Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cda Oly Race

Photos to come...

Sometimes things go your way, and some times they don’t… we learned that in Kindergarten more commonly stated as, “That’s just the way the ball bounces.” It did not really make sense then, and when you are the one the statement applies to, I can’t say it makes sense now either.

Sparing the finer details, I can say that I was looking forward to this race. It was a stacked field composed of many professionals and some very fast northwest riders. I was mentally prepared and I feel physically as well. The swim went pretty well and I swam in the front group of people who were the ‘contenders.’ Kalen Drling swam off the front of us and ended up 3 minutes up the way. As the group of 8 swimmers rounded the buoys, we wandered around quite a bit. Can’t say as a group we were very organized. We were swimming 4 at the front, deep into the course, on the outside…I don’t really know what was going on. But we were all together. We exited in the low 20s and I quickly ran into T1 and had a fast change. I was pretty much the 1st one in the group out on the bike with the fastest T1 time of the day. I yielded to Matt Seeley respecting what he has done in the past and would probably do again today. That being ‘win.’

Matt and I both got our feet in our shoes and were off. The roads were wet from the quick dump of rain that happened during the swim. This would create a little challenge on the high speed corners. You could tell that Matt was a little cautious going through the corners and so was I. Jeff Smith was close in the mix too and passed me within the first mile but did not go far. I thought he was going to try and chase down Seeley, but he just hung off the front of me by about 6 bike lengths. I eventually made the pass and we seemed to do this throughout the day. Within the first 5 miles I was descending down a hill and hit a sink hole pretty hard and my waterbottle ejected and slid across the road at 40 mph. CRAP! I need that and there was not any support on the course. I kept going and hoped I would be able to see it on the way back in a few miles. At the first turn I could see that the lead rider was still riding well and about 3 minutes up. I closed 3 ½ minutes on the same guy a few weeks about in only 12 miles, but he was definitely riding stronger today. Seeley was pulling further ahead and I was riding solidly in 3rd. On the way back from the turn, and up the hill, I was able to locate my aerobottle on the road and stopped and picked it up. While doing this, Jeff passed me and I got back going. I saw Jessi and she said that I was 2:55 down. Wow, I was not pulling in the time like I have before. I kept going and was pulling Jeff back in as he attacked the hills. Towards the top of one of them I saw Seeley on the side of the road standing by his bike. He flatted. I did not have anything to give him since I did not have a spare as well. Fortunately for him, Adam Jensen, who was coming up the road, gave him some CO2 and sealant that did the trick and he was back in the hunt. I saw Jessi again at the top of another hill at about the 10 mile point and said we were 3 minutes down. What’s going on? I was starting to think that Kalen was a pretty good climber. Regardless, if I was to reel anything in, I would need to pick up the pace a bit. I started to ride the flats harder and elevate my watts on the climbs. After I got through the hills and was on the flats, I had reeled in over 1:30 on him and he now had a 1:25 lead. I was wondering if he was falling apart, or if he just struggles on descending and the flats. Regardless, I was in 3rd after being passed by Adam Jensen, a phenomenal cyclist and triathlete. During the last 5 miles of the bike I was feeling good and was moving along well. I came into T2 about 25 seconds behind Adam, and 1:25 down on Kalen. I ran over a minute faster than Kalen in the last race, so I was hoping for a great run today and a less than great one from him.

I moved through T2 quickly and was running. It always takes a little time to get things going on the run where it starts to feel comfortable. But as I hit the 1 mile mark, things just were not feeling right. But I was working hard and that’s just part of it. I continued on to mile 2 and I was struggling. I was no longer thinking about the people ahead, but now focusing on those coming from behind. When I reached the 3 mile mark I looked at my watch and saw that I was at an 18:30. Not good. And I knew I was slowing down more and more. I was passed by Matt Seeley at the 4 mile mark. What the hell? I just got passed by a guy who flatted… things are not going well. I was mustering all I had to keep good form and keep my legs moving forward. I felt like I was at mile 20 in an Ironman marathon. I should no be feeling like that. I did not get it. I did not ride horribly hard, as a matter of fact, I rode a little easier than I normally do. What was going on? Was my fitness bad? Does my run really suck this bad? I was now in 4th and moving like I was in 44th. With about 1 mile to go, I was passed again by Michael Bresson who ran a 33 minute 10k. He went by me like I was walking a dog and he was running from a gunman…and outrunning the bullet. This was not good. I was now in 5th and the only reason I was running was because I was in the front end of the race and I wanted to be respectful of being there. You cannot give up, but it was all I could do to maintain a ‘jog.’ Everyone who saw me said that I did not look good. With about ¼ mile to go Ben Greenfield passed me… 6th place now. I meandered in and was happy to get across the finish line with a run split shy of a 41 minute 10k. Are you kidding? 41 minute? I could not believe it, but I knew how I felt and there was nothing I could do to run faster. My stomach felt like it was full of lactic acid and I was a bit dizzy. I could hardly stand for very long and then settled to sitting on the grass. I sat there in disbelief of my performance.

