my race nutrition. From my coach Jimbo on a stellar race plan. I was on a course that should suit my abilities well. I actually tapered for this race. Not a 2-3 day drop taper like we usually do. This was a 3-week “holy crap I’ve never felt this good in my life” kind of taper.

All of that amounted to a 54 minute swim which was honestly faster than what I thought would be best case scenario for me. I hit my bike power number right exactly on the nose for an extremely long time, almost 6 hours, and I had the fastest run split on the day.

And what did that get me? I got 4th place. I lost by 25 minutes. I was out rode on the bike by 38 minutes. It is very very tough to see that things went really really well, almost perfect, and I finished 25 minutes behind the leader in 4th place.

BUT like I said, I do not want you to read this and think that disappointment is the only thing I feel and that I am displeased and going to quit triathlons forever.

Immediately after the race I saw Craig and Richard (from Zwift HQ) who came to watch me race jumping up and down because they were so excited. I turned on my phone to see hundreds and hundreds of messages whether they were text messages from those close to me, Instagram DMs, groupme, whatsapp you name it. There were people I respect telling me how I wow’ed it out there in my debut. My own coach who is the one person who is always honest with me and usually after a race I go to him and say “yes James I know I may have won or done really well, or whatever, but I am not pleased with how I did this, or that, or where my fitness is at” and he says “ I agree, we have a lot to work on in that area.” Or I say with enthusiasm “Bro how was that swim! Awesome right?!?” And he says “….yeah we need to work on that” (this exchange actually happened once). Anyway even he was telling me how I did really really well and he was super pumped about the performance.

So as time has gone on since the race I am realizing maybe for the first time that the expectations I had of myself were unrealistic. I had overestimated the result I could produce at my level of fitness. I had underestimated the brutality of Ironman racing. After all, I did win my age group by over an hour. I did have the fastest marathon on the day, even considering it was my first marathon ever, and after 112 miles of biking to say the least. I am extremely proud of my effort on the day and the projection for the future as to what I can achieve in this sport. I am going home having answered the question marks of whether or not I could race a full Ironman at the same level of eliteness I have raced sprint, Olympic, and 70.3.

SOOOO anyway. I wrote this preface so you could understand where I am at and feel it with me. I am both happy with my performance but it also stings a bit. Ok maybe more than a bit. Again, hopefully by reading the preface you can understand that I am not completely satisfied with where my fitness level is at right now, but I am also so fricken stoked to be able to go out to arguably the toughest Ironman course on the circuit and gut out almost 10 hours of racing and actually be able to hit the powers and (almost) the paces that we hoped I would be able to hit. I didn’t want to fake pretend “OMG everything is great my first Ironman was perfect I am so happy” but I also don’t want you to think I am not exuberant with what I did. It is just both at the same time and it is weird.

Now that that is out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. What you came here for - THE 2019 IRONMAN UK RACE REPORT BABY

I will organize it by sections that will include: Pre-Race, Swim, T1, Bike, T2, Run, Post-race. I will forgo the “post race thoughts” because I already wrote all of that in the preface. From here on out it is just going to be objectively what I did, how I felt, what I was thinking during the race.

Pre-race

The rolling swim start was set to begin at 6 a.m. This called for a 3 a.m. wake up call. I had actually managed to get a solid 3 hours of sleep. This is always tough the night before a big race because of all the excitement. I headed down the stairs of my Airbnb to go out the door for a little run. I like to run in the mornings of races, less so as a warm up and more so as a wake up. I get to the front door and it is locked. I go to unlock it. There is no way to unlock it. The way this door worked is that you needed the key to unlock it, even from the inside. I went to grab my key. Oh, that’s right, I left the house key in the car. Great. I am locked inside my Airbnb at 3 a.m. So I go out the back door into the garden with the plan of just going through the fence to get to my car where the key is so I could do my run and then get back inside. Well it turned out the fence was locked, and the lock on the fence was broken in such a way that I could not unlock it. So here I am, at 3 in the morning, in a country other than my own, in the house of some random person, I am climbing the fence not because I am locked out, but because I am locked in. Funny way to start the day and all I could do was laugh about it honestly.

