WTS Montreal

Backing up has historically been something I have struggled with. From that respect, WTS Montreal was going to be a challenge, only a week after WTS Edmonton. Physically I’m fit and race-hardened enough that it wouldn’t be a problem. Mentally though, I often find it difficult to get myself fired back up again to race.

My mental game is something we’ve been working on this year though, so it was a good chance to challenge myself in that space, and also to work on the things I didn’t get right in Edmonton.

mon1
Setting up ready to race

By the time race day rolled around, I’d definitely had enough of hanging around in hotel rooms and was rearing to go.

I got off to a good start, and soon found the hip of Kirsten Kasper who was on the hip of Flora Duffy. We had chosen to start on the right end of the pontoon, while Katie Zaferes and a few of the other top ranked athletes had chosen to start from the left. As we got closer to the first buoy it looked as if the group to the left would hit it first, but I wasn’t too concerned as I knew I was swimming right next to my marker for the race, and in a comfortable position.

We rounded the buoys and headed back towards the pontoon. I could see I was well within the top 10, and Flora was still to my right, but I wasn’t feeling stressed by the pace so started to work my way towards the front, knowing every second I gained here was a second more I had to play with heading through T1 and on to the bike.

Diving in for lap 2 I could see I was sitting in 5th. Katie had a small gap on the rest of us, followed then Carolina Routier, Emma Jeffcoat, Jolanda Annen and myself. I moved up onto the hip of Routier then as we approached the turning buoys again, surged to move ahead. There was a tussle of arms around the buoys and my goggles got knocked filling with water, but it wasn’t far to the exit ramp and I could see where it was.

mon2
Swimming in the St Lawrence

Out of the water in 2nd I knew I had to keep the pressure on running up the ramp from the harbour to transition (about 3 storeys high!!!) but didn’t need to kill myself. I had a smooth T1, got my feet in my shoes early, and hit the first hill about 400m in hard. Flora was coming from behind and when she reached me, I was ready to go, knowing I just had to hang on.

A group of about 6 formed, the pace settled, and after seeing everyone was content to sit on, almost too afraid to take a turn, Flora slipped to the back for the next couple of laps. I knew there were still a number of players coming from behind, and wanted to make sure the bike pace stayed on for the whole race, so continued to work at the front with a couple of others.

On lap 2 we were caught by Ashleigh Gentle and a few others, swelling our pack to 12.

At the end of the 3rd lap, just after I had taken a turn into the headwind, Flora made her first move. I got stuck out as I was rolling back, and found myself in a bad position at the back of the pack. Down the hill, around the corner, through transition, and back out again I could feel the effect of being flung out the back. It was hurting me and I knew I needed to get back up the front as quickly as possible. Up the hill on lap 4 I pushed my way over the top and moved up to the front of the pack after we cornered onto the long flat part of the course.

From that point on I was carefully watching the other girls, making sure to cover any moves and not get stuck out in a bad position again. Heading towards transition on the final lap I didn’t position myself perfectly, but was close enough to the front not to lose time, dismounting in 3rd.

mon3
Leading the charge on the bike

Out onto the run I was fearful I may have cooked myself a little on the bike as I could feel my legs starting to cramp almost immediately. I brushed it aside, knowing that sometimes you get off the bike feeling like that but it passes. Sometimes it doesn’t. I ran the first lap with a group of 4 other girls, eventually dropping off just before the end of the first lap. The next 3 laps were a mental battle. Every time I ran up the hill, down the hill, or around a corner my legs would cramp. Remembering what I learnt from the previous weekend in Edmonton, I tried to relax and focus on keeping my run cadence up.

Charlotte was 30 meters up the road from me and I set my focus on her. I went through phases of thinking I could catch her, and just wanting the run to be over. By the final lap it was just about getting across the line.

mon4
Gritting my way through the run

I finished in 11th, and while it wasn’t the top 10, or the run that I’d been hoping for, it is a result I am satisfied with. There’s still plenty of things to improve on, and my run did not reflect the work that I’ve put in in that space, but I nailed the things I wanted to fix from Edmonton, and that in itself is success.

Gillian


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