Elite Nationals Race Report

Posted on October 4, 2011

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Two weeks ago I drove out to Buffalo to participate in my fifth USA Elite Nationals race. This was not a key focus event for me, and I had a heavy training load going into race week. Nevertheless, I was still confident that I could perform well as I had finished in a strong sixth place at the Alcatraz Triathlon despite not being rested. During my time in Buffalo I was graciously hosted by a local triathlete (and aspiring professional) Nick Brodnicki. He welcomed me and Steve Sexton into his home while we were in town, and for that I am very thankful. Having homestays, especially good ones, is a great way to meet new people and save some cash in this sport. Now, onto the race.

My objective for the race was to take it out hard in the first 750m of the swim and position myself in any breakaway that may occur in the water or directly out of t1. The swim was two loops in Lake Erie conveniently close to some sort of local sewage treatment plant. I tried not to think about that though. The race started and I went about meeting my first objective. I was ranked 6th going into this event. I had a clean, fast start and got on the feet of Dustin McLarty and Hunter Kemper as they sprinted towards the first buoy. I was probably sitting in top-10 throughout the first lap of the swim. I felt that I accomplished the goal of a fast first 750m, but on the second loop I began to go backwards in the field. Starting the second loop I just began to feel very fatigued and stuck in a low gear. I dropped back several positions and tried to conserve my energy.

Coming out of the water and into t1 a small group of eight guys broke away. Unfortunately, I was too far back in the lead pack to get in this group. Furthermore, given the way I felt I don’t even think I could’ve managed the burst of speed out of t1 to get into this group had I been there. I was still giving it everything I had and wound up in the third pack on the bike with a group of two other guys. After probably spending a bit too much energy on the first two (of eight) laps, my group was swallowed up by a giant chase pack. Together with this group we caught the second pack. At this point the race was virtually Hunter Kemper’s breakaway group of eight and a massive chase pack about one minute back that included me, Jarrod Shoemaker, Sexton, and all the good runners. I got a bit too caught up in the moment and worked pretty hard in this chase group. In retrospoect I should’ve sat in a conserved a bit.

We entered t2 about one minute down from the leaders. Coming out of transition I just felt flat. I didn’t have any cramps or anything, just a lot of fatigue that was multiplied by the high intensity of an ITU race. I struggled on the run. All of the guys that I can normally easily outrun took off ahead of me and I couldn’t respond. Being an experienced ITU racer, I knew that every place and point can matter, so I just hung in there and did the best I could. The result was a 16th place finish, ninth American. Definitely not my best performance, not even close, but at the very least a good experience-gainer and a solid workout.

Me chugging along and trying to hold it together on lap three of the run.

The verdict: I simply wasn’t rested enough going into this race. There’s a fine line between being able to train hard and race well. During Alcatraz I was able to come very close to this line and not cross it, but in Buffalo it looks like I just did a little too much work on race week. I’m not incredibly disappointed as I’m currently in a big four-week training block geared towards peaking for World Cup races in October and November. So I’ll just let this bad performance roll off my back and if I nail my peak races I’ll know I made the right decision.

Posted in: racing, Uncategorized