Leading up to this race, training had been going great. Specifically, my power on the bike has improved greatly, my ability to hold technique with a quicker cadence in the swim, and my run has been coming along in training, slowly but surely. I was happy with the progress and excited to see how the race would reflect it!
Swim: probably my best swim ever in a triathlon... Came out of the water second overall, ahead of all the men, and only behind Jessica Deglau (who is a past Olympic swimmer:)) I was at about 10:43 when I exited the water, which was a better time than most of my other races. After the start of the swim, which went really well, I found myself on the feet of the first two guys, one of who I knew was Jake Van Allen. I had a better line than Jessica, but I knew she would be coming up to my right. As soon as she did, I was ready, and shifted onto her feet. I stayed there until we were getting close to the far turn buoy, and then I lost her feet. I made an easy switch right back to the other group, but soon moved up and passed them. I felt great in the swim, specifically in technique and smooth power. I was really happy with how it had gone when I jumped up out of the water to head to transition.
T1: had a pretty good transition... Slightly on the cautious side I would say, with a slight lack of urgency, but still made up lots of time on the rest of the field I think, and left on the bike right with Jessica.
Bike: rode strong until the hills started, and then after starting the hills I decided to hold it back slightly, going strong and holding a good cadence, but keeping my breathing under control. Jessica passed me back on the hills, but I kept her in my sight and didn't worry about it too much, as I was prepared to power it on the flats and downs to make it up. I knew she is a really good runner though, so I knew I had to pass her back and get a gap to give myself the best opportunity. As soon as I knew the big uphills were over, and we were on a slight decline with a tailwind (thanks for the tip Luke!) I took off and passed her, going hard on the pedals the rest of the way, but maintaining (guessing) around BP+5, so still in control. I ended the bike with the fastest female bike split of the day by almost a minute, so that was nice to do:).
T2: good quick transition, trying to get my cadence up immediately as I ran in with my bike. Left T2 with almost a minute of a lead on Jessica (in second) although I didn’t know what the gap was.
Run: this run is quite hard... Two REALLY steep hills practically right away, and I didn't feel very good up them, although I kept a strong cadence that got me up. There was some flat and gradual uphill to the turnaround. Jessica passed me just after the hills. I was a bit surprised to see her, cause I felt like I was running well, but she had a good stride and great turnover going. I tried to go with her, but just couldn't. Shortly after the turnaround, my calves started to relax, and I picked it up a notch. The last 2.5km felt GREAT. I felt like I was driving, really pushing hard, and moving well. Probably the best I've ever felt running in a race, as I finally felt the drive feeling coming off the back of each stride. Finished in second place. I was surprised how slow both my bike and run times were, but everybody’s times were really slow for time, so I don’t think they reflect how the race went as much as some do. Congrats to Jessica on an amazing run to finish off a great battle of a race. :) Also, LOVED racing on my new ON Cloud Racers!! They felt absolutely awesome, and felt like they gave me a definite spring propelling me forward.
Finish: 2nd place overall for females / 10th overall for men and women
Overall: a great experience and I'm looking forward to taking the things I learned into the next 4 weeks of training before my next race!:)
Things to improve:
1. Continued work on my cadence in the swim. It was WAY better, and more consistent, but since the technique held, my cadence can again be sped up to improve my overall speed.
2. Rolling. Working on my calves specifically with a roller, as well as by stretching, will play a huge part in my success.
3. Keeping my stride a bit more up hills. I know everyone shortens up their stride on hills, but I felt like mine got tiny. There is definitely grounds for improvement here.
Day #2 of double header: (Vernon Kal Rats)
Recovery between: immediately post race I got into the lake to quick cool down my muscles, drank chocolate milk, ran down, and stretched. I felt sore, but not too bad as I went to bed that night. When I woke up, however, my hamstrings and calves were TIGHT. I had forgotten to wear compression, and was regretting it as I got ready. I threw on compression socks, and wore them all morning, but that probably wasn't the best thing either.
