OK so, um, where to start? I pride myself on keeping a pretty open/honest blog so with maybe just a little bit of a filter, here you go. ;)
I'd be lying if I said I was feeling totally satisfied with my race yesterday. That's a bit of a bummer b/c I feel like I was diligently prepared so to come away knowing that I just didn't have it during the race is confusing and frustrating. That said, it could have been a lot worse... and to end up on the podium in the most competitive age group in a super competitive 70.3 on a day that didn't even feel good to me is not something to be bummed about. And given some time to reflect, I can find some positives so I'm focusing on those.
I feel like I want to do this sort of bullet point style so bear with me.
~The swim started off perfectly. I had a clean start and hardly got touched at all. So that was nice. I started hard and after a minute or so saw Nalani swim up on my right so I got on her feet for a bit then as she started pulling away I saw Rae so hung on her feet until the first turn buoy. If you're wanting to know how in the world in a swim start with ~1600 people I know who I'm swimming with, I'll offer you this: 1- The water at Hapuna is as clear as it gets. 2- I used Foggle to clean my goggles prior to the race so my vision was good. 3- I swim 10K+/week with Nalani so I would recognize her stroke anywhere. 4- Rae was wearing my race suit from last year that I gave her so she was obvious.
~Because the water was so clear and because I tend to trust those I swim around in big races like this, I hardly bother sighting at all. I'm like a lemming in these swims. I am not even kidding when I tell you the first time I looked up the first turn buoy was right there and that was maybe 400M into the race? Beautiful! Point is, I follow feet and call it good. But I will admit it was weird when at one point we were swimming along and all of a sudden everyone seemed to make a pretty hard right and started heading toward shore. I kind of looked up at that point b/c I didn't think I saw a buoy so it was weird that we were turning so sharply but everyone around me was doing it so how could everyone be wrong?? Ha! Everyone was wrong. I've heard some different stories but I think the deal is that a buoy broke loose and floated away (officially 33 knot winds and a small craft advisory but funny b/c it didn't even seem that choppy to me? We swim in small craft advisories all the time so no concerns there...) and the front group missed it and headed toward another buoy that wasn't actually the correct one... Scott was watching from shore and saw that we all missed it but couldn't figure out what the lifeguards were going to do b/c the group was so big (like 50-100 people?)- he said it was impressive how they got us all to turn around. I don't know. At one point I stopped and put my head up and heard the guard yelling and pointing THE BUOY IS BACK THERE!! and I turned around and saw it so sure enough, we all went back. Except for 2 people I heard went all the way to the shore and then were told to go swim all the way back. What a cluster. Anyway, it added some time to our swim- not terrible maybe 2' at most. Scott said the lead swimmers had the worst deal b/c they/we had further to go back to correct the mistake vs the swimmers who were not as far along when the correction needed to be made. Whatever. I kept my head on straight through all of that though coming out with such a huge group made T1 a crowded ugly mess. Turns out though I was only 30" behind Nalani out of the water and she won the TYR prize for fastest amateur female swimmer so even though the overall time was slow, my position was fine.
~I didn't waste a lot of time in T1. I practiced buckling my helmet beforehand so no fumbling this time. :) That long steep hill is a bitch to run up though.
~Immediately on the bike I did not feel super strong but figured I'd give myself some time to settle in and maybe it would get better? It was crazy windy. Ripping wind. I remember thinking I wouldn't really bother to try to describe it to anyone because unless you were out there, you don't really know. I will say though, it was the worst wind I'd ever ridden in (ever in 18 years of riding a bike) and there were plenty of times I was legitimately afraid. Mostly b/c it was a crosswind for the bulk of it. I totally remember thinking I just wanted a headwind. Headwind makes it hard but doesn't make it scary. I can do hard but I don't like scary and honestly I'm disappointed in how I physically handled it (up out of my aero bars vs just powering through it). I ride in wind all the time so was confident I would be fine but maybe I was overly confident? Whatever it was, I was tense and afraid and not feeling strong and just didn't ride as well as I have before. Then it started raining on us which was almost comical. I don't really mind riding in rain but I will say that descending from Hawi spinning out in your 53/11 while the winds are gusting at 40mph from the side on wet roads leaves a little something to be desired. That's all.
