Previous Race Recaps

Throughout my first season competing professionally, I gained a lot of experience and learned something new in each race I participated in (Clermont, Mazatlan, Monroe, Treasure Island, Malibu and Kelowna).

Below you will find a brief recap of my past races and experiences for the year from March to September:

Clermont, FL – 1:03:50, March 2011

Clermont was my first introduction into the world of ITU racing and my first experience in a draft legal race. One lesson I learned very quickly is that ITU is very different from standard, non-drafting age group racing. Having no idea what to expect, I went into the race with eyes wide open. When the horn sounded, I was very surprised by the fast and aggressive racing methods of the other girls. I soon found myself in the middle of the main swim pack, and came out of the water in fifteenth place. I managed to hold my position on the bike through the first of four laps until I was dropped off the back of the pack. With a lap and half to go, I noticed it was becoming difficult to pedal, and discovered that my seat had dropped six inches to lie even on the top tube of my bike. I did what I could to finish the bike portion, but my legs were shot for the run from the awkward biking position. Upon crossing the finish line, I was relieved, but eager to race again and perfect my skills.

Lessons Learned at Clermont:

  • Learn how to swim well in a pack
  • Bike mechanic skills need some work
  • Learn to ride in a pack

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Mazatlan, Mexico – 2:18:14, April 2011

After the learning experience at Clermont, I was determined to have a better race at my first Olympic distance ITU in Mexico. I set out to stay in my bike pack, and was successful! Starting the swim, I was in the lead after 200 meters, but after rounding the buoy I was passed by four girls and lost focus. Trying to make up lost ground, I tired myself out and was not able make up enough of the gap in the second lap. I came out of the water with Gwen Jorgensen and we worked together until a group of girls caught us a lap in. Though we all worked together, we weren’t able to make up any time on the lead pack. When it came time for the run, the sun and humidity proved overbearing and got the better of me. I didn’t have my best run, but I was able to hold on to tenth place and earn my first ITU points.

Lessons Learned at Mazatlan:

  • Get out strong on the swim
  • Learn to maintain composure in tight packs
  • Learn to use drafting to my advantage in a bike pack
  • Proper race nutrition is crucial for sustained performance

Mazatlan Results

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Monroe, WA – 2:13:10, June 2011

With two races under my belt and the confidence in my bike from Mazatlan, my goal was to get into the lead bike pack and stay there. With my swim getting stronger, I just needed to maintain composure in the pack. Unfortunately, a day before leaving, I was practicing my mounts/dismounts and was caught off-balance and kicked my crank, ultimately splitting my big toe and lifting the nail nearly all the way off. Having no idea what this would mean for my race, I found and super glued a protective sleeve to prevent my injury from getting in the way.

The race started off well and, after the first lap of the swim, I came out of the water in the lead and finished the swim in third. After stripping my wetsuit, I was set up perfectly to make the lead pack. However, coming out of transition, I slipped off my bike shoes. I told myself it was ok, stood up, and tried to mount again, only to slip and fall all over. With scraped up knees and girls passing me left and right I rushed onto my bike only to find I had gone from third to ninth place, about 100m back from the lead pack. I pushed as hard as I could for the first half a lap to catch back up, but they had already gained too much ground. Soon after, I was joined by the chase pack a couple hundred meters back. This time our group actually worked well together, pushing good speed and power. With two laps to go, there was an attack to break the pack up and surprisingly I covered the move and helped successfully drop the second half of our pack! Coming into transition I flew in with the fastest T2 split of the day and proceeded onto the run. Though it was not quite good enough to earn points, I had one of best run splits ever averaging just over 6:40 pace for 6.5 miles. I was thrilled with my performance!

Lessons Learned at Monroe:

  • Be cautious practicing any technical bike skills so close to a race
  • Get out fast and maintain a calm rhythm in the swim
  • Do not try anything new on race day!
  • Be confident in my abilities and training

Monroe Results

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The Bike Crash, July 3, 2011

The weekend prior to the San Francisco race I was in an unfortunate bike accident on the Pacific Coast Highway. I was riding in a paceline and as I was putting my water bottle back in its holder, I accidently drifted too close to the biker in front of me. My front wheel collided with his back wheel and I went down hard face first. Thankfully I landed off the road and onto the gravel shoulder. My helmet protected my head, but my face was not so lucky. Landing on my jaw, I broke a tooth, cracked two teeth, skewed my jaw to the right, and scraped and bruised my hip, chin, cheek, nose, elbows and knees. It could have been a lot worse, and I was extremely lucky things did not go differently. Initially I wasn’t too spooked, but the mental trauma hit me later on in the week when I had another near collision while warming up on the San Fran course the day before the race.

