I love this race. This was my first ever triathlon back in 2010 and I come back every year. The course is consistently the same, the support is great and they have a fun kids race beforehand to provide for some inspiration if you are lacking. For me this is where it all began and I go back to remind myself of where my love of triathlon started.
Sometimes it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the awe and status of Ironman. I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty darn good when people find out I’ve done several Ironman’s and are truly impressed. But the roots of triathlon for me go back to the local scene, where it’s your friends Michelle and Erik who are in charge of the run course, and the race directors remember who you are because you’ve raced with them so many times, your friends kid is the one who body marks you and your local bike shop who knows your bike almost better than you do is there to help with any last minute issues.
I’m not going to lie, my goals for the race was to podium and grab an AG National spot. Aging up into the super competitive 30-34 age group I knew I had my work cut out for me. I know I’m in Ironman training, but I was hoping the week of taking it easy after last weekend (100 mile hotter than hell bike rally Sat with a hottest half marathon Sun, ouch) my body would bounce back a bit and support me. Valor Triathlon Project next year has a small group where our goal is to storm nationals and with my no Ironman plan next year, this fit perfectly. Spoiler: it didn’t happen, but I’ve got a bit of fire in my belly come January and some short course work to do.
The swim was good, I hopped in and was much smarter than previous years of swim fast and fade. I started with a good, fast consistent pace and just kept moving forward. It was in a 50 meter pool and about my second length I had a guy pass me, well, I latched onto his feet like they were my lifeline and I followed him all over that pool. The last turn I turned on the jets and passed him back and edged him out and got to the stairs first (thanks for the tow buddy.)
Hopped on my bike and just started going to work. This is a two loop course with two hills in the first 2.5 miles. I hit the bottom of that second hill and it’s the steepest of all the hills so I drop to my small chain ring. Uh-oh, I know that noise, chain had dropped. I pulled over to the side and thought I could pop it back on the small ring without getting off. Nope, that’s not working, I have to get off the bike. Try again, nope, it’s not budging. At that point I may have actually thrown my bike (sorry QR) to the ground so I could get a better angle on the crank and chain area. I pull the chain, hard. Nothing. WTF is going on? I then throw my bike totally upside down and realize that the chain has lodged itself between the frame and is stuck up behind my back brake. Seriously? I then used my legs on the bike and tried to pull the chain with my body. Nothing. I then get out my tool to start working on loosening the brake to see if that would help me pull it out, nope, nothing. At that point the mechanic who was based at the top of the hill literally ran down the hill to help me. We worked together and finally got it unstuck. Phew. His help was a lifesaver!
So back on the bike I went and I put my head even farther down and went to work. I knew that every second I was on the side of the road my chances were getting smaller and smaller, but I also knew if I didn’t give it my best I’d be particularly hard on myself for a while. Keeping all of this in mind, the plan for the race was to ride at a certain hr, with the caveat that I could ride higher if I wanted, I just had to keep my HR at x beats higher than my bike average on the run. While I don’t want to give away x, let’s just say it was enough to keep me somewhat level headed rather than completely blowing up on that bike. I worked hard, but smart. I finally hop off the bike and get my running shoes on.
I fly out of transition and just focus on keeping a good cadence. I know my general HR average for the bike, and I knew I had to keep it nice and high for the whole run. I cringed when I thought about the conversation with Mary if I didn’t follow through and made a stupid move on the bike where I couldn’t back it up on the run. So anytime I saw it drop a few beats, I pushed the pedal a bit farther down. This was especially fun when I got a side stitch, but managed to work through it without slowing (win!) and just kept trucking along.
It was hard, it was hot, and it was stupid windy all day. A little less than the last mile is uphill to the finish and I just focused on good form and keeping the legs moving. Rounded the corner and gave it all I had.
I finished happy with my effort but knowing in my heart it wouldn’t be enough. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m incredibly proud of keeping my head on straight and focusing on everything I could control. It’s also the first race where I truly focused on the process and not the outcome. It was about hitting my zones and keeping my head on, not about the bike mechanical or the wind or anything else. It was sticking to my plan, and I stuck to it, like glue.
Certainly creates a little fire in the belly to work on short course come January. I’m actually excited for the first time to focus on speed (after Ironman Arizona) and have maybe a little more time on my hands for things like work, grad school and coaching.
Big thanks to all of our friends who volunteered during the day and were superb cheerleaders as we went buy. This race wouldn’t mean the same if it weren’t for having out there being generous with your time, thank you.