And That's a Wrap…

Posted on October 20, 2009

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My 2009 season officially ended on a bittersweet note at the Paris Grand Prix on August 30th. The race certainly didn’t go well, but it wasn’t a total disaster. A foot to the head about halfway through the swim knocked me a bit senseless for a few seconds, but I was able to regain my composure and come out of the water in the main group. Sitting towards the back of the main pack on the bike, I had bad positioning going into t2. There were about 60 guys in the pack, and I was able to chase down roughly half. I was the top finisher for team St. Jean du Monts, but narrowly missed out on a top-30 finish (34th) which would’ve secured me a 250 Euro bonus. Our team finished dead last and will be relegated to Division II for next year. I’m still deciding on whether or not I’ll do the whole French Grand Prix experience thing next year.

I realize I haven’t blogged for a while, so I’ll recap the performances and main events of the past couple months.

Me leading the Marlboro Tri.

Me leading the Marlboro Tri.

  • I won the Marlboro Triathlon on July 26th. The bike and run courses were hilly and technical. I exited the water in the lead and lead for 2 out of the 3 bike laps until Dean Phillips passed me. It took me a mile or so to run myself back into 1st place and then it was cruise control from there on out.
Dean Phillips: My main compeition in Marlboro

Dean Phillips: My main compeition in Marlboro

the W

the W

Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

  • The following weekend I headed down to New Bedford to run a 5k. There was a tiny bit of prize money, so I knew the race would be competitive. When the gun went off I took the early lead but was just pulling a pack of about 6 or so, so I backed off and settled in on someone’s shoulder. About a mile into the race our pack dwindled to 4, and after I pushed the pace up a tiny incline we were down to 3. One of these guys was East African, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he was just jogging or actually racing us (he was jogging). After the 2nd mile we began to go downhill and dropped the other member of our pack, so it was just down to me and the Kenyan. He pulled away over that last mile – I struggled to hang on but was absolutely redlining at that point. I finished 2nd place in 15:03. A solid effort – it won me $150 in cash!
  • On August 9th I won the Gloucester triathlon. This was one of the most competitive local races I’ve ever done. It was a ton of fun but very painful. Like Marlboro I lead out of the water. The swim and run courses were very short relative to the bike, so the odds were stacked towards the stronger cyclists. This time it only took Dean Phillips 5 miles to catch me – much sooner than I expected! To my surprise, Belgian super-cyclist Tony Delogne went by me shortly after Dean. I knew I had no shot at keeping up with Dean, but I picked up the pace and was able to stay within striking distance of Tony. On the run I slowly began to pull away from Tony, but I couldn’t even see Dean up ahead. I was getting worried – every time I turned a corner I’d look up ahead for Dean but never saw him. It wasn’t until less than a mile to go that I finally began to reel him in and eventually made the pass. Tony also nipped Dean in the end. The 3 of us finished within a minute – I’m not used to that kind of pressure on the local scene! I was able to pull out the victory, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as easy.
Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

Photos courtesy of Derkacs Photography

  • Next up was two weeks of heat acclimation training in Ft. Myers, FL to get ready for elite nationals in Tuscaloosa, AL. Along with the heat came daily thunderstorms, which I wasn’t expecting. That made for long waits at the pool (for the storms to pass) and caused me to cut several rides short. On race day Tuscaloosa didn’t turn out to be the inferno that I was expecting – it was quite comfortable. The race got underway and I found myself in the lead pack. There was a small breakaway of Dustin McLarty and Brian Fleischman up ahead. I exited the water in good position and headed out onto the bike course with a group that included O’Donnell, Collington, Chrabot, and Leto. I had a little trouble getting my foot in my shoe and let a little gap open up, but Kyle Leto and I quickly worked to close it down. We got back in the group at the base of the first big hill. We started ascending and I was the first guy to get dropped. My legs burnt and I just didn’t have the power those other guys did. I knew I was still ahead of Matt Reed, so I didn’t panic too much. A couple minutes later Reed and Fretta came by, and I got on their wheels. The pace they were setting was brutal (they ended up bridging up to the front group), and I just couldn’t hold on. I was dropped from that group, too. I was so demoralized at that point that – I knew that, for all practical purposes, I was out of the race. Things had played out perfectly for me – I had an awesome front-pack swim (and my run training was going very well at the time), but I just didn’t have the cycling fitness to back it up. After another group came by me I ended up dropping out. Never a good feeling, but it was the kick-in-the-butt I needed to motivate myself to get back to work and train harder than I ever have before…

So after the Paris Grand Prix I called it a season. Looking back on the year, I don’t think I met all the expectations I had for myself, but there were a lot of positives to take away: I got to race at the highest level. I got to go head-to-head with Brownlee and Gomez at ITU World Championship Series races and French Grand Prix races. At that level I’m a small fish in a big pond, but the good news is there’s no where to go but up! The experience I obtained this year was invaluable, and my perseverance is twice as strong after taking multiple beatings on the world circuit.

Me, wearing a v-neck t-shirt, and training partner Amanda

Me, wearing a v-neck t-shirt, and training partner Amanda

After taking three weeks off, I’ve begun laying down a base for next year. I’m currently working on my racing and training schedule for 2010. I’ll most likely go back to Chula Vista for a spring training camp, and I’m considering doing an early-season continental cup in South America to get a headstart on the ITU points race. I’m going to focus on the ITU WCS Series again next year, this time hopefully with more success! Thanks for reading and please check back for sporadic training updates throughout the fall/winter.