Recapping 2013

2013 was a big year for me. I managed to achieve three significant goals I had set myself for the year and my good performances have allowed me to become better known in triathlon circles. I also started working with Brian from Accelerate3 in September after self-coaching my early efforts. Brian has given more direction to my training, safely and effectively raising its intensity. Before working with Brian my weekly training totals looked something like this.

Total time: 11 hours
Swim Yards: 5000 yards
Bike Miles: 55 miles
Run Miles: 30 miles

After I started working with Brian from Accelerate3, my training was dramatically increased and looked something like this.

Total time: 17 hours

Swim Yards: 13000 yards
Bike Miles: 155 miles
Run Miles: 42 miles

Despite having several weeks above 24 hours of training and a huge increase in mileage, my body began to feel better than it ever had and niggling injuries began to disappear. I learned my long runs were too long and I needed to run more frequently, as by running more frequently, my body is able to accept an increase in mileage without breaking down so often. I have also learned how to train hard on the bike and have had some huge gains which I hope to continue into 2014 with consistent training over the winter.

I had very little experience in triathlon before the beginning of the 2013 season and set 3 goals for myself.

1. Win a USAT race overall

2. Qualify for team USA

3. Honorable Mention All American USA Triathlete

Looking back on the year, I was able to smash these three goals and even knocked over my 2014 goal of earning my elite license. Although the results in triathlon are not everything, they still help me measure how I am progressing in my career and show me what I need to develop to achieve further success. Some highlights from my 9 races in 2013 include

  •  3 Overall wins
  • 5 Age group wins
  • 2 Additional age group podiums
  • USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint Distance National Champion
  • 2 x 70.3 Age Group Champion
  • 2 x Team USA Qualifier
  • 3 x 70.3 World Championship Qualifier
  • Ironman Kona Qualifier
  • All American USA Age Group Triathlete
  • All World Team Gold Ironman 70.3 Age Group Triathlete

Although I have always been confident in my ability as an athlete, if you told me all of this was possible at the start of the year, I would have said it was a long shot. I am extremely excited to get to work in 2014 under Brian’s guidance and show what I can do racing under Team Every Man Jack.

New Year. New Site.

As the year draws to a close and I reflect on 2013, I am able to look at the positives and negatives of the year that was. In doing this, I am able to plan how to improve myself as a well rounded athlete during the transition into my professional career.

I have decided a great way to do this is by creating a new website.

Welcome to jamesthorptriathlete.com. It is my intent to give you an insight into what it takes to make the transition into the pro ranks of triathlon while sharing some ideas of what to do and what not to do in your own training, racing and life. In doing so, I will give reviews on my own training, nutrition and race plans, as well as everything in between while hopefully providing some laughs along the way. I’d love to know what you would like to see my talk about so feel free to vote below.

I am looking forward to having a big 2014 and can’t wait to share it with you. See you out there!

Hometown Race Report- Canberra 70.3

Being the last event on my 2013 calendar, I have been looking forward to racing in my hometown at Canberra 70.3 all year. Although I was a little disappointed with my performance, I enjoyed racing on the roads I have grown up on with friends and family.

 Sleeping in my own bed before a race is something I have only done once before and something to be very thankful for. After arriving from the States on Thursday my body clock had no problem waking me up at 4am feeling fresh.

 

 Being the 6th wave with 18-24 and 25-29 males gave me a chance for a quick warmup.

I was feeling good after squeezing into my wetsuit and headed down to the swim start.

 

I was able to get out nice and quick at the swim start and made the first group going around the first buoy.

After the first turn buoy the pack broke up and I fell back a bit to the second group. I didn’t have the best swim and exited the water 3rd in my age group in 27:09.

After exiting the swim I was able to make up some time on the run up to transition and gave a smile to this clever sign on the way up.

I felt good on the bike as I exited T1 and had no problem hitting my target watts. I soon found out why this bike course was regarded as one of the toughest out there and struggled going up and down the climbs on the three loop bike course.

 Given the nice weather and technical course, I started falling behind on my nutrition and had to make up for this mistake later in the bike leg.

Despite having a relatively poor ride I was able to make up one spot in my age group and entered T2 2nd in the age group in 2:24:56.

I knew I would be in for a tough time giving up 5 minutes to one of the best amateur runners in the sport but felt good and dug in trying to close to gap.

The flat run course around Lake Burley Griffin was a welcomed site after the tough bike course. I finished the first lap of three in 25:21 feeling like I had a good run split in my legs.

By lap three I was starting to struggle a little and paid for my earlier nutrition mistake as the temperature started to rise.

 I closed the run in 1:20:23 to finish 18th overall and 2nd in my age group in 4:16:57.

It was nice to finish the season on the podium at my hometown race. After finishing the year with 2 wins and a second place, I will finish the year ranked 2nd in the world for 18-24 at the Ironman 70.3 distance. I was a little disappointed not to be able to challenge for the age group win, but my weaknesses were exposed on the tough course in Canberra and have made me eager to get to working on improving them.

It was a great day racing with mates from my hometown. I was lucky enough to have the support of family and friends out on the course and appreciate everyone’s words of encouragement and congratulations.

Turkey Trot 5km- Thanksgiving 2013

2013 marks the third year I am spending Thanksgiving in Aurora Illinois with Bryna and her family. It also marks the third year of us running the Naperville Noon Lions 5km Turkey Trot. I always like doing this race as it was the first real running race I ever did 2 years ago and it is a nice indicator for where my running fitness is at. The progression of my results and times over the past 3 races in Naperville has given me a huge amount of confidence moving forward. The constant improvement over such a short period of time signifies that I am ticking all the boxes in terms of my training and nutrition so that I can make a major mark in the years ahead.

 Photo Courtesy of Chuck Koch
2011
Looking back on this race, I laugh at myself. I was completely ill-prepared to tackle the lofty goals I had set for myself. Having just taken up running, I rocked up in my brand new running tights, a cotton T-shirt and horribly fitting shoes that were not designed to be run in for longer than 10 meters. My ignorance gave me the confidence to go out with the leaders. Unfortunately I didn’t realise the leaders were division 3 NCAA national cross country champions every year in Naperville. After reaching the first mile marker at 5.07, as expected, I crumbled and limped home with incredibly sore feet in 17:32 and 37th place.
2012
I came back to the turkey trot in 2012 with a year of running and triathlon under my belt. I had raced a lot in 2012 and coming towards the end of the year my legs were heavily fatigued. I still hadn’t learned much about pacing and tried to go out with the leaders. My legs didn’t have anything in them and i couldn’t get going faster than 5.20 pace. I came in at 16:40 in 13th place overall and 3rd 20-24male.
2013
This race was much different than the previous two. After going out with the 15 man lead pack for the first mile at 5.06, i hung back when they started pushing the pace. It left me running with one other guy for a few minutes before i decided to start bridging up to runners. After ticking off runners one by one I came to mile 2 in 5.04. I continued this tactic and ticked off another mile and a few more runners in 5.02. I closed well and finished in 15:21, 8th overall and 3rd 20-24male.
Photo Courtesy of Chuck Koch

Full race results here

Running a sub 16min 5km has been a goal for me since running this race in 2011 and to tick off that goal so emphatically is a good sign. I am excited with where my running is headed and feel I have faster times coming. It also gives me the confidence to outrun some of the best runners in triathlon. It is always nice to be able to celebrate thanksgiving with Bryna and her family after a successful turkey trot. I am off to run again, this time to go get some turkey!

The Calm Before the Storm

G’day! Thought I would give a bit of an update on what’s been going on in my life recently and my plans to bring 2013 to a close. Since Miami I have braved some interesting weather to continue my training towards Canberra 70.3. Some of the highlights include the first real snowfall of the year which was followed with ice that froze my car door shut so much that it would not budge. Having lived in South Dakota for three years you would think that I am used to such occurrences but this one was special. Granted it was dark, but from memory it looked something like this..

The other big weather event in the past few days was tornado like winds throughout the Midwest that caused severe damage around the Toledo area. Thankfully we managed to keep our power and avoid the damage. I had plans of finishing my 4 hour ride before the winds really picked up but when my bike almost turned into a kite I decided my time would be better spent indoors on the trainer. This is the last thing I remember seeing before turning around to come home….

Finally, after the big winds from that night, it was time for leaf pick up. Heading out to train became a task of navigating the huge leaf piles in the street. This photo was taken right outside our apartment.

 
 

Despite these small problems, my training has been going very well. In fact, I jumped into an 8km race with plans to do my main running set. I had planned on running with the leaders for my first interval then dropping back and completing my training on my own. It turns out I am too competitive for that and after running with the leaders for a while I decided to finish with them and won the 8km in a sprint finish in 26.44. 8km at 5.22 per mile. Not too bad for a training run.

8k 9:10 11/12/13 Results

The other piece of news is the addition to our family. Santa came early and delivered us another bike. Hopefully this bad boy will help me do some damage in some draft legal races next year. It’s also nice to have a bike to be able to ride in groups and do some climbing with. This is the venge in all its glory.

