Saturday, September 17, 2011
I've never really had any desire to go to China (luckily I can't offend anyone in China by saying that due to their ban on social media haha) but I'm really glad I was given the opportunity to see that part of the world because it was quite the experience. It ended up being both better and worse than I expected. The race site was quite green- like what you would imagine a panda jungle to be like, so that was really nice. But the smog was way worse than anything I imagined. On the bad days you could barely even see much of the scenery. Before it rained and we got a glimpse of clear air, I was wondering what it would be like to grow up and never know that the sky was actually blue not grey.. Anyways, it was an awesome experience, but boy do I love Canada.
After the first few days there, I went into the race with a list of all the different ways you can die in China: a) sliding out on the ridiculously slippery pavement if it rains, b) food/water poisoning, c) heat/humidity stroke d) asthma/allergy attack from the smog d) I can't remember what d) was actually.. but it was a legitimate fear as well (possibly something to do with getting hit by a car).. so when it was pouring on race day I couldn't help but think, 'thatttt's it! I'm a goner!!!' Our top 2 junior girls went down on the corners twice each during their race that morning, and the leading british girl was taken out by a stray dog, so that didn't make me any more confident. Luckily a) somewhat cancels out c) and possibly d) (since I can't remember what it was), and in the end since I didn't crash, it ended up working out for me quite well.
We raced at 3:15pm which is a lot later than any race I've done before, so that and the fact that the course/transition/lounge was barely open to us, made the morning leading up to the race a bit challenging. I ended up doing run and bike warmups quite early in the day and then tried to do a good swim warm up. I think that worked out.. problem was that while the lake was really nice (25 degrees) the air was really cold, so despite wearing all the clothes I could during the procession, I absolutely froze standing on the pontoon waiting for the other girls to get called out. My sprinting/start speed in the water had been feeling awesome, but somewhere between warmup and the 'go' I lost it, and my first 100 strokes were not at all what I needed. I ended up getting trapped behind A LOT of slower swimmers when we all came together. Unfortunately it was the 'oh no I am stuck behind A LOT of slower swimmer, but am so busy fighting and flailing that I'm using up all my energy anyways' type stuck. So that was too bad.
I panicked a lot. I think it was at the last 200 meters that I finally got free, surged up the front group and found that they were coasting. YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. that could have been the easiest swim ever!!! but alas it was not ha.
T1 was fine I think.. By the time we did the 180 and were coming back past transition, I was in first, and no one was going with me. Finally Lauren Goss pulled up and we exchanged leads a couple time until the hill, and then I pulled most of the way back around and back up the hill again.. Everyone worked the hill, but otherwise it was the most unmotivated front pack I've ever been in. The only positive was that I didn't have to stress about taking the corners too fast because I went into every one first. By the top of the hill on the second lap chase back caught us which was good because Alex made it up.. but bad because it meant coming off the bike with twice the amount of girls. The rest of the bike just got colder and colder and rainier and rainier. I think that was the coldest I've ever been in a race. Alex tried to put together an attack, but it ended up being at a very inopportune time for me. I totally cramped on the hill, and was literally straight legging it up while she surged ahead. Sooooorrrrrrryyyyyyy. Dying here! I was freaking out about the run after so much crampage on the bike but it ended up being ok.
I had a crappy T2 because I could NOT get my fingers defrosted enough to pull my shoes on. I headed out not too far back though, and just accepted the feeling of being too frozen to feel anything for the first lap until I had latched on to the main group of runners. That was awesome! I've never ran in a pack before. I didn't even realize how big we were until I saw pictures of us afterwards. So cool! Coming past the penalty box Craig was there telling me I had a penalty. Yuuuuppp and there was number 14- the only number up on the board- clearly posted there. I was shocked. I don't get penalties. I make fun of people who get penalties! I decided it must of been the helmet (which it was). I had thought for sure that it had gone in the box, but when I went to double check, my bike was in the way so I couldn't tell, so I just ran off having already wasted enough time struggling with my flats. So anyways that killed my soul a little bit. But it took off any pressure that I had about sticking with the girls because I knew that no matter what I would have to lose 15 seconds at some point. 'Well nothing to it but to run faster than everyone else,' I thought. I was feeling really good which has never happened to me before in an olympic distance race, so I moved to the front and tried to push the pace for laps 2 and 3. I figured I was probably being an idiot to do that, but how would I know- I've never tried this running in a pack and feeling good thing before aaaaaanndd somewhere along the line I would lose 15seconds. I had been having trouble keeping up with the girls on the steep little hill that did not feel little at all, so on the third lap I knew I would have to dig deep. I told myself: "30 seconds all out right now- ready go!" So I SPRRRRINTED........ and got totally gapped. And it took me a while to recover from my fail sprint.. probably shouldve taken the penalty then but I wanted to stay in contact with as many girls as possible. Anyways I gradually felt better and better as the last lap went on, but was still losing time to the leaders and then I had to take the penalty.. holy headrush/cramping batman.. and then sprinted my ass off (pain face and all) to make up 15 seconds and catch the 11th place girl in the last 400 meters ( I thought maybe she was a top 8 which would've been nice). But she saw me about to pass her in the last three steps, and beat me anyways.. and so now my calves are still shot from yet another sprint fail.
I had been feeling so smooth for most of the run that I didn't even think we were going fast.. I thought it was just an ez run until I died, but looking at the splits it was still the fastest run of my life even with the extra 15 seconds, so that made me happy.
All in all I would have loved to finish a bit higher, but I don't think I can expect much more from myself than that, so I'm content.
We honestly had the best support I have ever ever had at a race/event/anywhere!, so I can't thank everyone enough. Patrick for being my great coach, Craig and Gabor for switching out my cassette last second, because I would not have made it up the hill otherwise, Pierre for cooking for us, Kim, Marylin, Dr. Keeler and Rob Hasegawa for looking after me! Everyone!! Thanks for making it an awesome trip :D.