Monday, November 22, 2010
As I mentioned this was my first World Championship and the atmosphere was pretty incredible. There just seemed to be so much anticipation for the race. I was staying a little ways away from the race which had its limitations and also some benefits. It made getting to the race site every day before the race a little more difficult but then again I was able to rest and be away from all the excitement. Thankfully my dad went to the race with me and that made the logistics a lot easier so I didn't really have to think about that. By the time race morning came around I felt calm and confident in my preparation.
My race plan was to be the first person out of the water. Stay at the front of the race but not be the one leading the whole time (failed at this) and then have a strong half marathon because that is what I had been focusing a lot of my training on. I succeeded in being first out of the water but I failed at not leading the bike. Based on the way the race was last year I knew it was important to be at the front but to not actually lead. Because the bike course is so flat there are many opportunities to "legally" draft (and for that matter illegally draft). Because of that, being the first person in the chain of cyclists would take much more energy than being in the middle of it. For some reason I abandoned this race strategy and led the bike through about 40 miles. At this point I sort of realized that I needed to run still and backed off and just hung out in the pack. (this is where it was made obvious to me how much easier it was to actually just hang out in the pack than lead the race...learning experience.)
I got into the run and my legs felt very heavy but I was running at a good pace. Unfortunately this only lasted for a few miles and by 3 or 4 miles in I started to really struggle. I spent the majority of the middle part of the race slowly loosing time off of my pace and started to really loose my mental focus. I had high expectations of having a really good run because I was training so well and it was obvious to me that I wasn't running anywhere near my pace. That was until on the second lap when an age grouper came up by me (he was on his first lap of the run) and he flat out told me to run with him. With someone there to motivate me I quickly got back into a better pace and finished the last 2 or 3 miles much stronger. Overall I was happy with the whole experience and by the end I was happy with my effort. I'll take what I learned and I am excited to race the course in Las Vegas next year.
I am happy to have my season finally over. This was my first full season as a professional and I gained a lot of experience while staying competitive in some tough races. I look forward to a much needed short break and to start working on a true breakout year in 2011.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
When I was swimming at Davis our coach called our winter training dog days. It was the time of the year for a week and a half before Christmas and a week and a half after Christmas that we trained 2 sometimes 3 times a day, basically with no other teams in Davis and all of our friends on winter vacation, and with terrible weather (one year the wind was rain was so bad that signs at the pool were being ripped off, there were legitimate waves in the pool, and the entire town lost power except for the campus which had its own power source which meant we could still train.) It was our last big push of training before we started our dual meet season and it was something we all hated but loved at the same time because we knew that the work we did during that time period would carry us to conference.
The past 3 weeks for me have been somewhat similar except that for the most part the weather has been a lot better and unfortunately I had to do all of my training by myself. Doing that much hard training solo really started to wear on me and for awhile it was hard for me to see the end. I just tried to take it one day at a time and the one motivating factor was that I knew I would be prepared to race at the end of this block. (I was also excited for the ensuing break from training that would follow my last race.) When my coach first gave me my schedule for this block I laughed because I really didn’t think I would be able to do the workouts. He told me I could and just told me try them and see what would happen. I did and each key workout was better and better even though I was in a very exhausted state. After the first week and a half without a day off and doing some of the hardest workouts I have ever done I was in a place that I had only felt during the dog days of swimming. (Except unlike swimming when I could nap and recover between workouts I had the enjoyment of working all day every day) My last days of this block were over the weekend and I am proud of the effort that I was able to put forth the past few weeks. I can only rest now and race the way I trained. I am looking forward to the end of my first full professional season and I am also already excited for the work ahead to start preparing for the 2011 season but not until after a much needed break.
My last Olympic distance race of the year was at the US Open in Dallas (actually Rockwall) Texas. This was my 3rd race in a row and I was not sure exactly how my body would react because I have never raced 3 triathlons in a row but I was feeling pretty good going into the race. I was trying to balance my recovery with staying in enough shape to prepare for Clearwater.
After our pre race meeting on Friday we were treated to an amazing dinner provided by the host hotel. While we were waiting for the room to be ready for our dinner we saw a bridal party and we just assumed that the room that we thought our dinner was in was for the wedding. It was pretty amazing and I took full advantage of the fact that it was all you can eat. After that I was ready to race. I was also actually really excited to watch Kona the next day and at this point was thinking more about that race than my own. Sitting in my hotel room for hours watching that after my morning ride was a perfect way to relax. On the course ride that morning I went out with a large group of athletes and we rode the bike course and run course. The run course was a lot hillier than we all had expected and we were treated with a hill right out of transition but overall both courses looked like they would be fast. The one issue we were all concerned about was the fact that there was only one lane on the bike course. With the stagger rule for non-drafting races we were concerned that 1) it would be hard to pass and 2) that there could be some “accidental” drafting going on. (With the way my race went I did not have to worry about either of these…)
Race day morning I was excited to race against another strong field for the 3rd week in a row and I was also excited for my last Olympic distance race. I had a pretty good race in LA the weekend before (specifically a good bike) and I was hoping that a similar swim and bike could set me up in a really good position. That didn’t exactly happen. If I could have split my race into a half of each distance I think I would have had a great race. I had a good first half of the swim and was sitting right were I needed to be about 3rd or 4th in the front of the pack. Then for some reason when we turned toward the shore with about 500meters left I started falling back. Not exactly sure what happened but those last 500meters ended up putting me at the back of the front pack on the swim which with a slow transition put me behind a group of about 5 on the bike…(that was the group that I knew I needed to be in for my race to go as planned). I did all I could at the beginning of the bike to try to get on the back of that pack but just could not find my cycling legs and ended up by myself for the first 15miles of the bike until I was joined by Greg Bennett. At that point I started to get into an actual rhythm we stayed together into T2 but I was already a lot further behind going into the run than I had wanted to be from the main group. The run followed a similar pattern as the swim and bike and I had a decent second half of the run but really struggled to find my pace in the beginning of the run. This lead to me being passed by I believe 2 guys on the run and I only managed a 10th place finish.
My goal for the race was to finish in the top and by finishing 10th I achieved that goal. However, I believe that if I was able to race the way that I had in LA and also race the way I had been training leading up to the race that I would have been able to be much more competitive. I am excited to get in a strong training block and prepare for my last race of the season at Clearwater.