Pan American Games
- Oct, 23 2011
- Guadalajara, Mexico
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Pan American Games: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
This past Sunday I competed in my final race of my 2011 season. Team USA included Sara McLarty and Gwen Jorgensen and we were pumped and excited to work together in hopes of the possibility of winning medals. I left Colorado Springs last Wednesday and headed for Houston where I completed team processing and met up with my teammates and staff. Thursday we left for Mexico and arrived mid afternoon. I was surprised how beautiful the ocean was and had to remind myself I was not on vacation, but was racing!! Going into this race, I felt the most relaxed I had felt prior to a race all year. The US women had already secured three Olympic spots, so we did not need the win at Pan American Games to secure the slot. However, every time I step up to the line for a race, I want to do my absolute best. The weekend before the race, I ended up getting sick with cold and sinus infection . With this race being the end of my year, I didn’t stress out about being ill at all, but took the right steps in making sure I had all medications needed and unfortunately, I had to be on antibiotics. Days before the race I was feeling good and ready to get to the starting line!
Our team of women had several different strategies that would work to bring home medals. My strategy was to swim and bike with my Fuji bikes teammate, Sara McLarty and continue do my best to finish on top of the podium (improving from my 2007 silver medal). The race had only thirty women on the start line, so a break on the swim/bike was a much easier task verses racing in a field of 70 athletes. Also, with Sara McLarty in the race she is able to change the race by leading out with such a fast swim. The start was a pontoon dive and I choose an end position which enabled me to get out quickly and within 100meters, I was on Sara McLarty’s feet. By the time I got to the first bouy at 400meters, I was already warm and by the time I got to the 1000 meter mark, I was HOT. The water was much warmer than the air (we started the race at 8:10AM) and felt like a bath tub upon entry. I questioned whether or not I was going to overheat, but just focused on staying on Sara’s feet and staying under control. I noticed we had one other athlete on our feet behind me, but not quite sure who she was during the swim. I was very glad to exit the water and cool off once I got on the bike. By the way, the water was rumored to by 89 degrees….which is close to bath water.
Out on the bike, Sara, a young Brazilian athlete, and I began working well together. The bike course was a flat, fast and technical six lap loop. Each bike lap the three of us were able to gain about 20-30 seconds a lap and by the end of the bike we had close to a four minute lead. I was thinking that the more time we had, the greater the chances both Sara and I would get on the podium. Several times we tried to get away from the Brazilian athlete for the possibility of Gwen running up to the podium, but it was difficult to get away in a three women break and the Brazilian athlete was riding very well. I drank most of my First Endurance EFS very quickly on the bike in order to cool my core from the hot swim and ran out of liquids the last couple laps of the bike (two 24 oz water bottles). However, since we were racing in the morning the air temperature was still only in the 80s and the peak sun had not begun to scorch quite yet. Plus, I new that I had plenty of aid stations upcoming on the flat, 3-lap run (4 each lap).
I exited T2 just behind the Brazilian and wanted to push the first 2k to gain separation early in the run. By the first turn around on the run, I had a 30 second lead and at the end of the first lap, my lead extended to 55 seconds. As the run went on, I began to feel better and better and felt as if I was getting into a good rythum. Sara held onto her third place position until the final lap and ended up 12th. Gwen was so close to the podium in fourth position with a tremendous effort on the run. I was so happy so to cross the finish line and break the tape for the seventh time this season. I have had 2x as many wins this season than any other year in my career. This Pan Am gold medal was not just my gold medal as it would not have been possible without the help of my teammates. Thanks you so much Sara and Gwen. This medal is just as much mine as it is theirs. I had a blast during my trip down to Mexico and couldn’t think of a better way to end the season. I did not even know I was racing Pan Ams until about three weeks ago, but sometimes things just seem to happen for a reason. The entire team supporting USA Triathlon were awesome and there to help us every step of the way. I am now entering my off season and looking forward to some R&R before easing back into some fun and “light exercising” that is was Nate calls “off season training”. My off season started off great with a quick swim in the ocean this morning, relaxing on the sand, and seeing baby sea turtles hatching on the beach!!!!! I am now in the airplane headed to my new home in Clermont. This winter is going to be warm and sunny as it is supposed to snow in Colorado tomorrow!