More with less: It's been a busy spring season for me where I didn't get the amount of volume training then I normally would like leading up to an "A" race. In fact, without going into too much detail of my covert training, there was as much as a 50% reduction in cycling. Knowing how to get the most bang for your buck though is where experience comes into play. Being a draft-legal race, it's all about the swim and run. So...a few minor tweaks to my swim technique and fitness along with a huge emphasis on threshold and super-threshold swim/run bricks put me close to where I needed to be. Now I just needed to execute.
I red-lined the whole swim. There was no settling in, no thinking about what's next, what will happen to me if I go too hard. I was just going to trust there were kayaks in the area just in case... The current/wind waves and light swells made it a pretty slow swim for everyone...it was also slightly longer than a 1500m race. Coming out of the water in 21st and a good friend, Scott Tonder, right along with me led me to believe we were in business. But first, we were in for some suffering.
Intel from Coach and others in T1 said there was a large group just in front of Scott and I and if we sprinted for a few minutes we could make contact. A few minutes turned into the entire first 10K where both of us (and a Marine) took organized pulls and averaging 26.1 mph for the lap. All three of us knew we wouldn't be able to maintain that rate, but with a lot of coaxing on the Marine, we caught the other group of 7 riders to form a nice fast paceline. Three riders are not supposed to catch seven riders. But, succeeding...I knew the last 25K was going to be short intense pulls and long recovery. Also, looking around the peloton, I knew I could possibly outrun every one of them.
After gobbling up riders in front of us and spitting them out off the back, we entered into T2 in a large contingent of about 10 riders and only about 12 out on the run ahead of us. It was GO time! I consciously took out of T2 at probably my 3K or 5K pace (5:05) to put the hurt on right away and see how things would shake out (and also how long I would be able to maintain). Fortunately, this high-altitude training is paying off here in Colorado. Never really went into an ugly place on my run, kept on picking people off and gaining mental assurance as I progressed. Moved up to 6th place and breezed into the finish with a 5:31 avg for 6.09 miles. Most other years, a 6th place finish would mean qualifying for a CISM (Military World Championships) slot but wasn't in the cards for me this year with no country getting their act together to host the event.
A lot of theories put into practice went very well for me the last several weeks. Doing more high quality/less volume in all three disciplines...Less is More. Also, using TrainingPeaks Performance Management Chart to really NAIL a good taper using objective numerical analysis and also forecasted workouts to be fresh on race day with the appropriate Training Stress Balance (TSB).
All of this data is great (and appreciate TrainingPeaks being there for us coaches and athletes), but also sometimes a little bit of luck comes into play where you have a buddy in the right place at the right to help you carry the load! Iron sharpens Iron.