Setup: got there early enough and was efficient enough that I actually got a warmup in this time. :) I was ready to go, and lined up next to Andrew and Nathan Champness, with knowledge of where Carmelle (a really strong female swimmer) was. The plan? To find one of their 3 sets of feet and stick on them.
Swim: opposite of the day before, my start was great! I immediately got onto Andrew's feet, and was able to get my rotation going really well, with the wetsuit feeling fantastic! About 75m out I lost Andrew's feet, but saw Carmelle come up a little bit to my right, so I slide in beside her. Unfortunately, at about the halfway point I lost her feet as well, but was clear of anyone else at that point, and focused on getting maximum power out of my strokes, without overusing my legs. I came out of the water in 5th overall, behind 3 men (including Nathan and Andrew) and Carmelle. MUCH better swim, and feeling good heading into transition:).
Unfortunately the swim time was the same as last year, although I honestly though it was one of my best tri swims to date. Multiple people I talked to thought their's were slow as well though, so I'm not reading too far into the time.
T1: I knew I needed a quick transition. The last time I beat Carmelle was because of my transitions, and I knew that, so I made sure I maximized them. I had a really quick one and got out right behind her, having made up close to 30 seconds I think.
Bike: felt awesome! I used a pair of draft legal aerobars for the first time (thanks to Brock lending them to me;)) I passed Carmelle after heading out a bit, but we stayed within probably 20m of each other, as we both had a really strong bike.
My bike split was almost 2 whole minutes faster than last year on this course, which I was super stoked about.:) Carmelle passed me back on the downhill leading back to transition, but I kept her just close enough that I still got the top lady's bike split (by one second to her and Ginny).
T2: ha a great transition and headed out on the run in first, just ahead of Carmelle. It was my race to lose, and that's all I could think.
Run: felt bad right from the start, but you are never really supposed to feel good in a race, so I was talking myself through that when Carmelle came up next to me and passed me. I got on her heals and stayed with her until we turned the corner close to a km in. As soon as we hit the first (of many) hills, she was gone though. I tried to go with her, but I had a cramping feeling all through my legs. I had the energy and felt recovered in that way, as well as in my respiratory system as I was breathing good still, but my legs were shot from the back to back. I knew Ginny, Mel Spooner, and a few others would be charging up behind me, so I knew I had to tough it out and hold on if I wanted to stay in the top two. I cramped up after I ran down the hill and turned back up it, and had a painful last couple kms, but was happy to cross the line in second place for overall female participants.
I was really happy with my swim, although the time didn't show it. My bike was probably a best for me, and definitely a PB on the course. My run was just hard, and understandably slower than I would have liked.
3 things to improve on:
1. Just cadence in my swim. It was a great swim, and I had good technique, but if my cadence continues to improve it will make a world of difference.
2. Compression and muscle relaxing in some way between races if I ever do the back to back again.:)
3. My run... Lots to work on, and therefore lots to improve on before Edmonton!:)
About 3 weeks out from this race I decided to make it a double header. I decided that after racing the junior elite race on Saturday, I was going to race the adult Kal Rats sprint on Sunday as well. So I had basically set myself up for a really long and painful weekend of racing! :)
In the week leading up, it didn't exactly end up being a taper. As we have been doing some of the Tuesday night time trials this year, we went for this one as well. Only difference? It was the Knox Mountain race. It was a tough, mass start race that I pushed really hard from right away and payed for later, barely surviving to the top at BP+everything. Although Wednesday was easier, I did a hill climbing clinic with Luke and the X-Elle group on the Thursday, but felt really good in it, so may have gone a little harder than was smart:). On top of that, I was still recovering from whooping cough, and had a provincial exam and final exam happening that week, meaning all late nights of studying, and little rest. Thankfully the day before went well and was relaxing, setting me up mentally prepared for the race the next day.
Unfortunately, we got there a little later than we probably should have. Warm-up was cut short as a result, and I rushed through getting my wetsuit on, not having a chance to get in the water and re-fit it or move it around. That proved to be a costly mistake.
