I was the first to arrive and was a little gob-smacked by the hotel. The last time I was in a resort-like place was in Mombasa, Kenya with Farouk. There we took in amazing views of the ocean, laid by the pool, did the snorkeling thing, ate too much... I digress. This is what most people do when in Puerto Vallarta too. That is most people except us. We were there to work and that is just what we did.
The prep days before the race were very uneventful. We sat in our hotel rooms to stay cool. We watched movies, read, drank electrolytes... were bored actually. Because we were tapering as well the energy levels just going up and up and up to the point that both Chantell (roommate) and I were saying to each other - let's get on with it!
The race organizers were doing anything but relaxing. Up until the morning of the race they were determining what the course would be, laying dirt over cobblestones, packing it down and hoping the cement that they laid the day before was dry enough. It ended up being a technical
but flat course on the bike. The swim was in a sheltered port and the run was mostly along a
flat road. Surprisingly and after some serious anxiety the course was pretty good.
It was a deep water start and unfortunately for me I had a really rough start. I ended up loosing the lead pack and dragging the second (chase) pack behind me. In other words I did all the work and was anything but comfortable in over 80 degree water. I lost my goggles as well so sighting became a challenge. Despite these challenges I worked hard and came out of the water (after totally banging my shin and knee at swim exit) and was ready to rock the bike. We worked hard and eventually caught the lead pack. Then my next stupid mistake happened. I missed an attack just prior to a technical transition section, got stuck behind some girls who lacked cornering skills and a gap opened up. So I found myself working super hard once again to close the gap... third full-on effort in the race. After we caught the girls there was no way that I was going to get caught out again. I led the bike for a significant portion of the remaining time controlling much of the pace. I told Kirsten to just sit on my wheel (i.e., not work) and make sure she was ready to win the race. She did just that (although got DQd). Through the final 2 laps (of six) of the bike I felt good, thought that I recuperated from the efforts and was ready to have a good run.
Then the run. Oh the run! Coming from the race in Tuscaloosa (ITU Pan-American Cup/US Nationals), learning from that race (specifically blowing up at 7km due to over heating/dehydration), Zane and I determined that I should definitely not bolt from transition like I normally do, be more conservative and ensure that I take in more fluids throughout to bring my core temp down. Specifically we planned that I would actually drink water at the first opportunity. I downed almost a full bottle. Then I promptly felt like I needed to throw it all up. Excellent. I kept hoping that I would come around - I was ready for this race. I never did.
I was super super bummed. I have been running faster than ever. I was fully tapered and confident. Yet a stellar finish was not in the cards. So this is where I have to say that sometimes I need to be beat on the head a bit to get perspective. I was not supposed to be able to race at all this year. I had to get over a significant injury, totally change my running technique and make some other huge changes in my life (take a leave from my job, change coaches, move to train in Austin... just to start). Through all of this I had breakthrough races, learned a whole lot about race strategy and after just 2 ITU races this year came 14th at the Pan-American Championships while racing for Canada. So am I on track? Absolutely.
Up next is an amazing race in Oceanside California - the Super Sprint Grand Prix. This race is by invitation only and will be super super fast and fun. I have never done anything like it and am really excited about it. We will be doing a swim, bike, run x2. It is going to HURT! Which is exactly what we triathletes, for some reason absolutely love. Sadly it will be my last race of the season. Funny to think. I will keep you posted on how it goes!
Happy training, racing and recuperating from a great season!