Lots of firsts this past weekend at Monterrey 70.3 – my first race of the 2015 season, my first 70.3 in Mexico, and my first race under the direction of Matt Dixon AKA purplepatch. The only first that didn’t come my way was in the race itself where I came in 2nd to Tim Don.
But back to coaching for a second: I parted ways with my previous coach, Jennifer Hutchison, late last year and the race in Monterrey marked 3 months working with Matt. Jennifer and I had lots of good times, but I felt I needed a change. After an in-depth search for the right coach (for me) I started working with purplepatch in December and have had plenty of homework to keep me busy ever since. Obviously my cycling needs the most attention and Matt and the crew broke down what I need and started rebuilding me from the ground up. Same on the swim and run but to a lesser extent (for now). Monterrey was my first chance to use the new “tools” in my arsenal.
Back to the race. The swim in Monterrey is in a man-made canal that winds through the center of town. Typically the water is 76F, but due to all the rain of late the temperature was a chilly 64F. This made for a cold shakeout swim the day before the race where I neglected to bring my wetsuit.
The horn blasted and the pro men had a more-violent-than-normal swim start as we all tried to squeeze into the limited space of the canal. Eventually I found some clean water and ended up 4th in a strung out line with Faris Al-Sultan leading. I exited the water in the same position. Fortunately the rain was holding off, although the days of rain and overcast skies leading up to the race still left everything damp and slippery on the run to T1.
Out onto the bike Drew Scott, Tim Don, Christian Kemp and I were immediately able to open up a gap and get away from the rest of the front swim group. I took the lead just before the first turn around – a tight 180 degree turn – and we lost Drew as he crashed and broke an aerobar. So then there were only three of us and this is how it stayed for the rest of the ride. With a two lap bike course we got to experience the cobbled section around transition a second time after 45k of riding. Fortunately it was still dry on the first lap, but the skies opened up on the second lap of the bike. As we came into the central area again at 88k we were now surrounded by age groupers on their first lap and the cobbles were WET and VERY slippery. To make matters worse the large crowds around the transition were crowding the road yelling “despacio, despacio!!!” and telling everyone “derecha!” – slow down and go to the right. However, as an avid cyclist myself I can tell you that going to the right of the road was only a good idea if you wanted to crash yourself. Age groupers were crashing everywhere! Either on the gentle left hand bend where they were being told to stay right, or on the subsequent hill where they would put too much power into the pedals, lose traction on the rear wheel and topple over. Fortunately I avoided the mayhem but got caught by the chasing group right at the dismount line. Shout out to Paco Serrano who rode over the wet cobbles like the laws of physics don’t apply to him! Cycling skills. Here is a video of what was happening:
Out onto the run I found myself in 6th but quickly moved into 3rd behind Tim Don and an athlete I couldn’t identify. Whoever it was, he was moving. The run was slippery. Very slippery. Featuring various surfaces including faux wood and tile along the canal, painted asphalt in Fundidora Park, and massive puddles building up everywhere as the rain continued unabated, there was a high probability of busting your ass over the 21.1k. Around mile 10 I started to hurt quite a lot and Richie Cunningham was making a concerted effort to catch me, although I still had over a minute lead on him. I kept the pressure on to defend my third place position and in the process started seeing 2nd place coming back to me. It turns out he was Mauricio Mendez Cruz, a 19 year old Mexican athlete having a breakout race. As I edged closer and closer it became clear he was running out of gas. I caught him in the finish chute and sprinted by to take 2nd.
So overall it was a solid start to the year. I still have lots of homework to do, including working on my champagne opening skills. To my credit I will say that the bottles didn’t have normal corks with twists on them – instead it was some sort of plastic insert that was hard to get out. #TriExcuse