I had so many friends and family members there cheering me on and there supporting me. I felt like I let their cheers down. I just wish I could have somehow absorbed their energy, but I just couldn’t.

Whenever you have a race that just does not go as well as you feel it should, or you normally have done, you start looking at what was going on. What did you do wrong? What went wrong? As I weathered the “so did you win?” and “What happened?” comments, I was asking myself the same questions. Mainly, ‘what happened.’ I don’t want to take anything away from those that beat me, but more looking at what did not go well. I could go on and on about what I was feeling, but the bottom line was it was a disappointment. Anytime you feel ready, physically and mentally, and then you do not even come close to doing what you have done on any given race, you start questioning everything.

I believe that I have discovered the primary reason that my performance was hindered. Now, where it all started, I don’t know. Was it on the bike, or just the run? Don’t know. But what I know is this. I weighed myself in the morning before I went to the race. Then I weighed myself when I got home from the race. I weighed 4 pounds less when I got home. And that’s after drinking a few waterbottles and eating some food. So my belief is that I was dehydrated and the symptoms I was experiencing would support that as well. I checked my aero bottle that was still on my bike, and saw that it was only ½ empty. I normally consume all of it. It would explain what was going on in my stomach as well. So was this the difference between 1st and 6th? I don’t know. But I figure I gave up 3-4 minutes on the run that I normally do not. I have been running well in training, and I felt like it was the first time I have run this year. So rather than hanging my hat on the thought that “I suck,’ I would like to think that I did not suck in enough. But 4 pounds? Wow, that is something pretty big.

I have had some great races this year, and I have to look at those rather than thinking that this is what I am capable of.

I have to tip my hat off to Matt Seeley. This guy has done it all. He’s a legend and has never lost here at the Oly race in Cda. He would have undoubtedly won today if he had not flatted. I am 100% positive about that. But here he is, reeling in the leader, and he flats. Totally takes him out of the race and he gets right back in and puts forth an honest effort. He knew when he got off the bike that he would not be able to get to the leader, but he still made a hard effort. That’s what champions do. They race like they are going to win no matter where they are in the race. He ended up 3rd overall.

In a similar situation, Jeff Smith crashed behind me with 1 mile to go on the bike. He still got up, collected himself, and finished in the top 10 as well. Again, a champion.

Both Matt and Jeff could have hung it up and called it a day. They could have stomped their feet and kicked the dirt, but they didn’t. They got back on their bikes and continued to race.

Rule 76: No Excuses, Play Like a Champion


Spokane Al said...

No Excuses, Play Like a Champion - words well worth remembering!

And while it wasn't your day it sounds like you have pinpointed the cause so during your next race it will be your day, once again.

It was good to see you out there.

Michael W. Bergquist said...

This was an absolutely amazing race to either watch or be a part of. I did my very best to spectate everywhere since I wasn't able to race it. Like you, I'm certain Matt would have won this thing (by over a 30 seconds). Kalen did a whole lot better this time around. I could tell you were struggling and know words won't make you feel better, so I simply cheered for you. Had you felt better, the results clearly would have been different. In like praise you have for Matt and Jeff, you gutted it out all the way to the finish, just like champions do even after they know it's over. It's tough when the big race is in your own back yard and it's your only bad one of the year. For nearly anyone else, a bad day would drop them from the top 10, but you were still in the mix. My bet is that whomever has to race you next is going to have to suffer the race rage you'll undoubtedly unleash next time you toe the line. Perhaps I'll just skip that one.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of outcome, you followed 'the rules', and put forth your best effort, or all that you could, and finished...respectably. Love your discipline, attitude and effort. Glad we were there to cheer you since you deserve all of our efforts. Proud to be a member of Team Thompson!
Love, Mom

Phaedra Cote said...

