On Sunday, I raced my first triathlon of the season: the Monterrey World Cup in Mexico. I went into the race feeling strong, and I was determined to make something happen. I came away from the race having indeed made something happen, and having learned that sticking to my race plan with die-hard loyalty isn’t always the best choice.
Here’s how it went. I absolutely loved the swim, it was in a canal that was seemingly made for an ITU swim. I exited the water in 4th place, advanced to 3rd with a quick T1, and then hit the bike course with Andrew McCartney and Brian Fleishman. This was exactly what I wanted to happen: a breakaway! Brian and I dropped Andrew, then I went for (and won) the bike prime, then things sort of went south. Brian, Cameron Dye, and three other athletes caught me, but in our break of 6, only Brian, Cam and I were committed to the breakaway. Thus the effort was disorganized and uneven. I tried multiple times to drop the riders who weren’t taking pulls, but I was also trying not to kill my legs with too much sprinting, so all I managed was a very ineffective happy medium. We were nearly caught heading into the last lap of the bike, with only a 5 second gap, but I’d planned to be in the breakaway and I’d put so much work into it that I was determined to make it stick. I put everything I had into that last lap, and our gap went back up to 35 seconds as we came into T2.
My run was not what I’d hoped it would be, and the 35 second lead was not enough to make up for the damage I’d done to my legs over 40km of surges and stubbornness. On the plus side, “not what I’d hoped it would be” was still a 32:24 10k split, faster than I could have expected a year ago, after an average power on the bike that was over 20 watts higher than my previous best average. Not bad, and proof that I’m not just “feeling” strong. But those statistics are like winning workouts, they don’t mean anything unless you back them up with results. So, the corresponding minus side: I dropped from the front of the race back to 19th at the finish, one place behind Brian and a few ahead of Cam. The winner of the race? Joao Silva from Portugal, one of the athletes we had towed around the entire bike course.
I’m still pretty frustrated with my race, a little bit because of the breakaway dynamics, but mostly because I didn’t race a smart race. The only person that seemed to benefit from my strategy was Silva, who managed to win the race because of the time gap I created in those final laps – if only he were my teammate! So I did learn some good tactical lessons, and because they came on a very public World Cup stage, I’m pretty sure they are lessons that will stick with me. I hope they at least stick with me for a few more days, I’m racing the Ishigaki World Cup in Japan on Sunday!