IM Brasil + IM Cairns report
To say that I went around the globe in 2 weeks wouldn’t be an understatement. From Florianopolis, Brasil, to Cairns, Australia and back to Dubai, I feel like I’ve lost 4 days of life going back and forth on time zones and spending more time in airplanes than the entire 2016. While this was far from ideal for an optimal performance, it didn’t influence much how my races ended. The “airport” taper is not as bad as you would think.
IM BRASIL – SOUTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP
I rarely regret any trip, but my second time in Florianopolis wasn’t pleasant. After last year’s 5th place, I was confident that I could overcome the big changes in life (moving from the US to Dubai that is) and have somewhat of a solid race in Brasil but that was not the case. I can’t really blame anyone but myself for how the day unfolded: I had a great swim start but mentally I wasn’t there and after those initial adrenaline-fueled-meters, it was all downhill. The swim in Florianopolis is hard to sight – you can barely see any buoy out there and it’s extremely hard to swim straight if you are not on the front pack with the lead kayaker to sight off. I was left with another two athletes and the pace felt decent but we still lost about 3-4 minutes to the lead swimmers. After the swim, I just did not have what it takes to keep pushing for the remaining of the race, I ended up miscalculating/failing nutrition focus and I dropped out at the 34K because I really hit the wall. The reason why I regret going to Brasil is merely based on how I was feeling on the week leading up to it – I was far from excited to compete (at all, nothing against Brasil) and I just couldn’t snap out of that. Besides, I have a hard time with riding in the rain, more after living so long in non-rainy countries. On to Australia.
IM CAIRNS – ASIA-PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
Unlike Brasil, Ironman Cairns was a “new” race to me and I was somewhat excited to visit Australia for the first time. The country, the race venue, coure and environment didn’t disappoint my high expectations. Race day came by fast and I felt good physically despite all the travel and time change. You don’t do much between two Ironman races spaced in between two weeks, so I had no real indicator of how fit I was but I still excited to give it a good go. It always seem like “you were going to have a good go at it” until (lack of ) luck steps in the way.
Fast forwarding to race day, I had another great swim start and this time I had my head in the game, ready to push when things got hard. The swim was extremely “bumpy” as the chop was quite high and while I swam surrounded by another 10 athletes, I don’t think we ever swam on a straight line or took much advantage of each others draft, it was the true feel of a washing machine the entire way. As I pushed my bike out of T1, I was hearing a weird “rumbling” sound, like something was rubbing on the ground along me and soon to realize it was my shoe, with the pedal platform attached to it, dragged by rubber band that I used on my tri shoes to have them ready for transition. It was quite the shock when I realized what had happened: the axle of the pedal and the platform of the shoe had came apart. This was not a total surprise as it had happened to me once in training a few months ago – some kind of defect with the bolts holding the axle inside the platform – an issue I thought I had fixed back then. My guess is that from all the travel/dismount/mount/vibration of the trips, the bolt was off again and enough to make it through the pre-race ride but as soon as I took the bike off the rack in f T1, it fell off. To say that this was the most frustrating thing that has happened to me in recent years, would indeed be an understatement.
So there I was: out of T1, with everyone that I wanted to be and ready to push hard on the bike, just to have a pedal terminate my dreams. I still jumped on the bike, placed the platform back over the axle and started pedaling but because the axle doesn’t run all the way to the end of the platform, I could barely apply any force to it without slipping to the side. Needless to say, the next 5h10 of riding were pretty miserable – if 112 miles on the Ironman Cairns course are challenging, doing it with a flawed pedal is miserable. Initially I thought I wouldn’t loose too much time on the bike and kept going trying my best to hold a steady effort. But after 60K, my body was done with that “single-leg” effort. I did still make it back to T2, in a hope I could at least run – my mind was not ready to drop (again) out. However, by the time I got to T2, I just couldn’t walk straight, let alone run.Overall it has been a choppy start of 2017: I moved across the pond, visited four continents and haven’t had a race that I could show off all the work I’ve done during the winter. It all felt like a waste of money, time and resources. Surely I’m disappointed I couldn’t race well or collect dividends back from all this investments, but I got to visit Brasil, Australia and the UK in the process, swim, bike and run on new and unique places, and you can never be sad about that. I’m back in Dubai and already thinking of what’s next. You don’t get many chances (or years) in this sport so you must never dwell on what went wrong and always take the most of what’s left. I now plan on racing Triatlon Vitoria-Gasteiz on July 9th as my next race.