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Saturday, January 24, 2015

La Carrera

This was not Cuba's first time hosting a triathlon, but it was the first time hosting one so official as an ITU competition that was also a championship race.  They still have a lot to learn.

We used the same racks as the elites, but more were set up.  We discovered shortly that they weren't actually stable, being held together by zip ties and duct tape.  As more bikes were racked, the problem erupted with all the racks (and thus, bikes) falling down in domino fashion.  After a conversation between the ITU officials, it was decided that we would use the ground as our transition area which meant the bikes were lying down too.

Because everyone and everything was so wet, body marking was impossible and was effectively nonexistent.  We had timing chips, but in retrospect, I'm not sure what for as no age group results for the sprint were ever posted.  I managed to get in a very brief warm-up swim near the water exit ramp.

The swim lay in the closed end of the marina, the water level of which was not ground level, but rather a good two meter drop from the top of the retaining wall at ground level.  We lined up on the wall before someone pointed out that it was probably not a good idea to have amateurs dive in and that having an in-water start was best.  We all jumped in and treaded water next to the wall attempting to avoid the rocks, shellfish, and other sea life that dotted the bottom.

Out of nowhere the horn blew and we were off.  I tried to hang with the lead swim pack but after only 3 weeks back into training they eventually started pulling away.  They were fast and I never found the fast feet that I normally do so my swim time wasn't my best.  I managed to average 1:40/100m for the 750m.  Out of the water and up the ramp there's another American right in front of me.  I think he passed me in the last 100m of the swim.  We are the first two Americans out of the water.

Unused to the current transition situation of everything lying on the ground, I completely miss my bike, but not by too much.  Not trusting the situation for leaving my shoes clipped in, I'd unclipped them and left them on the ground.  I slap them on and proceed to mount too early.  I'm used to a clearly marked and labeled mount line.  Running a bit further, I find the correct mount line, mount a second time and headed out on the bike.

The rain had stopped, but only temporarily.  At some point during the first of four laps on the bike, the skies opened up again and didn't stop.  I recall a Cuban kid riding up ahead but continuously looking back, like he was waiting for me to bridge the gap.  We were told it was not a draft legal race and so I remember thinking this odd.  He hops on my wheel and I just hammer on.  Turns out, it was a draft legal race and so he got to recover in my draft while I, being so worried about a penalty, dropped back out of the draft zone every time he pulled ahead.  We eventually overtake another rider somewhere from Central America, I don't remember where.  He hops on our wheel and a little later I hear a yell from whom I think is the cuban and feel someone rubbing my back wheel.  I turn and the second kid has pulled off to my right.  I yell something about keeping his line and to pay attention.  He takes off and I don't know if I scared or motivated him (or even if he finished), but I never saw him again.

The Cuban kid clearly wanted to work together but I still didn't know it was a draft legal race so I did all the work and continued to drop back when he overtook.  We ride our laps in the pouring rain through massive puddles praying no potholes lurk beneath the surface.  I had a damn good bike for a January and only three weeks of training.  My normalized power turned out to be 240 watts, only five shy of my 2014 peak.

We come into T2 and I don't even bother with my socks as everything is just soaked.  I start running and I feel my feet sliding around in my shoe.  Not a great situation to be in when one is looking for stability.

A few km into the run, an American passes me and I can't keep up.  My Cuban biking buddy is long gone up the road.  The rain continues to pour.  A little while later, the lead female, also an American, passes me.  I remember when my run used to be strong and vow that this year my run results will be different from 2014.  Three years off from racing and two knee surgeries did their job well.  I stay mentally strong and gut out a finish.  The run was long by nearly 500m but I'd managed a sub 8:00 pace.  Not great, but for January, it was fine.

Results were never posted so I have no idea on placing, but I was fairly close to the front.

Swim:  12:29, 750m
Bike:  37:14, 20km
Run:  26:36, 5.5km


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