After a very productive, but short, two-ish weeks in Boulder, I headed to Oklahoma City for the ITU Pan American Championships. Based on the start list, and how I have been progressing, I was confident that I could have another strong result and perhaps a top 5 finish if everything went really well. It was only about 65 degrees out when the race commenced, a lot cooler than I thought it would be, and with the strong mid western wind in full force, blowing upwards of 38 mph, weather would certainly be a factor.
The start of the swim was not nearly as hectic as I had imagined it would be and I settled safely into the front group. About half way through the swim I started to get really cold. The water temperature was measured at 71 making it non-wetsuit but quite chilly! I tried to keep my turnover up and I started to kick more, hoping that I could keep my core temperature up. Exiting the swim in 6th, I charged hard through transition and quickly mounted my bike.
Looking around, I saw that there were a few other strong cyclists in the group who were all willing to work, so we took off riding hard with the hope of dropping as many people as possible. We succeeded and found ourselves in a small group of 6 chasing the two swim specialists who had about 45 seconds on the rest of the field out of the water. By the end of lap 2, with the help of 3 other women in the group, we had managed to close the gap to the leaders. After a few surges, crashes and fatigue led attrition, I headed into T2 in the front pack with just two other women.
I had a smooth and quick transition and was out on the run first. Careful not to get too excited, as I have done this year, I settled into a rhythm and started the long 10k march to the finish. The other two women passed me after about 1k, but I didn't panic. I kept to my rhythm and tried to focus on my form since my legs were slow to wake up. However, at the start of lap 3 they came alive and I picked up my cadence and started to push. Fortunately for me, as many athletes had failed to hydrate properly because of the tough road conditions (and the wind), the athlete in front of me, in second place, cracked and came back to me. With 1 lap to run, I was safely in 2nd place, and just needed to make sure I didn't bonk!
The run down the finishing chute was incredible because I had hoped to race well but had far exceeded my personal expectations. To achieve my second career podium, and a silver medal at the Pan American Championships, a race where I finished 14th in 2008, is real validation of the hard work I have been putting in over the last few months.
This finish pushes me to 2nd American and #30 in the world.
Now, I am in Austin, Texas where I am preparing for another points race which will be held in downtown on Monday May 25th.