Last year, I was pleasantly surprised with a 2ndplace at Boulder Peak Triathlon utterly shocked to out ride some of my idols including Matty Reed, Tim DeBoom and others. It was my first Olympic Distance as a pro having been a distance I’de stayed away from because I felt I didn’t have the swim to be competitive. As it turned out, I didn’t have the swim but rode and ran well enough to get back into a decent position.
With the announcement of the 5150 Series for 2011 culminating with the Hy-Vee Triathlon which included over 1 million buckaroos in prize money, I knew I would have to have a crack at making one of the 25 qualifying spots.
After a 2nd place at DC 5150, I was particuarly confident about my chances of racing well at Boulder Peak 5150 which had extremely good qualifying points for Hy-Vee. I did a ballistic 10 day training block. I tried to fit in a swim squad every day and then would often include a 2nd afternoon swim session, punched out a good 500-600kms on the bike and while keeping a relatively low run volume (compared to the other pros) of around 70-80kms, I was including a lot of intensity really trying to work on being able to hold 3 min/km pace with my running. The result- I was completely overtrained. My comprimised immune system allowed my athsma come back strongly and I was rediculously tired but couldn’t sleep. I raced like a dog, swimming minutes slower than last year, riding minutes slower and struggling to breathe the whole way until I got hold of my ventolin on the run.
So the pressure was now on to perform at the last qualifying race, the New York 5150 triathlon. I had doubled my asthma medications and felt my lungs open back up, particuarly when I hit the humidity of New York several days before the race. The vibes wer positive, I was well rested and had Monica on my side. I haven’t had a bad race with her as the support crew so far.
New York has a down river swim which is ideal for the not so strong swimmers like myself. I exited the Hudson a little off the pace but with a long run from the swim exit to our bikes I was able to pin back some time to the back of the front group.
As always I can tell whether I’m going to ride well from the first few pedal strokes and the pegs and Kestrel Kev 4000 felt great. Unfortunately I was stuck behind Andrew Yoder who is an exceptional cyclist but possibly not so confident in the technical sections rolling the first 200m technical section out of transition and with no space to overtake I was stuck behind and watched Greg Bennet and others ride away. As soon as we got onto the open road Andrew proceeded to drop a 400watt average and rode away also. Still, I rode hard with a group of guys close behind and was delighted not to get the usual glute pain thanks to a professional bike fit from Boulder Centre for Sports Medicine.
I hit the run in 6th or 7th, my legs felt fresh but more importantly my lungs felt open. The run is tough winding through Central Park with quad crunching undulations and an oppressive New York humidity. In saying that, the vast number of people cheering on the race cancel out the slower aspects of the run course. I soon pulled away from several others and settled into 4th place. Bennet and Collins were too far up the road to catch but on a longer straight I caught sight of David Thompson and just zoned in on his back willing him to come back towards me. As is the common technique I hung back a little behind him for about 30 seconds before putting on a surge as I went to pass him to ensure that he didn’t follow. Unfortunately he did follow and I knew that I was going to have to slow which might give him the confidence to stick with me. David is a strong guy, I didn’t want to have a sprint finish with him. Before I slowed I decided dig one more time and give one more kick up a hill. I had accepted that if I didn’t drop him on that hill that I was going to have back it off and wait for a sprint finish. Thankfully he broke and I was able to cruise to the finish a happy boy.
Ben Collins had ridden incredibly well and held on in the run for the win, picking up a nasty stress fracture on the way whilst the ever consistent Aussie Olympian Greg Bennet finished 2nd. My run split was a high 31 minutes, the fastest of the day securing 3rd place and enough points to qualify for Hy-Vee Triathlon. Who Hoo.! Huge thanks to the beautiful Monica who made racing so easy by looking after everything before hand. I’m forever in her debt.