ITU World Championships Sprint Triathlon Chicago 2015

I am currently sitting in the OneWorld Lounge at Los Angeles airport reflecting on an amazing two weeks away in North America. It all kicked off with qualifying for a place on the Australian team competing in the Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Chicago. I have never been to the USA before nor had I ever represented my country in anything prior. The lead up was soooo exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed the 16 weeks of intense training with this goal race in mind, after the initial excitement of even making the team in the first place!

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This being my first major race, and first international meet, there was a lot to learn. I came away from the race with a whole list of things I did right and wrong from my travel arrangements through to the race itself. I placed a respectable 68th in the world in my age group in a tough, humid race. Certainly the Northern hemisphere locals had the upper hand coming out of their summer season of triathlon whereas we’re only just heading into our season now, in Australia. The Mexican girls in particular appeared much better acclimatised to the conditions on the day.

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It was an amazing experience visiting Chicago and immersing myself in the excitement and buzz of being part of a travelling team, chatting to people from all over the world, enjoying the expo and social activities and then racing on an exciting course with tens of thousands of spectators cheering us on! When we crossed the line there were even ice baths, a fruit and protein shake buffet and massage services waiting for us, just like the professionals receive! And of course, we all received a big-arse finishers medal, in true American style 😉

medal

My swim was a little slower than I had hoped possibly due to nerves, unfamiliar surroundings and not getting a good draft but it was not bad at all. This was followed by a tough inclined 400m run, in our wetsuits, up to transition. My change was not too bad. I felt pretty awful on the bike for the first half lap but that’s not unusual. I knew the flat course with good long straights would suit me though so I took confidence from that and really pushed on. The Shiv was not the easiest to handle in the head wind but once we took the u-turn and had it on our tail it was an absolute joy to ride. I really need to get faster and more confident on my u-turns in order to improve but my bike leg was a PB nonetheless and definitely the highlight of my race. I actually enjoyed it so much I was sorry to reach the end of the leg!

Bike

My second transition was a bit of a shocker. It was another long run off the bike and I found it is very difficult to run in cycling shoes with cleats on sand! I have not yet mastered starting with my shoes on the bike as I am unable to touch my feet and keep the bike upright at the same time. Not only was the run very hard but then the tongue of my left shoe slipped and got stuck and by the time I managed to retrieve it and get the shoe on I completely forgot to grab my Garmin off the bike. I ran about 5 metres from my bike before realising and took the decision to go back for it because I wanted to stick to the pace plan my coach and I had set.

Even with the watch going, sticking to my pace plan on the run was going to be easier said than done. My legs wanted to run 4.45 pace off the bike and I knew this was too fast in the heat and humidity but I just couldn’t find a slower pace. I had drunk plenty of water on the bike but soon found I was struggling with the conditions nonetheless. My plan was to run 4.45-5min pace for the first 2km then bring it home fast at 4.30 pace over the last 3km but I couldn’t seem to fight having the reverse happen as lactic acid started to build up in my legs. After the first 2.5km at 4.45 pace my speed then really started to slip and I found myself begging for the next water station. By the time I hit the finish shute my pace had slowed to a 5 minute average and it was all I could do to throw my hands in the air on the finish line and then warn the volunteers to stay away from retrieving my timing chip as I was about to vomit. A few dry retches later and I was good to accept my finishers medal and stagger to the nearest ice bath for a butt first flop followed by just a little bit of swearing and shivering.

Run

I had intended to back up for a ‘shits and giggles’ race in the Open Sprint two days later but I withdrew after getting down to transition at 5am to find the organisers had not provided any lighting and it was cold, windy and raining. Conditions improved over the course of the morning but I was happy enough with my decision to have sat that one out and instead retreated to the warmth of the nearest hotel foyer and the comfort of a decaf cappuccino! It was nice to finally start my holiday properly after 16 weeks of hard work both with training and trying to juggle my business in its busiest time of year and my commitments to morethanpkd.com, PKD Australia and ASOFIA.

At the closing ceremony of the triathlon festival we traded shirts with the other athletes and I came away with a nice British team polo. It fits me better than my Australian shirt did so I think I got the better end of that deal! I will remember this race meet in Chicago for the rest of my life. It was an honour to race with all PKD sufferers on my mind, to represent PKD Australia, my sponsors and my country. To share this event with both friends and strangers and to experience a new country and culture, all in one. It was truly an incredible experience and triathlon is a wonderful sport in providing such an opportunity to an ‘age grouper’ like me.

From Chicago I travelled on to New York and Montreal for a holiday. New York was absolutely mind blowing and I was pleased to meet and spend time with my long uncle who lives there. Montreal’s architecture didn’t fail to impress and delight. The only draw back was that my bike was held up by customs and didn’t make it from Chicago to Montreal in time to catch me up so I am crossing my fingers that the shipping company now honours their offer to deliver it to me in Sydney free of charge. I fell even more in love with that bike in Chicago and can’t wait to have it back for training.

My holiday is over now and it’s time to re-set, lose the weight I’ve no doubt put on indulging in the local fare (I ate vegan whilst away but more than I usually would without the same level of exercise) and re-focus on preparing for our coming domestic triathlon season. I have a trail run race next month and then start back into the tri’s in November with a triple planned over consecutive weeks. I am really starting to find my groove in this sport and am absolutely loving it so onwards and upwards from here!

Ciao from LAX.
Vanessa xoxo

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