Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Race of the Year: Blah!

Sunday was my first triathlon this year. 13th overall and 2nd place in my age group. Glad that one's out of the way because that was not my best effort. I didn't really take this race seriously, and it cost me.

Most of you know that I am very meticulous when it comes to my race preparation (or anything else for that matter). In fact, I've been called OCD once or twice. Sometimes people refer to my little tendencies as "anal" which I find disturbing. I'm not sure where the term "anal" originated. It really makes no sense! Why anyone would use that part of the human anatomy to describe my tendencies toward perfection is beyond my comprehension. (Ironically, the fact that I just took time out of this blog post to decipher "anal" vs. "OCD" is probably a symptom of my OCD. Or would that be ADD? Never mind. Just don't call me anal!).

Back to Sunday. I didn't take the race seriously, and therefore failed to plan properly. I ended up trying to pull all my gear together at 10:00 the night before the race (when I had to get up at 4:00 to be there on time).

I haven't swam in a wetsuit since my last race last year (i.e., October . . . SIX MONTHS AGO!). I realized this when I pulled my wetsuit from the bottom of my closet, turned it right side out, and found that it was covered in mud from the Longhorn 70.3. I wondered then if my swim would be any good, or if I would practically lose the race in the water. As it turned out, my swim was no good and I lost the race in the water. I've had issues with this wetsuit since I bought it last year. I'm swimming significantly slower in that wetsuit than I am in training or in races where I'm not in that wetsuit. I don't like to blame poor performances on equipment ("It's the poor musician who blames his instrument!"). But after several consistent problems, I think it's time to find another one.

I had a decent bike ride, and this was the first time I have raced with a power meter. I averaged 23.6 for the bike course, and was the fourth fastest bike split. I managed to take back all of the time that I gave up in the swim to the eventual winner. But then, I took too much time in the second transition.

Generally, I don't wear socks on the run of any race shorter than a half Ironman (I never wear socks on the bike in a race). However, I have never run barefoot in the Newtons (bad preparation). So I decided to put on socks for the run. This took too long, and the winner passed me in transition. Actually, he passed me a few seconds after we left transition, and I never saw him. Even if he was running faster than me, he would not have passed me until a couple of miles into the run if I had just had an average transition time for me. And if he had passed me with a mile to go, I would have noticed, and would have fought to beat him.

As it was, I was not all that motivated to work any harder than I did. I only averaged 6:25s. I'm generally at 6:00 or faster per mile in a race this short, so I know I could have run with him if I had known he was there. I'm disappointed in myself for not running faster regardless of where anyone else was on the course. That's not me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not making excuses for my lackluster performance. I'm simply venting about the fact that I: (a) did not take a race seriously; (b) did not prepare properly; and (c) did not try hard enough. All of those things cost me a top 10 overall and another age group win. If I give it my all, and I get second place, great! That's a fantastic result! But if I don't prepare, I don't take the race seriously, I don't try my hardest, and I get second place . . . well that's disappointing. I can't help who else shows up at a race. But I can help how prepared I am and how much effort I put forth.

Silver lining: This was a wake-up call. I'm glad I got the first race of the season out of the way. Time to move on. And time to prepare properly! Like the title of this blog says: "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." That means more than just getting in the training.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fantasy (Tour of) Flanders; It's Going to be Scrum-diddly-umptious!

I've never played any kind of Fantasy Sports. My wife plays Fantasy Football every year, and usually does quite well. But I've never felt like I had the time to deal with it. Until now!

Don't get me wrong. There are not many sports that I don't enjoy watching (especially football). But no sport is as exciting as Professional Cycling (if you disagree, then you just don't understand the sport). And there is nothing more exciting than the spring, single-day classics in April!

So some friends of mine at work and I are having a little Fantasy Cycling pool during the month of April. Starting this weekend, with the Tour of Flanders. We have drafted three riders each. We will re-draft riders for the other two races in our pool (Paris-Roubaix and Leige-Bastogne-Leige). I got the first pick in our draft today since I was last place at our Tour de France pool last year (yes, I know, humiliating!). I ended up with "Big" Tom Boonen, "Big" George Hincapie, and "Perfect Size" (since he's only slightly smaller than me) Juan Antonio Flecha.

I'm hoping my team does well for me. Usually, when I pick riders for a team, they either crash out or get kicked out for doping (e.g., the last Rabobank rider I chose, Michael Rasmussen). Ahh yes. Michael Rasmussen. That jerk almost ruined my son's life!

You see, since I knew I would take time off when my son was born, I convinced my wife in September/October of 2006 that we should have a baby. That way, he (since I was sure we would have a boy!) would be born in July, just in time for the Tour! That turned out to be perfect timing for my "paternity leave" as I was then able to stay at home for most of the month of July in 2007 and take care of my wife and newborn WATCH THE TOUR!!! However, as I tend to get carried away with things when it comes to my excitement over professional cycling, this almost turned out horribly for my son.

Just before the Tour started, and just before my wife's "due date," I made a pledge to several friends that I would name my son after whomever won the stage the day he was born. As it turned out, my son was over a week late, so the Tour rolled along and he missed out on all the best names. We missed out on Fabian Cancellara Brooks, Thor Hushovd Brooks, Tom Boonen Brooks, and my personal favorite, Filippo Pozzato Brooks (I tried everything possible to induce labor on that day!).

But alas, he was born on July 15, the day that Michael Rasmussen won the stage. And while I can think of worse names than Michael to name a son--that's my cousin's and my brother-in-law's name--I can't think of a worse cyclist to name my son after (as he is a dirty cheater!). In the end, we decided to name him after my dad, John, who has, coincidentally, never won a stage at the Tour de France, but as far as I know has never taken performance enhancing drugs either. Oh well, maybe we'll have another child soon and we can name her (since we already have a boy) after this year's winner of this week's Tour of Flanders. I'm hoping that her name will be Juan Antonio Brooks, George Hincapie Brooks, or Tom Boonen Brooks.

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