So I really had nothing to lose in this race, which still didn’t stop me from being scared of losing something (I don’t know what...face maybe). In line with that, I love this interview with Lauren Fleshman, especially the part about understanding that failing doesn't mean you are a failure. It's a good one! Part of why I signed up for CDA was as a dry run for Kona under Dirk. I wanted to see how I felt under Dirks tutelage, how my legs felt after his taper, it was a big experiment of sorts. Also I had executed 5 Ironmans with basically the same race plan and I was excited to try the plan that Dirk had suggested. This meant going quite a bit harder on the bike. It was a risk...a big KABOOM could happen. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have this quote in my little quote book, it says: Nothing Started, Nothing Experienced, Nothing Learned, Nothing Finished.

I was going for it. I hit that heart rate he suggested and drilled it. But here’s the deal. I could not wipe the biggest smile off my face. I rode though town giving shakas to EVERYONE. Like...EVERYONE. I was smiling, hamming it up, waving, shaka all over the place. Like the complete opposite of normal focused Sonja. It wasn’t that I wasn’t taking things seriously, it was just that I was having SO MUCH FUN.

I encouraged everyone around me, told them good job, talk talk talk. I gave shakas to the volunteers, to the bag pipe players, to the lady dancing zumba on the stage. I smiled, I made eye contact, I had fun. But I also nailed my plan. It was an odd turn of events for me, I had nothing to lose, and I was fearless.

The “happies” did not leave me, they stayed with me the entire bike. CDA has a 15 mile out and back along the lake and then the new course goes out to a highway for a 42 mile out and back. Then you do it all again. The way out is mostly up with 4 distinct climbs. The way back is generally more downwards, with 3 climbs. Of course I was watching my time gaps to Katy B (AKA uber studette swimmer, fastest swim split of the day in 53 minutes, my Team KE possee, and eventual 2nd in our AG and 5th woman overall, PROs included) and PIC (who you all know). At 6 miles in Katie had 16 minutes on me and PIC had 5. I had my work clearly cut out for me, but those two kept me motivated and kept me pushing for higher watts.

Starting into the first big climb I came upon Keith. He’s one of my closest friends (Moab 100 pacer extraordinare, AKA has seen me at my worst) and he said “Great swim Son” when I passed him. He said I was talking before I passed him, talked as I passed him and talked all the way until he couldn’t hear me. Dang I was happy. Every photographer I gave a big smile and a shaka! Totally Jazzercised!

At 35 miles in at the turn around on the highway Katy had 11 minutes on me and PIC had 3:30. I kept the pedal down, legs cranking, and a smile on my face. I had a group of guys go past me and there was a bit of a loose pack dynamic going on with them. I talked to a nice woman and we reminded each other to stay away from them because they were trouble, with a capitol T!

I loved the way back on the freeway. The descents were awesome, you could pedal down most of them and I was flying and smiling and loving the scenery. My QR CD0.1 was feeling great under me and all I could think was "awesome." My legs felt really really good, and strong, and ready to shred. I was just cranking and happy to boot. I can not say enough wonderful things about my bike. It's amazing how much of a difference a comfortable and well fit bike can do for your races.

Coming back through town was total hilarity, I hit the 1/2 way point at 2:42 and was a little shocked. Another one of those would make for an awesome bike split! I came upon Jocelyn who would eventually win our AG and take 4th woman overall (PROs included). I went through town waving, smiling, giving shakas, so freaking happy and jazzed to BE ALIVE. People were yelling my name, I was doing fist pumps. It was rather funny looking back. Jocelyn pulled up next to me and said “You know everyone here.” Actually I had only seen a few I knew, I was just loving up the crowd. I hadn’t seen Troy which worried me. I came up with a few crazy stories in my head, mostly involving Tony (AKA big brotha Beeson) not making it out of the swim (he was fine). I found out later everyone was worried because they couldn’t find me...all because of my green vest (green dress vest...that's cruel).

