World Triathlon Winterfell

Summer Cook

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything! I didn’t do a lot of racing this summer for various reasons and I honestly wasn’t at all thrilled with my last race in Hungary. I was ecstatic to roll onto the start list for my second WTS event in Edmonton, Alberta a little less than two weeks out from the race. While I packed my bags the Tuesday prior to the race, the forecasted high for race day was 70 degrees and sunny – perfect. By the time I landed in Edmonton on Thursday the forecast had changed to 60 degrees and rain – not my favorite, but tolerable. Then it kept dropping. Race day was in the mid-40s with a wind chill in the mid-30s plus rain. It was much colder than winter in San Diego! I think I began to fully comprehend the dread the Westerosi feel when they are reminded that “winter is coming.”
The recap: the water was supposedly 60 degrees. I’ve raced in colder water temps before, but this felt much worse than those races. It was the second coldest I’ve ever felt in the water to a 51 degree open water training session that I was heavily unprepared for. I haven’t really talked to other athletes about how they tolerated the swim so I’m not sure what the consensus was, but I couldn’t breathe for the first few hundred meters and ended up well back around the first several buoys. I was especially terrified of the first buoy because there was a lot of contact and I thought I might get pushed underwater. I somehow swam my way up to the top 10. I’m convinced that my Roka wetsuit is just too fast to not let me be near the front because I was struggling hard!  So many people were passing me on the 500m run/stagger up to T1 and it was as though my body wouldn’t respond to what I tried to get it to do. I was shivering uncontrollably on the bike and didn’t have fine motor control (pretty important to biking). I wanted to stop at the far turn around of the course when it was really apparent that I was getting colder and I wasn’t getting a response out of my body. I knew I needed to get back to where the warm stuff at the venue was so I finished out the lap just trying to survive and pulled off the course in transition. It was almost as though my racing instincts never kicked in and I was in survival mode my entire time on the course. My body temperature was so low when I got to the med tent that I didn’t register a reading. I was fine after getting out of my drenched race gear and being super bundled up in a warming tent for what felt like forever. Needless to say, I was very happy to take a boiling hot shower and curl up under the covers when I got back to the hotel. Some people definitely tolerated the extreme cold better than others. I feel that I typically tolerate extreme heat better than many so I understand how certain conditions affect people differently. Its something to work on moving forward and I’m determined to learn to perform in all conditions.

Edmonton was my first DNF ever and I’m pretty disappointed about it. However, I honestly don’t see how I could have pushed through it. I have a lot of respect for the athletes who were able to work through the conditions, everybody was cold and a lot of people were shivering uncontrollably. I’m not letting myself get down about things, there are always silver linings. I’m better prepared in case I ever decide to race in Antarctica. United made my trip a lot better with first class upgrades on three of my four flights and no bike fee on the way home, giving me a reason to smile. Right now, I’m just focusing on what is next, which is the Cozumel World Cup on October 4th. I am looking forward to racing Cozumel and I’m determined to put together a good race.

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to toe the line in Edmonton though it didn’t work out. I’m already back to working towards putting together the races I’m capable of and excited to be doing it. A big thank you to everyone who continues to support me: Paulo + The Triathlon Squad, my family and friends, USA Triathlon, Equal Earth, Off the Front Multisport, Team Psycho, and Roka Sports.