Camaraderie and Comebacks at the Cary Du Classic

A long course duathlon in NC in March? That’s a long way to travel for some early season pain. However it was well worth it when it meant reuniting with some awesome friends, and better yet, supporting one of them in his comeback debut. I had the pleasure of spending time in France with two awesome fellas – Marty Stiegmann and Dave Tierney. We shared laughter, celebration, and quite a few stories about the “good ol’days”. Both of them offered tremendous support to me before and after the race, and Dave was awesome to capture the experience with many pictures and videos (which someday I will get around to posting).
marty and dave

Along with the new friendships that were forged was a spark in Dave – to come back to the states, dust off his Softride and speedo, and get himself back into racing shape after 9 years out of the game. He kept Marty and I updated throughout the process, and then set a goal to compete as a part of a relay team in his hometown race, the Cary Long Course Duathlon. What better way to celebrate this event then to have all 3 of us together again, racing on the same course! And with that, the plans were set in motion…

Marty and I arrived in Cary Friday afternoon and spent a little time previewing some of the course. After grabbing our packets we arrived at the Tierney residence where we were greeted by Dave’s lovely family, and enjoyed a nice relaxing dinner – what a great way to spend the evening before a race. Both Marty’s and Dave’s families were extremely generous hosts, making my race travel both comfortable and stress-free.

The Lovely Mrs. & Mr. Tierney

The Lovely Mrs. & Mr. Tierney

Race morning arrived in a flash and both Marty and I were questioning our decision to race a long course duathlon so early in the season, while Dave remembered what it feels like to experience pre-race jitters! We were greeted with sunny skies and 41 degree temps – it was going to be a great day. The race site was full of energy – a feeling I’ve missed over these winter months. I immediately saw fellow Team USA athlete and gold medalist Kristin Villopoto looking fit and ready to race (and race she did, snagging the Overall Female award in the short course event).

For once I didn’t have any goals for this race – other than winning of course 😉 But time-wise I really just wanted to see what I could do and where my fitness was. That is the beauty of early season races – the areas that need work are exposed. The runs consisted of two 2.5 mile loops with 2 out-and-back sections. I knew the first loop would be a challenge because the short course and long course races started together, and it would be tempting to get caught up in the pace of the 2.5 mile racers. There were 2 hills on the 2nd half of each loop that I knew would feel more challenging each time around. I tried to stay somewhat conservative as I led the first loop. I heard another female closing in on me as we came to the split where you either turn into transition or head out for loop 2. As I stayed straight to continue onto the next loop I no longer heard her – phew!

With run #1 out of the way it was time to head out on the bike and test my fancy new HED race wheels. Coming out of transition I experienced another benefit of early season racing – clearing the cobwebs! With my shoes mounted on the bike, I tried once, twice, and yes…three times before I successfully got on the bike and onto the course. Nothing more embarrassing than fumbling multiple times in front of all the spectators… Time to make up what felt like an eternity of time lost. Within the first 1/2 mile I got stuck behind a line of traffic that was unable to pass some slower short course cyclists. There was no shoulder, and it was not safe to pass on the left. All I could do was sit up and coast on the brakes, taking the time to settle myself after the mounting fiasco. With a 31 mile ride, I had plenty of time to make it up. The bike course was great, but the conditions were windier than I was hoping for. I’ve been spending most of my days inside on the trainer, so being out on the windy roads it felt like I was working extra hard to maintain a respectable speed while some of my male competitors passed.

