I don't know where to begin with this race report. Even though this was a sprint race, I can't guarantee that it won't be long. A lot happened leading up to this race.
Rocky Mountain Triathlon is known as the highest triathlon in the world at about 9000ft. I'm not really affected by altitude, or at least, I don't let it enter my mind. I go into this race every year as a race that I want to perform well at.
You all know that I have been incredibly frustrated with my inability to race well. Over the past two weeks, I've had a few conversations with my Coach about this.
She told something....some things...that no one had ever said to me before. When she said it, it was like years of frustration finally explained themselves.
I knew what I had to do. She and I talked. I said that now that I know what I know....I wanted another shot at an Oly. She said, "Do it. THIS year." I signed up for a race later in August.
This weekend, I had a sprint on the schedule. Deep inside, I've always known that I'm a better athlete than my race times. I sent her yet another email, wondering if I could pull this off. Not because I physically couldn't do it....
but because I was afraid of taking the easy way out...."doing" a triathlon instead of "racing" it.
I read her response this morning. Among other little snippets of advice, she ended the email with:
Go back for more
When I read, I immediately laughed and thought, "wow....that's exactly it. That's EXACTLY what racing a sprint is!"
I was ready to do this. I didn't worry about pace so much. Yes, I had a strategy to follow, but my goal was....well.....to EAT PAIN.
This race has a very short swim. So, yeah...take one of the things that I'm good at and shorten it. I knew that I could swim a 1:20 pace, but I had yet to show it. I kept screwing up my swim. I would swim too frantically. My last two open water swims, I worked to slow my roll....so to speak....slow down to speed up. PULL HARD....NO HARDER. The speed would follow.
As we lined up, one woman pushed me out of the way and said, "I really need to be in the front. I'm one of the best swimmers."
Ok. Fine by me. You do you.
When we took off, I felt incredibly calm, like I completely owned this swim. I lost the "fast woman" almost immediately. (Everyone looks alike out there).
I head out on the swim with the first couple of minutes being easy, finding my bearings. NOT peaceful easy let's hang out....sprint easy. I noticed that everyone was shooting off to the right. I looked up. I'm right in line with the buoy. I decided that as soon as I hit the buoy, I'm going to pick up the pace.
I made the turn and really started pulling hard. I had already passed the previous wave, and now I was in the slowest men. I held my ground and swam straight toward the finish. If the first part was easy, the second part was definitely hard.
All I could think was, "This really hurts. THANK GOD IT'S A SHORT SWIM."
I exit the water and forget to look at my watch, so I have NO IDEA how fast I swam. I look up for Mr. Tea. He's nowhere to be found.
"Oh duh," I think, "He'll meet me at the bike. He knows I'll run through T1 faster than he can get there. That's where he is."
I get to T1. Mr. Tea is, again, nowhere to be found.
I look around. A lot of bikes are gone. That doesn't help me. I was the last swim wave. ALL the bikes should be gone.
I ain't got time for this. I hop on the bike.
I ride for a few minutes. My HR is through the roof. I take a few drinks of water and settle into a rhythm. I'm blowing past people.
The course is 6 miles downhill, 6 miles uphill.
As I pass people, I'm checking out everyone's ages. I can't find anyone in my AG. I should find SOMEONE in my AG. I'm a pretty good swimmer, but I'm not normally #1. I keep riding thinking that at some point, I will find the women in my AG.
That's when I see her.
Up aways on the road, a woman in a blue swim suit. She is hauling ass, passing people like they are standing still.
Right then, I decide that I'm going to catch her. She's moving. I've never raced anyone like that before. She might be better than me. But, I'm gaining on her. It takes me 2 miles to over take her, and I know I shocked the hell out her.
Then, she passes me. She has a 53 on her calf. She's not in my AG.
Then, I pass her. That's when I said, "Dammit! As soon as I lose focus, you're right there."
She passes me. That's when I notice there are NO woman in front of us. There are NO women going the other way.
I catch her and say, "We're in first. We've got this. PUSH IT."
Then, there is another woman. She also has a 53 on her calf. I make my move to go as hard as I can to 1.) Drop 53 and 2.) Pass the NEW 53.
That worked for a short time. My 53 catches me. I say to her, "I knew you could do it. You are now officially in 1st place."
She says, "We'll see. The run isn't my best thing."
I say, "Let's make this happen."
We take off. It's uphill into a headwind. She takes the lead on me. I'm right behind her. We make the sharp left and head to transition.
Just then, I see Mr. Tea. He has a look of shock. I think I'm racing pretty well. He gives me a huge smile and two thumbs up.
I lose 53 on the run, but I know she's just ahead me. I also know she's in first place. I haven't seen any other women in either of our AGs. Me? I have no idea where I am, but I don't care. If the thought pops into my head, I immediately follow it with, "Don't worry about them. Think about you."
I'm running hard. I'm supposed to increase the pace every half mile, but holy beejeezus a half mile feels so long when I'm running hard.
As I close in on the turnaround, I see 53 heading right at me. I give her a big smile and thumbs up.
How did I feel? Not so good. There were times I felt like I was going to pass out. I was constantly reminding myself to NOT SLOW DOWN.
When I get to the last .75 miles, I'm running. It feels like my legs no longer belong to me. I can see the finish line.
I can feel someone right behind me. I think, "NO. You are not going to pass me." What if she is in my AG? What if I am just seconds from missing third place? Am I going to give up right at the end? NO. I'm going to RUN.
AND I RAN. I see Mr. Tea. I feel like my heart is in my throat. I just keep getting faster. I cross the line in an all out sprint.
Where I almost collapsed if it weren't for the old man who was there to take my chip.
I have not idea what my time is. I have no idea how fast I swam, biked OR ran. I didn't have my garmin set up that way....not intentionally, I just didn't change the screens when I took off.
Mr. Tea comes running up to me, "YOU WERE SO FAST! I never saw you come out from the swim. I kept waiting and waiting. Then, I went to transition and realized you were already on the bike."
Just then, 53 and I saw each other. She came running up to me and gave me a huge hug. She said, "YOU ARE THE BEST CHEERLEADER EVER. I think I came in 1st OA today because of YOU. Where do you live? We need to train together. I've never had anyone push me like that on the bike."
Sadly, she lives in Silverthorne. I live 2 hours away. I owe her so much for keeping me focused on the bike.
She DID end up coming in 1st OA.
We said our goodbyes, and I told Mr. Tea that I need my shake and some water. He said that he wanted to check out the results.
I didn't go with him. I didn't even care what the results were: I RACED A SPRINT. The numbers, the finish time could not take that away from me.
I saw him running at me with a huge smile, "FIRST PLACE! YOU GOT FIRST PLACE!"
I may have shook my head. "What? What was my time?"
Mr. Tea: 1:16.
What? 1:16? I'm thinking back to my races....
That means I PR'd across the board. I never saw anyone on the bike. That means I was first on the swim and the bike.....
We waited for the awards ceremony. I kept thinking, "It's wrong. They're going to come back with a correction. I didn't win."
They announce 3rd place: 1:42
They announce 2nd place: 1:32
I came in at 1:16.
They announce, "And Tea's smokin fast time of 1:16 gives her 1st place for women 45-49."
I think Mr. Tea had to push me up to the podium.
My swim pace: 1:20 or 8:00 for 550m
My bike pace: 22mph or just under 33:00
My run: 10 pace or 30:48
I never EVER considered the possibility that I COULD EVER be first overall. But 1st and 2nd OA women were 53 years old.
Maybe I could....