I finished up my 2012 Triathlon Season well over a month ago at the ITU World Cup Finale in Cancun, Mexico. This was my fourth race in four consecutive weekends, and my most competitive of the entire season. Ideally I would have finished up with one last Continental Cup, trying to improve my standing on the ITU points list by bettering one of my previous three best finishes from this year ??? 6th, 11th and 17th. There were no other Continental Cups left in the Americas for this year, so I opted to try to step up to the World Cup Level instead. I would be lying if I said I??didn’t??have dreams of having a break-out swim, riding with the pack, nailing the run, and essentially leap frogging some competition and moving me well up in the rankings. Finishing on such a high note would be fantastic for my confidence and to show potential sponsorships as well. What I got instead was another wake up call.
This was a sprint distance race, with just a 750m swim, so I thought if I could hang on, the gaps getting onto the bike would be small and manageable. The start had a short beach run-in with a couple dolphin dives. I??didn’t??get beat up too bad, which was nice, and was able to swim on some feet. In fact, coming back in, I thought I was in a pretty good position. I could see the front of the pack not too far up, and thought everything was going to plan. Little did I know I was just about the last guy running up the beach. Even in my worst swims over the last year racing Continental Cups there were a number of athletes more than a minute behind me. Here I was thinking I was having a pretty good swim, and I was last! World Cups are another animal.
I ran into transition with a number of guys around me, going passed a couple, and thinking I would have guys to work with. There was a long line of guys all trying to catch up to the main group, and I was near the tail end of that. Somewhere in the first couple of kilometers, the elastic snapped, and a gap began to form. Of course I was on the wrong side of this break, and ended up in a chase pack. This is the nature of draft-legal racing, and I applaud the guys up front for making the bike matter in this sprint distance race. Good on them for not letting some weak swimmers get back in the race. If I were in their shoes, I would be doing the same. At times we were well organized, working together nicely, but it??wasn’t??enough and the main pack grew their lead with each lap, and we came into T2 about two minutes down.
I pushed hard coming around the last turn and got a nice little break coming into transition over the group I was with, something I had attempted in Buffalo but had personally foiled by leaving a tube of Aquaphor in my running shoe! This time was seamless, and I exited T2 with a larger gap than I had had when I entered.
Suddenly I was in an oven! With steam! Running on my own, with such a large gap ahead was pretty tough. I was closer to survival mode on that run, which apparently many other athletes were, as no one from the group behind me would bridge back up, and eventually I did catch a few guys from the group ahead. It was way too little to make a significant difference, however, and I finished up in 44th place in 57:08, 3:35 behind the leaders and well outside the 5% cut-off to earn any ITU points.
So I finished my season with an ass whoopin???! There are two ways to look at these sorts of races, to be disappointed or to find a silver lining and be motivated. I still think if I can make myself a main pack swimmer, I will ride easier, run faster, and my results will be very different. This race was more fuel to add to the proverbial fire, and will motivate me in the months of training before my next race in 2013.
More thoughts on the conclusion of my 2012 season, some big changes, and ???off season??? fun to come???