With the new bike, some running success and lots of laps in the pool I am starting to get excited to race in my hometown of Canberra. An age group win would make it three from three this year and secure the world number 1 ranking for 18-24 year old males at the 70.3 distance. Despite this, I am feeling little pressure heading into the race and can’t wait to have some fun and show what I can do. I haven’t been back to Australia in two years so I am counting down the days. For any Aussies out there reading this, if you are around Canberra on December 15 get decked out in some Aussie gear and come down to Commonwealth Park to support. There will be some major talent on display and I’d love to see some familiar faces out as I go around.
More info on Canberra 70.3 can be found  here. Hooroo!

Beyond 2013

Video

As the 2013 season winds down, I have begun to set my sights on 2014 and am looking at what it takes to be successful in taking the next step in my triathlon career. After winning a national title in Milwaukee in August, I took a step back and looked at how far I have come in such a short time and where I was headed in my triathlon, while considering what would benefit me most as I moved forward. It became apparent to me that I needed some direction in my training and racing, as well as looking at where my triathlon journey was headed into the future. Upon reaching out to some friends and some pros who were willing to offer their advice, I decided that if I was going to settle in and have any chance of success at reaching the goals I have set for myself, it would be necessary to hire a coach to help me get there.

After asking around on slowtwitch and doing a bit of research, I was pointed in the direction of Brian Stover at accelerate3 coaching. Speaking to pros and coaches who had confidence I could succeed in the elite level of the sport gave me added motivation, which was something that I was looking for in a coach, as I believe this is an important tool to be successful as a team. I would like to believe that after having been on the other side of the ball during times in my tennis career I have learned from that, having witnessed first hand how important it is to have a coach that believes in what you are trying to achieve. After speaking with Brian and talking to some of his athletes I decided this would be a great direction for me to head in, and not only did our training philosophies line up, but this is also someone that I can expect to have a no nonsense, honest approach while believing in what I am trying to achieve and having the resources and knowledge to help get me there. Brian and I have been working together for nearly 8 weeks and I have seen some huge fitness gains, particularly on the bike. Obviously with zero knowledge or background in training on the bike, this was something that was important when looking for a coach and it was important for me to find a coach that would take the time to go through my power files and help me in getting my bike leg up to scratch with top level athletes that were much stronger than me on the bike. I am excited to be part of the accelerate3 team and I feel that I have put together an important piece in building a team to be successful in 2014 with Brian.

The second part of having a successful team comes in the form of sponsors. I have had some exposure to sponsors in the past, during my tennis career and was lucky enough to get some help from a few companies as I made my way up the ranks of tennis. For this reason, I feel I have some knowledge in understanding what it is a brand is looking for when sponsoring athletes and how both parties can benefit from this agreement. In this way I am not an athlete that wants to have sponsors just to say that I am sponsored and have another brand name on my jacket or podium shirt without doing much of anything for the company. I feel this is a very negative way to look at sponsorship and doesn’t help either of the parties involved. Rather, to me sponsorship is a mutually beneficial relationship and something that should build and develop throughout the athletes career. I believe that in being sponsored by a brand you believe in, and having a brand sponsor you that believes in your ability to be both a successful athlete and a successful resource to market their logo, there is a much greater change of success and longevity in the partnership.

When looking at how I can be beneficial to potential sponsors, I feel this blog and other social media can be an extremely successful tool. After winning the national sprint title in August last year, my blog entries received 1500 views in just over two days. This was exciting to me as it showed me that people care to stop and look at what I have been doing in the sport of triathlon and also care to hear what I have say about my journey. Along with the social media and exposure through races and training that sponsorship brings to a company, I also feel there can be benefits in testing gear, equipment and nutrition while reviewing products for the company and making suggestions on the success of the product to athletes. I am always looking to use products that not only help ensure success in the sport, but also come from a company with good customer service and a strong relationship with their customers and athletes. Going hand in hand with this relationship is the presence of companies at race expos. This is a great opportunity for companies to get their brand out in the endurance world and I would be excited to have to opportunity to help out at expos in the future.

As I move forward in 2014, and look to continue to build my team to help me achieve my goals that I have set, it is apparent that my sponsors will play a key role to my success. If you or your company’s expectations and standards of sponsorship line up with my own and you are looking to build a successful and mutually beneficial partnership for 2014 as an age grouper and into the future as an elite professional athlete, contact me at jamesthorp@live.com to discuss how we can help each other be successful.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About James Thorp

Gday! After returning from Miami and having a day off from training and school I found myself thinking about what I need to do to take the next step in triathlon. Having seen big gains in the water and on the bike by spending more time on it, I am even more determined to keep putting in the time I need to be at the front of the race early on. I am also seeing the benefits of learning from other athletes and what can seem like the smallest of changes in equipment can be the difference between finishing on or off the podium. For this reason I am dedicated to ensuring I am doing everything I can to make sure I have am doing the right things to give me all the advantage I can. I have also realised that although I see triathlon being a large part of my life in the future, there is also a lot more to me than just training and racing triathlon. I thought I would share some of them. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about James Thorp.