When I was going out on the run and saw you coming in....and you weren't first, I was surprised. I really thought I'd see Matt and then you close behind. It was clear right away when I saw you, things weren't going well. Although you were still running a lot faster than most, I knew it was slow for you.

I truly understand that feeling of disappointment when a race goes south like that. The beauty in your situation is, everyone believes in you as an athlete and knows you are better than that particular performance (or lack thereof ;). People expect you to win because that's pretty much all you've done this season. You didn't let any of your 'cheerleaders' down. No one was disappointed IN you, they were disappointed FOR you. There's a big difference. You consistently perform like a pro and therefor it's surprising to see you suffer like that.

I'm sorry that you had to waste a stacked, local race to learn something but I know that's what you'll do. Look at the race and think if you could go back and do it over again, what would you change?

I really like what Michael said about the race rage you're going to unleash at your next one.....like you always say, that's the beauty of racing a lot. You never put all your eggs in one basket. And I can only imagine how fun it is to be you in a race.

You're a champ and you always play like one. On to the next!

P. Keebler.

Anonymous said...

We're mighty proud of you, Rog -- no matter the place (6th is terrific in that field, as you know). We're disappointed for you, because we know how psyched you were for doing well. Sorry it didn't turn out as well as anticipated, Rog, but ... Way to hang in there, when the legs said, "no faster". We love you, and are on your team. Go get 'em, Rog!

Tim, Kris and Anna

Anonymous said...

Great race report. I love your honesty. I greatly appreciate your level of respect of other competitors and your no quit attitude. I really feel fortunate to learn so much from what you have to say being that i am relatively new in this sport. It was great to talk to you before the race and I hope in the future I can get to know you better. I am sure you will dominate at your next race!

Derek Garcia a.k.a. (that guy)

Tiffany said...

You certainly followed Rule #76 on Saturday, regardless of how you felt. Please don't ever feel like you let anyone's cheers down! Are you kidding me? It's an absolute thrill to watch you race. Your athleticism never ceases to amaze me.

It was clear that you weren't feeling good on the run, but it was also clear that you were digging deep and refusing to give up which is pretty incredible to watch. I'm sorry this race didn't go as planned, but I'm happy you're choosing to focus on the amazing season you have had and will have in your last couple of races. Your constant positive attitude is very inspiring.

Steve said...

You learn the most when things go bad. If racing and finishing in the top 10 were easy then everyone could do it. Even though it went south you will were 6th in an incredible field. With all the amazing races you have had this year, we all know how you wanted this one. As long as you can learn from this you will only get better.

I smile at your 41 min 10k. I know you are faster than that but I would be freakin stoked:) Like Michael said, the field in the next race better watch out.

jessithompson said...

There's so much to say... truly. I will echo everything that has been said and add that I love you and am proud of who you are as a person. You handle all the ups and downs with the grace of a true champion. XOXO

Linda Seppa Salisbury said...

What an amazing post...

What I know for sure is that you give your best, what you can give at that moment, in every race you are in.

I am impressed by how you find a learning in every race, no matter how they go.

I'm really proud of you for taking the risk to put yourself out there and for all of the hard work and training that this sport demands...no matter where you place!

I'm proud to be on Team Thompson!

Love Linda

Trish said...

RT, my heart felt sad when you said that you felt like you let your friends and family down. As far as I am concerned, that could NEVER be true. You are such a role-model and mentor for so many triathletes, myself included, and it is a complete HONOR to watch you race and cheer for you.

Even though I am continually impressed with your athletic abilities, I am continually impressed more with your attitude. When you win, you are humble. When a race doesn't go as planned, you are reflective and honest. You always compliment other athletes, and you always look for what you can learn. That is why you are a champion :)

rr said...

I am not a fan of "what happened?" We all have crappyass days from time to time, and sometimes they happen on race day. Sounds like it was a learning day :)

Onward and upward..

M-Dot said...

We can't say any more than what the others have said. You are an AMAZING Triathlete and a graciuos winner and when you don't finish well you learn. Because of that attitude we learn too.
Keep up the hard work. Drink Lots and kick butt at the next one. Which is when? Cause we want to be there to see it and cheer for you.

M & J

Josh said...

All I can say is you rock!! It was a hard race for you, and even when you weren't at the top of your game you still finished in the top 10. This is something I wish I could do on a good day. When you have a bad day or bad race the best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on. Keep up to the good work. I am excited to see some more of your stellar performances in the not so distant future!