Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Ironman Wisconsin Champ!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

0 for 3 in Knoxville

Rev 3 Knoxville
Swim: 18:20  20th fastest split
Bike: 59:45  24.4mph  20th fastest split
Run: 33:43  9th fastest split
Overall: 1:54:59  18th place

This was my third straight year racing Rev 3 Knoxville, one of my favorite venues and courses.  It also ended up being my third straight year to come away with a disappointing result although the difference is the past two years my result came from being out of shape, this year my poor result came mainly because of not giving the effort I am capable of after getting hit with a penalty early in the race.

One of my biggest pet peeves with professional triathletes is hearing everyone who gets dinged with a penalty complain that they were unfairly targeted. Collectively as a group, the pros in this sport are constantly advocating for more officials and greater enforcement of the rules, yet when a call is made, according to the culprit, he/she did not do anything wrong and was the victim of negligent officiating. It sometimes gets annoying hearing the same athletes who are so vocal about rules enforcement be so vocal against a specific call or official when the call is made on them. With this said, I got hit with my first ever bike penalty last Sunday, a position foul I was in full violation of, and a correct call by the official.

The penalty came just 3 miles into the bike course, while navigating through a section of Knoxville highway full of expansion cracks heading out of town, I became too consumed with trying to avoid the expansion cracks and debris on the shoulder, stopped paying attention to the position of the rider in front of me, and before I even realized my mistake was being ordered to 'stand down' by the official, stagger rule violation for riding out of position. The penalty was 60 seconds on the side of the road, which when you take into account the time it takes to slow down to a complete stop, dismount the bike, serve the penalty, remount, and finally get up to speed again is probably more like a 80 second time loss.

Fortunately for me I have very limited experience with penalties, this was just my second ever and first since 2007. Unfortunately for me I do have a fair amount of recent experience going off course. And similar to when I added a full 6 miles onto the 112 mile bike course because of an errant arrow this past September at Rev 3 Cedar Point, I really found it difficult to mentally move past the penalty and return to the aggressive mental state which is required to race well at the olympic distance. As hard as I tried to keep my mind in the moment on the task at hand, I kept thinking about the penalty and the time I had lost. This was the race I had been focusing on for the majority of the offseason, wanting to get the year off to a great start. I had been riding in the midst of some quality riders, and now I was well behind, riding solo the entire final 20 miles. Penalties always hurt, and in this case having it occur so early in the race really hurt. I've raced enough olympics to know how they should feel, and in looking back on this one I definitely did not get the most out of myself on the bike.

The good news to take away from the bike is my fitness relative to last year.  Including my minute standing on the side of the road I still rode a minute faster than I did on the exact same course a year ago.  And I followed that ride up with a solo 10k in which I split 1:40 faster than last year and 9th best split on the day despite not having anything to race for.

In summary 18th place was very disappointing.  Having put in what I would consider to be a pretty solid offseason I would have been extremely disappointed had you told me I'd get 18th before the race.  But given my penalty and my inability to execute to my potential following the penalty, I know that my fitness right now is far better than 18th.  And that fitness will be around for the next race, and the one after that.  I'm riding strong and running fast right now.  My swim was not good, and reality is I probably wasn't in a position to challenge for a top-10 spot even without my penalty given how I swam.  Just have to get better.  8 races still to go in the Rev 3 series, right now I plan to be at all 8 of those.  I need to have 4 quality finishes out of those 8 races if I want to place overall in the series which one of my biggest goals this season.  Next up, Rev 3 Quassy on June 3.  Likely the toughest course and toughest competition I'll face all season.  A top-10 in Quassy would easily make up for a disappointing day in Knoxville.