France Triathlon Nationals, Nice – Week #6.1

I came back from Nice a mere 24 hours ago and now I can say it : My first season as a triathlete is a wrap 🙂

But before moving on the analysis, the goodbyes, the predictions and the tears, you’re allowed a full report from this last month of September.

First, I had to recharge fully because insomnia and a tooth ache were enough to steal my Olympic shape. But after a week healing…and most especially being patient, I came back to full operative mode…mostly thanks to one factor.

It is paradoxical because it’s during one night that, unable to sleep, I surfed the web and found an article on the importance of sleep for athletes. There, I read that Roger Federer and Lebron James claim “sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day”!!!!! Usain Bolt and also Jarrod Schumacher, an American triathlete, mention how sleeping is an important part of their training.

In fact, the number of hours I sleep is one of the paradox of my life. Because if I accomplished so many things and traveled to so many places, it’s certainly because I don’t sleep much and that when my body is tired, I refuse to let it sleep and tell myself that if I really want something, I need to work some more.

Eric Thomas says that successful people wake up at 3am. Robin Sharma says waking up at 5am is the best habit you can build. Arnold Schwarzenegger says with humour that “if you need 8 hours of sleep, sleep for 6 hours and sleep faster!!!” 😉

Therefore ever since the beginning of my 30’s, on of my belief is less sleep = more success.

And considering what I accomplished these last few years, it’s hard to say such moto is wrong.

But apparently…apparently…apparently…to become a high-level athlete is not the same thing as to become a successful businessman.

So thanks to Roger and Lebron’s words, I decided to take my sleep seriously. Indeed, ever since that last sleepless night, I now tell myself, when I go to bed: “Greg, to sleep is your 4th work out of the day, so sleep now…and do it well!!”

Of course I don’t set my alarm clock anymore. But in reality I try to go to bed as early as possible (around 9pm) and wake up between 6 and 7am, so that gives me good 9 to 10 hours of sleep per nights. Now, I also consider a nap to be mandatory. I know my body and the fact that between 3 and 5pm is a down time for me. So never mind if I am tired or not, I go to bed, closes my eyes and usually sleep for 30 to 45 minutes.

During this month of September, I tracked my sleeping hours. At the end of week #1, I realized I slept an average of 7 hours per 24 hours (nap included) and that the quality of my work outs was ok but not great.

However, after reading this article, I spent week #2, #3 and #4, until the Nationals, sleeping more than 9h on average per 24 hours. Without any coincidence, I spent that time in the zone. More energy. More efficacy. Better sleep. Better diet…and lost weights more easily.

What better moment than to be in the zone, just before the most important race of your season, uh?

Here is what this training month looked like, taper included:

 

SWIM BIKE RUN OVERALL
6.1 – Nice 2h36 – 7,1k 4h14 – 85k 1h40 – 16,4k 8h30 – 108k
5.4 – Taper 7h09 – 18,4k 8h53 – 209k 4h05 – 42,8k 20h07 – 270k
5.3 4h59 – 14,6k 10h43 – 254k 3h56 –  41,5k 19h38 – 310k
5.2 6h18 – 16,2k 11h05 – 271k 4h32 – 48k 21h55 – 337k
5.1 3h12 – 7,8k 2h55 – 69k 3h18 – 32k 9h25 – 109k

Before the race

Please send with me the biggest shout out in the world to my friend Thomas who took me on his scooter, friday night after his work, to do the full bike course and who also woke up at 5:30am on Saturday morning to follow me and my bike on this same course, leading the way with his scooter, protecting me from the cars and warning me about the state of the road 🙂

During the race

The swim start was at 8am sharp. As usual, there’s no way for me to be elsewhere than on the first line, toes right at the tip of the blue carpet! 🙂

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It was the first time, probably due to the level of the race, that I felt such chaos, in the middle of all those swimmers. But I have a good news for France. Me, the sensitive guy who used to be shocked when in the pool, someone hit my toe, now I strictly don’t give a d***. Someone tries to climb on my legs? BOOM, I am giving a few kicks in his ears and I am gone. Someone in front of me is going too slow? No problem, I let myself slide on the side of him, uses one or two power strokes and in 2 seconds, I am 1 meter ahead.

