After 10 race starts, I’m starting to resemble my race flats: smelly, icky, a bit worn, and yet remain functional. While I don’t have the nice bounce of a brand-new pair of flats, I am pretty comfortable just plodding along, not causing any nasty blisters or raws spots. Like my shoes, I needed a few days of airing out after my last race in Lausanne (although thankfully I wasn’t stuffed into a plastic bag due to the odors I emanate) but I’ve since returned, dear readers, to give an overview of my latest WCS racing endeavors.
Davos to Lausanne involved a 4 1/2 hour train ride across Switzerland with a small bag, bike and parents in tow. This year I’ve managed to travel to 3 of the WCS races without flying: traveling without a bike bag is a joy. Once in Lausanne, I jetted off to leave my vacationing parents to run rampant around the lakeside city and I settled into my pre-race routine. Given the high cost of food in Switzerland, however, I was certain to reconvene with the ‘rents at mealtimes: a very convenient arrangement for me, but a raw deal for them, as they ended up with my paltry company in exchange.
After high-pressure London (test event/ selection race for many countries), the race atmosphere of Lausanne was markedly different, resembling more of a triathlon party amongst friends. Although the racing was still as fast and furious as one might expect at this level, there was a relaxed air permeating the venue. Perhaps it was the heat or the lakeside setting that lulled us into submission. Maybe it was the addition of the Team Relay that created a greater sense of community.
Saturday’s sprint distance race went by in a flash. Before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line in a solid 7th place and was celebrating Barbara Riveros Diaz’s victory alongside Coach Daz and my other training partners. Our Chilean chiquita had a brilliant race: she was a pit bull to my Golden Retriever on that day. Hopefully some of her fighting spirit will transfer over to me in the next couple of weeks.
As short as Saturday’s race felt, the team relay was even speedier. As the lead-off, I had the longest leg for Team USA: a paltry 20 minutes. My head was still in T1 by the time that I handed off to Barrett Brandon, who gutted out a minor crash and road rash to hand off in a good position to our running superstar, Gwen Jorgensen. While we all had solid legs, the relay hero of the day was our anchor, Mark Fretta. Through his huge final effort, we managed to squeak into a 6th place finish. Probably the best moment of the weekend for me was witnessing Mark’s elation upon crossing the finish line. He described the experience as “the most fun [he’s] had racing in years”. ITU is trying to push the inclusion of the team relay for the 2016 Olympic Games; we should have plenty of team relay opportunities in the next few years. I just need to get a few more speed sessions in the interim!
The next morning, I hopped on the train, bid adieu to my wonderfully supportive parents and headed back to our little Alpine town. In a couple of months, I will get a much-needed off-season break and my well-worn, well-travelled shoes will be relegated to the trash bin. With a few races to go, however, I still have to remain focused and with my race flats nearby. As long as they remain in their plastic bag quarantine, I should be just fine.