August 18, 2013

ITU Tiszy World Cup

The Tiszuavaros World Cup in Hungary is a slightly different format from normal ITU triathlons. It’s a two day event where you race a Semi-Final sprint distance (750m Swim-20k Bike-5k Run) race on Saturday, and if you qualify, you race the final (another sprint distance race) on Sunday. Not only do you have to come in top seven out of a 25 man heat to qualify for finals, you have to race as efficient as possible to be able to perform well two days in a row.

Out of the four heats, I got a very lucky heat draw that was full of a solid amount of strong swimmers. This was perfect because it was our chance to swim hard and get a breakaway on the bike. The benefit of this is that if we swam and rode really hard, the gap we could get to the chase group would allow us to cruise on the run, thus giving us the opportunity to qualify for finals and not have to waste too much energy. 

Things could not have gone more perfectly. A group of six of us had a small gap of eight seconds out of the water, and everyone worked super hard on the bike without missing a turn and we turned that gap into 1:30 entering T2. We all ran somewhat hard for the first K and once our group was established on the run we all ran together making jokes with each other until the finish. The best part about the entire group qualifying for the final meant that we would all have the opportunity to repeat the same tactic on Finals day.

The next day I was actually pretty tired. Even though we got to cruise the semi’s run, we still rode really hard and that took its toll on my legs. The final wasn’t until 5pm so I had the entire day to rest and get psyched up. Even though I went through all my normal preparations I still hit the start line felling pretty sluggish, but once the race started, it was business as usual.

Since this was the more important race of the weekend, I was ready to drill the swim and get a bigger gap out of the water to make sure we could get a group away again. After lap two of the three lap swim I took a peek back and saw I had a few meter gap to the 2nd swimmer. This wasn’t a good thing because I wanted to be able to drag the front pack with me out of the water, but with no one in my draft, if I swam faster it wouldn’t benefit anyone. I ended up cruising the last lap but still ended up out on the bike with a small gap to a chase group of eight others. I rode pretty hard for the first lap because I wanted them to have to ride hard to catch me and make sure we maintained a gap to the chasers. The group caught me towards the end of the first lap (there were eight laps of 2.5K), and when they did catch me I was happy to see they were all committed and ready to ride. We had a 30 second gap to the chase group that had all the super star runners, and we kept that gap for the first six laps. After that we kept pushing the pace and the chase group backed off a bit and allowed us to get a 50 second gap on them leading into T2.

This is where my race fell apart. I destroyed myself to be at the front into transition, but it all came crashing down when I put my bike in the rack and the rack wouldn’t hold my bike up. My bike ended up falling over three times (and I ended up just leaving it on the ground, and luckily didn't get a penalty) while I was trying to put my shoes on and I ended up losing between 8-10 seconds in transition. 

I was the last one out of T2 and had no one to run with. I tried to pace myself well, but I was in a very frustrated mindset. I ended up running alright, but I got passed by about seven people from the chase group and finished 16th. I would have liked a top 10, and honestly if I hadn’t gotten choked up in T2 I could have gotten one. 

Even though this race wasn’t a 100% success, it was still a great learning experience. It was also a good indication that my body has recovered from everything and I’m back on track to have a solid end of the season.

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