We got out of town, onto lap #2. I felt like I was sitting really good, I was with Jocelyn, we were making our way up to the front of the race, I was ready to get off the bike with uber runner Katy B and Jocelyn and to go for broke. I told Jocelyn, “Now is where we get to work.” Lap 2 is where the poo hits the fan usually, where you have to dig deep on the bike because it’s not as easy any more. If only I could wipe this huge smile off my face and get serious here!

Then I started to feel like my back tire was squishy squashy. Humm? I kinda bounced on my seat to see if I could feel the rim hit the pavement and I did. Then I tried to look at it, but that’s always tough. I thought about asking Jocelyn because she was right there, but I didn’t want to interrupt her race with my issues. As we went up an incline I watched her pedal away and I was pedaling really hard. I knew I had a flat.

I pulled over next to a really nice family sitting in lawn chairs. They all hopped up to help and I said “No, I don’t want to get DQed.” Sure enough, I was flat but it was a slow leak and just squishy down to the rim but not totally flat. I also was on a set of rented wheels so that I could have power data.

The story of the flat is kinda long, but I’ll make it short. The valve extender kept me from deflating the tube all the way, so I’m trying to change the tube when the tube is rather inflated (to maybe 30-50psi). It was challenging and there was blood involved, and it slowed me down badly. My spare tubes and CO2 were WELL taped to my bike via electrical tape, this slowed me down badly too. I got it done! It’s all goooood! I think I said that like ten times to the family in the lawn chairs “It’s ALLL GOOOODDD!” I was fearless changing that flat, I knew I could do it, I knew I was quite capable, if only I could get the darn tube out.

Right when I finished inflating it with my CO2, the flat changing moto pulled up. He said to me “If you give me 1 minute I will check your work and pump your tire to 120psi”. I thought about it and said yes...what’s 1 more minute? So he did that, pumped it up, and put my tire back on. I almost asked to do that myself, because, really, I did change it all on my own, and I was proud of that.

Ten thank you’s and a few more “It’s all good”s and lots of smiles later, I was back on the road. A guy on a mountain bike rode up and said “Your looking good, Dirk is watching” or something like that, and I said “Well then tell him I just flatted” but I said it with a big smile and even maybe another “It’s all good” and probably a shaka or two....

I got right back to work straight away. It was time to drop the hammer. I saw Katy at the EXACT same place I saw her first loop. That was funny, back to 16 minutes back, doh! I saw Michelle was now 12:30 up on me. I thought I lost about 8 minutes to the flat. Turns out looking at the Garmin it was 11 minutes almost exactly. I won’t be hired on any sort of tire changing pit crews any time soon!! Hahahah!

(PS Since then I have come up with about 10 things I should have done differently, but I’m sticking to the fact that I problem solved the best I could in the moment...lessons learned. AND, not a single ounce of frustration the whole time, thinking about this a few days later makes me weepy. Because positivity is not positivity unless it remains in a difficult situation)

I got back to the plan, smiles abounded, even the next time we went through town. Shakas and fist pumps, smiles, and grins. Back to my favorite section of the course. I really had fun those last 40 miles. I felt better at mile 80 than I ever have. Mile 90 I was like “It’s on”. Mile 100 I was cheering for everyone around me going up the last climb, telling them “This is it, let’s do this, pedal hard boys, be tough, be fearless.” Also in the last 20 miles I passed most of the guys in that original pack, they were all solo now, fighting it out on their own. I even gave them “Good Job”s. I know, cheering for drafters...I don't even who know I am?

Back into town, out of my shoes, hand off the bike, goodbye Blackjack, and run into transition with a big fatty stupid grin all over my face. Bike Split of 5:44, and I'm darn proud of that one. It was a quick T2 for me. Socks, shoes, wrist band, watch band, new race belt with EFS liquid shot in it. Off I went. I hadn’t seen Troy the whole bike, and yet there he was at the exit of T2 cheering. I apparently looked like poo, but BOY was I happy, although the photos don’t do it justice. I yelled to him “I flatted” and he yelled “I know.” Nothing more to say there. Off I went, putting on my new PxRx hat (AKA HAPPY HAT) and getting situated and ready to run.