Posted by Mat Steinmetz
When a race doesn’t go as planned, I think it’s important to try and learn from the experience. Post-race analysis is the best way to move forward and make those small changes to the program that will lead to improved performance on race day. I’m always self-conscious that I’m making excuses, but when an athlete doesn’t match or perform as they had in training or previous races, you have to hope that you can find the reason (excuse).
Every athlete shows up in Kona in great shape. There are usually a handful of athletes that are capable of winning on the day. The athlete that wins is usually the athlete that executes and manages the race the best. Craig didn’t have the race he had hoped for, but hung in there and made it to the finish. To win Kona, you have to be firing on all cylinders. Craig’s fitness was the same or better than it was for his record breaking performance in 2011, but it didn’t show on race day.
Craig had been suffering from a tight back that flared up a few weeks before Vegas. To make matters worse, he was allergic to the prescribed topical anti-inflammatory used to treat the injury. This caused a nasty bout of dermatitis that hung around for several weeks including the 70.3 WC. Although, extremely uncomfortable, Craig managed to race in Vegas and pull out a great performance.
During the travel over to Kona, as it usually does, Craig’s back and neck started to stiffen up on him. Unfortunately on race day his back was problematic and during the later portions of the ride he struggled to stay in the aero position. There is no way that you can hang with triathlon’s elite when you’re in pain and not in the aero position. Craig lost valuable time, but still kept his head knowing that he could run himself onto the podium with a great marathon. Unfolding himself off the bike, his back was still stiff, but he did his best and made up a few spots during the run. Craig told me after the race that he wanted to finish for all the people that supported him all year long.
Anytime you’ve won this race and show up with the fitness to win again, anything less is a bit disappointing. I’m not sure what Craig will decide to do in the future. He’d be racing Kona at age 40 next year, but after watching the performances this year; he still has the ability to win this race.