It wasn’t too long ago that the professional triathlon season started in April and ended in October. Nowadays there is racing all over the globe, all year long. More races means more opportunities and I took advantage kicking off my racing season at 70.3 Dubai this past weekend.
I finished 2019 off with a great race at Ironman Florida where I went 8:03 for 6th place in the most competitive Ironman distance in North America last year. So with good confidence, I took a shorter off season and got back into some decent training to prepare for Dubai. The build went as good as I could have hoped and I got back to fitness quickly while also diagnosing and getting over some of the lower leg injuries that I dealt with in the back half of 2019. The arrival of my new Quintana Roo PRSix Disc ignited a spark and I set off to Dubai excited to give it my best.
Travel (despite being about 30 hours in duration) was uneventful, and I arrived with a few days to recon and prepare. That also gave me the opportunity to pick my head up and take in the city. I’ve traveled all over the world racing but have never been to a place quite like Dubai. Centrally located and an epicenter for commerce, the influence of different ethnicities, language, culture and food was unique and interesting to me. All good vibes leading into race day.
I was the only professional male from the USA at this race and I think the big travel, early season and 14-hour time difference scared off most. Race morning I sure was feeling that time difference a bit and was a little less focused than I needed to be. On the beach we lined up and the gun went off. I was right at the front of the swim where I normally am and ultimately settled into the back of a group of about 7 guys. We swam in single file to the first buoy and then things ahead of me broke up a little bit. I had taken my initial position for granted and a gap started to open up to a small group off the front. I worked the whole back stretch to close it down but couldn’t quite get there and came out of the water down :20 seconds back from front few.
I could see them mounting their bikes but couldn’t transition fast enough to catch the end of that pack. That group ultimately went off to contain 2/3 of the podium spots and I was left to ride more or less by myself. Although not in perfect spot, I was still very much in the race. I’ve been working a lot on my aerodynamic position and the flat course allowed me to put that to the test. I locked into a solid, stable effort and stuck to my race power. I lost time to the front, about 4 minutes but still clocked my fastest ever 70.3 distance time of 1:59 and came off the bike with places 1-20 all within a handful of minutes.
Photo credit: James Mitchell Photography
Once I’m on two feet, it’s go time. That’s where I feel most comfortable right now. I charged out of transition clicking off 5:30 min/mi for the first couple of miles trying to chase down the top-5. I wasn’t making big gains on them but kept motivated hoping some would back off the pace. Some began to fade and I even found myself going through a bit of a rough patch around mile 5. But the second turnaround I could see some people coming unraveled and that gave me an injection of energy to pick back up the pace and charge onward. I was able to move up a few more places in the final 5k and sprint past 2 guys in the final 400m to come across the line in 7th with a 1:13 run and an overall time of 3:40:25- my fastest 70.3 and one of the fastest American 70.3 times ever.
I am always shooting for the podium so 7th was a bit off where I wanted to be. I am very happy and proud of the performance and hope that this fast race is a great step in the right direction towards more fast racing this season. The level of pro mens racing right now is off the charts and it requires every bit of attention to detail to be the the very top. A race like this is a great reminder of that and motivates me to makes sure I am dotting all of my I’s and crossing my T’s before and during the event to ensure I’m in the right place at the right time.
Immediately after the race in Dubai, I took my bike and equipment up to Birmingham, UK to spend time with my cycling coach Matt Bottrill and do some testing in the Boardman Sport Performance wind tunnel. I’ll be writing a separate blog about that trip and what I learned there, so stay tuned for that!
Thanks for tuning in. Catch you next time.
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