This past weekend I traveled to the land of endless sunlight as well as quite possibly one of the friendliest places on earth. The location: Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. The mission: to compete in my first World Cup race.
Having skipped over the World Cup step earlier in the year by doing the San Diego WTS race I was excited to rewind a bit and be in a race I would be more competitive in at this moment in time. My goal going into the race was to get top 10. The race started out pretty rough with a highly contact swim. At one point someone took my suit by my rear and gave it a pretty aggressive pull. And throughout the entire race I continued to get my shoulders pulled and my goggles punched into my face. Having been in open water swims before these are not out of the ordinary events and it is all just part of the sport, but this had to be one of the most contact swims I’ve ever been in. Good thing was, it was a sprint and the swim only lasted about 10 minutes.
So after escaping from the pond, I ran out to get my bike. At the time I was coming out with a lot of teammates and training partners from the OTC. This was a critical point of the race and looking back I wish I would have pushed myself harder and stressed the transition to get with the front bike pack. This race definitely revealed the importance of having a sense of urgency, execution and all out speed and strength in leaving T1 in order to be with the front group. Unfortunately majority of my peers and I missed the front bike group, but fortunately we were all together to work as a group in our U.S.-dominated pack.
Coming off the bike my goal was to try and catch some people from the front pack on the run. Unfortunately in a sprint race a 5k doesn’t leave much time to make up for a minute deficit, especially at this caliber of a race. I tried my hardest, and had a great run but ended up 10 seconds away from catching anyone in the pack. The good news is I still finished 11th! Though I may not have completely reached my goal, I was generally happy with the race but once again learned how critical seconds can become in triathlon transitions.
I realized this in Clermont earlier this year when I had a speedy transition and was able to make the front bike pack just barely. However, having just missed the front bike pack during this race it became even more evident to me how crucial quick transitions are. Often as endurance athletes we spend a lot of time getting in the volume for training but over look some of the “small things”. What I have learned during triathlon is that those “small things” often can end up being determinants for the race as a whole.
Take the time to practice some of these transition skills a few times a week. This could mean running around in circles and then trying to put on your helmet and sunglasses as fast as you can. You could also do a swim with your wetsuit and practice getting out of the water and stripping out of your wetsuit quickly. Try having your shoes set up just how you would in a race and practice getting your feet in your shoes quickly.
All of these things that are so easy to implement into training are often forgotten until race day, but they can be critical time savers. I know I won’t be forgetting about them anytime soon, will you?
Photo: Arnold Lim/ITU