Blowing Off the Cobwebs: Liuzhou 70.3
The first race of the season is always a big unknown, and it is great to get it behind you. I decided to make the trip out to China as the race was on a weekend where a lot of other big races were happening. Originally thinking it may lead to a smaller field where I would have a good chance for a solid result. As the race date approached the start list started to grow and had some solid depth. Olympians, which included the likes of recent Xiamen and Hefei 70.3 Champs Tim Don & Brad Kahdfelt, and then Mr. Wildflower himself Jesse Thomas, along with Freddie Croneborg, Justin Metzler, and Pat Evoe. Also in the field were accomplished Ukranian and Russian ITU athletes making their first 70.3 starts. The course also suited me well, current assisted river swim, flat bike course and fairly flat run course.
Although my travel to the race was not ideal, see “8 Ways to Have a Travel Day from Hell”, numbers 1-5 apply to the trip there, I felt like I was ready to race come Saturday morning. The last few months of training had been going well, and specifically the last 5 weeks where we were in Oxford and into a good routine. 2 days before leaving I felt great, and the workouts had been going really well, so I was looking forward to seeing where the winter work had taken my fitness.
As mentioned above it was a down river swim with a decent current. The only problem was the first turn buoy was only about 75m out, and I lost contact with the group just as we were getting to that buoy and by the time we were around it they were gone. Pretty much from there on I was on my own, but had 1 swimmer off to the side and another shortly behind me. The 3 of us came out of the water close together and headed out onto the bike together.
Once out on the bike myself and Pat Evoe started "working together" within the draft rules and started making up ground on the lead group. Just after the first lap we made contact with the lead group, although Tim was solo off the front, with Jesse and Justin also ahead of the group. Once making contact with the group I tried to get away a few times but failed. I knew the turn around was a bit technical as it was through a parking lot with a tight S-turn and an aid station. I didn't need to take on any fluids so I went to the front and opened up a gap through that section. Pat joined me shortly after and we started getting a nice gap. We finally got out of sight and with about 10K to go Pat dropped me and I was in no mans land. I just tried to keep on it, but the power had dropped by about ~20W's and I came into T2 in 5th place.
I got out onto the run and Justin was just ahead by less than a minute. He has always out ran me, but I thought maybe with the run focus this winter I would be able to run with him. Over the first 10k the gap stayed pretty close, but he ended up putting a bit of time into me by the end of the race. I felt strong over the whole 21k and just kept a consistent pace throughout. I got passed by a few guys that were in the "group" on the bike, but overall happy with the first race of the year.
3rd - 9th were all within 5.5 minutes of each other, and I was 2mins50secs out of the money and 6th place. So all things considered the cobwebs are blown off and onto the next one we go!
Swim- 21:57 / Strava File
Total- 3:52:11 / 9th Pro
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This was one of the more scenic race venues I have been to, it reminded me a lot of Gurye 70.3 in South Korea. Although the hotel and transition areas were more in the "city", once you were about 5k out of town the course offered some amazing views and paralleled the river, making for a great recovery ride on Sunday so we could actually enjoy the views.
The master of the selfie stick, Jesse Thomas catching a cool shot of our Sunday post race Spin.
One of the best parts about racing in Asia is the camaraderie among the pros. We typically are all in the same hotel, which 99% of the time has a breakfast buffet. That typically leads to long breakfasts where we sit around and stuff our faces along with catching up. This is something that you will not get at most other races, as many athletes will have their families with them and will be scattered around town. On top of the breakfast conversations it also makes the pre-race and post race training quite convenient which gives other opportunities to catch up with fellow athletes.
The chase to the lead group, thankful that Pat Evoe was around to put in some solid work & then not so thankful when he dropped the hammer and out the back I went :(
The highlight of the trip, seeing all the hard work that Glenn has been putting in paying off with a ticket to 70.3 World Champs!