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.


Monday, June 6, 2011


I tried not to worry about going into the race with the number 1 tattooed on my arms and legs. It came with some added pressure, a few more stares, and some annoying cameras in my face during warm-up, but I approached the race like I do every other. I still sat in the pre-race meeting thinking, “Cool, there’s Gomez! And Emma Snowsill! And the Brownlees!” I did have a minor panic attack when I opened my envelope and saw my “1” stickers and realized I had a bit of a target on my back, but in general I stayed pretty relaxed and was confident in the training that I had done since Sydney. This is me trying really hard not to freak out before the start... ha.

I remember back in junior racing when I had no trouble getting out into clear water to have a clean swim instead of fighting for my life to stay above water. I’ve since discovered out that WCS races are at a whole other level and I often get caught somewhere in the middle by the first turn, forcing me to fight may way back up to the leaders. This was my first elite race where I was able to get on some good feet right away and I was in 3 rd position going around the first turn. Triathlons are actually fun when you don’t get stuck in washing machine chaos! I came out of the first transition in 2nd place, right behind Laura Bennett. That never happens!

The bike course was 8 loops around a beautiful park, with a challenging hill on each lap. There was a Specialized prime line at the top of the hill, with $500 up for grabs on each lap. I had no intention of going for any of them, but I was feeling great leading up the first hill and thought I may as well try. I stood up and went for it with another girl in a Tour-de-France style sprint to the line, slightly dramatic, and I actually got it! That never happens! I was in the same situation on the 2nd lap so I went for it with Lisa Norden, and just barely got it again. A solid swim and 2 bike primes to start the race, I was actually having fun! I knew that some strong runners including Emma Moffatt were in a chase pack about 30 seconds behind us, so I worked hard with the other girls to maintain our lead. The hardest part for me was the technical and steep descent, where I got super nervous and put on my breaks every time, leaving a gap to the girls in front of me. I felt bad for everyone who got stuck behind me! I’m a major wimp on down hills.

I had a decent 2nd transition compared to my usual dead last exit, but Andrea Hewitt took off like a rocket. I slowly reeled her back in and we were soon caught by Helen Jenkins. I was working hard but I felt in control and I knew that I had another gear in me if one of the girls decided to surge ahead. I was happy to run with them and try to make a gap on the last 180-degree turn towards the finish. This didn’t go exactly as planned, as Helen stayed with me right until the blue carpet. I managed to keep a small lead on her, looking over both shoulders all the way to the finish.

I’m more excited about how well things went DURING the race than I am about the actual result. It’s a big confidence booster to know that I am able to come out of the swim with the leaders and be strong on the bike. This course didn’t leave room for any mistakes on the swim, bike or run, so I’m thrilled that I was able to put together a smooth and successful race.

I’m so appreciative of all the support that I had this weekend, from Bobby and the Specialized crew (who replaced my cracked bike frame within 4 hours after I arrived!!), Patrick, Kyla, Kim, John, and the whole ITU and organizing committee who put on such a fantastic race. I could not be in this position right now without the help of these people and so many others!

I’ve just arrived in Kitzbuhel, where we’ll train for 2 weeks before the next race on June 20
th. I’m looking forward to the change of scenery and this is certainly a beautiful place to be.

Thanks for cheering for me!