Finally this past weekend at Vineman, I feel closer to my old self than I have in 5 years and it showed in my race performance, my self-talk during the race, the results and how I am feeling and recovering post-race.
The Clif notes version is that after 8 attempts (I thought it was 10x but I missed more years than I realized!), I finally won my AG at Ironman Vineman, in a time that was just a minute off my best time. I still missed the elusive 5hr mark at this race, but it's given me more determination and faith that I will get it next year! Yes, I'm kicking my mid 40s in the pants :)
The lead-up to the race was less than perfect as a sore hamstring after every run in the last two months prompted coach Matt Dixon and PT Mike Lord to tell me to stop running for a couple of weeks pre-race. Which I mostly did. Of course, Thursday pre-race, I decided that I need to check whether I was still capable of running, so I ran a quick two miles around the block... only to leave me with a very sore hamstring. Oops!
Fast forward to race day and Blanco zipped me up in the new Roka Maverick X before heading to his own swim start. I waited for my wave, chatting with Betty team-mate, Alison Keple, and excited for the day ahead. In the last few years, the swim starts for my AG wave has become less hectic as I find that I am now one of the faster swimmers in my wave. I find this rather comical as I was the chick doing head-up doggy paddle too scared to put my face underwater in my first several triathlons. It's great to acknowledge that I've worked my way from a 38-40 minute swimmer to a 32 minute swimmer. People, it's possible and I thank Matt Dixon and my purplepatch lane-mates for helping me get there.
A gal that I didn't know took off very swiftly at the start and Alison also got a gap on me, but I found myself in 3rd place, swimming calmly towards the first buoy. Things stayed that way to the end and I exited the water in 32:02, a PR for the Vineman course.
Exiting in swim in 3rd, I passed Alison in transition but knew there was a woman in my AG ahead of me but had no clue who it was so would not know if I passed her. On the bike, I really wanted to take the first 10-15 miles to settle into my pace and navigate the traffic of other cyclists as safely as possible. The first 30 miles included a lot of passing as I worked my way through W30-34 and M45-49 waves that had started ahead of me. Of course, Blanco was long gone but there were plenty of other folks to pass on the winding Sonoma County roads. A solo TT effort with lots of "on your left" was pretty much the story of the bike ride until a few of the M30-34 (a couple of swim waves behind) caught me on the approach to Chalk Hill. I knew I was on track for a slower ride than the last two years as a strong headwind during the first 25 miles was out of the ordinary for the course but I still made it back to Windsor HS with a sub 2:40 bike split (barely).
Run time and this leg of the race has been a major question mark for me in the past 5 years. Would my run legs show up? Had I nailed my nutrition to get me through the next 13.1 miles?
|Photo credit: Jene Shaw|
Unfortunately, I did not nail my race day nutrition (I was testing out eating more calories than usual) and I was paying for it by mile 8 with a potty spot that resulted in an almost 10min mile. Oops! I got back on track for the final 4 miles of the run, though my pace slipped to north of 8min/mi as I stopped ingesting more food for fear of disturbing my tummy once again.
I crossed the line and saw that it was a 5:02, stoked to race as fast as I did 5 years ago. With two waves for my age-group, I had a strong suspicion I won my wave but needed to wait for confirmation of the age-group win.
I finally caught up with Blanco post-race and, as his coach and wife, was pumped to learn that he was off the bike in 1st place and held on for 3rd in his AG with a solid run (way better than Oceanside).
Next up is the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba Australia and I now find myself looking forward to it... now just need to deal with this pesky hamstring and get down to World Championship season (i.e. Kona abs) race weight!