I will begin by saying that this race was a bumpy ride for both myself and many of the other athletes in the race. Despite the circumstances, however, I was still able to have a very solid race.
The days leading up to the race were warm and so ,consequently, the race was a non wetsuit swim. I was feeling relaxed and confident leading up to the race and after my pre-race ritual of a Genki Bar I was ready to rock!
The start spots had been picked randomly and, lucky for me, I happened to get the number one spot. Despite not hearing “you’re in the hands of the started” or “take your marks” I still had a great start and was able to take the lead right away. I had a solid swim and came out of the water in third. My transition was good (no helmet troubles this time) and started the bike still in third.
I easily got my feet into my shoes and myself and a group of girls caught the leaders right away as we climbed the first hill. This hill was quite steep and had a 180 degree turn in the middle. Unfortunately, going around this turn the girl behind me didn’t quite follow my line and hit my back tire causing herself, and the girl behind her, to go down. When she hit my back tire she partially knocked off the speedometer sensor that was hooked on to my bike beside the back tire. This caused it to come loose and, for the entirety of the bike, it was banging into my back tire. I was very lucky that it didn’t get caught on my spokes and cause me to crash. In addition to my speedometer being knocked off, my back tire was also punctured during this crash causing me to have a slow tire leak for the rest of the bike. This made the ride much harder then it would normally have been. Luckily I didn’t notice that I had a flat tire until after the race; during the race I just thought that my brake was rubbing on my wheel.
After this crash, our pack reformed and was working well together leading up to the second climb of the course: a longer and more gradual hill. Unfortunately, coming down this hill there was another crash, this one much worse. It’s all kind of a blur but from what I saw the girl who was two riders in front of me lightly tapped her brakes causing the girl right in front of me (teammate Hilary Willie) to crash into her. They both went sprawling and I missed one of there heads by centimetres. After this crash our pack was really shaken up and took the next loop of the bike slower and very cautiously. We made it through the next lap without any more crashes and were off on the run.
The run course this year was dramatically different from other years in that it incorporated a 300m cross country trail through the trees. My first lap felt ok but not great. I was able to stay with the leaders but not push the pace. The second lap, however, felt horrible. My legs started to die and it was only with great mental strength that I was able to push myself to third, just 18 seconds behind the leader.
After the race I nearly fainted and it took me a long time before I was able to stand again and leave the wonderful ice baths that they had in the recovery area.
Although I am disappointed with my run this race, I am happy with how I did overall. I had an awesome swim, I was able to stay on my bike despite being very close to both crashes, I was able to still have a strong bike despite bike problems, and I was able to push myself during the run even though I felt horrible. I know that having a slow tire leak during the bike affected my ability to run this race because I had to work a lot harder during the bike due to low tire pressure.
Two of my Canadian teammates crashed during this race. One of them (Hilary) suffered from a concussion and had to go to the hospital. The other teammate didn’t hurt herself during the crash and was able to finish strongly although her overall result was affected.
I feel very fortunate that I was able survive the bike and win my first Pan American medal. I definitely could not have achieved this had it not been for my wonderful friends and family who were cheering me on during the race. Due to my performance at this race, I have achieved one of my major goals of the season and qualified for the 2012 World Junior Triathlon Championships which take place in Auckland, New Zealand this summer. I am very excited for this amazing opportunity and look forward to representing Canada on the world stage.
The results can be found here.