On the run course I knew where my competitors were, but on the bike there was no out-and-back sections, so I did not know where the next females were in the race. I came into T2 and it was time to finish strong. I found Marty on the first loop and he looked like I was feeling – like this last run was gonna hurt! After hitting the first out-and-back I saw the next female with a long course bib – she was looking strong and not too far back from me. Where did she come from?!? Luckily I would have more opportunities to see her on the course to gauge what I needed to do to keep my lead. The next time around I noticed she was wearing running shorts – a sign that she was probably part of a relay. I didn’t take my chances though, and her presence on the course and powerful stride pushed me to the end. Okay, so I also wanted to pass those Duke Triathlon Team boys 😉

1st Overall Female       9th Overall

1st Overall Female
9th Overall

Turns out the girl behind me was Dave’s 2nd runner, and phenomenal triathlete Jacqueline Miller. Makes sense, as I was expecting to see Dave fly by me on the red Softride while I was out on the bike. He came close to catching me, posting a bike split 3 minutes faster than mine. Awesome job to him and his team for taking the overall in the relay division. Quite the comeback – and he was all smiles! Marty took 8th overall for the day, and won his age group. This called for a re-creation of our original photo in France – look at the difference a few months, a positive attitude, and determination can make. So proud of you Dave, and I can’t wait to do some more racing with you in the years to come!
podium 1

So the race was a success for all of us! It hurt, and I definitely need some work, but it also felt awesome to be out there. As usual, any race is made 10x sweeter when you get to spend time with amazing friends and make some new ones. The weekend flew by, and I can’t wait to do it again soon!
female podium

FS Series put on a great race – it was well-organized, the course was well-marked, and the volunteers topped it off with their energy and cheering the whole day. Definitely a great event to check out – I know we plan on returning in 2014…

5 mile run – 31:16
31 mile bike – 1:31:15
5 mile run – 34:13
Finishing time – 2:36:46

#committed in 2013

inov-8 1

Another exciting announcement for 2013 – I will be racing for Team Inov-8! The terms “minimalist” and “barefoot” running are common to see and hear these days. Inov-8 refers to it as natural running. Why? Because they are the leaders in natural running – they’ve been doing it since 2003, and this is all they do. Basically every other brand has a “minimalist” shoe added to their line to feed the demand, but Inov-8’s research, passion, and committment are focused solely on natural running.

“Natural running is a style that involves landing on your forefoot rather than your heel, while also shifting your center of gravity by leaning forward. The benefits of natural running include a reduction in the likelihood of injuries, as well as a more efficient (think FASTER) running style.”

When I started my running journey at the age of 23 I had no background in the sport. I was not a runner in college, nor in high school. I didn’t know a whole lot about the sport, the training, and definitely not the options in footwear. I also had “fresh” feet & legs, which were ready and willing to take on the mileage I was slowly adding. For years I ran in anything and everything. I had no real brand loyalty – if it was a good deal or seemed like a good running shoe I’d run in it. I was a product tester for many years and on top of running in the shoes I was testing, I would also get a free pair of shoes at the end of every test and didn’t have a choice in what I received. Hey – they were free – and I could run in anything. As the years and miles piled on, so did the abuse on my body from running in shoes that really weren’t meant for my body type and running style. It seemed like I was always having some kind of niggle. I thought this was just a part of the game – if you’re gonna run a lot, it’s gonna hurt. I had a lot to learn…

Flash forward to my “hiatus” – yes, the one we’re all sick of hearing about by now 😉 With plenty of time on my hands to research just about everything related to running and injuries, I was really interested in natural running (yep, that’s the term I like best). After reading about many runners’ experiences, this was the typical theme I was seeing:

constant niggles —> transition to natural running —> no more niggles!

I made my decision – once I had the green light to run again I would carefully transition to natural running. Best decision ever. Niggles – gone. Stride – smooth and efficient. Prognosis – best running is yet to come!
happy feet

I had seen Inov-8 shoes on the trails, but it wasn’t until this past year that I was introduced to their road line. Prior to racing the Duathlon World Championships I got these flashy Bare-X Lite 150’s – just screaming to be paired up with my Team USA uniform.
f-lite

The Bare-X Lite’s did not disappoint! Lightweight, flexible, comfortable, and made for fast splits!

If you are curious about transitioning to natural running, or have already joined the natural running movement, be sure to check out Inov-8’s full line of road, trail, fitness and everyday shoes. Feel free to ask me any questions about their shoes – or natural running in general. You’ll see me sporting all varieties in my training and racing adventures this year. For the triathletes – you can’t much better than the Bare-X Lite’s for fast transitions. And that’s what it’s all about 😉

Happy Training!

