Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic Triathlon Race Report -SWF

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My goal: To get on the overall podium. I’d done some sleuthing and saw familiar (and fast!) names among the entry list, so I knew this would be a challenge. But I was up for it...or was I?

Training has been going consistently well. Nothing too off-the-charts amazing, but I’ve been healthy and able to get in a good groove with any major hiccups. Some solid workouts and long rides with Machine M3 has built my confidence on the bike, and I was looking forward to having a better swim than my last race at the Montclair sprint, when I went off-course, ugh.

On top of that, my sisters Laurel and Bec were racing! And they had thrown a gauntlet to see who would run the fastest. The beauty of this sport is that pros and age-groupers all race on the same course, so it’s easy to compare times. I doubted I would beat either of them (or come close), but there was the hope that I could turn in a decent 10K given my race splits as of late.

The only problem? The heat. Upon our arrival in Williamsburg on Friday, I was immediately disheartened by the thick, muggy air. My teammate Ed and I went for a 40-minute run, and I found myself gasping and ready to melt at the end. It seemed much warmer down there than in DC, and I began to worry about the weather on race day. Last year, I had two very difficult races in similar temperatures (Jamestown and New York City). While the outcomes of both races weren’t horrible (I placed 2nd overall in Jamestown and 3rd in my age-group in NYC), getting to the finish line was. With the memories of that horrific cramping and blacking out from heat exhaustion fresh in my mind, I decided to temper my run in the race to prevent any scary situations on Sunday. The plan: Hold back at the start, and if I felt good at the turn around, pick up the pace and close hard.

Pre-Race

Gotta love being part of an awesome team like Rev3. Race weekends are one big party. After riding down with Ed and Jen, we had a great dinner out and even did a little outlet shopping (specifically for Jen, who forgot some essential personal items ;-)). So many laughs. Ended up watching gymnastics in my hotel room that night, before getting a beautiful 8 hours of sleep. Perfection.

Saturday morning, we got up, had breakfast in the hotel, and headed over to the practice swim to meet up with more Rev3 teammates. Did I mention how much I love this team? Everyone is so warm and welcoming and just all-around cool people. After greeting swimmers by the river, I jumped in for a quick practice swim and was greeted by...sludge. It was low-tide and the water was about 3 feet at its deepest point.  I practiced my run out and wound up sinking into the thick mud and falling over. Race Director Jay Peluso assured me the water would be much deeper the next morning, helping assuage my stress some.

Ran over to the pro panel where I got to see my superstar sisters and hang out with them some. LOVED having them there. They’re the best. Giving me advice, looking out for me, pumping me up to race. No matter how old we are (and how short they are...haha), I’ll always look up to them, and knowing that they believe in me means more than anything.

A little rest at the hotel and then off to the team dinner. On my plate: TONS of pasta. I wasn’t hungry at all (we ate a huge BBQ lunch), but tried to eat and hydrate as much as possible. By that time, Mark and the girls showed up and we headed back to the hotel. After playing musical beds for a bit (I wound up snuggling with Nora), lights off around 10pm and alarm set for 5:15am.

Race Day

With Mark and the girls sound asleep, I got dressed (and applied my race tats) in the dark. Not the best move, as I wound up leaving my uniform top in the hotel. Whoops. Fortunately, there was enough time for Mark to bring it to me (he ran it over to the swim start and I threw it on about 30 seconds before entering the water), but the mistake rattled me some. I tried to stay calm, eat a solid breakfast, and get in the zone. No real nerves this time around, just excitement to get going.

The Swim

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The current was SWIFT. Before the gun, we were all drifting away from the start buoy and I kept having to swim backstroke to return to the line. I maintained a position on the far left side, and when the gun went off, I swam straight for the first yellow buoy. I hit it dead-on. I could see a few other pink-cappers around me, and managed to stay close to them as we continued for the next buoy. By the time we made a left towards the bridge, I’d passed the girls near me and began to overtake people from the waves prior. I felt as good as I’ve ever felt in a race. I’m sure the current had plenty to do with that! I kept my strokes strong and head down, and when I dashed out of the water and checked my watch I was shocked to see the time: 16:52! It was on.

