Matt Sharpe is en elite U23 canadian triathlete. He established himself as one of the best up and coming triathlete in the world last year by winning the national championship and finishing 9th at the World Championships. Trimes is proud to have Matt giving us a little bit of his time :). He checked in with us couple minutes after his win in SF.
Going into this race I didn’t have any goals for my results. I was simply looking to rebound from my complete collapse at the Soulanges Continental Cup, where I lead out of the water, pushed the pace on the bike (too hard) and then suffered from extreme cramping and lack of energy to finish in 21st out of 25.
I was glad I finished, but you don’t get points for simply finishing.
I learned many lessons that day that I knew I would apply to the race this weekend, the San Francisco Continental Cup. When preparing for this race, I found out that it was a tough bike due to the technical and environmental (hurricane winds!) factors and that the start list had many strong swimmers. I knew if I had a strong swim I would be able to hopefully get away with a larger group than Soulanges, and with my previous experience I would definitely ride a more tactical race on the bike.
I already knew this race would be special when I saw my ranking. With my grand total of zero ITU points I assumed my start position would be in the 40’s or 50’s. I was ranked 5th. I really had no place being there, I thought, but I just rolled with it and decided to use it to my advantage.
The swim start in San Fran. is different from most ITU races, it is a deepwater start with a long rope as the start “line.” One of my teammates told me that a few years back he found a large rock that was on the start line and he used it the get an extra jump in the crucial first moments of the swim. Walking along the muddy bottom with my hand along the rope, I tried to feel for something that would give me and edge. Sure enough, about halfway along I came to a large rock about a foot-and-a-half above the ground. I jumped on top and waited for everyone to crowd around. When the starter yelled “on your mark,” I stood up and probably looked like a giant.
I got clear water right from the start and really hammered the first 150m to try and get on the right feet. Once I got around the second buoy, I locked on to Bird’s (CAN) feet and just responded to the surges of the swim leader.
Out of the water I was in 5th and just tried to focus on getting on the bike and getting my legs back. For the first lap it was Bird, myself and 3 other athletes out front. Onto the second lap we were caught by a group of 7 and we ended up being a pretty dysfunctional lead pack. Luckily we were still putting time on the chasers. For the rest of the bike I was able to position myself well enough in the pack to be aggressive on the corners but not wearing myself out for the run.
Onto the run I really had no idea how to pace the 10k. With little experience I just tried to get into my own rhythm while pushing the pace. My legs felt about a million times better than two weeks ago and I think that gave me a huge mental boost. I was passing the other athletes rather quickly but I never questioned myself because I was running my own run. The bulk of the 10k was pretty lonely save for my teammates cheering me on the course (another huge mental boost!), I tried to keep my head quiet and just focus on pushing through the wind and keeping my pace.
The finishing straight was pretty incredible, won’t forget that one for some time. I broke the tape knowing I had “avenged” my previous race; that felt great as well. The win let me throw my name in the hat for a spot at U23 worlds in Beijing and I feel as though I will have a strong chance of being picked.
I’m pretty sore today, but it’s all worth it.