Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mooloolaba World Cup

As I dove in for warm up in the choppy surf yesterday, my goal for this race completely changed: just survive the swim. Come out alive, and I'll be happy. This may sound dramatic to some of the Aussies who are ocean swimming experts, but this was my first beach start swim and I was really scared! It was the choppiest, waviest swim I've ever done and the girls were really rough, as usual. It was one big 1500 meter loop, out 300 meters through the surf, along the beach, and back. I don't think I saw one buoy the whole time, I was just frantically following feet in front of me, and lucky I had lots to follow! I was so relieved when I came out of the water and saw that I wasn't actually too far behind the leaders. There was a 200 meter run through deep sand to get back to transition so I tried my best to make up as much time as possible, but running all out in sinking sand after that swim was not easy!

I jumped on my bike and could see a lead pack of 6 about 10 seconds up the road, so I got to work with a few other girls and we caught them by the end of the first lap. The bike course went up and over a big hill, out and back, 7 times and there was a huge headwind on the way home. Daniela Ryf and Nicky Samuels made a break uphill on the second lap and we made the mistake of letting them go. We worked pretty well together as a group, but were still loosing time to these 2 super-cyclists. To make the day even better, a torrential downpour started on the 5th lap, which made the turnarounds very slippery and my breaks were not working AT ALL. New goal: survive the bike. Just make it onto the run without crashing. The winds also picked up and our group slowed down quite a bit in these last few laps. I think this is where we lost the most time to the 2 leaders. Again, I was very relieved to get off my bike and start chasing those girls down!

My legs felt very heavy and flat on the run, but I imagine everyone was feeling quite similar after the challenging bike. The run was equally as difficult, up and over the same hill 8 times. I tried to use the downhills to get my leg speed up and bridge the gap to Emma and Barbara but my legs just weren't working! I was running solo for most of the way and could see Vendula Frintova making up time on each lap, she was flying! On the 3rd lap, Patrick told me that I had a penalty, so I checked the board as I ran by and stopped to take my 15 seconds. They looked at me funny and didn't start counting, so I started counting for them. After about 8 seconds, they told me that I actually didn't have a penalty and they didn't know why I was there... it said "4 1" on the board with a huge gap between the 4 and the 1, so it looked like number 4 had a penalty when it was actually 41. They really need a better system!! So I charged out, slightly frustrated, with one lap to go. I guess the bonus of my fake penalty was that I got a 10 second rest. Frintova caught me on the last turn around and we ran side-by-side for last km. I out-sprinted her in a nearly-photo-finish, and crossed the line in 4th place. Most importantly: I survived!

So needless to say, this was definitely the hardest course I've ever raced on. I'm happy with where I finished for this time of year, although never completely satisfied with 4th place! It was my first race since Budapest last September, so it was good to go through the motions and put in a good effort before the WCS starter in Sydney in a few weeks. We are staying in Caloundra, where we have been training for the past 2 weeks. It's a great place to be and we have an awesome little group here: Patrick, Sam (massage therapist), John (physiologist), Jeff, Kyla and Alex, who it leaving today to go back to school. We'll miss her!

Thanks to everyone for the nice messages. It makes a big difference to have so much support from back home!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Victoria Life & Bazan Bay 5k

I’ve been in Victoria for about a month now and enjoying it for the most part, but there are lots of things that I’m missing about home! One major plus side are my awesome roommates, Julia and Danika, and our cute little house. Julia (Wilkinson) is a swimmer on the national team who has a busy training schedule like me, so I’m not the only one in the house going to bed at 8pm every night. Poor Danika. Really, these girls are a lot of fun and it’s great to live with other athletes who aren’t triathletes. We understand each other’s weird habits but there’s no competition or anything. Love it.
Another major plus side of Victoria is being able to ride outside, however we had a freak snowstorm last week that put that on hold! It was back to the trainer and treadmills for a few days but lucky for me I’m very used to it. The snow disappeared within a week so although it’s a bit chilly we’re back to training outside.

We’ve had the great opportunity to swim with Randy Bennett’s group these past few weeks (Julia, Ryan Cochrane and lots of other speedsters!). These guys are seriously FAST and we get about 2 seconds rest after each interval, but it’s fun to change up our workouts a bit and learn from these world-class swimmers.

Not to be a downer, but there are some things I miss about home too. For one, commonwealth pool is REALLY cold and I spend almost every workout shivering, and then I’m cold for the rest of the morning. I miss the short-course normal temperature pool at U of A! And my friends. And my family. And my dogs. And my house. But maybe this is just a phase and I’ll get over it soon.

On another note, I raced for the first time since Budapest yesterday morning. It’s hard to go through 7 months of training with no competing at all, so I was very excited to race again. It was a 5km road race in Sidney on a flat course with lots of fast runners in attendance. I got dragged along by the guys for the first km and heard “3:04, 3:05, 3:06” as I was running by… may have been a bit too fast but I was feeling good. The last few km were pretty tough into a head wind and there were a few guys tucking in behind ME to be blocked from the wind. No fair! I finished in 16:33 and surprisingly a course record. I haven’t done many 5k races so I’m not sure if this is a good time but I’m happy with the effort! I almost forgot how much racing hurts so it was good to get this under my belt before Mooloolaba.

7 more days ‘till we head down under! YAY, Let’s get this triathlon season started!