A run, some coffee, some oatmeal, a fresh avocado, and I was out the door. This race was a point to point so I drove into the town center (finish area) and took a shuttle to the swim start. I got to the town center at 4 a.m. and saw some youngsters still out and about from the night before enjoying their 4 a.m. pizza. Yep we are crazy.

I arrive to swim start. Put my nutrition on my bicycle as we had racked it the day before. Committed to memory where my bike was in the transition area (TA) and went off to the swim start. I had some time so I just sat there and chilled. Normally I like to do a bike warm up. For sprint races I’ll usually do 45 minutes or more on the bike with some efforts. But you don’t really warm up for Ironman so I just sat there. With 30 minutes to go I took a 200mg caffeine pill and two ibuprofen. Body glide on. Wetsuit on. And then off to the swim corral. It was a self-seeded rolling start so I went towards the front because honestly that is where I belonged. I saw Craig and Richard, who are two people that work at Zwift who came to watch the race, provide some support and race updates to me, and to of course get the #content. I was very very calm on the start line. I was confident and knew exactly what I was going to do for the next 9+ hours. Honestly was not nervous at all. Just calm and ready. Well, almost ready. So I peed in my wetsuit. Ok, now I’m ready.

Swim - 54:26, 10th Place

UKSwim.PNG

The horn sounded precisely at 6 a.m. and into the water I went. Here was the race plan: swim easy. It is a long day. The difference between you best swim and your worst swim is only a few minutes. FIND SOMEBODY TO DRAFT OFF OF, do not kick, keep it easy. I quickly found a nice swimmer to draft. I was going harder than anticipated to keep up in his draft but I said “F it. Full Send”. I held on for most of the first lap until he finally swam me off of his feet. Oh well. I made it to the waters exit of my first of two loops. Glanced at the watch. 26:xx. Holy shit. That is faster than I’ve ever swam for a 70.3 and way faster than I was planning. LFG!!! So hype. I fricken sent it in the short run to get back in for the second loop, ran right past a swimmer in the blue cap, ran right past all of the volunteers telling me to slow down because it’s slippery, ran right past the sign that said “NO DIVING” and fricken #Sent that shit as hard as I could into my second loop. Rate my send @Natefdot #Fdotsendscore.

LRG_DSC08879.jpg

A couple minutes later, the blue cap swimmer I ran past came up on me and swam by. I immediately yeeted right over onto his feet. We started to hit some traffic on the second loop. I was just doing everything I could to keep on his feet through it all. Luckily since everybody else was in a white cap, his blue cap was easy to spot. I was still swimming a little harder than I had planned in this guys draft but who cares Full Send. I ended up losing his feet with a few hundred yards to go. Hey, I ain’t mad. I was able to draft some good feet for most of the race. I exit the water. 54 minutes and change, 11th fastest swim. Hell yeah baby! There was a point in time when I wasn’t even sure I would be able to get under an hour!

T1 - 2:52, 7th Place

Ahhh, Ironman transition. I love having fast transitions. I yeeted it through transition. I entered transition in 10th and left transition in 7th. Ran right past the dude in the blue cap and into the big white tent. In Ironman, you put everything you need for the bike leg in a blue bag, and hang it up in the big white tent. For me, this included my helmet and some gels. I grabbed by bag, threw it down, yeeted off the wetsuit, put on my helmet, and stuffed the gels in my back pocket. Then you have to put all of your swim stuff (wetsuit, cap, goggles) back in the bag and in this case we handed the bag to a volunteer as they would then transport the bags to T2 so you could get it after the race (remember this is a point to point race). So I run by, hand off my bag, and sprint through TA to my bike. I #sendit right past my rack spot, turn around, yank my bike off the rack, and I am off. Perfect flying mount. Time to send baby. Fastest T1 on the day.

