Finally, a blog post!

Posted on July 27, 2009

1


I’m Back

Where have I been?

july-blog-map

Washington DC, Des Moines, Frankfurt, Munich, Kitzbuhel – Austria, Paris, St Jean du Monts – France, tours – France, Paris, Hamburg (briefly), Frankfurt, and now I’m back home.

How were the past few races?

Quite terrible for the most part, I don’t like to update when I have no good news to report, which is why I haven’t updated in a very long time… until now. My last European race, the French Grand Prix, finally went well.

How about some race reports?

Ok.

I. ITU World Championship Series Washington DC. I went into my first ever WCS race eager to test the waters of this level of competition. There was an interesting commotion leading up to the race due to rumors of poor water quality in the Potomac, which potentially could’ve turned the race into a duathlon. But on race day all was well. Well, it was almost all well. About 20 minutes before our race, a rainstorm came in and washed tons of debris (sticks, tree branches, garbage) out onto the swim course. The volunteers in kayaks did the best they could to move all of it out of the way, but a few minutes before the start it had all slowly drifted back onto the left side of the swim course. Since this was my first WCS race, I had a pretty bad ranking, which meant I would be one of the 10 or so guys to line up on the left side of the course – on a crash course with the debris pile. It sucked. I came out of the water near the very back of the back. I was one of the first guys to miss the giant chase pack that formed on the bike (there was a 5-man breakaway up ahead). I didn’t panic too much when I noticed Greg Bennett and Simon Whitfield were in my pack.

Me and Mr. Whitfield (Photo courtesy of Derkacs Photography)

Me and Mr. Whitfield (Photo courtesy of Derkacs Photography)

However, after a couple laps, when it became apparent that we weren’t going to catch the main pack, Whitfield dropped out. A couple laps later, so did Bennett. So it was just me and a few other cyclists who certainly couldn’t match the firepower of Whitfield or Bennett. We lost tons of time to the main field. We weren’t even in the 5% ITU time cutoff. When we got to the run, I ran at tempo pace to get the workout in. My run split was 32:38 – encouraging given my effort level. I outran everybody from my pack, but finished a disappointing 28th overall.july-blog-dcrun

II. ITU HyVee World Cup. Next up was triathlon’s biggest money race in the sport’s history. $1,000,000 was up for grabs in Des Moines, IA. With the prize money rolling 75 places deep, nobody was about to let up until they crossed the finish line.

Epic Race. Someday I'll be able to tell my grandkids "several minutes after this sprint I crossed the finish line"

Epic Race. Someday I'll be able to tell my grandkids "several minutes after this sprint I crossed the finish line"

This time I had a good swim and made the front pack on the bike. However, being in the back of the bike pack for most of the 40k, I was forced to put out a huge effort every time our large, 40-man pack went around a 180 degree turn or technical section of the course. My 5 second max power was 940 watts! Doing this over and over for 8 laps began to really take a toll on my legs. Also, I was not prepared for the humid conditions that Iowa had in store for me – it’s been cold and rainy in Boston all summer! By the time I got to the run I was fried. I shuffled along for 10k, still trying to pick up some places/hold off the guys behind me. I finished a disappointing 34th. I’m still scratching my head as to what happened here. If there was ever a time I wish my run was “on”, this was it. Even my tempo-effort run from DC would’ve moved me up about 20 spots. Still won $2000 though, which is pretty awesome. I’ll come back to this race as many years as I possibly can.

III. ITU World Championship Series Kitzbuhel Austria. Ah Kitzbuhel. What happened here? Oh yeah – bad swim, missed the front pack on the bike, it started pouring rain and was about 50F outside, I shivered the whole bike, there were crashes everywhere, I had visions of hypothermia in Vancouver, finally warmed up on the 2nd lap of the run, ran pretty bad, finished a disappointing 41st place.

