February 10, 2014

ITU Pegasus Double Super Sprint: First Race of the Season

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my blog, but I’ll fill you in with a quick rundown: After my final race of the season at the San Diego Super Sprint I had a short break where I went on a road trip with my girlfriend, Katie Hursey; kicked off all my base training in Santa Cruz; and then flew to New Zealand for my squads winter camp (where I’ll be until April 7th). It’s been busy, but training is going extremely well and the squad is incredible!

Because last year was a bit of a struggle-fest in terms of crashes, injuries, illness, and other unfortunate events, I had to race early this season to get some points to be able to get into bigger races. Racing a sprint distance race in early February is a shock to the system in general, which means that racing a double super sprint was going to be another level of "Oof".

The format of this race was 300m swim (straight across), 10k bike (2 laps), and 2.5k run (1 lap). There were two heats of Semi-Finals and then one hour later the top 15 from each heat raced the final. Without going into too much detail, this course was “interesting”. Point to point swim, technical bike, and the run was on a foot path the size of a sidewalk. It was a good venue and well organized but the race was pretty hectic.

The start position on the beach was interesting because the beach was not facing the buoy, so when everyone dove into the water, everyone from the left didn’t go straight into the water, they all went to the right. What this meant was that instead of swimming, it was just a fight. At the first buoy (which was about 100m away) I was in probably 15th spot. I finally made my way to the outside and bridged up to Tony Dodds and exited the water in second. Onto the bike he had a small gap but I rode up to him and after that short time my legs already felt the pressure of the immediate hard effort on the bike. We had one other Kiwi bridge up to us and the three of us rode together for the next 8k. We ended up getting caught the last 2k by a chase group of five guys and the eight of us rode into T2 together. I had a poor transition and was out on the run in 7th or 8th and already felt the effects of the bike. I just concentrated on my form and slowly moved my way through the field until I was running shoulder to shoulder with another athlete in second place. Since this was just the semi-final I cruised it into the finish in 3rd position and was feeling alright about everything, but knew the final was going to be really hard!

I was 6th in choosing my place on the start line and I decided to pick an outside starting position opposite to where the first five men chose - even though the beach start was extremely skewed in favor of the opposite side. I didn’t want to mud wrestle with the field again and figured I’d rather swim extra then get beat up. It worked out well, the swim was much easier, but once again, having to make up the extra meters in a 300m wetsuit swim was a challenge.

I exited the water in 3rd or 4th, had a good transition, and was on the bike second. Doddsy was just ahead at the beginning and Ryan Sissons was next to me getting onto the bike. I got on Ryan’s wheel, got my feet in my shoes, and just sat on his wheel until Tom Davison came flying by. Out of the water it was just one massive group of people so if we wanted to establish a lead group it was going to have to be in the first few K’s. We all rode hard in the super windy conditions, and by the time we were approaching the 1k mark we had a group of 7. After about 4k our group had about 20 seconds to a chase group of 15 guys. I had just taken a pull when the course turned into a heavy cross wind section and when I pulled off the front, Davison (who just came in third at the NZL Elite Road Cycling Championships), was on the front and put everyone in the gutter. I was battling to stay with the group the entire section and when we finally made it through and were beginning lap 2 I ended up being on a bad wheel and getting gapped around a corner. The person in front was able to bridge back onto the group but my legs had nothing! I was pushing over 700w but couldn’t make up any ground. I ended up riding solo for the next 4k until I got caught by the chase group of 15 just before transition.

I had a solid transition and was out on the run with all the others. The problem with this run course was that the small winding foot path was too small and technical to pass people. According to ITU rules you’re not allowed to run on the grass, you have to stay on the asphalt, so passing was a real challenge. In the beginning quite a few guys went out too hard and so I was stuck behind a large group of men as they started to fade and I wanted to get by them. My legs were already thrashed from the bike effort, so the run was really painful and frustrating. I ended up finishing in 19th which is good to get the cobwebs out, but not anything that I’m proud of.

There were a few factors that contributed to the result, but the main factor was how different this type of race was to the type of training that I’ve been doing. It’s hard to be preparing for an entire season by building a solid foundation of endurance and then jump into a race that is pure anaerobic mania.

Next up is Mooloolaba! See you soon Australia!