Sunday, July 22, 2012
PATCO Pan American Cup Championships
I only realized that I would be racing in Magog a couple of days after returning from 5150 NYC, so it was a bit of a scramble to wrap my head around it and figure out how I was going to get there, lodging, etc., and at the time, whether my knee was going to be able to handle a relatively fast turn around time after my little "falling episode" in NYC. I stayed off my knee the Monday after NYC, but already started to "test" it out on Tuesday given that Magog was less than 2 weeks away. I pretty much plowed full steam ahead byWednesday with "normal" training, and I must admit that I was really tired, my knee hurt, and was kinda grumpy during training sessions that first week after NY! After a couple of sessions with Dave at Balance Physiotherapy (my saviour when it comes to fixing all of my booboos), and determining that the ligaments seemed unscathed, I just decided not to play it safe and go about my race prep as Ming had planned for me with a few minor tweaks here and there.
The swim started with a "beach start" on the beautiful Lac Memphre-Magog. The beach was really shallow for quite some distance, so that meant that the swim involved a long run in, followed by an indeterminant number of dolphin dives before finally starting to swim. The more complicated these swim starts are, the more technical and strategic they become, so I'm always coming away from each discipline in ITU races gaining precious experience, and learning how to race them better. I wouldn't say that I was exceptional at the run in +dolphin dive swim start, but I think that I really held my own, stayed aggressive, and found myself in the chase pack of the swim. Most competitors commented on the distance of the swim and how long the swim felt, but to be honest with you, open water ~1500m swims ALWAYS feel long to me! The swim exit was up some stairs, and then a straight shot into transition.
Our transition was set up beautifully, as we all got new "London-style", individual racking posts for our bikes with a placard that prominently stated our names, countries, and race number on them. There was plenty of space between each rack, so there were no worries of bumping into another competitor. They even laid down all blue astroturf/carpeting for us!
Anyway, I managed to get in and out of T1 better than I ever have in previous ITU races, and I used elastics to keep my bike shoes in place for the first time, AND I did a flying mount without killing myself or taking out another competitor and FINALLY made that chase pack!!!
The bike was 5 loops with some good uphill, some good downhill, and some good corners and U-turns. Our chase pack seemed to work well together for the 1st couple of laps, and we were gaining ground on the lead pack, but it seems that people were less willing to work by the 3rd lap or so of the bike. There were definitely some opportunities where I started to launch an attack or hoped that a few others would go with me, but the technical corners and downhills often made those attacks futile. I certainly didn't want to ride alone, as the whole strategy for this race was for me to gain experience working/being in a pack. As Ming had pointed out before the race, I have always been TT-ing these draft legal races, so it was time for a new experience! I think that as I gain more confidence and experience riding in these races, the prospects of breaking away will become a possibility...hopefully!
Coming to the dismount line, I was less aggressive than I would have liked...I will continue working on this until I get it right! I need to get more comfortable coming off the dismount line with people surrounding me. I came off the bike at a glacial pace, so that is an area I can certainly improve on! I just didn't want to face plant, and I really wanted to make it onto that run course in one piece this time:)
Upon exiting T2, most of the girls that I came off the bike with just took off! They were off and running! I am proud of myself for staying calm, not getting roped in, and listening to Ming! I just took my time finding "my run legs", and didn't burn all of my matches in the first km or so of the run. I eventually found a rhythm and started to pass girls one by one. Towards the last couple of laps of the run, I started to count the number of girls ahead of me, and thought to myself, that it would be really nice if I could come in the top 10. That would be a huge breakthrough for me racing ITU and for getting ranking points, especially since it was a PATCO event. I basically put my head down and just finished the run as strong as I could, and I did finish in 10th place with a time of 2:10:43, which is by far the fastest time that I have posted at an ITU event thus far in my career (even though I know that you can't compare race courses)! I'm so thrilled to have made and stayed in chase pack for the very first time, and to have experienced "real" ITU racing! I certainly made mistakes, and have gained some valuable experience at yesterday's race, but I know that I can build on all of this into the future!
I have to extend a big thank you to the Quick family for letting me tag along with them over the past few days, and letting me share their hotel sofa-bed (yes, the luxourious life of an elite athlete). Donna-you were absolutely amazing doing all of the driving, figuring out logistics, and for being my race support when you've got your own 2 kids worry about! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help/support over the weekend!