“As I’m setting up transition, I’m reminded this was not the running season I wanted. Started over running in June and haven’t been able to do any speed work. Right now I’m just thankful I CAN run. With that, goals and expectations have been shifted but I’ll still race my heart out today with a smile on my race. #teamUSA #penticton2017 #createalifeyoulove”
These were my thoughts while setting up transition and Instagram post while walking to bag drop. It’s been an emotional roller coaster this season. In October I had big plans big improvements swimming and running for a lofty half Ironman PR (A race still coming!) and Worlds for Aquathlon. In November I was hit in the foot with a blunted axe…..ok that sounds WAY worse than it was. Don’t worry, no blood or broken bones. It was during an armored sword fighting tournament (link). The diagnosis was a severe bone bruise. So I took all of December off of running. In January I picked up again. Did lots of running and speed work. It was feeling great! And then after one long run started throwing and feeling the worst it has since November. A new Orthopedic doctor took new scans and confirmed it was not a stress fracture, just a bone bruise. At first he wanted me in a boot but later let me wear specialty shoes for a month. So all of May was out of the picture for running. I could cycle and swim. I worked my but off both swimming and cycling in the mean time. Since January I’ve taken 30 seconds off of my 100 yard swim time and am winning our local time trial series (just one more to go!). Running started from square one in June.
As an age grouper part of the balance is being able to race and do this sport long term. I’m not making any money doing this. I just love the sport. Since this trip was already planned and paid for expectations shifted from a mid pack finish to just doing my best and hopefully not being last but if I was that’s ok. I’ve been dead last at races before and this is WORLDS for crying out loud. Dead last would still be an honor to be able to qualify and represent my country after a season that gave a few curve balls.
First, I have to mention my amazing race team. Kristin Meyer, design and owner of Betty Designs, graciously GAVE us world champion kits for qualifying and racing and worlds even though we can’t wear them during the race since ITU and USAT regulate our kits for this event. I loved it for some extra mojo leading up to the big day and to keep my head right in the last few weeks. Thank you Kristin!
Roka is the new Team USA kit vendor. There were some bumps in the road but they have gone above and beyond in helping make sure I have a good performing kit for race day. Our one piece suits are ideal for non-wetsuit Aquathlons. They are basically a swim skin you can also run in without a chamois or pockets. The suit performed very well in a swim-run race.
I arrived in Penticton on Monday and just hung out with some friends for the day. Tuesday was my first shake out in Canada. Our athlete guide said water temperatures were usually about 65 degrees at this time of year and the wetsuit cut off for shorter ITU races like ours is 22 C (76.1 F). At this point there had been no mention of any official water readings but our team took the liberty to check the lake’s daily readings which were much higher than the average stated in the athletes guide. The big debate for Tuesday’s and later Thursday’s swim is whether I should practice with or without a wetsuit. Tuesday was just a swim so decided to take my wetsuit out and practice removing it since it had been awhile. We started at the race swim start and discovered it was extremely shallow for at least 100 yards. The pros and other experienced athletes would be doing dolphin dives past this point but this was a first for me. I knocked my swim out along the lake’s normal swim buoy line and then tried practicing dolphin dives. The immediately caused my calves to cramp up; I am NOT prone to cramping so this probably won’t be for me. Next was practicing removing my wetsuit and exiting the water. This is when I realized the shallow water would really affect my wetsuit removal and I would eventually have to check out the swim exit terrain.
My second shake out was a run with pick ups so my roomie Leslie and I had the road while the cross triathlon was going to spectate at the same time. The race had been declared none wetsuit legal at a temperature of 21.6 C. I was able to weave my way close to the course and watch the amazing athletes fly on their bikes. I did rough calculations and ended my run at the finish line in time to watch the overall pro woman winner cross the finish line followed closely by the first and second place youth girls. It was an awesome race with a mix of pain and elation at the finish line. I wipe out made it’s way to the pro video at itumultisport’s instagram.
Third shake out was a swim/run brick on Thursday. I decided to test out the temperature with no wetsuit today since Tuesday felt a bit warm and there was a possibility of our swim not being wetsuit legal. The most recent water temperature report was 22.6 C degrees. The temperature was perfect, maybe a bit chilly and just a tiny bit of chop but overall easy to navigate and breath. I timed my run to end at transition exit to scope it out. I watch a man walk out of the water which was enough for me to determine it was perfect for removing my wetsuit in the water. Everything was falling in to place but I was really hoping the water temperatures would either drop to be colder and more comfortable in a wetsuit or level the playing field and just be non-wetsuit. Regardless I would bring my wetsuit in the morning and wait for the official water reading.
