A year ago yesterday I was shivering uncontrolably in a cop car under dirty blankets as my competitors rode by at the biggest race of the year. I was too cold and uncomfortable to even realize how upset I was at the time, but as soon as I warmed up (a day later), I vowed never to have that happen again. I did my best to train myself to not to get so bothered by the cold: jumped into the pool straightaway instead of inching in, rode in the winter with down booties and hand warmers, even went into an ice sauna on a 17 degree day. I'm not saying that I'm over being cold (or complaining about it!) but I definitely conquered some of the problem. Leading up to this year's Quassy race all I could think about was how to stay warm. I had several plans in place to keep my from getting chilly. Fortunately, when Sunday rolled around the weather was much better than last year, I had my down jacket and my ski cap and I wore my Livestrong windbreaker until 1 minute before the start. I stepped into the water with confidence, splashed myself a bit to get used to the temperature and could not wait for the swim to start.
To my surprise the water was actually pleasant. My dedication to not missing swim practice paid off and I felt strong the entire way, finishing right with Kelly Williamson. I was the first to get to my bike and took off. I figured I'd try to hold my lead as long as possible. After about 5 miles I was passed by Heather Wurtele and Malaika. They got out of my sight on a downhill but I pressed on up and down the hills by myself. My Cervelo and my new wheels were flying. Eric Wynn was on a motorcycle giving me splits - "you are two minutes up on Rinny's group". I had to scream back, "What?? Did you say 2??" Twenty miles in and I had maintained my swim lead? THAT NEVER HAPPENS! To my surprise as we got to the long climb - there was the Malaika's green suit and Heather's red suit I had lost. Nearly 30 miles into the ride and I was closing in on the leaders of the race! Short-lived however, since that climb was followed by a long descent, where I was passed by another group of three. The next split I got was 1:20 back and then 2:20 back at 42 miles. Knowing that a fast run could still equal a podium or even a win, I got really excited...then came a long, long downhill; and then I started to realize I hadn't eaten enough. The last 16 miles cost me several minutes. The race is 56 miles, not 42, and I don't think I respected that enough. I finally got off the bike maybe 5 minutes down. I couldn't even think about running fast because I was starting to really need some calories. I racked my bike and immediately started sucking down my EFS flask meant for the run! After I had my little picnic, I took off for my one and only downhill sub-6 minute mile. From there through the time I saw Bec at 7 miles, I did not feel great and wasn't running fast. I had managed to catch a few people and was in 5th. But I did't know if my legs were going to make it! Bec yelled at me to start running fast, and I figured well, I might as well try! My second half was considerably faster and I saved myself from an even uglier run split (not gonna hide it -1:26.56). I was happy just to maintain my position at that point. Someone yelled out "Go Mt. St. Mary's!" so I channeled Bec and sprinted to the end. I was so focused on finding the finish line that I ran right by my screaming sister Sarah and four little outstretched hands (see photo above right) - my nephews Eamon and Jack had been waiting HOURS to give me a high five and I ran right by - my only regret for the day!
I was able to put everything I had into this race thanks to the preparation and support from my sisters, mom and dad, coach Cliff, my tenacious yet tolerant training partners, and my excellent team of sponsors. Despite not being the distance I have been focusing on or training for, I feel like I got right in the mix. I'll be consulting with Robert of First Endurance for some tweaks in my nutrition plan and (now that I'm no longer quite as sore) I'm excited to try another longer race. Also a special thanks to Brian and the volunteers from Team Fight. I arrived to my transition area with an Ulman Cancer Fund flag placed by my poster. I saw that and thought all of the people fighting and of how far I have come. A little cold water was not going to stop me - and I may or may not have said out loud, "I'm going to f'ing crush this swim". Thanks for that extra bit of motivation!
Thank you to Charlie and the team at Rev3 for putting on another stellar race. The Rev3 brand is really gaining traction - not only was the race sold out but, the field of professional athletes assembled rivals that of any world championship. I'm grateful for their support of the sport and for the chance to race against such a top field. Congrats to Rinny and Richie for their wins and to everyone who raced. This race is not easy! I loved having a bit of a home field advantage - thanks for all of the cheers! Also, special thanks to Kerry Foley for the photos in the collage and for Nils Nilsen (correct me if I'm wrong) for the top picture.
Getting a bit of a break in the racing action to train for an even longer race in August.