Jeremy Hopwood

Jeremy Hopwood

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Racing not Competing

This was to be a precursor post to my race report for the ITU Long Distance Brick (Aka Triathlon with cancelled swim) World Championships, however except from the below I don't know what else there is to say. Except if Silverman does reincarnate in some form I would love to race an IM on that bike course.

For many people (including myself up until very recently) Triathlon is a sport about competing. Competing is a term for which I am sure there is a specific definition which I can currently claim ignorance to as I am flying back to Vancouver at 40,000 ft. How I define about is trying to achieve the best possible performance while a large degree ignoring those around you. This is particularly the case in long course racing which is a race about spreading your effort equally across the day.

Racing however is another form of competing – it is about focussing on the overall result and adapting your plan on the fly even if it involves a degree of risk. The ITU Long Course champs was a good example of this. In the end the only thing that I considered a A result was a podium in my AG (M30-34). This meant that it was necessary to take some risks to try and make that happen. This is a “non instinctive” thing for me to do at the moment as it involves decision points where you need to take some risks that you know will have some negative consequences if they do not pay off.

On race day at ITU we had a TT Bike start. I had the idea of the race numbers in my AG and knew that the earliest person would be leaving about 3 minutes ahead. So that essentially meant that anyone who passed me on the bike was gaining on me for the run. A group formed early and I let it go to some degree however after 30km saw that I was not that far back. From that point on looked to work the bike, had a few flat points which is due to fitness but overall are happy with how I pushed the bike especially the last 30km where I kept the gas on.

Coming out of my “world leading” J T2 I started to see were people were on the run course in ,y AG category up the road. A couple numbers were higher and that meant they started after I had. Decided to run the first lap at my own pace and see what difference that made. Was fighting cramps on the uphills (No excuses =fitness/conditioning) and after 1 lap saw that was holding pace if not losing it. With cramps still occurring on the uphills did what I could to manage them and smashed the downhills as hard as possible.

After 1.75 laps (of 4) it was “death or glory time”. If I wanted to make it happen  it was time to take a risk. Even though the legs felt pretty average for most of the run (was avg 4:18 per/km at this point) it was time to go for it. Holding 4:18 per km was going to be nice but wasn’t going to cut it in terms of hitting the podium. 

So in true VEGAS spirit it was time to roll the dice and start to push it hard. Pushing it hard when everything is telling you to just hang on is where I see the difference between competing and racing. When you compete you do the “smart thing” and just hold the pace. When you are racing it means putting down the hammer even though a lot of the feedback loops you are getting you are telling you it is going to be a very tough road.

I would love to finish this story telling you that I achieved glory, hugged a care bear and found a leprechaun at the bottom of a rainbow but it was not to be. After about 4 to 5km of at or below 4 min/km pace the wheels feel off. The change in running style to avert cramping and smashing the downhills had paid their toll and it was a death march home. In the end I would say I lost about 5 or 6 minutes by going for it as a shuffled to the finish. However not having know if I could have hit the podium was not a risk I wanted to take.

The Key Takeaways

In the end it was 14th in M30-34 and a lot of lessons for the 2012 season. In the end I just need to get fitter and stronger, 2011 has been a great year for so many reasons with a big focus on family and the birth of our first child. I feel as I hit a winter of hard training I am at an awesome place to make the next jump in terms of fitness and experience and look forward to improving as I go forward into IM Melbourne.

I am happy that my bad runs in races are getting faster and faster and I now am off the mindset that for me any run slower than about 3:20 in an IM for me is a bad run as ridiculous as that proposition sounds but it is just my mindset at the moment. In the end though it is about doing not talking, so the next 4 months is just about getting the work done, getting fit, faster in the pool, stronger on the bike and being able to execute the run I know I can.

1 comment:

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