March 17, 2013

ITU Clermont and Sarasota

After the Brazil Fast Triathlon I had two weeks to prepare for ITU Clermont. Because I spent an entire week in Brazil with no pool, sketchy riding conditions, and a not-so-ideal running situation, I wasn’t able to get all the training in that I needed for that week. I ended up having basically a “rest week” instead of an important training week. When I got back to our training base in Clermont I was flying! All my sessions were spot on, and I was feeling great. We trained hard until the Saturday before the race and then tapered down a bit. My problem was that I already had a “forced recovery” week and now was resting after already being rested.

Clermont Sprint:
I had a great start and after a few dolphin dives I already had clear water which made for a very relaxing swim. I was able to exit the water about 15-20seconds ahead of the rest of the field and cruise through transition. Once on the bike the plan was to hammer solo and hopefully have a few guys bridge up around the completion of lap one. When I first got on my bike I felt absolutely terrible. My legs felt dull and I couldn’t push anywhere near the power I had been pushing the week before. When I came around the turnaround I still had about a 15-20 second lead on the chase group of about 10 guys which included all the major players, and after I saw who was in the group I immediately sat up and waited for them. Once together we rode strong, but not nearly as organized as we could have been. 

I was hoping my body would start feeling better as the laps went on, but I just felt worse and worse. It was really frustrating, but I kept telling myself “it’s okay, you’ll feel better on the run!” The chase pack (which included some very fast runners) were holding the same gap on us so I was really trying to keep our group moving into T2. I ended up being at the front of our group for the entire last 1k because no one wanted to pull through coming into transition. I just kept pushing harder and harder leading into T2 to maintain our lead on the chase group and to not lose my position.
I ended up being second into T2 and about third out. Right when I started the run I couldn’t breathe. I ran as hard as I could but was going nowhere. It was a painful 5k and I ended up running over a minute slower than I did last year on the same course. I finished a disappointing 13th, but Joel and I learned a lot about how my body reacts to training/tapering and can now make adjustments to bring me into races the best way possible.

Sarasota Olympic:
Right after the Clermont race Joel and I sat down and discussed how to prepare for Sarasota which was only one week later. We took what we learned from Clermont and used that knowledge to tweak a few things in hopes of redemption!

When the race started I immediately got destroyed. I was getting swum on top of by what seemed like a makeshift crew of manatees, elephant seals, and random sunfish.  By the first buoy (which was 300m out) I was in probably 15th position. After the second buoy I could see Andrew McCartney with a solid 20 second gap already. When the group strung out a bit I was able to get out of the chaos and take my own line to the buoy and have clear water the rest of the way. I knew there would be no point in bridging up to Andrew because on the dead flat bike course I would need to get out of the water with a few other guys if we wanted a lead group to stay away. I continued to swim nice and smooth and USA athletes Luke Farkas, and Joe Maloy were able to stay in touch for the rest of the swim. When I saw McCartney get out of the water I counted 13 seconds and by the time I got out of the water I looked back and saw Luke and Joe just behind me with a sold 20 seconds on the rest of the field. 

I was able to cruise through transition and got on the bike right next to Farkas. The two of us caught McCartney on the bike within about 30 seconds and we formed a lead group of three. We worked hard together and had 28 seconds on the chase group after lap one. Luke and I kept pushing hard but the pace was a bit too high for Andrew and he wasn’t able to pull through anymore. We maintained our 25-30sec gap after lap two and Luke put in a massive effort through transition and we ended up dropping McCartney. We were still riding hard into the headwind when all the sudden Luke wasn’t pulling through. I looked back and realized he had sat up and the chase pack was only 15 seconds back.

Once in the lead pack of 15 men we tried to stay organized and put more and more time into the chase group. By the time we came into T2 we had almost two minutes on them. I had a solid T2 and was out on the run first. The two Portuguese men (Pereira and Arraiolos) bridged up after the first lap and I decided to just run on their shoulders the rest of the run. Pereira and I ended up dropping Arraiolos on the 3rd lap and ran side by side the rest of the way. I tried about 4 attacks but he bridged back up every time. With 400m to go I knew positioning would be crucial for the sprint so I went and got the inside line, but Pereira was much too strong for me and powered away through the line.

It would have been nice to have an ITU victory under my belt, but I’m very satisfied with my 2nd place finish which should give me enough points to race WTS San Diego!