Friday, December 24, 2010

The Beatdown: Triathlon Down Unda'

Dec 19th: Western Australia Sprint Triathlon Championships

  This past weekend after pressure was applied to sign up for the Sprint Championships in December I finally buckled and signed up the week of the race. Chatting with the locals, seemingly ever person was doing this triathlon even people who normally wouldn't do tri's, which meant bad news for me. With each person that I found out registered that was potentially another place in front of me. Since it was a shorter race, I ASSUMED that I could get away with the shorter distance despite my lack of triathlon fitness with the swim and bike, WRONG.

  Luckily Ray Lampard was kind enough to let me borrow a set of his race wheels to hopefully make up for my lack of cycling lately as well as a "sperm" helmet also known as an aero helmet from Cody. I was decked out and ready to go, I set a new 5k pr the week before, so I knew my run fitness is coming around. We woke up pretty early, ghetto rigged our bikes to the bike rack we borrowed from Nathan doig and then piled 4 of us into the 2 door Hyundai hatchback and made our way to Rockingham. 

  We arrived in what I thought would be ample amounts of time to warm-up but I was wrong yet again. I didn't get to take my bike for that 3-4 mile spin I was hoping for, I actually managed to push my bike into transition and rack it up, before heading out for a quick 3/4-1 mile run. I saw all of the ballers gathering around the "Running Centre" tent and we made some small talk before they were calling waves to the water. Oh well I thought, no wet suit, then I saw Jason Nuttman and he offered his old wetsuit to me, so I quickly pulled it on and made my way to the water. As a side note, for all of you triathletes, do not randomly grab someones wetsuit that you have never used prior, that's a big no no. My goggles were missing, so I grabbed Cody's, went for a quick swim and realized they would not work, so I ran back to my bag with 3 minutes remaining to use Glenn's goggles. 
Watching the open elite men and women start out in the open water was amazing, as it was just like the triathlons I had seen on TV. People were sprinting through knee deep water and diving in with their best butterfly technique and quickly jumping up for a few more meters to run. My wave was next, did I mention the one and only time I have ever done an open water swim in the ocean was the day they spotted a shark near us and we all had to get out after 10 minutes? Bang the gun goes off, we are running through the water, its utter chaos, people are everywhere and I honestly am not sure when to start swimming. I take a dive and swim a bit but notice most of the guys are still running, so I jump back up. 

  The swim was pretty uneventful, I remember just deciding to grab on to the feet of another swimmer assuming he would guide me to the front, well that wasn't the case. In retrospect, i should have gone out much harder in an effort to make my way towards the front pack to keep myself motivated. After exiting the water, i saw Glenn snapping some pictures before I jumped on my bike. My transition was not the smoothest but it could have been worse for sure. Immediately I began passing people and noticed a guy just in front of me with a disk wheel, "just stay with him chris" is all I told myself and we went through the 1st lap just 10 meters apart, check. After the turnaround, I was zapped, not sure what happened if it was my motivation or what but it was certainly slower. I was overtaken by 4 other riders on this section and wasn't taking chances on the turns as I had on the 1st loop. As a surprise to me, my running transition off the bike worked really well and I racked the bike up.

After attempting several times to slide my mizuno ronins on, I realized they were too tight so I literally sat on the ground and had to pull each shoe on, this made for a lightning fast T2. Looking back I remember I had a T2 transition of 19 seconds in Savannah and on this day I would safely say I was near the 50+ second range. Time to do what I know I can do now... run. As I flew past some of the women on the course, I tried to push harder and harder. Some people were on the left side and some on the right of this turnaround course and around 5 minutes in I remembered a guy putting his hands in the air and giving me this go to hell look because I was in his path. "Ok Chris, after this turnaround you are going to DEMOLISH this guy into the ground and give him a "good job" pat on the way past". I remember when I took off with about 2 miles remaining and I passed a group of Juniors running in a pack and they were all caught off guard by my speed, but I didn't have time for games, I HAD to catch this guy and show him my dominance! 

   So yes, I caught this guy and kept pushing on but after I passed him my motivation seemed to loose focus. Then I noticed what I had many times before, my shoes were digging into my foot. I was getting warmer and warmer, so I said screw it, the top is coming down. After pulling down my tri top, everyone began looking at me weird and people were yelling stuff to me. I finished the last 1/4m pretty strong to pass a couple people in the stretch and then I heard it. "Good stuff man, but I think you got DQ'ed for pulling down your top" - Cody. WTF, really, wow, I forgot this was actually a big championships of sort but I remember racing with no top at duathlon nationals. Luckily I didn't get DQ'ed but from what everyone else told me, they had NEVER seen anyone take their top down during a triathlon, so now I am the shirtless American bandit. Matt Illingworth caught on to my system as taking your top down in the tri will save minutes on the run ! haha.

Check out the video from the race: I am in around the 30second mark on my bike

   All in all it was fun, but disappointing at the same time, I finished 31st overall and 6th in my division, it was a butt whooping. Jason Rhine, Jason Nuttman, and Ryan Baugh all got the best of me, not to mention the other athletes who were miles ahead of me as elite racers. Surprisingly I had the fastest 5k split of the triathlon in 16:26 with a slew of sub 17's just behind me. My bike portion wasn't horrible but on my garmin I had just shy of 23 mph, my downfall was T1 and T2 which made my combined bike split. The swim sucked but I know going forward I will do MUCH better and be more aggressive come January 30th at the Western Australia Olympic Distance Championships here in Perth. Thank you mates out there for truly giving me the beat down and christening into the world of triathlon in Australia. Come January I will begin riding and swimming more consistently in preparation for the next race and hope for improvement. Taking off 4 months completely from any triathlon training and one month into training I will take confidence from this performance.

  Christmas morning there will be a 100k ride through the hills that I am optimistic that I can make, what a way to start the holiday with a gut wrenching, lung burning, leg bashing ride up into the hills. 

Shout out to Sean, Macca and Jimmy for finishing 1-2-3 overall and a special thanks to Janna Angell for having an outstanding race finishing the run with a new 5k PR. Good on Ya!

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