Walking to the start in the morning with dad, Troy, Annie, and Sharpie was a definite highlight. The sunrise was gorgeous, and the water looked inviting.
Chuckie had explained that for me, with my swim, my race is made or broken during the swim, so get on that line and SWIM. I was really excited for this. I wanted to swim hard, leave it all out there! Being in the elite amateur wave was super cool, especially lining up with PIC, but I'm not sure I'll do it again, it depends on the race, me thinks.
So right after the pros we hop in the water and get ready. The swim is an out and back. The gun goes off and I GO, like, I REALLY go. I was in the thick of it, but not getting punched around too much. I found my place eventually, and got into my groove. I was with one other person and I couldn't see feet. The water was very murky and your couldn't even see the bubbles that you could feel. So I pulled up beside the person and swam beside them. Now I know this defeats the drafting thing, but it helped me with the straight swimming thing, which was a big issue for me last year.
About every 20 strokes my friend and I would body check each other. I'm sure they hated me as much as I grew annoyed with them. The reality is that we both probably suck at sighting, but we kept each other relatively straight! At the end of the swim I dug even deeper and pulled away from my friend. Getting out of the water we had to pull ourselves onto a dock. It took me just a split second of thought "Humm, can I actually do this after swimming so hard"? I pulled myself up, and slid myself onto the dock belly first, just like a seal...or like one of those Antarctic penguins.
As I ran up the dock and pulled off the top of my wetsuit my Garmin strap popped off. The strap went flying into the water, and the Garmin part went flopping on the pier. I reached down and grabbed it, and shoved it in my pocket.
I was OUT OF BREATH. I had swam HARD. Troy yelled on the dock that PIC had 3 minutes on me, and I was pretty jazzed about that. PIC is like my litmus test because her swim is so fast that it can barely get any better and thus, it's pretty consistent! So, she's a guage. And last year that deficit was in the 5-12 minute range, so 3 minutes is SWEET!
Off through transition, huffing and puffing, over LT (whatever that is, if I knew) and onto the bike. Breathe Sonja, breathe. Olympic racing HURTS! I pushed on the bike, yes, my dear, I pushed. I LOVED the course. Here I am literally huffing!
I was all by myself out there after passing one lady about 5 miles in. I just got into Zen mode and went hard. There were some great little climbs, and some awesome descents, and I'm happy to say that I didn't touch my breaks ONCE. Not once, I was BOLD Sonja.
My dad and Troy were cheering up a hot storm, taking photos, and Annie was so cute in her Trakkers shirt. She kept telling people "Take it home". I love that! What kid says that?
Coming towards transition I was going hard and then I saw PIC running. Dang, she looked good, and she looked FAST, How on earth was I going to get off my bike, through transition, and THEN catch her? DANG! She's so fast!
I came into transition...still as hypoxic as I left and while running through transition my Trakkers devise went flying out of my pocket. The volunteers were so nice to pick it up and leave it at my transition spot (so glad I didn't loose it). So if you saw my devise stop in transition, that's why! I took off running, but of course my hypoxic brain took me to the wrong exit, and then the volunteers directed me the right way.
Headed towards the right way out I was jumping over towels, bags, and transition bike racks, I made transition into a total obstacle course.
Whew! Onto the run course. I dug my now strapless Garmin out of my pocket and hit the lap button. That way I would have an idea of my splits. Wow, I'm going as fast as I can. Where is Michelle?
I'm not feeling any more taxed than on the bike, but I can't seem to will myself to go any faster. My first mile (after I dug the Garmin back out to check it) was in the low 6:40 range. Ok, not bad, that sounded like a good spot to hang around.
I stuffed the Garmin back in and just focused on keeping consistent. Where is Michelle? She's NOWHERE in sight.
I'm running hard. Mile 2 goes by and we are on a bike path. I'm still looking for Ford. I was counting Elite amateurs and had counted three. I thought Ford was in 4th and I was in 5th. I was stoked about this. Then I see her. She SWEARS she waved at me, but we were both going as hard as we knew how. She was running from me, and I was running for her. I hit the turn around and knew it was going to take some serious work to catch her. Sure enough I worked really hard the whole way back and with two miles to go I could see her.
She had me! I worked the uphills, hard! I was gunning for her, but coming into the last quarter mile she still had 100 yards. We came in one after another and it was all hugs and wide eyes. I think both of us had forgotten just how much Oly racing hurts. It's over quick, but it hurts in the process.
All in all I'm really pleased with my race. I'm super pleased with swimming hard, keeping some sort of contact with the front and not feeling like the rest of my race was lethally compromised. It was a really solid effort and has me excited. I think I am in a better place that I originally thought I was. It's hard with the 100 miler race only being 5 weeks back. There has been lots of recovery, and less fitness building, but I am pleased with where it has all landed me.
I could still feel a little of the 100 miler in my lower inner quads, but I think that's to be expected and I think that going hard helped to get a little more of the deep junk out.
The definite highlight of the week was meeting all my Team Trakkers teamies. We have had so much fun this trip from BBQ dinners, to pre race ice cream meetups, to post race happy hour...VERY HAPPY HOUR! I feel like I have a network all over the US of super cool folks and I just adore everyone I've gotten to know this trip.
Another HUGE highlight was all the love I got on the race course this weekend. It was so awesome the last two miles to have literally 20+ people cheer for me. The best was while we were in the water waiting to start all you could hear was GO SONJA! Beth and Tyler were going crazy and I think everyone was thinking "Who is Sonja". Even Kathleen was laughing. I have the best friends EVAH!
Having Troy and Annie at this race was such a blast. I will have to put a post together of funny Annie pictures from the weekend, there are some pretty hilarious ones! Troy, your a rock. And your shoulders are going to rock, because you carried Pook around for 4 days on your shoulders. Love you babe, thanks for helping me chase my dreams!
We got to meet Tara from the biggest loser. It was so interesting to hear about how hard it is to go from weight loss to athlete. Something both Tyler and I have had to negotiate. From low cal, to fueling to perform, from no salt, to ample salt, and learning how to eat while exercising! It's all new stuff for her. Good on ya girl!
I also really enjoyed having Beth and Tyler at the race. I think they had a fun time and Bethie won her age group! Super cool!
There are way too many cool pictures to post, I wish I could put them all up! A huge thanks to my dad for taking like 1,000 pictures for the team this weekend. We loved having him around.
Finally a huge THANK YOU to my sponsors: GOAL0 (I know I know, you are all wondering what, who, huh, no worries, you will know soon), Trakkers, Saucony. Mix1, Core Concepts, Tri-Massage, First Endurance, Justins Nut Butter, Nathan, NUUN, and TriSwim. You all so totally rock the house.