Running through an aid station. Nike, NYAC, ZICO, Cervelo, Team Fight.Photo From Triathlete.com by Eric Wynn
I finished 6th at the Rev3 Wisconsin Dells Olympic Distance Triathlon, but there were several firsts involved in this race:
-First time I'd packed my bike in my bike travel bag in about a year and a half (I actually hadn't even laid eyes on it and didn't realize it had been through a flood - ick)
-First time I'd been on a plane since last September
-First time I was racing feeling confident about finishing
And, most significantly,
-This was my first trip away from Amy. We've been quite the couple for the last 6 months and it was hard to leave her behind.
Knowing I'd have Laurel to keep me company all weekend made things so much better. Also, I was really excited to race a Rev3 Triathlon again. I've been admiring Rev3's from the sidelines for the last few years and couldn't wait to be a part of the action. The race management does such a good job of creating a positive environment for all of the racers. And despite a race morning downpour, they once again put on a flawless show.
My swim was decent. Going in to the race, I knew my swimming wasn't on fire because for one reason or the other, I haven't done any smashfest swim workouts in the last few weeks. I hoped that I could stay on the feet of the leaders, but that didn't exactly happen. Instead, I led a small chase group that ended up about 45 seconds behind Laurel and the rest of the top girls.
After exiting the swim there was a super steep run up to transition. I lost some time here and got a few seconds behind the group I was swimming with, so I started the bike in about 7th place.
Photo from www.slowtwitch.com by Eric Wynn
It poured rain the entire bike ride. Coming out of transition there was a huge puddle that I casually rode through and then the first two miles were twisty so I started off the ride slowly. But once I got going, I got in a groove and started making up ground on everyone ahead of me. I felt really good on the bike even though the rain was literally blinding at times, I rode steadily until I caught a group of 3 (Radka, Helle, and Jen S.) at about 18 miles. I then started trying to chase down Lauren (the eventual winner) who was about 20 second ahead. I almost got up to her, but lost ground on the final few miles back to transition when it got twisty again. At that point I was just relieved to have made it through the bike ride in one piece and started focusing on the run. I came into transition right with Helle, about 25 seconds behind the leader.
The run is still a work in progress, but it is starting to come back. Like in Boston last week, I started the run feeling smooth and fast, even though I had just put in a hard effort on the bike. This is a huge improvement from my first two races where my body wanted the race to end after the bike but I dragged it through a miserable 6 miles of running. Yesterday, however, I was able to push myself from the start and it felt right. At this stage in my recovery, pushing myself equates to about a 6:30 pace, which is 45 seconds per mile slower than the competition. But, I was just really happy to hold things together on the hilly course despite my scar hurting (which is an annoying distraction more than anything) and my lack of hill training. I got passed by Radka and Jen early on and then Lindsey J. came by me at about mile 4.5. I kept her in my sights for the rest of the race and finished strong.
When I crossed the finish line in 6th place, I think I was the happiest athlete in the finish area. Even though Amy wasn't there to finish with me, I celebrated another big step in this road to getting back in shape.
As I told Laurel, if I'm going to spend time away from Amy, I have to make it really worthwhile. Racing competitively, earning some prize money, and collecting Rev3 series points all happened over the weekend. But, more importantly, the race highlighted some things I need to work on (other than running) as I continue to work my way back. Being back on the racing scene made me more motivated and hungry to win one of these things. After so many months of questioning if I'd ever be competitive again, now i'm wondering what I can do when I start seriously training. I think I'm finally ready to give myself a chance. Next up is another Rev3 Olympic Distance in Maine on August 24.