No one wants to hear a bag of feeble excuses, so I'm going to mould this race report into a number of critiques. But to give some context, here's a brief blow by blowup account of my race.
I swam well & swam solo, gaped the field but got owned by an unknown who was 45 seconds up on me in T1. Apparently this man Hunter Lussi used to train with Phelps. Once he adds some experience to his game, calms down on the swim a little and can ride consistently he will be a great asset in non-drafting racing & I welcome him to the fold. Onto the bike, I rode to a conservative OD pace wattage, but totally blew up at 11km. At this point I watched Cam Dye ride away into the St. Petersburg wilderness. At 15km I was caught by the bunch. After nearly getting taken out by a poorly handled pedalsman in Michael Pool (NZL) about a dozen times I safely made it off the bike in 3rd, but with heavy and tattered legs, and about 20 cyclists not far behind who couldn't be dropped despite a furious pace set by youngblood Mark Bowstead. The first KM of the run was on target, but felt terrible. Once I was caught by the pack my race was over and the legs gave up. I went from a 3:10 opening kilometer to a 3:30, the to a 4:00, obviously an unsound progression. My race was nothing short of pathetic, no other word comes to mind.
#1 - I never gave myself a chance
My history in this race is 3 terrible results to 1 good one. The first 2 bad results were achieved by showing up to this race underdone and rushed returning from injury. I didn't have this excuse for last weeks 20th place, but the correlation between all 3 results is that I traveled 28 hours from Australia no less than 3-4days out from the race. This would have affected my body greatly across the 14 time zone difference, and it's a mistake I have made every time. The year I did well in this race and placed 4th I traveled in 6 days before. I was missing so much sleep it was ridiculous, to the point where I was up at 1:30am on race morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm hoping this is the last time I make this mistake.
#2 - I'm just not that motivated by Olympic Distance anymore
It's something that I want to continue doing for some time, but when blow outs like this happen time and time again it's not really inspiring me to really commit to it. Something like Boulder Peak which a hilly & tough bike course gets me motivated, but a flat course around the suburbs in Florida doesn't.
#3 - It's no longer a true non-drafting race
The sport has grown to a point where the three podium finishers and a majority of the top 10 could sit comfortably in a pack the entire 40km, to a point where the wattage difference between the guy leading the pack & the guys sitting 3rd to 10th+ wheel is so stark that they can freewheel like it's an ITU race. Mark Bowstead who lead the chase pack finished with a 350w NP, he's a much heavier guy than I, but I finished with him at the end with 282w, which is much lower than my 70.3 pace. Everyone knows how to manipulate the terrible stagger rule, and everyone is looking for wheels. How many guys in the results have a 54 minute split, and how many could actually do this split by themselves? Probably very few. This is all I will say about this, it's not fair racing and something needs to change, from courses to course formats. A total overhaul is needed. This is not an excuse for my race because had I run my best I could still have been way up there, it's just a critique and I'm telling it like it is.
So from this race I move onto the St. Croix 70.3 this weekend. I did this race last year, but failed to finish after a flat and and broken shift lever leaving me stuck in gear on one of the most graded courses on the circuit. This is a truly killer course with brutal tropical conditions, and I'm back because I can't walk away from it until I've unloaded everything I've got onto the pavement. It has the best startlist seen on the island in years, and hopefully the week in between St. A's and St. Croix gives my body enough time to adapt to the time change and travel. The form is there & I know I'm ready, I just have to wait until Sunday, and hope for no flats or mechanicals to see what that form looks like. It's a fabulous place, and I'll enjoy my time here no matter what. Here's some shots of the training & the view from my homestay!