Monday, June 27, 2011

Coteau du Lac Race Report

What a day yesterday! Where do I start? Well, I can say that my inexperience racing at this level on the ITU circuit was exposed yesterday when I made both a technical error, and then failed to make the proper tactical decision to get me back into "the game". I seem to enjoy learning the hard way, but at least I'm learning! The majority of girls that I race have raced triathlon at the Elite level since they were 14-15 years old, so they rarely make these kinds of mistakes anymore, and if they do, they know how to respond to them. One hard lesson that I learned yesterday was that if you are racing ITU, making "the Pack" is EVERYTHING! Your race seriously does depend on making the pack, otherwise you have a hole that is as big as an abyss to dig yourself out of. Let me start this race report from the beginning.
Kristina & I are all smiles before the race.

Pre-race game face.

Jogging to my starting position.

I went through athlete check-in prior to the race with absolutely no bumps in the road this time! My ITU uniform and bike passed the inspections with flying colours, so I got to find my transition spot (which had my name and country labelled on it!) and set up right away. After warming up on the bike and going for a run, it was time to head down to the pontoon for the swim warm up. Despite the cold water, I opted not to warm up in a wetsuit, because the feel of the water is completey different with the wetsuit on. I wanted to "feel" the water like I would in the race. As soon as the canal was closed for warm-up, we were marshalled and coralled in the order of our start ranking. I was number 14. Each of us were announced one by one, and we proceeded to jog down the stairs and out onto the starting pontoon to our selected start positions. Two minutes later, we "took our marks" and dove in! I felt like I had a very clean start and didn't get punched or kicked in the face (until much later in the swim). I knew going into the race that there would be a World Class contingent of swimmers in the field, so I was likely just going to have to fight to make the chase pack. I am so happy that I was able to do that this year! I was only 60-80s back from the leaders out of the water, which is a huge improvement from the 3 minutes or so that I was back last year. The swim times in general are really slow, but that is likely due to the current that we had to fight from the winds.

My run up the stairs from the swim and then into T1 was fine. I found myself among a nice chase pack of girls to get on the bike with, and I was looking forward to working with fellow competitor and friend, Kristina Schultz on the bike. As I ran up to the mount line with my bike, I didn't realize that the woman from Uruguay was two inches beside me. As I attempted my first ever flying bike mount in competition, we seemed to collide a little bit. It wasn't enough to knock me off my bike, but my pedals were pushed forward so that my bike shoe now got stuck on the ground. I tried to just pedal normally, but my shoe was complete jammed underneath the pedal into the ground, so I couldn't move forward at all. I had to stop and stride my bike and jiggle my shoe until it it came lose again so that I could get going! By this time, the girls that I came out of T1 with were rounding the first techical set of corners. I had just lost 30s for something so stupid, but that has never happend to me before. What I should have done then, was not worry about actually getting my feet into my shoes anymore, but I should have just time trialed it at 50Watts above my threshold for 2-3 minutes to catch the pack again, and then worried about getting my feet into the bike shoes once I was in the pack. Now I know, PACK ALWAYS COMES FIRST. ALWAYS. Obviously, I did NOT do that yesterday, and instead still attempted to get my feet in my shoes before attempting the first set of corners. I thought that I could reel the chase pack back in gradually, but with such windy conditions, and some amazing cyclists in that group pulling and working and creating a draft pack, I alone could not make up that gap. Even though I was working really hard by myself, and time trialing at a very high power output, I still lost about 3 minutes to the chase pack and about 2 to the lead pack. Drafting is so much more efficient than riding alone, and it can really help to save some of your legs for the run. I basically set myself up to be one hurting unit on the run! The good thing is that I had my highest power ouput over that 42.1km ride, and I know that I am at least as competent a cyclist as most of those girls out there, even though that result doesn't show it! I did have tons of people come up to me after the race saying how impressed they were that I rode alone in a race like this, since most people at least try and find one buddy! They recognized how hard I worked, and how easy it would have been for me to give up and drop out of the race after that mistake, because I just jeopardized having a great result.

The beloved chase pack I'm sadly not in.

So, by the time I got to the run, my legs were suffering pretty badly. If things had gone my way on the bike, and I got to rest my legs a bit in a draft pack, I felt that I could run sub 40 minutes. I'm not sure if the weather conditions would have allowed for it yesterday, but that was a goal that I had in mind for an ideal race situation. However, ITU racing is so unpredictable and just about anything could happen to change your day for the better, or worse. Yesterday, I didn't even bother looking at my watch to check run splits. I just needed to survive. I ran 43 minutes & change, which in hindsight, actually isn't so bad for a complete blow up after the bike. I was just so disappointed to know that I could have been so much faster had I been riding in the chase pack, which probably would have led to a better run time too! So, one mistake that wasn't corrected right away really cost me in the end. I guess it's better to learn at my first Circuit race of the year!

On the run.

Up next I'll be racing at the San Francisco Pan American Cup in less than 2 weeks, which is going to be another super challenging race. I'll be practicing transitions and cornering almost every day until then!

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Leanna ... wouldn't all our times be so much better if we could be perfect all the time? Just put it in the Learning Bank, smile, and get ready for San Francisco!