Alrighty, a few days now post Indian Wells 70.3, my last race of 2019, and I finally think I'll be able to recap things somewhat coherently, after the red-eye flight back to Toronto post-race destroyed me for a number of days. I've said in the past that while the length of the flight is certainly a factor, I think the biggest variable affecting how you are impacted by jet lag is simply what time the plane takes off and lands. Over the past few years I've done I think every combination I can think of in terms of flights going to China, from China to Europe, 12+ hrs layovers over night in the airport, or 20 hr layovers in Iceland, planes leaving first thing at 5am or landing at 2am or whatever it is I've done it, and for some reason this flight from Palm Springs to San Fran to Toronto turned me into a Zombie for two days. We landed at 8am EST (5am for me on West Coast time) and because of that (mixed with me being just unable to sleep whatsoever on planes) the day just felt like it lasted forever. I kept checking my watch over and over thinking is it time to go to bed yet, nope its only 11am, what about now, darn 11:30am. Nonetheless, I'm back and in full-on offseason mode until next Wednesday or so. For me that means slowly losing my mind, spending way too much time refreshing my youtube homepage checking for new Lionel videos, or Keto videos I can laugh at, all while planning and dreaming of various workouts to do or races for 2020.
So anyways time to talk about the race, Indian Wells 70.3. The race site is just south of Palm Springs in the desert where apparently it rains only a handful of times all year, well it rained 3 times in 4 days on our visit lol. A big stacked field was on the cards for the race Sunday with around 40 pros including some big names like Lionel Sanders, Joe Gambles, Eric Lagerstrom, Taylor Reid, Jason West, Kevin Collington, and many more. I went into this race in a real good headspace. I didn't go desperate for a result, or with aspirations thinking podium or bust or anything like that, really all I wanted was to finally put a time on the board, to post a complete solid race. I had put off racing for 2 and a half months over the summer, a big risk for someone who is not a big name, and really needs to race relatively often to stay somewhat relevant, and instead I focused all my attention to training quietly underground in the basement hoping to re-emerge as Frank 2.0. Instead what happened was about 30 minutes after finally re-emerging to civilization again at Weymouth 70.3 in a split second on a tight turn on a bumpy, and soaking wet road I went down in a heap, mangling up my hip in the process, and with that all the work over the summer I felt went to waste. So after things went so poorly in Europe, my biggest goal for Indian Wells 70.3 was to have solid complete race and have something to show for last 6 months of work. And before the race even started I'll say I was pretty darn proud with how quickly I was able to turn things around both physically and of course mentally post Europe, standing on that start line feeling healthy and ready to give it my best was a big win in its own right.
So now the race. The swim was pretty much as non-technical as it gets. Dead flat water, an in-water start, and a pretty easy course to sight. Yes it was pretty cold around 58F, but I've been in much much worse and while 58 is cold starting out, once your going it's no issue. We started off and it started pretty fast. To give you some perspective of what the start looks like in the pro field of that size the first 100m was a 1:03 according to my watch, and the first 300m was 3:42. Again take swim data with grain of salt but that's atleast what I got from garmin (which actually had the swim bang on at 1.2miles so I trust it in this case atleast). After about the first turn bouy, around 400m in, I felt our group settled down very quickly. My breathing was in check, and was happy about where I was, right on Lionel Sanders' hip, with Taylor Reid a body length or so ahead. I stayed with Lionel the entire time, my stroke felt a little rushed and felt I wasn't grabbing too much water but nonetheless was where I wanted to be. Overall the group didn't end up swimming very fast at all (anywhere from 26:15 to 26:30) so maybe the cold temperatures affected things more than I thought, not sure, but anyways time is meaningless I made the 2nd pack so I was happy.
Unfortunately for the second time this year, T1 killed me. In the pro field seconds matter, especially so in T1 to make sure you get out on the bike course with that pack. Even at 12m there is a significant benefit not only in terms of an actual wattage savings (that compounds from rider to rider in the line), but also just from a pacing perspective you are able to see first hand basically how fast is fast enough to stay in touch with your competition. But I learned something from my mistake. Basically if you haven't swam in your wetsuit in months, it's true that the neoprene will lose some of its elasticity so in the future I'll try to get in even just a pool swim to loosen things up a bit before the race - we weren't allowed in the lake beforehand this time. I believe that combined with my wetsuit already being very very tight meant that getting my suit off took everything I had. At one point I was considering just ripping it off with my teeth. Getting it off my neck was fine, but the suit was basically glued to my shoulders and arms. I struggled for some of the longest feeling seconds of all time as the group one by one ran off to their bikes. I will say I believe a few in the pro field should've been penalized as there were some caps and goggles laying on the floor and not back in the transition bags where there should be. If you don't need to actually put stuff away obviously that would be a time savings, compared to others like myself struggling to manipulate their cold hands and stuff the wetsuit into the bike bag. Nonetheless, booked it over to my bike quick as I could, had real good mount, and was off for then what was a 90km solo bike through La Quinta.
