10k Run: 46:43
40k Bike: 1:37:12 (eeek! hills, hills, MORE HILLS)
5k Run: 25:36 (I think this is a timing error since everyone's time is a little slower than I suspect they really were, although that's still no excuse)
Well, I'm all caught up with work and school and it's raining (pouring) outside, so I guess that means it's time to write my first race report in 4? months.
So I did the Va Du last April and a slot rolled down to me for Du Worlds. From the start I wanted to do this race for one reason: Australia. I'd never been but I've always heard great things, especially about the scenery, people, and athletes (duh). This summer, while in Beijing, I met several Aussies, including a native Sydney girl I became good friends with. Two blondes sightseeing together around Beijing get a lot of attention! Anyways, I made a point of flying to Sydney 2 days ahead of everyone else in order to hang out with her. Two hours after stepping off the plane we were having breakfast on Coogee Beach where the temp was 65, the sun was out, and the water is very blue. It was incredible :)
Oh right. The race.
So, I've never been to Worlds before. But since I was in a new country I spent most the week sight seeing (wildlife reserve was awesome), which is a good thing to do when you're tapering. It especially takes your mind off the intimidating competitors milling around the hotel area, training all hours of the day. The race was in Newcastle, two hours North of Sydney, and the Aussies, British, and Americans all stayed in the same hotel.
The days leading up to the race proved the race would be tough. The bike course consisted of 4 10k laps with approximately 5 hills and 4 180 degree hairpin turns per lap. The course was essentially a highly technical and hilly circuit course, and many people chose to go no bars or short bars or road bikes. (Keith, if you ever say Columbia has hills again you ain't seen nothing!)
Luckily, the run course didn't seem as bad. Key word is "seem".
Helped Alex unpack his bike. Yes, he showed up for a race in Australia the day before... and he still did better than me. Sad, isn't it?
Night before the race:
Instead of going to bed way early stayed up with Alex's roommate to watch Anchorman and SNL reruns on his laptop. Good times :)
My roommate woke up early due to nervousness. I pressed snooze.
Grabbed some cereal and then headed off to race site. Got everything ready in transition. I was in the third wave? Anyways, warmed up with one of the other American girls in my AG, Sarah.
And we start! Wow. Everyone here runs realllllllllllly fast. And not just the first half mile but, like, the whole time! The first run I felt pretty good, we passed the spectators 4(?) times and people were cheering for USA and "Go Amanda!" I felt encouraged but still rather slow.
Then, we finally see the part of the run course we didn't see in the days before. The stairs. Two loops of 5k and two sets of stairs -- no problem in the first 10k.
Good start to the bike. First three loops passed and I was feeling fine. On the third loop up the hill my roommate passed me. We chatted and happened to pass by the camera guy, so there's a pic of us with some gorgeous beach scenery in the background :)
I noticed the hairpin turns weren't so bad as long as you stay away from the crazy mofo's going down the descents at 40mph (right before the crazy hairpin turns).
In the 4th loop I had some bike chain issues. It fell off in the middle of a short but very steep grade hill. I lost all momentum and most importantly noticed the cramping in my legs. I put the chain back on in the lowest gears and powered back up. Ouch. Tried to stretch everything out in the final loop because I still had another run coming...
The transition was set up in a strange fashion and required manuevering around this fenced area in a loop before actually entering the transition racks. I found out ITU rules are different -- I got yelled at for unstrapping my helmet before putting my bike back on the rack. But the official was kind and didn't give me a penalty. Yeah!
Once I was out to the last 5k I noticed a slight pain in my right quad. It got worse quickly. I ran another 3/4 of a mile in absolute pain before trying to walk it out. That just made it feel worse, so I started to jog slowly and ignore it. Then... the stairs. Oh, those terrible, evil stairs. On the first 10k I had taken them two at time. This time it was a shuffle up each stair. In agony, I swore (in my head) and said outloud repeatedly "OUCH... ouch ouch ouch ouch". At the top, I was relieved to find flat surface again. The out and back portion here allowed me to cheer on others so that I could ignore the pain ensuing. This and the spectators cheering (Team USA/USAT people and families) helped get me through to the end. I sprinted across the finish line.
Very poor food and drink, I must say, for such a prominent race. But I did find Alex and a bunch of other people I had met during the week. Beside the one guy from San Francisco who ran a 34 something 10k (and was top of Team USA for time) everyone else had a mediocre race. I was just relieved it was over.
That night we went out for dinner and partied. It was more than fun. It was Australia. The bar we went to had live music, no smoking allowed inside, clean bathrooms, and gave everyone who raced a buy one get one free drink coupon. God, I love Australia.
The next day I went and watched the elite race. They had a different bike course, more hairpin turns and close corners. I met one of the American elite guys during the race, he had flatted on a hill nearby while I was out attempting my run. I stopped and walked back to the transition with him, he was so frustrated so I tried to calm him down. I told him "no worries - you're in Australia!" (we were walking next to a spectacular beach at the time)
So, in summary: Race was so-so and Australia was beyond incredible. The people I got to meet at Worlds was worth it alone. The last day as we were riding to the airport (well, except those lucky enough to go to stay longer, no fair!) I was thinking of excuses I could give my boss as to why I needed to spend another week in the country. After all, my friend who lives in Sydney invited me to stay with her. Changing the plane ticket was a matter of $150. But alas, we all have real lives we must come back to in the end.
Of course, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Until next time... (marine corps is next on the list)