Saturday, November 8, 2008

Clearwater World Championships 70.3 - November 8th

I figured I would write a race report since I cannot seem to get to sleep thanks in large part to some tired, crampy legs and my race car metabolism.

Where do I even start? I guess I should start at the beginning, back in March when I did my first race of the season. This truly has been a long and at times difficult season. I raced back in March my first triathlon of 2008 down at the very chilly Florida Great Escape and really have not stopped since.

I targeted this the World Championships back in March beginning with my preparation for Florida 70.3 I came down to Florida and trained the course, knowing that the course conditions and terrain would be very similar to what I would experience in November. I qualified at Florida, mind you not without a little bit of drama and a few hours in the medical tent. Throughout the rest of the season I have targeted races specifically in preparation for Clearwater. Minus the month and half hiccup I had with a stress fracture in my back, the rest of the season's training was spot on. I came into this race with excellent fitness and the confidence that I could race against the best in the world.

I left school on Monday following a terrible nine days of little sleep, lots of studying and six exams culminating in a six hour long attempt at my first MCAT (medical school entrance exam). Arriving in Chattanooga late Monday (ie my 21st birthday for those counting), I was able to get in a solid track workout and swim before embarking upon the nine and half hour drive the following day to Clearwater Beach, Florida. My dad and I arrived at Clearwater mid-day Wednesday, roughly three days before the race. After finding a local swim club and begging the coach to allow me to swim 1500m, we were able to get settled into our room (which was only a half a mile from the race start) and start the carbo load. The next few days were filled with athlete meetings, bike preparation, eating, sleeping, eating more, watching the bike geeks do wind sprints up and down the road out side our hotel in their aero helmets and compression socks, and eating again. Finally Saturday rolled around and the alarm finally went off at five in the morning. Since I was in the last wave to start (8am M18-29), Marc and I leisurely waltzed over to body marking at six in the morning. I did the normal bike evacuation readiness routine and my dad, mom, Marc and I walked down to a coffee shop about a quarter of a mile from the start.

At a quarter till eight, I was warmed up, coffeed/oatmealed up, and standing in the starting corral waiting on my age group to be called up. The gun went off and the Braveheart charge was on. For the first 750m, I think I spent more time under water than I did actually swimming. I was crawling over, under and around athletes. Whom ever slapped me across the head about 400m into the swim if you are reading this I want to say that was uncalled for and rude. Anyways, the lead pack as usual got away and I quickly found myself in a foreign situation. I was actually swimming quickly! Leading the light brigade around the first turn buoy, I recognized that I was in front of the chase pack. Realizing that I was probably not hte man for hte job, I slotted over to some feet to the left and hung on until we made the turn for home. It was at that moment, I realized that not only were my goggles filled with salt water, but the guy I was drafting off of had decided it would be better to swim into gulf of mexico instead towards the shore. I spotted a group off to the right and bridged over to them, leaving Christopher Columbus to find his own way. Onto the beach, I checked my watch, PR by a minute and a half. Stop, drop and roll: I ran up the 100m sand run, through the fresh water showers and rolled onto the ground for the volunteer wetsuit strippers to rip off my suit.

Out of transition, I hammered the first ten minutes then found my rhythm just in time to match up with a nice group of about five guys on the bike. Draft fest 08 but what are you going to do? On two separate occasions, I launched attacks to try and get away from the group I was riding with and both times I found myself in no-man's land, breaking the wind, dangling 45seconds off the front. Figuring my energy would be better spent on the run, I simply set right off the back of the group for the rest of the ride, ate and laughed at the crazy German (Vinner, the techno twin) cursing the dumbass American for repeatedly cutting him off.

Into T2 and onto the run. Marc was at the first mile to tell me as usual that I was running way to fast (~5:40). The rest of the run was a blurr. I remember it being hot and people taking the cold sponges at the aid stations before I could get them (Frenchies). All said I am very happy with the outcome of the race. I PRed by 18min, PRed for the swim, bike and run and still managed to pull a top ten in my age group, top 100 placing IN THE WORLD. Not too bad when you consider three years ago this time I was getting ready for my first brain surgery and had never even thought about competing in triathlons. There are still many things I can improve on and learn and I look forward the challenges that the future has in store. In the mean time I think I might take up ultra-marathoning through the winter. See you out in the snow.

Thanks to everyone who made this dream a reality. I would not be the athlete I am today with the support of my family, friends and coach. You guys inspire me.

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