110%

110%
I am super-excited to announce that I have been selected as a 110% Playmaker for 2013. I have joined the ranks of some amazing athletes and am looking forward to an even stronger 2013 season!

After years of racing I have definitely learned the importance of recovery. Sometimes you have to find out the hard way, but once your body starts telling you to give it some attention, you learn to heed those warnings before you’re back on the sidelines. Most athletes know about the benefits of compression gear. And you also know about the dreaded yet necessary practice of taking ice baths after a tough training session or race. 110% is leading the way in recovery gear by bringing the benefits of both into one package!


All 110% compression + ice gear comes with reusable ice inserts that can be cut for a custom fit. Ice pockets are strategically placed throughout the garments targeting the key areas that need it. It can turn from high performance gear to recovery gear in an instant. Better yet, the ice inserts can be heated if you need heat therapy.

No more sitting in a tub full of ice with my beanie on counting down the minutes until I can escape. Now I can recover with my ice right on the couch. Although for someone who has a hard time sitting still, I can now do all kinds of things during my active recovery 😉

Play Harder!

Country Girl Goes to the City

Okay, so I haven’t always been a country girl. But after living in “The Buck” for over a year, my trip to NYC was much-anticipated. And what a fun trip it was! The reason for the trip was a visit to Acme Bicycle Co. – Brooklyn’s premier bike fitting studio – where the bike fit wizard Jonathan Blyer was excited to make me faster in 2013!acme2012 was a successful year, but some changes needed to be made. First was to get back onto the right size bike. Last year after much tweaking, I got my bike as close to the “right” fit as I could. Although I made it work for me, it was still far from perfect. After World’s, Gretna Bikes got me onto a Cannondale Slice – size 47 with 650 wheels – the size alone felt better immediately!

"Marteau"

“Marteau”

So now it was time to get a fit, to make sure I was getting the most out of this bad boy!
Our bikes are big investments, but we also spend a lot of “intimate” time with them. People tend to be turned off from professional fits due to the price, but when you’ve spent that much money on a bike, you would be crazy not to spend a fraction of that cost to ensure that you’re getting the most power, speed, comfort and efficiency out of it. At the same time, when spending that chunk of change on a fit, you want to make sure you’re going to a true professional with a strong background and passion for their craft. And that’s why I chose Jonathan Blyer – owner of Acme Bicycle. Between the recommendation from trusted friends, his years of experience, and the testimonials from his clients – it was an easy choice!

I arrived at his studio in Brooklyn that was quite easy to find. He went through my history, then performed a flexibility assessment which is pertinent to any proper fit. Once we were all set up he had me hop on the bike and immediately noticed some changes that needed to be made. He started with my cleats, and after a few adjustments I was already feeling an improvement in my pedaling! Next it was time to hop on the Guru Dynamic Fitting Unit, but only after picking one of his many saddles. This was a treat! I’m not the biggest fan of my current saddle, but settled on it after going through the tiring process of trying different versions – many of us have been there! So having the opportunity to try so many different options in one place was definitely a plus! After trying a few options I settle on the Bontrager Hilo RXL. Time to do some work on the Guru. That thing is pretty amazing – JB sat there with the mouse making adjustments as I rode. He also uses Retul 3D capture to verify the proper geometry once he feels we’ve found the proper position.
acme bike fit
So now it’s time to take all of the information and measurements from Guru and Retul and apply them to my bike. 3 hours from start to finish, and my bike was ready to go! Well, almost. I need to order my chosen saddle and I also need a new stem to get into that position we fine-tuned. My fit experience at Acme Bicycle was the best yet! JB’s passion, knowledge, and desire to find your perfect fit are evident throughout the process. I am truly excited for the season ahead!

Part II of the NYC trip took me to Harlem to visit some amazing friends that entered my life this year – fellow Team USA gold medalist Nicole Sin Quee and her equally awesome husband, Coach Jonathan Cane (and their adorable athlete-in-the-making son Simon too!).

