Race morning involved a delayed start (they couldn't get the buoys out into the water because it was so choppy), a changed swim course where we were going to do three loops, and then finally when the buoys still couldn't be placed in the water, the race was changed to a duathlon (2 mile run / 40k bike / 10k run).
Although I'm not the world's best swimmer, I was actually a bit disappointed we didn't get to swim. Also, starting out a race with a 2-mile-sprint is an extremely harsh way to jolt your body into racing. However, I am grateful we still got to race, and I completely understand why the race was altered to a duathlon.
Onto the run and a pack of five girls formed. I was in this pack for about half a mile and then I started to fall off the back. I came into T1 :30 down. This isn't a huge amount of time, but it seemed massive while racing. My two-mile run time was 12:41.
Onto the bike and within the first mile I dropped my only bottle of fluid/calories - DOH!!! I could see the girls ahead of me and knew if I stopped they would be gone. I decided to leave it. However, this section was an out/back and once I reached the turn-around, I realized maybe that was a dumb idea. There were no aid stations on the 40k bike. Not certain if leaving my only nutrition on the ground would result in a terrible 10k run, when coming back I stopped and grabbed it. I'm still not really sure if this was smart or not - Olympic races seem so fast and every second counts. Especially when chasing ITU-girls.
The bike was pretty much a straight on crazy strong head-wind, or a fun tail wind. Occasionally there were cross-winds, which are always fun while riding a disc. There were two large bridges we crossed, and the cross-winds on these blew me around a bit. After reaching the top of the second bridge I shifted into the hardest gear to fly down the other side. Except because I was on the bumpy bridge, and since I threw the gear fast - somehow my chain got caught across three of the cogs. Which meant it was locked in place. No pedaling forward or backward for me! At the time I had no idea what I'd done, only that I couldn't pedal. I coasted down the long bridge and stopped at the bottom where several nice police officers supervised while I got the chain un-stuck. Not a huge amount of time lost, but last I checked most athletes don't stop twice during an Olympic-distance 40k bike. Nothing to do but put my head down and try to ride harder. My goal had been to ride under 1:04, but closer to 1:02. My bike computer said 1:03, so I was excited when I entered T2. I later learned my split was really 1:05 - guess the computer didn't count all those stops...
The run was a mix of side stitches, and feeling like I was running at half-marathon pace. I knew I was in 5th place, and that the chances of changing that position were very slim. I tried to push myself on the run, but it really just was not there. I had plenty of energy, but I think my body just isn't quite yet used to racing at lactate threshold. Or running in extreme discomfort. Something I'll keep working on...
My 41 minute 10k was not what I was looking for. But finishing 5th and getting a paycheck at the end of the day in a sport I love was nice.
I came to race hard and learn how to push myself into the very-uncomfortable-zone. And I think I got exactly what I signed up for. I'm not overly-skilled or talented at this yet, but it's a work in progress, so I am excited to keep trying. I am also pretty proud of myself for jumping outside my comfort zone and putting my best foot forward on the given day. Because really, that is all you can ask for. Race hard, have fun, and learn from the mistakes.
I have a ton of great New Orleans pics that I'll post in the next couple of days.
A HUGE THANK YOU to my sponsors:
Zoot Sports for outfitting me with speedy & comfy shoes, a quick wetsuit, and fun tri gear. Profile Design for my aero bars, grips, hydration, and some super awesome wheels! Quintana Roo for a bike that I love to ride every day, but especially on race day. TriSports.com for not only carrying everything tri-related, but for treating me like family. ZipVit for fueling me along the way. SableWater Optics for allowing me to see while I swim. Extreme Endurance for keeping lactic acid at bay. Rudy Project for my rockin glasses and helmets. SCAPE labs for protecting my skin. MicroscopeWorld for working with my crazy training/racing schedule. My crazy race schedule would not be possible without the support of these companies.