Swim: My swim start was terrible. Immediately fell off the pace, and couldn't get my arm rotation going. My new wetsuit had been feeling awesome leading up to the race, but unfortunately my lack of preparation and fitting it limited my shoulder movement a bit. Learned from that mistake. After the first buoy it started to feel better, but by that point, the packs were separated and apart. With the swim being so short, it was over before I knew it.
T1: decent transition. Nothing went majorly wrong within the transition area, except that my elastic to hold my shoes in place had snapped. My problem, however, occurred at the mount line, or should I say after it... I ran right past the mount line, running for the corner at the end of the street. I was trying to catch on to Lincoln, who was just behind another pack, but gave up valuable time as I ran an extra 50m before realizing my mistake. As we call it with Brock, 'racer brain'.
Bike: The bike part felt slightly off. I didn't feel like I had the power I had been feeling in training, as I soloed the whole ride and stayed the same distance away from the pack ahead of me, not losing any noticeable time, but not gaining any either. One pack behind me closed in on me, coming off the bike not far back. The 10k bike felt so short and my legs didn't feel quite awake yet when we hit the ground running from the dismount, but more like I'd just done a hard repeat of something without the necessary warm-up.
T2: pretty slow T2 as a couple kids made up time on me. Tried to get my running cadence up immediately.
Run: felt like a continuation of the bike, where I wasn't yet warmed up. I felt uncoordinated, and like I needed to do some warm-up laps to get my legs into it first. I set my sights on who I thought was the top junior girl, and slowly ran her down. I felt better and better as the run wore on, and felt like I was hitting my stride on the last lap (of 4) in the 3km run. My cadence was probably the best I have managed in a race, although it was with a much shorter stride than I wanted. Unfortunately I didn't realize that one of the girls who ran off the bike just ahead of me was a junior as well, as I thought I had passed first place. Still, she had an amazing run, and was clearly faster run than me, and I'm going to have to improve on that as I continue through the summer.
Overall: placed second for junior elite ladies. I am disappointed at the short distances the race series has, however it is still race experience and good to try out the shorter stuff sometimes.
3 things to improve on:
1. Warm up - this is CRUCIAL for me, and I need to put an emphasis on it every time.
2. Knowing my transition set-up pre-race, including where the mount/dismounts are.:)
3. My ability to open up my stride length on the run.
(Bonus: 4. Don't line up next to Brock and Lincoln on the start line... we bumped into and kicked each other around to start the swim:)
Before I explain how the days went, I better explain the couple days before… Ever since the Cherry Blossom Triathlon I’ve had a cough – a bad one. It just wasn’t going away. We got it checked out (along with Brock’s), and were told it was just viral and would go away soon. Still there. About 7 weeks after it started, and with a HUGE weekend of cycling about to happen, it was getting super frustrating, as my training had been limited and hadn’t been going really well because of it. The day before the first race, and I woke up with a fever, sore throat, and head ache. ‘Oh great’ is all I could think. The decision? No fever? Race. Fever? No race. I took the day off and planned to miss track in the morning so that I could sleep in and hopefully recover. Perfect! The next morning, I woke up without a fever, but still with the other lagging effects of whatever I had. Racing anyway, so better make the best of it!:)
Race #1 – Time Trial (22km)
The time trial was interesting, to say the least. Coming off of two days of no training, being somewhat sick still, and checking for a fever before the start in the rain, I didn’t know what to expect. Looking around, I immediately didn’t think it was my race to win. TT bikes, aero helmets, and speed-suits. Thanks to Luke’s generous lending of some of his equipment, I had race wheels on, as well as aero bars, although I had never used them before. With a 30 second time interval, and me going first in my group, I set off, trying to not let anyone catch me. I didn’t see anyone for the first 7 or 8 kms, but then got passed by two people before the turnaround, and another right after. I wasn’t surprised, but was disappointed every time I heard the ‘whoosh, whoosh, whoosh’ of the tires coming up and past me. Unfortunately, not long after one girl passed me on the way back, she went down to the pavement around a corner. I had just gotten out of aero when I saw her down. It freaked me out to the point where I slowed right down, since I didn’t see her move. I looked around and saw 4 or 5 adults running to her, though, so decided I wouldn’t really help the situation, and started to accelerate again. Thankfully, she was ok and raced the next day, but I rode a bit scared back to the start/finish. The one thing I noticed, however, was that at every hill, I gained back time. I was happy with that, as I have definitely worked on my hills over the past year. I finished 4th in the small age group, and third in Provincial standings for U19. Not my ideal race outcome, but I was happy to get to bed that night, hoping to rest and heal up for the next morning.:)
