I woke up this morning at ~2AM and started thinking about different scenarios about how the race might go this morning... then my HR hit ~150 (I have an active imagination) and I figured I might as well just get up.
No boring details about morning race prep... it was fine and normal and I drank my coffee and went to the bathroom (several times)... I left my HR monitor at home because really, who wants to see numbers like that? Not me.
The first ~30 miles of this race are ridiculously nervous. At least it was not raining this morning. Dry roads were *very* welcome when you've got 120 anxious cyclists jammed into one lane all trying to be right up front behind the neutral car. Motorcycles were jamming by us on both sides trying to keep everyone in the single lane- and it was fine when we were riding 3 abreast but then everyone started trying to move up and at times there were 4 or even 5 people jammed side by side in the lane and I was thinking I just do not have the nerves for this kind of stuff. That was just like 90 minutes of hell and I could not wait for it all to split up on the big climb. I'm in this group somewhere near the front... and that guy was hanging out the sunroof of the neutral vehicle on his bullhorn yelling at everyone to STAY IN ONE LANE...
Finally we got to Kunia Rd (long hill) and the neutral car pulled off and the horn sounded and all hell broke loose. My heart jumped out of my chest and I was breathing 100 times/second and my hamstrings almost ripped off and I still got dropped by the lead guys. That hill is freakin' steep right at the start and I just do not have the power to do what those guys were doing. But Teri did. I watched her ride away and GRRRRRR tried so hard to stay there but just could.not.do.it. Ok. Plan B. Just ride steady within myself... so that's what I did and I was with a group of 4 guys and we climbed hard but it was doable and before I knew it I felt mostly recovered so I jumped away from my 4 guys and caught another group of 4 guys who were just up the road... I was feeling fine by then but by this point (maybe 1/2 way up the 30ish min climb) the main pack including Teri was gone.
Then, like an oasis in the desert, I saw my teammate Ben up the road... waiting for me. Oh sweet. His mission for the day was to help me win so from the middle of Kunia Rd he just put me on his wheel and started time trialing. Ben is training for Kona and he is strong so he has no qualms about just riding hard and he didn't ask for help from anyone (he was also pulling the 4 guys behind me). As strong as Ben is, I did not think that he was going to catch the lead pack... I was happy just sitting on his wheel though because if there's one thing I know how to do, it's riding steady. And that's what Ben was doing. Riding steady. I was also thinking that drafting one guy I knew well was ever so much more enjoyable than being all nervous and on your brakes and surrounded by a gazillion cyclists you don't really know... So this was by far my happiest section of the race. It lasted maybe 20 miles.
Because you know what? We freakin' caught the lead group. I could not believe it! Be careful what you wish for though, right? Because now we were back in the scenario of being in the middle of all these guys... there were maybe 40 in that lead group which included Teri... but now we were the only two gals in that group so one of us was going to win and man I felt pressure to make it me after all that work Ben did to get me there...
So the next, I don't know, 45ish miles were a mix of GO GO GO with slowing slowing slowing then back to GO GO GO. It would string out and then bunch up and I was just nervous as hell thinking once again that I do not have the nerves for this kind of thing. This is a pretty cool shot of the long strung out line... again, I'm in there somewhere, probably near the back b/c I was too much of a wimp to be aggressive and try to get near the front.
I was feeling okay during that section- not super but not too bad. I knew I'd burned up about 1/2 my matches on that first long furious climb and then maybe one or two more during Ben's 20 mile TT trying to catch the group... then several more trying to avoid a crash (very near miss for me around Kahuku as a rider went down right in front of me). How many matches did I have left? I wasn't sure.
Then the hills started... so I found out... (Hint. Not many.)
The last 25ish miles of this race include a bunch of short steep hills that are the true test... I made it up a couple of them.
And then they got really steep. Yikes.
I felt my quads starting to seize up on one of the climbs and had no choice but to back off the effort and let the group go. ARGH!! I don't think the cramping was an issue of dehydration or electrolytes or fueling or anything- it was just purely the fact that I'd burned up all my matches! Muscularly I was not prepared to dig and go to the well that many times. This was the first time all year I've had any cramps but also the first time all year I've done so much very hard climbing and surging. It is not a coincidence...
Anyway, super teammate Ben might win the award for Most Patient Cyclist today because he soft pedaled and waited for me over and over in the final miles as I just could not dig at all. I had one gear left and that was all I could use. This is a great shot of Ben with me on his wheel... second to last climb of the day... maybe mile 105ish?
I'll spare you the rest (it's boring anyway- just me pedaling my bike and trying to stay upright) and just say that I finished... 2nd female and 34th OA in 5:22, which is 4 minutes faster than I've done this race before, if that means anything. Solid ride for sure and I am happy with it! I really did give my best effort today. The fact of the matter is that to win this race you have to train like a cyclist, not a triathlete. Teri is a cyclist, and she trains like one! (I would know... lol.) I am a triathlete, and I train like one! So there you go.
Afterward we all went out to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner/awards and Teri and I drank a couple beers and shared war stories. :)
Waikiki Roughwater Swim tomorrow morning! THAT, I think, will be a hell of a lot easier than today.
*BTW, most of these photos were taken by Colin Cross (photo credit!)... same awesome guy who came to my house to fix my rear derailleur hanger a couple weeks back...