1. I have lived in Australia, Texas, South Dakota and currently reside in Ohio. 

 
Born and Raised in Canberra Australia

 

 
I spent my freshman year learning to two step in Texas.

   

 
 
I then moved to South Dakota where I became a jackrabbit and made my first snow angel.
     

 

Now I am a rocket living the dream in glass city USA.

 2. I live with my girlfriend Bryna and our dog Finnegan. 

 

I have very good looking roommates.

3. I have a younger brother, Simon who is 19. 

 

He also thinks he is very good looking… and he’s single, ladies.    

4. I was an all conference division 1 college tennis player. 

 
The long bleached blonde hair was a tradition over spring break. It also ensured I was known as ‘the hair guy’ around campus.

 

5. I am currently the graduate assistant tennis coach for the University of Toledo Women’s Team. 

The women of @rocket_w_tennis

6. I didn’t own a bicycle between the ages of 10 and 21.

If you saw my first couple of races, this fact would have been apparent.

7. I am currently studying to obtain my masters degree in exercise science. 

I am currently working on writing the protocol for my study on Normatec recovery boots.

8. My favourite food is Mexican

Not advised before training or racing, but I have been known to make a mean guacamole.

9. My parents are my number one fans.

 

 

 

My Dad even went as far as to get a lucky hat made for my races.

 

10. My full name is George Henry James Thorp

I am often told that my name sounds like the name of a 16th century king. You can be the judge on that.

Im in Miami.. 70.3

Miami 70.3 was the last race in my U.S. summer and after a successful stint during the nationals races, I had the confidence and burning desire to do well again. This was the first race I would be doing since working with Brian at accelerate3, as well as the first triathlon where I had a good race plan and the necessary knowledge and fitness to back it up. Working with Brian has seen me dramatically change my training program, as I was often ignoring my swimming training for an increase workload on cycling training. However, Brian saw the flaw in this program and changed it successfully. The most beneficial change in my training has been using my power meter to hit intervals. This not only helps me train more efficiently, but also ensures that when race day rolls around I know what it feels like to ride long and hard and to follow a power plan. Thus I was working towards not only preparing my physical attributes for race day, but also getting myself mentally focused for the race ahead during my new training regime.

The fact that race day was in the week of my birthday and I was coming from a cold Toledo winter to the tropic-like conditions of Miami could have seen me take my last race of the summer season with a relaxed tone. However I knew I had to keep on pushing myself to the next level simply because of the time and financial assistance both myself and my support team have invested into me. The goals I had set for Miami meant that slacking off and enjoying the warm weather was not an option.

Miami would be the third 70.3 race I have competed in following Austin in 2012 and Honu in June. The trip to Miami did not get off to the best start as my bike bag was lost in transit from Toledo and it took a very stressful 16 hours until I was reunited with it and was able to check in my bike before the deadline on the night before the race. I was feeling more comfortable going into this 70.3 race than my previous two because of the fact that I had an action plan for the race as well as the appropriate fitness levels for the race itself. I was confident in the fact that both my fitness and game plan for the race would ensure I reach my goals and place myself at the front of the field come race day.

Race Day

Swim: 26:16
T1: 2:15
Bike: 2:17:03
T2: 1:09
Run: 1:22:06
4:08:49 1st 18-24, 21st Overall, 2nd Amateur Overall*

Full Race Results

Swim

I had been expecting a non wetsuit swim in Miami and I was glad to hear when this was confirmed given it gives the advantage to the better swimmers in the race. Due to my dedication in my training to working on my swimming in the lead up to the race, I felt that with the added advantage of a non wetsuit race that I would be in the right position going into the first transition.

Our group was the sixth wave to leave the starting line, which would mean that there was very good chance that my age group would be the frontrunners for the amateur race. The start of the swim was critical for my race plan, and going into the first turn I would find myself second in the group. I decided pacing myself and not focusing on following the leader of the pack after the first turn was the best option to ensure I did not run myself into the ground damaging myself for the rest of the race. This race was unlike Austin and Honu as in the past two races I was usually struggling around the 1300m mark, however due to my new training program focusing on my swimming technique and fitness I was feeling in great stead. I focused on swimming my own race and was intent on clearing the other competitors out of my mind. Once I got out of  the water and into the first transition I was 3rd within the group and was feeling superb. My time during the swim was the best of my 70.3 races, highlighting the fact that my hard work and dedication in my training as well as my new training program in general was already giving myself great returns in my race.
Swim Time: 26:16
Previous Best Swim Time: 30:02
Time Off Previous Best: 3:46

Bike

The bike in Miami was where I expected to see the most improvement and my plan on the bike was to start just below my goal power for the first 10 minutes and build towards it on the way out before adjusting for the wind on the way back. As I started on the bike I didn’t feel great so it was no problem staying under my goal power. I used this time to try and find a rhythm on the bike and get some nutrition in. I was able to catch up to the leaders of my age group within the early parts of the bike session and unlike my previous races another competitor and myself decided to work as a group and maintain our progression through the pack.

The two of us worked together nicely and went to work picking off pro women. We got to the turnaround at 28miles in 1:09 and I was about 15 watts under my goal power for the race into the head wind, though this watt issue did not concern me as the team of two that I was in at this stage of the race was still progressing through the field quite well. As we made our way back to the city we continued to pass some pro women before passing a couple of pro men. This was a great sign for us as they had an18 minute head start into the water. I started to feel that I could have put some time into the guy I was working with on the bike and begun to put a gap on him a few times. In hindsight I think I didn’t continue to push the power on the bike because the power we were at was something I wasn’t used to putting out in a race and I was thinking about the run to follow, as well as the fact that my fitness training would put me in a favourable position for the final leg and that others in my age group would have to put in a solid half marathon performance to beat me. This is another benefit to having raced the distance before and having the training to back it up. In previous races I was more concerned about finishing and holding on for dear life.

What happened next was interesting, as we came off the highway and back into the city, the course became somewhat difficult to follow and the guy I was working with was ahead of me and took a wrong turn. I quickly called out to him and pointed that we had to go left rather than straight and upon realising, he turned around and got back on course. Only later did I wonder if there would have been anyone that would have let another competitor at the front of the age group with them take the turn without calling after them or only putting a halfhearted yell. I would like to think that is completely against the spirit of triathlon, however upon seeing the number of packs going the other way as we rode back to town it seems that most people in the race had little care for etiquette and certainly no respect for the rules of the race.I ended up coming off the bike in 2:17:03 over 20 minutes faster than my previous best on the bike in Austin. This was confirmation that there is no substitute for spending time in the saddle and one of the toughest yet most beneficial things to do in triathlon is knuckle down and work on your weaknesses to become a better athlete. Despite coming in 20minutes faster than both my previous 70.3 races, my legs felt much better than they have in the past and I felt great heading into the run.

Bike Time: 2:17:03
Previous Best Bike Time:  2:38:26
Time Off Previous Best: 20:37

Run

As I headed out to the run course my legs felt great. I got some nutrition and settled in. The only downside was my watch having a lot of trouble capturing the GPS signal. This meant I didn’t know exactly how fast I was running. Not the end of the world for someone who spends a lot of time training on the run leg with experience in prior races and knows what it feels like to run at a certain pace. What happened next certainly shocked me as well as a few others and in looking back was probably the highlight of my race. As I headed out onto the two lap run course, the lead pro men were lapping to come around and do their second lap. I didn’t know it at the time but I ended up slotting in just behind the race leader Terenzo Bozzone and in front of second and third place who were running together Nils Frommhold and Filip Ospaly. As I made my way out onto the run I was escorted by a biker. I asked, and was told it was because I was the lead amateur but I am still not sure if it was a mistake and meant for the chasing pros. In either case, as I settled into the first couple of miles of the run, my watch still couldn’t connect to the GPS so I made sure I wasn’t overexerting myself and continued on. I noticed Terenzo was coming back from an out and back segment on the run with the lead biker so I found where I was and kept an eye out for the guy in second in my age group, mistaking him for Filip Ospaly, who was currently running in third given they were both wearing green kits. I only realised my mistake after Filip didn’t seem amused when I went to give him a high five and a little wink for the wrong turn on the bike.

