So here it goes. All week long I have been excited for this race. I wanted to do well. I wanted to have a great day. And, although I didn't tell anyone this, I wanted to podium. Really, really badly. I wanted to be up on the stage accepting an award from Barry Siff. I knew I had a great race in me, I knew I was ready, and I put a bit of pressure on myself. But I was relaxed and after a great (read: painful) speed session on Wednesday, I had a day off and a couple of swims.
Saturday morning comes around and Michael and I headed to the pond for his first pond swim. I hung out with him (BTW really awesome to do that) and saw some friends, including Beth and Tyler. We finished up and heading home I started not feeling well. Heading up to packet pick-up I was actually a bit nauseus. And a head ache. Oh, what am I doing to myself??? I recovered a bit, picked up my packet, noticed it was HOT, and got the heck out of there. I even drove Old Stage in the unlikely event it had flattened out since the last time I rode it (no such luck).
Pictures do not do Old Stage justice. It is really much steeper than it appears (600 foot climb in 2/3 mile, approaching 15% grade). Fun!
I had a relaxing evening and tried to go to bed early. (A big THANK YOU to Michael for taking care of, well, everything while I was in pre-race mode) But, alas, the butterflies in my tummy were alive and well and fluttering up a storm. I did fall asleep in decent time and slept soundly until I got up.......at 3:00.
This is hands down Michael's favorite look.....compression socks and crocs. Hot, hot, hot
Driving to Boulder I tried to down my breakfast and got about 3/4 of my almond butter and jelly sammy down. But I really didn't feel so hot. Tried to drink coffee....yeah, no. And, I was kind of sleepy too which was also unusual. I was early to the Rez, but thankfully so were all the other Type A athletes, got a primo parking spot, tried unsuccessfully to drink a Mix 1, set up transition, and headed back to my car to relax. But my tummy was still not good......I met up with Sarah for a warm-up and finally I started to settle. Yeah!
StevieP (coach extraordinaire) was a spectator/active coach today rather than a participant, which was a bit different than I am used to. He is normally racing all the races I do, we may see each other before the race and get a few words of wisdom but today he was THERE. Which was cool. Kind of. A bit freaky too. Before the race began he told me he wanted me to push the envelope a bit with this race. Take some chances. Go for it. I was basically planning on doing that anyway so I headed off to the swim start....
My wave had my age group, relays, and the young men (under 19 hehehe). So I thought I had a chance to catch some feet and maybe draft a bit!! And as the countdown started, I smiled and felt quite relaxed and was excited to get going. We were off and there were some quick people off the front. Even though I was going for it, I still had to keep the effort in check, this was after all a 2.5 hour effort. Before long, I noticed I was swimming stroke for stroke with a woman right smack next to me. Cool....this is good. I even tried to fall back to catch her draft but we were literally swimming the same pace. Right before the first left turn, she went to the inside line and I stayed to the outside and I never saw her again.....she beat me out of the water by about 30+ seconds. I ran into some traffic on the final stretch and my god was this swim really this long???? Finally I made the last turn and swam into shore. Comparing times from last year I do have to say I think the swim was long, last year's may have been short but in the end, does it really matter? Nope, but checking other's times, including the female pros, it looked like everyone was a couple of minutes slower than you would expect.
The thing about this race is that the run into transition from the swim exit is pretty long. And up a hill. So I was breathing pretty good coming out of the water, and since I have my new long sleeve wetsuit on, I can't actually see the time coming out of the water. Which is probably a good thing looking back on it. Steve meets me halfway up the hill and tells me there is girl about 30 seconds up on me and I knew exactly who he is talking about but I don't know who this girl is....but he's running right next to me telling me to hit it on the bike. OK Coach. Put me in!!
Swim: 25:44 (swim rank was 45 out of everyone so I'm good with that)
This was a quick one, our wave had the first rack. Wetsuit off, helmet on, bike out of rack and out of transition. And there was Steve again!@@@!!!! At this point I knew I liked it better when he races too!!! I rather ungracefully get on my NEW bike (!!!!) start pedaling and he's telling me to take off. OK!!!! So I did!
