Friday, August 24, 2012

London Reflection

Having been home from London now for a couple a weeks now, I have had the chance to reflect on the race and the experience.  The journey has been exceptional in both positive and challenging ways.  It brought me to new insights and new levels of excellence. 


Going into the race I was so calm and confident as the result of an exceptional training plan that took me to regular personal bests swimming, biking and running.  In the last weeks before the race I had three run sessions in one 8 day period that were faster then I had ever run before.  I had the ability to do my exact travel and prep plan for going to London and for the first time have my lead therapist travel with me to do my therapy on site prior to racing.  These things combined meant I knew I was as fit and strong as I have ever been, I had the therapy with me needed be in perfect form, and my coach, Carolyn and parents were all there to support and give me what I needed. 


Though it was a goal I had been working towards for four years it felt like a usual race that I was perfectly prepared and supported for.  So all I needed to do was execute my fitness on the course.  In ITU triathlon, that is easier said then done.


The swim portion for the race was in the Serpentine, a calm one lap swim with first turn at 300m.  With the swim level and overall competitiveness at its highest ever an Olympics it was a tight fast start.  I got off well and on good feet and was looking good as we got to 200m.  Then my draft jumped to the left and I didn’t have space to follow and then quickly found myself amongst a mob approaching from the right.  I tried to squeeze out but as we got to the turn the pulling and grabbing started and I was in the middle of “the fight” and got pulled under once and then had to make my way slowly around the turn.  Once around the first turn it was a straight 700m shot and I made my way back to the front of the group but found that where I was we had gap of 20sec ahead to the main first group.  This proved too much to close in the final meters and I was relegated to the second main pack.


After a quick transition out of the wetsuit I worked with a committed group of six men to try and close the gap to the group ahead of 18 or so who were chasing a front pack of five.  Due to fact the group ahead was chasing as well, we only held time and couldn’t reduce the gap.  Our group of 15 or so continued the chase and once the two groups joined up ahead of us we did gain some time.  We got as close as 55 seconds but once we were joined by the third and final group our pack became 30+ and we settled back to the original time gap of 1:20 or so.  Early in the bike it became clear we weren’t going to be catching the front group which meant my goal of racing for a top 5 placing was gone.  Our whole pack new this and in most races this would mean that the impetus to chase declines and we would lose another minute or so.  However, myself and 6-10 other athletes were not going to give up our fight and goal of excellence and committed to chase to the end regardless of racing for positions 20th back.  I didn’t do all that work and have all my support team sacrifice their time for me to sit in.  So we chased hard to the end and I positioned and committed to having as strong a run as I could possibly have.


I went out hard from transition despite having worked hard on the closing km’s and last push into transition.  I found my legs fairly quickly and hit a strong pace and focused on even splitting the laps and using the 200,000 plus fans cheering as personal encouragement.  Not concerned with what place I was in it was freeing to just run and run as hard as I could.  What was done was done and I had to enjoy the experience and take it all in while pushing to as fast a run as I could.


I heard pockets of people cheering “Go Brent Go” throughout the course amongst those thousands of people which was so exciting and motivating that I had so many people there to support me.


As I pushed to the finish along the grand stands I hurt badly but new I had worked as hard as I could and that was all I could do at the end of the day.  Our sport is fickle in that you can be much fitter and ready then your opponents but on the day, race dynamics can change everything.  Had I been in the front group I would have been racing for that top five with how my run went, but alternatively, that could have ended in a crash like my teammate Simon Whitfield.  So you just never know what could unfold and you just have to look at your effort when things don’t pan out and be happy that you gave it everything to get there prepared and ready to race. 


Within the first ten minutes of finishing I knew and felt these things and was content, however, upon seeing Carolyn, my parents and my coach Lance in the stands the emotions welled up in me.  It hit me very hard how much time and emotion we had put in and I felt the disappointment in the outcome of the race but at the same time satisfaction in the effort and journey to get to that moment in time.  That emotion came out all at once when I saw them and it continues to come out every now and then when I reflect on the journey these last four years.


I don’t regret one thing, not even in the slightest.  It was amazing and I am excited about what lays ahead for me.  This may be another Olympics or not, but for the next while will consist of some professional racing in the non drafting Olympic and 70.3 distances and Xterra.  My fitness and ability is at a lifetime best so I look forward to executing some more great performances!


Till the next race reflection!

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