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ROAD2DAYTONA by Justin (Knasty) Knasel

Posted on December 18, 2020 at 11:20 AM

ROAD2DAYTONA (lets gooooo)

2020 has been the first time in around 10 years that I have only raced once. This year, even though marked with uncertainty, was one of the most successful years I have had. Thanks to Eric, I have had the most consistent and productive training seasons ever. This I believe, came down to three things I learned this season.

To appreciate, enjoy training, and trust the process

This year while the pools were closed, I truly did miss them, even though after three months of the pools being closed, and taking a month to return to decent swim shape, I made sure that every time I went to the pool it was a quality session. Throughout the season, I learned to enjoy each session that I could, I would explore new routes, go trail run, gravel ride and mountain bike, small changes to the routine made a big difference in sometimes getting out the door. I learned to set benchmarks during my assigned sessions while staying inside my zones, and this let me gauge my improvements throughout the season while not having to race.

Go easy

Before, I would always try to push my recovery workouts harder than I should, and this led to not being able to properly push myself on big training days. This year, I finally learned that going easy is good, and that going easy is required.

Get the fuel in

I never would consume the right amount of fuel while training, and this led to nutrition deficits when I would race because I would never train with the right amount of nutrition. When the time finally came, I believed in my fueling process


When it was finally time to race in December after patiently waiting all season and biding my time, I felt very confident in my training, as well as excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be racing at Challenge Daytona.

Another way that I improved my training this season was training with a sports psychologist, this made sure that I was confident in my training, and that when it was time to race, my mental game was locked in. As soon as I got to the Daytona start line, I was mentally dialed in and ready to race. I knew that when it was time to race, it was going to be a great freaking day. During the race, I made sure to focus only on what I was doing, this was my own race, and not anyone else’s race. Having this mindset allowed me to not worry about if someone passed me on the bike or in transition, or if I saw people drafting too much. I had been training well this year, so holding wattage on the bike was not an issue, it felt like a comfortable racepace, and knew that if I just stayed consistent and nothing else happened I was going to have a great run. However, I have raced three half distance triathlons before, I was never able to finish the race strong. But, in Daytona, mentally I was locked into the race and feeling confident, so I just got my shoes on, grabbed some gels and started running.

One thing I was not anticipating was how fast and smooth I felt, and the pace was faster than I had even written down for my “A” split. But, I was picking off people that passed me on the bike, I was feeling good, but I also remember if that the pace ever started to feel too strong, dial it back and finish the race, I had the best race up to this point, and I wanted to make sure to finish the race well. As I reached mile 10 during the run, I could start to feel the presence of the cramp, so I brought my pace back a bit, just to make sure I finished the race well enough.

My post race emotions were all over the place, truthfully it was a huge accomplishment, and it was a mix of ecstasy, relief, the thrill of a great race all piled into one. Eric had coached me the whole season and without a doubt in his mind knew I could achieve a race like this, and I just need to execute.


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