Friday, November 16, 2012

Where the Buffalo Roams...ITU Elite Nat'ls

For this year’s nationals (just as I did last year), I traveled from the home of the buffaloes (CU Boulder) to the actual location of Buffalo. This year, I had just three simple goals in mind: eat buffalo wings, get a picture with a buffalo in Buffalo, and not be involved in a pile up crash (like last year where I got back up and finished slowly). SPOILER’S ALERT: Mission accomplished!

Going into this race, I was nursing a foot injury I picked up a week after my Kelowna race and 2 weeks out from nationals. So, my goals slightly changed leading up to the race. Now, after taking 2 weeks off of running leading up to the race, I was just praying that I’d be able to make it through and not end my season on a DNF.

The swim start took place on a wobbly boat dock complete with hooks for boats to be tied to. After all the rocking last year though, I’m happy to say I was prepared for this year and had a decent start. I was wearing #7(my lucky number) and therefore, was able to pick a decent spot near the outer left side. I thought I’d done a good job of getting out fast after the start but was quickly proved wrong once I hit the first turn buoy and ran into most of the main pack trying to turn at the same time as me. I came out of the first lap, ran around the turn around cone and realized I was further back than I wanted to be. So, I red-lined the first part of the second lap and was able to make up some ground in the very choppy waters. With about 300 meters to go, I felt like I was in a good position in the main group.

Then came the hardest part of the entire race…running up to transition on a hurt foot. The run-up was a little more of a Sunday jog than I would’ve liked, but I was so excited that I was able to hook onto a bike pack right out of transition that I quickly forgot. The bike course was mostly flat but the winds and the u-turns made it a bit tricky. My bike group of 4 did a good job of not losing too much ground to the group ahead of us and we added another with 3 laps to go on the 8 loop bike course to dismount as a group of 5.

I’d decided before the race that in T2 I would put on socks and wear my training shoes with orthotics to give my feet as much support as possible. As I did so, I watched as my fellow competitors quickly changed into their racing flats and took off. A couple seconds later, I was off and running as well. Having not run in 2 weeks, I had no idea what to expect and decided that if hurt to run right away I would stop. However, to my amazement I felt okay (thanks endorphins!) and continued on. I tried to stay relaxed and run a consistent pace, which I successfully did for the first 4 miles. It was about at this point that the throbbing pain in my foot started. It really didn’t get too bad until about 1 mile to go but at that point I thought I’d get to sit down faster running than walking. When I hit the finish line 12th overall and 9th American, I was in a world of pain and had trouble hiding it. Grrrrr….I hate feeling like a drama queen! But, I made it and the fact that I didn’t DNF made me so happy at the end of the day. Congrats to Sarah Haskins and Flora Duffy on an amazing race out there in which they literally swam, biked and ran away from the rest of the field!

So, as you all probably guessed, that was the end of the season for me. For now, I am in foot rehab and wedding planning mode. It’s amazing all the little details you can get caught up in…. Forced downtime is always a good thing, however, it is absolutely gorgeous right now in Colorado and I cannot help but be jealous of the runners I see heading out to the trails…oh well, I’ll be out there soon enough!

A “Low” in Kelowna

After a 5-year hiatus, I was back in Kelowna, Canada for another crack at this ITU race with a monstrous hill. Back in 2007, my first year as a pro triathlete, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t know how to ride a bike too well and relied mostly on my swimming and running skills to get me through. However, after training at altitude in the mountains of Colorado, I felt more confident in my biker chick abilities and was ready to race for the podium!

Sadly, my bike had other ideas… apparently the electronic shifting must’ve been a little bit off and every time I tried to shift from my small to big ring after climbing the aforementioned monstrous hill, the chain would slip off and I’d have to put it back on. I continued on each time, picking up a new group of people to ride with almost every lap until the final lap when instead of just slipping off, my chain jammed underneath the frame and I was unable to continue.

The positive things I had to take away from the race were this: 1) I can finally make it up the hill no problem and stay with the group 2) Kelowna is an absolutely gorgeous city! I’m going to go there as often as I get the opportunity! 3) The race organizers and volunteers there are so sweet! They came to get me after my bike broke and made sure I was physically (and mentally) okay…awesome people! 4) The other Americans rocked this race… 3 Americans in the top 5!