Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Is HERE!

I have admittedly started about 10 blog posts over the last 2 months but haven't posted any of them. But....I'm back! Let's just say things have changed here at the Caroline Camp.  I decided to accept a job as an attorney with a national law firm with offices in Los Angeles. So, like most of you, I've been cramming in as much as I can into each day. 2 demanding jobs, moving, living in too many places to count, you know the typical professional triathlete lifestyle.
I had planned to start the season with Galveston70.3, and although I almost pulled the plug the week prior I am SO HAPPY I went! I needed to leave behind the weighted stress I had in Cali and return to the scene that makes me feel happy, alive, gracious, and fulfilled.  This would not have been possible without the support, love and hand holding from my sponsors and friends. I drove from L.A. to San Diego and arrived to find my bike race ready and packed.  I did a quick pack job of everything else and took off for Tx Friday morning.
The highlight of this race was seeing many of my friends I haven't seen during the off season months. With a smile on my face I embraced the huge pro field and caught up with great friends. The feel around the pro meeting was electric, thanks to our pal Lance Armstrong for coming to race. This race adopted the title "US Championship" - and didn't disappoint! This was the strongest & deepest field I've raced at the 70.3 distance. Approximately 75 professional athletes were on hand to kick off the U.S. 2012 Season! 
Race morning was a bit cooler than I had hoped for. Cloudy skies and steady 15mph winds. I prayed the sun would peak through the clouds and warm us up, but it turned out to be a decently "cool" affair in my book.  Did I mention that I was just elated to be away from the other stresses in my life and out there doing what makes me happy?!?!?!
Photo thanks to Paul Phillips / Competitive Image
TYR SWIM: I stood in transition and contemplated- sleeveless or FREAK?!?! I went with the Freak, but in retrospect should not have believed the 71degree water report. More like 75. If I can have my arms/shoulders free that is what I prefer. Stupid me!  I started off to the left, and once the cannon blew realized I should of started right. The current was pushing us and I struggled to get onto the buoy line and on feet. I remained patient and knew once I got to the first buoy I'd have company. Sure enough I did. I picked my head up to see we were part of a chase back, but significantly back from the leaders. There was a steady chop and current to contend with but I held my line (and my feet) and stayed right in the mix. We closed the gap to 2 other girls twice but never fully closed in. With 300m to go I tried to sprint up to them but realized I was working hard and wasn't really getting around my close friend Sierra (welcome to the pro field. LOVED sharing this day with you!!!). I sat back in her draft and exited the water with a group of 5-6.
Into transition we went. Racing is about setting little games and challenges. I challenged myself to make it out of T1 before anyone else in this group, and easily did so.
Haven't scored any race day bike pics yet,
but this was my KILLER machine for 2012
SCOTT + VISION BIKE: I've been in blissful heaven ever since I jumped on my new Scott Plasma. I just got my final fit on it 6 days before the race, so I wondered how the completely flat/don't move from aero race would go. This bike is more responsive and speedy than any I've been on before, but I just didn't get things dialed in as quick as I wanted to. By mile 15 my hip flexers and gluts were on fire. I questioned my fitness, time spent training, and stress life has placed on me. God slapped me in the face for thinking that way, so I threw my head down and remembered how happy I was to be RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Goal, fight my own battle through mile 28 and that head wind might turn to a tail wind for the return home. I never really found my groove. The ride back to transition offered more swirling winds so my dream of a free ride back to camp didn't come true. I'm disappointed with my ride, but this is race #1 and with a little more bonding with the new bike I'm sure things will improve. Training is about quality over quantity for me now, and I believe in the work Chris and I are putting in.
Thanks again for this one Paul/Competitive Image
GARMIN + FRS RUN: The first two miles of the run were frustrating. I wasn't having the race I wanted and now my legs weren't ticking over the miles with swift mindless ease like I'm use to.
I wondered if it was worth the fight, but again turned my mindset around and reminded myself of the fitness gains that come from racing hard. During lap 1 (a 3 lap run course) I did a time check with a group of 3 girls ahead of me. When I saw them again I realized I wasn't closing in very fast.  This killed my mojo, and I don't know that I ever really got into the run.  I haven't put in a ton of high quality running to this point, but dang I've surely been running faster and more efficient than this. Ok, things weren't all roses out there on the run course. I looked inward. Right here, right now, what can I gain from this?  "Race for fitness, race for fun, race for the love of this sport, just keep your head together Caroline and RACE!" With that I made a few passes, and played a few games with those who tried to hover over my shoulder. A sub 1:25 was very do-able for me on that course and I didn't come close. Fuel has been added to my fire!
I finished feeling pretty deflated and frustrated. I questioned myself. I wondered if I really can get everything I want out of this sport while trying to make enough $$ to survive (and pay off those dreaded law school loans). I pouted and stomped my way back to the car. With 4 hours until I flight packed my bike up on the spot. As I drove to the airport I got over my disappointment.  It won't do me any good, and it WAS a FUN weekend!  I'm blessed in so many ways! Perspective and focus, it's a must! The season has only just begun and I KNOW I will achieve greatness if I keep my head on straight. I went out there, tested myself, learned, and most importantly enjoyed the moments.
Awesome job to my fellow pro athletes, and a special congrats to our winners on the day: Kelly Willimson and T.O.  IMPRESSIVE performances indeed.
Thank you Chris, my rock and superstar coach! He's got my back and once again is keeping me grounded and motivated.  This is going to be a great year for AIMP Athletes!
Nytro and Kurt, this race wouldn't have happened if not for your joint efforts! In the midst of the crazy pre-CA70.3 thank you for your getting my bike ready while I was off in lala land.
To my 2012 Sponsors I can't thank you enough:
TYR, at this point you're family to me! Let our journey continue... 
To those joining me for 2012 I can't wait to build our relationship:
Scott, thank you for helping me get on my #1 bike of choice this season. I'm in heaven. Vision, I absolutely love my Metron wheels, aero bars and bike components. It is going to be fun watching this brand grow!
Oakley, you make me fast and fashionable!
FRS, I turn to you when I'm down in the trenches and need the ultimate pick me up. Serious energy for serious athletes!
Elite Feet Orthodics: Thank you for all of your efforts in working with my "difficult feet," and for laughing at me almost as much as I laugh at myself! Seeing you out in Tx was a true highlight of my race weekend.

There you have it. Galveston70.3 was a whirlwind weekend offering a warm welcome back to racing. HAPPY TO BE BACK AT IT AGAIN!