Monday, May 26, 2008

Seoul Survivor

I just got back from a memorable trip to Seoul for yesterday's ITU Asian Cup race.  At least I *think* it was yesterday -- we flew over the International Date Line about 16 hours ago so I'm not really sure what day of the week it is anymore.

Let's get the race details out of the way first: I put a lot of effort into it but the body just wasn't there.  I was fighting allergies and a bit of knee pain before I left Seattle and I developed a sinus infection once in Korea.  The swim went out really fast but I managed to hang with the lead group through most of the first lap.  Things started getting strung out towards the end of the lap and I was riding caboose on the Pain Train that tailed off of the main group.  As the guy ahead of me lost contact, I fell back with him -- I just didn't have anything more to give.  I hope it was at least partially due to the illness, although the fast start could have also played a role.  Dave Messenheimer came past me on the back stretch of the second lap.  I sat on his feet for a few hundred then slowly fell back.

I exited the water a few seconds behind Dave and my other draftee, had an unspectacular T2 and set off to bridge up on the bike.  Two guys caught me from behind and I hoped we'd make a useful group... but I let a small gap open as I put my shoe on and then never caught back on.  That must sound pretty crazy from afar, huh?  In hindsight it sounds pretty crazy to me, too.  I stayed pretty close to them for the entire first lap, sometimes gaining a bit and sometimes losing a bit... but I think they used the downhill U-turn to pick up a bit more ground on me and then I lost the carrot, so to speak.  The lesson for next time is to really bury yourself to get on that wheel.  Urgh.  I pushed it alone for another lap (although not quite as hard as before, I reckon) before seeing another group maybe 30 seconds behind me and realizing that they'd likely catch me regardless of what I did.  So I backed off a bit and settled in with them for the final three laps.

As I started the run, the top 8 or 9 guys had already finished their first 2.5-km lap.  Ouch!  I hoped to at least outrun my bikemates but my body gave me some rather clear signs that this outcome would be unlikely.  So I plugged away at a somewhat-respectable pace and gutted it out...  Ben Collins and Steve Sexton lapped me while in their final lap.  Yay, again!  At least it was a good result for Ben - his first ITU points.  Luckily my ornery leg/knee didn't yap too much, thanks to a sports massage that I got right before the race.  It was quite sore in the evening, though...

Well, that was a touch longer than I was hoping for.  I'm going to break out the travel report into another post.  Stay tuned.

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