My main concern about racing in Vegas was the heat. Given my history with these conditions, and temps that have hovered around 100 over the past few weeks, in my mind I was going to choose racing smart over racing hard. Sure I was there to race and do my best on the world stage, but I also wanted to finish. Arriving in Vegas on Thursday I got a taste of what I would be up against. But over the next few days we watched the temperatures drop and the forecast for Sunday improve. The heat became less of a worry in my mind.
My training and focus for this race were not up to my standards. But this is what I do – this is what I love – and I knew that when the day arrived I would be ready. Normally when I arrive to a race site the first thing I want to do is build my bike. After arriving Thursday I had no desire to tackle that task. I went for a short run, shopped at Whole Foods, and focused on relaxing and hydrating! Friday morning it was time to get my act
together and after a short swim at the hotel pool I got to work building the bike. That’s when I realized that I forgot my bike pump. I’ve never forgotten my bike pump. So I waited until the expo opened and off I went with my wheels to get air and pick up my packet. Later that evening when I was packing my run gear I realized that I also forgot my race belt. Damn Kline – this is so unlike you! Another easy fix – I could buy one at the expo tomorrow when I dropped off my run bag.
Saturday brought a pleasant change in weather as I parted with my run essentials at T2/the finish line and headed to the race start to bid farewell to my beloved bike. The plan was to have all of my gear in place before noon so I could spend the rest of my day trying to relax at the hotel. The universe wanted to ensure I stuck to this plan, and by the time I arrived back the hotel, (sorry gentlemen) my monthly curse had arrived. Those close to me know that I am 99% useless during the first two days. But this was not the time to let mother nature ruin my plans (although I realized it came this very same weekend last year – how’s that for predictable!) I decided right away that I could overcome the physical effects with mental toughness while I proceeded to curl up on the couch for the remainder of the day and force some dinner into me.
Sunday: alarm goes off at 3:25 and I am pumped to get going! I was feeling pretty good and after having my normal banana and oatmeal I was off to Lake Las Vegas. Stepped outside the hotel and realized it was raining. Even better! I needed any advantage I could get and rain meant less sun and heat. Once I arrived at the race start it was pouring. After prepping my bike for the day I sought shelter with 1000+ athletes where I welcomed the body heat from close quarters and nervous energy. I had 1 1/2 hours to wait before my start. When it finally came time to line up for the start we all stood shivering and laughing at the fact that being cold and wet was the last thing we were expecting this morning. When it was our turn we swam out to the start buoys and that’s when I realized that my “staying calm for the swim start” plan was not falling into place. But once the air horn started I quickly settled in. I was both shocked and confused as I found myself staying with the main pack of my field coming up to the first turn. Was the lack of wet suit helping me, or was I just having a good swim? Sadly, once we hit the first turn buoy I was losing ground, and by the time I made the 2nd turn I lost sight of that pack. Back to my good ol’ swim ways 😉 You couldn’t see a foot in front of you in that water, and at one point I swam up on a rather large male who started in the wave before me. I pulled up, as did he, and after turning around to look at me he gave me nice solid kick to the chest. Thanks dude – it’s a triathlon – sometimes people touch your feet…
As I exited the water I checked the Garmin and the oh-so-familiar feeling of disappointment hit me. I’ve been here many times before – time to move on and see what I could make up on the bike. I basically sprinted through the endless transition, and the very deep mud that accumulated at this point. It was still pouring which was helpful in keeping me from going into panic/catch-up mode for the first few miles. The bike course was challenging but beautiful, and at times it was hard not to enjoy the views. At around mile 40 the rain had stopped and the sun was making its first appearance for the day. Although I felt that I was doing everything right on the bike, my energy levels were definitely dwindling and I knew I just had to grit it out until the end.
Coming off the bike is when it really hit me – my legs felt like they were tied together as I ran through transition to grab my run gear bag. I got into the tent and sat down in a chair as I dumped my bag out at my feet. I quickly swapped my gear, handed off my bag, and off I went. All it took was that brief pause in the tent and I was feeling good. And with a downhill start on the run I was able to clock my first mile at 6:39. I was excited about the run course being 3 loops as I thought it would be a good way to break down the run into segments. What I didn’t think of was how hard it would be to pass that finishing chute not once, but twice, to tackle those hills again… But the great thing about the run course was that you were never alone, and there wasn’t a section that was not lined with spectators. The energy was great – and with plentiful aid stations I was able to grab multiple cups of ice and water just about every mile.
The other awesome part about the run was seeing amazing friend and fellow 110% teammate Corrie Kristick out on the course. Seeing a familiar face gutting it out with me was just the boost I needed. As an added bonus, another amazing competitor Kendra Goffredo was along the run course showing me love and support. Unable to run due to an injury, she still showed up to swim, bike and be her bad-a$$ self. She is an inspiration both on and off the race course (check her out at http://chitoandkgo.com/). And she snapped this pic of me as I trudged through that last loop of the run.
After the halfway point of the bike I knew my race was not going as planned. I felt flat and just plain drained. My goal changed to finishing the race while putting out the best effort I could muster. And I did just that. We can’t always have the perfect day, but just being there among the best in the world and racing on an amazing course was all I needed for my trip to be a success. I am honored to have such amazing family and friends who support me every step of the way, along with some of the greatest sponsors I could imagine. My inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150’s carried me through that run feeling strong. Gretna Bikes got my bike ready to tackle that course. 110% Play Harder provides me the awesome gear that allows me to train my hardest day in and day out. And of course I must thank Saucony Creek Brewing, KPS, RMK Solar, Reading Air, and Lupine Lighting Systems for their support. Last but not least there is Mike Walters who provided the body work to get me to the start line feeling great!
The 70.3 World Championship was the conclusion of my multisport season. It is now time to focus on running, and I have some great trail races to look forward to in the next few weeks. New adventures await!
Swim – 41:55
T1 – 3:26
Bike – 2:47:51
T2 – 1:38
Run – 1:36:22
Great job out there, Laura. Great smiIe. I thought it much more fun, however, when we were running together like in Syracuse! More of that next year! –Kendra
I agree! It was great to see you on the course, but even better when you’re running by my side or I’m chasing you 😉 More next year for sure!