~In the end I rode ~8' slower than last year which given the conditions wasn't as bad as it could have been (2:38). I think I was 4th amateur off the bike? Funny that that would be disappointing to me, eh? I have a new theory about expectations... given how I felt all week (all year, really), my expectations were that I was going to blow it out on the bike. But I did not. I rode fine, but I did not ride like I expected to ride so that was frustrating. That said, it was all I had on the day, as evidenced by the severe cramping I experienced in the first 1/2 mile of the run...
~It was almost amusing, really, to witness the cramping in both my quads when I tried to start running. First time all year I've had even a twinge of a cramp so not sure what that was all about? Looking back maybe I was missing a bit of nutrition on the bike? I did pretty well with that but wasn't able to totally follow my plan b/c much of the time I was simply too afraid to reach for a water bottle so I definitely drank less than I would have otherwise. I took Vespa so wasn't super concerned about missing some calories- I got enough fuel down to feel like I would be ok. Yet there I was... maybe one minute into the run just bent over watching both my quads knot up. I took a couple of e21 tabs and thought I just needed to keep moving forward so just tried to walk it off... sure enough maybe a minute later I was jogging again. e21 is a serious miracle. I swear that first mile felt like it was 20' long with all the stopping and walking but it was only 10:35 (how bad is it when you're relieved it only took you 10:35 to cover that mile? LOL). And yes, I changed up my normal plan and wore a garmin on the run. I'm glad I did b/c pretty much the whole time I felt like I was running even slower than I actually was so the mile splits, while not what I was hoping for, were faster than they felt. It got better after that first mile and I started running 8:25, then 8:18, then 8:08... still slower than I anticipated based on my training but not a complete disaster. The middle miles were pretty much like fighting a war- running into 30mph winds is hard. At one point maybe mile 8-9 I was running with my friend Ryan and we were actually laughing at how ridiculous it all was. Killing ourselves to run 9' miles on a long downhill with wind just kicking up dust/sand so we couldn't even see. There really was nothing to do but laugh. I tried to stay focused and just move forward as fast as it could but it was hard. But mile 10 or so I got to turn around and run uphill- normally this part of the course is a bitch b/c it's hot like an oven and let's face it- mile 10 of any 70.3 is just crazy hard- but this is where I actually ran my best- over 1'/mile faster going up with the tailwind vs down into the headwind. Nice, eh? Last 3 miles mostly with a nice tailwind pushing me home I felt like I was running instead of simply fighting a war. Final time was 5:07, fully 15' slower than last year. At first I was most disappointed b/c I felt like this race did not reflect my training... but maybe the reflection of my training is the fact that I can still pull out a fairly decent race even when I feel 'off' all day? Now to just figure out how to feel 'on' on race day... The Million Dollar Question... Still working on that one as it appears to be elusive and different with each training cycle? I thought I nailed it this time but I did not. I'll try again in August though. ;)
So there you go. True to my word I had a beer down the hatch within 10' of crossing the finish line. Firerock!
~I'm probably most proud of the fact that I didn't mentally collapse when I knew I wasn't having a great day. I got passed, I felt frustrated, but I kept my shit together and didn't fall apart and give up. I did the best I could with what I had yesterday. No excuses.
~I'm a Powerbar girl now! I've been using Powerbar products all year and didn't even realize how much I liked them until I took a GU they gave out on the run course. That GU was so thick and tough to choke down. Funny b/c I used to choose GU exclusively but I'm a convert now. Next time I race I will carry more of my own Powergel. I find the thinner consistency (and better taste!) so much easier to deal with when racing. Double Latte is probably my favorite one though I pretty much like them all.
~I'm super proud of my athletes. Patrick, Gene and Leigh all had solid PR's (simply amazing and tells us they've got way faster ones in them for next time!). Patrick got on the podium in his age group and also took a Vegas spot. Nalani won the TYR prize for fastest swim (her second one- she's legit). Elizabeth finished her first 70.3 AND got Lance to sign her medal. Steve finished despite having not run a step in 4 weeks due to a random accident resulting in a broken toe. Wayne finished even after being blown into a ditch on the bike, and Ramona also persevered the windstorm and showed some grit getting to the finish! 8 starters, 8 finishers, all with their own awesome war stories of a day they will not soon forget.
~Lance is a complete bad ass. OMG. 2:01 on that course in those conditions? I saw him hammering twice (each out and back section) and it was incredible- like he was not even affected at all by the wind. I am not even kidding when I say I think he could have 20' lead on Macca in T2 in October. That is going to be one amazing race.