It's September first... time to catch up a bit on what I've been up to.
The team drove out to Kelowna a week before the race. We stayed together in a rented house right on the lake and about a 5 min bike ride from transition. It was the perfect setup aside from two things... the lack of air conditioning, and the excess of bugs. But the pros still outweighed the cons.
Going up a week early really helped me prepare properly for the race. Given my past experiences in the heat, I knew I needed this acclimatization period. I was also great to practice the new bike course, including the hill. Every time I rode up the hill, I felt more confident and comfortable, erasing some of the stress I was feeling about it (I really didn't want to get dropped!!). My swimming and running were also feeling really good. Smooth, efficient, fast.
On race day I was calm. Woke up at 7 for an 11:30 start time, and did a run warmup early to allow my core temperature to come back down (I jumped in the lake to cool off). The weirdest part about having a later start time is all the waiting. You feel like "It's race day, why aren't we at the race site yet? Why am I lying in bed watching episodes of Modern Family? Why do I have so much time on my hands?". I kind of just want to get the race going and skip all the waiting!
I rolled into transition at 10:15, and had plenty of time to set up transition and do a good swim warmup. 15 minutes before the race I was feeling good, like I had nothing to lose, I was going to put it all out there and just enjoy it... this is my last race of the season, finish it off on a good note. I was not stressing about getting a top five placing to qualify for Worlds, not thinking about who might beat me and who I might beat. That was out of my control. I was simply happy to be there. An awesome feeling before a race.
The two lap swim was not a blistering pace, I felt pretty comfortable the whole way, and tried to always be drafting. Having gone the far left side of the beach to start, when all the top ranked athletes had lined up from the right, I had clear water right from the get go, and then we grouped together at the first buoy. I came out of the water after the second lap right behind Stevie, with Domi right on my heels. I knew Domi was going to bust it to transition so that's what I did too. Smooth transition, seamless mount, and I was off first on the bike, soloing up the hill, then grouping up with the pack at the top. I had been a little anxious about the hill on the first lap, I wasn't sure how it was going to feel or if the pack would really push the pace, so going up the hill ahead of the pack, I knew that even if they went faster than me, I would not be dropped. For the next five laps of the bike, I rode strong up the hills, and just stayed out of trouble for the rest of the loop. Hydration was one of my top priorities, and I finished one bottle every three laps. Along with taking my two gels, everything was going according to plan, no surprises. There was a mini breakaway on lap 5 at the top of the hill with me and the american Battiata. It only lasted a few minutes, but it got the pack moving faster.
I was first into transition with Alison right beside me. I had some trouble getting my bike to stay in the rack, I didn't want it to fall over and for me to get a penalty, so I spent and extra 5-10 seconds getting the wheel to stay. This fiddeling caused me to come out of transition nearer the back of the group. While a few of the girls took off right away, I was patient and ran a smooth comfortable pace the first lap. This paid off as I passed a few after the first kilometer. I ran really smooth for the first 2 laps, and was surprised at how good I felt. Going onto the third lap, I really focused on my pace and technique. I was starting to get fatigued, and starting to feel the heat a bit. Every water station a drank, not just one sip but a few (I think this really helped). When two Americans passed me on the third lap (running a much faster pace than I was), I didn't give them a thought. I knew that if I was going to finish and not repeat Magog (I died on the last lap and dropped out), I needed to wait a bit longer to really push the pace. Once I hit lap 4, it was go time. I picked up my strike rate, stood tall, and finished up strong. I was even smiling when I was running into the finish (not an "oh my god why did I do that" look with your eyes rolling back in your head and spit running down your cheek), much more flattering :).