July 17, 2013

World Cup Palamos

Racing in Palamos, Spain was very nice because it’s only an hour drive away from our training base in Banyoles. We got there a couple days early and were able to ride the course a few times before the race. The course has a couple steep hills and some very technical sections that were good to know about so that when the race was on I would be prepared. 

My start number was right next to my St. Raphael teammate and super French swimmer Raoul Shaw, so when we lined up I was in perfect position from the get go. Right after we dove in I was on Raoul’s feet and we were at the front of the race. By swimming in Raoul’s draft the whole time I conserved lots of energy and was able to enter and exit transition at the front of the race. What this meant was that I had some buffer room to be able to get my feet in my shoes, drink some water, get my sunglasses on, and see what was going on around me. 

By the time the lead group got going it was just four of us and a small gap to some chasers. We pushed the first lap pretty hard, but by the time we were starting lap two the chase group of about 16 athletes had already caught us. When this happened I just tried to stay towards the front of the group without doing too much work, but positioning myself well. Once we were caught no one was willing to work and another group of about 25 riders were able to bridge up on lap three. The bigger the group became, the more important positioning meant, and on this course it was hard to make your move at the right time and stay safe. The trend of no one willing to work continued and a third chase pack of about 20 guys caught us on lap five. So now we had a group of almost 60 men on very sketchy, bumpy, technical, and tight course – not ideal. There were a few breakaway attempts and each time there was an American in a break I would sit up on the front and tell the other Americans to not chase. On lap six finally when one breakaway did stick, American Ben Kanute was able to be part of that group and from then on it was a game of trying to stay near the front, out of trouble, and not chase. Despite planning ahead, and knowing that the last lap was going to be very important for positioning into T2, I still ended up pretty far back coming into transition.

The back of the pack became all too familiar to me though, as I had just started running again, and this 10k was going to be my longest run I had done in a very long time. From the start of the run I felt like my legs were just two bags of bricks. Running felt so foreign to me and after the first K I could barely believe that I was going to have to run nine more kilometers! My shins and ankles felt fine though so I kept running. I ended up making it through the 10k slog-fest but it took me 37:52. I think this is my second slowest 10k I have ever run in a race, but I was able to finish the race, and my legs are completely uninjured! This race didn’t put me back in terms of training, and I was able to get another World Cup experience under my belt!

Now that I’m healthy and running again I will slowly build back up to where I was in the beginning of the year and hopefully end the season back in the form I was in Sarasota!

July 2, 2013

St. Jean De Mont and Change of Plans

After my crash in Les Sables, Joel and I had to make a few changes to my upcoming training/race schedule. These were tough decisions and had to be based off how quickly I could recover and get back in shape. As a person who likes to plan ahead and be prepared, I was not enjoying the “cross that bridge when I get to it” lifestyle. It took me a full week before I was able to do any sort of training, and when I did start back up I was only biking about an hour at about 100w (if you call that “training”). By the time St Jean race week was up I was able to swim, bike, and run and was confident that I would be able to race for my French team that weekend. 

Enter Debbie Downer number two: Stomach bug.
A few days before flying out to St Jean, my roommate Richard Murray and I ate something that didn’t sit right with our stomachs. I thought it was just a 24hr food poisoning bug and so I figured I could sweat it out in a day and be alright to go on with life. I ended up feeling alright the day after and only had remnants of my sickness and decided to go on with Plan A.

I got extremely lucky and found out that my training partner, Mario Mola, had decided to race that weekend. What this meant was that I had a ride to and from the airport and a rental car travel buddy – very important things when you are a tired triathlete. Thanks to Mario, travel was a lot of fun and we were able to get some nice training in before the race (all good training except for a swim session in a 30c degree saltwater pool!).

The Race:
It was extremely windy and that made the 750m ocean swim a wild one. I was able to get out quick and was at the first buoy right next to two of my team mates, Raoul Shaw and Ben Kanute. We exited the water 1, 2, 3 within a few seconds of each other and were on the bike ready to try and get away. I had a good transition and ended up leading almost the entire first section of the bike (which was along the ocean and around about nine roundabouts). I was waiting for others to come up and hoping that we could get organized but when I looked back, there were people going on both sides of the roundabouts (even though there were barricades on the left side). Around the final roundabout I went around on the same side that I had been going on all of them (to the right) and when I looked over there was a few guys going on the left and cutting off a big chunk of time (this was legal apparently). When I went around the outside of the roundabout, Ben Kanute (who is extremely strong on the bike) ended up sliding out. I heard him crash and a couple thoughts crossed my mind: “Crap, we need him to be able to stay away!” and “Dang, I hope he’s ok!” Turns out he was fine, and was able to get back on the bike when the chase pack of guys were coming around (including Johnny Brownlee, Mario).

The lead group of us didn’t work well together, it was only me, Raoul, and Vincent Luis taking pulls in the front group so by the time we started the second lap, I looked back and found that Johnny and Mario were on my wheel. When I saw this I was like “Dang, game over” and just sat in the group the rest of the bike. My goal at this point was to not crash, which was a heavy task because of how sketchy the course was and how windy it was. “Just make it off the bike so you can finish the race” was my only thought. I ended up riding extremely “safe” the rest of the ride and was happy to see that Ben Kanute attacked the field on lap three and ended up getting a solid 25 seconds into T2! I ended up running the best I could, but that only landed me in about 37th place (meanwhile Mario went on to win the race, tying with his team mate Johnny Brownlee). 37th is actually not that bad considering I had done nothing for a couple weeks leading up to this race, but I would like to have performed a bit better for my team.

After the race I was alright, but that night I ended up having a sickness relapse. I had the worst fever of my entire life and was the first time I wanted to just fly straight home. The next day I had a massive head ache and took it extremely easy, and once again, my travel buddy Mario was there to take care of me.

After I got back to Banyoles, I had one day to “recover” before flying out to Belgium to a run lab to get scans and my run tested. I ended up throwing up on that flight and feeling like death the whole day. But the tests went well and I got some custom made orthopedic insoles for my shoes so it was a success! That night I was able to eat some solid food and get a good night sleep before flying back to Banyoles. 

When I got back I took the next few days very easy to regroup and get my feet back under me. At this point Joel and I decided that after all I had been through it was better to not travel for a while. As much as I would like to race Kitzbuhel, the most epic race on the WTS circuit, it was better to not hit the start line in my condition (Luckily Ben Kanute was able to replace my start spot!).

Next up for me is Palamos World Cup. It’s a short drive from Banyoles and I should be able to have some solid training under my belt to make it a sweet “comeback”.