There a 90's country song called The Bug by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I definitely do not endorse this song for its entertainment value but I do for its message. The Chorus goes
" Sometimes you're the windshield, Sometimes you're the bug....... Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger, Sometimes you're the ball"
In Mazatlan I was the Louisville Slugger and in the Bare Bones Duathlon I was the ball. My hat goes off to Andreiy Yasterbov, Scott Trembley and everyone else who flew by me on the bike. I felt great on the first run, totally cruising it while building up a 30 sec lead, but then fell apart on the bike. I fell apart both physically and mentally. By the time I got to the second transition I was pretty far behind and mentally broken. After taking a second well maybe more like a minute to collect myself I decided to finish the race. I finished a disappointing seventh and because of the complete mental collapse, I feel that it was the worst race of my life. However ultimately the race was a success because I learned far more about myself and about racing than I would have if I had raced well or won the race. I am very fortunate that I was able to learn these lessons here in a small local race as opposed to something more important, like say for instance, purely hypothetically speaking, the U23 elite World Championships. I feel its good to write down what I learned so that I or anyone else who reads this blog will be able to apply them to their racing.
So here is a list of things that I learned:
1.) Never underestimate your competition. From now on every race I go into I am the underdog, the one everyone expects to get his ass kicked. I need to be the guy that does all the little things to be prepared to pull off an upset. This will shift my mentality from being someone who is being hunted to one who is doing the hunting. I took the race really lightly, working in the morning, not paying attention to my hydration or nutrition, not worrying about getting proper rest in terms of sleep and recovery. I can’t do that again, I need to do everything if I am going to pull off an upset. My competitors are not people I don’t want to beat me, but rather “scalps” that I want to get.
2.) Think about and prepare for all situations. When I thought of the race I thought of only one scenario, how I would act if the race was going well and I was winning. I did not think about how I would respond or what my strategy would be if the race was going poorly. Had I done this I would have been better able to keep my composure when people started to pass me. This will be key for Worlds i.e. what will I do if I find myself not in the lead pack in the swim or bike.
3.) Practice transitions. This was one of my big goals coming off the Mazatlan race and I have done very little work on them. From now on everyday I will do at least 30 minutes of transition work. Its written down now so I have to follow through.
4.) Sleep. I was slacking off on this one. 7 and bit hours a night doesn't cut it. Its gotta be at least 9 a night. Its written down now so I have to follow through.
5.) Know your limit play within it. I stole that from a gambling addiction tag line but I think it applies here as well. I need to be more mindful of my effort on the bike I can't afford to blow up. I think the wind really masked how hard I was working and I need to make sure that I don't go to hard at any point.
6.) You are going to feel like crap for the first few hundred meters of the bike. Simple remember this and just roll with it.
7.) Get ready early. Have your bike setup the night before so you are not rushing race day. Have all your stuff organized the night before, including your hydration and pre-race food. Actually change that the day before I don’t want to leave it till night-time. Know where you are going to get your coffee before the race. Basically make the race day as stress free as possible, don't take anything for granted even if it’s a small race.
8.) Never stop believing in yourself I lost faith in my ability to catch up in the run. After looking back at results, if I had just had faith in myself and ran hard I could have possibly got on the podium.
9.) No matter how bad I feel, I would feel worse if I dropped out of a race. Don't ever drop out of a race or even contemplate it cause nothing good will come of it. Nothing.
10.) If you don't practice something don't expect to be good at it and adjust your race or your planning accordingly. I have done very little work riding with full aerobars this year, but didn't think this would be a problem. In hind sight I think it was. This exact issue won't be a problem for draft legal races but other things will need to be practiced that I am taking for granted. i.e., swim to bike transitions, cornering, open water swimming.
11.) Form is important. Think about it during all aspects of the race including the run, especially when you are riding the pain train.
12.) Pre race meeting, listen to it. Didn't really affect the race but it would have eliminated some stress and given me some confidence.
13.) Do the 1%er's like stretching and icing. They are small but you need to take advantage of every opportunity
14.) Make sure you are eating well. I have kind of been slacking on this a bit recently, but no more junk food or desserts before Worlds. Once again Its written down now so I have to follow through.
15.)The real race is with yourself not your competitors. Your competitors just outline your weakness and how you can improve. I got this from Fearless a Jet Li movie. I completely lost sight of this in the race. I got wrapped up in what the other people in the race were doing and not what I should be doing. I need to think how I can go faster, how I can push my self harder and what I need to do to get to the finish line sooner.
16.) Everyone has good days and bad days, If you are having a bad day keep your head up, cheer on your fellow athletes, stay positive and move on to the next battle.
That is what this kind of what this post is. A written way of me taking lessons from the Bare Bones and moving on to the next race, The North Shore Triathlon on May 19th. I am definitely going to come ready to rock. I am going to bring my A game as there are a lot of guys there for me to upset.