“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
Woah, it’s been a while. I think close to 6 months to be exact – well I’ll let you get settled (surprised some of you are reading this). I know you want to hear about the race, well feel free to skip down, but I feel it’s necessary to update about the past few months – Don’t worry I won’t draw it out.
The first big news – I started a new job as a fitness specialist in a hospital up in NH and I LOVE it. I was hired part time, which was going to be great with training and coaching, but things change and I’m flexible. I’ve been working 10-15 hours more than anticipated from when I was hired. It’s fantastic but makes for some long days and not ideal workout times ha! I’m officially part of the 5am crew everyday and it’s been nice. Being so far east, the sun comes up super early which makes it a bit better getting up that early.
Training has been going great too – seeing lots of improvement and excited to see what happens this season! I also joined a cycling club, Minuteman Road Club and will be riding some races for them – starting with my first stage race this coming weekend – Killington Stage Race!
See not too long on the background! D and I flew out of Boston on Friday AM to get down to Chattanooga. We arrived in Atlanta and had to wait an hour for our rental car – then got a bigger car, a freaking Toyota Forerunner. That thing was a truck, but it fit a bunch of bikes so we won’t complain. The drive from Atlanta to Chattanooga took WAY to long, and we decided we wouldn’t do that again. We’ll just fly direct next time. By the time we got to Chattanooga, we rushed through packet pickup, and grabbed our bikes from tribike. BTW Tribike transport is AWESOME. It was so easy, effortless and worry free. I highly recommend using them. It’s totally worth the money AND you don’t have to deal with pesky airlines that might cost the same.
Once we grabbed our bikes, we hurried on home to our homestay, unloaded everything and rushed off to QR headquarters. It was pretty cool, we got to tour their new facility and Kim gave a great speech on nutrition. We didn’t leave QR until almost 7PM which made for another super long day and no time for us to swim. I tried to remind myself that it wasn’t the end of the world and since I was so exhausted from the week, it was probably for the best.
Back at our homestay, we had a wonderful dinner together (Beth, Kim, D, Steve and I all stayed at the same place) and not before long I was ready for bed.
Saturday AM, two of D’s athletes, Damien and Sophie, came over to ride/run with him and I invited myself and tagged along. It was really nice to just ride with people, even if it was ZR and loops around the neighborhood for 35 minutes. After our ride/run, D and I jumped in the neighborhood pool for 10 minutes. Don’t worry, I remembered how to swim.
We headed downtown to grab breakfast at this adorable little bread shop – the French toast with pears was exactly want I wanted. Before long, I finally racked Benny (my new BMC) and hoped that the crazy storms we were supposed to have that night and all day Sunday would be gentle for him. The rest of the day was in bed, off my feet and trying to make sure my body would be ready for the task. The last thought before bed was a slight freakout (storms were rolling in) about hail hitting my brand new bike and how I would fix it/pay for a new one – Fortunately, Benny was completely fine the next day.
Race day: Race morning was pretty uneventful. I slept the night before which was welcomed just from how exhausting the week ended up and how we had been scrambling to get everything done the days leading up to the race. Had my normal pre-race breakfast, did my race day braids and out the door we went. Found some easy parking in the garage two blocks from transition and headed down to get our bikes ready. I was fortunate to have a spot on the end of the row and right in front of bike in/out. Once ready, we headed to the bus to be transported over and up the river to the swim start.
Swim: 1400 (18:23, 1:19/100). New this year was a self seeded rolling start instead of the normal first come start. I was pretty happy as the line was already a quarter mile up the road and we were in the first of the second wave of buses, meaning there was almost 2000 who hadn’t made the trip to the start.
D and I said our goodbyes and he headed up the line for the pro M start. Later, I found Damien and Sophie and hung out with them until we started. Originally the swim start heads upstream for about 300 yards before swimming across and then heading downstream to transition. We all noted how long it took the pros to swim upstream and how some were having a hard time swimming straight before turning right and heading down stream. Wouldn’t you know, our time to start our swim came and went which then we noticed they were moving one of the red turn buoys upstream. Sure enough, they decided to let us just swim downstream.
So around 7:30, they let us start to jump in the water and head downstream. It wasn’t too much longer until it was my turn, so off I jumped and the L side of my goggles immediately filled with water. I tried to ignore it, but then was focused on that more than swimming, so I stopped to empty it. I was ready to get going again but they filled up again. I started swimming and tried to ignore it again but finally caved and emptied it.
