This past weekend I competed in my first race since taking some time off to recuperate my mind and body. Because of the lack of consistent training leading into the race I was looking at this race as a fun trip to take with Kurt and to see where I am currently at fitness-wise. We left Thursday morning, the start of a long 16-hour drive up north. We drove through NC, VA, WV, OH, & IN before stopping for the night. The next day we continued the drive through IN, IL, & finally made it to the Cheese State that afternoon! Wisconsin Dells was the perfect venue for a race! There was an endless possibility of things to do - tons of water parks, roller coasters, mini golf, army "DUCKS" water/land tours, water shows, haunted houses, mirror mazes, shopping, & good food! Amazingly, we even found a restaurant called "The Cheese Factory" that had a vegan menu! It was so good we went there twice and I have to say that they served the best cappuccino that I've had since living in France!
The day before the race, we did the usual routine of packet pickup, bike drop-off, bike-course preview, and pre-race swim. The swim was interesting b/c although they said the water was 73 degrees it didn't feel nearly that cold ... I guess all that swimming at the GAC has gotten me used to swimming in cold water, haha! So I decided to try using my speedsuit instead of my wetsuit. I did a short 10-15 minute swim and felt great! The speedsuit fit well, temperature was perfect, and I was able to breathe easily. I decided I would go ahead and use the speedsuit for the race the next day for the first time...The morning of the race, however, was was pretty chilly! It had gotten down to 48 degrees in the middle of the night and I was starting to question my decision of going sans suit. I walked down to the waters edge and felt the water with my feet. I was surprised to find that it felt warm in comparison to the air. I also noticed that all the pros were wearing speedsuits (because the water was not cold enough to allow them to wear wetsuits). So, I stuck to my guns even though 99% of the rest of the age groupers were wearing their super hero costumes.
The start was unique - it was a time trial start. We were lined up in pairs of 2 and sent off 3 seconds apart. This actually worked out well because the start was a lot less tumultuous than normal. I had clear water from the start and was able to sight without any problems. I again wore the BlueSeventy goggles that came in the swag bag and they worked like a charm - no water leakage, fogging, or other problems. I felt really comfortable the entire swim. I didn't want to kill myself in the swim b/c I knew it was going to be a long day. I was pleasantly surprised that I felt good the entire time and didn't hit any walls. Usually I start to get really fatigued at some point in the swim. I think the fact that I have been doing some longer sets in practice (like 2000 straight) really helped. I got out of the water with plenty of energy for the rest of the race. After subtracting the time that it took me to run up the gigantic hill to T1, my swim time was essentially the same as it was at Quassy indicating that I haven't lost any swim fitness :)
On to the bike, which was a beast! Rev3 does not mess around with their bike courses! While in Wisconsin I saw a total of about 1 mountain and the bike course went up and down and across this one mountain a few times! There were a handful of gnarly climbs where I was going 6-7 mph out of the saddle! The climbs were just as long as Quassy, but steeper. Despite the difficulty it was a really fun course. Pretty scenery, challenging ascents, and technical (but fun) descents. I enjoyed myself out there and made sure to stay on top of my nutrition because I didn't want to hit a wall 2 hours in like I did at Quassy. I made sure to stay within myself for the first half and ended up feeling a lot better coming off the bike at this race, compared to last race. I
even had a successful bare-footed dismount! Another thing I have to mention about the bike is a shout out to Reyonlds wheels! I rented a pair of the 46's and OMG they were amazing! Thanks to those wheels and some awesome support from Rev3 staffer Alex Poon, I had the smoothest ride of my life! My bike has never descended or cornered better! I'd highly recommend that people take advantage of the option to rent Reynolds wheels at Rev3 races b/c it was super easy and they rode incredibly well!!!When I set out on the run I was worried that my legs were going to feel like they did coming off the bike at Quassy. To my delight I found that I was actually able to run! My first mile was about 6:45, though granted it was all downhill. Again, I forced myself to stay comfortable for the first half and decided I'd let myself pick it up after that if I still felt good. Well, it was a good thing I didn't go out too hard b/c the course was a bit hillier than I was expecting! It was cool b/c it went right through downtown Dells and there were plenty of people and things to look at to take your mind off the pain. At the turnaround, I was feeling a little gassed so just kept it moving and tried to stay comfortable. By mile 10 I was pretty much spent and the last 3 miles were the most painful of the day. There were 2 large hills in those last 3 miles, with the last mile of course being all uphill. It was definitely a good feeling running up that last incline and into the finish chute! I ended up averaging about 7:10/mi, which I was happy with given my training and the elevation on the course.
So overall, while this race was not my best race in terms of time (finish time was 5 hours 10 min), I feel that it was a solid performance and a worthy result of the type of training that I have done for the last month. The silver lining of it all was that I ended up placing 3rd!!! Cracking the top 3 means that I have finally qualified for the pro card! Woo hoo!!!!!! :) Definitely stoked about that!!!! It makes me really glad that I went to this race b/c a part of me wasn't sure I should do it since recent training was iffy. It feels so good to finally be able to check off that box and to be able to move forward with new motivation!!!!
Speaking of moving forward, my plan for the rest of the season is to continue racing as an amateur, to race a couple Olympics for fun, and then focus on Rev3 Florida Half as my last race of this season. I am now training under a new coach: Sharon McDowell-Larsen. She is an former professional mountain biker, doctor in exercise physiology, lifetime vegetarian (30 years vegan), has worked with elite athletes at the Olympic training center in Colorado, is a health and fitness executive at The Center for Creative Leadership, and is definitely one of the smartest people I know. I am psyched that she wants to work with me and I think that she can get me to the next level! Time to get back to business :)
|Post-race celebrating w/ team mates at Moose Jaw Cafe!|