This was before we realized we were leaving as gold medalists ;)

This was before we realized we were leaving as gold medalists 😉

As if NSQ wasn’t already the sweetest thing, she knew the way to this girl’s heart is through…you guessed it…food! Shortly after arriving I had a huge plate of dinner in front of me. Generous portions of kale and apple salad, quinoa with vegetables, and brown rice. She nailed it! Sorry to the both of you that there was no butter, cream, and cheese like you’re used to – I would love to see what happened in that kitchen after I left. Rumor has it NSQ can put down some cheese just the same as she puts down stellar race performances! Time was flying by as we sat and chatted – I could’ve stayed many more hours without a break in conversation. But alas it was getting late and I had a drive ahead of me. Time to plan a trip back to NYC soon! It was an awesome day, and I left with nothing but feelings of excitement about what’s to come! Thank you Jonathan Blyer for your time and attention, and thank you to NSQ and JC for your generosity, and for simply being wonderful people!

Hitting the Trails

I can’t believe it’s December already – where has this year gone? I’ve spent the last 2 months enjoying my off-season – no structured training, no speedwork – just base miles on the road and the trainer. But I can only go so long before that itch returns, so starting Monday it’s back to business!

Usually at this time of the year I have my next season mapped out. It’s like a puzzle, and I love me some puzzles! You find a few key races, and then work in some “training races” and fun races around them. And there you have it – a jam-packed, fun-filled season! The planning is one of my favorite parts of the off-season. But once again, here it is December 1st, and I do not have my next season mapped out. I’m still in limbo as to which direction I’m going in next year, but I know that no matter what, I’ll have another great year of racing. Reuniting with friends I’ve made, meeting new ones, and enjoying unforgettable experiences with all of them!

So I’m starting my training cycle Monday, with no clear-cut goal in mind…yet. So why not take advantage of my amazing surroundings and spend some quality time with mother nature? I’ve always loved trail running/racing, and each year I vow to do more of it. I only squeezed 2 trail races into my 2012 season, and they were both a blast as usual. The best thing about trail racing? I don’t worry about my pace, or my mile splits, or even my overall time. You never know what lays ahead of you on the trail, so you just go out there, push yourself, and enjoy!

Just this week I realized that my local running club, the Lancaster Road Runners, hosts weekly nighttime trail runs throughout the area. I also noticed that most of them take place within miles of my house. I’ve been missing out! Thursday evening I ventured out and met up with 12 other runners decked out in warm gear and headlamps, and we embarked on our running journey into the woods.

Kelly's Run - where we ran Thursday night

Kelly’s Run – where we ran Thursday night

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time! This crew was great – they knew exactly where we were at all times. “If we cross over this mountain, we’ll be…” I wouldn’t have a clue in the daylight! I was just happy to have them to follow. Every so often we would stop and wait for everyone to re-group. No leaving anyone behind. Something about running over huge rocks and roots, through streams, hurdling downed trees, and quickly ducking out of the way of branches swinging at your face makes me feel like a kid again! I can’t tell you how many streams we crossed – my feet were soaked and cold and I loved it. I was having way too much fun! At one point we were climbing and climbing, only to end up in a big open field. The sky was perfectly clear and the moon shining bright. As we stood there waiting for the rest of the group, we commented about how perfect it would be to have sleeping bags to just lay there and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the night.

We started up again and the 2 guys out front ran into the woods, and the rest of the way back, without using their headlamps. Crazy! I felt bad running behind them with my headlamp on low – I didn’t want to ruin their ambience, but this rookie is not ready for trail running in total darkness. Maybe in another month 😉 I’m so excited to have found this group of awesome runners, and cannot wait to explore more trails with them throughout the winter. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll enjoy a post-run beer with them some night!

So now it’s set – I have added some great local trail races to my calendar over the next few months. That will keep me going through the winter, and the rest of 2013 calendar – that will fall into place eventually. Until then, if I’m not on the track or on the treadmill, you’ll find me on the trails!

2013 Trail Races On Tap:
Ugly Mudder – January 20
Squirrely Tail Twain Wun – February 3
Chilly Cheeks – February 24

I’m open to more suggestions!!