c8af0369-1bd0-4d2b-92e7-85a5656f44d5.jpg

Bike - 5:49:48, 8th Place

UKBike.PNG

Ok so the day is off to a good start. Much faster swim than expected while still feeling good, and nailed T1. The bike course consisted of about a 12 mile ride from transition 1 into the Bolton Town Center where you ride past transition 2, and a large loop of about 50 miles that you do twice. The plan for the bike was as follows: Easy for the first 10 minutes. Treat it like a warm up. Gonna be out there for well over 5 hours so no need to hammer the first 10 minutes. 200 watts or so. Then settle into pace and try to stay in aero position as much as possible unless going up a very steep hill. Around 240 watts but as always you just gotta use the number as a guide and be in touch with how you feel and the effort you are giving, and know yourself to know how long you can hold that effort. The bike should feel easy. Real easy. Like, “You can hold this pace for 6 hours and then run a marathon” kind of easy. Also, try to keep the bike as consistent as possible. No power spikes. No surges. Easy accelerations. All of that zaps your legs and really effects the run. It is tough to keep super consistent on a course as hilly as this one, since you will need to go so hard just to get up the steep hills. So after 10 minutes I settle into 240 watts and it feels as it should. Great. Now start fueling. After swimming for almost an hour without being able to take in nutrition, it is important to start getting in good fueling early on in the bike before you really let yourself get into a state of depletion. I did not have a super strict fueling plan for myself. Instead, I educated myself (with the help of Ben from SiS thanks dawg) and practiced many times in training. I had with me 8 gels, two tiny bars, 750ml of electrolyte drink that had calories, and 3 packets of SiS beta fuel mixed into 1500ml of water. So I knew I needed about 60-90 grams of carbs per hour, which amounted to at minimum 3 gels, OR a packet of Beta fuel (so 500ml of the drink). So for example in hour 1, I made sure to eat 3 gels and drink a good bit of electrolyte drink. That gets me about 66 grams of carb from the gels, and extra from the drink. So that is pretty much how I did my nutrition the whole bike ride. I just knew the minimum I needed I tried to have more than that.

d0b75d0e-59cd-46cb-af39-309b9ccddde1.jpg
ce202d8b-768d-4437-8bb8-4bcbf85cff2d.jpg

Alright back to biking. After about 20 minutes of being on the bike, there was some guy, and I kid you not, ripped by me so fast I could not even believe it. Like this dude was going at a pace that I don’t think I could have held for a sprint distance race. This makes me feel like maybe I’m not going fast enough. And I am a competitive guy. So I want to chase. I want to chase really bad. But I had to think back to the race plan from my coach and the advice I was given by those who have had much success in these races. “You HAVE to keep it steady.” “This is VERY important.” “People are going to go by you on the bike. Let it happen. It’s a runners race. You will catch them on the run.” “You will catch them on the run,” I kept saying to myself. “Let them go, you will catch them on the run.” “Clay says you will catch them on the run.” “Racing is pacing” “Racing is pacing” “Need to be pacing, not racing” “The whole race just sets you up for the second half of the run”

Essentially I had to convince myself that I was doing the right thing by letting a few dudes rip past me. And I also passed a few dudes myself, don’t want to make it sound like I was all of a sudden in last place. After about 30 miles everybody who would ever passed me had done so, and I had already passed everybody I would end up passing. The next 82 were spent in no mans land. Just me, some delicious chef prepared SiS products, the country side, and a steady dosage of 240 watts.

The bike course was quite fun and beautiful actually. You would alternate between biking through the barren country side, and going through a town. When going through the country side, there were big hills that went up and up and up and never came down, cows, sheep, mountainside, and a whole lot of nothing. Then you would roll through a town that was packed with spectators cheering their heads off. It was awesome! Then back into the country side. And so forth.

