Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Final Amateur Race

What a great way to end the season!  I pushed hard, I had fun, and I was able to come away with the elite amateur win.  The Toyota US Open Triathlon took place just outside Dallas, TX in the city of Rockwall and the swim was in Ray Hubbard Reservoir.  Since I have no vacation time left at work, and I have had about a week total unpaid so far, I fit my travel and race into a single weekend.  I hope I never have to do it again, but everything worked out alright this time. 

PRE-RACE – I enjoyed being early at Age Group Nationals so I stuck to a similar routine for this race.  I got to the transition early and got all my gear positioned just the way I like it.  As I was finishing up, Gavin Anderson came walking into transition.  Gavin is a very strong triathlete and I know it will be a battle whenever he shows up.  I chatted with him for a little bit and we scoped out transition to find swim in, bike out, bike in, and run out.  We were in the same area as the pros so we had a little transition area, which was a nice change from the previous races.  Once I left transition I went for a short jog to get warmed up.

SWIM – I did not get a very good swim warm-up but when I got to the starting line I was ready to go.  It was a wet suit swim so I was booming with confidence.  Wetsuits are supposed to be a big help for skinny triathletes like me!  It was a pontoon start, so we all dove in at the sound of the horn.  I started out hard and found myself on feet early.  I was on Gavin’s feet and feeling the hard pace (he put 2 minutes on me in the swim), so I backed off a little bit and let a pack go around me.  I got on their feet and held on like my life depended on it.  The water was very rough and it was one of the more difficult swims I have done.  I started to get hot in my wetsuit so I let some water in as I went around the final turn buoy at about 1000 yards.  I did not feel that great in the water, but there was no way I was backing off and letting the pack go.  I held on until we exited the water.  As I was coming out of the water, my little sister, Karly, let me know I was 7th and 2 min down to Gavin, who was leading the elite amateur wave.  That was about what I was expecting, so I felt good going into the bike.  The run from swim out to transition was about 400 yards but it felt like a mile.  I wanted to get on my bike to start chasing the athletes ahead of me.

BIKE – Coming out of transition was a monster of a hill.  I practiced bike mounts and getting in my shoes quickly the day before, but it is always different when I am tired from the swim.  I was able to get one foot in, so I drove hard with that foot and just pedaled a little with the other.  Karly told me after the race that there were numerous people falling over trying to get up the hill, and a lot of people just walked their bikes up.  Once I got up the hill I got my other foot in and I was off.  It was a little cold starting out on the bike so I stayed as aero as possible to keep the wind off my chest.  The bike course was technical at the start, so I tried to stay calm going around the turns so I would have some power left for the latter part of the race.  The race officials were out on the course and they were throwing out penalties like crazy!  I saw two people in front of me get standing penalties; they had to stop and wait instead of just getting two minutes added to their final time.  After getting through the technical start to the course, the race went out on country roads.  Overall it was a nice course, but there were some sections that were in terrible shape.  I caught Nicole at about mile 7 and yelled some words of encouragement at her as I went by.  At one point I had to sit up because the road was throwing me all over the place when I was aero.  There was a hard left off the bad road and that is what I was waiting for.  I had marked this area on the day before as a good place to start hammering the bike.  It was about 10 miles into the ride, the roads got a lot better, and there were very little turns until you got back to the first/last 4 miles.  As I was approaching the turn Hunter Kemper was getting loaded into an ambulance, so I took the turn very easy.  The flip was at about 14.5 miles so I took the opportunity to get a time check on Gavin.  I was 2 min down so I started to feel good about my chances of winning.  With about 2 miles to go I rode into a pack of 4 pro women.  The pros have to stagger in a non drafting race so things got interesting when I tried to pass them.  I finally got around them and I was on my way to T2.

RUN – I started the run in second place and Karly let me know I was down to Gavin.  The first half mile was up a different section of the monster hill and it was a little shock to the body after getting off the bike.  Also my toes were numb from the bike and I thought I had something in my shoe.  I almost stopped to see what it was, but I was on a mission to go out on top in the last race of the season so I decided to just run though it.  Once my toes regained feeling I realized it was just the numbness in my toes that made it feel like something was in my shoe.  At about 2.5 miles I caught Gavin.  Before I could sneak up on him he heard me coming and turned around.  I ran with him for a minute or so and we had a little chat.  It was a fun experience; I have never done that in a race before.  Most of the time I am really intense during a race, but it helped remind me why I do this crazy sport.  The people and the whole lifestyle really are wonderful.  The run flipped at about 3 miles and headed back to the finish.  I saw Nicole on my way back in so I gave her some more words of encouragement.  I gave it all I had in the run but it was nice being able to relax and enjoy it a little.  It was a lot different than Age Group Nationals, where I had to keep pushing all the way to the finish.  With 400 to go I saw Karly and she was yelling with excitement.  It was nice to see her as I was coming into the finish and I was able to grab my Rudy Project Noyz Sunglasses and my Team IE visor from her, so I would look good as I crossed the finish line.

The race was a lot of fun and the venue was great.  I hope I am able to make it back there next year to race in the Pro race.  Karly was a great spectator!!  She kept me updated on what place I was in, how much time I was down, and always had positive words for me.  I truly am blessed to have such a great support system behind me.  My family, coach and teammates mean the world to me.  I would not be able to do this alone.  Karly and I stayed for the awards and then relaxed in the hotel until it was time to go to the airport.  It was a good weekend, even though it was short.  Congrats to Nicole for finishing 3rd in the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series!!

I am excited to get back to training but I know I will enjoy the next two weeks as I take some time off.  After that I will be hitting the swim hard.  Next year’s success hinges on my ability to get out of the water with a good draft pack on the bike.  It will be hard but I am ready for the challenge.

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."
  - Theodore Roosevelt


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