ERICA HAWLEY REPORTS ON HER RECENT RACES AND MORE :
MLT ATLANTIC CITY
I headed to Atlantic City to race in the first Major League triathlon race of the year. I was competing on the AC Waves team alongside teammates Cata, Alec and Walter. I arrived Thursday night into Atlantic City and it was definitely not what I was expecting. Known for its casinos and gambling, us triathletes stood out quite a bit! The race was interesting!!! The weather made it one of the most “risky” races I’ve ever done. The swim was insane; huge swells which made it honestly quite dangerous. For a 300m swim it took us 7 minutes because the current was so strong. The bike was fun – we rode 6 laps along the boardwalk and it started to rain which made it even more slippery. Many athletes were just sliding out and coming off their bikes due to it being so slick. The run was 4 laps of 200m and half of that was on the beach! All in all, a very eventful race and to win some money is always a plus. Our team ended up 7/9 against some really strong teams like the Australian team and the San Diego Stingrays – which had Olympics and WTS medalists on it. A great experience.
After racing in Atlantic City I headed to Edmonton, Canada for my first World Series Triathlon. The travel there was insane; it included a 9 hour delay and arriving in Denver at 3:30am, and then overnighting in a hotel before flying out to Canada at 11am the next day. But I arrived on Monday and the race was on Friday so I had time to adjust. Leading into the race I started to feel like I was getting a bit sick… probably due to all the stress and travel. I was at the stage, before you get sick, where your throat hurts a bit and where you just feel a bit rundown. I was sleeping 10+ hours a night and took a proper taper to try and nip the cold in the bud and prevent it from getting any worse. Mistake #1 was telling no one how I was feeling (besides my mum). I didn’t want to say it out loud because this was one of my biggest competitions of the year and didn’t want to let anyone down. As it was my first race at this level I knew I needed to have my A-game and be confident… but it’s crazy how much your mind plays a role in sport and I almost let the cold take control. But on race day I just said let’s do this and I focused on the fact that I had this amazing opportunity to be here, and I would say that during the actual race it was my body that let me down rather than my mind.
Swim was OK, the ability gap coming out of the water is much narrower than in World cups and below. I came out nearer the back and the swim is a work in progress for me. Swimming is the sport where I need confidence to be aggressive, to stay in touch with the group in the water and when you are racing against Olympic medalists and World Champions, it can be intimidating and easy to forget the fact that you deserve to be there amongst “royalty”. The bike was 6 laps… up a hill and then back down. Let’s just say it was brutal! The field was getting split apart like crazy and people were dropping off the pack due to the intensity of the gradient. I was feeling a bit nauseous throughout the bike and couldn’t manage to eat anything (normally I have Clif Shot Blocks and some Gatorade). I took each lap as it came and tried to be as consistent as possible. As soon as I started the run I knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty. It was a 3 lap course and lap 1 was just awful. I felt like I was going to be sick and honestly, I was on the brink of stopping. Somehow, I managed another lap and finally on lap 3 I felt like my stomach had settled a bit. Surprisingly I still ran a 20:00 min 5km, which isn’t well walking pace, and I was basically running on auto-pilot. Not once could I think about form or pace, I was just trying to stay calm with my stomach doing flip turns.
Nobody ever wants to finish last… but someone has to be. At first I was devastated, but after collecting my thoughts I calmed down a bit. I talked to Jodie (ed.Stimpson) after the race and she reminded me that this is my first WTS. And that I’m 20. And that there are many more races to come. She reminisced about not finishing her first world triathlon race… but now she is a Commonwealth Gold Medalist. It’s a long process and being the best doesn’t come overnight. To put it into perspective, I was seeded 48th out of 55, and finished up 42nd, so around 13 of my competitors did not finish, and considering I wasn’t feeling at that 100%, I know that the future races are going to be very exciting. Now I need to recover up, as I head to Barranquilla, Colombia where I will be racing on Wednesday in the Central American and Caribbean Games. (CAC Games). So wish me luck!
CENTRAL AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GAMES
Straight after Edmonton I left for Barranquilla, Colombia for the CAC Games. Representing Bermuda in another Games was an honor and it was great to have Tyler (Ed. Smith) and manager Jon (Ed. Herring)to help out. My race wasn’t great. I was off on the swim – by a minute. I had a bad beach start and didn’t have the initial speed that I needed, most likely due to all the travel and racing and “lack” of training as I am in a racing block. The bike was 3 laps – and 600m of climbing which made it definitely one of the tougher bikes! Being in the second pack meant my girls weren’t as strong and I was the strongest girl pulling along 5/6 others. By the end of the bike we were around 5 minutes behind which is huge. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to catch the leaders but if I played it smart then I could run the fastest out of the girls in my pack, and that’s what I did. I ended up in 6th position which I am proud of at my first CAC Games.