Tuesday, January 09, 2007

ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship, Australia, November 19, 2006

After a little downtime in December, I finally had a chance to recap the Worlds in Australia in November. It was my first trip to Australia, even though I’ve been racing against these mates all over the world for years now. Now I know why the Aussies have so many great triathletes – a beautiful country and fantastic weather! After the race my fiance, Anna, (www.annahanks.com) and I did a little traveling north to the rainforest in Queensland, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef off the coast and spent time in Sydney. Fantastic!

I was just coming off Ironman Florida 2 weeks earlier back in the U.S. and a few injuries this year so I was not looking to set any records in this year’s Worlds, hoping to finish well but probably in the middle of this great field. Race was in the capital of Australia, Canberra, about 4 hours drive south (300 kilometers) from Sydney and 150 kilometers inland. November is the Australian spring so we had a real weather mix – cold and even snow flurries 3 days before the race, and then 95 degree dry blast furnace heat on race day! Wow! It was so dry I even developed nose bleeds.

The swim was in the crisp waters of Lake Burley Griffin, a beautiful lake surrounding the capital hill of Canberra. I had a better swim than I expected, thanks to a lot of work by the US team chiropractors and physiotherapist on my shoulder. Thanks guys!

The bike course was fantastic! Extremely challenging, hot and hilly, just the way I like it! Four (4) laps of about 20 miles each into the arid bush land outside of Canberra. Unfortunately the ITU had only one, ONE!, aid station on the bike course so that meant conserving drink until we looped back into town every 20 miles, not good in this 95 degree sauna! I remember huge Australian black flies buzzing around me climbing the killer steep grades out in the bush land. On one trip up this tortuous climb I caught my U.S. teammate, Julie Murphy, from South Carolina who also is my teammate on the Hincapie Sports Triathlon team. Julie started in the female wave ahead of me and had a fantastic swim, 2nd amateur overall!

I had an okay bike, but got dehydrated as many athletes did. I came into the run in about the middle of the lead field, about where I had expected to be. This is where the heat really hit us like a wall. The 19 mile run was on dirt and asphalt paths around the lake. Hot hot hot, almost 100 degrees! The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is the official international governing federation for triathlon, a different organization from the private for-profit company of Ironman. This was my 3rd ITU World Championship (Sweden ’04 and Denmark ’05) and I’ve learned the ITU officials are a bit different than Ironman races. One in Australia even threatened to penalize me for having my jersey unzipped on the run! The route took us around the Australian National History Museum at the far end to the lake. There were no spectators back there and it was a lonely hot pilgrimage to make it through that section each time.

I held a steady pace but struggled through the run, dousing myself with water at each aid station. The ITU had little plastic “water tubes” rather than cups so I spent the run ripping them open with my teeth. My blood sugar held up okay, but like many I was fighting a losing battle with the heat and dehydration. Nausea was a big problem, which really kills when my mind wants to go faster but my body won't let me! I finished in middle of the field, disappointing but probably about what I should expect for this Worlds given my injury plagued season. I’ve learned from a lot of races and life that some days and seasons everything works, and sometimes there are mishaps, so just keep going.

Well, that’s it for 2006. I want to thank my sponsors: LifeScan blood sugar meters, Insulet Omnipod insulin pump, Nutrisoda beverages, Hincapie Sportswear, Clif Bar and Rudy Project glasses and helmets. I’m real excited about 2007 – a new partnership with Joslin Diabetes Center with Harvard University and some great new sponsors, races and speaking events! Check back soon and stay tuned! Thank you for your comments and emails – you inspire me!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ironman Florida, November 4, 2006

This was my 5th year in a row at this race. Maybe I should buy property. I’ve had some great results here and some not so great, but that’s Ironman! 2006 was one of the not-so-great. I’ve eaten asphalt a few times in 2006, crash and clavicle surgery in March and another crash last month at the SC Half IM (see post below) so my training this year has been disrupted a bit. Work also required lots of attention in October (imagine that!) preparing to spend November in Florida and Australia at the Worlds. But we all have to juggle life’s obligations and little surprises. Nothing ever goes exactly to plan, definitely not in an Ironman! I speak on this subject of balance and motivation a lot so check out some tips on Finish Line Vision on my website. http://www.jayhewitt.com/topics.php. You will get there!

IM FL 2006 had some testy conditions, not hard for most races but definitely the most challenging of the last 4 years here. It was cold race morning (37 degrees! Pppp…erfect for a swim). The Gulf felt like a warm bath. As expected my swim was slow, still recovering from my shoulder surgery. A bad swim makes you feel like you’re spending the day playing catch up, and patience is important in Ironman. It’s a long race and you have to trust your strengths, and
cycling is mine. The bike was a bit chilly at first 40s and 50s, see my arm warmers in the photos. This was supposed to be warm Florida! But the real killer was the relentless wind! It seemed like a head and cross wind for 80 of the 112 miles! Not fun with a deep dish front wheel and rear disk!

I had a fantastically crappy bike. A glacial 5:23, 24 minutes off my best here of 4:59 in 2004. Mostly due to lack of training this year, but I’m also still struggling with dehydration problems. I hope to soon get my sweat rate and sodium loss tested at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. It is also possible that my dehydration problems are related to blood sugar fluctuations. That’s why I’m excited about my new Omnipod insulin pump by Insulet. I just got it before this race and haven’t had time to fine tune the basal rate, but the convenience is fantastic! No strings or tubes! Check it out!

My swim and bike left me down in the pack so I didn’t push the marathon with the World Championship coming up just 2 weeks later in Australia. But my dehydration wouldn’t let me run hard any way! It was a slow 26 mile jog to the finish.

No matter how bad some days, races are, you will recover and be stronger next time! Remember that! Thanks for all of your emails and comments. Talk to you from Australia at the Worlds November 19!