The Deck of Cards
The four races that I coached this weekend, along with mine, reminded me of a deck of cards. You know what is in there but you are just not sure what will be dealt to you on the day. My seven Teens that TRI all did great in their races, three of whom which completed their first draft legal triathlon. I was hoping to cap off the day with my first ever draft legal triathlon but I was dealt a different card.
A few tidbits of what I learned from this race:
- When I first registered for this race it was designated as an age group draft legal race. USAT then turned it into a U25 Elite Development Race (EDR) which basically means young guns are competing for their pro card. That changed the entire race for me but true to my nature, I was not about to take a DNS, even though I knew the risk of getting lapped out on the bike was very high. Take home message (THM): not starting something is cowardly. No matter what cards are dealt to you, always begin something you signed up to do.
- I spent a very long 8.5 hours on my feet in the sun coaching my youth and juniors before my race began at 3:30 in the afternoon. THM: not the smartest thing I could have done knowing the field I was racing but my priorities were my team. What happened with me was less of a priority.
- The water temperature was 65 degrees at 7:00am and had increased to 72 degrees the hour before my race. Being an EDR race, wetsuits were not legal. THM: I had mentally prepared for this prior to the race so I was calm but I had to add another :45 to my swim exit calculations to account for this. I swim much faster with a wetsuit and this, along with one other thing discussed below, negatively affected my race. I also was shocked that a body of water could have such a drastic shift in temperature in one day. That doesn't happen in Colorado!
- There were 26 guys that toed the line which meant the top two finishers would receive their pro card. I knew the cards were heavily against me and I also knew that there was a possibility of getting lapped out on the bike. I calculated what my swim needed to be in relation to the top guys so I would be safe on the bike and finish the race. Unfortunately, I did not know of one competitor who, by himself, annihilated the competition and frankly, I did not factor him coming out of the water roughly 75 seconds before everyone else. This created a bigger deficit for me which did not bode well. THM: talk to the USAT collegiate development person prior to the race to recon the young guns talent!
- I figured on coming out of the swim about three minutes down from the fast swimmers. When I came out 4:30 behind the top guy, I knew I was in trouble (because each bike lap would take about 6 minutes) and I had to make myself hurt on the bike. Out of T1 I peeked over my shoulder and saw three guys behind me. Perfect! I started pedaling, got my feet in my shoes, looked back and they were gone. No chance for a pack to develop. This would not help my situation for I needed a pack to ride with to prevent getting lapped out. I time trialed the first lap before a young "kid" came up to me and we began to work together for the next lap. I kept a close eye on the lead pack so to keep ahead of them enough to not get lapped out. Little did I know that the guy who smashed the swim was also riding the entire bike course on his own ahead of the main pack by about 75 seconds. I thought this guy came out of the water behind me and was an uber cyclist. The latter was certainly true and as he passed me, followed closely by the nice lady on the motorcycle telling me my race was over, I was in complete disbelief! I was not expecting one guy to lap me. If anything, I was waiting for a pack. Turns out I wasn't the only athlete dealt this card. This guy lapped out 8 of us. THM: while I was in my two man pack, we would average between 26-28 mph. This guy had to be going in excess of 30 mph to lap so many of us. Guess I needed more TT training on the bike!
So I ended up doing a modified aqua bike and while I was disappointed, I could not help but think of what a great experience this was but more importantly, this experience in itself contributes tools to my coaching toolbox that I did not previously have. By experiencing draft legal racing up close and personal, I can provide an even better service to my athletes and for that I am extremely grateful.
Oh yeah, that guy won the race by only 3 seconds (he came out of T2 with about a 90 second lead). Turns out his run is his weakness. Figures. Had I had the chance to run, my 5k off the bike would have bettered his. Not that it matters. It's all in the rear view mirror now but kudos to him as he had a phenomenal race and deserved the win for sure. You never know what card will be dealt to you on any given day but you must be ready to play it no matter what.
And yes, if you are wondering, another draft legal race will be in my future. I don't give up without a fight!