Dean’s 2017 Masters Track Worlds Part 1 – 3k Individual Pursuit Report
I focused all my late season training around this event, and was hitting best ever power numbers so was really looking forward to it. I knew the competition would be faster than ever. Rob West was traveling over from the UK. I beat him in the final last year but he’s racing at a higher level this year and would be fast. Matt Gates, my team pursuit teammate later this week, has been flying this season winning every event he entered at track nationals and clearly on the form to win the world title too. Matt posted a 3:26 time in the heat just before my final heat with Rob, which is a very fast time for this track and would take my best form to contest. I’d set my schedule on matching or bettering that time just in case Rob went even faster on the other side of the track. The top 2 times would race again in the gold final later that night.
I paced the first few laps well and then things went badly. I couldn’t hold the splits and quickly backed off to a pace I felt I could hold to the finish. I fell off that pace and found myself really suffering as I tried to hold any pace I could until the end. The last few laps were a blur as I hit bumpers, slowed further, and just hoped that perhaps Rob was having an off day on the other side of the track – which he was. I finished a high 3:29, barely one second ahead of Rob so I’d still race the final. The next few hours were tough. It’s amazing how quickly doubt creeps in and you question everything. I was relieved to be in the final, but was distressed about why my power and form were off. I tried to get away, catch a nap in the car, and then gear up for the final and hope my legs were there.
This is the first year the masters worlds have been held in the United States, but being in Los Angeles my final was held around midnight EST which also played with my mind. I went through my warm-up, set a pace where I hoped Matt would slow a couple seconds and perhaps my legs would be there to contest the win. I’ll fast forward to the end – they weren’t. I suffered through the final still going as fast as I could, yet finished well behind. Matt rolled a 3:29 for a convincing win, and I was 3:35. Jeromy Cottell upset Rob West in the Bronze final to give us an all-USA podium which was really nice. I celebrated on the podium and was relieved it was over and I had the silver medal.
In my experience most don’t want to hear excuses, but for those that have asked this report will answer how I felt this day and what the experience was like. At the end of the day Matt’s time was simply amazing and deserving of a convincing world title, but I now had to figure out what was wrong and get healthy for the team pursuit I’d race in 4 days. Some guys close to me found the courage to ask if I was OK. They had a nice way of phrasing it. I knew I wasn’t, but wasn’t certain why. Hindsight says I was fighting something this day. I got off the plane and slept all afternoon the day before – which I wrote off for my early wake-up and long travel day. I left a house with two sick family members at home. When I spent all day Tuesday in the hotel bed the day after my race I became convinced something was wrong. I did a track session on Wednesday to shake things out, feeling a little better, and then Thursday we’d do some team pursuit practice where I felt more like my old self, but still had some lingering doubt. I looked forward to the team pursuit on Friday!