My sensations are good and I know I am swimming good. I get out of the water. Run towards the transition area, look at the clock who just show 25′. Yes, I really had a good swim.

I got the bike course under my skin. With my buddy Thomas, we analyzed it and thought that during the 10k ascension, it’s at the beginning of that 1k uphill section at kilometre 7, that I should attack. I then speak tactic with my Coach who say: “Stay calm during the hill”. Amen 😉

About a hundred riders pass by me during that hill and each time I tell myself the same thing: “Stay calm, stay calm”.

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It’s only when I reach the summit that the masterpiece begins. I am going downhill like never before. If you compare with my piloting skills of 2 months ago, it’s even more impressive. I am on my bars flying in aerodynamic position. At each curve, I lean more and more and repeat the words of Robin Sharma: “Lean into your fear”. Each time I push on my pedals and see a number I’ve never seen before on my bike computer, I repeat myself: “Greg, your father was a pilot in the army. He used to pilot Fighters. For him, going Mach 1 was a joke. To pilot is in your blood, Greg!”.

At the end of the downhill, I get on the highway then go down in a tunnel. At one point, I am all alone with no one in front of me. All there is are the dim lights and with my sunglasses, my aerodynamic position on the aero bars, my 45k/h and my ultimate focus, I feel like I am in a video game. An amazing memory from that race.

I reach near the the transition area and I am way under 1h20. I know I biked well.

I start running but quickly realize I don’t have my usual energy, lightness and freshness. I am going forward but feel unable to recognize if I am going at a 40 or 38′ pace. But as always, while I run, I only have one thought: “No one passes by me!”.

In fact, despite the 3 litters of water I probably already lost…no one passes me. But after 4 kilometre, the inevitable happens. One guy with a black, white and red suit passes by me and steadily builds a 20m lead over me.

He doesn’t know it but I am now watching nothing but him. I forgot all the rest. I tell myself: “I am second of the race. The race is between him and I. When I run, no one passes by me!!!!”.

So I hold on and stay focus on my gait, my breathing…and his ass. During the next kilometres, I am catching up 10 meters on him, then loses 5m again. Suddenly, at kilometre 8, thanks to a miracle of recovery from my body, I am side by side with him.

I tell him: “Damn, you’re running well”.

He says: “Oh no, I am digging deep here”.

I reply: “Well then you’re good at digging”

He goes: “Well, after the next curve, I am gonna have to…”

And there I think I didn’t let him finish his sentence. I took the curve as close as possible. Sped up. Never saw him again. Sprinted to the finish.

When I run, no one passes by me!!!!

After the race

Here are now the official numbers from the race:

  • I finish in 2 hours 24 minutes and 00 second.
  • I finish 140th in the overall ranking.
  • I finish 25th in my age-group.
  • I swim the 1500m in 24’17 (10th best time in my age-group).
  • 9th best time in transition 1.
  • I rode the 36,5k in 1h12’29” (25th best time).
  • 10th best time during the 2nd transition.
  • I ran the 10k in 40’53” (19th best time).

The 2014 season is now over and yes, I am empty. I gave everything. But 2015 starts tonight as I will speak with my Coach. Yes, yes, promise you’ll know about it.

One thing is for sure. Next year is going to be a season from another planet in terms of excitement. Yesterday, during the drive back home, my Coach texted me: “Next year, you will be National champ in your age group”.

Believe in your dream. The only failure is to do nothing. The only failure is to have regrets or to realize in 1 year that you’re still at the same level. Today, I read a word file I wrote in 2013 where I mentioned my goals for the 2014 triathlon season. I wanted this and I wanted that. Well you know what? I didn’t achieve anything. Not one thing. Nevertheless the athlete/person I became is the greatest success of my life and the life path I am currently on, despite the ups and downs, could not be more exciting.

Choose the direction that makes you dream and go forward. It’s all that matters.

Peace.

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