The bike course on tap was dead flat, but with about 50 turns and like 10-15 (not sure how many exactly but it felt like a lot) straight U-turns on 2 lane roads. There was also a section on the twisty Formula one track that seemed to last forever, but again overall a very flat course. I'll say though I was pretty disappointed with the road conditions. I thought it was supposed to be like pretty California roads here, instead there was loose gravel all over the turns which admittedly after Weymouth I took very gingerly (I was not going to crash this time!), two dogs standing out in the middle of the road at the 5 mile marker where I had to come to almost a complete stop to avoid running over the little one and then sprint away from the bigger one coming back around to chase me, and overall pretty bumpy roads. Joe Gambles actually even crashed on one of the roads and unfortunately had to withdraw from the race, hoping he's okay.
Anyways so like I said it was a pretty lonely 90km ride through the countryside. I had half decent power (much less than what I had trained for) but in the second half especially I didn't seem to be getting much speed from the power. I did discover that by the time we got back the AirBnb post race my tubular disc was completely flat maybe it had a slow leak/pinch flat throughout I'm not sure - but definitely felt like I wasn't going that fast in second half of the bike. Having said that regardless of the speed the power was much less than what I planned. It ended up around 260W, I was hoping to be around 285. And if look at my training over past 6 weeks I was for sure capable of perhaps much higher. So looking back yes that was little disappointing, however I was super proud of how positive I stayed out there. I knew it wasn't going great early on (even though the first 30minutes was 43km/hr, and the first hour was 42km/hr but I knew I wasn't pushing the power it was going to take to bridge), but having said that I kept saying to myself it's okay it's not over, there is still a run to go, and actually the group really isn't putting that much time into you solo (in fact I ended up catching some in that group around 80km, and the rest came off the bike only maybe 2 minutes up on me), so keep fighting it's not over till you get to the finish line. I learned that lesson back in Gulf Coast 70.3 where I spent the first hour of the run sulking being down on myself, and then after finally just yelling at myself to stop whining and start running already, I ended up passing four pros in the final 4km to finish in the top 10.
So anyways I stayed very positive on the bike, and that mindset carried right into the run. I started out from T2 my legs felt perfectly fine post bike and was ready to run. It was a super challenging course out on the twisty turny golf course, with just constant ups and downs, some very sharp little dips, and some varied surfaces even a uphill few hundred metre long hill on soft deep sand - something the 4%s really weren't a fan of. Nonetheless I felt super solid out there start to finish and had a really great feeling run. I got to 10km around 35:20 and just kept on clipping away one km at a time. The course didn't really phase me at all, actually I almost seemed to get into a rhythm with the lack of the rhythm of the run course. I ended up working my way back up the field starting out of T2 in 23rd and finished 15th with the 6th fastest run in the field of 1:15:30 - 3:35/km, in fact it was approximately 6.5 minutes faster than the average pro run split. I know down the line I can run much faster but really was very happy with just how good it felt. At no point on the run did it feel like I was on the edge of cliff like it has in the past, and was going to physically fall apart at any moment, or an injury or a bonk or whatever was lurking. It just felt really solid. And really the perfect way to end things for the year. Of course I look at the race and there is a lot I can improve. I wish T1 went differently, I wish the bike was better and more in line with what I've been doing over the past 6 weeks, but no race is ever going to be 100% perfect. When that race comes it's time to retire. Overall though, I'm excited to build on things and start training again for what will be an awesome 2020 (I'll announce soon what the race schedule is looking like it's going to be epic). I've learned so much in the past 6 months or so of what works and what doesn't for myself, and I have a good idea of what needs to change so that I can mix it up with the boys up front next year. And some of those changes are already on the way and in the works. Anyways that's all for now, so that people know the vlog over on my Youtube channel will be coming back in just a week or so and it will be done as a weekly vlog instead of daily one and excited to start pumping out some videos again. If there is anything you're really interested in seeing feel free to comment below and I'll get working on things. Thanks to all my sponsors for the support this year BeetIt, Scody, Zone3 US, Trisports, and Revolver your support means the world to me and to family and friends for sticking by me all year and not giving up on me. Thanks again, happy holidays, and I'll cya soon.