“There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.” – Shannon L. Alder
Wow, it’s been awhile. March and RNR Nola seem like forever ago, which is probably for the best. Truth be told, training had been going SO well, I was really excited to see where my fitness was and get out and be competitive. Then life throws you some curve balls, some life changes, and a nasty head cold turned into a sinus infection 3 weeks out completely derailed training. While I tried to be patient and let me body heal, I was also getting so antsy to get back into my routine and get those workouts in. In the middle of the three weeks of that cold, I had an amazing weekend up in Waterville Valley. This totally reinvigorated me but then my body and cold had other plans resulting in 3 more days off. I tried to not let it stress me out but you know me – I was stressing.
This year was the first in 4 years where I wasn’t racing IM Syracuse 70.3, while bittersweet, I was excited to be racing Patriot as I have heard such great things about the race. I headed down Friday before to a hotel room I booked – which wasn’t the best but so it goes. Hit the pillow super early and slept really well considering. Race AM came fairly quick and I woke up prior to my alarm. I sneaked in the bathroom to eat breakfast and do my race day braids. Staying with two of my best friends – Meaghan and Chris – race AM was more relaxing than normal. Before long, we loaded up the cars and headed to the race venue.
Race venue was easy enough to get to, parking was plentiful and everything was well marked. This was also the first race in my life where I registered in the elite/open field. I was pretty nervous about it, especially with the cold situation and the fact I finished my antibiotics on Thursday, but I was feeling better and I decided to stay in that wave rather than drop down to my AG. In the end it was absolutely the correct call, and I’m really glad I stayed in the Open/Elite wave.
In the process of getting transition set up, I noticed the replacement tubing for my aero bottle was causing my Skratch to leak out of my bottle. I instantly tried to remind myself to stay calm but problem solve. I figured someone had to have electrical tape and I could tape the fluid in. I found Jorge – the founder/Coach of E3 and Meaghan’s coach – and asked him if he had any. While he went to grab some, I also asked the guys at laundry’s. Fortunately, Jorge had some I could use. I taped that sucker and took a deep breath.
Unfortunately, my Skratch was still leaking out of the bottle. Knowing it was going to be hot, and the first aid station was well over an hour into the bike, I ran to Meaghan and asked if she had a spare bike bottle. I figured a bike bottle was better than not having enough fluid. Thanks M <3. Phew, problem solved.
After that snafu, I headed down to swim out for a quick little warm up. I wanted to get into open water prior to race day, but I didn’t have much of an option. Getting in the water, I felt really relaxed and just enjoyed the moment. If you know me, OWS makes me somewhat nervous, but this lake was so beautiful and SO nice to swim in. After a couple minutes, I got out and headed over to swim start. There were only 4 women in the Open/Elite wave, which was cool and also kind of weird.
Swim: 33:58 (2,089 yds, 1:37/100 yds)
We were the only wave to get an in water start, but they had us enter the water two at a time, which was kind of weird. We also started with the Men’s Elite/Open field. I reminded myself to find feet and to just be relaxed, but I was definitely nervous about starting with the men. I hate to admit, but it threw me off.
When we finally got going, I dived out of the way, and grabbed one of the female competitor’s feet. Within minutes, I was so mad at myself, it was too slow. Upset at myself for not having confidence in my swimming, I passed her and just kept chugging along solo. Maybe someone would catch us from a later wave and I could grab on their feet? Fortunately, it did happen, and I tried my best.
Swimming solo, I noticed just how choppy the water was, I was getting tossed a bit. At the second turn buoy, I was ready to be on my bike haha. This is also around where one of the men, in the wave behind me, caught me and I was able to get on his feet and swim hard to the finish.
Bike: 2:41.58 (56 miles, 20.7 mph)
Getting to my bike, it seemed like a lot of bikes were gone, but tried to shake it off. Grabbing Benny and running to the mount line, I immediately noticed the bottle in my cage between my aero bars was leaning forward. I wasn’t sure what to do but hopped on and tried to fix the zip ties to get back on my bars. I worked at it for a couple miles, trying to keep myself from getting too frustrated. Knowing that I needed to make sure I got fluids in, I finally pulled off to the side and fixed it. Feeling frustrated, with my bike, with the cold, I wasn’t in the best of moods. Somewhere Chris caught me and his happy, racing mood completely helped me get out of my grumpy, feeling sorry for myself mood and I was able to remind myself that racing is the fruit of all my hard work, even if there are other plans in life (like being sick). Finally, I was able to focus on the bike and enjoy my time on my BMC.
Nearing the end of the first lap, we had a beautiful view of a lake or reservoir which was a welcome change. The course was nice, however the roads were in pretty terrible shape. ALSO, the drafting and the littering was outrageous. C’mon people – race clean, and guys – it’s ok for women to be strong cyclists, so let the EGO GO! There were a lot of men I would pass, only to pass me, I’d have to pass again, and then not see them for a while. It’s just annoying.
Riding by the park was a nice pick me up before the second loop – which was more of the same. Except I started to get SUPER nauseous – I immediately took some extra licks of salt, had a few burps and was able to get my stomach under control to where I could get more fluids down (especially knowing it was going to be close to 90 that day). I was super happy to have some Skratch and Drink Maple still the bottom in my aero bars – once again it helped my stomach on top of the salt.
Run: 1:36:35 (13.1 miles, 7:23/mi)
Before long, we were nearing T2 and my legs weren’t really feeling that great. To be honest, like most of the time in T2, I kinda just wanted to be done. I took an extra moment, a big deep breath and collected myself to head out on the run. Wouldn’t you know though as soon as I saw Meaghan I lost it again and just started crying. It’s becoming a new normal ha. Clicking into auto pilot, I just kept shuffling along, trying to focus on one mile at a time and to just keep moving forward.
Feeling sorry for myself, being frustrated and not looking forward to running, I wasn’t in the best of moods. Again, Chris saved me at mile 2 or so. Reminding me that this is my best leg and that I’m a runner. I’m usually not THIS negative in races, but he saved me again. I really started to let things go and just run. Jana, his coach, and Jorge were out on the run course giving splits and info, which was super helpful. I generally like one and two loop runs, two loop is nice as you generally see more people, but one loop is nice too because you don’t have to pass things twice and it’s like a normal long run, but it’s rather pretty lonely. I tried to focus on making sure no one would catch me, and to keep moving to catch others forward. Also, the normal go to: the faster you run, the sooner it’s over (especially as there were fun plans in Boston that night – including a Margarita – happy 30 birthday!).
The miles ticked by, alternating with scratch (in a hand held, Gatorade and coke – I’ve gotten pretty good at double fisting but also choking every once in a while, haha. Hope the volunteers weren’t concerned. Before long, we were on the last straight away, finishing up the run course through the park – being mindful not to trip on the roots haha – and crossed the finish line.
Crossing the line with almost a new 70.3 PR in 4:58.32 (would have been had I not stopped to fiddle with my bike cage) I felt rather proud of the race. Things were less than ideal leading up between some life circumstances and getting a nasty head cold into a sinus infection but I competed and never gave up, despite being rather negative. It was a good starting point of the 2018 season and being the 3rd overall female in my first open/elite wave was really reassuring that I had made the right decision to stay in the wave. It was a great race and ended up being a lot of fun.
I’m beyond blessed and grateful to all my family and friends, to Coeur Sports, Drink Maple, Skratch and to Fast Splits, for making sure my bike was ready to go. Next up, some travel before getting back to work!