Emotions in Des Moines


September 8th, 2011 by



Lisa Norden wins the Hy-Vee triathlon

A wise person once said;

It takes a road to go nowhere

It takes a toll to make you care

it takes a hole to make a mountain.

This season certainly made me see the bottom of the hill. The Norden struggle road seemed to be lasting all season and time was running out. My injury healed up – but I was still lacking behind in terms of work and fitness.

Sometimes all you need is two hours to turn that around.

To turn the life around. To make all the rehab work and time on the physio bench worthwhile.

The one message I had after the race that meant the most to me was the one from my coach. Well done mate, very proud of your attitude and tenacity. Couldn’t be happier for you because only a few of us actually know what you have been through.

So what went through my head in the 1h59mins we were out there racing?

This is what happened.

It was was one of those races I was nervous from the moment I woke up. For the first time actually this year. My body knows not to bother with being nervous if I’m not fit. It doesn’t really matter if you’re not planning on being towards the front. But of some reason I was really nervous in the morning of the race. Training had gone well the two weeks leading up. For the first time this year I’d linked two good weeks of running together. Maybe the body reckoned that would be enough to put me in the game?

An afternoon start gave me lots of time to pull myself together and tune in on the right tension. The swimstart was right down the river about 10m from our hotel. But as easy as it sounds – the swim was going to prove to be a really big challenge for us. A surprisingly strong current made the river look more like a very large endless pool – than a swim course. To make the swim safer for us they shortened the course and put in another lap for us. We now had to face a 3 lap swim – with a short 50m to the first buoy and 90degree turn. No need to say the swim was chaotic. I had a poor starting position and was caught up at the string attached at the buoy. I was pinned down by the river – and the surrounding girls going absolutely nowehere. There is a point where I stop worrying about my position in the race – but start focusing on making it out alive. I wasn’t far off this before the congestion eased up and could resume swimming. But needless to say – I had a lot of ground to make up.

My swim wasn’t that bad considering. I exited the water in 7th together with Spirig and Luxford. But with Haskins, McLarty, Bennet, Groff  and more up the road I had some work cut out for me.

I had decided to ride my Amira – but equipped with a disc and a 808. A pretty funky hybrid – for a race that was somewhere in-between an ITU drafting race and a classic time trial course. I had based the decision mainly on the handling benefits. There were lots of corners and accelerations – which I knew I would struggle with on the Shiv. My riding on a proper TT bike is very limited – and I’d have to spend more time on one to feel confident on a course like this.

It’s possible this decision slowed me down a bit, especially on the straight out and back section towards the far end turnaround. But as least I could push the pace around the more technical parts. I moved through the field and settled in to 2nd position early on the 3rd lap. But I still had Haskins up the road – with a nice gap around 50 seconds. Not optimal to give a strong girl like her such a nice chunk of time. I also had Spirig on my heels which if anything was even more worrying.

My savior proved to be the fast moving Nikki Butterfield. Being a former pro cyclist set up on a Shiv she was killing us. She passed me – but gave me something to lock my eyes on and I managed to sqeeze out a few more watts on the last lap. It was enough to gain time on Haskins – and leave Spirig a bit further behind. Nice.

I had put myself if the race.

Running out of transition I was in a unfamiliar area. Not knowing where my run fitness was at I forced myself to be conservative. Being too enthusiastic would probably make me blow up in a spectacular way… Even with this in mind I still probably pushed it a little bit too hard. Out on the second lap I had a muscle cramp coming up in my right side. This normally occurs when my fitness isn’t great and my breathing is strained. Half panicking I made the decision to slow right down – walk a bit and get my breath under control. I don’t want to put the words running through my head in writing – but I can tell you there weren’t nice ones! Butterfield overtook me and I saw my chances to catch Haskins fade away.

With the mind set of saving what saved could be I started running again.

And I found my rhythm. And I started to pick up the pace.

Out on the third lap I felt pretty good, and I got reports telling me I made up good time.

Still, running out on the long stretch towards the turnaround Haskins was a far way up the road.

My focus was solely to keep it together and maintain my rhythm. And suddenly I was there,  on her shoulder. My brain kicked in and I realized I had to play my cards right. I sat in on her shoulder and got a short stretch of recovery. Then there was someone in the crowd shouting “you girls better get moving – Carfrae is coming from behind”. I didn’t give myself time to ponder the fact but kicked. I knew there was quite a bit of distance left, including the hill up towards transition. But I didn’t have much choice but to hope my body should be able to pull through.

It did.

And I’m forever grateful for it.

I do have a very kind body, even though it sometimes works against my wishes.

Crossing the line was a magic moment. The first time as number one this year.

That’s what all the training hours are for. All the tough times – that’s exactly what keeps us going. To cross the finishline in first.

I love the endorphin’s. The following celebration. The national anthem. It’s all great stuff that gives me goosebumps.

That evening was chaotic.

Following the race I had a massage, went to the doping control, watched the men’s run and then we had the presentation. I came back to the hotel just after 7, threw in a load of washing (champange smell all over it) then packed down my bike and room into two big bags. Beer and pizza followed with the local tri crew and I was back up by 10.30pm.

Yes that is correct. I celebrated by mega cash check with beer in plastic glass and pizza. It was great.

Needless to say after a day like this it’s hard to get to sleep. The heart keeps pumping and the body is not ready to settle down. By the time I drifted off to sleep there was only a few hours before my alarm went off at 3:45am. Time to head back to the airport.

A short flight to Chicago, a 6 hour layover and a 12 hour flight to Beijing. I arrived at my hotel stiff and tired – but still in good spirits.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of congrats I received. Much more so than after winning a World Series Race, or winning the silver medal at worlds.

Unfortunately all social media is blocked here in china – but as soon as I get back I promise to start responding to all  facebook and twitter messages!

But now I’ll put all my focus on the coming World Series Final. It’s going to be another tough race with very different characteristics from Hy-Vee.

More speed than strength.

And I know I still have quite a few question marks in that area….