April 28, 2014

ITU Barbados Sprint Pan American Cup

After a terrible start to my 2014 race season, I flew back to the USA to regroup, refocus, and completely redo my entire race schedule. I need ITU points to get starts at races, and I didn’t get any significant points in my first four races which forced me to take a step back and race some lower level events. 

A week before this race I made the decision to move to Clermont, Florida for five weeks and live with Jarrod Shoemaker and his wife Alicia Kaye. The rationale behind this decision had quite a few different factors - Jarrod and Alicia are fantastic people and have supported me from literally day one of my professional career; Alicia and I (along with Helle Frederiksen, who also lives in Clermont) have the same coach which means that we are able to have quite a few quality sessions together; I have lived in Clermont before so I am already accustomed to the training environment; travel to my upcoming events and Europe is much easier; and Clermont can offer some very quality hot training which is perfect preparation for my next two important races – the first being ITU Barbados.

The Race:
The swim was a one lap ocean swim with a solid current and some chop. It was a beach entry, which is my favorite, and it helped spread the field out right away. Around the first buoy I saw there was one guy on my feet and another just behind. I kept the pace nice and smooth in hopes of saving energy and getting a third man into a breakaway situation.

I exited the water with about a two second lead over a guy from Venezuela, and about 10 seconds to Jarrod. I cruised through transition, got my feet in my shoes, drank some fluid, and got my glasses on while waiting for the two men behind to ride up. After 2k both men had bridged up and I yelled to them “alright, let’s go!” I put my head down and started to ride hard. The VEN guy pulled through but there was no one on his wheel. I didn’t look back I figured Jarrod was just sitting in a couple turns to recover after having to ride up to me. The second time through the rotation… still no Jarrod. I looked back and saw that he was sitting up waiting for the chase group. I rode next to the VEN guy and said “ride, or wait?” after a bit of thought he said “ride!” so I said “Alright, let’s do it!” We continued to work together really well taking about 20-30 second pulls in the windy conditions and I thought to myself “wow, this guy can ride pretty well, we might have a shot at staying away!” After the first lap (of five) we had a seven second gap, after the second lap we had 12 seconds, after third lap we had about 20 seconds (and this was me riding within myself, not destroying my legs. I was riding hard enough to try and stay away, but keeping in mind my power and making sure I was going to be able to run solid off the bike). Starting the third lap Senior VEN had used up all his cookies apparently and slowed down drastically. I encouraged him “You can do it, we can stay away! Keep pushing, we can do it!” but he was done. At the turn around 3.5 laps in our gap had gone from 20 seconds down to 6 in just 2k, I looked to my breakaway buddy and said “good work!” we shook hands then sat up and waited for the chase group which was 15 strong. From then on the focus was on careful positioning and doing my best to not crash in the gnarly cross winds as well as conserving energy for the fast 5k run.

I attacked the group 400m out of T2 and had a nice small gap to cruise through transition and be able to build into the run instead of having to play catch up the first K. I ended up getting caught by a group of four including Alex Hinton and 2012 Olympian Manny Huerta. After one lap of the two lap course, Hinton, Huerta and I had dropped the other two and it was now a race for the three spots on the podium. Knowing how good of runners the two others were, I did not want to leave this race to a sprint. I figured my best bet was to crack them mentally in the hot conditions, so I attacked just before the turn around about 1.5k from the finish. I got a gap on both of them and kept pushing. I knew that I needed to keep the gap to them because of the wind and I didn’t want them to get into my draft. After 600m I had dropped Huerta, but Hinton had bridged up and was sitting on my shoulder no problem. I backed off just a bit so I would have something left at the end, but when Hinton made his move around me with 400m to go I had absolutely nothing. I tried to go with him but my legs were lead and my lungs were burning. Hinton ended up beating me by about 12 seconds, and those 12 seconds he put on me were just in the last 300m! It was extremely painful, but it felt really good to have crossed the line having given EVERYTHING I had.

I’m extremely happy to be back on track with my racing, and to have seen some good numbers on the bike and in the run. Next up is ITU Dallas PATCO Continental Championships on May 31st.

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