Nevertheless, I was off to meet the bus at 4am and get out to the race site. I can't say that I remember all that much about the bus ride but do remember that it was early, cold and dark. Forty-five minutes later we all arrived and I walked to my transition area - a huge pool of water. One potential bonus was that I had a lot of space as no one else really wanted to brave the additional swim through transition. The other advantage to a cold rainy morning is that the water felt surprisingly warm in my warm-up!
When the gun went off I quickly realized that I messed up a little on the start line as I hung back a little. This meant that I had to fight my way to the front. Men and women went off together so it was a little different for me than in the ITU races. To be honest, I think that although the bodies I had to battle were a bit bigger, there was a lot less silly antics (feet grabbing). My swim felt strong and steady. I had a good rhythm. Because of my poor start I missed some drafting potential and had to swim on my own for a large part of the swim trying to bridge the gap between the lead group and myself. I almost succeeded. I did create a huge lead (2:20) though among the women - of course I had no idea of this running out.
One thing about me is that I hate being cold. The rain had stopped thankfully but there was no sun to be found. This meant braving cool temperatures for 95km. I decided that as long as I could wear socks I would be ok. So I grabbed my bike, ran out of transition, and close to the mount line I put my socks on. Of course the video camera was on me as I was in the lead so I thought - oh man this is sooo not going to look professional! I laughed and just kept thinking - this is my first one and I am allowed to make a few rookie moves :)
On the bike I tried to find my rhythm right away. I usually have a tendency to just want to hammer it out but kept thinking that I really needed to contain myself if I wanted to maintain a solid performance. I probably was a bit conservative on the bike for this reason. Heather Wurtele had a stellar bike and passed me, then Mirinda Carfrae came up and also passed me. One person was ok but two! Never mind that Mirinda is a world champion. I didn't want to have to be the one always worried about the draft line so I passed her back and didn't look back. The second half of my bike was stronger than my first. My rookie mistake on the bike was that I kept looking at the mountains and thinking how pretty it was. My head had to turn to do this and if you have ever seen an aero helmet, if you turn your head you are anything but aero. Oops. I had to stop enjoying myself out there so much.
I came out of transition and Mirinda was hot on my heals. She quickly passed me and I had to remind myself to slow down - I had 21km to do and was certainly not going to be able to do it at her pace. Thank-goodness I had my Garmin because as much as I wanted to hold a 6'/mile pace, it was not going to happen. The run felt pretty good although I wondered at around 4km if my legs would ever come around. It was like running with bricks. They did though and I honestly was shocked at how quickly the turn-around at 10km came. I was sad to see though that Linsey Corbin was coming up on me so quickly. I just kept trying to keep my pace up. The rookie mistake that I made on the run was my nutrition. I knew I had to continue taking something in and I tried but the whole chocolate Gu thing in the flask was not working for me despite training with it. I kept forgetting to close the lid and it kept getting all over me. Chocolate Gu is not what you want all over and I kept thinking how beautiful it must look with brown smudges all over my hands and face. My ego got in the way :) So over the half marathon it was lucky if I got in one gel. oops. I hit a wall at 19km and shortly after Linsey flew by me. Uggg. So close yet so far. I came to the finish line though with a smile on my face. The announcer was rather funny - he kept saying ' we don't know much about Tenille Hoogland as this is her first 70.3 but she has been doing half marathons etc.... ' The last half marathon I did was in Toronto in 1995. I did it just under 2 hours and it HURT!
I loved this race and loved the whole experience of being in Calgary while undertaking my first 70.3. It truly was everything I hoped for (although the podium would have made me very happy). I really look forward to my next one and pushing the envelope maybe a little more on the bike. I also will have done more than one long run by this time so will have a bit better fitness in this department. Oh soooo scary how well I could do at this distance if I trained for it and had a proper TT bike!
Since the race it has been straight to training for Kelowna Pan-American Cup/Nationals. It is back to speed and being on the red-line for 2 hours. To be honest, the 70.3 although hard, is not as hard as the intensity that comes from an ITU race. Maybe because I was conservative in my race but to sit on that thin red line is challenging mentally and physically. I usually don't see anything in an Olympic race except the feet, wheel or pavement in front of me. I certainly don't have time to think, oh those mountains are sooo pretty!
Stay tuned... hopefully I will be running around a little less in the next while and better at blogging. The season has just begun!!!