 Lessons Learned:

  • Bike handling skills
  • Always pay attention in a paceline
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San Francisco, CA – 2:18:31, July 2011

With six laps, 120 turns, and strong winds, San Francisco was not an ideal race course after a bike crash. That being said, I was determined to race and put my best effort forward. I had never DNF’d or pulled out of a race before and I was committed not to make this my first. The swim took place in the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay at Treasure Island. Two girls managed to break out early, but I found myself in the middle of an aggressive pack; it was so aggressive that one girl had her wetsuit unzipped half way through the swim! I still managed to come out in seventh place, but was never quite in touch with a pack. Eventually four of us drifted together in a bike pack, but there was no cohesion or cooperation in the group, more like every girl for herself, so we did not make up any ground. I found it especially nerve wracking because our group was very skittish and the last thing I wanted was another face full of asphalt. My run felt stiff and my hip was popping from the fall, so I did what I could to stay with the girls around me. On the final lap, I found my second wind and was able to make a strong move to pass two girls on the home stretch.

Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t let frustration get the better of you
  • Run with the pack

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Kelowna, Canadian National Championships – 2:24:59, August 2011

Ever since my crash, something had been off with my performance. Before that holiday weekend, many of my workouts had felt strong and productive, but in the past month they had been “off”. I was hoping that Kelowna would be an exception and a way to snap me out of my funk, but that didn’t work quite as planned. From the start, my strength and energy was not there. My swim felt decent and was good enough to come out of the water even with Paula Findlay in the top pack, but when we hit the long hill for the first of six laps on the bike, I did not have the energy to keep up and I was dropped. After the race, I saw that my average power for the bike was about 30 watts lower than normal and I knew something was off. When I got off the bike to start the run, my legs felt like lead and my calves were cramping. On the final lap, my legs finally loosened up with a mile to go and I was able to re-pass two girls before the finish.

Lessons Learned:

  • Strengthen hill cycling
  • Run through fatigue

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Nautica Malibu, CA – 2:17:35, September 2011

After a disappointing race in Kelowna, I decided to cancel my plans to race Buffalo and rest for Myrtle Beach.  Instead of another grueling ITU race, I did a fun local race near my home in Malibu. It was a perfect day for racing, and I decided to just have fun. It was great to be back racing in my home town with family and team members around. I felt good in the water and came out first among the women, and fourth overall including the pro men. My run and bike felt off and flat like Kelowna, but I did not let that get me down.

Though I was not thrilled with my performance, I did have the pleasure to meet the legend Siri Lindley, head coach of Team Sirius, and her assistant coach Misato Takagi “Takka”. Siri was coaching some of her athletes at Malibu and, after hearing my story, invited me to train under the tutelage of Takka with her elite squad in Santa Monica to help me prepare for Myrtle Beach.  She explained how my fitness was there, but my body was not responding. I needed a change, and I agreed. So, for the next two weeks, I woke up at 5:15AM to drive out to Santa Monica and trained with her elite group of triathletes which included Annabel Luxford, Chris Foster, Collin O’Brady, Magali Tisseyre, and Jenny Fletcher. Switching things up with my new training plan must have done the trick because two weeks later I had one of the best races of my life at Myrtle Beach!
Lessons Learned:

  • It is never too late to turn your season around
  • Have confidence in underlying fitness
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Posted on October 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Well I must say, I really enjoyed reading about all of your races. You’re an amazing athlete and I look forward to following your results next season. Keep up the good work Brianna.

  2. Wow! Great account of your hard efforts, Brianna! So glad I came across this. I feel like I have a glimpse of your life now. I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately and wondering how you and Boston are getting along. Love you!

  3. Brianna, amazing what you’ve done! Keep learning, growing stronger and wiser; looking forward to next season! We are all very proud of you! Hugs, Uncle Tom & crew.

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