Lake Las Vegas on race morning
The Bumpy Road
There were quite a few bumps in my road to Vegas this year.
My left leg. An issue for the last 2.5 years that became a serious concern after Oceanside in March. No bueno!
Spending 9 weeks this summer traveling. 6 of those were in Germany as a single-parent. It was a summer filled with awesomeness that didn't include a whole lot of consistent training. Oops!
I can count the number of decent tempo runs I've had since March on one hand. Yikes!
Last but certainly not least: A head cold that started 5 days before the race and quickly turned into a chest cold. Not good for a girl that has been diagnosed with athletic-induced asthma and chronic bronchitis before.
T1 on race morning
Being less than thrilled to show up at Worlds and getting my butt handed to me, pre-race excitement was rather subdued. But then a few nice things happened and I changed my mind:
- My leg started to come around a bit. Considering that I was able to run a trail half-marathon one day and win a half-ironman the next day in mid-August without my leg giving out completely, I figured I had a good chance of executing a decent race. Meaning: I was hopeful that I could push my body to its limit on race-day without my leg holding me back too much. Meaning: Forget the stupid leg issues and just race!
- My favorite training and racing buddy, Colleen, qualified for Vegas in July and her family was going to stay in the same hotel! I knew they would take good care of me. Not having my bike mechanic, sherpa, and best friend around, this meant a lot! Not to mention all the fun we were going to have together...
- Both my Coaches were going to be at the race! Wow. That means a lot of attention for both Colleen and me but I was thrilled! The more familiar faces on that brutal run course, the better! Ok. Now I was so excited that I couldn't wait to get to Vegas!
- I was going to toe the starting line no matter the state of my health. Worst-case scenario: Having to take it super easy and enjoying a great day among friends and super stars! Not bad. Not bad at all!
the swim course
Because I wasn't feeling well I chose to skip most of the pre-race fun and rest instead. Sad but true.
* Pasta dinner? No, thank you. I'd rather lie on the couch.
* Pre-race meeting? No, thank you. I'd rather go to bed early.
* Practice swim in the lake? No, thank you. I'd rather sleep in.
Packet pick-up, run gear bag drop-off, and bike check-in all at different times in different places wore me out plenty. Add in a little bit of swimming action at the pool, getting all my gear and nutrition organized, and dealing with borrowed race wheels - I barely made it to bed in time for 6 hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 3:30 on race morning.
A Note from Coach
I want you to know how confident I am in your ability as an athlete. You really know what you are doing. Trust your instinct on when to go hard and when to cut back.Your body knows how to push to its limit. You are a phenomenal athlete. You will do your best, I have no doubt. I am very excited to watch as a proud and confident coach. But most of all: Please have fun. Enjoy that you get to do this sport and that you can push your body like this.
Thank you, HT! Love it. The only part that concerns me is the Please have fun. He should know that I always have fun. I do triathlon because I love this sport! It might not look like it at times but - hey - this is my kind of fun!
I love this race! I essentially love everything about it:
- 100+ degrees? Yes, please! And I would like there to not be a cloud in the sky!
- Wind? Bring it.
- Non-wetsuit swim? Great! I love my speedsuit!
- Swimming in warm recycled pee? Sure! Why not? As long as it's warm!
- An extremely hilly bike course? Yes! I love climbing on my bike!
- A relentless 3-loop run course? Aehm. Not so much. But, considering that this turns the race into a war of attrition, I'll take it.
our wave getting into the water
Oatmeal for breakfast? Check.
Colleen by my side? Always.
Bike ready to roll? Check.
Good warm-up outside of transition? Yes.
Ignoring how amazingly fit all the ladies with their super nice gear around me look? Almost.
Nervous? Of course. And just super excited to get this party started!
here we go!
The water was a cozy 84 degrees and I was loving it! My main goal: Not to get in any fist fights like last year. So I did the exact opposite from 2011. No warm-up swim, get to the starting line as fast as possible, line up in the front. Who cares that I have no business up there...
Fortunately, it worked and I thought I was going to suffocate/drown/hyperventilate/abandon for only 8.4 minutes rather than 20. Total catastrophe averted! I tried hard to stay focused and find some feet but wasn't very successful at either. It could've been worse...