I knew that Terenzo and Ospaly were two of the best runners in the sport easily capable of throwing down a sub 1:12 half marathon and I wondered why the guys were struggling so much and running my pace which I figured would have been closer to 1:24. When I met Terenzo at another out and back and he asked his lead biker if I was an amateur I realized that I might have actually put a few seconds into him. At about that time my GPS caught signal and showed that I was running 5.20 pace. I still felt so good that I thought it may have just taken it a second to get its bearings before I realised I needed to seriously ease up. My previous best run split from Austin was 1:31:48 at 7 minutes per mile and my only ever open half marathon was 1:18 at 5:58 pace. By running at 5:20 pace the only thing I was asking for was big trouble. What it did do, was allow me to put a significant gap on the other competitors in my age group and at the front of the amateur race and as I settled in to 6:30 pace I had a couple of minutes lead by the time we ended the first lap.

The second lap was highly uneventful compared to the first lap and I ran alongside an amateur female who was also running 6:30 pace for most of the way. We were able to keep the pace fairly consistent and I had a good look at the second place runner in my age division on the final out and back. I felt good about winning the 18-24 age group at that point, but I also knew I was having a day that might put me near the top of the amateur field overall. Being aware that top 3 amateurs are eligible for an elite license to turn professional and this was one of my goals for next year I pushed hard over the bridge for the last time and closed the last section at 6:15 pace. As I came into the finish line it was confirmed that I was the first amateur across the line for the day which was a nice feeling and I was extremely happy to take the male 18-24 title. I felt that I had run well and expected to see a split of ~1:24:xx so I was shocked to get my run split of 1:22:06 and then knew just how quickly I opened my run.

Run Time: 1:22:06
Previous Best Bike Time: 1:31:48
Time Off Previous Best: 9:42

Total Time: 4:08:49
Previous Best Time: 4:45:44
Time Off Previous Best: 36:55

Despite going out far too quickly on the run, my legs felt good during the second lap and definitely better than I felt as I limped across the line in both Austin and Honu. I attribute that to much better fitness and smarter pacing on the bike. At the end of the day I finished in 4:08:49 in 21st place overall. Being beaten by 19 pro men, 1 ex-pro amateur and the overall winning female puts me in good company and I feel like I am starting to race where I belong. I am excited to have earned my elite license so early on and am happy that I can cross off one of my goals for 2014 already. With each race, I continue to learn a lot about the sport of triathlon and about myself. This race was a big step in the right direction and with a 37minute PR in a 70.3 in June in just 4 months, it is obvious that I am doing the right things to be successful at the next level of triathlon.

 I had a dream a few nights before I raced in Miami that I went 4:05 and was the top amateur. I only told a couple of people because I know that the response of many would have been “that’s why it’s called a dream mate” and leave me on my merry way. Although I didn’t quite crack the 4:05 and was second amateur, I came pretty close and am proud of my race in Miami. I learned a lot from this race and am excited to put it to use in training and back out on the course in my next race. To tick off such a big goal so early on in my triathlon career by earning the opportunity to go professional says a lot about the people that support and help me. Behind every athlete is a team of supporters that help them get to where they are. A big thank you to my team of supporters. For now I am off chasing more of my dreams.

Round 2- Sprint Distance Age Group Nationals

Being as silly as I am, I decided to sign up for both races in Milwaukee. Usually I am the person to say that if there are two races to do and I’m there I might as well give it a crack if neither race is going to be hurt too bad.

Race Morning

The sprint distance race was held the day after the Olympic race in Milwaukee and I woke a little sore from the previous day, but nothing I didn’t think I would be able to manage. I made the same plans as for the Olympic race but decided to stay down at the venue and have a bit of fun watching and cheering rather than heading back to my hotel. Unfortunately, strictly advertized security measures meant that I ended up having to carry all my stuff in a string bag and big clear plastic bag with no handles down to transition.

When I arrived at transition I was able to watch some of the earlier waves head off and do some cheering before I went off to start getting warmed up. As I was just getting into my warm up they called a delay to the start of the race so I sat down for a little while and tried to figure out what was going on with a lot of people around me. I wasn’t too worried about the delay as it ended up giving me a bit more time to self massage and do some dynamic stretching in order to get myself a little loosened and warmed up before the race. The delay ended up being about 45minutes due to safety concerns for a swimmer that hadn’t check out after deciding not to race. I understand the need to make sure safety comes first in a situation like that and I was glad not hear anyone complaining about the delay when the situation looked serious.

Swim: 11:14
T1: 1:46
Bike: 30:03
T2: 1:25
Run: 16:58
1:01:23 5th Overall, 1st 20-24

Swim

After heading down to the swim start area, I hopped in to do a little bit of a warm up and make sure little things like my watch and wetsuit weren’t bothering me before swimming over to the starting area of the dock. It seemed as though I had just swam over to the dock before it was called we had 45 seconds before we started. This was a little frustrating for a lot of people that were scurrying to get in position after thinking we should’ve had a few more minutes.

