Clermont ITU Continental Cup Race Report: It’s back to the bottom!

Well folks, this last weekend marks the start of my 2012 season and the first of many ITU format races, and let me tell you it was not quite the smashing debut I had hoped for…

The swim: A 750 meter aqua job/dolphin diving contest between 50 extreeeemely competitive men. The water was absurdly shallow for the entire swim. (Seriously, Streamline Events, you need to find a real swim venue for this event.) It was a real knock-down, drag-under (water) contest that I was just not ready for. I don’t like to toot my own horn too much, but as far as triathletes go, I consider myself among the strongest swimmers; until this weekend I've always been at or near the front of the swim. So actually “racing” (aka fighting for your life) in the open water is pretty new to me. I was not ready for such a vicious affair, and it certainly showed – I came out of the water in about 40th position. I’ll blame the swim venue, but I think that this worst swim I’ve ever had in a triathlon could also be attributed to my naïve-ness on what to expect in a real open water racing experience. Lesson learned – so all you ITUers out there, watch out for me next time!

The bike: Saris/Cyclops was kind enough to lend me the second best pair of race wheels I’ve ever ridden. (A review on those is coming in a blog post shortly…) That in combination with all the hard work I’ve been able to put in after a warm New England winter made the bike leg the best part of my race. Granted, it was the second chase pack on the course, but I actually felt like I was in control of the group. It was my pulls that connected my group with the small groups and stragglers that trailed the first chase pack, I was the one shouting to motivate the group and get them organized, and despite doing a solid portion of the pulling, I felt fresh for the entire ride. My only regret was not trying to make a break and jump to the first chase pack early on, but for my first legitimate draft-legal experience, I was very pleased with how I handled the position I got myself as a result of the swim.

The run: Back to a bit of disappointment here. I’ve been posting some pretty solid numbers in my run workouts lately, so I was pretty surprised at how sluggish I felt after feeling so strong on the bike. All but one runner from the pack that I rode with ran right past me out of the T2, and I didn’t pull a single one of the back. By the time the last of them came by me, my legs started to warm up, my foot speed picked up, and I ran away from him pretty definitively. Unfortunately that wasn’t until about half way through the run. I rocked a very disappointing 6:08 pace for that run… not cool.

  • Despite the ability to win little local races like it’s my job, I am NOT all that awesome. Not even at swimming. Perspective. Humility. Ouch.
  •  It’s time to start playing water polo, or doing some other kind of vicious water sport to help me become a little more agile and aggressive in the water. Pure speed just won’t cut it anymore.
  •  It’s also time to hit the bike, run, bike, run, bike, run workouts again, and HARD.

Special thank you’s to Cyclops for wheels to race on, Chipotle for burritos to chew on, and Tri-Hard Coaching for bike, run, bike, run... workouts to look forward to this spring.