Rev3 Anderson 70.3 crept up in a hurry. I had a week long sales meeting the week leading up to the race in Florida, which I knew about for a long time, and somehow I thought that racing immediately after non-stop work from early morning hours to late night hours was a good idea. It always sounds better than it is until you have to pack!
I was so busy the entire week that I didn’t really have time to think about the race. I did a lot of standing on my feet which is definitely not ideal the week before a race, but I did get all my workouts in although definitely had to move some of them around to accommodate the crazy schedule.
I signed up for this race a while ago, knowing that I wanted to get in one last hot/warm race as prep for IM Cozumel. The race itself wasn’t steaming hot, but I got in a few days of running in the Florida heat/humidity under my belt so that was a little bonus. Gotta love those runs when people question whether you were running or actually swimming fully clothed and in your shoes!
Friday morning I got in a quick run, rented a car and drove from Amelia Island, FL to Charlotte, NC where I met up with Jorge who was also racing. From there we then drove to Anderson, SC and finally got settled in our hotel late Friday night. Definitely looooong day of travelling and lots of sitting on my butt which if you know me is not so fun because let’s just say the cushion is not really there ;).
On Saturday morning we swam on the race course a little bit, registered, ate big breakfast, rode a little to make sure all was working properly, dropped off our bikes, drove both the bike and run courses, ate dinner and of course followed all the Kona action on our phones throughout the day.
Fireball even made a mini friend in T1
I am not going to lie; I had bit of a hard time concentrating on my own race amidst of all the Kona action. I followed the pro race, and tracked many of my friends that I knew were racing. For some reason I just couldn’t quite get into my own race groove. As much as I knew the Timberman course inside out, and I knew every turn, and pothole, I was very unfamiliar with this course. Driving it helped, but for whatever reason I continued to feel like Sunday was just going to be another training day.
Sunday morning came quickly, and I had zero issues with getting my breakfast down. Normally I really have to force myself, but this time around no problems at all. I was very relaxed and ready to go although I still didn’t feel like I was racing. I had grabbed all my transition bags to head out the door only to realize that my garmin running watch was dead! Aaaah yes – perfect start to my day but I shrugged it off quickly. I decided to just race with my basic non gps watch. Thankfully by the time we got to T1 I had my head on straight ready to tackle the course. One thing, I was excited about the most was the fact that all female competitors started together in the same wave, which meant direction competition and that is FUN! What was not so fun was passing all the waves of males that got in the water ahead of us.
Just let me swim already!
SWIM: 38:53 (4th AG, 31st Overall)
No excuses at all, but this swim was long given a few garmin files. The word on the street was just that. I felt good for most part, and even drafted for a little while before I ventured off on my own. The water was relatively warm but still wetsuit legal, and definitely a bit dark, but the buoys were pretty easy to sight. It really just seemed that there were one too many buoys to go around. Regardless of the time, I was pretty happy with the swim and I know if the distance was correct, I was on pace for a sub 35 min swim, which for me right now would be great!
Not much to report here. Since T1 and T2 were in different places, we had to pack up our wetsuits, goggles, caps etc. so I definitely lost some time here. Also took me a little extra time to stuff my pockets with nutrition for the bike, but other than that I moved pretty quickly.
BIKE: 2:30:22 (Fastest Female Bike Split)
This bike course was deceivingly tough, and had more climbing in it that one would think. There were no crazy steep climbs but this course was definitely super rolling. In addition to that, the never ending 90 degree turns most of which were to the right (my non favorite side – I would rather turn left 1000 times than turning right once) made it super hard to gain and sustain any sort of momentum. Every time I would settle into my pace, I had to pretty much stop and turn which in the end resulted in a few more spikes than I would like. My legs felt like crap, and I just couldn’t quite build my effort rather I struggled to hold on as time went on. The road surface wasn’t the smoothest either, and the constant vibration combined with perfect execution of my fueling plan meant I was well hydrated but for whatever reason couldn’t quite relieve myself. (Bumps and the urge to pee while hunched over in an aero position is not fun!). To try to take my mind of that, I made sure to thank all the volunteers/cops at all the different turns throughout the course, and I even saved a guy from losing his bottles from behind his saddle as I went by him. (He did find me after the race to thank me which was awesome – there are still nice people in this world!). My legs didn’t quite feel like what I am used to, but I didn’t force it and just rode with what I had that day. I was still passing people left and right, but just didn’t feel like myself. I ended the day with my power good 10 watts lower than at Timberman, and power that I have been holding for 100 mile rides in the last 3 weeks so I was bit disappointed but ready to run!
