I love this race. I raced it last year, and here I was, on the start line again. I had some nerves, those are to be expected. What I always forget is just how many friendly faces there are at this race. I know so many of the racers and the run course being an out and back is just 13 miles of high fives, thumbs up, and cheers. Love it! Here is the swim course in all it's glory. It was shaped like a pencil with a point at the end. The buoys were nice and straight when the sun came up, but they seemed to move a little by the time I was hunting for them (might just be me).
Driving in I saw the flag going into the park flying strong and I knew from then on that we weren't going to get the same bike course as last year. I ride out on these roads a lot and rarely is there no wind. Last year when there was no wind I was overjoyed, so this year I knew we had it coming to us.
I got a good spot racking my bike. I did my thing, laid out my gear and got in the potty line.
This is Mo, she's one of my ponies. She lives way up in the hills so she stayed the night with us before the race which I LOVED. I made her keep her hoodie on because she looked like a rapper and all tough....triathlete rapper! She is also shorter than me....??
Annie, as usual was a big fan of the playground at the Aurora resevoir. This child continues to amaze me. We woke her up at 5:15 and the girl was stoked to be headed out to the race. She was excited to see her friends, and she was happy snappy. I know you all might think I'm cruel, but I tell you, the munchkin is happy. She's well rounded and she gets a lot of play time.
I decided to imbibe in a little First Endurance PreRace for this triathlon. This is me on PreRace...HELLO Sonja! I also got in a top notch warm up before this swim. It was great to get out there and really swim, and since the start was about 20 minutes late, I felt like the timing was perfect.
I signed up for the elite wave this year. Since I won the race overall last year, and I was in the AG category last year, I thought it was the right thing to do. I think there were only 2 elite women. I'm not eligible for the prize money but the major perk was starting in the first wave and getting to line up with Michelle and Lauren. That really helped calm those pre race nerves.
Before I knew it we were off. I had started right next to Lauren and it was totally rad to swim with her the first several minutes. We were right next to each other and I recognized her blue armed wetsuit and her stroke with her big wide arm. It was cool and I was trying not to bump her or anything. Then we sortof lost each other and I found myself with a little pack of ladies. One was wearing a black cap (I was in pink) and she was just to my right. I swam shoulder to shoulder with her because she seemed to swim really straight (and I seem not to).
All of the sudden I saw her do a breast stroke and then suddenly my toes were getting tapped. Wow....someone actually WANTS on my feet. Oh, she does not know what she's getting herself into. We might end up in a completely different lake with my sighting abilities. Then I got serious. I wanted to swim straight and not get us all lost, we were a little pack of 5 or so.
I lead all the way to the 1/2 way turn buoy. When I went around the buoy I got off course (leave it to me) and I saw the black cap (on course) swimming to my left with the other 3 girls on her feet. I went alone for awhile and then I started to bog bog bog down. I think this might be a common theme of mine.
So I made the decision to do whatever it took to get on her feet. I put in a surge, swam over to her, and got on her feet. I rode those feet all the way to the finish and she swam fast...and straight! Her name was Amy....thank you AMY!!!!
Here she is...who's that chick that drafted off her and then passed her on the run up to transition? Not very nice Sonja. Amy...please forgive me and let me draft off your feet more often...Amy, are you going to Kona? Can I pack you in my bag if you aren't??
The bike was indeed windy. I knew that PIC was up the road oodles, and from prior swims over the last few weeks it could be anywhere from 4-10 minutes up the road. Thanks to Amy it was about 4. I got out on the bike and just tried to settle in. The wind was there and I know exactly what it does to this course. I mentally prepared for the tough parts. Being in the first wave it was a rather lonely bike and there were times when I couldn't see a single soul ahead of me. It was truly a "time trial." I worked hard to keep my heart rate in check and to keep my heart rate as even as possible.
And I worked hard to catch Michelle, but that was proving to be a very tough thing. It wasn't until mile 30 that I could even see her and then it took an additional 10-15 miles to catch up to her. We did the I passed her, she dropped back to legal limit, she passed me, I dropped back to legal limit, etc etc for a little bit. It was nice to give each other kudos on each pass.
Coming back into the res I was in front with PIC just behind me and it was really neat to hear the crowds reaction to being the first chick in off the bike. That was special for me.
I never knew I could fit so much down my sports bra! I had a Garmin head unit, a Garmin wrist band, and an EFS liquid shot flask all shoved down there. I put on my number, put my hair in a ponytail, put on my hat, dug out all the junk down my bra and put it on, reset my watch, and got to running.
Troy yelled at me that I was in second and 1st was 2 minutes up. What? Chuckie was there too, and I looked at him and got the nod. I love the nod.
I got to running and looked up the road and I saw this person with long hair running and I kinda thought it was a girl. It psyched me out. But then that person was walking several miles later and it was a guy. Everyone at the aid stations was telling me I was first but I kept thinking about Troys comment. I went out a little too hot in this race and it came back to bite me. At mile 4 when I saw the male leaders coming back I checked thoroughly to make sure they were all male. Whew they were.
I ran with all sorts of friends out there. It was great to see so many smiles and hear so many "goSonja" cheers.
Hitting the turn around I now knew for sure I was in the lead but I remembered last year that I was the one who started one age group back and took the show. So I was worried that someone in the AG behind my wave would be faster. So I looked at my watch at the turn around and got a time check on the next girl. She was 8 minutes back. So I figured I had a virtual 3 minute margin if she just so happened to be in the next wave. That along with all the support I got out there on the course from other racers really kept me going. I wouldn't say I felt too great out there, but some days are harder than others. You have to measure yourself by how well you preserver when times are tough, something I haven't done too great at in the past week.
The finish line was as great as it ever was. The slip and slip was just as slip and slidey as last year and I took my turn on it. Apparently the girls had broken it in for me. Can I just say what a great race this is that they let the kids take a dip in the slip and slide...?
All in all I was 15 minutes slower than last year. I went 4:45 and last year was 4:29. But every course is different every year, and I am different too. Last year magic seemed to happen on this course for me and I won by 12 seconds. This year I had to fight an internal fight to keep the pressure on and I won by 12 minutes. You never know what you are going to get, but if you are smart you can find a way to learn from all of your experiences. Sometimes I'm smart, sometimes not.
I was awarded a horseshoe for my efforts. Mom says she'll cut me a check for the prize money (gotta love moms). See all the wine in the background, well they gave that out to the 3rd place finishers. I secretly think this is because Chuckie went and talked to them. He said "Sonja and Michelle were 1st and 2nd so don't give them wine." He always has our backs!
As the day wound down I got to see lots of friends come across that finish line. Mo and Tyler were the heros of the day with the perseverance award. PIC hung strong through a tough run and I am proud of her.
The day ended with Annie running around with the camera. I downloaded her shots and I think we have a portrait photographer on our hands. The next 4 shots are all taken by Annie. Jeff (Mo's husband, and resident bear), Troy, Me, and PIC. Go Annie!
A huge thanks to Kompetitive Edge and TYR for all the support. They are just all a girl could ever ask for from a sponsor. Thank you to QR, my bike so rocks the house. GoalZero, Punk Rock Racing, Justin's, Love Grown, First Endurance, Nathan, and Nuun...this horseshoe is for you! Congratulations to all of you that raced out there and thank you to everyone who volunteered and came out to cheer. I've got 4 more weeks until the big show and I can't wait!!