Finishing eighth in the world is most definitely something to be happy about. While I admit that I had hoped for a better result, I still had a fantastic day. Just seven other women also had faster days.
The days leading up to race day ended up being busier than I had wanted, but it also helped keep my mind off everything. I think the question I was asked the most by everyone was “Do you feel extra pressure racing in your hometown?” The answer is no. I personally put extra pressure on myself, but I love racing at home. I don’t look at it as pressure, but rather a GIANT support crew. So thank you everyone for your support!
It was so awesome to see all the different athletes from around the world, and I really enjoyed all the different events going on all week. The whole week long event was organized very well, and it was so nice to have the buzz of so many athletes back in town. Saturday morning was spent down at the kid’s triathlon with Nixon. This was his first triathlon and he loved it! Too bad our race wasn’t that short!!
Back to my race and race prep. We all know I competed in Ironman Canada just four weeks prior, running away with a second place finish. My recovery went well with my swim and biking coming back quite quickly. My running legs however just didn’t want to come around. I knew the race was going to be hard just based on the field, and now I was worried about the run. I have felt like this in the past going into races, so I told myself my legs would come back on race day. I was doing everything I could do: extra sleep, rolling, proper nutrition and recovery, fulfilling training sessions exactly the way I should. So at the end of the day, I would just have to deal with how I felt during the race.
One thing I will touch on before I recap my race is hydration and heat. I have never performed well in the past in super-hot conditions. However, this year, I have been totally good! What have I done differently? I spent some time this winter doing some “sweat loss” measuring, and discovered I had an average sweat rate of 2 pounds an hour. I was not replacing anywhere near this amount while racing, which is why I felt so crappy hitting the marathon in an Ironman. I have adjusted my fluid and electrolyte intake from one bottle and hour to 1.5-2 and hour. I have also been super diligent starting 3 days before any race to hydrate properly. F2C has a great product called Hydra-Durance which has a ton of electrolytes in it. I will drink 4-5 bottles a day for 2-3 days before the race. In addition to water. I have found that this “pre-hydrating” has helped a ton!!
Race day morning was good. I knew so many people in transition, so conversation and well wishes to eachother kept the atmosphere light. I got my head in a “fun” place. I headed down to swim start, where we all lined up in numerical order. It was a beach start….not one that I am good at (usually brings on a panic attack), but we didn’t have a choice. When the gun went off, it was a sprint of running and dolphin diving to get into deep enough water. I could feel my heartrate skyrocket, but was able to control myself and get in some feel right away. As we made our way out, I realized that I was at the back end of a good size pack of girls. I couldn’t see anyone way out in front, so my hopes were high that I was in a good position. I figured at this level, there couldn’t be that many “slower” swimmers like myself. I had the worst swim of my life last year, and there was no way I was going to have a repeat of that! I was able to stay on these feet at a pretty comfortable pace until the last 5 min or so. I was blinded by the sun and lost the feet. At this point, I was so close to shore that I decided that it was worth it to exhaust all that energy trying to sprint to keep up. I exited the water in 45min….7min faster than last year! I was so happy, but when I ran around to the bike rack, I knew there was a lot of work to be done.
The out and back section of the bike out to Trout creek is an excellent opportunity to see where I was sitting. I wasn’t too far back from a group of girls, but still quite a ways from first. We made our way back to Penticton where I caught a couple girls, and then back out around Skaha Lake. The splits I was getting were pretty much the same at every point. I was getting frustrated. I was sticking to the numbers I needed to, and I know the bike is my strength, but I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm and couldn’t get comfortable on my bike. I just tried to shut it out, take in my nutrition, hydrate properly, and do what I could. I did not make the gains that I wanted to on the bike, but still biked faster than last year. I think I was third or fourth fastest this year, and only by 2-3min. I know I am capable of better though.
After only passing two women on the bike, my hopes of getting up into the top on the run were starting to look slim. I felt surprisingly good (not wonderful, but good) heading out on the run. At the first turn around, I saw that I was fairly close to 3 or 4 women, with another two hot on my tail. The first loop (10km) was good. I ran at the pace I wanted to…. But nowhere near what the top couple girls were running. I heard I was in 8th or 9th as I headed out on loop two…. Also not where I wanted to be. I managed to catch one girl, but at each turn around, the two behind me were not any farther away! The third loop was painful. At this point, my legs were screaming at me, reminding me that I just did an Ironman. I had 1 or 2 girls in front that I could still possibly catch, but my legs just couldn’t go. With only 3km left, I knew I wouldn’t move up in placing, but now my job was to fend off the 2 behind me. I came in eighth, and got to cross the line proudly holding the Canadian Flag.
I honestly had high hopes of top 5, and was really hoping to push top 3, but those girls proved to be much faster than me. I have made some huge gains this year, and I need to be happy with that, however, this race just showed me what it takes to be top in the world. My swim has improved immensely in the last two months, and my biking continues to be strong. My run proved to be strong enough today to not have anyone pass me (yay!), but still nowhere near as strong or fast as those top women.
I am off to Chattanooga to race in the 70.3 World Championship in just 8 days. This will be an amazing experience for me. While my legs will still be tired, I will do my best (and at least the distances keep getting shorter from race to race). I know I can lay it all out there next weekend….and I will. Racing two World Championships in two weeks will be hard, but at least I have a break after Chattanooga. My reasoning for going to Chattanooga is to get a head start on Kona Points for next year. My long term goal is to be there in 2018, so now is the time to get a leg up on those points!
Thank you to all my sponsors and supporters: Skechers Performance Canada, EnergyLab, Swagman Racks, F2C Nutrition, The Bike Barn, BlueSeventy, Nuvista Chiropractic and Wellness, Zizu Optics, and of course JonnyOCoaching.