Thursday, January 26, 2017

Long Course Age Group World Champion

Let's be honest, it's a little late for a race report from September's ITU Long Course Worlds (2.5 mile swim, 75 mile bike, 18.75 mile run). In fact, the new year is in full swing with races registered for, hotels booked... oh yea, I've done a little training too. Perhaps it gives a different perspective when you've had time to reflect on it for several months. I also figure I better set the record straight somewhere since one of my home-town newspapers reported I was a "National" champion. The nerve, that was so 2016.

Two weeks before the race I spilled my bike early one morning on some fresh chip-seal that I couldn't see at an intersection injuring my hip (yes I rode it home). This created some cause for concern when I couldn't get in the areo position. I did finally get my range of motion back a few days before the race thanks to my massage therapist, Eddie. He worked wonders on me that last couple weeks to get me ready.

If you weren't there, didn't talk to someone who was in OKC, or haven't read another race report the swim had some fantastic chop. It was probably the most difficult swim conditions I've been in. Bouys were floating away, people were pulling the plug after the first lap and it felt like you were swimming in place. I came out of the water about 20min down on the leader in my age group giving myself a pretty good handicap.

Despite the concerns from my crash the bike went well and I reeled the 35-39 yr old competitors back to me in what I considered pretty ideal conditions (light wind maybe 10-15mph). An ITU official tried to talk me out of my disc wheel because of "high winds expected" at check in. I asked him if he'd ever been to Kansas. This probably explains why the ITU temporarily banned disc wheels before Chicago last year before coming to their senses. That was even less wind...but I digress.
The run went mostly to plan with a few bad spots.  It got the job done though and I earned my first age group World Championship of my career. An ITU photographer nabbed the above pic as I was leaving transition and trying to stuff everything from my bag into my belt. This was also about the time I took over the lead in my age group. I would have liked to have been a little closer to the pointy end of the overall amateur race. But considering the circumstances of the year I've come to appreciate how fortunate I was just to make it to the start line and even more so the finish. I was even more grateful to be able to share that moment with my family and friends who came to cheer me on.

My goal each year is to qualify for and be at my best for at least one or two national/world championship races. Luckily, there has been a fairly steady stream of World Championships rotating through the US and I have participated in four in the past five years. The trend continues as 70.3 worlds comes back to the US hosted by Chattanooga in 2017. I hope to be on the start line.