Ecuadorian Disaster

Posted on February 15, 2010

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When your hotel is $15/night including 3 meals/day... Maybe you should eat out instead...

I came down to Salinas, Ecuador in hopes of getting enough ITU points to secure myself a start at the Sydney WCS race in April. I needed to get 9th place or better, and I thought going into the race that getting on the podium was a possibility. My training had been going great, I was very confident, and things were generally on track. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, and I fell short of achieving my goals.

I left for Ecuador Thursday morning at 6AM and finally arrived in Salinas 20 hours later after three flights and once very sketchy two hour bus ride (When I say sketchy I mean sketchy – the driver warned my roommate, Barrett, not to take too long to pee on the side of the road because “the people might get him”… What a way to start the trip). Anyway, we arrived at our hotel at 4:15AM the day before the race – generally not a good idea. My stomach felt “funky” all day, and it continued the morning of the race. I had my normal pre-race breakfast, did my regular warmup, and was taking a gel 15 minutes before the start when my stomach absolutely revolted. I started vomiting and basically lost my breakfast. Not a good precursor to racing in humid conditions.

The start was madness – classic ITU violence with a touch of South American anarchy. There were some cones in front of us on the start line (which was a very narrow area). We had rows of guys 5 deep. As soon as they took the cones away a whistle blew and the race started – I was caught completely off guard and had a terrible run-in to the water. I found myself behind a wall of bodies fighting for every inch. The swim was two laps, and towards the end of the 1st lap I was able to find a hole in the madness to the outside of everyone and bridge back up towards the front. At the start of the 2nd lap we exited the water, ran around a buoy, and dove back in. I got a good look at where I was in the field and was relieved that I had made it into the front pack. That’s where I stayed for the remainder of the swim.

While we were swimming a light drizzle was making the streets of Salinas super-slick. When we got out on the bike, the first 6 or so minutes were an absolute death trap. At the 2nd semi-technical turn 3 guys crashed. At the next turn another 4 or 5 went down including Renaldo Colucci. Both Barrett and I managed to keep our wheels rubber-side down and were comfortably in the front group. Basically half of the front pack crashed on the first lap! After that people were extremely cautious on the turns. I rode towards the front not wanting to get caught behind any crashes. My stomach was still pretty messed up, and I wasn’t able to execute my normal race fueling plan – I barely got down 80% of one bottle. On the 7th of 8 laps I was feeling comfortable enough with the course that I decided to launch an attack. It had stopped raining and the streets were beginning to dry. I was taking a pull and just sort of rolled off the front. I then took a technical turn very aggressively, turned on the jets, and started opening up some ground. A Chilean athlete went with me. We worked together alright but were caught half a lap later. Going into t2 I did a bit of a similar thing but not quite as hard. It was semi-successful and I was the 2nd guy into t2 with a few second lead on the rest of the pack.

Guayaquil Expreso Newspaper

When I got out on the run my stomach problems and lack of calories started to catch up with me. I ran in the lead group of Colucci, Chacon, and a couple other guys for about 1k. At that point my stomach started cramping up bad. It basically reduced me to a jog. I ceased to be “racing” and was just kind of shuffling along in survival mode. I wanted to drop out but figured I could still manage to snag a few ITU points. I hung in there for 17th place, falling way short of the 9th that I needed to get me into Sydney. Colucci ended up winning after crashing and stopping to mess around with his back wheel. That guy is strong.

Needless to say, I’m disappointed with the result. But the good news is that I’m almost positive that my bad performance was directly linked to my nutritional disaster on race day. That’s always a worry when traveling to strange parts of the world. In general, I think my fitness is where it needs to be for this time of year, but unfortunately I’ll have to wait until my next race in order to show it.

Posted in: racing