Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monterrey and Ishigaki

ishigaki world cup video (i am in red and white)

I am currently sitting on a plane heading back from my latest round of races. At this point I have been travelling for about 25 hours and have had plenty of time to think and assess the past two races and where I go from here.

After I raced in Mazatlan in March, I quickly realized that while I had quite a large base of fitness, I lacked some of the speed and sharpness needed to be successful racing ITU races. I had a great 4 week block of training w/ reduced volume and plenty of Vo2 max work. The numbers and response were good and I felt ready to go heading into the Monterrey/Ishigaki double.

Monterrey was the first race up and after a quick uneventful trip, I was ready to race. I got blocked in a bit at the start and by the time I made it to the front of the swim pack, a gap had formed to a group of 8 or so. I led the main pack for most of the swim and was comfortable.

Onto the bike that comfort ended. It was definitely one of the hardest bikes I have ever done. The course had many tight turns, u-turns, and general bottle necks which strung out our pack. We chased the lead breakaway of 8 riders from the first k and didn’t slow down the entire bike. Towards the end of the bike, I started to have some cramping issues with my stomach. Onto the run, they got worse. I struggled a lot, but shuffled along and finished 27th. Not what I wanted or where I feel I am capable of finishing by any means.

After Monterrey, Manny Huerta and I began the very, very long process of getting to Ishigaki, Japan. We left Monday morning at 7:00 AM, spent one night in the air, one night in Okinawa, and then finally arrived in Ishigaki Wednesday morning around 10:00AM….that is a lot of hours! Combined with the previous weekend’s race the rest of the week was damage control: sleep, eat, and train just enough your body doesn’t fall asleep.

After being disappointed in Monterrey, I was ready for vindication in Ishigaki. Race day arrived faster than expected, and I was ready to race. Ishigaki is notorious for breakaways on the swim, so I was very keen to get on the train out of the water. I had a great swim and exited in the top 8 or so, very much in the break. Immediately out of transition we go up a steep bridge which forces the selection out of the water. I had good legs and made the break. I was ecstatic. There were 11 of us in the break with some strong Russian and Australian riders. I thought that this was the race.

Unfortunately, we were riding hard, but unorganized and the chase group was 20 seconds behind us. After 20k out front we were reeled in. Once this happened we went from 11 to 30, and we stopped riding. We slowed so much around 30k that the 3rd pack caught us and we swelled to 35. There were some very slow swimmers who ended up making the “front” pack by the end of the race. Obviously this was quite frustrating for me, but it is the nature of ITU racing.

Onto the run, I again felt sub-par running. Unlike the week before, I was able to keep the top 10 in range for the first 5k, After 5k, I started to struggle and slipped backwards. I ended up 21st. Again, not what I felt I was capable of doing. When you do 2 races back to back with so much travel and stress, it is very difficult to figure out exactly what went wrong, and how to fix it. So now the coach and I need to sit down and figure out what needs to be done over the next 6-8 weeks.

On the positive side, there are some things that I can take away from the last 10 days. For one, my swim is where it needs to be. I am swimming better and more consistently than ever, and have found what I need to do swim fast. Biking is improving as well. While I struggled in Monterrey, my powerfiles from the 2 races showed some big jumps in power to what I have done in the past. Running….that is the mystery! I had great workouts leading up to the races, and felt great. One big thing I am going to do differently is change my pre-race nutrition. I have been having problems for a while, and now have the resources to use a nutritionist to help me figure out what is my best fueling strategy for racing.

That’s plenty for now. As the US men are doing well right now, it is touch and go which races I will be doing in May/June. I still have a decent shot getting into HY-Vee, so that will be the focus over the next 7 weeks….