I finished my triathlon season where I began it 7 months ago in April at the Xterra West Championship. With some good recovery and a minimal amount of training since Xterra Worlds two weeks ago I arrived at Lake Las Vegas feeling good, and miraculously having avoided the terrible colds that my kids had all week. Team Canada had organized a group swim in the lake on Thursday, and although the water was cool to get in, it felt fine once we got swimming.
However, on Friday, the afternoon before the race the temperature dropped and the skies opened up with heavy rain for several hours. The next morning I arrived in the twilight at transition about 45 minutes before the scheduled 7:00am race start time to learn that the 4km swim had been cancelled!! The reason was due to the combination of cool air temperature and cool water being deemed unsafe to race. While this was definitely in my favour against my strong competitors in the elite category, most of them top swimmers, I have to admit I still feel a little jipped that I did not get to experience a 4km swim as part of a race. That said I’m definitely not complaining that we were saved from starting the bike wet and possibly hypothermic! My body also feels beat up enough after racing 120km on the bike followed by a 30km run, definitely my biggest race/endurance challenge to date! I hope be able to walk again normally in a few more days, ha!
With the swim cancelled (the lake and arches we would have started under pictured above), it was a time trial start with racers starting at 5 second intervals. With no swim, I was able to dress perfectly for the weather, and at least it was sunny with the eventual high around 16 degrees. I felt good on the bike right from the start. I had not ridden my Orbea Ordu time trial bike since the end of July at the Calgary 70.3 so I was glad the position felt so comfortable as soon as I got on it again just the day before the race.
The bike course consisted of two out and back loops on either side of Lake Mead (created by the famous Hoover Dam), a National Recreation Area. The winds weren’t too bad, the weather was clear, the pavement was generally super smooth, the desert and lake views were pretty scenic, and it was fun going fast! It was also neat to see approximately where I was behind the front cyclists at each turn around. I was going back and forth with Amanda Lovato, an American for much of the bike, and we entered T2 together in Henderson. The bike consisted of non-stop climbing or descending, and by about the 100km mark my legs were feeling pretty punched on some steep bike path climbs. I was feeling ready to be done riding – I was also thinking about the fact that if I was doing an Ironman, I’d still have 60km to go – yikes!
Entering T2 was awesome because we just dismounted and volunteers took our bikes. They also helped us grab our run gear back and get changed in the changing tent. Then it was off to do four laps of 7.5km run course. I started the run in about 13th position. I felt great from the start and got into a pretty good rythmn, and tried to find a pace that felt fast but not too hard in order to pace myself. Not unlike the bike, the run had a few short sections that you might call “flat” but otherwise, it was a loop that was all uphill and then all the way back down. By the halfway mark in the run I’d moved into 10th position but by mile 13-14ish I started to wonder if I could get through it! I was well-hydrated so was mainly taking coke and gatorade from all the aid stations. With a few miles to go though I was actually feeling hungry and instinctively grabbed a cookie from a tray at the aid station dangling in front of me, maybe a bit of a risky move to eat while running! Although I found a second wind in the last few miles, a Polish girl recaught me, and I crossed the line in 11th, after getting through the 30km run in 2h15 minutes, and my total time for the day being 6h09!
Rachel Joyce and Leanda Cave of Great Britain came 1st and 2nd, and Meredith Kessler from the USA was third to complete the podium. As far as the other Canadian women in the Elite race, Tenille Hoogland had a great day, finishing 7th, and Margaret Bailey was 15th. As a result, we came second as a nation, (a team category I didn’t know about until they announced it at the post-race dinner) behind the U.S.
Although I was a little nervous about following all the ITU rules I had learned about at the elite race meeting, on race day the organization was super impressive. It was fun to represent Canada for the first time in a race as well. I was told there were about 150 Canadians and I could see them everywhere on the course and there were tons of spectators cheering for Canada too – maybe our red and white race kits stood out more as well!
Thanks to my parents, who were able to join me and the kiddies for another “race-cation” with JF unavailable to come. We are spending a few days checking out the Vegas area and avoiding the Canadian winter just a little longer before heading home. Then I will finally enjoy the start of the off-season. My “active rest” will consist of packing up the house to move on December 1st! (We are moving into a rental house for about 8 months while we renovate a bungalow we bought in the Calgary community of Montgomery – should be a busy winter!)
Thanks to everyone who has supported me for a very fun, and productive 2011 season of racing. I especially could not do it without the support of the LUNA Pro Team, my husband, my parents, and my Coach, Cal!!