This morning I was up at 4:00 A.M. Nope, the race was yesterday...but today I had to get on a way too early flight home. Last night the awards went on and on. But before we get to that, here's a quick race recap:
The heat subsided Sat night and in came the storms. I was slightly freaking out because I had my disc wheel, and worried about getting swept into the farm fields. I woke up race morning and could hear the winds. I walked outside and just about threw up. The winds and nerves were high. Howling 30-40mph gusting winds. Yikes! But as we waited to enter the water the winds steadied around 15-20mph. MUCH better! We could tell by Uli's windblown hair that we were in for a fun filled windy day!
Swim: 3 words: It was LONG! This year they outlawed running for the first 200yds, and everyone complied. I tried to hold onto the feet of 3 girls ahead of me, but lost them in the crowd. Grrrr. I came out of the water and was frustrated. 31minutes. But once I heard that the top pro's came out in 28mins, it was confirmed that we swam further than 1.2 miles. I had no idea how many girls were ahead of me, but knew I lost at least 3 sets of feet.
Bike: Alright this has been my focus. I wanted to ride strong and smart. I broke up the bike in 3 segments: 16miles, then 2x20miles. At oceanside I went out too hard, so this time my plan was to go out strong, hold for segment 2, and then make a move with 20miles to go. I felt much better with this strategy than Ocenside. Instead of dying as I rolled in to T2, I felt really strong. Couple this with the strong winds, and the pouring rain (thankfully it held off until mile 30, so most of the "slippery when wet" descents were over). Around mine 15 I came up on Brandy in her hot "Go Michelle" outfit. She is so good at knowing where she's at on the course, and even figured it out for me. She informed me there were 3 girls ahead of me and even knew what they were wearing. With that info I knew exactly who it was. I held to my race plan and am very happy with the bike portion of the race.
Considering the conditions, and the course I was pretty happy to set a new bike split PR: 2:44 (except clearwater- but that doesn't count!)
Run: So when I got to the run I knew Charisa (Wernick) and Cathy (Yndstad) had considerable ground on me. I also had another girl just a few seconds ahead of me. I took care of her and made that pass within 5 seconds of entering the run course. I was excited to be on the run, feeling strong, and went with it. I thought about the 10 x 1mile repeat workout I did two weeks out, and figured I'd try to hold onto that pace. Ok, not really, 6:15 would be a bit much, but I wasn't far off that mark. I passed through the first 5k in just over 20mins. Then the 8% grade hills came, and I slowed some.
There is a 3 mile flat out and back section in the middle of the run so I could finally measure where I was compared to others. At the turn around I realized I couldn't catch the speed demons (seriously I got beat by better athletes. Congrats Charisa on taking the overall age group win! This new age group is no joke.) If you want to be your best you have to race the best. I am sure I found two of them out there yesterday.
At the half way point my legs were heavy. The hill at mile 9 killed me. The downhill that followed was killer on the legs and I struggled to keep my step light! I knew a girl was closing down on me, and I couldn't react. The only girl to pass me happened with 5k to go. I held for a mile and then died. It was a pace I should have been able to easily hold, but I paid for the early miles. I REALLY died! My run splits went up over 1minute p/mile. I had nothing left. The last 2 miles of that race go on forever! I took a risk, and it didn't pay off.
I am really amazed at how much I've learned about how to race the 70.3 distance. I'm slowly learning how to tackle the bike. I had plenty left in the tank for the run, but just went out too hard. 6:30 was a bit much. Lesson of this race: simmer down out of T2, the speed will be there on its own. Hold back a bit, and try to negative split the run, and finish strong....after all it's a half marathon, not a 10k.
Result: 4th in the age group, and 7th overall female. Once again I was reminded how fast these 30-34 year old girls are.
Ok, so back to that four letter word. I had decided before I went to Lubbock that I'd take the Kona spot if I finished top 2. I didn't, BUT our age group got 2 spots. Charisa had her slot from Oceanside, Cathy opted for Clearwater and that left one for ME! I needed a bit of moral support when it came to taking the spot. Thankfully I received word that first place in 25-29 wouldn't be taking the spot. Brandy was second! YAY!!! She offered that moral support, and together we're going back to Kona for round 2! Congratulations Brandy!
Can you see the words on that piece of paper??? Here it is up close:
I didn't do a good job with the picture taking! Oops. Here are a few...including one of race directors Mike and Marti enjoying the post-race party with the athletes. They've really put a lot into this race over the last 20 years.
Another big thanks to XTerra (everyone else was crazy hot in the swim. I was comfy in my sleeveless ;)), TriBike Transport (if only you serviced every race- I hate packing and unpacking bikes! Fingers crossed they can do Kona with me!), and Brooks. The hospitality in Texas was amazing, and for that I say thank you thank you thank you to Mike & Marti Greer, DeeDee and Steve! It was a memorable race weekend.
Next up is Vineman in 3 weeks. It's one of my favorites! It was my break through race in 2007 and I'm excited to get back there this year. Oh, and since the Volvo Around the World sailing race, nor the America's Cup will be going on in October my brother will will hopefully get to join me.
Here's to continuing to learn how to tackle the half ironman distance, and having another shot at the greatest event in all of sports: Ironman Hawaii.