Monday, March 26, 2012

Mooloolaba World Cup

Mooloolaba always seems to be my "come-back" race. Last year it marked my return to racing after a year and a half hiatus following my bike accident, and this year, although I've raced a few smaller events, this was my first World Cup/World Championship race since last April. So, by default, this event has become a bit special to me!

We flew to Australia a few days before the race, settling into our training base in Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast, about 30 minutes up the road from Mooloolaba. Noosa will be our base for the next two weeks between the races and from what I've seen already, I think it is going to be just fine! You would realize how much of an understatement this is if you could hear my Skype calls with Adam: "oh my gosh, I LOVE running in the National Park! It's like a jungle! I saw kookaburras! We swim in a gorgeous 50m outdoor pool! Ohhhh, the sunsets! It's sunny and WARM!" You get the gist of it.... I will survive here!

My prep leading into this race was different than anything I have ever done, but it was a necessary adjustment. I started to struggle with fatigue during the late stages of the Clermont camp. I seemed to creep closer and closer to the "overtraining" experiences I had last year and with every intense session I would do, I would need quite a lot of recovery. It seemed to catch up with me quickly and by the time I got back to Victoria, it was clear that my body needed us to take a step back. So, I went back to aerobic training with lots of strength (hills!) on the bike and run. Apart from the odd pick-up, I was in base mode with a higher volume. I was concerned at first that this wasn't the correct prep for a World Cup race, but as I settled into routine, got a spring back in my step, was back to my giggly-self, and starting sleeping better, I knew it was the right call. Even leading into the race last week, I kept things low-intensity and Joel and I closely monitored my daily energy levels before we put me into a session. I don't remember my body ever being this sensitive with regards to intensity but I think after experiencing "burnout" or being close to it last summer, my system is not quite as robust as it used to be. So, we've had to be creative and come up with a new plan to get me firing on all cylinders for race day.

It seemed as though our plan worked out and I had built up enough "reserves" to allow me to put out a solid effort. By the time race day rolled around, I was chomping at the bit to get out there and truly looking forward to the race environment as I had done more than enough solo base training. I had a breakthrough swim, was 12th out of the water, narrowly missing the breakaway swim pack by less than 10 seconds. I was on the tail end of the group heading into shore but when I looked up one final time I could see everyone was already on the beach running. I must have missed a wave that the group had caught and when I got to transition, the final girl in that group was mounting her bike and heading off. Once on my bike, I felt strong and put my head down to catch those up ahead. It was clear that I wasn't going to do that on my own, and despite the help of a couple others, we were losing time. Within a couple laps my pack had grown to about 20 women and we were able to hold the gap to the lead pack at about 1:30. It wasn't an ideal situation for running up to a top finish, but this is one of the toughest run courses so I knew there would be some fading during the last half. My legs were not turning over too quickly at the start of the run, but once we got on the hills I felt strong and found my rhythm. I ended up finishing in 12th. I was pleased with this result, especially being able to see my swim-bike improvements, but also experience another 60+ women race before Sydney WCS in a few weeks time. I also got a few more Olympic ranking points, slowly inching me towards earning the 2nd country spot for Canada.

Thanks everyone for the nice messages and for those cheering on the sidelines! I love this sport and racing hard, but it wouldn't be quite the same without having others to share it with :)

More from Australia soon!