Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stage 5 - Kitzbuhel World Cup

My apologies on the delay. It is hard for me to get on the internet here which is why I have been so slow to post anything about the race.

It was a rough week of preparation for me. After being sore for a number of days following Athlone, I tried to flush everything out in time to do a bit of speed and get ready to race again. I really wanted to have a good race here since my last World Cup in Madrid ended before it really started with my crash early in the bike.

Race morning, I did a wake-up jog and my legs felt pretty good. I was quite nervous for the race, probably more so than necessary, and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps having such a great result the weekend before made me want to have a repeat performance to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.

I biked down to Lake Schwarzsee, the site of the race, a little over an hour before the start time and signed in. The weather was overcast and the roads were still wet from rain earlier that morning. With the very technical “s” curve in the bike course everyone was a bit on edge. It wasn’t until I was half-way through my transition set-up that that the rain started again. So, in order to keep my run shoes from becoming drenched I flipped my plastic box upside down and tucked them under. My bike shoes and helmet however got completely drenched.

I was one of the last competitors to select my start spot, as I was wearing #33 in a field of 36. Fortunately, I got a spot not too far from the left side, so I wasn’t stuck in the middle of everything. It was probably a little further to the turn buoy but I prefer clean water to bodies colliding with me. I got away well until the girl to my right wouldn’t move over to merge with the lead swimmers. Rounding the turn buoy I pretty much got eaten alive. I thought I was so far back until I exited the water and realized I was at the back of the front group. I knew I should try to move up, so I spent the second lap trying to stay on the right feet and move up a few places. Exiting the swim I was still at the back of the lead pack. I ran hard to transition and quickly got on my bike. However, as I tried to put my feet in my wet shoes my right one came unclipped. The 2 seconds it took to correct this was all it took for me to miss the front group. I thought there would be riders coming up from behind, but there was no one there. So I put my head down and rode as hard as I could. After 1 lap I was 55 seconds off the leaders. After 2 laps I was 53 seconds. Finally the pack behind started to catch me, so I pushed hard up the hill the 3rd time until they caught me. The group was worthless. No one would work and we continued to lose time to the leaders. By the end of the bike we were over two and a half minutes down. I still tried to convince myself that I could have a fast run so I flew through T2 and was one of the first out on to the run. That did not last very long though. My body lasted about 300 meters and then it started to shut down. I spent the rest of the run just trying to keep my cadence up and my legs moving. I fell back to 28th place, where I finished. Unfortunately, I missed earning world ranking points by 8 seconds. So overall, it was quite a disappointing day.

I am, however, proud of my swim. It was average and yet I still came out with the lead group. I think with a bit more practice and more confidence in large fields I will find it easier to exit the water in the front pack. My fitness in the water is right where I need it to be. As for missing the front pack on the bike, there really are no excuses, it shouldn’t happen ever. But, perhaps if I had not raced a week prior it wouldn’t have. Either way, lessons were learned and I am really fired up to have an amazing race this weekend in Poland.

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