October 23, 2011

Galveston 5150

After a solid race at Myrtle Beach I decided to extend my season three more races. I added two non-drafting races, and one more draft legal ITU event. I was excited because the two non-drafting races were points qualifiers towards next years Hyvee (Hyvee is triathlons only $1 million prize purse race. They take your top three races and only allow the top 25 point earning, and 5 discretionary, competitors on the start line - so getting two solid points finishes this year would be a huge advantage for me leading into next year).
After I registered and got my flights all sorted for both 5150 races, they ended up cancelling the series finale in Clearwater, Florida which was annoying for a couple reasons. One, I already bought my tickets to Florida, and two, this made Galveston an even more important race to do well at. Just a small bump in the road though.
The Race
The swim was a very mellow deep water start. We were all spread out fairly well at the beginning so when the gun went off there wasn’t any fighting or getting kicked and trampled. My training buddy Dylan McNeice was off like a shot. I quickly got on his feet and swam behind him until the first buoy. After the first buoy I thought he’d want me to pull for a bit so I swam up next to him to take the lead. When I was even with him we ended up swimming stroke for stroke for about 50m. I wasn’t able to pass him so I ended up just slowing down and slotting in behind him again and just stayed there until the exit. Since I didn’t have a swim bonus for this race, there was no need to be first out of the water so I spent the entire swim trying to conserve as much energy as possible. When I exited the water I felt amazing! I felt like I had just loosened up a bit, not just raced an open water mile. I had one of the fastest T1 of the day and was on the bike first.
I have spent the last 2 weeks riding A LOT more than normal. For non-drafting races the bike is much more important than in an ITU race. Because I have been hammering myself on my TT bike, and because of my conservative swim, I ended up leading the bike all the way to the 12.4mi turnaround point. Olympian Matt Reed was 30 seconds down on me out of the water, and finally caught me on the bike at the turnaround. After the turn around I felt really good and was able to ride side by side with Matt all the way to mile 20. By this point we had a solid 1.5 minute gap on the rest of the field, and were riding strong enough to put even more time on them by the end of the ride. I was thinking to myself, “this is perfect, this is exactly where I need to be right now” then all of the sudden an official on a motorcycle rides up next to us and points at me and says “STAND DOWN! 1 MIN PENALTY!” I yelled back “Are you serious? I’m more then 2m away!” “PULL OVER!” was the response. So I pulled over to the side of the road, unclipped both my feet and stood there until he came over. “For 22 seconds you were a little less than 2m apart from Mr. Reed!” (The “drafting zone” for USAT Pro events is 2m, which means that you must be at least 2m to the right or left of the competitor in front of you) I responded “There’s no way! Matt was next to the cones in the center of the road, and I was next to the bike line, that’s a full LANE apart, not less than 6.5 feet! Plus, there was a massive cross wind which I was taking! Also, if I was within 2m of Matt, that means he was within 2m of me, how come he didn’t get a penalty?” “Mr. Reed’s wheel was in front of yours when we came up on you, so it was your infraction.” VERY FRUSTRATING! When you get a penalty, the clock doesn’t start until both your feet are on the ground, so not only do you have to slow down and pull over safely before the clock even starts, after the minute is up, you have to clip back in and start from scratch (which sucks big time if you forget to change out of your second biggest gear, which I did!) Surprisingly, for the whole time I was standing down and getting started again, no one passed me on the bike! I was stoked, but then realized what a big lead I just lost.
So now Matt was out of sight, my legs were stiff from standing there, my adrenaline and momentum were gone, I had to put a lot of extra effort into getting back up to speed again, and I was mentally out of it from being so frustrated – not a good combination in the middle of a race.
Jordan Jones (who had the fastest bike split of the day) passed me with about 3 miles to go and I didn’t even try to ride with him. I rode my own “cruise plus” pace back to T2 and started the run in 3rd. Because of the pace I set coming back to transition I was caught by the chase pack of about 4 other guys, so they all started the run within a few seconds of me. I was passed by Chris Foster almost immediately and just watched him go by. I didn’t even react. I was seriously so Livid about the penalty that I literally couldn’t get myself to suffer on the run. I didn’t want to battle those guys and kill myself for a 2nd or 3rd place finish. At that point, I hate to say it, but I basically wussed out and decided I was going to get 4th. I ran, not raced, the first of two laps until Derek Oskutis caught me and then I ran with him the rest of the race. I just wanted to zone out until the run was over. Having him there was a huge help! I just ran right behind him until about the last 800m or so then decided I was going to go. I negative split my 5k’s by going a 17:05/16:48. When I finished I wasn’t even breathing hard, I could have done another lap on the run if I wanted. I am pretty disappointed in myself for finishing the race that way; it’s not a good example of what a professional should do, or what I would coach any of my kids to do.
What I learned from this race is that the mental aspect is just as important as being in good shape. This race was a great indicator of how far my fitness has come, and how much I need to improve mentally and emotionally.

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