Ok, so let's get down to business...I made Team USA, but it wasn't pretty. As far as racing goes, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. So, I will be going to vegas for 2011 LC World Championships, but I don't entirely feel I deserved it. And now, for the details...
I felt good going into the race, but i have to tell you, I NEVER feel good going into a race, so I was a tad concerned. And there was also all this pressure I was putting on myself. I was so anxious about this race. But race morning was running smoothly until...(dun dun dun!) they announced that the 22 inches of rain that had dumped itself on the area over the previous four days had increased the levels of E Coli in teh water such that it was unsafe in which to swim, so we would NOT be swimming.
Instead, we would be lining up on the dock, as if we were exiting the water, one by one, going off every three seconds, in no particular order. Um...hello, mind f*ck. When one is prepared for a TRIathlon, it is difficult to adjust to a brick workout. Some (those not so skilled in the water) were relieved while others were disappointed. I was in the latter pack of folks. I am not super speedy in the water, but I can hold my own. And it always serves as a good warm-up, so panic struck a little. And then we got no warm-up. Just standing in the cold on the dock in a huge pack of people, all waiting...while our bladders were beginning to scream and there was no place to relieve the pressure.
I was lined up with, Carrie, a friend that was at Worlds in Australia and we made a little strategy to push one another through the bike and run. I got to the point where it was my turn, and the guy told me to go, so I ran, sock-footed to T1, put on the helmet, shoes and grabbed my bike to head for the course.
I felt pretty good on the bike. It was super windy. Against the wind, hammering, I probably averaged 18 or 19 with speeds dipping into the 16s and with the wind, just cruising, speeds were in the 23-25 range, sometimes reaching into the 29s. It was a two loop course and I decided to just take it easy, but strong on the first and try to put some force into the second, once I knew what I was up against. I came in the first loop around 1:19 and into T2 at 2:36, so I negative splitted by a couple minutes and avaeraged 21.5mph for the 56 miles. Carrie and I entered T2 together. I quickly racked my bike, ditched my arm warmers, grabbed my race belt and ran out of T2.
At some point, after the first loop of the two loop course, I literally stopped, stretched a little and....bring on meltdown numero uno. I thought for sure Team USA was out of my grasp. I knew my pace was down to a crawl. And the negative thoughts would not go away! I walked a little. And then I'd make myslef a deal, "just get to the next aid station and then you can stop for a gel" but then I started to get a little dizzy and hot and tired. I took off my compression socks because my feet were killing me and i couldn't seem to cool down.
With about four miles to go, I came across one of my 2009 team USA teammates and we traded encouraging words...she'd gotten sick on the bike, i'd just started falling apart on the run. And then with less than a 5k to go, I stopped again, paralyzed by doubt, pain, fear...and she said "come on, girl. i'm sure there's some water up ahead." and so i stood up and I started running again. And I didn't stop until that finish line. My run was a 1:49, 8:20 pace, my slowest ever. And it was demoralizing.
I found out later I placed 15th in my age group and top 20 qualify for Worlds.
I can't tell you the amount of relief I now feel that the season is over and there's no more pressure to perform. It's been a long season and a tough year. And I have lots of new adventures to look forward. I have other friends that also qualified. And I have a whole fall and winter to go run some trails and go for casual rides. And I'm quite looking forward to it.
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