World Championships Finale, Budapest, Hungary
This past Sunday, I competed for the first time in eastern Europe in Budapest. All three days prior to my race were cold and rainy, but on race day for the women, the skies cleared and the temperatures warmed up to mid 70s. The race course had two different transitions, T1 and T2 located about 3.5 miles away from each other, which led to more of a challenge than usual on race morning. Fortunately, I had my teammates with me to bike through the streets of downtown Budapest, so I did not get lost finding both transition areas.
The swim was a wetsuit swim, with water temp in the low 60s. The Friday prior to the race, the water felt, much, much colder due to colder air and water temperature, but on race day the water felt comfortable with the warmer temperatures. I started off the swim in a great position, was in second position after the first 300 meters and at 500 meters took the lead and held the lead for the remainder of the swim. I wanted to push the swim to try and create some separation; however, I did not want to push over my limits so that I could exit the water with a quick run through the first transition and onto the bike.
A couple months out of ITU racing I realized can get me rusty with transitions. Unfortunately, I got a bit caught up in my wetsuit and lost a critical five or six seconds. Instead of riding with Helen 100meters in front of the group, I found myself working hard to catch up to Helen Jenkins so that we could start working together. The first section of the bike course was a straight 5k, which headed to the looped portion of the course. The bike course was very technical and challenging due to narrow turns, railroad crossings, and potholes. I have to admit I was a little timid due to all of the crashes in the races the day before (however, it was raining during those races). We were very lucky to have dry pavement and were able to have a fast ride. I felt the ride was very challenging because of all the turns, required repeated jumps out of the saddle with high end wattage. In fact, I had my highest 10 second wattage recording of all time. To be honest, most of my cycling training has been more time trial based focus and I have not prepared my legs for the repeated jumps. It is a tough call to know how to prepare for a race, especially not having raced prior on the course.
Most importantly, all the women stayed upright on our bikes and finished safe. With one lap remaining on the bike course, I made sure to get to the front of the group, however, with the last turn I let up just for a second and ended up exiting about mid-pack. Again, I noticed I was rusty putting on my shoes and I lost about 5 seconds in the second transition. It is tough to run out on the run course and see a long line of close to 30 women in front of you. In addition, ITU racing has a new rule about putting all equipment inside a box, and if not followed the athlete will serve a 15 second penalty, so I was also worried about putting all the equipment in the box…for the future I will need to practice with the box!!
Once out of the run, I struggled to find my rhythm, but I stayed focused to catch as many women up the road as possible. After lap 1, the pace settled a bit and I focused on my form and staying mentally in the game. Unfortunately, a couple women passed me within the last one kilometer, but I managed to finish inside the top 20 (20th). This final score left me in 14th position overall for my world ranking, which was short of my goal. However, I do have to consider that I was missing a score from my overall ranking since I was unable to run in London and only had four scores verses five. I was not quite prepared for the day, but as always, I can learn from my mistakes.
I finished up second on the swim rankings and finished just behind Laura Bennett and it was great to finish first/second for the Americans in the swim title.
I have still a bit of racing left this season, including my goal to defend my Toyota Cup title. I look forward to finishing the season strong and racing in the US.