As the horn went, I was able to get out in front a lot easier than in the Olympic race, this was due to the fact that our wave was slightly smaller and less competitive in the sprint race. As we got the first turn I was able to get around with not much problem and worked hard to stay near the front of the swim. The waves ended up being so close together that we actually caught someone in a previous wave before the first turn buoy. So from there on we were going in and out of two different waves ahead of us. This was a tough situation because you always try to be mindful of the swimmers you are going past, particularly at the back of a wave, but you also are trying to stay on the feet of the guys ahead of you which sometimes causes chaos.

I knew my race had a couple of good swim-bikers that also raced yesterday so I made it my goal to try and push hard in the swim and stay with the leaders to give myself a chance on the bike and hopefully hammer on the run. As we exited the water, I ended up being 3rd into T1 and was positioned well. I was surprised that the swim times from our wave were a little slower given I had swam 20 minutes and was positioned a bit better the day before and split 11 minutes in the sprint, I noticed some of the guys in my wave had similar splits and maybe it came down to the quick succession of the waves or a bit of fatigue after the Olympic race.

Bike

I was glad to get through T1 safely and out onto the bike positioned well. I felt pretty good on the bike and tried to hammer it hard to make sure I gave myself a chance on the run. After having a relatively good run the day before, I was confident that I might be able to move up a spot or two on the run if I ran well. The bike course for the sprint race was actually much tougher than the Olympic course given it accounted for all the elevation change from the previous race and upon going up and over the bridge, we had to turn around and come back over. This meant that my average speed was actually slower in the sprint race despite pushing harder and putting out higher watts.

The bike leg wasn’t too eventful for me, I was able to see the guys that were ahead of me out of the water at the turnaround and was confident if I rode well back over the bridge I would give myself a shot.

T2

As I rode into T2 I was feeling well positioned and ready to hammer the run. That is when things started to go wrong for me. I went down the wrong row of bikes and could not find my spot in transition. This was a silly mistake from my part and I have learned that you can not rely on gauging where your spot is in relation by other bikes around you. The reason I ended up going down one row too early is because I remembered that I should have gone down the row where the last set of bikes were. However given the bikes from the last row were still out on the course, I ended up going one too early.

After yelling to no one in particular asking where my shoes were I calmed down read the numbers and hopped under the transition bar to the right row. This ended up costing me about 30 seconds, which in a sprint race can be a lot of time. I whipped my shoes on and practically sprinted out of transition trying to catch the guys ahead of me.

Run

As we got out onto the run, I was able to see up the course to 3 guys that I was looking to catch. I thought they were about 45 seconds ahead of me and I thought if I ran well I could bridge the gap. Like the Olympic distance I opted to race without my GPS watch and just give it everything I had to do as well as I could. This was actually not a problem for me and I was patient in trying to reel in the guys ahead of me. I was grateful for the long straight sections of the course which allowed me to see the guys I was chasing. In the past, this is when I have had some of my best runs.

At the turnaround point, I was second in my age category and we both took note of where we were placed. We both knew each other as I had run down the same guy in the Olympic race, albeit, within the last mile and a half of that race. As I went by, I set my sights on 2 younger 16-19 year olds up the road that I had been chasing on the bike. I was able to go by one of the guys at about mile 2 and kept hammering away at the last guy on the nice flat part of the course on the way back to the finish.

I was slowly bridging the gap to him but was running out of road. As we got to the finish shoot I gave it everything I had to try and overtake one more person with the thoughts that it might be the difference between an overall podium or 4th. This ended up being the race for 4th and 5th overall and I just ran out of room by .13 of a second leaving my 5th.

Post Race 

To finish 5th overall in any nationals event is something that I am happy with and I was relieved that my mistake in transition didn’t really cost me anything as the third place finisher was about a minute ahead of my time anyway. I was glad to have stuck around for both races and am still a little shocked that I own a national champion jersey just a year after doing my first triathlon and owning a bike. These races have given me confidence in my future in triathlon if I keep doing the right things and believe in my training. Thanks to the city of Milwaukee, all the volunteers and USA Triathlon for an awesome weekend of racing on two great courses!

I am now going to take a few days off to recover and celebrate Bryna’s birthday this week before building into training for Miami 70.3 in October. Qualifying for world champs in sprint, Olympic, 70.3 and Ironman distances all in one year far surpassed my own expectations for the season. The pressure is off for the rest of the season and I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead!