Happy Trails To You!

2012 Nancy ITU Duathlon World Championship Race Report

In an attempt to avoid this race report turning into a novel, I will try to get right to the nitty-gritty.  However I cannot skip over the fact that camaraderie between the Team USA athletes in the week leading up to the event was absolutely vital in making this race a success.  Spending quality time with friends – both old and new – made the experience one I will never forget.  Gail Kattouf, Rick Kattouf, Nicole Sin Quee, Jessica Zebrak, Steve Zebrak, Corrie Kristick, Erica Ruge, Kristin Villopoto, Wayne Tomasek, Jocelyn Shilling, Kristen Hetzel, Mike Ashworth, Deepak Patel, and of course…Marty Stiegmann and Dave Tierney – it was a pleasure getting to spend time with all of you!!  I’m not even kidding – there’s no way I could’ve done it without you!

Onto the race…the evening before I went into hermit mode – after eating I stretched, used my trigger point toys, then performed my ritual of painting my toe nails racing red 😉  While they dried, it was time to research the competition.  Last year I was 11th overall, so I checked the 10 athletes who finished before me to see if they were racing, and who was in my age group this year.  Once that was narrowed down, I came up with my goals for the runs – there was no point in setting a goal for the bike – the course was like nothing I’ve ever raced on, and I knew congestion would be a major issue.  19 turns x 5 laps, which includes two 180 turns per lap!  I also came up with some performance statements to use when the going got tough – the mental game is so important!  Once I was able to shut my brain off from riding that bike course over and over again in my mind (there was my visualization!), I was able to get a good night’s sleep.

Race morning – I headed downstairs to eat the breakfast I brought from the states – same thing I ate every day that week.  The hotel dining room had that pre-race “quiet” and you could cut the tension with a knife!  I sat by myself and ate quietly – I was feeling very calm and relaxed.  Then I left the hotel on my bike, in the dark, to meet up with some teammates to pre-ride the course.  We never had an opportunity to ride the course when it was closed to traffic, so this was it!  We also had a limited time slot to rack our bikes and set up transition, so we had to ride in the dark.  It was a great idea to preview the course and see how and where barricades and lanes were situated.  I got into transition at 7:05 – yikes!  We had until 7:15…  Fortunately setting up transition for a duathlon takes no time at all, but I really needed to have my tire pressure checked as I was having not only pump malfunctions, but valve extender issues the whole week.  I went directly to Jack from Jack and Adams bike shop and he was busy working on another athlete’s bike.  I went back and forth deciding if I had time to worry about this.  NSQ found me and I expressed my concern over not even knowing where my spot in transition was!  She offered to find it for me, came back to report, then offered to take my helmet and put it in my bin to at least get me started – what an angel!  I decided against the air check, and ran to my spot to set up by bike – all I needed to do was rubber band my shoes, and as I noticed people were still in transition, and no one was asking athletes to leave, I decided to grab my bike and run back over to Jack for that tire check.  Halfway there he is running towards me with the pump – he’s lucky I didn’t tackle him with a bear hug for his efforts!  Turns out my pressure was fine, but the peace of mind was priceless!

With an 8:40 start, I now had plenty of time.  I found NSQ – that girl was a bundle nerves!  I didn’t tell ya Nicole, but I said to myself “maybe I should not be around her right now” – thinking your nervous energy would transfer to me.  But luckily we calmed you down – I’m sure the “droppin’ the kids off at the pool” comments helped, along with the horrified look on some of the men’s faces 😉  I’m glad I got to spend my pre-race time with you!  Then the time came to leave the warm comfort of City Hall, strip down, warm up, and toe the line!  I was still feeling totally relaxed, but took a few centering breaths, found Esther Evans, who I wanted to keep an eye on during the first run, and then we were off!
Esther immediately moved to the front of the pack, and I tucked in right behind her ( that was easy to do – that girl is TALL!).  I was pretty amazed at how relaxed the pace was, or at least it felt that way.  As Esther and I started to pull away, I noticed that she was breathing heavy, and I was not.  I was going to use this to my advantage, and remained on her shoulder until we exited the park on the first lap.  I made my move and never slowed up!  It was exciting every time I came into the square – normally people see your jersey and yell “GO USA”.  This time, thanks to the race announcers, everyone was cheering for me by name, and their cheers grew louder each lap.  Heading out onto the 4th lap I could see my lead, but decided to turn it up just one more notch to widen the gap.  I had no idea what would happen on the bike, but decided that no matter the outcome, it was pretty awesome to finish that first run in the lead.  I never looked at my watch – so much for lap goals!  My 38:25 was slower than I had planned, which would explain why I felt so relaxed, but I think it worked to my advantage to save some for the rest of the race.

