Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chicago and Kelowna Recaps

I've been quite slow on the draw when it comes to updating my blog this month I do realize and apologize! My excuses: racing three weekends in the month of August and traveling to two of them and only being home for ~48hrs in between, missing a ton of work due to said races and desperately catching up on deadlines, moving out of my summer basement apartment, and finally letting this past month and summer of training and racing get the best of me and feeling a bit burnt out and emotionally out of whack!

I don't really want to dwell on the ITU Kelowna Pan American Cup race because it wasn't such a fun experience for me, but I understand that things don't always work out the way that you want them to. I ended up getting some food poisoning the night before/morning of the race and just felt plain awful before the start of the race. I just had no energy on the swim, and wasn't even sure if I could complete the 2nd loop of the 1500m swim course. Perhaps the Gods were looking down on me that day and showed me some mercy, because my front Zipp had a slow leak after going over the first set of railway tracks a couple of km into the 1st loop of the bike loop, and I  had no air left in the tire by the time I did my 1st climb up Mt. Knox. Sadly, my day was done right then and there, but quite honestly, I'm not sure how long I would have lasted in the blistering heat and humdity that day, given how I was feeling. I was super disappointed given that I had put in a hard block of good training before that race and had actually tapered for it! I was SO happy to leave Kelowna behind and move on to the next race...the Lifetime Fitness Chicago Triathlon. It would be my 1st time racing as a Pro in this series, and I knew that the competition would be uber tough.

Getting up close and personal with the course map at the Expo.

After only about 48 hours in Toronto, I was back on a plane to Chicago packed with my TT bike this time around, AND with a travel buddy for a change! I was so thrilled to not be traveling alone and to have someone experience the race and city with me.

Playing "tourist" in Chicago w/Monroe Harbor in the backdrop.

Despite the awesome weather that we had in Chicago the few days leading into the race, by the time the Pro women started at 11:30 on Sunday morning, the storm clouds had rolled in, and it rained the ENTIRE race.

I unfortunately, did not have a great swim in the Chicago race! I don't seem to be very good at swimming parallel to sea walls without buoys! I know that it shouldn't be that difficult to swim in a straight line, but I did a terrible job of sighting, lost the pack completely, and then was left in "no-man's land" because I was literally zig-zagging my way through the harbour, as I bounced from the row boats on one side that were supposed to keep us from swimming off course, and the sea wall, which bound us on the other side. Needless to say, the swim felt really long, and I felt a bit demoralized after losing several feet to swim on. Then I got angry with myself for even allowing myself to feel that way during the race, and tried hard to mentally re-group for the bike.

The bike itself was a huge mental challenge for me, since I'm not a confident rider in bad weather. I thought that I held it together much better than I did in the Windsor Triathlon (probably good practice!), so I'm most happy with the bike leg for this race. I couldn't see anything for most of the ride, because the rain was coming down SO HARD. It was a constant debate as to whether I should take off my sunglasses because it was too dark and minimizing visibility further, but at the same time, keeping the sunglasses on helped to keep some of the water and debris from flying into my eyes. I even unclipped at the dismount line, took my bike shoes off and held them in my hand before running the rest of the way into T2, because I didn't want to slip and fall and risk another DNF due to the puddles and gravel on the road, and the slippery grass! I managed to bike a 1:05 and change for 41.2km in those conditions, and I was hoping to bike a 1:02 on a good day, but I figured I have to take that one with a grain of salt!

I have to say that the run was pretty lonely, because there were only a handful of age group athletes still out on the course, and because it was just one giant loop, you really didn't see anybody out there. Since it was raining, there weren't any spectators either, and I think I was having a day where spectators would have been more than welcome! I was hurting out there, so was more than happy to see that finish chute on Columbus Drive! I finished in 12th place in my debut race as a Pro in the Lifetime Fitness Series. I was really down on myself immediately after the race, because I was angry at myself for perhaps getting a bit psyched out by the Olympians that I was racing, and letting myself get demoralized when things didn't quite go as planned during the race. After getting some perspective though and letting it all sink in over the past week, I'm able to take away the positives from this race experience, and look forward to building upon them in LA and Dallas.

At the moment, I've had to dial it back on the training front, because coming home from Chicago, I felt like my body wasn't recovering well, I was emotionally all over the map, and really not enjoying the idea of doing any kind of swim, bike, or run workout. I basically checked out both physically and mentally, but I'm feeling much better this weekend now that I'm on home turf and not doing structured workouts. The plan is to re-charge, get my mojo back this week, and get ready for ITU Buffalo (American Elite Nationals) in a couple of weeks!

I leave you with a few more pics of the beautiful city of Chicago. Thanks for reading!

Had to see the Jellies and Belugas at the Shedd Aquarium.

Amazing fountain on the way to Transition with Chicago Skyline in backdrop.

I wasn't leaving Chicago until I rode the ferris wheel at night!
Chicago at night.

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