Monday, September 8, 2014

ITU Worlds recap

Now that the exhilaration and excitement from Worlds has finally worn off, it's time to sit down and dust off the cobwebs from the ol' blog! Things got away from me this summer a bit and unfortunately blogging got pushed out for other priorities.  Like training!

After Chinook, I put in some really solid and consistent training blocks in the remainder of June, July and August.  The main focus was to do well at both Worlds and Ironman, which are 3 weeks apart.  It is definitely challenging to design and schedule a training program to be able to peak for an Olympic distance race and then 3 weeks later an Ironman.  Heading into Worlds, I was a little worried I hadn't done enough speed training with all of the big volume stuff I had done preparing for the IM.

The Grand Final weekend was absolutely amazing and everything I could have imagined.  The atmosphere was simply magical and it was such an honour to be able to compete in an event of this magnitude in my backyard, with tons of friends and people I knew racing as well.  The organizers and volunteers did a phenomenal job and should be commended for their long and tireless hours spent preparing for the races.  It was really awesome knowing so many of the volunteers at the registration, the welcoming dinner, during the races, and at the closing dinner.  Simply amazing!

Since the age group standard race was on Monday, I spent the days leading up to it on my feet at the other races.  Friday was the age group sprint race and I had some athletes racing so I was there cheering and providing support.  On Saturday I made my way to the venue so I could take in the Women's Elite race, which was very exciting.  By Saturday evening I was feeling really tired and my legs were actually sore from all the standing around and walking I'd been doing.  I decided to just drop my bike off at transition first thing on Sunday morning, squeezed in a 30min jog on the trails near Hawrelak, then came home and sat on the couch the rest of the day, really needing the rest.

Race morning was pretty chilly, about 8C.  I got my transition set up quickly as it closed at 7am, and as my wave was starting at 7:56am, I made my way over to the swim check in and got my wetsuit on.  We had to report to check in 30min before the start, then get shuttled through the corrals to await our start.

I'd practiced some starts from the pontoon on Thursday during the age group swim practice time and lined up right on the number I had planned - #55, which was a clear line to the first buoy.  The lake was actually beautiful this year, they spent a lot of money cleaning it up and getting it ready for this event and it really showed.  When the horn went off, I had a strong start and immediately had clear water, with nobody touching me.  Women's-only starts are so much more civilized than men's!!

One girl got off ahead of me and I was unable to match her pace.  I swam in 2nd for the remainder of the 2-loop swim, feeling very strong and comfortable in the water.  There were a lot of people to swim through from the previous 2 waves (they started at 7:50 and 7:53), but this didn't slow me down too much.  I guess I was towing another girl around for the swim and she came by me during the last 200m and exited the water 2 sec in front of me.  My swim time ended up at 20:36 so a little over 30 sec off of where I should be.  During the long run to transition, I passed the girl who came out ahead of me in the swim, had a smooth T1, and got onto my bike in 2nd.

I loved the bike course!  It was changed a bit from last year, now 2 loops (down from 4).  I felt I was riding strong on the first loop, passing a bunch of girls from previous waves, and leapfrogging with one or two - eventually leaving them behind.  I may have slowed down a bit on the 2nd loop, as at one point I realized I wasn't really even breathing that hard and heart rate didn't feel very high, so I had to kick it up another gear and get my ass moving!  It wasn't congested at all, and other than several guys passing me, I rode entirely on my own.  It was nice to see a bunch of draft marshals out on motorcycles handing out penalties, keeping things fair.  I don't think I was passed by any girls during the bike leg.  Bike time was 1:04.57.

It wasn't until I came into transition and racked my bike that I realized I was freezing!  My hands were numb and I couldn't undo my helmet strap as I couldn't feel it! It finally came off and at the same time I was having issues stuffing my frozen, numb feet into my flats.  Once my shoes were on, I started off pretty fast and wasn't feeling too bad.

It was difficult to know who was in what age group so any time I was passed by a girl I had no idea how old they were.  I just focused on the task at hand and ran as hard as I could, just me against myself.  The new run course is awesome.  Half of it is on a dirt trail and the other half on the pavement.  I had a small twinge of worry during the first 5km as I was going really hard and didn't want to blow up, but my mind quieted this thought, instead thinking: 'This is Worlds, you have to take some risks and not be conservative, see what you can do!'.  I felt strong but it was a really hard effort and once back onto the paved portion I could hear all the cheers and people calling my name and it was the best part of the race.  I didn't look over at anyone, just tried to keep my laser focus and every time I heard my name I tried to figure out whose voice it was.

I probably slowed a bit during lap 2 as I got one of those sharp stitches in the upper trapezius muscle that takes your breath away.  It dissipated after a bit and I was able to push the pace again.  I remember  a girl from Mexico went blazing by me around the 6 or 7km mark, turns out she was in my AG.  Some Swiss girl passed me in the last 500m, and she was in my AG as well.  As I rounded the last curve before the final turn to the finish chute, I heard so many cheers and familiar people and this is what got me to the finish.  That last 200m I was in so much pain but pushed it to the very end and was so happy to come across that line!  And I ran a PB in the run - 43:40!!

The best part was after the race in the recovery area, as Geoff, my dad and brothers, friends, and more friends were all there and it was wonderful to see them.  I had no idea of my time or placing at that point but was pretty sure I'd gotten a top 10.  The results were posted pretty quickly, about 15 minutes later and I was ecstatic to find out I'd finished in 2:14.24, 5th in W30-34, and top Canadian in my AG!!

I'm thrilled with this result, and with a solid race overall.  My goals coming into this event were to beat my time from last year (2:16 - even though the course is different), and to get a top 10 in my AG.  To come out with a top 5 is awesome.  My super-secret goal was to get a podium, and it turns out I was only 1 minute out of 3rd place.  I got passed by 3 girls in my AG on the run, which a few years ago would have been 10 or even 15 in a race of this calibre.  And there's still a lot of room for improvement!

Now, to switch gears and get ready for the one of the most challenging Ironman's on the circuit in 2 weeks... IM Lake Tahoe, here I come!!!

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