April 2, 2019

So many people ask me... why would you want to do an ultraman?
Why do it if there isn't any prize money?

Why do something so hard?

Why do it if it will take you forever to recover?
All very relevant questions, and my answer to them all is, why not?
There is no prize money....true! To be honest, if you call yourself a “professional” and all you are doing is chasing the chance to win some prize money, you are probably missing the mark and the point.

It is so hard......Yes, but this is probably the number one reason I wanted to do it.

It will take forever to recover.....True, but in my mind I went prepared for the pain and was expecting it.
I have never kept it a secret that I have always wanted to race the Ultraman World Championship race on the Big Island of Hawaii. 
In fact, I always said I wanted to make that one of my last race's  (truth is I want to race triathlons until my body just won't let me). The last couple of years I had reached out to the Ultraman race directors asking if it was possible to put in an application for the World Champs, and was always met with the same response, “Thanks, Chris, but not this year.” So, at the end of 2018 I asked them a simple question -
PLEASE Tell me HOW I can qualify. Cheryl, the race director, let me know that the best probability of being accepted was to race an Ultraman. I searched the Ultraman race schedule, and from the date I was looking, there was an Ultraman in 2.5 months. I knew it was going be tough to get in enough training, but it was even tougher than I imagined with some of the things that were thrown at me.

Long story short, our business chewed up a huge amount of time and required my attention. To complicate things even more, I had surgery on Christmas Eve, which took me 100% out of training for 10 days and 14 days out of the pool.
On to the race.....
Everyone who knows me knows I generally roll by the seat of my pants and throw together a plan at the last minute...Ultraman was not too different. Thankfully, I had pulled together the A team for my crew support. Of course, I didn’t know how awesome they were until I was able to soak it all in after the event.
Race morning dawnedMy paddler, Scott Horns and I came to the agreement that I would swim straight towards the 1st buoy he would find me along the way, and away we would go. I gave Scott two bottles of Infinit Nutrition and one bottle of Mountain Dew. I told him if I went more than 2k without having a sip of something, to just wave the bottle at me. The feel at the start of this event reminded me a little of the start of the Leadville 100. The vibe was way chill, but everyone knew they were about to take on a huge challenge. It was more of a race against one’s emotions and inner demons than it was about racing the person next to them.
After a countdown from 10 to 1, we were away!I swam and hoped Scott would find me. Thankfully, after about 1000 meters I saw him on my right, and it gave me quite a sense of relief. This being the first time Scott and I had swam/paddled together, I honestly could not have asked for it to go even 1% better. Scott set up just to my right, and I was able to see the back fourth of the boat with every breath. Right on cue, it was about every 1500 that Scott would wave a bottle at me, and I would roll over and take a big swig and toss it back.
It may sound strange, but the first 6k went by very quickly. From 6-8k it felt kind of blah, but then from 8-10k, if I could have teleported to the shore, I would have. I wanted out of that lake!!! My back was starting to lock up, and my lat’s and shoulders were on fire! At about 500 to go I waved Scott off letting him know I could spot the finish, and he could go get ready to jump in the car for the 91 mile bike leg. Scott wasn't only my paddler, but the best and most patient driver ever!
Hitting dry land was quite a relief...And the first chance I had to feel what my legs were going to do after swimming for 2 hours and 40 minutes. I had planned to make a quick transition just like I would in any Ironman event, as it was only a 91 mile ride, and I knew I could carry almost everything I needed with me. As I ran up to my steed, it was a neat experience to have Erika help me through transition. I pulled the suit up, and in under 60 seconds we were away! I say we because my crew has to roll out with me - did I mention that is a self-supported race? I had lost 11 minutes to a former world championship 25k open water swimmer during the swim, and it was a relief that I took a couple of minutes back in transition.
Day ONE BikeI gave myself a ceiling of 300 watts for this ride because I knew there were still a couple of long days ahead.  I was about 40 minutes into the ride when I first saw the crew van roll up. This also gave me a sense of relief, knowing that they were nearby even if I didn’t need them for nutrition or fluids just yet. Again I was rolling by the seat of my pants, as no one in the support team had ever really done a bottle hand off before, and obviously no one would know what I wanted until I yelled out. But, because I had the A team, they figured out the perfect way to set up the aid station. We had three people spread apart and each person was either holding Water, Infinit, or Soda. We didn’t miss a single bottle hand off - life was good.

