Friday 4 August 2017

Edmonton WTS 2017

Edmonton WTS 2017

Photo Cred: Tommy Zaferes
I have raced in Edmonton every year since 2014 (World U23 Champs, WTS Sprint that past two years.) Its funny how a race venue is portrayed in your memory depending on the performances that you have there.
When you have a good race somewhere, you are always very willing to go back, even if it’s not primarily a racecourse, which suits you. Mentally it’s a place where you can have another good race, because you’ve performed well there once, you can always do it again.
Edmonton is one of those places. U23’s was my best race at a world championships when I finished 16th, the 2015 in Edmonton was my best race to date back then and was a big step forward, it was also the one race that allowed me to get high enough in the World ranking to be eligible for selection for the Olympics last year (or as a reserve in my case) and last year was my second top 15th finish WTS.

Although I haven’t had the results I have wanted this season, I still went into this race with an ‘I’ve always had a good race here’ mentality. The bonus to going to somewhere multiple times, is how comfortable you are with it, you know the good places to eat, the best places to train; it keeps things very relaxed and familiar and reduces a lot of thinking and stress that is also a benefit leading into a race.

The race was two weeks post Hamburg, I had a great week at home, which was fantastic after so long on the road this season. Nice to be at home but sad knowing the fact, that the 8days I had there, helped to double to total amount of days I have spend in Northern Ireland since leaving for America back in January.
Being on the road doing what I love is great at times and a fantastic opportunity, but it is not without sacrifices and being away from home and family for so long is definitely the hardest part of it all.
So I flew to Edmonton from home and arrived on the Monday night giving plenty of time leading into the race, to be able to get over any jetlag and just get rid of the travel from the body.

Photo Cred: Tommy Zaferes
The days leading into the race went smoothly with the body feeling good and looking forward to getting and opportunity to race at the highest level once again. Unfortunately this race was another Sprint distance race; far too many on the circuit this year, in my opinion.
Anyone who watches the races regularly will have noticed that Edmonton has a very different swim course to most, which thankfully I have always found suited me in the past. The course is in a very small, shallow lake; almost more a duck pond than a lake. It is a beach start which allows for no more than one step before hitting the water instead of the more common pontoon dive. Once in the water it is not very far to the 1st buoy before taking a dog leg and loping around the back of a small island.

At the weekend I chose to stand to the right hand side of the starting line, which has always been notorious for having a slight disadvantage than the left hand side, in distance to the 1st buoy. Regardless I had decided that’s where I was going and I so did some of the top ranked guys before me, so I wasn’t too worried.
The weather was completely different to all other years in Edmonton, two years ago it was 7*C and on Saturday I stood on the start line in 27*C heat with a non-wetsuit swim (I would have much preferred the cold miserable weather).

I got a good clean start and very soon I found myself leading the charge from the right hand side, joining the left hand side arrowhead at the 1st buoy in around 8-10th position, which had been led out in blistering pace by Richard Varga.
I started to feel the pace on the back straight struggling to hold good form as the pace was very high but still know I had done the hard work and got myself into a good position to start with.
I was happy to hear afterward when I watched the race replay that it was the fastest non-wetsuit swim in WTS history, so I didn’t beat myself up as much about feeling the pace learning that fact and as I exited in 12th out of 50+ guys I mustn’t have felt as felt bad as most.

I was in a world of hurt non the less exiting the water at the back of the lead pack and struggled to have a fast transition which left me in no mans land for the start of the bike but I was glad to be swamped by some big names such as Gomez, Mola and Murray to be brought back up to the front.
The rest of the bike pack was pretty uneventful, even on the new harder course which involved negotiate and pretty hard hill 6 times.
When I say it was uneventful that doesn’t mean it was easy, far from it, this race was full gas from the gun. What I mean is that it stayed together and nothing of much significance occurred. That was until the last lap when I got a little TV time, not necessarily on purpose.

At the bottom of the hill I found myself at the front of the pack and quite close to the camera motorbike, I moved across onto the back wheel of the motorbike to keep the pace high with minimum effort and in doing so found that I had got myself a gap from the pack. I just wish I had committed to the attack as soon as realised I had a gap. I hesitated, as I knew I would have had to solo the last half lap by myself, that hesitation hampered my chances of making anything of it. In hindsight I wish I had of tried, I wouldn’t have finished much further down than I did. What’s the worse that could have happened, I still managed to get demoralizing comments from ‘Triathlon Live’ commentators at the fact that Mola wasn’t going to be worried about my run speed.

At the very end of the bike I made an attempt to get a little gap leading into transition but it was missed timed and a little too early, which resulted in me approaching the dismount line mid pack.
Don’t worry I don’t have much detail to go into on the run section of the race. From the 1st few steps I knew it was going to be a struggle, little did I know that those 1st few steps where probably the fastest few strides of the day, it just got worse after that. I struggled to get on top of my breathing, specially exhaling. I was shuffling along with shortness of breath unable to get into any rthymn and far from comfortable. I’m not one to pull out so I was left to trot around as I watched the rest of the field run into the distance as I stumbled across the line in 32nd.

Another frustrating performance, with a swim and bike to be pleased with but a run, which hindered a good final finishing position.
I am getting myself into the mix and my training has reflected a good performance is just around the corner, its just about putting all the pieces of the puzzle together…
I am currently sitting with my feet up in a hotel room in Montreal preparing to race on Sunday, this time an Olympic distance WTS, my preferred distance.
I am feeling good and loving the city of Montreal, this weekend its time to put it all together on the streets of this fine city.

Available to watch on BBC and
Saturday, 5 August
18:20-20:55, BBC Red Button and online - women's Race (23:00-01:35, repeated on BBC Red Button)
Sunday, 6 August
18:20-20:45, BBC Red Button and online - men's Race (23:00-01:25, repeated on BBC Red Button)
Monday, 7 August
09:25-11:50, BBC Red Button - men's Race (repeat)
14:00-15:30, BBC Two - World Series: Montreal highlights

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