Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the first grand prix and china

the most famous street in cycling
It has been a while since my last post, but life has been crazy busy. I competed in my first Franch Grand Prix race May 18th, then drove back to Paris, spent all day at the Chinese consulate on Monday, received my visa to China and left for China Tuesday morning. 30+ hours of travel later I arrived in Yicheng, China. I havent blogged for a week, because of China's strict restrictions for the web blocked my access

We'll talk about the the French Grand Prix race first. It was held in Charleville 3 hours north of Paris. I drove from Paris with the team in our team car. It was like old memories of college swimming. The team aspect of racing is a fun and refreshing change of pace. The team is great and loads of fun. The race had 105 people start for the sprint triathlon (750m swim/20k bike/5k run). I had a great start and was 4th out of the water onto the bike. We were off the front for 10k, but the group of 50+ reeled us in, and the last 10k of the bike was spent getting ready to run with 50 guys. Transition in critcal in such a short run with so many people, and unfortunately I got boxed in at the end. Totally my own fault, and something I will remeber for the next race. I ran hard out of transition, but did not have the legs to sprint. I moved into 8th at the 3k mark of the run, but faded badly the last 2k to 15th. I was quite disappointed with my run, but still managed to split a 15:57 for the 5k. Our team ended up 5th with a sloid performance. I am excited about the next team race. I am confindent that I can be on the podium!
the team kit


Now onto China. Leading into the race, I was beginning to feel a little flat and tired. This would be my 6th race in 5 weeks. The trips involved 3 contintents, 5 countries, and over 50,000 miles of air travel. There is so much I could blog about China: the pollution, the poverty, strnage food,the crazy kids, the nose-picking, coughing, spitting, 2.50USD/gallon gas! crazy traffic, fake knock-off everything, nazi translators, or the good internationals that I raced with.

I will stick with the basics. The race was held in Yicheng which is a 1:45 our flight from Beijing, and then a 4 hour bus ride along the "country-side." This is "real" China, not the sugar coated touristy experience staying in Beijing city center and bargaining with the locals over fake Oakley's. Few people ever get to experience this. Yicheng City is small by Chinese standards with a metro population of only 4.5 million people. In fact it is so small, you cannot even find it on google.

The race went ok. I had a great swim and exited with a few internationls and about 6 Chinese. We had 20 seconds on the main group of around 30 people. Only the two Aussies and myself seemed to want to work. So we pulled around 8 other guys for 40k. We ended up putting 1:10 into the chase pack of 30. I had the worst run so far this year, in the one race where I could/should have won. I have travelled way, way too much and knew things would come unravelled at some point. That point was 2k into the 10k run. The city brought over 30,000 people (not a typo) out to watch the race. It was insane. At some points it was so loud it was deafening. It didnt seem to help my run, though, and I ended up fading to 9th, so I made a little money and got important ITU points. Sometimes I finish a race and think I could have run faster, but for this one I had to empty the tank to run as slow as i did. It was mentally the toughest 10k I have ever done. Thats racing though! After the race they threw us a big celebration with this Cirque du Soleil type thing. It was pretty cool.

These "eggs" are wrapped in feces and then buried underground for years, and turn black in the process. Bon Appetite!

These are mini eels with their heads still attachedThe Aussie/Kiwi/Yank contingent The Stage for the awards and show Pics from the race site....

Now I am with my club in St Jean De Monts in western France near the ocean. Time to get in the hard work to get ready for Word Univeristy Games in Turkey on June 28th. I am super excited to get back into the swing of training.

Friday, May 16, 2008

dans paris

I am currently in Paris getting ready for my first team race. This is my first time in Paris and it is really an amazing city. I got to see the Champs-Elysees this morning which was pretty cool. I love all the little cafes and think I have had more coffee and ham sandwiches on delicious baguette bread than ever before. Other than that I am preparing for the race this Sunday. It is in Charleville which is somwhere north of here. Tomorrow I get to meet the rest of my team and my coach and manager. Should be fun. As far as the race itself, I have no idea what to expect, but am hoping for a good result. The body is gettting pretty tired from all the travel, but still holding together. I am having some problems getting my visa for China, so if I dont get it Monday, then the China trip will be a no go.

