Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Challenge St. Andrews Race Report

Challenge St. Andrews went onto my race schedule back in November. It was a race I was super excited about trying to win after last season.

I arrived in St. Andrews to find myself in a beautiful small waterfront town. Friday I swam in the cove in 80°F water.  We were assured at the pro meeting that wetsuits would not be allowed on race day – even with the expected arrival of Hurricane Arthur. I do not think anyone expected Arthur to hit St. Andrews as hard as it did.  The weather predicted lots of rain, but not excessive wind.

Friday night I woke to howling winds. Each of the neighbors’ trees across the street came down. We moved the cars to a location where trees wouldn’t crush them. All day Saturday I stayed inside watching as it rained 6+ inches, the power went out, and trees came down all over town. My homestay had several friends stop by with updates: 8 boats had come loose in the harbor and were either lost out at sea, up on the shore being pounded by waves, or stuck on a nearby island. The wind gusts picked up heavy lawn furniture as if they were toys, throwing them around. Trees were uprooted all over town. By 8pm the wind was still blowing hard. I can almost guarantee you if this race had been taking place in another town, it would have been cancelled.

My hosts’ friends and neighbors, basically a huge part of this small town pulled together, stayed up all night and got trees off the roads, cleaned up debris, and put all the large metal barriers back in place so we could race safely Sunday morning. 

On race morning the water in the cove was 57°F.  Wetsuits were mandatory. My main goal was to race fast and minimize as much time as possible between myself and Rinny. I figured if I could do that, I would be happy with my day.

I pulled Karen Smyers (racing with such a triathlon legend was awesome!) and Annie Gervais around the glassy cove and exited the water in 28:27.  Both girls passed me before T1, as I opted to throw shoes on for the ¼ mile run uphill to transition.

The bike is full of rolling hills. It’s beautiful. A large majority of the ride takes place on an awesome surfaced freeway that was shut down for the race. We had some strong wind to battle at times. It took me about an hour to get my legs firing, but after that the bike was my favorite part of the entire race – I was smiling, felt like I was flying, and just having fun. It’s funny – if someone had ever told me back when I turned pro that I would love the bike segment of triathlon as much as I do today I would have laughed at them.

I came off the bike in 2nd after 2:29.

Starting the run I was 4 minutes down on Rinny (I lost 2 minutes on the swim and 2 on the bike). Even with my run strength, I knew taking 4 minutes back on the run would be a near impossible task. I didn’t know how much time I had put into Annie and most of the run became about making sure I held solidly onto 2nd.  

Running through town people cheered from their lawn as they cleared downed tress. Much of the run has amazing views of the water. I didn’t feel spectactular – to be honest most of the second loop I wanted to puke. Some days running fast feels effortless – other days notsomuch. 

In the end I ran a 1:25 to finish 2nd in 4:28. Over the entire race I lost 10 minutes to the IM World Champ. More than I would have liked, but 2nd is still 2nd and I was happy to finish runner up to a world class athlete.

Peggy & Bob - my amazing homestays.
Post-race  Bob & Peggy had an awesome party at their house to celebrate, the food was fantastic and the company was even better.

We celebrated in style with a bubble machine!!
Elliot – the thought you put into my training & racing is so appreciated. We make a great team, thanks for pushing me, pulling me back and guiding me in sport and at times in life.
Bob & Peggy – thank you so much for opening your home to my Mom and I for the better part of a week. You made us feel so welcome and are absolutely wonderful people! Thank you for sharing your St. Andrews community with us.
Scott & Tressa & the Entire town of St. Andrews – your community is unlike any I have ever seen. What you pulled off by hosting not only an amazing race but also a safe race post-hurricane is something you should be extremely proud of.
Mom – thanks for doing a little dance on the course when I was in the pain cave running in 2nd. Along with taking care of me all week!
Zoot - fast shoes, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - my other great job.
Profile Design - fast TwentyFour wheels, aero bars and hydration. I love the Aero HC system!!
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - my local (but they sell all over the world!) bike shop with all things racing/training.
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race back-to-back weekends and podium for each!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.
Kenda Tires - great tires for fast racing and less punctures.