The older couple I was sitting beside were very excited to be speaking with one of the “pros.” We were midway through our 20′ pond hopper flight from Cozumel to Cancun. The gentleman was asking about the race and the training of an elite athlete, but I tried to shift the conversation towards him. His name was Alan and he competed in the age group sprint event, which was for the first time ever draft legal.
In the 70-74 age group. He was 70!
I would have pegged the guy for early 50’s, so when he mentioned that to me I was certainly impressed. It was his first experience at an age group World Championships, and by the way he spoke about it, it was pretty clear he was hooked.
“I was just hanging on to the back of my bike group. Some of the guys were really fast!”
Yes. I knew that feeling all too well.
I was like a sailor thrown overboard, beginning to lose hope when out of the chaos a lifebuoy appeared. The pace began to lull as our second group realized the front pack was pulling away. I began to feel better and move myself towards the front of the bunch. Getting to the front was’t too hard, but the difficulty lies in maintaining position amongst forty other individuals who all share the same goal.
I think I burned myself a bit sitting at the back of the group and then trying to stay at the front I hurt myself even more. In all honesty I wasn’t feeling amazing going into the run but I had to toughen up a bit. There was still the 10km run in Mexican jungle heat.
It was a painful run and ended up being more of a heat management exercise then a race. My lowest point was lap two where some cramping had me slow right down; walking may have been quicker. But I came around a bit in the second half and found my stride. I was able to focus on the other athletes ahead of me who had passed by earlier. Psychologically speaking its always easier to chase.
I crossed the line in 35th, not exactly what I set out to achieve. This course and the depth of field were quite challenging and in the end it probably reflects where my fitness was at. There wasn’t too much more I could have done.
Have to give a big shout out to those who helped me get here, my family, Barb and Derek Sharpe, my coach, Jono Hall, training partners and my supporters, Running Room, and Oak Bay Bikes. If you had told me at the beginning of the year I’d even be competing in Cozumel against the best, I would have had a pretty good laugh.
It’s been a good year and I’m happy to finish my season on one the biggest stages of my sport. Going back to school after focusing solely on training was a bit of a shock. But I am happy to be back at the University of Victoria for the fall semester.
Until next time.