The down side of getting yourself in the best shape you can for an upcoming race is that the body inevitably becomes very fatigued and your immune system comprimised.
I finished up my last few key sessions a week out from potentially the most profitable race I’ve been involved with and only to have to spend a few days in bed with a fever. Following the fever I was left with a residual cold and as I always get with colds, highly inflamed asthma.
I love training in Boulder and I do believe that the altitude have some very positive effects on performance. However it is at a risk. It is super easy to overtrain, very hard to recover well and and quality sleep is difficult to achieve. While altitude can help boost your red blood cell production it can also tip you the other way with a strong link between altitude training and low iron levels. Additionally I’m not sure whether it’s the dry air, the altitude or allergens but I’ve never had more asthmatic complications then when I’ve trained here. The last two seasons I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind as a small price to pay for the amazing daily training experiences the Colorado mountains and friendly people of Boulder provide. However after several races where I’ve been left gasping like an emphysema suffering 80 year old on viagra, I may have to reconsider.
I was pretty down about the race leading in as I was struggling to swim or jog easily without coughing my guts up. When you are racing 29 of the best triathletes in the world, you can’t be even 5% off your game or guys like Andy Potts, Chris McCormack, Greg Bennet etc will get out a big paddle and give you a spanking. Anyway as the race turned out, I swam very badly having to gasp for air after a coughing a lot early. As the race went on the lungs relaxed but I was never really in the mix and couldn’t even get my run happening until the final 3kms after 12 puffs of Ventolin. It’s hard to watch guys that I had beaten this season finish top 10 while I was struggling away to finish 23rd.
In saying that even if was breathing well I still think that I would have lost a lot of time in the swim which would have put me out of the mix regardless. The river current was seriously intense and the pace the front guys set was incredible. My focus has never really been short course racing but I’ve had such a blast racing the shorter Olympic distance this season that I want to continue mixing it in. That means that there is going to be hell of a lot more swimming thrown into the training program. You can get away with 15kms a week of swim training in long course racing but to make the pack with the calibre of these guys you need to be swimming at least 30kms week in week out, nailing close to a minute per 100m around the first couple of buoys.
There was some amazing positives to take away from this race. Hy-Vee did an absolutely incredible job making this the most professional race I’ve competed in. Monica and I enjoyed 5 star accommodation with a nice spread of presents on the bed to welcome us to Iowa. The crowds were phenomenal, the course exciting and the prize money for simply making the top 30 qualifiers extremely rewarding.
I truly hope that I can be here next year. WTC are really onto something with this series. Huge thank you to Hy-Vee and to Monica who put up with my gloominess the whole week prior to the race.