Sunday, September 19, 2010

Budapest

I was feeling very anxious all week leading up to this race. I tried not to get distracted by media stuff and external expectations, but I still felt way more pressure than usual. Triathlon Canada brought an awesome support staff that took care of everything for us. Kim, Rob, Chris, Pierre, Gabor, Steve, Kurt, Carolyn and Patrick- I can’t thank you all enough. You were all amazing and I appreciate your hard work more than you know.

I woke up on race morning and was so relieved to see the sun. It had been very rainy all week and I knew the bike course would be dangerous on a wet day. I was ranked number 8 and was excited to be close to the fast swimmers for the start. I lined up next to Emma Moffatt and Andrea Hewitt on the far left. I was adjusting my goggles one last time just before the start and my strap broke!!! I ran over to referee Leslie Buchanan in a total panic. I couldn’t get the broken strap back through the goggles. She was very calm and told me “it’s okay, you have 30 seconds, just relax”. HAHA, a whole 30 seconds. I was freaking out and my hands were shaking. She took the goggles from me and threaded the strap back through. I tied a quick knot in them and sprinted back to my stating position with about 2 seconds to spare. THESE are the goggles that nearly ruined my life:



I proceeded to have the worst swim of my life. I lost all of my focus and still felt panicky for the first few hundred meters. I got out after the first lap and saw a huuuuge line of girls in front of me. I swam as hard as I could on the 2nd lap to make up as much ground as possible, but was still well back from the leaders by the end.

I was happy see Lisa Mensink and a few other strong cyclists in the chase pack with me. We were about 30 seconds behind the leaders and worked VERY hard to catch up. I’ve never had to bridge a gap like that before, and it took much more out of my legs than I was expecting. We caught the pack after about 2 laps and the pace did not settle down. There was lots of standing and sprinting on the very technical course. I tried to stay at the front but my average riding skills kept me near the back around every corner. I was so relieved to get off the bike. It was a deceivingly hard course and I’d worked very hard to get back into contention after my bad swim.

I ran up to the leaders within the first few minutes of the run, but was not feeling nearly as comfortable as I did in London and Kitzbuhel. I slowly got strung off the back and was running about 10 seconds behind the group for most of the way. I had settled with 8th
place in my mind because I was hurting so much, but saw myself slowly getting closer to the girls on the last lap. I reminded myself how badly I wanted to get on the podium, so I surged to catch up and went straight to the front of the pack. I was running at my max for the last 800 meters, and I just didn’t have anything left for the sprint at the end. I crossed the line in 5th, initially disappointed that I wasn’t on the podium… but then I looked around and saw the girls that were rolling on the ground beside me. I was in pretty good company. Maybe 5th place isn’t so bad after all :).


I was very surprised to find out that I had won “best runner of the series” award. I felt a but guilty receiving this as Emma Snowsill is clearly in a different league than me, and the only reason my run splits were fastest was because I have slow transitions and had to bridge a gap to the leaders in every race! Regardless, I was very honored to be recognized, and was very star struck standing next to Jan Frodeno! Haha…


So my 2010 triathlon season is officially over and I’m getting back into the swing of things at school. It’s very hard to switch from full-time training back to being a student- athlete. I’m sitting in class and all I can think about is how I would/should/could be training instead! But I am very happy to be home, and it’s nice to have a change of focus for a few months.

This season was beyond anything I could have imagined. I couldn’t have done it alone and I appreciate every single person who was a part of my success. Thanks so much for the support everyone. I'm excited for next year already!

Paula

4 comments:

donald said...

frodeno is wheeling so hard in that photo

Lindsay said...

Great write up Paula. Actually, the reason you won top runner isn't because your transitions are slow but because your awesome. So proud and happy for you!
And this is all while being a top student and on two varsity teams. You continually amaze me.
LOVE YOU!
Lindsay

Evan said...

Way to go on a great season.

The Pageman said...

congratulations!