Race Report---Hamburg ITU World Championship Series:
This past Saturday, July 25th, I competed in my third WCS Race in Hamburg, Germany. This was my third time racing in Hamburg, as I had previously raced in 2006 and 2007. The course has not changed over the years, but the weather has been different every time. This year, the weather was a challenging element, especially on the bike as much of the bike portion was in the rain. I finished in sixth place overall, and I have to say I was pleased with my finish considering a few obstacles I overcame during my race.
The race began later in the afternoon, very common in Europe, with a 3:30PM start time. When racing in Hamburg, there is always much excitement in the air, mainly due to the fact that almost ½ million people are watching the race. The run especially goes by fast, as people are along the entire course cheering on the athletes. The water temperature was 20.2, which would normally be a non-wetsuit swim, but since the air temperature was only in the 60s, the race officials decided to have a wetsuit swim. The swim is a two loop swim in the downtown river. I had a solid swim, exiting in the front of group. I was about 45 seconds behind teammate Haily Peirsol, who is only one of three women ever to break 16 minutes in the 1500 meter freestyle and this year has switched over to the triathlon.
I had a descent transition and started the ride feeling strong. I was looking down at my SRM and noticed that I was pushing well above my threshold (70 Watts above) and feeling great. My goal at the start of the bike is to really push the pace to try and separate the packs as much as possible out of the swim. Within the first ½ of the first lap, I had established a 30 meter gap on a pack of women. I was riding very aggressively and unfortunately, too aggressive for the conditions. Hamburg is very technical, but also has lots of paint on the crosswalks and paint with the combination of wet roads can lead to crashes!!!!! On the third turn of the race, I felt my wheel slide out and I was down before I knew it. I hoped right back up to my bike and then realized that my chain was off, so I then had get off and put my chain back on. At this point, many other riders were flying by and a race official was holding me against the gate so that I was not starting up in the middle of a pack and interfering with other athletes. Finally, I was able to get back on my bike and start chasing down the pack once the official felt it was safe for me to begin. I got on my bike and gritted my teeth and spent the next 2-3 laps working hard to catch back up. I found it is easier to push yourself trying to chase a pack rather than trying to stay away from a pack. It seems having a target ahead definitely helps to motivate you to drive forward. Once I caught up with the pack, I was able to relax and breathe a sigh of relief. When I first joined the group, I did not realize that there was a group of three off the front. With a couple laps to go, I tried to push the pace and close the gap, but it was a bit too late.
I did not have a great second transition, as I could not get into good position before getting off the bike; therefore, I exited off the bike in the back of the pack. Our group had a 90+ second deficit over Emma Moffet, Daniella Ryf, and Lisa Norden. I started off the run with legs a bit cold, but feeling good. I focused on moving up towards to front. After about 1500meters or so, I was able to get to the front of the pack. Halfway through, Lauren Groves of Canada began to push the pace and separate the big group. I was able to stick with her until about 1500meters left to go in the run. I ended up finishing 6th overall, with the third fastest run split of the day. I was happy with my run performance as my leg strength continues to improve. It is a bit frustrating to know that I was feeling so strong on the bike and if I had been a bit more careful on the bike and not crashed I feel I would have been in the break-away. But at the same time, I really went for it and gained valuable experience. I am also very proud to get back on my bike and catch back up to the pack after the crash and glad to not have lost focus mentally.
This was my third race of the year for the WCS races and I have two races remaining in the series, Yokohoma, Japan on August 22nd and the finale in Gold Coast Australia on September 12th.am currently ranked sixth in the series and my goal is to end the year within the top 5 in the World Championship Rankings.
I had a great time in Hamburg taking in the beautiful buildings downtown, eating some German food (the pizza in Germany was awesome!) and also getting to meet up with some friends of mine I met on vacation eight years ago in Mexico! Tim and Simone were on their honeymoon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico back in the summer of 2001 and my Dad, sister and I were vacationing at the same time and have stayed in touch ever since. They have traveled up to Hamburg to watch me race every year and since we first met back in 2001, their family has grown. They now have two adorable girls (Lena, 5, and Sophia, 3).
Currently, I am on the plane headed back to the US. I upgraded to business class, which is a very nice treat!! I am taking a couple of days of light training to let my body recover from all the racing (this was my fourth race in six weeks---something I never could have dreamed of completing last year, but now my leg is feeling so much better post surgery). I am also excited to spend next week in St. Louis. I will be visiting family, attending my 10 year high school reunion as well as going to my niece’s baptism (I will be her godmother).
I will not be racing for another four weeks, so I am going to take advantage of some time to get in another quality training block before my next block of racing in Japan, Chicago and Australia.
Summer is flying by….already August. The kids/teachers will be back in school before you know it. Enjoy the remainder of summer!