Tag nico lebrun

Strengths and Weaknesses

So if you checked out the schedule page on my site, you’ll see that I’ve already listed XTERRA World Champs as a DNS (did not start). I’m not injured, sick, or incapable of racing in any way, I’ve just decided not to race. My trip around the world really taught me one thing – Know your strengths and your weaknesses. And with this in mind, I decided not to race the world champs. Let me explain…

I love riding my mountain bike. Ripping through the forest at 20 miles an hour, coming within inches of a bone breaking tree, while hopping over a rock and skirting by a precarious drop that could possibly be career ending, puts a big smile on my face. Riding up to a new section of trail and having the confidence to dive in head first is something I look forward to every time I air up the knobby tires. The same goes for the run. The move I have to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge, the better. I like a technical challenge. I like going fast over formidable terrain. I enjoy those aspects of a race and thus they have become my strengths.

As I started the 6 races in 6 weeks in 6 countries, I only had prior experience on one of the courses (XTERRA Forest Drive in South Dakota). I had no idea what to expect at any of the other races. As the trip progressed, I raced on single track, double track, lots of climbing, primarily flat, extremely muddy, technical beyond belief, and more, during both the bike and the run. Whenever there was something technical, I moved up and my strengths shined. Anytime we were pretty much racing on a dirt road (technically thats considered off road), I was struggling to hold pace. I realized that in this point of my triathlon career, I’m not one of the fastest guy out there… on certain terrain. On dirt roads and flat trails, I still need to improve. A lot.

Guys who I could put 30 seconds into on a 2 minute downhill on the bike, could pop me like a festering zit on a flat road or smooth climb. Other guys who could smoke me on a lakeside gravel path, would just hear my goofy laugh as I hurdled a log, leaped into a gully, and monkeyed my way through a dense jungle past them.

The XTERRA USA Champs was the culmination of my revolution about my strengths and weaknesses. In the continental US, this is the biggest race of the year. All the top guys are out in top form (including Lance Armstrong). I went into the race quite excited, ready to show what I had, and improve on last years 9th place. That was until I pre rode the bike course. The city of Ogden had gone in this past summer and plowed down the trails. It went from narrow, rocky, rooty, somewhat technical single track to a “nearly paved” 3 foot wide pathway. I was devastated. Technical skills were only required on about 20% of the entire ride. That meant the area where I could really shine, was only about 15 minutes long. Bummer. I had the best race on the day that I could, but on that type of course, it just wasn’t fast enough. I worked my way up to 8th off the bike, but had pushed just to hard trying to ride like the guys in front of me. My legs were toast and I had a lackluster run, crossing the line in 11th place.

But fret not! If you know me, you know I am not one to dwell on the negative forever. I’m looking at this realization and learning from it. Race my strengths, train my weaknesses. So after a good chat with the coach, we decided that for the time being, until my weaknesses are no longer my weaknesses, I will choose my races wisely. I am a professional triathlete and thus this is my career. If I make poor business decisions, the company could fail. I’m not going to let that happen. So until I can swim 1 day a week like Craig Evans and still lead out a swim, or put out 400 watts for over an hour like Conrad Stoltz, or run like the wind like Frenchman Nico Lebrun, I’m going to pick and choose my races wisely, playing to my strengths.

So when you see me racing an XTERRA this coming season, you know its gonna be a challenging, technical, fun, knee slapping good time!