I finally did it! I got the chance to do a real life draft-legal triathlon! It may have taken nearly 11 years in the sport, but I finally got my chance! We swam in packs, we biked in packs, and even did a bit of running IN PACKS! As you can see by all the exclamation points in this paragraph, I found this all very exciting.
Years ago when I was a junior, I competed in the Junior Elite National Championships on a whim. For a start, I had no idea what I was doing, and secondly, neither did anyone else. It ended up being pretty much a non-draft triathlon where they took your aerobars off first. On top of that, I had contracted E.coli from the previous week’s swim. I was only able to keep food down about 48hrs before the race… so things went pretty well, considering.
This time was worlds different! For a start, I had read the rulebook front to back & back to front this time. I could eat food all week, which was also excellent. Five more years of experience didn’t hurt either. We did do some pretty crazy stuff before the race though; phrases like “uniform check,” “athlete’s lounge,” and “swim warm up” (what the heck is that?!?) were thrown around. Watching these races over the years, the best course of action seems to minimize excess energy expenditure, and trouble! Main goals of the day for me were to make the front pack in the bike, not crash, and not cause any crashes. Top ten finish would be nice after that.
As the gun went off, I began to execute my plan. Normally I’d just take off, but in a draft legal race, where the bike pack is everything, there’s no point in swimming off on your own. I saw two girls take off, but there’s no way they’d be able to stay out front in the bike, so I just tucked into the group and swam it out. The lower intensity swim made it easy to have a fast T1 and set the pace for the group straight away. We were able to break up the swim line, and still have a good size lead pack. Excellent! The course was 8 laps, with a 180′ turn on each end- some of these were pretty sketchy. Drafting was pretty nice, but I did welcome the chance to take my pulls up front and get the legs really going. I love sprinting on the bike, and it was pretty fun to do this out of the turns
T2 went just as smooth as T1 (thank you 40+ previous tris), and was able to get out on the run quick. Some of these girls start out FAST! Not used to that, and unsure of how my legs were going to react after such a different bike leg- I just eased into a pace I knew I could hold, and tried to pick my way back up the field. This worked well, and on such a breezy day, it was nice to be running with a couple other girls by the halfway point. Old XC skills kicked back in, and we began to make up some time. After we had done most of the windy section on the last lap, I broke from our group and finished 6th! I was happy to have moved up so much, and it was really special to see my uncle & cousin cheering as well. My dad and I also had to chance to get out to dinner with them at one of my cousin Kyle’s favorite restaurants- steak, of course!
Another new phrase for the weekend was “prize money” which also turned out to be quite nice, may have actually broken even on this trip… Perhaps more importantly I earned some points- which should come in handy! Points determine your world ranking, and mean that for the next ITU race that I do, I will not likely be seeded last. This will give me a better position at the start of the race and in transition, and possibly entry to more races in the future. My next race will be the ITU Edmonton Sprint World Cup on June 23, which will be an even better test of how I stack up against some really big names!
See ya in Canada, eh?