Beijing Race—August 18th, 2008
Fortunately for the women’s race (and the men’s race on the 19th), the weather was spectacular. We had nearly blue skies and a clear day, which enabled the crowd to view the beautiful triathlon venue. I have raced on the course twice before, but the race venue has never looked so crisp and green.
The race began at 10:00AM and all 55 athletes were announced and jogged down to the pontoon. I have to say I definitely had the pre-race nerves and all the fans, friends, and family here to support us heightened the excitement of the race. I had swim spot number three (near the right side of the pontoon). We had a very long swim (nearly 600 meters) to the first buoy and warm 81 degree, calm water. I had a bit of a struggle getting to the front of the swim pack as it was difficult to break away from the other swimmers. Once I got to the front, we were swimming several women across, which created a large draft behind us. It was also difficult to break away out front, with so many girls swimming across each other at the front. I exited the swim in front position, but we had a very large group headed out onto the bike course.
I had an average transition and quickly tried to make a move on the first hill. However, with a pack of 20 plus women, it was hard to get to the front on the hill because of the narrow road. I was stuck in the pack on the first lap, but was able to move up in position so I could push the second hill hard to try and split up the group. After couple attempts of breakaways from other athletes and my own attempt to break away on the hill, I realized that it was very tough to be able to break from the main group….there were so many strong riders in the group.
The race was going to come down to a run, as many of the players were all in the front pack. I moved up to the front of the group before exiting the bike and had a solid transition (although I was still about five seconds back from the first girl to exit). The run started off fast….I felt comfortable, but did not have the leg speed to keep up with the top girls. I kept my focus throughout the run and managed to feel strong all the way to the end. I ended up finishing 11th overall, with a solid race. My goal was for the pack to be smaller exiting the bike; however, it did come down to a run race. So many outcomes can happen in triathlon and you have to be prepared for all the different games that can come into play during the races.
Crossing the finish line, I was excited for the medal winners, especially for Emma Snowsill as she crushed the run and finished over a minute ahead of Vanessa. Laura had a great race, just missing the medals with her fourth place finish. Julie was a fighter out on the race course and ended up finishing in 19th position.
The atmosphere of the race was truly incredible, from the grand stand of spectators to the quarter mile of media lined up at the finish line. The women had the advantage of racing first so that we could enjoy cheering on the men the following day. The men’s race was extremely exciting and can down to a sprint finish between a German, Canadian and a New Zealander. The German pulled off the sprint and won the gold, with Simon Whitefield of Canada taking the silver (he was the gold medalist in 2000). Hunter was the top American with a strong 7th place finish. Jarrod ended up in 18th and Matt 34th.
I truly enjoyed my first Olympic experience, but I am already looking forward to working on qualifying for 2012 in London!