I came into T1 and found my bike immediately – thanks to Gail’s disc wheel racked right next to me!  What I wasn’t prepared for was my frozen digits.  I fumbled with my helmet buckle before I could grab the bike and run out to the mount line.  Once on the bike, I again struggle getting into my shoes.  Lesson learned – gloves can’t hurt!  Now it was time to see just how long I could hold my lead.  I have two words for that bike course – SH*T SHOW!  I expected the worse, or so I thought.  The corners and turns were slow and congested, just like I imagined, the motorcycles were in the way – even more than I had expected.  What really blew my mind was the amount of blocking.  We needed to take advantage of every section where we could pass, and it was frustrating when people were taking up the lane, riding 2 abreast, and making no efforts to get out of the way.  Yelling “on your left” didn’t seem to ever help, even when the riders understood English.  On the last 2 laps my tone turned to pleading, and one time I even said “on your left…PLEASE“.  I had to remind myself that everyone in my wave was experiencing the same issues, so we just needed to deal with it and press on.  Otherwise, the course layout itself was a blast!  At one point I realized I hadn’t looked at my watch once during the race, and I was going to need to eat.  I look down and see 1:20 on the watch – oops!  I thought maybe I was just really in the zone…but I think it was more due to the amount of attention you had to pay to that course – the only time you weren’t going all out was into the turns, where you really needed to pay attention.  I was cold…and in the last two laps every time I got out of the saddle to accelerate, my calves would seize.  Worry started to set in – would I dismount and totally seize?  The I started to visualize what kind of pace I could hold on the 2nd run while hobbling.  Oh no – get those thoughts out of your head!  I started lap 5 still in the lead and decided I really need to push this last lap.  I came into T2 and guess what?  Calves felt fine 🙂

Heading out on that last run was all mental for me.  I didn’t know what my lead was, but had confidence in my run off the bike.  I just kept telling myself I could do it – just 2 more laps – I can’t let it slip away now.  And Tim Yount was reminding me of this – his yelling getting louder every time I passed.  I was also lucky to have Steve Zebrak on the course – screaming his lungs out during both runs – you could hear him through the whole park!  I don’t know how he even had a voice after all the cheering he was doing that day – his amazing wife was out there looking strong as well.  This guy could quit his day job and become “race-support-for-hire”.  Really – he’s got it down.  Heading out on the 2nd lap I saw Gail was right behind me and she was moving!  I was so happy to see her, but realized I really needed to push this last lap.  I also knew in the back of my mind that there could be a fast girl or 2 in the 30-24 age group that started behind us.  Plus I didn’t know the finishing time of the first heat.  I was nowhere near safe – no letting up.  I crossed that finish line feeling like I left it all out there – and waited for teammate Gail to come in 2nd.  We had it – a dominating 1-2 in the 35-39 age group.  Then it was time to wait…I missed the first finisher of the 30-34 age group, so still had no idea if I had the winning time.  It wasn’t until hours later that the results were posted in City Hall.  I did it!  13 seconds faster than the winner of the 30-34 age group.  Phew – that was close!  And now we got to see how many of our teammates medaled as well.  Kristin Villopoto dominated her age group and took the gold – amazing performance after a very challenging week!  Gail and Nicole both took well-deserved silver medals.  I never got to see Kristin on the course, but seeing Gail and Nicole looking so strong was so motivational – what an awesome group of ladies!
Again, I cannot give enough thanks to my awesome teammates who all raced their hearts out along with me.  And even more so, their families who came along for support.  When you come to these races alone, having others out there cheering for you makes all the difference!  I also need to thank all of my friends, and especially my amazing family, who have supported me the whole way.  They had to deal with me through all of the ups and downs I suffered after my injury, and my goal was to make you proud!  And I cannot forget to thank my gracious sponsors who supported me throughout my season – Kline Process Systems, RMK Solar, and Gretna Bikes – who kept my bike in top racing shape!  And I cannot forget to thank Deepak of Premium Plus Sports for always making my travel stress-free.  Finally, I need give major props to Jack and Joe of Jack and Adams bike shop, who provided phenomenal service to the Team USA athletes!

