The skies above Maui have opened up today, a storm announcing the arrival of winter and the beginning of the off season for me. I have just completed the World Xterra Championship, the biggest race of the season attracting the best and the brightest from around the world. In a close race and an exciting finish, I ended up second to Jamie Whitmore. My bid to retain the title became a strong second place with about two kilometers to go, and although I am obviously disappointed in not winning, I must congratulate Jamie for putting together a great race. As a result, I am totally focused on how I can be better as an athlete, how I can improve on this great, but not perfect season, and what I need to do to climb back to the top of the World Championship podium. But that can wait, because now is the time for me to go home and chill out with friends and be "normal" for awhile, before plotting next seasons course….
I came here with two other Canadians racing their first World Championships, and both were badasses?Danelle Kabush took third and Chrissy Redden was eleventh, so yay Canada! It was a great field, four Europeans, a Kiwi (New Zealand), three Canadians and three Americans in the top eleven with much smaller time gaps between finishers. It was a very exciting race, with new strong girls toeing the line, and I am so happy to have taken one of the top spots of the day.
I am already imagining what it is going to feel like, one year from today, to wake up listening to the waves on the shores of Hawaii, having won my second World title. A year is a long time to wait, but is also a lot of time to prepare, and I am just so happy to have the motivation to come back, the support to pursue my dreams, but most importantly, the personal support of so many people I can’t possibly thank enough?. You guys rock! But to the race story?.
There were a lot of changes to the course this season, and the race went down almost to my race plan, except my plan included running in to the win :-). I will go through the race step by step highlighting some of the changes and critical moments, starting with the transitions. This year there were two transitions, one for bikes and run stuff, and a second ?shoe? transition to prepare for the mile run up to the bike transition. The morning began with setting up a normal bike/run transition with bikes, run shoes and run number. I then ran down to the swim transition, where I placed a second pair of shoes to run uphill to my bike. I got in the water early, did a 500 meter warm up to get my arms warmed up and body ready to race, and calmly stood on the shore imagining a great race.
My start was awesome. I found some girls who usually swim first chick pack including Lynley Allison, lined up beside them, and when the cannon went off, busted ASS to stay with them. I did. I was, for once, second pack in the swim. With the top ITU/world cup triathlete type guys swimming 19:30 for the 1500m swim, it was obviously a bit long, so a 22 minute swim was GREAT! The emergency admittance to the Pacificsport Triathlon Center to perform critical swim therapy was a success, Neil Harvey and Patrick Kelly, I can’t thank you enough. Your contribution to my race was key.
I got out of the water to do our mile hill climb, and felt like a piano was dragging behind me. I just focused on staying with the girls in front, ran steady, transitioned very quickly, and gave a quick nod to Jamie Whitmore coming in as I left. Yay! A lead?.
The bike course started right onto the dirt? it was rough, rocky, dusty, messy and challenging. It was a bike course for a great mountain biker, which I am, and I just attacked it with all I had. It wasn’t the day I had last year, but I was moving. I could feel that I was working pretty hard, but that is how a world championship feels, like a big, fat challenge. I was leading early since I had a good swim, and I focused on pushing as hard as I could, knowing I would be strong. In hindsight, I could see some of the mistakes I made on the bike, but the biggest I believe was a lot of tentativeness on the downhill. I was so afraid of uncontrollable problems like flat tires, mechanicals, etc, that I wasn’t an aggressive enough descending. I didn’t attack the course like last season, and I believe that was my first error of the day.
Regardless, I got off the bike with a three minute lead on Jamie, and 45 seconds on Melissa Thomas. I transitioned as fast as I could and then headed out onto the run, which I was running blind. I chose not to run it as I came to Maui late, it was hot, the course was tough, and I thought running it wouldn’t make a difference. This became error number two. It was unbelievably rough, and I was wearing racing flats. The downhill was technical, loose, rocky and steep and I could really have benefited from seeing the course. Hindsight can drive you nuts. However, the biggest problem wasn’t the downhill. It was the fact my legs stayed in transition off the bike on the way to the run. I felt like I was on a treadmill facing the hill, rather than attacking the hill and charging to the finish. The course climbed uphill for about three kilometers, then tipped down for about four kilometers with some very technical sections. It was on the downhill that the race for first became the race for second. I knew I wasn’t efficient, I knew I was at max, and I knew she was coming. She caught me, ironically, on Heartbreak Hill, and despite all the desire for first, I raced in for second.
I put all of my heart and desire into this race this year and took home second. I believe I gave Jamie a great fight for the title, she can be satisfied that she earned it, and I went down swinging attempting to keep it. I was thankful that all of us had clean races, did our best, and the strongest on the day won the race. That is how it should be.
I would like to thank my coach Houshang Amiri of the Pacificsport National Cycling Center for a great season both on the mountain bike and at the Xterra events. I want to thank my friends and family, and particularly Ross, who was the best support guy not only for me every day this year, but for our little Canadian team this weekend, you are the best!! Thanks to Team Unlimited and their amazing road crew for putting on amazing races, dialed, with great food, huge fan support, and cool venues…"I’ll be baaaack".
I was very fortunate to have some amazingly supportive sponsors, who have given me such heartfelt encouragement and represent the best of the best in sport. Thanks to Saucony USA, K2 Bicycles, Compex Technologies, Powerbar, Ford Cycling, Sundog Eyewear, Maxxis, Shimano, Giro, Hypoxico, 661, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, and Arq Hair Salon.
I leave you now with a quote which represents the theme for my next season. I hope that my experiences from this season have entertained you, or maybe even inspired you, and that as we look forward to 2005, we all have a goal to motivate us, drive us, and frankly, make us feel alive.
?The secret to success is constancy of purpose.? DISRAELI