Panama 70.3

We decided to start the year very early this year with a destination race in Panama.  The race didn't go as well as I had hoped, but there was plenty to be happy about.  I'm not just saying that for a positive spin for the sake of my race report! I really mean it.  I have always been curious about the Panama Canal and got to see it up close and in person and even swim at the mouth of it.  Also, we had a great mini family vacation.  Triathlon really brings us together, and I'm grateful that my mom and dad are so into it.  

We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites at the Amador Causeway.  It's in a great location away from the crazy city and situated just feet from the mouth of the Panama Canal on the pacific side.  We sat by the pool and watched huge ships piled high with containers make their way from China to the Americas.  We think the hotel building must have been some sort of administrative building at some point in its history because it was just too close to the action.  There were plenty of other buildings/ruins/smashed dreams around which were remnants of the American military presence.  A very interesting spot to see.  

The race also took place mostly on the causeway - which is really a long sidewalk/road into the ocean that connects 4 small islands.  We swam 1.2 very fast miles along it (17 mins!) with a strong current in our favor. I felt very relaxed and in control in the swim.  I have practiced a lot in my Roka wetsuit and it now feels like a second skin.  I took over the lead towards the end but then wasn't sure the bouys being on our left or right and lost a bit of time and came out right behind Mary Beth and Bec.  

The bike was 4 laps with 4 180degree turns.  We all knew going in that it was going to be mayhem because thousands of people were riding this course at once.  The first lap was fine, but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th were chaotic and scary.  I could have totally gone down a bad mental road after I very close call with one of the other girls coming the other way, but I stayed focused and managed to maintain my speed and watts the entire way.  I have been working hard on my new Cervelo P3 time trial bike and I wanted to see what I could do, even if it meant screaming the whole way!  Really, screaming (commands and out of fright) for 2+ hours.  The other issue was that I didn't have any water for the last two laps.  I grabbed a bottle but could barely get anything out of it.  Then the next time, nothing came out.  The final time I just bypassed, even though I desperately needed it, thinking I'd get some in the transition.  But no water to be found until 1.5 miles into the run.  I think this is what did me in.  Instead of getting stronger as the miles went by on the run and moving up a few easily attainable positions, I just got slower and more thirsty.  By 9 miles I really didn't think I was going to make it to 10.  And then from 10-13 I walked mostly.  I wanted to finish and so many people along the way were encouraging me.  By mile 13 I didn't even know where the finish was and it was right in front of me.  Bec had to point it out.  

Not exactly the best way to race, but you never know what can happen.  I have typically done very well in hot races while others have melted, so maybe I finally got my due!  I was just happy that I was able to swim well, bike well and my foot didn't hurt!  (Remember my stress fracture after my last race?  And the two months where I couldn't run?).  

Despite the ugly ending, I really did enjoy my time in Panama and especially getting time to hang out with my mom and dad and sisters (minus Leezie).  Thank you to all the fans and racers for the cheers and encouragement.  My favorite being "Come on, you can't walk with legs like that!" and the multiple "Vamanos Chica!".  Thank you also to my sponsors for getting me ready to race and suppyling me with the very best equipment.  For the first time in awhile, everything went without a hitch - no stupid mistakes, no malfunctions, just pure focus and determination and a major dehydration. Next time I'll get it all together.  

Thanks for reading and congrats to everyone who competed in Panama.  

-Laurel