At the beginning of last week I got knocked out by a cold/flu for a few days and decided that the race I planned to do, Oceanside 70.3, wasn't meant to be. I wasn't going to be ready for a long, hard race after sitting on the couch for three days. After I started to feel a bit better on Thursday, I decided - against the advice of my coach- to race a shorter distance race in New Orleans. With the race on Sunday, and extra day of rest, I knew I would be ok to race. One of my goals for this season is to make firm race plans and goals and stick to them, but here I was back to my old habits. I weighed the pros and cons and just listened to myself and my body. I knew I could get psyched up for New Orleans and go there and put in a hard effort, win some prize money and pick up some points for Hy-Vee qualification. So, I bought a ticket with my frequent flier miles and flew in Saturday afternoon for the Sunday morning race. Not ideal prep but good practice for not letting travel woes get me down. (Another goal for this year!).
Thanks to Abby and Ross Guerink, I was able to have a stress free evening (with a few adventures!) and remained calm and prepared. One of the great things about triathlon is the people I meet and friends I have made at races all over the country. When I realized just how windy the course was, I had two people offer me a different wheel so I wouldn't be blown over. Thank you to Bill Burke's wife Michelle (another small Cervelo P3 rider!) who generously lent me her Zipp 404 650c wheel. Being the smallest and lightest person in the entire race, I definitely would have had trouble riding through the wind with my disc wheel, so that really saved me.
Race morning was cold, but I was very excited to swim in my ROKA wetsuit. I have been practicing in it a lot. I wear it in swims with much faster world-class open water swimmers and try to stay on their feet. It's great training and I knew it would set me up with the chance to hang or barely hang or at least try to keep up with Sara McLarty and Lauren Brandon- the two fastest swimmers in triathlon. However, I jumped in the 61 degree water and my left arm just froze. I couldn't move my hand and quickly got swum over by the whole field! Not my plan at all. Instead of getting negative thoughts, I pushed through and just told myself to windmill my arms and keep moving. I exited the water minutes down. I'm still trying to figure out why my hand froze up- anyone ever experienced that?
I ran to my bike and resumed my plan - ride to the front or die trying! Living in LA has given me the opportunity to ride all winter in the Santa Monica mountains. I have also gotten the chance to ride with some very, very strong cyclists (Emma-Kate Lidbury, Sarah Piampiano, Jenny Fletcher) who have challenged me to reach a new level. Supportive and motivating training partners and friends are so important, and I am grateful they have let me join them. I had a great ride, despite the course and conditions being unfavorable for a small person (very windy, very flat).
I came off the bike in 5th and worked my way to a 4th place finish, 15 seconds off 3rd. I was very happy to see a run split of 37:32 for the 10K (accurate distance via Garmin) - far from a PR but a big step in the right direction coming back from my foot fracture. I felt strong the whole way and loved being out there racing and hunting down the podium.
Congratulations to everyone who raced and especially to Lauren Goss who just cruised to the win. It was inspiring seeing her out there running so fast (36:09 10K). Also, Drew Scott got his first professional win. It's always great to witness someone's first win. And I got to see it up close because he was lapping me on his finish!
Thank you to everyone in New Orleans for putting on a great race and treating me with genuine southern hospitality. The Premier Event Management team is top notch, as usual. Also, thank you to one of my biggest SUPERFANS rock star/photo editor Don Kinsella who showed up to the start of the race as I was about to jump into Lake Ponchartrain. He had been out all night on a cocktail tour and did not miss one second of my race.
Thank you to the rest of my team of sponsors, family, fans and superdogs. As I told my sponsors before the race, I couldn't be better prepared for the season thanks to them. Here's to faster swimming, biking, and running in the next go round!