Oh race nerves, how I’ve missed you! Admittedly, the time trial yesterday was a dumbed-down version of what an Olympics or World Championships feels like, but it was a great reintroduction to that pit of your stomach feeling that is a mix of fear and excitement. The fear isn’t really fear… but more of an indication that the result matters to you. It shows that you care about the outcome. The ‘fear’ was largely overridden by an excited eagerness to attack our first 2000m piece and see where we stood.
The trial wasn’t going to serve as selection for anything; it was simply our first chance to compare ourselves against the rest of the Canadian team and to validate what we have been doing. Beyond that initial checkpoint, it served as a trial run so that our preparation for our first international race would all seem very familiar. Our priorities this year are the World Cup in Lucerne and the World Championships in Bled, Slovenia – not winning a time trial on Elk Lake in mid May.
In the week leading up to the time trial, we got into the routines of taking care of the details and going over race plan – all things that Dave and I have done hundreds of times, but the refresher never hurts. We didn’t want to interrupt our training cycle too much, so only did a cycle of race prep to push the rates up to try to get comfortable at race pace. By race day we felt relatively at ease at race pace – still a bit clumsy or dull, but the basics were there. One of Dave and I’s strengths is that we click into race pace fairly quickly and easily. With the time trial format, one pair is sent off every 45 seconds so that everyone is on the course at a similar time but not getting in each other’s way. Without anyone next to you to push you, the onus is on you to race yourself and the clock.
The morning of the trial went smoothly; we were lucky with the weather and got perfectly calm conditions. No wind and a little bit of rain. I think we would have been able to handle any type of conditions but it’s always nice to race on flat water. We launched 40 minutes before the start time of 8:30 and gradually worked through our warm up routine - building the intensity and rates until we had stretched up above race pace. The idea being that if we hit rate 50 in the warm up, 36 will feel somewhat comfortable during the race. Pulling into the starting area, all of the nerves were gone and we were ready to execute our plan aggressively. We got off to a clean start and shifted into a sustainable pace early – not wanting to overextend ourselves in the first minute of the race so that we could push the pace through the middle of the piece. Dave makes race calls periodically throughout the race to keep us on the same page and to segment the race into smaller, more achievable sections. The calls linked together nicely and got us into the final 500m with plenty of energy to lift the rate/speed to the finish line. Our sprint went well and we crossed the line exhausted but satisfied, knowing that we had put together a solid piece.
We won comfortably and clocked a quick time for Elk Lake this time of year. It was a good start to the season and now that the rank order has been establish we can get on with our training. Next up: 5 weeks of solid training before the team heads to Amsterdam for the first international race.