From Matthew Sharpe
(he was doing his first WTS race in the olympic format).
I just want to preface this with a big Thank You to all the Triathlon Canada staff and teammates that were down in San Diego with me. Everyone, in their own ways, ensured that I showed up on the start line as relaxed and ready to race as I could be. Its really exciting to know I will be working with this group moving forward.
Leading up to this race I was coming off the best winter of training I have ever had and I was looking to channel that into a positive racing experience. I had no idea what I was getting into having never raced a WTS or a field of this depth, but I figured it was about time to start racing the big dogs.
It was really cool checking in and just hanging out with these guys prerace, I’ve been following lots of them for years now and to be able to start with them was a bit surreal. I think I did a good job of not getting too fixated on the names, I had my race plan and I was ready to execute.
After the moment of silence for the Boston victims and the US anthem, we were lined up and the familiar music started playing. I picked my spot and waited for the gun.
I was able to nail a good beach start with my extra long legs and found myself with clear water from the start. After about 150m everyone came back on me and it started to get a little crazy, but I didn’t panic and I was able to stick to my stroke. Heading around the first buoy was carnage, but no nasty hits to the head and I was throwing myself around a bit, so it was actually kind of fun!
Onto the second swim loop we were totally strung out and I actually had a faster split on the second loop as I diced a few of the quick starters. I finished the swim 14th overall, having worked quite hard and still needed to navigate the sandy run to T1.
After an alright T1 I knew that the leaders were just ahead. I hopped on my bike and started hammering to catch. I got to within 6 seconds of the front group, but once I hit the bridge I was trashed and couldn’t connect, and looking back that was probably for the best. I sat up and waited for the Frodeno train to roll by, dude was a watt monster. It was nuts.
I spent the rest of the bike recovering from the swim/first lap, trying to stay upright and generally not getting dropped. It was awesome to be able to stay in the group and get a feel for the pace and the dynamics.
It was dynamic, and the pace was high.
This was my first time in the big pack this year and I have a lot to improve on, I tried to move up but it was hard to hold my position and I was a bit tentative, so next time the goal is to really get amongst it.
Into T2 my position was bad, but I had a solid transition and felt good starting the run. But it went downhill fairly quickly.
After a little over a 1k I took my gel and about 1k later I started to fall apart. I thought I was in control and I felt somewhat comfortable, but I struggled for the next 5k and recovered on the last lap. Finished up 39th, unhappy that I missed out on points but grateful for the experience. In the end, it was probably worth far more than the <50 points I might have been able to squeeze out.
Looking back I was really happy with my swim and I gained a lot of confidence for the future. The bike/run are obviously an area of weakness compared to my competitors, however, with better tactics and a change of nutrition I feel like I can instantly improve my result. Longer term I need to work on coming off the bike with less fatigue, so that will be an area of focus for the next while.
I am currently on the Yokohama start list, but I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be going and that decision will probably be made later in the week.
Again, big thanks to TriCan for all the support and my sponsors Running Room, Eload, Nineteen Wetsuits and Fort Street Cycle for supplying me along my journey.
This was just what I needed to start my season; a big ol’ piece of humble pie and some lessons to learn from. Good stuff.