Monday, August 25, 2014

Canadian Nationals in Magog

The following week I traveled to Magog, Quebec to race the Canadian National Championships. As opposed to the previous weekend, this weekend’s race was a sprint (half of an Olympic distance). Initially, I was pretty bummed when I heard the race distance had been switched from an Olympic to sprint. However, by the end of the race I was thanking my lucky stars…

This was my 2nd time racing in Magog and I can say without a doubt that it is one of my favorite race venues. The organization and atmosphere is top notch! Not to mention, the swim takes place in a lake that I could just swim in for days, as opposed to those races where you come out of the water caked with dirt,etc.

I knew with just a 750m swim that I’d need to get out to a good start and get on some feet. After the gun went off, I saw in my peripheral vision some girls running to the right, and I immediately followed them and dolphin-dived til I got on their feet. I wasn’t able to stay with them for the entirety of the swim, but the good start put me in a great position coming out of the water.

After a quick transition, I was out to start the very hilly/technical bike course. I had no idea what place I was in coming out of the swim, but was enthused to see only about 4 girls ahead of me on the first lap. Near the end of the first lap, a group of about 6 of us formed a pack and started to work together for the remaining 10k of the bike. Because of the nature of the course, we were really the only large pack to form – most everyone else was going it alone. Unfortunately, on one of the last hills I mis-shifted and my chain briefly came off. Luckily, I was able to think fast and shift it back on, but I lost my mini-pack in the process. I sprinted the downhill as there was only about 3k left at this point, but was never able to get back on. I entered the 2nd transition about 10 seconds back of my group.

Mad at myself for making such a rookie shifting mistake on the bike, I took off kind of like Roadrunner in those Looney Tunes cartoons. I wanted to reel those girls back in as quickly as possible since it was such a short race. All of the sudden, I felt a stitch in my left side and I started to be thankful that this was only a sprint 5k run! After a little over a mile, the stitch subsided and I was finally able to get back into a quick pace and finish at a decent pace, though my legs were pretty spent by this point and I was running out of "real estate." Once again, my run left me feeling that I can do so much better than this and that all my hard work is not showing as of yet.

The positives of this race:
• I finished 10th overall
• I was the 2nd overall elite (not counting the U23 results). Basically, I was second out of the old people ;)
• Getting good points towards my world ranking
• There was a Tim Hortons visit post-race which included baked goods
• Spending the weekend in Magog staying in a beautiful lake house with great company

If only I spoke French, I would consider vacationing there. Bonjour and merci can only get you so far...Now that I’m back home from training in Colorado for the summer and racing in Canada, I’m looking forward to staying in Cali for a bit and not having to pack and fly with my bike. My next race is in Pacific Grove on September 13th. Thanks for reading and as always, for the support! Cheers!

Toronto ITU: Shoe Know It!

In mid-July, I headed to Canada for two ITU Pan American Cup races. The last time I raced in Canada was back in 2012, a race that I traveled to on my own. That trip included many miscommunications and a motel room with a front door that wouldn’t latch (eeeek!). Luckily, this time around I had a support crew which made me much less stressed and enjoy the races a whole lot more!!

I cannot thank Canadian triathlete Leanna Lee and her family enough for hosting me for the time I spent in Toronto and in-between my Toronto and Magog races! I’ve only ever flown through Toronto so I was excited to finally get the opportunity to explore this beautiful city. In my week there, I was able to visit the CN Tower (one of the world’s tallest) as well as the Bata Shoe Museum. Even though I own mostly athletic shoes and sandals, I was intrigued by the evolution of shoes from the days of the ancient civilizations to today. Fun fact: for about a century, men wore heels higher than women to show their status in society. Luckily this fad didn’t last haha!

The first race of my Canadian double took place in picturesque downtown Toronto: the Toronto ITU Pan American Cup/Pan Ams test event. After a very chilly (16 degrees C) wetsuit-legal swim, I exited the water leading the second pack. I was pretty pleased with my position considering that most of my body was numb and that the swim was a bit long as well! It took about 5 miles into the bike before my feet and legs thawed out and I was able to get into a good rhythm. My pack knew we had a lot of work to do if we wanted to catch the leaders in the group ahead, and once we were swallowed up by a couple of girls from behind, the pace quickened and we began to chip away at the lead. A hard effort on the bike was made even harder by a pesky little 100 meter-ish climb we had at the beginning of each lap, but by the end of the bike our work had paid off and the front pack was in sight!

Coming off the bike, I tried to stay calm and have a good turnover… and not let that aforementioned pesky little climb take too much out of me on each of the 4 laps. This was not my fastest run ever (by far!), however, it was one of the fastest I’ve had in awhile since my foot injury late 2012. Knowing what I am capable of on the run, I usually end up beating myself up but I have to remind myself that you can't come back overnight and must accept and celebrate progress. I ended up 11th on the day and am so thankful to Leanna’s family, friends, and coach for cheering for me as well! Always nice to know at least one person out there is supporting you. Afterwards, we celebrated by going to a little hole-in-the-wall place in Kensington Market, where we began an afternoon eating marathon that included: fish tacos (my first ever), fresh squeezed pineapple juice (I’m a fan!), cupcakes (yum!), English breakfast tea, and burgers. Don’t judge…we earned it!