- Hearing the minarets first thing in the morning and realizing that I am at one of the most prestigious races in the world which happens to be in Abu Dhabi, the Middle East and a million miles from home.
- Meeting the only female elite athlete from India just prior to the race and her saying “I like Canadians. They are so nice”.
- Gripping my toes in the white sand right before I took off into the water on a mission.
- Turning the first buoy, having no idea which way to go so stopping, taking my goggles off and yelling out to no one in particular - where do I go? Michelle Vesterby (bless her soul) yells out "STRAIGHT!"
- Thinking during the swim – hope these girls that are drafting like swimming because I am certain that I just made the course longer.
- Coming out of the water in the lead.
- Getting onto the Yas Marina Formula 1 Race course. That was 18km (3 loops) of fun.
- Flying with the wind at my back like I was untouchable. (Note that confidence too early in a race can be a real problem.)
- Hearing the whoop whoop of my Zipp disc wheel.
- Running out of water several times and almost chewing the nipple off on the fuelselage trying to get every last drop out of it.
- Looking out to my right, left and seeing nothing but desert separated by a huge highway. Then noticing the sign for Ikea and thinking “Really? Here too?”
- Getting to my last GU chocolate mint gel and thinking how can these taste this good at 90F and after 5 hours.
- Taking a swig of flat coke thinking that it was water. It is a serious shock when you do that.
- Puking up water and thinking shit – This is where Peter Reid says PROBLEM SOLVE.
- Getting off the bike and almost falling over as I tried to locate my legs.
- The shock of seeing Rachel and Yvonne going through T2 right behind me. They had made up 5 minutes in my last loop. Bummer for me.
- First few minutes of the run when I thought “my legs are ok!” Then for my body to say too bad you have nothing left in you...
- Thinking on the last few kilometers I want to go home.
- Having the volunteers give me ice cold sponges and splashing them on my face. Then getting a little creeped out thinking how many people are doing the same. Then not caring at all. Felt good.
- Seeing the salt caked on my black top and wondering how much of that was mine and how much was the ocean.
- Having intense stomach cramps and wondering how I can again problem solve my way through this one.
- Drinking flat cola on the run course and thinking for a brief moment oh I feel better now. Maybe I can finally push. Hope lingers for a long time.
- Stopping at the finish and thinking -wow I really am tired.
For this race I had three goals. The first was to come out of the water first. The second goal was to bike with guts, determination and without any doubt that I put everything I have out there on the course. I did not want to “play it safe”. The third goal was to finish strong.
The swim, although very challenging from a sighting perspective, was smooth. I got out of the mess early, led the whole way and was comfortable in my pace. Goal 1 accomplished. The bike was the most mentally tough race I have done. I was out there on my own pushing the pace for almost all 200 km. I tried to stick with Caroline Steffen (arguably the strongest IM cyclist in triathlon) from T1 and succeeded to keep her within 3ish minutes until the final lap (4 hours 30 min into the ride). That is when I started to have problems and my Garmin Edge 810 showed a marked drop in power and speed. Despite this my data file shows my determination to keep bringing my power back up as I kept pushing again and again. I never stopped believing or trying. Goal 2 accomplished. After I found my legs in the run I actually felt ok. That lasted all of 1 km. Then my stomach tightened into a ball and never released the cramping. It went downhill from there. I finished but not with a smile on my face. My initial thought was that I “failed” Goal 3. However, being the eternal optimist and one with a “not to be defeated attitude” I realize that finishing strong can mean something different. I finished this prestigious race in eighth. I pushed hard, learnt a ton and with this experience am stronger. Importantly my resolve to succeed at Ironman Melbourne in a few weeks will not be dampened. With that I can say Goal 3 – accomplished.
They say that life is made up of a series of moments. Racing can be so much like life where there are high and low moments, some pretty, some not so much. But they make up the whole experience. Here are my memorable moments around the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.
Welcome to my blog where I share my perspective as coach and experiences as an athlete. Enjoy!