Thankfully transition was assigned by bib numbers so there was no need to arrive earlier than 30 minutes before it closed. On the way I dipped my toe in to feel the water. It was FREEZING. I was DEFINITELY wearing my wetsuit! The official water temperature was 21.5 C.
At transition we were given blue bins to place all swim gear after exiting the water and instructed to place run gear in front of our bins. I set up all my gear and then wiggled into the bottom half of my wetsuit.
I kept feeling like I was missing something with only a race belt, shoes, socks, and a visor at my transition. Not having my strongest discipline, cycling, reminded me of my running set back. I told myself “Just run your heart out” as I walked to bag drop and did a quick Instagram post.
There was a huge line to drop bags. Shouldn’t we just be handing them over and checking for attached numbers? Apparently they were organizing while receiving bags. While waiting I put the rest of my wetsuit on so at least I was doing something.
Eventually we made our way across the street to the swim corrals. I did a few squats and arm circles to make sure my wetsuit was on properly and tugged at the neck. I was as ready as I was going to be. Ten minutes before our wave start I downed a few honey stinger chews.
This was a beach start with a giant line in the sand. There were too many age groupers to fit in one row so I positioned myself in the second row knowing most would be stronger swimmers than me even with the swim improvements I’ve made this season. “On your mark. BURRG” as the horn went off. And we we off to run, dolphin dive, and thrash around in the shallow water. I started swimming when others were dolphins diving but stood a few more times before reaching deeper water. I did ok in the begging but discovered I swam VERY wide getting to the first and second turn buoy. The water wasn’t very cold and a good wetsuit temperature but I it was choppy! The wind had picked up before we got in the water. I drank a few mouth fully on the first 350 yards but made the first right turn expecting it to get better not being straight on. Nope it was way worse. I drank an entire wave and had to complete stop to cough up water. I questioned myself how much water I took into my lungs and if I was at risk of drowning if I continued. I yelled at myself “No! In six years you’ve never DNFed a swim and this will not be your first. You’re ok. Take a few deep breaths and go.” Then I was on my way to find a rhythm and finish the second half of the swim. In the end I ended up swim an extra 150 yards which cost me at lest 3 mins.
I eyed the right depth to take my wetsuit of. Stripped in seconds and darted into transition. Threw my stuff in the blue bin and donned my socks, shoes, and visor. Then ran out of transition while clipping my race belt.
Deep breath. Just a 5k. The plan was to have negative splits building for each turn around. The course was a two loop out and back which gave lots of opportunities to have dense spectators and see team mates. I thought the 1.5 loop would be extremely boring but it was really kept me focused. I looked down at my watch and started out the gate at 8:30. That is WAY too fast for me to hold for a 5k. My best mile test is only 8:05 way earlier in the season. I eased up but tried to stay close to 10 with the intention to drop down to 9:45 on the last ¾ mile. Right when I slowed down something started stabbing me in the toe. Ouch! I can’t run a hard 5k like this. Crunched some numbers and no matter how fast I took my shoe off I would loose time compared to my pace loss. I tried just wiggling my toes a bit while heal striking to shift it at least inbetween two toes. It worked and didn’t give the stabbing a second thought until 30 minutes after I finished.
The aid station was accessible on both sides in the middle of the run course. I tried getting some water and running with it just to rinse out my throat and chocked on it. Looks like nothing would be going down today, but it’s just a 5k, so keep running! That’s pretty much how the whole run went: Just keep running! Kelly and other friendly faces were on the course cheering and yelling. They were a huge boost to keep going. I tried giving a little extra at the end but started to early so just did my best to hold on to my pace all the way through.
I think this is the fastest race I have ever done. It seemed like it was the blink of an eye! I came in 11/13 in my age group and 367/444 overall. My goal was 1:03-1:06 plus transition. The break down was 29:28 swim, 1:54 transition, 32:28 run, and 1:03:50 overall
Considering the training bumps along the way and the rough swim conditions I’m really happy with the day. This race made me hungry to start speed work again for next season. I know where to make improvements and will keep working hard to the next goal. Time to set my eyes on Santa Cruz 70.3 Ironman
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