Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Triple 7

7th Overall Amateur, missing the podium by 7 seconds on September 7th

Mont-Tremblant 70.3 World Championships was not just another race. It was not just another half ironman, it was not just another World Championship. I have raced my very first 70.3 world championship back in 2010, and every year since then except for last year. Last year I decided that next time I’ll go back to race a WC championship event, I won’t just celebrate getting there but I will want to win it.

Call me crazy, call me delusional, call me cocky, call me dreamy, but I like to set my goals high and then go get them. My goals are not secret. Everyone that knows me, knows what my goals are! I love to win, I hate to lose. I love to get the best out of myself, and I love the journey, the process, and what it takes. But let’s back up to this past Sunday.  

It was no secret that my goal going into this race was to win - to win my age group and the overall amateur title. Few days before the race I shared this picture on facebook. 

I wanted that trophy, and I wanted it bad. Too bad I would have had to race and win the pro race to get one but you get the point.

To arrive at a world championship event confident that I had the tools to win has been a long process. One that didn't just take days, weeks, or months but rather years – 4 to be exact. I specifically dedicated last year and this year to improve enough to have that chance and the ability to compete with the best of the best. Or at least the best that show up, and this year definitely didn't disappoint in that department. Quality field was assembled and athletes from 67 different countries toed the line.

Easy to spot czech chick I mean czech flag

It was a process throughout which I learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. This year, I raced very little, and really concentrated on putting together solid training blocks that would get me closer to my goal. I stuck to the plan. I trained hard. I paid more attention to detail not only in my training but also recovery. More importantly I was able to stay healthy and very consistent. I cannot stress enough how important consistency is! It wasn’t always easy, and there were lots of laughs, but also tears, but I had a blast! I won’t bore you with details but come September 7th, I was in the best shape I have ever been in, and ready to show the world (literally)! 

I arrived in Mont- Tremblant on Thursday afternoon, registered, walked the expo, and went for a quick ride. On my 45 min ride, I picked up a leech (little did I know it was just a preview of what is to come on race day), and then I saw Meredith Kessler zoom by. I do have to say it took a lot for me to not catch up to her and ride with her, but I decided to save my watts for race day and stick to my training plan. 

Checking out the course on Thursday 

Once I was done with my ride, we headed to our place for the weekend, which was another 30 or so minute drive further north but it was so worth it!

Waking up to this certainly didn't suck! 

Just beautiful and so incredibly relaxing I can't even put it into words

Thank you Brenda and Noah for the hospitality.  I bet none of my competition was carbo loading while sitting around the camp fire and making or watching others make s’mores! ;) 

The only compression tights or socks in sight were my own! Thank you EC3D for your support! 

Checking in Fireball v2.0 into transition area the day before the race of course fully decked out in EC3D compression gear

Race morning couldn't come fast enough! I was super nervous, but mainly because I knew I had the tools to get it done. Nonetheless that made getting breakfast down near impossible. It was quite chilly in the morning, and I couldn’t stop shivering regardless of the many layers of clothing I was wearing. Thankfully couple of my teammates/friends were staying at a hotel right in center of the town so I was able to warm up inside their hotel room and put my wetsuit on there rather than by the lake. By the time we walked over to the start, I had just enough time to warm up in the water, and before I knew it the gun went off.

THE SWIM: 32:44

It’s no secret that swimming has always been a huge Achilles heel for me, and I very well knew that if I swim like a turtle, my hopes for winning will be over.  However, my consistent work in the water had finally started to pay off.  I have been swimming well in training, but in the end that meant nothing to me until I proved it to myself in a race. I was confident yet still super nervous about the swim. I lined up in the front very well knowing that I will most likely get swum over but I was determined to find some feet and stick with it. 

I am in there somewhere but this time in the mix

I was going to try to do anything to not get dropped and swim alone. I had no desire to show the world my amazing zig zag abilities. I did just that and found a pair of feet that few of us were fighting for, but I wasn't giving in this time. I was staying on these feet, and I was not letting go of the girl that was swimming directly next to me either. I was getting punched, pushed under, kicked, but I didn’t care and kept on moving. We were swimming directly on the buoy line and perfectly straight from buoy to buoy. I was seriously the happiest girl in that lake right there and then even though this was by far the most physical swim I have ever been part of! The occasional punches and fighting for space lasted the entire 1.2 miles, but I didn’t care. I was still with my swim companion even after the 1st and even 2nd turn buoy! We were now in the final stretch and I still wasn’t getting swum over by the super swimmers from the wave behind me. I knew I was swimming well, but sighting was becoming more difficult due to the bright sun that was now directly in our eyes. I actually couldn’t see much besides the swimmers ahead of me, but I was fine because I wasn't alone. That is until my goggles started to fill up with water. Moment of panic quickly entered my head. I continued to swim for just a little longer, until my goggles were completely filled up with water and I decided to let my swim buddy go to. I made a quick adjustment and tried to catch back up, but my goggles filled up  almost immediately again. As much as I didn’t want to swim alone for the rest of the swim, I wear contacts and I really couldn’t afford to be blind for the rest of the race so I stopped again, and this time took a little more time, fixed the goggles, and got on my way, except this time completely alone. It was also the time I started to see the super fast fish from the wave behind motor by me. I tried holding on to some feet for short periods of time, but it didn’t last long, these guys were moving.  

