I grabbed an 8th place finish at Puerto Rico, pressed on some training in Clermont and then took my talents overseas and toed the line at the most competitive race I have ever been a part of in 70.3 Brazil (the Latin American Championship). The goals were high but if I am being completely honest, my perception of my physical abilities and the actuality of the fact were quite different on this first weekend in April. I was still coming into form, building my fitness and ended up suffering my way though a really tough race and placing 15th.
|Riding up Carter Lake in Boulder, Colorado.|
Training coming back after Wildflower rolled smoothly and I went into the race physically feeling as prepared as I have for any race in my entire life. But mentally, I felt the pressure. Most of it was personal. Some of it was external. But it was there. So I went back to everything that has worked for me in the past and meticulously accounted for every detail leading into this race. My nutrition, my sleep, my social interaction and the travel were all accounted for and made as seamless as possible. The key was to keep the stress LOW and hanging out with some good friends at the pro-meeting was a perfect way to talk some trash with my buddy AJ and catch up with some other friends.
|Hanging with fellow Maverick teammate and Boulder local, Lesley Smith.|
Exiting the transition area first allowed me to comfortably slip into my shoes and take stock of who exited the swim on my feet. I quickly realized it was a strong group that could put some serious time into the leaders and create substantial separation from the chasers. And after 1 mile into the ride, our group of 5 somehow missed an early turn and went about :60 seconds off course. We quickly realized our mistake, turned around and then got back on track but the 2:00 loss allowed all of the weaker swimmers to merge with our more elite group, creating a huge bike pack that I (along with Chris Leiferman, Derek Garcia and one other) took charge of. We keep the pace high but the 10 or so guys behind us got a free-ride through the technical, hilly and wet 56-mile bike course. The four of us at the front attempted a few breakaways but the pouring rain and hairpin descents continuously brought the group back together. After a nerve-racking final 2 miles with multiple near crashes, I dismounted the bike ready to run.
As soon as we threw on the running shoes, the guys I was riding with took off as if we were about to throw down a 10k. But I know what I'm capable of. And 1:15 pace on an incredibly challenging course was not going to stick for anyone. So I played the patient game and built into the pace. I quickly reeled in two guys and spit them out the back. The hard-nosed veteran Thomas Gerlach was the only one who was able to match my effort and once I bridged up to him around the 1 mile mark, he latched onto my hip. The man was breathing very heavy, very early so I was confident as we got into the hard portions of the course. Around the 5 mile mark, I passed two of the early sprinter's and at this point found myself running in third place. But 9 miles is a long way and Gerlach would not fade... I used my downhill running strength to gap him multiple times but he would somehow, always find his way back to my hip. He tried a few moves but I was able to respond and re-dictate the pace we were going. Around the 10 mile mark, we went through an aid station and screamed down a huge hill. I put in a little surge and got a small :15 lead on him. Just enough to be partially out of sight on the narrow trail back to the finish line.
- Relief. I needed this result. Bad. I trained my ass off, threw up huge numbers there and knew I was primed for something like this. Not being able to do it at Wildflower was really challenging. But being able to prove to myself that I can get back to the race-day execution I was known for last year was seriously reassuring.
- Elation. This race was a BREAKTHROUGH for me. I dictated the pace on the swim. I took charge and was able to respond to everything on the bike and then threw down the second fastest run split of the day to score my first pro podium. I was, and am, so freaking stoked.
And although I enjoyed this result and was happy with where I ended up, I am very aware that there are still two spots I need to take down before I can be even partially satisfied. The fire burns for the back half of the year and I couldn't be more excited to give it another shot here in a few weeks.
Also a huge thanks to the mastermind behind nearly everything that I do related to this sport, Coach Jesse Kropelnicki. He does more, cares more and believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. Having someone like that in your corner certainly does not hurt.
The reason I was most happy about the result was that I could go into this week feeling awesome! I essentially have the entire week off to reset and recalibrate before getting back into training and taking down the back half of the year. The race schedule is still getting solidified but as always, look for me to be jetting around the globe to race the worlds most competitive triathlons.
Thanks for tuning in.
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