Hamburg Sprint WTS/Relay

I arrived in Hamburg with one of the best welcomes: the ITU shuttle picked me up from the airport, and dropped me off at the hotel where Pat Lemieux was waiting with water, a banana, and a huge hug.  It had only been seven days since I’d seen him, but his embrace put a permanent smile on my face. The few days before the race were spent resting and enjoying good food, one of the best hotel breakfasts of the series, and company with my parents and Patrick.  Race day came and I was excited for the first WTS Sprint and Relay of the season.  The weekend kicked off with the Sprint race.  The swim was an unusual point to point swim (instead of a loop).  We dove off a pontoon, swam around buoys and through a dark tunnel to the exit.

The gun sounded and I dove in with confidence.  I got to the first buoy and was annihilated.  I was held under water, swam on top of, literally grabbed and pulled backwards, and pushed into a kayak.  This sounds brutal (and it was), but it’s fairly typical.  I took a deep breath like I normally do, and looked back to see if there was open water for me to get out of the chaos.  Good news: There was plenty of open water.  Bad news: I was dead last out of my 60+ some competitors.  What happened? How could I be dead last?  There was no time for those thoughts.  I put my head down and focused on swimming by as many people as I could.  I made it a game, swimming through and around as many people as possible.  I exited the water and ran on the blue carpet to my bike.  Some more good news/bad news: My bike was extremely easy to find as there were not many bikes left in transition…usually I would be panicking, but for some reason I remained calm and focused on suffering.

I started the five-lap bike course in worse position than I’d ever been.  I put my head down and caught one wheel in front of me.  Pretty soon, a few girls from the front pack got dropped, and a few from behind caught.  I haven’t watched the replay yet, and I wasn’t near the back of the pack often, so I’m not even sure how many were in our pack – maybe ten? I tried my best on the bike, but I could see we were losing time almost every lap. There was no time for thinking, as I put all of my energy into putting myself in position for a good finish.

I came into T2 about 1:10 down, which is a lot of time to make up in a 5km.  In the race, I had no idea what the time gap was.  There are usually people screaming time gaps, and holding up white boards with splits; however, I was so focused I barely noticed the crowd.  I started running, fast.  There was no time to waste.  I could barely breathe because my throat was so parched, dry, and exhausted.  My body was hurting, aching, and begging for me to stop.  But, it was a good hurt, and after lap one of the two lap run, I knew there was only one thing to do: put my head down and remain focused.  I crossed the finish line in sixth.

Some may think I should be thrilled – I had the run of my life.  However, I had a bad swim, which potentially cost me a podium spot.  I go into every race hoping to execute on the processes I’ve been working on: my swim and bike, usually not caring how my run will be.  So, when I finished this race, I was frustrated and angry.  Thankfully, about an hour later, I was able to eat some delicious German food with my parents, and watch the men race.  The crowds were insane: I think the crowd enthusiasm and size was only second to the London Olympics!

The next day was the WTS Relay.  The team consisted of two females (Sarah Groff and me) and two males (Ben Kanute and Cameron Dye).  Each person completes about a 300m swim, a 6k bike, and a 1.5m run.  Our team was super energetic, and ready to go on Sunday! Sarah dove in the water and swam amazingly, she dominated the bike, and she ran into the exchange zone in first.  The pressure was on! Ben did exactly what he needed to do.  He had a great swim, and was riding in a pack with stars like Alistair Brownlee.  Ben came off the bike in great position and had a better run than team USA ever could have asked for.  He tagged me and I dove in the water forth, right behind teams Australia and New Zealand.  I found the feet of Kate Mcilroy (NZ), who helped me swim quickly to the exit.  I excited the water in second (behind Great Britain’s Non Stanford).  This was a complete turnaround from the swim the day before.  I was thankful for the decent swim, as I had three others and a country to represent.  I rode the two-lap course and by the end, we had a group which included runners Anne Haug and Ashleigh Gentle.  Unfortunately, Non had an accident on the bike.  No one ever wants to see a competitor go down, especially when it’s someone so kind, nice, and genuine.  Thankfully we hear she is OK and on her way to a speedy recovery.

In T2, I put on my shoes and ran as fast as I could.  I started running and could have sworn I felt others on my right shoulder, but I made the turn into the exchange zone in first.  Cameron finished off our relay.  He swam and road like a rock star, and finished with a solid run in third.  I couldn’t be more proud of team USA.

My next race will be in Stockholm, Sweden.  And then I have the finale in London.

Hamburg relay photoUSE
Hamburg relay photoUSE

Above: Relay Photo

Below: Parents, Nancy and Joel, with me after the Relay

Hamburg parents win relayUSE
Hamburg parents win relayUSE