Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ITU Toronto

I was really excited to be getting back onto the ITU circuit again. It was going to be a solid field of about 50 guys. The draft-legal racing is a lot of fun and presents a lot of new challenges to me. I was feeling good about my fitness after a great race at Trirock Philly. I also felt more prepared going in this time than I did going into Sarasota. I was feeling it could be another breakthrough race for me. It was also going to be my first time leaving the country, so I knew the whole trip would be a new experience for me.

I got to Toronto Thursday night, so plenty of time to settle in with a Saturday race. Toronto is a massive city which was really cool to see. The day before the race I was feeling pretty good, just doing a little bit of training to keep my body responding. I also found out the water was actually freezing. Thank goodness I brought my wetsuit, cause it really was stupid cold.

Sleep went well the night before. It was a 9:30 start time which was perfect for me. That meant get up at my normal 6:00, eat breakfast, and start getting mentally ready to go. I arrived at the race site as the women were racing with a chance to watch them to see how they negotiated some of the technical sections of the course. I went through my normal warm up and was feeling good about things.

We all walked over to the pontoon for race start. This was the first race I would be wearing my new Zone3 wetsuit. They tore right through athlete presentation as they were running a little late. With only one ITU race under my belt it meant a low rank, so a starting spot right in the middle. Within a few seconds we got the command and then the horn, which is only a split second after making it almost impossible to false start. I pretty much just go into a running start from the time they say take your mark. I felt like I got a pretty good jump and at about 50m felt like I was towards the front. Maybe I got too content and let off the gas a little or everybody just started going a little faster, but all of a sudden I was right in the middle of the brawl. I really am not good in this moment, and it is the single spot where I need to improve. I get too passive and search for clean water, and that is not the way to get to the front of the race. By 200m I knew I was pretty far behind and the field would start to split. Once I got some clean water I started to swim through the field, but the damage had been done. You can only bridge so many gaps in the water. I actually felt really good, but my poor start dug such a big hole for me that I missed the big chase group. I led the third pack out of the water feeling pretty good. For the first wetsuit swim in my life my shoulders felt strong all the way through. That's the new Zone3 suit. Running out I found out I was about 1:30 down on the leaders.

                                                         After watching the video I think I actually got a good jump. 
                                                         Probably just slowed up too early. I think I'm one of the ones
                                                         near the middle with red by the wrists.

I quickly got on my bike and grouped up with a small chase pack. I feel like we had a lot of firepower, but a couple who had no idea how to conduct an organized chase. Every time one person doesn't pull through you need to restart your rotation and you lose probably 5 seconds. Do this several times per lap for 7 laps and you're talking minutes. I was tearing myself apart trying to get us to the big chase pack, but it is difficult when you've got physics against you trying to catch a massive pack. We were losing time every lap, but had no choice but to soldier on. You've got to go 100% even when everything seems to be going wrong. My heart rate for the entire bike was 180-182. I'm not sure how I sustained that high of an effort, but I also knew that there would probably be nothing left for the run, but I had to try to stay as close as possible.

I hopped off and was surprised that my legs took to running pretty well. They were clearly fatigued, but not as bad as I thought they might be. I was able to run down a lot of guys from the packs ahead and salvage a 17th place finish with around a 31:50 10k. I think had I swam 30 seconds quicker and made the big chase pack then I could have rested my legs much much more and then achieved the run I've been looking for of possibly doing under 31 min. I know it is in me, I just can't bike my legs off, and that starts with good positioning in the swim.

                                                                                              How's my form?

So, the race was definitely not what I was looking for, but I gained a lot of knowledge about where I need to be better. I think if I can figure out the first 200m of the swim then I can be really successful in ITU racing. I always also try to look at the positives. I stayed positive the whole time even when things continued to look worse. I also was able to still run pretty fast off of such an incredibly hard bike. I think that is a sign that I am very fit and just need the experience to put myself in position and really let it rip.

I also think it is important to not only look as race results and such, but also enjoy the life experiences. Triathlon has brought me to so many places, and it brought me out of the country for the first time in my life. That is something that I think is important to acknowledge and value as I may not have the opportunity to go the places I go if it weren't for triathlon.

I have to thank Neil for being my right hand man all weekend. I am excited to be a part from the start of NV Endurance with him. I have to thank Coach Matt of The Sport Factory for dealing with my frustrations after the race and helping me see the ups of the day and keep looking positive into the future. I also have some of the best supporters in Kiwami, SCOTT, and Zone3 that help me push my limits and prepare me with what I need on the start line. I can't forget Mom and Dad as they are always my biggest supporters always following my races with live updates and giving me a call right afterwards. I really am a lucky guy to have all of the support that I do.

Now it's back to recover and training. I'm also extremely excited to be heading out the the Olympic Training Center on the 18th for a developmental camp with USA Triathlon. It has always been a dream of mine to go the the OTC as an athlete, and now it is coming true.

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