For the first hour it was quite difficult for me to get any decent power going, as the swim had taken its toll. I was having a rough time getting the blood into my legs. Thankfully, after about 60 minutes I got my first glimpse of the leader, and this may have been the thing that started to make the old legs click. Once I took the lead of Day 1, I didn’t really have a plan other than keep the power below 300. As I made the left turn and rolled down Victory Way (yes that was the actual name of the street and finish line) I thought, "Well, 2 out of 4 legs of the race are done. They could have gone better, could have gone worse.” I crossed the line in 6:36:47. As soon as I crossed the line my amazing crew had a cold can of coke for me and directed me off on a cool down spin. After my cool down spin a few other participants were starting to roll in, and it was very cool to see everyone and their crews. 


One of our Team BSR members, Jamie Harris was racing so we waited to see her come across the line. Afterwards we went back to the house to start setting up our plan for Day 2. I spent a fair amount of time in my boots and had a cool FB live chat with our team. The team is so motivating, and they really inspire me to give it my all. One thing that kind of caught me off guard is how quickly the rest of the day passed. There was not a lot of time for dilly dally, and before I knew it I realized I should be in bed.
DAY TWO
I had gone to bed thinking, "Today I am going roll with the front guys for 100 miles and then see how things are going. Then I'll make a decision on my tactics.” When I got to the race start I looked at all of the bike times from Day 1, and it looked like Steve Keller was going to be the perfect riding partner. His split was only a few minutes slower on Day 1, and I knew I could use the company on what would be a very long day. My crew had the van loaded up like a convenience store with everything you could imagine plus the kitchen sink. We had 3 gallons of Infinit, a 12 pack of soda, about 6 bags of candy, a sleeve of Pringles, a bunch of salt tabs, and copious amounts of water and more goodies.


The first 7 miles of Day 2 were draft legal, and they lined us up 2x2 in the order of finish from Day 1. Again, with a casual count down we rolled out. Within half a mile Steve had rolled up beside me, and we were chatting about everything BUT racing! We talked about our kids, our other work, and just life in general. It was actually very pleasant and I cannot say enough things about what a great guy he is. As we rolled up on the 7 mile marker, it was time to spread out. I took about a 5 minute pull, and then Steve rolled through and was setting a nice tempo. I said to Steve on the way past, “I will trade turns all day mate.” He gave me a nod and I thought to myself...perfect!
Now, rewind to my point about me wanting to ride with people for 100 miles blah blah blah. 
To quote the great Mike Tyson, “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” It is not that I got literally punched in the face, but when I rolled to the back of the little 5 man group there was one particular person who was sitting about 2 bike lengths back from Steve's wheel. It was just driving me CRAZY. Not for any other reason than to me, it really was not in the spirit of Ultraman. As we were rolling along and we were about 11 miles in, we were coming up on a traffic light and the cross walk started to flash red. I was not sure if anyone else noticed, so I made a quick dash to the front to make it through the traffic light. It turns out that everyone made it through the light, but in doing so I separated myself from the rest of the crew. So now I was 11 miles in, 160 miles to go, and I was riding solo...... so much for the plan.

I was rolling along at a steady pace and getting heads-ups from the crew. They were making sure I was staying on course. I was actually very impressed with the dynamics of the course that the Ultraman team had put together. At about mile 40 or 50 there was an out-and-back section. This gave me the opportunity to see where everyone was. Steve was only a couple of minutes back, and afterwards each competitor was spread out about 60 seconds apart after Steve.
 I did think I was probably riding a little too hard, and the fact that they were still so close actually bode well for me. Fast forward about another 80 miles, and here we were at mile 120. I came into a corner and went to gear down and ....nothing! 
My first thought was, “shit my Di2 battery is dead”I knew I had charged it overnight. I stopped 3 more times with my crew to try and figure out the problem, unplugging each cable, taking the seat out to check the battery - nothing. We could not find the problem. (later learned that the cable had come out of the junction box that is behind the Bottom Bracket).

This was about the lowest point of my race. I had just gotten a split that I had a 10 minute gap and had worked hard to get it. I could now just see it all dwindling away. Although it was the lowest point for me, it was also where I learned the most about myself, for after about 30 minutes of tossing my toys out of the crib, I thought......"dude it is all in your attitude”! I was stuck in the 54-17, so I was over geared upwind and under geared downwind. Once I had gotten my head back into the game, it really was not that big of a deal. I thought,”Well you always tell your athletes “go hard where it is slow and slow where it is fast.” With that thought each time it was a headwind I cranked it up to about 350 watts to punch through the wind, and then downwind I was able to roll 26MPH and about 180 watts. I just played a game of “over/ under” for the next 50 miles. 

