A couple weeks ago I did the Beijing International Triathlon in China, and long story short it didn’t go very well. In fact it was the first race in the last couple years where at the end I wasn’t happy with any part of the race, and really just felt kind of down about the effort. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried, or put the effort forward because that was definitely not the issue. Rather I just felt flat from the start to the finish, and the things that I do really well on a normal day, swim solidly, ride really hard, and race tough just weren’t there. It was the kind of race where at the end I was sitting around trying my best to remember that it was just one race, and that all the training I had done hadn’t been a waste. Even after 11 years of racing at the highest level, against the best in the world its easy to let doubts creep in. Should I have ridden more. Should I have done something different.
No. Absolutely not.
Now thats not to say you never need to change anything, and I certainly tweak things from time to time but on the whole I have a good strategy and training plan and they work, so you can’t panic and change things after one bad day. Thats all it was just a bad day.
Now that leads to this past weekend when I finished up the Escape Series in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Going in I felt good and knew that all the training I had done leading into Beijing was still in the tank. I wanted to go out and if nothing else just remind myself what I am capable of. As usual these days the race was full of young guys, that run really well so I knew that I was going to need a big swim/bike and a solid run to win the race. At the very least I was determined to stick to my guns and lay it all out on the bike and see where it put me.
Race morning I got in a good warm up and when we were lining up on the beach I was confident it was going to be a good day. When the horn sounded I got a decent run in, and was able to get out well and straight onto the feet of a young Canadian who was swimming well. I figured I would hitch a ride around the swim and if he started to falter I would swim around, but he maintained a good pace and I was content to sit in on his feet and bid my time.
Once we were on the beach I knew there was five of us together so I wanted to get quickly to the bikes. I had a good transition and was into the lead after the first corner. After that it was about one kilometer of flat before a 90 second hill which if you know me, know is my perfect set up. I hammered into the hill, and stayed on the gas all the way up and over and by the time I made the next turn I had a sizable gap. From there I tried to use the hilly terrain to the best of my ability and lay down some extra power when the opportunity presented. The beauty of a one loop course is that you can get away and try and play the out of sight out of mind game and hope people fall asleep. The downside is I never really know where anyone is, so I find myself constantly surging to try and keep myself from getting lulled to sleep.
When I got back to town and into T2 I thought I had a good dap but it wasn’t until I ran out and was about to make the first turn of the run that I saw Rudy and knew I had a couple minutes. Then it was time to just take care of business. The run was mostly uphill for the first mile and half and since it was an out and back I knew that meant I just needed to be strong through mile 4 and I could run downhill to the finish. I felt solid the whole run, and at the turn around was psyched to see my lead was holding. I tried to stay on the gas with some short surges to keep myself engaged and tried to enjoy the downhill to the finish.
Crossing the tape is always sweet and this one tasted just that extra bit better because it reminded me what I am capable of and that all the hard work I put in does pay off. We all go through it, the ups and downs of racing. Never get too up on the good days and never get too down on the down days. There is always the next day and you just have to keep working…
Now I have 8 weeks until my season finishes at one of my favorite races the Island House Invitational in the Bahamas. I am headed back to Iowa City for the 100th anniversary of Iowa Swimming and Diving next weekend, and then it will be head down till IH.
If you are curious about my nutrition plan for olympic distance races check it out here, or if you are looking for more info on my beautiful #BlackBetty Ventum One you can find it here.
On a side note my son turns 6 tomorrow… where had the time gone!!!