Monday, November 10, 2008

Clearwater 2008

I've returned from the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championship with mixed emotions.

The good:

  • My athletes threw down a slew of PRs for the 70.3 distance and one of them even came away with some hardware (see MAC attack below).

  • Michelle and I had a great time spectating, hanging with our friends and making the most of the beautiful Florida weather.

The Bad:

  • The drafting. Clearwater is labeled as the 70.3 "World Championship." Well yes, I suppose that it is, but I just don't see how the race organizers can feel good about the course they've chosen to contest said event. A true world championship should pit the fittest athletes in the world against each other in an event that truly tests your abilities on the swimming, cycling and running fronts. Clearwater is nothing more than a long course version of an ITU race. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone or placing blame on the athletes, because to be honest, given the course profile, I don't think that there's anyway that you could possibly hope to avoid large pack drafting. The following picture is but a small example of what I'm talking about:

PR Performances

MAC Attack. Mary Ann Clark of California took an AG victory at Wildflower earlier this year and proved that she was a force to be reckoned with. She ended her season with a stellar 4:34:39 performance on Saturday, which was good for 4th place overall in the Women's 35 - 39 category.

Mary Ann looked tremendous from the get-go. She raced aggressively and intelligently. The girl was "in the zone" all day and clearly amped up for this event. I don't think that I've ever seen someone dancing in the swim corral pre race! Goes to show what the right mentality will do for you on race day.

Other PRs:

  • Dave Smith of VA went 4:18 on Saturday. A HUGE PR which was good enough for 15th place in the M18 - 24 year old category. Dave is one of my hardest working athletes, and will only continue to improve year in, year out. At 23, he's got time on his side, so watch out for him in '09.

  • Evan Barry came home in 4:37; a big PR despite blisters that slowed him on lap 2 of the run. Given Evan's commitment I expect a sub 4:30 out of him right out of the gate next year, unless he kicks his Half IM/70.3 season off with the Rev 3 half that is!
  • Kelly Carrington, who knocked off a PR at IM Austria earlier this year, bounced back from her recent move to Denver to PR on Saturday with a 5 hour even performance. Not bad for someone who's just getting the ball rolling again on the training front. With some consistent work, I expect big things out of Kelly in '09.
  • Neo Pro Nick Dufresne capped a very productive '08 season (his first full season as a Pro) with a 4:07 performance on Saturday. Nick finished 2nd overall earlier this year at the Mooseman Half in NH and has improved dramatically this year. Although shin problems (compartment syndrome?) have put a damper on his run training/performances this year, he chalked up some much needed experience by racing in Clearwater.

Frustrating Moments at Clearwater '08:

  • Liam O'Connell's flat tire. The boy was ready to roll. He came out of the water in 26 min. low and was spot on through mile 30 of the bike. Shortly there-after he suffered a flat tire that took him 28 min. to fix. Despite his misfortune, he still finished the race. He had a sub 4:10 in the bag this past Saturday and the training to back it up. Official time: 4:41. A real bummer, but all things considered, still a strong performance. Liam will be back with a vengeance in '09 and I am willing to bet he will throw down a low to sub 4 hour day at Clearwater next year should he decide to return.
  • Craig Lewin's knee gives out on him. A season of consistent, hard work and dedication all compromised thanks to a reckless driver who T-Boned Craig a few weeks ago. I have to give the kid credit though: He raced with 6 hairline fractures in his jaw and a bum knee that he was only manage to run on twice pre-race day over the course of the past 4 + weeks. Another one of my guys who would have gone sub 4:10 had misfortune not struck. As it stands, he limped his way home to a 4:30 performance. Guts. Watch out for Craig in '09; he finished 2nd overall at the Nutmeg half earlier this year, this being his FIRST year of real training/tri prep.
  • Amanda Russell's ITB flares up. Another one of my athletes who was run off the road by a car only a few weeks back. Although her training as of late took a hit as a result, the big block of work she laid down post Muskoka still carried her through the vast majority of Sunday's race until her IT band flared up and almost forced her to abandon the race altogether. A frustrating experience for a girl with such a strong "engine" but she will bounce back and return stronger than ever.

So that's a wrap. Everyone is looking forward to some downtime and the upcoming holiday festivities (myself included). It's been a great year but it's time for a bit of a break. Sitting on the sidelines this past weekend made me realize how fortunate I am to do what I do for a living and how lucky I am to be able to live this lifestyle. I've met so many great people along the way and it was a real thrill to see so many of my friends this past weekend. I'm already itching for '09 to roll around, but there's some healing to be done before the hard work begins once again.


Liam O'Connell said...

shtick happens. fuel for 09!

thanks for everything throughout the year, i couldn't do it without you! (literally)

GetBackJoJo said...

Congrats to all your athletes and to you for coaching them to such great performances! I'm going to have to agree with you about the biking course. The swim and course are totally fair game, but if draft officials can't enforce the rules on that type of bike course, they need to change the venue. As an AGrouper out there to compete fairly, I was disheartened and angry about the drafting packs. It put a damper on an otherwise fantastic race day.