Race #2 - Criterium (22km)
The Crit was cool, scary, and fun all at once. I had only ever done one crit before in my life, and that was about 2 years ago after barely starting with BPR, and lets just say it didn’t go very well.:) After learning the rules, and scouting out the short 1.2km loop, it was obvious that there was going to be A LOT of accelerations, as each loop had two 180s per. Prior to the race, Luke told me not to work for anybody, but to stay up in the top 1/3rd of the pack so that I was able to neutralize any breaks. Due to there being smaller fields in both the U17 and U19 categories, they combined the two so that there would be a bigger group. After the first 3 laps or so, there was a major acceleration off the front, which somewhat shocked me, but definitely woke me up into the race early on. Most of the pack was able to neutralize the break, although I believe we dropped a couple girls. From that point on, there was an attempted break at least every 2 laps, but I was able to hang on for all of them, sometimes taking the whole straightaway to catch back on and others hanging in there. I started to realize that it was definitely my positioning on the corners that was causing me to have to max it out on each lap, so I tried to switch that up a little. At almost exactly the half-way point, I started wheezing quite heavily, partially because I could no longer breath out of my nose at all and was having a hard time breathing in general, and partially because I was physically taxed from the race already. Not long after that, at maybe lap 14 or 15, I had a decision to make. The group of girls who were quite obviously the strongest went off the front, and I was near the front of the group that was being dropped. I heard Luke shout at me “close it” and “this is it, this is the break” as I went by. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t close it, I can’t even breath”, but I knew I had to get that out of my head. I changed around my thoughts into “I don’t want to bike the rest of this thing at the back or solo”. So I dug my head down and gave everything I had to catch the breakaway. Somewhat to my surprise, I did, pulling up several of the rest of the girls in the process. Latching back onto the wheel, I was exhausted, but super happy with myself. Whatever happened at that point I was happy with the race, but a strange sense started to creep into me that I hadn’t had before that point in the race. “I can win this” is all I started to say. The pace slowed slightly, but I’m sure we all were anticipating that to only be the calm before a major storm. With 2 laps to go, I made my way to the front, and went around the far corner in the lead, getting a really good line. I had a slight gap on the rest of the field, and so powered out of the corner. Suddenly, to my left, one of the girls who had been pushing the pace the whole time shot out and past me, and I new I had to get on her wheel. It took a max acceleration, but I did, only to see her immediately give me the signal to take my pull at the front. We had a gap, but I was spent, and although I tried, I just couldn’t do it. We were caught by the pack, and went around the last lap all together. Luke told me to head to the front, so that’s what I tried to do. Approaching the last turn, I was sitting in I think the second slot in the pack, but then the break happened. As I was preparing for the turn, a group went by me to my left, and half the girls responded, while the other half, like me, lost all positioning on the corner and any chance for a medal. It was a split second that determined the entire race. I had a poor corner, but a good acceleration and strong sprint to the line, passing a couple girls on the last stretch. I believe I finished 7th in the combined category, and 4th for my age group, although that translated into 3rd out of the provincial competitors. I was happy with the race, but felt like I could have been there to take the win. Three things I can definitely improve on from this crit for future ones are:
Race #3 - Road Race (63km)
