November 20, 2011

First World Cup

Without going into too much confusing detail about ITU points and qualification criteria, after my performance in Myrtle Beach I got the opportunity to race in the final ITU World Cup of the season in Auckland, New Zealand. I was really excited about the trip because I was traveling and staying with my training partner Bevan Docherty (who is a 2 time Olympic medalist and an icon in NZ) and so not only was I going to have a solid race mate, I had a famous tour guide driving me everywhere. I got a chance to experience the life of a major celebrity by being his side kick all week. The second day there I went with Bevan to different press conferences, sponsors, meetings, and to a major radio station where he had an interview. I thought I was just going to sit and watch, but I got to be on the radio as “Bevan’s American training partner” with my “awesome American accent!” Every day there, after I got my training in, Bevan would take me to an amazing NZ bakery, or show me places he used to live. So as you can tell, this trip started off fantastic…
Enter Bummertown, population Tommy Zaferes. On day 3 I woke up with no energy, a really bad sore throat, blocked sinuses, and a cough. I tried to relax and take it easy because we were 2 days out from the race, and I kept telling myself “it’s all mental, you’ll be fine by race day”. I actually got some okay training in, but the sickness lingered. The second player in this lamesauce equation will manifest later in the story, but for now, let’s get to race day.
The Race:
I had a good start to the swim, and was 4th at the first buoy. I got a gnarly kick in the face and my cap came off and my goggles got shoved in my eyes. I literally crawled over people to the outside, flipped on my back, took my goggles off and re adjusted them and put them back on and ended up exiting the water around 20th. I got on the bike in the perfect spot, I was right next to Bevan and he rode up next to me and was like “Let’s do this!” When we got to the first climb I was leading our group (which at the time was the chase group, about 30 seconds down from the lead pack) up the hill when I switched from my big ring to my small ring and my chain came all the way off. I shifted into my big ring again to try and get the chain back on the cogs, but my chain was totally jammed. I stopped on the side of the road and put the chain back on then it was like Tour de France style, people from the crowd came out and push started me back up the steep climb. I absolutely maxed myself out trying to get back into the group I had just gotten dropped from, but I didn’t make it and so I was left riding alone with a redlined heart rate. I was trying to recover but there are 3 climbs on every lap so the short, fast, downhill sections don’t let you recover. I ended up getting swept up by the second chase group (which lucky for me had the #1 seed Laurant Vidal from France) and thought “ok, just hold on to this group and they will bridge up to the front group” So I rode at the back of that group until the climb when I switched from big to small, and sure enough it was déjà vu. My Chain was off again and I found myself hammering to try to get back into that group. At this point I had zero energy and just got dropped and dropped off every group until finally on lap 7, about 2 blocks away from transition, the official’s motorcycle came around and pulled in front of me “You’re lapped, you have to get off the course, sorry”.  The first place guy on the bike (the eventual winner, my buddy, and Bevans best friend, Kris Gemmell) was a full lap ahead, so for safety purposes the racers who are being lapped are disqualified and are not allowed to finish the race.
Since I wasn’t able to finish, I didn’t get any points, and I didn’t get anything accomplished that will help me on my path to the 2012 Olympics. So now it’s back to the drawing board, back to a whole new plan for 2012, and a new revived focus for the 2016 Olympics!

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