Phew, my heart rate was pretty high starting out but I went with it. I felt great and got in the big ring right away and just went with it. In the back of my mind, I knew I had Old Stage (approximately 2/3 mile of up to a 15% grade) to get through at mile 6 and then lots of fun stuff from there. I wanted to make sure I had room to push on the hill. Plus I was a bit concerned taking the new girl (bike) up there when she hadn't been before. I mean really, that's kind of a scary climb for a newbie!!! On the approach to the hill I relaxed my shoulders and did a mental check. I was good to go. The hill steepened, I dropped gears, got up out of the saddle and started climbing. OMG. I love the new girl climbing. It felt good. Natural. Not really a struggle. And I knew that I was smiling. Or grimacing. Same diff. Love the bike. Of course, SP passed me on the hill but not like I was going backward. She is an animal and incredibly strong and amazingly fast. And away she went. But I was good except for the darned cramp under my ribcage (damn damn damn). It started towards the top and just kept checking in with me from time to time on the bike. I tried not to think about what that might mean for the run.
I got to the top and then down down down.....I was flying, hitting the brakes for the speed check at the bottom but riding pretty aggressively. It was fun!!! Down Left Hand canyon and I played cat and mouse for a bit with a 35-something year old with a sperm helmet. But then dropped her like a bad habit after the left turn and that little climb to Nelson Road. Man, I felt great on the bike. I wasn't taking in fluids like I should have been but whatever!!! Weeeeee!!!! That annoying cramp also seemed to let up as I was heading into the Rez so I was relieved and ready to get going on the run.
Coming into transition, I knew that I had a good ride. An aggressive ride. I felt like I had pretty much left it out there. Little did I know, I had. Feet out of the shoes, dismount bike and run into transition.
Bike: 1:17:49 (20.1 mph ave. and almost 3 minutes faster than last year!)
Shit. Almost immediately after my feet hit the ground running the cramp raised it's ugly hand and said something to the effect of "forget about me???". Racked my bike, saw Matty Reed (!!!), put on my shoes and got the heck out of transition.
I saw my lovely family as I left transition and blew them a kiss. I started off with a pretty good pace and was hoping the cramp would let go. And then I saw Steve who rode next to me for a bit telling me to get my feet off the ground and to go. By the time I hit the 1 mile mark I was breathing pretty hard. My mantra from the get-go with the cramp was "manage". As in manage the cramp. Don't stop, just let up a bit on the pace and work through it. So I was trying to do this. Manage. Manage. Manage. It worked a bit and the cramp let up a bit. Mile 2 I was hurting. I still had passed a couple of people but had also been passed by several fast boys. Manage. Manage. I now had a new mantra as I approached mile 3 and had been passed by the eventual 2nd place girl in my age group. Focus. Focus. Focus. I was now getting light-headed and dizzy and I took in some gatorade at the aid station. Don't freak out at getting passed. It's OK. You are not having the run of your life today and that's OK. Focus. Manage. Finish. Mile 4 sign. God, I have 2 miles left. I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. And then, I wanted to puke. I thought I was going to leave a little present on that awful run course. But I kept it down. Everytime I tried to pick it up I got light headed and wanted to vomit. Not good. I felt like I had the marathon shuffle going on. And then I got passed by a woman who I had passed early. Fuck. Focus. Manage. Get to the finish. And then I got passed by another woman in my age group. Well, there goes a podium finish. And on the final stretch I got passed again. And I had no answer. I crossed the finish line and looked at my time. And then I had people asking me if I was OK. Do you need to go to the med tent? Yes, I do as I wasn't processing and I still thought I was going to pass out.
Run: 50:26 (actually only about :30 seconds slower than last year)
Total time: 2:35:55
5th age group
Thank you to Sydney for helping me get to the med tent! And thanks to those volunteers in the med tent. I didn't need an IV but I was probably on the edge of dehydration. And for some reason the heat got to me today. It took me a good 20 minutes to get to feeling like I could walk around again. Today (Monday) I'm feeling much better although the place where the cramp took hold is still sore and I'm trying to massage it out. Emotionally I'm pretty much OK, and I think in the long run, it's a good thing to have a disappointing race every once in a while. It makes you appreciate the good ones that much more. And really, the only disappointing part of this race was the run. Could I have prevented what happened? Was the pressure I put myself under a contributing factor to the cramp? My nervousness? Tough to say. But I have a month to figure it out before another hot race....Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
I am proud of my effort, I pushed it and I had a great ride. And I think I have a name for the new bike!!!! (more on that later). So again, thanks for all the cheering and congratulations to everyone who competed and finished yesterday!
Which reminds me. The words on the back of the Boulder Peak race shirt:
Training at ALTITUDE means I get up everyday BELIEVING I have the CONFIDENCE to SWIM 1.5 k across the REZ....KNOWING I have FUELED my body enough to BIKE 42k and POWER up OLD STAGE...and REALIZING that no matter how HOT it gets out there I will hit the 10k RUN with EVERYTHING I have left in ME and I will CROSS that FINISH line.