Trismarter Athlete Louis Tafuto’s Marlborough Triathlon Race Report

The following race report was written by Trismarter client Louis Tafuto. Louis has been working with Trismarter coach Lee Gardner since September of 2010 to refine his training and racing. In 2010, Louis qualified to represent Team USA in Bejing, China in the 2011 World Championships at the Sprint distance. Louis and Lee are working closely together this year and beyond to help Louis realize his life-long goals of racing in the Marlborough Triathlon and chance to earn a position on the New Jersey State Triathlon.

A performance on race day is the culmination months (even years) of hard work. While recounting everything that went into my performance at the Marlborough Triathlon in Marlborough, Massachusetts on July 10, 2011, is not realistic here, I will start with race week, and share my race performance.

I approached this race with only a slight taper towards the end of the week. My coach, Lee Gardner and I decided that this was best considering that I am also racing the New Jersey State Triathlon two weeks later, which is of higher priority for me. Here is what my taper consisted of:

  • Wednesday evening was 10×200 regressions starting at 38 seconds and working down to 30 seconds on the last one. It felt good to stride my legs out and mentally I was feeling good.
  • Thursday morning I had an up-tempo bike ride. 30 min warm up, at an easy pace, 30 min with my heart rate at 165 avg, and a 45 min easy warm down. Another Solid workout in the books.
  • Friday I laid back and did a 20 min shake-out run with a few strides to finish off.
  • Saturday I traveled to the race. My initial reaction was my familiar feeling of excitement. I rode one loop of the 3 looped bike course. I took note of possible trouble spots for the next day’s race. This included Steep climbs, hair-pinned turns, and to cap it off, speed bumps, like the ones in a parking lot. While riding I thought of possible spots to make a break-away or spots to gather my strength. After my workout I checked into my hotel, had some dinner and called it a day.
Louis chatting with Jarrod Shoemaker

Louis chatting with Jarrod Shoemaker

Race day morning I was up at 6 doing my usual shake-out before I got to the race to warm up. Legs were feeling good, which is always a good sign. I started to set up transition and take in the atmosphere. I noticed that USA Olympian,New Jersey State Triathlon was jumping in the swim with us, and I got excited. One of my long term goals has been to race amongst the triathlon greats, and to be given the opportunity to race with an Olympian in my first draft-legal elite race was such an honor!

The gun goes off and we are on our way! I spot the first buoy, and find my line. I notice that about 100 meters into the swim, I’m still with Jarrod. Wow! I was stoked! I had an overwhelming feeling of relief, knowing that all the swim workouts I’ve been doing were paying off. After 300, meters Jarrod begins to pull away, and I make an attempt to tuck in on his feet. I struggled to hang on, swimming with everything I could muster! I ended up coming out of the water 30 seconds ahead of him.

When I got out of the water, I had no idea what my split was. I saw the three guys who came out of the water ahead of me still in transition, so I rushed to T1 and my bike to try to catch them.

We started the bike on a climb, which felt challenging. I kept thinking, “Man, I shouldn’t have kicked so much on the swim!.” My legs where feeling a little tired already. I got to the top of the hill, and maneuvered the first hair-pinned turn, no problem. The whole first loop I sat back to refuel myself from the swim, and to ready myself for a chase. The second and third loop I was playing catch up, but I was confident that I wasn’t going to loose too much ground on the field ahead of me. My attack spots were perfect, I surged and dropped anyone who was sticking to me at the end of the previous loops.

Before I knew it, I was blazing off the bike and into T2. I said to myself, “Okay, time to work,” and I took off strong out onto the run course.

Louis on the run

Louis on the run

It sounds silly to say, but training really works! I had muscle memory from all the brick workouts I had been doing, and the 5:20 (minutes per mile) pace I started off with didn’t seem that severe. I turned the corner and hit the first hill. I didn’t think that I was slowing up because I could see that I was closing on two people that had a 3 minute advantage over me coming out of T2, so i didn’t think anything of it. It turns out though that the hills did slow me down a bit. I ran every down hill and flat perfect, not one person passed me on the run, and overall, I felt good. I crossed the finish line in 7th place.

Because I don’t wear a watch when I race I had no idea what any of my splits were. My dad, who traveled with me, gave me the splits. 5:50 for the swim. I felt that was a strong pace. On the bike I was aware of pacing because I had a cyclometer. I finished in 40:38, which is a 22.2 mph average. It wasn’t what I was hoping to do. I had ridden faster in workouts. This was my best effort on this day, but not up to the level of performance I know I can do. My run ended up being a 19:57 for a 3.3 mile course. I had a hard time accepting this news. I’m a runner by nature, and feel I should have run much better than I did. While my legs said one thing, my head wasn’t in the mix, and I believe that this caused my performance to suffer. The final results of the race are posted here.

After reflecting on the events in this race, I believe that the biggest limiter was my mental preparation. I had not prepared myself to dig deep when it counts, and thus I am left feeling that I under performed in this race. My new primary focus in training has to be my mental preparation. On paper and during my workouts, I’m an athlete who can finish a sprint distance race in under 55 minutes. I need to make this a reality! I have to sit and clear my thoughts, and prepare for the races that lie ahead. I have a great support system with my family and coach. It’s time to reflect on how to tap into the strength and endurance that my training has prepared me to do. I’m looking forward to the NJ State Triathlon, and plan to arrive in Hamilton Township even better prepared!
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