If you looked carefully you can see the return buoys in the distance

In the end, this was by far my best swim to date. When I got out of the water I saw the watch click over to 32 min, I couldn’t have been happier! Of course I also had the thought of “if it wasn’t for stopping twice to fix my goggles, I could have posted a better time” run through my head, but I didn’t dwell on either. I have worked very hard to be able to get myself closer to the competition at the beginning of the bike and I finally made it happen! Great start to the day. 

T1: 4:52

Out of water, quick pit stop with the wetsuit strippers, run on the red carpet

Look, I am flying

Just to give you an idea how long of a run this was, but the spectators were amazing! 

Into the tent find bag with all bike gear (too bad someone totally moved mine from its original spot), helmet on, shoes in hand

The mess inside the tent

Run some more, find bike, put shoes on, run with bike to the mount line. Quite possibly the longest T1 ever! I was just glad I didn’t trip on the red carpet because that would just be embarrassing.

THE BIKE: 2:22:10

It was time to take an advantage of my strength. I was ready! I wanted to really go for it and just see what happens. I had to put myself on the line if I was going to have a chance at winning, and I did just that. I had ridden harder, and pushed more watts than I ever have in a race of this distance and although I ended up with one of the best amateur bike splits comparable to many of the top pro’s, it was this part of the race that made me almost quit the whole race. Although physically and mentally I was ready to ride hard, I was not ready for the draft fest that this race turned out to be. It didn't even occur to me that Mont-Tremblant could become another Clearwater. I don’t want to turn this post into one about drafting, but it was so bad, that I seriously contemplated quitting the race right there on highway 117. Being passed by constantly growing pelotons full of people who I have already passed sucks! It is also highly dangerous, which is another story! Playing cat and mouse with said pelotons sucks even more! Pushing close to 4.5 w/kg into headwind, re-passing pelotons, and barely moving faster than girls on road bikes with clip-ons sucks the most! 

I kept pushing the pace and did my absolute best to ride an honest race. The hill near the turn around at mile 20 immediately followed by an aid station broke up the field quite a bit which was great, because I could finally just put my head down and enjoy the smooth roads Mont Tremblant had to offer. 

I was able to one by one pass a lot of the people that swallowed me up like I was standing earlier in the ride, some of which I was now passing for the 2nd or 3rd time. I was focused again on me and only me until we started to ride back into town. This 5 mile section from about mile 35 to 40 included either slow climbs or fast descends but was coned off and super narrow in spots which made it impossible to get around people. I may be light, but I can carry my power and fly downhill which was impossible given the road situation. Miles 40-50 were full of punchy climbs and short descents which included more of the same cat and mouse games but you get the point by now.

Aside from being extremely frustrated by drafting in the earlier parts of the race, I had a great and honest ride. My Fireball v2.0 showed just how fast we can fly together. Thank you Landry’s Bicycles and Trek for the speed machine! 

Fireball v2.0

I had a fast bike split that may raise some eyebrows, but I am proud to say I worked for it! I posted the highest power I ever have for this distance, and I rode my heart out. Before I knew it, I was rolling into T2.

T2: 1:21 

As long as T1 was, T2 was quick. I hopped off the bike, handed it to the volunteer, and found my bag quickly. Socks/shoes on, and I was off.

 What T2 looked like

THE RUN: 1:34:58

Getting off the bike, my legs felt great. No brick like feeling that one could expect after taking a little bit of a risk on the bike. I left T2 with the eventual overall amateur winner Ashley, who deserves a shout out! She brought her A game, and totally killed it, especially on the run! She showed me how it’s done and quickly left me in the dust!  

Starting the run

The Mont Tremblant run course was 2 loops of either up and down with very limited flat surface. There were spectators everywhere, and especially on the cobblestone climb that went through the center of town.  

Good thing there were a ton of spectators or else this hill would have been a lot tougher especially the second time around

Looks way more intimidating when empty!

I would have liked to run faster, but I laid it all out there on the line, and with that I can’t be upset. I knew I had a girl closing in on me fast in the last mile of the run, and I gave it my all. When she ran by me on that last cobblestone section with about 100 yards left, I tried to go with her but just had nothing left. She ended up beating me by 7 seconds for the final spot on the age group podium.  Not how I imagined this race would end. I was upset, I was quite emotional, I was frustrated, and I quickly came up with many scenarios on where I lost those 7 seconds. I will never forget that cobblestone section of that run course.

Thank you to all my sponsors - BlueSeventy, and Castelli for keeping me chafe free, Landry's Bicycles and Trek for the speed machine now known as Fireball v2.0, PowerBar for keeping my belly happy and energy levels high, Beet-It for being a big part of my pre-race nutrition, RacePak for always making sure I have enough snacks everywhere I go so I don't ever get hungry (those guys know that if that happens it's not pretty), and EC3D for being my go to pre and post race choice of recovery attire. My E3 coaches, teammates, training partners, and of course my supporters at home (you all know who you are), thank you! I couldn't do it without you, and your support is appreciated more than I could ever explain. Kona is less than 30 days away and I have big plans so buckle up because this was just an appetizer! ;)

I’ll leave you with a sentence that summarizes my Mont-Tremblant race experience, which I borrowed from a blog of a fellow racer:  

“It was an awesome venue, with many amazing athletes, and I raced clean with all my heart and soul”
Overall time: 4:36:06 – 6th AG (30-34), 7th Overall Amateur, and 29th including the pro women