70.3 Qujing marked my third trip to China in the past 9 months. After my first PRO win at Challenge Iceland and a breakthrough performance at 70.3 Boulder, I looked to carry that momentum forward into this event. On paper, this one was my race to lose. Qujing sits at 6500ft above sea level and I was the only athlete coming from altitude. On paper I was more fit than I was going into Iceland or Boulder, the course suited me well and I was one of the more experienced athletes who frequent these Chinese events. I go into all of my races with the belief that I can win but this one in particular, I intended to do it.
The day started off wonderfully with one of my best swims ever. I was able to make my way to the front of the race within the first few hundred meters and take the lead around the halfway point. I was first out of the water (first time I have done that!) towing a group of top notch swimmers behind me including Guy Crawford, Luke Bell and David Dellow.
I had a clean T1 and got on the bike motivated to break off the front. This was a scenario I had hoped would play into my hands and fortunately it did. BUT the remainder of that plan relied on my legs being able to supply the power to have a strong ride. Unfortunately, that was not the case! The second I mounted my bike, I could tell it was going to be a long day. Although I felt terrible, I forced myself to push through the discomfort multiple times within the first hour- attempting a few attacks to get away from the bunch that had formed behind me. None of them were successful. Around the 1h mark, my legs were empty vessels. I spent the remainder of the ride limiting my losses to three guys at the front and made my way into T2 in contention for the podium if I could have the run I have shown to be consistently capable of.
I crossed my fingers that my run legs would show up but similar to the bike, quickly found out that would not be the case either. I considered wording this report in a more positive direction but it wasn’t a positive experience. So I’ll be real. I wanted to pull out of the race for about 90% of the run. I held it together for about 10km of the run, running in a group of 4 battling it out for places 3-6. Around the halfway point, the boys started attacking and I was left in their dust. I had a real bad patch there in the middle but noticed Guy Crawford up the road not pulling away like the others. Despite desperately wanting to turn in my chip and save it for another day, I pushed onward. I surged up to him and the two of us had a 9km war for places 5-6. We were both suffering. Neither of us were going to make the podium. And although the output wasn’t very impressive, we were both on full tilt not wanting to give the other a single inch. It ended up coming down to an epic sprint finish, that I was able to take, but that is not a fun way to earn an extra $250 USD! As we both laid on the ground at the finish line gasping for air, Guy and I shook hands and agreed to never do that again.
Just finishing the race on Sunday was a perfect testament to my outlook when it comes to racing. At the beginning of the year I sat down with Jeanni and we agreed on one thing- we go ALL OUT to the finish line, no matter what the day brings. If we feel like crap or we get a penalty or we get a flat tire you will never see either of us lay over. We invest 100% of our lives into triathlon. And for us as professionals, that means races. If we only get 10-12 opportunities a year to show all that investment, we will not disrespect the event by giving up. It would have been easy to shut it down after my original expectations were completely out of the question. But this sport is never easy in any capacity. So I pushed on, suffered more than I have at any race this year and I will now fly back to the USA with my head held high.
I wish I could sit here and say it was just an “off day.” But everything happens for a reason. Kropelnicki and I have already started sifting through the possible reasons for this outcome as it was a surprise for us both. I was disappointed after this race but I will not dwell on it. All I can do is learn from whatever mistakes were made and forge onto the next one.
As always an enormous thank you to my team who is part of every journey; Jesse Kropelnicki, Jeanni Seymour, Timex, Trek, Juice Performer, Boulder Sports Chiropractic, Shimano, Stages, Feedback Sports, Bolle, Blueseventy, Qt2 Systems, ICE Friction, SLF Motion.