10K – 38:25
T1 – :46
37.5k – 1:05:15
T2 – 1:21
5k – 20:16
Finishing time – 2:06:01

Lancaster Family YMCA Duathlon Race Report

I woke up in no shape, and with no desire, to race.  Can’t I just curl up on the couch instead?  It was a local race, the first duathlon since July, and my last chance to race a duathlon before heading to France for the World Championships – so it was a no-brainer to go gut it out.  I arrived at Speedwell Forge, just north of Lititz, and found a great number of YMCA volunteers with big smiles ready to help.  I arrived at the best possible time to get a great spot in transition, and with plenty of time to warm up, as much as I didn’t want to.  The temperature was mild, but with humidity at 100%, the air felt thick and I could almost feel what little energy I had escaping me.  I knew in the back of my mind that once the race started, I wouldn’t have time to pay attention to how bad I felt, and would be able to turn out a good race.  Now I just needed the race to start…

They sent us off on the first run and we looped around the transition before heading out onto the road, and a long gradual climb.  I was right – I was feeling okay now and just had to race smart.  2 men quickly stole the lead, and were out of sight probably before the 1/2 mile mark!  There was another male in between us, and I tried to keep him in sight.  After a few more rollers, we turned right onto what appeared to be a fairly flat road, and I was so thankful for this.  Even though I train on roads like this, I wasn’t feeling those early hills on the run today.  Suddenly the road turns into a pretty steep downhill, which only meant one thing – we were coming back up.  Although the gap from the guy in front of me grew, I made it into T1 in 4th place with an 18:35 split, and was happy to get on the bike…so I thought…

We headed out in the same direction of the run, but this time made a left turn.  Then…climbing.  My legs were not ready to cooperate after that run!  I struggled up what seemed like an endless hill – and was happy to hit the steep descent on the other side only to come to a T and make a sharp left.  Now we were onto a nice flat road and I tried to get into my rhythm.  On this stretch the first guy passed me, but I tried not to let it get me down.  Despite my lack of power that day, the bike course was actually great – we did two loops on some nice country roads which included some rollers, a couple of climbs where I got out of the saddle, and some technical turns.  It definitely wasn’t my strongest bike, and I knew it was because I wasn’t feeling well, but as each guy passed me I felt more and more defeated.  There were a few times where I felt like I was really riding strong, but they were always preceded and followed by periods where my legs just wouldn’t cooperate with what my mind was telling them.  Frustrating, but we’ve all been there!

I came into T2 ready to get this 2nd run done and be finished!  I quickly passed 2 of the guys who passed me on the bike, which lifted my spirits a bit.  Once I climbed out of the valley and made the left for the last mile, the lead cyclist was waiting for me and rode beside me for a while and we chatted a bit.  The distraction was helpful.  I could then see where the next females were in the race, and knew that my gap was huge.  And yes, I think that made me ease up a bit, as much as I hate to do that.  Coming into the finish it was time to kick, but there was nothing left.  Oh well, I made it!  1st overall female and 8th overall competitor for the day.  I was feeling better than I had at the start, and confident that in the next 2 weeks, I would be ready for World’s!

Run 1 – 18:35
T1 – :23
Bike – 1:09:25
T2 – :24
Run 2 – 20:33