Some days you get the bull, as the saying goes, and sometimes you get the horns. After an exhausting run-up to the Clearwater 70.3 race, I've come down with the flu. I don't think I have the pig, but it's been pretty exhausting, and I've decided not to head back to Florida for my yearly tangle with the world's best. Strangely, I'm not too bummed about this decision. My first year in Clearwater I ran 3:59:57 and came in 24th. Last year it was 3:59:11 and 27th. This year there are 85 professionals in the men's field, and I don't think I'm much of a different athlete than I was 12 months ago. The answer? Shut down the season, take some time to just ride Cyclocross, and try to refocus on what needs to change for next year. After three years in the professional field, I'm ready for a change. On the good side, I've picked up a sweet sponsorship deal with nuun. I love nuun, and am extremely excited to represent them next year. On long 5 and 6 hour rides, using nuun is the only thing that keeps me feeling relatively normal. Since I'm making the move up in distance to IM racing, being normal for 8-9 hour training days will be crucial, and I'm excited to have as much nuun as I can dissolve.
The Swim: I've still got a bit of a monkey on my back about the swim. Although I swam relatively well (for me) at Austin, coming out of the water in 25:53 (my first sub 26 minute swim) I still gave up three minutes to Brian Fleischman and 2:30 to Richie Cunningham, the eventual winner. Swimming for time just doesn't work in the pro field. You have to swim with the leaders, no questions asked. This will be my big goal for the off-season. The swim, although it doesn't matter too much time-wise, really sets the tone for your day. Come out a little behind and you feel like you've got ground to make up. Also, the whole "out of sight, out of mind" attitude comes into play.
The Bike: This is where I need the least improvement, but I'm not putting up the crushing bike splits I used to. I'd rather think of myself in terms of a Chris Lieto or TJ Tollaksen, so picking up a few minutes on the bike is another goal. It means more time at that 332-350 watt range that's just above my threshold.
The Run: Yikes, I don't even know where to start. More volume? More intensity? Both? Lose 10 pounds? The run is really my bogey, and I need to sort it out. Giving up 12 minutes to the leaders in 13.1 miles is just not good enough.
Still, the off-season is a lovely time. You get to rest, refocus, and put next year's goals into play. I'm looking forward to five straight weeks of Cyclocross and my first trip to Cross Nationals since 2006.
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