So….how did it go? Well, let me first start by thanking the many people who helped me get to the starting line and then ultimately the finish line. Thank you to my fantastic coaches at Trifiniti, Duane and Dorette, thanks to Amy for that last minute swim lesson that seriously improved my swim time, thanks to Son for the pre-race hot water so I could have have my oatmeal breakfast, even while “camping”, thanks to Dorette again for reminding me the rules of “Zenitation” (more on that later), thanks to Erin for the SPF that I forgot at the campground, thanks to Ariane for saving me in my technology dependent ways, thanks to Susan, Kate and Lena for collectively getting me zipped into my wetsuit, thanks to Preston for listening to me rant about poor bike number options on my small frame bike and finding a proper way to affix the number, thanks to Lena for motivating me to kick some cougar ass (although she still beat me!), thanks to Sidney for pushing me on the run and for that crazy finish line sprint! Thanks to all the GGTC folks cheering us on, thanks to those who cheered on the Pac Bikes ladies in pink, looking hot as always…
Wait this sounds like a victory speech. No, I did not win. Haha. But I had a great day. And that was my goal going into this race. In the few days leading up to the race, I was worried about the rain forecast, mainly because a slick decent down nasty grade would be treacherous. But despite a soggy Friday at the campground, we woke up to a partly cloudy and dry Saturday.
After our breakfast we made our way to transition and began setting up. That’s where I realized I’d left my sunscreen (and Preston’s too) back at the campsite. Oops number 1. But a few kind souls lent us some SPF and we were fine. I felt pretty good, was visualizing myself through the swim, the toughest event for me, and practicing my new stroke technique. Kate, Lena, Susan and I walked to the edge to watch Preston’s wave go off and that’s when I noticed my Polar S725x acting funny. Tom, from the men’s Pac Bikes team hit some buttons on it and it went back to the main screen. After watching Preston’s swim take off I realized the red/start button on my watch didn’t work, at all. What did this mean? No heart rate. And I train and race with heart rate, I actually praise it for my improvements this year versus last year and was terrified at the prospect of not knowing my zones for an entire race. Oops number 2. I tried to remain calm and thought about what could I do? Find Dorette, she might have another watch or know someone who does. So I ran through transition, but couldn’t find her. I started asking everyone I knew. I even asked 2 Team Timex girls if they had something. Finally, Ariane said she had her old watch with a defunct battery, but it might work. So I thought, hey it’s better than nothing. A few minutes later, Dorette found me and reminded me to go by feel and stay calm and that I really need some zenitation lessons! So very true. Back to my transition area and it took 3 girls to get me zipped into my wetsuit, okay, one was taking a photo of the silliness. Then in typical fashion, we jogged to our start to realize they were already warming up in the water. How do I always get there so late?
I usually hang in the back left (I veer right and I’m slow), so that’s where I stood as the gun went off. I swear there weren’t many women behind me, but somehow I got caught in a melee of feet, arms, hands. This is typical for a swim start, but not for me. I usually wait in the back and then cruise out in last position. Well I was in it today, so I went with and just said to myself just keep swimming forward and make it out of the circus. I reached the first buoy and it was still chaotic, which was a surprise to me that I managed to stay with the group. I drafted off someone for a while, until she made a sharp left turn, Kate was that you? Then I kept swimming alone and was fine for a while. The swim felt long and harder than usual, but I made it out of the water much fast than at Oceanside, by nearly 6 minutes! In T1 I struggled, as usual to get my right foot out of the wetsuit, but once I did, grabbed my nutrition and headed out on the bike.
Off on the bike and I started with some Gu heading up Beach Hill. I tried to stay in zone 2, but uhh, that hill had me in zone 4. Oops. Then reminded myself of zenitation and to relax and just mozy up the hill. At the top I kept on pedaling to gain some on the down hill (thanks Chris Lieto for that tip). I felt good and started chugging along out of the park with some nice descents. Out on Interlake Road I got comfortable in my aero bars and brought myself back to zone 2/3 after a good 40 minutes. This part of the race is usually pretty fun for me as I end up passing a lot of people, having come out of the swim so far back. So I started picking them off, but people were like drunk drivers out there. I had one guy pass me on my right and I politely reminded him to pass on the other side. He said yeah I know and kept going! It wasn’t another 15 seconds before I hit my big ring and went flying by him calling out “On your left.” Sucker. There were also a lot of people meandering along in the middle to the left of the lane, for no particular reason. Where did they learn their cycling manners? My stomach started feeling odd after 45 minutes and really hurting, I was afraid I wasn’t keeping down my gel/gatorade and that I might throw up. I kept plugging and tried to bring down the heart rate and finally hit an aid station with a porta potty somewhere around mile 20. I watched a girl with the same mindset as me veer off the road towards the porta potty, except off the road she hit the gravel and went down in an instant. I calmly came to a stop before the gravel and walked to the porta potty while she extracted gravel and bike from herself. Rookie. Felt a lot better after my little pit stop and was able to pick it up into zone 3 and kept passing people. There were a few cat and mousers out there, Lena being one, which was nice because we could chat from time to time. Then we hit nasty grade, right about when the clouds parted and the temp rose at least 5 degrees. But I chugged along and then held on for the downhill, where I nearly crossed the double yellow passing some girl who thought she owned the lane. I thought I was on pace to do a 3:20 bike, but my math was off today, later I realized I came in at a 3:31. Bummer. I was happy I felt so good, but bummed that I don’t think I pushed quite hard enough. Should’ve gone by effort instead of Heart Rate huh? T2 I came in before Lena, but as I was exiting she had already taken off! I headed out with a cup of water on the head and waited for my legs to come back.
The legs felt great! Within 1 minute of running, it felt like I’d never been on the bike. I remember my first transition runs back in the day feeling like I had lead weights on my legs. Today I felt as light as a feather. Lena and I ran together for the first 5 miles, then at mile 6 I lost her. I felt great, was passing a lot of people. But that steep down hill at mile 6 sent my stomach into sloshing mode. I had diligently grabbed a water, took a sip, poured the rest on my head and a Gatorade at each aid station to avoid the dehydration I suffered last year. The result this year? Over hydration. At least now I know. So I tried to ignore the loud gurgling that everyone in my presence could hear from mile 6-8. Once into the campground I felt good and picked it up for the nice downhill/flat section of 3 miles into the pit. Heading into the pit I saw some ladies in
pink coming out, I caught up with Sidney at this point going down and we paced each other for a while. At the turn I took off, trying to stay on pace for the last 2.5 miles. But then mile 12 came and I thought, isn’t the last mile at the top of the hill? I tried to tuck in for what looked like another PR, and on this course, I would’ve thought no way! But as it turns out that 12 mile marker was off and was really more like 11.5. Bummer. Sidney caught up with me again on the bottom half of Lynch hill and we pushed it all the way to the shoot, we were both turning it up. I yelled “Let’s go!” and low and behold we both ended up sprinting down the chute to the finish! I’m sure we looked hilarious, but I felt good and it was a great motivator having her there.
It was absolutely a great race day, I did what I came to do – I stayed calm during an adverse moment (well sort of), I stayed hydrated, I had fun and even improved my times!
Swim – 48:08
T1 – 4:09
Bike – 3:31:49
T2 – 1:48
Run – 2:05:36
Total – 6:31:32
39th Place in AG 25-29, was NOT last out of the water this time and had the 15th fastest run split in my AG! Not too shabby for what is known as one of the hardest Long Courses out there.