Swim Time: 31:59
Wow. Compared to last year, I was faster by a total of 15 seconds and got out of the water one girl ahead. Amazing! Not. I then proceeded to lose more than 30 seconds in T2 because I couldn't find my bike! What?!? Turns out I ran down the right aisle but not far enough. Are you kidding me? Things like that only happen to other girls, not me! So after doing what must have looked like the funky chicken for what seemed like an eternity, I finally found my ride. And actually managed to do a decent flying mount. Time to get this show on the road!
My favorite. Especially when I get to borrow Coach's race wheels. What a treat! And do you recognize that helmet? It's the one Leanda Cave wears on the front cover of Lava magazine. And I don't mean I happen to have the same kind. I mean: She handed down her helmet and now it's mine! How awesome is that?
trying to focus
A bike computer. No heart rate monitor. No power meter. (Not even any carbon.)
I don't do well with numbers, especially not while racing. I like to go by feel.
(That said: If I could afford a power meter, there is a slight chance I would actually buy one. Power is somewhat intriguing...)
1. Ride hard.
D'uh! Obviously I wasn't out for a leisurely stroll... But not knowing whether the lungs or left leg were going to cooperate at all on the run, the plan was to not hold back (much) on the bike.
2. Stay focused.
Easier said than done...
But I must've done a pretty good job of focusing because I don't remember a whole lot of things about the 2.5 hour ride. It's all a ( beautiful) blur...
Basically started and finished the ride with this guy.
He was good-looking and nice, so I let him.
What I do remember:
** My first thought upon hopping on the bike: It's hot! Apparently, temps were in the 90s in the early morning already. I was worried that all my I-can-handle-the-heat claims were going to bite me in the butt today!
** 2 girls in my age group passed me early on. I let them go and it wasn't a big deal. I kinda surprised myself. I realized that I really am here first and foremost to race myself. Yes, I was hoping to maybe be on the podium again. But, when it comes down to it, I race my own race. I don't care what anybody else is doing.
** I had made the firm decision that on race day I would pretend that I was 100% healthy. I didn't let myself think about my chest cold or my leg issues even for a second. I know that our bodies can do miraculous things and I was just going to trust mine to join the party. And it did. Until I crossed that finish line. Then it fell apart...
** Everybody out on the course was so nice and courteous. We all tried very hard not to draft, cheered each other on, and the guys weren't as big of a pain to deal with as usual! Loved it! When I went by my friend, Robin L, she told me she thought I was in 4th place in my AG. How thoughtful is that? She tried to count all the 30-34 ladies that went by her to give me an idea of where I was at. I really appreciated it.
Unlike last year, I did not want to get off that bike. I was scared of the run. Terrified, to be exact. I wasn't confident in my abilities, the hills are brutal, and the pain cave isn't a fun place to be in. Luckily, I got my act together just in time by reminding myself how much I love a hot and sweaty sufferfest!
Bike Time: 2:43:52
I was convinced that I biked faster than last year but it turns out my time was actually slower by a total of ... wait for it... 3 seconds! I look at it this way: Consistency must be my strength! Looks like I passed 13 girls in my age group somewhere on the bike. Could've been worse...
It's all either up or down. 1 mile down, 2 miles up, 1 mile down. Repeat 2 more times. I like running in circles, especially in a race. It allows me to run without a watch and still keep track of where I am at. I was thrilled when Coach told me I didn't have to wear a watch. Because, honestly, knowing my pace does absolutely nothing for me. It just messes with my head. I am not here to race the clock or set any records on this course. I am here to get the most out of myself and catch the next girl in front of me. So, in my case: Ignorance is bliss.
- The entire course was lined with spectators and I had people cheering for me all over the place! It was awesome and incredibly helpful! I tried hard to smile and wave but by the 3rd lap I barely had enough energy to raise 2 fingers in acknowledgement. Lame! But I want you to know that I hear every cheer and notice every clap. It means the world to me!
- It was great to have Coach HT and Coach M there. And they even brought some teammates with them! What a treat! True to form, I got mad at my best supporters. Why is Heath riding his bike next to me? What if I get a penalty? I don't want a penalty! Go away! I thought Mahogani was going to let me know where I was in my AG. Why isn't she saying anything? Is this good or bad news? Luckily, they know me well enough not to take any of this personally. Having them there totally made my day and HT's tips were extremely helpful.
