Sitting in the recovery zone post race, I was feeling pretty happy. There were a lot of things that could have gone better, so I wasn't entirely sure what I was happy about.. but then Paula summed it up, " we lived!" she said.
I finished with the exact same placing as my other world cup, which is fine, but now it's time to start improving.
The swim was the roughest/choppiest conditions I've ever experienced. Once we got through the (not-quite-mazatlan-2008 -but-still-Really-big) break, it was 1500m of washing machine.
I just wanted it to ennnddd.
The waves were smashing us into one another the entire swim, leading to consta- fighting, and getting my ankles pulled, and my suit pulled, and getting dunked, and choking on ridiculous amounts of salt water while never knowing which direction land was in, let alone where the buoys were. There were times when it felt like I wasn't even swimming very hard, I was just expending all my energy trying to untangle my arms from the girls surrounding me, and trying to stay on top of the waves that were drowning me. The few times I managed to get free of being boxed in, I was able to make up a lot of ground by swimming outside the pack. My swimming felt a lot better than my fighting. I'm just not an angry person! Despite not catching either of the perfect waves that passed me by on the way in, I came out of the water not too far down from the leaders so I was happy about that. One second ahead of Barbera Riveros according to the timing splits, buuut she then proceeded to make front pack, and I never even saw it, so that was too bad. Enough of this almost making front pack business!
The wind was really howling on the bike, making the already killer course that much worse. My legs felt great, and I felt really strong on the bike, but I sabotaged my own race by not being aggressive enough on the corners. Ever since I did my first road ride a couple months ago in Maui, I've realized that I'm not as confident on the bike as I had been pre-London crash. That said, I have never ridden in a pack this big before either, let alone with lots of U-turning and wet roads. I did a good job of staying calm and controlled despite that the pack felt very sketchy to me with the wind pushing us around. I think I did a good job of the turns, and held my line well, but I just wasn't brave enough to fight my way into the front on the slippery corners like the top girls were. I'm pretty sure I was just about last into 12 out of 14 of the corners.
Focusing on not crashing is a VERY bad winning strategy.
The times that I did make it to the front of the pack, I felt very strong, and I tried to help out Kathy and Klamer who were doing most of the work. But sadly, instead of using my energy to help pull our pack, I mostly spent it bridging the massive gaps that formed every turn-around. Only positive is that now I know I can get dropped 12 times in a World cup and still catch back up again.
When I wasn't sprinting as hard as I could to bridge back up, I was attempting different ways to get myself to the front of the pack, before the U-turns, to avoid the inevitable back of the pack gap.
I tried killing it up the massive never-ending- hill-into- head- wind. I pulled everyone the whole way up Big Hill, and then proceeded to get passed by EVERY SINGLE GIRL over the crest of the hill/downhilll.
Once again I was dead last into the U-turn and had to sprint my ass off on the way back up the hill to close the gap.
4th lap, I ditched the hero tactic and waited until way later up the hill to push to the front. I succeeded in being about 5th into the downhill- chicany- turn-around section, only to find that the leaders were taking it SOOO freaking fast! I seriously thought they were attacking we went so fast. No wonder I was gapped off the back all the other times! the back girls weren't going half as fast. Somehow I stuck it out. I tried really hard to stay up front, but then the hurricane hit (seriously it was like a wall of rain/wind) and I found myself slowing up into the incoming turns as the sound of race wheels skidding, and girls unclipping into the turnaround freaked me out.. only to end up back at the back.
Needless to say I am very excited that it will soon be Crit season back home, and I'll be able to get back some pack-riding/cornering practice in. I knew what I had to do, but wasn't quite able to be as aggressive as I need to be at this level of racing.
I even managed to lose a good 30 seconds from the leaders of my pack onto the run by being DFL of my group coming into T2. Not proud of that at all.
The first lap of the run was super crampy, But I took a gel and some water, and seemed to get it under control by lap 2, so that was a relief. The run was just up and over the big hill and then back up and over the big hill four times, so it was very hard. It's a really big hill! My legs are not quite in that type of shape yet, so my run split was not pretty.
All in all I am very relieved that I was able to put in such a big effort at this time of the year. I didn't get lapped out AND I didn't even end up in the medical tent for any reasons! woot! I'm looking forward to being able to get some more training in here in Aus, and continue working my way towards racing fitness. It was nice to see where I'm at, and it's easy to see what needs more work.
I'm really happy that Alex had a successful return to racing in the continental cup, and that Kathy, Lauren and Paula raced so well too! Sydney should be exciting! and Kirsten get well soon!!