Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stumpy Creek 2013

This year marks the third year in a row I have competed in the Stumpy Creek International-ish distance triathlon. This year, I hate to say it, was not any easier.  With a mix of clouds, rain, hot sun, and humidity the race conditions were unpredictable at best. While I knew a lot of the people racing I was super excited about all the people who showed up to support us. I want to thank Jonathan Story, Ross Handy, Micheal Starkey, Zack Capets, John Behme, Josie & Luci Stern, Justin Andrews, and my moms for coming out to cheer, ring cowbells, yell, make me smile, mock, read splits, and ask for autographs. Racing just would not be the same without so many cool people cheering in my corner. 

Swim (1500m - 21:42)
I have been working on my sprint speed which really doesn't mean anything because I have no sprint speed but I knew from past experience Matt Wisthoff, Derek Kidwell, and James Haycraft  were going to go out fast and I needed to be ready. I lined myself up with Matt and Derek and prepared myself for a world of hurt when the gun went off. As usual Matt and Derek took a dramatic lead from the start. James just sat next to me and creeped me out with his weird eye thing. Less than a 200 in I could tell the boys were starting to slow down and I caught up with Derek and began to close the gap to Wisthoff. I thought I had Wisthoff in my clutches and by "clutches" I thought maybe I could get close enough to get in his draft but he rebounded and continued to gap me as we approached the last turn buoy. Making our way back toward the dock we were swimming directly into the sun making it really hard to sight. Some people questioned my use of tinted goggle but I was super glad I had them even just for this short stretch. 

T1 (0:52)
As I was leaving the racks, James was just getting to his bike. I was not happy about this and dropped a big F-bomb. 

Bike (27mi - 1:11:18)
For some reason I thought we had to head up the hill and directly out of the park. I was not prepared to make the sharp left almost immediately out of the transition. I was also not prepared to get passed by HaycraftGTWD less than a mile in. I dropped another F-bomb but tried to keep him in sight as he also had the lead vehicle with him. At about the same time I lost sight of HaycraftGTWD, Derek Kidwell passed me. I tried to keep him at a legal length but the more hills and turns we went through the bigger the gap got until I finally lost sight of him as well about halfway into the 27 mile course. Around mile 15 I was just minding my own business when I got stung by something pretty big and gnarly on my back just under my aerohelmet. I was just riding along and then suddenly I was in searing pain. I swatted at the perpetrator only to get a handful of something big, nasty, and capable of flight. As pain began to radiate up, down, and around my back, I waited patiently for my limbs to all go numb as I fantasized about being found on the side of the road paralyzed in the fetal position.  Well that did not happen so onward . . . 

T2 (0:50)
Despite the fact I have been working on my dismount, I decided not to showcase it here. Too many spectators I told myself . . . 

Run (10K - 43:31)
Smiling with my excessive upper body motion on display
Pretty happy with my bike, I was looking forward to seeing where I was on the run. Shortly after exiting transition my ponytail holder slid off the little bit of hair I have left after it was butchered about a month ago. I was crushed and moderately miffed I did not grab my visor but the show must go on! My goal was to approach this run a little differently this year. Stumpy Creek has one of the hardest runs on the NCTS circuit. I usually focus on that brutal hill coming out of the neighborhood but the entire course is rolling. Since the course is composed of two loops and a (mostly) downhill finish, my strategy was to take the first loop a little easier and try to pick it up the second lap around. I just remember last year slogging up that hill when Kathleen Casto ran by me on her first loop and yelled at me to pick my feet up. This particular hill will make or break you. I was counting on the idea that by going out a little easier I could use the hill to my advantage the second time through to buy myself a little more time. While I did not have my fastest run on this course, I did put additional time on the field on the second loop alone so I am going to celebrate my strategy as a success. I do not always celebrate but when I do it kinda looks like this:

Final (2:18:12, 1st female, 7th overall)
This year, NCTS awarded Stumpy Creek bonus point status so I expected there to be a lot of competition. I was not disappointed but to be honest I found myself racing a ghost. Two years ago I ran this race against Stacey Richardson. She caught me on the bike but I was able to stay with her until the run where she put down the hammer and took the win by 1:52.  Unfortunately for her but luckily for me she was awarded a 2:00 penalty for drafting on the bike and I was subsequently awarded the win. Since then a serious foot injury has prevented Stacey from racing so she has become an intangible competitor, one I will always be chasing and one I will never be able to catch. A former swimmer, super strong rider, and quick runner, Stacey set the standard high for women's racing in NC.  Maybe I am being unrealistic or maaaaaybe I am feeling a little bit more confident but it feels like I am approaching a place where I would have given her a run for her money. She may have still beaten me on this course on this particular day but she would have needed to work really hard for it. When I think about that a place deep down inside of me smiles. Can I set a new bar?

Best view in town