Sunday, April 5, 2009

CA 70.3 Race Report

The day started cold and windy, but clear. Which meant it warmed up nicely for the race. The swim was fairly uneventful. As typical I swam anything but straight, ran into multiple people and tried unsuccessfully to find feet to draft off. I was never cold.

I worked on my swim stroke over the winter. Apparently I throw it all out the window when I race. Steven captured multiple images where it appears I'm swimming backstroke. Despite this, I came out of the water in decent position.

This is about 30 seconds after I hopped on the bike, and one of the only bike shots Steven got yesterday. The Marines are amazing and let us bike through Camp Pendleton. I wish I could have taken my camera to take pictures of the awesome rolling green, untouched hills. But this probably would have made my bike split longer.

The bike was a combination of feeling awesome and trying to get my heart rate back up where I wanted it. The course is mostly flat in the first half and hilly in the second. With one hill in particular that Mirinda Carfrae (1st place female pro) described yesterday as "leading straight to heaven."

Less than 5 miles into the race a few of the top girls in our age group passed me on the bike. I knew I needed to keep them in sight in order to contend. But my heart rate was already higher than I wanted it, so I held back and eventually watched them ride away from me. Frustrating. Out of the three sports the bike is still my weakest link. I was 9 minutes faster than last year on this course, but would not have to play catch-up nearly as much on the run if I rode faster.

Coming off the bike I knew if I wanted to move into podium and a place for the Kona slot I had my work set out for me. I knew the girl in 1st had a Kona slot because she won our age group in Kona. I was not sure if Rachel would take the slot, but was hoping she might not have been joking when she said she wanted to take a break from Ironman this year. The girl in 3rd was 11 minutes up when I started running.

I had amazing friends out there screaming like crazy who I can not thank enough. This is how the run went down.
Jeffrey: "Charisa, 8 minutes, you can do this!"
Me in my head: "8 MINUTES, good Lord that is HUGE! Maybe I should focus on podium instead. No, don't give up! You never know, maybe I can do this. UGHHHH my legs hurt. Go legs, go legs. Oh hey, there are the guys I ride with!
I run through stupid thick sand (everyone does this 4 times).
Me in my head: "WHO designed this course?? This sucks!!!"
I pass Jeffrey again: "6 minutes Charisa"
Me in my head: "That's IT?! I only took out 2 minutes?! I'm going to run out of race before I catch 3rd!"
With less than two miles to go I pass Jeffrey: "2 minutes, come on, GO!"
At this point I actually remember being angry at Jeff. Not because he was helping me, but because I was already hurting and I knew to pull down two minutes I was really going to have to hurt.
I pass Lisa, Jesse and Cat: "She's right in front of you, you can do it!"
Me in my head: "Seriously?! I can not SEE her!!"
With less than a mile to go and while in the thick sand I moved into 3rd. And I ran scared all the way in, praying she would not come with me. All that chasing earned me fastest female amateur run time of the day!

A huge thanks to Rachel for the Kona slot! And for inspiring me to learn to ride my bike faster so next time I can try to chase the "fast girls" instead of just watching them ride away from me!

Out of my friends racing there were 5 of us that grabbed Kona slots! Above, Patrick snagged a slot, along with Fast Brian. Patrick's wife, Paula PRd the 70.3 distance, on a difficult course!!

Marit and Ian both got their first-ever Kona slots - I could not be happier for them!

So a day where I had hoped to podium and really thought the Kona slot was "a complete long shot" ended up pretty amazing! You know the saying "third time's a charm", we'll find out if it is true in October.