2017 ITU World Duathlon Championships!

24 Aug

The ITU multi-sport festival landed in Penticton Canada for 2017 and hosting a week of World Championships races! It kicked off with Sprint distance Duathlon and will end this coming weekend with Long Distance Triathlon.
If you have never been to British Columbia and especially the Penticton (Okanagen Valley) area you must visit!! It’s simply beautiful and well pretty much the most amazing place I have raced or vacationed!

2016 USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships was the qualifying race for this event, and I had one of my best races there that year as I won the National title for the Male 40-44 race and was the 2nd overall Master that year. So 2017 ITU Worlds were my goal race of this season! This was the race I focused on all year, and trained myself to peak at! However this all went south when the Wednesday morning before I flew out west to Canada I tweaked my hamstring running a simple 400 at 85% effort level on a track. I can’t explain what happened other than just the Saturday before I had been in Omaha and raced USA Triathlon Nationals had a solid race qualifying for Team USA in Triathlon for 2018 in Aussie land! Felt great early in the week but when I rounded the last corner of the track that morning a sharp zinger shot down my leg and I knew something was wrong! I stretched, iced did all the recovery things I could think of but no way I could get it lose again to run. UGH!!! Once I arrived in Penticton on Friday afternoon I went straight to the Team USA massage room and had our massage therapist start working on me, she worked hard to loosen things up and could feel the tight ball and strain in my hamstring. The next morning I got up to run a little and bike some, I was able to run 2 slow miles with tightness and some pain then I came back to the Team Hotel and got treatment from the Team USA chiropractor she really worked on my low back as often times things like this stem from low back and a chain of pulling things out of whack. Sunday morning came and up again to go run and see how things felt. The night before I soaked in Epson salts, and did my stretches as the chiro instructed me to. This morning I squeaked out 3.5 miles again in pain with tightness and not fast. Then I went on the Team USA course familiarization bike ride. (biking did not bother me too much it was the run motion, the pressure and strain of running and trying to open up a stride into a race pace) after the bike ride was another trip to the team chiro and more treatment this time she taped me all up with Rock tape so I could try and get through the race the next morning.

Monday August 21st, race morning!! It was go time! I woke up full of excitement and nerves! It was World Championships! It was the best in the world toeing the line chasing a spot on the podium and some bragging rights! I was optimistic about my hamstring that morning even though during warm-ups I could feel the tightness and dull pain that was very local in one area of the hammy. But this was World Championships and no amount of pain was going to stop me! We all loaded the start corral and I visited with athletes from the other countries and kept things light giving cheers to everyone! When the gun went off and race started I eased into my pace and did not just drop the hammer, but I also was trying to run a good tempo. The first run of this race was 10 kilometers and was broken into a 4 lap course. So lap one went OK I was holding a 5:45 pace effort and really felt relaxed breathing wise but I could feel the tightness in my hammy, as we started lap two of this 10k run boom! My hammy sent a zinger of sharp pain down it and I screamed! It sent me into a spasm and bit of a stop as I grabbed my hammy, but again this was World Championships and nothing was stopping me from crossing the finish line that day. So as my pace slowed to manage the pain and find a stride I could run with I kept screaming in pain at times but I kept fighting. I pushed through 3 more laps of that run to complete the 10k and get to my bike! I got on my bike had a decent transition not a fast one cause my run motion was hampered. But once I was on that bike it was game on and I rode like hell! Pushing my limits, and working hard to chase people down was what I was doing the course was fast! With a gradual accent going out to the turn around and a gradual decent coming back. The bike is a 40k total distance broken into 2 20k laps. It had a really slow and tricky little turn around section but overall I just rode hard! Average 24.8 MPH for the 40k and now came the final phase of this race the 5k run!!
When I dismounted my bike my legs screamed!! The hamstring was so locked up and cramped and did not want to run with my bike through transition. But I endured the pain, I suffered and I kept running and out onto the 5k course I went pushing my limits and going for that finish line. Each step of that 5k was pure torture and some of the most pain I had ever ran in. But again this was the ITU World Championships and I was representing Team USA!! So I had to go I had to run and push and fight for every place in the standings I could climb. When I crossed that finish line I pretty much collapsed and needed assistance as my legs just locked up and hurt like hell!
When the dust settled and results were posted I ended up 12th in the world and was the first American in my division! This was a far cry from my goal but I felt a sense of pride as I knew I laid it all on the line that day and that I competed with the most guts and heart I ever had! I had endured loads of pain but mentally stayed strong and in the game chasing that finish line! I never quit, never gave up and never backed off no matter how much it hurt and that I’m very proud of! Sure the next day when I really looked at the results I was very sad as I saw the bronze medal winner times and I was easily capable of that had I been healthy! But that’s how it goes somedays, somedays the victory is not in the podium it’s in the battle we overcame to cross the finish line! It’s the mental battle that goes on in our head when things go south and we must overcome adversity that becomes the true victory! As a coach, as an athlete and as the father of an athlete all I wanted to do that day was inspire others! Show courage and fight and a will to persevere when the pain set in and things got really, really hard!

2017 ITU World Championships did not end with me on the podium as I dreamed but they ended teaching me that I can overcome some serious dark moments and that I can endure a lot of pain! They taught me how to mentally stay positive and fight and it was some of the most fun racing I have ever had! Such a world class event, in a world class city that allowed my wife and I to have an amazing vacation! So 3rd place or 12th place or whatever place you might finish does not always matter just find the pride in the finish line, find the strength to fight and overcome tough times and keep pushing! Congrats to all the amazing athletes who toed the line that day gave all they had and crossed that finish line! You are all simply amazing and inspiring!

Thanks to USA Triathlon and the TEAM USA staff! From the team managers, to the bike mechanics, to the massage and chiro staff that worked on me daily! They all made this experience top notch! Thanks to the beautiful city of Penticton for hosting and putting on a world class event! You have a beautiful city and I can’t wait to come back!

Thanks to my super amazing friends that train with me and help push me to be the best I can be!
And especially a huge thanks to my wife Shannon! and all she does supporting me as I chase my goals and dreams! SW you are the best!
Cheers to all the new wonderful friendships I made with fellow Team USA athletes and ones from other countries!

2017 ITU World’s hurt a lot but also brought so many smiles and so much joy!

Coach MB “Mike Buenting”BC2017 Team USA


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