Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2 WTS Beatdowns and 2 Rebounds

Over the last couple months I have been busy licking my mental wounds from my introduction to WTS racing and then finding a bit of success at a Continental Cup and a non-draft race.  Traveling is not one of my favorite things but having Melissa with me when I do makes a world of difference.

My first experience of WTS racing was a sprint distance in London.  I had to go to Spain a few days early to adjust to the time difference.  It is impossible to train in London so I found myself in Vittoria, Spain leading up to the race.  Once in London it was time to get focused for my first race against an Olympic caliber field.  I was feeling confident during the swim, the whole field was together in a large pack.  Once out on the bike I realized what it truly meant to race a WTS race.  There is no relaxing...ever.  It is a fast paced full out sprint once you dive in to the water.  I exited the water 10 seconds behind Richard Murray, and no one behind him made the front pack.  It was like my first draft legal race I ever did, I was in a pack of 6 guys trying to catch a pack of 55. It didn't happen in my fist race and it was definitely not going to happen in London.  I had a sub par run, but I'm not sure if it was because of the intensity of the race or that I was mentally defeated before I even got off the bike.  I finished a career worst 54th place.  Post race I didn't have the energy to explore London at all, I was ready to be home.

Round 2 of WTS racing took place a mere 103 miles from my house, in Chicago. I was very excited to be racing that close to home.  Not only was traveling there easy, but a large amount of my family were able to come and watch the race.  I knew the bike course would be challenging, but not in the way I enjoy.  I like hills and a few corners.  The course in Chicago had 40 - 180 degree turns over 40km.  Usually a course will have one or two and I previously thought 16 in 40km was crazy.  My swim was ok in the rough water of Lake Michigan and I came out with a small group.  The first couple laps of the bike went well, but then the numerous accelerations out of the 180s caught up with me and I was unable to stay in the bike pack.  It was the first time in my life I got dropped from a bike pack.  Not one of my better moments but I stayed on the gas the best I could while solo and made it to the run.  I had a marginal run, but was happy to move through the field.  I ended up in 32nd.  Better than London, but still not a great outing for me.

After getting roughed up in WTS racing it was nice to have a continental cup on the schedule.  Melissa I drove to Magog, Canada.  We ended up logging over 2,000 total miles of driving on the trip.  Magog offered a hard bike course, but this time it was in the form of large rolling hills.  I felt good before the race and was excited to take on the course. Coming out of the water I was at the trail end of the front pack.  That was the first time I was there since Clermont in 2011 when the 750m swim consisted of about 250m of actual swimming.  I made the front pack out of transition and within 2 miles we caught the 4 leaders off the front.  I forgot what it was like to be in the front pack, it was so nice not chasing anyone! Any chance the pace got conversational up a hill I went to the front to keep it honest, since I knew there were a few good runners in the race.  I exited T2 in 3rd place and ran as hard as could to stay at the front.  Halfway through the run there were about 6 people running together but Kyle Jones was the only one that ever took a turn at the front.  We exchanged leads a few times, but with 500m to go he took charge of the race and never looked back.  Alan Webb also out kicked me so I ended up 3rd.  Normally that would be disappointing for me, but I was just happy to feel good during a race and at least find myself with a chance to win for the first time in a long time. 

I have the goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics and in order to do that I have to race draft legal ITU races, but when I get the chance I always enjoy a good non-draft race.  This year I was able to do the NYC triathlon.  I did the race 2 years ago and was happy to get back there again this year.  Other than the Hudson being really dirty the race is awesome.  If you ever get a chance to do the race, I highly recommend it.  The swim is 1500m straight down the river.  If you are looking for a swim PR, you will have no problems getting it there.  I am normally 18-20 min for 1500m and I exited the water in under 12 min.  The bike course is a very honest 40km with a lot of rolling hills, and is completely closed to cars.  This year it was rainy, and not to talk up sponsors too much but having the new Rudy Project Wing57 was fantastic. The lightly tinted visor was not too dark and no water at all disrupted my vision.  I rode most of the bike around a large pack and with the extra competition set a new career PR in average watts for a race.  Coming out of T2 I was with Chris Foster and Taylor Reid who were setting a blistering pace.  It normally takes me a little bit to get my legs going so it was nice to have those guys pushing the pace early.  Once we got in to Central Park (about 1mile in to the race) the hills started and I was able to get some separation from the pack.  At that point I thought I was in 3rd, chasing Cam Dye and Ben Collins.  I knew I was about 2 min down to Ben after the bike, but I never saw Cam towards the end of the bike.  The race was an equalizer format so there were a lot of woman at the front of the race.  In the rain at 25 mph I could not tell if Cam was mixed in with the them somewhere.  At 4 miles Cam was running the wrong way in Central Park, I found out later he flatted 5 miles in to the bike.  I was in 2nd!  That was all I needed to keep the pace high.  I actually had a chance at winning my first race!  With a mile to go I still could not see Ben anywhere but I could see Alicia Kaye.  I could not believe Ben was the far ahead of her, she beat him by about 20 seconds in Minneapolis.  I wasn't sure whether or not to pass Alicia with 100m to go, but I did anyway and the finish volunteers where not ready for me.  They lowered the finish tape they had ready for Alicia and I jumped over it.  I was very happy for the second race in a row.  NYC was probably my most complete triathlon.  I felt good the whole race and finished without a flat tire (there were 3 I know of).  I also set a PR in the doping tent.  For the first time in my life I got out of there in a little over an hour.  I wasn't able to shower before the awards, but the champagne took care of that on the podium.

With a little over a week before the HyVee 5150 Championship I am ready for another race. After the disappointing WTS races I gained a lot of confidence in Magog and NYC.  It's time for another good race, right?

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.  ~Julie Andrews