I was in and out of there quick. Bike racked, socks, shoes, visor on and off I went.
RUN: 1:29:39 (Fastest Female Run Split, and a new personal best for a half marathon in a 70.3)
I exited the transition as first overall female! 13.1 miles is a long way to go, and I knew that if I wanted to win, I would have to run, and run fast. Since this race did not have a pro race, I was even awarded a lead biker, and she was absolutely amazing! I wish I knew her name, but she was one of the reasons why I ran as well as I did. Of course that running focus in the month of September may have something to do with it as well, but she was a rockstar! (if any of you readers recognize her in the pic below, let me know as I would love to re-connect with her ).
Mile 6ish and in good spirits :)
She also made me feel like one. The whole time I felt like running on red carpet as she would shout: “Lead female on your left” as I ran by and everyone cheered me on and some people even stopped and clapped! I just really couldn’t slow down even if I wanted to. She would also take my “order” for the aid stations and ride up to them to make sure they had whatever I wanted ready as I went by! Seriously absolutely amazing! Since my trusty garmin watch died overnight, I didn’t know how fast or slow I was running, and that was probably good for me!
Of course here Jorge is telling me to run faster!
I was able to simply just run, and not worry about going too slow or too fast. Usually when I just run, I end up with my best runs. I would peak at my basic non gps watch at the different mile markers and did a very simple math. I knew I wanted to be sub 7s, so I would just multiply each mile marker by 7 and glanced at the watch, so I knew I was running sub 7s but I never knew my exact pace which was for the better. I concentrated on the wheel in front of me and catching my lead cyclist the whole time! I went through the 6.5 mile at 44 and change and knew I was on pace for sub 1:30 which was my goal. That is when my lead biker said: “Lets negative split the 2nd loop”! Yeah ok I thought – you want to switch places? I bike, you run I said to her but she didn’t want any of it ;). We kept on moving right along, and I was still feeling very strong. I had an awesome cheering section, and Dan and Stacy just wouldn’t let me slow down – rather speed up (You guys ROCK!) I had passed 4 times due to an out and back two loop course.
My awesome EC Cheering Section!
Things got a bit tough in the last 3 miles, but I didn’t let myself shuffle. I pushed the gradual uphills as much as I could, and just concentrated on staying strong and keeping my form. The last mile couldn’t end any faster than it did because that’s when the legs really just wanted to be done. I pushed the last mile as hard as I could sounding like a freight train that’s about to break down. I willed myself up the last hill (short but oh felt so long) thanks to some motivational words of my lead biker again, and took a turn for the finish line.
My number #1 fan took this pic from the couch!
My legs felt like they may lock up on me in the last quarter mile, but they didn’t. I glanced at my watch and so 1:29:xx and that’s when I knew that sub 1:30 is finally mine! (No the course wasn’t all downhill either and just like the bike course was rolling). Nice little finish line banner would have been nice, but maybe they just had two for the Olympic and Half male winners, which is ok. I was soooooo happy to finally RUN like I knew I could. Jorge was also right there waiting for his finish line hug (I didn’t pee on myself at all really ;) ) and seeing him as happy as he was, was better than raising up any finish line banner! He is the one that have been telling me I can run fast off the bike, and probably believed I could more than I ever did. Surprise, surprise – he was right, and now I know for myself! I can’t thank him enough for all the guidance in the last 3 years!
Final Time - 4:41:34 – first overall female, and ever so close to breaking that 4:40 again on a pretty tough course. I had looked at this race as my last prep race before going into IM Cozumel in 7 short weeks, and I am walking away with a huge confidence booster especially for my run! I have never felt stronger, and I know that when I toe that line on December 1st, I’ll be more ready than ever to not only ride like I stole it, but to also swim like there is a shark chasing me, and run like I KNOW how! I am now taking applications for a biker to lead me through the run and clear people out of my way ;)
Icing on the cake, this race was the USAT Long Course National Championship so I am now your 2013 USAT Long Course Champion, which means I have just qualified for 2014 Long Course World National Championships in Weihai, China! Date is to TBD as of now, but I am accepting any sponsorship offers because China isn’t exactly around the corner! J
Colin - men's 30-34 AG National Champ, and me
Next Up – 6 weeks of work, week of taper, and Cozumel IM and I can’t wait!!!