Thursday, March 20, 2014

NACAC- Race Day

See Part 1 here

The next morning Sabrina and I slept through breakfast and woke up at 9:30am. We headed over to the course to jog it as a shakeout as it was supposed to be fully marked and we wanted to see the proper course. We opted to jog most of it and walk the uphills. Legs again felt not too bad. It was warm out but a little cloud cover and constant breeze was okay. We then went and relaxed, had lunch and then more relaxing. 

Pre Race Shakeout with Sabrina Wilkie

Just when I wanted to have an afternoon nap, it was time to get ready for the race. 

We headed over and found out the junior girls started 10 minutes early, which worried us and we altered our plan to start warm up an hour early instead of the planned 50 minutes. The junior women set the bar high, finishing 1-2-3 (Jamie, Jillian, Claire) and taking Team Gold. The junior men were up next and just after their start, we began our warm up. Junior men (Ben) took silver and also Team Silver. 

Junior Women Podium

They then held the junior awards while we finished warming up. Again it was warm but not too bad plus the junior women who ran 4km said it wasn’t too bad out there. Once the awards were over, we actually started our race a few minutes early as well (shortly after 4pm instead of 4:10pm). 

The race was held at the golf course on the property of the hotel. It started out flat and then went downhill before making a sharp left turn through a rooted section with tree coverage. From there it went out and did a somewhat short loop around that specific hole. 

When we turned back, we were running on a sloped surface where the left was higher than the right. This entire section was slightly uphill before we veered off left again through another rooted and treed section and a slight downhill. Then the course popped out on another hole and had another slight up, before a slight down and then a nice steep climb. As Lynn said “it’s short and sweet” though in actuality it wasn’t THAT short. Short enough to not kill you, but long and steep enough to hurt. 

Up the top of the hill we turn right through a rooted section and then a sharp left slightly up and then down again across a green. We had a somewhat flat loop at this section which eventually looped us around to the right and back towards the start/finish. At the end of the loop was another slight up and then briefly flat before we hit the longer steep downhill. Once we hit the bottom of that we veered to the right and climbed up either toward the finish or up towards the top green to start another loop. This was where they had water, which mostly was just tossed over my head or down my back. No mud of course, unlike Vancouver Nationals, but definitely enough hills to make it more challenging.

So now you know about the course, I assume you want to know how the race played out. Well initially the race went out fast (like any race) down the first downhill and then settled down for a bit. The first loop was fairly easy and the pack was pretty close together. 

At the start of the 2nd lap people started to make moves. I could see out front that I believe my teammate Jessica and Kellyn Johnson from the States had taken the lead. I continued to plod along and push the pace and didn’t feel too bad. 

Down the first hill

First loop

The 3rd and final lap though, I just wasn’t aggressive enough. I never attempted to pick up the pace and instead just cruised. Big mistake. It was hot and it was humid and during this lap I think is when I really started to notice it. As I said, I did take a water bottle on every lap, taking a sip for my dry mouth then dumping the rest over my head and down my back. The big downhill crushed me each time though I did my best to let go as best as I could and let the legs fly. My teammate Sabrina passed me not far into the 2nd lap. She gapped me a little bit throughout the race but never too far. 

Short Sweet Hill

Down the final hill she gapped me slightly more and then on the final uphill towards the finish I was catching her again; however, I simply ran out of time. Not a big deal for team points though, as we get the same points no matter if I finished in front or if she did. In the end, Rachel was 2nd, Jessica was 4th, Sabrina was 9th, I was 10th and Leslie was 12th

Finish (little bit tight in the shoulders apparently)

After the finish our coaches threw cold towels over us. A few of the girls were just spent at the finish; however, other than being a bit hot I felt fine. Instantly when Leslie finished I said “where is Jodi, I thought Jodi was the next Canadian behind me.” I looked around at my teammates to make sure I hadn’t missed her and I was right. Word got around that Jodi fell on the final downhill. Our therapist Paula started to run towards the hill where she fell, when someone yelled that Jodi was coming up in the golf cart. This is where things took a scary turn. Jodi didn’t just “fall,” Jodi collapsed on course with less than 500m to go.

I watched as they transferred Jodi from the golf cart to the medical tent and she was limp. She was unconscious. I ended up giving her my cold towel and medics through ice all over her. She was thankfully breathing but after 5 minutes, no one could get her conscious to even take any fluids in. The decision was made to send her to the hospital, so off she went with 2 of our staff. It was pretty scary to watch and we all worried about her health after that but we figured she would be in good hands and likely just needed some hydration. 

Rachel Hannah and myself

 Senior Women (minus Jodi)

Senior Women with Coach Lynn

The mens race after was delayed as they announced they couldn’t start until an ambulance was on scene. You see, for the junior races it was slightly cloudy and somewhat cooler; however, once we started to race the sun came out and gave little to no reprieve. It remained hot for the guys as well. During the mens race we women did our cool down running around the course cheering. Uh oh, my legs felt fine compared to what I was hearing around me. Lesson learned, maybe I didn’t quite push hard enough? Easy to say after, but based on my legs I felt like I could run for hours.

In the end our Junior girls took 1-2-3 and the Team Gold. Our Junior men took silver in the race plus Team Silver. Our Senior women took bronze in the race and then Team Silver and our Senior men took Team Silver. We all hung around after taking team photos and pictures of the sunset. We then took off from the course and hit the beach for a quick swim just as the sun went down before dinner. 

Senior Women Podium

Senior Women

 Senior and Junior Women

 Cheesy trophy shot!

Senior women with Barry and Saheed

The rest of the trip was spent just hanging out around the hotel where I spent some time with Team USA and was told I fit the typical stereotype of being “Canadian” which was basically being super nice. Well then those senior men and women could be Canadian too as they were super nice, if it wasn’t for some of their silly accents. ;)

We got up the next morning and went for an hour run at 6:30. I don’t think I was supposed to run, but honestly I couldn’t turn down another run in the sunshine and warmth, especially knowing that it was freaking snowing back home. We left the hotel at 9am and headed back to the Tobago airport. Ryan, Thomas, Jessy and I had a flight at 10:40am to Trinidad whereas the rest of the team had flights at 11:10. We all met up in Trinidad though for the flight back to Toronto.

Overall the flights were uneventful and I even caught some sleep on the way home. In Toronto we all said our goodbyes as some groups were heading back to Vancouver or Calgary and others were heading out around Ontario. Us island people (Ryan, Thomas and myself) spent the night in Toronto due to no connecting flights out of Vancouver that night. It sounds like it was good too because both the Vancouver and Calgary people ran into problems with delayed and oversold flights so they got home much later than planned.

We instead went out to dinner with team manager Kristine and had a nice sleep before the boys caught their 8am flight back to Victoria and I caught my 10am flight (where I am currently in the air right now) back to Vancouver along with Chris who was our physio and stayed the night at friends). I get into Vancouver in about an hour (around 11:30am) and then wait until my 2:50pm flight to the island. Hopefully I can sneak onto an earlier flight.

This trip was amazing. The way everyone got along made it even more fun and I honestly am going to miss everyone. It is amazing the way runners can bond in just a few days. Both the race and experience have taught me lessons, given me experience and have made me extremely hungry for the future. The dreams are growing and getting bigger. I can’t wait!

Post race sunset!

Sunset selfie with Rachel!

Full Senior Women's team with Jodi! 

 Myself with Lynn Kanuka

Back home to a foot and a half of snow =(

Within 36 hours I went from running in this....

 .... to running in this

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Appears your hot streak is still continuing! Glad to see you running strong Erin!!! :)