Cozumel, Mexico. September 15, 18. ITU Age Group World Championship
Mexico! Hot. That pretty well sums things up. Thank heavens that the Team USA hotel was VERY kid friendly - Bella and Sebastian were quite happy! I was again amazed at everything that the USAT team puts into these events . . . daily updates, chiropractor, massage therapist, bike mechanic, organized course rides/runs, meetings, socials - you name it, they had it! I was also REALLY thankful for Raceday Transport. As we had a last-minute change in plans that included bringing both children with us, I really don’t know how we would have juggled them, luggage, and bikes - especially flying into Cancun, taxi to ferry, ferry to Cozumel, taxi to hotel. And, as I was racing both the draft legal sprint and non-draft legal standard, I would have only brought my road bike . . . so to have both bikes ready and waiting for me when I arrived was just priceless! On top of that, the day before the standard I found a gash in one of my tires which they quickly replaced and I was race-ready. They are just amazing!!!!!
The sprint - well, it was draft-legal. My strength is the bike, so this definitely put me at a disadvantage. I ended up with an Aussie girl that I just couldn’t shake off my wheel, and she was the stronger runner. However, I have to say - I raced my best race for the circumstances, and was still able to look around on the run, with the streets full of people cheering in different languages, and think how very incredibly lucky I was to be racing, in Mexico, doing a sport I LOVE to do, and represent the US. Pretty amazing. I ended up 2nd in my division, and was well-pleased. Just to race in a World Championship, much less podium, I still find a little beyond belief.
The standard - well, it was non-drafting . . . enough said. :) I was (slightly) fired up after the draft-legal, and ready to give it all I had, especially on the bike. There was a Mexican girl who had done the sprint as well (ironically her last name was Corona . . . ), and I knew she was a better swimmer and had a strong bike. The currents were really strong on the swim, and the course was shortened because of this. It still took me a while to get through, and I was SO ready to get on my bike! I had a great ride, but never caught Corona, so knew I would have to have a pretty good run. It was hot, so I just focused on my Bobby McGee run form and made sure to take in fluids (and pour on head) at every opportunity. The spectators were beyond amazing, and I had some TN friends out on the course too - which always helps! I tried to encourage every US athlete I saw as well. The run was 2 loops, and I caught Corona towards the end of the first loop. However, I still did not know if there was someone ahead of her or not, so had to just keep going as fast as I could. On the second loop there were girls just starting their first loop - so it was really impossible to tell where I was in the standings - so I just raced as hard as I could and hoped it was enough. The amazingly wonderful Tim Yount was handing out US flags for the finish line stretch - which is always my favorite part of the race. Heading down the blue carpet, through the stands, hearing the rest of the USAT team cheering (Lauren Rios and Meg Weagley are also truly amazing) waving that flag and knowing that I raced as hard as I could (and hoping that it was enough), and crossing that finish line . . . words just don’t do it justice. I am so, so fortunate to be able to participate - and I encourage, urge, beg and plead with anyone able to do the same. It is the experience of a lifetime.
Being that the sprint and standard were a few days apart, we were able to spend some family time enjoying Cozumel. We met up with some friends (‘Spider’, Ginger, and Sage Sillery) the day after the sprint race and did some snorkeling. We spent some time in one place and were then told we were being taken ‘somewhere really special’. So off we go only to stop at . . . . the race swim course. Yep. I thought it was pretty funny. However, I must say it was pretty nice to just be able to swim around and enjoy . . .
And now for lots of pictures...