Apologies everyone…I know I said I would post regular updates on my trip to Australia but time flies when you are race prepping and I rarely used the L.A.N. down under…
ITU Under 23 World Championships
Pre-race: I think I was prepped as well as possible going into this race. I'd been doing workouts specific to this race for months and made sure to get an adequate amount of rest leading up to the race. In addition,the USA coaching staff made sure our team knew the ins and outs of the course, who our main competitors were, and what to expect from the race in general. Also, we were fortunate enough to have an amazing team of massage therapists, chiropractors, and a bike mechanic to make sure that both our bikes and bodies were ready to go on race day. I raced on Friday, the 11th at 10 in the morning. *Random fact: I have now raced on every day of the week except Thursday. It was a gorgeous day for a race and had it not been for the accents and the traffic driving on the other side of the road, I would’ve mistaken Gold Coast, Australia for a beach in Florida. There were about 30 girls in the race, and each of us was introduced in order of our number and then allowed to pick our spot on the mat in preparation for a beach start (run in the water start).
Swim: The swim consisted of a 2-lap course, 750m per lap. The start was pretty brutal with elbows flying everywhere as I ran into the water, but after about 20 seconds of fighting I was able to find my own space to swim and get into a rhythm. At the end of the first lap, I was able to take a quick peek and check out the competition – it looked like I was right around 20th place. This is where I stayed for the second lap and I exited the water with a group of about 8 girls, a couple of whom I was able to pass on the carpeted ramp up to transition. After a pretty quick transition, I was running full speed with my bike towards the bike mount line to put myself in as good of a position as possible when a calamity occurred… while executing my flying bike mount, I completely missed my bike seat and nearly lost my balance. Complete disaster! I ended up having to stop and mount my bike very carefully, losing me lots of time and more importantly, the pack of girls I’d worked so hard to swim with.
Bike: At this point, I could still see the pack of girls still in sight, only about 10 seconds ahead of me. So, I surged to try and catch up to them. I gained some ground on the first turn around which was only about a ½ mile into the course, but ultimately was never able to catch them. So, I ended up waiting for the girls behind me to form a bike pack because I figured it most likely would be better than working by myself and killing my legs for the 10k run. However, the pack worked very poorly together and we were losing a lot of ground each lap to the leaders. Although they were gaining ground on us on the 8-lap criterium-like course, I knew we were never in danger of being lapped by them, as I knew we still had about 3 minutes between our packs. However, one thing that had slipped my mind is the first runner/last biker rule. If the first runner reached a certain point on the run course before the last bikers reached the transition area, they were pulled out of the race. This is what happened to my pack. Although we were not technically lapped, it was said that we were “lapped out” because of this rule. My initial reaction was one of shock and disbelief. I had no idea our pack was in danger of having this rule apply to us. I didn’t feel I had worked that hard and was of course, getting my legs ready for a quick 10k sprint off the bike. So, there you have it, the story of the DNF.
Obviously, a DNF at the World Championships is not the way any athlete wants to end their season. Don’t feel too sorry for me though… in this roller coaster of a year I have seen more improvement than I could’ve hoped for at the end of my 2008 season and was able to accomplish some of the key goals that I’d set out to obtain this year. If anything, this will keep me driven and focused for my races next year. My favorite quote of the moment is “Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it’d be worth it.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
Thanks for reading!