Me in a small bike pack... freezing

Me in a small bike pack... freezing

At this point I was so demoralized that I decided to pull out of the WCS Hamburg race scheduled for July 25th. I would just do the French Grand Prix and then come home to race the Marlboro Triathlon instead of taking another beating on the ITU WCS circuit. I flew to Paris and then took a 3 hour train ride to Nantes, I was then picked up by the team manager of the French club that I’m racing for: St. Jean du Monts, and he drove me to the city of St Jean du Monts where I would stay for the week. It was a pretty nice area on the coast of Western France. Being by myself in France for the week I had time to reflect on my past 3 performances and try to figure what kept going wrong for me. I didn’t train a whole lot, I ate an 800g jar of Nutella in 3 days, I bought a baguette everyday, and I randomly started drinking Coke, which I never do.

These French Grand Prix races are nearly just as competitive as the ITU WCS races, featuring big names like Gomez and Brownlee, but most are only half the distance (750m/20k/5k), so they are incredibly fast. We drove to Tours on Saturday and I met the rest of my team – a couple French guys, an Australian, a Spaniard, and a Hungarian. Everyone seemed eager to tell me how awful “the fight” was during the swim. 90 guys on a start line of a 750 meter swim – I didn’t even want to think about the mayhem. Anyway, I was told that our club just moved up from Division 2 to Division 1 this year. If they want to stay D1, then they have to not be in the bottom 3 (of 16) teams at the end of the season. At the first 2 races, which I did not compete in, they finished bottom 3, so it was getting down to the wire and we needed a good team performance.

IV. French Grand Prix – Tours, France. Since our team was basically ranked last in D1, we had the worst starting position. When we walked out onto the small pontoon, it began to sink. There were just too many guys and the pontoon was too small.july-blog-tourspontoon I was about in waist deep water when I began to fall in. I quickly turned around and grabbed the other side of the pontoon (which looked like it was about to capsize). Just then the starting gun went off. My back was to the start line! I did a back flop into the water and just started swimming as hard as I could. There was a wall of bodies. At times I was literally fighting more than I was swimming, but I sensed that I had a decent position in all the madness. When the first buoy approached, I swam over it – along with about 15 other guys.

I believe that's me on the bottom of the screen in the yellow/dark blue suit just exiting the water behind my teammate, Alfred torok

I believe that's me on the bottom of the screen in the yellow/dark blue suit just exiting the water behind my teammate, Alfred torok

I exited the water about 20 seconds down from the leader, had a quick t1, and just started hammering on the bike. A small breakaway with Gomez, Belaubre, and a few other fast swimmers had formed. I was in the giant chase pack. The bike course was 5 x 4k loops, it was technical and dangerous (lots of patches of gravel). I rode comfortably in this pack. It was intense with all the team managers screaming at their guys. Sensing that I was going farther and farther back in my big pack, I decided to make a move to the front. I threw in a little surge and kept very close to the front, frequently leading, for laps 3 and 4. One of the team manager guys started screaming: (imagine a French accent) “Recooperation RECOOPERATION” at me – in other words “stop doing all the work”. I backed off a little during the last lap, which was kind of a mistake because every second counts when it’s only a 5k run, and being halfway back in my pack I had some serious ground to make up after t2. I flew out of transition – the run was 2 laps of 2.6k. I flew by about 20 guys in that first lap and settled into about 16th place. On the 2nd lap I surged more and was able to move up into 13th. Coming through the last kilometer a Russian was closing in on me. My team manager was running along side me screaming something in French. I loved the intensity. In a sprint finish I held off the Russian to take 13th. Our club rarely ever has a guy in the top-30, so they were ecstatic with my performance. We finished a best-ever 9th in the team race. I’ve never been kissed by so many French dudes in my life. They were thrilled with the team’s performance. I received a bonus of a few hundred Euro from my club, and they want to fly me back out to race in the Paris Grand Prix next month. It was a hectic but fun experience, so I think I’ll do it. I finally had a performance that I could be satisfied with! I split 16:06 for 5.2k, only 14 seconds slower then Mr. Gomez, who won the race.

What’s the plan now?

The plan now is to start training hard again for Nationals on Aug 22nd. In the meantime, I’m going to race a bunch of local triathlons and running races and really try to sharpen my racing form. I may go down to Florida a couple weeks before nationals to get used to the heat that I’ll have to deal with in Tuscaloosa. At any rate, hopefully I got all my bad races for the year out of the way and updates to my blog will be frequent from this point on.