First continental cup podium!

After a 4.5 month cast enforced hiatus, it felt great to finally be on my way to a race. The nerves didn’t really hit until the bike course preview when I looked around and thought ‘I want to beat all of these people, but they look so fast!’ Coach Sousa’s last nugget of wisdom while I was in Colorado Springs was to ‘relax and think of this race as a first step where you can execute the fundamentals. And, oh yeah, don’t crash.’ This advice proved quite prescient and helped keep me from stressing out too much over the race weekend.

I had a great home stay to prepare for the race. Fellow Triathlon Squad members Kevin Collington, Jen Spieldenner, and I stayed with Heather Wurtele‘s parents, the Danforths. Not only did Kevin Collington’s neurotic preparations make the week go very smoothly, but the Danforths loaned us their entire basement along with a fridge stocked with delicious dried dates, peaches, and cherries (the consumption of which did cease in order to prevent race day calamity).

Last year’s race ended up having a swim bike breakaway, so I knew I had to start fast and attach myself to some fast feet. That, unfortunately, did not happen and by the time I exited the water, I couldn’t even see the front swim pack. On the first big climb in the bike I was stunned to hear a guy calling out ’86, 87, 88 seconds back from the first group!’ At this point I reminded myself of Coach Paulo’s advice and focused on staying upright, trying to help pull back a bit of time, hiding in the pack, and making sure I stayed upright. There was a breakaway from my group in the final lap that I let go, but somehow I ended up only being about 40 seconds down from the leaders after the ride.

In accordance with good ITU strategy, I promptly took the run out at an entirely unsustainable pace. I made great headway through the field until I was in third at about the halfway point. Unfortunately, despite having an awesome cheering squad in the form of my Dad, grandparents, the Danforths, and Heather Wurtele (who appeared at about 300 places during the run), I couldn’t quite reel in either Kyle Jones or Simon Whitfield over the last bit of the course.

Kelowna is definitely the most encouraging race in a long time and I was very happy to stay upright on my bike. Paulo Sousa has been awesome in helping in me gain back the fitness I lost after my fist fight with the pavement. I still have a long way to go, but I’m happy to be improving.

Rubberside down, rubberside down, rubberside down...