So I am biking and biking and just doing my thing. But Ironman is a mental game. I’ve been told that and I learned it very quick. It is tough to focus on biking you pace for 6 hours. There are a lot of emotional highs and lows and you have to control them. This is the kind of stuff that you can’t really practice in training. When you are having a high you have to tame it. Can’t let it get the best of you. You can’t decide, just 2 hours into the bike leg, that you feel really good so you are going to increase your planned wattage. The same goes for the lows. You have to find a way to stay motivated and get through it. I found myself doing a lot of positive self talk. “You’ll pass them on the run” “You’re hitting your paces” “Still can’t believe you swam 54 minutes”. The other thing I found was that there is not a lot to look forward to. In a short distance race I usually look forward to two things: Finishing the swim, and finishing the bike. (It works out this way because I am better at biking than swimming, and better at running than biking.) But in Ironman, it is tough to have nothing to look forward to for 6 hours. So I had to find things to look forward to. In the swim I was looking forward to the end of the first loop so I could #sendit for a short little sprint ;). Then on the bike I really had to search for things. I knew Craig and Richard were out there waiting for me some where. I didn’t know anybody since I was in a different country, so I was really really really looking forward to seeing them and getting an update on where I was in relation to my age group and the overall standings. So I would like to give a very sarcastic “thank you” to Richard and Craig for heading out to literally almost the 60 mile mark to wait for me. Could have used you a bit earlier. Maybe. Just kidding. I appreciate you guys being there. Haha.

2a99d286-78aa-4098-80a8-3b9823059bce.jpg
c07a81b6-9908-4cf2-ad7a-6f6b397e6830.jpg

I had ridden a short portion of the course previously, so I was looking forward to getting to that familiar section. I also got to look forward to finishing the first loop. That gives me a sense of moving forward and making progress. Then once on the second loop, since I now had already rode it once, I got to look forward to my favorite sections. The descents, the technical part through the town center, the great support of that one town.

It’s all of these little things I was looking forward to that kept me going. If you’ve never done an Ironman you may say it sounds stupid and honestly I probably would have said the same thing a week ago.

But the biggest thing I would look forward to were the timing mats. And it wasn’t for myself. Because I would go over a timing checkpoint but I wouldn’t gain anything from that. You just cross it. You don’t get any information.

But I looked forward to these so much because I knew how many people back home were invested into this race and where tracking me on the live tracker. They were left completely empty for hours at a time while I was in between checkpoints. I was so excited to cross those timing mats. I felt like it was me communicating with everybody back home. “I’m here guys! I’m still going. May have lost some time on that climb but picked up some time on that technical bit.”

I would check my watch to see what the actual time of day was. In England we were 5 hours ahead of where I live on the east coast. I was looking forward to when people would start waking up. I knew around 11 a.m. (6 a.m. Eastern) that maybe some people would stir in bed and reach for their phone for an update before getting back to sleep. I knew around 1 p.m. (8 a.m. eastern) that a lot of people were probably awake at this point and checking in to follow along.

There were a couple times I checked my watch just 5 minutes apart from each other. “Oh right. I just checked. They’re still asleep”. Then I would cross a timing mat. “Good morning everyone!”

As alone as I was out in the country side of Bolton, I found a way to stay connected to every body back home. It kept my spirits high. So thank you to every body who was following along.

OK so back to the bike – my front derailleur was barely working. The cable by the end of the shifter had kinked a little bit so it wasn’t tight enough. Shifts would take a long time if they happened at all. There was one descent that went into a sharp turn and then up a steep climb. The spectators were cheering for my derailleur to shift as I’m cursing my bike doing a whopping 30 cadence. I ended up being able ot deal with it and I never completely lost shifting all day. So crisis averted. But I will note, I passed a van than said “BIKE SUPPORT” so it waved it up to me. I said “BRO I NEED A 2 MIL ALLEN KEY MY DERAILLEUR CABLE IS LOOSE IT WON’T SHIFT” and the dude responds “Sorry mate, but I don’t got any tools on me.” …………………….. ok thanks.

Then around hour 4 I had enough and I wanted to be off my bike. But at the speed I was going knew I still had almost two hours to go. Had to just buckle in and grind it out. At hour 5 I started to lose wattage. It was getting increasingly hard to get up the climbs. I couldn’t stay in the aero position as much as I could earlier. I saw Craig and Richard again!! Then 240 watts eventually turned into 200 watts. Finally, after a very long time, I made it into transition 2. Finally. Get me off of this thing.

T2 - 2:00, 8th Place

I took my feet out of my shoes and was preparing for my flying dismount that I do at every race so it is nothing new to me, just par for the course. In sprint distance races, you can get some nice speed approaching the dismount line and jump off your bike at essentially what is your running race pace. But as I was approaching the dismount line I thought to myself, “You know Justin, you just rode farther and harder than you ever have. Almost 6 hours on this crazy course. Maybe your legs will buckle if you try to dismount over 10 miles per hour.”

