I was so excited to kick off the 2013 season last weekend in Galveston, Texas.
Texas wasn't originally in the plan, but after a long winter in the pain cave, my mind and body was in desperate need of some sunshine. And if you spent any time with me over the past couple of months, I'm sure you heard me say I was craving vitamin D more than once!
|MANY hours spent in the Pain Cave|
I backed out of doing Hyannis marathon and did the half instead back in February. I was sick the week before the race. Backing out was very hard for me to do, but I actually listened to my body and decided it was best to try to spare my immune system from getting a royal beating especially with temps in the 30s and pouring rain race conditions. It just wasn't worth it. That being said, I was itching to race. I had an extremely solid winter of training and felt ready to do an early season 70.3.
We flew into Houston on Friday and stocked up at Whole Foods. There were about 5 Whole Foods in the Houston area, but naturally, when we saw the name of one of them, we had to go there. Kirby is my middle name and since I get way too excited about small things like that, they gave me a free reusable bag with the name.
Friday and Saturday were spent doing some light workouts, registering, racking bikes, resting and relaxing. With 34 QT2 team members racing, it was really great to meet some new people at the team breakfast on Saturday.
Sunday morning came fast. As I put on my new kit, I couldn't believe I was racing this early in the season. I had a healthy dose of pre-race jitters, and was excited to kick off the race season.
The Swim 1.2 miles:
My wave didn't start until 8:25 am, so I had A LOT of time to wait as I watched wave after wave start the day. The swim was a treading water start. All the 30-34 year old women were jamming out to Carly Rae Jepson and Beyonce as we waited to jump in the water. The predicted water temp was 72 degrees, however, on race morning, the race announcer said it was 65 degrees. SIXTY-FIVE?! I am a big baby with cold water, and anyone who has seen me get into an 80 degree pool or the lake knows that it is not a quick process. I was freaking out a bit about having to jump into 65 degree water rather than my typical routine. I waited until about 1.5 minutes before the start and took the plunge. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought and felt much warmer than 65 degrees. Maybe I am just getting tougher? ha.
The cannon went off and I saw the front girls take off. I tried to find someone's feet to latch onto and draft, but I wasn't having too much luck. I swam alone for a while. At the first turn, I was able to get onto a girl's feet and I stayed with her as she plowed through the stragglers from the waves ahead of us. I channeled my inner Pam and made sure I stayed with this girl. I felt like I wasn't working hard because of the draft, so I questioned whether I should break lose and go. I decided to stick with her, because I would be fighting through the crowd if I didn't. At the final turn, I decided to go for it and dropped the girl. I started to think I hung on to her too long. I came out of the water feeling great. I wanted to do 32 minutes, so when I saw I had done 33 minutes, I was a bit disappointed, but knew that 1 minute wasn't a huge deal.
The Bike 56 miles:
The bike course was an extremely flat out and back with sun beating down and the winds blowing. My heart rate wasn't picking up, so I started to ride based on watts, pace and perceived effort. I was a little nervous that I wasn't riding where I was supposed to be with out being able to use heart rate as a gauge, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I trusted I was where I was supposed to be. I got passed by two girls in my age group on the bike, both of whom were QT2 teammates. I was tempted to pick up the pace to try keep them in sight, but reminded myself to ride within my limits and ride my own race. My bike has always been my glaring weakness, so when I started to pass a couple of people in my age group I was shocked. The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful besides 2 aid stations not handing out perform when I went through. I tried to grab the water, when I realized there wasn't any perform, but when I had yelled out perform, the volunteer took a step back. I rode for the next 15 miles without fluid. I knew this could be extremely detrimental, but all I could do at that point was to make sure I was dead on with hydrating for the rest of the race. At the turn around, I was expecting we would get a tail wind. But no, the wind was worse on the way back. What I had thought was a head wind, was really a cross wind, so we didn't get any help on the way home. Everyone was fighting the same wind I was, so I just stayed in aero and tried to ride strong back to transition. I finished the bike at 2:44, which was a bike PR for me. I was extremely thrilled as I rolled into transition.
The Run 13.1 miles:
The run was a 3 loop course with 3 out and backs in each loop. It was flat and went all through the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention center. There were some parts that went to the road, but they removed the airport section that was part of the course in past years. Once again, my heart rate still wasn't picking up, so I started to run on perceived effort. I feel much more comfortable with my run, so I wasn't too concerned about not having heart rate. I know my edge on the run. I was so happy to be off the bike and running. I was even more thrilled to be running in the Texas sunshine. I was feeling strong and good as I started to pick people off. The texas sun was hot, but with the temps in the high 70s, it could have been way worse. I tend to run better in the heat anyway. The highlight of the run was the cheering from Tim Snow, Cait Snow, Chrissie Kropelnicki and the QT2ers that had already finished. Their screams and motivation were HUGE.. and the best part was I got to absorb the energy 3 times.
I finished the run with a run PR of 1:36. I was extremely happy. I didn't know my overall time until I had walked over to where the QT2 crew was cheering and Kaitlin Anelauskas looked up my time for me. I was over the moon thrilled when I heard 4:59. I had a pipe dream of breaking 5 hours, but I knew the stars would need to be aligned for me to do that. I placed fourth in my age group and qualified for Vegas 70.3 World Championships for the first time.
Overall, the race and weekend was just what I needed. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the 2013 season. I am so grateful to be part of such an incredible team full of extremely talented, dedicated yet down to earth athletes.