I was very, very surprised to hear the gap actually kept going out, and I think it ended up at about 16 minutes.  I later learned that Steve Keller had some mechanical problems which sucked for him royally, and I still think it would have been fun to ride 171 miles with him. 

I again turned down Victory Way. The A-team was waiting with a cold can of coke and sent me off on a recovery spin.
Saturday night was a rough one! It took me a long time to fall asleep, and then the sleep that did come was very interrupted sleep. Between the muscles twitching and the sunburn rubbing on the sheets, I think I had about 4 hours of sleep. The crew again took great care of me. 
We rolled down to the start on Sunday morning thinking that the hard part was doNE for the crewBoy were we wrong! Chuck, the current course record holder and race director, actually warned us Sunday morning that today would be the toughest day for the support crew. Little did we know he was ABSOLUTELY right.

My plan today was the roll out at 7:30 pace for the 1st marathon and see how I was feeling. I knew I would slow down some, but how much, who knows.

The feeling of the race morning on day 3 was awesome! By this time crews had gotten to know each other, and competitors had become friends. One of the coolest things was one of my race buddies, Christian Isakson, came to me and gave me some great advice on the day ahead. This was just the start of what turned out to be one of my favorite days of racing ever.
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1... we were off. Truthfully, I expected to fall behind out of the gates on day 3. I set off on a gentle jog and was running alone. I kept checking my watch, pretty much bang on 7:30 every mile. I could hear one set of foot steps behind me, but never turned around. I thought it was Iggy who was sitting in second place. We made a sharp left turn at about mile 7 and went up the first hill of the day. I then heard someone say, “Oh boy, it feels like I rode 171 miles yesterday.” It was Steve Keller! I thought, “Oh perfect.” I slowed just a hair for him to pull up beside me, and we pretty much continued our conversation from the day prior. Again we discussed our families again, how we felt, our goal for the day. I unintentionally insulted his support crew by asking if the crew was his wife and dad. To my embarrassment it was his wife and one of his closest friends who is not even close to his dad’s age. This brought an exchange of laughter by all.

As we were rolling along we came to about a half mile downhill, Steve opened it up a little and let it roll down the hill. I really did want to go with him, but knowing that I am a bigger guy, I actually wanted to really keep it in control on the downs, or I was going to pay dearly later. From this point on, Steve and I pretty much ran either together or within 300 meters of each other for the next 6.5 hours. Our crews were leap frogging each other, and the support system was amazing. We were all trying to help each other get through what we all knew was going to be a brutal day.

There was one section of about 5 miles where Steve and I were either standing at a crosswalk or sprinting to make the green at a crosswalk. This section was brutal for me. I am such a rhythm runner that the stop/start and change of paces was killing my mojo. On this section, Steve pulled ahead of me again just as we turned onto the infamous clay road. Now I think this would be a pretty nice place to run if it did not fall on day 3 of racing, and right at the marathon mark of day 3. When it does fall in that area in my mind, it pretty much became the gates of hell!!

The sun was in full force. The “clay road” was actually a little more “loose sand” road, and I was not in a happy place. The wind had picked up a little which is great unless it is at your back and it is 89 degrees and humid. It was this section that I had to really ask my crew for help. They were stopping about every half mile, giving me everything under the sun. Scott started out pacing me and then Laurent jumped in. I can only imagine how it must have been in the car with my crew, as I was going through highs and lows; where I needed company, and then wanted alone time. 


My moods were up and down like a YO-YO.
At about mile 40 we eventually made it off the “Clay road to hell” and back onto the pavement. It was at this point that I could see I was gaining on Steve again. The funny part is it is not like I wanted to beat Steve - it was more like I wanted us to push each other to a place neither could go alone. I ran (well, shuffled) up beside Steve at about mile 43 or so, and tried to offer some encouragement. Truthfully, I am not even sure what came out of my mouth.

From there on into the finish I just could not wait to see the finish line. I was asking my crew non-stop...”how far to go?” I was like a 4 year old on a road trip in a car. I was way under-trained to be running 52 miles and could feel every step. As we rolled up on mile 51.2 the whole support crew was there waiting to run the last mile in with me. This was special for me! Erika has been by my side for a lot of races and is my rock. What was different with this race is it would be IMPOSSIBLE to complete to race without her. 

