Saturday morning bright and early I was on the direct flight to Chicago. Landed at 10am, was in my rental car by 11am, and was at the race site by 2pm, including a rather indulgent stop at Trader Joes for food for the weekend. I had 6 hours to pick up my packet, put my bike together, and check my bike in. I think that's doable!
I drove to transition only to find out packet pick up was not there. I drove back to town and found packet pickup. The line was 1 hour long, yikes. The line management was pure hilarity, they had the line in a room and it was basically doing a reverse corkscrew, so the end of the line was in the middle. Pure mayhem, and people were skipping loops of the line because it was such a cluster.
The Post Office is up for sale in Racine, in case anyone is interested:
Got the packet. Got back to transition, built my bike, borrowed a pump and went for a ride. I saw someone I knew on my ride, Sydney! That was really cool, to know ONE person! My top 3 gears in my big chain ring were hopping so I went to transition to see the bike tech. No bike tech. They said there would only be one on race day (when you aren't allowed to take your bike out of transition...?). A guy told me where there was a bike shop so I rode over there. 3rd Coast Bicycles completely hooked me up and my bike was shifting beautifully when I left there. I went and checked it into transition.
Next up I really wanted to get a swim in Lake Michigan, so I suited up and headed to the lake. It was pure bliss and I spent about 40 minutes in the water swimming around. After that, I drove 50% of the bike course, checked into my hotel, and hit the hay.
Race morning, 4:00am alarm, and I woke up at 3:56 on my own. I was jazzed and ready to go. I drove to the race, and because I'm type A, punctual to a fault, I got literally THE BEST parking spot right next to transition with a beautiful view. I slept for 30 minutes in the car, put my stuff in transition, slept almost another hour, and then headed over to the swim start which was a 1 mile walk.
KISS: Keep it Simple!!
My wave was one of the last at 8:05am. I watched other waves go and realized that the first 50 meters or so are a dolphin diving sort of situation. I've never dolphin dived before but I realized that if I wanted to swim with the pack that I wanted to, I was going to need to dolphin dive.
So....I practiced until I got it down. The other athletes must have thought I was crazy but if you don't know how to do something, and there's time to learn, then who cares! There's no time like the present.
My wave went off and I dolphin dived like my race depended on it, which it did. I got those faster feet and I hung on. As different people would pass the feet I was on, I would switch feet, always trying to stay with the faster ones. About mid way through the swim I wondered whether I had missed the boat on this swim. I was swimming a bit too easy for me, I tried to pass the feet I was on but was unsuccessful, so I got back on them. With about 2 buoys until the final turn buoy I got caught by the first swimmers in the wave behind me. I made a split second decision to hop on their feet and swim as hard as I could to stay with them until I got dropped. I made it to shore with them, dropped the group I had been swimming with, and was exceptionally proud of myself.
LONG run up a sandy beach to the timing mat, into transition, on with the race number, Oakleys, and new Rudy Wingspan that my dad just got me (thanks dad!), grab Blackjack and get the heck out of there.
The bike was pretty flat with some rollers, and various sections of headwind, tailwind, and crosswinds. I stayed aero the entire time except for turns and I didn't touch my breaks a single time. It was a 56 mile time trial and I steadily passed tons of people. I passed two ladies in my age group within the first few miles and then was on my normal stocking mission to find the next ladies in my age group. I couldn't find them. Every woman I passed wasn't in my age group, but I continued to ride hard hard hard. The one thing I would alert others about pertaining to this course is the road conditions. For much of the ride there are expansion cracks in the road, so your ride is "Uh-Uh...Uh-Uh...Uh-Uh" the whole way. Thank you TYR Carbon shorts...
This ride I choose to work on my focus and on my distraction control. I was very in the moment. When I would get distracted I would calmly bring myself back to the effort, similar to meditation. Focus on the now, focus on my body, on staying aero, on keep the pressure on my legs steady and strong. It worked out well and was both mentally and physically tiring.
The last few miles I had a run in with a guy. He was being a complete jerk, passing on the right when he didn't need to, not obeying the rules. I just wanted past him, and so I moved to pass. I overtook him and was moving over right when he said "Wowah, No, on your right" and passed me back on the right. I dropped a few Fbombs on him and told him I overtook him and he needed to drop back, and that he was a F$%#er (apparently I was a little feisty). He rode off in front of me, so I dropped back and just kept my distance.
I made it in and out of transition licitly split and was off on the run. Right away I noticed how hot it was. Holy moly, the first mile was a scorcher. About 1.5 miles in I passed the doofus from the end of the bike and I looked at him and said "Where are you now, jerk?" and I then passed him and made him eat my shoe dust. He really pissed me off. Mostly because it's crap like that where penalties happen, and I don't want to be involved in that sort of behavior.
The run is two out and back sections, so the first out I was looking at every ladies number to see if she was in my age group, WHERE ARE THESE GIRLS? I knew there had to be more ahead of me, there usually are, and the last one I passed was mile 5 on the bike. I got to the turn around and that's when I realized I was leading my age group, that I had been leading it since mile 5 of the bike. This is a completely new experience for me.
I didn't want to rest on my laurels, because now is the time when you race the clock, now you race the invisible leaders of the other age groups. To do this, you have to race yourself.
I was really hot. The race was humid, and getting steamy by the minute. I was struggling to put down 7:30 miles. Thoughts would creep into my head like "What is wrong with you", but I would stop them at the door and say, "Go Harder, tighten up your form." You never know what a course is going to do to you. It wasn't until afterwards, looking at some of the PRO ladies run splits that I understood that everyone suffered like I did out there.
The hills on the course were quite evil, 4 of them, and steep. The aid stations felt far apart and I was grabbing ice at each one. It was pure Kona practice. I set mini goals along the way...run hard to the tent, stay with the guy with the circle on his back, fix the form. Still, the pace did not quicken all that much. Heat is a tricky one.
Running down the final stretch was a lot of fun. I gave a lot of high 5s and did a fun little jump at the end.
Being on your own at a race is odd. In the finish food tent I found Sydney and we caught up. Then I got my stuff out of transition, sat on the grassy lawn and boxed my bike back up for the flight home. I repacked my bags and then headed to the lake for a swim to cool down, "shower", and ice my legs. It was awesome, clean and clear blue water, 66 degrees, amazing! I wasn't the only athlete down there and I enjoyed chatting with others, met some cool people doing IM Louisville this year.
I called my family, Troy gave me some results and I headed to awards. I took 1st in my age group, and 8th woman. 2nd amateur to Susanne Davis of Team Timex. I knew during the run that my finish time would be 4:45ish and based on the year before I thought it would take sub 4:40 to take the amateur title. Sure enough, she went 4:40.
Since I didn't know anyone, my dad suggested I ask someone with a nice camera to take my photo and email it to me. I got the nerves up and asked a nice guy who said yes. He was there to support Kristin Andrews who took second PRO woman in her debut year as a PRO! Go Kristin!
After awards I headed out, back to Chicago, back to Trader Joes, and to the airport where I flew home, oh yes, and there was a stop at the Cheese Castle on the way. It was a CRAZY 38 hours, but all in all, very productive. I got to see where I am at with 12 weeks until Kona. I learned some lessons out there, had some successes. All in all, quite a great day!
I went to a Cheese Castle, who knew?
Thank you to my great sponsors, the TYR Hurricane from Kompetitive Edge performs wonderful dolphin dives, my Quintana Roo CD0.1 Blackjack is FAST, I keep getting faster on it, it's a little scary! A special thanks to my newest sponsor DAD, thanks for the new helmet!