So, I don't think it's going to be a surprise to anyone who has read my blog (or lack thereof) over the last 6 weeks that I went into this race with dismal training at best. After the Triple T I ended up with 5 weeks of zero running due to a nagging knee injury, followed by 2 weeks of progressively increasing run distances. My longest run was 50 minutes 1 week before the race. The runs were definitely starting to feel better... well, at least the days that I had my shorts on right. I also took 5 weeks off swimming completely and had been in the pool just 5 times leading up to the race. But the saving grace was that I had been cycling a lot and felt that the miles I put on my legs might just give me enough maintenance to tap into my residual fitness to get me through the run. I had considered dropping the race from the schedule to save my knee for Steelhead, but I have just wanted to do this race way too badly for that. It's really a first class race and it gave me a chance to see my very first ITU race in person!
Headed up to Geneva with Paulo on Friday night and met his pro Athlete Dave Kuendig and several other of the ITU racers for a carb loading dinner. I devoured my spaghetti across the table from the eventual winner of the ITU Pan American Cup Brian Fleischmann, AKA Flash. The guys were all great and in good spirits. It was a nice start to the weekend.
Saturday: Paulo and I woke up early (well, I woke up early, went to get coffee and breakfast and then dragged him out of bed kicking and screaming). We headed out to get a bike ride in. We had planned to ride on the half iron bike course and happened across the tail end of the sprint race. It was a ton of fun to ride with the racers for awhile. I kind of felt like I was breaking the law, but it was an open road so I suppose we had every right to be there. After about an hour ride we headed over to registration, the bike shop, athlete meeting, and then the RACE!
If you've never seen an ITU race I HIGHLY recommend it. They are amazing. The bike course was 8 loops (draft legal, of course) and the run course was 6 loops. So Paulo and I ran around like crazy people cheering and trying to catch Dave in the chase pack at every turn. By the end of the race I was totally spent, sunburned, hungry, and my ulcer was inflamed like crazy. But it was SOOOOO worth it. Here are some pics!
Flash the first out of the water, winning the Speedo Bonus and coming into T1:
Dave just behind him!
Flash and Cameron Dye led the whole bike course together (Cameron was at dinner with us as well):
And the chase pack! (Dave on the yellow bike)
Flash coming in for the win!
Followed by Beijing Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker:
And Dave who had a great finish to land 10th place!
Ok, so onto my race...
The weather report was pretty bad for Sunday. 70% chance of thunderstorms all day. When we got to the race at 5:30 it was clear, but very windy. The lake was choppy with whitecaps. Felt like a warm version of CdA 2007. I got my transition set up and then sat in the car for awhile. I was a little bit hesitant to race. Paulo urged me to pull out if I felt any knee pain. I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen. When I race I have almost no awareness of my body or surroundings. I only feel very acute pain and never dull aching pains. It's amazing what endorphins do to pain tolerance.
Usually triathlons start with a swim. This one started with a beating. Firstly, it starts and ends with about 2-300 meters of 2-3 feet deep water. So you can't really swim. There was a lot of wading with some people attempting unsuccessfully to swim. Eventually we started swimming in traditional WWF throwdown style with flying elbows and kicks to the side. But that was the tame part of the swim. We then turned directly into the current/waves. It was one thing to have to get tossed all over the place, but the waves were tall enough that I couldn't see the the buoys. It was pretty much mayhem. The only part of that beating that was actually a swim was 300 meters of the swim back into transition before we hit the 300 yards of aqua walking. Damn, if that wasn't the worst swim of all time. 39 minutes. yup. That bad (4th Age group, 21st OA)
T1: Kinda sucked too. Couldn't get my wetsuit off. Even with body glide all over it. 1:33 (3rd AG, 14th OA)
Bike: Took me awhile to get into a rhythm. The bike course was flat and under normal cirumstances would be smoking fast. But with a 20-30 mph wind... not so much. We started out into the wind and up a long false flat. My triceps were killing me and it was hard to get into a rhythm. But around mile 15 things started to come together. I felt much better. I was taking it a little more conservative than at Kinetic to try to save something for the run. The race wheels were awesome. Whenever we had a crosswind they rocketed me forward. Very twitchy into the headwind, but I can handle that. The headwind was totally brutal though. It was beating me down. Little chainring on the flats. I was more than excited to turn around to get some relief. At mile 40 or so it started raining a very little bit. Nothing to write home about.
I passed probably 6 women during the bike leg and had no idea how many were in front of me. With a sucky swim like that there was no telling who was ahead. When I came into T2 I had my shoes off already for a quick dismount. Paulo was very surprised to see me so early and looked excited for me. It ended up being a PB ride
2:49.05 (19.9mph) 4th AG, 15th OA
T2 was fast and uneventful 1:08 3rd AG, 4th OA
Run: I knew that this was going to be a struggle so I just took off and didn't look back. I hit a nice and steady pace and got to the 4 mile marker in 30 minutes. I got passed by a girl going much faster than me at that point and just tried to keep her in sight. The run course is very difficult. From mile 5-7 there is hill after hill with a very steep one at the 7 mile mark. But then you know you are pretty much home free. As I thought, nothing really hurt. It was pouring rain and the loneliest race course I have ever been on. 750 competitors on the course, but certainly not many of them by me during the run for some reason. For about 3 of the miles my only human contact was at the aid stations. It was really cool, actually. Pouring rain, and alone running through empty streets in a race. Awesomeness.
At mile 9 I had probably the coolest experience I have ever had at a race. I started heading in and passing people just going out on the run. Someone told me that I was one of the first women that they saw so far. The competitors coming out on mile 3 were cheering me on and I was doing the same back. It gave me a huge pick-up and started to run faster. I checked behind me to make sure there were no women coming up from behind and I just kicked it into high gear... and at mile 11 I started to regret that decision.
The last 2 miles of the run course are very long. You are back at the lake and the trail just goes on forever. I had totally spent my legs in the past 2 miles and my calves were both turning into little knots. I checked my watch for one of the only times and saw that it read 5:00 at the 11 mile mark. Oh crap. I can still PR this bastard. Well there was just no way I was going to let up knowing that I was that close to my best Half ever. Plus, I never knew when I was going to see this guy:
So I gave it absolutely everything that I had. I heard the announcer say that the girl who finished just ahead of me (the one who passed me early on) was within the top 10. I crossed the finish line and totally collapsed. I swear it took me about 1-2 hours before I was speaking in coherent sentences again I was so spent. But in the end, that is how I wish to finish every race I enter. If I have energy left at the end it means I didn't leave it all on the course. And I can absolutely say with authority that I left it ALL on the course yesterday.
Run: 1:45:40 (8:04 pace) 5th AG, 17th OA
Total: 5:16:26 2nd AG (out of 22), 10th OA (out of 175)
And I won a bottle of wine!
Notice the hat
So today I woke up, barely able to move my calves were so sore. But amazingly my knee is OK! And I treated myself this evening with the maiden voyage of my new road bike. Red and I are going to be GREAT friends, I can see it already...
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago