Sunday, July 20, 2014

Canadian Double

The last 10- days have been quite a whirlwind of traveling (1700 miles) and racing (2 continental cups and 1 local fun race). My mom, girlfriend, and I departed from Delaware the Thursday before the Toronto continental cup, drove to Rochester and spent the night at Melissa's parents, drove to Toronto, raced Saturday, drove to Watertown, NY Saturday night then Lake Placid Sunday morning, where we stayed until the following Friday. Then we headed to Quebec for the Magog continental cup. I have to first thank my mom and girlfriend, Melissa, for embarking on this long trip with me. It was great to have company and support!

These two races were initially races that I had targeted to really try to peak for. Unfortunately as elite sport goes, you do not always get exactly what you want, but you have to endure. As Winston Churchill said, "if you find yourself going through hell, keep going."

Toronto: I felt a bit underprepared logistically for this race as we had no chance to preview any part of the course as Toronto is quite a major city. We were told the water was about 18 C and would be a wetsuit legal swim in Lake Ontario. Over the night, the bay must have flipped as the water was close to 14 C and quite cold. There were 51 men lined up for the elite start. I felt like I got out well, made some moves around people when I felt them slowing and for 1K, really was sitting in good position. At this point, two athletes in front of me veered off hard to the right towards a marker bouy that we did not need to go around, and a gap was formed from where they left. that minuscule gap grew and I ended up getting out in 19:30 with the last person making the lead pack in 19:18.

I chased really hard for two laps with two Canadians and we caught a few stragglers, but we did not have much organization. Guys would take a hero pull and gap the group and then not be able to pull through the next time. This made for quite a frustrating ride. We had 7 laps with two 180s and a 200 meter hill at 15% each lap to navigate. My legs just felt fried and I did not have the run I know I should be capable of. I ended up 24th. Not where I wanted, but I have improved my swim immensely. I just need another 1-2 % improvement to be there.

After arriving in Lake Placid, I decided that whenever I decide it's time to race an ironman, I want to race this one. It is such an awesome mountain town with a nice small town feel but lots of things to do. 
Monday night, the hotel where I stayed advertised a mini triathlon that I thought would be cool to watch. All through the day Sunday and Monday, however, people kept saying how it was a very fun little event that has gone on for 31 years for 8 mondays in the summer and was more relaxed. I decided I would use it as a workout even though I was not feeling great for two days post race. 

I lined up in the water for the 400 m swim/12 mile bike/3 mile trail run and just figured I would go hard and have fun. A professional training for Ironman Lake Placid also came, Jesse Vondrasic, and I figured we would have a nice race (although my road bike versus his TT bike would likely make me hurt). I got a good minute lead in the swim but was eventually caught on the ride. 

 I used my training wheels for the race to get power numbers, and I was happy that I averaged 320 watts for the 30 minute ride that had good climbing and descending- giving an NP of 332 watts. I chased hard on the run- going 15:50 for 3 miles on trails but Jesse still had me by 2 seconds. We broke the existing course record and had a nice time. I got to meet a lot of the local athletes and the bike shop people. Overall, I was happy to do this. For the rest of the week, I just focused on recovering and taking in the sights. 
(my pool for the week)
after a nice trail run to Marcy Dam

The second race was the following Saturday in Magog. This is where I scored my first ITU points to get a world ranking came two years ago in an olympic distance race. This year, it was a difference course for a sprint, but still a race I really love. There is a solid 300 ft climb each lap followed by a technical descent where you easily hit 40 MPH. Again, I felt good I lined up in the far right next to Andrew Bysice and Kaleb VanOrt. I got out well for the beach start swim and found myself leading our side. The left side was a faster swimming side with super swimmers Hunter Lussi, Alex Lepage, and Andrew McCartney, so at the bouy, we had a melee as usual. 

I got stood up here and fought through. I again lost a little time on the leaders, which proved to be devastating to the race. I was out in 9:20, with the last athlete in the lead pack at 9:16. I chased hard again but just missed that group. We had a large chase pack but only 3 or 4 of us would take strong pulls at the front. I got off the bike determined to have a good run after running poorly last week. I caught a few guys from the main bunch with a 15:40 5k but was 90 seconds down to start the run, so again ended up 24th. 

Overall, I am not happy with the results of these two races, but I have to look at the positives. I have been swimming well and am closer than I ever have been off that front pack. As the Olympic cycle is in full swing, these races are getting very competitive. I want to be racing in the front, so I know I just need to keep my head down and continue working. I did decide I would change things up and am racing Princeton 70.3 in September. I think it's a nice race that I can do well in and it is close by. After that, I may try to enter a late season world cup or continental cup. Until then, I will keep thinking, "every champion is just another person who refused to give up."

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