Plus, keys to draft-legal racing
Just a month ago, I was competing in the ITU Finals in Rotterdam as a member of Team USA, and now a few weeks later, I’m here in Sarasota, Florida, trying to qualify for our 2018 Team USA that will be competing in Australia. But this is an ITU draft legal race and entails a completely different approach but more on that later.
So, let’s back up a couple days. When I landed in Tampa on Thursday, I was greeted with a special email from USA Triathlon stating that due to high algae content in the lake, the swim portion of the event was canceled and we would be doing a sprint duathlon (run: 1.5 miles, bike: 20K, run: 5K). Since the swim draft advantage, for good swimmers, was now gone it would place even more importance on drafting on the bike, and having quick transitions.
After the first run segment, I was in 4th place in my AG, and I had the 4th fastest bike split but was “working” with another competitor with :45 pull sessions for the first two of three loops of the course. My final 5K run placed me with the 2nd fastest time but my two transitions totaled only 97 seconds (T1- :51 & T2-:46) for first place in that category by :22 better than the first-place finisher overall and moved me into 3rd place overall in my AG.
The good news of making the 2018 Team USA squad came a couple of weeks after the race in an official notification from USA Triathlon.
Here are some keys to draft-legal triathlon training and racing:
- Swim start: the most critical segment of the entire race is the first 100 meters to the first buoy then you can draft with the first group of the swim, putting yourself in great position to be in the first bike group
- Drafting is huge in the swim and on the bike; practice these skills
- Bike: position yourself in the middle of a pack – save legs for run; practice :30 surges with low volume, high intensity training
- Run: always start fast out of T2; this is where combination training is valuable
- Transitions are crucial: practice running hard after the swim to T1; get in front of your group out of the water
- Practice key bricks: bike/run, swim/bike, & race simulations with timing
- Embrace DL racing…you’ll be hearing more about it from USAT