Let’s start with a little background, shall we? I signed up for the Olympic distance three weeks ago when I realized that having lost my job, I would have all the free time I wanted. I added an extra week to my Memorial Day trip home. I was slightly under-trained on the run and swim, but I can fake a swim, and my bike mileage was reaching new levels. I was excited. Then, I crashed my bike. It hurt, mentally, physically and financially. So, I had a REALLY LONG two week unintentional taper. I knew it was too late to cram in training, and sort of used that, and the fact that I no longer had a tri bike, as an excuse to slack off.
After scrambling around like a mad woman, I secured a bike to borrow, from my awesome Rev3 Teammate, Laura.
One way or another, it was going to be an interesting race day!
My mom and I hit the road on Friday afternoon. We cruised all the way until the Connecticut border, where we then spent well over an hour covering the final 20 miles to the race site. I picked up my packet, my mom and I checked in as volunteers, and I tracked down Laura and her bike.
I realized then that her bike had tubular wheels. I had spare tubes and tire levers. That wasn’t going to work. So, I rode with nothing. No CO2, no spares… I do not really recommend doing this, but this race wasn’t as important to me as just being there was!
We met some of my AMAZING Rev3 Teammates for dinner, and then me and my mom were off to our hotel. There was a restaurant in front of our hotel, and my mom was craving desert. She got a fruity drink, and I had a beer. It was a nice way to wind down after such a long day.
Race morning came, and we were greeted with POURING rain. I knew it was in the forecast, but it was made extremely real to me on race morning.
I was 2 weeks out of a crash, on a borrowed bike, on hills, in the rain. I’ve ridden a good amount in the rain – in Florida. My experience riding in the rain ON HILLS was probably zero, unless you count a drawbridge or two.
I wasn’t thinking about anything else. I was thinking about those hills and turns in the pouring rain. I told my mom it didn’t even feel like a tri, because I hadn’t even spent time thinking about swimming or running that day.
My mom was volunteering at the swim start, so she headed down there around 6, and I went in to finish setting up transition. I covered my bike and run shoes in plastic and hoped they would at least be dry when I put them on. Racing in the cold and the rain are both new to me, so I put myself in the mindset that this would be a learning experience. I got into my Blueseventy Reaction wetsuit, and prepared for the swim. I was SO HAPPY I had sleeves on my wetsuit. I sold my sleeveless and picked up the Reaction and a PZ3TX swim skin, and figured I had my bases covered for any water temp. The 71 degree water felt SO WARM compared to the air and rain!
Swim was not my best, but it turned out decent. I found some great feet and was moving along… until I ended up WAY wide after the first turn. I’m not sure how or why it happened, but I found myself a good 30 yards outside of the line between the buoys. Oops. Note to self, take every OWS opportunity I can find in AZ! The water was amazingly warm, and after I rounded the second buoy, I held a pretty solid line to the finish.
Time: 26:30 Pace: 1:46/100m (1:37/100yd) Place: 8/32 AG
Got my cycling shoes on, helmet on, and didn’t know what to do with my sunglasses. I thought I might want them for protection from the rain, so I shoved them into my sports bra, and that is where they remained for the entire ride. I felt mildly dysfunctional and thrown off as a result of the weather. Plus, no wetsuit strippers!
Time for the ride. Let me start with my mother’s perspective. She took that picture of me at the swim exit, cheered me out of transition, and went back to the car and turned on the heat. No sooner had she closed the door, that the rain outside became a downpour. Fun!
I got out of the park and turned left. Shortly after that was a sharp left turn… and someone was on the ground recovering from a crash. I got scared. My strategy switch from “carefully crush it” to just plain “careful!”. The temperature was in the high 50s, and I was cold. I gradually lost feeling in my toes.
The downhills were mostly out of my comfort zone. I was constantly passing people on the climbs, only to have them blow by me on the downhills.
I really went through a range of emotions on this ride. It was stressful. I talked to myself a lot. I picture warm, sunny places to keep me warm. I gazed longingly at all of the SAG vehicles, thinking about how warm and dry it would be inside – and telling myself that dropping out was better than crashing. Luckily, I’ve got pride. I was determined to brave the elements and get myself to the end of the bike.
Eventually, the numbness spread, and I was numb from toes to ankles! I never noticed numb hands, so I wasn’t worried about not being able to brake properly.
On the final climb, I could see the lake we swam in. The scenery was amazing – but sadly my intense concentration on keeping the bike rubber side down caused me to miss a lot of it.
I want to go ride this course in the sunshine – I think it would be awesome!!
Bike: 1:46:57, 14.4 mph – told you it was slow! Still good enough to keep me out of the bottom 1/3rd of my age group. One girl in my age group managed to break the 20mph barrier, if that tells you anything.
Still focusing hard in the rain!
Got into T2, and struggled getting shoes on my very numb feet.
Mid sentence – yelling “I can’t feel my feet!” to my mom.
I started the run and I was SO excited to warm up a little! The course is really pretty, and at a run pace, I could enjoy it! Also, this was amazing running weather. I had my Pearl Izumi IsoTransition shoes on, and they drain really well! The uppers don’t hold a bunch of moisture either. I was worried that my feet would be cold, but I gradually regained feeling in them.
Around mile 1, I started running with some guy named Troy. This made my run awesome. He was talkative, and running a solid pace. I decided to hang on as long as I could.
At mile 2.5, I could completely feel my feet again! I was still running with Troy. He was cheering and happy, and we kept picking up runners and dropping them. Almost everyone we passed tried to hang with us for a while – likely because we started oozing positive energy. I was so incredibly happy that I toughed out the bike, that the run was a total celebration. The hard part of my day was over, and I just lived in the moment.
The hills were rough, but not too tough. This course is no walk in the park, but with a little hill training, it’s not soul-crushing either.
Run: 58:13, 9:32 min/mile
My slowest Olympic distance race on record, and my first 3hr+ finish. But, I’m pretty darn proud.
Decent swim, didn’t crash the bike, and actually had fun on the run
Post race involved sitting in the car with heated seats and the heater blasting. My mom and I walked around, grabbed warm drinks, and went out for lunch.