This year Vegas 70.3 was not Vegas 70.3. Ever since I qualified back in November for this race I thought about the heat. The last 3 years have been so hot and I was finally ready to tackle the heat. I had a plan, I had trained for the heat. I was ready for heat. I think everyone was who decided to race this year. But that’s the fun about triathlon, and why it’s a metaphor for life. Just when you think you are ready for a certain something, things change. We got a stroke of luck and didn’t have to deal with heat! Who would have guessed?
Then we arrive on race morning and it’s raining, and not a little bit, but a lot-a bit. It was a warm rain, not anything that made me cold, more just a nuisance because it was coming down pretty hard.
I did all the normal pre race stuff. The transition area was a muddy mess, but it all went by very quickly. Michelle and I hid out under the bridge for a bit, we stood in the rain for a bit. I made sure to put on sunscreen anyways.
(dropping off the bikes the day before it was nice and warm, nothing like race day)
After watching both the men and women pros exit the swim with Ron, it was finally time to get into the water. It was warm, and gross and I felt really good on the line. I lined up in the right spot, I picked the correct line to swim. I swam hard off the line and immediately felt about 30 girls pull away from me.
I swam what felt strong. I was all by myself though. No pack to swim in, no single swimmer to follow. Just all alone out there. Turns out, I swam yet again really sub par for me. Which I am actually a little surprised by because I was feeling very strong in the pool recently and felt like my feel for the water was there going into the day. I swam the exact line I wanted to, it just wasn’t strong enough for a good time for me. Frustrating, yes, end of the world, no.
Out of the water my mom told me I was 26th, I think i was actually 29th. I looked down and saw that I swam a 34 and figured “yep, ya can’t really swim that time in a World Championship and expect any better.” But after that thought I wasn’t too effected and just set out to continue to give my best effort.
The run out of transition it was pouring rain quite hard and there was lots of mud and gunk. I mounted my bike and set off to execute a steady and strong ride. There is a lot of hills on the course, up down, up down, all day long. Because the weather was so cold, I felt like I didn’t have to use my 105 degree race day plan. I could go a little harder and as long as I kept up with my nutrition I would be okay. So I set out to do that.
Throughout the ride I didn’t judge things. The “how am I feeling, how good am I doing” just wasn’t there. What a relief! I just practiced being smart. Rebecca Travis eventually passed me and her and I race well when we are cat and mousing so we kept that up for most of the ride. I gotta say, I really like that girl. I wish we lived close together because I think we would train together a ton. She rides smart.
There were some altercations out there. Mostly of the “hey you’re drafting, please stop” or “please get your 4 lengths before repassing me, because I just got mine before I passed you.” I cat and moused quite a bit with James, the Iron Cowboy who did 30 Ironmans last year. That was fun to be around him. Although he seemed to be having a fun stress free day and I was in the midst of trying to give a world class performance, so he was a bit more chatty than I was!
The main component of the day was the rain. The descents were dicey and I should have had Ryan at Kompetitive Edge tighten my breaks a bit more. I would have to squeeze my break lever really hard to get the rear break to work, and that scared me a few times, but other than that it was just about dealing with the slickness out there and getting pelted in the eyes with little rain cannonballs!
I had a low section at about mile 45-49. The heart rate dropped a bit and we had a head wind on what I thought would be a tail wind section and every flag I looked at was hanging limp so I was feeling confused. I ate and drank and refocused by thinking about my family and the sacrifices I have made to be out there racing. I thought about Brazil when I biked like a boss and tried to channel that. This got me back in the zone and I rode the last 6 which was actually 7 miles really strong (the course was 1 mile long).
I threw my bike at the volunteers and got my bag, changed shoes and got out of transition. Immediately I was passed my Jeremy Cornman, and that made me so happy. He’s one of my favs. Then I was passed by Kevin Konczak who coaches Jen, and he gave me a boost. Although he mentioned he needed to use the port-a-john. Then later when he repassed me he said he didn’t want to end up like me at Kona. That threw me off my game for a second as I had a flashback, but I suppose I deserved that. I am an open book.
I went out to run hard. I’ve had some less than stellar runs recently and I wanted to just see what I could do. I prefer hilly courses and this one does not disappoint. I had coach out there yelling at me and reminding me to be a diesel. That really helped me up those hills, to just chug-a-chug-a-chug up up up.
The mile splits were beeping on my watch and I would glance at them, but I didn’t really focus on them much because they were all over the place. The uphill miles were way over the 7s the downhills were under, who knew what it would all yield in the end. So I just dug in for the effort.
There were a lot of times that I had to refocus, recommit. Keep the gas on. There were times that I just focused on someone ahead and tried to run them down, guy, girl, dog, frog, didn’t matter.
The last loop I just gave it all I had, like grunting, spitting, pushing with everything I had left, all I had. My family yelled at me that I was in 5th and I just kept pushing. I passed Katie (my podcast nemesis on Jims blog, whom I really love) and thought “okay, 4th now.” I ran hard all the way into the finish chute. I just had this weird feeling upon finishing. I was happy to be done, but for some reason I just knew I shouldn’t quite celebrate. And I heard a few minutes later from Sarah that she was 4th, and I knew she was quite a bit ahead and that I wasn’t on the podium.
I borrowed a phone and called my mom and she said I was 6th. That was a hard few moments. You know they always say (and even I say this) that if you give your best you’ll always be happy? I knew I had given everything I could, but where was the happy? In that moment I was disappointed in myself. I can’t lie.
I always feel very vulnerable after races. I mean, it’s a hard time, I just gave everything I could, I put it all out there, and then you end, and you walk around by yourself, and there are all these thoughts in your head, and I’m always so emotional, with low blood sugar, and I’m always embarrassed about my emotions. I usually just want to get OUT of there.
I found Michelle after she crossed and we were able to meet up with my family and with coach. I had a nice little pep talk on the stairs with him that I’ll remember for a long time. I’ll admit its really hard for me to be emotional around my coach and to speak my mind. I would rather plaster on the smile and act like I’ve got my shit together, but in the moments after racing so hard, I just can’t.
As he advised: Don’t look back, just move forward. And I will try my best. But it is easier said than done. I know I gave my best effort on that day, but I find it hard not to look back at the days and weeks prior and not judge those. Am I giving my best every day? I am doing everything I can all the time to be my best. I don’t think any of us can say yes to that, but it’s hard not to look back at the “no” times and judge.
I know this is one of those races that I will look back on and be so happy about. I executed well and heck, 10th in the world…I’ll take it! It stung a little to be the first amateur to not make the podium, but a few cocktails later and that sting was gone. Onwards!
10th amateur woman, 6th in 30-34, 34:00 swim, 2:41:10 bike, 1:34:59 run, 4:55:46 total time.