Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kitzbuhel Race Report

Kitzbuhel was my very first WCS race back in 2009. I went into it feeling way over my head and more nervous than ever. It was a great learning experience and I finished in 16th place, relieved and satisfied. I was back in 2010 just 3 weeks after my breakthrough win in London, wanting to prove to myself that London wasn’t a fluke, but with no expectations to win again. Having some success in this race 2 years in a row, I was excited to compete again on the very familiar course. I recovered quickly after Madrid and was feeling back to normal within a few days, so we had a pretty hard week of training between the two races. This worried me a bit when Wednesday rolled around and I was feeling extremely tired and sore, but I took a few light days and was feeling okay by Saturday. Just in time!

I chose to start on the very far right, which looked like the shortest line to the first buoy. Unfortunately some of the faster swimmers decided to start about 20 spots away from me. The gun went off and I had clear water, but no fast feet to latch onto. I could see the girls on my left pulling away and I desperately wished that I had been closer to them. I tried to make the best of it and sprint the first 400 meters to the buoy, but I arrived there with about 40 friends, and the familiar washing machine began. I was pulled and dunked, but kept calm and slowly made my way around. I was working really hard for the whole 1500 meters, feeling very uncomfortable and having a hard to time finding feet to draft on. I swam most of the time on the outside by myself, which is definitely slower, but a little less chaotic. I came out much further back than I would have liked, but knew that I had a good bunch of girls around me to help bridge any gap to the leaders.

I got on the bike and immediately the pace was ON. The packs came together within a few minutes after some pretty hard chasing. At that time I had no idea that there was a 30 second break away with Sarah Haskins and Helen Jenkins. I could hear the coaches yelling “Jenkins 30 seconds!” but I thought that she was 30 seconds behind, not ahead! It wasn’t until the 3rd lap that I realized that they were up the road, and I felt very guilty for not being more aggressive in helping with the chase.They were reeled in on the 4th lap, which was a relief as I know those girls can run fast. I admittedly was pretty useless on the bike, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent and I was uncomfortable on the very technical course, so I spent most of the time at the back of the pack. I wish I could be a super-human Alistair Brownlee, dominant in all 3 sports, but my swim and bike were feeling off so I was being conservative with the hopes saving some energy for the run.

The skies opened up in the middle of the ride and it started hailing on us! The forecast predicted rain and cold so everyone was prepared for a wet day, but this was more than we had been expecting. It really hurt, and it was really cold! I was starting to shiver and my hands were going numb, so I tried to work a little more of the last few laps to keep my body temperature up. Although the hailstorm was short lived, it left big puddles and wet roads, so water was spraying up on us for the rest of the ride. I was SO happy to get off the bike.

I struggled a bit in transition with cold hands, but was running at the front within the first few minutes. The run was very similar to Madrid, fast paced but I felt in control. That is until the last lap, when Helen put in a surge that I could hardly respond to. It hurt a lot and I was running near my maximum for the whole final lap, knowing that I would get dropped if she had another gear. I wanted so badly to settle for 2nd, but I talked myself out of it and reminded myself that she was hurting too. I tried to put a few stride lengths on her on the last turn around to see if she could respond, and saw that I made a small gap. The last 800 meters was all out, and I was hurting, but made it to the line just ahead of her. Kudos to Helen, she worked her butt off in a breakaway on the bike, and she made me work my butt off on the run. She’s dangerous!

After doping control and a very good dinner with the Specialized team, I packed up my stuff and tried to get a few hours sleep. I'm finally back in Victoria, stiff and tired and sore, but I really couldn’t be happier with the past 5 weeks. Thanks to the amazing support from Bobby and all the Specialized guys, Patrick, John, Kim, Kyla, Jeff and Matt- I couldn’t have had a better group of people helping me during this Europe trip. Also thanks to my mom for flying out to Kitzbuhel at the last minute to keep me company and watch my race... and make my dinners and do my laundry and clean up after me. The usual.

Next up is Edmonton World Cup on July 10th, my hometown race. Come down to Hawrelak Park and watch the action if you’re around!

Thanks again for the enormous support everyone. It's what keeps me going.

Paula

13 comments:

Seyamack said...

Another impressive performance Paula. Run fast turn left!

cupko said...

Good job, amazing performance. Keep on rocking & smiling!

Richard said...

Well done . . . a very exciting race!

Karen in Calgary said...

Great article Paula -- thanks for sharing your experience with us! Congratulations!

Heather and Andrew said...

Great job to come through the adversity and still wind up on top. Congrats on another great win! :) We all look forward to many more.

Robert Lejeune said...

Awesome race once again Paula, it was exciting to watch siting in front of the computer.

Thanks for doing such a great job out there!

aka Moogy said...

Well done...was such an exciting race to watch. CONGRATS!!

Gregwh said...

Way to get after it that last 800! These close races are very exciting to us spectators. Exciting enough to get up at 6AM for the streaming video. I live in Seattle and consider all the Victoria based athletes adopted neighbors to cheer for. Great to see Groff stay with you for most of the run and earn a podium finish.

Tiffa said...

Awesome job Paula! You're awesome.

Karen Kozak said...

Great job Paula, you are so inspiring!
Good luck in Edmonton, you will do great as always!

jbbartron said...

Paula, you absolutely rock! It's such a pleasure to watch you race. Best luck to you! i'll be glued to the tube come July. Can't wait!

Dawn said...

Just wanted to say congrats on all your races and wins! Was at United Cycle today and saw a poster for July 10th. Hoping to be there....if not....I'll still be cheering:)))

Gregwh said...

It was a smart decision to withdraw from Edmonton. I am at least equally impressed by your discretion with the hip strain as by your victories thus far this year. Too many of us would have kept pushing and then woke up in 2012 without an Olympic medal. Excellent move!