Thursday, September 18, 2008

c’est enorme!

Well I finally cracked one! It wasn't the perfect race, and I think I can still race better, but it was a breakthrough for me. During the race in Scotland last week I did something to my heel (as if I haven't had enough problems with my feet). It has been so sore I couldn't run on it all week. Heading into the race this weekend I was pretty nervous. As someone who prefers to run a lot of miles, this "no running" strategy wasn't exactly good for my confidence.

And on top of the heel, this was a huge race for our team. In the French Grand
Prix Series (much like European football….or soccer to uneducated people), the bottom 2 teams from D1 go to D2 and the top 2 teams form D2 go to D1. Our team signed me and some other foreigners for the sole purpose of helping the club go to D1 next year. Going into the last race, we were in second place, but only by a hair.

For the last month, (and especially since Scotland) I have really been focusing on swimming and riding since my body has not cooperated on the run. After the most recent heel issue, it was decided by me that I would no longer "sit in" on the bike and wait but to attack the swim and the bike to get in a breakaway. All the US guys that race with me would be shocked. This race was one of a few that went exactly according to plan.

I had an awful start to the swim (sometimes it is expected when you have 105 guys and 150meters to the first turn buoy), but my fitness came through and I clawed my way into 4th out of the water. Along with another teammate behind me, we had a break out of the water. I hopped on the bike and took off. It ended up being 9 guys in the break. I pushed really hard and felt solid on the bike. We were pretty disorganized, but managed to hold off the second pack. The gap grew to 35 seconds to the chase pack (which consisted of about 60-70 guys), but the last lap of the bike we lost quite a bit of time and ended up only having 15 seconds or so. Not too much time for all our hard work, but better than nothing. Next I went onto the 5k, 3 lap run, in 3rd position and ran well for the first lap. The 2nd lap I got passed by two guys to put me into 5th going into the last lap. I was feeling ok, but the quads were cramping pretty badly. About 800m from the finish I got caught by 2 more guys and we ran together all the way to the finish chute. I didn't have the finishing speed and ended up getting out sprinted by both (one was my teammate) for 7th place.

I still think I can race better, but all things considered I am happy. This was by far my best place in the FGP this season and things look good for racing in France again next season. In the end, our team finished 2nd on the day which catapulted us to 1st in D2. Champions of France D2!!!!! So not only do we go to D1, we are the champs of the 2nd division. As you can see from the above pic our manager, Eric, was ecstatic about our victory. He didn't sleep the week before the race he was so nervous, and was crying afterwards. What a perfect way to end the season of racing in France!

I am now in Denver airport en route to Portland for the USA National Championships. While the French season is over for me, I still have a few more races and heaps of travelling! Fun, fun. After Portland I have 1 day in San Fran and then off to China for another race. I will post some musings on a summer racing abroad shortly. What a crazy, but wonderful experience. I think words hardly will do justice to the memories. Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Les Etrangers aprѐs race [l to r: Moi, Nico(francais), Adam, Jason, and Kris (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie)].

and the l'equipe on top of the podium

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