Friday, August 27, 2010

Kelowna ITU / Canadian Nationals Race Report & Thoughts on Future Racing

I travelled to Kelowna, British Columbia last weekend for an ITU Pan American Cup race, which also happened to be the Canadian National Championships. This type of race always draws great competition, and some big names like Simon Whitfield, Olympic gold and silver medalist, and Kyle Jones. I finished 39th out of 66 competitors, which was a very disappointing finish for me. Race day was cold and rainy, but the swim remained a non-wetsuit swim. Most of the other competitors brought their wetsuits to the start to warm up in. I, however, didn’t. I decided I should still get in a quick warmup, then stood shivering for about 15 minutes before the gun went off. The swim in beautiful Lake Okanogan was a 2 lap swim, 750m each lap. I started hard, as is necessary in ITU racing, but slowly saw the group string out. I had one of my poorest swims in recent history, unfortunately, which put me back in the pack. On the 6 loop bike course, I was able to group up with about 5 guys, and we slowly caught people to form a chase pack of about 15. The loop had a killer steep hill up the hillside, which sent everyone’s heart rates through the roof. The view up there was awesome, overlooking the city and Lake Okanogan. This type of draft-legal racing is so different from non-drafting, with the surging and pack riding as opposed to the steady burn in non-drafting, which suits me better as a better time trialist. On the last bike lap it started pouring on us again, which made it fun, but a bit more dangerous. Going around the penultimate turn of the course, I rode over a steel manhole, which sent my rear wheel sliding. I thought for sure I was going down and my day was done, but somehow I steered out of it, stayed upright, and fought my way back up to the pack. I picked off a few more athletes on the run, and ran steady the whole way through.

Heading into the race I was confident, yet had some unfortunate events leading up to the race. About 10 days prior, I noticed a sore lump on the back of my right knee. I didn’t think much of it, but by about 6 days later, I knew I needed to see a doctor, as it had grown, swelled, and was making it hard to bend my leg without a ton of pain.I'd woke up for about 5 days unable to walk until it loosened up a bit, so I knew it was getting into my muscular system. I could see the redness spidering it’s way and spreading.. I was forced to take some time off that week from workouts, and especially swimming with the open wound once I had it opened. Any time I’d sit or lie down, it would stiffen up and be painful to walk. Before the trip, I knew I needed to get the growth cut open, and hope it would heal enough by race day. My coach Sean, at a team crit loop bike ride, told me I need to open it up ASAP. He told me to soak it, but some baking soda on it to draw it to the surface, and find the biggest needle I could and go at it. Rather having someone else do it, I looked around the house for a razor blade, called my sister, and asked her if she had any iodine, and planned on heading to her house. Although health insurance wouldn’t cover these needs, since I have the cheapest, most catastrophic plan around with terrible benefits, she convinced me to go to her clinic and let a doc do it, since she was off work that day and couldn’t do it herself at the clinic, and he’d cut me a deal. He fit me in between his patients, took care of it fast. With scissors, scalpels, and lots of squeezing, he sent me sweating and gritting my team while he went at it. It didn’t feel good, but helped me a lot. I had a cyst on my leg, which was confirmed to be a staff infection after testing. I had to keep a gauze packed in the hole for a day, which made if fun walking around the airport and sitting next to people on the plane, wondering why there was a white gauze coming out of my leg. The antibiotics are working well, and all the muscle aches and spreading has stopped. Mmmm appetizing. Hopefully I can blame my poor swim on my lack of swimming that week prior.

I had a fun trip with my girlfriend Amy, and teammate Dan and his wife. We drove to Penticton beach where Ironman Canada is, went to a winery, and relaxed. Those were the highlights. I tried my best to stay positive after the race, but was overwhelmed with frustration from the poor race performance and thus justifying the trip, unexpected rental car fees and feeling very deceived, airline bike fees, etc. I had a lot of time to think about the trip, and ITU racing in general. Right now, ITU racing may not make sense for me. My heart is in it, and everyone wants to race Olympic-style racing. The Olympics are everyone’s dream, but right now I simply cannot swim at the level needed to finish at the top in draft-legal racing, despite my improved swim. Swimming 25,000m a week is a lot, but not enough for me. If I commit to ITU racing, I will be swimming 40-50,000m a week this winter. I also cannot fully take advantage of my bike fitness without a time trial format, as ITU races are draft-legal. It’s also very expensive to race ITU races, since most are in Canada and Central and South America. It’s hard to win prize money as well, since they pay top 10 usually and without coming out with the lead swim pack, it’s almost impossible. Next season, I’ll likely focus on domestic Olympic non-draft racing, and possible a few Ironman 70.3 races. Racing the biggest races in the world like Chicago, still allow me to race the best in the world and continue chasing my goal of being competitive with those at the top, yet make it more doable as pros can usually get free home-stays at these races, where no rental car or hotel is needed. That being said… I am currently seeking sponsors for 2011. I have a ‘sponsorship guide’ I’ve created with all the info; contact if you, your company, or anyone you know may be interested. Spread the word! With two days back at home, I’m now off to Chicago for the biggest race in the world. Pro’s go off at noon. I hear it’s a cool environment, with 11,000 people cheering along the streets. Should be fun. Thanks for all your support!


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