Friday, September 13, 2013

What happens in Vegas...

I guess I could have been a little more creative when coming up with a post title, but this just seems so fitting...What happens in Vegas never really stays in Vegas anyways so here goes...

The three days leading up to the race were stiflingly (is that a word?) hot! They were every bit as hot as I expected it to be and maybe just a little bit more. I did everything I could to stay hydrated and off my feet. Typical race week assembly, shake out runs, rides and swims, bike check-in, bag check-in, athlete meeting, you know the drill.

Success #1 of the trip was getting my bike assembled and put together all by myself! There's a first time for everything and what a way to start with my first solo bike assembly than at a pretty big race. It was successful and I was pretty proud of myself!

Anyways race morning we wake up and it's least it won't be hot!

We managed to get to the Westin and find parking relatively easily, I got transition set up and then it was time to take cover so we didn't continue to get soaked all morning waiting for my start (~1:40 back of the first age groupers...we all know how I feel about wave starts, but I'll get to that soon).

After watching wave, after wave, after wave, after wave, after wave start the race (I was wave 15!!!!) it was finally my turn. I went down to the corral about 10 minutes before my start and embraced the rain (thank goodness for no lightning, which would have canceled the swim and been a HUGE bummer). We got in the water and swam out to the start, there are always aggressive people in the swim and this was no different, at least before the cannon (horn) went off. There were girls pushing and pulling and kicking and just yelling at each other. No one would give anyone any room. I tried to tell everyone to "swim with Aloha"
doesn't that water look nice!
cause that's what Aaron does and it usually works, but these girls would have none of that. Finally the cannon went off and I took off. I had clear water within 10 seconds...wooo00hooooo! That's always nice. The swim was a typical rectangle, clockwise swim and by the time I hit the third buoy I was catching the stragglers in the group that started 4 minutes ahead of us, at the 4th buoy it began to be chaos and I was swimming in, out and around people just making my way through the swim. Lake swimming has been pretty good to me this year, although the water wasn't crystal clear, beautiful ocean water, the water was still fast. I think I ended up 2nd amateur women out of the water (by 2 seconds!) and 12th woman overall. The run out of the water and into transition was quite long, up and downhill and muddy, muddy, muddy and slippery. I had no idea my swim time because I forgot to start my watch, whoops. But I felt super confident and happy with how my swim went and was able to start the bike happy! 1 down 2 to go!

Side note on the wave starts...I usually HATE wave starts, but the last two races I've done, Lake Stevens and Vegas both had multiple wave, wave starts and they were both super successful and less aggressive/crowded/chaotic than a strictly pro wave, men wave and women wave. I'm still not sold on wave starts, but splitting the waves and having many different waves seems like a pretty good way to do least it worked well for theses races...and it's just my opinion anyways so it doesn't really matter at all.

Onto the bike... The rainy, wet, scary bike...Maybe next year I'll be better and more confident since we moved to the rainy part of the island and I foresee more rainy rides in my near future. Anyways, I was really looking forward to this ride, it was hilly, it was supposed to be hot and it was supposed to be windy, perfect conditions for someone used to riding in those conditions. We got the hills and we got the rain and slick roads, but missed out on the hot and windy.
The ride was pretty uneventful, I didn't really get to see the beautiful scenery in the national park, I was focused on the rain pelting me in the face (think little needles stabbing you for 2+ hours every time you go downhill), trying to see with the rain in my face (I chose to not wear glasses on the bike, which I'm not sure was the best choice, but had I had glasses on, I wouldn't have been able to see anyways because of the fogginess factor and the rain..not sure if I made the right choice or not? hard to say), not crashing when crazies were passing me at 40+mph going downhill on super wet, twisty roads and just trying to go as fast as I could. 4 girls and myself were flip-flopping back and forth almost the entire ride, I would pass them all on the uphills and they would blow by me on the descents...I seriously need to learn how to ride my bike downhill! The ride went by fast, I never really got grumpy, which is a step in the right direction for me, I think I'm getting close to understanding what and when my body needs to take in calories. The last 17 miles of the bike were basically all downhill with a few rollers, this is when it kind of stopped raining and I could really put in some not scared efforts and get back to transition and start running!

Side note...the race directors, or whomever is in charge of setting the course, had some sick idea that putting a hill in the last 2 miles of the bike to get back into transition was a good idea....thanks!

Onto the run..three loops....I wasn't sure how I felt about a three loop run course. On one hand, it was three loops, you could break the run into manageable sections and one loop wasn't much longer than 4 miles and how many times have I run 4 miles...plenty. On the other hand it was three loops, you get to see the good,
the bad and the ugly each loop, as well as other people, AND every time you passed the finishers shoot you could hear people's names being announced that they were done and you had to keep going (downside of starting ~1:40 back from the first group of age-groupers)....and repeat it two more times!

Each loop of the run has two, long gradual, one-mile hills, nothing steep, nothing daunting, just loooong and gradual. As well as some looooong gradual downhills. There was no finding a rhythm on this run course, up and down and up and down, repeat 3x. The first loop of the run went by in a flash, before I knew it I only had two more loops to go, I remember thinking these hills aren't that bad, just long and gradual, nothing I can't do 2 more times and be happy about. Start loop 2...these hills are getting a little more challenging, but it wasn't hot out, I was eating and drinking and icing and feeling pretty darn good. The start of the third loop (and the second loop) is all downhill for close to 2 miles (pounding on the!), when I made that turn to go back uphill (with only 2 more uphills and a downhill to the finish to go) I felt it, I wanted nothing to do with running up that hill, but kept one foot in front of the other and kept running at a pretty consistent pace. I didn't slow down too awful much, but ANOTHER hill 10.5 miles in was tough. I knew all I had to do was get to the top of the next hill and then it was all downhill into the finish. Finally I made it to the top, made the turn to head home and got a major side
stitch, I knew I had less than a mile to go and it was all downhill, but I slowed for maybe 45 seconds (what was I thinking?!), had a mini pity party for myself (seriously Lectie, you have less than 1/2 a mile to go, this is the 70.3 World Champs and it's ALL downhill, are you crazy...GO don't slow down!!) and then I pulled myself together and took off. I rounded the corner into the finisher shoot and was flying.  I don't think I've ever had a more exciting finishers shoot, not emotional, or sappy, just exciting. I ended up crossing the finish line (we tied, after 70.3 miles, and 5:04.34, we tied) with a friend who used to live here and now lives in Colorado.

All-in-all I'm super happy with how the race went, obviously I wish I would have/could have done some things differently and made for a faster stronger day. But that's racing, I don't think anyone ever has a 100% perfect race, there's always room for improvement. I learned A LOT from this race, I think I've been learning a lot racing this year in general and I won't bore you all with all of those details, but I'm super excited to start to put all those new lessons to good use and be able to see what will happen next year and in the future. There's still plenty of racing to be done, adventures to be had and life to enjoy!

Thanks for everyone who supported me and stood by my side through these past few months of training and racing, you know who you are. I couldn't have done this on my own without the love and support of family, friends, coaches, etc.

Post Race Shenanigans:

The Spa at Lakeside 2.0

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