The best thing about this race is my family. My mom and stepdad have watched me race most of them, and my aunt and uncle have been to a few also. Another uncle randomly shows up to some as well. This year I spent the night before and my cousin's house, and showered and had lunch there after the race.
|My mom and I pre-race|
This year was my first year racing in the 5150 Age Group Elite wave. I traveled to Lawrence, Kansas in July to qualify. The prizes for this category only go to the top 5, and I knew that was a pretty slim shot, but my coach encouraged me to race it anyway...if you want to be the best, race with the best. With the change in race course, the 5150 waves didn't start until the professionals were off the bike course. This meant the only riders I'd have to deal with on the first lap of the bike was the elite men that were in the first wave, the women in my wave, and whoever caught up from the wave behind. My fear was the second lap was going to be a cluster. But, if I had raced in my age, the swim and entire bike would have all been a cluster, so this was one good reason to be in the elite wave. Yes, I was trying to find the positives in racing a wave that I wasn't going to podium in, instead of dropping back down to my age group where I was pretty sure I'd be standing on the blocks at the awards ceremony with some sort of medal around my neck and a hefty gift certificate in my had for Orca/Orbea.
Race morning I was up at 5am, had breakfast, and was out the door at 6am for the race site. Even though my wave didn't start until 8:20am, transition closed at 6:45am when the pro started. I arrived with just enough time to set up my transition area. My parking stop was perfect, right next to transition, so I dropped off my bag of what I didn't need, then wandered over to the swim start to wait for my family to arrive. Knowing my run shoes would be in transition and I wanted to get in a run near the race start, I brought an extra pair of shoes to warmup in. Shortly after my mom, aunt, and uncle found me I headed out for about a 10min run. The men were starting to come back on the bike with the women soon to follow, which meant our start would be soon. After struggling into my speedsuit (much easier to get on then the wetsuit, though), I left my family for a swim warmup which they took a golf cart back to the transition area. I doubt I was in the water for more than 10min before they corralled us at the start line.
Then elite men started first with the elite women a minute or two back. I was kind of in the middle, not sure of anyone's swimming ability. The first hundred yards or so was a decent fight, but it quickly spread out and I was able to draft off of someone for the entire swim. It was great! I have since realized that I tend to draft off people that are about my speed if I was trying hard, so instead of trying hard I get to relax a bit while drafting. However, I think I should be trying to get on feet of someone faster, which requires me to try hard to stay on their feet. I'll have to work harder, but it would result in a faster time then me swimming on my own, or swimming on the feet of someone going my 'fast' speed. I hope that makes sense.
With a couple thousand racers, the transition area is long. They funnel you through the middle of the bike racks, which isn't really a fair transition area. The racks are pre-numbered, so you don't have a choice of where you rack. If you're bike is on either end of the rack, you will have further to run. With how much extra room there was in the area, they could have easily made the exits on opposite corners to make it fair for everyone. Thankfully I was pretty close to center, so it didn't really matter for me.
I came into transition with the woman I drafted off of, and another woman appeared as I was leaving. Swimmer chick and I left at the same time, but I had a better mount and was able to get ahead of her right away. I haven't even attempted to learn how to put my shoes on while cycling, and I was happy to not to have to worry about struggling with my bike shoes while riding on the narrow road.
After the bike exit we ride for almost a mile in a 'no passing zone'. This was why I really wanted to be out of transition with no one ahead of me. As soon as we were on the main road I set my sights on trying to catch as many women as possible, and to not give up. The race course was broken into four segments of about 2.5 miles each. My watts for each were 200, 205, 198, 202. Pretty typical for the third one to drop a bit, but was happy to see that I brought it back up at the end. During the bike I was able to pass two women in my wave, but both were near the end of the bike. I had really hoped for a bigger gap going into the run.
T2 was lack luster. I had one of the slowest of the elite women. Maybe next year I'll practice :)
I started off the run fast. It was only 3.1 miles, so no need to hold back. The route goes east, then you turnaround and head back to transition, pass it, then continue west, pass the finish line, then turn around to head back to the finish line. It kind of breaks it up nicely, but the stretch from transition (the second time) to the final turnaround feels like FOREVER! Unfortunately two women ran very quickly by me in the first half of the run. At the final turnaround I didn't see anyone behind me. I considered taking it easy, but still pushed to the finish line. I thought I was having a good race, and didn't want to back down now. I needed a good race for my confidence going into off-season training.
|Nearing the finish|
I crossed the finish line tired. I gave the run a good effort. If I needed to I could have pushed the end of the run harder, but it's difficult to get that motivation when there's no one behind you. My fastest mile ended up being the middle one, with the first and last being almost the same. I crossed in 8th place for the elite wave (out of 14), and 9th overall women. My time was 2 minutes faster than the winner in my age group. Part of my regrets not racing in my age group wave, but it is what it is.
Out of the 14 elites, I had the 7th fastest swim, 3rd fasted bike, and 9th fastest run. My run is still my weakness. I worked hard on it in the winter and spring, and was doing really well at the beginning of the year, but I just haven't been able to keep the speed up. So, starting tomorrow (Tuesday), I begin my 2 months of training to be a runner. No swimming or biking, just running. I'm excited for it, but a little nervous. I love running, just don't want to end up injured. I'm pretty good at listening to my body and knowing when something's not right, but actually doing something about it is where I usually fail.
Let the new journey begin!