Queenslander James Seear recently wrapped up a block of racing with a fourth place at the unforgiving Ironman 70.3 Muskoka behind some very fast men. Whilst it wasn’t his day, Seear played his cards very well in getting some early points for 2014 World Championship qualification on a course which will serve as a very good preparation for the conditions which athletes will likely face next year in Mont-Tremblant.
Seear takes us through his race in Muskoka, and plans for the rest of the season.
My hands have been a bit full since returning from Canada with the horrific floods in Boulder, CO. Luckily (my sister) Maxine and I are in an area that has had very little flooding and our house has stayed dry. Many have not been as lucky and we have some friends staying with us who were evacuated from their house just up the hill from Boulder. It will be interesting to get back out on the roads to survey the damage. Currently every canyon within the front range of Colorado has had some part of the road washed out making it impossible to get by.
I am trying to let my sore legs rest after 3 solid weeks of racing. I have raced some of the world’s best athletes and have been able to put together some great results. I believe it is always important to learn from each race and grow as an athlete to improve my performances and myself in the future. I was in Huntsville Canada for my 3rd week of racing in a row, finishing with a 70.3 but more importantly the first 70.3 qualifying race for the 2014 World Championships. I was hoping for a quiet race but we had some great athletes lining up including Hawaii Ironman runner up Andreas Raelert. I felt pretty good heading into the race and the body felt like it had recovered well from the previous weekends or racing.
It was quite cool in Canada compared to everywhere else I had been racing and we were greeted on race day with blue sky and a pretty decent temperature. The start line was wide and the men and women started together. Everyone went to the far right except Tom Davidson, Andreas and myself. When the gun went off I headed straight for the first turn buoy. When I breathed to the right the entire field except the 3 of us who started on the left missed the first two buoys and were heading to the wrong turn buoy. I was nervous, as the boats weren’t pushing them back on track. I started to move towards the group as I didn’t want to be the only one out by myself and lose time. Luckily as I started to move over, the group then realized their mistake and started heading for the correct first turn buoy.
I was second around the first buoy and was getting a lot of chop off the leader in front of me so I overtook him and took up the pace setting. My goal for the race was to pace the bike more conservative so I could run a stronger more controlled race. So having company in the swim was good, only 2 athletes could hold onto my draft in the water. I kept a nice tempo up until the exit. I got over taken in the last 10 meters of the swim and exited in 2nd. I soon took the lead again with the long 500m run to transition. I put socks on and had a good transition but was out behind Tom. He took off like a scolded cat and disappeared up the road on the very hilly and twisty bike course. I was by myself for the first 35km before being joined by the athlete who beat me out of the water. It was great to have him with me for the remainder of the bike leg and to pace off him.
The course in Canada is either up or down hill and is over 90km so it makes for a slow bike split. My legs felt pretty good coming off the bike and I ran out a little over 4 minutes behind Tom and sitting in 3rd. I was getting time checks as I was running and could here the gap coming down quite quickly. Before the race I wasn’t able to check out the entire run course but I checked out the run course map and profile quite closely and from the map it looked like there was just one hill on the way up to the turn around point and the rest was pretty flat. When I got out there on the run course it was either uphill or downhill a lot like the bike leg. Those hills really hurt my legs more than I expected them to. I was still in 3rd at the turnaround but had pulled Tom back to about 30 seconds with Andreas chasing us both and reeling us in by about 70 seconds in the first half. I was quite excited knowing there was a podium position within my reach. Unfortunately the pace I ran the first half combined with the hills took its toll on my legs and my second half of the run was not as good as my first half.
I was about 90 seconds down on Tom with about one kilometer to go and there was quite a significant gap behind me. The finish is brutal as it has a sharp 200m hill about 800m before the finish. The crowd was huge and cheering like cray being the finishing shoot. I was embarrassed at the final sharp hill before the finish as both of my hamstrings cramped making stop for a minute. I listened to my nutritionist Darryl from Shotz before the race with the nutrition I should have with me for the race but with the cool conditions I just didn’t drink enough and I feel like this was partly why I suffered in the second half and hence the cramps right at the end. I had to stop and stretch with in sight of the finish and in front of a large crowd, definitely not ideal. I wanted to hide under a rock but once the hamstrings relaxed I was able to cruise into the finish. I ended up 4th and was semi happy with the race. I know I have the ability to race better and will work closely with my coach on pacing and strength over the longer distance. I definitely think I need to start racing with a watch on the run to be able to monitor my pacing.
As for now I get to have a weekend at home in Boulder before heading off to Interbike and then Tempe Arizona for a Lifetime series race the following weekend. The end of the season is not too far away with just the final three Lifetime Series races to go, I am feeling mentally fresh and ready to go and I cam excited to finish the year off strongly.