Photo: Eric Wynn"Pro ladies, ten seconds..."
I run, dive, dolphin, swim, swim, swim, breathe, and get kicked in the head, but only once.
SWEET! My googles did not fill with water when I got hit in the face! Now make the turn with the pack!
Why are the feet swimming away? Fight for feet!
Ahhhhhh pack is swimming away from me. This is bad.
Why is this girl swimming NEXT to me?! One of us should be pulling the other. Sometimes I swear us slower swimmers are idiots in the water!
I hop on her feet for a while, she slows down, I move around her.
Where is the final buoy? I feel like I am going backwards.
I hit the beach, try to dolphin. Fail. Swim a little more, dolphin, run. Clock says 36, which means I swam 33 since I started 3 minutes behind pro men.
Well that was most definitely a LONG swim. Yes, let's go with that.
I run into T1, am told I am in 11th place, 3:30 down on leaders.
3:30 is doable, I can work with this.
Aero helmet on, glasses on, Zoot speedsuit off, grab the Slice, run out of transition. WHERE is the mount line?! Ohhhhhhhhhhh way far away. I keep running with my bike.
Hop on bike, pedal, pedal, one foot into shoe, pedal, pedal, next foot. Off I go for 56 technical bike miles. I settle in for the first flat twelve miles.
Around mile ten I hit small rollers before the first major (switch-backy) climb. YES - switch-backy is a word!
Age group guy passes me. It seems early for that.
Maybe he was a super swimmer.
He pulls in front of me on the shoulder. I move to the center of the lane. With USAT rules, pros must obey the stagger rule - basically if any cyclist is in front of us, no matter if they are in sight four miles up the road, we must not be directly behind them. We must stagger.
I am now riding in the middle of the lane on a windy road that is open to cars. I'm not a fan of this, but I do not want a penalty. A car goes by. I scoot over to the right a bit to let the car past. Age group guy is now quite a ways in front of me.
What is the motorcycle next to me saying? To turn right ahead?
I turn right and descend a big hill. Motorcycle is next to me again.
"Stand down at the top of the hill."
Oh for real?!!
I pull over and put both feet on the ground quick (2 minute penalty won't start unless both my feet are on the ground.) I remind myself the ref is simply doing her job and getting upset will not change my penalty. I want a fair race, and this is what they are trying to create. I don't agree with this penalty - I believe safety should be #1 priority and riding a bit further to the shoulder on an open road in my book is much safer. I gained no advantage at all by not being "staggered" further into the center of the lane from the age group guy that was at least half a mile up the road from me.
REF: "You weren't staggering."
ME: "I thought I was, sorry. Can I drink and eat while I stand here?"
REF: "You can do whatever you want as long as both feet are on the ground."
I drink some. Multiple girls ride past me. They are my friends, so I tell them good job.
It is ONLY two minutes. Do NOT let this mess with your race. You can still have a great bike split and finish well.
REF: "Ok, you can ride now."
Back on bike, pedal, pedal, race, race, race. Hit the first big climb. It is beautiful. Switchbacks up through a forest. I stand up. I sit down. I try to be patient and not attack the climb like a crazy lady trying to regain the time she just lost.
I hit the first big descent with 'Caution!' triangle warning signs reminding me to be smart and avoid an ambulance trip like I had in my last race.
You are descending like Grandma! No, you are descending smart!
I hit the flats with 18 miles remaining. I feel good. I start riding at my Olympic distance watts rather than half ironman.
Is this a really dumb idea? Am I going to implode?
You are in 12th place - at this point it does not matter if you implode! Unless you move into 10th or higher you will be going home with no paycheck and you KNOW you won't be happy with 12th.
I can see my friend Jen up the road. I am careful to stagger while I approach her to pass. She is riding on the left side of the white line, so I position myself on the right side. The road is still winding and cars are going by. I am certain it is obvious we are staggered. I move ahead thankful to no longer worry about the stagger rule.
Motorcycle lady reappears next to me.
Oh are you kidding me?! Does this lady ref just not like me? I was staggered!
This time I argue with her explaining I was on the other side of the white line. (Two penalties = DQ and my race would be over.) I know I was not cheating. The man driving the motorcycle finally tells me she is being hard on me and drives the two of them away.
Frustrated is the only descriptive word here. I put my head down and ride as hard as I can for the rest of the race.
Photo: Sue Hutter
I come into T2 in 11th place.
My helmet gets stuck on my braid and I struggle to get it off. This is funny to me - a braid malfunction. Bike back in rack, Zoot TTs on, visor on, off I go for 13.1 joyful miles...or something like that.
Be patient. You have 13 miles to do this.
Water, coke, ice (it is toasty!). Run, run, run, Ohhhhh I missed the water, dammit!
Why is this road so long and boring? Where are those girls? Mmmmm yum espresso Powerbar gels on course!
I pass mile 7 and can finally see two girls. I move into 10th, then 9th.
UGH it's hot.
I get myself a split to the 8th place girl off a light pole. 50 seconds. I have less than two miles.
Turn your feet over faster! You can catch her!
In the end I do not catch her. I try like everything, but on this day there was nothing left.
I finish 9th. I'm not exactly overly ecstatic about this. However, there is an ice bath at the finish, and this is beyond awesome. Some days all the hard work and training we put into this sport seems to shine through on race day. Other days even though I know it is there, it is not as evident. I've been racing triathlon long enough to know that on these days I need to just accept it and let my frustrating races fuel the fire for the next.
Rev3 put on a top notch race. I'm excited that I will be able to race another of their series in Wisconsin next month. Next race is Camp Pendleton Sprint Triathlon here at home in a few weeks.
Thank you to my sponsors - your support is greatly appreciated!
- Zoot - speedsuit, shoes, etc. Top notch gear!
- Profile - fast wheels, great aero bars and hydration!
- Cannondale - my Slice is NICE!!
- Extreme Endurance - recovering and training is made easier with your help.
- Tribe Multisport - It is great to have a supportive bike shop on my team!
- Powerbar - scientifically tested fueling that tastes great - loved having Powerbar gels on course!
- Rudy Project - Love my helmet & sunglasses. Especially the green ones!
- SableWater Optics - It's awesome being able to see when I swim.
- MicroscopeWorld.com - I love both my jobs.