This weekend was certainly one I will remember for the rest of my life. Before the race, I had been anxious about the draft legal format; this was my first real ITU race. I knew the swim would be really tough- in the draft legal races you have to make a pack of cyclists out of the water or your race is over. This year, there were also a lot of big names in the race, which would also make everything faster and harder for someone with little experience like myself. Going into the race, I tried to put these thoughts aside and, being a person of faith, reminded myself that things are not really in my control anyways so really why worry about it too much. On race morning, we paraded down to the dock. When the starting horn went off, it was 90 degrees outside. Things might be even tougher than I imagined….
The swim started and it was pure violent, explosive, white water madness. I was able to stay with the main pack for about 500m…then had to do some work on my own for a while in a small pack of three. After about 1000m I left my pack of three and bridged up to another girl who had come off the main pack with about 300m to go. We got out of the water together- 45 seconds down from the main pack…
I nailed the flying mount! Woohoo!
We made our way to the main pack in less than a lap and a half, that was the much easier than I expected. There was a descent 300m climb on the bike course that I knew I could use to my advantage later in the bike. Our pack was very disorganized and we weren’t really pushing a good pace- the lead pack put a lot of time on us. I tried to sit in as much as possible but I ended up pulling a bit more than I should have because I was worried we might get lapped out. On the second to last lap I made a move on the climb- where all good road racing moves are made- an instantly put 50m on the pack. I slowed just a little to let two girls catch me and we were off. We worked together great and put about 30 seconds on the pack in a lap and a half- If only we had gone earlier we could have probably made a go at catching the next pack- but live and learn….
The run was miserable but I went out extremely conservatively because I knew the heat would be a major factor in the race. It was in the mid 90s and the run was very exposed. It was a great battle with the mind demons, but I kept them at bay long enough- it gets a little easier to keep them down each race. By the middle of the run, people were starting to roll back to me but it was getting tough. I started to break up the laps into 2 sections by making it a goal to get to the next water station (which was every half lap) and not think about the remaining portion of the run- the only thought I allowed myself was concentrating on getting to the next water station. This is a marathon strategy that works great for distance events. I went from 8th off the bike (then to 10th after transition- dah!) to finish 4th overall and 3rd American at the end of the day. This was a big result for me, one that was way beyond even my “reach” goals. Right now I am just trying to process it all. Days like that are the reason why triathlon is such a tremendous sport! I really hope everyone in this sport gets a day like that, whatever that means for you, every once in a while =) Tremendous thanks to Fast Forward Triathlon, InsideOut Sports, Computrainer, American Bicycle Group and Ragged Mountain Racing for all their tremendous support of development athletes like myself. This support is vital to driving the sport of triathlon forward.