Green Member: Jason Ross
Event: Toyota U.S. Open – Sprint
Location: Dallas, TX
Class (yours): Men 35-39
Results: 8th Overall, 2nd Age Group
Local Knowledge and Conditions: This is (or was) my favorite race to do each year. I was a little disappointed this year by the bike course route, road conditions, and shuttle transportation from the AAC to T1 at Joe Pool Lake. The bike course runs entirely from southwest to northeast, which meant a headwind the whole way this year. That made for a somewhat miserable ride in the drizzle on wet streets (with plenty of pot holes). I managed nearly 22 mph for the 40k, despite a minor front derailleur issue for the first 10 miles, and was pleased with that. A lot of folks took some time in T1 to put on cool weather gear. I elected to only go with pre-positioned toe warmers on the shoes, and that was plenty.
Pre-Race Strategy & Warm Up: It all became irrelevant. Despite being in line as planned with Brooks, Joe R, and Diamond at 6 a.m. for the shuttle to the swim start, we didn't get to the race site until after 8 a.m. Not that big of deal, except for the fact that the race started at 7:30. Ordinarily, I get fired up at this race getting to watch the pros start their swim and hit T1, but totally missed all of that this year. Kind of a bummer. Plus, standing in the cool drizzle for an hour, then riding a shuttle that got lost (took an hour, should have been 30 minutes at most) really sapped the energy level from me. I admit that I got off the bus with an "oh well" attitude.
Psychology: Love psych; it was my favorite class in College. I'm getting really good at reading people. Ok, seriously, I was pumped for this race because I unexpectedly won my age group last year, and felt some pressure to repeat. Plus, it was my last race of the year, and I wanted to end on a good note. Given the cold, drizzle, wet streets, poor streets, a bike mechanical (front derailleur cable), and the transportation cluster, it was a little hard to really get properly focused and zoned in for a top performance.
Lessons Learned (Or Re-Learned): I had the worst assigned spots ever in transition areas, both T1 and T2. Given the long trot to literally the opposite and very back corner of T2, I tried to get a head start by taking off my helmet as I was running with my bike. Unfortunately, the strap snagged my glasses, nearly causing me to lose control of my bike while running and resulting in me dropping my helmet and glasses and having to stop, go back and pick them up. Don't think I'm going to try that again.
Future Goals (include skills executed well and skills needing improvement): Although I improved my swim time by 90 seconds from last year and knocked nearly 30 seconds per mile off my run pace from last year, I want to keep working on those disciplines. I was 4th overall on the bike split, so I probably have more opportunity for improvement on the run and swim. I plan to sign on with Dawdy over the off-season (after his World Championship race) to get some help with my swim and run techniques. According to Dawdy, I still run like I weigh 200 lbs. And I've never had any swim coaching or technique drills. I believe I can easily get down to 6:30/mile with some technique coaching.
Fitness (endurance, nutrition, hydration): Everything felt great. No issues there. Cool temps were a plus during the run, but I got really cold after the race.
Something funny that happened: "Somebody go back and get a sh*!load of dimes," Blazing Saddles quote. Seemed like the right movie line to issue when our shuttle finally pulled up 90 minutes late to the toll booth at the entry to Lynn Creek, and for a moment seemed to stop for the driver to talk with the booth attendant.