2009 Gold Coast ITU Triathlon World Championships
Gold Coast, Australia
September 12, 2009
Race day was finally here, and for once it seemed that we had gotten things right! We made and enjoyed an early dinner the night before, and had headed to bed before 10PM!! We had been in Australia for a week adjusting to the time change (14 hours ahead of MI time), the climate, the food, the water temperatures, and the roads.
The wake-up call came at 4:15AM, and I pulled my arms from underneath the covers. Yikes, it felt cold! But thankfully, I felt rested! I dressed quickly, finished packing my bag, and sat down for my usual bread with Peanutbutter and a bit of honey, and my hot chocolate! Delicious! One last bathroom stop, and we exited our hotel room at 5:10AM.
After dealing with some road closures,, we parked our van rental, and headed into transition. It was now 5:50AM, just a few minutes left to make sure bike shoes/gloves/helmit/cammelback, running shoes and tether, were laid out exactly how we wanted them! Ten minutes later we were heading out of transition, on our way to make one last Portapotty stop, and on to Swim Start!
The announcement that wetsuits were legal for the race came over the speakers then, as did the information that water temperature was 20 degrees C, 70 degrees F. Onward to swim start! We arrived onto the sandy beach with 5 minutes to spare. Zipping up my wetsuit, Julia and I adjusted the swim tether around our waists, and stepped into the chilly water! This would be my first open water swim, and so I was nervous, but just kept trying to think positive thoughts. Suddenly we got our starting commands, and we were off in the midst of 40+ other splashing and kicking paratriathletes.
I swam and swam and swam some more. They had predicted we'd have a slightly forward angle current, which was supposed to be in our favor. I didn't feel that current helping me forwards though, if anything, it just kept pushing me sideways. After nearly half an hour or so, I was beginning to feel cold. It was then that I realized that because my swim cap was somehow too big,, it had formed a bubble on top of my head! The bubble was formed by the cold water that had seeped into it! No wonder I was feeling cold. I pulled one side of my cap and tried to get the water out, but a minute later, it had bubbled back up. Oh well, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming I thought. Sound familiar? Yes, that's one of the best lines from Finding Nemo, which my friend Jen reminded me about just before I left MI!
As I did, I now heard the next waves of triathletes coming towards me. Kick harder, stroke harder and faster or they'll literally try to swim over you and to hold onto your limbs. A bit of panic, someone was hitting my chest. Geez I thought, "Kick Ivonne, kick!" Thankfully, that took care of whomever that was…Just 2 buoies to go said Julia, and I thought, "Great, almost there." Man those buoies were far apart though, another long stretch of time seemed to go by. And finally, I heard us approaching the last buoy! I flipped over to free style for a bit, and after what seemed like an eternity, my feet were able to touch ground! An hour and 5 minutes had gone by, but I had survived the swim!
Onto transition. John, My Clown, helped me strip my wetsuit as I couldn't even feel my fingers and I was shivering uncontrollably. I slipped on my team jacket, my bike shoes, helmet and camelback, and grabbed Shadi. Julia took the Front, and we were graciously escorted by an Aussie volunteer all the way to our Bike Out point! Still shivering I mounted Shadi, and we were off!
The ride was pretty smooth, not hilly really! Speed was good, and the sun was just starting to really break through. I needed that warmth. It took me the first 20K of the bike portion to warm up! The corse was a 2 loop corse lined with lots of spectators! We got tons of cheers along the way, "Go Girls", "go USA", "USA, you're lookin good!" That brought a few smiles to my face, and since I could now feel my hands, I was able to give them a "thumb up" with my left hand, the other was holding onto Shadi! As we made our final U-turn, I could feel my heart pumping with excitement. We'd be running soon!
Back in Transition. We slipped on our running sneakers, grabbed a sip of water, and pulled off my jacket. Julia and I linked arms, and we were off again heading to Run Out! The corse was 2 times a 5K loop. The first stretch kept us just along a portion of the bike route, and then at our first turn-off we had a much anticipated water stop. Temps were warm now, in the 70s, and I was hot after the first half mile. Funny how I can run so hot, and yet nearly freeze in the water! Just as I thought about that we ran right through a water spraying/misting spot—yes the race organizers had put it there, and it felt luxurious! We began to settle into a rhythm, and began passing more athletes. One by one, we picked off our usual suspects! Not bad since the swim had taken me so long! Another turn later and we would meet our Number 1 Aussie fan on the corse. We don't know who he was, but he yelled out, "Go Mosquera!" He clapped and cheered! Now that was exhilarating, and we picked up our pace again!
Now heading towards the end of the first loop we found more and more spectators still out on the corse, cheering for everyone! It was a neat feeling to see that the crowds, most of whom were from the Land Down Under, were still cheering for everyone—the Kiwis, the Brits, the USA, Japan, Venezuela, Mauritius, etc! It was an incredible sense of sportsmanship, of support, of acknowledgement that all of us, regardless of our ethnicity, background, race, disabilities, were all working hard. We were bound together by the same sense of striving to compete at our best, and we had each earned our place to be on the same corse together, competing and supporting each other! With those thoughts in mind, I smiled, and we picked up the pace a touch. We turned left into the last round-about of our first loop, and headed back out for our final 5K.
Back out onto the stretch that paralleled the bike course we went. There was no shade on the corse now, the sun was beaming down on us. I took my Clif shot just before our first turn-off, and hit the water stop there. Now that was perfect timing! We came up on the water spraying/misting spot, and then to our surprise, we met our #1 Aussie fan again. He was still there! He cheered us on again, and a couple of minutes later, as we turned onto our final straight away, there he was again. He had found a shortcut to see us again! Now that was awesome! "Thanks Mate!", I yelled, gave him a wave, and picked up our pace! I could feel my adrenalin kicking in, excitement, lots of thoughts about how we were about to finish my first World Championships, and then came more cheers from the crowds, words of encouragement from fellow athletes who we were passing and weaving our way around them. Our final left turn and into the finishing shoot we went! Julia and I linked hands and lengthened out our stride! Cheers from the spectators and race volunteers along with music filled the air. I picked up the beeping Matts and began sprinting towards them! A few seconds later, Julia yelled, "Matts!", and we were there, crossing the finish line as the announcer called out "And congratulations to visually impaired triathlete, Ivonne Mosquera from the USA!" We won the Gold!
A memorable race, no doubt! Finishing time, 3 hours and 33 minutes!
As always, thank you for making it possible for me to be out there—I can't do it without your being part of my training, my guides, my support crew, my friends and loved ones, my colleagues and teammates, and your support and words of encouragement!
Thanks for reading!