Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Race Report Columbia Triathlon

Warning this race report is loonnnggg!
I was not going to even write a report for this race. But every race has its lessons...and writing a race report always gives me time to reflect on exactly how things worked or didn't work out for me.
My goals for this race were...no expectations and to get a HARD workout in. I had been fighting the battle of bronchitis and was not feeling great for 2 weeks. Training was low and I had decided that racing was probably out until a day or two before when I started to feel slightly better. I felt the urge to race as I really enjoyed this race last year. Its challenging and I love Rob Vigorito"s passion for triathlon and the energy he and George Altieri put into their races. My homestay Bob and his family had been so warm and accommodating and had called to see if I was going to make it down. I started feeling sad that I was going to miss it and put it out there to Coach Paulo. I was sure he was going to say "no" but he didn't. He left it up to me and said I should only go if I really wanted to race. The problem was I really did not want to race....Why would I put myself in a situation that I knew was probably not ideal. The competition was very good, they were calling for lousy weather and I was still coughing...none of it seemed inviting.
Finally I came to the conclusion that as much as I did not feel like racing,the thought of not racing was even worse. You got to be in it to win it...and while I was certain I was not going to win it I was certainly going to go and give it my best effort that I could given how I was feeling.

Race Morning came and I did start to doubt my decision a little. I had had a lousy nights sleep as the hotel I decided to stay at was filled with half triathletes/ half wedding party. So just as us triathletes were falling into a deep sleep out came the party people. At one point around midnight I peeked out my door to a full on shouting match between a grumpy triathlete and a drunk. This seemed to go on for hours and when my alarm beeped at 4 I seriously contemplated hitting snooze. I was exhausted,apparently so was Chrissie Wellington as she stayed in the same hotel and heard all the craziness too. Things got even better as my hotel had promised me a 4 am breakfast buffet. I half asleep walked down to the lobby and started to help myself to a bagel and banana...only to be asked if I was on the "Team in Training" group. I figured I had arrived at the wrong buffet so I headed to the front desk to find out that they had made a mistake and there was NO breakfast. Well the obvious thing was to go back to Team in Training and beg for a bagel...Can you believe that they actually said no...they had none to spare. So breakfast was a 3 day old croissant from a gas station.

As I arrived at the race it started to rain.. and the wind was blowing pretty good. They had made the decision that the pro's were not allowed to wear wetsuits. The new rule really stinks as most of the pro's have zero bodyfat and being in that cold water is just NO good....especially when its only 50 degrees out. I and all the pro's actually seemed in good spirits and we all headed down to the start.
Andrew Yoder,Scott Defilippis and me before heading into swim Photo courtesy of Brian Shea from PBN.

Nobody was excited to get into the lake. Brave me ran in first and that I believe is when I really regretted the decision I made to race. For a brief few seconds I contemplated swimming back to the shore but I just couldn't do it. I too realised that I had grabbed the wrong goggles...the leaky pair so I knew it was going to be an interesting swim. With one minute to start I focused and forgot alot of the first part of this race report.
The gun went off and soon the faster swimmers broke away and I ended up leading the second pack of swimmers,not the greatest idea as I couldn't see. At one point I swam into the buoy as I could only see every now and then when the water in my goggles happen to be at the right spot, otherwise everything else was a blur. I thought of Michael Phelps and how in his book No Limits he spoke of how he had raced in the Olympics with water filled goggles and had to count his strokes so he wouldn't hit the wall. Well this wasn't the Olympics so I did not stress instead just stuck my head down and tried to swim in a straight line. With a no wetsuit swim the times were slower than last year.

The transition from swim to bike was quick as I raced to come out of T1 with Amanda Lovato. I knew she had got the fastest bike split last year and if I could keep her in my sight it would help. But at the same corner as last year I dropped my shoe pulling my wet foot into it. I watched ny friend Scottie and Amanda race away. I put in a good effort to try catch them but my heart rate was sky high and I knew I had to do my own race. The rain came down a little harder and it was once again hard to see. I chose not to wear glasses and my eyes stung. The day before the race I had taken my bike in as my gears were skipping in the small ring...the mechanic had told me nothing a little lube wouldn't fix...well it didn't and at every hill I had troubles. Therefore I resorted to staying mostly in the big ring. A course like this is definitely technical and it is a definite advantage to know it well. I pushed hard and stayed focused...and came into T2 with Lindsey Jerdonek(another one of Coach Paulo's athletes and a talented new pro) The run is hard and very hilly right from the start. My breathing was very shallow and a little asthmatic. I was a little surprised to see Chrissie up ahead on the run and I pushed to stay close to her and Lindsey J. Chrissie pulled away quickly though and at the three mile mark Uli Bromme ran hard by me...she had a great pace going and I could not stay with her. Just before the last hill...The Gatorade wall I surged to catch up to LJ. I was 25 meters back and figured I would do one more surge to pass her after the hill..That is when I realised that I still had 1 mile left. I thought I was done. She said after she heard me coming and she must have done her own surge to hold me off.
As always I was happy to see the finish line. These Olympic distance races although short really hurt! I was glad to have pushed through all the obstacles that I faced keeping positive and focused the whole way. I believe I raced as hard as I could that day and left the race energised but quite exhausted. I placed 9th pro women.


Uli said...

Jacqui- nice RR! I think you were extremely brave to go out there and race when you weren't 100%! For us long distance girls these races hurt so much, so when you are just getting over being sick, they make it all the much tougher. Way to stick it out, and yes, the way you felt in the water is how I felt on the bike... could hardly see a thing! Hope you are back to being all healthy again soon!

Lauren Harrison said...

Hey Jacqui,

UGHH I can't believe it was a non wetsuit swim! Way to stick it out and race short course on a difficult day. Feel better!!!!

Keith said...

What a great report. I'm just amazed at how people overcome the obstacles and keep going. Sickness, poor sleep, poor breakfast, no wetsuit, leaky goggles, rain, untrustworthy shifters, and you still did great. Hats off to you!

Judy said...

Wow - you certainly have the right attitude and spirit - good job! Hope you feel better soon. BRRR to the swim!

Anonymous said...