Oh we got lucky. Darn darn lucky. We had perfect riding conditions in Tempe this year and I was going to take advantage of them to the best of my ability. I saw coach about 1/2 mile into the ride, he always makes himself visible. He told me I was 14th out of the swim and I responded "not bad." I got right into the meat of things right away. The night before when coach and I talked he told me I needed to go for it on the bike. We haven't done any speed work on the run this year, and really not much run volume either, but boy have I ridden the hog. I have multiple 1,500 mile months. There is so much volume in these legs. I have chased around boys all over the mountains of California. I knew I could ride like a boss today. And really, that belief has come from Muddy.
(Photo Credit: Wee Bri Photography - THANK YOU!!)
Each race under him I get a little more bold, I race a little bit more rather than just executing a plan. Now, I think both of these options are valid, and in my opinion its a journey, you gotta go through the hard knocks. Too many people start the racing before they are good at the executing and I think that gets them into trouble. When I started off the year I still was hanging onto my race strategy from Chuckie V. A damn fine race strategy for the time. But I didn't have any other strategy and that one always worked. So I had my heart rate zone and I would stay in that. Well, with Muddy, my training changed. I was doing different things and in Brazil when he told me to go for it I took a "heart rate" risk and it paid off. So in Hawaii I got a little MORE risky, and IT PAID OFF. So what was I to do here?
I went for it. When I got out of the gate the heart rate was where I would see it in an Olympic. It eventually settled more into a 70.3 place, but for the whole ride I went really really hard. I am lucky in that my Quintana Roo Illicito not only fits me really really well, but it's also become an extension of my body. I am completely comfortable on it, and know it will keep under me in hairy, dodgy situations. I really do love my bike.
I knew that if I ever wanted to have a sub 5 hour bike split today was the day. On a 3 loop course that means 1:40 laps, so I set out to see if that could happen.
It was very quiet out there at times, and very crowded out there at times. I tried hard to pass the groups, and then let them pass me, get my 4 bike lengths and then re-pass the groups. That was my tactic. I will say that I feel for the women pros in a HUGE way. I really think that they need a 30+ minute lead on the AG race. These women have to employ the stagger rule, and that's really hard with all the groups around. I talked with a few of them out there and they were frustrated. I totally get that. But I am an empathetic person and I had to let that go, or else I would get worked up for them. I had to race my race and let them race theirs, and I tried to stay out of their way as much as possible.
I hit the turn around at the top of the beeline at 55 minutes on that first loop, but the way back was 43ish minutes. OK! I thought, that's 1:38. I knew then that I could probably keep up the effort and if the winds remained favorable, I might sneak under 5.
The next loop, I found and passed Michelle, negotiated a few more groups the best I could, and tried to ride my ass off. The surges to get past the groups in one fell swoop took a little more toll on me that lap and I was hoping that the last lap would be a smoother power file. I hit the turn in 51 on that loop and 46 for the way back that included a stop at special needs to refill bottles.
The last loop was the best. It was now quiet out there in terms of packs, and I was just passing people that were a loop behind. I had a few guys ahead that I really used to keep honest and keep the pressure on. I was still riding about 10 heart beats higher than I have in years past. The way up took about 52 minutes, and the way back I'm not sure because I turned my Garmin off and tucked it in my bra. Also, I did not experience any low points. I think my nutrition might have something to do with that, both race day AND Whole30.
When I hit 92 miles I had a little chat with myself. I said in my brain "This is the last 20 miles of 2013 for you, the last 20 miles of the best year of your life in triathlon, make them count, make sure they are ones that you will be proud of." I smiled for all 20 of those miles and I thought about the people that helped me get strong and fast on the bike this year. I truly appreciated and gave thanks for 20 miles straight. I will never forget those miles.
I pulled into T2, threw my bike at the fabulous volunteers, grabbed my bag and ran to the tent. After the race I found out I biked 4:56 and was really stoked with that. My dad sent me a link a few days later saying I was the first AG woman to break 5 on the course, I haven't gone and checked that, but regardless, I was really jazzed with the time. It was a wonderful reminder of what my coach preaches, you gotta ride the hog. I've never felt so strong in my life.
It was a lightening fast T2. The volunteers put my FuelBelt and number on me, I put my socks and shoes on, I grabbed my cap that had my garmin strap in it and I ran out of there.
I felt really good, I felt thankful, and strong, and lean, and in control. I think it's the only time I've run out of T2 feeling in control.