Race Report by Zach Jones
Stanford was a breakthrough race for me last year. It was where things really started together– which is to say nothing went totally wrong. I didn’t lose my bike, I did a flying dismount and I even survived a hailstorm. It was my best race of the 2017 season and it was a speck of hope that I was advancing forwards. This year was much the same plus a few new things and minus the hail. There was an inspiring improvement between this year and last as well. Sure, you can take into account the lack of rain/wind/hail and a very slightly different course, but the overall improvement was still amazing going from 1:16:35 to 1:06:38, a savings of 9 mins and 58s that advanced me 41 places in one year’s time! So I’ll do the same thing I’ve been doing here, keeping a keen eye on how I have to prepare for MTS at the end of the month and Nationals further down the line.
Swim– 11:29 (2:49 improvement): Wow that was a great swim! The best absolute place I’ve ever received by far (16/97 men). I think I owe my success here to good form, consistent work and freezing water. I made sure to keep my body rotation good, tried to maximize extension and tried to keep a modest kick up for the duration. More of the same for MTS please. I don’t really have anything I want to change about that swim. Maybe a little more drafting practice and wetsuit practice is all.
Bike– 33:36 (3:41 improvement): This split wasn’t horrible by any means, but it also felt like my least successful leg. Rankings validate this feeling as well but it was fast enough to hold off plenty of people who I outswam (and thank goodness this was a race where the swim actually mattered!). I need to keep riding my TT at trainer and probably try to get it fit before MTS. Fitnesswise, I’m not going to get a lot better than I am at this point. I just don’t have the time to get better at Olympic distance. But what I can do is make sure I don’t headcase my way to a bad ride but doing nice focused efforts at Olympic or above pace. I think stuff like 3 Bears or SPDR or maybe even Tunnel are perfect for this. Sections long enough where you have to think about the pace and make sure it is sustainable. Trainer can also be good for this, but I’m also interested in building my biking attention span, which is presently kinda of small. Hopefully MTS will be like Stanford in the sense that I had plenty of competitors around me to keep my mind busy. An Olympic distance bike definitely my biggest worry for the rest of the season but I got the bike to make it as easy as possible so I just gotta make sure I’m comfortable with that and do the best split my body is capable of.
Run– 19:57 (1:33 improvement): This was the most motivational part of the race, racing stride-for-stride with Rohan all the way through. It was not particularly fast in relative or absolute terms, but it was certainly painful. I didn’t leave that run thinking at had anything left on that day. But how am I going to energize myself and make sure I run a run that I am capable of? And how do I do that for 6 miles. I have two main recommendations to myself: Firstly, run off the bike of Saturdays because it mimics the utmost fatigue you feel at the end of a triathlon. I don’t feel like I need to go at a race-pace to make this worthwhile, but just a simulation of what it feels like. Secondly, making sure that long run gets done. It’s kinda too late to do anything wild without getting injured before MTS but I would feel comfortable doing around an hour in order to again get a feel for running while fatigued. I think practicing these things will maybe not make the run easier, but will make my body more accustomed to the sensation of running whilst heavily fatigued.
Transitions note: Remember how I said my transitions sucked at UCSD? Well they were great this time! That is also quite a bit because of the brilliant scouting of Coach Jason, but I also like to think that riding up and down the street for 45 mins practicing mounts/dismounts might’ve had something do to with it. This was my first flying mount, which went okay but not great. But practice makes perfect! It was astounding how much this actually mattered in the overall scheme of things. I would not have gotten nearly as high overall with poor transitions. As for the no shoes debacle, just loosening the laces seemed to help and I could also take a tip from Jeremy and only lace every-other eyelet.
Summary: My title here is in reference to a few things. It is mostly a reference to the fact that I got to complete this race alongside all my teammates. And not just watching them from the other side of the out-and-back. Like running, biking and swimming alongside them all. It was incredibly motivating and it allowed me to focus unlike any race I’d done previously. It also of course reference the incredible network of triathletes on this team who are always searching to make each other better. So yeah, go bears! There’s certainly a lot I have to work on in order to be comfortable at Olympic and I am admittedly pretty nervous about the jump. But I hope that this process can be the beginning of improvement. Now all I gotta do is get out there and keep working!