Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Age Group Worlds...

Nope, I didn't go. But my friend Connie from H'burg did and represented the Shenandoah Valley quite well. Here are her words:

HI All,
So….did I tell you it was cold in Vancouver? Air temp at race time yesterday was something like 13C (mid 50s) I know you all are sweltering in the heat…not sure which I would have rather had yesterday, but know that I had no control over that, so why waste energy on it!

For those of you that haven’t checked the results yet, the preliminary results show me finishing 13th in my age group, 5th USA athlete. I’m very happy with that and look forward to checking my splits (I haven’t accessed the website yet). Rumor is that if you wanted to, you could have followed my race “LIVE” on the web and perhaps even watched as I crossed the finish line. I was waving the American flag with pride and felt good enough to do the double clutch fist in the air. Last night I thought it would have been great to stop and say “HI MOM AND DAD” into the camera!

So, what was it like? The swim was in 12C water (this is about 55F). VERY COLD with a strong chop (some white caps). After testing the water the previous day, I knew my face, hands a feet would be very cold about 10 min. into the swim. The good news was that because of the cold water, they had shortened the swim to 1200 meters (rather than 1500). Hey, 300 helps! However, they didn’t anticipate the chop as the previous days has been crystal smooth. So, I guess I would describe the swim as “wash in cold with like colors”. After all, we were all women, 40-44 wearing green caps). However, last I knew, humans do usually need to be washed in cold! I did more breaststroke in is race than I ever have. The large waves were not coming rhythmically, which made it very difficult to get into any kind of swim rhythm. But, the good news is that with waves that big to be concerned with, I didn’t really feel the cold! I also learned that a layer of Vaseline on the face helps to keep it warmer. As the morning progressed, the water had gotten worse, and the race directors decided to cancel the swim for all of the competitors starting 2 waves after me (I was in the second to last one they let go…they had to pull so many people out, that it was getting unsafe). I think I would have felt “let down” not being able to swim at a World Championship, but like those who didn’t get to swim, I respect the decision of the race directors. They have a responsibility for safety and not making that decision could have meant something drastic, especially for some of the older competitors who were supposed to be next into the water.
Out of the water into T1. Got the wetsuit unzipped just fine, but couldn’t for the life of me undo the Velcro closure at the neck. I stood there trying and trying to get it undone with my frozen hands, but it wasn’t happening. I was getting jealous watching everybody else get out of their wetsuits and get on the bike. I had already planned a “long” transition to put on some warmer clothing (sock, gloves, vest, arm warmers)…but this was getting ridiculous! Finally, got it open, got out of it really fast, got my gear on, and took off running through T1 in my bike shoes (not easy, and different than usual, but didn’t want my socks to be wet and muddy in my shoes, so….had to run in them).

On the bike, I finally put my gloves on, while riding no handed (don’t know if that is an ITU rule violation or not, but I didn’t get caught). I had put toe warmers in my gloves and my shoes. They worked better in the gloves and my hands were toasty warm in minutes. My feet weren’t so lucky and I had cold feet and legs for most of the ride. The bike course was AWESOME. Four beautiful loops (10K each) around a park with nice rolling hills, great views of the water (when you took time to look) and trees lining most of it. One “challenging” climb that required the small chainring, but the rest was hammer time. Great downhills with sweeping and a few sharp turns. I felt good on the bike and hit my rhythm quickly. I passed a few in my age group, and got passed by a few, but think I pretty much held my spot.

Into T2, much better experience, but my feet were numb as I started out on the run. I quickly caught and passed one of my USA teammate (who beat me in Portland last year), and felt like I was running well…except for the numb feet. I left my red arm warmers on figuring if I got too hot with them on, I could easily take them off and carry them or stick them in the back of my shorts! The run was about 3 loops with some interesting navigating sections. Relatively flat, but not totally. The fun part of a Worlds race is usually the run because they do multiple loops (as opposed to an out and back or one big loop) and the run course is lined with people cheering and yelling, GO USA! Very motivating to not let your country down. So, as my feet thawed out and I started to feel the pain on the 3rd loop, I had “help” to keep me going. I think my run split was around 43 min. which, if I’m correct, is one of my better run times. I also held off (actually put time on) another TEAM USA competitor that had caught me in Portland last year on the run. So, this was also motivating. As we approached the finish line, there was a TEAM USA support staff person handing out flags to us to grab for the finish. How exhilarating.

So, I finished 13th in my age group (at least according to the preliminary results), 5th USA athlete and am very happy with my performance. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to represent my country, the health, fitness and ability, and the support and encouragement from my friends and especially my family. It is so much fun to be a part of a team while participating in an individual sport. I was cheering and encouraging my friends and team members throughout my race and afterward as a spectator. Now I’m off to cheer on our USA PROS who are competing this afternoon for their respective World Championships. This is a “preview” of the Olympics and should be awesome. Unfortunately for them, the weather is wet and rainy today. While it was cold for us yesterday, at least it was dry. So…that being said….I’m off. GO USA.

Thanks Mom and Dad….I love you.


Congratulations Connie, helluva race.


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