I can officially say that the cobwebs have been cleared from the system. Galveston 70.3 was epic indeed. I traveled to this race with my athlete Audra, who is a complete hoot.
I got to meet her hubby Clint, who took the best care of us over the race weekend. His entire family came out to see us race and it was like having my own family on course cheering me on. Thank you to the Adair family for the support and for adopting me for the weekend!
The pre race rituals went very smoothly for the first race of the year. No real hiccups and before I knew it I was standing on the pier with a slew of other light blue capped women of the 30-34 years like myself. As we waited I could feel a little bit of tension and like peoples eyes were on me. It was the Freak. This wetsuit got a lot of exposure. It’s really fast, and it costs a lot of money, and I was wearing it. Suddenly I felt like it caused a bit too much attention, I felt like I was on show. I tried to puff up my chest a little, act like I had big shoulders, do the thing some justice. As you can imagine I was more than ready when they let us in the water. I “warmed up” for the 4 minutes that they gave us, and then got on the front line, ready to find fast feet.
Off went the cannon and a group of 4 of us went off the front. I wasn’t struggling to stay with them as much as usual. I thought to myself, this wetsuit is FAST. I got on the first ladies feet and usually I’m kinda gasping and talking nice to myself to stay on feet. But I wasn’t. I was actually hitting her feet and her calves, and really just generally being a nasty foot tapper, not on purpose. I kept thinking...this wetsuit is FAST. At the first turn buoy I decided the pace was too slow. I figured I would try to pass and if the pace was indeed fast I wouldn’t be able to do so, and would just get back on the feet.
Nope, I went past her and swam away, then I’m thinking...dang this wetsuit is really FAST! I am leading my AG in the swim for the first time in my life. Nobody was on my feet, I was off the front, and feeling fast. I veered right a few times too many. I’m not the best straight swimmer, but I made it to the finish happy, and feeling like I must have swam a 30 or something.
The results were particularly alarming when Troy told me later. I was 1st out of the water, but I swam a 32:10, and would have been 9th in the 35-39AG. I didn’t swim fast, more just an average swim time for me. We just didn’t seem to have any of those studly swimmers in the age group there to pull us (me) all along. Total buzz kill after the race, but during the race, I was like “yea...I led out of the water....boooyaaa...my Freak is so fast”.
Onto the bike I saw HR numbers that had me wondering if I would survive 5 miles much less 56. Luckily I have my trusty "Perceived Exertion" scale in my pocket at all times and calmed down and told myself I wold not die. The way out had a headwind, but I wasn’t super sure what to make of it. I tried to ride as steady as I could. A few miles in Brooke passed me. She was 6th at Kona and biked a 5:12 there and she flys on the bike. Away she went. She had an additional 4 minutes on me at the turn around.
Somewhere around 45 minutes into the bike I saw a big slew of cars and cops and whatnot coming the other direction. And then, just like that, this black blur with a Livestrong disc wheel went by on the other side of the road. Lance. I wish I could say that I didn’t get goosebumps, and that I didn’t tell the girl next to me “That was Lance” like I was 11 and seeing New Kids on the Block in concert....but I would be lying. Apparently the Lance effect works on people who are not even super interested in “The Lance”. Then I felt bad for the second place guy because there were like 30 cars following Lance and I wondered what that guy would do if he wanted to try to pass Lance (gasp). Then I actually saw the 2nd place guy and he was riding right behind one of those said cars...and I realized...eh....smart guy. Drafting a car is far superior to drafting off Lance...don’t you think? Less TV coverage though...
When we made the turn, that was cool. Flying at 24 mph, finally I could get that cadence going, and was hoping I could make up some lost time. I rode hard. the heart rate came down like 2 beats...2 beats further away from death was how I was thinking about it. But all in all, my perceived exertion was about like I am used to...maybe a bit harder. The course is a simple out and back, and I honestly really dug it. There was this huge section where we were riding on this bridge sort of thingy, it was at water level almost, but it had water on both sides of it. That was seriously awesome.
Also, another crazy thing I want to note since I talked to a few people about it. I did not see a single marshall, or a single drafting pack. Not one. I’m not sure why because this course is totally flat, but I can’t think of a single incident of drafting that I witnessed (aside from the dude drafting the Lance groupies). Strange...but nice..
Somewhere on the way back Ashley Johnson passed me. She was looking strong and I kept her in sight. Towards the end of the bike I was able to get back up to her and repass her in the final mile of the bike. Turns out...Ashley and I would have a nice long chat after the race, and I would find out that she is also under Dirkinator tutelage. Didn’t know that out there...wish I had...would have tried to team it up (legally)!
Off running and I felt okay....well sorta, except my heart was near internal combustion, but hey, I’m a diesel, right?
I thought I had a solid chance at running a considerable amount of sub 7 minute miles. Maybe on a straighter course, or one that lacked evil headwinds. But it wasn’t to be. I got 4 or 5 sub 7s but the rest hovered in that “Not good enough Sonja, pick it up” range. I will admit thought, I was completely lost 95% of the time on this course, and for someone who’s nickname is the Navigatress, that’s a tough feat. They wound us around and around and around, and they made us run up this random tarmac where Lance's private jet was sitting there waiting to whisk him away after Jordan Jones pulled out the finishing kick of stardom and nipped him for 6th.
The run was hot, there were 2x180 degree turns on each loop. It took me 2 loops to figure out where the exit to the finish line was, and on loop 2 I was starting to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find the magical exit to the labyrinth. In fact, Ashley missed it entirely heading out for loop #4...her final run split is...well....a little long!
As far as how my age group race was going down, Brooke was long gone, never to be seen, schooled all of us like we were wee toddlers. Then Ashley was in front of me until mile 12 when she had a “kaboom” that lead to the aforementioned 4th loop...so I got back in front of her. Then not 5 seconds later, Adrienne Shields zoomed on by and I was back in 3rd for the AG. What a day, what a crazy crazy day. As Clint’s mom would say “Oh my heart”.
Oh, I didn’t tell you about the heat. Well, I’m sure if you read any other blogs about the race, it will be a prominent fixture. It was hot, real real hot, everything is bigger...and HOTTER in texas. Some sections actually had a breeze (headwind) and other sections were very muggy stale humid evil hot. I noticed on the tarmac that we had evil headwind, and then after the 180...evil hotness. I was expecting happy tailwind...but you never feel those, do you? “The wind at your back” is a silly phrase.
The three loop course made the aid stations crazy town. But I have been yelled at on this blog before for being an elitist when moaning about not being able to get aid because I was running through the stations and lots of people were walking. So I will not moan, and I will just mention that I wasn’t able to (because of my inability to stop at an aid station) grab any aid the last 3 aid stations. So I was a hot mess when I finished and I counted that I drank 8 water bottles of water in a row. I poured another 6 or so over my body. I was actually starting to get quite scared for my predicament, I had trouble walking, talking, or standing up. Again, not moaning, my fault, don’t hate me please.
So that was my day. It was a wonderful day. I loved nearly every part of it, and I just can’t say how much I love this sport. It’s fun, I had fun, it’s an adventure, every race, every course, every time I push my limits. A huge thanks to the women of 30-34 who push me so hard, and send me home wounded, blistered, sunburned, and inspired.
As the years roll by and I meet different people, I have to say that a few stuck out on this trip.
Audra Adair - the woman has her own blog, but if I had to get taken down by 58 seconds by any one of my own athletes, Audra would be the one I would choose, and thank goodness, because she did indeed take me down by 58 seconds. She had a great day, a 15 min PR, a slot to Vegas...but those are her stories to tell. Thanks for kicking your coach’s booty...no more speed work for you!
Mary Eggers - I've been wanting to meet the Eggers for so long and I actually got to! First time on race morning and then a pat on the ass as we crossed paths racing. If you haven't heard, Mary Eggers challenged Lance Armstrong to a 50 kick off to raise $$ for Teens Living with Cancer, and he accepted. You can donate here.
Christine Kenney - Christine ran me down at Ironman Cozumel and I must say, I was waiting for her to run me down again. I saw her out there a few times on some of the out and back sections and we would always make eye contact and wave at each other. This further warmed my already warm heart. We may be racing against each other, but it doesn't mean we don't support each other out there. I look forward to being afraid of Christine running me down again in the future!
David Adame and Brandon too - Congratulations to David on his first 70.3!! It was very magical to see Brandon out there with his guide, but for him to know that his dad was racing out there with him too must have been awesome! Relentless Foreword Motion!!!
Ashley Johnson - Such a sweetheart, I can't wait to race more with her and I'm so stoked she got that Vegas slot. Especially after the 3 IVs it took to bring her back!
The Adair Family - Mr. Clint, you have a wonderful family, and Audra, you are one lucky gal. Thanks for feeding me, housing me, and making me feel at home.
None of these races would be even half as sweet without the Kompetitive Edge boys, my Quintana Roo bike, First Endurance in my belly, and Punk Rock Racing. Thank you for the support.
And, to the love of my life, thank you for letting me live my dreams every darn day.
Oh, and one last thing. My Rev3 family is running across America right now. I thought about them so so much this weekend and I just want to post their fundraising page here. They are amazing, so proud to know them. Please donate if you can.