{Swim time: 16:52, 2nd OA, 1st AG}

The Bike

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A quick-ish transition later, I was on the bike. Feeling smooth. Passed at least one girl from my wave on the climb over the bridge and focused on getting as many people as I could in front of me. The course was fast and flat for the most part and I made a point to keep my cadence as high as possible. About two miles in, I was overtaken by a girl flying by in a red suit (eventual winner Megan Merryman). But then I wasn’t passed again!Somehow, I held every other woman off in my wave. I played leapfrog with another woman from an earlier wave for the duration of the ride, which made me feel like I was really racing--and not just biding my time out there on my own. By the time I was heading back toward transition, I spotted both of my sisters already on the run. I cheered as loud as I could, got some waves and smiles out of them, and was pumped to get on the run myself. Averaging 21.4 mph for 27.2 miles, it was one of the best bikes of my life!

{Bike time: 1:16:18, 5th OA, 1st AG}

The Run

So remember my decision to temper the run because of the heat? Well, it turns out it wasn’t all that hot after all. But my mind was made up, and my body followed. As I jogged out of transition, eventual second-place finisher Esther Vermeer (who ran at Duke!) bolted by me. Part of me wanted to go with her, but the voice of reason/fear implored me to take it easy. After a big climb (and descent) over the bridge--we had to do it twice!--the run was a flat out-and-back, and I told myself that if I felt good at the turn around, I’d push the pace, and try to catch her. So I ran at an even, controlled clip, grabbing water and shoving ice down my shirt to stay cool. I crossed paths with both of my sisters, heading back towards the finish in 2nd and 5th place, and gave high fives and exchanged quick cheers. I felt fine. But I couldn’t switch out of a neutral gear. At the turn around, I saw that Esther was about a minute ahead of me, and there were a few fast-moving ladies not too far behind me. I increased my leg turnover for the last two miles, but by the time I saw my sisters at the base of the bridge with less than a mile to go, I said (not out of breath at all), “I’m just cruising.” Turns out, I had a lot left in the tank and negative split the S&*t out of the run, dropping from 7:04 pace for the first 2.75 miles to 6:44 for the last 3.45.

Meaning I had plenty of energy for a fun finish with my girls! At least that’s how it was supposed to go down. With about 200m to go, I ran over to grab them from Mark. But Nellie had a sudden case of stage fright and Nora couldn’t quite keep up. Hah! When I got to the first blue arch, I stopped with Nora, thinking it was the finish line. Then looked up and saw I had about 50m to go to the actual line. Worried about losing a podium spot, I ran with/pulled Nora for a few meters before totally ditching her to finish. Mother of the Year! (She didn’t notice my not-so-slick move and was psyched to get her own medal in the finisher’s shoot.) Next time, I’m going to carry them both! {Run time: 42:40, 6th OA, 1st AG}

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Overall, I’m thrilled with another overall podium (my 4th of the season; I’m 5 for 5 if you count Kinetic Sprint before my 2-minute penalty for racking my bike in the wrong location!), achieving my goal, and having a great swim and bike. There’s always something to work on, and this time it was the run--and my transitions (I had trouble racking my bike in T2 and lost 20-30 seconds to my competitors, yikes!). Hopefully, by the time I hit Omaha for USAT Age-Group Nationals next month, I’ll be ready to tie it all together.

Special thanks to Ed Butler for driving us down on Friday, for Mark for performing fatherly heroics all weekend, to my in-laws Paul and Margie for keeping Eamon and ensuring that he didn’t miss his first “A” Relay Carnival on Sunday (so proud of that kid, he’s swimming so well!), to Andrew Galbraith with Machine3 for getting me faster on the bike, and to my family for all the support and love. And, of course, to Charlie, Eric, Jay, Ashley, Tracy, Tommy, and the rest of the Rev3 crew for putting on THE best races around. Can’t wait for the next!

-Sarah

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