- The first 2 laps were more fun than I had anticipated! I was feeling decent, kept on downing my salt tablets, and enjoyed pouring coke over my head. Not! But you can't expect me to tell the difference between water and coke at this point and who cares what I look or smell like? I just tried to stay as cool as possible in the 100+ degree heat. Looking at some of the carnage around me, I told myself to be patient the first 2 loops. I remembered how much the 3rd loop hurt last time and I didn't want to dig too deep too early.
please ignore my left hand
The last lap was brutal and it hurt. I was suffering and so was everybody else. It was a tough battle between my body and my mind, so I kept reminding myself: I run this body! It wasn't pretty but it's what I came for: The opportunity to give it every last ounce of me. And this is what it looks like:
Wondering why I have so many wrinkles in my face already?
Here is your answer.
Run Time: 1:40:47
Overall Time: 5:01:41
Position: 3rd in AG, 11th Amateur
I crossed the finish line, leaned onto one of the many amazing volunteers for a minute, walked over to my Coaches, and cried. Yep. Tears and all. I was mentally and physically completely exhausted. I had hung on for so long and the relief was overwhelming. I did it!
Then M told me my time was 5:01 and I probably took 5th or 6th in my age group. Oh no! Really? I went over 5 hours and maybe missed the podium by one spot? I was pissed. I considered throwing a tantrum and/or punching myself in the face... But, to my great relief, I decided to calm down and put things into perspective! While stuffing my face with watermelon and chocolate milk, I realized that I accomplished what I set out to do. Besides the mishap in T1, I executed a great race. My rather slow run is easily explained by a slightly different course, the oppressing heat, and my lack of good run training. I did the very best I was capable of on that day and that is all I can ask of myself. This race was a success no matter my time or placing!
I figured Robin would finish soon, so I went back to look for her. She did fantastic and looked amazing every time I saw her on the course but everyone out there was suffering! I found her, we hugged, and cried. I waited for Colleen to cross the finish line and there was more hugging and lots more crying. This was turning into a cry-fest! Colleen had a rough day but she hung in there and I am so proud of her! I recommend reading her beautiful and very honest race report here. Love that girl!
Eventually I found out that I didn't place 5th or 6th in my age group but 3rd! Two spots up from last year! I was thrilled but somehow it didn't matter as much anymore...
T1 was very, very long
The second I crossed the finish line, my lungs tightened up and I couldn't breathe. It was a little scary but used to happen a lot actually, so I knew it would go away eventually. My cold came back as suddenly as it seemed to have disappeared once the gun went off. In case you are wondering about my leg, I don't feel like talking about it... Eventually we got back to the hotel and I basically didn't move for the next 3 hours. I was wasted and unable to think clearly. I had been debating which other race(s) to do in September or October but I knew then and there that my season is over. I am done pushing my body and mind - at least for the next few weeks! Off-season, here I come! I am stoked to do some mountain biking, lots of trail running, and more soccer playing with my boys. And I am going to attempt to be a little more social...
Dinner and Awards
Don't get your hopes up too much. We may have been in Vegas but when I left Germany more than 10 years ago, I must've forgotten to pack my desire to be wild and crazy! I was barely able to get my butt off the couch and into the shower in time to make it to the Dinner and Awards. Have I mentioned how grateful I was to have Colleen by my side? She certainly made my entire weekend! Back at the hotel we indulged our love for ice cream and had some seriously great girl-talk over a half-gallon of Dreyer's Double Fudge Brownie. Because that is how we like to party... I would like a repeat right now!
- Some more rest and recovery. This is extremely difficult for me but it needs to be done in order for another fun season next year!
- Hopefully lots of cross-training with good friends!
- A little birthday weekend extravaganza at the beginning of October that will include running a (slow) marathon in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite girls! Is it October yet???
- TriSports.com. I couldn't do it without you!
- HT Training. Heath and Mahogani are the best!!!
- Karl. Your patience and support means everything to me!
- Friends and family. This sport would be very lonely and basically impossible without you!
- Northern Arizona Masters. The thing that gets me out of bed at 5:20 in the morning isn't the cold water and smell of chlorine. It's your smiling faces and encouraging comments!
- Josh and Janee. It was great carpooling and rooming with you guys! I am sorry it wasn't quite the race you were hoping for but I know you are going to crush it in Kona!
- Leanda and Sebastian for showing us how it's done! Congratulations! I am absolutely thrilled for both of them! Leanda has come to Flagstaff quite a bit to train and is simply amazing. Sebi lives and trains 20 minutes from where I grew up and is a great guy!
If you have made it this far without falling sleep, thank you for reading and being part of this journey!