Good thought Justin. So I slowed down to what was basically walking pace and hopped off gracefully. Possible crisis averted maybe? I figured it wasn’t worth the risk to save 4 seconds.

And what I feel as I am running (hobbling) to my rack spot is a lot of pain on the bottom of my right foot. Just from the pressure point of pedaling for so long on that exact spot in my foot. But I really wanted the fastest transition time so I hobbled and limped as fast as I could into the tent. Similar to T1, you have to grab your bag off of the hook. I sit down on a bench, throw my helmet on the ground, rip open the bag and dump everything out. Right sock on. Right shoe on. Left sock on. Left shoe on. Helmet goes back in the bag. Full Send Triathlon™ hat on my head. Sunglasses on. Grab the soft flask of gels. Hang the bag back up and off you go. I was hoping that the pain in my right foot would buff out. Sometimes these things buff out pretty quick. Luckily again, it did and I was off and running fairly normally. Another possible crisis averted maybe??? Anyways, second fastest T2. Almost.

Run - 3:03:54 , 4th Place Overall

UKRun.PNG
8F3A2F56-5BC7-4BFE-9249-7158ABF69F09.jpg

Holy shit haha. Ok… well I had never run a marathon before and apparently I decided that it would be a good idea to run my first marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and a brutal 112 mile bike ride?!??? Wtf Justin???

So the plan for the run was as follows: Run the first two miles at 7:00 pace. Really easy. Think of it as a warm up and loosen up the legs. A little time lost in the beginning will amount to a lot of time save at the end. Then never faster than 6:30 pace. The only way you fail is if you walk.

What actually happened: Fuck it #FULLSEND first mile clocked in at 6:20. I felt great. But I still wanted to listen to my coach and follow the plan so I just tried to stick to 6:30 pace as best as I could. After all, who knows how I would feel 2 hours from now? So I am ticking off 6:30 miles and I have never been happier in my life. I feel so good. At the end of the bike leg I could barely hold power and I was hating everything but now I am back on top of the world!!!! These are those ups and downs I mentioned earlier. There are a lot of timing mats on the run since it was a 4 loop run course. I would get so hype when I would go over a timing mat because I knew I was crushing the run. I knew everybody back home was awake. I knew everybody at home would be getting hype. That they were doing to math. “If he keeps this pace he can run his way into 3rd place! Maybe even 2nd!!” There was a point in time that I was putting in almost 30 seconds per kilometer into everybody else.

42121f5e-4223-408e-b0ab-a94ef99059f1.jpg

I passed by Richard at some point after the half marathon split and I said “Tell everybody back home that I am so glad to finally be running!”

Since it was a 4 loop run, each loop was around 10k. I was so looking forward to the final loop because I felt so good and I was going to build through the final 10k and see how fast I could push myself. I was going to go sub 2:50 for the marathon, in my first marathon, at the end of one of the toughest Ironman courses on the circuit.

And then I started the final lap. 6:30 pace turned into 7:00 pace. “Ok Justin, maybe we won’t build through this loop anymore. Just try to hold on to this pace and you’ll likely run your way into 3rd, smash your age group, and run in the low 2:50’s.”

Then a mile later at around mile 20 I passed Richard again. “I am not having fun anymore” I said, as he was telling me to gun it and that I was closing in on 3rd place. He was holding onto hope but he could not feel what I was feeling in myself at that moment in time. In the span of 10 minutes I went from feeling on top of the world running a blistering pace, to needing more positive self talk and resorting to plan B, then plan C and really quickly plan D. After passing Richard I went up the largest hill on the course for the final time and that was the end of me. 8:30 per mile pace was all I could muster. My legs were not working. People on their first and second loops were flying by me. Didn’t matter who it was. Young, old, male, female, I got passed by everyone you could imagine. “Damage control” I was thinking. “Damage control. What did James say again? ‘The only way you fail is if you walk.’” He’s certainly right. Walking is very very slow. Slogging along at 8:30 per mile pace is well over twice as fast as walking.

