ï»¿I Left Madrid this morning. Right now I’m somewhere in the sky above the Eastern United States on a United Airlines flight to Chicago, where I’ll continue on to Des Moines for the Hy-Vee World Cup on Sunday.
[photo credit: ITU’s Delly Carr – Taken in Madrid 2010]
The Madrid World Championship Series Triathlon went much better than my result shows, and I’m unusually ok with how things turned out. I was near the front of the swim – which I had hoped for considering my swim fitness going in – but lacked the running speed through the long transition that was required to make the breakaway group. I suffered the first lap trying to hang on to whomever I could, and found myself in a chase group that was bearing down quickly on the leaders. The third lap we caught them, and the pace eased off a bit.
Let me take a moment to talk about this bike course. I knew going in that there was a hill, but I was told it was about 60 seconds long at the most. WRONG! The very first part was about 60 seconds, but that was just long enough to make your legs start burning. Then there was a false flat, and another couple short inclines that made the total 2km climb take over 3 minutes. This was followed by a 1km steep descent, and a 2km straight false flat downhill back to transition. We had eight laps.
On the 7th lap I was toward the front of the group. I saw a couple of guys surging behind me, and tried to go with them, but my legs were fried. On the decent I was with a few motivated guys, but I could barely hold their wheels. A certain British world champion even told me to “pull you f-ing c***”, something I haven’t heard since my first pro race in 2007. I tried to pull, I really did. I even made my way to the front of the group before the hill, hoping to give myself a chance to lose ground on the incline, but it was not enough. On the final hill I found myself quite suddenly alone (aside from the fans lining the hill). I watched the men I had been riding with as they disappeared beyond the turn in front of me, and felt my legs scream as I dove deeper into lactic acid hell. I was popped. For the first time in a professional race I was dropped from a bike group. I finished the lap alone, somewhere about half way between the ten leaders and the massive chase group behind me. I started the run alone, but my legs were so tired that it didn’t take long before I was being passed by the fastest runners behind, then the not so fast runners behind. I was barely able to jog for the first 4km of the run, but then suddenly my legs recovered and I was able to pick up the pace. I stopped being passed so quickly, and eventually I even started to pass a couple of guys. I’m not saying I was going “fast”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the last 6km were faster than the first 4. I posted the 3rd slowest run split, and finished in 38th place.
This finish was my “worst case scenario”, and yet I’m not disappointed. There was nobody on the start line that didn’t deserve to be in such a competitive race, and I played the cards I had on the day. My cycling fitness is obviously not where it should be, and that’s taking away from my ability to run fast out of T2.
Regardless, I positioned myself well on the bike, and had a tactically sound race. I didn’t fade in the heat, I’m traveling back to the states without any road rash – for the first time this season – and I have another race this weekend where I have a great opportunity to perform even better. 38th is certainly not what I had hoped for, but when there are 70 talented and fast men on the start line, 38th is always a possibility.
I’m in Des Moines. Staying with JJ Bailey, who I met at my first mainland triathlon, the Kansas City Age Group National Championships in 2006. We started the run together and I edged him out by a hair with an effort that put me in the med tent. JJ’s house is where I stayed when I raced the Hy-Vee Triathlon in 2007. It was my first home stay in triathlon, and one I have very fond memories from. I’ll have to dig up the blog post from that trip and link back to it. If I remember correctly the giant buckâ€™s head on the wall scared me a bit. This time, I’m simply drunk on the familiar smell of the Midwest. Itâ€™s that fertile aroma of humid air thatâ€™s drifted over thousands of miles of soil since leaving the ocean. I’m not sure what the smell is, but it reminds me of childhood trips to Missouri, and catching fireflies. I think my alarm went off 24 hours ago – it’s time for bed. I’ll figure out how to connect to the internet to post this tomorrow. Goodnight.