Olympic Distance Age Group Nationals- Party in the USA

 

Race Morning 

This race caused a few nerves for me. Usually I am very unlikely to get nervous before a race but this one was slightly different. Maybe it was the amount of people I had seen riding around the city of Milwaukee on disc wheels or the sheer amount of people (127) in my age group, but I had a feeling I was going to have to have a good race in order to compete and reach my goals for the race. As my friend Connor put it, this one is for all the marbles. He was right, for me this was the main race for my season and I had really wanted to go well and hopefully earn a bid to represent Team USA at the age group world championships in Edmonton next year.

I woke at 6am in order to make my way down to transition by about 6.45. This gave me plenty of time to get everything done before the party started at 7.30. Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, we were the last wave to go off and left at 10.12am. I was lucky in that my hotel was within walking distance from transition so I went back to relax and caught some of the race online by the live streaming and rested for a couple of hours.

As I headed down to the swim start, I was able to see the first finisher come in which is not overly exciting when you still have an hour before start time but it was exciting to see and I felt good before the start of the race. It did give me some added motivation in seeing him come across the line and be crowned national champion!

Swim: 20:25
T1: 1:38
Bike: 59:15
T2: 1:00
Run: 36:13
Overall: 1:58:23 27th Overall 11th 20-24

Swim

The swim in Milwaukee was one of the choppiest I have ever been a part of. There were so many good swimmers in our wave that everyone was fighting for position and swimming over the top of each other. I decided to start toward the inside as I am usually able to get in the first few swimmers and although I was near the front at the first buoy, there were a lot of us coming round it together which made for an interesting time. Despite the masses of people around the first few buoys, I was able to settle in and found a nice rhythm after the turn around. Our wave got a little broken up going past some of the swimmers from the wave ahead so it became a little bit difficult to follow anyone’s feet which is something I have really been working on. I came out of the water in a good position inside the top 20 which is where I thought I had to be out of the swim.

Bike

I was thankful this event had a well set out transition that wasn’t too long, it was very easy to find your spot and made for quick transitions. I had a good T1 and was out onto the bike after weaving through some people to get to bike out.

As I got onto the bike I was able to settle in quite nicely and felt pretty good on the bike. This is something that is rare for me and too often I find myself mashing at the pedals or sitting up when I shouldn’t be. Today was a different story and I found myself being quite disciplined in staying in the aero bars and working on a smooth pedal stroke. The course was nice and wide and it was nice to be able to sling shot around some of the riders in order to keep a good momentum throughout the course. As I reached the turnaround I was becoming increasingly frustrated that I hadn’t passed many people in my age group. I wasn’t sure if it was because I wasn’t riding well or if I was positioned better than I had expected out of the water. In either case, I realized there was no point in being frustrated and continued to work away on the bike.

As we came down off the bridge towards T2, I had flashbacks from my crash in NY and took extra caution coming over the bumps to make certain I stayed on two wheels. I ended up reaching T2 safely and was happy to have ridden a sub 1 hour bike split.

Run 

As I came into T2 my legs felt pretty good. This was something I was thankful for as recently I have been a little unsure of my run, especially following a 42 minute split in NY. It was for this reason I decided not to use my GPS watch for this run. If I wasn’t feeling so good on the run and my splits were a little down on what they previously have been, I am often too tempted to try and push too hard early on. This causes me to spend excess energy and struggle in the back half of the run. Fortunately, I felt quite good on the run and was able to pass a few guys in my age group early on before being passed by 2 others. I knew one of them and was familiar with his impressive results and in particular his abilities as a runner, so this didn’t worry me too much. If anything I was confident to be ahead of him so late into the race.

As I got to mile 4 I began to feel my legs get a little heavy but I was happy that the last 2 miles of the run course were a straight shot for the finish line and my plan to break the run into 3 segments of 2 miles meant I was free to leave it all on the course for the last 2 miles. I ended up passing 1 more 20-24 male and was passed by one other before running down the finish shoot and having my medal presented by 4 x Ironman world champ, Chrissie Wellington. This was a nice touch to the event and I felt good with my race despite only having the time of day to gauge my time.

Post Race 

I was glad to have some friends in Milwaukee to share this race with and was happy to see them do well too. I was relieved and excited to see that I had placed high enough to qualify for team USA as making a national team is something that I have been trying to accomplish from a very young age. It was nice for me to have a good result after my previous couple of races and achieve the goal that I had set out for this season. I am still very new to the sport of triathlon and am learning a lot with every race I do, so to be within a few minutes of some of the best amateur triathletes in the country gives me confidence that I am doing the right things. I am looking forward to racing again tomorrow in the Sprint Distance race and seeing if I can back up my performance today. Thanks to everyone that helped me get to this point, today was a great day at a great race!