My goal coming into this race was to sharpen up for the big race in Rio in two weeks. Overall, I feel that I did that. I arrived into Germany on Wednesday, and was all set to race the individual WTS race on Saturday, and hopefully earn a spot on the team relay on Sunday.
Saturday did not go as I had hoped. I knew that getting out fast in the swim was important, so I picked a clear line, way to the left, to avoid any fighting. I found that once the gun went off, I was sprinting hard, but I was not moving up ahead of the people around me. I found myself taking a very outside line around the buoys to avoid the mayhem on the inside. There were quite a few people ahead of me as I made my way back, but I managed to get into a rhythm. By the end of the swim I felt like I was passing people like they were standing still.
I exited the water at the back of the second pack, but just missed them. It was pretty disappointing to not make that front group, but that is how racing goes sometimes. I just focused on staying safe in the group and getting the legs ready to go for the run.
The run came up short too. I ran about a minute slower than I am capable of running. My legs just would not turn over the way that I wanted them too. However, this is fairly normal for me after spending time at altitude. This was also the case early in the season at Mooloolaba, and by Auckland two weeks later I felt much better. This was the perfect race to get my legs to start moving over the next couple of weeks!
It turns out that I was able to earn myself a start in the team relay! I was extremely excited to have another go and redeem myself from the day before. The relay format (girl, guy, girl, guy; who all do a super sprint) is the most exciting format of racing in triathlon. I have competed in this event for the past three years, and I am always excited to race it. This year we had a team that went off in the order of Kirsten Kasper, Me, Renee Tomlin, and Tommy Zaferes.
The swim worked out perfectly. I dove into the water side by side with the French athlete Coninx. I was able to sit on him for the first half of the 300m swim, and then go around him and a few others as the swim exit was approaching.
The bike was two laps of 3.3km and I wanted to be aggressive. There was a group of three off the front, and I was in a group of 5 with strong riders about 20 seconds behind. We should have caught that group, but everyone was hesitant to work. So after the first lap I got impatient and attacked. That got the group organized a bit, and they caught me with half a lap to go. I sat in for a few minutes before putting in another effort into transition.
I came out of T2 in about 2nd as Coninx and Sissons sprinted out onto the run. I held back just a bit to give myself a chance to run the whole mile fast and not just 400m. I ended up running with Van Der Stel for the mile, and was able to hand off to Renee just ahead of him in about 6th place. Overall, the swim, bike, and run felt much better than they did the day before and gave me a little glimpse of the fitness I have built up. The team ended up in 7th with solid performances for everyone, especially when taking the race the day before into consideration. I hope I have the opportunity in the future to race for Team USA and bring home another medal in this event!
I am now in Banyoles for just a short period of time before I go to Rio. This is the race that I have based my whole season around, and a good result here will mean more to me than any other race. I am excited to race on such a tough course, and I am ready for a battle!