June 19, 2012

Banyoles ITU World Cup

When I woke up race morning I wasn’t sure how well my body had recovered from the Toulouse FGP, but when I rolled out of bed and tried to stand up I quickly found out the answer - I was worked. My legs were heavy and tight, and my entire body was fatigued and sluggish. I made it down the stairs and had a quality pre-race breakfast with Greg Billington and Lukas Verzbicas. After breakfast and getting the body moving a bit I was feeling slightly better, but not feeling like I was about to have a life changing performance.

The reason why I raced two races, in two days, in two countries (and the main reason why I’m not racing WTS Kitz) is because I was under contract with my French Grand Prix team to race Toulouse. I’m in Europe for racing, traveling, and training experience; this weekend combined all of these factors and after this experience I think I’m ready for most anything!

Since I was starting the race completely fatigued (and I knew the course was flat and fast so most likely there would end up being one group of 60 men on the bike) my plan was to do as little work as possible on the swim and the bike, then see how well I was able to run. Surprisingly, everything went perfectly to plan.

I got a great starting position on the pontoon, followed by a great start, followed by getting on some great feet! Everything was going perfectly. I stayed out of trouble on the swim, and conserved as much energy as possible. I was surprised at how slow the swim was despite there being about 8 or 9 Russians on the start line (the Russians are known for all being fast swimmers). After the first lap of the swim I was in about 10th position and comfortable, on the second lap the pace slowed to a float it seemed, and it was 4 wide at the front because no one wanted to take over the lead. I ended up swimming right up the middle of the field and exited the water first. I was the first person in T1 and had a great transition.

Once I was on the bike, I went straight into “sit-in mode”. It was the polar opposite of the day before, or of any race I’ve done in Europe so far. No one wanted to go to the front and push the pace, so even though our lead group of about 30 men out of the water had 25 seconds on the chase group, the chase group caught us after the 1st lap. I’m kind of embarrassed of how slow the bike ride was (in my opinion it was the slowest cycle leg of any race I’ve done) but I was sticking to my plan of not doing any work. The course was six un-technical laps of perfectly paved roads that go around the lake where we swam. There was only one section that goes through town right before transition that has three 90 degree turns and a couple of speed bumps, but other than that, it was easy peasy.

I made sure to stay near the front, but never on the front for more than I needed. The only time I was on the front was leading into the technical section and before transition. I ended up having the fastest T2 of the day and was on the run course 2nd (I was 1st out of the main group, but there was one guy who had broken away on the bike and was 30 seconds up on everyone).

I locked into a solid pace and found a group to run with. After lap one there were a few distinct groups formed, the leaders (Laurent Vidal, Dmitry Polyansky, and eventual winner Lukas Verzbicas), the first chase group of about 5 men, then our group of about 8. After the second lap it was starting to string out a bit and I found myself sitting in about 12th position running with one other guy. At this point I was really hurting. All I could do was tell myself “It will be over in 10 minutes, you can do it!” I was pushing myself as hard as I possibly could to stay with the guy in front of me, but I started to die. I got passed and passed, but also passed a few guys who were in front of me, so with about 1k to go I had no idea what position I was in. At this point I was hurting so bad that I was now telling myself “You can make it, even if you have to walk”.

With 600m to go I was closing in on one of my French Grand Prix Team mates Igor Polyansky from Russia. That gave me a little extra boost as I caught him with 400m to go. Right when we hit the blue carpet about 200m from the line I gave it everything! I started my sprint and about 8 steps into it I almost fell flat on my face. I got really dizzy, my legs buckled and I honestly don’t know how I stayed upright all the way to the finish line. I don’t know if I got passed or what (turns out I finished in 17th) but when I crossed the line I just clung onto the barrier for dear life. I couldn’t walk and had to be carried to the medical tent where I stayed for 20 minutes until I could walk again. My body temperature was 39 degrees C, or about 102F!

I drank two bottles on the bike and took two PowerBar gels, and I drank and poured water on me at EVERY aid station on the run. I played the race perfectly, but I guess I pushed myself a little too hard for having raced and traveled the day before. What I’m excited about is the fact that if I could go back and change one thing about the way I raced, I wouldn’t change anything!

1 comment:

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