Winning the whole race was never really a possibility after coming off the bike that far behind. Catching 2nd and 3rd were no longer a possibility as I was moving farther and farther backwards with every step.

I was calculating how long it would take until I finish going at my current pace. “45 minutes. Just 45 more minutes”. And then 5 minutes would go by and my pace would slow down more. “Ok. Still 45 minutes to go.”

I kept running but I wasn’t getting any closer to finishing.

It was brutal. Agonizing. Being in so much pain. It was so hard to move my legs. “8:30 pace” I said. “That’s all you gotta do. Just keep moving and don’t walk”

“Only 6 miles to go man. That’s basically a 10k. That’s just an Olympic distance run leg!”

c8f9464f-ac8f-4104-be73-06ace098f442.jpg

And then it hit me. The realization. An Olympic distance run leg isn’t necessarily short. “Oh fuck this is gonna suck.”

 So first I had physically deteriorated. What came next was the mental deterioration. The only explanation I could think of is that my brain was trying to do anything it could to get me to stop. The thoughts. The intrusive thoughts. Holy shit man. I’ve heard people say that they “went to dark place” at when they bonked in their Ironman but I honestly never understood what they meant. I thought it was just painful.

Honestly I do not want to talk about it, it was so bad. But I’ll try a little. This year is a proving year for me. This year is to prove to myself that I belong and can compete in this sport at the highest level. I went all in this year. I did not take summer classes like I normally would. I am not working at all like I normally would. I pushed my stack of chips all in. 100% dedication to training and getting better specifically so I would be able to throw down at Ironman UK and Kona and to prove that this is what I ought to be doing. It’s fucking scary. As the year drags on I watch my bank account slip lower and lower - resources are running out. Shit doesn’t last forever. Every month I calculate how much longer I’ll be able to sustain this lifestyle of 100% commitment to triathlon. Ironman UK was the first of the tests for myself. Will I be able to throw down an amazing performance and prove that I belong on the pro podium and can make a sustainable living doing this? Will I do decent? Mediocre? Will I blow up? Yes - in this moment I was blowing up and that’s all I could think about. About how I wasted fucking months training for this thing. About how I dropped who knows how much money to go to a foreign country to race. About how I am proving to myself in this moment right here that I do not belong. That I don’t have the fitness I need to be able to mix it up with the best. That I don’t have the resources to keep my all-in commitment to training. That I shouldn’t spend my last dollar on an entry fee. About how I need to start applying for jobs once I get home. About how nobody will hire me because I have no real world work experience other than delivering pizzas, mowing lawns, and moving fences. All I’ve ever focused on was sports my whole life and this was the moment I realize I fucked it up for myself.

And I still have 5 miles to run.

I want to forget how I felt during that time. I want to block it out from my memory for the rest of my life and honestly I have already started to not be able to recall everything that was going through my head. But it was awful. I wanted to go home. I wanted to sink into the road and disappear and be home just like none of this had ever happened and I didn’t even know what a triathlon was.

And then I crossed the finish line.

And then the announcer: “JUSTIN LIPPERT OUR 4TH PLACE FINISHER! JUSTIN YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! YOU ARE GOING TO KONA! HOW DOES IT FEEL???”

And I smiled. And I laughed. And I lied. And I thought, “Kona?!? This lady actually thinks I want to go to Kona???”

But my brain returned to normal eventually. I saw Craig and Richard and they were so hype.

Like I said in the preface. I don’t want anybody to get the wrong idea.

Trust me, I am excited for Kona. Now I know what I am capable of and we know what I need to work on. Satisfied but not satisfied. Forever entrenched in the unrelenting pursuit of greatness.

Let’s get this Hawaiian bread baby. #GoZwift #RideOn #FullSend

80A627B1-44F5-4D7D-A8B8-36F4005F8F9B.jpg
7604FA41-9898-453A-8B74-CAB6B9DF117A.jpg
IMG_7068.jpg
IMG_7086.jpg
LRG_DSC09097.jpg
905b73a9-ff1e-4515-90be-e832c25da5e6.jpg