It's been a little over a week since Knoxville and the championship race, and I can honestly say that I learned a lot during that race. Even though the race was extremely difficult for me and I didn't have a good showing, I'm glad I did it. I think the experience of racing in Knoxville will truly benefit me in both the coming months, as well as the next year or so. Below are just some of the things that I learned both during the race, as well the weeks leading up to it and immediately afterwards
1 -Decide how important certain races are and stick with it:
We all know that as athletes we should pick "A", "B", "C" races and so on. But sticking to how you categorized each race often gets lost throughout the year. I know I typically think my A race is the next race up, but it can't be like that for every time. In my mind, C races are for training through the race and practicing things, B races are for finalizing everything and making sure your prep is done for your A race, and your A race is the most important race of the year. In the case of Knoxville, I knew it was a B race for me, but also hindered on being an A race. The problem with this was I really couldn't decide. I knew it was important, but in my mind I didn't know much. I wanted it to be more important than it actually was, but I just couldn't get up for an A race that early in the year. So in my case, I really should have used Knoxville as an important race, but not base everything around it.
2 - Training with Power isn't just hitting Watts, it's how you hit those Watts:
This is probably the biggest thing I learned while suffering on the bike. This course was hilly. As in, really f...ing hilly. Typically the hills are my strength since I can fly up them. Not this year though. The reason being was my training. When doing my trainer workouts, I was so focused on hitting my Power Zones that I didn't realize there are different ways to do it. I was focusing on increasing my cadence more which increased my power. However, this course required me to decrease my cadence and really focus on "pushing up the hill". I didn't really do low cadence work simulating the climbing that this course had. I just assumed I would be in such a high spin going up the hills so that is how I trained. I was too focused on hitting my wattages that I didn't really think of how I should hit my wattages. Knowing this, I'm going to focus a lot in the coming weeks on sheer force and building strength in my legs instead of achieving a high cadence rate. This will definitely help me in the coming races, even on relatively flat courses since I will be able to have more force through every pedal stroke
3 - I suck at swimming. Like really really suck:
I knew I was never a good swimmer, but going against some of the competition there, I got my butt handed to me. I really need to improve my swimming for future races. I know I don't enjoy the training that it takes to do that, but I can at least tweak my training. Early in the season I was doing a lot of swim interval training and I knew I was getting faster, but at some point I stopped doing it. I would go to the pool and just do laps. What I was learning to do was swim at a slow pace for a longer period of time. So I picked up the interval training in the past week and hopefully that will help me in the future. I know I can push the pace in the race, I just don't for some reason. Either way, that needs to changed quickly
4 - I have a really bad temper at times:
I referenced my travel problems getting to Knoxville in my previous post. But here's how it went down. I initially decided to take a late flight Friday night so I could help the wife with taking care of Riley Friday since I would be away all weekend. Well, at about 3:45 pm Friday, my flight got cancelled due to weather. This left me scrambling to find flights to get to Knoxville. I called my airlines and the earliest they could get me in was Saturday at like 5:30pm. Yeah, not happening. Not when I had to check in, pick up my bike, rack my bike all by 6:30pm. Luckily I got on another connecting flight that got me in to Knoxville about 1 am Saturday. Not ideal, but it was the earliest I could do.
So I ran to my car, and the airport is only about 15 minutes from my apartment. But on a Friday afternoon, it could be a while. To make matters worse, all the streets and entrances to the highway were blocked because someone got shot on the FDR drive. It took me 45 minutes to go 1 mile in NYC traffic. At this point, I blamed the wife. It was her fault for making me take the late flight that night, right? If I hadn't tried to be nice and stay all day, I would have been on like a 1pm flight and had no issues. So when she called me to check on me, I lost it. I have never screamed like this in my life. EVER. It wasn't directed at her, but it was to her. She didn't even know what to do.
And when I finally got to the airport, I had 15 minutes to check my bag and get to my gate for boarding. Thank goodness for TSA Pre. However, my bags didn't make the cut-off time and the airline had no idea when my bags would get to Knoxville. They could be on my flight, the next one, or Saturday. They told me I had to wait to find out when I landed in Knoxville to find out. Of course, at this point the wife told me to take everything carry on that I needed. Ummm, that was EVERYTHING. they only thing in my suitcase not needed for the race was a spare set of underwear. The rest was a helmet, bottles, shoes, clothes, wetsuit, nutrition, basically everything. I would have had to buy 3 carry on bags to make this work. But of course, she didn't know that so when she suggested it to me, I went off again.
Needless to say, I can't control everything, but when things go bad, I lose it very quickly
5 - I don't know how much I enjoy long races
At some point on the bike, I realized I don't want to be on a bike for 2 plus hours, and then run another 1.5 hours, not even including the swim. I started to reevaluate my racing and figured I would stick to Olympic Tri's this year. This way, I can do more of them, and recover more quickly and train harder as the months continue. Doing a Half Iron or even Full is a lot of work. I just don't know if I want to do that again this year. Knoxville was a hybrid race with a 40 mile bike and 10 mile run. That was still a bit too long for me. Sticking with Olympic distance for this year might re-energize me for next year and then I'll be able to full train for one. Plus the Half Iron that I was planning on doing is in September, and I'm doing the NYC Marathon this year 2 months after so it would be a hard turn around for training to pull that off. I think I'll stick to the shorter, faster races where I can really see what I can do there
I know I learned a lot more than this, but these are probably the most important that hit me and I wanted to share them. I think it's good to have take aways from every race, even the bad ones. I definitely learned more in this race than I have in any other that I have ever done.