When I signed up for this race back in the summer, I realized it was the same day as my mom's birthday, so I hatched a plan to get my parents to go over with me to Arizona. Just promise my mom a night in a hotel and a fancy dinner out, and she is game. They were actually really excited to watch me race and be my sherpa's for the weekend.
We ended up flying over due to work commitments, and my bike took a ride over from Rick. I was really nervous to have my bike out of my possession for those two days. Speed racer is my baby!
I was able to grab the bike from Rick and get all checked in on Saturday early afternoon. Then it was off to the hotel for a little work-out; 15mins on the treadmill and a few laps in the hotel pool- which was more than interesting. All the guests around the pool seemed fascinated by me swimming back an forth- I think it was about six strokes each way!
Then it was time for the spa. After relaxing some more, the family decided I needed a pasta dinner, so we hit up Marcella's in Scottsdale.
Up early on Sunday and tried to QUIETLY make my race breakfast. 1/2 PB&J, a banana, some chocolate soymilk and a cup of coffee is what I'm liking these days. Then down to the race site.
Despite getting down early, I felt like I had way too little time to do all I needed. Did get in a little warm-up run, but couldn't take the bike out and no pre-swimming allowed. Bummer as I now swear by my pre-race swim warm-up.
As soon as I got on the stairs to enter the water I realized just how disgusting the water is in Tempe Town Lake. Green and very murky. I just prayed I would not swallow too much water and give myself some strange disease.
For some reason I was not nervous at all. I was ready to race. I only had one goal in mind for this race and that was to "WIN!" No, that does not mean to be on the podium or to place in the top of my age group. It meant to do my best and keep a positive attitude no matter how the race played out.
I lined up one row back from the front hoping that would give me a chance to get off well without getting swum over by the fast girls. And we were off!
Had a good swim for me. A little slower than I would have liked, but everyone (except Rachel who had the fastest female swim time, and beat all but 5 guys!) had a slowish swim. I blame the person who felt the need to grab my right foot at least 100 times and all the guys in the wave ahead of me who I had to zig-zag around! But really I felt great, which is all I asked of myself. No panicking... breathing every 4-6 strokes... good sighting... straight line... caught a few drafts. I'll take it as a victory.
I was really excited about the fact that they had wetsuit strippers at this race. I was expecting a super speedy transition, but... So the lady who initially tried to get my wetsuit off couldn't do it, so she called for back-up. Then I had two ladies tugging on the wetsuit to get it over my calfs. It took way too long and I could have had it off much faster, but I'm still thankful to the volunteers who got up early on a Sunday to peel wetsuits laden with gross water off a bunch of crazy people. I did manage to yell "Thank you" as I ran off towards my bike.
Hopped on the bike and sped out of transition. It was the first time I had ever race a flat course, so I was excited to see how fast I could go. Was also the first time I had raced a multiple lap course, so I wasn't sure how that would play with my mind.
Spent the first few minutes settling in to a good pace and heart rate. 56miles is still a long way, so I was trying not to push it too hard at the beginning. I really had to work hard to keep from drafting as the course was packed and narrow. I kept it clean for the most part. The entire ride went pretty much like this: Settle into a good rhythm... Oh no, I'm kind of drafting off that guy/girl in front of me... OK I guess I'll have to pass him/her... Oh no, now I fell like a jerk because I'm not sure if I can sustain this pace with out the draft.... Oh well, that's the person behind's problem now. Sometimes they would pass back, sometimes they would fall off. All in all I did an excellent job of keeping up my membership in idropboys.com.
To keep the bike interesting I played a little game with my parents. They did not tell me where they were going to watch the race from as there were a ton of great spectating spots. I had to find them. Lap one was a bit too early for them to be out as my mom stated she was not getting up "at the crack of dawn" on her birthday. Lap two I was determined to find them. Not in the transition area, not on the bridges, not on the far side of the lake, and just as I was coming in for the final lap, there they were at the Hot Corner. "Happy Birthday" I yelled out.
I can honestly say that all of my hard work training on the bike this year really paid off. I felt awesome on the bike. My heart rate stayed right where I wanted, my legs felt fresh from start to end and I had a pretty fast time. The weather was perfect. The best part was that I was smiling and even laughing almost the entire time.
The course flew by and before I knew it I was headed back into transition. I was so surprised to be back so soon, that I forgot to do my little mental prep that I always do before T2. Usually I go through all the steps I need to take in T2, but I was rapidly approaching the dismount line and I had to get my feet out of the shoes.
Bike on rack... Bike stuff off... Run stuff on... Gels and Salt up shorts. Away I go!
I was ready for this run. I'd been doing a ton of bricking this season and my running was going great. As soon as I got off the bike all I knew was I had to pee. OK, I could deal with that. It's a good sign that I'm hydrated. Just look for the nearest port-a-potty. So some people didn't look for a port-a-potty and were penalized for "Indecent exposure!"
There it was, just up a short hill. As I charged up the hill all of a sudden I was over come with sharp cramps in both my quads. Crap! I have not cramped in a race for two years. Why now? What could I do to make them go away? Figured I should start taking more salt tabs and maybe sitting to pee would help.
Back on the course my quads continued to be cramped up. Think sharp knives into the quads with each step. Tried my best to keep up the pace, but could barely extend my legs. The pain was extreme. I was reduced to running for as long as possible and then stopping to stretch. NOT the way I wanted this run to go. I was frustrated to say the least. Tried to keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward.
Later rather than sooner I found my way to the finish line. I had left everything I had in me out on that race course and was exhausted! All I wanted to do was lay down.
In the end I have mixed emotions about this race. It was the last race of my season, and I wanted to make it my best. The leg cramps seriously de-railed that plan. I have spent a bunch of time going over what I could have done to prevent the cramps and have ideas of what I need to do next season to prevent it from happening again. On the positive side I had a great swim and a fabulous bike. More important than anything I gave it my all and had a really fun time. I'll be back next season. Now it's time for some off season resting!