DNFs are never the plan going into a race. However, at the professional level I have found that sometimes you have to make decisions based on the big picture and approach racing as a business. This race was a business decision, and a bit of risk. I had a feeling it would go really well or it would go really badly. Just coming off of Japan 70.3, and a long journey back from Japan, it wasn't the brightest idea to try and line up again at Staffordshire.
I rationalized doing this race for a few reasons, all of which made sense. I am fine with the overall "result" being a DNF, as I believe that from every race, whether the result is good or bad, you can learn something. Reasons I did the race:
It was a very "cheap" race, gas money was the only thing I was out. I had a homestay thanks to Reg Swallow who has welcomed us into his home the last 3 years now.
It was a short 1h45m drive from our house.
The start list is typically a bit "weaker", although that was not the case this year.
I struggled on this course in 2015, flatted in 2016 (although finished), and was hoping to have a bit of revenge on it.
I was taking a mid season break and going on vacation with the family a few days after the race, so I wasn't worried about "overloading" the body with extra stress from back to back 70.3s and all of the travel involved as I knew I would have some down time to physically and more importantly, mentally reset.
What did I learn?
Well I have backed up 70.3s several times now (and a 70.3 and IM). It has been successful a few times. So lets take a look and see what works and what doesn’t.
70.3 Austin & IMFL (2013), went well, was super fit and both races were driven to, no air travel.
Half IM in Tyler Texas & 70.3 Galveston (2014), went well, both races in close proximity to home and minimal travel, only in a car.
70.3 Cebu & 70.3 Korea (2016), went well, both races in Asia and minimal travel between Cebu and Korea.
70.3 World Champs & 70.3 Weymouth (2016), went horrible, decent Swim/Bike at worlds and then not a great run at worlds. 70.3 Weymouth went well until 80k into the bike. Long travel back from Worlds and not the greatest "travel" to Weymouth as logistics were complicated with family and race setup.
70.3 Japan & 70.3 Staffordshire (2017), solid race in Japan and then long travel back had me hurting by 40k into the bike.
What I have come to realize, is if I am going to do back to back 70.3s a few things have to be done right to give me the best odds of doing well.
It takes being super fit to be able to do this successfully, the times that I did well, I was in top form for myself.
Cutting down travel time and at least racing on the same continent, minimizing travel between races.
Getting quality sleep between the two races.
Lastly, it made it a bit easier to pull the plug after the bike as it was fathers days and with Asher only being 1, he can't quite grasp finishing or not finishing, but what he could grasp was that I was able to spend an extra 1.5hrs with him, rather than trotting around the course for a back of the pack finish. So the remainder of the day was spent with Hila and Asher waiting for bike pick up to open up and then we were back on the road to Oxford.
Moving forward, if I decide to back up 70.3s those are the things that I will stick to before attempting it again. I am trying to stay away from doing it, since as of late it hasn't gone well, but when opportunities present themselves, I have a hard time passing them up.