This blog is a short update on how things have been going as my training load ramps up and I do a few races.
Since my last post three weeks ago, I have done seven cycling crit races (short fast circuit races that typically end in a sprint finish) and the Mideastern Collegiate Conference Championships along with beginning my final semester here at Purdue University and kicking my training up another notch.
Before I go into more details I want to preface by saying that I am currently training for ITU, draft legal, events. In the past I have done Ironman as an amateur, and as a first year pro attempted to do both non-draft and draft legal racing but find that right now I need to focus on the draft legal format to prevent being spread thin like in 2013. I will certainly be doing non-draft races in the future – they just will have to fit in rather than be smashed in there arbitrarily. My next race will be an ITU- Pan American Cup in October (Puerto Rico), though I need to wait to make sure I am confirmed on the start list in the next few days.
The crit races I did served their purpose. I had motivation every weekend to stay healthy, recovered, and maintain a balanced diet so I could perform. They also were great workouts for simultaneously pushing my power threshold and my cycling abilities. For example, on one weekend I would do around 90-120 minutes of race efforts with four corners at least every two minutes. Although I never placed very well at these events, and had a fairly solid crash in one of my races in St. Louis at the Gateway Cup, I found these races have given me more confidence in my abilities to ride in competitive groups even when elbows start to get thrown.
As a side story, my crash at Gateway was the result of following the wrong athlete. In lower category crit races there seems to be a crash on the final lap almost every race – and I knew this and for the most part have gotten good at avoiding this. However, through a turn on the final lap I did not notice that the rider in front of me was clearly outside of his skill range and slid out. I had little time to even hit my brakes before I was flying headfirst into the asphalt. Luckily, a CT scan cleared me to continue racing though I did notice that the hit to the head put me in a very tired state for the rest of the weekend and for the next two days made doing engineering homework not possible.
Moving forward to this past weekend, which was my last MECTC Championship, I finally was reminded me that I am not invincible nor am I “back” yet. I had a bad swim, into one of the worst bike power output of my triathlon career, into a run that was adequate given the circumstances. After a brief talk with my coach and looking at my training load leading up to the race – it was clear that I am not in good enough form yet to pound my body so many days in a row and expect to recover in the two to three days I gave myself. Though it is never fun to feel like you under performed, I know I need to brush the race off quickly and keep moving forward.
Training itself has been great. My knee has been holding strong through every day I have throw at it. Long tempo rides into runs on a new (and improved!) form, smashing up hills, you name it – it has held. More TLC through massage and a new bike fit have certainly kept it healthy, and I do not plan on ignoring my lessons learned from the year of injury. I also was lucky enough to end up on a new aeroroad bike, the Litespeed C1, which was been an amazing machine to ride these past few weeks in training and racing.
For the rest of 2014 it appears my options for racing got more and more limited. I was hoping to go down South for more than one of the ITU races down there, but the World Cup level races are very difficult to get into due to limited USA slots. Since I have not raced an ITU event since Sarasota in March of 2013, I will not be able to get onto an ITU World Cup race until I get some more results. However, there is a Pan American Cup in Puerto Rico that I will be competing in on October 18th**. After that I have not determined what I will do. It is possible for me to look at doing another late season race – but as of right now I plan to roll out of 2014 by getting a strong and highly motivated start to 2015.
Thank you to everyone out there who has supported me this last year. That includes my friends and family back home, Xterra Wetsuits, Zensah Compression, Champion Systems, PowerBar, and my coach Michael Groaning with Haka Multisport here in West Lafayette.
**Puerto Rico has been moved to February 2015 – therefore I have to see if the end of season races (such as Lifetime Oceanside) make sense with school and training for ITU races.