I finally found my rhythm and counted the buoys and going under the bridge. The water wasn’t too bad, I mean it wasn’t clear but it wasn’t like things were floating in it. One, two and finally the last bridge and swimming towards the ‘gate’ in the river heading towards the steps to get out of the water. A huge thanks to the volunteer who literally yanked me out of the water – that first step was TOUGH. I checked my time, but had no concept of what it meant so I focused on the next task – my bike. The wetsuit strippers were awesome, probably the easiest time ever to get my Roka suit off. Don’t you know though as I got up to head up the hill to transition, I slipped and fell – dough – always! I brushed it off and kept going.
Bike: 2:37:43 (21.5mph) – I was really ready to see what I could do on the bike. I’ve been working really hard since Arizona and was anxious to see the hard work pay off. I settled into the ride right away, although I was weaving around other cyclists who were too focused on getting their gadgets right or nutrition down and not really paying attention.
I LOVED the bike course, it was tough but it was so beautiful with the mountains and the clouds still low, I couldn’t help but smile. I was having SO much fun on the bike. It’s had been a long time since I was enjoying the bike and Arizona was still so fresh in my mind. Controlling the controllables, I was focused on my HR, nutrition and getting bottles down and not getting caught up in the drafting happening around me – especially the AG men, stop drafting off the women and do your own thing! The volunteers at the aid stations were awesome, bottle handoffs always make me nervous and the hand offs I had were perfect. Before I knew it, we were less than 10 miles from T2 – I forgot how fast 70.3s go by! It’s almost astounding ha.
Run: 1:38:34 (7:30/mile) – Made it safely back to T2 – racked my bike and wouldn’t you know my helmet was caught on my braids. I tried to get it out, then just yanked. I did not want to lose time to the other girls in my AG. Slid my shoes on and off I was ready to see what my legs could do. Reminded myself to relax as much as possible and choked down my first gel (ha sorry Coffee flavor wasn’t want I wanted at that moment in time, but caffeine ;).
I was really happy to be running – the last 8 weeks I was having on and off point specific shin pain and was really worried I wouldn’t make it through the run, so when I felt awesome running off the bike I knew it was ok. Running up the hill to the first mile, I thought of my support crew and reminded myself they were with me and on my side. I thought of my dear friend Brendan always reminding my of where I came from, and to shuffle easy up the hill. I started to cry, but pulled it together because that’s what He and my family and friends would want. The important thing was I knew they were with me, and it was time to buckle down. The first 5 miles just ticked off and I was feeling good. It was great to see Kim and Beth on their second loop, I didn’t feel so alone as I hadn’t seen D all day.
The first loop went by pretty quick and when I headed out to the second loop I started to let the crowd carry me, but needed to chill until mile 7. At mile 7 I was allowed to really run the rest of the way. That’s what I did. I focused on getting fluids in at the aid stations, doing my favorite of double fisting coke and Gatorade as well as ice and water down my neck and top. This run course is harder than it sounds, the small hills really become noticeable on the second loop, but I was proud for maintaining my rhythm and being in a positive head space.
With 3 miles to go, I was over the bridge turning from the finish line and was in so much pain. My quads have never been so achy, I was trying everything to get my legs to turn over. I hit mile 12 and just kept telling myself 8 minutes left. You have to cross back over the Tennessee river on a old wooden pedestrian bridge, which is pretty cool and I’ve spectated on it before, but I never realized the bridge has these little mounds in it. I could have sworn the first time there was only three mounds. So, the second time I was counting them, mostly so I was paying attention and I wouldn’t trip over them. I got to the third one and wasn’t half way over the bridge, just prayed I would stay up on my feet. Finally reaching the last downhill, I was doing everything in my power to get to the finish line – even had a convo with myself, teeth gritting, asking if I could go faster, answered that I was in so much pain, and found a deeper place to get to the finish line.
Overall: I did everything I could with what I had this day – a 12 min bike PR on an honest course had me ecstatic, following it up with a decent run with less than ideal training leading up to the day had me smiling and trying to remind myself that I can be happy with the day. I am happy, and as time passes, I’m more happy and ok with the results. I walk away with a great day, having fun racing, and stayed in a great mindset out on the course. I wouldn’t be honest if I wasn’t disappointed I missed a podium and a worlds slot. It was a big goal for me and I have been thinking during almost every workout about since I signed up months ago. However, I’m happy the sport is growing and my AG is super competitive (minutes separated 4-9 I think).
I can’t thank my friends and family enough for the never ending and constant support, especially picking me up after an insane workout, a bad workout, or even just when the day gets the most of me, especially you D. You have to deal with my constant state of tired and emotions when the training gets tough – thank you! The biggest thanks to Coeur Sports and my wonderful teammates, Honey stinger, Drink Maple, BT nutrition, and my favorite local multisport shop, Fast Splits. Stay tuned for what’s next!