I signed up for this race less than a week prior to the event with one main goal in my head – finish. Of course I had been incessantly stalking the weather for race day, and I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t worried about my ability to handle this race in the heat that was predicted. Yes, my morale has been a bit low after Quassy but as Craig reminded me multiple times, I needed a finish to restore some confidence in myself. So off we went to our old hometown to see family and friends, and to tackle this race.
My training since Quassy has been spotty and labored so I didn’t have a taper week and trusted my base to get me through. Try as I may to squash any doubts about my heat issues, it was my only concern. And because I know that letting these thoughts get into my head is the worst thing I could do I convinced myself that the portion of the race I did finish in Quassy was the only heat training I needed to get through my day. My secret weapon was going to be my arm coolers. I bought them after my heat stroke and although I’ve trained in them only a few times I never raced in them. For some reason they always missed my packing list when really they should travel with me everywhere. They were going to be my shield – just like my alter-ego Wonder Woman’s bracelets.
I was happy that the water was cool on race morning – I wanted all the help I could get. There’s not much I can say about the swim. Was I panicked about my timing chip? Yes. Swimming through those weeds didn’t help. When one wrapped around my ankle, only to loosen and fall off shortly after, I pulled my leg up to check and make sure the chip was still there. I was nervous every time someone touched my ankle. For some reason I swam the course wide but otherwise I thought I was doing well, until I got out and looked at my watch… That ranks up there with one of my worst swims yet for no reason other than my ever-failing ability to become a shark in the water. But exiting that water with my chip intact made me feel like I was already ahead of the game 😉
Time to head out on the bike and as usual my heart takes over my head when I realize how far behind I must be from the swim performance and I must now catch up as quickly as I can. Never a good idea, and especially not on this course with the early climbs. Soon enough I was able to talk myself back down and settle into a decent pace. I was still a little off on my nutrition strategy early on but was able to correct it and all was good. There was more wind than I had expected on the bike course but I looked at this as a positive in terms of keeping me cool. The bike course was great – I wouldn’t change a thing! I didn’t ride as strong as I had wanted to and didn’t hit my goal, but I know what work needs to be done and am prepared to tackle it.
Coming in off the bike I was definitely nervous about how I was going to feel heading out onto that run course. I tried to keep the positive thoughts flowing and reminded myself that I already felt better than I did at this point in Quassy, and that I was going to finish this race. That was pretty much what went through my head during the whole run – “I just have to finish. I am going to finish.” The run course is definitely a challenge, especially when you know it’s a 2 lap course and you have to tackle those hills twice. I didn’t have a strong pace going out but I knew pushing it would only lead to my demise. I had a good system going – in addition to getting the necessary fluids at each stop and the cold sponges that felt amazing, I would dump a cup of ice down my top. As needed I would reach down my top for a piece of ice to chew on. I didn’t care what it looked like – it was quite convenient! I felt really good coming back in on the first loop and was actually excited thinking that my 2nd loop would be even stronger. That was until I rounded that long…stone trail and started the 2nd loop.
The amazingly talented Kendra Goffredo came up from behind with her posse of strong females and urged me to join them – pushing each other through this tough 2nd loop. It was so refreshing to have the 4 of us cruising through the field of competitors working together as a team. The mood on that course was dismal and this was just the lift I needed. Soon 2 of the girls fell off the pace and it was just Kendra and I. She was motivational beyond words and I felt bad that I could not return the inspiration as I was fighting just to keep up the pace. Sure enough we got to the next aid station and I fell off as I rounded up my necessary items and off Kendra went on looking strong and determined. She was ON and I didn’t have it in me. She went on to take 1st in her age group and 3rd amateur for the day – FIERCE! I’m honored I got the chance to meet her and run with her for that short time.
But for me the race was getting tougher. I had to do the unthinkable – I took 3 walk breaks on the 3 hills. I realized that I would be able to walk faster than the pace I was trying to run, and I was feeling a bit wobbly. It was heartbreaking – I was so close and I knew I was going to finish, but I wanted to finish strong. I was well beyond my time goal at this point but once I got on to Apulia Road I vowed to pick up the pace as best as I could. I had no idea where I was during that race in relation to the others in my age group and I didn’t even care – I had a one-track mind – the finish line. Craig was right – I just needed to finish – and in doing so I was satisfied.
I ended up placing 4th in my age group and should be receiving a roll down slot to the 70.3 World Championship race in Vegas this September. Not the way I wanted to get it, but I have time to step up my game 😉 It was great seeing so many familiar faces on the race course. And also having Craig, his mom and her husband there for me afterwards. The sliced cucumber with salt she brought was just what I needed after that race! Congrats to everyone out there who battled it out in the heat – we are all that much stronger as a result!
Swim – 44:26
T1 – 2:30
Bike – 2:45:52
T2 – 1:04
Run – 1:42:57