Consistency Part 两 (Liang)
Chengdu WC or Cheng-doing it
After training in Stellenbosch, South Africa for another week, it was time for 2 days of travel to China for the Chengdu World Cup. With potentially contaminated meat, an omnipresent risk for food sickness, and quite chaotic traffic, this was set to be a couple weeks confined to the safety of my hotel room and a diet of rice, egg whites, and bottled water. I’ve traveled to China before for pleasure and it’s awesome. The culture is fascinating, the history long and tortuous, and the food unique.
But sadly traveling for races is an entirely different scenario. Seemingly awesome experiences always appear too risky and even though I eyed up every piece of broccoli as if it were trying to murder me, I still expected to wake up needing to destroy the porcelain throne.
Everyone was being careful, but fellow competitors were having some awful stomach issues. And despite the wide variety of dumplings and mystery meats, limes and coconuts were too few and far between to create Harry Nilsson’s ubiquitous panacea: https://youtu.be/Tbgv8PkO9eo?t=135
One of the best things about this world cup was just how many people on the triathlon squad were racing. I was rooming with teammate Joe Maloy and we had a total of 8 athletes at the race: Summer Cook, Manny Huerta, Erin Jones, Eric Lagerstrom, Sergio Sarmiento, and Felipe Van De Wyngard. Pretty cool.
I made it to the race healthy, and I was confident enough in my swim to relax and commit to the strategy that had helped me exit that water towards the front in the past races. At 1k into the swim I was pleased to find a spot I know very well from open water practice, which is Eric Lagerstrom’s hip. I just settled into that pocket and exited the water in 5th. Onto the bike we had a breakaway going of around 10 guys (the 3rd breakaway I’ve been in this year!), but despite a solid effort it only lasted about 10 minutes. Lagerstrom has a nifty video about the ride:
The rest of the ride was a cruise-fest, so I wanted to get off the bike towards the front of the pack. Things worked out so that I was maybe 5th or so going into the run.
After settling into a good pace, this ended up being the first triathlon World Cup runs where I was going comfortably, trying to think tactically about how to close well and where to make my move. I, along with Kevin McDowell, Hunter Kemper, and Eric started out conservatively due to the heat. We were eventually running in the second pack about 10-15 seconds behind a group of 7 亚军 (yajun). This is exactly where I wanted to be when planning the race, so I was pleased everything had gone smoothly.
After 5k, we picked up the pace and started dropping guys in our pack and closing on the guys in the front. With 2k left, Kevin made a perfectly timed move up to the leaders, while I thought I’d wait until a bit later. I massively over-estimated my ability to close fast, however, and was crushed over the final k, finishing 7th. No fun, but it was another solid race which moved me up to around 40th in the points list. It was encouraging as I executed almost everything very well and found some things to work on.
Because that’s what I go to races to do: get my butt kicked and learn what I should have done. Yeah, I think I’d prefer to do better next time.
In my previous world cup I finished 6th and was 7th out of the water. Here I was 5th out of the water and finished 7th. I’ve never had consecutive WC top 10s and certainly haven’t been that far up in the swim multiple times in a row (the first WC of the year I was 9th out of the water). I’m pleased that I’ve been able to repeatedly put myself in a position to crush dreams, but I’d prefer to not be having mine crushed after that point. There are steps to excellence and I’m happy to making progress.
In case you were having doubts about the ranking of great minds, Aristotle > R. W. Emerson. I mean really, what did Emerson do besides write pretentiously and ruin English class?
Found some bro time by the ice baths after the race:
We also went to see pandas at the zoo. As demonstrated below, pandas can be quite vicious before their feedings. Quite a terrifying sight, really.
Panda before bamboo Panda after bamboo
A black swan. Weird right?
Wake Forest! Kestrel! Chendu! China! Kestrel! Wake Forest!
After a week and a half, it was time to move on. China is incredible, but there’s a wide cultural divide that makes training tough. Once I can visit China without thinking about triathlon, it would be an interesting place to try to understand. With their sort of economic slow-down/government bailout going on right now, one of my favorite blogs (Tyler Cowen’s) makes a racing dive (shallow!) into why it’s a difficult to understand. Nice thoughts:
Tyler Cowen has some alluring insights but the same cannot be said for his haircut. Once your comb-over becomes a comb-forward, it’s time to give up:
Next up, the Yokohama blog. The ability to maintain a constant focus on recovery, nutrition, and performance always grows more difficult the longer away from home. I really wanted to put in a solid performance at one of the last races I’ll do before trials, so getting ready for this always competitive WTS would require special concentration. Taking away what I’d learned in Chengdu and how Paulo told me to prepare, I was confident in my ability to perform.
Thanks to my parents, #TheTriathlonSquad, Kestrel, USA Triathlon, Brooks, and Senor Paulo Sousa.