I’ve held off writing this for the last week because it’s taken me a while to figure out what happened. And I think a lot of it is simply swallowing that big ole slice of humility. I’m talking about last weekend’s ITU event, Clermont Challenge.
“I feel incredible.” “I’m so ready for this race.” “This is big…”
Those are the things I said and exactly how I felt going into race weekend. I could probably say I’ve never felt so mentally ready and excited for a race. That special kind of balance of anxiety and calm focus. That stayed through race morning…until I climbed out of the water.
If you’re not familiar with ITU rules, that’s ok. All you need to know is that it’s draft legal on the bike, and if you get lapped, you’re pulled from the course and the dreaded DNF shoes up on your race results. It’s the triathlon format used in the Olympics. That’s what’s happened both times I’ve started [not finished] these races.
There’s lots of excuses I could make, but they’re all just cop outs for the truth: I was flat out old fashioned out raced last Sunday. Coming into T1 and only seeing 4 bikes, including mine, mindset went from ‘win’ to ‘finish’ to ‘don’t get freakin pulled…again’. Coming in on the last leg of the 4th and final bike lap, I was given my red card and asked (forced) to hand over my timing chip. When I finally coasted into transition, all of that fire that had been ablaze moving to race day had been reduced to less than an ember. And the weirdest part? The only word I could come up with for my performance was copacetic. My swim was terribly slow, and I can’t explain that one, but it *felt* like a threshold effort. The bike, the 30 minutes I was on course, I stayed atleast 15% above threshold power, with my pulls being over 200% more than just a few times. And that’s why I’m ok with it now. My body did exactly what I asked of it, even beyond maybe. Just wasn’t up to snuff for the field that day.
Draft legal racing isn’t my strong suit. I’ve gone down enough times in a group that Sunday was the first time I’d been on my road bike since the crash that landed me in the ER for 2 days last July because I avoid group rides. There’s also a whole new set of rules and tactics in ITU racing. I’m ok with the day. With the lessons I learned. And I’m really excited to get back into my QR CD0.1 at the end of the month where I can just put my head down and pick off other racers and make them chase me. So until then, I keep in mind that there’s still plenty if work to be done and room to grow until September. Back to training now, because I can promise myself that those guys who raced and finished Sunday are still at it, and wether you’re putting in the work or not, your competition is.