Representing one’s country at a world-class event is not something that one tires of quickly. After competing in the ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships the previous year in London, England, I was ready and excited to represent Canada at another world championships; this time in Edmonton, Canada.
The training season went extremely well! Despite some minor injuries, the months leading up to the race left in the absolute best shape of my life. My confidence and fitness was growing by leaps and bounds every time I got in the pool or went out for a ride. With a few podium finishes and swimming and cycling PBs in the two months prior to the race, I knew that I had the potential to blow last year’s World Championship performance out of the water.
The race began much better than the previous year, and the familiarity of the course really gave me an extra boost during the swim. I managed to find a couple of swimmers who matched my pace and was able to spend a good chunk of my time in the water drafting and saving some precious energy for the bike and run.
Coming out of the water I knew that I need to have a great opening transition and a fast and smooth mount onto the bike. I felt strong at this point. Very strong. Quickly through transition and smoothly onto the bike – I was exciting to be on the road.
But that excitement soon turned into horror. After a very steep climb up Emily Murphy Hill and into a highly technical section, my race took a turn for the worst, and I made the poorest mistake of my triathlon racing career to date. Trying to maintain my speed while going around corners, I placed my right hand on the front brake and my left arm remained on my aerobars. However, going into the last slightly downhill and left turn coming out this highly technical section I somehow ended up with my right arm in the aero position and my left hand on the front brake. I have NEVER made this mistake before and feel unbelievably foolish as an accomplished cyclist for making this mistake. As the corner approached I tapped on the front brake. Suddenly I was skidding across the road on my left side; my skin burning as the road took its toll on my shoulder, elbow, hip and legs.
Upon coming to a complete stop I instantly hopped up, grabbed my bike, mounted and continued on my way – clearly running on pure adrenaline. Fortunately for me my bike was still in working condition, although my bar tape and gearing on the left side had undergone a fair bit of damage. In the crash, my front wheel had become skewed and was pointing a slightly different direction than my aerobars, so much caution was needed to safely maneuver my bike the remaining 15-17km of the bike course. It was very frustrating knowing that I could not push myself the remainder of the bike as much as I would have liked.
The pain did not really begin until 2-3 km before T2. I quickly noticed as the burning began that I was now bleeding all over my bike, and I knew that the run was going to be a test. Off the bike, through transition, and out onto the run. It wasn’t until this point that my family realized that I was hurt as they could now clearly see the road rash that I had acquired.
The pain continued, but I dug deep and continued to focus on the triathlete in front of me on the run. It is a similar strategy that I have most races. I focused on the next racer, and continued to push hard until the runner was overtaken. Several runners later, and nearly 20 minutes passed since leaving transition I reached the blue carpet of the finishing stretch. I sprinted the best of my ability, but the pain prevented me from pushing it all out.
I came across the line at 01:13:55 in 44th place. Despite being a far cry away from a personal best for me, I was ecstatic! In that moment I crossed the line, I was not disappointed at all. Not with myself, with my performance, or my finishing time and rank. I was so happy that I was able to finish the race and represent my country well. I was proud of my ability to pick myself up and continue on without hesitation.
First-aid wasted no time rushing me to the medic tent and beginning to clean and dress my wounds.
After a good 30-45 minutes of attention, I was finally able to leave the medic tent and continue on to the post-race athlete area and up to the fence where my family and friends were waiting impatiently to see how I was.
A couple of months have passed and I am still as excited and happy with my performance as I was that day. Many would question why I was happy with my result. But for me, just being able to represent Canada once again on the world’s stage was enough for me.