Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mont Tremblant - 70.3 World Championship

It's hard to believe that September is here already!  

This season has been a blast so far. I've trained a lot, raced a fair amount and in the process learned more about myself.  I carried the momentum from Age Group Nationals into a solid three week training block where I focused on longer running sessions. 

This year's 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, had been on my mind since the beginning of this triathlon season. In last year's race, I was able to place second in the 18-24 year old age group.  This year, coach Mace and I were targeting the race, trying to set things up for a good performance.

The first week of school brought  the CSU Tri Team together again and we had our first couple practices. Having a large group at all the practices is terrific and I'm looking forward to training and racing with them in the upcoming collegiate season. We jumped right into racing with Boulder Sunset. We had around 20 participants. The race was fun and left me feeling good (mentally) for Mont Tremblant the next weekend.

After a quick couple days recovering from Boulder Sunset, I packed up Wednesday and traveled all day Thursday to Canada.  Big thanks to fellow CSU Tri Team member, Mercedes, for keeping me awake at 5 am on the way to the airport!

Food channel in French? The only word I understand is still Merci - thanks.
After arriving in Montreal, I met up with my Every Man Jack teammates to carpool to the team house we would be staying in. We had about 16 people staying in the house.  

EMJ Central
The house was incredible! It was located about a mile from the race site, near a golf course. There were several bedrooms, an incredible man cave, a great kitchen and sweet bathrooms (which quickly became stocked with EMJ products).   I wouldn't have been surprised if it was in a Frontgate magazine at some point!

First floor living area

Basement living room

TV screen size XL
Friday we rode the more difficult section of the bike course and checked out the other areas of the venue. Everything was set up in a ski town surrounded by small mountains. 

Riding a part of the course
Race setting
One of the coolest things about racing at a world championship is brushing shoulders with the best in the sport. Wandering around the expo, I ran into Callum Millward, the creator of "Cupcakes with Cal".  Callum has a great sense of humor and I highly encourage everyone to check out his twitter and YouTube pages!

With Callum at the expo
Saturday was spent getting bikes and bodies ready for the race.

Race morning came and I woke up by doing a quick 10 minute run before a breakfast of quinoa and hummus. After arriving at the race site, I quickly taped some food on my bike. The EMJ guys met up down at the swim start but we each warmed up with separate routines due to habits and different wave times. I got into my Roka fairly early in order to get in a good swim warm-up. As the pros went off, a fighter jet roared overhead setting the tone.  Thankfully, the 18-24 year old wave I was in only had about 90 guys in it compared to nearly 250 in some other waves! 

For the one-loop swim, we only had to be on the outside of the turn buoys, the first of which was 800 yards out. Immediately I headed to the inside of the sighting buoys to find clear water and settle into a rhythm. I knew some guys in my wave would swim faster then me and were likely to swim the shortest course.  I would rather have clear water and I don't usually trust others to sight for me. Waves were spread 4 minutes apart and we didn't start hitting the earlier waves for some time which was good. I could tell I was making steady process through my wave by swimming at a consistent pace instead of sprinting for the first couple hundred yards. 

After running through transition, I mounted my bike and started off on the first out and back section. Going in to the race, coach Mace and I agreed on a strategy that had me pushing hard on the hills of the bike. My riding has improved a lot this season and we believed these improvements combined with my size would lead to an advantage on the hills. I was hoping to be able to bike at a little under olympic-distance effort and follow things up with the solid run I knew I was capable of. 

Broke out the race wheels!
 Looking back, I went out much too hard on the early sections of the bike. I caught several people from earlier waves who I hadn't planned on catching until the first turn around (about mile 20). However, instead of using them to pace, I thought my body felt good and that I would be able to keep up the intensity - after all it was a race! I aimed for taking sips of Skratch every 6 minutes. Sometimes I was distracted and missed sips while trying to keep tension up a hill or working extra hard to pass a particularly large draft pack. 

 On the way back towards town, things felt slower. I was still catching people but did not feel as fresh as I should have if I had wanted to negative split the ride. The second set of rollers was tough but I felt prepared having ridden them twice before the actual race. My legs definitely felt heavy on some of the climbs but seriously, it was a race and going hard for 50 miles on the bike tends to make your legs hurt. 

Entering transition, I was pretty sure I was in first place in our age group and believed I could keep that spot by running around 1:20 for the half-marathon. Sure my legs hurt but I told myself it was nothing new from riding Rist Canyon back home. 

I quickly transitioned into my Saucony shoes and headed out to the run course. I started off very conservatively, I wanted to run smart. I focused on keeping a quick cadence throughout the varying terrain of the course. Things felt relatively smooth and effortless for the first lap. The hills were tough but I was able to keep my feet moving and believed that while the second lap would be tougher, my turnover would carry me through. 

 About 1 or 2 miles in to the second lap is where my run started falling apart. Mentally I was focused but my legs had nothing in them to get up the hills like I was used to. I tried taking in calories, focusing on my cadence, latching on to people on the hills (flats seemed to be fine), but nothing... I have run into this feeling several times now and it is very frustrating. I underestimated the difficulty of the run course and believed that I could ride very hard for 2+ hours and still pull off a run I would be satisfied with. For every race my goal is to finish without anything left, feeling that I raced smart and to my potential. Here, I didn't have anything left and it was much too early. 

 I staggered up the hills and tried coke at the aid stations which helped some. The last climb was up a steep incline in the middle of town. I had been looking forward to it since seeing the course. Hills are usually my thing but usually I can move my legs. I made it up the hill and went flying downhill to the finish line, once again relieved for a downhill finish hoping it would disguise how bad I was hurting. I'm proud to have finished and ended up placing fourth in our age group.

There were many positives from the weekend. One highlight was the post race food which included watermelon! A quick cool down and several plates of watermelon later I biked back to EMJ central. We had a fantastic make-your-own taco bar. The rest of the evening was spent eating, hanging out, discussing the race and attending the awards ceremony.  EMJ had three members podium including Ritch, who won the men's 40-44 age group! EMJ made a big statement by having so many people race and we got asked a bunch of questions about the team and EMJ products.

I'm looking forward to being back in Colorado and training with my fellow Rammies. There are a couple races planned before the season ends. 

Huge thanks to my parents. Without them this trip would not have been possible and despite currently biking around Germany, they were able to follow along. The first couple days back from the race I was still fairly disappointed.  I really appreciate everyone's support during that time. Thanks to coach Mace for all the preparation and the other EMJ guys for making the weekend a blast.  

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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