There are so many positive things to think about when considering this past weekend’s race it’s hard to determine what to put down in writing. 1) The benefits of continues effort year after year and satisfaction with incremental progress, 2) the fear of stepping away from regiment for it’s ill effects on that progress yet having a tremendous breakthrough despite it (probably from it), or 3) the thrill of going after something that legitimately scares you in a sport where it can be easy to get complacent in the numbers. All worth while discussion points I’ve been playing over in my head after my 4th consecutive Desert Triathlon yesterday that add up to a first place amateur finish and Olympic PR of 1:59:46.
Let’s start with the bike. I had a growing desire to shoot for a nice round number I thought would be outside my capabilities, likely sabotaging the rest of my race if I were to go for it, for no particular reason and without much support. I had a majority of friends tell me either how little numbers meant or not to compromise my overall performance for a superfluous segment. This honestly fired me up even more and by race morning I was totally committed to shooting for a 300watt average over the 40k course (slightly shorter).
Fast forward 5 minutes into the bike I look down at my Garmin and my lap power is reading 330, which is basically above my FTP, leading me to the ridiculous decision to throw all targets out the window and race the bike like it was a 20k, without any expectation or saving anything for the run. I never thought my legs would last but as the minutes ticked away and my average kept I became even further excited and energized. When I finished in 58 minutes I was physically devastated, but so satisfied with my race regardless of where it went from there. I don’t know if my Garmin is fried or what but my undeniable progression in the sport of cycling keeps me happy and confident that I am doing the appropriate things to keep moving in the right direction.
Next up stepping away. After Lake Placid last July I made the conscious decision to step away from triathlon training for 5 months, trading my evenings on the computrainer for hours in the gym with plenty of yoga. Deprived of continuous aerobic activity to burn off muscle my strength skyrocketed and I was hitting numbers I never thought I would (benching 225, doing sets of 20 pullups, leg pressing 400lbs), things triathletes don’t do. I figured the weight would come off quickly once I got back into routine training, but it didn’t and I entered race day close to 10lbs heavier than I was the year prior. This coupled with my triathlon sabbatical should not add up to a PR, at least I had no reason for thinking it would, but it seems all that power despite the mass to lug around still equals more power to weight. I can’t run quite as fast yet but my bike feels great. I’m much happier where I’m at and hope it may serve as an example that you don’t necessarily need to be super lean OR have to train year round to go fast (the body appreciates a break).
Finally a note on progression as people tend to complain when I leave out graphs. The numbers speak for themselves –
The moment I stop producing I welcome greater feedback on what I may be doing wrong. I remember approaching one of my best coaches when I was uncertain in my training to solicit advice, when he told me – Welby, trust yourself in what you’re doing. Imagine a coach encouraging an athlete to believe in themselves?!? This advice still motivates me years later to be confident in my abilities not just in competition but laying out a season on paper.
Not to diminish my claim to sub2 but did anyone else think that was short?? Lesson learned this morning was keep to clear as my tinted goggles fogged up as always making it impossible to sight into the sun. On the way back I lined up with the same peak I always have making it easy to swim straight despite the impaired vision. Happy with 1:21/100 even if I was swimming sloppy out there.
Not much more to say about this. I rode my heart out leaving everything on the course. Feel so comfortable in my position with head tucked into the bars despite not being able to see much. Can’t wait to apply my effort over to the next 70.3.
Since I didn’t mention it above I dragged myself out onto the bike course with dead legs, only hoping to move forward. I wasn’t surprised with a 6:38 first mile but then my legs started to come back and by the end I was running consistent 6:10’s. For an amateur in this sport it doesn’t take much more than that.
Finishing the race I was pretty happy with a 2:03, considering it a 2 minute PR from last year, however something felt off adding up my splits in my head. It wasn’t until I got home that I investigated times and found out that they were off at the finish, adjusted online. My corrected overall time was 1:59:46. Breaking 2 is something I’ve always wanted to do but never saw coming, so you can imagine my excitement. It would have been a nice thing to celebrate on the podium among friends but unfortunately times were confused, trophies ran out and everyone went home before I got my chance.
Finally I wanted to mention a reminder to myself that racing fast is significant but that the greatest part about this sport is friendship and community. I regret trading diligent pre-race preparation for time spent with friends. I owe it to them to be better and look forward to the next opportunity to make up for it. Additionally I am happy to collecting on the wager I made this race on beers for the overall winner with a lanemate and continue the smack talking and betting throughout the season.