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I'm back in NYC now after a great trip to Ecuador. It was an experience I will never forget filled with so many moments of joy, laughter, frustration, gratitude and even some (happy) tears. I won't be able to explain everything in this blog post but what I was able to take part in over the weekend was very special. Thank you to Sarah Hartmann for including me in the Race 2 Rebuild activities and providing me with a very stress free pre-race experience. Her hard work and the partnership she formed with the Ironman Foundation helped bring tangible change to the victims of the earthquake that occurred in April in Manta, Ecuador, where the race was held. What do I mean by tangible? After the race we (along with the mayor and a pop star from Ecuador who's song has become a We are the World type anthem for the country post earthquake) went into the small home of an earthquake victim and listened to her story. As we were all huddled in the tiny front room, the singer spontaneously started singing his song, and everyone joined in on the chorus…hence the happy tears mentioned above! It was an incredibly powerful. So thank you Sarah and Dave Deschanes from the Ironman Foundation for making that possible. As an aside, Ironman Foundation donated A LOT of money to the rebuilding project. THANK YOU!!
As for the race, I finished 2nd! My final workout for the race came at the NYC Tri, where I finished 5th. A couple days later I left for Ecuador. I quickly realized I wouldn't be able to ride my bike beyond a few minutes so just focused on cleaning it and making sure it was working well after travel. Then, I focused on getting my run workouts in and putting my feet up. I couldn't believe how fast my pre-race run was with such little effort, and knew I was ready to contend for the win.
The race started with a long run into the ocean. The waves were fairly big so I decided it would be faster to run more along the beach before heading into the waves. That didn't work. I got behind and had to catch up the rest of the way. I could see Lauren just ahead of me and just made sure to maintain the gap. I felt really strong in the water and not at all like my last couple races. Coming out of the water I picked a better line and rode in a wave. I popped up and realized I was ahead! While we were both were running towards the timing mat for the swim prime, I thought about open water swim etiquette. There's an unwritten rule, don't make a sand pass. Since Lauren led the entire swim I slowed down a bit ran into transition right behind.
After a slower transition, I got onto my bike about 20 seconds back or so. Within 3 minutes, I moved into 1st place. I put my head down and rode as hard as I could. I looked back and was surprised I still had company since the initial pass happened so easily. I found myself in a position I'm not used to - riding off the front. I thought of people who do this every race, and asked myself, how do they do it? They are fearless and brave and lay it all out there. So I forged on, channeling the confidence of champions like Sarah Haskins and Jodie Swallow, and stayed out front for all but a few seconds of the race. I managed to get a small gap by the end of the bike ride and finished with a personal best for normalized power. A note about the bike course - it was awesome! Lots of hills and very smooth roads.
After a slower transition, I started the run just a few seconds behind. In the first mile, I moved into first and was feeling good. I went for the win and soon paid the price of going out too hard. At about 2k or so my quads started cramping - maybe I have to get used to that level of biking! - and I slowed a bit and was passed. I kept drinking as much as I could and trying to stay cool in the hopes I would rebound. Unfortunately, I ended up really slowing down in the last three miles, and crossed the line very happy and tired in 2nd place.
The crowds at the finish line and throughout the course we're amazing. People came from all over the city and region to watch us race. Aside from soccer, this was the biggest sporting event ever held in Manta. Hope we put on a good show!
Thanks to everyone for the notes and supporting me on this trip. I hope to return to South America one for time before the end of the year.