Sunday, May 20, 2012

ITU Cross Triathlon Worlds/XTERRA Southeast Regional Championships

Woo! My first time in a true ITU race, vs. my pretend ITU race in Clermont.  It's definitely a cool thing to be racing for your country, even if it's one of the "other" ITU championships and you're only in the 20-24 age group.
I'll cut down the ridiculous pre-race because you can kind of get that through my other posts, but I graduated Wednesday afternoon, drove home to NJ on Wednesday night, packed up my bike, etc, and Dad drove me to Newark airport on his way to work on Thursday morning for my flight.  I got to Birmingham safe and sound, which was an eerie reminder that I'm no longer a collegiate athlete, coming to the same airport, same state as Collegiate Nationals.  Actually as I'm sitting waiting for my flight out, it's actually the very same gate and flight as a month ago. Weird.
I unpacked my bike and found that the derailleur had been bent so I headed over to the closest shop where they fixed it and pumped up my shock because I don't own a shock pump.  Otherwise, Thursday consisted of a preride and a swim.  Friday morning was a sleep late day where I updated all of my addresses for bank, etc now that I'm moving...I don't know what to do with myself on these solo tri trips, I've grown so used to playing mother hen with my team.  In the afternoon I went over to the park and ran a lap, swam again, then went to the XTERRA University and ITU rules briefings.  It's funny to see XTERRA athletes confused by ITU rules, like with no bare torso, or the super strict mount/dismount/helmet chinstrap, etc.  Kahuna Dave definitely enjoys his jokes about teasing road triathletes, even as the ITU officials were right there.
Morning of the race was again, nothing out of the ordinary, just a long check-in line because of the ITU procedures of bike checks, etc and picking up swim cap, chip, body marking.
Warmup was a ride from the car in flip flops about 1/2 mile, then a run and a swim back and forth along the beach area while the juniors and sprint race were on the actual course.  I don't know how far, but I felt like I got the HR up and sweating.
Swim 1.5km: 21:53 11th
I'm the big goofy one with my arms as chicken wings in the front row, towards the left
This was a two-lap triangle swim with a short run between.  I tried to stick with the leaders right off the gun but that didn't hold for long, so I ended up in a little chase.  The 11th place is I believe including the U23s who started actually separate from us, as well as the women.  I remember hearing that I was either 7th or 8th out of the water, which is pretty cool for a world championship.  I came right out of the water with another member of my age group, Taylor Seavey.  I really don't know which lap was faster, but I really like the diving back in part and is probably beneficial to my 6'6" height.  It's also fun.
T1: 1:03
A quick glance, without a ranking, shows that this time was faster than average at least.  I can't figure out how to pre-rig my MTB shoes, so I am still putting them on in transition (time to spring for the Specialized Trivent Terra? Maybe once I get my first real paycheck in a few weeks).  I did, however, put my gloves and glasses on while moving because the first half mile or so is on road.
Bike 30km: 1:25:22 98th
I started off great.  With my good swim, it helps having the first few miles of singletrack because it's not as crowded and I'm not passing anybody.  Taylor was right behind me for the most part, but we came out onto a fire road for a bit and he took the chance to pass me.  Shortly thereafter, I cut a hairpin turn over a ditch a little too close, missed the bridge, and went over the handlebars.  I tried to get up but heard that dreaded hissing sound.  I spun my wheel a few times hoping the sealant would do its job, but no dice.  Instead, I then ripped my CaffeLatex sealant off the seatpost because I could tell it was still a pretty small hole that wouldn't require me to put a tube in.  I emptied almost the entire canister and eventually it took.  I'm guesstimating that I was stopped for close to 4 minutes as a big pack just zoomed by, negating my swim pretty much.
Afterward, it was just a battle of trying to make up ground.  The one big climb that was so hyped up really wasn't terrible, but man was it long.  It was another question of just not having a big ego and putting it in the easiest gear and spinning out.  After that, it was a lot of downhill and some more technical stuff, including the infamous "Blood Rock."  I didn't ride it at all on Thursday but I came on it pretty quick during the race, so I rode it at first before a rider in front of me crashed and I just got off and ran it, including jumping down a 4-foot drop off because the other rider was in the main clearing.  Towards the end of the bike I passed Matt Robbins, another US 20-24 who was running his bike.  He said he'd gotten two flats and that there were two other 20-24s in front of me now...I am guessing he and the other guy must have passed me while I was fixing my flat.  Came into T2 alive and in one piece, ready to rock.
T2: 0:38
The long stretch of road leading into T2 allowed me to unstrap shoes, but it's still awkward with inward-facing velcro on my MTB shoes unlike my tri shoes.  I also changed out glasses again.  The orange-grey transition lenses are great for MTB courses, but I like something a little darker for the run where my life doesn't depend on my depth perception.
Run 10km: 42:24 37th
I tried my hardest not to impersonate Usain Bolt this time.  At the same time, I knew that Taylor and probably one other 20-24 were in front of me that I wanted to catch.  I had figured out that obviously Taylor was a better biker than I, but I didn't know his run ability so I figured I may as well go for it, plus I also had no clue about who the other 20-24 Matt said was up there.  I also wanted to get a respectable overall place as well, so I tried to pick off all of the 40s, 55s, 45s, 35s, and others I saw on calves.  I only got passed by a few people.  I tried to pick up each mile, but I also wanted to stay in control.  I made it a point to eat a little energy chew every 3/4 mile or so after my near-meltdown in Tuscaloosa that better nutrition would have at least mitigated if not prevented.  My second lap was a little bit slower, but that's including a little mini stop with less than a mile because of some stomach issues that didn't cost me anything place-wise, probably a bit too many calories on the run/late in the bike after all.  Regardless, I came across and after some figuring out, realized that Taylor won our age group, our lone international competitor from Mexico got 2nd, and I was 3rd.
Overall: 2:32:20 44th/251 overall, 3rd/6 M20-24
I NEED to get better on the bike, and I don't just mean not flatting.  Looking at the ranking of my times, it's obvious that it's my weak point in XTERRA, and clearly XTERRA is won on the bike...look at Conrad Stoltz who doesn't have a top level pro swim yet he always comes off the bike first and usually holds his lead on the run.  Even Will Kelsay, who was among the last out of the water, managed to ride his way through the majority of the field.  Focusing on the bike will also, I think, actually help my draft legal skills as well, because the bike is what killed me in my one and only draft legal race and what I hope will be my new strength in my next race at Harvey Cedars in 2 weeks.
No medals just for finishing here.
Proper bike cleaning equipment is essential.

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