For obvious reasons this was my biggest race of the season and my triathlon career. As Barry Brooks previously mentioned in a blog post we were going to be racing with the big dogs of the World and I mean the World. There were more foreigners than Americans going to be racing. There is no lottery for this race you had to qualify to race, period. I will have more on the foreigners later.
I arrived in Clearwater, FL Tuesday evening with my family and friends. My wife had arrange for friends from college and my immediate circle to travel with us to Clearwater and cheer me on. I was unaware of this arrangement until we arrived at the airport and I found my cheer team waiting. As if I didn’t have placed enough pressure on myself the stakes were just upped! Don’t get me wrong the cheering section was a welcome surprise!
I had other pressures going into this race beside my performance, sinus pressure and congestion. The development of this would eventual lead to a head cold. I am starting to believe Fall races don’t agree with allergies despite my attempts to keep them at bay. So to sum up a long story, I had to take antibiotics, decongestion, and cough medication the 5 days leading into race. Not an ideal situation knowing the past results from training under these conditions and with the biggest race of the year a few days out. With the lingering head cold, I skip my pre-race workouts instead focused on getting enough rest. To my surprise on race day I awoke feeling good and minimal congestion, game on!
Going into the race my game plan and goals were to complete the swim in 30min, bike in 2:10 and run in 1:22, with goal time of sub 4:10. Based on last year results that would get me a top 10 age group finish.
How it went down and my thoughts-
After finalizing my transition area, I made my way to the swim start which was move to the causeway water instead of Gulf due to remaining tide from Hurricane Ida. By the way the weather conditions were perfect for a fast day, temp low 60 and high 72 with 5-10mph winds. Ideal! The change of the swim venue eliminated wave starts instead we had a time trial start where we slowly filter into the water which cause some bottle necks in the water on the narrow course. Nonetheless other than battling the bright rising sun the swim was uneventful. I was out of the water a few seconds over 30 min mark.
I quickly transition to the bike, if 2:37 is quick (a lot of running). The bike course is notoriously fast with the bike being a strong suit of mine. I was looking have a quick bike split. I quickly got into my grove and quickly realized that the rumor that this was an unofficial ITU(draft legal) race. In the early miles I quickly pick-up some Spainard wheel suckers. Barry Brooks can attest to this situation. I eventually pulled a pack of 8 others over the first 28 miles. Then my frustration began, for some reason unknown by me I received a drafting penalty (4min). The two Spaniards who sat on my wheel passed me as an official pulled alongside of us. I sat up and stopped pedaling awaiting for a legal gap to open before I began pedaling again when I heard my number called out and was shown a red card. Mind you the two that had passed me were still in an illegal position. After arguing the call, the official rode off. Now pissed I floated to the back of the group I had towed for 28 miles and sat in a legal position for the remainder of the ride. I was not only frustrated by the penalty, but the fact I couldn’t race my race. The main culprits of drafting in the athletes around me was the foreigners, it was obvious that this was part of their race strategy. Frustrating!!!!!! I finished in 2:08. My time goal was accomplished, but it was more like 2:12 after serving the BS drafting penalty.
After transitioning to my run, still frustrated, I started my run feeling good. I ran well for the first 6 miles, running with middle of pro men field on their final loop. I completed my first loop in 40 mins, but the next 2 miles I began cramping in my low back and butt, very odd places. I knew cramping would be a potential problem with me taking all the decongestion and cough meds the days leading into the race. Well the cramp monster reared its ugly head and caused me to slow off my 6 min mile clip to around 7:30 pace for the next 4 miles before I could start running normal again thus finished 6 minutes off my goal pace with a 1:28. I finished officially with a 4:16 with the penalty (31st in age group), and a 4:12 (19th age group) in my eyes my best time at this distance either way. Despite my frustration, all in all I had a good day, but realizing I can do better on this course relative to my age group especially if WTC corrects the drafting issues on the bike course.
I want to thank each Tri-ProSoap Member for your support and encouragement throughout the year and looking forward to another great year in 2010! I hope to have more ProSoapers at Worlds next year.
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