After my catastrophic race in Edmonton last year, I was convinced that I would never return. In May, Paulo mentioned that it would likely be a good opportunity given its timing after the Olympics, but I still didn’t want to come back. I wasn’t sold on racing Edmonton until I was forced to withdraw from Tiszy and Hamburg in July and I wanted more race opportunities. I’ve struggled on and off since about mid-June. I would say I was at my best fitness (and skill) level ever before my injury and it just straight up sucked to not be able to race in July. I wanted to go back to Tiszy and redeem myself from my performance last year. I’ve heard amazing things about Hamburg and I wanted to try to rise to the challenge of that race. As I began to build back, I would have phases where I was really excited to get back into it and other phases where I had no motivation. I was mad at myself for getting hurt and losing the gains I had made running and biking in May and June. Once you lose your momentum its hard to get rolling again. My result in Montreal was because I victimized myself and raced without heart instead of taking control of what I could control. I was much more motivated after Montreal, but I was still filled with a lot of doubt. I had about five conversations with Paulo about quitting triathlon over the summer including one the Sunday before Edmonton. I was starting to think that I wasn’t cut out to be truly successful in the sport. I’m pretty glad I didn’t quit or refuse to come back to Edmonton! I’m still in shock – I won a WTS race!
I never once believed that Edmonton would be significantly warmer than last year. It was maybe five degrees (F) warmer, but we did have the added benefit of dry conditions. As soon as I committed to the race, Paulo and I started working on a plan to manage potentially arctic conditions. We thought half tights and an elbow length top would work last year, and we were very wrong. We decided to go with full tights and a long sleeve compression top and I kept my neoprene strap swim cap on underneath my helmet on the bike. I also brought thicker tights and a thermal shirt to wear under my race suit just in case. I also planned to put on gloves in the run to T1, but I just didn’t have time. The full tights and full length sleeves made all the difference in keeping my core temperature up and prevented me from shivering uncontrollably like last year although the numb fingers and toes still proved inconvenient. I also did a swim warmup this year and got the shock of the water out of the way before the start of the race, which I didn’t do last year. I have a tendency to hyperventilate a bit when I first get in very cold water and I’ve learned that I need to get the initial shock out of the way prior to the race. This enabled me to get out to a good start in the swim.
I came out of the water in third and was able to place myself in the small front pack. I struggled through the corners and the surges out of the turns but I was somehow able to hold on – I actually was talking out loud to myself during some sections of the bike just to get through the discomfort. I was mostly ok until the last 500m or so into transition when I couldn’t get out of my bike shoes and then got dropped by the pack. I then had a tough time getting my run shoes on in T2 and as I ran out of transition the cold was starting to get to me and I was just in horrible, stabbing pain from how frozen my extremities were. Once I got started, I began to defrost a bit, but I realized at the start of the hill on the first lap that my right shoe wasn’t on all the way! I was a little panicked but I kept going and it eventually slid all the way on in the final lap. I was convinced that some of the strong runners in the chase pack were going to run through me, but I knew that I had a chance to pass some of the girls in my pack and have my best ever WTS finish. Paulo told me the night before the race that he thought I had as good of run fitness as I did in the spring/early summer, but I kind of blew him off and didn’t really believe him. Early in the the second lap I was running in fifth and feeling pretty strong when I realized that I had a chance at the podium, but it still felt extremely distant. Then, on the third lap, I was actually running in podium position and I realized that nobody in the chase pack had passed me and that’s when I really believed that I could run myself onto the podium! On the downhill, I noticed that I was starting to make up time on Sarah, who was leading, and on the final curve back into the park I had this crazy moment when I first thought that I could win! Paulo was jumping up and down on the corner, people were cheering like crazy, and it was just surreal. The experience was made even more special by getting to share the podium with my USA teammates Sarah True and Katie Zafares, in what was only the fourth ever podium sweep by a country in a WTS race! I watched Sarah and Katie sweep the podium with Gwen a few times and I thought that it would be so amazing to experience that someday. I can’t believe that I was part of one, especially with two women who I’ve looked up to and admired since I first started in the sport!
Thank you so much to everyone for the kind messages. I’ve tried to reply to or at least acknowledge everyone who reached out, but I was really overwhelmed and I’m sure I missed some – please don’t take it personally! I appreciate the support and well wishes so much! I’m massively grateful for the team behind me who helped make my race in Edmonton – and all of my progress – possible: my family, Ian, Paulo for the real coaching and for putting up with me and believing in me, The Triathlon Squad, my friends, USA Triathlon, fortynine Group, ROKA Sports, Off the Front Multisport, Team Psycho, and Alii Sport. Also, a huge thank you to Chula Vista OTC Sports Med and Function Smart Physical Therapy for helping me get healthy and fit again this summer. This wouldn’t be possible without all of your support. I’ll be back in action in Cozumel, one of my favorite places, on September 17, and Salinas, Ecuador, on September 25!
And finally, one of my favorite moments from the race, look to the left of the picture: