Not only was this my first triathlon race outside of Canada over the past few years, it was also the World Triathlon Championships!! A race where over 80 nations including Egypt, Australia and Kenya, send their best age group athletes to compete. A race that athletes must qualify to be in the year before. A race that will always be remembered by all those that participated and volunteered.
Race Day – Friday 13 September, 2013
After qualifying and being accepted into the Canadian team a year beforehand, I had a tough year battling through injuries and often wondering if I would even make it to London. Although I was not feeling my fittest due injuries holding me back, here I was in London, decked in my red team Canada gear and ready to race!
I arrived to the transition area in Hyde park early that morning and began setting up my space. As soon as I pumped air into my back tyre, the valve immediately fell off – and it was flat. Knowing I still had other things to set up and with the transition closing in 10mins, I asked the group of fellow team Canada athletes in front if someone could help me change the tube on my tyre. Luckily a team coach who also worked a bike mechanic was there to help. He changed my tyre as I continued to set up. This also meant I used my spare tube so would race with no backup. After setting up my transition I started to walk away then realized I forgot to put my socks in my running shoes and I forgot to put my water bottle in my bike. I was so nervous for this World Championship race that my head was not quite there.
As I was lining up for my swim wave I started to distract myself from what was ahead in any way I could. I was also finding it a little hard to breathe and kept taking deep breaths. I was a little nervous about the cold water seeing during my Aquathlon race 2 days before I had a freak out attack in the water. The water was so cold my lungs couldn’t breathe so I had to do breast stroke as I was gasping for air. My recent two weeks swim training in a bikini in the Mediterranean of Italy certainly did not prepare me for the 15 degrees Celsius, dirty brown water of the Serpentine river.
It was time to start, we all lined up on the platform and sat down in our spots. After being called in the water we had a minute before we had to start. I started taking the advice of a friend to prepare my body for the cold water shock by putting water inside the front of my wetsuit and wetting my face. Freezing. Then the siren went and we were off. I started the swim calm and bilateral for a couple of metres. Then I swallowed some water and started choking. I stopped to cough and attempt not to drown as I got control of my breath again. For the next 300 metres, again I just could not breathe properly so swam a combination of breast stroke and freestyle breathing every 2nd or 4th breath. It was one of my worst swims ever. What a nightmare. It was a combination of racing in ‘world championships’ and the cold water. Before London I had never panicked during a swim before so this was new to me. All I could do was remain calm and carry on and do the best I could to get enough air into me. My stomach was already nauseous from the brown water I swallowed and it was tough to no vomit in the water. After a nightmare 750 metes of my worst swim time yet of 19 minutes, I ran out of the water thankful I made it through. Now that the swim was over everything would now be ok.
I made my way into the transition area towards my bike. It was quite long – around 400m. I did not want to run too fast in this area so I could save myself for the bike and run. In the meantime people were zooming past me. After hearing warnings all morning that there were crashes and to take the bike easy I planned on doing so especially as it was still raining. I got on to my bike and after a few minutes my legs started to feel the fact that I had not ridden at 100% capacity for over 2 months due to a torn left quad. The course was technical, lots of tight corners and very wet roads. I spent the 22km bike being as careful as I could not taking it too fast and being aware of everything around me. I rode past pieces of people’s helmets sunglasses, timing chips etc that must of fallen off in crashes.
I rode as focused as I could, spinning at a extra high cadence of 110 to preserve my torn quad. For the first time in a race, I did notice more people overtaking me than usual. It was a combination of me not being able to cycle for so long and the caliber of athletes racing was much higher than I was use too. I remembered to take time off being too focused on the bike to wave at friends yelling out my name, thank Canadian supporters and smile and wave to cameras. After having a safe and semi fast ride, I made my way into the transition to prepare for the run. After taking my feet out my shoes I had to run with my bike to the end of transition and all the way back to my spot to make it even for everyone. The floor was really muddy and slippery at this point so I took it slow. My final bike time was 42 minutes which was no too bad for a wet, technical course that was 2kms over the standard distance.
I ran out of transition, fixed my hair and posed for a photo after seeing my friend there with my camera. My goal was to run at a pace of 4.45mins per km. I spent the whole run puffing as hard as I could, pushing as hard as I could and remembering to have fun. I smiled and waved as much as I could and cheered and punched the air when I heard ‘Go Canada’. As I was running I was savouring the moment of running in London and running in the world championships. I loved my team Canada tri suit and I was proud to be in the team. I also got a great thrill seeing people from other countries running past me and flags everywhere from supporters. It was truly an international event. I felt I was in the Olympics minus the fast pace. Towards the end when I reached the blue carpet I attempted one last sprint towards the finish. I punched the air as I crossed the line and posed for a few photos with other Team Canada members. My asthma was bad and it was very hard to breathe. I didn’t care as I had finished racing in the world championships and it was fun. To make it even better I reached my run goal time and finished the run at 23.15mins for the 5km run, my fastest run time yet.
My final race time was 1.32hrs and besides the disastrous swim I was happy with my bike and run times especially considering I was barely able to train this year compared to the training hours I put in last year. Overall it was a great privilege to compete in the world championships and be in such an amazing and friendly team. The race got my drive and energy back after spending most of the year frustrated from injury. I recommend international racing and world championships to any eager athlete.
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