Wednesday, July 20, 2011

San Francisco!

I am finally back in Toronto now after a delay at SFO, which caused me to miss my connecting flight in Las Vegas back to Toronto. United Airlines ended up putting me in a hotel at 2am yesterday, and with much trouble and confusion, rebooked a flight for me back to Toronto. Too bad I was way too sleep deprived to want to enjoy a night out in Vegas!

 I haven't had much access to a computer for the past two weeks while I've been in California, so I've been very detached from the rest of the world. I arrived in San Fran two Thursdays ago for my ITU race on Treasure Island on the Saturday. That didn't leave me much time before the race, so I felt a bit rushed putting my bike together, and getting familiar with the course, and attending the race meeting, etc all the day before the race. I knew going into the race that it would be a very competitive field and that I would likely be the slowest athlete out there, but this year is all about getting experience for me! Getting experience often means stepping far outside of your comfort zone, so I'm getting used to feeling uncomfortable at races these days, ha!

The swim was in the San Francisco Bay, so it was quite chilly and also wetsuit legal. My friend Jenn was kind enough to lend me her full sleeve wetsuit for the race, but it didn't quite fit properly, so I had to use my sleeveless one for the race. Boy, was it cold! Despite having a very good swim start, I manged to lose feet on the first lap of the two loop swim. I didn't navigate the swim course very well with the current and the waves, so I let the pack get away. Despite losing the pack, I thought that I had a very respectable swim time that I am pretty happy with (20:13).

I had a good T1 and managed to get my wetsuit off pretty fast, and I didn't have any problems with my bike mount this time around. So if you'll remember my previous experiences at Milton and Coteau du Lac, I am learning from my mistakes! The race director referred to the bike course on Treasure Island as a "European Crit-Style Race", because A) the roads were bumpy, cracked, or had potholes in them and B) we were cornering almost every 400m on each of the 6 lap bike course. We had one 180 degree turn around part way up a hill on each lap as well. With the high winds causing strong headwinds and crosswinds depending on where you were on the island, this added to the difficulty of the bike course as well. I felt like I had a strong ride on the bike, and given the design of the course, I was able to catch competititors and packs by just Time Trialing it on my own. I ALMOST made it off the bike without a hitch, but then that would not have not been nearly as entertaining for the spectators, especially Ming and Jamie;) About 2m after the bike dismount line, there was a speed bump. I'm going to have to blame my numb hands and feet and foggy brain from that cold swim, because somehow I lost control of my bike while RUNNING with my bike into T2. I lost control of the bike while running over the speed bump and tripped and fell on top of my bike, which caused BOTH of my bike shoes to catapult 10 ft in the air in opposite directions. I may post a short video clip of this episode, along with pictures from the event a little later. Anyway, I picked up the shoe that I saw fly in front of my face, but at that time, I didn't realize that the other bike shoe got launched in the other direction, so I didn't pick that one up when I continued on into Transition. That of course, got me a "littering" penalty of 15s that I had to serve at some point on the run.

The run course was a 3 loop out-and-back course along the water, so it was very windy at times. I found a rhythm to run with and was able to pass a couple of the girls that I came off the bike with, but after I served my 15s penalty, I had to work to catch back up again. I held it together on the run til about 8.5-9km, but then the wheels started to come off. I think the run course was half a km long or so, but regardless of that, I started to really slow down that last mile or so of that run. My legs just were not turning over anymore, and I got passed by a few girls over that final stretch coming into the finish, which is never a great feeling. Initially, I was pretty bummed by getting passed like that at the end of the run, but I was able to shake it off and saw that I had a good performance all-round at the end of the day. I finished higher up then I expected and continue to gain more experience racing such high-caliber athletes.

After the race, I spent another couple of days enjoying San Francisco and eating at so many great restaurants that city has to offer. Then I was off to Sacramento with Ming and Mike to catch the 800m finals at the World Masters Track and Field Games on Monday night. I had the privilege of witnessing Paul make his comeback after only 6 weeks of training after months of time off nursing an Achilles injury, Mike claim the gold medal in a blistering fast time, and Annie pull off an amazing kick to PB and capture the bronze medal in her race. AMAZING. The whole week I got to enjoy inspiring performances by Masters athletes from around the world, and I can say that age has absolutely no impact on the heart, drive, and passion that I saw out there from those athletes. Congratulations to all the UTTC athletes who raced their hearts out in Sacramento last week!

Again, I will post pictures once I have the chance to download them off my camera!

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