When I went there in 2011, one of my competitors, Mike Coughlin, described his introduction and preparation for the event, which were many years apart. He made the simple statement that he wanted to wait to compete until he was sure he could give the event the respect it deserved, by being able to give everything he had of himself. To him this meant preparing his body to it's absolute peak prior to his arrival, and he did just that. It was inspiring to watch.
|Mike and I before the event|
I'm looking forward to confronting what scares me most about racing - the long descents on the bike, the wind tossing the bike around, and whether or not I can respond positively and meet the challenge that comes with the soul-searching blackness at mile 45 of the double-marathon. That's my favorite part - that one moment. All the training, all the hours, focused on that singular moment late on Day 3 when the accumulation of pain and fatigue throughout the run, as well as the whole event becomes almost unbearable - will I be able to respond mentally or will I crack?
What I love most about this event is that, even though that moment is solitary by nature, I will have a fantastic support team around me to share the experience. There are many support systems along the way that will make this journey possible. Every race preparation has those support systems. This is one of the only events that not only allows you, but requires you to bring those supports out onto the course with you. I am super excited that my friends Adam Ellenstein and Ryan Toner, along with my sister, Jen, will be my crew in November, and know that I am in very positive and capable hands!
|My crew in 2011: My Parents and incredible friend and training partner, Christian McEvoy|
So, Knoxville, was a first test for this season. The swim was ok, the bike course owned me and the run was fantastic. I wasn't expecting much on the swim. I was swimming really well in mid-April but had not gotten in many sessions since. I was expecting to be 4+ min down and likely with the third group coming out of the water. I got thrashed at the start and rather than fight for 1500m, I settled in the back, with the idea that I'd draft. Well, my lack of open water swimming showed - I was all over the map. I'd lift my head and be 10m to the right of the train, swim back to the feet, put my head down and be off to the side again. I was very happy to find out after the race that I was only 3' down on the leaders and with the second group out of the water.
By the time we got on the bike it was downpour raining and this kept up for most of the ride. The course is pretty technical to begin with, which was going to be a challenge - in the rain, on a new bike, with a disc for the first time ever-it was way beyond my capacity. I took the descents super cautious - when the course did open up a couple times I was very encouraged to see that I was pushing 270-280w comfortably, 30-40w higher than I was riding last year.
|This is a fast machine! I'll do it justice soon.|
I came off the bike with the idea that I could salvage the day with a decent run. I knew I had been running well in training and was psyched to test this off the bike. As an age grouper in 2012 and early 2013 I was running 1:23:45-1:24:45 consistently. Since, I had not had one decent run. I started relaxed and at mile one looked down to see a 6:02 split. At that point I knew it was going to be a good run. I stayed relaxed through the early hills, at 6:17 pace, upped the pace just before the turnaround, and covered the second 5 mile segment at 6:12 pace. The last 5K were mostly flat, with a climb to the finish and was completely redlined at 6:02 pace for this segment - 1:21:47, for a 2' pr for the run split.
So lots of encouraging elements from the race - not ideal overall, but feeling really good heading into the rest of the season. Will be toeing the line at Challenge Quassy in two weeks and Eagleman 70.3 the week after that.
Hopefully I won't encounter this on the drive home next time: