February 11, 2020 - Redemption for last year's disappointment
This was the third year I have competed in this World Championship qualifying race in Manzanillo, Mexico. The first year I didn't know what to expect or what the course was since my Spanish is very limited. I ended up with a 3rd place AG finish. Last year I injured my back a week before the race. After getting an intense massage, and receiving a steroid injection, I was able to compete but still experienced pain. I finished 3rd in AG again. During the previous summer of racing in Alaska, i had swept all of the short distance races I competed in and I was going into Manzanillo injury free and confident.
The group of racers to start just ahead of us had white swim caps on. Four minutes later we lined up to start. The beginning of the swim started rough for all of us as two big ocean waves hit us before we could bet past the surf. Once past the surf and the normal fight for position, I was able to catch up to the white caps. By the time I had finished the 750 meter swim, I was already in first place and wouldn't relinquish the lead.
Transition 1 was about a 200 yard run from the beach. Biking is where I excel at and I knew if I could get on the road first, I'd be hard to catch. The main difference in ITU races is that you are allowed to draft with racers of the same sex. I immediately got in a pack of elite racers and we took turns leading while the others drafted and rested their legs. The bike was pretty uneventful and I increased my lead on the rest of the pack.
Going into T2, I was the only bike on the bike rack for my AG so I knew this was my race to lose. The run was a two lap 5k but was very hilly and the hot Mexican sun was beating down. I always tell myself "just run your race" and don't get caught up doing something dumb. On the second lap I lapped another runner in my AG as he had the same age designation written on his calf muscle. I was feeling pretty good about my position but also knew that the Mexican athletes are phenomenal runners and I couldn't take my foot off the pedal. On the final home stretch to the finish I looked over my shoulder to make sure nobody was making a final push to run me down. I crossed the line at 1:18:06 and had qualified for the ITU World Championship in Edmonton. The second place finisher was over 5 minutes behind me.