Finally, the road race… With the combination of the two age groups again, the distance was only 63km: 3 loops of a 21km course, with each loop containing a hill 4-5km long right at the beginning. After the last two days, I knew who the strong riders were. My goal was to stick on their wheels at all costs, but that is easier said than done. Once the horn went, I got right on to one of their wheels, but to my surprise, we went out at a super easy pace, with plenty of chatter and talking among us. This made me even more nervous though, as I was just expecting something to happen. As soon as we hit the hill, it did. Gears clicked up, and I was suddenly in sprint panic mode to stay on. Having never ridden the hill before, I had no idea what to expect. It wasn’t overly steep, but just long, and it took a lot of energy out of me to stay there. I lost my wheel probably 750m from the top, and had to work like crazy to pull back onto it. Unfortunately, I pulled up 3 other girls who were behind me with me, but at least I was still in the race!:) Once the course flattened out again, the pace also slowed. I got my HR way down into my high FFA / low STF for a little bit during that time, and then the pace wound up. The rest of that lap was awesome. We pace-lined it for all the flats and rolling hills, and I led the group down the steep and corner-ridden descent, which was super fun! I absolutely loved the experience of working with a group of experienced cyclists, as almost all of the girls seemed to know exactly what they were doing, as we maximized all our work with minimum output. We went through the first lap together, but unfortunately didn’t stay that way for long. Half-way up the next hill, there was a gap between the person behind me and me. Suddenly, there was a gap between me and the person ahead of me too. It had happened a couple times already, and I had closed it, but for whatever reason, this one made a lasting impact. ¾ of the way up the hill, and I had lost the group. I could still see them just a little bit up the road when we reached the top, but it was just slightly too far to go after. Two of the girls behind me caught me, and we stayed together for the rest of the race. In all honesty, I asked myself multiple times, “could I have closed that gap one more time?” and my answer is that I probably could have, had I buried myself. I don’t know if it was unhealthy fear, or a proper calculation that made me not, but I do know if I could do it again, I would have tried to close it, whatever the consequences. But that is what this race was for: a learning experience. The rest of the race was long and quite boring to be honest. We slowed considerably, not on purpose, but without the group to accomplish anything else. I could tell that the motivation wasn’t really there, as the other two in my group were of the lower age and could guarantee themselves a podium if they just stayed ahead of the group behind us, but I couldn’t go solo. I began to cramp up in the middle of that second lap, and it progressively got worse until the end, despite me taking on quite a bit of fuel and electrolytes. When I stood to try to outsprint the other two in my group, I cramped up again, losing the sprint by a little ways. What did I take out of the race? Well, on a positive side, I saw how a group can work together and maximize their output. This is something I have noticed draft legal triathlon racing lacking a bit, as many people do not have the cycling experience to properly coordinate a group. It was super fun to be a part of, and a great experience for me for sure! On a learning side, however, it was great to see I could ride with these girls, but it was also hard to realize how I may have been able to close the gap and didn’t. Another lesson learned from the race. Finally, considering that I found out I had whooping cough after the race was over, I was pleased with how I was able to finish, but just frustrated at my lack of ability up-hill, where I found it the hardest to breath, despite knowing climbing to be one of my strengths.
All in all, this was an awesome weekend filled with ups and downs, lessons, achievements, realizations, and a few breakthroughs. It was exciting to hear that several of the girls who kept beating me are representing Canada at Junior Worlds coming up, so that will be fun to watch the results! Also, it was a neat weekend in that I got to see Brock and Lincoln do their entire crits, Brock finish an absolutely gutsy road race for a bronze, and Lincoln hammer the front of his pack by me before being outsprinted before the line. Different culture, environment, and type of race than triathlon, but its always fun to mix it up! The learning experience for all three of us from the weekend was also invaluable.
A huge thanks to coaches Luke and Stacey for their support all weekend (including lending us spare wheels and aero bars), Cannondale for the awesome bike I got to ride all weekend, and Dr. Snow from Valeo for continually helping me to heal up and be ready for events like this.
17 year-old Junior Elite Triathlete
Long Term Goals