March 5, 2012

ITU Clermont: First Race of 2012

At last, the first race of the season! The time has finally arrived for me to harvest my “training to train” seeds which have been steadily growing over the past few months. There are a few factors that accelerated my fitness growth, and also my mental preparation for this season. The biggest factor is all thanks to the training crew of Bevan Docherty and Paul Matthews who are able to make every workout fun and challenging, and for taking the time to give me advice every day. Thanks to these guys I have been able to see exponential improvements as a triathlete over the last few months.  Another addition is the awesome two week block I had with Matt Chrabot who encouraged me and helped give me a solid dose of confidence leading into this race season. The final factor is everyone that has supported me by following my career and sending me positive messages. This encouragement helps me become the best I can be!

The “Swim” at this race is basically who can run through knee deep water the best because the lake is so shallow, so when the gun went off I found myself well behind all of these elite Gazelle-frogfish who were just running halfway to the buoy. I tried high kneeing and dolphin dives, but I couldn’t keep up with anyone. Finally when the water got deeper and everyone had to swim, I slowly moved my way up from about 30th to 4that the first buoy. Around the second buoy I was in 3rd right behind Dustin Mclarty, which was the perfect position to be in. Dustin and I swam into the headwind chop that was making the swim fairly challenging – which was good. About halfway into shore, I looked back to see where everyone was and was happy to see Dustin and I had a solid 10m gap. At this point Dustin had been pulling for quite a ways, so I decided to go to the front. I breathe to my right and I was passing him on the right, so as I was passing him I decided to breathe to my left to see where he was. To my shock I see a group of guys running past Dustin and I as we are swimming, so then it was back to dolphin dive high knee mode. Luckily I grew up doing Jr. Guards and I was able to high knee my way out fairly efficiently and was 2nd out of the water behind Peter Kerr and we had a 10 second gap.

I had a solid T1 and was on the bike first. I got my feet in my shoes no problem and was ready to go. I looked back and waited for Kerr to get his feet in his shoes and then I really started hammering. Looking at the start list of this race I knew it was going to be a ridiculously fast run because of the international talent that was toeing the line, so my plan A was to drill the bike and get away from the faster runners. After about 2 min I flicked my elbow and no one came through. I looked back and there was a group of about 4 or 5 others who had bridged up – even better I thought! Wrong. After about 15 more seconds William Huffman came through, then Andrew Yorke, then Jason Wilson, then… nobody. I looked back and I was thinking “Are you serious, we have a gap let’s go!” but no one else was willing to pull. After that quick shocker, Yorke and Wilson had a gap so I closed it and pulled through again. For a lap and a half it was the same pattern “Yorke-Wilson-Zaferes” over and over again with 3 guys just sitting on the back. We had a 10 second gap at lap 1 (of 4) but by 1.5 laps we had been caught by the chase pack of about 15 guys. At this point I changed my strategy to plan B – Sit in. I didn’t do any work the rest of the ride; I just stayed out of the wind and out of trouble. I did make a mistake by letting myself get boxed in and so I wasn’t able to get closer to the front of the group into T2 and ended up being about 20th onto the run.

When I started the run I was pretty far back, I had to slowly bridge my way up to the lead pack of 6 guys and by the time I got up there Jarrod Shoemaker had gapped that group already. At the halfway point Shoemaker had 10 seconds on the group of Kyle Jones, Kaleb VanOrt, Yuchi Hosada, Adam Bowden, Peter Kerr, and I. From then it was very tactical and so I stayed out of the wind pacing off the others in the group. At the final turnaround (which was a little over 1k to go) Jones surged and I went with him. We dropped everyone else in the group and we had a big enough gap that I was fairly confident that I was going to podium. With 300m to go I was ready to see how my sprint was going to fair against Jones (who is currently ranked 13th in the world) but I had pushed myself to the max. He gapped me with 200m to go and at 100m from the line my body cracked. It was literally EVERYTHING I could do to stay upright. My legs and my arms were moving but I was almost fully out of it. My vision got blurry and I have no idea how I didn’t fall over. “Just get to the line, just get to the line!” I was telling myself over and over again. Kerr had brought the large gap down to 2 seconds right before the line but I managed to hold him off and cross the line in 3rd place and grabbed onto the first person I could. I then spent about 5 min hanging onto a barricade having water dumped on me. 

This was my first experience of having my body crack before my mind. It’s good to know what my body is capable of, how far I’m able to push, and to know I gave this race 100%. I’m beyond excited about finishing my first race of the season with a podium, but even more excited to finally get some much needed ITU ranking points! Full Results

1 comment:

  1. You didn't mention it was 80 degrees out there.
    YOU are amazing!