Friday, August 14, 2009

Tour Preparations

I love the Dakota Building...its architechture and history. I took this picture early in the morning with a twin reflex.

This is not about the Tour de Cullman other than the date will likely be the last weekend in October. I am a true believer in preparations, if you prepare properly you have nothing to complain about race day. Do your homework no matter how you finish you can say you did everything you could to prepare. I love the equation that's involved in any event that brings you success. To me its a combination of psychology and physiology. It’s all about confidence.

I was very fortunate a few years ago in my preparations for the World Triathlon Championships to spend significant time before the races in France to train on the actual routes and get acclimated to the climate and time changes. The first year I was not so fortunate. I had been racing successfully as an amateur and thought it was time to test myself internationally. Early in the sport of triathlons Europe began to offer the best races not only for prize money but also prestige. I think with their history of bike racing the sport there brought sponsorship and support that was not in the United States. The first true world championships took place in Nice, France, which quickly became the richest race and the most prestigious.

The race took place in early October and I had qualified during the summer. The plan was to travel over to France with a quick stop in New York. Some very creative promoters dreamed up a great race the weekend before in New York City. The swimming from the Statue of Liberty, cycling around Manhattan and running through central park. It was immediately sold to TV and became a big money race for the pros. The race ranks up there on the memories list, a huge race broadcast on NBC billed as The New York City Triathlon. I thought I had made the big time.

For the swim start we were ferried out to the Statue of Liberty and the course was to cross the Hudson River to Battery Park. It was two miles into the dark waters to our bikes, only a huge 25' red balloon to guide us to the landing. I will never forget passing through a "soft spot" in the water during the swim. Later a native who told me no one swims in the Hudson river said I really didn't want to know what that was, glad I was in the zone because I hit several spots during the swim. The swim went well and I came out of the water in the lead pack with a great 2 mile time.

On the bike we rode down the West Side Highway to the George Washington Bridge and made a loop through Manhattan. It was incredible to ride in the city with the traffic stopped for the race. We biked in to Central park and ran around the park for a 7 mile run. The race ended at Tavern on the Green. There were thousands there at the finish and although I had a total meltdown on the run I finished a respectable time and a place I won’t mention.

I was totally baked and beaten. All that was in the back of my mind was my flight to Europe the next day and the race one week away in the Maritime Alps. I hobbled over to the refreshment tent and unfortunately ran into a couple of female pros that I should have been hiding from. You make friends on the race circuit along the way, seeing each other at races and sharing the fun. I forgot I made a promise to these two that I would go out dancing with them after the NYC race.

I was known for my sleeping habits before and after races, I caught a lot of grief because I would be the first in bed the night before an event and then after a race I wanted to just go back to the hotel and lay in front of the air conditioner and recline.

I won’t name any names but the fun began at the post race party and we all had a great time. After several beers I was informed that I needed to shower because we were heading out on the town. I think my flight to Paris was leaving at 900am the next morning. What was that dance place called? The Odeon...they had done their research, it was a happening place and it didn't get really going till midnight. I felt like I had knives in my legs. Every time I mentioned that I really needed to turn in because I was leaving early in the morning another drink mysteriously showed up.

Somehow that night I made it back to my hotel. Race days were always long days, typically you got up at 400am the race started at 700am you raced all day maybe got a nap in and partied that night, it was a tough weekend. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself I could sleep on the plane that actually being tired would help me sleep for the 8 hour flight. I would like to say I got in bed early but I don't know I think I got 30mins sleep to get up and leave by 600am to make my flight.

The real fun began on Sunday when I was supposed to leave via JFK and my flight was delayed. Nothing like the security today but on international flights you had to be early. I was on the plane and after sitting for what seemed all day we were informed that our flight was cancelled because of mechanical issues. The passengers were told that we would be deplaning and taken by bus back into the city and staying at the luxurious George Washington Hotel.

I don’t even remember where the hotel is or was but it was interesting to say the least. I was so exhausted and I remember checking in and falling asleep only to be awakened by the fire alarm. Monday morning I was standing on the sidewalk at 3:00 am wondering about my race and if I might actually make it to France.

To be continued...

I did make it to the race. Some illegal pacing going on behind me in Nice, France. This was my first World Championships. I learned so much on how to prepare.

Free Blog Counter