Well I will keep you posted on the happenings and new pics when i get them.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

pics from mimizan

the beast apres race

On the Podium...ish The nice girl who lent me her bike
The wesuit actually looks ok from this pic (looks can be deceiving)
doing what i do best
Thats all for now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I have been to China twice (outside the touristy parts) and am going again in 10 days. For some reason this video does not suprise me a bit.

oh the places you will go..

Where do I start? I arrived safely in Toulouse with uneventful travel. Uneventful, that is, until I arrived in Toulouse sans bike. Uh oh. I reveived my 70 pound oversize vault of a bag, but not the ever important bike and wetsuit. I needed my bike because, my new flatmate Pierre was picking me up from airport and we were driving four hours to Mimizan to race a triathlon the next day. No bike, means no race. This is not looking good. The lady at Lufthansa looks at me and says, "I do not know where it is. How do you say....it is lost" Ummm. Ok. Is it lost in Toronto or in Frankfurt? "It is just lost" Great. Isnt the whole point of electronic baggage tracking to electronically track the baggage? C'est la vie. just go with the flow.

So I decided to go to Mimizan with Pierre and watch the race. Well, I did bring my racing flats just in case I found a bike. And a wetsuit. And a race suit. And bike shoes. And a helmet. We arrived at the race site after a quick 4 hours (I slept the whole way...Thanks Pierre!). When I arrived I ran into Sylvain Sudrie (he whooped me in South Korea). We chatted in Franco-English for a bit, and I told him about my situation. He pointed to a girl standing next to him. You could use her bike. Ok, I said. So I talked to Nadie and she said it was no problem. We would sort out the details tomorrow. Ok, You can use my helmet, bike, and shoes. What size soes are you? 44. Ok well my shoes are 42 (8 in the US). No problem, I said. I love it when my toes are curled into a ball at the end of the cycling shoes. I went and found Pierre and said that I found a bike for the race and showed him the piece of paper with her number. He looks at me and said. "What is this? You have only been in Franc for 5 hours and you have a phone number already!" haha!

We left the race site and went to the hotel to get some shut eye. Our race was at 3:00 (this is an age group race). I LOVE this place already. I just had to pick up the bike at 12:00 and find a wetsuit. The race announcer asked if anyone had a wesuit for me to borrow. Another woman volunteered and went to her car to ge the wetsuit. She handed it to me. Merci Beacoup! and grab the bike and off to the hotel for lunch and then the race.

The bike I was given was a 21lb giant ocr womens size small with a triple chainring up front and an XL women's saddle which does not fit my XS mens rear end, and some very un-lightweight wheels. The seat height was perfect though, and after lowering the handle bars a bit, it was ready to rock......ish. My wetsuit looked like swiss cheese. I am not even kidding. There must have been 40 holes in it. I think it was a 1990 circa Aquaman that had been hit 3 times by shrapnel. But it still would help with thec old. Sadly, I did not think it wad going to help my swim.

I stood on the start line with around 30 seconds of warm up in me, about to fall asleep. There were actually some very fast professionals at this race. I was not nervous, just trying to keep form laughing out loud at my situation. BOOM! The gun went off and all of the sudden I hade 100 French men sprinting next to me on the beach. Ok need to swim fast now. Body says, no friggin way! I stay on the three leaders feet for around 200m and then with my heart about to explode, I said enough. There was no way I was going to beat these guys anyway, so why kill myslef? So I just went my own pace for the rest of the swim, until a pack of 5 caught up with me. What the heck? These Frenchie age-groupers can swim. Everytime I took a swim stroke my swiss-cheese wetsuit would roll up my arms. Yes it was that loose. I had an ok transition.

