Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Real Podium

I am fairly confident this state has more flying state flags than any other-
ok yes, it's a big state...but seriously, they love being Texans!
I have never been to Austin and really wanted to come experience the city. Also, my amazing friend, Sierra, moved to Austin earlier this year. Last year I got to share the Kona finish line with her:
She has a sparkling new addition to her family, who I also couldn't wait to embrace. Meet Kaleb:
My lead up to the race was as stress free as can be. How can you stress about a stinking triathlon when you are amidst a beautiful baby who demands much larger concerns and won't let you sweat the small stuff! But race morning I got down to business and was ready to throw down a good solid effort.
TYR Swim: Bam, gun goes off and again I was nailed by a good friend. I think I'm done lining up next to my closest friends ;-) Nah, it wasn't that bad, just an elbow to the mouth and another fist to the eye, but nothing that would slow me down. I got out with the lead group and held with them for about 300yds. One girl picked it up and dropped us all (as we knew she would). Jessica Meyers was right on my feet and I knew we could work together. After 1000yds my shoulder had a different idea. I haven't talked much about it, as I thought maybe that would make it go away, but I've been nursing a pretty bummed up shoulder. It is awesome for 2 days after body work, but then goes back to a useless painful state. It went to this place, and after only 5 mins my left arm strength was zapped. Jessica wisely came around me and took the lead. I held on for maybe a minute, but simply couldn't pull. I was then caught by the next group back and tried to jump on Terra's feet. That lasted until the turn around buoy and then they dropped me. I couldn't do much about it other than pull as hard as I could with my right arm and kick more than I ever have before. Finally in the last 4-5mins my shoulder relaxed and I was able to swim again. I hit the shore frustrated, but my short term memory kicked in and it was onto the bike.
Bike: The bike course was one loop, covering some of the worst roads I've ever raced on. Definitely the worst of the six 70.3 events I've done this season! Unacceptable in my book. Letter to the powers that be is in the works.
I exited transition with Terra. I felt fine on the bike and my power was right where it needed to be. I opted to put my head down, stop looking at my computer and just think about finding that leg burn I hate so dearly. Terra was crushing it and I was just happy to have company.
I loved the new Speedfil A2! Didn't bounce around or splash, and SO easy to refill!
There was a long patch of dirt/gravvel/rocks at mile 18. I don't understand why this wasn't covered! Sure enough one of the small rocks sliced my tire. I didn't realize it was going flat for another 10 miles but eventually dismounted and threw a pit stop in it to see if it would seal and be ok.
Back to work.Now I was playing the solo party catch up game and well, I failed! Not much more to say about that. It it comes down to one thing: I don't go to that dark place where pain is a welcomed into the body and nothing will stand in my way! It isn't an issue of capability, it is one of desire. I just don't dig deep enough on the bike. Yes, I am amidst ironman training (clear by the fact that I was back to riding and running long immediately after the race), but that is no excuse. I need to ride harder, I need to push deeper, and I need to simply find the desire within to HURT!
I don't want to give any more attention to the flat situation, but I did end up riding the last 16miles on a very low tire. I am not sure if that was the wiser decision (versus changing it), but I didn't know how flat it was and I didn't want to get off to check. It was obvious when I turned going into T2 that little air was left in that baby. Doesn't matter, flats or not I didn't ride hard enough.
Run: I exited T2 with my head down. I almost didn't care how far up it was to the next girl. I just had to pull something out of the day. The course was changed to 3 loops. It was rolling hills with a few substantial dips. The sun was out and things started heating up, but overall the conditions weren't anything extreme. I caught 3 girls in the first loop and was comfortably holding around 6:30. My mental game switched from pace to passing. Tick them off one at a time and see how far this can get me. Every up hill had a downhill so I tried to power up the hills and use the downhills to close the gaps. Free speed! 
Garmin let me know my pace tailored off to 6:35's for the second loop- think I only made one more pass. I saw Sierra, John and Kaleb as I started the 3rd loop. They told me I had 3 girls within 90 seconds and this got my legs firing again. It was time to drop the hammer. My goal was to build each loop.I immediately passed one and believed I was now in 6th (aka-one out of the $$$). It was hard to get anything from the aid stations because the course was so packed. I took coke, water and my carbo pro/gu flask concoction wherever I could get it.. 3 miles to go and I cruised by Hailey. Hailey and I raced CDA together and although I closed the gap on her during the run I never caught her. We both encouraged each other, but she didn't have it in the legs to come with me (she flatted too- grrr). I thought I was comfy in 4th or 5th and that's where I'd finish. 3 miles to go I saw one more yellow bib ahead of me and worked on closing that gap. My feet were on fire, but my turnover was still there (recall this was sucked dry during my time in Boulder and led to awful runs at IMWI and Branson!). When you're passing someone every mile it is a lot easier to hold your pace up and keep fighting/believing. My Newtons reminded me to keep my forward lean, high turnover and fast feet! With 2 miles to go I passed Lesley. She was the only person I passed that hung on for a bit before dropping back. I wondered if I should have delayed that pass, but there was too much ground left and I was fine with my pace. I just had to push harder. I didn't know if I would catch anyone else (I knew Jessica was too far ahead), so I thought maybe the fastest run split was a good goal to run for.
When I crossed the line I wasn't sure what place I was in. Honestly, I couldn't keep track. I approached the finish and was welcomed at the 3rd female. I was ecstatic! My first REAL podium finish. And this came after 2 weeks of no running.  After my week in Kona we were worried I might have a stress fracture so I took some (painful) time off the feet. Chris's first text to me post race was: see I told you fast was still possible for you after minimal running. Cheers to that!!  After a strong run at IM CDA my running hasn't been anything to write home about. I've had great training runs, but during races my legs haven't been there. It wasn't a fatigue thing, but simply an effect from training at altitude. Let's just say I am HAPPY to welcome my running legs back. All the top girls agreed something was up with our run splits. My watch had me at least 2 mins faster (and i stopped it late)- took them FOREVER (once again) to update our times/splits/results. So who knows. Maybe one day they'll throw some $$ into their timing system and get it right so tracking athletes online isn't so tough for those who want to follow our sport.

"The podium" can be defined as however deep the money goes for any particular race, but traditionally it was reserved for the top 3. So, this was my first time on the real podium, and I am so happy to share this with the sponsors who have toed the line with me all year long! Once again Chris prepared me for everything.It wasn't always pretty, but I was happy with my delivery. He likes to remind me there are a million ways to get to the finish line after 70.3 or 140.6 miles.  Every mile presents opportunity. Just hold it together and never stop fighting! I did just that.
Congratulations to my friend Jessica Meyers on another 70.3 win. She is a rock star of inspiration! Things didn't go completely according to plan for her either, but in the end she finished a champion. Well deserved my friend! It was great to race with Hailey, Erin, Terra and Morgan again. Equally awesome to race and meet other pro women I hadn't raced before.
A HUGE special thanks to Simone for all of her massage work with me! I returned from Boulder with some "issues" and she is a big reason I was able to put together the fastest run split on the day. Simone, I love you and treasure your friendship beyond words! Chris, it's been a very fun road this season and I certainly share the podium with you. Thank you for believing in me and continuing to teach me so much about this sport- more to come from this team!!! Next up for us: Ironman Arizona...


Christi said...

Congratulations on a great finish!

beth said...

Awesome job, C! Way to keep your head in it!