It is crazy to think that I'm writing my race report for Worlds. This race was one that I set as a goal for myself way back in September 2013, right after my first triathlon. When I realized that I could potentially qualify, with enough hard work and dedication, I set it as a goal. Then I qualified to represent Canada last summer, and I worked hard the past year training. And now, the race has come and gone. The whole process was full of ups, downs, and everything in between. I spent hundreds of hours swimming, biking, and running. I battled my first injury. I met lots of awesome people. And my love for triathlon grew and grew. Chicago was the focus the whole time. So, how'd it go? Great. It was awesome. I'm so happy and grateful to have had the experience. Let me tell you more...
We arrived in Chicago on Monday to allow for plenty of rest, relaxation and adaptation before the race on Thursday. I got to swim in Lake Michigan and bike and run along the beautiful Lake Front Trail. Mom, grandma, and I ate some delicious food (Eataly, Owen + Alchemy, Quartino's, and Whole Foods were our picks). On Wednesday night, we opened up the week with the Parade of Nations with nearly 7,000 fellow athletes representing 65 nations. And before I knew it, my race day had come. Of course I engaged in all of my usual pre-race rituals, and we racked our bikes on Wednesday afternoon, ready to race on Thursday.
On Thursday morning, I had overnight oats and around 7:50 was off to set up my T-Zone (which turned out to be smack in the middle of a sand pit). Jenn came with me to be my super Sherpa, and helped to keep me calm as the time ticked away to my 10:40 race start. As the start neared, I wriggled into my new ROKA Maverick Elite wetsuit (love it!) and went to join the other purple capped ladies of the 25-29 age group in the corral. Finally, it was time and we jumped into the icy cold (63.5F) Lake Michigan!
The swim was mentally and physically exhausting. I started out in a decent position and sprinted as usual, but I could not shake the girls around me. It was a strong indicator of the level of talent in my age group. Over the course of the 750m, I was stuck between two groups of two girls. They kept pinning me between them, and I could not find clear water. I could see the two lead swimmers up ahead and desperately wanted to bridge up to them, but couldn't. It was frustrating and I found my mental energy was wasted on worrying about the girls next to me. Finally, with about maybe 300m to go, I decided to only worry about myself and I found that I started catching more water and feeling better. It was wonderful to see the swim exit!
T1: Drats! This was one of my worst transitions ever. We had a 380m run from the swim to the T-Zone and I managed to pass three or four girls on the way. But I struggled getting my new wetsuit off and then in my excitement to grab my bike, I left not only my watch (I wear it on my wrist for bike and run, but not the swim), but also my race bib. I didn't realize I had forgotten my bib until I was nearly to the exit, so had to run back upstream against girls with their bikes flying at me. All the girls I had passed, plus some, passed me back on the way out to the bike.
The bike was pretty fun, though really windy in one direction. It was also getting pretty crowded on the course by the time my AG got out there (and it was 3 loops), so it was difficult to avoid drafting. A few times I really wished that I had my watch, but overall, I just tried to keep up a solid effort. I'm happy to be realizing the gains of my extra work on the bike during my injury. There is still a lot of learning and improving to do, but I've certainly come a long way!
T2: After my disastrous T1, I just said, "screw it!" and tried to get out on the run as fast as possible. That meant shoving my sand crusted feet into my running shoes and again just leaving my watch sitting in the T-Zone. I figured it was only a 5k, so I could handle the sand (my feet were not pleased with that decision).
The run was HOT and I definitely should have been faster. But it was also awesome to have so many friends, family and fellow Canadians cheering me on while I was running. By that point, I was really having a great time, despite feeling like things hadn't quite gone how I'd hoped. I smiled and cheesed for the cameras. As it was time to round Buckingham Fountain the second time toward the finish, I felt a surge of pride and accomplishment.
Chicago was an amazing experience. It was pretty magical to be surrounded by so many like-minded people from all around the world, and to have the opportunity to represent Canada in international competition. Everyone was friendly and excited to be there. Strangers stopped us on the street to wish us good luck or struck up conversations with us after noticing our team apparel. The venue in Chicago is stunning, and we really lucked out with the weather. Racing against the backdrop of the iconic Chicago skyline is such a unique experience.
Do I wish things had gone differently on the day? Yes, I do. I had set some lofty goals, but I had also tempered my expectations due to my injury. As my coach reminded me, I had already achieved the biggest goal of the summer by getting back to running. BUT... I still wanted more. Or maybe I just feel like I don't want that race to be it. I don't know. I'm feeling a bit unsatisfied with how it all ended. This could also be related to the fact that I don't have a single plan on the horizon, which is an unsettling feeling and one that I'll write more about in a day or two.
Leaving aside those feelings though, I definitely accomplished my goal of having fun and I didn't let the little things get to me in my race. Despite the challenges, I still smiled and still soaked up how amazing it was to be out on that course. It was a privilege to participate and that is not lost on me. Representing my country and coming in the top 10% of women is awesome. Having my mom and grandma, plus friends (new and old) to cheer me on was so special. Receiving well wishes from so many of you made my heart burst with joy. I am so lucky. I am so grateful for the experience and for all the support I have received over the past year.
A huge thanks to my family, friends and training buddies, Coach Mike, Coeur Sports and our amazing sponsors, Triathlon Canada, and all of you!
11th AG / 78th Woman