Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Detroit U25 Elite: End of the Season

For the last race of the season I decided to race the Detroit USAT U25 Elite Development race. I did the same race last year and after a performance that almost made me quit the sport I was pretty eager for some revenge (Last year's post here).

I drove down to Detroit on Friday with my cousin. Traffic was good and we had no trouble at the border so we got there with plenty of time before the pre-race briefing. I did my prep workouts before leaving London so I didn't have to worry about the storm that was in the forecast. Otherwise a pretty relaxed night; we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, hung out in the hotel hot tub and got some sleep.

Race Day:
The goal was to get there about 75-90 minutes before the race and I think we got there around 7:30 which is right about the 75 minute mark (race start at 8:45). I guess the race officials just walked around the transition and checked the gear because we weren't required to wait in line or anything. We also didn't have any proof we'd been to the pre-race briefing now that I think about it so maybe they were just more relaxed overall since the Saturday races were only the F1 youth and EDR races (Paralympic and Age group races were Sunday). I struggled calibrating my power meter which is always annoying so I just hoped it would work before the race so I can get some data to look at afterwards. After a short bike warm up I realized I was going to be short on time again so I rushed around getting my race markings and chip, and set up my transition. I got in the water in time for a very short warm up, but luckily I was feeling good and I don't think I needed much more of a warm up anyway.

Swim (10:27 - 14th)
They changed the swim to a loop course this year with an in water start (about waist high) which I think I prefer over a point to point because it doesn't feel as long. The water was also incredibly calm compared to last year where the chop and current were huge factors. Once the race got going, fists were flying! Definitely the roughest swim start I've ever had. I've gotten a few hits in the first 50m or so in previous races, but I was taking fists to the face for at least 150m with these guys. Not to mention the non-stop feet slapping. Once I got to the first turn it seemed to spread out a bit more, I was able to pass a few guys taking the fastest line into the first turn and I got on local athlete Andrew Taylor's feet for the rest of the swim. It felt hard, but very relaxed. I fell off just slightly coming out of the water though, but I was relaxed so I was ready for the sprint through transition.

Swim Start

T1 (0:23 - 9th)
Like I said, hard run through transition, but I had no issues, no wetsuit to worry about and although I still came out of transition a few seconds back there were only 4 guys ahead and they hadn't had time to get organized so I got one foot in and pulled them back before the first turn.

Bike (~26:50 , Note:18km)
My bike and T2 split got messed up, but my pack was about 26:50 so that's where that number is from. We started off with a group of 5 and although Andrew did a good job of organizing a paceline a couple stronger guys pulled the chase pack up, which was about 20 seconds down, halfway through the 2nd lap (of 3). The pace slowed a little after this and all organization fell apart. I definitely didn't have the strongest pulls but I felt like I pulled pretty frequently and covered more moves than some of the others who I think were just saving energy for the run. My plan was just to come off the bike with these guys though so I didn't mind. Hopefully I will be fit enough to put in some attacks of my own next time.

I think this was the whole group coming out of the transition area
on lap 2. I'm in the blue on the far left

T2 (~30+)
Coming into transition the majority of the group fell back taking their feet out of their shoes so I was positioned well, in the front of the pack, coming into T2. Unfortunately I had some major struggles with my left shoe and came out of T2 last.

Trouble in T2

Run (19:27 - 21st)
For a small fraction of time I was ready to put in a hard start to try and catch the group but when I realized how hard I was going and they were still getting away I just settled into my own pace. There were still guys coming in who-knows-how far behind us and there was 5km to run. There were a couple guys up the road who seemed to be running a similar pace so I just tried to hold the gap. I was slowly closing on a fellow Canadian when he got a 10 second penalty so I put it a surge in and didn't look back. After that, I could see the youngest guy in the field (16 years old) walking up ahead with his hand on his stomach, but he started running again so I knew I had to gap him before he could get rid of his cramp because he was running faster than I was. I was able to execute this as well and I got passed by one guy who ran a 16:10, but I was able to run into the finish clear of anyone which is always nice.

Coming into the finish

Overall (57:38 - 14th out of 27)
Last year I came 26 of 28, with the two behind me being DQ's. I was also over 2 minutes behind the 25th finisher. This year I accomplished more than I could have hoped for. I made a bike pack, I stayed in the pack, I didn't blow up, I even passed  some guys on the run and ran a Tri 5k PB. The entire race I felt alert and ready to respond to whatever was thrown at me. A great way to end the season and put some positive reinforcement the past year of hard work.

I just want to start by thanking all my family and friends, everyone who accommodated me at races or who provided transportation, and of course my coach Alex VanderLinden who's helped me through a tough year and worked with my difficult schedule.

I was initially hoping to race at either Multisport Canada Wasaga or Lakeside, but after struggling with some motivation in training over the past month I decided to take some time off, enjoy the rest of the summer, get ready for school and rejuvenate myself for a good fall of base-building. There are a lot of things that I think weren't ideal last season and it'll be important to address them right off the get go to give myself as much time as possible to get it right.
I typically don't post on this blog during the off-season, but if I hear otherwise from anyone who reads this I would consider doing a monthly (or even bi-weekly by popular demand) updates. If that sounds interesting leave a comment or message me on Facebook!

Thanks for following and
Until next time,
Matt Mahaffy

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