Onto the bike, with my womens bike and too small shoes, I put down the hammer and actually passed 4 guys! then got passed by a few more from behind. This race was Olympic distance and non-drafting, so the bike was 40k (24.8 mile) Around the 10k mark, an official rode up next to me and started screaming at me in French. I screamed back in English that I was not drafting, and then realized that he was pointing at my number belt. In France it is tres important that you wear this at all times. My number was ripped of with my wetsuit, but I did not know it at the time. I tried in broken French, and he responded in non-broken French. After 5 minutes of arguing. He said disqualifique, non classement. Ok. Got it. I just got disqualified and would receive no classification for the race. Nice, first race and I dont even make it to half-way of the bike. I decided to ride the rest of the way hard on my Giant tricycle. It was going ok maybe 10th place at this point (all things considered) when I came to a literal fork in the road with no signs. Only screaming Frenchies and no cyclists in front of me. A little French lessson:

tournet a gouche = turn left
tournet a droit = turn right
tout droite = straight

These three words are very important when you have no idea where you are going. They screamed a gouche, a gouche (which I do know) but it didnt click in my brain and I went right. More screaming. OK, ok the stupid American went the wrong way. I get it. There was a huge median so i needed to go 200m one way and another 200m back. Nice. At this point i was 3 miles from transition and decided to just coast in. I was disqualified anyway and no there was no point in going hard. warm-down time. I pedaled into transition and jogged to my rack. I needed to put on my shoes so I wouldn't be barefoot.

As I was putting them on, another official runs over to me and says, "One minute penalty for the belt" What? I thought I was disqualified? Nope. No it is back to one minute now. Ok so now I need to run to make some money. But I am at least 14th or so by this time. Well I need a good 10k of running in my legs. I took off running strong and feeling suprisingly ok. I passed a lot of guys but had no idea where I was in the rankings. I decided just to run strong to save a little legs for my French Grand Prix Debut next weekend.

I ended up with the fastest run of the day, around 32 minutes (ahead of Bignet and Sudrie) and placed 9th! I got 100Euro for my effort (161USD) so it paid for the trip and my subsequent 8euro trip (13USD) to Le DoMac (French Slang for McDonalds--that one is for you Stephen!). Crazy Place, Crazy Trip, but crazy fun. It is Monday and my bike has still not arrived, but hopefully it will be here soon. Next week is a my first team race and very important for me. Hopefully I can be on the podium. We shall see. Sorry the post is a little long, but so much happened I didnt know when to stop. And I promise pic's of the shenanigans will be posted shortly.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

pics from south korea

The start Just behind timmy
fast transition
in the center actually at the FRONT of the pack
charging home on the run
thats all for now!

famous in france

Hardly, but i did get a pick in a newspaper for my 29th place finish in Korea World Cup. While no one cares in the USA, the team in France thought it was worthy enough to submit to the paper. Though I can only make out about half of the article, I do know it is about me.......


That pretty much sums up my Wildflower Half Ironman race. I went into the race a little tired from the trip to Korea, but still feeling confident about having a good race. I made a last chance decision to race on my road bike (bad idea) due some shipping/bike box/travel issues. I had a great swim was safely in the first pack the entire time. I made a move to get around Terenzo for the swim prime with about 200m left but couldn't quite get there so I just swam in. This is my third race this year and all three have been solid first pack swims. This is a first for me. Usually I am quite out of swim shape this time of year, but I guess all those winter swim sessions paid off.

Onto the bike I stayed conservative knowing that my biking fitness was good for 40k, but untested over this distance. I road strong until about 40 miles when the body (especially my back) said NO! It is not always the best when you blow at the base of a 5 mile 8-10% climb. I really struggled the last 15 miles on the bike and lost around 7-8 min on the guys I was with. My back really started to tighten and seize up. I rolled into transition thinking I would take off on the run and see how it went. No dice. I was shuffling like an old man. I decided in light of how bad I felt and how much more racing i have in the next three weeks to call it a day. It was a tough decision and it still bugs me that I dropped out, but I think it was the smartest idea. It was only my second race ever that I chose to drop out of.

After a couple days rest the back, the body, and the mind are ready to go. While the race wasn' t the best, it was fun to spend the weekend with my buddy Mark, Lauren, the great Steven Sexton, and Amanda Felder. Amanda and Steven were both members of the 2006 World University Games Team, and the 3 of us will be going to Erdek, Turkey this june for the 2008 World University Games triathlon. Well thats it for this post. I am back in Fort Worth until Friday when I head to France for the next flogfest.