Sunday, March 9, 2014

Clermont Draft-Legal 2014

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to miss some recent snowy weather in Fort Collins by traveling to Florida to race in two DL sprint distance triathlons.  Mainly I wanted to try out draft-legal racing.  The races were fun and I was thankful to be able to catch up again with my dad.

The week leading into the race, USAT released their age group rankings for the 2013 season.  I had an excellent season this past year, I worked hard but a lot of credit should be given to the group that I was fortunate enough to train with.  At CSU, there were people to push me in every discipline throughout the year.  I was relatively new to the sport and was able to pick up a significant amount of information from more experienced racers.  

I flew to Orlando, arriving Thursday evening.  In the past, I've always underestimated the amount of food to bring just for a plane trip or car ride so I took a page out of Justin Metzler's book and baked a sweet potato the night before.  I threw together a large salad with all my veggies that would have gone bad.  The people next to me were visibly envious as they only got two Oreos at best.
At the airport, I met up with our coach, who was also at the race supporting Ian.  My dad, who had arrived a little  before us, then picked us up and we headed to the hotel.

The day before the race we ate a quick breakfast then headed over to the race site.  After some short workouts we stopped by an orange stand, got some snacks and saw an alligator!

Not too far from where the race was!
Race Day 1
We all started the swim colder than we would have liked, I came out further back than I would have liked but was looking forward to the draft legal bike.

I worked my way up into a pack and then things started rolling.  We caught some groups in front of us.  I was having a blast and took a lot of pulls at the front because things felt slow.  Compared to the non-draft racing, a lot more short  but intense efforts that required working with those around you.

After a little, I was riding in a larger group with James from EMJ.  We worked well together. Both days I was impressed with how strong the EMJ guys were biking.  I tried to not think about the run we had left because it was only a 5k.  I felt good during the run but afterwords, I wondered if I had backed off a little on the frequency of efforts during the bike if I might have been able to move up more.  It was cool to be able to race back to back days because we could apply lessons learned and interpret results/feedback immediately.
Day 1 run
After our race, we watched the men's and women's pro races.  The way they all ran was inspiring.

Race Day 2
I learned my lesson from the first day and started to the left on the start line where I could start swimming earlier.  By far one of the toughest parts was exiting the swim.  I knew I was in a better position/group than the first day towards the end of the swim and tried to focus on getting my short legs moving through the waste deep water.  Taller athletes seemed to be able to run normally...the run to transition was pretty significant and I tried to make up some lost time and get in a good group.

Right away I went hard with another guy to get into the second chase group.  I didn't put one of my feet in until we made it to the bike turn around.  Eventually we formed a decent group and caught the first chase group.  The three leaders were gaining time on us.  Matt from EMJ had gotten second place the first day and was definitely putting in some extra work trying to bridge our group up to the leaders.

Our group that formed, on the race big deal

A couple of the guys in our pack I knew were strong riders and we took a lot of the pulls again.  The second half of the last lap (4 lap bike) I started thinking about the run.

Big group on last lap, trying to stay towards the front

Though I hadn't taken it easy the first day, watching the elite men run the previous day made me want to run hard.  Everything felt good on the run except for the last part heading back to the finish.  I did my best to keep my form and finish strong.  Overall, I was happy with my effort and enjoyed my first draft-legal racing experience.

The second day of racing had us running in pretty hot weather.  I was very thankful for having my bottle filled with Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix.  First thing I did upon getting my bike out of transition was finish off my mix.

After a run, I packed up my bike and headed back to the hotel to kill some time with my dad.

Packing up the bike

We jumped in the pool and did our best to finish the food from the grocery store.  I had several rice cakes with sunbutter and jelly and some carrots with hummus.  I checked my email for the first time in 2 days while we printed off my dad's boarding pass and wasn't surprised that my inbox had exploded.  

We found an incredible Mexican restaurant for dinner before our flights left.  You know the restaurant is going to be good when you walk in and the main language spoken is Spanish.

With Mace , huge thank for the support

EMJ guys at Clermont

My dad dropped my bike and I off at the terminal before heading to return the rental car.  I'm glad he was able to enjoy some nice Florida weather.  Minnesota has had an especially cold winter.

Next weekend, CSU begins spring break.  I'm heading to Vegas for a short training camp the Lake Havasu for our team's first race of the spring.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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