ITU WTS Grand Final Edmonton Canada



Edmonton Logo

It’s been a couple of days since I have traveled back from Edmonton, Canada where I played a specific role in the ITU WTS Grand  Finale. As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been recovering from a sacral insufficiency fracture and not able to run. This has forced me to pull out of the recent Toyota/Lifetime Series and the Hy-Vee Triathlon. Life is always up for surprises because when the door shuts, there is a window on the other side.

I had the opportunity to help the USA earn their first ever World Championship Series Title and am very proud to have accomplished that goal. Thanks to Gwen Jorgensen for personally asking me to help her attempt this win. She wanted me to help her by utilizing my skill set on the swim and bike to help her secure a win. Gwen went on to win the World Championship (she had to place in the top 16), but also won the Grand Finale race itself.

Backing up about seven weeks ago, I had just learned about my sacral fracture. I took a week completely off, since it was painful to do most anything. The following week, I began swimming (avoiding pushing off the wall…so lots of arm strength!). The next week, I began cycling again. For the first week, I cycled only on the Computrainer since I wanted to keep everything very steady, minimizing any chances of making my fracture worse.

At the beginning of August, I was struggling mentally. I knew my back was not anywhere close to being able to resume running again. Originally the doctor thought I I could attempt running after four weeks, but at nearly three weeks off, I was still hurting. I decided that I needed a mental and physical break and went to the Lake of the Ozarks for a few days with my family.

While on vacation, I received a call about helping Gwen at the World Championships. I was apprehensive as I had not been doing much training and not sure if I would be healthy enough to swim and bike at the level I needed to. I wanted to give it a week and see how my body would respond.

Upon returning back from the trip, I was feeling much better cycling. I could push a harder effort with little to no pain. By the following week, I had been able to put in a solid week of training and was confident I could successfully help Gwen, if need be during the race. Thinking about helping Gwen, gave me a new sense of drive in my training and a new motivation. I was no longer in the mental slump and was excited to be training again. I had two and half weeks before the race. This was just enough time to fit in a quick training block!

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Race morning, I enjoyed the late sleep in compared to most of the races I had competed in prior to this year. I was also away from Caroline this trip, so it felt really strange to lay in bed an extra few hours verses getting up early with her in the morning. This was my first trip away from her and although it made the travel much easier by the second day, I was missing her terribly. I reminded myself that I am here to work and essentially there for her as I am doing a job, a job I love to do.

Prior to the race, I rode and swam with Gwen. I was very excited to help her out any way that I could. I new that there were a vast range of possibilities that could occur on race day and I had to be ready to execute whatever came my way. Luckily, prayers were answered and race day surprised us with bright sunshine. The forecast earlier in the week called for rain all day, so I was very happy the weather was cooperating for the athletes and spectators. It had been over two years since I had competed in a WTS race. I had to go through a much more structured set of rules, checking bike measurements, helmets, uniforms, etc.

Swim Edmonton

The swim was took place in a smaller pond that consisted of two, 750 meter laps and a short run out around the sand. Transition was about 300 meters long followed by 2 large, hillier loops on the bike and four smaller, flatter loops. I did not really pay attention to the run, since I knew this was not on my race plan.

The swim start was very unique. It consisted of a platform raised two feet above the sand, followed by a couple running steps before diving into the water. I was very low on the start list, since I have competed in very few ITU races the past couple of years. It was easier in a way at the start, because I did not have to think about where to start, simply picked whatever spot was left.

When the starter said take your mark, I noticed everyone stepped up to the edge of the platform. This threw me off guard, as I thought I had to be behind the white line the entire time. Unfortunately, once the gun went off, I was several steps behind. This did not favor me in having a good start and since the swim buoy was only 250 meters away, I found myself stuck in the middle of the mayhem. I tried to work myself up during the swim, but it was narrow and it was tough to move up. My body did not feel good and I felt like I was using a lot of energy just to stay in a decent position. With not having run a step in over two months, the short run out of the water heading into the second lap really spiked my heart rate. Exiting transition, I was just in front on Gwen, which would normally be ok, but my transition run was poor and my lactate spiked. This made it hard the first minute or two on the bike. I wanted to be farther up on the swim than I was because I new transition would be tough for me. Let’s just say the transition and lactate running through my body was something I have not felt for a couple of years! My body was in shock.

Bike Edmonton 2

Once I got settled in on the bike course, I caught Gwen 2k into the ride. I was very disappointed in myself that I was not up for her right away; however, I did the best I could. I saw the main pack just ahead and told Gwen to get on my wheel and I would do my best to ride her to the pack. About half way through the first lap, the effort Gwen put forth at the start of the ride was catching up with her. She lost my wheel and I slowed so that we could group together. At the end of the first lap, a group of seven of us merged together, including Flora Duffy and Jodie Stimpson. For the next 10k, I pushed the pace hard. Right before I approached a steep hill on the course a thought crossed my mind that the other women may attack me. For a second I thought, “Uh oh. I have been pushing hard not thinking about what might come. The other women are going to take advantage of sitting on my wheel and attacking me on this climb.”

Sure enough, a strong attack was made and my legs could not respond after the 12k of hard riding thus far in the race. Plus, my legs were not quite trained for attacks, more of the steady, solid riding that time trial riding demands. I did my best to go with the women, but I completely blew up on the climb. Fortunately, Gwen was able to respond and was with the pack with Flora and Jodie. I was about twenty seconds down from Gwen. I stayed focused and continued riding and fighting. Over the course of the next 10k, I realized I was gaining back on the group rather quickly. This gave me the motivation to charge harder. Once I caught back up with Gwen, we were down about 1:25. For the last three laps in the race, I charged as hard as I could. On the last lap, I did not even bother taking my cycling shoes off on the last lap. I was happy to make up 20 seconds on the last lap over the lead group. I exited transition, with my bike shoes on, completely spent and did the best I could. Here is my Quarq power file brought to you by TrainingPeaks.

It was a messy job on my part, but a job that ended up being well worth the fight. Gwen won the race, and the Series. She told me before the race she felt she could win even being a minute down. I fought hard to bring that gap down to 68 seconds. Even though I was not able to compete in the running portion of the race, I was so happy to be able to help Gwen out. Her run is incredible and she made up almost half the time gap over the first 2.5k of the 10k run.

Moving forward, I am focused on getting healthy. I don’t know for sure when my next race will be, but I want to be smart in my training and not rush anything my body is not yet ready to do. I really enjoyed the domestique role. This may be the start of different opportunity in the sport in addition to my non drafting races, but next time, I will be able to finish the 10k run! You can read up on an article about the race here: http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2014/08/30/gwen-jorgensen-wins-world-triathlon-series-grand-final-edmonton-olympics/

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