I have been waiting for this race all year. It was going to be the race that I pushed myself beyond what I thought I could. My only train of thought leading into it was to race against me.
Leading up to the race I had an awesome week of taper! As I flew into Vermont, I decided I was going to stay away from the craziness and enjoy the trip. We spent time in Montreal and Stowe leading up to the race. I got my bike checked in on Friday afternoon and could not believe how big transition was. There were about 3000 racers at this event and it took me a few minutes to even find my bike spot. As I set up my bike, I quickly noted landmarks to make it easy to find the next morning.
I had a traditional, quiet dinner that evening: salmon and vegetables. My goal was to be back to the motel by 8 pm so I could get all my things together, put on my markings and be in bed by 9:30. I received a phone call from Coach H that evening, and this phone call actually helped me so much on race day! He walked through each and every step of my race with me; what I needed to do, how my body needed to respond. His words echoed in my mind several times as I was on the bike and run during the race. I am very appreciative to him for making that phone call the night before the race.
I woke up feeling well rested and oddly enough had a great night's sleep. I quickly grabbed my breakfast and gear and headed down to meet friends and head to the race. Since Boise 70.3, I have decided to not check the weather as it really doesn't matter and most likely won't be what you thought it was supposed to be anyway. And besides that, we end up racing in whatever conditions the day brings. We got into transition and I got my belongings quickly set up. I loved the “clean transition” they had at this race. We took only what we needed in transition and then checked in our transition bag with the items we didn't need.
I quickly noticed an open spot where a bike was supposed to be next to me and I thought that was weird as this was a championship race. Shortly after I had that thought a couple men came up and placed a dozen roses on the ground, and told me that their friend was to be racked there and she was killed in a bicycle accident three weeks earlier. This made my heart sad as I thought how easily that could be any of us. I later learned she had two children the same ages as mine and was a high school teacher. She was killed by a drunk driver 8 miles from her home on her bike. I spent the next few minutes thinking how lucky I was to be at such a large event among top athletes, how lucky I am to have a body that enables me to do this sport that I love so much.
Around 6:30 am, an hour prior to start, the wind picked up... lovely. Why did the wind have to follow us all the way from Utah?? We all watched Lake Champlain go from a nice calm lake to one with waves and white caps. My wave wasn't set to go until 8:52 and I had hopes that once the sun rose the wind would calm down, but it never did. I thought back to other races that I had wavy swims and knew that I could get through it. My time goal for the swim was out the window; I was going to get in and do what I could. The swim was a little crazy. I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean and wondered if I would feel dizzy when I got out. I couldn't see the buoys due to the waves so I just followed feet hoping they were headed in the right direction. I was able to hang onto the same feet until about 400 yards from the finish and then I have no idea where they went and I was left to spot for a short period on my own. Dang waves! But, I was having a great time out there amidst the craziness and was staying focused on the task at hand. Swim time: 31:12, 1:55 pace (No PR here)
I quickly ran into transition and was off on my bike. I was looking forward to this bike course. It was rolling hills through the countryside. It was beautiful and parts of it overlooked the lake. I was amazed at how quickly the bike course went by as I was having such a great time and enjoying the ride. I wasn't passed by any women, but quickly picked several off. I took in my nutrition as planned, watched my heart-rate and my average speed. I was feeling great! Bike time: 1:09, 21.5 MPH average
Into transition again and out on the run. Coach H echoed through my head, “fastest transitions ever!” No time to be wasted. My goal was to not go out to fast on the run; I needed to race smart. The first quarter mile of the run is straight up a hill. I really wanted to walk, honestly, but dug in and just ran- there would be no walking today. I absolutely loved this run course- beautiful course. Most of it was along an awesome path with trees alongside. I honestly was having the time of my life. Don't get me wrong, I hurt, I was tired, and I felt like my heart would burst, but I was fully satisfied with my performance and kept my head clear of any negative thoughts. When I heard from the side line I had a half mile to go I knew I was going to blow my run goal out of the water which gave me an extra boost! Run time: 41 minutes, 6:38 minute/mile
End result: 2:24 time, a PR for me. I placed 20th in my age group, 20 seconds away from automatically qualifying for Worlds.
I would call this the race of my life. I am still waiting for the 'perfect' race without any problems as this still brought its' own: not having my bike when I landed at the airport, a windy, wavy swim, bike gears not working right, and the speed on my CatEye not working, but I can honestly say I have no regrets with this race. I laid it all out there and enjoyed every minute raced. I crossed the finish line and literally said, “That was fun!” and I meant it. I learned more about myself and what conditions and preparations benefit me on race day then any other race before this. I came to truly understand, racing is a journey. I hope I can take all that I learned from this race and implement it into future races.
A special thanks to my sponsors: TriEdge, KESTREL, FLEXR Sports, HEAD Swimming USA, BEARPAW, T3 Triathlon and Coach Keena Training. Thanks for helping me have a great race! Also, a special thanks to my awesome coaches. Their guidance and recommendations enabled me to have a fantastic race and meet my goals.