This past weekend I did the Buffalo Springs 70.3. It was my first 1/2 since last July and it didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, that is for sure.
Though I had confidence in my swim and bike, I knew the run would be a challenge just coming back from injury. I however trusted my coach, myself, and my training. As every morning, I took my First Endurance Multi V and Optygen tablets and had some b-fast, a bit nervous it's always difficult to eat, but so important with a long day of racing ahead. Luckily for all of us racers, well the ones who did not train in humidity and extreme heat prior to the race, a storm had graced us that night and the cool breeze (okay, serious wind) was out in full force. As the line of car lights led to the parking lot early in the morning, I had a few prerace nerves, but I was ecstatic to be preparing for my race, the first big one of the season.
As I prepared my bike with shoes and bento box, containing GU gels and Chomps along with a First Endurance bar and 2 water bottles, then my Zoot shoes and visor and race belt I felt confident about the events ahead. Although I had been so excited, actually overwhelmingly excited to receive my Orbea and Zipp wheels the week prior to my race, my friends and coach had advised me not to ride it just yet. I have never ridden a TT bike and with the shifters on the aero bars I was not comfortable just yet. So taking advice from experienced and successful athletes and friends, I brought my ITU set up Litespeed, which I had just changed the broken seat post on. I also had my Suunto watch rearing and ready to keep tabs on my efforts. As I pulled on my Zoot speedsuit and cap/goggles, smeared on a bit of sunscreen, I headed down to the water.
At 6:30am the women were welcomed to the water after the men's start and within 2 minutes we were off. I felt confident and strong. There was someone right next to me swimming arm for arm, which was a bit annoying at first. After being a swimmer and having an entire lane to yourself, this whole people in your space, and on top of you, stroking underneath of you is a bit of a mental challenge. I remember wanting to to hit them and be like, dammit get out of my space. But then as I settled into my own rhythm all was well. After the first and then second turn buoy, I picked up the pace for a bit and dropped the person in my space anyhow. I was swimming on my own, as I had let the person in front of me make to large of a gap to reconnect. I tried to focus on my technique as I got tired (everyone said this swim seemed long), haha I was feeling that a bit by the end. After swimming around a few men, and then turning around the last triangular yellow buoy I saw the shore in site and wanted to finish strong as well as mentally prepare for the transition and bike. As I came out of the water to the wonderful help of volunteers (amazing at the race, southern hospitality for sure) I reached for my speedsuit zipper and yanked off my goggles and cap. I was tired but had a good T1 and velcroed my shoes as I headed to the first hill right out of T1. Then all of the character building began.
As I reached the top of the hill, give or take 800M the main official came next to me on his motorbike and said, "your race # fell of at the bottom of the hill, if you don't want a penalty you have to go back down and get it." Damn that hurt. I looked down, and sure enough. I wasn't sure the time of the penalty or how far down my belt was, but I conceded to go back down for the belt. My heart was angrily racing and it was all the way back down. The strap had come out of the plastic and I couldn't buckle it so I shoved it in my race top and turned around. My HR was sky hi when I reached the top of the hill again, and a few women had passed me who were behind me on the swim. I heard a guy on the sideline say, "you're all good now, get back in it." It was demoralizing however, to have those women pass and be dead from the 2nd hill climb. After a few miles and some positive self talk however, I was not struggling as bad and beginning to calm back down and get into my zone. A few hills came and went and I was on the road again.
Sitting back into my saddle from hill 2 I felt something was off. After a bumpy downhill and another slight climb I realized that the bolts in my seat had not been, what I found out later, tightened properly and my seat was loose. Sliding side to side and up/down. Immediate panic and frustration set in. Although I suppose I could have stopped and tried to fix it, I proceeded on. I rode the entire 56miles with a moving saddle. I kept faith that it would not fall of entirely be4 the end. But there were some climbs that I was very unsure. As well, due to preexisting low back issues, this new fit technique, the floating seat, was not working for my back. It was pretty much excruciating. But my seat stayed on and I have the motto, Never Give Up, Never Quit. I knew that I was thankful just to be back out there racing. I also watched someone go by on a bicycle that was pedaled with their hands. That made my thoughts stop in their tracks. Wow, I have so much to be thankful for. This really sucks, my equipment/ my assemblage of my equipment has let me down, but I can do this, I have much to be thankful for. Do the best you can with what you have and finish as well as you can on this particular day with these particular circumstances.
Boy the transition could not have come soon enough. I dismounted my bike, with a seat pointing to the side as opposed to the front, haha, good times. I pulled on my Zoot visor and shoes, grabbed my First Endurance liquid shot and was off. As I pulled my race belt off of my shoulder and tied it in a knot around my waste I ran through the transition area and on to the race course. As I mentioned before, I had just started running 5 weeks prior coming off an injury. I had one 1:30 under my belt in the last 8 months. I knew this was going to be an interesting challenge but I'm always up for a good one of those. After a less than ideal bike I though I was going to nail, I relied on my heart and mind to keep me moving. All was pretty quiet out on the course other than when an age grouper ran past and said in an Aussy accent, how you feeling? I recognized the stars on his back. He has been training in Boulder for the last several weeks. He looked to be feeling about as stellar as I. But as we ran the next few miles together, it was nice to have a partner in the suffering. I shuffled up the last hill, and took in some coke. As I turned into the park for the final 2 miles I had to remember why I was here. I am passionate about triathlon and I have a love for this sport and the challenge more than anything else in my life right now. This is why I made a commitment to push toward my limits and challenge my dreams. For a second as I rounded the corner and saw the finish line a 1/2 mile away I wanted to run off course. I didn't really want anyone to see me finish almost 40minutes off my race time from previous 70.3 I had done. I felt that I would be letting down myself, my sponsors, my coach and all of those who have been there on this journey. Then I put my ego aside, I know the world doesn't revolve around me and most would just cheer for another finisher. I also knew that those who truly love and support me are here for the entire journey, the ups and downs. I ran across the finish line, disappointed, never the less on this day giving my best effort under the circumstances.
I have so much to learn, I have so far to go. My passion is deeply rooted in my soul and I cannot wait to continue to challenge myself and take advantage of the next opportunity I have to race. It will be on a brand new Orbea TT bike, with Zipp 808 wheels and everything I have learned I'll take with me.
I am so thankful to all of my sponsors for their commitment to the sport and to myself. I am also thankful for the race organizers and director and volunteers for their tireless dedication and enthusiasm. Thanks to my family and friends and coach Susan! I'll be back out to race Vineman July 19th and I cannot wait to Get After It!
Thanks for being a part of this journey! Live it up and follow your passion!