Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ending on a High Note

Last week was marked by some severe up and downs. My training has bumped up in volume in preparation for my last race of the season, Ironman Cozumel. My weekends have ended with me not feeling refreshed but worn out and wondering how I am going to start it all over again Monday morning. The highlight of my weekend last week was two fast runs with 2 of Charlotte’s fastest triathletes, James Haycraft and Scott Woodbury. Unfortunately I paid for it with a set of sore legs which may or may not have had anything to do with getting dropped on the group ride Tuesday night. If it had not been for Kim Eagens and Jonathan Story I am not exactly sure how I would have made it home. In my mind I was replaying Norman Stradler’s famous meltdown in the 2005 Ironman World Championships where he threw down his bike after a 2nd flat tire and wept in his hands. By the time we made it back to West Boulevard I contemplating scratching Augusta and Cozumel from the books and calling it a season. The next morning I was still in a funk even though I was officially starting my taper. It took me awhile to come around but when I went to pick up my race ready bike from Steve at Inside Out Sports I started to feel that pre-race excitement which continued to magnify through to race day. 

Ironman Augusta 70.3

Up and out!
Swim 20:21 (1st AG):
Kicking off the race in wave 23, a full 90 minutes after the race started, I had plenty of time to make my way from transition to the hill overlooking the swim course. I tried to level my rising anxiety by running through the race in my mind but it wasn't until I was heading down to the dock that I was able to quiet my mind to focus on the task at hand. Jumping into the 76 degree water I barely got my head under when my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit popped me back up to the surface. Something about the "pop" lit a little fire in me and I knew without doubts I was ready to give this a go. When the airhorn blew I ducked underwater, took off kicking, and let the wetsuit propel me to the surface. Three strokes in I breathed to the left, no one. I breathed immediately to the right, no one. Alone I aimed toward the buoys and the middle of the river hoping to take full advantage of the current. Before I knew it I was closing in on the exit ramp and the only thought on my mind was, "wow that was a fun!"

Wait, what did you call me?

Bike 2:33:30 (1st AG):
So I made few mistakes with my bike this go around. I am usually much more attentive to detail but some oversights on my part meant I put my wheel cover on wrong so I could not pump up my back tire race day. I had plenty of time to notice and correct this mistake before race day but I just wasn't paying enough attention to notice. Once I realized the mistake I tried not to stress about. The mistake may mean some time lost on the course and maybe even a flat tire but it certainly wasn't going to ruin my race. No race is absolutely perfect. Accepting this would be just a part of my bike ride so I took off on the bike bound to catch any of the remaining 30-34 ladies that started in the wave before me. The bike course was slightly rolling with a hint of wind and misting rain. Passing people from the 22 waves before me was both fun and treacherous. Luckily I did not run into any large groups blocking the road. Most people stayed to the right and as long I clearly announced I was passing on the left I had no significant problems.

Big beautiful smile thanks to Dr. Sarah!

Run 1:37:36 (1st AG):
Coming into T2 was a huge relief. I felt good on my bike and I was actually a little excited to start the run. Most of the people I knew from Charlotte started well before me so I was excited to see them out on the course. My coach (Brian Stover) gave me very detailed instructions on how to handle the run and for the first four miles I kept my pace in check and enjoyed the course. I was still passing people so I felt like I was flying but I also felt fairly comfortable. I was excited to see Sarah and Katie cheering on the side less than a mile in and the closer I got to downtown the more energy and excitement I picked up. About 1/2 way into the run and in a quieter section of the course I ran into Kim Eagens who informed me I had one of the top swims and I was currently the top female. This became a turning point for me as I realized I was in a position to not only finish the run but I actually could race the run. I continued to follow my coach's plan but descending those last 6 miles took pretty much everything I had left in the tank. 

Augusta 70.3 turned into in a breakthrough race. The moment after signing up for this race I regretted it. I always said I would boycott this race because of the swim but the course and timing before IMCZ really made it ideal. Eventually I came to terms with the fact that I could not completely rely on my swim to carry me through this one. I still gave the swim everything I could give it but holding back on the bike a bit I was able to run off the bike and run myself into a 70.3 1/2 marathon PR by at least 5 minutes! There were times I wondered if my performance at Muncie was a bit of a fluke. I mean the swim was shorted a mere 0.2 miles while the run was cut in half. When does a swimmer get that lucky in a triathlon? But turn the tables around and here is Augusta, a wetsuit and current aided swim, which is anything but swimmer biased and I did it again, winning my age group as well as finishing first amateur female! As an added bonus I grabbed my slot to return to Vegas in 2013 for the 70.3 World Championships.

Quick pic between downpours
Almost everyone who came from Charlotte had an unbelievable race. Lots of familiar faces on the course and I have to especially thank Sarah Padolsky, Katie Howard, Justin Andrews, Jip Kongruengkit, James Loberg, MC Armeen, Kelly and Meghan Fillnow, and Kim Eagens for their loud voices and constant encouragement.