ITPMan 2006 Race Report
Doing a sport like triathlon, I’m reminded about how lucky I am. I’ve crashed on my bike and come away with only a couple scratches and scrapes. ITP, Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura, is a blood disease that affects the number of platelets in an individual. If someone with ITP got in the same kind of accident I did, they could easily bleed to death. Scary stuff. If you want to read more about ITP, you can learn all about it at the ITP website here: http://www.itpfoundation.org. In order to raise money for the foundation, Michael McGuire, who started the foundation, put together a triathlon. 2005 was the first year of the race, bringing about 180 people to the starting line. This year, he more than doubled participation to almost 500 people for the 0.5 swim / 15 mile bike / 5 mile run. I was really excited to be one the pros invited to race. There was no prize money, but we all got that warm & fuzzy feeling from helping out a very worthwhile cause. Plus they gave us some free food before the race! 😉
I was really excited to get back to racing after a bit of forced downtime after Timberman. My first full season as a pro was a big change from last year, with the physical and emotional commitment to the sport taking its toll. So I decided to take a break from racing for a while in September, and just get back to basics with training and rejuvenating. The ITPMan was a great way to get back into racing after taking some time to get back into training.
The race itself was Saturday, September 30th. It was quite cold race morning, with temperatures hovering in the high 40’s to low 50’s (Fahrenheit) until the sun came up. The water in Long Island Sound was much warmer than the air, and it was great to get into the water in a wetsuit to get warm before the race. The whole race takes place in the town of Darien, CT, with race center being the very nice Weed Beach Park. The swim is a counterclockwise two-turn rectangle. The water itself was very calm race morning, and the only difficult part was once we rounded the first buoy we were headed directly into the sun. I didn’t see the buoy, but I knew that if I couldn’t see it to the left or right of the rising sun, it must be pretty close to directly under it. Some of the other swimmers stopped to try and sight, but I decided to keep swimming, trusting that I can swim pretty straight, and headed directly into the sun. I ended up about 15 yards below the buoy, but it was an easy swim up and around it, and my strategy paid off as I then had a comfortable lead on most of the field, with only one person sitting in my draft.
As I hit the beach, it was a great feeling to come out of the water in first. Rebecca Wassner of the Lipton Triathlon Team came out with me and sprinted into transition first, but I managed to have a quicker T1 and was first out onto the bike course. My hands and feet were quite cold from the air, and getting my shoes on took a bit longer than expected, and I gave up most of my lead in that first mile. But once into my shoes, I began to ride well and started to pull away. The bike course is mostly uphill for the first half, but still pretty fast, and then really picks up speed on the way back in. It has a fair bit of turning, but overall is a fun course that you can go quite quickly on.
I came into T2 without being able to see the next closest person, and as I left on the run, I saw that I had a pretty good lead. I settled into my long strides, putting in a small surge if I felt like the paced dropped. I kept checking over my shoulder, but didn’t see anyone closing in. It was a great feeling to “break the tape” at the finish line, where I ended up winning by about 3 minutes, posting the fastest swim, bike, and run of the day.
It really made me feel good about my racing and training after some frustrating weeks. I’d really like to thank those people who supported me during my downtime, who reminded me to have perspective and to keep my focus. I’d also like to especially thank Mike McGuire for putting on the race, which raised over $50,000 for the ITP Foundation.