The best way to describe last weekends race is deceiving! It was a tough course, but loads of fun indeed! The Navy Seals were on hand to get things started:
The swim was gnarly to say the least. 2 loops meant battling the tough surf not once, but twice!
The entire women's field started together. I made it out through the surf just behind Hillary Biscay, with no other pink caps in sight (which isn't saying much because it was hard to see far with the big surf). I felt strong in the water, and knew I was somewhere in the front when I entered for lap 2. This was the toughest swim I've ever done in a triathlon (evident by the slow swim times!). Several friends were there to cheer for me as I exited the water. I was in second, which meant there were some very fast pro women behind me and soon I would be the hunted!
The bike was flat but nice and windy- not my favorite. With each loop of the course (4 total) the wind picked up. The bike was not the strongest component of my race. I felt flat for the first half and struggled to keep my heart rate up. Good news, when Kate Pallady and Haley Cooper came flying by I tried hard to keep them in sight and felt stronger and stronger w/ each mile.Had I been racing age group I think I would have let them go without a fight...but I was racing elite and figured I should at least try to play at their game.
The run was grueling. 11 miles worth of packed and soft sand (beach and random sandy trails). I was surprised with my pace after mile one. Solid, could I hold on? Then, during mile 2 I stepped in a small hole in the sand and my hamstring seized. I couldn't walk. I stretched for about 90seconds (thank u Garmin for keeping track of the time I spent standing still). I wondered if my race was over, swallowed 2 salt tabs (with salt water from the ocean) and thankfully was able to start running again. Flat bike courses can be fast, but it means you're using the same muscles throughout and was probably the reason for the random muscle seizing. From there things only improved with each mile. As we ran off the beach at mile 2.5 I was ready for some fast pavement. Joke's on me- more soft soft sand and a head wind awaited. I tried to work on my form, stay light on my feet, and build my pace throughout. After the first of 2 loops I was in 7th, but closing the gap between me and the girls ahead of me.
Two goals of mine going into this season are to take in more calories on the run and try to negative split the run. It's only race #1 and I accomplished both (something I didn't do well at all of last year!) With 5k to go I threw it into another gear, emptied the tank, passed a few girls and almost caught another before the finish. I ran out of real estate, but dug deep and finished with my fastest miles of the day.
I definitely left it all out there, and finished at 4:48:16. I was 6th overall, and the first non-pro to cross the line. It was really really fun to race amongst the fast pro women, and I couldn't be happier with how things went. I'd love the 1:30 that I spent attending to the hammy cramp back, but I'm now confident that the months I've spent working on my running form will pay off!
The first triathlon of the year is in the bank.... a worthwhile deposit, leaving me hungry for more!