Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tough Days at the Office

It's been so long since I blogged that I have to update on two world championships and the LA triathlon. I sound like a broken record, but really my blogging regularity this year has been abysmal. Definitely, this is something I need to improve on....maybe I can kick start things now during the off-season.

World Championships #1- the ITU version (or were they both ITU races)
I made the trip down to the Gold Coast of Australia for the ITU world series championship race. The US team had a great group of athletes and an amazing support staff to keep us healthy. My foot injury was doing the best it has in weeks before the race, all thanks to our support. As a huge reach goal, I was shooting for a top ten finish, but my real goal was a top twenty. I failed on both of those and ended up 23rd. I lost my chance for that top twenty by having a poor swim to bike transition. Coming out at the tail end of that lead pack, my only chance to catch the leaders is to get on my bike fast and hammer like my life depended on it. It's amazing in the ITU races how intense that first few k's on the bike can be. As usual, I was slow getting on and then my hammering wasn't enough to get there. After failing and settling into the second pack for a few laps, I tried to launch a breakaway hoping that one or two of the other strong riders would bridge and come with me. After a lap of pushing hard, no one came and going alone would have been a suicide mission for the run so I pulled the plug and settled in for a leisurely stroll on the bike. On to the run, I could feel my breakaway in the legs but otherwise didn't feel too bad. I had a solid run: nothing great but not terrible either. The other US women did well particularly Sarah Haskins just getting nipped out of her podium finish and Jillian Peterson back from her broken collarbone to finish off the year with a great race.

LA Triathlon
I love this race for its open water swim, challenging run, and point to point bike. However, this year things didn't quite go my way. I started with a mediocre swim and continued the pattern. I was off my game out there and never seemed to get going. On the run, my foot injury from earlier in the summer flared up with a vengeance on the steep downhill. I felt like I was hobbling out there and only managed to finish in 8th. While I was disappointed, the race was stacked with great athletes, and in retrospect my 8th this year wasn't horrendous. In years past and even some non-drafting races earlier this year, the women's fields are pretty weak so it's easy to get a top five finish even with a flat tire or an "off" race. While not happy with my finish place, I am excited to see the quality of field up closer to where it should be.

With my foot flared up, I decided to skip the Dallas Triathlon and Austin 70.3 which were part of my original race plan. It was a hard choice, but I needed to focus on getting healthy so that I would be able to race in Clearwater six weeks down the road.

World Championships #2 - Clearwater 70.3
I had a good training block leading into Clearwater and knew I was fit despite all the hiccups with my injury. However, this year my confidence wasn't too high. I think I was having flashbacks to Oceanside, remembering how much I suffered there. I also had alot of pressure on myself to try and out-do or at least equal last year's performance. The pre-race nerves that morning weren't too high, and I was a bit worried that I wasn't excited enough. In the water for my swim warm up, I tried to get into the zone..fake it until you make it right.
We lined up and all started creeping then the cannon sounded. We were off; I made an early strategic error in the swim moving to the left towards the other gals when I should have just beelined for the Dibenator's feet. Because by the time I have moved up and looked up, Julie was gone up that right side leading everyone. At that point, I thought that's it she's going for it and definitely on a mission to win this race. I came out of the swim a bit back off that main group, less than a minute, but crucial time when you're behind a biker like Julie Dibens. I was on my bike in around 7th and hammered to the front. Jodie Swallow and I led the gals for the first twenty or so miles, but we had a long string of dingle-berries behind. At that point though, the chaos started as thirty or so of the men's racers started to stream by us. It was not a good situation for the women or men. I am sure we upset their race, and they definitely impacted the women's race. But as Amanda Stevens aptly pointed out to me, at least this year all the women were effected by the men's race and not just the front group. At first it was very frustrating, as the men would pass and slow down in an effort to keep the legal ten meter separation. Once they all passed our group, it was much better since they were obviously riding faster and left us behind pretty quickly. I tried to keep on the pedals pushing hard at the front hoping to limit the loses to the two ladies up the road. I didn't know where anyone else was riding except Jodie Swallow, who came to the front a few times. Pulling into transition, I found out that the Dibenator was hours ahead, but second place wasn't too far up the road. Like the rest of the day, the run was a struggle for me. Right away on the run, I felt like my shoe was on backwards or sideways or something. I stopped to adjust it at mile one to no avail. But by mile three, maybe my foot swelled, but it felt a bit less odd on my foot. The run didn't seem to start for me till mile three and then ended around mile 9. Those last few miles, I struggled home trying to hold off all the cramping in my calves and quads. I felt like I was running like a duck with my feet flexed just to keep things from going up in flames. I have never been so happy to see a finish line. I tried to slap some hands and enjoy the experience running down the chute. As soon as I finished, I went over to congratulate the Julie Dibens on her win. After getting the chance to train with her this year, I knew she had it in her to win and was so happy to see her nab that elusive and much deserved 70.3 world title. I hope that next year I can be in the same zip code as Julie and give her a bit of competition.

1 comment:

kathy said...

Great race out there Mary Beth! We were cheering on the bridge and were hoarse at Shephards! Best of luck next season.