A fifth place finish at the Philly Tri on Sunday: not exactly what I hoped for. It just wasn't my day. But it is hard to be disappointed about the race because Laurel finished on the podium AND because the my frustrations were dwarfed by the overall fun atmosphere of the race. The weather was perfect, the Tri-Rock series puts on a great show, and we were surrounded by superfans.
After a very conservative swim and a slow T1 (couldn't get my speed suit over my chip!), I set out on the hilly bike course to start clawing back to the leaders. About 2 miles in, I hit a big bump, lost control for a split second and my water bottle launched from my bike. I was coming off a downhill and was moving quickly. I kept riding and about two seconds later, a motorcycle with an official pulled up and told me I had a penalty. Then they said, you can go back and get the bottle or serve a penalty. I looked back to see where the bottle was and saw that it was spread, in three pieces, across the road. While I was contemplating what to do, competitors whizzed by. Going back to get the bottle would not only have been dangerous, but probably would have taken more than a minute. So I decided not to get it. Then the official got off his bike, marked my numbers and only after that did they start the clock for the one minute penalty. Oh yeah, and he didn't start the watch until both my feet were out of my pedals. I know that's the rule, but a simple reminder would have been nice. I had already been at a standstill for awhile. He didn't need to stand there staring at me as I jogged my memory for the exact penalty protocol. Anyway, he finally started the watch and when I asked how much longer I had to go he said he couldn't tell me. He didn't even count down the final seconds, which I recall is what is supposed to happen. So all that happened for something that wasn't my fault and for which I gained no advantage! There's been talk over the years that this rule is unfair and this is a good example of that. Littering is one thing, but accidentally losing a bottle while going over a pothole is another. Good thing I had a back up bottle, otherwise it would have been double jeopardy - a penalty and no fluids. Or, make that triple, replacing that water bottle I lost (it was one of those special aero ones) isn't going to be free!
At least 4 pros (and probably dozens of age groupers) lost their bottles at this same spot. My friend Chip was more unfortunate and got a flat tire on this bump.
The Rest of the Race
The penalty cost me more time than just the minute or two I was on the side of the road. Instead of catching up to and riding near the other girls like I had been, I spent the last 22 miles alone. If super fans Leezie, Jack and Lily didn't get lost and end up at the top of Lemon Hill, I would have seen no one the entire ride. I continued to push myself, but was frustrated. I came into the run in 7th, in what felt like no man's land. But my legs felt fresh. My coach wanted me to start off slowly, so I followed the plan. When I got to the out and back part of the run, around mile 1, Laurel yelled to me "don't give up on yourself!" How did she know I was about to? I listened to her and picked up the pace. I started running hard and before I knew it, I was in 5th, with my sights set on 4th. I almost got there, but ran out of room at the end. Knowing there was no one close behind me, I grabbed Amy at the finishing chute and carried her across the line.
-Olympic distance races are so much more enjoyable than the longer races.
-It's nice to be part of the awards ceremony and to collect a pay check (and some Hy-Vee points). I've missed out on this several times this year!
-Despite my recent results, I am not going to give up on myself. There's a plan and I'm still on my way back. I know my best races are yet to come.
I'm racing next at the Norway 70.3 on July 6! Anyone want to join me?