Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The battles we choose, and those we don't!

Last weekend I traveled back to MI to spend time with my parents and get in the second of my back to back 70.3 races. It was pretty awesome to see how many top professionals also decided to add Steelhead to their race schedule. In years past the race has only drawn a handful of professional, however with a large prize purse this year I got to share my beloved homeland with athletes from around the world-including some of my favorite San Diego girls:
One of my favorite places to swim is Lake MI. It's crystal clear fresh water is one of our countries hidden gems! I was pretty excited to return to sea level and hammer out a strong swim, however mother nature had something to say about that. We woke up to weather advisories for strong rip tides. This meant another canceled swim for me this season. I was ready for all water temps, but sadly my  TYR sleeveless, hurricane and swimskin would remain in the car-BUGGER!
The pro's were sent off in a TT format, one every 30 seconds. This assured an honest race by all! I am not sure they even needed to send draft marshals out onto the course.
(Once again) I was determined to put everything I had into the bike! Dig dig dig. With the TT style of racing there were certainly moments where my mind could wander. Thankfully my Quarq kept me honest and pushing from mile 0 to 56! I passed 2 girls pretty early on, and then later was passed by the speedy Mel Rollinson and Heather Jackson.  I stayed focused on my goals for the race and continued to push the power. (Being that I had only ridden it a collective 2.5hrs) I was honestly shocked with how comfortable I felt on my new Fuji D-6! My power transfer was constant and I felt right at home tucked down in the Profile aero-bars! Killer bike, awesome fit, happy girl.
Although I didn't put out one of the fastest bike splits of the day it was a HUGE step for me. Coming off Boulder70.3 and some solid training blocks my legs were a bit fatigued. The ultimate goal will come in 4 weeks, and I just needed an honest test to see where I was at. My average power was about 15watts higher than in Boulder, the highest it's ever been for this distance. and I come away from this race knowing what the best cadence will be for me at the Ironman distance. Overall I returned to T2 very happy with my effort.
Photo by: Wattie Inc. - Rock the W! (Thanks Wattie!!)
The run course is rolling and offers challenges both in terms of the short quick climbs, wind, and a variety of running surfaces.  My Newton shoes wanted to turn over faster than I could almost keep up with. 2 miles in I told myself to settle down and settle in. Although my legs felt pretty fried coming off the bike I could certainly feel the effects of returning to sea level. My heart rate was lower than it typically is for this pace/effort and my breathing wasn't a bit labored. I made one pass early on and then it was a pretty lonely run. Just me and my Garmin battling through the miles. At mile 10 I hit the most substantial hill of the course (again, 2 loop run) and my legs felt like bricks. I still felt great cardiovascular but muscularly I was toast.  I put my head down, even grunted a few times, and tried to push as deep as I could through the finish. A run split of 1:27:30 (4th fastest) was a solid accomplishment for me on this day. OUCH! I was D.O.N.E!
In the end I was 10th, only one second behind 9th and a few more behind 8th. Congratulations to everyone on dealing with the adversity and conditions of the day! Another race with amazing athletes-many of which will be throwing down their 70.3 skills at the World Championships in Vegas in a few weeks time. Good luck Heather, Melissa, Christie, and Kristin.
This race was ultimately about much more than the race itself. The real battle and inspiration came from my mom. She'd kill me for mentioning or drawing any attention to her, but the week before IMCDA I found out my mom had breast cancer. This awful disease runs in our family and she's done EVERYTHING in her powers to avoid falling victim to it. Thankfully this meant it was detected early and the prognosis is as good as it gets! My mom is my rock and to hear this absolutely killed me. Racing at Steelhead meant I could also be with her through a few of her treatments. She's already half way through, and will be done by the time I toe the line in WI (or for opening day of UofM football ;-)). Being with her this past weekend meant more to me than any placement, PR or power ride file ever will.  As she always reminds me "the best memories are made when we share them with those we love!!!" So, to my parents- thank you for sharing this one with me! She certainly didn't choose this battle, but she is fighting through it with dignity, grace and determination....all things I hope to display while I'm out there fighting through my own small battles of life.
Thank you to my sponsors for continuing to believe in me and supporting me on this quest. TYR, Newton, Quarq, Flatout Bread, TrainingPeaks, Nytro, GU, and Garmin. My feet have a special thanks to Sidi for helping me move past some post IMCDA foot pain!!!


Kristi said...

Caroline, I am so sorry to hear of your mom's diagnosis. This, and the death of a family member last week really hits home with how easily we sometimes take our regular life for granted. I don't always read your blog, but I did want to hear about your Michigan race, and though I wouldn't normally comment I had to let you know I have great sympathy for you. Family is SO important! Your dedication to your sport is inspiring, and so is your view on the world - you always notice the beautiful sights around you and the wonderful people you're competing with. I like that - thank you for always being so positive! {Michigan Hugs} ~Kristi

Kim said...

Congrats on some victories and certainly thoughts and prayers to your Mom in her challenges with this diagnosis! Glad you were able to be with her during this tough time! Keep pushing!