2012 ITU Triathlon Cross World Championship: Pelham, Alabama

This past weekend Pelham, Alabama hosted the 2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship. It was really cool to have this venue develop into that World Championship given it was the race that had the most “grassroots” feel of any on the XTERRA schedule when we first came here. Now the race was elevated in importance but maintained the local race feel. Lots of really nice people excited to bring some high level physical fitness to this corner of Alabama. I was excited for my annual visit to Mark and Dianne’s house which is my home away from home down south. We were treated to a new course to meet the guidelines of ITU racing which meant a much more spectator friendly event which I thought was a lot of fun to race. Do I think it was an improvement on the old course? Well I preferred the epic loop bike course and I think the old course might have suited the mountain bikers a bit better and allowed a bit more passing – but I wouldn’t change anything. It was great to put on a good show with a spectator friendly loop format.

 

The race started with two loops in the lake followed by three bike loops and two run loops. I rode my Trek Superfly which was a perfect choice for the windy but largely untechnical 10km loop. It was challenging to ride it superfast as there were numerous corners we would constantly be navigating but it seemed like the bike course was more an exercise in maintenance of momentum rather than really hammering. All the girls in the race were riding well so the race remained close. It was fun to ride and so great to have all the people in the forest cheering us on. The run followed a similar loop and I have to admit I do like 2 lap runs a lot. It was a good course all in all however I was unable to really get the time I needed on the bike to deal with the super runner behind me.

 

Photo by XTERRA Photos

Given how my season has been going prior to this race I am satisfied that I did the best of my ability on race day. I am obviously disappointed to have had a weak run but I have been having horrible races in the past five weeks so 2nd at a World Championship is only one step lower than the very best I could hope for and I am stoked for that. My Trek teammate Lesley Paterson had such an incredible run and she is an absolutely deserving champion. I was also very impressed with Carla Van Huysteen riding on race day and was not surprised to see her take 3rd place at the end of the day with a strong swim-bike–run combination. It took me a very long time to shake her loose on the bike course so she is a fantastic new talent in our sport and it will be fun to see how her career develops over time. I am very excited for Fred Smith, a multi year MelRad alumni, who won his first World Championship title and the overall age group men’s World Champion title. So excellent to see him break through like that!

 

XTERRA Photos from Facebook

Congratulations to my Canadian teammates Danelle Kabush in 6th, Brandi Heisterman in 9th and Kate Button 16th in her first pro race. Kelly Guest was our top Elite Men’s finisher in 7th. 🙂

 

Reflecting on my performance on the day I wonder if I should have cut some of my planned schedule when I got sick to give myself a better chance to recharge. I think I probably should have given Wildflower a miss in order to rest and then train more consistently. That is the only change I would have made to address my health but I was pretty excited to go there so I can live with that decision. I have a lot of goals that are motivating me on the road side so I think sticking to my plan will work out in the end. Having different race courses to challenge us to improve on our weaknesses is one of the best things about offroad racing. I would like to give my run fitness a boost to be competitive at the bigger races later this year but I don’t think my run split truly reflected my fitness and instead just showed some difficulty maintaining the top end intensity at the moment.. I am sure I can find improvement.

 

Through racing and with some better health I am hoping I will continue this upswing for the next few weeks and get some good races in at the Honu 70.3 and Richmond XTERRA. After that I will take a solid break to build some form into the later races in the season. I really would love to have a good go at Vineman this year and I am excited to do some bike racing in June at the Test of Metal and the Tour of Victoria. I am looking forward to the variety I have on my plate this year and look forward to battling both the on and offroad girls this year.

 

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2012 Wildflower Triathlon: Coming Back To Life

The three weeks between XTERRA Vegas and the Wildflower triathlon were spent fighting a nasty chest infection.  My main hope for Wildflower was that enough hay would be in the barn that a three week battle with some sporadic workouts would not really slow me down that much. I also had some promising workouts about 10 days out so I went into the race with some hope for a good day.

Wildflower Triathlon attracts 7500 triathlon fanatics to the middle of nowhere to enjoy one of the hardest half Ironman courses in the world.  The race celebrated its 30th anniversary this year so there was even more pomp and circumstance around the already iconic event.  The hardcore pro athletes would be camping next to the pot smoking Cal Poly college kids… awesome!  I enjoyed some post race time on the dock after the race with some folks from Santa Cruz who were doing the Saturday afternoon Cinquo de Mayo festivities up right.  It was like summer holidays!  So fun.

Post race dock party….

I was lucky to have AVIA as my super awesome sponsor because I was given a mad pimpin RV right beside transition.  This allowed maximum socializing time and maximum sleep in time in the morning since transition was all of five feet away.  I think AVIA got wind of my punctuality issues…. Haha! 

When the gun went off I comfortably hopped on Leanda’s hip thanks to my improved wetsuit swimming in the HWY 19 Rogue – only to have her swim away from me at the first buoy along with two other girls.  I spent the next 1000 meters 5 strokes away from third (Keat) enduring constant foot grabs from the girl on my feet which was super annoying but part of racing.  When we rounded the buoy I had had enough footsie and cut left off course to force her to pass only to discover that I had been dragging the entire main pack.  Once on someone else’s feet my swim pace got a heck of a lot easier and I just cruised it in to transition.  I need a bit more fitness and good form to haul ass the whole way in a half so that was just some smarter racing.

Onto the bike I started very conservatively.  I wasn’t feeling it right away and my race plan was to build from 40 miles while pacing strong but not all out to that point.  I had some back and forth with some girls on the first climb as I started with some spinning but once we hit the open road the Speed Concept and I started rolling.  I moved into first at 30 miles or so which is pretty awesome for a race of this caliber with a swim/biker like Leanda in the field.  No matter how I felt that makes me feel really good about the future of my half-Ironmaning.  I know I can be there in the mix if I am in good form. It is exciting to lead a race no matter how you slice it. 

However, winning wasn’t on the menu as I basically deflated at about 40 miles and catapulted backwards when I went out onto the run.  It wasn’t pretty.  The quality of the field was handing me my ass and the course was finishing the job.  Wildflower is one of the toughest half Ironmans there is so when you don’t feel good the course can seem brutally punishing.  I did make it to the prime line first (I wasn’t even aware there was a prime so that is a bonus!) which is a career first which I will celebrate for sure. 

I am so excited for Heather Jackson to have taken her first win at the race and my teammate Linsey represented Trek bikes for both of us with 2nd on the podium and fellow Canadian Magali Tissyere took third.  I ran in for 8th after being passed in the last mile by three people.. one of whom is my other Trek teammate Rebekah Keat who I would be mad at if she wasn’t such a baller and so funny.  See ya next time Beks!

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Just another terrible road to ride on that the poor boys doing Tour of California are going to have to endure.



The good news is I was racing at the top calibre for about 2.5 hours.  The bad news for the race was that there were still 2 more hours of racing to go.  The ITU race is short in Alabama in two weeks and although I suffered finishing I am sure the effort will serve me well.  I am sure things will come around.  Although the timing for getting sick hasn’t been ideal it has spared some of my larger goals hopefully so I am head down until May 19th to try to bring the best I’ve got to Oak Mountain.

I spent the last few days in Sonoma for a Trek photoshoot of the new road product.  I know you guys have heard of the Domane but wow… you have to go ride that thing.  Such a smart concept and it works awesome.  Go check the one they have at Trek Procity out.  Awesome.

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Perfect road for a Domane

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Bodega Head.  Pretty ugly.

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The photoshoot location was also quite ugly.