Monday, August 8, 2011

1st win of the season!

Yesterday I raced in the Windsor Triathlon for a second year in a row, and claimed my very first win racing as an elite! It's a wonderful community-based event, so it's not a huge elite field and it doesn't count for any points, but I haven't won a race since I was an amateur so I will happily accept this win:)

The race directors of this tri, John Mckibbon Sr. and John Mckibbon Jr. really do their best to take care of the athletes who race in Windsor, so they were kind enough to put me up in the Holiday Inn Suites that was 100% pet friendly. So, Bailey and Kahlua came along for the race this weekend too!

The Windsor Tri is a sprint distance event that consists of an 800m swim, 30km bike, and a 6km run. I think the distances are a bit longer in reality, but it doesn't really matter at the end of  the day.

The swim in Windsor is extremely shallow, so theoretically you could walk, run, or do dolphin dives almost the entire swim without actually swimming a single stroke. Last year at the pre-race elite meeting, the rule was that we were not allowed to do ANY dolphin dives, and we could only start running up the beach to transition once a hand touched the bottom and you couldn't swim anymore. This year, there was apparently no rules. Once the horned blared, signalling the start of the race, I put my head down and started swimming as I normally would. After sticking my head up to sight after 10 strokes or so, I noticed that there was already a huge gap between myself and the lead group of swimmers. I was wondering how that was possible, because my background in swimming is as a sprinter so my starts are usually decent, it's the endurance that I need to work on. I put my head back down and continued to swim, and the next time I sighted the gap was even bigger! I couldn't help but think that I was having a terrible, terrible swim, but I also knew deep down that there must have been some dolphin diving and feet on the bottom at the swim start. Since the water is really choppy after you swim past the first buoy, it would certainly work to your advantage if you're swimming in a little pack or have at least one pair of feet to chase. I just accepted that I was swimming alone, and I told myself that often times in triathlon, it's not the swim that will guarantee a win, so I just kept thinking positively. Even though I didn't have a great swim, I actually exited the water in 7th place among both male and female elites (men start with us), and was the 2nd female behind Angela Quick, a phenomenal swimmer. Unfortunately, there was still a big time gap between myself and that top 6 of lead swimmers. I ran into T1 on a mission to put some time into my competitors on the bike.

Since this was not a draft legal race, I was able to dust off my Cervelo P3C Time Trial/Triathlon bike that I last used at the Milton Triathlon along with my aero helmet. Both of these pieces of equipment are not allowed at ITU draft legal events for safety reasons when pack riding. I absolutely love this bike, so as soon as I hopped on, I was down in my aero bars and riding with the wind to the first turn-around at over 40km/hr. As I approached the first turn around (on the first bike loop)  at roughly 8km, I saw that Angela wasn't too far ahead of me, so it meant that I was making up a lot of time on this first bike leg. Once you hit the turn-around, you ride directly into the wind on the 2nd leg of the bike. I am certainly not the most technically savvy rider out there, but I'm relatively good at just putting out the power in the wind, so this likely worked to my advantage yesterday. I was able to catch Angela a couple of kilometres before the end of the first bike loop, and as I continued riding into the 2nd loop, I felt like I was very much in control of my race and didn't try to burn out my legs too much before the run. When you take out the two transition times from the bike split, and also according to my Garmin, I averaged 38.7km/hr over 31.45km on the bike. I am really thrilled about that!

I headed into T2 in first place, and the announcer is giving spectators a little bit of background info about my race results, so everyone was cheering me on as I put my running shoes on and ran down the shoot to start the run course. I appreciated it immensely, but I'm pretty sure my cheeks were also bright red. I remember very clearly how much I suffered on the run last year at the Windsor race, because it's usually disgustingly hot and humid by the time you start the run. This time around I tried not to get too excited and start out too fast and die off at the end. I just tried to find a rhythm and I made sure to take a sponge or dump water on my head at every aid station that offered it. It's a very desolate run course, so I was happy to see that Ming had found a way to get onto the course at the loneliest points. I managed to catch up to one of the elite males on the run course, and Ming kept telling me to take him by the 5km mark. Well, I don't think this athlete liked the sounds of that very much so we ran side by side for a while, and then he gapped me a bit, and then I sprinted into the finish to try and catch him again, but fell short by one second! It was an exciting way to finish the race!

To add to the excitement of the race, myself and Andrew Yorke, winner of the Elite men's race were asked to report for interviews with the Windsor Star shortly after our race. We were also asked to give a little speech or say a few words during the awards ceremony. Of course, Ming slyly managed to capture this video footage of me speaking...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASfNUc4Lrrw

All in all, I had a great time racing in Windsor again this weekend and was thrilled to have improved upon my third place finish from last year. My time also seemed to improve by roughly 4.5 minutes, so even though conditions differ from year to year, that is also a huge positive going into Canadian Nationals/ITU Kelowna Pan American Cup in 2 weeks.

Thanks for reading!


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  2. Leanna ... it's wonderful to see things went your way for a change. Hard work and perseverance eventually pay off!