ITU Duathlon World Championship 2012, Part 2
Run: The gun goes off and it's incredible how hot the pace is from the offset. I'm easily in the middle to the back within the first half mile. These women can run. All of them. I'm not discouraged as folks have probably gone out too fast--except they aren't slowing down. My legs feel fresh, really fresh. The taper worked. Thanks Coach Cane. I start to pick people off while feeling very comfortable. I belong in this race. I hear Z yell, "Remember who you are." I am the National Champion. Get it done! I have no idea my place or my pace, but I am hoping for 6:30-35, especially with how good I feel. I don't feel any need to push it as I am well aware that this is not a stand alone 10K. I see Kirsten Chapman a little ahead (She placed 2nd overall at Nationals) and assume I am running well or she is having an off day. I hope for the former. Each time I see a W40 (age marking on the leg), I decide that I have just moved to second. Upon passing the next W40, I wonder, how many more women are ahead. There are 4 laps to complete for the 10K and I see the leaders repeatedly. Laura's pace is blisteringly fast as she leads the field. I give her a thumbs up and a "Go." She says, "Go Nic." Hard to get out the extra syllable at that pace.
I finish the run and realize the pace was a little slow. Doesn't matter. Legs still fresh. I never see Minter but know she's way ahead. I also forget her name while I am out there.
T1:I know exactly where my bike is and am pleased with that. My transitions generally stink. I fumble with my shoes (not sure why I refuse to wear my tri shoes!) and can't get the straps in to close the shoes. Mediocre transition.
Bike: Time to hammer. I mount the bike and try to be aggressive even on this course. At some point on the first of five laps, I see Kirsten Chapman and follow her lines. Brilliant move on my part; she's a track cyclist and REALLY knows how to ride. At one point I close in on her and must decide to pass her or drop back (or stay in the draft and get a penalty). I pass her. BAD MOVE. AGAIN, BAD MOVE. It's a wake up call to her that she's sleeping on the bike. She drops me so hard, and I lose the benefit of her lines for the rest of the race (mad respect for this dominant 45 y.o. mother of 5!!!).
I pick off people on the course and realize I was not in medal contention at all on the run.There are a couple times I take a bad line, have to break into the turn, and then have my back wheel skid out. On one turn, I approach an older athlete going slowly. I yell, "Go!" She says, "Go Honey" but she's blocking the passing lane and so I have to wait to overtake. Not getting a penalty. The effort overall on the ride is good, but the handling is mediocre. I take the pieces of tape off the bike after each lap to help with the counting. I will NOT do an extra lap (thanks Villapono for the suggestion). I pass a couple more Brits on the bike. How far ahead were they on the run? Damn!
Bike finished and now I just have one more leg. All the stress I felt before the race is gone. I'm pleased with my race thus far and surprisingly my legs still feel fresh.
T2: I dismount the bike and run up the carpet. There is a good way from the dismount line to the bike rack. While running with the bike, I take my helmet off. That's when the race shifted. An official stands in front of me and stops me. He explains that my helmet must be on. Runners are whizzing by me as I stand stationary.I put my helmet back on after what seems like an eternity. I have no idea of time but know I have just lost the race--whatever that means. I'm pretty sure I am up there but have no idea of place yet. I go to my bike row slowly, wondering if this is even the correct lane. I see a 40 year old pass me and she looks really strong. (I do not realize that I was actually leading until this point). I get my sneakers and make the decision that I can't catch her. Turns out this is Juliette Minter. I didn't even realize this. I let her go.
Run: I'm discouraged at this point despite feeling strong and fit. Someone from the Federation sees the T2 fiasco and calls Tim Yount (COO at USA Triathlon). I guess I became important enough for someone to make a call about me when I put on my USA uniform. Tim yells to me to check the penalty box. If I have a penalty, I have to serve it before crossing the line. Otherwise I will be DQed.I ask where the box is. I don't understand what's going on. (Not comparing myself to Jeremy Lin, but this is comparable to his playing at MSG and asking where the 3 point line is. ) I am supposed to know these things. I am also supposed to know the helmet rule. I think this stuff was all covered in the team meeting that I missed. Thanks Air France!!!! I decide the penalty board is the gigantic scoreboard, and not having finished yet, don't see my name. DUH! I tell Tim on the next lap that I am in the clear. I don't really believe that and wonder if I should duck into the tent before crossing the finish line. I take my chances.
I pretty much run by myself in a fog with no one to catch. I did get a moment of mental reprieve when I thought, "Medal would be a great teething ring for Simon. Get that for him."I cross the line and it's the first time all season that I come through without being doubled over at the finish. I'm more confused than tired. I learn that I had served my penalty in T2 and there was no additional penalty (10 seconds).
I missed out on the gold by 20 seconds but was handily beaten in transition by 52 seconds--free time! This time includes the penalty. While I am proud that I came home with the silver medal, I can't help replaying two things that I did so terribly wrong ad have no excuse for.
1) when your hand touches the bike, the helmet must be on. Know the rules Sin Quee. (Second time this season I made an egregious error and had a rule violation).
2)Transition is just about being organized and executing. Anyone can be a pro in transition. When I put my foot through my back wheel earlier this season, I gave up trying to better my transition time.Never give up. EVER.
To be a champion, you have to think like a champion. Champions get on the line ready to win and NEVER concede the race before the gun goes off. Champions also prepare to the best of their abilities and leave nothing to chance. I can't stop replaying the T2 video in my head and wondering what could have been. It's quite possible had that not happened, Juliette would have caught me later in the race and gave me a real hurting in the final stretch. As I stated earlier, she's a better runner than I. However, the race is over, the time is set, and I got beaten. There is no room for interpretation. There is a fire in my belly, and I have to put this in the memory bank and learn how to be a better competitor next time. I came home with a silver medal, and that also left no room for interpretation. I belonged at the Duathlon World Championships.
Thanks to all my family and friends who have supported me this season. I ALWAYS carry you with me in my races and feel blessed.
* Meb said he'd ask for my autograph if I won. Sorry Meb, looks like I'll still be asking for yours.