The season begins! My racing started in sunny Maroochydore Beach with the Mooloolaba World Cup. I’m on a 3 week/3 race trip in Oceania with 2 super fast sprints followed by Auckland WTS, probably the hardest course on the ITU circuit.
I flew into this block of races after having the best off-season of my pro career. I had missed a grand total of zero days of training since starting back a little before Thanksgiving. Not only that, but I’d learned some new vocabulary from the one and only Matt McElroy (NAU runner joining the Triathlon Squad). From now on, all good food is dank. That pizza with seared tuna I had before the race? It was dank. So, so dank.
I’d also signed with two awesome sponsors over the offseason: Brooks Running and Kestrel Bikes. I’d been riding Kestrel bikes for a little while and have loved their products. I won my first two non draft races on their TT bike and the Hong Kong triathlon last year on their Legend.
With confidence in my equipment and fitness, as well as the intellectual stimulation courtesy of Mr McElroy, I was in a good place for Mooloolaba. That place? Aussie World – unlimited rides!
Onto to race week! We had some pretty sweet apartments in Mooloolaba and I got to room with bad-ass bros (in alphabetical order): Sean Jefferson, Benjamin Kanute, Alan Webb, and Tommy Z’s. The best part, however, was that I won the big bed in an epic game of Roshambo (Rochambeau? Roux chambre beaux? Row Sham Bow? Rock Paper Scissors?). Playing rock paper scissors for dishes at Wake Forest clearly paid off big time.
But onto to the race! While there was debate over moving the swim to a lame river, we were lucky that it stayed in the awesome surf. Think of waves like this: (courtesy @tzaferes twitter)
And I surfed well! I was with all the leaders coming into the final wave. While I slightly missed the wave, I was still close enough to the breakaway to get on the pack within a minute or so. Unfortunately our group of 10 was caught quickly by the chase and we were 50 or so guys coming into T2. Paulo and I have been working a great deal on pacing, so I let the leaders go and tried to run a controlled race and make sure that I put some solid points on the board. I ended up 11th, very close to top 5 and about 15 seconds from the podium, so I was okay with the performance, even if the final result wasn’t great.
There were definitely things I didn’t execute well and obviously 11th wasn’t what I came to Australia for, so Paulo and I worked on my taper week for New Plymouth and I worked on mental game.
After the race, I got to hang out a bit more with some of people who I didn’t room with, such as Nick Karwoski, Josh Izewski, Robby Webster, and Kevin McDowell. Definitely great to compete at the big races, but it’s even better when there are cool people racing with you.
I caught my flight to New Zealand. It lacked a few of the expected amenities:
In New Zealand it was awesome to reunite with my training partner, Joe Maloy. Paulo mostly syncs our taper weeks, so it was way better doing my workouts with someone else. Plus Joe’s a happy guy to be around. He even thinks this comic strip is funny, so it’s hard to be down with someone that cheerful:
My running was feeling way better, so I was excited to see if that made a difference in the race. My swimming felt a little off, but I assumed that it would turn around by race day.
One awesome thing we got to do was visit local school on Thursday. Almost all the US team spoke to a bunch of incredibly well behaved around 3rd to 6th graders about triathlon. They’d just competed in a student organized triathlon, and had some pretty well thought out questions. Such as “How do you pace the run?” (I failed at answering that) and “Have you ever climbed Mount Everest?” (Mr Zaferes made it clear that this was both expensive and dangerous. So, no. No Mt Everest). It felt great to be included in the New Plymouth community
Race morning I ran through my routine and felt solid. I was especially inspired because right before the race I got to watch two US girls, Kaitlin Donner and Renee Tomlin, kick down the homestretch for gold and silver. Incredible.
After a cool Haka dance, our race was off. I had an awesome start position almost next to Tommy Zaferes, so I was confident I was on the fast side of the pontoon. Tommy rocked the swim, but I was stoked to be 6th out of the water and solidly into a small lead pack. We were caught pretty quickly and then it was a matter of maintaining a very good position through the technical and hilly course. A couple times throughout the race I thought I’d get into a breakaway, but it never quite stuck. All in all, though, I had a very solid ride and stayed upright for the second week in a row:
Despite that, I entered T2 in a pretty poor position, but stayed calm throughout the run. I gradually moved up throughout the race. I really wanted to work on my last k, and was pleased I was able to pick up the pace this week. With about 300meters to go, I was able to use my momentum off the final downhill to outkick Ron Darmon for 6th.
After these two races, I’ve halved my ranking to be 64th on the ITU points list, which means I’m pretty much guaranteed entry to races if I can maintain that level. I’m shooting for higher, but it’s nice to be back in safe territory after a pretty rough injury last year.
I’ve been most excited about the Auckland WTS throughout this trip, so be sure to tune in on Sunday at 4:41 pm Auckland time, or 8:41pm West Coast Time for some incredible action.
And now for your inspirational quotes of the week: