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!

1 comment:

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