Our other support crew Scott, Carrie, and Laurent had sacrificed and given up so much to be there to help me. My words of thanks are simply not enough.

As we crossed the line, I was thankful for being done, thankful for my crew’s support, and thankful for sharing that moment with all of them.






Steve came across the line a mere 30 seconds later. I was so happy to have had him out there and share the moment with him and his support crew (BTW, .

I really could go on and on about the Ultraman crew and the Ultraman family, but I truly believe until you experience it, it just won’t make sense. Ultraman is putting the experience back into triathlon. They have created something that you will walk away from and talk about forever!

Also, let’s not forget about Dan Beaver and the beer mile on Monday morning - but I will save that for another blog post.

Thank you to my amazing sponsors and support system:

Certified Piedmontese steak of course! Shane Peed, owner of Certified, was signing up for his own Ultraman (at the time of publishing this blog, he's actually been accepted into Ultraman Arizona)! Proud to have you as a sponsor, teammate and friend!

Chilis Bar and Grill - thank you to Wyman for the continued support and friendship.

Own Nutrition - I am sure it is not hard to tell I am not the smallest guy in the world and Katie will have me in Hawaii leaner and meaner.

Ice Friction - Thank you Michael for everything you have done and continue to do. the slick chains are only a very small percentage of the relationship.

Normatec - Goes without saying these were CLUTCH for this event.

Infinit - Thank you Michael!! If you look at the pictures above you see how important this was. I believe in 3 days I drank 5 gallons of Infinit. 

Ventum - Jimmy, Dia and Rachel have all been amazing in the start of our relationship. I can tell you when you have ridden a bike only about a dozen times and you feel confident to race it for 262 miles, it is a winner. Thank guys!

Zone3 - Thank you to Rich and Tanya at Zone 3. The product and the support is greatly appreciated. The wetsuit has this lead weight into what resembles a swimmer. 










CHRIS "BIG SEXY" McDONALD

Founder of BIG SEXY RACING and 7x IRONMAN CHAMPION

CERTIFIED PIEDMONTESE

Big Sexy Racing's 2019 Title Sponsor and sponsor of Ironman

INFINIT

Big Sexy Racing's official nutrition sponsor

CHILI'S

Chili’s Teams Up With Seven-Time IRONMAN Champion Chris McDonald to launch a nationwide physical wellbeing challenge, ‘Let’s Tri Together’

KASK

Full range of head protection

VENTUM RACING

Triathlon and road racing bicycles

ZONE 3

Big Sexy Racing's official supplier of wetsuits, googles and related triathlon gear.

ICE FRICTION

Big Sexy Racing's official supplier of ultra high performance racing chains.

NORMATEC

Official recovery boot sponsor of the Big Sexy Racing team of professional and amateur racers.

R | e | S | T

Official bed sponsor of Big Sexy Racing

OWN WAY APPAREL

Apparel

RUBY'S LUBE

Big Sexy Racing is proud to have Ruby's Lube as a sponsor.

PIONEER

Cycling Power Meters

Thursday

May 2nd

2019 BOULDER SPRING TRAINING CAMP

Thu 5/2 - Sun 5/5
9 a.m. - midnight
Masterclass camp hosted by Chris McDonald, Harold Wilson and Scott Horns. Special appearances by 3x Ironman Champ and 12 Hr TT world champion, Dede Griesbauer and other guests to be announced.

1-ON-1 COACHING

Premium Training Plans ($150 to $300/month)

Plans ranging from $150-$300 a month

HAROLD WILSON COACHING

Premium Triathlon Coaching Plans - $300/month

Plans starting from $300 a month

SCOTT HORNS COACHING

Premium Triathlon Coaching Plans - $200/month - Unlimited Communication

Plans starting from $200 a month with UNLIMITED COMMUNICATION

2019 BOULDER CAMP

Spring Training Camp

Presented by RX3 Performance Coaching

MEET SCOTT HORNS

RX3 Coach

WHY YOU NEED THE BOULDER CAMP

Excerpt from an interview with RX3 Coach, Harold Wilson

BIG SEXY GOES ULTRA

Slowtwitch.com - Timothy Carlson

McDonald, an old dog of 40 with seven Ironman wins, decided to learn some new tricks and took on the 10k swim, 57 mile bike leg, 171 mile bike leg and double marathon run in central Florida. Big Sexy is now the proud owner of the Ultraman Florida race record and punched his ticket to the Ultraman World Championship on Thanksgiving weekend.