This was my fourth year in a row racing in Central California for the Wildflower Triathlon Festival. It has been a rough couple weeks phycially and emotionally, within ten days my travel itinerary was something like this: NYC-DC-Boston-run a marathon-NY-NJ-DC-NYC-CA. I think I spent more time on the road than training. Between the marathon and Wildflower, I was able to get in good recovery, thanks to the Alter-G treadmill at Fusion PT, and I managed a few solid workouts that somehow were some of my best in awhile. I knew it would be hard, but that I still had a chance of doing something great at Wildflower. I returned from my aunt Jeanie's funeral with confidence that she would want me to go on and shine in my race instead of skipping it to feel sad. So, I packed my things and traveled all day to get to the middle of nowhere California (and I do mean middle of nowhere, just ask anyone who's been to WF). Once I arrived at the lake house where Tri-California hosts the pros, with the beautiful light coming through the mountains, all of my stress evaporated. I had the best night sleep I have had in a really long time. Thank you Tri-California!!
On Friday, I assembled my bike, and tested it out on the course with my housemate Robin Pomeroy. The 45 minute ride flew by and I seemed to be flying up the hills with minimal effort. I hadn't ridden outside in 3-4 weeks so it seems that the traininer riding paid off! Most of my trainer rides were in the 1:30-2 hour range with intervals and not much stopping. Robin and I also tested out the swim and I surprisingly felt good swimming, too.
Unfortunately, when the gun went off on Saturday, I didn't feel so great in the water. In a minute, Emily and Lauren had a gap and I was behind Kelsey trying to keep contact. In another couple minutes I was by myself and not swimming in a direct line. To my shock, I was a ridiculous 2+ minutes down on Lauren and Emily - the worst swim of my life!! There went my chance of winning the race. I got out fo the water and went to put my shoes on for the 2 mile run to T1 and got a shooting cramp in my quad - the first of many over the next 5 hours. Something like I've never felt and it was awful! I huffed and puffed up the huge hill and started getting passed. Liz flew by me running so fast. I did my best not to panic when I realized I was 7th or something getting onto my bike. Unfortunately, I missed the mountline which was follwed by a slow motion fall off my bike into a bush. Oops... I had put my bike in too hard of a gear for the ramp up - always go with an easy gear to start! That rattled me a bit and I continued to be rattled until I hit the first climb when a sense of calm took over and I started one by one catching girls who had a better first run run and who didn't almost crash when mounting their bikes. I got into a groove and never looked back. In the first 20 miles of the race we rode directly into a nasty headwind. My time for that segment was 5 MINUTES slower than it was last year, yet 10 watts higher. There were rolling hills and I was starting to see the people ahead of me off in the distance. I'm usually the one who is getting caught, not the one chasing and it's really a different race dynamic. I can see how the slower swimmers tend to have fast bike splits- it's all about the chase! I found myself in 2nd place by about mile 40. Emily was riding really well and it took a lot of work to finally get to her. She went on to have a great race and place 3rd. I could see Liz up the road and put my head down and did not allow myself to get freaked out by the crosswinds. I thought of coach Justin's advice about relaxing my grip and leaning into the wind. Also, my decision to use the Enve 3.4 front wheel was key. At the top of the big climb, Nasty Grade, I was :90 seconds down on Liz. The rest of the way includes some major descents and that's where my pursuit sort of ended. By the time I got my first split on the run she had 2 minutes on me. And, her lead kept growing as I struggled with cramps for the entire 11 miles- the kind that takes overy your whole leg. I've never even had a leg cramp! Now I know what they feel like. For some reason they were just traveling all over my legs: run, quad, run more, the other leg hamstring...run more...the other quad. Strange! Not knowing really how to react, I just kept running. I had periods of time in between cramps to actually run a decent pace, so surprisingly my run split wasn't nearly as bad as it felt. You just never know with this race. The trail run is so hard, hilly and off camber that you just want to get through it alive! But, that is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this race. It's hard and it's fair. And, it's one of a kind. It is a challenge no matter what kind of day you are having.
Thank you to Tri-California for your commitment to triathlon and once again putting on a great show. I highly recommend this race experience. I will be back, with Bec, next year.
Thank you to Maverick Multisport for providing me with top notch equipment. I've made some significant upgrades to my bike set up this year and I'm confident that it's helping me ride smarter and stronger. I narrowly missed the bike prime (fastest bike split), which would have been first for me! You can learn more about the details of my new bike set up here. Be sure to check out the complete list of sponsors below and if you are in the market for any new gear, check out the discount codes at the end of my report.
And I could not have gotten to this race without my family's encouragement and inspriation and the support of my sponsors Intricate Bay Lodge (bespoke fly fishing adventures in Alaska) and Xrcel, time released sports fuel. Also, all the little things matter, like not starving in the airport on on the road thanks to Thunderbird Bar and Nuttzo nut butter! Lastly, all the encouragement and congratulations I have received online are much appreciated. I think a lot of people were more excited than me about this race - it's been awhile since I've stepped on the podium! I couldn't have shared it with better girls either - what an amazing group of women in the top 10 at Wildflower.
Thanks for reading,
Primal Sport Mud
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